The Best Albums of 2012!

In this week’s new podcast episode (Episode 128.5), Zach, Danny, and Rob talk about their favorite albums of 2012! If you want to spoil their Top 20 lists for yourself, click to continue reading.

Enjoy comparing your favorites and/or finding some new music!

Continue reading

Weekly Blog Posts [Dec. 24-28]

Movie Review: Madea’s Big Happy Family (2011)

My girlfriend suckered me into a family movie night at her house on Christmas this past week. Normally I love watching movies at her house, but when she tossed Madea’s Big Happy Family onto the TV, I was immediately trying to come up with excuses to try and leave. I had never seen a Madea movie in my life and I was hoping to keep it that way forever, but unfortunately that isn’t the case anymore because I had to sit through the latest Tyler Perry joint to be added to Netflix.

This movie features Bow Wow, the Old Spice guy (Isaiah Mustafa), cross-dressing Tyler Perry, cancer, Maury Povich, marijuana, religious propaganda, and an R&B-driven black-and-white montage sequence. Not only that, this is the type of movie that toys with your emotions the entire running time. It tries to makes you angry, make you smile, make you cry, make you laugh, etc. I absolutely hate movies that do this. One minute you’re supposed to feel super sad because someone died of cancer, and then thirty seconds later you’re supposed to laugh at an 80 year old Tyler Perry screaming “Choke That Ho!”

This movie is so bad it’s crazy. The only good thing I can say about it is that Tyler Perry has really found his audience. These movies make an insane amount of money and I’m sure Tyler Perry is bathing in a tub filled with $100 bills as I’m typing this. I totally understand that I’m not the target demographic the Madea movies are trying to hit, so it makes sense that I don’t like it. Lucky for him, there are many others that currently enjoy, and will continue to enjoy, these feel-good family comedy dramas for the rest of time.

Side Note: Isaiah Mustafa is one charming man. He is the one positive thing in the movie.

2/10

Kids Are Dumb As Fuck

I’m currently on my way home from Christmas vacation with family and friends, and I’ve just been reminded of how stupid and awesome children are. Gawker just posted this video of a toddler attempting to use the word “banana”. It’s a hilariously cute insight into how silly kids are, and how their crazy little brains operate. I hope it makes your day a little more smiley.

source: Gawker

Make It So: How Star Trek Is Actually Happening

That’s right, grab your leotard, because it looks like Star Trek: First Contact was right. Here’s how the predictions of Gene Roddenberry are coming true.

1. The development of warp drive

Though it may have seemed far fetched back in the sixties, physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a way to bend space time. (1) While what he did what technically correct, his calculations calculated the amount of energy necessary would be a mass the size of Jupiter- read technically impossible. However, very recently another physicist- Harold White of NASA- showed that changing the shape of the bend in space-time can greatly reduce the amount of energy necessary. It would only take a traditional rocket’s worth of energy to bend space time. (2) There are some complications, but I believe future advances will find a way to slip around these difficulties. For example, MIT recently discovered (3) a new type of magnetism that could lead to a high temperature superconductor- this technology could help us break away from hydrocarbons (gasoline and coal) as a fuel source and help make solar power efficient. Warp drive may not happen tomorrow, but it becomes more and more feasible with each decade.

Also, according to the Star Trek Timeline the warp drive was created in 2061/63 in Bozeman, Montana by Zefram Cochrane. While it’s not exactly the same, an interesting little development was just recently announced: a company called Golden Spike is planning the first private moon mission by 2020, which means robotics beforehand. While it’s not Bozeman, it’s a big sky, rocky mountain state and they all look the goddamn same anyway. This company has NASA bigwigs on it- it’s a serious endeavor to make space travel affordable. The similarity is that they are both private space endeavors in the Rockies.

2. The Eugenics Wars

While the mid-nineties didn’t see a genetics war, we are seeing quite a few advancements in the field of genetics. 60 years ago, the double helix structure was discovered. 10(ish) years ago, the human genome was sequenced. Drugs are starting to become individualized down to the gene, and many inheritable diseases are being mapped. (14) (15) Genetics is the next field of medicine, and soon the possibility of individually tailored medicine and preventative genetics will become realities. Star Trek was a bit early with their predictions, but the field of genetics is expanding. Hopefully it doesn’t end in a war.

3. World War Three

Star Trek predicts a third, nuclear World War in 2053 that devastates the population. While it’s not a perfect picture, there are some similarities to pre-World War 2 Europe in the current global situation that, science forbid, could culminate with other factors to lead to a hypothetical nuclear world war.

After World War 1, Germany was forced to pay so many war reparations that their economy tanked. Germans were divided, and a strong anti-foriegner sentiment grew. (4) This is what allowed the Nazi party to rise. Similarly, Greece’s economy is in the tank (5) and the euro (and quite a bit of europe) is struggling. (6) (7) Fiscal desperation was one of the driving forces behind World War 2, and with the fiscal troubles in Greece has come the rise of Golden Dawn, an extreme-right party with ties to neo-Nazism. Golden Dawn has “22% favorable support”, won 7% of the popular vote in parliamentary elections, and has been violently interacting with immigrants.  (9) (10)

Austria and Hungary were arbitrarily split up after World War 1, and this did not settle well. People of different nationalities were displaced and governments were set against each other because of the spoils they received. Economic tensions grew and nationalistic tendencies set in, causing strife between the new nations. (8) We can see similar tensions between multiple nations today. For example, in 1947 the British Raj was dissolved, leading to the formation of India and Pakistan. India formed a secular government with a strong Hindi population and Pakistan formed a Mulsim theocracy. The two countries are strongly divided by religion, and treatment of religious minorities in either country have frequently sparked conflicts between the two governments. There have been multiple wars and acts of terrorism on both sides, and in 1998 nuclear programs were developed by both countries. (11) (12) There have been some interactions by the countries to improve relations, but tensions are still present. Other factors include the Israel-Palestine conflict, American aggression toward Iran and the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons, and the multiple Islamic theocracies that are rising out of the Arab Springs revolts are all contributing to international tensions.

4. Star Trek tech that actually exists

While the above is speculation, quite a few technological advances have brought us some of the gadgets in Star Trek. The cell phone and accompanying technologies like blue tooth, voice activation, and touch screens, which are so integral to modern interaction, were commonplace forms of communication on the Enterprise. (13) Computing has also been growing along the lines Star Trek predicted- we can store large amounts of data in small computers, computer-human interaction like Siri and Dragon Go!, and artificial intelligence like Data are in the works right now. Universal translators allow you to converse with people who speak other languages while speaking your own. Medical advances like the tricorderdiagnostic bed hypospray and Giordi’s VISOR  are in their baby steps and show promising results.

So what’s the point? I don’t know- other than all the war, this shit is cool. Gene Roddenberry did a strikingly accurate job of predicting how the future might develop. Space is where most new technology is being developed, and hopefully these technologies can help us better the daily lives of people.

Drunken Discourse, “The Flamer”

Mr. and Mrs. Claus rolled up to the party in style

So I was trying to think of what to write, lately my life has been composed mostly of work and university. I am a host at a late night diner/bar in Charlotte, so needless to say we attract a lot of drunks and they often say some really hilarious things to me since I’m the first person they get to talk to. And as someone who does not drink much, I’m often the only sober one at a party to remember the funny things people say; so I decided to start writing about all the funny drunk conversations that happen to me.

So the other night, the neighborhood I live and work in was having a Holiday block party with a tattooed Santa Claus and guys on banjo singing Jingle Bells. This is where I encountered a man who I will forever know as “The Flamer”, which you will understand later.

My relationship with him began when I was standing at the host stand minding my own business rolling silverware sets as a woman comes in frantically and asks that I tell her husband that their daughter’s teeth are bleeding, “he’s the guy at the bar with the flame toboggan on”. So as requested, I run up to the man to tell him the news, to see him double fisting two PBR tall boys after finishing a shot of whiskey. He mumbled something about his daughter and eventually went outside to tend to the matter, although I’m not really sure that he did anything to help the poor girl.

I thought I was done with him, until a little later he stumbled in the door to stop at my host stand. He “pounded it” and introduced himself, then proceeded to ramble on about how rare it is in life that we meet people that are “cool” and that it was his pleasure meeting me because I’m awesome and pretty, or something along those lines, then suggested that he himself was not cool. Being the most awkward human being and a fan of lame wordplay, I said “well, I mean, your hat has flames on it, that’s definitely like, the opposite of cool.” As the words were coming out I realized that not only was what I was saying not funny at all, there was also no way of explaining it without hitting on him or offending him. I decided to hope that he just wouldn’t catch on to my sideways jab at his fashion sense and would instead laugh at my lame attempt at a joke, but in anger he stormed off to the bar grumbling, “I can’t help it, I’m just a flamer, okay!”

Weekly Blog Posts [Dec. 17-21]

Jellylife

Picture the scene if you will: The year is 1980. The place, Naples in Italy. A young boy of 2 and a half is asleep on a camp bed in the shade outside the apartment block where he lives with his mum and dad. His dad is in the British Navy and has been posted to Naples for 3 years, they’ve been there for about a year already.

There’s some noises and laughing, and people moving boxes and such in the apartment next door – a new family moving in. They are Dad, who’s American Navy, mum and 2 daughters.

For the next 2 years, the families form a great relationship. There’s even an earthquake in ’81 and everybody sat outside on the street afterwards drinking brandy. (The boy slept through the ‘quake, despite all the crockery falling out the cupboards in the apartment. Bizarrely, in ’82 when Italy won the football world cup, the winning goal prompted an understandably large reaction from the Italian folk, and that woke him up…!) They all visited places in Italy together, and went to carnivals and festivals and borrowed each other’s cars and the mum’s babysat for each other’s kids. Tim, Sarah (9 years old) and Mandy (8) played together and read books together.

Then in late ’82, The Brits had finished their posting and went back to the UK. A couple of months later, the Americans made sure that during a driving tour of the rest of Europe that they went on before they traveled home to the States, they visited the Jellymans (if you hadn’t figured it out yet – that’s me) in their new home.

The Williamsons went back to the States. Jimmy, the dad, was posted to California somewhere and the mum’s kept in good contact thru the years, writing letters and swapping photos. Sarah married and had a couple of kids. And Tim mostly went nuts – the 90’s were a strange and crazy time to grow up in.

So let’s fast forward a bit. 2009. Tim and Sarah, get to talking on Facebook. And then Skype. And then some more Skype. And Gtalk. Then Skype everyday. 4000 miles apart, just chatting, but something else was happening…

One day, they were on Skype. Sarah was in a Starbucks, and Tim was probably in bed (time difference and all that jazz – he’s not ill, or bed-bound). The end of the conversation, brought the usual jovial “ok, well speak to you tomorrow maybe?”, “yeah, sure”. And then Sarah said, “I love you”. And Tim said it back…. Whoa! I’m in love with her!!!

So I visited her in the States a few times, and she came over here. And in September 2011, we got married on Ponte Vedra Beach in Duvall County, Jacksonville, Florida. Sarah moved over here in February of this year, and the plan is to move over to Jacksonville Beach as soon as is possible.

What an extraordinary journey. 10’s of thousands of miles. A few decades. But now we are very happy. Life is so good together. We even have our own hashtag: #jellylife