Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Social Network: A Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin is a god. I promise to pray to him every day. The Social Network is an delicately crafted masterpiece, with a ton of story, told efficiently and entertainingly. I don’t know much about screenwriting, but I know how good Sorkin is.

The script just MOVES. Every scene, every word, pushes the story forward. Pushes the character development forward. It’s a roller coaster ride without a single explosion, without a single gun. It’s based on a fascinating story, which Sorkin pushes up a notch. Like any great screenwriter, he finds those. Little. Moments. in the life of Mark Zuckerberg, and plays them masterfully.

No scene is exposition, save a few seconds in the law office, but even those add a new dimension to the relationships Mark has with his former business partners.

But the interesting thing I noticed while reading the script was how little Zuckerberg actually did. Sure he came up with the idea, but the movie really wasn’t about his personal journey. The journey, instead, happened TO him, and while the other characters went through ups and downs, Zuckerberg was almost untouched. He was always above, or outside the struggles.

Sorkin writes him as the outsider, the loner, and the only time he has any real emotional connection is in the very first, and very last scene, with the girl from B.U. She, and what she represents, is the only thing that matters to Zuckerberg. He doesn’t care about money. He doesn’t care about making friends. He just wants prestige, to be the biggest, the hottest, the most desireable, yet even when he reaches the pinnacle, he’s still unsatisfied. The wound from the very first scene is still there. Still real.

The final line, “You’re not an asshole, Mark. You just want to be,” is the premise of the whole movie. He goes from wanting to be in the Harvard final clubs, to wanting to piss off his ex, to wanting to move and shake in Silicon Valley with actual asshole Sean Parker. Exclusivity is king, for Zuckerberg. He wants people to want him so he can tell them no, or at least hold their entrance in his hands. Even Facebook’s original programming only allowed people with Harvard email addresses in. Zuckerberg wants that social power, because he is really powerless.

In the end, he does reach the top, but he is all alone. People who’s respect he wanted don’t want him, they just want his money. The only friend he had he excluded, and now that friend just wants money.

He realizes everything he ever thought he wanted, he got, in a distorted Twilight Zone form. The vision he’s been following was a mirage. You can’t brute force acceptance. And all he wants, what he’s always wanted, is to be accepted.

And in the final seconds of the final scene, all he wants is that girl from B.U. to accept his friend request.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Female Paramilitary Group Thwarted

An all-female paramilitary group calling themselves "The Girl Scouts of America" were thwarted last Thursday in a plot to sell over-priced cookies to a neighborhood of mentally challenged adults.

Authorities received an anonymous tip from a concerned neighbor who noticed a commotion outside.

Despite being warned to cease and desist, the all-girl militia continued to distribute the cookies to their co-conspirators in the neighborhood, causing numerous traffic delays, as well as inadvertently inciting dogs to bark at the passers-by.

The homegrown lady-terrorists had vowed to continue selling the cookies in disregard of the law, until a local religious leader, in an effort to keep the peace, bought their last 36 boxes.

The remaining boxes were mainly Trefoils, since no one likes those anyways.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Chocolate War

The Ivory Coast produces one-half of the world's supply of cocoa.

Also, nearly a million people have fled their homes in Abidjan, Ivory Coast's main city.

I'm not sure which upsets me more: The fact that the president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, is killing his own citizens in an effort to stay in power power after losing the election, or that my candy bars will soon cost a few cents more thanks to disruptions in the cocoa trade.

No, I lied. I'm way more upset about the chocolate thing. So why is the UN fooling around in Libya?

Libya only produces 2% of the world's oil supply. Ivory Coast supplies half of the world's cocoa.

Clearly we need to get our priorities straight.

Monday, March 28, 2011

1920s Mug Shots and How Society is Falling Apart

Some wonderful nerdling has collected a series of mugshots taken in the 1920s. They are beautiful.

The first thing I noticed was that all the criminals were wearing three-piece suits.

My gods, I couldn't believe it. Today, we're lucky if our criminals are wearing a shirt. But back then they were wearing SUITS! And I don't even own a suit.

A depression-era petty thug could easily out-fashion me.

What the hell is happening to society? We used to have values and social mores. Sure we also beat our women and subjugated our black people, but somewhere along the way to suffrage and civil rights we went too far. We threw out the baby with the bathwater.

Somewhere along the way, we threw out shame.

Now everyone is happy to wear ripped jeans sagging to mid-thigh, with a white tank top and a gold chain. Or a dirty old t-shirt and a sweat-stained NASCAR hat.

What the hell happened guys? We've let society down. We pretend like appearances don't matter, like wearing sweatpants is no different from wearing a sport coat. A culture that let's anything slide will soon slide itself.

I guarantee that if every man woke up tomorrow, put on his best suit, and went to work, that this country would change quickly and drastically for the better.

When you wear a suit (or so I'm told by those who own them) you feel stronger, and better about yourself. You feel confident. People treat you better. And the simple act of putting together a nice outfit is bound to make one feel better about themselves.

In a nation ravaged with mental disease, we need all the confidence boosts we can get. I know I'm projecting here, but I also know I'm right.

Don't be outdone by a criminal in the 1920s.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Am Afraid Of This Japanese Robot

She looks real. For a second I thought it was an actress pretending to be a robot. But it's a robot, buddy.

She adds a new dimension to the Uncanny Valley, one where you literally cannot tell whether the being is human or not, but once you find out it's a robot, you become immediately terrified.

She's kind of cute though.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beach Day

Hot sun, cool breeze,
picking sand and shells out of your knees,
the whoosh of waves washing more of it ashore
and the delighted squeals of children who haven't seen it all before.

The sweat begins to glisten,
and I begin to listen
to the whoosh of waves crashing on the shore.

The cooling breeze blows,
the gulls call
and the smell of salt soothes the soul.

While wispy clouds look down,
smiling as they shield the sun
for but a moment, then they move on.

The sweat collects in the creases of my skin
I wipe it off for it to come again.
Peace reigns supreme to my left and to my right
on and on into a starry night.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bears to Replace Devin Hester with a Bale of Hay

In response to rule changes by the NFL's Competition Committee, kick return specialist Devin Hester has announced his retirement from football in order to follow his dream as an Olympic sprinter.

The Chicago Bears thanked Hester for his record 14 career kick returns for touchdowns, and wished him luck in the next phase of his career. Despite losing their future hall of fame kick returner, sources inside the Bears organization have confirmed that Hester will be replaced by a large bale of hay.

According to one NFL scout, "The bale of hay had a great team workout yesterday. Going into the combine I thought he'd be more of a blocking-type player, but after these rule changes, I think he'll fit in perfectly as the Bears' new return man."

Many teams were initially disappointed with the bale of hay's lackluster time in the 40 yard dash, but his never-blink attitude really impressed the scouts. "He has all the intangibles," noted Bears GM Jerry Angelo, "and his ability to stand firm with tacklers bearing down on him is why we plan to pick him up in the first round of the draft."

Despite the Bears' interest, draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. has been skeptical of the bale of hay's skill set. "His hands leave something to be desired. He may have gotten by playing Division II ball, but he'll need some serious one-on-one coaching to succeed at the next level. In my opinion, he's a late second-rounder at best."

Despite the bale of hay's questionable catching ability, most scouts agree that he has a bright future in the NFL. "Sure he has a few flaws, but what he lacks in explosiveness he more than makes up for with discipline, work ethic, and toughness."

Hester had only good things to say about his replacement. "He's a player's player. He's not a big talker, but he leads by example. He leaves it all out there on the field."

When reached for comment, Tim Condon, the bale of hay's agent, said, "Any teams looking to draft the bale of hay should know that his offseason barn workouts are going great. If the horses don't eat him, he'll be more than ready come draft day."

Condon also represents hay's cousin, bale of pine straw, a left guard from Michigan State.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

War for the Middle East

Links from around the Middle East.

Opposition Activists Detained In Bahrain, Group Says
Bahrain has imposed a three-month emergency rule that gives the military wide powers to battle the pro-democracy uprising that began in mid-February in the strategic nation, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

U.S. Seeks Range of Strikes on Libya at U.N.
"The U.S. doesn't want a war," an Obama administration official said. "But we want to prevent a slaughter."

''Dozens injured'' in renewed Yemen protests

Activists in the southern city of Taiz said police opened fire on pro-democracy protesters on Thursday, leaving many wounded.

Remember, this is where our oil comes from:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Those Were the Days...

If boxing still had guys who looked like this, I'd totally watch it.

Blogger Must Pay $60K for Telling the Truth

Journalists can now be sued for the consequences of truthful reporting.

A Minnesota jury decided a blogger must pay $60,000 in damages to a former University of Minnesota employee who was fired after the blogger's posts exposed the former employee's alleged involvement in a mortgage fraud.

The Star Tribune reports the blogger owes the former employee $35,000 in lost wages and $25,000 in emotional distress. The former employee — who was hired by the university to study mortgage foreclosures — sued the blogger after he accused the man of being involved in a "high-profile fraudulent mortgage."

When the man sued — not for libel, apparently because the blogger had documentation for the accusation — the judge threw out many of his complaints, but ruled he could sue the blogger for "tortious interference" with the man's employment for creating, as the former employee's lawyer described it, a "defamation zone" for commenters to call for the man's firing.


In other news, Richard Nixon sues Woodward and Bernstein for forcing him to resign.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Silly Citizen, Fraud is for Banks

A California couple, who defrauded 8 banks out of $130 million, were arrested yesterday and charged with nine counts of fraud.

They are accused of borrowing by exaggerating the company's in-transit inventory and doctoring invoices to support the exaggerated numbers. The Fus are believed to have filed false reports from June 2008 to March 2009 and the fraud continue till August that year, according to Bloomberg.

The couple were indicted on nine counts of bank fraud by a federal grand jury and each charge carries a maximum 30-year sentence in federal prison.

When banks defraud the American public, they get billions in bailout dollars. When Americans try to defraud the banks, they get arrested and sent to prison.

Remember: you are a serf, and the bank is your master.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Boys Need Emotional Support Too

Boys are supposed to be the "tougher" of the sexes, but new research shows that they have emotional vulnerabilities as children that, when not addressed, can lead to anxiety, withdrawal, and behavior problems

When children reached 39 months, parents answered questionnaires about their child’s current behavior problems.

Moms and dads who were apt to punish their kids for their fears and frustrations were more likely to have children who were anxious and withdrawn at the time of the second assessment. And the effect was especially pronounced for boys who had been identified as having a high incidence of negative emotions at 33 months, she said.

“When parents punish their toddlers for becoming angry or scared, children learn to hide their emotions instead of showing them. These children may become increasingly anxious when they have these feelings because they know they’ll face negative consequences,” Engle said.

Children learn how to regulate and express their emotions through parental guidance. If that guidance consists of punishment or being told to "shut up," the child may experience difficulty in emotional development, which can lead to problems with anxiety and depression down the road.

In a society where mental health problems are prevalent, it is good to know that we are figuring out ways to not screw up our kids.

Sometimes a little guidance goes a long way.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I Truly Hate Drinking

I took my girl out last night to celebrate her getting a new job. We went to a fancy beer bar, had some drinks and some food. It was fun.

I drank a glass of cabernet and two 9.4% IPAs (Founders Double Trouble - two word review: flavor explosion). It tasted good going down. Well, the cabernet was cheap so it was only ok, but the beer was good.

Then we left. You know that feeling you get when you're in the car leaving the bar and you can feel the sickness coming on? I had that. I didn't puke, but I definitely felt shitty.

I got home and all I could do is curl up on the bed and try to go to sleep.

I really don't get how some people drink all the time. It's literally poison, and it makes you feel like shit.

I went to bed at 10pm.

I woke up at 1:15am in pain, punishment for drinking the nasty stuff. Couldn't get back to sleep for hours.

Man, I really hate drinking.