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More Posts April 22, 2010

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , add a comment

Lately, I have fairly consistently failed to meet my own ideas of what I should be doing as regards new creative works. I have this sense that I am supposed to be writing things, and posting them online, way more often. I think that part of this stems from the fact that I don’t currently have a close confidante that is sharing my day to day thoughts. In the past, I was fairly satisfied to tell my love what I was thinking. In absence of such a presence, however, I have an urge to tell the world if I cannot tell the most important person in my world. I think another part stems from the fact the fact that my brother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and this makes me feel extraordinarily mortal. When I was a teenager, I was struck by a car while bicycling to track practice. This permanently damaged my left leg. As I grow older, that leg has gradually caused me more and more trouble. My brother has been brave about dealing with his condition, but finding out about it has given me self-induced cause to dwell upon my injuries and their longterm effects. Hm, this feels a bit like personal bitching to excuse lax behavior. I am going to leave it that way, though, as recognition that I might be doing exactly that.

Happy Birthday Deva April 13, 2010

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , 3 comments

DevaEight years ago today I was standing in a hospital room in Nashville, Tennessee cutting the umbilical cord of a tiny little baby. Deva Alyssa Winter was born into the world, and I was standing there like every other nervous dad in the history of mankind. Except, that I am not Deva’s biological father. As luck would have it, I had met a woman and fallen in love with her, only to discover she was already pregnant. I almost jumped ship the moment that was revealed, but I thought that we were the right couple and that I should give it a chance. So I stuck it out with a long distance relationship as my then-girlfriend developed all of the signs of childbearing, and I made the drive from Atlanta to Nashville to visit her every weekend. Finally, there I was watching the miracle of birth.

The moment that I picked Deva up and cradled her in my arms, I was a changed person. Unlike many folks, I had never wanted the responsibility of children. I always figured that other people were better parents than I could ever be, and that it was just not something for me. When I held that tiny little girl, swaddled in layers of cloth, I felt the powerful protective instincts of millions of years of evolution sweep over me. Deva’s mother, Rachel, determined that she wanted to raise Deva to think of me as “Dad” and this seemed to work fairly well since Deva’s biological father basically disappeared to Canada and saw her only a single time shortly after her birth. I know he had his own life to live, and that is not for me to judge.

I fell in love with Deva, as a dad, and she took to me as well. I was the one she would usually call out for when she was sick. I was the one that read her bedtime stories, and typically drove her to daycare. As the years passed, when I came home from work, she would grab my hand and insist that I join her in playing with blocks, or her dolls and toy castle, carry her like I was a horse, all of the silly stuff that you do to make kids happy. Rachel used to call Deva a “daddy’s girl” because she would run to meet me when I got home from work, she would demand to go with me to the store, she would try to help me cook, she would even try to help me clean the house.

Sadly, when Deva was 5 years old, her mother took off and left me here. She initially encouraged me to keep in touch with Deva, and I would visit or call when I was allowed to do so. Eventually, for whatever reason, Deva’s mother Rachel cut off contact. Finally I discovered that Deva wasn’t even living with her mom, having been taken in by her paternal grandmother. I tried to reach out to her, but Rachel refused. I still try to reach out to Deva on holidays and her birthday, but her mom seems determined to block this.

Anyway, Deva, I tried again this year to get your mom to let me see you in person, or even just talk to you on the phone, and she ignored the request. I hope that someday you will at least know that I tried. I hope that you have had a happy birthday today, and that everything is going well for you.

Is There a Candidate? April 13, 2010

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , 3 comments

One of the things that I wonder about the so-called Tea Party is: Do they actually have any real candidates? I don’t mean Republican Party candidates or Libertarian Party candidates. I mean actual Tea Party candidates. If they do have such candidates, are they really going to vote for them? Seriously, this is entirely anecdotal, but most Libertarians that I know, who tell me how they vote, historically have voted Republican. However often they proclaim Libertarians philosophies, they don’t actually vote that way when the chips are down. To be fair, some of them voted for Obama in 2008, but that was shocking given prior self-professed records. It seems that Sarah Palin scared them, too. Usually, though, election after election, most of them ultimately decide that a vote for a Libertarian is a vote for a Democrat, and so they vote Republican.

And so, I am serious. How many teabaggers are going to vote for a Tea Party candidate? I suspect there won’t be many. Is there even such a thing as a Tea Party candidate? As an outsider watching them on TV, it sure looks to me like they are being played by the Republicans, who seem to be their primary event speakers. Or maybe they aren’t being played by the Republicans. Maybe they are playing themselves, pretending to be something new and different while actually just continuing to be the same old Republican grassroots they have always been.

Congress Against Democracy March 4, 2010

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , 2 comments

I was watching CNN tonight, and they had two Congressional members, one Democratic and one Republican, talking about the current healthcare issue and what the Senate should do. Republican Representative Michele Bachmann stated that having the Senate settle issues of law by majority vote was wrong. She said that the Senate should require a 60%-Yes vote for anything to pass. Hm? While I definitely believe that our Constitution has strong (usually judicial) provisions designed to protect minorities against immoral majorities, it also provides for a democratic-republic form of government. The same so-called “reconciliation” tactic was used to pass the Bush-era taxcuts for the wealthy, so really the Representative is talking out of both sides of her mouth anyway. Regardless, to me it is silly that this has to have some special term like Reconciliation. Why does it require weird obscure rules for a simple majority to win the vote? Why should it take 60-40 votes for a bill to pass in the Senate? Why are so many Republicans against the basic idea of democracy?

State of the Union Response January 27, 2010

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , 1 comment so far

Presidential SealI just finished watching President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address—which I thought was pretty good—and a weird thought popped into my head. I am sure that the Republican Party has some prepared “response” ready to whack him with, something that they hope will somehow make them look better and him look worse. But this idea occurred to me—what if they just said, “Yeah, what he said. Seriously, that sounds pretty good, and we are going to help make it happen, because America deserves our help.” Okay, just an odd thought. Let’s see what their handpicked spokesperson really says.

Hollywood and Swift on Religion December 31, 2009

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , add a comment

According to the internet, when I searched, after watching the movie tonight, full of lasagna and wine:

“They say there’s just enough religion in the world to make men hate one another, but not enough to make them love.”—Louis Cyphre, Angel Heart

“We have enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”—Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects. Collected by Pope and Swift. Found in Spectator No. 459.

Brittany Murphy Dead December 20, 2009

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , add a comment

Brittany-MurphyWow. Uh, I really don’t know what to say, but I want to say something about this. This is really an unfortunate surprise.

I cannot believe that today Brittany Murphy died of a heart attack at only 32 years of age. She was such a beautiful girl and a real joy to watch in movies such as Sin City. Condolences to her family and her fans around the world.

Picture used without permission, for commentary purposes only. No challenge to copyright is implied.

3G is Finally Here October 13, 2009

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , add a comment

As always, the up front statement: I really like my iPhone 3G. Previously, however, I have repeatedly complained about the fact that AT&T’s promised 3G simply wasn’t actually available in my neighborhood. AT&T kept telling me that it was, but that was fairly insulting when I was typically sitting there looking at barely one bar on Edge, and regularly getting dropped calls at the time.

In the interest of fairness, I have been meaning to post an update. Sometime in late September, AT&T finally put 3G in my neighborhood. Now I have the same coverage at home that I could get in the middle of nowhere at Lake Lanier last time I visited. Seriously, it has been really nice. I can normally get 3G at home, at my local bar, and all around my local area. My dropped calls have drastically decreased as well. With the exception of the periodic outages on the 3G network, this is the coverage I imagined when I bought the phone.

Then, this past weekend, AT&T sent me this advertising circular in the mail. Get the AT&T 3G MicroCell, they proclaimed. It will improve your wireless experience at home. Basically, you buy a miniature tower to keep in your house, at a price of $150, and it uses your DSL or cable modem Internet connection to give you 3G. Sounds like voice over IP (VoIP) to me. Okay, but it costs about $15 a month for a single phone, and increases the traffic on your internet connection.

Seriously, when I first saw that they were offering some sort of “mini-tower” thing, I thought that maybe they were letting you purchase this item that boosted their network. That seemed sort of clever to me. Except that wasn’t the bottom line. You weren’t purchasing a booster. You were buying a specialized modem that entitled you to paying $15 extra every month to get the service that they keep saying you are already getting.

Folks at AT&T, I appreciate the 3G finally being in my neighborhood. It is finally starting to seem like it could be pretty awesome. I probably would even have paid some sort of one-time purchase-fee to boost my personal access. However, I don’t like this new plan you have introduced. It feels like you are asking me to pay extra to get the service you already claimed you were giving me.

Why did FOX lie? September 18, 2009

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , 1 comment so far

Why did FOX News lie about CNN’s “Tea Party” coverage? That’s the tagline CNN put on the story that anchor Campbell Brown led tonight. And seriously, what an awesome freaking question. Why does FOX “News” seemingly distort the truth so often? Fair and balanced? Is that an FCC approved code for “bullsh*t”?

I am really glad to see CNN defend themselves against this garbage. FOX’s endless assertion that they are “fair and balanced” is laughable. Even most folks I know who are conservative defenders of FOX typically say something like “well, from their perspective…” or the like.

In this case, FOX falsely claimed that CNN didn’t cover the “Tea Party” political action march in Washington, D.C. Worse yet, they actually put out a newspaper advertisement saying so. This wasn’t just an offhand comment by some idiot with a microphone. It was a calculated move that managed to bubble its way up through the hypothetical “best” marketing minds of the FOX network.

CNN showed a barrage of footage of their reporters doing exactly what FOX falsely claimed that they had not done: namely, covering the “Tea Party” political action march in Washington, D.C. One reporter after another was shown clearly covering the crowd of demonstrators, even directly asking members of that crowd questions and displaying their precise answers. Anyone who watches CNN already knew this, but the evidence was clear. CNN had indeed given extensive coverage to an event that FOX fraudulently claimed that they had ignored.

If the FOX company is willing to engage in direct, intentional committee-planned falsehoods of that nature, why should anyone even vaguely consider the idea that their endlessly editorial slanted “news” coverage is anything resembling “fair and balanced”?

District 9 September 8, 2009

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , add a comment

District 9If you have already seen this movie, then you already know, or you disagree. For me, this movie was a real surprise. I saw a trailer for it, and expected it to either be some sort of crappy action flick or a poorly done alien conspiracy piece. Instead, I was treated to a gritty story with lots of views of humanity at its worst and best.

Hm, how do I say this without a spoiler. The moment that I saw the main character get sprayed in the face with some alien goop, I knew he was going to become capable of a certain thing that was already vaguely hinted in the movie. I did not foresee the layers that would unfold in the process. From the suggestions of voodoo by a villainous warlord, to the tender pleas to his wife, there were lots of little moments that made the film work despite a backdrop which seemingly promised absurdity.

The aliens were pretty freaky looking, and didn’t initially come off as believable to me. But somehow this ultimately worked for me. Once I accepted them as freakish and probably somewhat ridiculous they became part of the backdrop. Dropping them into abject poverty in an African shack town, and filming it all with a gritty, documentary style somehow turned them into characters rather than bad special effects.

But the aliens aren’t really the story. The story is a human tale of being outcast, of desperation, of unexpected honor and of the glimmer of humanity found amidst the depraved and inhumane. The actions of mankind are sometimes more alien that those of the aliens, and the aliens sometimes more human than our own kind. This could just as easily be a story of any number of genocidal events in human history. However, it disguises all of that with a chitinous hide and some suitably jerky camerawork. You come into the show expecting bugs and troopers, and instead you see the sins and crimes of the last century played by a puppet show of CGI aliens and faux documentary.