August 2006 Archives

Dinner Is Served

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I feel the urge to reproduce this, just because of the bizarre belief system this New Guinea tribe practices. I can understand how ideas like these propagate. If you grow up believing these things outside the reach of education, concepts that seem strange to us must sound perfectly reasonable. However, I have to question the guy who originally thought up the ash & magical arrow bit. Stay with me here.

If you have a bunch of time on your hands, read the whole article in the current issue of Smithsonian. The story follows the visit of Paul Raffaele with the Korowai tribe in Indonesian New Guinea. The Korowai are believed to be one of the last tribes left that still eats people. From Smithsonian:

Cannibalism was practiced among prehistoric human beings, and it lingered into the 19th century in some isolated South Pacific cultures, notably in Fiji. But today the Korowai are among the very few tribes believed to eat human flesh. They live about 100 miles inland from the Arafura Sea, which is where Michael Rockefeller, a son of then-New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, disappeared in 1961 while collecting artifacts from another Papuan tribe; his body was never found. Most Korowai still live with little knowledge of the world beyond their homelands and frequently feud with one another. Some are said to kill and eat male witches they call khakhua...
After we eat a dinner of river fish and rice, Boas joins me in a hut and sits cross-legged on the thatched floor, his dark eyes reflecting the gleam from my flashlight, our only source of light. Using Kembaren as translator, he explains why the Korowai kill and eat their fellow tribesmen. It's because of the khakhua, which comes disguised as a relative or friend of a person he wants to kill. "The khakhua eats the victim's insides while he sleeps," Boas explains, "replacing them with fireplace ash so the victim does not know he's being eaten. The khakhua finally kills the person by shooting a magical arrow into his heart." When a clan member dies, his or her male relatives and friends seize and kill the khakhua. "Usually, the [dying] victim whispers to his relatives the name of the man he knows is the khakhua," Boas says. "He may be from the same or another treehouse."
I ask Boas whether the Korowai eat people for any other reason or eat the bodies of enemies they've killed in battle. "Of course not," he replies, giving me a funny look. "We don't eat humans, we only eat khakhua."

Snakes On A Movie Review

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Dang, I didn't realize how much pressure I would get to write a review of the best movie of 2006. Errr, well, now that Snakes on a Plane has faded silently into the past, I'll say a few things about it. First of all, I found the movie more entertaining than watching a hotdog eating contest but less entertaining than watching lesbians at a pool party. In other words, it was good.

I've been warned about having expectations, and what I expected was a good, clean, non-scary family movie involving some family pets getting loose and exploring an airplane, like one of those zany Pixar movies. Well it was kind of the opposite of that. In other words, if you're still planning on seeing this movie, go with the guys and not that girl you've been trying to impress with your endless knowledge of quotes from Office Space.

But if you want to see Snakes on a Plane, get to the theater and see it. It's one of those movies that just doesn't translate well to a home setting. Much of the fun was in the atmosphere of a hundred other people eager to experience the beginning of the next cult classic movie.

It seemed like the whole of the movie theater was in on the Internet jokes surrounding the movie. When Samuel L. Jackson started into his typecast line "I'm sick of these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!" the audience ramped from a gentle applause to a roaring ovation by the time he finished speaking. It was almost as if they had never heard the guy say motherfucker before.

Life Before Computers

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I think we can all agree that computers make our lives easier. At least, whenever we're not banging on them when they're not working properly. Which is to say, most the time.

Therefore we should really avoid taking them for granted in our everyday lives. I think it's important to take a look at what life was like before computers. For some insight into the past, check out this Fark Photoshop thread on Things That Were Harder Before Computers.

(copied from Abe Vigoda's Ghost, without permission)

Spamming was a lot more difficult back then.

I Like Planets

Is it just me, or are people making too big of a deal about the definition of the word "planet" these days ? I understand the need for a formal definition, but the level of argument on the subject exceeds what could be considered reasonable or warranted.

"I'm sure this will engender a lot of heated discussion," Boss said by telephone prior to departing for the Czech Republic to cast his ballot. "This is what everyone will be talking about in the coffee shops of Prague for the next few days."

I don't plan on visiting the Czech Republic anytime in the near future, but if I do, I'll already know that the conversations in the coffee shops there are ripe for syndication on prime-time television. Tune in at 8:00 and hear arguments about space rocks first hand.

In case you haven't been paying attention, some people with big telescopes are trying to formalize what can and cannot be called a planet. The best definition they've come up with so far says that a planet is anything that's round and orbits a star. That's not bad, but now we're opening up a can of worms as we find new things we can call planets. This proposal already gives us three additional planets in our solar system, including Pluto's moon Charon, Ceres, and the creatively named 2003 UB313.

After that, you know it's only a matter of time before people with bigger telescopes find more round things orbiting the sun. Then what if someone tosses a gigantic beach ball into space and it starts orbiting ? Will all the school children have to learn about planet #2058544: Anotherdamnbeachball ?

And it's not going to be easy to come up with new acronyms to remember all the planet names. I had a hard enough time remembering "My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas." Kids twenty years from now will need a cheatsheet a mile long to get all of them down. Think of the children, people. This is crazy.

Scott Adams is a Genius

If I were jumping from a sinking ship onto a two-person lifeboat and had to choose between your company and that of Scott Adams, well, I'm sorry, you would have to drown in the cold, harsh sea.

It's nothing personal, of course. It's just that I read the blog of Dilbert author Scott Adams every day, and every day I find myself more addicted to his creative and humorous commentary on politics, religion, and stupid people. The guy is a genius of the first order, up there with the likes of Einstein and Edison and George W. Bush (do your worst, Democrats).

This isn't a man-crush of any kind, but it's the closest non-gay-sounding thing to that.

Today, Mr. Adams is talking about the apparent resolution in the war between Israel and Hezbollah. He's delighted to explain how both sides think they won, but for different reasons. He then goes on to lay the groundwork for how to solve these kinds of conflicts in the future. Bask in the goodness:

If you want to win the Nobel Peace Prize, figure out a way to trade land for pride. I think it could be done, but you'd have to find a non-lethal way to fuel pride that doesn't involve the material world. It sounds impossible but consider that Gandhi turned not-eating and not-fighting into a source of power, and no one saw that coming.

If I were that clever, you would read my blog every day, too.

More Snakes On More Planes

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In case you forgot, Snakes on a Plane is opening this weekend. I don't have a ticket yet, but I should get one soon because they'll probably sell out quicker than a professional football player.

I know you're questioning my enthusiasm for this movie that will probably be shamefully bad. I'm questioning it myself, and I'm no stranger to really, really terrible movies. I've come to decide that I want to see Snakes on a Plane because it makes no apologies for what it is: a campy, grassroots-driven bad movie for people who like bad movies.

There's an opinion piece that describes this well. Here's an excerpt.

"But here's the thing: [Ironic] appreciation is based on the premise that the bad movie aspired to be good. If a film never takes itself seriously and originates as satire, everything is different; its badness means something else entirely. SOAP doesn't fit into either category: It doesn't take itself seriously, but it's not a satire. It will probably be unentertaining in a completely conventional way. Which, apparently, is what people want. They want to see Snakes on a Plane in order to tell their friends that it's ridiculous, even though a) that's the only thing everyone seems to know about this movie, and b) that's been the driving force behind its marketing campaign. It's not a bad movie that's accidentally good, and it's not a good movie that's intentionally bad; it's a disposable movie that people can pretend to like ironically, even though a) it's not ironic and b) they probably won't like it at all. The only purpose of Snakes on a Plane is to make its audience feel smarter than what it's seeing. Which adds up, since that's part of the reason people like reading the Internet."

What's going to suck is if SoaP actually does well in the box office. Then we're going to have to endure years of Hollywood trying to reproduce the unlikely meme behind this movie. Like lightning in an open field, this kind of inspiration can only strike once, and the successors are going to be ignored more easily than a modern-day boy band. On second thought, everyone forget I said that. It sounds like a really temptingly terrible movie idea, and I don't want to be held responsible for You Got Served II: Boy Band F'd You In The A.

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