Saturday, January 30, 2010

Obama Q&A with House Republicans

Instead of going out, I spent my Friday night in "Political Geek Land", engrossed in the lengthy exchange aired live on TV during President Obama's meeting yesterday with Republicans from the House of Representatives.

The State of the Union speech was excellent scripted political theater- but this live Q&A between Obama and a roomful of his political opponents was a fascinating interaction of personalities & ideas.

With this week's one-two punch of political showmanship, President Obama has shown he's an intellectual force who was way out of the league of the House GOP. However, the civility of both parties is a testament to the possibility that bitter enemies can exchange thoughts without unreasonable contention.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Obama's State of the Union

As I said in a previous post, last nite I chilled out with a beer & food to watch President Obama give his State of the Union speech.

Even though alot of his judgment & politics can be called into question, the guy gives a hell of a speech. It was probably the best political speech I've ever heard, and I'm pretty cynical. Unfortunately, this country is so jaded from individual gratification & superhuman expectations that no one person can possibly please everyone as the country's administrative head.

As an Independent who voted for him, my reaction was overwhelmingly positive to his overall approach. I'm not so naive to think he's going to do everything he talked about or can get the troglodytes in the GOP & corporate wing of the Democrats to work with him.

To me a speech like this is about vision and a sense of leadership as much as specific policy promises. That being said, now Obama's got to roll up his sleeves and keep hammering publicly for the ideals and values he spoke about. There were several things I didn't completely agree with & things I know will probably never get done. However, he is an intelligent leader who appears to be doing the best he can in the bureaucratic madhouse he is operating within. In my expert opinion, Obama is The Man.

For people who just don't like Obama for any reason, I would recommend watching some all too recent video of the 8 year debacle that America suffered under- the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney Presidency. If you actually feel nostalgic about those Dark Ages, then you're simply a masochist. The 20-30% of the country that approved of the Bush Administration are mostly CEO millionaires or People of Walmart.

All I ever heard when the War Monkey spoke was:

God I just found this & it is awesome:

Give me Obama over that idiot any day.

Speaking of idiots, after the speech I was flipping through the cable news circus- watching classic Chris Matthews letting his mouth outrace his brain & Arianna Huffington complaining in her barely tolerable accent.

However, all of these gasbags sounded like Rhodes scholars once I switched to Fox News & heard the shrill voice that instantly assaulted my nervous system. That knucklehead Sean Hannity was interviewing reknown fame-hound, (oops I mean pitbull, or do I mean pit-iful bull-shitter?...) Sarah Palin. What a meeting of the minds these 2 dopes produce when they're together.

Why I'm Not Getting an Apple iPad

So Steve Jobs has finally unveiled his portable touchscreen computer, the iPad.

I did a Blogger search at the top of the page & my first post on this blog about the possibility of an Apple branded tablet PC was in 1996 - 4 friggin years ago! That is an epoch in 'computer time'.

It is definitely a cool device that makes me feel like I'm actually living in "The Future". It's basically an upscaled iPhone that is more suited for applications like Internet & digital books. What is really interesting is the huge potential for improvement now that the initial version has been produced.

However... as cool as I think this creation is, there is no way I'd buy one right now. I'm a professed Mac computer fan, but I'm not an insane Apple junkie. Besides sounding like how a person from Boston would pronounce "iPod," there are significant reasons an "iPad" isn't in my immediate future.

First of all, I don't need one!

Second of all, there are too many limitations in this Alpha version & that loses most the appeal for me. Not being able to multi-task between apps is weak. Not supporting Photoshop, Illustrator, or 3D software is major dealbreaker because I'd want to be able to use them if I'm using this great touchscreen computer. It has some paint app called Brushes, but I'd have to try it out before saying it wouldn't be useful.

Third, I'm not trying to spend hundreds of dollars, given issues #1 & #2.

Fourth, I usually don't buy the 1st version of anything.

Even though it may currently not be worth the money to some (like me), & other touchscreens have already been on the market, it is still a pretty amazing piece of technology. Apple has been successful at projecting their products as cutting-edge, yet intuitively functional.

This is the computer that I have long realized would eventually be pervasive once Apple functionality was applied.

For what it's worth, in my opinion the next revolution in computers will probably be wearable computers w/ eyepieces or retinal bionic implants. (...the iEye?)

After that... the Apple iThink!

After that, the phenomenon we call mankind will experience "i∞", which looks like this.

Howard Zinn: People's History

I heard Howard Zinn died & was reading some of A People's History of the United States that I bookmarked awhile ago.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Relaxation Meditation

I recently saw an article on Huffington Post about the intersection of two topics I consider myself well-versed in: Buddhism and sleep.

It is an excellent look into the chaotic nature of our minds and the simplicity behind meditation, which is nothing more than looking inside one's self & quieting the mind. The continuous mental chatter of "conscious thought" can be dissolved through focusing awareness- as a result, inner and outer reality can be experienced more deeply & directly.

Of course, I have always been amused by the analogy of the mind to a restless monkey:

Buddhist thought appeals to me because of the awareness by the Buddha & his teaching that there is no such thing as a doctorine of Absolute Truth- which doesn't actually exist in religion or science or anything else, for that matter (...and that's the absolute truth).

Also, it is a fascinating psychological system that has cultivated a mindset that's very different to traditional Western spiritual understanding. Since I really became exposed to the general philosophy of Buddhism in a Religions of the World course back in college, it has continued to be one of many sources of wisdom I try to draw from.

Being a Monkey Buddha, I don't need to sit cross-legged and chant mantras to meditate. However, I do need to cut out the TV, PS3, & computer once in awhile to just lay down & stare at the ceiling or close my eyes and listen to my breathing or the leaves blowing outside. Doing nothing has always given me great satisfaction. :)

Speaking of which, my only plans for tonight is to grab a beer & a sandwich while I watch The State of the Union performance by The Long-Legged Mack Daddy. I'm an avid observer of national politics, so this is required viewing. Last time, a Congressional redneck yelled at Obama, so it could get interesting...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Acoustic Levitation: Old News

Warning: the sound in this video is annoying

This video shows objects hovering in mid-air due to resonating sound vibration. Since I always assume that video or images are fake, I looked into the topic a little more. Acoustic levitation is an area of research that has produced plenty of tangible results.

Scientists Levitate Small Animals

How Acoustic Levitation Works

Of course, we all know that Tibetan monks have already unlocked this ability, so it's kind of old news:

Acoustic Levitation Of Stones

Seriously, though, is this how Edward Leedskalnin built his Coral Castle?!? I'd like to think so.
Perhaps he understood the eternal mysteries of the vibrational forces of the Universe that we are just beginning to comprehend.

There has been speculation that even some ancient megalithic builders had unlikely technologies like electricity, anti-gravity, etc.. Maybe the ancient Egyptian ankh was actually a high-tech tuning fork!...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Adam Crossley on NBC 10

I just posted about seeing a performance in Philly by my friend from high school Adam Crossley.

Last nite, he played his song Beautiful World for a fundraiser for the Haiti disaster on the local NBC 10 channel. It was pretty cool to see him playing live on TV for good cause.

That video isn't online yet, but NBC10 has clips up from his performance on the morning show 10!:

NBC 10:
Adam Crossley

View more news videos at:

Game Review: Bioshock

I recently finished Bioshock for PS3 & it kind of blew me away how sophisticated video games have become.


Having grown up owning most of the major video game systems ever created, from Atari 2600 to the PS3, I have witnessed first hand the evolution of the art & technology involved.

Playing games like Pitfall & PacMan were adequate back when I was 5yrs old, but even then I had some idea that there was room for alot of improvement.

Experiencing a game like Bioshock is like a whole different universe. Modern games like this one engage the player on multiple levels. There is the intense action of a first person shooter, as well as the intellectual challenge of puzzles & moral choices. Of course, the amazing HD graphics on games like this can make you want to just look around at the virtual environment. As a designer, I am easily enthralled by the detail that goes into the visual aspects of a game. Bioshock's locations have a unique look inspired by early 20th century Art Deco style, but the twisted fate of the place is reflected in the deteriorating facade.

In Bioshock, you find yourself at the bottom of the ocean- in a city called Rapture, one man's utopia gone wrong. The city has degraded due to addiction to a genetic tonic that gives people superhuman powers. There are now zombie-like genetic mutants called Splicers roaming the areas that you encounter. You acquire different superpowers as the game progresses, and you end up having an awesome arsenal of ordinary weapons like guns on one hand & crazy powers like incinerate, freeze, telekenesis, etc. on the other.

The undersea environment gives the game a unique mood that is effectively creepy & very cool. This is enhanced by the occasional rumblings of a large creature in a diving suit walking around, called a Big Daddy. These behemoths protect eerie girls called Little Sisters who harvest the genetic tonic from Splicer corpses around the city.

These Little Sisters are the source of tonic for your powers, so you have to deal with them by either saving them... or harvesting the parasite inside them & killing them- which makes you feel like an evil bastard, but gives you significantly more tonic for your powers. To get to these Little Sisters, though, you have to take down the Big Daddies protecting them, which ends up being a major battle.

The addition of moral decisions & emotional responses to situations give depth to game that really puts you into it. I played through saving almost all of the Little Sisters, but the ending still made me out to be a bad guy, which was weird. Apparently you have to save ALL of the Little Sisters to get the 'good' ending.

My only complaint about the game is the repetitive act of having to 'hack' devices through constantly completing the same puzzle- arranging a maze of pipes with liquid flowing through them. Gets old quick.

The game is definitely challenging but I enjoyed it & thought it was great overall. The 'evil' ending I got kind of disappointing, but the entirety of the game is so exceptional that it didn't bug me as much as it might otherwise.

• The Monkey Buddha's official rating: 8.5

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fun with Sunday Circular Ads

Sunday dinner at my parents' house has long been a weekly event in my family.

I am not usually big on traditions or rituals, but being able to be with the rest of the Micarelli clan every week is a great source of comfort & enjoyment that we all look forward to. Especially now that there is a new little dude among us, it has taken on a whole new level of fun.

Each Sunday we have a similar routine: After dinner we watch The Simpsons or sports, have coffee/tea & dessert, and since my Dad has always bought home a Sunday newspaper, we all look through the retail circular ads.

I don't really shop (other than for necessities), but I like seeing what's out in stores & sometimes get ideas or reference material for design projects I'm working on.
Last week, though, I was more interested in some truly amusing ads for products that are true gems.

First & foremost:

Recently I've been noticing the ads for the Amish Fireplace that have been a recurring source of entertainment for us.

It is actually an electric heater that looks like a fireplace, furnished in a wooden mantle supposedly hand-crafted by Amish workers. What gives these ads special appeal to my sense of humor is the shameless marketing & the classic 'Photoshopped' pictures of the Amish workshops:

This past week, though they came out swinging with a 2-page ad featuring provocative headlines & an Amish business deal taking place right in the Photshopped workshop.

"Amish hit hard by recession"

Photos reveal Amish secrets
of the miracle fireplace mantel"

I would recommend clicking these images to see the larger versions so they can be fully appreciated:

I'll let the other two items I found speak for themselves. These are things that should not be found in the home of any normal person, but are nonetheless simply awesome.

First, The Redneck Illuminated Christmas Village.

The main trailer ornament was hilarious enough to me, but my sister pointed out in the ad below that there is a whole village of holiday white trash to collect. Wow.

Secondly, I think there was some kind of Wolf & Moon internet meme that must have given rise to this Spirit of the Wild Express wolf train. How many people have enough interest in both wolves & trains to warrant such a completely useless convergence of collectible crap?

So yeah, this is the kind of ridiculousness that I live for...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Adam Crossley @ The Tin Angel

Last night, I had the pleasure to have sort of mini-reunion with friends from high school.

We came to the Tin Angel on 2nd St. in Philly to watch my fellow Delsea H.S. alum & Billboard artist Adam Crossley perform.

Adam has always been a character w/ a great sense of humor. He has grown into a talented artist, and the intimate venue was perfect for the performance he gave for family, friends & fans that were there.

I went up with my old chums Dan & Don, but saw alot of other people I knew. The place was sold out & Adam gave a great show with amazing music & funny anectodes. He cut it a little short so he could go out & talk to everyone, but he did a superb job.

Dan, Adam, Me, & Don
(My friends are tall.)

After Adam performed, two ladies who go by the name Dala played. They were folksy and had an irresistible sweetness about them. They did a cover of Bad Romance that was neat & they were overall really good, too. I would totally be their groupie. :D

Me & the ladies from Dala

After the show, alot of people went to The Continental for some late night drinks & food. We got to chill in a more private setting which was fun.

Me, Jana, Dan, Adam, & Don
@ the Continental

After that, we went to Triumph Brewery for a beer before heading home. All in all, it was a great night & it's cool to see a friend being such a creative success that can bring people together.

Jon Stewart on the Right-Wing Freak Show

The other night, Jon Stewart had prime material to work with as he went to town on the same set of wackos that I just posted about:

He had the appropriate response to the reactions of Pat Robertson & Rush Limbaugh to the Haiti earthquake.
"Shut your pie hole old man." Amen to that...

The stupid, corny, & weird interview between Glenn Beck & Sarah Palin. I didn't even see the opening segment- which was uncomfortably creepy. I was laughing my ass off, though.

The Daily Show:

For the record, I'm embedding clips from Hulu because Comedy Central's embedding code sucks & I don't care enough about programming to figure it out.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Disaster, Dolts & the Devil

Most people are aware of the devastating earthquake that hit an already impoverished Haiti.

Many people around the world are trying to figure out the best way to help, but career assholes like Rush Limbaugh & Pat Robertson have wasted no time using this tragedy to push their own rotten agendas.

Pat Robertson's idiotic theory that Haiti's situation is a result of a "pact with the Devil" is a prime example of the problems with unreasoning fundamentalism of any flavor.

First of all, a horrific event like this makes the concept of 'a loving God' seem pretty ridiculous. It's one of countless horrible situations existing simultaneously around the globe that cannot be squared with the idea of a personal god with our best interests in mind.

The world seems to be a chaotic experience w/ no benevolent deities protecting us.

Furthermore, the idea that Robertson's God would 'allow' the deaths of thousands in retribution for some perceived insult or falling away means that if his petty God did exist, he would be a total jerk. I'd find more comfort in seeing the world as miraculously random. God may create jerks, but 'It' (God) should not have the capacity to be a jerk 'Itself.'

Speaking of jerks, I'm more inclined to believe that Sarah Palin's TV commentating debut on Fox News actually sent out a seismic shockwave of stupid that manifested into a catastrophic earthquake. I would say 'God help us', but there may be nothing that can be done in the face of Mayan Palingenesis 2012.

This particular segment of her recent interview w/ Glenn Beck is dripping with sanctimonious drivel... or as The Pasty One himself says, "Bullcrap!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2008 Election Madness w/ Sarah Palin

I was watching Chris Matthews jabber over his guests & he was talking about the book Game Change that has all kinds of behind-the-scenes revelations about the last Presidential campaign.

National politics is one of my interests, and this past campaign had very intriguing issues & people. Ultimately, you cannot separate the issues of public life from the myriad personalities debating those issues. Therefore gossip will always be a part of the political world... until we are ruled over by machines.

One particular tidbit I heard about the sassy she-devil Sarah Palin really made me laugh. Apparently besides not knowing a damn thing about American history or much of anything else substantial, she couldn't stop calling now Vice President Joe Biden the wrong name- "O'Biden"!

I thought she was just trying to be cute when she asked Biden "Can I call ya Joe?"- but it turns out she was trying to avoid saying his last name.

The best part is that she actually slipped up & called him "O'Biden"!!!

Sure it's inane, but so is she.
I thought it was a funny subtle moment that speaks to her broader wackiness. Since I didn't have access to polls before the election showing how horribly team McPain were doing, I was scared to death that her crazy ass was going to be running the country...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monkeys Behaving Badly

If there is one thing that I cannot ever resist, it's monkeys doing funny things.

On The Chive, I recently saw a link to this excellent collection:

The Insane Leslie Hall

I was playing with my little nephew & the kid's show Yo Gabba Gabba! was on. I don't know too much about it other than the human beatbox Biz Markie has been on there.

On the episode that was on, there was a crazy lady teaching a wacked-out dance.

Because of my encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture & Internet memes, I recognized her as the "Keeper of the Gem Sweaters" herself, Leslie Hall.

My Mom didn't believe me that it was actually a woman & was pretty much weirded out by the whole scene... while I was laughing my ass off. (My nephew just kept on playing with his trucks.)

I've mentioned Leslie Hall before
when her & other eccentric Internet personalities became advocates for Net Neutrality through classic PSA clips:

Even though her character & 'fashions' that she exhibits are borderline grotesque, I find her to be entertaining in an oddly hilarious way.

If you can handle it, she's also got a Youtube page of pure ridiculousness.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The U.S. Vs. John Lennon

I posted awhile ago about a trailer I saw for a documentary "The US vs. John Lennon".

Tonight I was over my parents' watching the whole documentary with my Dad. He raised me & my siblings on The Beatles. The older I get, the more I realize what a great creative mind John Lennon was. I've always considered him an inspirational figure, but learning about his political activism continues to amaze me. He was willing to stand up & take on the most powerful forces on Earth, the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about, and the United States government.

The documentary was captivating because Lennon was such a genius and a provocative personality. My Dad & I were discussing the craziness of the day... and how the craziness going on today is so similar. We also noted the lack of any current activist leaders with the idealistic focus, powerful international attention, and cutting intelligence that made him such a threat to the Nixon administration.

The Nation

Watching the impossible fight he took on for human ideals & peace, as well as the numerous parallels between then & now, helped me get fired up tonight to rant in my last post.

Watch The U.S. vs. John Lennon in Music | View More Free Videos Online at

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Documenting the Horror of War

While randomly browsing the web, I came across this article by the author of Afterwar: Veterans From a World in Conflict.

Reading through the available excerpts definitely didn't help my natural cynicism regarding the brutal realities of human existence. Death & suffering are universal human problems that are exponentially increased through the business of War.

Veterans From a World in Conflict

People are inherently neither 'good' nor 'evil', both of which are completely subjective judgments exclusive to the human mind. Therefore, I try to maintain a sense of neutrality about the countless events going on in the world. However, the scale of human suffering & death inflicted by fellow humans throughout history can be nauseating to consider. Seeing images or reading gut-wrenching accounts of the products of war - slaughtered children, raped women, & mutilated men- is unspeakably painful and terrible. Understanding that these horrors exist is necessary, though, to keep a realistic perspective about the complex world in which we live.

These links are graphic & f*cking horrible
but should be seen on every nightly newscast
until people are completely sick of War

Iraq War Images Uncensored

Iraq War Casualty Pictures

Unfortunately, we must bear witness to & attempt to sublimate the worst in mankind if we are to try to embody the higher ideals that the wiser among us aspire to. Fully realizing these countless tragedies of human experience should be frightening. They make us see that life is constant suffering that can never be fully overcome. Despite this, we can take solace in the fact that people will always continue to work for positive change to alleviate even a little of that suffering.

The unthinkable atrocities committed around the world each day by people of every nation are also a startlingly clear indication that the idea of a loving paternal deity, "God the Father"/"Yahweh" (as well as evil incarnate, like a Devil) are fantasies that are like a safety blanket covering our eyes from the truth. What truth?...

The Absolute Truth is... that there is No Absolute Truth.

However, a 'relative truth' is that we have nothing to rely on- except ourselves and each other. Life in this physical realm will always be chaotic, sometimes good & sometimes bad, but ultimately 'meaning'-less in the cosmic scheme of things. I am not a total nihilist by any means, but I've come to be able to hold any number of simultaneously contradictory views in my mind.

For instance, I believe human life is an infinitely precious phenomenon that should be treasured... but life also has no abstract "purpose" other than to exist, so a human being dying is ultimately no different than an ant dying. Some people would say that these two views can't co-exist, but it is simply the way things are.

Despite all my existential bullshit, I am a very empathetic person, so the idea of war & vast human suffering deeply disturbs me. No matter how much of a jaded realist I become, the idea of barbaric violence among people will always cause profound sorrow.

Watching President Obama escalate America's offensive (either meaning of the word is appropriate) military actions has been hard for alot of people because now he, like George W. Bush, is a mass-murderer by proxy. Strong words, yeah, but it's not un-true. I voted for him & think he's dealing with alot of harsh realities. This escalation is antithetical to the beliefs of most people who supported his candidacy on the principle of reversing our aggressive militarism.

I've stated before that I, like any sane person, accept the realistic need for a military to defend the country. Many of my good friends are in the military & the actions of the individual soldier is not my issue. My concern is the overall objectives that these soldiers are dutifully following.

To the country we are occupying, every drone or bomb that takes out a village or innocent children 'by mistake' is a unnecessary murder by The President, the military, & the country as a collective. This may sound anti-American & outrageously unpatriotic... but only to an ignorant jackass with no conscious.

I am not a moral coward & I'm not afraid to look critically at my relatively tiny role either. The reason that our destructive Imperial Oil Wars conducted deceptively in the name of fighting 'terrorism' disturbs me so much is that I don't try to deny that I'm responsible, as well. A bit of my tax dollars go toward every Afghan or Iraqi civilian that is killed by our forces.

Sure, there are degrees of separation between my tax revenue & the acceptable 'collateral damage' of someone in a foreign land, but I do not accept that conceptual convenience. If I do not accept and internalize my role in the causality of inevitable needless death that I pay into, no matter how small, then I might as well be turning my eyes away while pulling the trigger myself. Some might say this is unnecessary worrying over issues way beyond my control. I say it is the ultimate expression of the social conscious that my parents raised me to cultivate & that my sense of compassion forces me to confront.

That is also why I feel compelled to express my thoughts like I am doing now.

I only wish that I could do much, much more
to make the world chill the hell out.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Wade Davis

The first time I heard of anthropologist Wade Davis was reading an article in Discover magazine during my lunch break. He is a very interesting guy, to say the least:

Discover Interview
"From Haitian Zombie Poison
to Inuit Knives Made of Feces"

I just saw a link to a clip from TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) on BoingBoing & remembered hearing about him before. He gives a very inspiring talk about the mysteries of human life around the world & our fundamental interconnected nature.

I also saw him on TV awhile back, so by the power of Google I found a clip of the show. It was a History Chanel documentary about psychedelic substances:

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Years 2010

On New Year's Eve I often don't know what I'm going to do until that day.

Although house parties are fun, I like getting out somewhere like a club to make it feel like a real celebration.

This year I went to The Roxxy on Delaware Ave in Philly & it was pretty cool. I was with a group of people, so that usually helps make it a good time.

This was the middle of the dance flo0r. I had to get a picture of the crazy disco balls:

Celebrating the end of the 2000's w/ shots all around:

I'm pretty sure I was having fun by this point:

Here is a photo of what the club actually looked like by 2AM :

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Insane Video Montage

I figured I'd start the New Year off properly... with pure video mayhem.

DO NOT watch this video unless your brain can handle 10 minutes of disturbing, crazy footage that degrades the very nature of humanity.

Seen on