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Archive for the month “February, 2014”

A CUT AND PASTE WORLD

Matthew Gödel, a famous logician (a philosopher, not like the people of planet Logopolis on Doctor Who – ding, obligatory Doctor Who reference of the week!) says mathematical concepts are basically real things that exist in their own reality and can’t be changed. If so, that’s why no matter what different beliefs people all over have, we all agree how math works.

Others, like Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, who have run with that to say that in the far-flung future, some mathematician must have figured out a way to use that math reality to create a computer simulation. And all of us are living in it. Right now. Whenever our geeks figure out some new math problem, that’s just us finding another piece of that computer code. Now, some scientists somewhere are trying to figure out how to detect this simulation – the one we haven’t even figured out how to make yet.

So, nothing is real. Or, more to the point, reality is a construct of some future computer programmer.

I think this is awesome.

Two reasons.

One, this idea is really just an offshoot of my long-held theory that all of us on Earth are just living in a big terrarium belonging to some space alien kid. We’re a school science fair project due on Monday and thrown together Sunday night. Therefore, my insanity narcissism super-brilliance has been confirmed. That’s always nice.

Second, if everything we take as real was just created by some future nerd, that means IT CAN BE CHANGED. Whatever problem we’ve got now, we can just call tech support and with a few key strokes (or telepathic brain control, whatever) it’s taken care of. I’m picturing a bald, blue guy in a plastic suit from the classic Star Trek series, sitting on a sound stage with cardboard rocks and a computer the size of a Winnebago deciding for us whether we as a society want to focus on the Kardashians or global warming. Hmm… Decisions, decisions…

Here’s a few things, other than the Kardashians, I would suggest be done away with. It’s nothing personal (well, sometimes it is). Just tweeking the system to make the world a better place for me for us all to live in.

Congress. We need one,  I guess (job security for C-SPAN), but let’s chuck out the one we got and replace everyone with a random Powerball-type lottery. Can’t be any worse.

Money. How screwed up has society gotten in the chase for more dollars? How much easier would life be if we just bartered for everything? This relates to politicians too. We worry about the influence of money, especially secret donations, on politicians. If, to get a Congressperson to vote for a new hog confinement lot in your district, for example, you actually had to walk into the capital and hand over a sow, everyone would know what you’re doing. Transparency in government would literally be thrust upon us like a squealing pig.

Pajamas as work-wear.

Stores that aren’t bookstores. We do need stuff other than books (shocking, I know), but I don’t want to have to go get it. Food, clothes, booze should just show up on your doorstep.

Telemarketers. I know we have the Do Not Call list, but it almost seems like since that thing was created, I get more annoying calls than I did before. If I wanted your product, I’d call you. Period.

Here’s something we don’t have, but need. I know a lot of people now binge-watch entire seasons of TV series to catch up. That’s great, but I don’t even have time to do that. Make me something that feeds those shows directly into my brain.

Cauliflower. It’s icky and unnecessary.

On the Island of Misfit Toys, there’s a squirt gun that squirts grape jelly. Instead of getting rid of all the guns and missiles and bombs, let’s have our programming overlord just make them all squirt jelly instead of bullets/shrapnel/nuclear stuff.

I’d swear that I had another couple paragraphs of wise world improvements, but I guess I deleted them.

Or did I??????

 

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I’M SORRY – PRESIDENT’S DAY EDITION

Presidents are like lawyers and dentists. Everyone hates all of them except their own.

Some presidents are presidents AND lawyers (e.g. Obama) or dentists (Rutherford B. Hayes. What? Shut up. You don’t know if he was either.)

Point is, respect the office all you want, chances are most people don’t like the current Oval Office occupant at any given time. This suggests – if you squint really hard and apply alcohol induced logic, that presidents, as a collective, have a LOT to apologize for.

So let the presidential purging begin!

I’m sorry whoever orders the boxes of M&M’s with the presidential seal also thought I need presidential seal underpants. You know, so I can be identified in an accident or something. Makes my mom happy though.

I’m sorry Bill Clinton got more action than me.

I’m sorry I didn’t eat even one of those pardoned turkeys.

I’m sorry for all that stuff I did that you hated. Except that one thing. Unless you want me to be sorry for that too. Whatever. It’s cool.

I’m sorry that whenever I spoke at a rally in your town they made a bunch of you stand right behind me so the cameras were always on you and you had to pretend to give a damn what I said.

I’m sorry I never used the presidential helicopter to moon Congress.

I’m sorry Air Force One doesn’t have more barf bags, but not as sorry as the presidential cleaning crew. Double sorry for you folks.

I’m sorry my handlers wouldn’t let me wear a three wolf moon t-shirt to even ONE press conference.

I’m sorry for my vice-president. Just on general principles. That dude’s creepy.

I’m sorry so few of the state dinners we hosted at the White House included Tater-tots. I loves me some tots!

I’m sorry we failed to balance the budget….but not that sorry.

I’m sorry I ended every State of the Union with “So who wants to go get drunk?” Excuuuuuuse me for trying to foster bipartisan unity.

I’m sorry my idea to remodel the Oval Office into a Dodecahedron Office was deemed “impractical” and “expensive” and “stupid”. That’s the sort of narrow-minded thinking that undermines our greatness as a nation….poopy-heads.

I’M SORRY – VALENTINE’S DAY EDITION

Valentine’s Day looms. The romantics, the cheesy, the guilty significant others, and the desperate lovesick crowd the marketplace. All the cards, flowers, candy, jewelry, and edible underthings will be theirs. They must have these tokens of tribute to their loved ones. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT LOVE IS. DAMMIT.

But then from the heavens, the massive glowing object streaks across the sky. It barrels toward the Earth hot and fast, trailing white hot flame, crashing with enough force to shake those loony lovebirds from their reverie.

From the rubble of the Lover’s Lane Marketplace, Cupid emerges; weary, disheveled, manic. “Please, everyone! I bring you news from Valentine Future.”

“What is it?” Asked a doe-eyed, young woman clutching a Spain of hugging stuffed teddy bears she was planning to give to her widdle wuv bug.

“It is this,” Cupid said. “Wherever you make dinner reservations, it won’t be good enough. But if you make no reservations at all, well, sucks to be you.”

Then he keeled over.

Rejoice! February 14 is here! V-D is upon us!

Well, you know what I mean.

I’m sorry I booked a romantic weekend at the Sochi Hilton. But be honest, that hidden camera photo of you peeing in the hotel bathroom will look great over the fireplace, am I right?

I’m sorry I didn’t get you anything for Valentines Day. Can you believe the Target hackers got into ALL my accounts? Go figure. That new flat screen on my wall. I don’t know where that came from.

I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the Bieber breakfast special. I really thought those eggs just had oregano on them. On the upside, you were pretty mellow when they threw the second helping of eggs at you.

I’m sorry Hallmark doesn’t sell “Happy I’m Ambivalent About You” cards.

I’m sorry Valentine KIDNEYS never caught on. They’re easier to draw.

I’m sorry black isn’t the traditional color of Valentines Day because it goes with everything.

I’m sorry I licked all the candy in your box before I gave it to you. Still, I thought you’d be more grossed out when I spit the orange nougat ones back in there. I hate orange nougat.

I’m sorry I gave you underwear for Valentines. I thought you’d like it and I wasn’t using it anymore.

I’m sorry I sent you a dozen BAGS of flour, instead of a dozen FLOWERS. I thought it was funny. Oh, and also sorry the flour turned out to be cocaine.

I’m sorry I got drunk and passed out on Valentines Day. I have no clue how I ended up in a Cupid outfit. And I agree. Changing my diaper for me was above and beyond the call of duty.

Here’s hoping your dearly beloved doesn’t get sick of you before next Valentines Day!

SHERLOCK V. MONK

I’m kind of nerdy.

But if you know me or have read the blather bullshit pithy nuggets in this space,you already knew that.

One outlet for my nerdiness is the fact that every Friday night for, like, eight seasons, I tuned in to the USA network to watch “Monk.” The show’s been off the air for years now, but I still hear the theme song in my head sometimes. Here it is, from memory:

It’s a jungle out there
Disorder and confusion everywhere
No one seems to care, but I do.
Hey, who’s in charge here?

It’s a jungle out there.
Poison in the very air you breathe.
You know what’s in the water that you drink?
Well, I do.
It’s a-mazing

People think I’m crazy
’cause I’m worried all the time.
If you paid attention, you’d be worried too.
You better pay attention, or this world you love so much
Might just kill you.

I could be wrong now.
But I don’t think so.

It’s a jungle out there.
Yeah, it’s a jungle out there…

The show was a deft mixture of drama and light comedy. Adrien Monk, played by Tony Shalhoub, was a former San Francisco police detective forced to retire after the death of his journalist wife, Trudy, sent him over the edge. Always obsessive compulsive, her death left him fearful of just about everything (germs, the outdoors, milk, countless other things). He was still a brilliant detective though, in the mold of Sherlock Holmes, who can solve crimes no one else can. He works as a consulting detective and every episode, at least early on, features a “man dies in an empty, locked room” type mystery that Monk unravels, with a big reveal at the end when Monk announces “Here’s what happened…” then spools out some amazing solution (my spoilery favorite: the astronaut who murders his mistress in her house while he’s up in space)

The only mystery Monk can’t solve is how his wife died, which is the one thing that both devastates him and keeps him going. He has an assistant who is there to get in trouble, ask questions as the surrogate for the audience, and help the anti-social, awkward Monk function in the real world.

“Sherlock”, the BBC update that brings the classic characters Sherlock Holmes and Watson into the present day, is a show about a self-described “high functioning sociopath” who is a consulting detective and solves crimes no one else can solve with the help of an assistant, Watson naturally. I was skeptical these classic literature icons could work in an update, but the show is excellent.

The modern Holmes character, as conceived by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (who, in this post’s obligatory Doctor Who reference, are show runner and frequent writer, respectively, for that show too) has a lot in common with Monk. Both shows are similar in that they strive to both densely plotted mysteries and in-depth character studies. Both succeed mightily in those efforts.

Up to a point.

Early Monk was awesome. Locked room mysteries. The astronaut murderer. The professor who kills someone while teaching a class. The DJ who kills someone while he’s on the air. And great character stuff. Shalhoub walked that line between comedy and drama, dipping a toe over the line on whichever side the story called for. But…

As the Monk series progressed, the mysteries suffered a little. It became more about the character stuff. That was enough to sustain it for a while; the performances and the writing were that good. But then, after a while, the “character stories” kind of slid into just “what whacky situation can we put Monk in this week”. The show was good until the end, but that was after being great early on.

I worry about Sherlock going down that road. The first season launched with an amazing opener, “A Study in Pink”, an excellent balance between character and mystery, The next two stories were solid mysteries. Seasons two and three, though, while excellent, are slowly becoming more about the mystique of the character of Sherlock Holmes and less about giving the audience a good mystery to puzzle through. (The big exception: Sherlock’s dive off a building in front of a street full of witnesses that climaxed season 2. A real head scratcher, but I’m not sure it’s ever really been fully explained and that the explanation given is all that plausible.)

Season three, just concluded, really seems to be more about “look how cool Sherlock is” than about giving us great puzzles. Some of the solutions to the mysteries have an air of “oh, let’s just say something here so we can get back to Sherlock and Watson bickering”. The character stuff is still great, don’t get me wrong. Moriarty was a great character, gone too soon, (and maybe coming back? Mixed feelings on that. Strains credibility to do that.) The mysteries are still okay, but I really kind of wish the mysteries would go back to being great.

But I’ll still watch. I’m invested. I’m looking forward to season 4. “Here’s the thing,” as Monk would say, “the game is on,” as Holmes would say.

See what I did there? That’s nerd loyalty for you.

SEAHAWKS, BRONCOS AND GROUNDHOGS STOLE THE QUEEN’S MONEY

The last couple weeks brought a confluence of oddly animal-themed news. The Seahawks battled the Broncos in the Superbowl, from which the [INSERT WINNER HERE. WINNER UNKNOWN AT THE TIME OF WRITING. ALSO, DON’T REALLY CARE.] emerged victorious. I don’t really give a fig about either team, or football in general, but I at least had an idea what was going on Sunday.

Unlike, say, the poor groundhog dragged from his hole to play the dancing monkey for the folks of Punxatawney and the vessel into which we could pour our collective winter ire, whether we appreciated his prognosticating or not.

Then there was the news that the Queen of England is going broke. While not, strictly speaking, an animal story, there’s definitely something not of this world in that gene pool. Just sayin’.

Side note: What exactly does the royal family do? Do they have jobs or something? And what is Queen Elizabeth spending all that money on? Surely the mortgage on Buckingham Palace is paid off by now. Maybe Rent-A-Center is calling in the debt on the throne.

Side note to the side note: Does the Queen really sit on a throne? Like in a big room, a throne room? I mean, a throne room that’s not a euphemism for the bathroom? Does Prince Charles have a smaller, less ornate throne next to hers? What about Harry and William? And baby…whatever his name is?

What was I talking about?

In other animal news, one of my cats is on valium. Seriously. He was fighting a lot and peeing in bad places (sort of like John Boehner but with less of a tan – HA! That’s FREE comedy.) For a few days after we started giving it to him, he basically just stared into space and slept a lot. I mean, even more than usual. So we cut his dose. Now, except in the few minutes leading up to getting his soft cat food treat that goes with the medicine, he’s way mellow. I sort of envy him.

Still, I can feel superior to the lesser species around me. I certainly don’t need to medicate myself to fell normal.

Well, that’s about it for now. Time for a beer…

GROUNDHOG DAY MASSACRE

“Come with me if you want to live.”

“I was sleeping! It’s winter,” the bed-headed groundhog said. “That’s what I do.”

” ’tis not safe for hibernating, noble creature. One of your brethren hath seen his shadow. Six more weeks of winter is at hand.”

“Phil! That media whore…”

“The humans. They are outraged.”

“Who are you?” The little groundhog asked.

“Most people call me Father Time. You can call me Father-Save-Your-Ass.” Father Time marched ahead, in long strides, heavy black boots leaving deep impressions in the snow.

The groundhog scampered after the old man, paws dwarfed in Father Time’s tracks. “Where are we going?”

“Somewhere that the calendar is irrelevant and the change of seasons matters not.”

“Vegas?”

“Yeah. I know a place where the prime rib buffet is amazing.”

“But I’m an herbivore.”

“They have a Cobb salad that’s to die for.”

“Doesn’t the Cobb have meat on it?”

“Can we discuss the menu later?”

“I guess. Blackjack or poker?”

“We’ll do it all, friend,” Father Time said. “We’ll do it all.”

“Sweet. Lead on.”

The ageless one and the rodent marched onward to a land even more legendary than themselves.

All over the world – wherever groundhogs are indigenous anyway – this same scene played out Sunday after Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Sunday. I have at least two apps on my phone that tell me weather, two on my iPad, and cable TV and the whole of the Internet at my disposal. Yet, Sunday morning, like many people, my first weather thought was to wonder what the groundhog “predicted” about the weather.

Not that I’m superstitious or anything. Once that silliness was over, I got on with my day.

I arrayed a bag of old mailman bones across the floor in intricate patterns to try and forecast when my new Netflix pick will show up. (yes, I do discs AND streaming. When the Internet-alypse comes – and it will – I’ll still be able to watch Dexter.)

Later, I’m going to sacrifice a box of Velveeta to the gods of nacho dip.

Then, maybe I’ll rub my rabbit’s foot for luck. Not a euphemism. Really ticks off the rabbit though.

Why seek out facts when random coincidence will do?

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