Archive for December, 2009

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The Black Candle – An Award Winning Film About Kwanzaa

[ Comments Off ]Posted on December 26, 2009 by admin in Holidays

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Directed by author and filmmaker M.K. Asante Jr, and narrated by Maya Angelou

Last year I shared that I had decided to stop belittling Kwanzaa for being a made-up holiday, which I had been doing for years mostly because I was completely ignorant of what it was really all about, beyond the parts that were all too easy to poke fun at. This sentiment seems to be gathering some press here and there; this Slate piece by Melonyce McAfee, for instance, describes firsthand the positive part Kwanzaa played in at least one person’s upbringing. If you’re as ignorant as I was about the details of the holiday, you can of course hit Wikipedia, but I’m personally looking forward to watching The Black Candle, an award-winning documentary directed by author and filmmaker M.K. Asante Jr., and narrated by Maya Angelou. It’s available on DVD, but it also is making its TV debut on TVOne on Saturday December 26. If – like me – you’re in the Detroit area, there are also special free screenings on the 26th, 27th and 29th at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. If you’re elsewhere in the country, find a screening here. The official trailer is below, and there’s an extended unofficial nine minute preview on YouTube. Read the rest of this entry »

Merry Christmas! You Okay With That?

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on December 25, 2009 by admin in Holidays

Friday, December 25th, 2009

Excessive cultural sensitivity can be a real buzz kill.

We hope that whatever you do on December 25th, you have a great day. We’ve done our best to give you some seasonal cheer by sharing amusing ideas for holiday shopping and odd holiday Flash games to distract you. We hope you enjoy the the daily gift we serve up; we don’t expect anything in return, but if you feel like giving back something, support or sponsors by visiting their sites once in a while. Or even make a donation. Ultimately though, it’s reward enough to be able to ramble on about anything we like and have people continue to come back for more. Personally, if I could have one holiday wish come true, it would be for people to get off their politically correct pedestals, and share a little love and happiness this time of year. I was joking a few weeks ago that we’ve finally killed Santa, but there was an element of genuine sentiment behind what I was saying. In my opinion, what began as a healthy cultural sensitivity back in the 80′s (i.e.: the tendency to say “happy holidays” and avoid getting too specific) has in the long run destroyed the best of a multi-flavored season of celebration. Especially in the northern latitudes, we NEED a season to remind us to be loving and caring and cheerful; the seventeen hours of darkness we experience by late December can be a crushing blow to one’s biological clock, and we need all the help we can get! I personally feel that by elaborately dissecting how various holidays evolved to be what they are at this point in history, we destroyed a powerful positive spirit in order to eliminate a problem that wasn’t that big in the first place. The proverbial baby and bathwater scenario. I hope we can get better at respecting other people’s cultural traditions by respecting all of them, and by feeling comfortable saying Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Diwali, or whatever, whether acknowledging our own celebration or trying to acknowledge those of others. This “Happy Holidays” crap is for the birds. So Merry Christmas!

The UK Government Is Always Happy To CCTV You!

[ Comments Off ]Posted on December 24, 2009 by admin in Technology

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

The UK government knows if you’re being naughty or nice, but the 4.2 million CCTV cameras in the country have had little effect on crime.

The other day, I made a joking reference to how Santa has no trouble figuring out who’s naughty and who’s nice in England each year, because of all the surveillance cameras. After receiving a roomful of blank stares, I quickly discovered that out of 11 people in the room, not one of them was aware of the number of CCTV cameras in use in the UK. Like me, everyone in the room was American, so our xenotardedness can be forgiven, but I thought it might be interesting to any other fellow ignorant Americans to take a look at the spread of Big Brother in the UK. The installation of CCTV cameras in the country began in earnest in 1993, in response to the Bishopsgate Bombing (see a full history here) and today there are an estimated 4.2 million cameras in use across the country, meaning a typical citizen is captured on camera 300 times a day (or every six seconds, according to this article). So has it been effective? Apparently not ; only 3%-4% of crimes are solved with the help of the cameras, and much like capital punishment, they fail to act as a measurably effective deterrent. So who’s watching the images from all these cameras? Until recently, apparently no-one, or at least no-one who knows what they’re doing, in any case. Extracting the images in an efficient and timely fashion for use as evidence in court has led to the system being referred to as an utter fiasco because of its poor implementation and lack of training in this regard. And what about the citizens of the UK? I’d love to hear more about the average person’s view, because although there are activist organizations like NO CCTV and Big Brother Watch, the major media never reveals a real national sentiment. A classic example stateside of course being the Bush years, when even fairly rabid Republicans would mutter incessantly about the administration, but the media portrayal of the period would reveal little of the “street sentiment” to a person abroad. My personal feeling about this kind of surveillance is that it would only be acceptable if the entire country looked like the sets in George Lucas’ film THX 1138. Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Prysner – A True War Hero

[ Comments Off ]Posted on December 23, 2009 by admin in Politics

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

The only heroes of war are those who have fought one and abhor it as a result.

I couldn’t possibly express my feelings on war better than Mike Prysner, Iraq War veteran, and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. So here’s a video edited to his presentation for an IVAW panel on Dehumanization of the Enemy.  In his words: “Our real enemy is not the ones living in a distant land whose names or policies we don’t understand; The real enemy is a system that wages war when it’s profitable, the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it’s profitable, the insurance companies who deny us health care when it’s profitable, the banks who take away our homes when it’s profitable. Our enemies are not five thousand miles away…they are right here in front of us…we were told we were fighting terrorists…the real terrorist was me, and the real terrorism was this occupation”.

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Reindeer Games Rudolph Wouldn’t WANT To Join In

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on December 22, 2009 by admin in Holidays

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

For some, the holidays can be a bitter time. Especially for Flash game developers, I guess. Help Rudolph get revenge, and see how many employees Santa can slay with this weeks holiday-themed games of violence and vengeance. And what is it with game developers and spelling, anyway?

Finally, a reindeer game even Rudolph can
get behind. Or in this case, in front of.

Sadly, for some people the holiday season is a time of frustration, anxiety and resentment. And apparently, this is especially true for Flash game developers, who probably all grew up as misunderstood misanthropes who never got what they wanted at Christmas because their parents didn’t understand their genius. Well, they’re silently eeking out their revenge; we went looking for fun and happy holiday-themed games to keep you amused this week, but were surprised by how many were based instead on violence and vengeance. We could understand Rudolphs Kick n’ Fly, in which Rudolph kicks elves into the air (much like Kitty Cannon), because no one really gets hurt, and Rudolph has every right to be upset after the abuse he received as a child. But Rudolph’s Revenge is downright ruthless, with a scrappy, gun-toting Rudolph that looks like he’s been working at the North Pole meth lab for too long. And why does Santa need a gun? The truth is, both Serious Santa and Santa’s Vegneance tease your inner psycho with sinister Santas who look like they’re out for blood in intense first person shooters, and then the games actually serve up silly little pixelated Santas that only move in two dimensions. Jingle Ballistics is doubly misleading; there are no bullets, and not much jingle, just a choice of a snowman, an elf, or a sullen Santa for one-on-one boxing matches. In the continued mind-numbing search (I say mind-numbing because I for one really am not a gamer) for something a little chippier to keep you amused, we thought maybe we’d find a clever or cute snowball game like Snowcraft, and ran across a little journey into psychosis misleadingly called Snowball Holiday Flash Game. It took a minute to realize that the the weird things hanging in the viewframe weren’t curtains, but an anime girl’s hair, and the little penises that kept popping up Read the rest of this entry »

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