Archive for October, 2010

Let’s file this one under mediocre theories. This video comes from an Irish filmmaker named George Clarke, who claims that while watching a 1928 Charlie Chaplin film, he noticed an extra walking through the frame holding what looks to him like a cell phone. Obviously he was skeptical at first, considering cell phones wouldn’t be invented for another 50 years. Other theories abound concerning what it might be and the preponderance of evidence seems to point to something other than a cell phone. I tend to agree. While it may be fun to think of the possibility of time travel, reality (and science) dictates that time travel is not currently possible.

Besides the obvious technological questions already posed by this situation, why would a time traveler, presumably knowledgeable of the inherent risks involved in such futuristic concepts, flaunt this advanced technology so nonchalantly as to just casually stroll through a crowded movie premiere? She wouldn’t, unless she did not know any better. There are a number of psychological disorders that cause people to seemingly talk to themselves, such as schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities), among others. This is just one theory.

Another perspective it seems not many have considered: the possibility of video tampering. It is truly amazing that in the age of the Photoshop generation, this is not more widely seen as the likely explanation. Why could this clip not be merely a clever bit of editing by whoever put together the DVDs? I realize these are just a few of the thousands upon thousands of theories already proposed on blogs, message boards and news outlets, but too many out there seem all too eager to believe we are in the midst of a science fiction story.

People are dumb: it’s just science.

-The Dead Peasant

Here is a not-so-mediocre video made by the folks at Weebl’s Stuff that I wanted to share with all of you. I must warn you- the content is PG-13 rated, but hi-larious.

That horse is pretty amazing.

Hello mediocrity lovers,

Out of the Des Moines Register, a newspaper in the US state of Iowa, comes a story of motivation, education…and irony. The wisdom in Drake University’s new recruitment campaign is being questioned by university students, faculty, prospective students and news organizations nationwide. One observer cited in this news article sums it up rather succinctly: “People take it too seriously,” Draper says. “Hey, D-plus is still passing.” Right. Well, while that’s true, I seriously doubt many students, or parents sending their kids to Drake for higher education, are very encouraged by the sentiment portrayed by a barely passing grade in academics. In fact, I dare say it is not the goal of many to achieve such a mediocre mark in any class, let alone attend a school who touts it as a badge of honor and pride.

Perhaps all the naysayers are wrong and this truly is a ploy to increase interest in the university to increase enrollment. If so, bravo Drake University. If not, then it seems it is time to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new image of your school that does not invoke feelings of apathy, half-hearted effort, and, well, mediocrity.

-The Dead Peasant

Image via Wikipedia

Hey people,

After much ado about the movie, I finally saw Social Network this past weekend. It was well done and entertaining. It chronicles the birth of Facebook in the dorm room of Harvard sophomore Mark Zuckerberg in 2003. The story is told not in a biopic, but rather from the perspective of how Zuckerberg deals with the inevitable battle over who helped start up the company and who should receive compensation for their contributions. It began the way many infamous events (and urban legends) begin: alcohol and a jaded youngster who just broke up with his girlfriend. Once unleashed on the internet, the idea caught fire and grew to what would become the biggest social and cultural phenomenon of our time. Whether the entire movie is factually accurate has been up for debate. Taking in more than $22 million at the box office (at the time of writing this piece), the entire movie being true may not be especially important to most viewers, but it got me thinking.

What will the world be like when our kids grow up? The way things are going, as aptly illustrated in the movie, every person-to-person interaction will be via a computer connection. People’s ‘status’ updates will become more important and meaningful than calling someone to catch up. They will never again have to truly understand the intricacies of verbal conversation. This is not to say they won’t still have to get jobs, interacting with coworkers, bosses, clients and others, but use it or lose it (as they say). In fact, according to comScore estimates, the largest demographic that gets information from Facebook is the 55+ age group. This interest in social media is likely cultivated by the public being inundated with the allure of posting their lives online. Children growing up in this online reality will only further establish the practice of giving away little pieces of their lives online for general public consumption as a way of life.

This upbringing may not be all bad, though. In the same way computer technology was born and became second nature for the children of Generation Y, Facebook will force kids to learn to be more careful with their identities online and elsewhere in their lives. They will have to safeguard personal information with a tenacity not currently practiced to protect against today’s identity thieves. With each piece of their lives that they archive on their Facebook pages, kids give away a little bit of their privacy. As Facebook becomes a larger part of people’s lives, users will have to be evermore diligent in what kinds of things they share with their “friends” on Facebook. I don’t mean it will lead to a Big Brother, 1984 kind of world, but with more employers looking online for dirt on potential employees, the potential for things posted on Facebook (and any other social media site, for that matter) to harm the future success of young people online grows exponentially with the popularity of these services.

Along with the increased dedication to privacy online social media will force users to give, Facebook also has the potential to propel users to professional and commercial success. One must look no further than the so-called stars of YouTube– whether it is the Chocolate Rain guy, or the Double Rainbow song, tools such as Facebook, can help launch careers for self-promoters and established companies alike. With over 500 million users, the website is a veritable cornucopia of potential marketing success. Indeed, it is the hope of both start-ups and established market players to attract as many eyeballs to their brand as possible. It is in this spirit that I would congratulate Facebook on its recent milestone, but also caution its users to carefully safeguard the information posted on the site. It is the only surefire way to know what kinds of information people can find on you online.

-The Dead Peasant

So, I was surfing through the news the other day and I came across this story on Reuters.com, which describes a couple of guys who felt bad about people projecting the wrong image of themselves or their respective businesses by misspelling words in their own tag lines or advertisements and decided to do something about it. Upon reading the article, I was at once glad to see there are people out there still doing their part to ease the frustration felt by those of us who are concerned about the widespread deterioration of the lexicon and general literacy of otherwise intelligent, functional people out there. On the other hand, I could not help but think back to Darwin’s theory of Survival of the Fittest, in which only the strongest both physically and mentally survive.

Take for example this headline for a story in which some smart-mouthed kid in Berlin thought he could taunt police after robbing a bank or two. Way to go, genius. Perhaps if you would like to get away with something (note: we do not condone the robbing of banks, nor any other form of criminal activity) let those who would endeavor to catch you act on incorrect information. Seems only fair that these slow-witted miscreants be taken out of the gene pool, or at the very least, out of society to give the rest of us a chance to thrive.

Speaking of a thriving society, how is one to stand a chance of developing in an education system that focuses on test scores of not only students, but teachers as well? The teachers unions are deriding the Los Angeles Times for putting out performance test scores for LA Unified School District teachers that shows what has long been known to be the case: that our teachers in the U.S. struggle with cost-cutting school districts to adequately prepare our kids to succeed in a world in which some conclude the only option is robbing banks. I think making the scores public will give more visibility into the effectiveness of training of such a vital resource in this and future generations. What about you?

-The Dead Peasant