Sunday, November 27, 2005
I'm Back, and Leaving Blogger
I know that there are many of you that have followed this blog in the past and have been concerned that it's appeared dead for the past couple months. I've only come back to pronounce it truly gone for good. While the old posts will remain accessible here for at least a year, please direct your browser's and RSS aggregators to http://www.jasonholliston.com/ for all my present and future writings and rants. I think the new site is much nicer on the eyes and much more informative, and you can even get an idea of what I look like. Thanks for all your support in the past; I'll try to post a lot more regular than I have in the past.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Serenity Coming to a Theater Near You
I've written before about how great the television series Firefly is, how it received a undeserved cancellation, and how it's coming to the big screen soon -- this coming weekend, as a matter of fact. The saga continues in the movie Serenity. I'm lucky enough to be able to attend a screening in the Portland area for bloggers tomorrow night. Here's the synopsis of the film:
Joss Whedon, the Oscar® - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.
"Eclectic" is a good word for it -- the most respected crewmember is a prostitute. Excellent. I'll be posting my spoiler-free review soon after seeing it (unless something more important comes up or Universal is just pulling a huge tease on me).
Monday, September 12, 2005
Imagine This News Clip
September 12th, 1967
NEVE DEKALIM, Gaza Strip - Jubilant Israelis planted flags on the rubble of Jordanian settlements and set mosques ablaze today as Jordanian troops pulled out of the Gaza Strip their defeat in the recent conflict.
Would reading that paragraph get you a bit upset, focusing upon the burning of the mosques? I'd be upset, and then I'd start thinking: I wonder how the Jews of Israel ever hope to make peace with the Muslims of the area if they go around burning down their sacred places of worship? I would, in fact, assume that they have no intention of getting along with their neighbors, and that a peaceful co-existence is the last thing on their mind.
Here's the real news clip, from Reuters, via Yahoo News:
September 12th, 2005
NEVE DEKALIM, Gaza Strip - Jubilant Palestinians planted flags on the rubble of Jewish settlements and set synagogues ablaze on Monday as Israeli troops pulled out of the Gaza Strip after 38 years of occupation. "This is a day of happiness and joy that the Palestinian people have not witnessed for a century," President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in Gaza City. Palestinian forces waving victory signs took over while tanks and armored vehicles trundled out in the dark, for the first time giving up settlements on land Palestinians want for a state and leaving them a volatile testing ground for statehood.
Now what do you think? Does this paragraph leave you with a strong sense of a people desiring peace, or of a people that have no intention of living side-by-side their Jewish neighbors. You decide.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Busy Reading and Watching
For the past week or so, a lot of my spare time has been taken up catching up some reading. I just finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (blame my fiance for getting me hooked on that), and now I'm deep inside of Charles Stross' Iron Sunrise, a new science fiction novel by one of the brightest new stars to come out of the sci-fi world for quite a while.
I'm not going to bother reviewing the first book mentioned, other than to say that I don't believe Snape to be evil. That's not a spoiler: I've thought that for several novels now. The second, though, is fantastic, and when I'm finished reading it, I plan to do a full review on it. He has an incredible view of the future. Not a utopian view, but definitely one that I'd like to visit. He incorporates possibilities based on current cutting edge research and futurist musings. He throws concepts out to the readers mind like most writers toss nouns, each letting (but not necessarily requiring) you ponder the future in ways you didn't before. Enough of this now, though.
Last Friday night I didn't read, though: I spent the whole evening watching most of the Firefly television series, created by Joss Whedon. If you haven't heard of it, I highly recommend buying or renting it before the spin-off movie based on it, Serenity, comes out September 30th. It's the smartest, best written and acted science fiction series to come out, ever, perhaps excepting Babylon 5 or Farscape.
You might have noticed that the Amazon.com links for the above products have (most of) my name embedded in it. I've joined their Associates Program, so every time you click on an Amazon.com link from my blog, you give me a bit of a new DVD, CD, or book. Nice.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Are You a Neocon?
People often will assume I'm fully with a particular political party, either by reading this blog, or by just knowing me and getting into conversations with me. My politics, though, like many Americans, is all over the map. When people actually do ask me, I tell them I tend to vote Republican, but not always; I tend to align myself with Neoconservatives, but not always; and there's hardly any ideological movement that has a real following in America (except, perhaps, for the hard Left) that I don't see eye-to-eye with once in a while.
So, when Father Jim Tucker over at Dappled Things linked to a survey Lew Rockwell is hosting, I decided to give it a try. Usually I don't bother with these things, but this one was interesting in that it broke down to ten ideologies, and gave the results based upon a ranking, and not just "You are a X!", which always came across to me as brain dead. So, here are my results, which is mostly as expected:
#7: Third Way
The only surprise was that Third Way wasn't higher, as I tend to agree with the New Republic quite regularly, if not as much as the Weekly Standard or National Review. So, take the quiz, if you have the time: you might be surprised by the results. If some of the terms are foreign to you, or you think that Neoconservatives are akin to modern day Nazis, take some time to read the descriptions:
Neoconservative: A "neocon" is more inclined than other conservatives toward vigorous government in the service of the goals of traditional morality and pro-business policies. Tends to favor a very strong foreign policy of America as well.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Amazon Getting Into Short Stories
I saw a few days ago over at Ars Technica a story about Amazon delving into the short story market. It's a pretty interesting idea, and the wonderful thing for me is the lack of DRM:
For only $0.49, you can order an Amazon Short and read it as an HTML Web page, a PDF file, or just have the text sent to your e-mail address. Amazon Shorts never expire, and you're welcome to print out a copy once you've bought it.
That's pretty cool, and cheap, too. Ars Technica believes the main purpose of this new initiative is to advertise for the full books they carry (and charge much more money for). If that's the case, it's kind of sad, because this could well be another badly needed channel into the publishing world for aspiring authors. Hopefully, they're just being cynical. Amazon has this to say about submitting your works for inclusion in the store:
Can anyone submit an Amazon Short?
We are accepting work from a diverse group of authors. If you are an agent, author, publisher, or editor, and you would like to be considered for inclusion in this program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That doesn't tell me what I really want to know: what makes a short qualify for inclusion? Is there actually going to be Amazon employees reading submissions and making these decisions? It does seem to be too good to be true. As I've said before on this blog, the more power the gatekeepers lose their control, generally, the better it is for the consumer, and especially the artist.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
How Exactly Does One Become Gay?
The Boston Globe recently published an excellent article summarizing and explaining the past and current research going on asking the question, "What Makes People Gay?" I can't recommend it enough. As a heterosexual man, I've always thought that the concept that a person "chooses" to be gay was patently ridiculous. Any heterosexual man should understand what I'm saying.
I'm on the fence as to if the results of all these studies will affect the political discourse going on right now concerning homosexual rights in any real way. Of course, they will be included in the conversation, but science is not politics: not everything that is important can be filtered down into a research paper.