Monday, January 29, 2007

24 and the Perception of Terror

If you don't know what Fox's 24 is all about, you're pretty much way behind the times, but suffice it to say that it is a show that follows a day in the life of the most bad ass counter-terrorism agent out there: one Jack Bauer. Since the show is about counter-terrorism (located in the fictional CTU headquarters in LA), they need to constantly have terrorists to arrest and evil plots to foil. Naturally.

But the problem with all this constant terrorism on one of the nation's most popular TV shows is that it propagates the idea that a) terrorism is everywhere--there is a never ending supply of actual leads for Jack to follow, and, perhaps more dangerously that b) there is something that we can do to stop pretty much all terrorism threats. I don't exactly believe, as Oscar Wilde apparently did, that life imitates art, but I truly believe that the TV show 24 causes people to believe that terrorism is a bigger threat than it really is, and also that we can do much to stop these acts of violence. It would be pretty much impossible to stop somebody from walking on a train anywhere in the US with a homemade bomb and detonating it. I've been on trains down to New York all the time. There is no security. And there's nothing that anyone can really do to stop it, except try to not give anybody any reason to do so and hope for the best in humanity.

Look, I'm not trying to say that 9/11 wasn't tragic. And I can't blame the creators of the show for making terrorism seem worse and more rampant than it really is, because that is a part of their show. But I just can't shake the feeling that 24 is a big reason that people seem to worry more about terrorism than the environment, or why people become so anxious when they see the terror alert levels rise. The American public needs to work on separating fiction from reality, and if that means taking 24 a little bit less seriously, then so be it. Remember, it's just a TV show, America.

That said, I can't wait for next week's episode. What is Jack's brother going to do with him?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Snow and Climate Change

It is very easy to make the argument that, because I considered one of the downsides to Vassar the cold weather, I have no right to complain about the fact that it still hadn't snowed here. But since this is my blog, that logic is going to be called erroneous on all levels. I was pissed that it hadn't snowed. And finally, on January 18, it snows. (By the way, I was really hoping that it would snow on my birthday in an act of symbolism that I could write a paper on sometime later in life. But alas, the weather gods were two days late.) Anyway, now that it has finally snowed, people all across upstate New York will be given yet another nice fluffer conversation to talk about: how amazing it is that it hasn't snowed for such a long time.

When, really, it isn't that amazing, considering the rapid climate change that our planet is undergoing. I could spew out some stupid facts from Wikipedia, but the point is that almost all well-informed and non-biased climatologists agree that the earth is undergoing an anthropogenic (human caused) warming phase. Anyway, this is the one issue that this blog is most worried about (if blogs can worry), and probably will be the focus of future posts. The problem is that if we as a world don't take action relatively quickly, as the glaciers melt, the effects will be harder and harder to stop. It's really easy to get CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the air through the combustion of fossil fuels, but it's much, much harder to get them out. The other important point is that the earth itself is going to be fine, and the carbon cycle will probably correct itself in about 10,000 years. Whether or not the humans that currently inhabit the earth make it out alright is a totally different story. While our brains might be the most capable, we wouldn't be the first species to undergo a mass extinction.

Wow and I just realized how depressing this post became. At least it snowed, right! This calls for a celebration.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My Contribution to Humanity

Throughout the course of the day, we all probably have about 34214 random thoughts that never come to fruition. "Wow it would be really sweet to be able to fly," is probably my most common thoughts. A lot of these ideas fail because they don't make any sense, for example, I don't have any form of wings, and even if I did I probably wouldn't know how to work them. Most of the rest of the ideas fail because there is no way to apply them to the real world, like my incessant desire to fly around. But every now and then an idea stays around in your head because you just can't think of anything reason why it wouldn't work.

Anyway, this is one of those ideas, and I've held it in for a long time, and whether it was criticized or praised, it has stayed in my mind. Basically, it's that a soccer player should grow really long hair, make it in an afro before the game, cut a pretty big hole into the afro, then juggle the ball on top of your head, and run the ball into the opponents goal. I drew a mini-diagram on Microsoft paint to help you all understand what I mean:
So, the player could juggle the ball into his head, or he could even have the goalie put the ball into his hair. But here's the catch: this would actually work. Having played competitive soccer for 10 years and moreover having reffed soccer for two years, I see no way that this would at all be against the rules. You can't use your hands in soccer, but you certainly can use your head. And, especially if the player were pretty tall, it would be insanely hard to stop. The only player that reasonably could stop such an offensive force would be the goalie, but I would bet that one would be able to juke the goalie a reasonable amount of times. This could lead to a goal at least ten times a game. It's absolutely and completely and irrevocably unstoppable. For a while I wanted to try this out myself, but I'm beginning to realize that my opportunity to try out for the Olympic team is beginning to dwindle. So I humbly offer it to you all, the world. My only advice is that you study the diagram carefully: his grizzly expression is not just artistic creativity. If you're going to pull this off, you have to be able to take heat while you're growing your long hair, before the game from your probably skeptical teammates, and from the opposing team during the game. But it will undoubtedly be worth it when you break the scoring record in the World Cup in a single game.

So there you have it, don't ever give up on those little stupid thoughts you have, they just might end up being your contribution to humanity.