36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

November 24, 2013

My favorite sci-fi TV series of all time, #15: Quantum Leap

Filed under: deep philosophy, Jerks, Science!, Television and/or Movies — Tony Demchak @ 2:49 pm

My criteria are here.

Synopsis: When I was growing up in the late eighties, there were a handful of shows I watched regularly with my parents. Apart from the original Star TrekQuantum Leap was the only sci-fi show. The premise (if you haven’t seen it) is that Samuel Beckett (played by Scott Bakula) is a scientist of some sort, things go horribly wrong, and he’s forced to jump from person to person and timeline to timeline in an attempt to get home. Guiding him is Al (played by Dean Stockwell), who relies on a computer named “Ziggy” to help Sam through his adventures.

Favorite character: Sam. I have to think this show was challenging because he had to play so many different characters in so many different ways. He pulls it off quite well.

Favorite secondary character: Ziggy. Oh, sure, he never speaks, but he was still the thread that kept things together.

Favorite moment: Any time Sam jumped into a woman. He would always act horrified, but I’m pretty sure he secretly liked it.

Why it’s here: Nostalgia, mostly.

Why it’s not higher: It tackled some issues, but always superficially, and emotionally the show was a little weak. I have a sneaking suspicion it probably hasn’t held up well, but I’ve had no chance to watch it again.

January 25, 2013

Bill Livingston can be a jerk so I don’t have to be

Filed under: Jerks, Sports — Tony Demchak @ 6:19 pm

A couple of weeks ago, I had a big blog post planned about Art Modell didn’t deserve to be in the HOF. I scrapped it because it felt like I was being unnecessarily vindictive and because I think he had a legitimate case with choosing the first African American GM in the NFL. Bill Livingston has no such moral qualms.

After reading his article, I actually feel sorry for Modell. Livingston’s case for exclusion is “he was an asshole and fired Paul Brown.” A lot of people in pro sports are assholes, maybe even most of them. I’m slowly inching closer to the “Art in the HOF”, not farther, as a result of the article.

January 7, 2013

Odysseus The Jerk

Filed under: Jerks, Reading Is Fundamental — Kevin Feasel @ 7:00 pm

I just finished reading the Iliad and the Odyssey.  I’ve been reading them in small chunks during lunch at work.  The single most surprising thing, given my prior knowledge of the two works from high school, was just how much of a jerk Odysseus was.  This is all going from memory, so I’ve probably forgotten a couple Odysseus jerk moves.  The following list should be fairly solid argument, however.

First, let’s talk about the Iliad.  The first potential jerk move comes in chapter 10, the nighttime raid.  In this chapter, Odysseus and Diomedes go out to spy on the Trojan camp.  They find a Trojan spy attempting to do the same and after this guy surrenders, Odysseus and Diomedes kill the spy.  To our modern sensibilities, that’s a cruel act, but because taking captives was a choice rather than a moral or ethical imperative, I’m not going to consider that a jerk move.

There is, however, a major jerk move regarding Diomedes.  This isn’t actually part of the Iliad, but Diomedes and Odysseus have the task of going and grabbing a statue of Athena from Troy.  As long as the statue stands, Troy will not fall.  After the two Acheans grab the statue, Odysseus tries to kill Diomedes so that Odysseus could go back to the Greek camp the hero.  Diomedes, being decidedly not a jerk, forces Odysseus back to the camp at swordpoint rather than killing him.

As if that weren’t enough, Odysseus was enough of a jerk that he got Telemonian Ajax to kill himself in shame.  Odysseus shows remorse during the Odyssey, but save your underhanded behavior for your enemies, Odysseus.

After those two events, we go into the Odyssey, which should be subtitled, “The journey of Odysseus the jerk.”  There were a number of jerk moves, but I want to limit myself to a couple of the biggest.

One of these was when the Phaecians take Odysseus back to Ithica, after handing him loads of goodies.  After taking such good care of him, his first reaction is to doubt that they actually took him to the right place.  I understand Odysseus is cunning and not going to be tricked (and that Athena had removed all of the important landmarks), but outright accusing them of treachery without any proof is a jerk move.

The single most egregious jerk move Odysseus made, however, was in the “trial” of his father.  This was totally unnecessary.  I get the trials of the swineherd and cowherd—Odysseus wasn’t sure he could trust any of his men, and if he revealed his true self to them, they might blab on accident or somebody might reveal his presence to the suitors.  I follow why he didn’t reveal himself to Telemachus immediately—he wanted to test his son’s integrity and sense of honor.  I get why he didn’t reveal himself to Penelope earlier—same reason, but this time regarding the maids.  I even get why he didn’t want to reveal himself to his nursemaid, although his response (akin to “I’m going to kill you if you blab!”) was a jerk move too.  But by the time he visits his father, all of the suitors are dead.  He’s not in costume and has no reason to lie.  So why does he do just that?  Other than him being a jerk, I don’t know what possible gain he has from it.

As such, more than any other single character in these two works, Odysseus is a jerk.

July 18, 2011

My latest enemy: Pepsi Max

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness, Enemies, Jerks — Tony Demchak @ 9:40 pm

People that know me well know of my love for Pepsi-products. By mistake, I grabbed a bottle of Pepsi Max today instead of standard Pepsi.

I’ve already tried it as it turns out, when it was called Diet Pepsi. It’s absolutely disgusting, as are all beverages sweetened with aspartame.

The most disappointing thing, however, is that the drink is called Pepsi Max. “Maximum” Pepsi should have MORE caffeine and sugar than regular, not less. In fact:

Pepsi Max should require a prescription.

A single sip should make me able to kill a bear with my bare hands (or, even better, the bear’s own hands, after I rip them off).

Two sips should make me faster than the Flash, and make the Flash disintegrate because he accelerated to the speed of light.

Three sips should make me able to freeze time, ala Fry in “Three Hundred Big Boys”.

Four sips should cause cardiac arrest, and the fifth should make my heart explode.

THAT’S what Pepsi Max should be, not an even wussier version of Diet Pepsi.

Therefore, Pepsi Max, you are my latest enemy.

December 7, 2010

The newest enemy of the Penguatroll — Julian Assange

Filed under: Enemies, Jerks — Tony Demchak @ 2:43 am

Look, I’m a big fan of accountability and transparency in government. This jackass goes too far. He even pissed off Stephen Colbert, which you can see in this interview:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Exclusive – Julian Assange Extended Interview
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election March to Keep Fear Alive

Then I read this story from the BBC. Apparently, not only is he wanted on alleged rape charges, but he’s trying to leak US military plans. Do I think we’ll ever go to war with Russia? Probably not. Anything is possible, but I would seriously doubt that war with Russia is imminent or even likely. The important thing is, what if he leaks some other more important information? A current war plan against North Korea, Iran, or something similar?

Here’s the honest truth — it is perfectly acceptable for the United States — or any other — government to keep secrets. Foreign policy and military strategy are particularly important to keep secret because a) they are extremely complex issues, especially for amateurs and b) they can give other nations unfair advantages over the United States.

Even if Mr. Assange does not accept money for his work — and I’m pretty sure he asks for donations, but I can’t access the site so I can’t verify that — he’s still, essentially, guilty of espionage. And that’s totally unacceptable. I hope he, or his source (ideally both) end up in prison where they belong.

December 30, 2009

Nietzsche – Big Jerk or the Biggest Jerk?

Filed under: Enemies, Jerks — Tony Demchak @ 4:32 am

Since we were rooming together at the eponymous 36 Chambers, I have heard much about him, from Dan and Kevin. Now, thanks to my European general field exam, I have actually read him. My opinion?

Nietzsche was a misogynistic, narcissistic jerk. I hate him more than Karl Marx, which I thought would never be possible. In fact, he is my newest enemy. For those curious, the book I read was Beyond Good and Evil.

Why do I hate him more than Karl Marx, another of my sworn enemies? Karl Marx, while misguided, wrong, and possibly insane (maybe it’s the hair), was actually trying to contribute positively to society. Nietzsche only sought to make other people look stupid. Now, making people look stupid is fun, so I don’t dock him for that, but at some point, it degenerates into meaningless abuse. So, to the enemies list with you!!

June 19, 2009

Bureaucrats Are Evil

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness, Enemies, General Stupidity, Jerks, Specific Stupidity — Kevin Feasel @ 7:45 pm

People like this make me sick and think about anarchy.  A man works his way up to get off the streets, starting a business (as a shoeshine man) and saving enough money to rent an apartment.  But for the bureaucrats at the Department of Public Works, he’s gone from a raison d’etre to a money source, so they Hoover up his savings by making him buy a “sidewalk vendor permit,” sending him on a Kafkaesque chase through the San Francisco bureaucracy.  This man, in his own little way, threatened the established nature of bureaucrats there:  he actually got a job and showed that he wasn’t dependent on those caring, helpful types who keep the wretched classes from wallowing in their own filth.  This man proved himself more successful than the handout system and they had to try to destroy him because of it.  They also tried to destroy him because if he succeeds, and if others succeed on his pattern, they’re out of jobs.  Furthermore, he’s making them do extra work, and heaven forfend a bureaucrat actually do something!

Note that these are the people who are going to run your health care.

December 17, 2008

Where Are The Jerks?

Filed under: Jerks — Kevin Feasel @ 8:08 am

Bryan Caplan asks that question of his life.  As Jianhong would say (or at least as I would say that she would say), I wouldn’t have to worry about the question of not enough jerks around—no matter what room I’m in, there’s at least one there…

May 2, 2008

A new enemy rises and an old enemy is retired

Filed under: Enemies, Jerks, Sports — Tony Demchak @ 2:53 pm

It has been a long time since I declared my last enemy (my fiancee’s alarm clock), but a new one has emerged. Now, I am a big fan of the Colbert Report and occasionally a medium sized fan of the Daily Show. The Colbert Report is always hilarious; I think he’s a smarter man than Jon Stewart ( or at least his writers are). The Daily Show is usually fairly entertaining, except when it comes to his guests. Sometimes they’re informative, sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re a waste of time. The problem is that his show is largely centered around the guest; if he has a good guest, his show is good. If he doesn’t, it’s not. Yesterday, he had Howard Dean.

Now, Howard Dean, for a long time, was an amusing nonentity. He ran for President in 2004, made a primal scream, earned lots of laughs, and disappeared back into the woods of Socialist Vermont. He’s all of a sudden become DNC Chairman. I have no idea how this happened, but he did. Surprisingly, Jon Stewart was pretty hard on Howard Dean; usually he’s got a lighter touch with Democrats/liberals than conservatives. He made lots of good points on the incomprehensibility of the Democratic nominating system. He asked why the system wasn’t more streamlined, like that of the Republicans.

Dean’s response: “They just choose the 25 richest guys… I’m sorry, 100 richest guys to be nominees.”

Let’s see… ad hominem attack? Check. Completely evading the question? Check. (Remember, the question was about how the party selects their Presidential ticket, NOT how the nominees are chosen in the first place). Getting his facts wrong? Check. (Here’s the list of the world’s richest men. John McCain is not on this list. What about America only? Hmm… not there either.) Attacking the interviewer (not literally, but I’d pay to see them duke it out)? Check.


Dean came off like a pretentious ass who couldn’t be bothered and proved he either didn’t know the answer or didn’t care. Jon Stewart got under his skin by making fun of him for losing to Kerry in the primaries in 2004, but ruffled his feathers. Dean used his interview time not to build up his own party or to answer excellent questions (like how super delegates were chosen), but to attack Republicans, make fun of George Bush, and patronizing Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart himself does all of these things, but is much better at it, and interviewing yourself only works if you’re Stephen Colbert.

Howard Dean, you have been added to my enemies list. The only surprise is that you weren’t there already.

Alex Rodriguez, you are no longer my enemy. I actually feel sorry for you for the NY press constantly attacking you for not being Derek Jeter. How dare you be better than Jeter in every conceivable way! I guess it’s understandable, since your line in the post season is .309/.377/.469 rather than Jeter’s line of 279/.361/.483. After all, the only real difference is that he has a high slugging percentage and you hit a few more singles… oh, wait. I got those confused. My mistake. A-Rod is the best player in the American League. Period. End of discussion. Derek Jeter is a fine, Hall-of-Fame worthy shortstop. A-Rod has a chance to become the best player in major league history until Albert Pujols catches up. He’s also apparently a masochist who enjoys criticism.

April 24, 2008

Coach, you’re a DIPShit*

Filed under: Jerks, Sports, Video Games, Wacky Theories — Tony Demchak @ 12:57 pm

So I’m playing as Rodrigo Clemenza in MLB 08, Mexican superstar pitcher who is in no way Roger Clemens, and I finish the second month of season two of my career. After beating most of my goals and a rocky start, I receive my next set of goals. One includes “Hold opponents to under a .200 batting average for the next 8 series (or around four weeks or so).” Now, the reason I’m still in AA is because I always fail one goal a period, and they have set me up for failure here. Rodrigo may strike out a lot more than a walks, with a K rate of just under a batter an inning, but I’m apparently not AAA material because I can’t use the Jedi Mind Trick on my crappy infield defense. Jerks.

*DIPS stands for Defense Independent Pitching Statistics; it’s a combination of ground ball to fly ball ratio, strikeouts per nine innings, walks per nine innings, and HR surrendered per nine innings. Voros McCracken did some pretty hefty research and came up with the answer that once a ball was hit by a batter, there was almost no control on the part of the pitcher on where it went, apart from whether it was a grounder or a fly ball. Stats like BABIP (batting average on balls in play) fluctuate wildly from season to season for pretty much every pitcher.

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