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This Week in Z: April 8, 2012

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Lately, every weekend, I have been sending my dad a collection of articles I read that week that made me stop and think, “Hey, dad should should see this…”

It is probably just a narcissistic form of catharsis for me to do this – especially since he probably doesn’t read, nor would appreciate reading, half the articles I send him. So, rather than let all that go to waste – and in the interest of keeping up the narcissistic-catharsis, I’m going to just post those articles here from now on. You know, where they can be politely ignored by the billions of internet users out there and not just my dad…

Just One More Game … Angry Birds, Farmville and Other Hyperaddictive ‘Stupid Games’

The New York Times: http://nyti.ms/InM8mJ

This is a very interesting (and long) article in the New York Times about “stupid games” on phones and the growth of the “gaming culture” in general. I personally like this article for a couple of reasons: For one, I identify with the author’s addiction to then rejection of video games throughout his youth. I also identify with the author’s somewhat sentiment that “stupid games” on phones are destroying our culture.

Over the last few weeks, several people I’ve hung out with (girls especially!) have become ridiculously distracted by their phones to play dumb games. Normally, I would write this off as just another sign of how boring it is to hang out with me, but these have always been in group settings so it couldn’t have just been me. All of the sudden one or more people in the group will withdraw and become engrossed in some stupid game on their phone: The latest is a Pictionary rip-off a-la-Words-With-Friends. Pretty sad, huh?

Infinite Comics: Marvel’s New Format Changes How Comics Are Created—And Read

Gizmodo: http://gizmo.do/HG61uB

I am really starting to hate myself over this one. I don’t know if you remember, but back in 1998 I thought up the idea for Netflix DVD-by-mail business model and pitched it to the store manager of Hastings as a way to expand our video rentals. I saw DVD’s coming into the store and immediately recognized how light weight and easy to mail they would be. The idea, of course, was rejected, and one year later Netflix was founded.

Almost ten years later, in 2007, I thought of another crazy idea: Digital comic books. My idea actually came to me as an add-on to a still-in-the-works (soon-to-be-stolen) idea for an internet based mega comic book store called ComicBookKingdom.com. I was inspired to bust up the Diamond Comic Distributors monopoly on comic book distribution and “democratize” the comic book industry. I simultaneously was getting into downloading illegal scans of comic books I collected so that I could read them without damaging my originals.

That is when it hit me: I should legitimize the “digital comic book” format I was stealing off the black market with direct-from-publisher books that could be offered through my CBK store. It also occurred to me, that if comic books were going to become digitized, it wouldn’t be long before we could offer features such as delaying when text appeared and layering in frames and affects.

When the iPad came out three years later and DCD started to take a crack at digital comics, I though, “Okay, I there’s another idea I’ve sat on for too long.” I’m actually surprised that is has taken another two years for the digital-only effects part to kick in. Either way, I’m kicking myself all the way to the food-stamps line (note: I’m not on food-stamps, but I am a lot “poorer” than I should be).

Judge Napolitano on President Obama’s Supreme Court Comments

Judge Andrew Napolitano

Judge Andrew Napolitano

Fox News: http://youtu.be/2d-faOTaFaA
Fox Business: http://youtu.be/yHm2QE0MIJc

Love him or hate him, (former) Judge Napolitano makes some very compelling and intellectually convincing arguments for his side of any argument. And he’s entertaining to watch. That is why I tend to seek him out on political/legal issues that I find especially interesting – the President’s remarks on the SCOTUS’s authority to rule against his health care law, being one such issue.

In this case, I think Judge Napolitano is absolutely right, and President Obama, as well-intended, friendly, and likable as he is, is being intellectually dishonest in his address to the American people. I said this about Obama in 2008 when he made promises about getting us out of Iraq within 18 months – something he was smart enough to know was logistically and politically impossible (and arguably, he still hasn’t done considering that tens of thousands of American troops are still in Iraq, they are just considered permanently ”based” there rather than “deployed” there).

At any rate, as much as I keep trying to like President Obama, things like this just blow my mind and undermine every other seemingly good thing he does or says. The SCOTUS doesn’t have the authority to strike down laws as unconstitutional? Really, Mr. Constitutional Scholar? Really? All due respect, Mr. President, but you’re kind of a intellectually dishonest scumbag for saying that. Welcome (again) to slimy politics, sir. And thank you, Mr. Napolitano, for saying that in a much kinder and intellectual way than I every could.

Ron Paul Projected to be in 2nd Place with 380 Delegates!

Rep. Ron Paul

Rep. Ron Paul

Mat Larson: http://youtu.be/gyv8U1U_cTU

I love it for one simple reason: It educates people about how delegates are selected in the nominating process and how full of shit the main news outlets are in the delegate projections. After spending hours researching the issue, I am certain that the media estimate of delegates is wildly inaccurate and it is a shame that they throw out these numbers as if they were fact when they themselves know it is all just BS.

It may just be wishful thinking that has lead the creator of this blog to project that Ron Paul will have 380 delegates, but at least the author of this video acknowledges that this is also conjecture and guesswork: Just more informed and accurate guesswork than that being done by the mainstream media. Thank you, Mat Larson.

Writer Anne Rice: ‘Today I Quit Being A Christian’

Photo: Getty Images

Anne Rice {Getty Images}

NPR: http://n.pr/HIedM6

As both a self-identified Christian and a massive fan of Anne Rice‘s vampire and witch books, I had very mixed feelings about her decision a few years ago to only write about Jesus. Granted, I was more of a fan of her books for the struggles with spirituality and morality she put her characters through rather than the subject matter itself, but I was very concerned about her 1998 conversion to Christianity would change her tone of voice to “preachy” and steal from the “interesting” factor.

So, it was with equally mixed feelings that I found out this week on The Colbert Report, that Anne Rice is releasing a new book about a werewolf called The Wolf Gift and has rejected Christianity. After investigating, I suddenly found Anne Rice more relate-able to my personal experiences more than ever: Why would one want to self-identify with a group of people or institution which is characterized by hateful bigotry?

While her tipping-point reasons may not be the same as mine, I certainly identify with her desire to “reject Christianity” as an institution or label in order to set herself apart as culturally different than what that label represents. And the interesting thing about that, in my mind, is this is exactly what the early church of the New Testament did in a way to institutionalized religion in its own day.

Is Anne Rice just representative of a new breed of “christian” Deists? I don’t know, but I certainly sympathize. And I often feel as if I’m about to jump ship myself.

Also, I have come across my new book idea: Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter. Look for it on the best seller list in about two to four years… written by another author who wasn’t as lazy as I am about making his ideas a reality.

10 things about Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson

Gov. Gary Johnson

Gov. Gary Johnson

The Daily Caller: http://thedc.com/IWVdqC

I probably should keep all my political articles together. Of course, so much of what I am interested in is politics, it can be tiresome to read one political article after another, so I’ll just continue to mention these things in the order I read them.

I just absolutely love Gary Johnson. This article only re-affirms it for me, even though I get the feeling it wasn’t intended to be very serious and possibly even damaging.

A brief history of my political identity: In the late 80′s I became obsessed with politics and global affairs when the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union started to collapse. Desert Storm only drew me in even more. Then Ross Perot showed up and I fell in love with federal budgets, flowcharts/graphs, and boring infomercials. Growing up in a wildly conservative and Right-wing Republican area (southwest Missouri) I was a closeted Democrat and explained to my friends I only registered Democrat because I was trying to influence the primaries, but the truth was that I was very socially liberal.

In 2003 I became a huge fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the brand of neo-Republicanism he supposedly represented when he was running for Governor of California. This made me realize certain kinds of Republicans could be found palatable. Although, I was still more convinced no Republican could ever eclipse how much I loved Dennis Kucinich.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine listened to my political views and told me I was a Libertarian – a word I never had heard of, and an idea I rejected when I saw how kooky and disorganized the Libertarian party was. I thought, “God love ‘em, but they ain’t goin’ nowhere.” Then, I heard Kucinich quasi-endorse Ron Paul by dropping his name as a potential VP pick so I researched the Congressman from Texas and was instantly hooked.

Ron Paul, I discovered, had his flaws and I didn’t agree with him on every issue… However, during my Ron Paul education process I re-affirmed my long held belief that Republicans and Democrats aren’t very different at all on most issues – especially in practice (ignoring the rhetoric). This lead me to decide that I would never vote for another politician with an (R) or a (D) by their names so as to not support the farce that is our two-party system of false-choices.

I also decided to look for an even more agreeable “Libertarianesque” politician to get behind since I didn’t think Ron Paul would be around in 2012 (oops – predicted that wrong!). And that is how I found Gary Johnson and joined a movement to draft him to run for president and later supported his political action committe, Our American Initiative.

Poor Gary Johnson. He was the GOP’s Ron Paul of 2012 – completely marginalized by the party and the media. Unlike Paul, though, he decided to reject the GOP and run for the Libertarian nomination pretty quickly in the process. Finally, an (L) presidential candidate that I can actually get excited about. If anything, I sure hope he brings in the support and attention necessary to get the Libertarian party to get their act together and become a legitimacy force on the political landscape. That would be refreshing.

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