Tuesday, January 29, 2008

World War Z - An oral history of the zombie war

World War Z by Max Brooks is a wonderfully inventive and entertaining writing by the son of Mel Brooks. For those who enjoy the work of George Romero, World War Z will be quite a treat. I found myself not able to put it down.

World War Z begins from the point of view of a Chinese doctor witnessing the first cases of a plague that seems to inexplicably resurrect the newly deceased as infectious cannibals. Is the plague natural or supernatural in origin? Does it even matter? Within a year the world is overcome with hordes of ravenous undead. Americans flee to refugee camps in Cuba; Europeans turn to medieval castles and weapons for defense; a confused Pakistan unleashes nuclear winter on the world. And despite the best efforts of humankind, the zombies keep coming.

At its best, World War Z is both gripping and moving. The most effective narratives in the book are those that serve as self-contained short stories: a Chinese doctor’s wartime experience saves his life during the initial outbreak; a downed pilot treks to safety through enemy territory; a young girl and her family flee north in the hope that winter will freeze the undead in their tracks. Brooks’s writing shines in these sections, which combine jolting action and social commentary and frequently end with a bittersweet, ironic twist.

For the zombie fan World War Z is wondefully entertaining. For those who enjoy adventure and horror it will be eqaully as wonderful. Check it out!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fed to the Rescue....Finally

Finally the Fed and Ben Bernanke decided to lower interest rates in the face of recession and falling world stock markets. The surprise reduction in the federal funds rate from 4.25 down to 3.5 percent marked the biggest funds rate cut on records going back to 1990. Yesterday stock markets worldwide logged steep declines due to US and world economic worries. Finally our Fed stepped in, even though financial experts have been calling for intervention for weeks as the economic news worsened.

Hopefully this will mark the bottom of the current stock market cycle and we can head up from here. The low interest rates, coupled with the massive write-downs of the last few weeks, should allow the banking sector to move forward and being making profits once again. The Citigroups, Bank of Americas and Bear Stearns of the world look like very attractive buys at current levels. It takes guts to buy when everything is doom and gloom, but three years from now the investor that buys the banks will be sitting on big gains. So buy and hold and watch as the cycle improves over the next few years.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Current TV - Great Independent Television

For those of you that have yet to discover Current TV you are missing out. Current TV is an independent channel available on most cable outlets. The channel features "pods", or short programs, of which a portion are created by viewers and users. Users (called VC2 Producers) contribute three-to-seven-minute "pods", which are usually documentary in nature. The content covers anything from pollution in China to living conditions in Africa. There is alot of environmental and green content which I especially enjoy. Bottom line it is a very "uncorporate" outlet where you will find very interesting topics which are rarely covered in mainstream media.

Here is a brief interview with Joel Hyatt the chief executive of Current TV. This will help give more clarity as to what Current TV is.

Q: It's been said that Current TV is a difficult thing to define. Maybe you can tell us just what it is.

A: I wouldn't say that it's difficult to define. I would say that it's different. It is a television concept premised on viewer-created content. We have unleashed the creativity of a young adult audience and empowered them to help contribute to the creation of the television they watch. They can do that by producing content and submitting it to us. They can come into our online studio and review the content submissions of others and voting for those that they like. That's the core innovation. We're trying to democratize -- small "d" -- the television platform, which until Current's attempt to do so has been a one-way platform. The only choice a viewer has is to pick up the remote control and go from one network that you're not finding interesting to another. You have no way to influence what it is that's coming in that direction. My partner and colleague Al Gore just gave a speech a couple of weeks ago in which he said that when television replaced the printed word as the medium through which the American public receives its information, there has been a significant deterioration in the conversation of democracy because people don't have access to the printing press equivalent of the television production infrastructure. We're trying to provide that access, so we can recreate a marketplace of ideas ... on what is the dominant medium of our time.

Q: What is it that people are doing on the channel?

A: We named ourselves Current because we are about what's going on in the lives of young adults in their voice from their perspective. It's about their careers, their relationships, their culture. What you see on Current, you will not see elsewhere. When the tragedy of Katrina unfolded, we didn't send a reporter to Louisiana to show up and stand there and say, "Hey, it's flooding." We're much more about citizen journalists who are actually living in it and experiencing it, submitting their story to us. It's 100 percent authentic. If you had tuned into Current during the height of the problems in Katrina, you would have seen a young man in his early 20s taking his flat-bottom boat out onto what used to be the streets of New Orleans, rescuing people. He went right over the house he lived in two years ago when he was a college student in New Orleans. You would have seen a story by a young man, also in his 20s, who, several days after the impact of Katrina, took his car to go find his grandmother, to see whether she was alive. Along with that, we produced a five-minute piece about the hurricane. We presented that story in a way you won't find anywhere on television. There's music underneath it. It's in their voice. It's in a compelling way for our target demographic to receive information.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The "Meanest Mom on Earth"

This is too funny:

Jane Hambleton has dubbed herself the "meanest mom on the planet." After finding alcohol in her son's car, she decided to sell the car and share her 19-year-old's misdeed with everyone — by placing an ad in the local newspaper. The ad reads: "OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet."

"The ad cost a fortune, but you know what? I'm telling people what happened here," Hambleton says. "I'm not just gonna put the car for resale when there's nothing wrong with it, except the driver made a dumb decision. It's overwhelming the number of calls I've gotten from people saying 'Thank you, it's nice to see a responsible parent.' So far there are no calls from anyone saying, 'You're really strict. You're real overboard, lady.'"

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hmmmm so after New Hampshire's caucus.....

Ugh I consider myself an independent even though I have leaned Republican the last elections. I have no idea which way i will vote come next fall's election. I do think the country needs a new direction. So, what have I learned over the caucus's of the last week? The main thing I know is that the more i see Hilary Clinton on tv the more I don't like her at all. Her smugness....her speeches are not inspiring at all.....sorry I can say there is no way I will voting for her. Everyone else right now is fair game though.

Friday, January 4, 2008

What can we learn from the Iowa caucas?

What can we learn from the Iowa caucus of last night? Alot.

From a Democratic perspective. Hilary Clinton is in big trouble after the poor performance. Getting blasted by Barack Obama and losing 2nd place narrowly to John Edwards. Obama has major momentum now and after delivering a rousing victory speach look for the rest of America to give him much more respect. He suddenly looks much more electable. He brought out a youthful vote and also performed well with the female voters an area Clinton wanted to dominate.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney took the major blow as all his money was not able to buy a victory. Instead, Mike Huckabee turned out the religous voters in large numbers and swept to an easy win. So who can challenge Huckabee? John McCain is expected to provide a solid competitor down the line.

The main thing I took from the caucus was that Iowa, and probably the whole of America, is ready for someone new....someone not from the mainsteam political world. Obama is a new man on the scene only 4 years ago practically unknown. Clinton got blasted for being a typical Washington politician. Same thing on the Republican side. Huckabee won, while Guliani and the other mainstream politicals got blasted.