Archive for the Rants Category

False start.

Posted in Rants with tags , , , , , , , on March 31, 2009 by xugro

I was dreading today because I have to turn in my dissertation. I defended it over a month ago and wanted to give myself time to revise it and format according to my university’s arcane and bizarre requirements. First and foremost is the fact that it is to be “published” on microfilm. I have to pay a $100 fee for this privilege. Have you ever used a microfilm? I have a few times, but only to read old newspapers from the 19th century, certain rare books, and so on. As if academia weren’t obsolescent enough already. At least I don’t have to do an index.

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1 shout out; 1 shout down

Posted in Emails, Rants with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2009 by xugro

To Whomever Found My Girlfriend’s Phone and Returned It:

Thank you. You were kind enough to help someone out in a time of need rather than taking advantage of them. Especially since the phone in question was a first-gen iPhone, worth a few hundred bucks. What with the recession and all, I wouldn’t blame you that much for selling it. I mean, it would still be wrong of course. Anyway, thanks for your help and your kindness. Your hard help serves as a beacon for all humanity.


Xugro & Co.

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Surveys Must Stop: An Open Letter to the MySpace “Community”

Posted in Rants with tags , , , , , , on March 10, 2009 by xugro

[This post is a letter I posted a few years ago in response to the excess of surveys I received on MySpace.]

Dear Friends, Acquaintances and MySpaceSters:

I am (edit: was) a “community” member, or rather a concerned citizen, and I have decided to write an open letter in order to rectify what seems to be a horrendous situation that monstrously drains the time, body and spirit of one and all. Of what evil do I speak? What fiendish brute, you may ask, so consumes and enervates whomever he may touch? Look no further, friends, than in your own mirrors. The face of terror lies not abroad but in your own home or workplace.
Surveys may seem innocuous, yet are clearly symptomatic of a larger lack of ideological engagement and false consciousness that the internet provides us. What survey have you received that asked what your favorite medieval hermeneutician was? What survey has ever taught you anything beyond fickle facts? What survey has made you stop and think about class consciousness? Not one, I would wager. Imagine that you receive two surveys a week–given, this is a low estimate–that you read (10 mins) and to which you likewise respond and re-post (5-10 minutes). Our consequent estimate of 20 minutes per week, again erring on the low side of things, adds up to an hour to an hour and a half a month, or 12-18 hours a year. For more egregious surveymongers, this number should be at least doubled if not trebled. Now let us conjure up some other figures. At the rate
of 15-20 pages an hour, most contemporary novels will take 10-20 hours to read in all. Longer novels are an exception, yet even at 80 hours it requires less than 25% of the lesser surveymongers’ time. Moreover, reading knowledge of another language can be acquired in about 40-50 hours. Thus the time spent on surveys, while seeming harmless, can consequently be seen to have negative effects on the user’s general and specific knowledge as well as educational and cultural level.
What, you will reply, is the problem with wasting time? After all, Bataille described the notion of expenditure as necessary to the proper functioning of the capitalist economy. Waste and excess are a natural part of everyday life. Why won’t you allow us

to continue in our disavowed and fragmentary worldview and allow our imaginary to be colonized yet further by the spectacle? We know how things really are, but we are doing it anyway. I answer: This disavowal is perhaps one of the most typical aspects of homo hipsterus (or femina hipsterica), whose cynicism is only equalled by her actual political apathy. You may know how things really are–a fanatical and paranoid fundamentalist government in power, rampant poverty, de facto inequality for minorities, inter alia–yet your ideological jouissance enables you to take no action. As Zizek has written, “What [people] overlook, what they misrecognize, is not the reality but the illusion which is structuring their reality, their real social activity. They know very well how things really are, but they are doing it as if they did not know” (The Sublime Object of Ideology 32). Here it is important to recognize Zizek’s fascinating inversion of Marx’s classic formula of false consciousness: “‘Ideological’ is not the ‘false consciousness’ of a (social) being but this being itself in so far as it is supported by ‘false consciousness.’” (Ibid., 21).

You will ask if I really want you to learn French, read newspapers or novels, or become politically active. I will respond with the following: “Dude. Check out my vintage jacket and ironic t-shirt; behold my collection of ‘cult’ band mp3s; take in the magnificence of my cynicism; revel, finally, in the impossibility of everything.”

I received three surveys while writing this message.

Corrections to your review of Beowulf

Posted in Emails, Rants with tags , , , , , , on March 10, 2009 by xugro

Corrections to Your Preview of “Beowulf” in Game Informer 172 (Aug 2007), pp. 68-69

Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to inform you that there is a glaring error in your preview of the game “Beowulf” on pp. 68-69 of GI 172. Where the text on p. 68 (first paragraph) reads “That’s when you turn to the middle-english epic poem Beowulf“, it should read, “That’s when you turn to the Old English epic poem Beowulf.”
Beowulf was written in Old English, which is quite different from the much more familiar Middle English in which Chaucer wrote. To contrast the two, I offer you a few of the opening lines of Beowulf (composed mid-7th to
late 10th-century) and the first lines of Chaucer’s Canterbury tales (14th century).

Oft Scylde Scefing seaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum meodo-setla ofteah;
egsode Eorle, syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden; he þæs frofre gebad:
weox under wolcnum, weorð-myndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymb-sittendra
ofer hron-rade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan: þæt wæs god cyning!

[There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes,

a wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes.

This terror of the hall-troops had come far.A foundling to start with, he would flourish later on
as his powers waxed and his worth was proved.
In the end each clan on the outlying coasts
beyond the whale-road had to yield to him
and begin to pay tribute. That was one good king.]
Translated by Seamus Heaney (New York: Norton, 2000), p.3.
Here are the opening lines of the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, with interlineal translation, taking from Harvard’s website
1 Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
[ When April with its sweet-smelling showers]
2 The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
[Has pierced the drought of March to the root,]
3 And bathed every veyne in swich licour
[And bathed every vein (of the plants) in such liquid]
4 Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
[By which power the flower is created;]

As you will note, the Middle English is much closer to Present-Day English and presents much less difficulties than Old English. Middle English is traditionally said to begin after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 and continues up to the 16th century, while Old English covers roughly 700 years from the mid-fifth to mid-twelfth centuries. I appreciate your rectifying this matter, as it is of supreme importance for understanding Beowulf as a literary work, game, and film. In the end, is there no time when we shouldn’t turn to the Old English epic, Beowulf ?
Thank you for your attention.


[My corrections were never published. Sigh.]