Monthly Archives: December 2011

Illnesses Blow

My apologies for not updating for the past few days. I’ve been fighting off just the second cold I’ve gotten in the past two years, and have had to attend to things more immediate to my health than writing, as much as I might wish that I didn’t have to.

I should be back in commission in the next two or three days with something new to share, as it seems like the world has decided to suddenly start blowing up with stuff for me to post about.


Kim Jong-il, 1941-2011: Another Psychotic Dictator Bites The Dust

So, North Korean dictator and crazy son of a bitch Kim Jong-il finally kicked the bucket at 69 (according to then-Soviet records of his birth), ending a period of rule over his country that had lasted since his father’s death in 1994 with one uneventful – and, if American and South Korean intelligence is to be believed, evidently unexpected – heart attack whilst taking a “train tour” through his fiefdom.

Kim Jong-il

Kim Jong-il, in his element.

Call me weird for saying this, but while I hated the guy and would most certainly think that he was rotting in hell as I write this if I believed in such things, I nevertheless found myself hoping that his death would have been more…entertaining.

Think about it, if you will. Is a heart attack whilst riding on a train really a fitting death for a guy who declared his ex-dictator dad to be “Eternal President” of North Korea four years after said father’s death, had a giant pyramid-shaped hotel built in his nation’s capital of Pyôngyang to the point of being a three hundred meter-plus tall concrete shell and then left abandoned for nearly twenty years, and once kidnapped a South Korean filmmaker to force him to create a crappy Godzilla-type movie for the North’s lackluster cinema industry?

In my opinion, it isn’t. The man was such a lunatic, expressing inanity miles beyond anything competing weirdos like deposed late Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi ever espoused, that I was honestly expecting his death and the days leading up to it to be a spectacle far beyond anything his “mass games” could have ever manufactured. My expectations were mainly based in my thought that there would be a hilarious confluence of press releases and statements in those aforementioned final days of his life, with intelligence suggesting his imminent demise receiving regular hilarious replies from North Korea’s propaganda mill that would doubtlessly make claims of another contrived Jong-il “feat of strength”, such as his supposed golfing abilities.

Alas, like Mick Jagger once said, you can’t always get what you want. I do fear, however, that we just might find that “great successor” Kim Jong-un will unfortunately rule with a degree of brutality that makes his antecedents look like softies.

Rest In Peace, Christopher Hitchens: 1949-2011

Although I disagreed with him on some fairly big things, like the United States’ role in the Iraq War, the journalistic and academic worlds lost a big thinker – and notoriously curmudgeonly pundit – when Christopher Hitchens succumbed to esophageal cancer last night at the too-young age of sixty-two. I’d say more, but Vanity Fair already took the words out of my mouth:

Christopher Hitchens—the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant—died today at the age of 62. Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010, just after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22, and began chemotherapy soon after.

Rest in peace, Mr. Hitchens. Since you didn’t believe in an afterlife, here’s to a peaceful time sitting in a grave six feet below the ground, and a wish that people continue to remember, study, and actively remark upon your important contributions to religious and political discussion and debate.

RIP Christopher Hitchens: 1949-2011

Of Chris Paul and NBA Parity

When I’d first heard the news a few days ago concerning what looked like a likely trade of then-New Orleans Hornets star Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers, I was a bit intrigued.

Basketball, after all, is a sport that does not have much homegrown hope in store for a fan such as myself who lives in Milwaukee. As such, I’ve taken to following it less like I would football or baseball and more like I would some random soap opera, eager to see what twists, turns, and collusions between star players lie in store for media markets that reside far away from where I stand in terms of both glamor and success.

This, I think, is why I was eager to hear the details of the then-impending trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers in exchange for Lamar Odom and a host of other players, as I found myself idly speculating about how Kobe Bryant would mesh with his new teammate, and how it seemed like the Hornets might have actually gotten the better half of the deal…

…until I’d heard that commissioner David Stern had killed it.

"Thanks" to NBA commissioner David Stern, rumors of Chris Paul becoming a Laker were greatly exaggerated.

As I write this post, I continue to wonder why Stern thought he was acting in the best interests of anyone – especially New Orleans, as that is who the NBA claims to be looking out for in their receivership of them – especially in light of the official news that Paul is, instead, a Clipper, in a trade that was seemingly less beneficial to the Hornets than the one Stern vetoed days earlier.

If Stern is so concerned with parity, why not do more about it than randomly vetoing trades that aren’t even one-sided in the first place? Perhaps they’d be best served by moving towards the kind of model that the NFL has, with ingrained revenue sharing and guaranteed amounts of team income that would make the playing field quite a bit more level than the current system of convoluted “trade exceptions” and easily-exploitable salary cap loopholes.

Until that day comes (and I doubt it ever will), however, I think Stern should shut up and allow the rich teams to do what they do best in the league’s current system: Put on a big show that lesser teams can only stare in awe of. If Stern already put his disdain for the fans on full display during the lockout, I don’t see why he’d start pretending to care about their best interests now.

My thoughts on Apple’s new iPod touch “Share The Fun” ad

Is it just me, or is it brutally obvious through Apple’s new iPod touch ad that Steve Jobs is dead and gone?

A still from Apple's new "Share The Fun" ad

I mean, even though Jobs obviously wasn’t sitting right there with the ad agencies and personally directing the spots during his tenure as Apple’s CEO, it still seems to me as if his corporate ideology is just as dead as the man himself when it comes to how Apple conducts their marketing strategy in the Tim Cook era.

When I first saw the ad I linked to above, I had a hard time telling that it was an ad for an Apple product until the iconic logo flashed on the screen at the end. Despite the fact that the advertised product was in use by the commercial’s models throughout the spot, I almost felt that it could have just as easily been an ad for a young adult’s clothing brand, and that the commercial was trying to tell me that the only people who were cool enough to use a gizmo like the iPod touch were people who dressed in (insert clothing brand here)’s faux-retro hats and shoes that look like they’ve been fashioned out of a squirrel killed in the backyard, not that iPod touches are frequently used by people who happen to dress as such.

I don’t delude myself into thinking that Jobs wasn’t attempting to sell a lifestyle in his time at Apple, but he seemed to be able to do it through comparatively staid and minimalist presentations and descriptions of Apple’s offerings, not flashy cavalcades of models hailing from their target demographic that overdose on style and fail to drink from the trough called “substance”.

I suppose, perhaps, that that seemingly-gone harmony of style and substance is yet another example of the status Jobs held and left behind as a one-of-a-kind salesman, love him or hate him.

Welcome to The O’Leary Blog

Whether you’re familiar with me from my other online exploits or know of me for the first time through this site, welcome. Over the coming days, weeks, and months, I plan on using this blog to talk about various things going on in the world today, from economics to sports to politics and just about anything else that comes to mind as I go along. Enjoy, and check back often; I plan on updating frequently, with fresh and unique insight on an aforementioned litany of topics as time goes on.