Blog Archives - Silent Rogue
 
I've been using firefox for years, pretty much since I was a kid and learned what the internet was. I was happy. Hell, just yesterday, I idled away hours on end watching videos, playing games, reading blogs, living life. I have a firefox sticker on the back window of my car; I have a firefox pin attached to the strap of my bag. I even regularly convince others to give up on other browsers like safari and chrome to go for firefox. (Sorry, I just can't stand chrome... Tried it, and it wasn't for me... Safari is just too slow for my tastes - at least in my experience of it.)

So, why did I just divulge into my life story of internet browsing? Well, it's quite simple really: Today, I switched from Firefox to Opera. FML... (Not really, I just couldn't resist saying FML).

Actually, I switched to Opera 10.60 for the first time in my life, and I couldn't be happier. I have always loved Mozilla, but with the recent focus on aesthetic themes instead of performance, I just couldn't take it anymore. Firefox started getting on my nerves, so I had to escape...

I started Opera, and my life evolved into a wonderful thing. The features that come with Opera work much faster than add-ons of similar functionality in firefox. In fact, I am much more at ease using these functions than firefox add-ons because I know I can trust the source. It's not that I expect there to be malicious code in firefox add-ons. It's really the fact that the developer may not be completely familiar with firefox's code to be able to make a top-notch product. (Yes, I know it's open-source, but that doesn't mean every developer completely familiarizes himself with the ins and outs of everything firefox).

All I can say is that I am happy with the change to Opera based upon today's usage. Will it last? I don't know, but life's a mystery, and I'm along for the ride.

I recommend anyone getting a little annoyed with (or even bored with) their internet browsing experience to try Opera 10.60.

(and, NO, I will NEVER switch to Chrome...)
 
I'm sure not many of you have read the recent July 2nd op-ed piece by Joel Stein in Time magazine. Entitled "My Own Private India," the article attempts to satirize the influx of Indians into the Edison, New Jersey area in the last twenty years, poking fun at stereotypes and other supposedly absurd Indian behavior.

However, Stein goes a little too far and cuts a little too deep in his work. From scathing lines attacking both the traditionally struggling Indian economy to mocking the predominant religion of the country, Stein questions why his childhood friends could not come up with a better insult than "dot heads."

To quote the article:
"For a while, we assumed all Indians were geniuses. Then, in the 1980s, the doctors and engineers brought over their merchant cousins, and we were no longer so sure about the genius thing. In the 1990s, the not-as-brilliant merchants brought their even-less-bright cousins, and we started to understand why India is so damn poor."

Stein propels his attack with further parallels between the recent Arizona rulings and the Indian influx into New Jersey, describing the emotion as "a sense of loss and anomie."

As soon as the article was published, an uproar within the Indian community erupted. The leaders of the SAALT (South Asian American Leading Together) immediately sent a direct response and requested for a face-to-face meeting with Time editors. Actor Kal Penn also responded in the Huffington Post with a quite enjoyable sarcastic article concluding with: "Critics might call Mr. Stein's humor super-tired or as played out as the jokes about that cheap Jewish car that stopped on a dime to pick it up, or that African American kid who got marked absent at night school. Although unlike Stein's Indian American piece, in 2010 those other jokes don't show up in mainstream media like Time Magazine. I wonder why that is.."

It was only then that Time magazine then promptly published its public apology: "We sincerely regret that any of our readers were upset by this humor column of Joel Stein's. It was in no way intended to cause offense."

Stein also responded with an apology: "I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so many people..."

Sound like weak apologies? Yeah, I thought so too...

Normally, I'm a very calm and collected person, but sometimes certain things just inexplicably anger me. This article is one such rare moment. Allow me to rant for a bit...

Why did this article even get published in the first place? It's just like Kal Penn said, anti-Semitic and "black" jokes of the same level would never appear in mainstream media, so why do other racial slurs pass? Is it because Indians haven't had the oppressive history to match American slavery or the Holocaust? If that is the case, why are white slurs like "cracker" considered just as taboo as the "n word"? I don't recall any recent white oppression. (Wait, I actually do, but the white people were doing the act, not being the victims...) Why then does this type of "joking racism" persist?
Why are all Indians supposed to be geniuses? Why do Asian females make the worst drivers? Why are all Hispanics illegal aliens? What makes a Middle Eastern man an automatic terrorist? I am left to wonder why the editors at Time let such an article be published in the first place...

As we progress deeper into a more connected age, I fear for our future as one collective identity. It appears to me that humans will never learn, and if that is truly the case, our species will be in for some terrible wars in the near future. All we can do is hope that once the wars are over, the survivors can band together as one people - humans.
 
Alright, I give in. With all this talk about Christopher Nolan's latest film and with all the debate about the meaning of the ending shot, I thought I could just ignore everyone's surface-level theories. I thought I would be able to keep the real truth about the film hidden within the confines of my own mind, but apparently, they are about to be extracted.

Before I offer up what actually happened in the film, I'm going to summarize a couple of the more prominent theories floating around (skip past the blue if you don't want to read them):

(spoiler alert!)

The first theory is really an either or statement and is quite simplistic. Either Cobb made it back or he got lost in limbo. This all depends on whether the top simply wobbled and restored itself or if it wobbled and fell over. Thanks to Nolan's early cut, no one will ever know. This theory is fine for any normal movie-goer, and it is enough to satisfy the mental hunger of most people who realize that this film is a work of fiction. The important thing to understand was that Cobb walked away from the top without waiting to see what happened. He was happy and that's all that mattered.

For those of us who have significantly more free time, (putting aside Cobb's nonchalant attitude at the end) deeper and more complicated theories arise. The two most intriguing ones I have heard concern Saito. According to the first theory, Cobb is stuck in a prison of his own mind, and Saito was the real Inception artist. Saito's goal was to plant the idea in Cobb's mind that would allow him to get over Mal's death. At the end, Saito succeeds and Cobb is reunited with his father (Saito's employer). All the other passengers on the plane were either working with Saito or were just projections of Cobb's memory after seeing them on the plane. While this theory is definitely intriguing, I find it hard to believe for a number of reasons including the fact that no one is hooked up to any machine when Cobb wakes up in the plane.

In the second Saito theory, Cobb is the subject again. However, instead of helping him overcome something in the real world, the point of the job was to make Cobb realize he was dreaming. Saito tried his best, but Cobb's defenses were too much for him, and only the final moments in limbo with him as an old man indicate that Cobb is a lost cause. Saito makes it out, but Cobb is lost forever in a limbo that is finally a happy one for him. This theory also has a host of its issues (like if it's Saito's limbo, why does it look like Cobb's world?), but I find it to be more solid than the previous one.

I could recount all the theories I have heard, but that would take ages. As it is, I hardly did a good job on the previous two as I left out much of the detail concerned with each. In any case, they are not my theories, so feel free to blast them however you wish.

And while we are on the subject, some notably disastrous theories include Cobb's father performing the Inception, Cobb performing the Inception on himself, the kids performing the Inception, and limbo actually being the real world.

Now that we have those out of the way, here are my thoughts on the matter:

As the film states, Mal and Cobb went deeper and deeper until they got stuck in limbo. There, they had to figure out a way to escape and came up with the solution of the train running over their heads. The plan apparently succeeded, and they woke up, but Mal was never the same again. She committed suicide, convinced that she was still in a dream, and Cobb was overcome by guilt that he had planted the idea into her mind. This guilt manifests itself in the frequent sightings of his Mal projection and threatens to take over his mind. This is the biggest problem with Cobb on a surface level.

However, I say that this surface-level truth is actually all a lie. Have you ever wondered why Cobb and Mal were shown as old people in limbo before they escaped but not when they actually escaped? Yes, that's right, the scene where the train helps them escape limbo shows both Cobb and Mal in their real life ages, not their accelerated limbo ages. The reason behind this is that there is no limbo.

WHAT??? Are you saying Nolan blatantly lied to us just to make his film more confusing??? No, he did not. Cobb was the first person to introduce the concept of limbo. (You'll see why this is significant when I tell you later.) It was only after that initial statement that some of the others picked up on the idea.

So, if they weren't in limbo they were in the real world like that "disastrous theory" right? No. They weren't in the real world either. You can't create buildings out of thin air in real life, can you? Both Mal and Cobb were still in a dream, just a deeper state. They couldn't fathom the idea of ever going deeper than that, so they never tried. That assumption lead to the belief that limbo existed and no deeper progress was possible.

Why the absence of limbo is important is really just one thing: Without limbo, there is no "shared space." If it's not limbo, it obviously has to be the inner workings of ONE person's mind, and that person is Cobb. The imagined limbo is really the deepest level explored in Cobb's mind/dreams.

That is why Cobb and Mal appear to be young before the train hits. Cobb either gets his kick or naturally wakes up from that dream level back into a shallower state of sleep. This shallower state is what I like to call coma level, otherwise called reality by others. Mal is just as duped by the shift in dream levels as Cobb is, but she eventually realizes that she is still stuck in a dream. She tries to convince Cobb of this, but he is convinced he is in reality. Mal, no longer able to live in a world she knows as fake, jumps off the ledge and kicks herself back into reality, leaving Cobb behind.

While in this state of coma, Cobb has impenetrable defenses of his own mind, so no one can alter the reality he has set up. It is also the reason why he cannot be the architect in a deeper level - he is already the fully invested architect of this level. However, deeper states of dreaming, which he apparently has the ability to shift in and out of, leave him more vulnerable to outside penetration. Mal attempts to bring him back on multiple occasions, but she cannot succeed because Cobb believes her to be dead. That is why she turns to the help of others.

Cobb is, indeed, the subject of the Inception. The first step of the job begins when he receives the plane ticket and leaves his children (who are actually just projections of his mind standing in for his real children). It is obvious that this cannot be reality. Cobb is being chased by powerful unnamed corporations because he is accused of killing his wife. To any sane man, this makes no sense whatsoever. However, I digress.

Once the job has begun, all the members of Cobb's team (including Saito) are actually working for Mal. They progress through the stages of Cobb's mind to get to the root of the problem: the dream state referred to as limbo. If they can gain access to the deepest parts of his mind, they may be able to save him yet.

Wait, I thought the different levels were different team members dreaming? No. Nolan never acknowledges this in the film, so there is really no basis for that kind of thinking. The reason that one person stays behind each time is to ensure that Cobb's mental defenses do not overcome them while they are in a deeper state. This one person basically takes the responsibility of defending against Cobb as well as synchronizing the escape through that level.

As the team delves deeper, Mal is able to penetrate more easily until they reach the dream state referred to as limbo. Here, Mal has only one chance to get things done. If she cannot convince Cobb, it is highly unlikely that she will ever get a chance to come this deep again. In a last ditch effort, Mal attempts to convince Cobb again even stating that they remain in "limbo" together in the hopes that she will eventually free Cobb from there. However, Cobb is too far gone at that point, and his mind takes full defensive action kicking everyone out. What results is a sheltered world within Cobb's mind, in which he has finally overcome Mal's "death." He is finally able to see his children's faces, and he is happy. Still comatose, but happy...

So he didn't make it back to reality in the end? No, sadly, he did not. A dead giveaway is the surreal feeling of the film culminating in his children crouching in the exact same positions as his memories from before. The fact that they are slightly older and dressed slightly differently is only a result of of this new sheltered world distinguishing itself from the other penetrable world Cobb had been so accustomed to. I'm sure the children crouching is a memory from his real life, but I doubt it has anything to do with the actual chronology of the film.

With that said, the film is really a story about growth. It chronicles the growth of one man from doubt to certainty. When the film begins, Cobb denies the death of Mal, but by the end of the film, he accepts her death as a certainty. While this may not be reality, Cobb's decision to choose this belief causes it to become his reality. Nolan makes a brilliant statement with the film: perception is reality, and truth is relevant.

Congrats, Mr. Nolan, on making our minds question and our impulses excite. You get an A for this film - near perfection in my book...
 
Owners of smart phones, hear this: It is no longer illegal to jail-break your device to either run on other networks or to install unsupported applications.

Yesterday, the Library of Congress announced that it had made jail-breaking legal. Apple tried to fight against the legalization, but the FCC stated that the act only worked to enhance the interoperability of the phone and was therefore in line with fair use policy.

While jail-breaking will no longer result in fines or jail time, the biggest deterrent still stands - warranty. It is VERY unlikely that companies like Apple will uphold product warranty after a device has been broken into.

So did this ruling really change anything? With a quick glance, you could easily say no. No one was being prosecuted for jail-breaking, so it looks like nothing has really changed. However, this isn't the whole picture. With legality issues out of the way, the arena opens up for more legitimate companies to come in and offer premium jail-breaking options and services (perhaps for a small fee and maybe even backed by their own warranty). This ruling may change everything we know about the market of smart phones, or it may change nothing at all. Only time will tell.

On a side note, enjoy the entertaining goal celebration by an Icelandic team below:
 
"A six-year archive of classified military documents made public on Sunday offers an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal." (NY Times)

Leaked by WikiLeaks, the documents detail the use of heat-seeking anti-air missiles used by militants in Afghanistan as well as a list of assassination targets pursued by special operative of the US Navy and Military. The text also reveals why the US has had such a difficult time shutting down the terrorist operations in Afghanistan and alludes to the alleged initial objective of the war: the capture of Osama bin Laden (who is apparently making use of his time acquiring weaponry and attending meetings in Pakistan).

The White House is definitely not pleased with the leak and states that the release of these documents could endanger the lives of US citizens. How exactly? I don't know, but if you want to read the documents for yourself click right here and download the files.
 
Comic-con has become one the best ways of marketing a film in the recent past, and this year is no surprise. With mouth-watering news of new epic adventures, new superhero tales, and new zany comedies, comic-con always turns some heads with both expected and unexpected revelations.

To begin with, Zack Snyder (300) has confirmed that he has begun writing an off-shoot of the Gerard Butler starrer based off of Frank Miller's Xerxes. If the film remains true to Miller's graphic novel (as it is expected to), you can expect to see a story about the battle of Artemisium between the Persians and Athenians. According to history, this battle occurred simultaneously with the battle at Thermopylae as part of a greater unified effort of Greece as a whole to parry the Persian attack force. While this film will probably not keep the nuances of history in tact, it will still be a wonderfully escapist and epic film like its predecessor. Release date is still far out of the question as the script has yet to be picked up by any studios (or completed as a matter of fact...)

Sam Raimi is also gearing up for new exploits following his completion of the Spiderman series. Apart from an Oz prequel titled The Great and Powerful and a Warcraft movie, Raimi is starting work on an adaptation of the infamous OK Corral shootout of the early 1900s. The twist, though, is that the shootout is set in a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. Entitled Earp: Saints for Sinners, this film has a lot of potential to confuse and/or entertain.

Brad Pitt's Plan B studios are also busy preparing an adaptation to the Max Brooks novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Max Brooks is indeed the son of Mel Brooks, and his novel has gained much praise and attention from a wide array of fans and appreciators. While another zombie movie was not at the top of my list, this one may prove to be quite the delightfully brainy film (pun intended)...

Mark Wahlberg is set to begin working on an expanded version of the six minute short film The Raven. For those of you who haven't seen the film, it is about Chris Black, aka The Raven, who is a telepathic fugitive on the run in a futuristic alternative Los Angeles controlled by an oppressive regime. Wahlberg plans to make a feature length film of the same name, and Universal has picked up the Justin Marks script. The short film's original director, Ricardo de Montreuil will also be directing this as his English debut.

Sadly, even criminals become celebrities in our messed up world. 20th Century Fox has started searching for a writer and a director to start working on a chronicle of the life of Colton Harris-Moore, better known as The Barefoot Bandit. Yes, he was just captured about a week ago, and he's already getting what I like to call "the Hollywood treatment." I hope this film fails worse than Shyamalan's horror film - The Last Airbender...

Another sad thing occurred recently as well. Michael Bay's production company The Institute began its work on its first feature film - Hansel and Gretel 3D. There it all goes... The chilling Grimm tale of a cannibalistic woman trapping innocent children with tempting lures will be turned into a world of explosions caused by candy-bombs, endless amounts of Gretel's scantily clad body, and monsters much too out of place for anything involved in the original Grimm tales. And, on top of all that, Bay jumps onto the 3D bandwagon, which I am personally quite over already. *sigh*

Well, there you have it. The list of film news revealed at Comic-con that caught my eye. I don't know about you, but I can feel the excitement rushing through my veins.
 
In 2008, India's Tata Motors created the world's most cost-effective vehicle - the Nano. Priced at a ridiculously low $2,500, the vehicle reached the poverty stricken country's large population with explosive support.

In 2009, it was Tata again that created a cost effective solution to a widespread problem for the country. Tata created the Swach water purifier in the hopes that clean drinking water would no longer be a luxury of the few in the extremely populous country. The two models were priced at a mere $16 and $21, respectively.

In 2010, the Indian government took the example of Tata and created a prototype tablet computer aimed at students of higher education. While boasting features like a web browser, multimedia player, a pdf reader, built-in wi-fi, and video conferencing capabilities, the iPad look-alike is set to be sold at a mere $35.

Look out PC strongholds, with India's new cost-effective technology on its way, consumers might just trade their aesthetically pleasing (ill-performing) machines for cheaper alternatives - especially in this economy. (Vizio began the trend, but this just pushes the limits...)
 
What happens when a high caliber artist decides to drop by a karaoke bar and sing like an amateur? Well, you're about to find out.

Apparently, on Tuesday Jewel (with the help of Funny or Die) set up an elaborate victimless prank for the enjoyment of viewers like us. Dressed as a homely, shy businesswoman, Karen (Jewel's alias for the night) astonished patrons of a local karaoke bar with her talent and eerily similar voice to Jewel. Most, if not all audience members were completely baffled, and some didn't realize the prank even when Jewel arrived as herself to perform a couple songs.

I'm glad to see that even famous stars can chill out and have a little fun...
 
A chilling tale of human technological advances and the dangers associated with them.
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Do you ever feel like you just have so much you want to do, but the hours in the day just seem to fly past you? I know I feel like that more often than not. I began compiling a list of things to accomplish before the summer ends, but I've noticed myself adding more things than actually finishing.

I started this list right after last summer ended to make sure I would be able to routinely finish everything I so desired to complete. Unfortunately, "The List" has grown to such harrowing lengths that I fear I will need two summers to accomplish just what is on it right now - not to mention all the things I am sure will come to my mind between now and the end of summer.

I have four different novels (err, sorry, I meant book series'), two feature length scripts, two short scripts, two web-comic series', three music video projects, two short film ideas, three conceptual websites, and even an anime spin-off manga that I want to get done before I get bogged down with work again - not to mention getting this website out of the "under construction" phase...

Sadly I know I won't even begin to scratch the surface of The List... Here's to hoping I can make a substantial dent in this arduous endeavor...