Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Capacitance

In electronics, I believe, a capacitor in elementary form is a pair of conductive plates held apart at some precise and calibrated distance. So that a charge may be built up across the gap, without allowing its discharge - a leap across the gap - which would eventually be inevitable if there were some promontory or spike across the surface, or if the plates were allowed to come too close toward touch. Little bits of charge can trickle in relatively slowly, and build up a massive potential difference across those plates. It's like magic really. The voltage is defined by the surface of the plates and not by the distance between them, so that quantity can get changed in the instant to oomph.

In real life, capacitors, I believe, once their capacitance is large enough, are built of foil interleaved with insulating paper, and spiraled into a tube. They act like a battery of sorts, storing charge, but are capable of near instantaneous discharge which would explode a battery, were you to attempt it with a battery. Shorting out a battery makes a bomb, almost. Shorting out a capacitor, I hear, can throw you across a room if you're not careful, working inside a TV set, say. Even the new flatscreens, if they're at all like the laptop screen I once touched in the wrong place, have capacitors capable to burn a hole right through your skin down to the very bone. It's a bit of a rude surprise, and hurts for days and days, although there's absolutely no blood.

This was my first HD SuperBowl, for which I had to provide the rabbit ears (I couldn't afford the flatscreen) since the particular satellite network my friends use hasn't caught up with HD for local stations (How can they keep their subscribers, underwriters, you and me??). I'm always shocked, no really truly, I always am, by what I catch when watching these games. The voltage is amped up so amazingly high (in a battery where rate and quantity of input remains roughly equivalent to output, it's regulated and limited; in a capacitor, it can go nearly through the roof).

I don't want to make all that much of this or any other metaphor stolen from real life, but it was hard not to notice all the adverted suggestions of a big party at the end of time, promises of revelations of nakedness which might knock your socks off, interleaved with quietly funny parades of nearly naked people looking more like you or me. If we're gonna die in an instant, then surely it would be alright to climb right into that hottub with someone you hardly know and get it on, baby, get it on.

Right? Yeah, right . . . .

I was still more shocked by the absolute count of announcers, each one literally shouting into his mike, holding poses, and barely containing expressions of such furious concentration that were they not superannuated athletes themselves - were they you or I - they surely would have burst some vessel.

The shouting was, of course, unnecessary, but it did simulate the noise at the stadium, by omission, and it was brought into relief by somewhat martial drumming music to keep the hype going. And what about those superannuated WHO! at halftime? No matter how much electricity got pumped into the context for their show, replete with fireworks inside and out, they still looked a bit behind the curve of the energy they wanted to be projecting.

Can't they get someone younger to do it for what they must be paying? Or am I now the mainline demographic, wanting still to pretend that I could get it up that high? I thought Sringsteen and Bono pulled it off alright, but these guys were simply calling the question. Some edge got crossed last night. Some edge go lost?

Sure, I'm as susceptible as you are to the emotion of the anthems (the pretty one and the official one) of necessity mostly a-Capella now. Even the hyper-jetted flyover gets me going. Reminded during commercial breaks that it's been television for my generation which has defined the enduring moments of our lives, and we can have one in the palm of our hand, for whatever might be happening, even if our significant other has ripped out our spine to make us do something other than watch football. Imagine, television in the palm of our hand. Whoever would have thunk it? Or that cars would remain our only sanctioned masculine outlet.

Well, except that the idea is not exactly new. It's all about which channels you can get to what reliability and at what definition. I want the virtual reality goggles, man, jacked in twenty four and seven, three hundred sixty degrees of global longitude. With definition I can almost reach out and touch.

We are the television generation, the mediated generation, the find ourselves narcissistically in our projections generation, the ones who fell in love with JFK and then that B-Grade Bonzo actor dude, because they were so easy on the eyes and ears, because they made it so easy to believe in ourselves.

I just realized today, and you won't believe this either - that it wasn't premeditated, cynically, for some particular meaning - that the photo I choose for myself is the very opposite of the ones authors, for instance, usually prefer. I am extremely uncomfortable with any attempt to project cool. Look on the dustjackets of any book, and you'll know what I'm talking about. That particular angle, that intellectual scowl, that secret hotness which will be hinted at through words.

I should keep this to myself, but it has been my pledge to you that I won't by coy like that. Anyhow, I guess I like the picture, first of all because it was taken by a near-professional photographer down at the News. (I don't mean to demean by the "near" part, but that's how he introduced himself, since I was hardly important enough to merit the real thing, and so they let him indulge his hobby for the "my view" opinion column walk-ins - and I hope this doesn't constitute evidence of theft right here) Second of all because it just looks like me being me at the very best of times. I don't think it hints at anything at all.

Anyhow, the charge built up across the flat plates - ever increasingly flat and ever increasingly sharp - has, I believe, grown dangerous. I say that advisedly, not being an end of the world chicken little type, by both disposition and decision, but I think the charge between me and my projection has reached rather too high a voltage. Even to make a spark in an engine, if it's not diesel, requires only a step-up coil, and not some massive super-shock like you might need to shoot someone to the moon!

The entire Republican party must, for instance, retain the very same game face during the President's speech, or lose touch with the battery-storage base of their power. You really don't want to stand out as the one who liked something the other party's president said. And the other side of the aisle is even worse. Cheering to beat the crowd. I'm sure I wasn't the only one to feel the delicacy of each moment for Obama, having to contain the certainties, having to modulate the tone in a chamber not used to shouting. I thought he performed brilliantly, frankly, myself.

Especially in a political context where any single mis-cue can bring you down in an instant. Can you imagine the news coverage if somehow the plug got pulled while the WHO! was performing? There must have been armies of vigilant protectors, and legions of redundancy mirroring the literal hoard which had to bring on the set and strike it. Talk about a precision marching band!!

Veto power has all the power now, where if you can be lured into bed inappropriately, that will be all that is needed to end your career, at some moment of the terrorist's choosing. All it takes is a single spark, and the entire capacitor is discharged. Acorn. Spitzer. That guy who went to South America. Never mind Edwards, who never could find the right time to discharge the truth.

Because it is a kind of terrorism, right? That the NSA, now fully aligned with Google, can know literally more about yourself than you can. The marketers know which brochures to send you through the mail, and can peg you as Republican even when you're not, based simply on your inhabitation and style preferences. Do you want to stand out from the crowd, now do you?

Their margin for error approaches nil. The odd thing is that the cost to send you these brochures quickly exceeds, in aggregate, anything you could possibly spend in return, except in aggregate, where someone who isn't you must be spending millions. Or is that why the economy requires a massive reset every once in a while, to effect a transfer of the little-guy's wealth (as if we have any) over to the guys with enough money to know where to send the brochures? A capacitor recharge on massive scale.

I know my retirement fund has remained precisely flat since before the year 2000. I think that constitutes a kind of theft. But we're talking on top of $10K max, which is almost laughable. Until you add it up. But somebody not me was making an awful lot of money during that time, and lots of it got stored away, no matter what we're meant to believe about evaporated bubble wealth.

It's kind of fun to hear the rich people (people not me who get mistaken for Republicans - no one makes that mistake with me) add up their monthly fees for phone and cable and Internet and to realize that what I spend for mobility and no cable - no TV - is about double what they consider fair for the massive package of stuff I never could afford. You know, the HBO, Cinemax HD sports collection at a download speed of infinity, with unlimited talk to the world, presented at something well beyond forty two inches diagonal.

Is that my cost to remain unlocated? Up in the air? Although you can pin me precisely with a simple "whois" query from the command line.

I really should get a clue. I suppose if you add in their cellular bill, the aggregate might approach me. But still.

Alright, so I'm not an investment grade mathematical whiz. But, believe it or not, I do have a pretty good mathematical mind. What do they call those guys on Wall St. who game our system. Quants, I think. I'm not a quant, for sure, but I get the math. I never did want to win at the roulette wheel or blackjack. I'm more like you - I've always wanted honest work, and feel free to take that "want" in punny style if you need to. 'Cause I can't say myself if I've ever had it - honest work, although I used to be a bicycle mechanic, and that at least felt like honest work.

So anyhow, mobs behave differently from individuals, as we all know, and at a certain point if you're a part of a big enough mob, you're going to act approximately as beastly as those Bills fans do at a drunken contest. Where, thank goodness, it doesn't make any real difference, and probably even does a lot of good, to exercise that mobliness a bit right out in public. I can get into it, short of F-words and facepaint, right along with the best (or worst) of them. Almost. Kind of. If only I gave a damn for the game itself.

Here I go again, but I might be the only leftie who actually agreed with Sam Alito when he made theater of the theater of the State of the Union address. He broke the expected necessity for those wearing robes to remain impassive. But the President also veered a bit too far toward demagoguery, as if corporate money weren't already all over the game of politics. And in a game of lowest common denominator veto power, at least Alito broke ranks with keeping rank. At least he was willing to show his hand.

And in the end, an honest decision made according to principle will at least require that money be played right on the table. So that we can all decide as Obama urged us to if we really want to regard the collective mob-mentality resulting from subservience to who it is that pays you as equivalent to an individual with heart and mind and unique DNA, with regard to freedom. We might and likely should be horrified at what gets perpetrated in our name, if only we could see it. And it's not likely to get shown up on TV, where only the beautiful get rewarded.

I guess it sucks for dear sweet pit-bull cheerleading Sarah Palin that she comes along at the endtimes for Televised reality. She'll fit in right there alongside that shameful and diminutive Focus on the Family anti-abortion ad, which, who knows, might have pre-empted the spot for a gay dating service. Overwhelmed by ads for wanton nakedness, partying at the endtimes. I am the only one who sees the irony in all this? I rather doubt it.

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