January 2nd, 2007

Tom Lehrer is Smug

(no subject)

What is it about an execution?

No, seriously. Why has the Western world romanticized the concept of the execution? Sir Thomas More. Marie Antoinette. Joan of Arc, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ. Dead Man Walking. Paths of Glory. The Green Mile. It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. I regret that I only have one life to lose for my country. Hang down your head, Tom Dooley, hang down your head and cry.

If we're on the side of the condemned, the execution can be a noble act of sacrifice or the sad realization of an inevitable consequence. The latter works even better if we know, or believe we know, of their innocence. If we don't like the condemned, the execution is denoument. Justice rightly served. A bad end to a bad egg and a lesson well learned.

The fictionalized accounts are always orchestrated perfectly to pull at one string or another of the human spirit. No matter which side we're on, there's always the prolonged snare drumroll to build the tension, the one final look on the face of the condemned, a "ready... aim..." if this is to be done with a firing squad, and then, if this is true Hollywood, a cut to something else so we're spared the agony of actually having to watch someone "die." If the instrument of death is a guillotine, we'll see the top of it as the blade falls. We can watch the firing squad without viewing their target. Gas and lethal injections are completely easy -- just cut to the spectator's gallery. Hangings, now hangings are hard if you're not using a giant heavily-built scaffold which conceals the person as they drop. But all we really need to see in this case are two feet dangling from the top of our field of vision. Besides, if the accused in this case is a cowboy atop a horse, chances are he's gonna get out of this fix anyway.

The reality of an execution, of course, is far ghastlier than a noble buildup and a quick cut to a reaction shot. This does not deter curiosity, a far more powerful motivator than fear in some cases.

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MBTA Quarter

(no subject)

The T's new Charlie Card has an RFID chip inside. RFID is an acronym for "Tracks Your Every Move Makes Things Easier (for) You." Please refrain from arguing that RFID doesn't stand for Makes Things Easier (for) You and how the acronym would be MTEY anyway because that's how acronyms work. I'm doing my part to make things easier, okay, and just look at how much easier things are when we conveniently ignore how acronyms work for the sake of a cheap joke involving the strikethrough tag!

Anyway. The thick plastic card does make things a bit easier. With the new Charlie Gates, there's no more sliding a plastic monthly pass through the old turnstiles' card reader and getting racked in the goolies when the reader doesn't take but you attempt to walk thru the turnstile anyway. (This is how we learned never to trust the card reader enough to do a swipe-n-run in one fell swoop as the train approacheth.)

And using the new Charlie Card in conjunction with the new Charlie Gates means no more feeding a flimsy plastic Charlie Ticket the unintuitive side up into the new turnstiles (I do consider it unintuitive, even with a big bright orange arrow on the "THIS SIDE UP"; we've been conditioned since our first bank/credit card to present cards front face up when necessary) and then waiting forever for the gates to open before we realize we have to take our card back first.

With the RFID-inside card, all you need to do, they say, is just approach the gate, tap your Charlie Card on the little black square with the green glowing dot and hey presto, as long as you have "value" on the card, the gates will magically open and permit you access to the Land of the Trains with the blessings of Charlie himself.

I was actually pretty excited to get my brand-new Charlie Card monthly LinkPass. The LinkPass, of course, is pretty much a new word for the old Combo Pass (All together, now: "C is for Combo to ride the bus and T! Hey!") Since the Subway-Only pass was consumed by the Combo Pass, they decided to give it a new name. Much like how certain beverage-serving establishments have phased out the "Small" drink so that now the "Medium" is the new Small, the LinkPass is the new Combo. Or something. I really don't know.

All I know is that last week I got my free card from the nice lady at South Station, I approached one of the Value Adding Electronic Value Adder machines, put my credit card in the reader correct-side-up, said "yes pls charge me 59 bux thx" by pressing the "yes pls charge me 59 bux thx" button on the machine's screen, then tapped my new Charlie Card against the V.A.E.V.A. machine once. Then I went to the nearest Charlie Gate and tried tapping my Charlie Card against the little black square with the green glowing dot. The card was recognized instantly and, since it was still December and my pass was good for January, I was rewarded with the farty "YOU SHALL NOT PASS" sound.

Well, now it's January and I'm gettin all the rides I can on this little card. I have also made the following spot checks of the RFID reader to see just how well it can read the chip.

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