Thursday, May 25, 2006

Totally Lost

The Best Show On TV

Last night was the season finale of my favorite show, Lost. For those of you that don't watch it, I suggest picking up Season 1 on DVD. Season 1 was far more brilliant than Season 2, but no matter. Season 2 had its share of mind benders, culminating in the fantastically odd finale, which featured a remnant of a giant four toed statue, a pneumatic tube to nowhere, and a violet electromagnetic blast. If none of that makes sense to you, it doesn't make sense to people who watch the show either.

But then I read this article about invisibility. One of the biggest questions of the show is "Why hasn't anybody rescued the stranded survivors." This episode insinuated the answer is that the island is invisible, or "cloaked." When I read the article about invisibility, this quote stuck out to me:

"The cloak would act like you've opened up a hole in space," Duke University's David Smith, one of Pendry's co-authors, explained in a news release. "All light or other electromagnetic waves are swept around the area, guided by the metamaterial to emerge on the other side as if they had passed through an empty volume of space."
"A hole in space!" "Electromagnetic Waves!" Come on people... we suddenly have an answer as to the importance of "the button" on Lost that must be pushed every 108 minutes. The "electromagnetic anomaly" is keeping the island cloaked... as long as the button gets pushed. But when the button isn't pushed... well, you have russian guys in antarctica saying "We found him" to Desmond's long-searching lover.

Ok, you non-Lostheads have no idea what I'm talking about. But there's plenty of other stuff to read on this blog.

The question is, did the fail-safe key that Desmond turned keep the island cloaked forever... or did it make the island visible again?

The invisibility article also raises this point:

If optical cloaks could be designed, that would be of interest to the military as well. "One obvious thing would be that you could construct a hutch in which you could hide a tank, and the hutch would make it appear as though the tank wasn't there. ... You could also think of weightier things, like submarines or battleships, where you might want to put some of this stuff..."
Is the island a military experiment-- or weapon-- that the electromagnetic cloak seeks to hide?

And even though I'm taking this next line completely out of context:

The catch here is that the invisibility effect would work only if you were on the same plane as the hidden object...
Plane! Like the plane that crashed on the island?

And the invisibility article isn't the only one casting light on Lost and the mysterious Hanso Foundation's Dharma Initiative. The Hanso Foundation website talks about many scientific advances... but highlights "Life Extension." This article about Life Extension also appeared today:

In Oscar Wilde's novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray," the main character barters his soul for eternal youth but becomes wicked and immoral in the process.

Leon Kass believes humanity risks striking a similar Faustian bargain if it pursues technology that extends life spans beyond what is natural.

If our species ever does unlock the secrets of aging and learns to live forever, we might not lose our souls, but, like Dorian, we will no longer be human either...
Is this how "The Others" or "Good Guys," as fake-Henry calls them, became evil/scary?

And why have a hatch that forces people to complete meaningless tasks? Well, thats in the life extension article too:

Instead of worrying about what longer life will do to our sense of humanity, Callahan and Hackler wonder what the heck people are going to do with all their extra time. Longer life means more time for boredom to creep in.

"Let’s face it, most peoples' jobs aren’t all that fascinating," Hackler said. "They put in a 9-to-5 and they’re glad to have the weekend. So you wonder if having twice as much of this is a good thing, or if you’d get totally burned out."

Hackler can't imagine himself ever getting tired of living, but he knows not everyone will feel same way. Determining how much ennui the average person can bear will be important if life extension ever becomes a reality, Hackler says, because extended boredom could result in prolonged unhappiness or higher incidences of suicide.
Goosebumps. It's like they timed these articles to come out the exact day after the season finale of Lost gave us all this to think about.

My Lost Theory:

The Hanso Foundation discovered "The Island" had certain properties, chief among them, the ability to heal and extend life. Concerned with the potential ramifications that could come from announcing such a discovery, they chose to keep the island secret, devising a cloaking device to keep the island safe from prying eyes. They conducted a series of experiments on the island: for example, seeing how different animals (polar bears, giant birds, boars) reacted to the island's unique properties. And other experiments designed to gage human reactions to eternal life. All was going swimmingly... until the moral ambiguities of potential immortality started to prey upon the scientists, some of whom were in the dark about their mission at the island. Some went mad. They became "The Others."

The island is more than a scientific anomaly. It's a portal to fate, God, the existential. The Dharma Inititive attempted to control the island, but the island ended up controlling them.

This leaves the question... How did all these people, linked to each other in many different ways, end up on the island? Was it by accident? Couldn't be. But it could be that Locke, in Season 1, was right. It wasn't the Dharma Inititive that brought the Losties to the island. It was the island itself. "The Others" are just as clueless as to why these people were brought to the island. Which is why they want to "test" them.

Now... I'm not sure what all this means, necessarily. But I hope the Lost writers do. This show is driving me insane. And I can't wait till next season.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I Learn A Lesson In Journalism

I was a journalism major at NYU. And I had great professors there. But apparently, the best lessons are learned outside the classroom. Like the one I learned yesterday.

I was writing an article, on assignment. I needed to get comments from MySpace. MySpace blew me off. For over a week. As a result, although I had completed the rest of the article, my story was delayed. I should have stuck to the original deadline. But I kept giving the MySpace PR person (who is on my most hated list right now) more and more time, reasoning that it was worth it.

This was a mistake.

Because today, the Associated Press "scooped" me.

They beat me to the punch. Even though I was finished with this article over a week ago. Because I thought it was more important to get comment from MySpace than to get the article published quickly.

Ironically, the AP article says:
"MySpace, whose press representatives said executives were unavailable for interviews..."
I punched my computer. My hand hurts. Why was I strung along by this PR biatch?

My article should still run. I hope it does. But I learned a lesson, which is... the AP has been spying on me. Also, there's a reason why so many stories say "so-and-so could not be reached for comment." Because PR people enjoy tooling reporters around.

I called the MySpace media line on Monday, May 8th. I called again on Wednesday. Finally, Thursday night, at around 9PM while I'm in the middle of a heated game of NBA Live, I get a call on my cell phone from the MySpace PR person. She was surprisingly hostile, I thought, considering the article's focus wasn't on "MySpace danger" like every other piece out there. I asked if she could get the MySpace founders to answer a few questions, or answer them herself. She was leaving the office though. I sent her some questions via email the next day. That's when the tragi-comedy began.

My email exchanges went like this:

Thank you in advance for helping me get some comments for the article.
I've pasted the questions below. As I mentioned earlier, if I could
get some responses by Monday [5/15] at 5 pm Pacific, that would be great.
I got no response.

The next day:

Just wanted to know if you've been able to get some comments for me on
the questions I sent you earlier. Or perhaps you can answer them?
Please let me know as soon as you can. I appreciate all your help.
Her response:
I'm out sick today :( can we do tomorrow?
The next day:

I hope you're feeling better. Please get back to me today if you can.
5 hours later:

Haven't heard back from you and just wanted to see if you'd had a
chance to look at the questions I sent. I realize things must be
pretty busy there, but if you could please get back to me today with
some answers/comments, I'd really appreciate it.
Her response:

I am in the office today and will try to get you something by the end of
the day today.

Many thanks for your patience.
4 Hours later:

She says:

Just to let you know we are working on these responses and have not
forgotten about your piece.

We'll send you something tomorrow for your use.

Many thanks, we appreciate your patience.
The next day:

I was hoping to receive some responses from you today. A couple brief
comments from you or the founders in response to the few questions I sent is all I need.... Thanks for your help, and I look forward to getting some feedback from you shortly.
Her response:

I'm on it, thanks for checking in. I'll send as soon as possible
The next day:

Please send those responses right away. If I can't get any responses
from you by the end of the business day Monday, we'll be forced to run
the story with "MySpace refused repeated requests to comment."
Her response:

You should have something by that time.
Well my friends, I didn't. I finally got the comments sent to me today, Tuesday, and they weren't even that great (they never are when they come from PR people). So I got beat by the AP.

Of course, the PR biatch has a MySpace page. Which I visited, just to see who I was dealing with. (I wonder if she did the same thing.) She doesn't look that much older than me. Why did she decide to screw over one of her peers? I don't know. But my birthday was this week, and this was not the present I thought I'd be getting.

Anyway, you live, you learn. Alanis Morrisette said that. She also said "You oughta know." And now I do, Alanis. Now I do.

Visitor Map: