Thursday, April 21, 2005

Return to Active Blogger Status/MCSD/Jon Stewart/24

Well, it's been over a month since I last posted, so a lot of you we're probably wondering if I'd dropped off the face of the Earth. To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure why I stopped writing for so long. At the time, I was feeling really sick and worn out, and could barely drag myself out of bed each morning. Overall, I think I just needed to take some time off to regroup. Anyways, I apologize for the huge gap in postings, and I'll try not to let it happen again :)

So, what have I been up to during the past month? Mostly, doing a lot of reading and studying. I've decided to study up and take my MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer) certification exams. I'm also actively working on the preliminary planning stages for a new shared source project called schemaPoint, for which I've set up a GotDotNet Workspace. Mostly, I've been spending a lot of time reading up on new upcoming technologies, including Whidbey, Yukon, Clickonce, Smart Client, Indigo, and Longhorn. To those of you up-to-speed on techie buzzwords, it may sound like I've spent a lot of time focusing on Microsoft(C) Technologies, and I'd have to admit that it's true -- In this post-dotcom, produce or be outsourced economy, keeping up with new technologies is almost a requirement for a career in software development.

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to see Jon Stewart perform at the Detroit Opera House earlier this month. That was easily the funniest performance I've ever seen in my life. I can't even begin to give justice to Stewart's talent, who spent the evening discussing a variety of topics, including a few pokes at the city of Detroit, the ineptitude of the Bush Administration, along with a consistent overall theme touching on the absurdity of attempting to mix religion into politics and foreign relations.

Finally, I'd just like to mention Monday's episode of 24. Earlier this season, we witnessed a few jarring moments, where screenshots of Fox News were interspersed into the middle of the tv show. This entire season has continuously revisited the subject of interrogation and torture, attempting to make the case that in difficult times, the US government needs to be able to resort to torture to get quick results. Last weeks episode left a particularly foul taste in my mouth. After a global terrorist was captured by CTU, a terrorist responsible for taking down Air Force One and causing a nuclear detonation on US soil makes a quick call to a fictitious organization known as "Amnesty Global". Within minutes, a lawyer from Amnesty Global shows up and prevents CTU from interrogating the terrorist suspect. The end result is that the viewer is left feeling furious at the lawyer from Amnesty Global for interfering with the investigation.

While I appreciate the producers of 24 for broaching the subjects of terrorism, torture, and ethics, I feel that the subject was not handled that well. I feel that, given the delicate nature of the subject, a more balanced presentation of the topic is, quite simply, necessary. The entire season has provided a continual overarching theme stating that torture and interrogation is necessary. The past episode has almost gone as far as to equate Amnesty International with a terrorist organization. The next time the subjects of interrogation and torture come up in the media, I'm not quite so sure the resistance to the concepts will be quite as strong among the American public. It definitely isn't definitive, but it almost feels like the producers of Fox have decided to use 24 as their own political soapbox.