Welcome to The New Chainik Hocker. I am your host, the eponymous Chainik Hocker, here to share news, reviews, pretty pictures, and silly opinions with you. Contact me at chainik DOT hocker AT gmail DOT com

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Meme time.

Sinister Dan over at the The Reasonable Ego posted this one. I'll let him explain it.

The meme is ‘Make a Band’, or ‘Make an Album’ depending on who you ask.

The steps are simple:

1. Go to Wikipedia and hit the random page function; this is the name of your band.

2. Similarly, go to QuotationsPage.com and take the last four words of the very last quote; this will be you album title.

3. Finally, go to this link at Flickr and use the third image; this is your album cover.

Here's what I came up with:

Wow. Great band name, awesome quote, incredibly spooky cover art... and I go and screw it up by using a lolcat generator to put it all together. I suck.


What's worth doing is worth doing for money.

Well, I've been working at Big & Huge Electronics for a few months now, and let me say, it's been an experience.

This is my first retail job. Previously, I had experienced the holiday season from the outside, as a consumer. Let me tell you, it's craziness.

First off, Big & Huge hired me as a product specialist, specifically to sell security cameras. So naturally they stuck me in Pro Video, where I had zero knowledge. So I hung around and watched the other salespeople and learned a few things about film making and cameras and workflow and non-linear editing and so forth. I've broadened my knowledge base. And I've learned some valuable things. Specifically, I've learned how to be a BS artist. At least once a week, someone asks me what camera I shoot with or offers me a job on a movie shoot. And I have to tell them that I have only the sketchiest idea of what it is the cameras are for.

I've also learned a good deal of human behavior, working at Big & Huge. Specifically, I've learned that people are nuts. Over 5,000 people walk through our doors on an average, off-season day, so if even 10% of them are nuts that's still 500 whackadoos and half of them seem to want to talk to me. Seriously, I keep a bottle of Purell in my vest pocket, and frequently feel the need to wash my hands. Working in the security camera department I get a lot of perverts who want to buy cameras hidden in teddy bears. Which I then sell them, of course.

Bottom line, though- this is, by far, the best job I've ever had. I'm happy. Not content, or too lazy to look for a better job, or apathetic- genuinely happy in my work.

Ain't that something?


Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Jordanian Question: Part 1

The first piece in an on-going personal exploration of radical Islam in Jordan.

Over the next few months, I'll be posting a several part investigation into radical Islam in Jordanian society. Most of this will come from a lengthy background essay of mine on the topic. The series will culminate with a report during the mid-summer when I return from a Tufts University Joint Research Project, in coordination with the United States Service Academies at West Point, Annapolis, and Colorado Springs, on this very matter. We will be interviewing college students, government officials, and similar sources to ascertain a better picture of what is going on in Jordan today. I don't have the slightest clue where our investigation will lead us, but suffice it to say, it should be very interesting indeed. Here then, is part one.

Jordan has a long history of supporting Western interests and cooperating on matters of war and peace, especially in the post 9/11 environment. Jordan has been an invaluable ally and bastion of moderation in a region which is increasingly seeing polarization between autocratic regimes and jihadist opposition. While the Jordanian Monarchy exercises more control over Jordanian society than we would find to be democratic, the traditional American foreign policy calculation has been that the Hashemites are worth supporting because they favor American interests in the region. Consequently, it’s worth examining the society the Hashemites have created and seeing if in fact the Hashemite have fostered a society which is worth such vast levels of U.S. support.

In examining the success of the U.S.-Jordanian relationship, one of the most important factors to consider is the radicalization of the Jordanian population itself. If Islamism has taken hold in Jordan, despite the Monarchy’s pro-Western orientation, that would present cause for serious concern. On the surface, this appears not to be the case. The Jordanian political arena ostensibly is more stable than that of, for example, Egypt, and jihadist violence by domestic political parties seems minimal. How Jordan has avoided the widespread political violence which has engulfed so many Middle Eastern states is one of the most important comparative questions of today. Unlike most of the “moderate” Arab states, Jordan has sought to include the Islamist opposition within mainstream society. As in many Arab states, the Islamist opposition in Jordan is the Muslim Brotherhood. The Jordanian chapter of the organization was formed in 1945 and from the beginning, the Jordanian Brotherhood renounced violence as a tool to institute Islamist society. The Brotherhood has enjoyed a curious relationship with the Monarchy, in which the Brotherhood historically has been able to criticize the King—even severely at times—while it has stayed within the bounds of political opposition and has not directly challenged the legitimacy of the Monarchy.

The Jordanian Brotherhood began with a focus on social issues that allowed it to advocate for Islamist policies while posing no threat to the Monarchy. As the Brotherhood gained grassroots support throughout Jordan, it was able to gradually increase the scope of its priorities to include issues such as the Palestinian question and the Monarchy’s pro-Western agenda. As the Brotherhood increased the scope of its issues, it also increased the scope of its operations. The Monarchy has traditionally allowed the Brotherhood to run candidates for elected office, and the Brotherhood has also taken to reaching out to civil society groups such as labor and professional organizations in order to expand its reach. The Brotherhood now commonly runs its members for the boards of different labor organizations in an attempt to cut across traditional cleavages in Jordanian society and expand its member base. In fact, professional and labor organizations have become some of the Brotherhood’s most important outlets for dissent. The government generally tolerates this circuitous method of political criticism and allows for alternative opinions to be expressed so long as they do not cross the line and leave the realm of the loyal opposition. As a result, the Jordanian Brotherhood and its political offshoot, the Islamic Action Front (IAF) have traditionally stayed within the regime’s defined boundaries and seldom ventured beyond the line of what is commonly acknowledged as acceptable behavior.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Alone in the dark with my thoughts.

Being a father is seriously weird. It seems as though my wife was born knowing how to do all this stuff- as if motherhood is hardwired in the female DNA. I, on the other hand, am flailing helplessly through a sea of diapers and bottles and teeny tiney itty bitty little clothes.

First off, the hospital. After 30 hours and two epidurals, we have a screaming, slimey, blueish purpleish screaming thing, with toes that resemble nothing more than corn niblets, microscopic brownish-red nails, way more hair than I expected, and enormous dark eyes.

He looked at me. Right there in the delivery room. Everyone told me he wouldn't open his eyes for a few days, that he won't be able to see much more than light and dark for the first few months, but dagnabbit that boy looked me right square in the eye and held my gaze, like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes he star'd at the Pacific and feverishly calculated the cost of all that beachfront property.

He looked at me as if to say, well, here I am. What are you gonna do now, tough guy?

First off, I blubbered like a beauty pageant winner. And then I got to work.

Here is this tiny person, I mean an actual functional tiny human being, completely helpless and totally dependent on you for all his bodily needs. That right there is an enormous amount of pressure. That's why I got this new job at Big & Huge Electronics. Good pay, good benefits, good promotion prospects.

I'm hoping I don't screw it up.

What would happen if I lost my job? What would happen if I got hit by a bus? What would happen if there was a sudden zombie apocalypse and we had to make a run to the Arctic Circle, shooting thousands of zombies while roaring through Canada in our armored Winnebago packed to the roof with canned food and diapers and ammo and Adam Sandler DVDs and perhaps a fellow survivor or two. Hell, I don't even have life insurance or a machine gun.

These are the things I worry about on the 2 hour commute home from work. I sit there in the dark, crammed on a bus with my fellow proles snoring around me as we barrel down the Garden State Parkway at a speed just a little over the limit, leaning side to side as we zip in and out of traffic. I sit in the dark and I worry about economic downturns, and biological warfare, and terrorist attacks, and why the bus driver feels it necessary to smoke all that crack right before we leave the Port Authority bus terminal.

I worry about being a bad father. I worry about the screaming, irrational, abusive maniac I know is buried somewhere deep inside of me, and whether it will ever come out. I worry about not being able to provide for my son.

I worry about being a bad role model.

But then I come home, and I pick my son up, and he smiles at me. Honest injun. I know, it's just gas, but it isn't, because he only does it when I smile at him.

And everything is alright.