The Reckoner!

Reckonaut Dan Koch
Dan Koch
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Nov. 27, 2011, 11:50 p.m.
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Give us the details on how you became a Reckonaut! Who'd play you in The Reckoner movie?

The Reckoner is my baby!  I just get all choked up when I see it walking on its own like this...  For more Reckoner-related content, you can also stop by the Working Dan blog!

Jimmy Cagney, by the way.

Jan. 5, 2012, 10:24 a.m.

It's been ridiculous, but I think we're near the end of this cycle.  Once colleges realized that they were the ticket to a modern American middle-class lifestyle, they realized that they could charge just about anything and get people to pay it, and that's what they've been doing.  Then, under an amendment of Parkinson's Law, administration costs grew to fill the revenue that was being collected, kicking off a vicious cycle.

The problem is, the past few years have revealed -- uneqivocably -- that a bachelor's doesn't guarantee anything about a middle-class lifestyle.  In fact, what it seems more likely to do is to guarantee you spend your 20s and 30s in indentured servitude.  We're going to wise up about this eventually and people are going to stop going to college unless there is a specific job waiting at the end of it that requires the training.  And then you can get ready for all the articles about colleges struggling because of diminished enrollment in 2016.



The biggest minus for subtitles are they preclude you from half-watching a movie while doing something else.  If you're not looking at the screen, you're not getting anything out of it.  As a hair-on-fire-modern-man-OCD-television-and-internet-and-YouTube-and-Spotify-at-the-same-time type of guy, that's a liability.

I still go with the subtitles, though.



The mercury angle is a legitimate concern, but the energy savings are huge.  Generally, it's about a four-to-one improvement on converting wattage to candela.  Four to one!  That means that if you leave an energy-saving bulb on all all week, it's still better than if you only leave the equivalent incandescent bulb on over the weekend.

As for the mercury, apparently the difference in energy savings means that there's actually less mercury emitted, since power stations themselves emit mercury.  Here's a comprehensive analysis.

I've also always had a prediliction for institutional lighting.  I blame Stanley Kubrick.


@Michael Clem

Great point. It's one thing if it's down in the wastewater at the power plant, it's another if it's *in your home*.



Normandy all the way.  I want no part of Mt. Surabachi or really anything that involves the island-hopping campaign of the Pacific War.  Hand-to-hand, teeth-to-teeth combat against a fanatical enemy that just. will. not. give. up.  And in the jungle to boot, with no prisoners taken.

The Road to Berlin had its own ample misery, but it's a much bigger, less intimate conflict where the supplies never stop flowing and the conditions are much better.  You're also against an enemy that is skilled but will generally throw in the towel when things get hopeless.

As for actually getting up the beach, they're both awful, and it's basically a crapshoot as to whether you make it up there or not.


Jan. 4, 2012, 1:39 p.m.

You know those moments when you walk into a convenience store, but you're hungry enough to actually want to eat real food?  What do you usually do?  All they've got is chips-in-a-bag, Hostess Twinkies, and that hot dog that's been swirling in the case since the last episode of Cheers aired.

If you're anything like me, you end up buying a double-serving bag of Cheetos and trying to convince yourself you're having a meal.

This never happens at Wawa.  At Wawa, twenty seconds on a touch screen can net you real food made by real people.  Hoagies or soup or a chicken cheesesteak.  It's a miracle!


@Daniel Lloyd

Awesome idea.  Sheetz is definitely more of a match, and I'd give it the edge over Royal Farms in the Mid-Atlantic convenience store battle royale. I think Wawa has its next challenger.



TV people are crazy.  Why do set designers do this?  Why do they design homes that look like Open House show rooms, that obviously no one has ever lived in?

This is why I love Roseanne and Malcom in the Middle and shows of that ilk.  Their houses look like real people houses.


Jan. 4, 2012, 11:43 a.m.

I'm a notorious breakfast skipper.  That's because I don't fall in line with the all-powerful breakfast lobby and its insistence that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  They may try to get Wilford Brimley to browbeat me into eating oatmeal, but I will never relent!  Never surrender!


Jan. 4, 2012, 11:01 a.m.

I think you can talk to your neighbors about it without napalming the bridges.  I think just a polite chat about scooping any poop that their dog leaves behind is absolutely reasonable -- if they're the mensches they seem to be otherwise, I'm sure they'll be fine with it.  

I think the key is to play it like some sort of charming accident, that somehow, without them being at all aware of it, their dog ninja-ed its way onto your yard and pooped there.  That relieves them of the burden of judgment or accusation, which makes them less likely to get defensive about it.

You don't mention if you have a dog yourself, which can make things a little more complicated, since it means that dog poop in your yard might not necessarily be their dog's responsibility.  In either case, I think a polite chat is fine, but I wouldn't ask them to scan your yard for poop if it's possible that your dog has also pooped there.



While the experience that Quaid has does match pretty well with what he asked for at the beginning, I have a hard time believing that the first memory any memory implantation company would give you is that they royally botched the operation and have given you grounds for an enormous lawsuit.  That sees a little... unwise... from a business standpoint.


@Joseph Ferrare

Great point! I'd completely forgotten about Melina popping up on the monitor as Quaid is going under.  That whole opening scene does point pretty strongly in the 'dream' direction, although if it is a dream, it's one that went horribly awry.  I'm guessing the folks at Rekall don't program in you killing your wife and experiencing explosive decompression in their standard vacation package.


@Michael Clem

Exactly! People dismiss Total Recall as another mindless action movie because of the Arnold factor, but there's a lot going on in this movie beyond the gunplay.


Jan. 4, 2012, 10:32 a.m.

I've never been a great Six Feet Under fan.  It's a show that took itself incredibly sincerely in an ironic way -- and if you find that phrase insufferable, just imagine what the show itself was like.  It does have some great dramatic moments, but there were quite a few instances where I wanted to punch the screen to fully express my anger at it.

Bored to Death is fun.  And it's got Danson!  The Dansonage is what tips the scale.



This took about four microseconds to answer.  I don't care how good Ratatouille made French food look, The Godfather made Italian food look better.  The Italians invented the combination of basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese.  

By God, you can keep your steam engines, your theories of gravity, your Magna Cartas, all of it.  I don't think any civilization has contributed more to the world than the one that invented the combination of basil, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. 



@Daniel Lloyd

Hmm... good question.  I'd toss that one in the 'I Just Don't Get It' pile.   As in 'I Just Don't Get Why We As Humans Have to Be So Susceptible To This Kind of Thing.'



This is a tough one to say from the comfort of my desk chair, because you're never really sure where your adrenalin will take you.

I think I'd try to pull them out.  Yes, you're not supposed to move someone in an accident unless there's an emergency where their life is in immediate danger.  A burning car qualifies.  I've seen cars in full burn, and folks, that's game over.  The smoke and fumes alone will kill you in a hurry.  Call, wrap yourself in whatever you can find, and give it a shot.



I've met quite a few non-Philadelphians who are incredulous about this whole 'whiz' thing.  I imagine they probably put mayo, ketchup, and lettuce on their cheesesteaks.  Which is insanity, by the way.



Why, your face needs no such product, honey bunch!  However your face looks, that's the definition of perfect!

...

...

Do I get any points for that?



As someone who's done a spot or two of ticking The Official Significant Other of The Reckoner, I can definitely sympathize.  Tickling conjures a complicated set of emotions, because no one says they like to be tickled, but some tickling in moderation is a good way for some fun couples bonding.  

Considering that you seem to have a pretty sound relationship beside the tickling (considering that she's still with you and considering marrying you, you damn fool), I'm guessing that this is more of a playful argument than a dealbreaker in the making.  Or at least so.  That's certainly what I was telling myself when I clicked 'Tickle Away'.


Jan. 2, 2012, 4:15 p.m.

I always convice myself that seeing a movie in a theater just isn't worth it, and this feeling peaks right about the moment when I'm sitting through the fourth commerical for The Closer during the theater's pre-show advertising block.

And then the movie does start, and I remember exactly why seeing a movie in a big dark room with a bunch of other people is great.  And regardless of how much Regal attempts to screw that experience up -- and believe me, they're great at it -- that fundamental act is still awesome.



In case you need any photographic evidence of the power of the Queen / Sci-Fi combo, here it is.



Yes, flowers do brighten a room, but there's a lot of annoying negative externalities that come from owning flowers.  First of all, they only brighten a room when they're fresh, which only lasts for the first two days.  Then they wilt, and they make everyone feel sad for the next five days until somebody develops the heart to finally throw them out.

You've also got to deal with all of the dropping petals, and the watering, and the care, and the heck with it.  Just as we do for Festivus, I think we should bring home a small aluminium pole and call it a day.


Jan. 2, 2012, 11:03 a.m.

If I'm at a white-collar-stimulants-so-you-can-work-harder-station, I generally go for the coffee rather than the tea.  

I think coffee has a better marketing department.  Coffee ads are generally all about cranking your propellor so you can at least make it through one more day.  Tea ads are generally about unleashing the goddess within yourself.  I spend a lot more time thinking about the former than the latter, so that's the way I go.



One caveat here is that it's possible to say 'Fast Food!' to this question without being Morgan Spurlock during Super Size Me.  The guy ate three value meals a day for a month.  You know that feeling after you eat one value meal where you feel like you've molted into your chair as one motionless blob?  Imagine what he felt like after his forty-seventh consecutive fast food meal.  I imagine it was somewhere between Gutman from The Maltese Falcon and Marlon Brando circa 1994. 

Incidentally, I generally only east fast food at rest stops, if anything because I don't actually live near any fast food restaurants.  Instead, I live near a bunch of local restaurants that have food that is probably just as bad for you, but I get to feel like I'm eating healthier.  Hooray!



I think you've gotta scoop the poop in this case, since if you don't, it's really your neighbors who are taking the brunt of the minuses in this case. What'd they do wrong to deserve such poopery?

As fecal-related punishment, make your roommate buy all the toilet paper for the apartment.  If you're going to have to take care of her dog's crap, she's going to have to take care of your crap.



I'm no fan of bleeding earbud music, but I also know that as long as this train ride may seem with all the 'unn-tss'-ing, it'll seem even longer with an awkward encounter, Larry David-style.   And I generally try to minimize the number of chances my life has in turning into Curb Your Enthusiasm.


Jan. 1, 2012, 2:15 p.m.

There's something I realized when I had bean-less Texas chili for the first time.  I like chili!  Up until that point, I had officially classified chili as 'fine' -- something to eat if it was there or someone else cooked it for you.  Eating real Texas chili had me looking up chili recipes for the first time in my life.


Dec. 31, 2011, 3:51 p.m.

Of course it was!  I built The Reckoner! in 2011! 



I think New Year's Resolutions stink, mostly because there's such a culture and perception of fruitlessness built upon them that there almost feels like an obligation to fail.  Otherwise, you make everyone else feel bad about themselves and how they blew their resolutions.

Make a January 3rd resolution, I say!  And stick to it!


Dec. 31, 2011, 11:57 a.m.

I like the side "salad" option as a canard, but I'm pretty sure most of these places achieve their side "salad" by placing your sandwich in front of the exhaust port of a lawnmower for 8-10 seconds.  That's why it ends up being eighty percent grass clippings and chopped up yard-mushroom bits.



Personally, I need my Larry David cut a little bit.  Curb Your Enthusiasm presents a nightmare world where people just cannot let things go, EVER.  Larry David's LA is basically my vision of hell.  Not of particularly bad hell, like seventh-level hell or anything like that, but minor hell where the pickpockets and street fundraisers go.


Dec. 30, 2011, 10:01 p.m.

I do think Lady Gaga is a modern incarnation of Madonna, and part of that involves being able to successfully reinvent yourself every three years to put yourself right back in the center of the public consciousness.

I'm astonished that she managed to achieve what she did last year.  The zeitgeist is so fractured nowadays with three billion entertainment options (including this one, the one you're on right now, choose that one!) that it's so hard to become a figure that everybody knows, that transcends the niches and becomes a literal household name.  She did it.  And amazingly enough, I think she'll do it again.  In 2013.


Dec. 30, 2011, 4:04 p.m.

From my perspective, if it isn't an ethical question for you, stick with the meat.  It's generally unhealthy to eat too much meat (and we do generally get too much of it in our modern diet), but man was meant to occassionally eat it as part of a balanced omnivorous diet.

Personally, I love meat.  Chicken fingers are my desert island food (if anything, because dying early of a heart attack is preferable to most of the ways you can expect to die on a desert island).  It's the ethical consideration of how meat is generally processed in this country that makes me wonder about stopping.  Folks, don't take that slaughterhouse tour if you ever want to sleep (or eat) again.


@James Houston,

The original asker got in touch with us at Reckoner Central.  They said they kept it anonymous because they've got a couple siblings that are always Googling the family, and they don't want to take any crap for thinking about going vegetarian (at least, until they actually go vegetarian, that is).


That's a great point, Bill.  I know a couple of other folks who went paleo, and once they got past the initial shock of dropping the grains, they mentioned that they felt great -- energy went up and weight went down, in a hurry.

I think the tough part of doing a restricted diet is exactly as you mention --  in many cases, the replacement items you eat in lieu of eating what you actually want to (meat in this case) can be worse than just eating what you wanted to in the first place.  

I remember reading an article in GOOD Magazine where someone tried to go vegan for a month and made the mistake of learning that Bac-Os were vegan (which they are, amazingly enough).  He put Bac-Os on every meal he ate, and spiked his cholesterol something like 40 points overnight.  That's an extreme example, but I'm sure it happens to many folks in a milder way.



Caveat here -- I don't have any kids.  I do have nieces and nephews, which is great because I get all of the perks of having kids with none of the responsibilities.  Uncledom for the win!

Anyway, having established that my opinion is completely unqualified, I'd say enourage the little guy to give his Grandma a hug.  It's good for kids to have positive contact with the family, and it's not like you have to go so far as to march him up there by gunpoint.



Not having a dishwasher exerts a tremendous influence on me for this one.  If all it takes to wash a knife is to drop it in the utensil bin, then I could seriously consider keeping the little PB bits from floating in my jelly jar this way.  But every knife in Reckoner Central requires hand-washed care, and it just ain't worth it under those circumstances.


@Catherine Valentine

The classic maneuver! That's the way they should write it up in the guidebooks.


Dec. 30, 2011, 12:21 p.m.

Yeah, I don't trust them for one cotton-pickin' second.  I've seen the what the comics industry took away from The Watchmen.  They made everything a middle schooler's concept of 'dark' and 'edgy'.  It eventually led to them first killing Superman, then giving him a mullet.  I don't know which was worse.

The concept of human characters behaving in relatable ways seems to have been lost on them, and it probably still is.


Dec. 30, 2011, 11:20 a.m.

I grew up with the impression that the actual nutrition of the potato is contained in the skin.  It turns out that this is kinda true, at least according to random Internet science, so I take it as a good thing I learned to enjoy eating it.



@Daniel Lloyd

Once The Reckoner gets out of beta, that's all it's going to be.  This whole 'question-and-answer' thing is no match for it.



Just the process of writing this question made me angry!  There's something about blue and off-white that fills the Philadelphian mind with images of loathing and mortal combat.  They're coming in through the window!!


@Dan Lloyd

Yeah, I always hate it when the Yankees have players that I happen to like.  Curtis Granderson seems like a hell of a guy, Teixeria is innocuous enough, and I've always liked CC Sabathia, which can put me at a crossroads.

With the Cowboys, I've never had this problem.  Ever.


Dec. 29, 2011, 3 p.m.

This is insanity!  Insanity!  Do we really want to piss the Plutonians off over this?  What, with their ample stocks of Plutonium?  No way!



The Star Wars Radio Dramas happen to be on Youtube if you know where to look (psst... where to look is right here).  No promises on what might happen to the rest of your afternoon.


@Larry Esmonde

Holy smokes!  There was a LOTR radio drama?  Now I know what'll be distracting me from working on The Reckoner! tonight!


Dec. 29, 2011, 11:26 a.m.

I don't want to skew the voting results at all, but did I mention that somebody posted a birthday book for Chubbs the Pug on the Internet today?


Well, one thing we've established is that W.H. Auden is not going to make the cover of Tiger Beat any time soon.



Both movies are great, obviously.  But I think I like the original better than the sequel.  The theme of the original is "we may be done with fate, but fate is never done with us."  The theme of the sequel is basically: "It's okay to be a mobster and leader of organized crime, as long as you're really charismatic and not a sourpuss about it."

That scene where young Vito stalks Fanucci across the rooftops of the Lower East Side, though?  That's the best in the series, bar none.


Dec. 29, 2011, 9:55 a.m.

I like to think of myself as a levelheaded person.  I'm also a big fan of the Midwest.  But for whatever reason, the term 'pop' for soda just drives me completely insane.  There must be some sort of Pavlovian conditioning that  happened here, where in a previously life every time I heard the word 'pop' somebody keyed my car.


Wow -- 'Pop' territory is way bigger than I thought it was -- I didn't realize it went all the way into the Pacific Northwest.  It does confirm that I was at ground zero of 'Pop' when I was in Minneapolis four days a week.

As for 'Coke' country -- whaddya know, it seems to radiate around Atlanta, where Coke's headquarters happen to be.  Their tendrils run long and deep...



Here's a secret -- The Blue Album is the only Weezer album I've ever liked.  I remained unmoved by their renaissance during my early-2000s college days, and Pinkerton depressed the heck out of me.  Also, when I was in middle school, it was Green Day's Dookie that was the ticket into the cool kids' club.



Incidentally, they both got their own sequel, each with a varying level of suckitude.  Jurassic Park: The Lost World has quite a few exciting scenes, the only problem being that you don't care because you spend most of the movie wishing that the characters will die horribly.

Jurassic Park III, if I recall recall correctly, is 84 minutes of people being menaced by dinosaurs.  I believe that is true.  I'm pretty confident that this is true.



If the Phillies move to Eugene, Oregon, by God, I will follow them there.  If the Phillies move to Corpus Christi, Texas, I... well... I'll have to become a cricket fan or something because I'm not moving down there, and I'm not rooting against them either.

Actually, I would probably just spend three weeks holed up in my closet, sobbing.



I've seen the Swedish edition of the movies, but I haven't seen the US version yet, so I'm abstaining for the moment.  I recall the Swedish version being a pretty compelling whodunit (not to mention a movie that used Macs as prominently as any I could recall, save Independence Day).  

I remember also thinking -- "holy smokes, if they ever adapt this, some of this is going to stick them with an NC-17 if they don't cut it".  From what I understand, they got around it somehow.  Perhaps by making it more violent and less sex-filled, as is the American way!



I'm a sausage guy, myself.  Given that I'm half Italian and half German, any non-sausage option really has no chance in a battle against sausage for anything, let alone my breakfast table.



Given my hatred of long-distance running, I've got to go with the Fast Zombies.  What's scarier than spending the rest of your zombie-shortened life stalked by high-performance-fitness-people trying to eat your brains for their fiber and Omega-3 content?



I'm not exactly sure how this one is going to go, but as someone currently midway through Season 2 of Breaking Bad, it certainly doesn't seem like a ringing endorsement for the meth cooking life.    Between this and Winter's Bone, it almost seems as if Hollywood is trying to convince you that making crystal meth is a bad idea. 



At this point, between the child, the mortgage, the living situation, everything, you're basically married.  Even from a financial perspective, you're only a couple of years away from common law marriage, and it sounds like you've already taken measures to consolidate your financial lives.

So the question you've got to balance is: your distate for the institution versus the joy it would bring her to actually have a wedding.  One is an intellectual opposition to the institution, while one is an emotional attachment to it.

In other words, it sounds like it would really make her happy.  And it's a good excuse to bring your friends together and celebrate your relationship.    Do it.  If you need to, have the wedding and forget to invite the marriage official -- that way, everyone gets what they want.



I'm going to hide my hand as to which method I prefer. All I know is that you're supposed to jam potato chips in the middle right after you put the sandwich together.


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