A Documentary I Actually Watched: The Ambassador.

I don’t watch reality television or documentaries. You might think this is some high moral standard (at least in the case of reality tv), but the truth of the matter is much simpler – my ADD makes watching these sort of shows/films agonizingly painful. I much prefer reading about history / contemporary issues / science / etc. than watching a documentary on the topic…and reality tv, well…I find it generally uninteresting.

But that didn’t keep me from watching The Ambassador, a controversial 97 minute documentary by Mads Brugger. Brugger is a journalist, comedian, filmmaker who goes undercover as a corrupt business diplomat to the Central African Republic in an attempt to start an illegal blood diamonds business. Along the way he risks his life (and, most disconcertingly to me, the lives of numerous individuals of varying levels of innocence) and discloses troubling corruption, conspiracy, and immorality among various governments.

I’d put this film alongside of Slumdog Millionaire and Hotel Rwanda for its potential to have a positive societal impact, while at the same time expressing my qualms about the methods used to make the film, especially those which placed [unaware] innocents at risk.

In the articles I read reviewing the film the greatest concern seemed to be the racism expressed by Brugger in character and the negative portrayal of the Central African Republic and its people. I understand the reviewers concern, but also felt that it was self-evident that Brunner was interacting with the criminal elements of society and that his interactions with these elements should not be taken as reflective upon the larger CAR populace. While we only see ‘regular’ CAR folks briefly, their portrayal is compassionate and inspiring – folks seem eager to work at Brunner’s match factory and are willing to better themselves and their country. One feels heartbreak at the conspiracy of factors that keep these folks in such mortal and economic danger. It seems evident to me that these individuals are just like me – but without the opportunities and privileges which I have.

From a more generic [usual categories] objectionable content perspective, there is no violence, relatively little profanity, and minimal non-sexual nudity. Profanity is almost entirely absent throughout the film (in fact, you will find more profanity in the reviews I have referenced at the end of this article than in the film itself…an interesting commentary on the state of profane language in contemporary culture [most of the publications being respectable, not simply individuals spouting thoughts without a corporation behind them]), but towards the latter end of the film several intense moments lead to some profane dialogue.

There is some very brief, non-sexual nudity, of the nature one might expect in a National Geographic documentary. While boating down the river the camera turns to the shore where groups of people are using the water for various purposes (washing, swimming) and one or two are in various states of undress.

In conclusion – I think the film asks some excellent questions, in spite of its troubling ethics – and I hope that it will spark dialogue, awareness, and activism throughout the world to end these sort of abuses. God forgive us for allowing such travesties to be committed against the unfortunate.

You can watch The Ambassador on Netflix or Amazon Video.


Langhorne Pharmacy is AWESOME!

Indian Pharmacist Mark
The Green plus under the circle is official identification mark for Indian pharmacist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of those responsibilities one undertakes as an adult that seemed so foreign and distant as a child and teenager is going to the pharmacy to fill prescriptions. Over the years I’ve been to a number of different pharmacies and for the last several years I used a pharmacy in one of the big retail chains.
Eventually several issues I had with this big-chain pharmacy grew in annoyance to the point where I searched out a new pharmacy. Specifically:

  • I had trouble getting my medications filled on occasion. The pharmacists would tell me that the medication was “not available” and then when my wife would call or visit it would be “available” and she would pick it up (literally the same day). I was usually told it would be a week or two before the medication was again available. Not sure if they thought I was a drug addict, but for whatever reason I seemed to be discriminated against (come on folks, haven’t you heard that neck-beards and hoodies are the fashion craze amongst tech geeks?).
  • If a medication was not available it usually wouldn’t be available for an extended period of time (e.g. 1-2 weeks), and even then it might run out by the time I got into the pharmacy.

I decided to try this little pharmacy in Langhorne – aptly named the Langhorne Pharmacy – and I am extremely pleased with my experience thus far (I’ve been using them for a few months now).
Whereas I was frequently discriminated against at the larger retail chain, at this small pharmacy they know me by name and are always friendly and helpful.
Whereas medications would oftentimes be unavailable for long periods of time, the head pharmacist told me during my first visit to, “Just call in a day ahead of time when you need a refill and I will order the medication for you to ensure it is here.” Wow! Now that is some impressive service – and sure enough, every time I go in (and I don’t usually have to call) the medication is waiting for me (this isn’t just any medication, it is a medication which all pharmacies, including the big chains, have difficulty keeping in-stock).
But there are a few additional reasons I really like this pharmacy. For me, it is closer geographically than the big chain; the lines are never long; and while it isn’t a big issue – I usually wait 5-15 minutes for my medications at Langhorne Pharmacy (when I bring the scripts directly in, rather than having them filed electronically) instead of 30 mins. to 1 hr. at larger retail chains.
Did I mention they make free local deliveries? Okay, so I’m a little excited about these folks – but they deserve it.
If you live in the Langhorne, Levittown, Middletown, Penndel, Hulmeville area – check them out! Their address is 172 North Pine Street, Langhorne, PA 19047. You can call them at 215-752-1100. They are in the same shopping plaza as St. Mary’s Thrift Store. Let me know your thoughts!

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When it comes to computers there are two components I recommend upgrading first. Oftentimes when you buy computers from a store they will try and sell you on high speed CPU’s and big hard drives – but these aren’t the most important aspects of your computer. Sure, a solid CPU is important and a big hard drive is nice – but I recommend getting a mid-range CPU (not a cheap one, but not the most expensive) and spending the money you save on getting a faster hard drive and more RAM.

The hard drive is the slowest component on your computer. RAM exists in large part b/c the hard drive is so slow. It takes way too long to write data from and to the hard drive, so to expedite things data is written into RAM (which is much faster, but also more expensive) and then whatever needs to be written to the actual hard drive is written to the hard drive later (by later I mean very shortly, usually imperceptibly later).

If you are doing very simple tasks on your computer you may not need a ton of RAM – e.g., if you watch one video and don’t do anything else at the same time, browse one or two websites simultaneously using browser tabs, run a small game like solitaire, etc. But if you use your computer for heavier tasks – as I do – like massive multitasking of browser windows, development of applications, and perhaps the occasional game of significant complexity and artistic quality – you’ll find RAM an essential upgrade.

I generally recommend at least 2 GB in a computer and highly prefer 4 GB…When it comes to hard drives I won’t buy anything with a drive slower than 7200 RPMs, and my next computer will probably have a solid-state drive (SSD) – which is similar to RAM in design and thus must faster than traditional hard drives.

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There are lots of alternative sources for buying RAM and SSD drives other than Crucial – some of them quite fine. I’m not going to pretend that I buy all of my equipment from Crucial or ever will…but they are a solid option in the field. I always recommend comparing prices across vendors. See what Crucial charges and then maybe look at MemoryX, and if you know what you are doing check out Amazon and eBay (though one can oftentimes get jipped, I have on occasion received products that claimed to be “official” oem parts, but where in fact imitations, while both provide great resolution methods for these sort of issues, it is an unwanted hassle).

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