Sunday, July 31, 2011

Behold the Fruits of the Fringe

If doing God's work means being a creepy pederass
and looking the part, then this cock sucker has us
all beat.
Yesterday saw some good discussion about why I used Jesus flipping the bird, and some on Christianity itself.  In college I took a class on the history of religion in America, and my professor--a staunch Catholic who did her graduate degree work at Notre Dame and is considered one of the leading scholars on Bishop Fulton Sheen--mentioned something once: Mormons are Christians.

It was definitely weird for me to consider that fact, because I myself viewed Mormons as being radical weirdoes with a made up religion.  But they do believe in Jesus Christ and that he was the savior of humanity.  So as nutty as they are, they are indeed Christians.

Well, in keeping with the theme of hypocrisy and horseshit, here's a story about a crazy Mormon, Warren Jeffs.  This is one of those ultra-Mormons who still believe that polygamy is okay, and apparently he's also okay with fucking 16-year-old girls.  He is currently standing trial for rape, and the other day he apparently had this to say about the whole thing:

God demanded the trial end or "sickness and death" would come to all involved.
Jeffs believes so steadfastly in his conviction that raping underage girls is what God wants for him in this world, that he thinks God will punish his prosecutors for their transgressions against such a holy man.  It's always nice to think that the ultra-radical fringe loonies are elsewhere in the world, but when you see that it happens here as well, it's fairly disheartening.

Now before the flames start rolling in, I just want to make it clear that I understand a few key ideas in this little number.  I understand that Mormons who still believe in polygamy and all this ridiculousness are a small minority compared to the whole of the Mormon faith.  I also realize that these people are not beheading anyone or committing physical violence in that sense.  But I must say that I'm not sure beheading wouldn't be preferable to what some of these young girls have had to go through.

Could you imagine subjecting your own daughter to such horrors; marrying her off to your pastor or community leader at age 16, knowing that she'd rather die than be deflowered by some old man for whom she doesn't hold even the slightest affection?  As unimaginable as that may seem for some people, myself included, these people are convinced that their way of life is righteous.  They offer their children as lambs to the sexual slaughter, and they believe in their hearts that it's what God wants.

And what's more, their conviction is so rooted that they believe God's punishment will fall upon those trying to stand up for the rights of these girls and for justice.

This should serve as a lesson to everyone on a general level: no matter how deeply you believe your convictions to be just and true, there is always the possibility that you're wrong.  That's why I love it when people question me, because it gives me an opportunity to further examine my beliefs and either strengthen them by arguing from a different angle, or discovering them to be bunk and ultimately rejecting them.

Jeffs is a vile human being whose mind is imprisoned by his warped convictions.  He's also a Christian.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jesus Digs My Style

What's great is that he's very calmly flipping the bird.
In a discussion about immigration and multiculturalism on Western Hero yesterday, blog author Silverfiddle had this to say about some of the "artistic" choices I've made on CFGM:
Geert Wilders was put on trial for insulting Islam. Could you imagine we Christians bringing you up on similar charges for your picture of Jesus flipping the bird?

I don't like that picture, but it's your blog, I believe in free speech, and I am advanced enough to know that no human work can demean my Lord and Savior.
Now, of course Silverfiddle was not suggesting that I should be put on trial, as he is a staunch believer in the freedom of speech, but I detected a hint of displeasure in his writing.  I wanted to explain myself, but doing so would have been horribly off-topic on that particular thread, and I'm not in the habit of doing that on other people's blogs.

When I put up that picture of Jesus flipping the bird, I knew that I was being completely inflammatory.  In fact, I think I put it up there for that expressed purpose.  I'm not a troll or anything, but one of the purposes of Christian Fearing God-Man is to get people to look at life a little differently than perhaps they are used to looking at life.  I want to achieve this on all levels whether it be someone's sentiments on politics, society, music, movies, and even religion.

Politics and religion are two things that people generally shouldn't discuss openly in public with people you don't know personally, because discussions often turn into a steaming pile of horseshit: most people get all offended and indignant, and it's hard to keep the discussion within the realm of rationality and civility.  It's also generally not a good idea to question people's beliefs, as we should all know the fate of Socrates for doing so.

Somehow I missed that part in the Bible that tells us we
should be fishers of men by acting like giant, bigoted
It's not that I feel like I shouldn't have to make apologies, because it was actually a little hard for me to put that picture up.  I know that what I did was fucked up, and that I shit on the sentiments of many good Christians who believe Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.  I am cognisant of the fact that I probably do owe an apology for it, and that I should be apologetic for it.

But I'm not going to offer an apology because that would be contrary to my whole purpose.  I'm not here to coddle people and tell them that it's all going to be alright.  I'm here to get them to see the absurdity of it all.  What is absurd about Christianity? 

Well, for starters it's supposed to be a religion of peace and pacifism, yet there are an awful lot of Christians who foam at the mouth whenever war is afoot.  It's supposed to be a religion of compassion, yet there are many Christians who have the "what's mine is mine," mentality, and they reject and spurn the notion of social justice.  Christianity is supposed to be a religion of inclusion and egalitarianism, yet many Christians want to shit allover gays for being "sinful," as if every other Christian is as pure as Mother fucking Theresa.  And others also like to shit allover cultures that are different than theirs.

Who did Jesus hang out with all the time?  Sure, he had his apostles, but he ministered to the disenfranchised and unwashed masses.  He let a prostitute wash his feet for fuck sake, and it was all scandalous when he did so.  If some of you recall, Jesus actually turned violent at one point and flipped over a bunch of tables in a synogogue, denouncing the whole ordeal to be a den of thieves.  Jesus constantly questioned the beliefs and motives of the Jewish clergy, those charged with keeping the faith and the covenant with God.

So how is my picture of Jesus flipping the bird contrary to him and his message?  Sure, it's more irreverant than he likely was, but everything Jesus did was a big middle finger to the society he lived in.  He saw that people were living hypocritical lives, and he sought to end that.  Did Jesus want to create a new religion?  No.  He simply wanted people to stop acting like retards and fucking up Judaism.

Call me crazy, but I doubt this is what Jesus had in mind as
he was hanging from the cross, suffering a brutal death
because of his rabble-rousing ideas.

Jesus might be disappointed with me because of the stylistic choices I make here, but my guess is that he would be proud to have someone like me doing the work that I'm doing.  I want the same things he did: peace, compassion, and togetherness.  Those Christians that would spurn me, the ones that would probably love to put me on trial for demeaning their Lord and Savior, should actually thank me for carrying on his ministry, as bizarre as that might sound.  Jesus' message wasn't "be a Christian or go to hell." 

His message was to love one another and help eachother get in touch with your own humanity.  If anything, my work serves as an exaltation of his message rather than to demean him.  Oh, and remember: I'm a Christian, too.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Why Fallout 3 and New Vegas Rape Face

This guy *will* fuck your shit up.
I'm fairly critical when it comes to games and how good I think they are.  For example, everyone apparently salivated over Bioshock as being an amazing game while I felt it was severely overrated.  There are currently around 11 million people on the planet that would likely tell you that World of Warcraft (WoW) is a good game, and I whole heartedly think it's fairly shitty.

Of course all gamers have their preferences and biases, but I try to be as objective as possible when I make a judgment on the worth of a game.  That being said, I think that I have a fairly objective opinion about the Bethesda FPS RPG Fallout 3 and Obsidian's (published by Bethesda) Fallout: New Vegas.  Why is my opinion not biased?  Because I didn't play any Fallout title prior to 3, which was released just a few years ago.  I've got no nostalgic allegiance attatched to the series.

If you don't know what the games are about, you're a character who lives in a post-apocalyptic America.  In this alternate universe, China and America nuke the shit out of each other in 2077.  Fallout 3 takes place in what used to be the US capital of Washington D.C. (called the Capital Wasteland) in approximately 2177, and New Vegas takes place in what was once Las Vegas in about 2277.  Your character starts from humble beginnings, and if you play it right, you will end up being a god damned walking nightmare to your enemies.

What makes the game great though?  Well first is the gameplay itself, which is probably the most important aspect of any game.  It's a First Person Shooter but it's also an RPG.  This means that it has a lot of story elements and the whole "level up" process like an RPG, but instead of turn-based combat in which you select your actions and moves, you actually do all the shooting yourself.  To add an element of depth to it, when you level up you not only get to improve your skills and abilities, but you get to select from a list of perks that give you pretty good bonuses on shit.

For example, you can get the "bloody mess" perk.  What's awesome about that is not only does it give you an overall +5% damage buff, but it makes the enemies you kill more likely to explode into pieces.  That's something that makes this game fucking amazing: the unbridled graphic violence.  You can decapitate someone, sever every limb, or just cause their body to completely combust into tiny bits.  Oh god is it a wonderful thing.

The second big thing that makes both games so good is the vastness of the world you're given to roam.  There's tons of quests and neat places to visit.  Wandering the actual capital in FO3, seeing the Whitehouse, Congress, Washington and Lincoln Memorials delapitaded from years of neglect and nuclear war is quite an awe inspiring sight.  The design team did an amazing job at portraying what it would look like in that situation.  The scenery is breathtaking.  Also, the theme of the setting is 1950's America.  In the Fallout universe, American culture stopped in the 1950's.

The game itself is technically wonderful, visually pleasing, but that's not all.  What really sets this game apart is the extremely dark, yet humorous tone of the game.  This is the end of the world, and of course there is chaos all over.  Raiders murder and rape people, there are gigantic factions of people who are trying to control and reshape the world, some benevolent but most are nefarious.  The world of Fallout is a bleak one where there is little hope for anything getting any better, especially when you take into consideration that you, the player, can decide to be a vile shithead that only increases everyone's pain.

How can all this be funny?  How can they possibly make light of such a horrifying world?  Well I don't know, but they pull it off.  You know there's something different about it in the FO3 intro movie, where we hear a radio playing "I don't Want to Set the World on Fire," in a wasteland that has been utterly decimated.

Of course we wouldn't find anything funny about that if we were living it, so why do they try to be funny?  Maybe it's because we should find it funny in an ironic way.  Society would surely collapse and revert back to a primitive form of culture should nuclear war wipe out all infrastructure.  We've spent thousands of years getting to the point we're at now, where we can call ourselves civilized and enlightened, yet we have the ability to wipe it all away in a very short period of time.

Or maybe they're trying to say that if you didn't decide to commit suicide, if you were committed to living and carrying on, then perhaps you'd have to have a sense of humor about it.  Why go on living life if you didn't?  Life seems pretty pointless if you're not interested in squeezing out even just a little enjoyment.

So with all these things put together make them both amazingly excellent games.  For those of you who haven't heard of it or played it, I highly *highly recommend it.  And for those haters out there, I know there are some, you probably wouldn't know a good game if it bit you on the ass.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Future is Probably Fucked

I know, everyone always says that.  People have been weeping for the future probably ever since man could think.  Th irony of our current situation, however, is such that I think there is little hope for the future, at least for the next 100 years or so.

I've talked a lot about how education has been extremely lacking and that we need to fix it.  I don't think anyone argues that education 60 years ago actually meant something.  A friend of mine showed me an 8th grade civics exam from 1954, and as knowledgeable as I am about politics and government, I would have failed miserably at age 27, let alone at age 14. 

College used to mean something, too; it was actually considered to be a true accomplishment at one point.  The scholars of old would weep if they were alive to see that colleges in the U.S. are classified in three ways: party schools, sports schools, or actual academic institutions.  As one of my professors told me "today you poor bastards are only exposed to college lite." 

As an example, a good friend of mine graduated with a degree in political science from Ohio State University.  For those of you who don't know, OSU's political science program is ranked 4th in the *world*.  It's only bested by the likes of Harvard, Columbia, and Cambridge.  If I were to ask my friend, however, to explain to me the origins and evolution of republican theory, he'd draw a blank.

Here's where the irony begins.

The generations preceding mine were probably smarter, better read, and more intellectually developed.  For all of that education and intellectual development, the previous generations still managed to fuck everything up and ruin the world.  They are intolerant of damn near anything that is different (we're talking about a generation that was okay with Jim Crow for nearly 100 years), and they were perfectly content to create artificial constructs that my generation, and that of my children, will have to pay for.

On the flip-side, my generation is generally less informed and intellectually developed than our predecessors.  We have our strengths, though.  We're generally more tolerant of diversity and non-traditional lifestyles which makes us less bigoted, and we're considered to be frugal, fiscally responsible.  Because American education has declined ever since the late 50's, though, my generation as a whole is intellectually less capable of doing anything great.

The irony is that a generation of smart people fucked everything up, and now they expect a generation of dumbasses to fix it all.

My generation is tolerant of different cultures and peoples, we understand that the whole debt thing is asinine and that it's better to save your money than to always buy on credit, yet as a whole we don't have the intellectual chops to implement those ideas.  We have to wait for all the previous generations to die and phase out of government, but since we've been so stunted in our intellectual growth, can we even move humanity foreward to a less asinine world?

That's why the future is likely fucked.  We have a metric fuck-ton of problems that most people my age will not be equipped to fix once we start taking over government.  Right now, America is stuck in the mindset of previous generations, and because my generation is apparently functionally retarded, we can't move people foreward.  The history of ideas is one of progression, of change.  It's one in which humanity has come to a fuller realization of what liberty and justice mean.  Now it appears that we've stood still.

That's the whole point of Christian Fearing God-Man: to move foreward instead of remaining politically and ideologically stagnant.  I can't understand why people are so adamant about sticking to ideas that have failed, time and again, throughout history.  Why do we want another Gilded Age as if that is somehow going to make life better for the average Joe?  Why do we want to give the government greater power and create a socialist paradise when so many socialist experiments have failed miserably?

I don't count myself among the retarded members of my generation, but rather as one of the lucky few who were fortunate enough to get a very good education (I went to Catholic school).  My heart weeps because men like me would prefer to stay out of the Three-Ring Circus that is American politics, but men like me also know that because we stay out we'll have to put up with idiots.

As Gandalf said "there was never much hope--just a fool's hope."  I shudder to think what's in store for my children's generation.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Is this Justice?

I'm really confused as to how this scenario makes sense in any universe.

A woman, whose son was killed by a vehicle while jaywalking with her, could face up to 3 years in prison for homicide by vehicle and reckless conduct.  For whatever reason, she was out late in the evening with her children, and rather than wait any longer at night by herself with her kids, she decided to cross the street.

The man who hit and killed her kid (it was determined to be a hit-and-run) Jerry Guy, admitted that he had been drinking before the incident.  According to the article I read, Guy served 6 months in jail.  How in the blue fuck does this equate to justice?

I get it, the woman's actions contributed to getting her kid killed.  I'm not saying that she shouldn't face some sort of punishment, but should she serve a sentence so much longer than the guy who actually killed her son?  And better yet, the guy admitted to drinking before the incident.  I don't know if he was technically drunk while driving, but still, what the hell?

What makes this worse is the fact that she has 2 other children.  Now, not only does she have to live with the fact that she likely got her son killed, but now her other 2 children will have to suffer doubly by having to deal with their mother being in jail for 3 years.  What could the reasoning behind the sentencing conceivably be?  To be honest, I don't know.

What's confusing is that this article is incredibly vague about the details surrounding the incident.  It mentions that Guy admitted he had been drinking before the incident, but it doesn't say if he was at all drunk while driving.  There's also little in the way of describing the traffic situation, exactly what time at night she was out, or why the hell she didn't see a car coming her way.  So how do we know who is more at fault?

We've all jaywalked, but when one jaywalks one usually is extra cautious as to the traffic situation.  It could be, given all the evidence, that she is more culpable.  If it was a pure accident, if the guy was not impared and the situation was such that he had no reaction time, then perhaps it was more her fault and she deserves a larger sentence.

What do you all think?  Is this justice or not?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) was never a good thing. There’s so much that was just plain wrong about that whole policy that it is sort of mind-boggling that it has lasted so long.

Let me be the first to say that I served with gay men (at least we all thought they were gay), and it didn’t make a damn bit of difference to me, or to anyone else. I was on a ship, too, so you would think that being in close quarters with a gay guy would make matters worse, but it didn’t. It might be different in combat, but my guess is that when you’re getting shot at you’re not really wondering if the gay dude in your platoon is checking out your ass.

So will allowing gay men and women to openly serve really hurt anything? No one on the JCS seems to think it will. Admiral Mullen thinks that everything will be fine, and even the top dog at the Pentagon said that there won’t be any problem.

Why? Because it seriously is not that big of a deal anyway. Not only is it not a big deal, but it was incredibly hypocritical to have DADT in place anyway. Think about it: we’re all about people pursuing whatever makes them happy so long as they’re not causing any real harm to others, and we wanted to tell gays that they’re not allowed to serve their country and defend that very right we all enjoy?

You cannot honestly believe in things like equality and egalitarianism while simultaneously denying a person the right to defend his or her country—and based on what, their morality? That’s laughable at best, because our service-members are anything but “moral.” Many of them are extreme promiscuous and adulterous. There are plenty of liars, cheats, and thieves among them. Hell, many of them are only in the military because a judge told them it was either that or jail. So are we to bar service to all but the most virtuous and moral of Americans?

A good soldier, sailor, marine, or airman is not determined by who he or she fucks. It’s determined by what that person is able to do under pressure in order to accomplish the goals set by the powers that be.

And I’ve known enough soldiers and marines to know that they are anything but homophobic. I don’t give a god damn how many people you’ve killed: tea bagging another dude, i.e. putting your balls in another guy’s mouth, is completely fucking gay. The moment your junk has voluntarily touched another dude is the moment you lose any right to gay-bash.

The fact of the matter is that everyone who is physically and mentally capable has the right to serve his or her country. No one should be denied service because of his or her lifestyle choices that have no harmful bearing on said person or on others.

For those of you who enjoy splitting hairs, I realize that gays have always been “allowed” to serve in the military, but telling the whole DADT thing was a logical fallacy anyway. The policy is that you can’t be gay and serve, although if you pretend that you’re not gay then you can serve, even if you are gay. So if you’re found to be gay, then you couldn’t serve. No matter how you slice it, gays were formally barred from service, and now it seems they won’t be.

I guess we can’t be too mad that DADT existed, I mean we do have a habit of making laws and regulations that are unconstitutional, right? My guess is, though, that we only bitch about constitutionality when it’s something we don’t agree with. Thank God we preserved our moral core for so long. Now I guess the whole country is going to die because we finally realized that it’s wrong to deny people rights based on sexual orientation.

What ever shall we do?!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dumbass Idea of the Week

Well apparently there's a new holy relic to behold.  A couple thinks that the face of Jesus was imprinted on a receipt of theirs.

At least it wasn't a grilled cheese sandwich, I suppose.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Is there a God?

"Does this robe make me look fat?  Wait, I'm God . . . why
am I fat in the first place?"
In short, I don't know.  I've talked at length about the nature of uncertainty that surrounds the idea of God, and I started thinking about it all again when I read an article about how Texas is trying to implement creationism back into its curriculums.  I get particularly annoyed with the evolution/intelligent design argument, because I think both sides are more interested in validating their ideas rather than contemplating Truth.

The anti-evolution people get under my skin because they always love to show the "flaws," in Darwin's theory.  The funny part is that few of them pointing out these "flaws" are actual scientists, and they most likely got their refutations from some hard core fundamentalist.  A friend of mine once tried to convince me that evolution was bunk.  "No matter how hard I try, I'm not going to be able to grow wings."

Well no shit Sherlock, and no scientist has ever posited that any living creature can do so.  I get the feeling that many denouncers of the theory don't actually understand the theory itself.  As my friend evinced, some people think that evolution somehow means that a species can willfully change itself to suit it's needs.  How can one argue against a theory if one doesn't even know what the hell a theory is?

And then there are those who support evolution and simultaneously shit on intelligent design.  I'm definitely not a creationist, but doesn't it seem odd that we're one in a trillion?  Doesn't it seem a little bit weird that out of all the chaos and ridiculousness, our planet is the only one we know of in which life was created and has flourished for millions of years?

I'm not making any claims of knowledge, but I'm just merely pointing out a few facts.  Planet Earth is incredibly unique.  We've only discovered a handful of planets that could possibly sustain life as we know it, and yet we somehow won the fucking universe lottery.

The problem I have is that none of these arguments for or against evolution and intelligent design do anything to prove or disprove the existence of God.  Who is to say that an omnipotent God can't or didn't create a process such as evolution?  Similarly, who is to say that God didn't just create existence and then let it all happen by chance?

My point is that these are questions that we cannot possibly answer.  No matter how much we want to believe that there is irrefutable evidence as to the existence or non-existence of God, we can never actually know.  You can argue it forever, and you'll never be any closer to the real answer.  You can be sure that you're close, but your certainty is only worth just as much as the next guy's.

And for those who want to try to use the Bible as proof, you're going to have to think again on that.  "But Jack, the bible is divinely inspired!  It's all true!"  Says who?  God?  Believing in the divine inspiration of the Bible presupposes a belief in God, and if you think about that for a second you will see that such a line of thinking sets you in a logic loop that doesn't make sense.  In order for the Bible to be proof of God's existence, you have to first believe that God exists . . . now that doesn't make much sense, does it?

As for atheists, why does science necessarily disprove the existence of God?  Science still can't answer the question of why existence exists in the first place.  Does the universe have a beginning?  Does existence have beginning?  Is infinity a concept that the human brain can even comprehend?  There are too many mysteries to say that we know for sure God cannot exist.  We don't even know if life beyond our planet exists, so how can we say for sure God doesn't?

"Well you can't prove he exists!"  No shit, and 100 years ago we couldn't prove dark matter exists.

So, does God exist?  I don't fucking know, but I sure hope he does.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Musings on Political Realities

Today's article is about principles, and you can catch it on Political Realities.  In the meantime, enjoy this:

Only a loving God would provide us with such awesomeness.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stop Shitting on Teachers

My guess is that she rated "highly effective."

I write about education often because it’s incredibly important to me.  Aside from the fact that I’m going to be working on getting my teaching license over the next couple of years, it’s important to me that American children not grow up to be complete dumbasses.

I read an article today about the negativity of the incentives that have shat themselves on to teachers in Washington D.C..  About a week ago or so, a couple hundred teachers were let go because they had “underperformed.”  This underperformance was based largely on kids’ standardized test scores, and apparently many of the teachers that were let go had been deemed “effective,” or “highly effective,” by the standards of the IMPACT program.

I thought about making a post about it when I read it, but I didn’t for whatever reason.  Then I read an article today on the Washington Post about this very thing, and the author posits that such tactics, giving bonuses to “good” teachers and firing “underperforming” teachers is a stupid way to make schools better.

I agree.

How many people want to teach?  How many people want to spend all day with kids who generally don’t give a shit about anything, let alone their own education?  Teaching is a difficult profession.  You spend 8 hours a day teaching someone else’s kid to be a productive and useful citizen, only to come home to more work.  You put in an ass ton of hours for little reward other than self-satisfaction.  If you’re a 1st year teacher, your pecuniary reward is $35,000 a year at a good public school district.

Now we want to make teaching some sort of competitive bullshit in which we measure a teacher’s performance by how well his or her kids do on standardized testing.  Are we seriously suggesting that we place their career in the hands of children?

It doesn’t matter how good of a teacher you are: if a student does not give a flying fuck about school then that student will not perform well.  “Well, it’s the teachers job to make him give a fuck!”  No it’s not.  Education is not a one-way street where the teacher is some servant that is supposed to make you want to make love to your social studies text book.  Yes, a teacher should make the lessons interesting and engaging, but a teacher cannot make a kid like it, or even give a shit enough to do well in it.

Knowing that teachers get shit on now as it is, why do we want to make the profession less appealing?  It’s no wonder that a bunch of teachers in D.C. got shit-canned, because it’s a district that has been underperforming for years.  Do we really think that it’s the teachers’ fault?  It’s an urban district, and many of the students in it come from low-income families.  No, poor people aren’t stupid because they’re poor, but poor kids have a lot more barriers to success.

The Washington Post author said that we should treat teachers more like professionals, and I agree with that completely.  The whole incentive thing—do well and you’ll receive extra rewards, you’re fired if you do “poorly”—is a great mentality for people in sales, but not in a professional career. 

Are doctors fired every time they lose a patient?  Are lawyers disbarred every time they lose a case?  The answer is no, because there are so many factors that are beyond their control.  A patient can die despite top notch treatment, and a jury can convict or acquit a defendant no matter how convincing a case.  Kids can suck giant asshole on their standardized testing no matter how good their teachers might be.

Yes, there are bad teachers.  We’ve all had at least one, but we didn’t measure their badness on how well we understood the material.  They can only do so much to help us get it, and at some point it’s on the kid to be able to understand.

This sort of reward/punishment mentality is going to have two negative effects: (1) It will make less people want to go into teaching, and (2) Teachers will be less willing to teach in urban districts where student performance is statistically lower.  Does that sound like a good outcome?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Budget Cuts Aren’t a Bad Thing

Some of you might just take that as gospel fact without me even saying it, but I think some people don’t really think about how much it actually costs to operate government.  I’m not going to get into numbers, because I hate them, so I’m going to just stick to concepts here.  Let’s start off with an example from my own personal experience.

When I was in the Navy I was stationed on the USS San Jacinto (CG-56).  Every division got a budget for the year for office supplies—pens, paper, chairs, whatever we needed.  Well, towards the end of the fiscal year we discovered that we had not spent about $800 of our supply budget.  If you don’t know how that all works, you either spend the money or give it back.  It doesn’t accrue after the fiscal year.

Well, what do you think happens if you give back $800 (mind you, we wanted for nothing and still had that surplus)?  For the next fiscal year your budget will be $800 smaller.  So what did we do?  We got Leatherman knives for each of us.

You might think that counts as waste, fraud, and abuse, but think about it: we’re on a ship, and on a ship everyone is expected to have a certain level of competency in seamanship.  Any one of us could have been called to help out on a Replenishment at Sea (RAS), or sea and anchor detail.  And we all had to perform various maintenance tasks.  So although we didn’t really need the Leathermans, their purchase was justifiable, albeit in a roundabout way.

That’s how government operates.

Government will never operate more efficiently just because we tell the people to do so.  If the Supply Officer had just told us, “you’re getting $800 less a year,” we would have dealt with it and been just fine.  Now if one year we ended up needing that $800 for something important, we would likely have been able to recover some of it.  But until that point, we could have operated efficiently without that extra $800.

You can bet that government agencies operate in the same way.  They’re given a budget, and they will always, always spend at least that much so as not to lose the funding for the following year.

It’s kind of like Brewester’s Millions, as mentioned yesterday by Silverfiddle over at Western Hero: spend all your money, even if it’s on ridiculous things, or you get none (way less) back.  When you think about spending at the agency level, doesn’t it seem kind of stupid to get angry at politicians who want to make budget cuts?

"If you don't like it then you can go fuck yourself."
Of course my personal example doesn’t explain the entirety of the issue we’re in, but I think it helps to at least explicate the inefficiency aspect of it.  Here in Ohio, Governor Kasich, for whom I voted, is growing unpopular because of his budget cuts.  But he understands that these are cuts that need to be made, because these government agencies can operate fully and efficiently on less.  We just have to make them do it.  I know that there’s a lot of talk about entitlement cuts, but shouldn’t everyone learn that they have to be more efficient with the money they’re given?

When you take into consideration that welfare recipients get more than they need to be comfortable, it kind of makes you scratch your head when people get upset about cutting welfare benefits.  When I worked at the Godman Guild, I worked with at-risk youth, most of whom lived in inner-city Columbus.  One of the stipulations for them to be in our program was that their family had to be on some type of government assistance whether it was food stamps, the income thing, or whatever.

Unless you visited their homes, you would never know that they were poor, because you had never seen so many god damned spotless pairs of Jordans, or so many pristine pairs of Sean-John jeans in your life.  The clothing of these poor kids (poor in terms of socioeconomic status) was more expensive than mine.  I don’t know about you, but I find that fairly fucking infuriating.  And in case you think they might have purchased their clothes at a thrift store, those Jordans usually still had the tags on them (eye roll).

Comin' again to save the mother fucking day yeah!
Harrison over at Capital Commentary wrote an excellent piece yesterday about the wasteful habits of Americans.  I think he was spot on, and wastefulness has infected not just our middle-class and upper-class citizens, but our government and even our poor.

A country in which even it’s poor people can afford to be wasteful is one that seriously needs to take a long hard look at the principles behind its money-spending habits.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Should Whoring be Legalized?

I know she looks too "clean" to be a prostitute
but would you rather me put up a pic of some
herpes-ridden skank? 
I’ve heard a couple of arguments for this one.  The proponents for legalizing prostitution say that it will cut down on all the other crime associated with it; that legalizing it will make the whole experience safer.  Of course, they always point to Las Vegas and how prostitution is apparently not a big deal down there.

There’s some place out there that’s super upscale or something.  “Well look at that place.  Prostitution is legal there and it’s not a big deal!”  Proponents also claim that it will cut down on the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, because legal prostitutes would have to be approved by the CDC or some shit, you know like health code violations.

Then you’ve got the opponents who say that it’s all about some higher moral obligation that prostitution should stay illegal.  They might be right: it’s probably not very moral to pay a woman to fuck you, nor is it exactly virtuous to take money to let someone fuck you.  I’m no prude, though, it’s just kind of fucked up.

But anyway, morality aside, I don’t think that prostitution should be legalized.  How much do you think it costs to fuck one of the whores at the Mustang Ranch in Las Vegas?  If I recall a random factoid correctly, I believe it is somewhere in the thousands to actually bone her.  I think it gets in the hundreds for other various activities that don’t involve the horizontal mambo.

That in mind, why would legalizing prostitution decrease it or make it less dangerous?  People who visit prostitutes generally aren’t mega rich dudes that can afford to drop more than $100 on a piece of ass on a regular basis.  My guess is that most customers can’t afford such a steep price even ONCE.  So what does this mean?  Well, it means that there will still be tons of low-cost options available to everyone.

“But Jack, those cheap whores will still have to get checked out by the government!”  Why?  If you’re a pimp, why would you want the government sticking its nose in your already clandestine business?  You wouldn’t, so you would just stay underground out of government purview.  Think of the nightmarish headache that would have on your business.  First, you’d have to start paying taxes.  Second, you’d probably have to start getting your girls some form of healthcare insurance so they can be regularly checked out for crotch rot.

Do you honestly think that pimps are just lining up to lighten their own pockets?  They would stay underground so that they can keep prices down, because the demand for cheap meat will never go away.  Johns (I think that’s what they call customers) won’t suddenly want to drop thousands on whores just because the government tells them it’s okay.  They’ll still go to the cheap ones because, gasp, it’s cheap.

This is a lot like the logic behind legalizing drugs.  For the life of me, I can’t understand why some people think that legalizing something that has been illegal for a long time will make the problem less worse.  Legalizing prostitution would not decrease it, and it would not make it safer.  Prostitution would increase, and the problems associated with it would spread as well.  Legalizing drugs wouldn’t suddenly make current users stop using.  It would probably only increase the number of users.  Someone once suggested to me that crystal meth being sold in a Walgreens would be preferable than someone having to risk his life getting it from a dealer.  Does that honestly sound like a world you want to live in?

How about we legalize murder.  People only murder others because it’s illegal right?  Or stealing, let’s legalize that.  People only commit acts of destructive immorality because someone is telling them not to, right?

I know that some of you will point to prohibition as if that is somehow equivalent to any of this, but I can assure you that it’s not.  Alcohol was ubiquitous before prohibition, and alcohol doesn’t always lead to destruction and shit.  Prostitution is not ubiquitous and carriers a heavy stigma, and not because it’s illegal.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Herman Cain Sunk His Own Campaign

Herman Cain in pain after shooting himself in the foot.
Whatever hopes of bagging the presidential nomination Herman Cain may have had are fucking gone now.  I mean, I don’t know if he ever had much hope in the face of fundraising giants like Romney and Bachmann (shiver), or long-time veteran candidates like Ron Paul, but Cain might as well have just shoved an M80 up his ass with this one.

Cain says that US communities have the right to ban mosques.

I’m sorry to break it to you, Mr. Cain, but no they don’t.  I don’t understand what planet he lives on in which he can all at once proclaim that he’s all about freedom and the free practice of religion, and also say that we should be allowed to infringe upon others’ ability to worship freely.  Am I missing something here?

Now, a private property owner has a right to decide what is built on his property, and he or she also has a right to sell his property to whomever he desires for whatever reasons.  But a community, by law, cannot deny the construction of a structure based on its connection to a religion.  Period.

It’s just like the debate over the Muslim cultural center/mosque near ground zero: there is no real legal debate.  No law can prohibit a religious establishment from being built on private owned property.

You’ve got to be some kind of hypocrite to say that you believe in the value and efficacy of personal liberty, but then support shit that is meant to curtail personal liberties.  You’ve also got to be a complete retard to think that you’re going to win a presidential nomination by fostering bigotry and divisiveness.  With this one issue, he has single-handedly ended any real chance he ever had.  Why?  Because now every Democrat gets to say he’s a bigoted, right wing nut job.

As if being a hypocrite isn’t bad enough, he also demonstrated that the has the cognitive capacity of a walnut with his defense of this asinine notion.  He said:

"Islam is both a religion and a set of laws -- Sharia laws. That's the difference between any one of our traditional religions where it's just about religious purposes . . ."

Wow.  Really?  So that whole fucking thing in Judaism called the Torah . . . that’s not religious law?  I mean, I’m fairly sure he’s a “good” Christian, but has he ever even read the Bible?  What the hell is the Torah if it’s not instruction on how one is to live one’s life in covenant with God?  Aren’t the 10 Commandments religious law?

Look, stop being afraid of Sharia law.  It’s never, ever going to become some sort of staple of law that replaces the system of law here in America.  Yes, I know some bonehead judge in NY ruled against a raped woman because of Sharia, but I’m sure that guy got censured in some way as that is a huge break in precedent (legal precedent being the hallmark of a common law system such as ours).  But religious law cannot replace state or federal law, especially if it violates state and federal law.

And of course, Cain tried to play it off by saying that he knows most Muslims are peaceful, but we have to be careful in these tumultuous times of terrorism.  That was half-hearted at best.  Actually, it sounds more like quarter-hearted.  If he truly believed that most Muslims are peaceful then he wouldn’t have a problem with mosques being built. 

Plus, wouldn’t denying them a place to worship in a community only fuel terrorism?  Aren’t the terrorists claiming that we’re throwing down some sort of religious crusade against them and trying to destroy Islam?  Call me crazy, but saying that communities are allowed to ban mosques sort of supports that whole line of logic, even if it is untrue.

I guess some Republicans believe in freedom of religion the way the Puritans did: you’re free to be a Christian and practice religion my way, but if you don’t want to then get the fuck out.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Quick Post: Richard Cordray Appointed Head of Something

Obama made some new consumer protection agency, and he appointed former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head it up.

When asked for comment, President Obama said only "please vote for me Ohio."

I know, that last part was cynical, but do you blame me?

Dumbass Idea of the Week

So lets just walk through this one thoroughly.  A former lawyer goes out hunting, which is strike one because he wasn't allowed to own a weapon because of an aggrivated assault charge back in '85.  Then he accidentally shoots another hunter and kills him, which is retarded because the other hunter likely looked like a parking cone with the blaze orange that is required (by law I think); that's strike 2.

Strike 3 is that he didn't call for medical assistance immediately.

Strike 4 is that he also fired his shotgun so that it would be "inconsistent with the fatal wound from the rifle."

Strike 5 is that during the investigation, police discovered that this guy who wasn't even supposed to own weapons by state law owned 90 weapons and had ammo for all of them.

I think we can safely say that strike 6 is that he's a fucking moron.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We Don’t Need History for This

Socialism is failing right now?  Who knew?

I often say that history is full of examples of failed or damaging economic systems, and we should look to those examples as predictors of likely outcomes from solutions that various groups are proposing.  I can understand when people like to discount historical evidence.  It’s easy to say that the “conditions were different,” or that there are nuances that change the perspective.  But what I don’t understand is why some people ignore contemporary examples.

I’m talking about all the economic problems that many European countries are having.  I’m not going to use Greece as an example, because I think their problems are not as similar to ours as other countries may be.

I’m talking about Italy.  They’re going to pass austerity measures in the very near future because, gasp, they simply can’t sustain their social programs with such shitty growth.  I can’t speak as to why their growth sucks because I’m not an expert on economics, and I’m damn sure not an expert on Italian economics.

Italy is not in the same boat as Greece, but they have to make some cut backs as well if they’re to stay afloat.  Their plan?  Make budget cuts *and* modest tax increases to make up for the huge deficit and to begin to pay off their debt.

Italy is not the only country that has had to start cutting back on social programs.  For a few years now, France has been looking in to privatizing more of their healthcare industry because, gasp again, they simply can’t afford it on the back of the taxpayers.  Britain is in the same boat.  While they might not have been looking into privatization, they’ve been straining for money.  Healthcare providers have begged Parliament to give them more money, but Parliament refuses because that would require a tax hike on a people who are already paying very high taxes.

"A motion is now on the floor to stop sucking ass.  All in
favor . . ."
So why are Liberals ignoring this when Conservatives tell them we need to scale things back a bit?  There’s no mistake in arguing that the Democrats want the American welfare state to closely resemble that of European countries like Britain, France, and Italy.  So when we see even these countries failing to support the people on the back of the people, why do they still want it?

I’m failing to understand why some people think the solution to our economic woes is to adopt a system that is suffering even greater woes than ours.  I’ve tried to debate this very point with the folks at Crooks and Liars, and usually what I get is some dig on about how capitalism is evil and how it has destroyed all the socialist countries.  They then say that the massive bill of the social programs in Europe is not to blame, and the austerity measures are all barbaric and what not.

I’m not sure what planet they’re living on, but countries like Greece and Italy are not going to get out of their holes by borrowing more money.  Spending more money does not always equate to positive economic growth.  What they seem to not understand is that the Keynesian model might work in a vacuum, but in reality the money multiplier has proven to not work very well for countries that already have sound infrastructure.  Look at where the money multiplier theory has taken us.

Whatevs, I guess.  We’ll just have to listen to them continue to blather on about how socialism is awesome and Europe does it better, all the while knowing that they’re only executing an exercise in cognitive dissonance.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Humans are Horrifying

One thing you can count on is that there's never a shortage of stories that show just how fucked up the human race can be.

An 8 year old Hasidic boy was abducted on his way home from school the other day.  The man who abducted him cut him up into little pieces and stored them in his freezer.  The man had no priors, no criminal record, and the people that knew him thought him to be fairly normal and well adjusted.

It's a question that man has asked for time immemorial: why do humans inflict such pain on each other?  I can't answer the question except to say that he probably had a few screws loose and, until that point, did not have the opportunity to realize the darkness within.

Such horrifying acts are not monopolized by any one culture or socioeconomic status.  Humans, no matter where they live or how they live, are always going to perpetrate insanity on a level that is difficult for any normal person to understand.  Some people like to believe that it's Satan tempting us, coercing us to do evil, but people only tell themselves that so they can feel less hopeless.

The truth is that some people are just plain fucked up, and no amount of prayer or support can help them climb out from the pits of their dark hearts.  There is no evil boogeyman urging them.  What they feel inside, the urge to kill, maim, mutilate and torture their victims, is a part of who they are.  Just as some people naturally desire to do good, to be virtuous and just, others naturally desire to commit atrocities, to be licentious and destructive.  They can't help who they are.

Sure, we all have bad desires that we learn, over time, to suppress, but not everyone has an intense compulsion for those bad desires.  Not everyone has the desire to torture and murder.  Those who do have those desires weren't necessarily born that way either.  Some people develop their nefarious hungers through horrible socialization experiences.  Unfortunately, those who become the monster that man fears almost always have made that transition irreparably.  They'll never return to any semblance of human decency.

It's hard to stay hopeful when you know that madness is sometimes only a few yards from your doorstep.  Given the incredible power the brain holds over human action, it's even more disheartening to think that we might be powerless to prevent the slip into evil ourselves.  Every brain reacts to certain stimuli in a specific way, and we don't know exactly how it will react or change given circumstances of extreme conditions.  It sucks an inordinate amount of ass to think that perhaps there's a killer inside all of us, locked away in the prison of our minds just waiting for someone or something to slip him the key.

And we can't deny that we have an inclination towards violence.  Even decent, upstanding people have admitted to participating in, or at least a willingness towards, torture.  They let the killer out of the cell for an hour in the yard for some exercise.  In most cases he's probably still in shackles, but for some he's given free reign for a brief time.

My purpose in just about everything I write is to get people to look inside themselves and determine what in their lives are merely the shadows on the wall.  We all have beliefs and ideas that we hold to be true, but most people are also afraid to truly look inside and discover who they really are.  It's easier to say that "all is well," and accept the norms of socialization that have been thrust upon us.  We lie to ourselves, because the fiction is usually far more pleasant than the fact.

The fact is that there is darkness in all of us.  There are places in our mind in which we let no one tread, not even those closest to us.  Wether it be a spouse, a brother or sister, or a best friend, there are corners of our soul we keep hidden, and rightly so.  We keep the prisoner locked up because we don't want people to know he's there; we don't want others to see who we really are.

So I invite all of you to truly look inside.  You don't have to share your sentiments here, because they would almost assuredly be false.  After all, who wants everyone to think they're a potential serial killer?  No one has to know the darkness of the heart except for yourself, because recognizing that darkness is essential to full self-awareness.

If you're truly honest with yourself, you might not like what you see.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One Restaurant on Little Kids: Fuck ‘em

If this were my daughter I'd kick my own ass.
Some restaurant in Pennsylvania that’s considered “upscale casual,” recently issued a ban on children under the age of 6 within its doors.  Apparently, some of the joint’s customers were getting fed up with screaming children, so the owner said “fuck this noise,” (in not so many words) and laid out the policy.

Of course, there’s a metric fuck ton of outcry over this.  Parents are saying that they’re being discriminated against, and some people have complained that it’s wrong to deny service to rowdy children while not denying service to rowdy adults that sit at the bar.  So the question I have is two fold: is this discrimination, and are parents of the kids overreacting?

I would answer no to the first part, and possibly yes to the second part.  And mind you, this is coming from a parent of two small children; my son being 6 and my daughter 3.

This is not discrimination.  In any public place, especially those that are privately owned, there are rules of conduct and decorum that those in charge of said establishments are perfectly within their rights to create and enforce.  Are small children allowed in a court of law?  Are screaming babies allowed in office buildings or places of work?

“But Jack, those are places in which serious business is conducted.  Restaurants are places for recreation.”  That may be true, but who’s to say that places of recreation can’t have standards of conduct and decorum?

Here’s my personal sentiment on it.  I’m divorced, a single dad, and because I know that whenever I take my kids out by myself, I’m the only one that will be responsible for containing them.  If I have any inkling that my kids are going to act up and be a pain in the ass, I just simply won’t take them.  If they’re being good, and I am confident that they’ll behave, then I am more willing to take them places.

It’s all about common courtesy.  I would not appreciate sitting next to a screaming child who can’t be contained, so why would I insist on my right to subject others to that same torture?  Someone in the article mentioned that these parents who are outraged are selfish, and I’m inclined to agree.  Is going out to have a meal so important that you completely disregard the comfort and enjoyment of others?  To me, it’s not.

When you become a parent you have to make sacrifices.  One of those sacrifices is not being able to go out as often as you’d like.  Now some parents have it good: their kids are extremely well behaved in social settings.  My kids are fairly well behaved, so I don’t have a lot of trepidation taking them out.  But not all kids are like that, and if you know your kid is a god damned terror, why make others suffer?

To those parents, you know you’re in the wrong.  Would you take your screaming kid to the movie theater?  Would you take your pain in the ass child to anything that requires a calm, quiet setting?  If you’re one of the types that have no regard for others, then you likely do take your wild ass kids to places where quiet is demanded.  That is wholly selfish, and it says to me that you’re only concerned with your enjoyment.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t particularly enjoy myself when my kids are out of hand.  So why the hell would I take them out so I can have a good time when I know they will probably ruin it on that particular day?  Perhaps I think more than the average parent, but this shit seems to be common sense to me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Quick Post: Only Muslims are violent towards other religions, right?


Some Catholics in Ireland started a riot at a Protestant parade.  But I thought religious tensions and violence only existed between Muslims and Christians?  Now, my whole world-view is shattered knowing that violent tensions break out among Christians.

/end incendiary sarcasm

The Difference between Old Gamers and New Gamers

Yes, this is going to be a rant about how youngsters these days suck compared to “old timers” like myself.  I put old timer in quotes because I’m only 27, so there’s probably some explication in what constitutes an old timer in the realm of geekery and dorkishness.

If you’re old enough to remember playing Super Mario Bros. on an actual Nintendo console because that was the cutting edge at the time, then you’re an old gamer.  Although I am old enough to remember playing Atari, I don’t consider that to be a good milestone because Atari games were almost exclusively arcade style games.  Nintendo, in my opinion, formed the basis for where the gaming industry would go.

A lot of new gamers don’t appreciate SMB because it is “too easy,” or because the “graphics suck.”  I ask, do you understand how hard a game like that is to a 5 year old?  I used to help host LAN parties here in Columbus, and one idea that a friend of mine came up with was having retro challenges.  We found specific instances in old games that people would have to play and beat.

For a bunch of guys who claimed that old games were too easy, you would have thought small autistic children were trying to beat these challenges.  Most people failed miserably at these challenges.  So much for those old games being too easy.

Anyway, this is sort of the reason why new gamers suck compared to old gamers: they don’t like it when games are too difficult.

The same friend of mine that came up with the retro challenges has a policy of sorts about playing games.  He will always, from jump street, play the game on the hardest difficulty setting possible.  I’ve started doing that as well, because of course my competitive nature cannot allow him to one-up me.  I have to say, I’m the better for it.

Old salts get a lot of satisfaction out of beating a very difficult game, and that’s not the case with newer gamers.  They care more about the story experience and the graphics.  Difficulty setting is just something that gets in the way of instant gratification.  What they don’t realize, however, is that the gratification one gets from trudging through hours of frustrating failures, only to emerge triumphant, is far more satisfying than having the victory handed to you.

Don’t get me wrong: story and graphics are important.  In this day and age, a game needs to keep up with the trends of technology and push the limits of what it can visually accomplish, and it must have a compelling story that keeps the player interested.  What seems to have become an epic fail, however, is that difficulty has been thrown by the wayside, because newer gamers for some reason just can’t stand it when something is too difficult.

Some good friends of mine are newer gamers, by my definition, and they complain when games are too difficult.  We’ve already seen the ridiculous effects this has had on games these days.  It’s so ridiculous that when enough people complain, game developers actually lower the difficulty on the highest difficulty setting.

For example, the “nightmare” difficulty on Dragon Age II was literally a god damned nightmare.  One boss actually took me 3 hours to beat.  On the final attempt to fell the cock sucker, it took me 45 minutes from start to finish.  Well, people thought that nightmare mode was too hard, so the developer Bioware patched the game and made nightmare easier.  Seriously, what the fuck?

This bullshit is the norm in MMO’s, too.  These games are made so that even the biggest R-Tard can play and be “good.”  Although the communities are incredibly large, the relative ease of the games themselves attract complete morons that suck ass at even the easiest shit.  All that does is piss off old salts like me.

So the difference between old gamers and new is that old gamers have a wider range of appreciation for games.  We can recognize that graphics is not the sole determining factor in whether or not a game is “good.”  We also don’t shit on games simply because they’re “too hard.”  Games aren’t just meant for instant gratification.  They’re meant to be forms of entertainment that are engaging and require thought.

After all, if instant gratification is all you care about, then there’s always masturbation.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Top 6 TV Shows I’m Currently Hooked On

Well I can’t write about horribly important shit all the time.  I love television, and I currently have a few shows that I’m following.  This list will include mostly shows that are currently on for the summer season.  Here’s a short list of shows that I absolutely cannot do without.

6.  True Blood:  I’m going to be honest with this.  There is little reason to watch True Blood outside of all the sex that goes on.  Am I the only one that finds vampires kind of kinky?  I think not, and those of you who say I am are god damned liars.  The only draw-back for me is that there’s a lot of dude-on-dude action, which is definitely not my cup of tea.  But I think they’ve got enough girl-on-girl in order for me to forgive them.  Oh yeah, I think there’s some sort of plot-line to it, too.

True Blood airs Sunday nights on HBO at 9:00 pm EST.

5.  Anything with Gordon Ramsay:  Master Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares; I can’t get enough.  I love food, so a show that integrates competition with cooking, and then throws in an acerbic and brutally honest Briton is a winner for me.  I’m not really all about reality shows, but this one is good in my book.  I hate it when they try to throw in all the drama between the contestants because it pretty much makes them look like petulant children, but whatevs.  I love food.

Master Chef airs Monday nights on Fox at 9:00 pm EST.

4.   Breaking Bad:  Bryan Cranston plays a chemistry teacher who, when he learns he has cancer, turns to cooking crystal meth in order to not leave his family destitute from his treatment.  This is one of those truly amazing shows that never seems to fall short of the intense drama that it tries to unfold.  You see an honest and forthright man, a teacher, servant to his community, become as ruthless as the drug manufacturers that have been doing it for their entire lives.  Although Walter White (Cranston's character) is supplying super-pure meth amphetamine, you still find yoursel rooting for him, because he's the badass that every normal person hopes they can be.

Breaking Bad season 4 premiers this Sunday, July 17 at 10:00 pm EST on AMC.

3.  Falling Skies:  Wow.  This show is fairly fucking amazing, but then again just about anything that Steven Spielberg touches is amazing.  I mean think about it: a television series based on an alien invasion that destroys much of the world.  What the hell else could anyone want out of life?!  There are times where the dialogue is a bit too slow for me, and I sort of dislike how they always seem to spend the last 7 minutes of the show trying to characterize everyone’s humanity, but the show is good nonetheless.

Falling Skies airs Sunday nights at 10:00 pm  EST on TNT.

2.  Dexter:  A forensics guy who specializes in blood spatter who is also a serial killer that hunts and kills other serial killers?  Epic win.  Dexter is the type of show that is definitely not for the faint of heart.  It’s on Showtime, so it’s got a lot of artistic license to be as brutal as possible.  It’s violent, it’s witty, it’s dark, and the story arcs are always extremely well done.  Oh yeah, it’s also ridiculously suspenseful, and it’s so engaging that it’s almost impossible to not be sucked in.  The raw emotion coupled with the intense adrenaline makes this a show that everyone in the world should see.

Season 6 of Dexter should begin either this August or fall, and it airs on Showtime Sundays at 9:00 pm EST.

1.  Justified:  What is it about Timothy Oleyphant and being a badass lawman?  Well, whatever it is, he pulls it off.  I first got hooked to his work as an actor on the HBO series Deadwood.  He played a former US Marshal turned sheriff in the Wild West, and on Justified he plays a US Marshall in Kentucky.  In Deadwood, his character was seething with anger and frustration, but he didn’t kill a single soul (that was his actual historical claim to fame), but in Justified he’s the exact opposite: very soft spoken, but he kills a ton of people.  The dialogue is rarely ever boring, and his character Raylan Givens is the quintessential good guy that you love to root for.

Justified should return next May, 2012 I think for its third season, and airs on FX.