Friday, September 30, 2011

A World Without War and Other Asinine Ideas

It's not that I think a world without war would be a bad thing, it's just that I think the notion of humanity living in peace on this planet is pretty damn far fetched.

Generally, the reasons that man has gone to war over are pretty stupid when you think about it.  We kill each other over interpretations of and idea that is imperceivable to man (God).  We've slaughtered each other over the right to own slaves.  We've even gone to war to stop a country from choosing its own form of government, just to satisfy some antiquated policy notion of "containment (Vietnam).

Don't get me wrong, though: every person has a right to defend themselves and what belongs to them.  So it's not as if all wars have been completely unjustified.  Unfortunately, the whole question of "what belongs to whom," is where matters start to get out of hand.  If some clown thinks he can stroll in to my home and just help himself to whatever he wants because he's more racially pure, or because God told him he could, or because it's just natural that he get my stuff, then that fool is going to have a fight on his hands.

When you understand war in its historical context, the whole idea seems absolutely insane.  I guess it's less ridiculous prior to, say the 14th Century, but when you think about war in the modern era it just boggles the mind.  For about 500 years now, humans have largely considered war to be just another step in the international political process.

You go to the negotiating table, make your demands, try to bob and weave without looking like too much of a jackass.  When talking doesn't work?  Well, you resort to sending wave after wave of your people at each other as little more than meat shields until one side can't take the horror anymore.

In normal one-on-one human interaction, a situation that breaks out into a fist fight is generally considered to be faux pas by today's standards.  When a brawl goes down, everyone has the mind set that one or both of the parties became unreasonable at some point and just couldn't resolve things like a rational person.  For so long, this was considered an acceptable outcome for international disputes.

Knowing just how irrational human beings can be, seeing that we can bring unbridled death and destruction upon our own race, it's fairly pie-in-the-sky to think that there will ever be any sort of real peace.  We'd have to be a society akin to Brave New World in order for the violence to stop, and I don't think that's an existence anyone in their right mind would want.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Shit We Take for Granted

One thing I've noticed about America is that we've turned into a culture of whiners.  Any time the status quo is even slightly deviated from, there's usually a large group of people that get super pissed off about it and start raisin a rucous.

Sure, unemployment is high, and the economy sucks a lot of ass, but can we really whine all that much about it?  First, let's take the notion of poverty for instance.  What we consider to be "poverty," in America is not what real poverty is.  We have a "poverty line," an income at which people are considered to be living in poverty, or poor, or whatever the fuck we want to call it.

How laughable is that shit?

In other countries, there's no "poverty line," because poverty means that you actually have virtually no income whatsoever.  In places like Liberia, which is widely considered to be quite literally the worst place in the world, poverty means you eat only what you can steal or barter for with sex, and you're likely living in a card board box on a disease ridden street.

Poverty, in many places on this planet, means that you are very likely to die from disease or starvation.  It means that you have to slowly watch your children die from starvation or malnutrition because there's no such thing as food stamps or wellfare to save them.  it seems fairly fucking silly to me that we tell people here in America who still have roofs over their heads and food on their tables that they're living in poverty simply because they have to forego a few creature comforts.

I know that there are people in America that are actually living in real poverty, and I know that families who live near or below the poverty line are struggling quite a bit, but lets not pretend like poverty in America means the same as poverty in a 3rd world country.

We also bitch and moan whenever our freedom of speech is curtailed even slightly, and even in cases where it's probably best that people be told to sit down and shut the fuck up.  Now don't get me wrong, we should always be vigilant against people trying to stifle free speech.  But what pisses me off is when people haul off and call the government "Fascist," or "tyrants," for minor shit.  The people who pretend like they're so repressed because they were told that they should be polite and respect others should go try this same shit somewhere else.

Recently in Bahrain, a protester was sentenced to death.  A bunch of medical professionals who provided medical care to injured protesters were all handed prison sentences.  What do you think happened to protesters and dissidents in Saddam's Iraq, or Ghadaffi's Libya?  What do you think happens to people who oppose the Chinese regime?

Everyone should count their lucky fucking stars that they live in a country that is so wealthy that our "poor," are people who still collect pay checks, that we live in a place so free that we're allowed to say any number of hateful and vitriolic things about our government and leaders without fear of ending up in a rape prison.

So while we bitch and moan and pretend that the next election is going to inevitably destroy the country (that's pointed at Liberals and Conservatives alike) how about we actually take the time to appreciate what we have compared to the rest of the planet.  America is really not that bad of a place, and we should stop taking for granted all the fruits of liberty and prosperity we enjoy every day.

And really, anyone reading this should doubly thank their maker, because by reading this that means you:

1.  Have enough money to afford internet and a computer.

2.  Have enough leisure time to listen to some blowhard rant about people being ungrateful.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In Re "Having a Gay Old Time"

What's wrong with Richard Simmons?  Nothing.
Harrison had a ridiculously awesome article today at Capitol Commentary about a kid who was suspended from school because he said in class "I think homosexuality is morally wrong."  Apparently, that's how the kid worded it.  He didn't haul off and say "I think faggots are going to hell," or anything like that.  Apparently, the kid was directing it towards someone he considered to be his friend.  His teacher heard it, started yelling, and the kid was given an in-school suspension.

Harrison gave a very good argument in support of the notion that being gay is not morally wrong.  He said here
Although I’m not gay, I’ve come to believe that being that way is not a choice. As I pointed out in my comment on Matt’s article, I’m left handed. It would go against my Nature to try and become right handed. I’ve experimented with being right handed but it was too difficult and my heart wasn’t in it so I continue to favor my left hand when I reach for a writing instrument.
That's probably one of the best arguments I've heard for the morality of homosexuality, and I couldn't have said it more succinctly myself.  Where I diverge with Harrison is on his conclusion that it was the right thing to do to suspend the kid.  Harrison posits that what the kid said amounts to bullying.  I disagree with this on a few levels.

First, the idea that this is bullying I think is a bit much.  There's plenty of things about human nature that we can say are morally wrong.  How about pre-marital sex?  Sexual intercourse is a natural part of being a human (or any animal for that matter), and marriage is a completely made-up social construct.  Some people think pre-marital sex is immoral, and would we think them bullies if they expressed that sentiment? 

The next level I disagree with this on is, of course, the freedom of speech thing.  We allow some horrifying things to be said, far worse than what this kid said.  How can we honestly persecute a kid for expressing a moral conviction that he holds based on his religious beliefs, especially if that conviction is about the morality of something?  It's not like he said "I think killing babies in the name of God is a good thing."

This whole ordeal represents a breakdown in communication, and it's a huge failure on the part of the teacher and the school.  Do we honestly think that this kid is going to suddenly start thinking that homosexuality is okay just because he was punished for thinking it's wrong?  This kid won't change, and if there was ever a chance for him to change his mind it's gone now.

This was a moment where the teacher should have engaged the student in reasoned dialogue.  Teenagers are impressionable, so it's likely that at least a calm discussion could have at least got the kid to start actually thinking for once in his life and maybe change his mind.  Now, the kid and his parents likely think that he's just doing God's work, that he's being persecuted for his Christian beliefs.  They'll go on thinking that he stood his moral ground for the Lord.

Suspending this kid was entirely counter-productive and contrary to everything we believe in.  We can consider ourselves Enlightened individuals if we believe that school is not a place to discuss such major philosophical and moral issues.  Shouldn't the purpose of American education be to expand the world-view of young minds?  I certainly don't think the purpose is to get people to shut their mouths for fear of punishment.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dumbass Idea of the Week

Larry Flynt offers $1 million to anyone who can somehow procure evidence that Gov. Rick Perry has had an illicit sexual relationship.  He wants to "embarrass," Gov. Perry.

Hmm, this all coming from a guy whose speech is slurred and can't even stand up for himself.  I know, that was pretty low making fun of a crippled dude, but when you're calling for the defamation of character on a person simply because his political views go against yours, you sort of waive the right to a fair fight.

It's okay, though.  I'm sure Larry is a stand-up guy who can rise to the occasion of any challenge.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why True Blood is Better than Twilight

"Oh, brood and swoon I will love her forever!  But she also wants to do some werewolf guy.  Woe is me!"  And then there's the chick, "zomg my life sucks because I want to love this vampire guy forever, but I also kinda dig dark meat, so I don't know if I want to do vampire dude or fuck the dog guy.  Brood!"
Now, normally in life these sort of situations would be charged with emotion.  The only emotion these retards seem to express is some sort of brooding, woe-is-me bullshit.  It's so childish and adolescent that it makes me want to puke my fucking guts out.  As fate would have it, this movie seems to attract men and women of all ages which is sad, because that means there are millions of people out there who are too desensitized to shitty film-making to realize that the emotional level of the whole damn thing is akin to a 16 year old girl who can't decide whether to fuck the bad-boy outcast or the football captain.

Allow me to compare the acting in this film to another film.  I watched X-Men: First Class this weekend, and I must say I was very, very satisfied after having watched it.  Michael Fassbender is the acting center-piece of the whole film.  When you watch him on the screen as Magneto, you truly get the sense that he is a main who is tortured by his past.  You feel his pain seething inside him, and you truly get the sense that his rage and vengefullness have blackened his heart forever.

Yet he's simultaneously charismatic and warm to some people.  You really do believe the friendship between he and Charles Xavier.  Compare Fassbender's performance to Kristin Stewart's on Twilight, and you'll see that one of the actors is simply in an entirely different league.

Enter HBO's True Blood.  This is a vampire show that pulls no punches about the nature of the creatures we know as vampires.  As I've mentioned in a previous post, the show is incredibly gritty.  There's a lot of murder and blood, and there's sex around every corner.

But that's the point: vampires are supposed to be creatures who, at the core of their nature, are violent and sexual.  They represent everything that lies deep within the human psyche, the urges that we know are inside of us but those that most people are able to restrain or supress altogether.  Why do we suppress those urges and desires?  Because we know that there are negative consequences attatched to them.  Vampires don't have those consequences attatched.  Because of the powers in their mythos, they're able to act with near impunity.  Vampires are humans without boundaries, and that's what True Blood tries to portray.

Sure, we could say that the two series are trying to accomplish different things, but they're close enough that we can still compare them.  Both stories involve some sort of love interest shit, love triangles, confused emotions and whathaveyou.  The difference is that Twilight places that situation within the context of a sort of "clean" love, or "true" love, love that seems to transcend sexuality.  But True Blood portrays love in all its messiness.  It doesn't ignore the fact that sexuality, desire, and hunger, often taint that fickle emotion we call love.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Putin to run for president again . . . man this seems familiar

That, my friends, is the face of a stone-cold killah.
Okay seriously, I can't be the only one that sees something a little bit wrong with this.  Putin was duly elected some years ago for president, and then when he gave it up he moved to the position of prime minister.  Everyone seemed to think that was shady, and that Medvedev was more or less just someone keeping the seat warm.

Putin has, in effect, been in control for about 12 years now, and since he's running for president again, it looks as though he might maintain that control for some time.  Oh, and if this wasn't shady enough, Medvedev will supposedly take over the position of prime minister.

I read a book once called The Return of History and the End of Dreams by Robert Kagan.  One of the things he talks about is how Russia has been going backwards since Putin took office.  Yeltsin did a lot to try to bring Russia into the modern era of democracy, but it seems that Putin has returned Russia to some of its old characteristics.  He senses that the Russian people are still nationalist at heart, and he gives them that.  With the fall of the Soviet Union, the nations of the world were supposed to unite for the sole cause of human freedom and dignity.

Well, Putin has gone back from that, as Russia seems as solitary and uninterested in common goals as ever.  Despite globalization and the idea that the world only propsers so long as everyone holds up their end of the bargain, we still have nations that would rather just come out on top.  I think it's foolish to think that any of the superpowers of the world--Russia, China, and yes even the United States--actually buy into the idea that there shouldn't be any dominant force on the planet.

China has been trying to dominate the US economically for the past 30 years.  Russia has been playing the geopolitical game even since the fall of the Soviet Union.  And then look at us.  We've got the most powerful military the world has ever known, and yet we continue to make advancements and expand our fighting force.  Apparently, we understand that when push comes to shove, the top dog on the block is the one with the deadliest fucking bite.

A world progressing towards increased liberty, one in which the superpowers of the planet work to achieve that most supreme goal of humanity, is probably just an illusion.  At the end of the day, humanity cannot seem to overcome its desire and lust for power.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Yes, drug cartels will play nice, and Michael Moore will convert to Conservatism

Yeah, guys like Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez just SCREAM
honest businessman . . .
I've written a couple of articles about how I think ending the War on Drugs and legalizing drugs will not solve any problems.  In those articles, one of the main premises that I hit on was the fact that doing so will do nothing to end the violence.

Many scoffed at me, thinking that the forces of free-market capitalism would prevail and coerce the cartels into playing fair and nice because it would be more profitable.  I think someone made the point that it would be more difficult for them to be all illicit because of increased government oversight and regulation and what not.

I thought to myself, "well I guess it makes some sort of sense.  Why be violent when you can do business in the light of day and turn a profit?"

Actually, it's the very capitalistic notion of competition that would keep things unchanged.  Let's take something like crystal meth for example.  It's something that anyone can make in their own home.  Pharmaceutical companies could make some seriously pure shit easily, sell it, and make a profit.  How do you think a cartel would respond to that sudden intrusion on their territory?

If you have heard anything about the Zetas down in Mexico, you would easily see how they handle competition.  Just the other day, Zeta gunmen unloaded 35 murdered bodies onto a Mexican highway, blocking traffic.  How many of those guys do you think were caught?  So far, zero.  And it's not like the police and Mexican army don't know who to go after.  Sure they get some of the high level guys, but is that really stopping them?

And what would government regulation really do to stop them from killing people to remove their competition?  I mean, right now they face the full force of government regulation.  A lot of these guys are wanted DOA, so what difference would it really make?

"Well, Jack, their product would be banned on the markets if their business practices are illegal."  Yeah, just like it's banned on the market right now?  Do you really think bombing factories and slaughtering workers would be beneath the cartels?  They have no problem throwing severed heads into water fountains in broad day light, and you think the forces of capitalism are somehow going to make them toe the line?

The people involved in the drug trade are monsters.  If drugs are legalized, they're not going to start coming out of the woodwork and into the sunlight just to start legitimate businesses.  They know that if they did, they'd be arrested and likely executed for all the horror they have wrought.  If drugs are legalized, the cartel people will stay underground and increase the brutality and scale of their crimes in order to scare off anyone from encroaching on their business.

Afterall, if they were reasonable men to begin with, they wouldn't treat mass murder as a legitimate business practice.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What "Justice" Has Come to Mean

Upon further review I realized that the message here is out
of context of the entire article . . . but it references prison rape
so it was an automatic winner.
Ted over at Country Thinker wrote a really revealing article yesterday about a woman who was sued by her children literally for being a bad mother.  What I like about Country Thinker is that Ted is a former lawyer, so he's got some incredibly valuable insight to our legal system.

I remember reading about this story a couple of months ago and getting pissed off about it.  It's pretty fucking ridiculous that kids can sue their parents for being "bad parents."  Maybe if the parents were abusive and like nearly beat them to death every day I could possibly understand that, but other than that what constitutes a bad parent?

That question is far too subjective for the law to answer.  So long as you're not causing your children any actual emotional or physical harm deliberately then it's really no one's business how you raise your kids.  When my brothers and I got older, my mom had to start beating us with implements to punish us.  She was a single mom, and we were healthy boys, so her spankings eventually stopped inflicting any meaningful pain.  By today's standards, mainstream douchebags would probably condemn her and bring her up on child abuse charges.  Apparently I should be suing her?

But then there's the fact that the way she raised us made us all turn out pretty damn well.  Sure, my brothers and I can be dumbasses at times and make some bad decisions, but who the hell doesn't?  Did I get hammered drunk a week ago because mommy beat me with a ping-pong paddle?  I dunno, maybe?  But probably not.

As if the lawsuit even happening wasn't retarded enough, we have to look at the legal shit that makes the situation even more horrifying.  This woman has spent the last two years in fucking litigation.  Christ only knows what sort of ridiculous legal fees she's racked up with all of this.  A case like this should have been dismissed immediately, especially given the fact that the lawyer for the kids is their own father . . . her ex-husband.

So what the fuck has the legal system become in this country?  What's more, what has this done to the definition of justice?  I can tell you one thing: justice in America doesn't seem to have anything to do with everyone getting what they deserve, and even less to do with harmony.  Justice has been perverted to mean that everyone should try to squeeze as much blood and money out of their offenders as possible, even if the offense is trivial.

Also out of context, but awesome.
It also means that we have in place a legal system that is so complicated that it's nearly impossible for anyone to fully comprehend unless you make it your life's work (ie. become a lawyer).  Our processes are so inundated with rules and procedures that people like this woman get screwed even if the case ends up getting dismissed.

I side with Ted on the notion that the American legal system has become a racket.  The legal system is regulated by lawyers, so is it any wonder that it's inefficiencies are insanely profitable to them?  I mean sure, lawyers have to eat and be able to pay back their huge student loan debt, but should it be done on the backs of people like this woman just because her kids are ungrateful?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dumbass Idea of the Week

When you think of Top 10 lists, what comes to mind?  Top 10 Restaurants of the world?  One of Letterman's Top 10 lists?  Maybe even the top 10 greatest films of all time.

Well, this article in Reuters thought the next best top 10 list should cover the best toilets in the world.

Yes.  Toilets.  So I submit to you the link to quite possibly one of the worst top 10 lists in all of human history.  Humanity should be proud of such an achievement . . .

Top 10 Toilets of the World

This toilet is actually a registered sex offender . . .

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Let's Make Life Taste Like Shit

Eating healthy doesn't always taste like shit.  There's plenty of "healthy options" (I fucking loathe terms like that, btw) that have some good flavor.  I'm getting a little bothered though that all sorts of restaurents are being pressured into having healthy options.

"Jack, you asshat, people need to have healthy options these days, what with the rise in obesity and obesity related conditions in America!"  Don't think that I'm saying living a healthy lifestyle is all bunk.  I'm not one of those who will shit on the way someone lives their life.  In fact, a good friend of mine has committed himself to eating a very healthy diet, and he's even recently gone vegetarian for health reasons.  I applaud that kind of stuff.

But why are we telling restaurants that they need to shape up?  Michelle Obama recently "applauded," Olive Garden and Red Lobster for pledging to include healther options on their menus.  I find that kind of sad, to be honest.

Hear me out.

Why did people used to cook with straight pig fat?  Well, that's because pig fat tastes fucking amazing.  One time I had these incredibly thick pork ribs.  These fuckers must have come from like a genetically enhanced super-pig, because they were god damned gargantuan.  Anywho, there was so much meat on it that the layer of pork fat was about an inch thick.  Some of you might be thinking "eww, gross," but let me tell you: you could barely tell the difference between the meat and the fat.

There are so many things out there that have amazing tastes, and some people seek to limit their use or eliminate them altogether from our diets.  Let's take Olive Garden for example.  I happen to know the recipe for their alfredo sauce, and I can actually do a decent job at making it from scratch and have it not taste like ass.  The recipe calls for whole whipping cream and six, count 'em six, egg yolks.  That's heart-attack-on-a-plate material right there.

Because of the ingredients, it has a richness and a flavor that a healther alfredo sauce just doesn't have.  Could you imagine cutting back on the butter in shrimp scampi?  These meals are insanely unhealthy, but holy shit do they taste good.  The thing is, however, is that although it's noble to try to get people to eat healthier, there are plenty of people out there who indulge in these decadent meals and still maintain a perfect bill of health.

I mean, look at our grandparents for Christ sake.  They grew up on cooking their foot in straight cooking lard.  They salted the piss out of their food, and they deep fried shit in peanut oil or whatever is unhealthier than canola.  I've only had one of my grandparents die before the age of 85, and that's because he smoked like a chimney and wrecked the shit out of his lungs.  Hell, all three of the great-grandparents that I knew all lived over the age of 93.

We have to realize that everyone's physiology is different, and just because some people's bodies don't handle unhealthy foods as well as others doesn't mean that we need to make everyone eat healthy all the time.  As with anything in life, the key is moderation.

I don't think this is some grand conspiracy to sterilyze life or anything, but it kinda makes me worry that this would be the outcome.

Friday, September 16, 2011

When will they get the point?

Initiation in the House is getting a little bit out
of hand these days . . .
So during the midterm elections, the Republican Party put quite a shalacking on the Democrats by gaining a good majority in the house.  Just the other day, 2 vacant seats, one of which long held by Democrats, were filled with Republicans.  What will the Democrats say?

I'm sure they'll say that this is all meaningless, that the American people still believe in whatever horseshit the Democrats have been shovelling.

What makes me mad is how much politicians love to pretend like the popular will means nothing.  The Republicans could have a 400 person majority in the House and Democrats would still say "well, it's just because all the Progressives didn't get out to vote . . ."

The course the Republicans took us on from 2000-2008 was clearly a bad course.  The course the Democrats have led us on in the last 3ish years has been pretty bad, too.  So how about we take a cue from that and come up with a different plan?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why do something that's immoral?

I had an interesting conversation with a good friend of mine last night about the subject of morality, and how my moral compass has changed over the years.

I recently came to the realization that I am more comfortable with being immoral than I used to be.  It's not that I don't have a moral compass anymore, but perhaps it's more that I've been desensitized somehow to things that would normally give me pause.  Of course there are things that I would still never do: I'd never betray a friend, nor would I do anything to seriously harm another person.  But there are some things that I formerly would never do, but now it doesn't bother me.

I still recognize the intellectual fact that these things are immoral.  I'm not the type that tries to rationalize what I do so that I can sleep at night.  Maybe that's a bad thing, because I can do something that I know is immoral but still sleep at night.

Lets take downloading music for free as an example.  Back when Napster first came out I was all about ripping music off of it.  I can understand the fact that it is akin to stealing, because if I want to own the music for myself then I should probably pay the people who made it.  But did it bother me at all?  Hell no.  Actually, when Lars the douche from Metallicrap worked to make Napster a paid service, I was pretty damn upset about it.

"So you think morality is subjective," he asserted.  I don't think so.  I still recognize universal morals and the objectivity of morality.  Your own guilt and shame has nothing to do with your morals.  How many of you drive over the speed limit every day?  How many of you feel bad about it?  You've broken the law, and generally breaking the law is immoral.

So why do something that you know is immoral?  Well, probably because in some cases you'd rather fulfill your desire rather than adhere to the moral standard attatched to it, especially when the consequences of violating said standard are fairly low.

But aren't people supposed to become more entrenched in their morality as the years go on?  Why is it that some people stick to their guns more as age comes, yet others go backwards?  Perhaps the better question is why do something moral in an immoral world?  How moral can we really be when this existence doesn't always allow us to be?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Confessions of a Ganker

If someone like this appeared next
to you, there was a good chance
you were fucked . . .
I should probably be somewhat ashamed to admit this, but I'm not.  For about 9 months I played World of Warcraft.  I might have admitted that before, but whatevs.

I played WoW mostly because a friend of mine begged me to.  Well, once I learned that I could gank people at will, I suddenly became more interested.  For those of you who may not know, ganking refers to killing another player while they are trying to quest or something.

Naturally, I played a rogue.  Stealth, burst damage, almost your worst nightmare.  Some of my friends can attest to the fact that I was a giant douche bag in terms of ganking, as I was fairly good at it depending on whom I went up against.  I got fairly fucked up with my tactics.  I've been known to stay stealthed near mineral nodes, waiting for some unsuspecting bastard to come mine it, only to blow my dps load all over his face.

At one point, I would go trolling in a place called the Elementium Depths, because there were a lot of quests there as well as mineral nodes and NPCs that would make life harder for people.  When that got boring, or less fruitful, I would go to their towns and kill their griffon masters (the guys that allowed them to fast travel).  I'd get about 10 people stuck in one spot at a time.

Why the hell did I do this?

Well, I did get quite a bit of satisfaction out of it, especially when the person getting ganked would jump on his alt character in my faction to yell at me.  It didn't really bother me that much whenever I got ganked.  I mostly only got mad if I couldn't beat the guy.  I always welcomed the challenge, and I asked for help from my friends if I couldn't get out.

I guess I enjoyed it because I know the game wasn't very important to me, but that it was important to most of the people who played.  I guess it makes me somewhat of a bad person, the fact that I enjoy inflicting discomfort and suffering upon other humans.  But can you blame me when it's so much fun?

I plan on doing the same thing in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  The best part is that we know Star Wars fans are always hard core, so ruining it all for them will be even sweeter.  Don't like it?  Don't play on a PvP server =p

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reboot Retardation

Seriously, whoever thought it a good idea to apply the term "reboot," to movies should probably be publicly flawed.  I feel like once that idea caught on, it was as if all the horseshit ideas of the movie industry had been loosed upon the world.

Let's get one thing straight first: there's a difference between a remake and a reboot.  Remakes are okay.  True Grit was recently remade, and it was alright.  Remakes are just taking the same movie and doing it over again.  I'm not really sure why people do that either, but it's less aggregious than a reboot.  The reboot is basically saying that someone fucked up the movie and now, for whatever reason, someone else needs to take over and do it over.

Spider-Man is getting a reboot.  Apparently there is talk of Point Break getting a reboot.  It's getting so out of hand that Superman has been rebooted, and now there's a reboot of the reboot.


I suppose that it makes sense.  Sam Rami did such a terrible job with the third installment of Spider-Man.  Fanboys all over the planet, myself included, simultaneously splooged in their pants when they heard that Venom was going to be in the film.  We were all majorly let down by a completely ridiculous and lack-luster performance from Topher Grace.  It probably wasn't the actor's fault, as an actor can only do so much with what he's given.

Sometimes reboots are good.  Look at Christopher Nolan's reboot of Batman.  The Joel Schumacher installments of the caped crusader films were horrifying, so could Batman really just be left at that?  It would be like having your dog run over in the street in front of your house and insisting on letting its rotting corpse sit in the street in front of your house; all the while, you could get someone to clean it up and get a new dog.

Should Batman have been left to rot in the street?  Seeing how amazing Nolan's Batman films are, I think it's safe to say that it was a good decision to reboot Batman.

Also getting rebooted.  Why?
This can't be said for every reboot, though.  I think it's more offensive when they reboot a reboot, or a film that was just recently made.  I get the feeling, however, that perhaps Hollywood is just running out of fresh, compelling new ideas.

Why come up with an original film when you can just reboot something?  Why create an interesting new premise when you can just attempt to redo something that's already been done?  And of course, they'll keep doing it because most people lap this shit up like mother's milk.  They expect everyone to just forget about the failures and latch on to something that hopefully achieves something good.

I think, perhaps, producers, directors, and actors should just focus on making good movies the first time around, then maybe we wouldn't have to worry about ridiculous reboots.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dumbass Idea of the Week

Not having any experience at this, my guess is that when you're trying to rob someone it would be a good idea to be menacing.  You'd want to make your victim feel afraid that he or she will lose their life should they not comply with your demands.

So it baffles my mind, at least, that a man would try to rob a convenience store dressed as Gumby.  Apparently, the robbery failed because his Gumby hands were too big to fit into his pocket and take out his gun.

Aside from the fact that he dressed up like Gumby, this whole ordeal makes little logical sense.  It would be a one-shot deal, as it would be all over the news to look out for a dude dressed as Gumby.  Late-night convenience store clerks beware: Gumby is still at large.

Perhaps he was just getting really tired of having sex with Pokey and just wanted some cash to pick up a real trick off a street corner.  It's a funny world we live in.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Dick Cheney, Go Away

Anyone that bears a freakish resemblance to a Batman
villain should never be taken seriously.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Dick Cheney is an incredibly irrelevant character in our political world.  He was irrelevant as a VP, and he's even more irrelevant now.

What I can't stand is when people don't see their own irrelevance.  He was incredibly unpopular as far as vice presidents go, and we have to assume that he knows that.  I mean really, how many Republicans even liked him?  He was a liability, what with his heart problems and shooting people, and now he wants to assume some sort of commentary position.

Does he really think that people put any sort of stock in anything he says?  He wrote a book recently in which he accused Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice of saying things that both parties deny were ever said.  Who should America trust on that: Colin Powell, the hero general who has served his country honorably for years, or Darth Cheney, some old bastard who is totally fine with torture?

John Adams got much of the same treatment after his political career.  Hell, even Gordon S. Wood, one of my favorite American Revolution historians, said that Adams was irrelevant at times.  But at least Adams expressed something efficacious about American government and politics.  He was out of touch with popular sentiment, but I think that Adams was aware of that.

I can't say for sure that Cheney thinks this, but he seems to believe that he's actually expressing the popular will.  Adams was cantankerous and crotchety because he knew no one was listening to him.  Every time Cheney appears on some news interview shit, he's got some horrifying grin, the only kind that comes from some sense of satisfaction.

It could just be that he's happy to finally be able to speak his mind without fear of reprisal.  Even so, I find it ridiculous that he even does so.  I'm not sure if the simple fact that he is irrelevant is annoying, or if it's the possibility that he doesn't realize it.  I mean, who gives a fuck if he thinks Hillary Clinton should run for president.  We know he only wants her to because he thinks it would hurt Obama.

Not only is he irrelevant, but he's a giant douche that no one should trust any farther than they can throw him.  Please, Dick, crawl back under your rock.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How Far Does Freedom of Thought Really Go?

George Orwell: Probably one of the last
human beings that truly valued freedom
of thought.
I guess I took an extended Labor Day in terms of posting, and for that I'm sorry.  I'm sure that my male readers enjoyed the Labor Day post, though, so we all got something out of it.

Anywho, I read an article yesterday over at one of my favorite blogs, Western Hero, authored by Silverfiddle.  The gist of it is that it's pretty ridiculous that many Liberals think that the likes of Gov. Perry of Texas and Michele Bachmann are trying to institute a Christian theocracy, or they at least would desire such a thing to pass.

Maybe, deep down, Bachmann and Perry would love such a thing to happen, but Silverfiddle is right in suggesting that this is just another cook conspiracy theory, and although we should always be vigilant against the possibility of people trying to infringe on our liberty, we should likely just discard this theory.

I got to thinking about this, though, especially considering the whole blogosphere thing.  The question I asked to Silver on his blog is do we actually want diversity of thought?

"Of course we do, Jack!  Diversity of thought is the cornerstone of liberty!  We don't want to be mindless automaton drones!"  Is that really true?

Why do most people even engage in argument or debate?  Why do we weirdoes of the blogosphere even bother writing our shit allover the internet?  Is it because we truly want to explore and discover Truth?  I think some people do, but my guess is that most people secretly want everyone to think like them.

I know, I have a pretty shitty opinion of human nature, but I think this is generally true.  We all want to feel like we're right, like our beliefs are vindicated.  Humans naturally have an urge to understand the world around them, and there's little else that causes greater satisfaction than thinking that you finally understand something.  Usually, the more complex the thing we're trying to know, the greater the satisfaction we feel once we've figured it out.

That's probably why most people get all pissy whenever someone challenges them on this stuff.  No one likes to feel like they're wrong, so no one likes to be told that they're wrong.  What's more, no one likes to admit when they're wrong.  So when presented with facts or ideas that show what they believe to be fallacious, most people would just rather continue to argue whatever the hell it is they believe and try to convince you that you are fucked up.

We want everyone to think like us, because we enjoy the solidarity of having a common understanding.  It feels good when you're surrounded by like-minded people.  You connect with them and feel a bond with them.  We're social animals, as Aristotle said, and we feel most human and fulfilled in society with other humans.  So why would we logically want to be in a society where we all piss each other off because we can't agree on everything?

I think most people would just rather that we all think alike.  Although I love argument and debate because it is a learning experience (for me at least), deep down I do wish that people would think as I do, or at least admit that I'm right about some things.

Life would certainly be easier if everyone would just agree on everything, and we know the price that we have to pay for freedom of thought.  Some of us say that it's well worth the price, but I wonder how many of us actually mean it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

Enjoy the day off.  I know I will. 

This girl exemplifies America's nose-to-the-grindstone
work ethic . . . and the fact that many of us are pervs.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Classical Music Sunday Getting Shit On

Today I was going to post something about another amazing composer, Webern.  But as I was listening to his work trying to decide which one to post and talk about, a friend of mine sent me a youtube link to the following song:

Fuck me, Ray Bradbury by Rachel Bloom.  Warning: not censored for language.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Star Wars: A Modern Cultural Phenomenon

Although I'm not the type that dresses up and goes to convetions, and nor did I ever sit in line waiting for the midnight showing of any of the re-releases or the prequels, I do consider myself to be a fairly avid Star Wars fan.  I wasn't even alive for the release of the original film, yet I still get a sense of nostalgia when I think back to the first time I ever saw it as a child.

some 30 years later, Star Wars is still one of the best known movies ever made.  Lets consider some of the greatest movies of all time to Star Wars.  Citizen Kane, widely considered to be quite possibly the greatest film of all time, is still nowhere near as popular as Star Wars.  How many people have actually seen Citizen Kane?  Not me.  It's not that I have an aversion to it, I have just never seen it.

From one low-budget film with no-name actors in the late 70s sparked a huge fucking cultural phenomenon that has endured for the last 30 years.  From George Lucas' original A New Hope, we've got 5 other films, countless books and video games, and there's an entire history behind the Star Wars universe that is both compelling and rich (Ron Burgundy).

But why has it marked Western culture so profoundly?  I think it's because the entire series hits the audience on so many thematic levels that it's difficult to not be enchanted by it.  It's sort of amazing that Lucas was able to tell three stories so masterfully.  For the sake of argument, and because the prequels cause so much heated debate, we'll only consider the original three films in this analysis.

There's three main stories being told in the first Trilogy.  First we have the story of Luke Skywalker, an 18 year old farm boy on a remote desert planet who is suddenly thrust into some seriously fucked up situations.  He's whiney and annoying at first, but because of everything going on around him, he has to grow up a lot in a very short period of time.

"This is certainly the strangest dildo I've ever seen . . ."
Then we have the story of Darth Vader.  At first he is portrayed as the Emperor's evil servant, whose purpose is only to serve the will of his master.  Later we discover that he was once a Jedi himself, and turned to the Dark Side of the Force, betraying his master Obi-Wan Kenobi and destroying the Jedi order.  Vader is a tragedy, a story of how far a human can fall, only to still be able to regain his humanity at the end of things and redeem his soul.

And finally we have the meta-story, the struggle of a band of rebels against an empire that has an iron grip on all life.  We see the struggle for peoples to be free while their opressors seek to sterylize everything and to destroy any aspect of joy or color that life may hold.

We all know the stories, but those stories are why Star Wars has endured for so long.  They represent parts of our lives that we've all experienced.  We all remember how it first felt to go out into the world at the age of 18, to be on your own and to have to learn how to navigate the dangers and complexities of life.  We all know what it's like to give in to our desires and to feel like everything is hopeless but to serve some master, whether that master be a shit job or our own licentiousness.  And every day humanity struggles to maintain its identity, to be free and happy in the face of tyrants who would dehumanize us.

Star Wars captures the entirety of the human experience in an extremely entertaining way, and although the story telling itself is rustic and simplistic at times, there is so much content underneath the surface that the films remain rewarding experiences forever.

One of the most iconic scenes in any film in history
deserves respect and reverence, so I will refrain from
making a crass caption.
I find it amazing that one man's vision for a movie can mark humanity so profoundly for so long.  We should count ourselves lucky that such awesomeness can be created from the human mind.

(For those of you who enjoy Star Wars and some of the philosophical implications of the universe, I strongly urge you to look into the Knights of the Old Republic lore.  It's amazing, and it fleshes out some of the finer intellectual points behind the universe of the original films.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Do you feel like shit or just look like it?

There's a lot of people who say that America has lost its moral center, and that we're a country of depraved heathens with no moral compasses.  Although many people who say this are the super-duper, Bible Thumping, Evangelical-type Christians who think that Christianity is the only way any morality can be achieved, they're sort of on to something.

I don't think America is facing a moral crisis so much as an ethical crisis, and it comes from the transformation of our culture from a shame society to a guilt society.

For those who don't know the difference, here comes the explication.  A shame society is much like America and the rest of the world was in the 18th Century.  Your actions, and your sense of right and wrong, were based on how people perceived you.  Your personal honor actually meant something.  The implication was that a man of honor would not do anything that would bring shame upon himself or his family.  There are some things that we consider to be "wrong," that are not necessarily illegal: drinking in excess (so long as you don't hurt anyone), insulting someone, or committing adultery for example.  A gentleman would not do these things lest his reputation suffer.

In a shame society, your behavior that might be licentious or salacious is mitigated or regulated because you don't want people to think you're a piece of shit.  This has a draw-back, though, as we know that duels were a part of life.  Look at Alexander Hamilton.  I'm no fan of his, but getting shot just because he couldn't keep his jackass mouth shut seems a bit extreme for me.  The ironic part is that no one really even viewed Aaron Burr as being an honorable man before that duel, so what was the point?

Then we have a guilt society, which is what America is today, for the most part.  Human behavior is based not on shame, a sense of one's peers rejecting the person, but rather it's based on the letter of the law.  As long as you are not guilty of breaking a law then there's no reason to bar yourself from a specific action.  Your sense of morality, your actions, are based on what you can be judged legally guilty of committing.

The upside to that is that even if people would think it's okay for you to do something "wrong,"--like going over the speed limit or buying and using fireworks where it's technically illegal--you probably won't do it for the simple fact that it's against the law.  The down side, though, is that if something is not against the law then you don't really give a shit whether or not it's moral or ethical, you're going to do it if you damn well please.

Of course, those are the extremes of shame and guilt societies on an individual level, but this is not so much about the individual as it is the society as a whole.  Modern America is a guilt society.  There's no such thing as honor anymore, so if you're not breaking the law then who gives a shit?  I don't think that's particularly a good thing, and I think that an overemphasis on rugged individualism is partly to blame.

"But Jack, rugged individualism is part of the American mind!"  That's a true statement, but moderation is always best.  Individualism, while healthy and good in a free society, leads to moral and ethical vacuums, the likes of which most people believe are not a good thing.  Fuck society, right?  We're not Marxist masses, nameless, faceless cogs in a machine, right?

But what is there to regulate our behavior if not shame?  For those of you who are religious, why do you follow Christian morality?  Is it just so that you can receive your eternal reward?  I think it's more that you've been taught to be ashamed of lecentious behavior, whether your shame is in the eyes of others or in the eyes of God.  I fear that shame is being bred out of our children, and what is to come of a society of people who feel no shame?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The finger pointing is getting a little bit out of hand . . .

When I was in the Navy, stationed on the USS San Jacinto, we were stuck in the ship yards during a hurricane.  I watched from the bridge as it tore the shit out of downtown Norfolk.  I wasn't afraid, of course, knowing that there was a lot of steel between the elements and me, and I knew we wouldn't capsize or anything crazy like that, but it was still crazy to see the destruction first hand.

That's why I don't blame anyone for getting the fuck out of dodge of Irene's path, and I'm not going to shit allover the government and weather people who told them to do so.

I'm not a fan of Obama.  I didn't vote for his ass, and I'm looking foreward to him potentially getting beaten in the next election.  I've called him out on his bullshit, and I lay blame at his feet when he deserves it, but I'm not going to shit allover him for telling people to take shelter from a storm.

We all know that hind-site is 20/20, and we all know that predicting the weather and the destructive capacity of mother nature is not an exact science.  You only need to live in Ohio for a year to truly understand just how tenuous and ridiculous the weather can be.  So why the hell are we going to get on Obama's case because he did the right thing by urging caution?

We can't even really shit on the strategy behind it.  What would have happened if they didn't warn anyone, and things went really, really badly?  Then they'd be in even more hot water for not doing enough.

Seriously, griping on an administration for being too cautious is a bit ridiculous.  Claiming that it's just another example of the "nanny state," is equally ridiculous.  This is not the government trying to infringe on your rights by not allowing you to do certain things.  There's a difference between warning people and actually forcing something upon them.  The government has every right to tell us that trans-fats and sodium are unhealthy in large quantities.  They're perfectly justified in telling people the dangers and consequences of smoking.

Just as well, they're well within their bounds to tell people that they should probably get the fuck out of the path of a hurricane.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: there are far better and more legitimate things to ding the Obama administration on than acts of nature, the impact of which we can't possibly predict.