Tea Party: The Movie

It's Conservarific!

April 29, 2011

I haven’t seen the film version of Atlas Shrugged. I’ve read about the book in journal articles, heard people explain Objectivism, and generally learned of it through other people’s analysis. The film, though, is being pushed in Tea Party circles as the answer to liberal Hollywood. It’s supposed to show the rest of the country just what the Tea Party hopes to build.

Since the entire book makes Lord of the Rings look like a church pamphlet, let me explain the movie in less than 800,000 words.

A few years from now, the government is going to devolve into a group of petty politicians who only pass laws in order to serve their own self-interests. A cast of successful businessmen and women are trying to save their companies amidst this environment of repression even as the country’s most creative people are vanishing. To put it mildly, it’s like the Spill crew said. Just pretend Forbes Magazine made a movie.

I’m not going to review a movie I haven’t seen, but I am going to tell you why this movie is getting hyped so much by the Tea Party and Libertarians and why it’s bombing like Germany on Poland.

Oh, too soon?

Atlas by ~ZetaxCeti on deviantART

If you’ve never read Ayn Rand or otherwise read about her philosophies, you’re in luck! It’s dumb. Well, it sounds good on the surface, which is why so many impressionable college students and dedicated men and women seem attracted to it.

And if there are any Randians out there who will instantly label me a close-minded zombie of the system who believes government is the key to all our problems… have you READ my site?

Here is the core of Objectivism, which is at the heart of Rand’s work: the pursuit of your own happiness is the most moral and only good thing in the world. It’s a little more complicated than that, but Rand believed that altruism and sacrifice for others are evil because they rob men and women of the ability to be happy for themselves. The most moral type of economics turns out to be a complete Laissez-faire capitalism in a society where the government’s only job is to protect the people from others robbing them of their happiness. Businesses should operate with zero oversight from the government. In the book, this gets to the point where characters talk about their workers and the conditions they are in (deplorable) as a GOOD SIGN that business is free.

Do you want to know who really likes Objectivism and Libertarianism? People who already have power and want to keep it. People like the Koch Brothers, the two paranoid wackos who helped fund the Tea Party. Yes, the Tea Party was started by billionaire industrialists as a front for their own political and social views. The Tea Party is not a grassroots movement. It’s a way for the uber-rich to get their message out through the people.

Yeah, it really is the Bond-like villain behind all this.

As for the core of Atlas Shrugged, Objectivism, let me say this…

Ayn Rand had no heart.

Free Market Meme by ~Party9999999 on deviantART

Think about it. Sacrifice for others, charity in all its forms, is evil. If someone is on the street, hungry after losing his or her job due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, it is evil to offer that person money for food or outline directions to the nearest homeless shelter to fend off the cold.

You also have no reason to love your family just because they are your family. If your boss screws you over for perfectly petty reasons, you have no say in the matter.

After all, YOUR happiness is all that matters.

It’s basically Satanism taken to its business extreme, but don’t misunderstand me. I actually agree with some (huge emphasis on “some”) of Rand’s ideas. I think government needs to stay out of our lives, but I also know that lack of regulation in a capitalist society breeds trouble. We’re in this financial mess because no one was making sure the bankers didn’t screw all of us over.

I agree that creativity and the pursuit of happiness are important for the development of a healthy society that accepts criticism and multiple points of view, but I don’t think that happiness needs to come at the expense of others’ happiness. This one is actually one that a lot of Randians have missed when they explain it, and from what I’ve read, Rand herself thought that sacrificing the happiness of others for your own benefit was evil. In that respect, it’s similar to the Wiccan Reede. The problem, though, is that the philosophy has a built-in barrier against helping others unless it somehow affects you.Which brings us to…

Captialism as a free-for-all is the worst idea in the world. It sounds good on paper, though. Let businesses do what they must in order to succeed and create jobs, innovate, and make sure that the world keeps on truckin’. On the other hand, capitalism has no internal monitoring system to make sure that basic human rights are not violated.

SELF by *serah53000 on deviantART

Does your boss need you to work for twelve hours a day for three dollars an hour? Hey, it’s a job, right? Need to work in unsafe conditions? Tough cookies. Were you discriminated against because of race, gender, or religious beliefs? Hey, it’s your fault for not believing in Sky God.

The entire idea behind the movie is that selfishness is good and the government can’t do anything but get in the way. Okay, I’ll grant that government is run by a bunch of children who think they have a really cool job because they get to tell other people what to do (I used to work for one of them), but government can be a place where we all come together and use our collective resources to actually do something productive. Until the time when we can all afford to take care of all of our own problems and needs, a central government is the best option we have.

Imagine one week without police, firefighters, Medicare, homeless shelters, student loans, or NASA.

This movie is tanking because people who actually known what Rand preached know better than to walk into a theater that serves as a ninety-seven minute infomercial.

The least they could have done was add some sex, explosions, and Michael Bay-like action. It’s really the only thing that can balance the bitterness and utter propaganda of Rand’s work. We actually need Michael Bay for this one. I feel sick.

Links! Quick! Before I puke!

  • Do you want to type like a hacker in a mid-90’s thriller? Just go here, set your parameters, go to full screen, and amaze your friends with your 1337 skillz.
  • If you need further proof that Twilight is not only God-awful in its story but also a crime against the English language, look no further.
  • And finally, because I have to get dinner ready for my hunny bunny, let me leave you with some transcripts of The Jersey Shore as read by cast members of The Importance of Being Ernest. The full set of videos can be found here, but here’s the first one just to wet your appetite. Enjoy!

A Defense of Drug Abuse 2: Electric Boogaloo

It's twitcharrific!

April 25, 2011

Every artist needs a booze break. Whether your drink of choice is a shot of pure agave tequila, bourbon on the rocks, absinthe (if you can find it), or a chilled beer, you just want to longue back and relax, look at notes, or otherwise zone out into a chemical haze for a few minutes. Nothing wrong with that.

Of course, the opposite is also true. Sometimes you need to jump start the creative juices. Sometimes you really want to just get going and not stop until you finish. An exercise routine is good to get your blood flowing, but with a hectic schedule, you might not have time.

Enter caffeine, the savior of writers, painters, and artists everywhere.

Look, I‘m not naïve. I need me some hot or cold caffeine in the morning sometimes. However, your delivery system, like your delivery system for alcohol, must suit your needs. Not all caffeine is created equal.

A Monument to College Caffeine by ~animay0 on deviantART

Energy Drinks

Red Bull, Monster, 5 Hour Energy Shot, whatever. Take your pick. The truth is that a lot of these drinks have a lot of sugar and other things you don’t really need. If you don’t have the time for a cup of coffee or tea, you really need to rethink your schedule. These things don’t have any more caffeine that a cup of whatever else you might want to enjoy, so why not just have something that won’t pack on the sugar?

Plus, let’s face it. Most of them taste like crap. If you really, REALLY want one, though, I recommend Monster Low Calorie. At least don’t get diabetes while you’re drinking these things.


I’m going to get a lot of people upset but…

I can’t stand coffee.

The smell is just… I don’t know, but I’ve never liked it. I’ve tried it black, with cream and milk, and other ways, but I just can’t stomach it. Other than all that, though, coffee tends to linger on you for a long time. It stains your teeth and, unless you make it yourself, expect to pay something like twelve bucks for a cup of overprized foam.

I’m sure coffee has its fans, but I’m not one of them. Moving on…

Surging through my veins by *Xaldin911 on deviantART

Black Tea

Dark, delicious, with a delicate flavor of herbs that both soothe and wake up with that jolt of energy… This is my favorite, hands down. Black tea can be just as pungent as coffee, but I actually don’t mind its flavor. Irish tea, which is pretty stout and bitter, is my favorite for a day when I know things are going to be hectic. It’s bold enough to wake me up and packs enough caffeine to get me through the morning at least.

Unlike coffee, though, black tea rarely leaves a lingering smell anywhere. That’s a big plus, I think. You don’t want to be smelling coffee all day. Trust me. My sister worked at Starbucks and as much as she loved coffee, having half her clothes smell like it really put her off the stuff for a while.

And speaking of tea…

Green Tea

South Texas is hot. I mean really hot. I mean… let me put it this way. It’s 9 PM and I’d rather stay inside because it’s still freakishly hot outside. When the wind blows, it feels like someone has a hairdryer aimed at your face. A hairdryer filled with hellfire. That’s wielded by a fire primordial.

Once summer gets here in full swing, though, things get downright nasty.

That’s why I get a pitcher, put four green tea bags in there, and fill it with hot (not boiling) water. Stick that bad boy in the fridge overnight and the next morning you have delicious iced green tea. It’s like liquid energy and awesomeness. A little sugar helps if you think tea in any form is too bitter, but I prefer it straight.

Afternoon Tea for One by ~regularjane on deviantART

Like alcohol, though, be careful. I’ve actually cut my caffeine intake these last few months to maybe a cup or two a day if I need it. I was getting too jittery and on-edge. Cutting back meant a few days of sharp headaches as I detoxed from caffeine. I’ve also gotten into the joys of brewing the tea in a cast-iron pot my grandmother gave me. I could kill a raptor with that thing.

All in all, it’s a moderate tool that should be used with care.

And I type all this while on my second cup of tea for the day…

Well, link time!

  • Wow. And they said it would never happen. I remember hearing rumors about Duke Nukem Forever since… well, they’ve always been there. It looks like this is it… and I still can’t finish Diego’s Story. See you Wednesday!

The Book of Gaga: Why the Right Needs to SHUT UP

Her will be done! Even if her will is bat-shit crazy costumes!

April 22, 2011


Here we go again. You know, I respect Lady Gaga for doing something outrageous and performing well, though I’m still up in the air as to whether she’s stealing from Madonna, but could the Right Wing PLEASE stop using her as some sort of moral barometer? For that matter, stop taking pop culture as a sign of the End Times.

The Meat-Wearing One released a new song, “Judas,” that she sings as Mary Magdalene. The lyrics are found here, and you can hear the song by clicking the video below.

Let me start by saying that I cannot listen to this song more than three times because the music’s just… ear-splittingly horrible.

But let’s look at the lyrics for a second. It’s basically a love song to Judas Iscariot. Okay. Weirder things have been done in the name of art. And who was Judas Iscariot? Why, he was only the man responsible for the greatest betrayal in all of Christian teaching! He kissed our Lord Jesus Christ and sentenced him to death. How DARE she sing a song, as a harlot no less, to the man who killed Jesus?

Well, it’s more complicated than that.

If you believe that Jesus was prophesized to die, that his death was needed to save the world, then I propose that Judas was nothing more than a patsy. Judas was framed. Think about it. If this had to happen, if there was no way to avoid it, then he had no say in the matter and was therefore a victim just like Christ. Anyone would have fit the bill. In that sense, the lyrics touch upon the subject by having Mary Magdalene forgive Judas and apparently love him.

That’s not enough for some people. Cue Right Wing hysteria and outrage:

Oh, the number of things that are wrong with that statement… But first, let me wash off after those last ten pseudo-pervy moments…

Lady Gaga does not have a problem with religion. As was stated in the interview, she’s exploring her own religious background. She’s not going after Muslims, as Donohue suggested, because she’s not deconstructing Islam. It’s the same reason I’m making Charcoal Streets a deconstruction of Hispanic Christian beliefs. That’s my background. I’m not about to use European mythology because, frankly, I’m only about one-eight French.

And someone else already cornered the faerie novel.

Donohue then laments that, while Gaga has talent, she’s part of a pattern of artists that seem to go after religion. Why, oh, why, won’t the artists leave him alone?!

Maybe it’s because, again, WE LIVE IN JESUS LAND. Look, I have my qualms with religion in general. And yes, I guess some of the things I say in Charcoal Streets could be applied to organized belief, but I’m targeting Christianity (and I can’t believe I’m writing this) much like Lady Gaga is looking at religion in her song.

We’re working with what we know.

Christianity by ~TechnoJon on deviantART

It gets even better when Donohue says that Christians don’t enjoy the protection of Muslims because Muslims will react violently if you mock or criticize their religion. Well, yes and no. While I concede that a lot, if not most, Muslims would be offended by something as supposedly innocent as an image of the Prophet, and I’ve explained why that’s actually a really stupid belief, that’s not the point. Just because members of another religion are willing to behead people for the slightest religious offense does not mean that ALL religions are off-limits.

Furthermore, the belief that artists don’t need to criticize religion really misses the point. It’s movie Imperial Stormtrooper-like accuracy. Of course artists need to go there. Hell, I LIVE there. Artists, as John Lennon said, point a mirror to society. That’s our job. If you don’t like what you see, close your eyes and be happy in the darkness.

::Art:: by ~10-GunShOTreSiDUe-01 on deviantART

You can’t lament that radical Muslims will kill you for criticism, then turn around and say you wish you had that kind of protection. You can’t lament that radical Islam has no tolerance, then complain that someone is looking at your religion through an artistic lens. This sums up the Right Wing’s stance to a T.

“Critique anything you want except my own beliefs and stances.”

Really classy.

Also… “You hang out with Bill Donohue, I’ll buy you a beer, honey, and maybe we can straighten you out.” Did anyone else feel dirty after hearing that? Like, “stepped in gum and had to clean it off with my fingernails” dirty?

Anyway, let’s get some links up in!

  • Just in time for Easter, check out the latest blog from the Cheezeburger network… Sketchy Bunnies!
  • Laredo, Texas has done some… interesting things in the past, but this little error in a sign on the loop is nigh inexcusable. Way to piss off the writer.
  • And finally, Weird Al is one of my personal heroes. He takes pop culture apart and gives us back comedy gold. It looks like Lady Gaga didn’t like his newest parody and so didn’t give him permission to use it… but she finally said yes! Take a listen to “Perform This Way,” which takes a few swipes the Gaga, but it’s all in good fun. Have a good Easter weekend and I’ll see you Monday.

Ninja Pirate Zombie Robots vs Superman… Or Something

Poor Kal got gutted of his super-testicles. So sad...

April 20, 2011

Is there a new movement for directors to take responsibility for their crappy movies? The latest is Bryan Singer, a man I generally respect for his work on the first two X-Men movies, House, and I look forward to see how he directs he adaptation of the 1970’s Battlestar Galactica for the big screen.

Superman Returns, however, was not his greatest moment.

Superman Returns… by ~DeMilburn on deviantART

In fact, I put it up there as the anti-Schumacher comic book movie. Schumacher tried to put as much camp as possible in his movies until they basically became self-parody. As Singer says, though, he didn’t want to go in that route and wanted to make something for the women to come and see.

See, he may have been thinking of doing something like the original Superman film with Christopher Kal-El Reeves, but the point is that he sold out without even realizing it. Chick flicks (and yes, I’ll call them that even though I won’t call a woman a “chick”) typically draw much more money than other films. This attraction was the basis for the wonderful commercial for The Expendables that ripped the phenomenon apart.

Is Singer right in that his movie sucked because it tried something different?

Yes. Yes he is. And I thank him for pointing out the atrocity he inflicted onto the Superman mythos.

The truth is that you can only do so much with a franchise before you make it so different as to be unrecognizable. Superman Returns had some destruction, some battles, but nothing really superpowered to fight old Supes. Yeah, you could do something with the philosophy and morality of BEING Superman, the responsibility inherent in being a god amongst men…

But that should be accentuated and pretty much delivered with shots of the Last Son of Krypton going toe to toe with something just as, if not more, powerful than him within a movie full of scenes of destruction that would give Ronald Emmerich a massive destructo-hard-on. Laser blasts searing enemies (robots so Clark won’t go into moral epilepsy), buildings getting tossed like rocks, and a battle royale in the skies to rival the… uhm, “epic” finale of The Matrix trilogy. Let me just let Mike Nelson and the boys say it better than I can.

Smith is Singin in The Rain by ~cmdrgabee on deviantART

You can do character stories for a comic book. Some of my favorite moments in the Hellboy films are just talking scenes. The best scenes in Nolan’s Batman films are the ones where we get a lot of tension from either the machinations of Ra’s al Ghul or the Joker. The banter with Alfred’s gold too.

Star Wars is about mythology and space battles. Dropping a bunch of political intrigue did nothing for the prequels other than make them jaw-droppingly awful. .

The Tremors series are always about hometown heroes doing what they with what they got… And they stick to that formula because it works. Think about this: they never get to the main monster attack until about halfway through the film.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a seven-year-long metaphor for life that used fantasy and horror to show us the world, and the new reboot is going to ditch all that and give us… something.

COMMISSION: buffy + faith by ~mistix on deviantART

Know your source material. Know how far you can take it and, if you decide to do the Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot version of your world, at least make an effort.

And now, dear reader, to the links!

  • This must be the WORST anti-drug ad ever. It’s not so much that it looks ridiculous, but that it basically does something akin to warning kids to stay away from strangers because strangers can transport them to Narnia and keep them captive. Not going to happen. Also, it pretty much asserts that being gay is some sort of disease.
  • Can’t You Read has a new meme that takes Carl Sagan quotes and twists them to make them pick-up lines. See a collection of a few of them here.
  • This adorable child has become a new meme. Tell me you don’t look at that little face and imagine her leading the hordes of hell.
  • And finally, to get you past that Wednesday slump, here are some adorable animals reaction to the music of Inception. See you Friday!

Learning How to Spell 7: The Philosophy of the Knife

It's science.

April 18, 2011

As I edit the last few stories for Charcoal Streets and get ready to finish the final novella for the anthology, The Ballad of Carmen Olivarez, I can’t help but think back to a set of discussions I had with fellow writers years ago.

How much do you cut out of your work?

I often tell my students that 90% of writing is editing. That’s not joke. Even if I had everything planned out for a short story, say something around 3,000 words, it would take less than an hour to write it up. Does that mean the story is finished?

Oh no.

Oops by ~clicknsnap on deviantART

I can take DAYS editing a short story. For these posts, I have maybe a couple of hours, hence the typos I sometimes hate finding after publication. Editing is the place where you see the broad strokes you put on paper (or screen) and add those little details that will turn a mass of shadow and light into an actual image. It’s where you take out the rough edge around a subtle point or add a jagged blade to a previously innocuous sentence to drive the point home.

A writer’s life is all about editing. Brainstorming, research, and all that are really just the set-up to the editing process.

That being said, it’s a question of “Do I add more?” or “Do I need to trim it down?”

I have friends who insist that the editing phase is where you add the descriptions, the adverbs, and the information you forgot about on your first run. Others tell me that it’s where you trim out all the fat and reduce the work to only the most essential parts.

Frankly, both philosophies miss the point.

Editing is about adding and subtracting. Personally, I like to first trim off every piece of redundant wording, adverbs, and sentences that are just fluff. Once I have a stripped-down article, I look back and really think about what the new, smoother version of the article. Did I really say everything I needed to say, or did I just simplify the first draft? Often, I’ll add entire paragraphs if I have to, and I’ll repeat the process again with those new entries.

Blocked by ~jadestonethedragon on deviantART

Even though you can edit for days, sometime years, at some point you have to say, “Enough.”

The title of this article refers to a quote from Dune, “Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: ‘Now it’s complete because it’s ended here.’” Eventually, you’re finished not because the work is perfect. You’re done because you’ve said what you need to say in the bets possible way. Now move on to the next work.

Links on Wednesday. See the Facebook status update for details on the shortness of this article.

Dune: Sand riding by ~AspectusFuturus on deviantART

No Love for Faux-Artists

It's funny because it's wasted youth and obsession that borders on psychosis...

April 15, 2011

I am done with the internet.

You know how I often say that education is the key to our society’s survival and how all opinions are just opions until you actually show evidence for why your point of view should be taken seriously?

Behold the ultimate argument for my philosophy.

That’s right. Someone went and got a Leave Rebecca Black Alone tattoo. Why? Because we shouldn’t judge her just because she’s 13 and released a crappy song.


I have EVERY right to criticize her. She paid for a music video and song and didn’t even have the talent to sing herself. She needed a little electronic help. If I were to publish Charcoal Streets tomorrow and I got a scathing review from the New York Times, I’d expect them to look at it if it got enough attention. I can’t believe I have to say this again…

When you throw your hat into the ring, you accept the consequences.

Rebecca Black + Justin Bieber by ~xDinoSkittlex on deviantART

I’m not about to celebrate mediocrity just because someone tried. If Black had honestly tried, if she’d sung herself, if she’d written the lyrics, and if she’d endeavored to make something more than a masturbatory music video, I might cut her some slack. But no. She did nothing but show up for a recording session and a video shoot.

The guy that got that tattoo is going to regret it in three months. And if he doesn’t? He’s a bigger idiot than the people paying Snooki thousands of dollars to speak about her life.

No, I didn’t make that up. Rutgers is paying Snooki thousands of dollars to basically talk about herself and what it’s like to be Snooki. You know… what you can basically gleam from watching twenty minutes of Jersey Shore. To top it all off, this faux-tan piece of border-line alcoholism is going to get paid $100,000 dollars per episode of the new season of Jersey Shore.

Yeah, $100,000 to get drunk, act like an idiot, and hook up with random strangers.

Mona Snooki. by ~battlefate on deviantART

“But it’s the American dream,” I can hear some of you say. “Sure, it’s more than twice what the average teacher makes in a year, and she’d be touching lives the same way an STD after-school special touches lives, but it’s the same thing, right?”

Yeah, if I may get a bit political, rewarding laziness and not contributing anything to society is basically the rallying cry of the GOP right now. “Don’t tax the right or watch corporations,” they say. You could make it one day, and would you want someone else taxing you and telling you that you have to pay more because you make more?

Yes. I do.

I don’t enjoy paying taxes. I really don’t. My biweekly paycheck could be so much sweeter if I didn’t get taxed, but if I make enough that I can pay the government $250,000 a year and I still have enough to buy Blue Label, travel Europe for the summer, and maintain a fleet of classic cars, I think I’ll be fine.

I am plain sick and tired of rewarding mediocrity and lavishing people who act like 5-year olds simply because they can. If Snooki and Rebecca Black didn’t have any publicity, they’d be attention whores who, in five years time, would be either in rehab or dead in a Motel 6 dumpster. Actually, they might get there even with the attention.

Little Attention Whore by ~Cyberfish on deviantART

And if I’m overtly harsh, it’s because people who keep calling these two and people like them “artists” are REALLY starting to piss me off. And I rant about them because so many people seem to pay attention to them. Stop it. Stop giving them praise. Stop sharing their videos and antics just because they’re horrible.

You make it hard for people who are actually trying to do a good job.

Now let’s get some links to clean that aftertaste of tanning accelerate and your bowl of cereal.

  • Speaking of greedy pricks that steal money, take a look at this wonderful article that details a tax proposal that not only makes sense, but would save our economy while making the rich pay for their fair share.
  • One more video for the weekend. I’ve got five more words for you, and a film that predates Star Wars and is the basis for endless tropes in the space opera genre and for some of my favorite childhood memories. Are you ready for this? Live. Action. Wave. Motion. GUN.

Gay for Truth and Vocabulary

If you're offended by the picture, you should really question your life decisions.

April 13, 2011

Let’s get something out of the way before I start a nuclear-powered rant.

I love words. The written word, or even the spoken word, is the greatest tool at our disposal for the dissemination of emotions, opinions, and points of view. Visual art can sometimes do a better job, but the right construction of words, the right application of grammar and syntax, is a beautiful thing.

That being said…

To the far right movement in America… suck my electronic text, you slopped-forehead evolutionary throwbacks.

The internet, for all its faults, is a forum where anyone, ANYONE, can post an opinion, a piece of art, or just use the combined electronic advancements of the last fifty years to watch cats do funny things.

Three small, almost innocuous incidents caught my attention this morning. My dear enemies in the Far Right (oh, where would this site be without you) did three things that showed me that not only are they getting craftier, they are now intruding on the realm of words, the aether of logos, and I am going guns akimbo on them.

Nuclear Bear _Strahlebaerchi_ by *pilzwolke on deviantART

Make “Gay” a Dirty Word

Please watch this video. It’s really short, but it shows just how desperate the Far Right is to make sure their agenda gets embraced by everyone instead of just white redneck hicks.

This is from “The Awakening” conference at Liberty University. Our dear speaker is going on about how “gay” implies an identity and how renaming it something else will give them edge.

Basically, he wants to make sure the Far Right phrases things in the context of “they must WANT to be gay.”

Among the more tasteful terms they wish to use to refer to homosexuality are – “Same-sex attraction,” “Same-sex intercourse,” “Sodomy,” and “Unnatural vice.” There could a whole article just on each of these, but let me say this.

“Gay” is about as dirty as “homosexual.”

If we need to just go back to scientific terms and refer to people as “homosexual,” “bisexual,” or whatever, fine. We’ll strip ALL the propaganda and tone form the conversation. Let’s see who wins.

And if we’re going to go around branding this graphically, allow me to be the first to stand up to the Caucasian vaginal penetration agenda.

Yeah, I said it.

Stand With Planned Parenthood by ~eclectic-acoustic on deviantART

Fact Are Irrelevant to My Argument

Senator Jon Kyl has a very… interesting concept of the standard debate. After getting in front of the Senate and stating that we must defund Planned Parenthood because abortion is well over “90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”

I won’t go over the fact that this is a horrendously erroneous statistic, but whatever he might have said (he could have claimed ants invented Telemundo), the fact remains that the crux of his argument was the statistic. His office, though, responded by saying that his argument was not meant to be factual.

But the statistic was meant to illustrate a point…

But the point was the statistic…

But the statistic was made up…

I’m going to stop before I get sucked into a Möbius strip of stupidity.

Let that sink in for a moment. The argument that hinges on a false statement is still valid because… the statement was made. Yeah… I’m going to go ahead and state that Kyl is a pedophile who can’t get an erection unless he kills a dog, because, while not factual, it is relevant to my overall argument.

Ride the Tubes!

The Tea Party is getting some training in internet guerilla warfare. Watch:

Basically, they’re being told to blog, give out negative reviews to liberal films and documentaries, and otherwise clog the internet with as much conservative cholesterol as possible. This is not only a dirty tactic, it’s downright dishonest.

What would Jesus do? Would be comment on something without knowing what it was? Would he lie to hurt his enemies?

More to the point, what do they hope to accomplish by lying, but going to classes where the main purpose is to fool people? Lying can reveal truth if used properly, but to cheat and spew falsehoods for the sheer purpose of making someone else look bad, to spread “facts” you know to be wrong, is the lowest form of debate.

It’s not even debate. It’s sick.

antics number 157 by ~readmorebooks on deviantART

There you have it, folks. The Far Right conservative movement. I really wish I could say it’s the FAR right, but this has some bleed-through to the regular conservative movement. Words have power, and if we let these self-righteous hypocrites hijack language, we lose. It’s that simple.

Link time!

  • George Takei just oozes awesome… and this ringtone proves it.
  • And finally, while I’m not one to go for overtly sentimental films, this one about a poor, elderly villager who returns to school to learn to read got the teacher in me. I’d love to see it. That’s all for today. See you Friday!

How Dungeons and Dragons Made Me a Better Teacher

All DMs think they're God... Also, thanks to my beautiful fiancé for the image!

April 11, 2011

I’ve been gaming since the fall of 2004. I’ve played a mage, a rogue, a fighter, a half-elf, human, a gunslinger, a warlock, a Rebel Alliance pilot, a dragon, a demigod, and everything in between. It’s been a fun ride. At the same time, on a subconscious level, I’ve become a better teacher thanks to my years as a Game Master in various games from modern supernatural thrillers to campy fantasy adventures.

Sound weird? Let me explain.

Let the Rogue Shine

Every player likes to work a different way. Some players like to negotiate and interact with the Non-Player Characters (NPCs). Others like to solve puzzles and figure out mysteries. Still more like to get right to the battles and get their hands dirty. Giving each player a chance to do what he or she loves is a great way to keep interest high and make sure people leave satisfied.

In a classroom, I look for the students that like to answer questions. I make them team leaders. I once had a young student who liked to doodle in my journalism class. I made her cartoonist for the newsletter we were putting together and she never looked happier. I had a student once who liked to talk more than write and couldn’t figure out how to write his essay, so I told him to tell me everything he needed to say. When he was done, I showed him the outline I’d written just from what he said, and from that, he was able to finish.

Decisions by ~pezton22 on deviantART

Follow the Bouncing Bard

Looking for that player or two that likes to go ahead sword swinging is a good way to lead the rest of the party into the right direction for the story. More than once, I’ve had a situation where one player dictated the rest of the group’s actions because of experience or sheer personality. Our current fighter is clashing with our new wizard, but getting one to decide on a course of action is a good way to get the party moving as one.

In a classroom, I look for the ones that like to talk and answer and, if I have a few of them, I’ll have group activities where these students will help lead the others. I don’t have to move the entire class. I just have to nudge a few people the others will follow. Yeah, it’s Machiovellian, but it works.

Dice Stacking

It’s a well-known fact that the number of dice your players stack is a good indicator of how engaged they are with your story. If you ever see them actually stack all seven standard die, check to make sure you’re actually at the table and not a hallucination.

In a classroom, it’s good to know the subtle signs of boredom. Leaning on your arm is not enough. That could just be normal sleepiness. Kids that move their feet a lot are a good indication of boredom. The smart ones may try to look engaged, but if you see feet moving, they’re restless. They couldn’t care less about what you’re saying, and if they do, they’re only paying attention for the grade.

Crayel Nero by *dagger3000 on deviantART

When We Last Met Our Heroes…

The best games are the ones that have continuing stories. The renegade elves moved this way and entered the dungeon. After following them into the depths of the earth, you find that they not only want an artifact of great power, but they seek to summon an angel of destruction. After dispatching the elves, the angel is still summoned and you must stop it from entering the Shadowfell and reclaiming its full power so it can cut a path of death across the land.

Linked stories build on the world on the game…

In the classroom, linking each lesson to the last is important to avoid to the inevitable, “What does this have to do with anything?” question. Well, lesson one showed you how to put an introduction and thesis statement together. Lesson two shows how to use that thesis statement to outline your body paragraphs. Lesson three shows you how to use the body paragraphs to summarize everything in your conclusion and how the thesis should still guide every part.

It’s all about running a scenario and making sure everyone gets what they want and what they need. If you plan it right, pretty soon what they want and what they need turn out to be the same thing.

No links today. It’s been a long… LONG weekend. More fun stuff on Wednesday, though. Thanks for reading, and keep sharing Randomology links!

Dungeons and Dragons Goodness by *candypalmer on deviantART

An Open Letter to Rebecca Black (And Anyone Who Wants to be Like Her)

She's everywhere! Make it stop!

April 8, 2011

Music’s dead.

At least, pop music is dead. I know, I know. Every generation thinks its music is crap. I’m too old if I start whining about the kids and their music and their Beibers and all that. Yes, I know that we’ve always had crappy music and the really good stuff is the stuff that gets remembered.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to dismiss the utter crap fest I’ve been hearing on the radio.

I stopped listening to the radio in about 1999, back when every other song was Backstreet Boys. I swore off radio and the closest thing I used for a while was Pandora. I really have only a cursory knowledge of popular music in the last ten years aside from what I see on TV, in movies, or happen to read about.

So, Rebecca, as a concerned artist, I want to tell you to stop.

You’re a celebrity. Congratulations. So’s Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Kim Kardashian. Nice list. They’re pretty much famous for making fools of themselves. And you’ve joined them whether you want to admit it or not.

Let’s go down the list of things done wrong, shall we?

Rebecca Black: Friday by ~mexicanpryde2000 on deviantART

Your parents paid for the music video and recording.

Someone else wrote the lyrics.

The video is just one notch above “middle school project with a camera and pirated copy of Final Cut.”

All you did was get dressed and sing. And you didn’t even do that! You got Auto-Tunned for half the song!

Look, I know Auto-Tunning is the latest, best thing to happen to people who want a music carrer. Without it, Ke$ha would be an alcoholic with a camcorder drowning in her own vomit. Even without it, she’s nothing special. You, Rebecca? You had a dream. You wanted to be famous. Did you practice singing? Train yourself in poetry and songwriting? Listen to the classics of pop music?

No. Your parents forked over $4,000 dollars to get your face plastered on a song where your own voice isn’t even heard. It’d be like me paying someone to write Charcoal Streets over a weekend, then putting my mug all over the cover.

Rebecca black by ~ItalianxGal on deviantART

Plus, the lyrics? I’d ask for my money back.

(Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ark)
Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

I already have a headache. It’s the lyrical equivalent of white noise. It also proves that if you have nothing to say, say nothing at all.

7am, waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal

Gotta have my bowl? Are you smoking weed? Are you on the dope!?

Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’

Yup. You’re stoned off your gourd, aren’t you, Rebecca?

Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

You remind me of that scene in Knocked Up where Paul Rudd’s character gets freaked out by the number of chairs in the room. Just pick a damn seat!

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Also, people look forward to happy hour, 5 o’clock, lunch time, and the week’s episode of Criminal Minds.

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

Okay, a few things. First of all, you’re thirteen. You’re frakking thirteen years old. What “partying” are you doing? Unless you’re snorting coke off a Justin Beiber CD or smoking that bowl from earlier, you’re not “partying.” You’re hanging out with friends at Chuck E. Cheese.

7:45, we’re drivin’ on the highway
Cruisin’ so fast, I want time to fly
Fun, fun, think about fun

Well someone’s been reading The Secret. Hey, I can think about fun all I want, but it won’t make it so. I suppose one could make the argument that by moving faster, as you suggest, you could indeed use time dilation to make time outside your vehicle move at a much slower rate… But I doubt your songwriter knows how to spell relativity.

You know what it is
I got this, you got this
My friend is by my right
I got this, you got this
Now you know it

I’m sitting in a chair. My hands touch the keyboard. My fiancé is at work. Okay, now your turn to spout out more blatantly obvious observations. Also, any point to telling us your friend is on the right? And, from a grammatical viewpoint, what is “this” you are referring to? I’m sorry I don’t speak “street.”

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

Wait, you’re hanging out with high schoolers? You’re what? In seventh grade? How are these friends of yours driving?! …Hold on. I thought you were already in the car. What-

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday

Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

Friday isn’t the weekend, Rebecca. On Friday AFTERNOON, you can start enjoying the weekend. People still work on Friday. If you’re so stressed in eight grade that you look forward to getting down on the weekend, you’re either in a very work-intensive middle school or you have no concept of what it really means to be stressed.

I’ve never seen a more blatant example of clutter in my life, too. There are words and phrases here that are just taking space. It’s like the writer simply got the beat for the song, then played Mad Libs trying to fill the void… and the void stared back and said, “Screw you.”

Friday by ~PeaceLoveMulan on deviantART

Look, these lyrics were obviously written by someone who wanted to appeal to teens who think the weekend is about partying all the time and dancing in a brightly lit room, but clubs are full of sweaty idiots who smell like Bud Light because they can’t stomach real beer. Real parties with teens typically have one idiot who brought a controlled substance.

Everyone has a dream. I have mine. You, Rebecca, obviously have yours. And I’m not being unfair by critiquing this. “But she’s just a kid,” I can hear some of my readers saying. “Leave her alone.”

No. You put this out there, you get the same amount of scrutiny the rest of us get when we put something out. I’m not about to give you a bronze medal just because you tried.

You, and Beiber, and Ke$ha, and your ilk are overproduced performers who go hyped to the top. You’re like Episode I, but more annoying because I can choose to not hear Jar Jar. I keep hearing this stupid song everywhere!

Let’s clean out those brain lobes with some linkage.

  • And finally, let me leave you with two of the most awesome things in the world: classic Michael Jackson and Transformers. See you Monday!

Beauty and the “Common” Woman

Let's hear it for soul-crushing standards!

April 6, 2011

Is Victoria’s Secret finally setting some realistic standards?

Well, yes and no.

Model Candice Swanepoel (I am so glad I can just write this and not have to pronounce it) has gotten some flak from the press and the modeling industry because she’s getting too thin. Let that sink in for a moment. A model is TOO THIN for the modeling industry.

It’s not the first time this has happened. Alessandra Ambrosio was criticized last year for also being too thin, and in general, I get the feeling that the public is starting to really wise up about the whole “I need to be thin to be beautiful” mentality.

Plus-size model by ~Allexxandhry on deviantART

On the other hand, I really can’t see a difference between Candice and the other models Victoria’s Secret hires. The company says that the models need to be thin but muscular and they’ve taken some damage for moving away from curvier models.

Why not just say “healthy” instead of curvy? I guess they’re implying “bottylicious” is not healthy.

Anyway, it’s really confusing when you consider that that some women really do get this thin on their own. They don’t starve themselves or anything. They just have a really strong metabolism. That’s fine. Some women have to work harder at it. That’s also fine. And you know what?

I think Candice looks like Jack Skellington.

Dying to be Thin by ~anorexic-butterfly55 on deviantART

I’m sorry, but she does. Most of these models do. It’s one thing to be thin. Thin does not mean “anorexic.” You can be thin and healthy, but half these models look like they’d faint if they tried to climb a flight of stairs.

You can, however, be well-proportioned and slim. It’s doable. Jessica Biel is the best example I can think of right now. At least for the third Blade movie (oh dear gods, I can still remember it), she put on muscle and was fit.

Even if you’re not superheroine-shaped, a woman’s beauty isn’t about how she looks (as cliché as that sounds). Women just need confidence. How do does she feel about herself and ow does she handle herself? That’s the best way to gauge a woman’s sexiness. Even then, looking like you’re not a P90X participant is not the deal breaker. Looks are not the only deciding factor. I’ve been around women who conformed to “normal” standards of beauty and yet were ugly right to the bone. Confident, yes, but conceited, self-centered, and otherwise emotionally reprehensible.

Beauty is about YOU. If anyone ever tells you or makes you feel otherwise, kick him in the nads. And if it’s a girl, punch her in the ovaries. Hard.

And no, I’m not being a hypocrite by calling Candice too thin and saying beauty is on the inside. Girl looks like a dead body on CSI. She looks like her shadow weighs more. Even if she was Mother Theresa, I’d beg her to eat a cheeseburger for her own benefit.

Beauty by ~TroyBlue on deviantART

Let’s get some links up in this.

  • Ah-nold is done with politics, but he’s going back to entertainment in a new endeavor called “The Governator.” He stars as a politician who saves the world as a nigh-invincible superhero. Sound like a fantasy? The first trailer looks like, well… what Ah-nold thinks he looks like in an action role.
  • And finally, although I’m very hesitant of anything involving Ryan Reynolds, I’m very curious to see Green Lantern. The new footage recently released shows us a little more of the Green Lantern universe and, just maybe, as far of a shot as it sounds, Reynolds might pull it off if he can get past the Sandler-esque comedy he usually does. See you Friday!