April 1, 2013
After a long week of soul-searching, I’ve realized that I’ve made a terrible mistake. This entire website has been an exercise in futility and I’m going to pack it in.
I’ve realized that it truly is impossible to fight against the forces of conservatism and ignorance. They are just too strong. They have talk radio and major news outlets and they can scream really loudly. And that scares me. I don’t want people to think I’m a baby-killing pagan communist anymore.
To that end, I will do the only rational thing. I will shut up. For good.
This website will stand as a monument to my stupidity and hubris. How could I have thought for a second that I could make a difference?!
I should apologize to Glenn Beck for years of mocking him and thinking he was insane for thinking there was some vast conspiracy at work. There has to be. It makes perfect sense that he alone would have the vision to put together this web of lies that are ruling our lives.
I should also apologize to Fox News. I know I’ve said they’re the spawn of evil and deception in the world, but they’re not. I mean, they say everything so loudly and repeat it over and over again. It has to be true, right?
I’d like to apologize to the American Right Wing. I know you guys just want to make sure others can’t worship or lives their lives as they see fit, so I think you should just go ahead and do that. It’s exhausting hearing you.
But most of all, I want to apologize to my students and everyone who thought that writing, and critical thinking and expression could make a dent in the world. This is a cold, hard reality and it needs equally cold and hard people. Compassion, understanding, and curiosity have no place in it.
So, there you have it. Randomology is dead. And it failed. I’ll see you…
Well, I won’t. Just…
Bye. I’ll be leaving on a bus later today and heading to Alaska so that I may sit at the feet of Sarah Palin and learn a thing or two.
January 9, 2013
I know most of my readers probably don’t speak or read Spanish. That’s fine. It’s a lovely language and has been used to write some sublimely beautiful prose and poetry in the last few hundred years. This sign, however, is not one of them.
It’s a sign outside a playground in Delware. Nothing too out of place, right? However, if you know Spanish, the bottom half becomes a bit worrisome. It reads:
“You need permission to play in this playground. Violators will be subject to police action.”
Now, I’ve done a little bit of translating in my time. Mary intends to make a career out of out. I’ve seen some lazy, often hilarious translations. This, though, is two totally different messages. It’s not a typo. It’s not a matter of someone pressing the wrong letter on the keyboard. As Addicting Info reported, the sign is in the most conservative section of the Delaware but has a 15.8% Hispanic population. Daily Kos also reported that the school board apparently didn’t know about the signs and they have since been taken down. There were apparently some signs that had the Spanish version and the English version match up and say police action would be taken.
Maybe the people who put them up really didn’t know Spanish and just assumed the translations were accurate. Whatever the case, they were up for a full year. Someone had to have said something. It seems as though the signs went down after the town started getting online flak.
Someone wanted the signs to be intimidating as evidenced by the fact that the white signs also had a proper translation from Spanish to English. This is the kind of crap I’m always talking about. Language has a purpose. It can comfort, scare, or just inform. Why weren’t non-Spanish-speaking children warned of police action if they violated the rules? You should already know where I’m going with this.
Racism is ugly. It’s hard to really understand it if you’ve never experienced it. It can burn a hole in you, make you as untrustworthy and cynical as the people who do this kind of crap. Part of me hopes the superintendant really didn’t know and his show of personally removing the signs was sincere.
But the cynic in me says it’s doubtful. It’d like to be wrong.
And now, for slightly more uplifting things, here are the people who wished they’d had a better December.
January 7, 2013
Since the world didn’t explode last month, or it did and we’re all actually in purgatory, I can go back to writing, ranting, and making videos. First, though, a word for anyone who has a blog, a Facebook account, or even just an opinion.
We’re never going to agree.
Well, maybe that’s overdoing it. Perhaps we’ll never agree entirely, but the fact that many of us are trying to get the conversation going gives me hope that this isn’t for nothing. Talking, writing, researching, arguing… it can get tedious and often makes for some very nice headaches, but it’s not a bad thing.
Last week, an old friend sent me a message where he expressed concern that our online debates and posts may hurt our friendship. He’s a staunch libertarian. While I agree with some libertarian points, I’m very much against things like getting rid of the social safety net and would like strong government regulations on things like banks. I believe public education is broken, but essential. I believe in limited gun ownership and control.
Obviously, we’re not going to run for office together any time soon.
But his message struck me. While we’d certainly disagreed on many things, I never thought less of him. I’m sure my tone probably made it sound that way, but I’d like to repeat what I told him.
It’s not about differing ideas moving people apart. It’s about lack of respect.
Over the last ten years, I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with and known people from all over the ideological spectrum. I’ve known Catholics, Wiccans, anarchists, old-school Republicans and young Republicans, humanists, Hindus, vegans, Tea Partiers, gun enthusiasts, pacifists, military vets, gays, bi, straight, genderqueer, artists, academics, historians, and every type of crazy you can imagine. Obviously, I have very different opinions from many on this list. Working with others is a skill everyone should have, but what about actually talking, conversing, and maintaining relationships with people with different opinions? Can you really not talk about religion, politics, and sex and keep a civil conversation?
Back in college, there was a guy at my fraternity who had a giant Confederate flag up on one wall. He studied history and rarely saw the point to fiction since, in his mind, real life was so much more interesting. He turned out to be one of my best friends. We would watch Invader Zim, drink beer, and eat chips and salsa. While he did mellow out slightly and is nowhere near as conservative as he was when he was younger, even then I could get along with him as though he were my brother.
He had clearly thought out his position on many things. He was open to change. He was curious about the world and sought to learn. He wasn’t stuck in just one position and bogged down by rigid ideology. The same goes for my friend who messaged me a few days ago. He’s very learned and obviously gave serious thought to his position. I disagree with his conclusions, but I respect his position, and I’ve actually learned from him from time to time, just as I hope he’s learned from me. He holds on to his beliefs and stands by what he says. So do I.
What I can’t respect, and what I often write about, are the people who hold on to concepts based on lies and ignorance. I can’t respect someone who blatantly refuses to listen to others, to accept he or she may be wrong. I can’t respect someone who tries to justify prejudice or tradition with pseudoscience and blatant half-truths.
We may never agree on everything. That’s fine. In fact, I find comfort in the fact that we can all have such different opinions and sometimes end up in a different place after those opinions come out. We’ll change our positions, sometimes slowly, sometimes at moments of epiphany. But as long as we keep talking, keep trying to reach a solid conclusion, I think we’ll be fine. In the end, most of us just want the same thing: a better world, to be free and safe. We go about it differently, but at least we’re heading the same way.
So from me to my friends, you’re my friends because I respect you. We don’t always agree, but that’s not required for me to care about you or call you “friend.”
And now, speaking of spilt blood, let’s check out the new red-band trailer for the remake of Evil Dead. Warning! Copious blood and gore ahead! What a way to start 2013…
November 6, 2012
Politics, religion, and sex are the three most taboo topics in the world. That might explain some of the weird searches people use to get to this site…
I’d be lying if I said I felt really terrible for not posting as much the last two months, but the truth is that the website has really take its toll on me. Yes, it kept me writing. Yes, it’s been a blast hearing from all my readers, your wonderful comments on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, everywhere. At the same time, it’s exhausting. The research, the cross-checking, everything.
I was in Washington during the last presidential election. I remember receiving the first batch of “Obama is from Kenya” emails at the office. I remember walking into the chief of staff’s office and asking if he’d seen this. The “WTF” look on his face as he realized these people were serious is something I’ll never forget. I asked, half-in-jest, if it was acceptable to write an email to send back to these concerned citizens and call them the frakin’ morons they rightfully should be called.
I was told to be as polite as possible. And I was.
But I never forgot how I had to sit there and write a letter that was the equivalent of telling a charging rhino to sit. The whole time, I just sat there and thought of what I really wanted and needed to say:
I’m sorry, I agree that you have concerns, but I can’t really say that you’re the biggest fucking idiot I’ve ever met since my job depends upon my boss making everyone happy at the expense of not showing any spine or actual conviction. However, I understand you like to believe reality is a big conspiracy against you and the scary black man is going to take away Jesus and apple pie, and while such a scenario is about as likely as me gaining the powers of the Q Continuum just because I’m bored, I have to hold your hand and tell you that you’re right. Why? Because while liberals may have mistakenly latched on to the idea of relativism, the Right took it even further and declared that reality itself is so subjective that tangible, verifiable facts do not matter if you believe strongly enough. They believe that they can change reality by simply stating a bald-faced lie. Sure, I’ve been working in this office for only a few months, but even I know that both sides stretch the truth, exaggerate, and so on. However, I would present to you the following analogy.
Both of us are asked how to better move a couch up the stairs. My side suggests getting a bunch of people together to lift it, move it over the railings, and getting a few people inside to maneuver it through the door. Unwieldy, sure, and perhaps inefficient, but at least it worked. Your solution? Empty a gun into the sofa and hope God pulls it up.
I’m sorry. I’m supposed to be tactful, right? Positive? Okay.
Dear sir and/or madam, I am quite positive you have a massive learning disability, possibly self-inflicted from years of watching Fox and listening to Limbaugh. But just because you’re offended, you’re not right. Just because ten thousand people say it, it doesn’t make it true. Dismissing science, logic, and maturity does not make you quaint and homey. It makes you a child.
But I’ll be nice to you. Because it’s mean to be mean to children. Unless they’re idiots and refuse to learn from their mistakes. You know what? Forget it. You’re an idiot.
I’m pretty sure that was the moment I decided to try to reach out and educate people, maybe get a discussion going. I know some people will never be swayed by facts and experience, but I’m thankful for the things I’ve taught and for the things I myself have learned.
But frankly, the last year has been exhausting. I’ll be glad when the election is over. I’ll be more glad when I can finally tell myself I’ve edited Charcoal Streets as much as it’s going to get edited.
Good night. See you tomorrow, and remember…
Stories don’t tell children dragons exist. Stories tell children the dragon can be beaten.
I remember the moment I became interested in politics and world events. When I grew up in Mexico, I heard from someone that the United States had gone to war. To me, the United States was a magical land where people could find jobs, where you could be anything you wanted to be, where I could go to McDonald’s. That was my youthful, limited view of this country. I’d lived here when I was much, much younger, but before the age of ten, the United States was still a mysterious place where anything could happen. I mean, come on. It had Disneyland.
Eleven years ago, I was in my room while practicing for an upcoming choir competition. I had just popped in a tape (wow, I’m dating this) with the instrumentals to the songs we needed to learn. I was halfway through “Danny Boy.” I was just past the line about all the flowers dying when my mom called me to her room and said something had happened in New York City.
August 9, 2012
Limbaugh’s setting a new record for most dumb things said in a single month. Between his claim that The Dark Knight Rises is some sort of slam against Romney and the claim that liberals are somehow trying to make football illegal, he’s wandered into literary territory.
As a writer, I take particular offense to this. Just watch and see if your head doesn’t shoot blood from every pore.
Rush claims that people don’t understand the story of Robin Hood. He fought the government, he says. Most people, according to Limbaugh, think that Robin Hood just stole from the rich to give it to Maid Marian. It’s a lie, Limbaugh cries! He was stealing from the government! That makes him a Tea Party activist. Robin Hood, Limbaugh proudly claims, was anti-taxes.
I see about fifty things wrong with Limbaugh’s analysis, the key one being that he’s still somehow on the air and people are listening to him.
His analysis of Robin Hood as a Tea Party activist, however, is deeply flawed. Let me just say that what we consider the mythology of Robin Hood is actually a composite of various ballads and stories. There is no “definitive” story, but there are various early stories that have laid the path for the modern, popular incarnation. Here’s what can be pieced together.
Sources differ on whether Robin Hood was a commoner or a member of the aristocracy, though the modern portrayal shows him as a man who’s been wronged by Prince John and seeks to reclaim his family’s honor and land. It wasn’t until the 16th century that Robin Hood was given a definitive setting: the 1190’s, when King Richard I fought in the Crusades. There are various references to Robin stealing from the rich and giving to the poor in the original stories, but the general idea was there.
In fact, in popular culture, he stole from a group of aristocrats who made themselves rich by overtaxing the common people. In a way, Limbaugh is right in that Robin Hood was anti-tax, but he’s massively wrong to claim he’s a Tea Partier. The Tea Party, for all its claims that it’s standing up for the little people and the common man, is a branch of Koch Industries. The Tea Party may believe it’s helping the middle class, but the result of their actions are to give MORE power and money to the wealthy. It’s a fact, if we look at an America ruled by the Tea Party, that the results are not good for anyone except rich white Christian fundamentalist men.
Say goodbye to healthcare, police, firefighters, voting rights, education, social security in all its forms, and say hello to surveillance, limited marriage, and corporations that will rule over us like Prince John and his ilk who answer to no one and enforce the laws they see fit. Be sure you buy a gun, because law enforcement and gun regulations are a thing of the past.
The Three Rs by ~poasterchild on deviantART
Tea Partier? Please. Robin Hood would have marched with Occupy. The rich abused and took money from the poor. Robin Hood fought to get that money back and depose those who stepped on the backs of others to get their power. If we’re going strictly by the popular, modern incarnation, as I’m sure Limbaugh is doing since I’m certain he’s not looking up manuscripts stating “Robyn hode in scherewode stod,” he’s obviously never actually seen a Robin Hood movie or TV show.
This is typical of many Right Wing analogies. They lack either context or they deliberately remove one part of the analogy to make sense. Or, like Steve King recently did, they completely lie about what they’re talking about. This is what got me back when Glenn Beck was still on Fox. He kept using movie metaphors like comparing the Tea Party to the heroes in everything from Terminator to It’s a Wonderful Life. He, like Limbaugh, has no clue how to analyze literature or films and misses the important context clues.
If Limbaugh were my student and gave me this kind of analysis, I wouldn’t fail him because I disagreed with his political views. I would flunk him because he seemingly got his plot synopsis from a third-rate SparkNotes knock-off and looked at the story with all the clarity of a particularly nearsighted bat.
Let’s wash away the grating sound of literature dying by watching really bad drivers.
August 7, 2012
In a way, I’m sad that the culture war over gay rights has come to a head over a crappy chicken sandwich. On the other hand, I’m glad it finally opened the floodgates and we can tell who is for gay rights, who is pretending to be trendy, and who really has no idea what’s going on. For the latter group, let me explain a few things.
“This is a First Amendment issue!”
The most common gripe right now is that people who are boycotting Chick-Fil-A are somehow trampling on the company’s (and Cathy’s) freedom of speech.
He wants to believe gays shouldn’t marry, he has that right. He also has the right to donate money as he sees fit to whatever charity he chooses. My grievance, and that of many others, is WHO he gave the money to… the Family Research Council, among others. Just click the link and find out what kinds of people this good Christian man thinks deserve millions of his money.
Free speech means saying what you want. Paying to have others denied their rights is oppression. It’s that simple.
“Gay marriage isn’t that huge a deal! He’s just standing up for what he believes in!”
And what he believes in is hatred and intolerance even if he doesn’t sound like it.
Whenever people say they champion “traditional marriage,” it’s very likely they’re actually saying “the Biblical definition of marriage.” The problem, however, is that the Biblical definition of marriage is nowhere near what conservatives think. In fact, the Bible condones pretty much every other type of marriage except straight marriage. It advocates types of marriage we now consider highly unorthodox, so it’s ridiculous to claim opposition to gay marriage is based on the Bible.
Even worse, historically, “traditional marriage” has been a term used to deny rights to people who today can get married without fear of getting lynched. Interracial, different denominations, divorced couples… think about it. At one point, these groups were denied marriage for the same reason gay couples can’t get married. And every time, conservatives have been wrong. Their stance has been based on bigotry and hatred.
Why is this time any different?
Also, claiming that he’s innocent because he’s basing his actions on his beliefs pretty much frees any of us from any responsibility for our actions. The next time I get a traffic ticket, I can just say that my beliefs in chaos ruling the world make me except from the laws of man. So there.
“You’re just as intolerant as Cathy! You’re being intolerant of intolerance!”
…I’ve actually had people tell me this one. Somehow, calling someone out for being a bigot is the same as being a bigot.
Let me tell you something. Cathy and everyone like him can say whatever they want. I, too, can say whatever I want, and that includes disagreeing with him and his beliefs. However, I take special offense the actions he takes to limit gay rights and donate to a group that thinks homosexuality should be a criminal offense and thinks gays being killed for being gay is a good thing.
On the other hand, the Right doesn’t bat an eyelid when people on their side protest and boycott in the name of morals. Disney and General Mills, for example, have been hit with protests for their own stance on gay rights, and yet those actions were called brave, moral, etc.
But god forbid the Left protests something! We’re a bunch of communazi baby-killers, right?
“But it IS a First Amendment issue! Those mayors tried to ban Chick-Fil-A from their cities!”
Yeah, but they were wrong. A lot of people on the Left agree they were out of line to suggest they could deny a business a license based on their donations.
On the other hand, the Right was perfectly fine with denying mosques the right to build where they wished. That was also a First Amendment issue, but the Right screamed and whined that, well, they just didn’t want mosques in their cities. There was a wave of violence and a series of protests against Muslims who wanted to build houses of worship, and none on the Right stood up and said, “Hey, maybe this is a First Amendment issue.”
So remember, folks: chicken sandwich > religious liberty.
“Well, I don’t want to be part of this stupid debate. I’m going to keep going to Chick-Fil-A, but I still support gay rights.”
This is the same as saying, “I’m all for civil rights, but I’m going to keep eating at Swastikas and Subs, the Neo-Nazi shop down the street. I know they donate to the Klan, but they make a great meatball sub.”
If you know where the money goes and say you’re still for gay rights, you’re a hypocrite, pure and simple.
“But are you saying I have to check where companies donate their money and buy based on my stance on important social issues?! What about gas? Are you going to stop buying gas because it helps fund Middle Eastern dictatorships?”
Uhm, yes. You do have to check.
I know it’s impossible to check every major store, and it gets more confusing since many companies are owned by larger companies that are owned by larger companied, etcetera, etcetera, but if you KNOW you’re hurting the gay community and you keep doing this despite having the choice of going somewhere else, you’re complacent.
I’d love to stop buying gas form the Middle East, but have very little say on the matter. But this? I can NOT buy a chicken sandwich.
“What about all the jobs that will be lost if the boycott succeeds? You’re hurting everyone else!”
No, that would be Cathy. He made a terrible business decision by giving money to an organization that’s labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Center. Management made a terrible decision that hurt the company’s image. If Disney decided to donate a million dollars to groups that wanted to keep minorities from voting, a good chunk of the population would be outraged and stop buying Disney products.
Any lost business would be the fault of management angering their customers. We’re responding to something the company did, and if employees lose out on it, it’s a simple fix: Cathy has to stop donating to hate groups.
The point is that companies aren’t entitled to our business. They have to please their customers and put out a quality product. Chick-Fil-A did something that has a physical impact on the gay community. Their customers don’t like that. We’re boycotting.
If anyone suffers, it’s Cathy’s fault.
Don’t believe me? When was the last time Christians lined up at strip clubs to give money to the poor girls dancing their way through college? Because, after all, who will think of the employees?
The Bottom Line
Cathy’s donations hurt the gay community. People who willingly buy Chick-Fil-A sandwiches are feeding those donations. To ignore that fact is to be complacent and culturally lazy if you actually think gays should have the same rights as the rest of us.
The Right took more offense to a business losing money and being called out for its homophobia than to houses of worship being desecrated and attacked in the name of hate. They mobilized like Jesus himself was making sandwiches.
It’s enough to make me gag. And now, let’s see one brave, and stupid, protestor make a stance against gay rights.