If we’re going to have gun debate, and if we’re going to be adults, we need to get a few facts straight. Like I’ve said before, we’re entitled to our own opinions, but we’re not entitled to our own facts. If we do this and remember to respect each other, we should be fine.
With that in mind, we need to clear up a few “facts” about gun control.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen many on the pro-gun side posting pictures of Israeli teachers armed with rifles. You can see one such picture above. These individuals point to it and say it’s a beautiful thing to see a country determined and willing to protect its youth, that it shows our cowardice when we don’t arm our own teachers.
Don't get teary-eyed until you read this... Then you'll hate me.
October 6, 2011
Steve Jobs passed away yesterday. A lot of my friends have already expressed their gratitude for Apple products, and while I know that Jobs did indeed change the market and helped usher the computer revolution, I’m still a PC man.
This is not a slam on Jobs, people. I’ve used Apple products before. I had to while I was working with He Who Shall Not Be Named. I even own an iPod I like a lot. I can appreciate the simplicity of selling a product that anyone could use right out of the box, and I think Apple does a lot of things very well. However, I have one huge gripe with Apple products.
Guys, Steve Jobs was a businessman and a nerd. He made and sold computers. Owning said computers does not make you part of the Apple community, some Borg-like collective of innovation. Using a Mac does not make you a genius. A Mac is not akin to the monolith in 2001. It is not a mysterious source of power that will grant you God-like abilities. Sure, an iPhone is handy, and there are many things it lets you do.
But it’s a phone.
I understand that a Mac is quite powerful and a handy tool if you want to work in film or graphic design. But it’s not THE tool. Back when I worked with HWSNBN, he had the latest, top-of-the-line Apple products. He could make gorgeous graphic designs and covers. He had the latest version of Photoshop and iMovie.
I could do the same kind of design on a four-year-old computer with a cheap Photoshop knock-off that was eight versions out of date. It took a few seconds for the filters and effects to render, but it was the same thing. I wish I could show the images, but Texas deer ranchers are VERY protective of people using images of their deer.
It’s a tragedy to be sure. We saw her self-destruct before our very eyes since, well… since she broke out. As of this writing, the cause of death is unknown, but my money is on her becoming another casualty of too successful and no way to deal with the pressure.
She’s not the first member of the infamous 27 Club, and I doubt she will be the last.
But the rest of us writers, singers, composers, and artists need to be careful to not fall into the trap of thinking this was inevitable. As artists, we already have a reputation as loners, weirdoes, and self-absorbed misanthropes. We don’t need the world thinking that we need the sweet release of cold death to make us go out in a blaze of glory.
There’s a misconception that real art is indefinable. That a tortured artist is the truest type of artist, a man or a woman who creates something no one truly understands because they lack the artist’ genius, is the stereotype many attribute to our community. That being said, most people really don’t understand art. I’ve written about this on MANYoccasions.
But the point I’m trying to make in this little rant is that if you create something no one gets and you see this as proof of your genius, you’re not a genius. If your art doesn’t speak to SOMEONE, it didn’t do its job. Art does not exist in a vacuum. If you do happen to create something that touches millions, something that says or shows something we haven’t seen before, the pressure to perform and create something better can be overwhelming. I’ve been there. The urge to create clashing with the need to perform can turn anyone into a quivering pile of humanity.
That being said, I would appreciate it if people stopped drinking themselves to death or shooting their brains out because they feel they can’t even try.
You know what? Art is hard. If the next attempt isn’t as good, is it still good on its own? I recently heard one of my friends say that everything the Red Hot Chili Peppers made after their drug years was crap because it wasn’t as good as their early stuff. That’s a matter of taste between the funk and thrash of early RHCP and later, more melodic music, but it shows the kind of mentality that we adopt when we rate things based on a curve.
Did Winehouse kill herself over the need to be something larger than she was? As of now, I don’t know. If she did, it’s a tragedy, not only because a talented artist is gone, but because we have another example of an artist who, instead of stepping up to the plate and at least trying, went on a slow suicide binge.
And even if it was just an overdose and an accident, I’m still mad at her.
Think about it. Have you ever had to tell a story to someone while remaining as objective as possible? Try telling ANY story without having your own bias influence it and you’ll see the challenge of trying to be a journalist.
That being said, it’s one of the reasons Fox News needs to drop “news” from its name.
As many of you have heard, Fox’s parent company, Newscorp, has a bit of a problem. They’ve been caught in various hacking scandals, everything from hacking a missing (later confirmed dead) girl’s phone to listen in to messages left behind by grieving relatives and friends, to hacking 9/11 families, celebrities, and everyone else under the sun. These hacks have become a federal case both here and in the UK. Needless to say, Rupert Murdoch’s days are numbered…
Except he still controls Fox News, and Fox is, by their own admission, fair and balanced, so they must be telling the truth, right?
The scandal has received little mention on the Little Network that Could, but one story in particular showed just how far the so-called “journalists” at Fox are willing to go to protect their parent company at the cost of journalism ethics. Check out the following clip and see if you can tell where they dropped the ball.
They make a big point of the fact that there are other hacking cases out there, but we’re all focusing on Newscorp. The Pentago got hit too, they cry out! Why don’t we focus on THEM!? Why are we all gawking at poor Newscorp?!
Because, despite what the clip tried to insinuate, Newscorp is the one that did the hacking, not the one that got hacked. We’re watching the company because they are the accused party, not the victim. It’s like Herman Cain playing the victim because people call him out for his hatred of Islam. It’s like Bachmann supporters acting all butt-hurt because Michelle “Queen of Loony Land” keeps getting corrected for all her gaffes.
To Fox and everyone who supports them, you’re not the victims. You’re the ones who are accused. You’re like a robber than complains he had to get tackled by police after fleeing the scene of a crime. You’re like the high school hero who says he can’t be allowed to fail a class or he won’t be able to play on the team. You’re like the politician who pulls strings to hide an affair because he has too much power and too much to lose.
Okay, but there’s one HUGE difference between the Wikileaks incident and what News of the World did.
The paper was fishing. They were blackmailing. They did not use the hacking to uncover information about crimes. This information was used for sensationalism and self-service. Wikileaks, whatever the legality of their actions, exposed crimes.
Where is the need to hack a dead girl’s phone to listen to the anguished cries of her parents, friends, and family? What does the paper gain from violating the privacy of 9/11 families? Hacking celebrities?
What Newscorp did was illegal and morallity reprehensable. If Fox was a real news organization, if it had any integrity, it would report on the scandal instead of trying to cover for the boss.
But then again, Fox ISN’T a news organization, is it?
And now, to wash away images of bad, bad Murdoch, here is a tutorial on how to speak good like Kristen Stewart.
You know how we keep saying “the customer is always right?”
The customer is usually a moron. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever worked in the food or retail industry. I’m right there with you. I worked as a waiter at Flamencos and served food to very wealthy individuals who felt it would have been insulting to somehow pay more than five percent on a hundred dollar tab.
I can’t go into specifics for various reasons, but a lot of events lately have really made me think about that saying.
The customer is always right? Really?
Let’s say the customer walks into a mechanics’ shop and says he needs a new plasma conduit for the warp drive he installed in his Honda Civic. Is he right? Would you supply him with the dilithium crystals he needs to get back to Ceti Alpha-V?
The customer would like to THINK he or she is right. If voting patterns and general knowledge are any indication, the general population really has no idea what it’s talking about. That being said, I’d like to know why we think that people who work anywhere are our servants.
Some of us go through training, often for years in my current job, and must meet stringent criteria just to get hired. Typically, to work in a restaurant, you have to know the menu and at least try a few things. A barista has to know all the yuppie terms for coffee sizes and the right combinations of flavors. I, as a writer, have to know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to language. I’m not perfect, but I guarantee I know a lot more than someone who’s last use of the word “verb” was in high school English sophomore year.
I’ll tell you this much. I was recently told it would be inappropriate to say that a piece of writing, a single sentence, was “bad.” It might make the writer feel bad, they said.
Well, guess what? Tough. I’m not going to sugar-coat it just for the writer’s benefit. Honestly, “bad” was about as nice as I could have put it. It wasn’t a lie, and I wasn’t going to stop there. I was going to include an explanation of what made the sentence harmful to the rest of the paragraph and what would be done to fix it. You, that thing called “constructive criticism”? Yeah, it’s also called “teaching.”
This is really the same reason why movies and television generally suck. We put everything in front of a group of the “average” viewer. To be fair, this is what gets you ratings. Give the people what they want. It’s why the boycott against Beck was so successful in getting him off the air. If writers and artists aren’t afraid to push the boundaries of good taste or do something shocking, we’ll keep getting the same boring crap we always get. It’s the one thing I love about Joss Whedon. I know he’s got his MANY flaws, but the man’s not afraid to kill off someone you like to get the story to a different place.
I won’t pretend there aren’t bad employees out there in every field. I’ve worked with and been served by them. But here’s my promise to the world.
I’ll assume you know what you’re doing if you promise to act like a professional.
Unless you’re the jackals at Triple-J that tried to charge me $1,400 to replace my engine when my future father-in-law fixed said car by replacing ONE $100 piece. On his own. During his lunch break.
If people wonder why there is no more company loyalty, it might be because companies, whether they’re governments or corporations, sell out employees for the sake of “customer loyalty.” Yeah, the employees are the ones that make the whole thing run. In fact, putting employees first actually gets you better customer service than throwing said employees to the wolves.
And now, I leave you with a bunch of people who should probably stay away from any job that does not require a paper hat.
And this wasn’t even a sudden accident. Dunn had a history of DUI’s and posted pictures of himself drinking before the accident. He drove his car at over a hundred miles per hour and had to be identified by his tattoos. The car was a wreck that could only be identified as a car because it was on a road.
Roger Ebert and R. K. Milholland both wrote about the death and made no attempt to hide their contempt for Dunn, though Milholland used more dark humor than the former. Both have gotten a lot of flak for it on Twitter and elsewhere.
Ebert made a now infamous tweet where he said, “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.” Granted, at the time of the tweet, it was unknown if alcohol had been involved, but the pictures of Dunn made it clear that alcohol was involved. No one sobers up that quickly. Milholland, on the other hand, should be well-known to anyone with a sick sense of humor. If you don’t read his comic, look at the first comic ONLY, and if you laugh, you get it. If you think it’s sick, well, the internet is not for you. If you were entertained, good for you. Keep reading. That online comic kept me sane for many years.
And Randy, if you’re reading this, you’ve been an inspiration for a long time. Keep it up!
Here’s what this rage over the comments boils down to. A man known by millions got lit like a German Christmas tree and crashed his VERY expensive car, killing himself and another human being.
I have contempt for Jackass, which is how many knew Dunn. I think it’s nothing more than a bunch of guys acting stupid to get attention, that it’s the widely-distributed version of self-inflicted pain Youtube videos. Don’t get me wrong; I love watching people get hurt on Youtube, but I do so with the understanding that said people were trying to act cool or do something stupid and ended up paying a physical price for it. I don’t look up to them or care for them. That’s what makes it funny. If someone purposefully hurts him or herself in an attempt to get attention, well, they’re a ja-
Nah, too easy.
Comedy occurs when someone whom we don’t care for is hurt. Mel Brooks himself said it best. If any one of you actually thought Dunn was funny and if you cared for him, you would not laugh at him for Jackass. Did you laugh? Then you didn’t care, so stop complaining.
Translation? If you act stupid and get hurt, expect me to laugh at you not because I think you’re a comedian, but because you’re an idiot.
If Dunn had been the only person killed a few days ago, yes, I’d probably mourn the loss of an irreplaceable human life, regardless of what I thought of his career. I’d be right there with Johnny Knoxville and the others.
But Dunn killed a man.
Said passenger should have known better, but Dunn was the one who drove and Dunn was the one who wrapped his car around a pole and burned both men to death.
Ebert and Milholland are right. They were a bit more… creative with their reactions, but in case you don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter, here was my reaction, date June 21st, 1:28 PM Central Time:
Ryan Dunn died while driving drunk after twitting a pic of himself drinking for several hours. His car was a twisted wreck since he was driving at triple-digit speed. Reports say he killed at least one other person. Yes, it’s a tragedy. No, I do not feel sorry for him. If the world was fair, he would have been the only one to die. Idiot…
If you don’t like someone pointing out another person’s stupidity and the utter waste of life, get off the internet. I’ve lost enough people in the last ten years… hell, the last ten MONTHS, to qualify me for horror-movie survivor status. I will gladly acknowledge that some of my loved ones had their faults. Everyone does.
But none of them killed a man in the act of inadvertently taking their own lives.
If you can’t accept that fact, if you can’t even listen to someone else RIGHTLY criticize a man for taking a human life in the process of ending his own, stop reading right now.
If you’re still butt-sore and want to vent some rage, I recommend you wear a lead jock strap and get a kryptonite ring before you post anything.
Okay, this is going to be brief, but I have some advice for all your writers and artists out there struggling to get the next paragraph out. I know you’re staring at the computer screen, or the easel, or something else and you think that if you stare at it hard enough, it will write itself.
Get out of the house.
This morning, Mary and I went to do a little field work. To be honest, I was getting a little burned out on Charcoal Streets. Things started to sound flat. It didn’t pop like it used to. Things just read, well, boring.
I’d wanted to go downtown and take pictures, walk through the border, and experience the sights, sounds, and smells of border culture. Three hours, one hundred degrees, and three hundred pictures later, we had some incredible shots to work with for both photomanipulation and as final works themselves.
The smells of the streets, the feeling of being utterly exhausted in the heat and still feeling accomplishment at everything we did, energized me more than I can explain. People-watching is a wonderful tool for artists, and this trip offered a lot of notes, images, and memories.
We found a church that was bricked up down to the windows. The door was rusted shut and nothing, not even a sign, told us anything about it.
Another church had a beautiful metal cross… though one quarter was rusted and falling apart while the rest remained almost pristine.
Mansions and former elegant homes dot the city, and many have been turned into offices for lawyers and others. Some, however, are empty, overgrown shells that wouldn’t look out of place in a Silent Hill game.
I haven’t sweat like that in years, not since I worked door-to-door sales in a cotton uniform in the middle of July. I still feel hot despite having drunk cool water since we got back to the apartment, but I’m sure it will pass.
Apparently, now science can offer you the chance to get a rough estimate of your lifespan. It looks like a series of blood tests can give you a pretty accurate range of how long your biological clock has before it stops ticking. It won’t give you the time and specific date, but you should know within a reasonable margin. It doesn’t of course take into account things like getting hit by a bus or a surprise ninja attack, but it does beg the question.
I know my grandfather knew when he would die. He prepared. He had everything in order and did everything he wanted to do. Me? I don’t know. I guess there would be some advantages to knowing if I was going to go at fifty or a hundred and ten.
I could plan. I could make sure I gave myself enough time to do all the things I want to do. If I only had a few years left, I could easily put aside the money to take those trips I’ve wanted to take, and write every book I ever wanted to write. I’d make sure I left the people I loved with enough to get by.
Of course, there’s also the flipside. Let’s say my test shows I’ve got ten years to live. Ten years? There are not enough vices in Las Vegas for the kind of bender I’d go during the first weekend. I think most people, given the resources, would probably have one last hurrah.
Of course, all we have to do is see how people reacted when they believed the world was going to end this week. Some of them spent their last few months spreading the good word and trying to convince others to follow suit. Some wanted to make sure their pets were well-taken care of.
Death has a way of crystallizing your priorities. Do you want to be cremated or buried? Do you want your ashes scattered or kept in an urn or a mausoleum? What song do you want played at your funeral?
We’re all going to die. That’s a given. The real decision to be made is how we want to go out. Me, I don’t think I’d take the test. That ticking clock would be too much. I’d rather just live every day as though I have to accomplish something.
This child has no gender. Well, it has one, but the parents are raising said child as though it did not have one. Gender is, after all, a social construction. Why not let the kid make his or her own decisions? I once had a sociology professor who, on a whim, dressed his infant son in a pink outfit and got really weird reactions from people who later found out said baby was male.
And finally, Danny Trejo is awesome. He is what Chuck Norris would be if Chuck wasn’t crazy but instead like that awesome uncle who used to run Black Ops in the jungle. Here’s a brief song to the man himself.
My sister called me to her apartment. My fiancé and I don’t have cable, and she said Obama was about to announce that Bin Laden was dead. Mary and I rushed to her place and waited until Obama confirmed, without a doubt, that the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks was in fact dead, killed by a precision operation in Pakistan.
Right then and there, I felt two things. First, I was glad that the mass-murdering son of a bitch responsible for pushing us into a pseudo-police state complete with socially acceptable racism and fear that Big Brother is watching us finally got the bullet to the head he deserved.
Secondly… I caught myself for thinking that I was glad Bin Laden got a bullet in the head.
Look, I remember the horror when the Twin Towers were hit. They wouldn’t let us have the news on for the first part of class that day and all I’d seen was the second plane hit live. When they finally turned the news back on, all we saw was a cloud of dust.
“Where are the towers? Where are the towers?”
I must have repeated it for a full minute before my brain finally accepted that they were gone.
I shut myself in my room when I saw that we’d invaded Iraq as one of my “friends” cheered for more bloodshed. I watched video on CNN that reminded me too much of the first Gulf War.
I worked in DC during the ninth anniversary of the attacks and could hear “Amazing Grace” playing from every office in the Cannon Office Building as everyone paused for the memorial at the Pentagon. It was the only sound you could hear through the tall halls of the Cannon House Office Building right by the Rotunda.
And despite having pushed us into a world where air travel is a humiliating experience complete with full body scans, a world where Muslims are still persecuted for the actions of a few radicals, a world where a sizable percentage of my countrymen yearn for war and blood and we seem to be regressing, I don’t think I wanted Bin Laden dead. I wanted him on trial. When the victims are dead, those of us that stay behind must speak for them. I wanted him to spend the rest of his life in a cell plastered with the pictures of the men and women he helped kill and the servicemen and women who were killed or maimed because our leadership started two wars to try and capture him.
But not dead.
Still, I can’t say I didn’t cheer when I heard the news.
Even though this may make things worse, for a moment at least, I feel a sense of relief. Yes, the revenge killings will probably come, but I feel a sense of closure, however bitter it may be. It’s like Bin Laden had this Xanatos Gambit where getting killed would show us to be revenge-drive lunatics like his own bombers and, if he lived, we would appear weak. Someone like him very likely had no intention of being taken alive. Whatever happened, we lost in the end.
Not that I don’t think he deserved what he got, though.
Frankly, a Navy SEAL team shooting him is merciful. I wanted to drop him into the middle of Times Square, shine a spotlight on him and say, “Have at it, folks,” while I handed out hammers and skinning knives to the people of New York City.
You might be thinking that an $88,000 watch is ridiculous, and you’d be right, but that doesn’t mean that the reviews for this amazingly over-prized watch aren’t hilarious in on themselves. Did you know it’s made of Popes?
Ladies and gentlemen, the greatest president of all time (cue lame pun).
The Right is already spinning Bin Laden’s death as everything from a tragedy to proof of corruption. Wow. A hundre4d bucks says that if Bush had given the order, they wouldn’t be complaining.
Everyone feeling the impending weekend? Oh, I am. I’m dusting off some notes from the last few years and finally finding time to write a series of short stories set on the border. These aren’t “chicano” fiction, however. If anything, they’re urban fantasy with a border twist. Should be fun. I might post a few excerpts here on slow days over the summer.
Also, I get to play D&D again. It’s been a long time since I got to sit on the boring side of the DM screen. Pommel, the warforged fighter, lives again! They clang, b1tch3z!
Anyway, enough of my geekery. Links!
Ever wanted to own a piece of fake history? A creation museum is selling a few choice pieces including rocks, bones, and fossils that all prove the Earth is 6,000 years old.
And finally… I know I’ve gone on about making things gritty for the sake of gritty and have mocked the practice with the continuing stories “Peaches and Bullet Bills,” but a trailer’s hit the web in the last few days that shows a gritty, realistic Mortal Kombat. Rumor says it’s a trailer for an upcoming movie. Others think it might be a rpmo for the new MK game due out later this year, but this is looking less and less likely. Personally, I just think it’s bloody, violent, and everything the first two MK movies should have been. Check it out and comment. Warning: there’s a fair amount of gore.