There’s been a lot of gun talk recently since the murder-suicide of Jovan Belcher and the recent Florida murder of Jordan Davis by a Michael Dunn, who claimed to be defending himself from nefarious teens with loud music. In fact, maybe it’s me, but it seems that senseless deaths and massacres were the big gun stories this year. And now, of course, Fox has to go and offer their take on this very touchy issue. A lot of people on Facebook are also running to the protection of these defenseless firearms.
Let’s start with the conservative right-wing noise machine, though. It’s black people’s fault. I’m not even joking about this. Just take a look here. Also, check out the flippant way Gutfield here just dismisses kids being killed by guns as just gang members killing each other off.
Gun violence is an “urban problem,” just some kids in gangs shooting each other. Sorry, but that’s crap. Statistically, rural areas, especially in the south, have higher instances of gun violence than urban areas. Of course, whenever someone at Fox says “urban,” you know what they really mean. It’s the same position they had regarding welfare. The one where they said welfare was hurting the black community.
The conservative circle-jerk, though, got ugly when Fox suggested that female victims of violence should just make better decisions. The advice was not, you know, for men to stop being violent. Or for us to find the root cause of all this violence in our country. Nope. Blame the victim.
This dribble from Fox would be offensive and rage-inducing enough, but I also saw something floating around Facebook over the last few days. Feast your eyes:
Wow. Yeah. Uhm, baseball bats?
Sorry, but no cigar.
Here are the realstats according to those organizations. You may notice that blunt objects account for a VERY small part of this and firearms account for more than two thirds of the total. The graph on Facebook uses some weird Martian math we humans haven’t perfected yet, but the bottom line is that guns help crimes. You want to talk about the Second Amendment and its role in helping citizens defend themselves? Wonderful, but don’t tell me bats kill more people than guns. Don’t tell me people go on mass batting sprees. Don’t tell me children get killed by not knowing how to use a bat.
First of all, a gun is a weapon, not a tool. A car is designed to move people and good from one point to another. Its status as a “killer” on that list is because people don’t properly use them. It’s intended purpose is transport. The same thing goes for a knife. Drug abuse and falls hurt the person too stupid to know what he or she is doing. Drugs, I might add, are also used for religious ceremonies in certain cultures. And many of the things on that list are ACCIDENTS. How many gun deaths are from accidents? How many are intentional? That’s another huge difference.
When properly used, a gun kills something. When improperly used, a gun kills something. It’s a weapon. See the difference?
If we’re going to have the gun discussion, we need to all be on the same page of reality. Stop talking about guns as though they were some holy artifact of American pride. A gun is not a tool. It is a weapon. Firearms have been involved in more deaths than any other weapon and our country has the highest homicide rates in the modern world. Areas with the most lax gun laws have higher homicide rates. Most NRA members support tougher gun laws, registration, and background checks, but the idiots at the top (including Ted Nugent) say “No” because if we can track guns and make sure criminals have a harder time getting to them, then apparently scary Obama and the communists will invade America.
Yes, there is such a thing as a responsible gun owner, but a responsible gun owner should also be aware of the damage that a firearm can do. The bulk of the NRA knows this and wants tougher gun laws. Believe it or not, I’m pro-Second Amendment, but I’d like to make it harder for sickos to buy a thousand rounds of ammo before they shoot up a school. I’d like to know convicted criminals can’t get their hands on a Beretta. I want to know that if someone owns a gun, he or she is well-trained and continues to be well-trained. You have to at least be able to read a sign to drive a car, but apparently, asking for mental stability when purchasing an item that is strictly a weapon is a sign of fascism.
A gun isn’t a blanket. Stop clinging to it like a five-year old.
Why do we need guns? Because others have guns! Makes sense, right?
July 25, 2012
The shootings in Aurora, Colorado have once again brought up the debate about gun control, and once again, the Right is shrieking that it’s being persecuted all because someone used the laws they passed and killed a dozen people.
Let’s get a few things out of the way first.
I am pro-second Amendment. I believe it’s a good idea to be able to own guns. I understand hunting and shooting are part of our national heritage and can exist without animosity or hate towards others. However, I also have the capacity for critical thinking.
And the NRA and pro-gun lobby are dangerously wrong on a lot of points. And poor me, all I have is documented evidence instead of calls to fear and persecution.
The idea that some lone hero could stop these tragedies lies with our romantic notion of the lone gunslinger, the brave soul who steps up and solves the problem before it starts.
Consider this. Katie Pavlich was in a church when an armed assailant went in with the intent to kill. She put him down before he initiated a massacre. Sounds like a great argument for being able to own guns and take them anywhere, right? One problem, though. Pavlich was an armed security guard hired by the church. Yes, a gun stopped the massacre, but that’s because she and her team knew who was and wasn’t supposed to have a firearm inside. Plus, they were on watch. In the middle of a chaotic shooting, if more than one person is firing, how are bystanders going to know who to shoot at?
Also, remember that human reaction time is roughly a third of a second, but if everyone had a gun, this might offset that sort of delay, right?
A few years ago, an armed assailant got the jump on four police officers. Who were armed. And MAYBE managed to hit him once before he ran off. You can only react so fast. You’d have to be actively looking for trouble, but even then, having more guns on the scene is not a good thing.
During the Gabrielle Giffords shooting last year, multiple civilians had firearms on the scene. It didn’t stop the shooter, and one of the supposed heroes almost got shot himself. Joe Zamudio rushed someone else that had already disarmed the shooter… and nearly killed the wrong man. By Zamudio’s own admission, it was a stroke of pure luck that kept him from executing an innocent bystander. A lot of people made a big deal that Zamudio had a gun and he helped stop the shooter. True, he did, but he didn’t use his gun. The gun had no direct impact on his actions. In fact, the gun just made him more confident he would be safe and he wasn’t shot at. In the end, it wasn’t the firearms that helped stop the shooter. It was sheer guts and courage. The gun almost resulted in MORE death.
Let me put it another way. This is a loaded example, but follow me on this. When we developed nuclear weapons, we didn’t say that every country should have them. We still don’t think some countries should even THINK of developing them. We didn’t go out and give everyone the plans to make sure we could police each other. I don’t think ANYONE thinks giving North Korea or Iran is the best way to make sure we’re safe. A nuclear weapon is designed to kill. A gun is designed to kill. I don’t see a huge difference in why we want to limit one but not the other.
“Banning guns will just keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.”
First of all, I’m not saying we should ban guns. I’d just like to know that people with guns are not convicted felons. Take cars, for example. In order to drive, you have take a test, show you are capable of maneuvering a ton of steel of flammable fuel, and get insurance and registration in case anything should happen. Last year, we had 32,000 automotive fatalities in this country. Compare that to roughly the same number of gun-related deaths in the same time period. How much lower could that second number be if we actually forced people to receive proper training and get licensed?
When people died in car accidents, someone realized we could build a strap to help keep people from flying out the window. Then someone came up with the air bag. Then someone thought about including crumple zones and all manner of technology. Now, we can’t legally text and drive. With cars, we’ve made the machine safer and instituted penalties for reckless usage.
It’s not like we say we need more drivers on the road to corral bad drivers if they get out of hand. We don’t ask soccer moms in SUVs to push drink drivers to the side of the road. Why are we asking everyone else to be cowboys when it comes to guns?
“We need to trust our citizenry to get trained and be responsible. It’s up to the individual to make these choices.”
The right to own a gun is not the same as magically acquiring responsibility, much like turning 21 doesn’t automatically mean you know how to drink responsibly. It’s the reason we don’t allow things like drunk driving and go after drunk drivers HARD. We’ve shown time and time again that left to their own choices, people are outright stupid. I’m not advocating government control of our lives. I don’t think Big Brother should be monitoring our love lives, our search history, or whether or not we just mouth the pledge of allegiance. I don’t think the government should have a hand in every business…
But I also think we need monitoring and regulatory agencies to make sure companies don’t dump poisons into the air and water and pay fair wages while not abusing employees.
There’s a reason we enacted these laws, and yet when it comes to technology that allows one person to shoot one hundred people in a crowded theater, we don’t bat an eyelid. We just say, “Oh, the people who were shot should have brought guns too.”
Yes, America wants more gun control and restrictions. The NRA is the one that wields a megaphone, but being loud and being right are not the same thing. This isn’t an appeal to the masses, either. If the question comes down to a vote, the majority wins and we get more gun control.
“Even if we change the laws, we can’t round up all the guns out there. It would be impossible.”
There are a lot of guns out there. There are people who have purchased extended magazines for pistols. There are people that bought assault weapons. There are collectors who have a dozen or more guns in their homes. They bought all these things legally.
Changing the law won’t mean they have to give them back if we word this right. The easiest thing would be to outlaw the sale of certain magazines and weapons after a certain date. Those bought before that date would still be legal, but perhaps restricted. Possibly transporting them or re-selling them would be an issue, but the point is to not keep making the same mistake just because we can’t undo the past.
This is like saying, “Well, we can’t pay back all these people for slavery, so why get rid of slavery?”
Small changes add up.
“Gun control is not the issue. We need to address drug regulation/ fear/ mental health/ etc.”
Banning certain types of firearms or making it difficult for someone to stock up on 6,000 rounds of ammo and enough guns to take on a Terminator may not stop the whackos, the lunatics, the crazies, and the criminals from finding them through less legal means… but it will certainly stop other, less-determined idiots.
Yes, we should address the root causes of this violence, but in the meantime, we can make it harder for one lunatic to wipe out a room full of people in ten seconds. It’s like saying we shouldn’t focus on AIDS treatments since we should be looking for a cure.
“The Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms. How dare we interfere with this fundamental right?”
I’m always dumbstruck by people who fall back on the argument that the Founders did this and the Constitution says this so it must be right. Why? What made the Founders these pillars of wisdom and common sense? They had some wonderful ideas, but they were a very diverse lot. Some wanted more state’s rights. Others thought the federal government should have final control over the states. Others thought only white men should vote.
Looking back at the fact that Americans in the 1770’s could own flintlocks and using that as the basis for allowing every citizen to buy assault weapons, extended magazines, or who knows what else misses the point. We’re all adults. We can ask if freedom of expression should protect people who yell “Fire” in a crowded theater.
That means we can also ask if we should allow everyday citizens to purchase weapons that can empty a thirty-plus round magazine in two seconds. I seriously doubt deer have equivalent firepower.
And, on another, note, people like the gentleman in this article that says he would feel naked without his ammo and guns scare me. They’re basically saying that they feel wrong about something, so it must be true. That’s not an argument. That’s an opinion. Give me facts, damn it!
Look, Obama is not coming for our guns. The United Nations is not going to ban firearms. Hunting will still be allowed. I and people like me want background checks. We want a red flag to go up whenever someone buys thousands of rounds of ammo. At the very least, we’d like to know the people who purchase and own a handgun are competent, well-trained individuals who can be punished for misusing their newfound power.
In the end, though, this debate comes down to fear. The NRA and extreme gun-nuts are afraid they won’t have their dick-extenders to hold on to while they watch Fox.
Food, camping supplies, and firearms with ammo. Sad thing? You can buy all of this at Wal-Mart in one trip.
May 29, 2012
The last few weeks, I’ve spent a little time researching disaster scenarios and post-apocalyptic plans from everything from FEMA to hard-core survivalists. I’ve seen places that buy emergency food stashes and companies that will turn that nice home of yours into an armored fortress with a secret underground level that will sustain you and your loved ones for months after the bombs drop.
Of course, it’s not all survivalist fringe cases. I’ve also been looking at documentaries on real-life disasters and looking up how people survive in a place without resources, everything from water to total anarchy resulting from a collapsed government or even a collapsed biosphere. I’ve been doing this for two reasons: the upcoming post-apocalyptic RPG I’m running and a story I’m thinking of expanding into a full-blown novel. Mary has also been outlining a story that takes place after a so-far-undisclosed catastrophe. All in all, it’s been very informative.
I’ve also grown to expect the complete collapse of society at any moment.
Our finances are in the toilet, we’re using 99% of the available growing space on Earth and can’t feed everyone, the environment is heading downhill, and interconnectivity has made us more vulnerable to a world-wide catastrophe than ever before. In a way, I understand the people who hoard food and bullets. There are courses for teens, parents, people in urban areas, etc. Some of the things these sites suggest make sense. If you live in an area prone to natural disasters, for example, keep plenty of food and water and other supplies in case of a prolonged scenario.
I understand all that. It’s a scary world.
What I still don’t understand is the mentality that this sort of preparation must be done 24/7. I’ve come across more than a few sites and books that all made the claim that we need to disaster-proof every aspect of our lives. We should hoard water and food and guns and bullets RIGHT NOW. Everything we do must be geared towards survival.
I’ll admit that knowing what to do in a disaster and being prepared are one thing, but I’m not about to spend my life getting ready for something that may never happen. I would rather have preparations to survive and live than prepare for something that may never happen. Glenn Beck made a living out of telling people they had to prepare for the impending holocaust that liberalism would bring. In uncertain times, people can easily pitch relief, information, or affirmation.
My take on all this? Have a plan, have supplies, know what to do, and then go out and live.
With that said, I’m going to leave you with a little music for the end of the world. Enjoy.
The apocalypse has been a recurring topic in the office lately.
I’ve been doing research for an upcoming game. It’s set decades after a failed alien invasion, and though I wrote about it last year and we gamed for several weeks, my players asked me to restart it. I’ve been doing a little research because we’re going to do new characters and the setting will also be different in order to take the story and game to the next level.
That being said, I’ve been looking back at my notes and seeing the kinds of things this group of cryogenically-frozen would have been given before getting shunted into the future. I also need to familiarize myself with the kinds of things a post-apocalyptic society needs in order to run.
You know what? That’s a lot of stuff. Also, I know wish I had an NBC-proof bunker stocked with food and weapons.
The research, though, has helped me flesh out the world as it exists decades after the invasion. I’ve looked at survival kits, bunker designs, and what cities would do without a hundred years of human maintenance. Not only am I seriously considering hoarding food and toilet paper now, but I’ve re-learned that society needs a LOT to keep functioning. The lists of supplies could easily fit in a book. The sheer number of medical supplies is enough to stock a hospital, even if you cut the list down to the things you could expect a well-stocked team to carry around. In a perfect world, I could use all this information to create a very rich, textured world full of possibilities.
I’m not going to do that, though.
Then why do all the research, you may ask? Why not use all this information?
I’m not going to use all of it because it would be a waste of notes. When my players ask me what they find when they raid a medical base or a hospital, for example, I’m going to give them a general idea and if they need something specific, we’ll just assume they have it. I’m not going to keep track of individual aspirins. The game is supposed to be fun and move along, not concern itself with the minutiae of inventory. The game should be about making it past the next flooded section of the city, finding that weapon stash before the bullets run out, or evading the aliens hunting them for food.
That same kind of research is also essential in writing. I have pages upon pages of research on Charcoal Streets, for example. The mythology is extensively written and based on two thousand years of Christian mythology and legend.
However, I’m not going to put everything I find on the page. For example, I refer to Carmen as one of the Fallen Sons (or daughters) because the nephilim, half-human, half-angels, are cited as having existed before Noah’s flood. I figured such a title would be indicative of a race of people who were shunned by Heaven. Likewise, Carmen usually uses Glock pistols. I chose these guns because earlier models had interchangeable parts and someone like Carmen could use this to her advantage. Likewise, Glock pistols have a slender profile an assassin could use to her advantage. Plus, I think they look cool and, since many government agencies use them, they evoke professionalism.
I know all this, but it’s not going to go on the page.
Research is a tool to figure out what kinds of details should go into your writing. It’s the thing that lets you know if there are mountains near your city and if they once had mines you can use as a location for your epic final confrontation. Research lets you know the kinds of supplies post-apocalyptic survivalists would hoard. You don’t NEED to show all this, though, but it’s important to know how and why.
Think of research as the practice before an athletic competition. You get all the kinks out and figure out what kinds of moves and warm-ups to do before the big game. Once game day rolls around, you just do it and it makes sense.
Mary plays a dragonborn. Manny, our new player, gave her a little Charizard toy. Said toy is now her marker on the board. Here's Mary's dragonborn encased in a block of ice because she failed tow saving throws. Any questions?
May 1, 2012
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about tabletop gaming. It’s no surprise, seeing as how “Elves with Shotguns” is just about ready to hit RPGNow. However, I’ve also been thinking about my experience in RPGs. In a way, I can chronicle my journey through gaming the same way I chronicle my journey through writing.
My first character was a runethane named Seth. He was curious about everything (much like me since I was new to the game), and used words to cast his magic. Writing and runes were his power source. This echoes my own mentality that writing was an important, if not vital, aspect of everyday life. However, Seth was also a very squishy mage. Two or three hits and Seth went down faster than Lindsay Lohan trying to get into a nightclub.
Seth was a reflection of how I saw myself. I was fairly new, and while I was proud of my early accomplishments, I knew I could do better.
My next character had no name. He was simply called the Envoy, a warrior with a purpose. He was a soldier through and through, flexible enough to fling razor-tipped darts before unsheathing a sword and going to town on the enemy or either beat a prisoner into submission or scare the information out of him. He even got the kill-shot on an elemental after having been poisoned for much of the fight. All in all, a good sophomore try, but he was tough and boisterous and lacked the subtlety of Seth.
Likewise, my early forays into writing left me with a bruised ego, so I overcompensated in some ways. I wanted the writing to be tougher, grittier, but it only lost the little elements that I enjoyed inserting into my work.
Next came Jareth, a half-elf rogue who could do a lot of things… he just wasn’t that great at any of them. One running gag with my group was that it was better to have me try and lock something than to try and open it. Because I rolled so low, it was just assumed that instead of unlocking treasure chests, I had somehow just put an extra lock on it. Yeah. That bad.
Jareth represents the evolution from enthusiastic to hard-headed and then to jack-of-all-trades, master of none. I had to find the right balance…
Next came Pommel, my warforged fighter. Resolute to not fall into the trap of the meat shield again, I built him to fit the world: this was an evil campaign. He was strong and tough but had some smarts. He wasn’t reckless… except for that level of barbarian that let him rage. Pommel was controlled chaos. He was simple but effective in what he did, and he could be versatile if the need arose.
After realizing I couldn’t do everything as a writer, I did something similar. I started specializing, but I never forgot to pick bits and pieces from here and there to supplement my work. Every writer needs to read poetry, news, and memoirs even if he or she only writes novels. Likewise, a fighter could always benefit from a level of wizard and barbarian.
Finally, we get to my latest character: Wren the warlock. Wren was very much a hard-hitter. He was a striker. He did the most with the least. He also had that bit of versatility I’d come to embrace in Pommel. He could cast ritual magic aside from blasting things at long range. He was also personable and could handle himself in social situations if need be, but there was nothing that said he wouldn’t pick a pocket if it got him.
Wren embodies my most current attitude towards writing. I write short articles like this, but I also have learned to say the most with the least in everything from Charcoal Streets to the upcoming gaming book. I read news, journals, poetry, and anything else that seems interesting if only to be exposed to new writing styles and keep mine from getting stale. Of course, I don’t doubt my writing and gaming will change. It’s just interesting to me how each stage can get represented by a character form that time period.
And now, back to making prints and proofreading the final chapters.
See you soon. Oh, and feel free to share your own gaming stories below. How do your characters represent you? Or are they reflections of what you wish you could be?
While you ponder that, please enjoy two and a half minutes of sheer nergasmic joy.
I’ve gotten to the point where I vote simply because I’d like to have SOME opinion. I tell myself the guy or gal I vote for will be better than the others, but as time goes by, I am more and more convinced that the reason politics are what they are is that the masses have not realized how utterly ridiculous the current system has become.
You want everything done wrong? Vote Republican. You want nothing done or everything done wrong? Vote Democrat. It’s as simple as that.
The Republicans, though, hold a certain hatred in my heart. Oh, sure, the Dems are spineless and rarely get stuff done, even when they control both houses and the presidency, but when they do something right, they repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and Obama’s got more than a few successes under his belt for liberal causes, so I’m willing to tolerate them.
Whatever the average voter on the street may think, the party is made up of rich men who wish to destroy the social infrastructure of our country, and no matter what they claim, they don’t really believe what they preach. It’s a power play. Know how I know?
The GOP wants to ban guns. But they can’t.
The Republican Party is going to hold its convention in Tampa, Florida, this year. It’s the same state where Trayvon Martin was tragically shot several weeks ago, and while a show of sympathy in the form of asking people to keep their guns at home would be nice and welcome, they can’t do that? Why?
The list runs from air pistols to water pistols and also includes items such as masks, plastic or metal pipe and string more than six inches long.
Let that sink in. They can ban water guns, string, masks, pipes, and STRING. Did I mention the string? When it comes to defending themselves, the GOP banned everything but things that might actually cause deaths. Why not just make it mandatory for people at the protests to carry guns? Isn’t that the party line? If we don’t ban guns, everyone will be armed and no one will get hurt. Isn’t that it?
Of course that’s the line. And it smells like last season’s fertilizer.
If they really believed gun ownership curtailed violence, they would not have a problem with guns at their own events. That’s not what happened. They don’t want guns there because they think guns will make the place unsafe. Which is, if I may, completely counter to their propaganda in the last few years.
If you’re going to be crazy and expose crazy theories, at least stick to them. Guns are dangerous tools and, yes, we have a right to own them, but if you’re going to claim that pieces of string and water guns are dangerous, you can’t possibly claim actual firearms are harmless.
And now, a little music to ease us all into Friday.
Who needs a gun when you can summon a demon from the Abyss to crush your enemies?
November 30, 2011
It’s no secret that I like me some fantasy. I started out and still love science fiction, though, and you’ll find most fans have a nice overlap in their tastes like this. Sword and sorcery is awesome, especially if I can make it part of an Saturday RPG session. However, one thing that’s always bothered me is the lack of guns in fantasy.
Please note that I am not advocating gun use or gun control or anything like that. I’ve always just wondered why fantasy in general, even in stories set within a medieval time period where gunpowder could exist, shy away from firearms. Science fiction isn’t shy about including “magic” like the Force, so why is fantasy afraid of technology?
Historically, firearms have existed in one way or another for hundreds of years. Everything from single-shot hand-cannons to rocket-powered arrows made a bang on the battlefield, even if they weren’t primary weapons. Most of us probably know early firearms as the slow-loading muskets and flintlocks from old Revolutionary War movies and Three Musketeers. For most fantasy stories, a bow or a crossbow will do.
There’s something elegant about an archer with a bow, so I can see why a black powdered-fueled firearm seems clunky and overtly modern. Even a crossbow looks too much like a gun. Some writers and players want that feel of agelessness that bows and a gun-free world evoke. Imagine the elves in Lord of the Rings wielding muskets or shotguns instead of bows and arrows. It might look awesome, but it would also be noisy and time-consuming to shoot and reload.
There are valid reasons for not using firearms in fantasy, though. Some people believe they led to the death of the knight and all those wonderful medieval combat clichés we’ve all come to know and love (they didn’t, but contributed). Say goodbye to shining armor and clanging swords. Who needs those when you can shoot a .70 caliber ball of lead at your enemy from fifty yards away? There goes the one-on-one duel. Likewise, firearms are more closely tied in with modern times. Even though gunpowder and gunpowder-based weapons have been around since the 14th century, we still mostly associate them modern war. Of course, all this is moot if, in your fantasy world, magic has advanced to the point where wands and spellcasters can rain eldritch homicide on their enemies. Firearms maybe accessible… but why use them?
But that doesn’t have to be the case. Plenty of fantasy uses firearms. Urban fantasy justifies it by usually being set in a modern world. The Harry Dresden series, for example, has the titular wizard carry a gun to deal with threats magic can’t handle or if he tires himself out. Likewise, Final Fantasy hasn’t shied away from guns, either. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower has the main character be a gunslinger who would be right at home in an old Western (except for the whole End of the World and different realities thing).
It just depends on flavor. For example, in my own Dungeons and Dragons game, I’ve always been interested in introducing firearms, but making them one-shot weapons that have to be reloaded more slowly than a bow and arrow. I don’t want to get rid of the sword, shield, and bow and arrow, but I want to show a world in transition. Eventually, I’d like to actually have something like the Old West… but not yet.
Besides, it’s FANTASY. If you want to have samurai swords and revolvers next to each other, why not? If in your world, dwarves use shotguns heavy enough to double as warhammers, what’s going to stop you? Me? I’m thinking of actually writing up rules for firearms in 4E in maybe selling that pdf at some point. Don’t hold your breath, though…
In the meantime, let’s enjoy a trailer for a movie that takes this kind of genre-bending to heart, shall we?
You will never find a more wretched hived of scum and villainy... If you believe the show.
October 14, 2011
I watched Bordertown: Laredo last night. It was the premier and they showed two back-to-back episodes. I was curious to see how this show would portray the city I live in, and was a little scared because Laredo is the influence for Via Rosa, the semi-fictional setting of Charcoal Streets. I know I don’t exactly paint a rosy picture in my stories, but I made it a fictional city with elements from various cities for a reason.
Now, I realize it’s only the first two episodes, but I have a few complaints about what I’m seeing. And yes, I know the Laredo Narcotics Team is a local organization of law enforcement essentially fighting a NATIONAL cartel organization in Mexico. Their job is difficult and they put themselves in very real danger just by appearing in this show…
But this isn’t about whether or not drugs should be legal, the ethics of the war on drugs, or anything like that. I need to talk to the producers of this show. Aside from the fact that the cops don’t even wear gloves during part of the evidence collection process, the fact that everyone of them is in terrible shape for the kind of physical activity they engage in, or that one of them seemed to have pink handcuffs for no apparent reason, there are a few things that just bothered the hell out of me last night.
Nothing screams “Hispanic” and “edge of nowhere” like using fake film scratch in your opening text superimposed with images of the downtown. Seriously, though, the images used in the title sequence were all seemingly taken within three blocks of the river. Yes, we have a massive Mexican population and a lot of sections in town have signs in Spanish. Yes, a lot of buildings downtown are in a state of disrepair.
But if you travel not three blocks further inland, you find I-35, McDonald’s, and this little view.
Worse, the music sounds more Spanish than actually Mexican, which isn’t unexpected since we were under Spanish rule at one point, but if they were trying to go with a Wild West theme, they failed. It sounds more flamenco than anything else.
Oh, and to whoever actually took the time to edit in images of the Beer Run stores, shame on you. Nothing says “class” like drive-through liquor stores with exploited female workers.
We Took a Wrong Turn at North America
This is really a jab at the editor. In one scene, the police are following a car. Anyone who lives here can recognize the intersection as McPherson and Saunders. The cops then chase the guy and say they are passing a church. A shot of the San Augustin Cathedral is shown. Then the cops reach the guy’s house somewhere in what looks like Zapata Highway or somewhere else in the deep southeastern part of the city based on the landscape.
These three locations are nowhere close to each other. The church is more than two miles away to the west, then to get to Zapata Highway, it’s another seven miles in the opposite direction.
Granted, the Cathedral looks nice, a lot nicer than other churches, but would it have killed the editor to use the REAL church they passed? Instead, we get a set of detours that amounts to something out The Family Circus.
All of these gripes are about the way the show was put together. However, when you actually sit down and watch the show, there are more than a few problems with the way the city and its residents are portrayed.
And before I get to that, let it be known I have no shortage of complaints about this town. We are undereducated and have networks of ties that make any legitimate business difficult. Like one friend in DC once told me, “Dealing with Laredo is like dealing with the mob 20 years ago.”
In just the first two episodes, we’ve had the cops bust several storehouses filled with thousands of pounds of drugs. It’s an impressive set of hauls, sure, but the show hasn’t shown much past a mile or so from the border, and if you think the drug trafficking is confined the “Mexican” or “poor” parts of the city, you are sadly mistaken. I know going to suburbia and busting some high schoolers isn’t glamorous, but the drug trade is EVERYWHERE in town. And it’s not that hard to find someone to sell you drugs.
If you want to find a drug dealer, talk to three people. Those three people will, in short time, name someone who buys or sells or uses. Then follow it to the source. It’s easier to find a drug dealer in Laredo than it is to find a Starbucks in any major American city.
This show is going to be hell for this town. I don’t like it here that much, but I’d prefer if they at least got their portrayals right.
To clean out all this dumb, let’s get a Spanish lesson from Dora. Can you say, “Sniper, no sniping?”
Not shown? The smug contempt he holds for you and your kind...
June 17, 2011
I’m going to nip this in the bud right now.
Rick Perry is a moron and if he does run for President, I want the rest of the country to be ready. There are far crazier people, like Bachmann and Kane, and there may be dumber, such as Gingritch, but Perry has something the others don’t have.
He has a lot of cred with right-wingers, and he has the backing of a lot of groups like the NRA. The Tea Party loves him. And let’s not forget that he’s actually more eloquent than the last yahoo from this state that ran for president. Before we even get to the primaries, before the ads run, and before people start wondering “Who is Rick Perry?” allow me to fill in the gaps for you, dear reader, and save you some trouble. And as you read these and think to yourself, “NO one could be THAT dense,” remember that Perry also once claimed that Juarez, Mexico was the most dangerous city in America.
Perry’s stance on a lot of things boil down to one word: prayer. Yes, everything from rain to protection from terrorists requires nothing more than getting down and praying to Pops, Junior, and Spooky. Don’t believe me?
He didn’t ask for plans for irrigation and water storage systems. He didn’t offer aid to the people struck by this. He didn’t even pitch the idea of a PSA to let people know of things they could do to help conserve water. The man asked his state to pray.
Now, I’m no scientist, but I live here, and I can tell you that it hasn’t rained in a LONG time. We’re dryer than a Hemingway story over here. We’re getting lakes catching on fire, and Perry thinks God will come down and bring water from heaven.
Shouldn’t God be doing this without so much prompting? I mean, it IS His creation? I know if my manuscript caught fire, I’d put it out.
Then again, Perry did invite the other 49 governors to join him to fast and pray for our nation to help combat things like terrorism. Five guesses how that went.
Maybe he needs to get a new long-distance plan, ‘cause Texas might be roaming.
Rick Perry jogs and, as the governor of one of the most armed states in the Union, he has a full security detail. Let me repeat that: our governor has a fully armed and trained security team with him when he goes out.
Which explains, I guess, why the governor felt it was necessary to shoot a coyote he found while on a jog.
The story goes that Perry saw said coyote and it approached him. It threatened his dog, so the governor, in accordance with Texas law, took out a .38 pistol and shot the coyote dead.
Sounds like a great case for being able to carry a gun, huh?
Except that’s not quite the whole story. According to Perry, he CHARGED the coyote after it had stopped with a verbal threat. The animal was already stopped in its tracks. All Perry and the team and his dog had to do was go in a different direction. Did Perry do that? Nope. He shot an animal and killed it. And where did this take place?
In a hilly suburban area of Austin. The man pulled out a laser-mounted gun and killed a wild animal like he was Allan Fraking Quatermain. That wasn’t approaching him.
We’ve already established that Perry is a man of God, a man of Faith, but did you know he is also a man who understands the nuances of economics and basic morality? It’s true! A few years ago, Perry made the bold claim that if the federal government didn’t stop trying to force these draconian programs, like much-needed health-care reform, he and his state would secede!
That’s right. A sitting United States governor openly threatened to leave the Union. I’ve already put my two cents in on the whole “We have the right to leave” business, but I think none other than the king of liberal snark, Keith Olbermann himself, put it best when it came to Perry’s threat.
With that being said, it’s quite shocking, then, that Perry recently asked for government aid when wildfires burned through the state. I guess government is evil and oppressive… until you actually need something from it. Then you’re entitled to it. Which is why he just had to bash the stimulus as unethical two years ago and why he had to nevertheless take billions in federal funds to plug our state’s deficit…
The recession was caused by a number of factors such as the housing bubble and the banks taking far too many risks with no regulation to keep them in check. It’s a bit complex, but two years down the road, we can look back and see where the country went wrong. For Rick Perry, though, it’s much simpler than that.
God did it.
See, God wants us to be more self-sufficient, to go back to Biblical economics. I guess Perry forgot all the slavery and buying and selling people thing in the Bible, too, but that’s beside the point. Perry believes that the government should do nothing, that we have to fend for ourselves, and this is a lesson from the Almighty.
Coupled with the fact that he actively bashes welfare programs that could help women and children while he takes billions of dollars to plug a deficit he helped create, this only leads to one conclusion.
He has to be. It’s the only rationale for why he would be above the rules set for the rest of us. I had to borrow money from the government to go to college, and now I’m paying it off, but in Perry’s world, that makes me a slave. I have friends who have to use food stamps to feed their children. Obviously, keeping their children healthy and fed makes them evil.
But not Perry.
He can shoot animals in residential areas, and instruct people to refuse government aid while he instructs people to be religious and refuse said money themselves.
Even though his numbers are low in Texas, he’s pretty popular with the Tea Party and many Right-Wingers. And we all remember what happened last time a religious fanatic from Texas got into a position of power, right? I’m just trying to warn everyone. I don’t think he’d win, but then again, I didn’t think the leader of the free world would almost be assassinated by a pretzel.
Ever played ding dong ditch? You know, where you ring a doorbell, run and hide, and watch some poor sap go to the door and find no one there? Oh, good times! And as we all know, the appropriate reaction to seeing a kid pull a prank like this is a SHOTGUN BLAST TO THE BACK. I seriously hope they put this guy in the deepest, darkest hole we can find, then cover him in fire ants.
If you join an anarchist group... you kind of defeat the purpose.
January 17, 2011
It’s been a heavy week, what with talks of violent rhetoric and other goings on around the world, so let’s talk about something light.
Yes, you too can be a founding member of the new generation that destroys Western civilization as we know it!
Well, not quite.
See, to say that something or someone is “anarchist” is a bit like saying you can make pizza. Are we talking Chicago-style pizza or New York-style pizza? Do you make it from scratch or do you use biscuits to make mini-pizzas like I do? Most anarchists say they want a world without government, without an overlord-like power telling everyone what to do and what’s acceptable. That’s the one constant.
The problem, though, is that the ways to go about reaching this world differ.
Much like La Raza, anarchy is a goal that lies far in the future. That’s not to say there are not anarchists now. There are. I’m one of them. I believe an ideal world is one in which every person is free to do as he or she chooses. This is a world in which we no longer need governments. It’s a world where personal freedom and accountability are held up there with life, liberty, and the rest of Superman’s motto.
The problem, though, is people.
Let me put it this way. Anarchy is the belief that the people have the final say and can govern themselves. Okay, fine… have you met the “average” person? Churchill once said that a few minutes with the average citizen are the greatest argument against democracy.
And he’s right.
We’re dumb. We really are. Think of the average person. Now think about the fact that half the population is dumber than that. And if you don’t understand that last sentence, you fall under the “lower than average” category. Sorry.
I don’t talk about education and art just because it’s something I do or like to do. Art and education, the appreciation of things not essential to survival and the ability to absorb knowledge are the keys to a fully anarchic society, one in which we move beyond progressivism and conservatism and simply evolve into a world of personal choice and freedom. The ability to learn and adapt is falling away from us. Whether we like to admit it or not, we’re in a world that embraces anti-intellectualism. Science is shunned as something evil or some conspiracy to control. Art is seen as some sort of freaky endeavor that only the crazy or slightly mad pursue.
Art and education are the key to our future.
I have friends who, despite being life-long conservatives, pursed a higher education and, through their studies and their acceptance of new ideas, realized that choice and freedom were the way to go. Art has, for many of my friends, spoken to them of themes and messages language just can’t handle or is too verbose to communicate.
The ability to think not just of the world but the world of art and reading “between the lines” is what stands between us a true anarchism.
And anarchy is not a negative term. It’s just used as such by people who don’t know better.
Anarchy is freedom. It doesn’t mean total chaos. It means choice, but also the ability to take responsibility for those choices. And that’s why an informed population is essential. That’s why education and art are, I truly believe in my heart and mind, the key to a free society.
I want anarchy. I want a world where movies are not rated. I want a world where information flows. I want a world where we hold people accountable for their actions. I want a world where fear of the unknown is replaced by healthy curiosity for new possibilities.
I want controlled demolition of everything around me.
And finally, showing why an understanding of the scientific process, or taking in as much data as possible, is important, here’s a Saturday morning Breakfast Cereal comic showing why the proper interpretation of data is important. Don’t forget to check the poll on the upper right, and I’ll see you on Wednesday!