Bordertown Laredo: Like a Fox News Documentary on Civil Rights

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.

It’s MexiNoir!

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.

Mexico by ~TornadoGirl108 on deviantART


Welcome to the United States of Aztlan

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?”

Divine by Zero: Vegetarians are Soylent Green and the Farmville War of 2011

October 22, 2010

It’s been one of those days. Months. Three months. Short version: this job is killing me for all the wrong reasons. I’ll elaborate more later, but suffice to say that my letter of resignation is in the mail and I’ll be going back to teaching and tutoring, something which, amazingly, is less stressful that working with deer.

“Diego’s Day,” the next chapter in Charcoal Streets got caught in the maelstrom and won’t be ready for a few days. It’s a combination of work that caught up with me and the fact that it turned out to be a little more personal than I thought.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy an assault of links from the world wide intertubes!

  • First off, a little something from hom. I was unaware we could not eat vegetarians, not just “vegetarian.”

  • Even if marijuana isn’t “legalized” in California, it’s apparently still ridiculously easy to get pot through the restricted means. Check out this informative video from CNN!
  • Almost everyone has seen the map of the internet, but at xkcd, they have a new, updated map. Looks like Facebook has grown quite a book, and if Skype isn’t careful, it may get invaded by Farmville.
  • Some parents are apparently mad at a photoshoot featuring some of the cast of Glee. They say it promotes pedophilia to have these girls dressed up in school outfits and then stripping. It makes sense… except that the actresses are in their 20’s and I’m sure no one outside of a school has ever worn a plaid skirt and pig tails. Right? Huh? Right? Also, in a final slap to these idiots, you can see the pics if you follow the link.
  • Mexico is being torn apart by the wars between the cartels, so the only obvious choice for a new police chief is… a 20-year-old woman who ran unopposed for the position. Okay, I have to give this young lady points for guts… but I have no clue what she intends to do. And I hope she stays safe.
  • Dark Archivist wrote a wonderful post on the tolerance of intolerance. She makes some good points, and she’s always a fun read. Check her out.
  • Dan Savage wrote a powerful response to a Christian who said he was offended by remarks that intolerance from Christians contributed to the recent gay youth suicides. I can sum it up thus: “Fuck your feelings.” It’s one of the most moving responses to the “It’s what my religion teaches” argument.
  • A Florida immigration law in the works will apparently target immigrants in much the same way as Arizona’s law… except that this law will exempt white people from scrutiny because, as we all know, European and Canadian immigrants are always cool. It’s those brown one we have to worry about.
  • Rumors of a remake to the cult classic The Crow starring Brandon Lee have been running around since at least last year. I’m on the fence about this. On the one hand, I love the movie, but think something closer to the comic would have been so much better. On the other hand, the original will always have a special place in my heart. Then again… now the rumor is that Mark Wahlberg may be staring in it. And right there you lost me.
  • And finally, are you still voting Republican? Let’s look at the Republican goals for this year, shall we?

Beck and the French Fry Revolution

The revolution started with a single, salty act of oppression...

September 20, 2010

I always keep telling myself Glenn Beck is crazy. He has to be. The amount of cognitive dissonance and wild leaps of logic he claims are science would qualify anyone for a padded cell within a week. He’s slowly building a cult, an actual cult with political and spiritual power, and he can find a conspiracy in everything.

That includes the fight against fat.

That’s right, folks, Glenn “Master of His Own Domain” Beck has now linked the fight against childhood obesity to the growing sociocommunazi movement. And spearheading this insidious plot is none other than Michelle Obama.

If you don’t watch the rest of the video, at least watch the first 20 seconds. Beck says something so mind-bogglingly stupid that I had to rewind the video just to make sure I’d heard it right. He’s said a lot of award-winning dumb things, but this may be the dumbest. Behold!

In case you just skipped the video, Beck claims he will link Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity to the eventual government take-over of our lives. It will end in what Beck calls “fryots.”

French fry riots. Get it? Get it?!

By asking the National Restaurant Association to make healthier choices the default options, the First Lady seeks to make it easier to enjoy healthy foods instead of going straight for the grease. I want to point something out. It’s a REQUEST. It’s not a law. But that’s not enough for Beck. Trying to teach kids to make a healthy choice is sinister. And let me emphasize “KIDS.” I know, I know. I’m getting really close to invoking the innocent children.

The First Lady is talking about teaching kids about making the right choices. It’s still a choice, but she wants to introduce them to healthy foods at a younger age. As an educator, I’ve seen kids who have never even tried vegetables. Not even tried them. At all. Now, if they try and hate them, fine. They tried them.

Let’s keep going with Beck’s crazy train here, because it gets worse.

Beck goes on to explain that Michelle Obama and the progressives think the average American is Homer Simpson. We can’t make our own choices, says Beck, so they’ll make them for us. I don’t know about you, but unless someone had told me at a young age that burgers and pizza were not the healthiest of things, I wouldn’t have believed them if they told me in my later years. They taste so good! Surely the body must crave them for a reason!

Remember how I said that Michelle Obama had made a suggestion? That little fact seems to have flown right past Beck.

A “slippery slope” is a logical fallacy where you believe that Action A will lead to Action B, then C, then D, without any room for error. In other words, the suggestion that restaurants make it harder to order unhealthy food will lead to global government, riots, and totalitarian control. Beck’s argument isn’t a slippery slope so much as it is a KY Jelly Slip-n-Slide.

This suggestion couldn’t, as most sane people think, lead to restaurants making a conscious choice to help children, who really don’t know better, make healthier choices.

Snack Heart Healthy by =roseonthegrey on deviantART

I have a niece who doesn’t like candy. I know this sounds like a tangent, but bear with me. She doesn’t like candy because her mother and father made it a point to not feed it to her when she was younger. She’s only five, but she she’s shied away from foods and drinks that kids her age usually go crazy for and she’s better for it. This pretty much destroys Beck’s point that French fries will always beat out carrots and apples.

That’s right. My 5-year-old niece just disproved Glenn Beck. It’s THAT easy, folks.

Anyway, Beck goes on and on that, if these nudges don’t work, the government will eventually have to arrest people for eating French fries. Since obesity causes higher health costs and the government now runs health care, they need to make sure we stay healthy.

But wait, there’s more!

Now we get to the meat and potatoes of the argument, sort of speak.

Beck thinks that people who want regulation to do crazy things like keep lead out of our toys or sewage out of our drinking water think humanity is stupid. That we can’t take care of ourselves. That we’ll end up killing ourselves because we’re dumb and people are greedy and we won’t care.

Uhm, yeah, people are greedy and capitalism has zero incentive to change that.

Lack of regulation led to the BP disaster. The people who should have been in charge of it were paid off and now we have the floor in the Gulf covered in oil. Regulators should have been watching companies like Goldman Sachs, but those regulations were never passed and the economy in one of the largest superpowers in the world was brought down by numbers on a computer screen.

I’m all for free choice. Really, I am. But I’m for an informed choice. Beck seems to think that by making the choice harder, people won’t be able to resist. Seriously. Watch the last video again. If the choice is harder, he believes people won’t make it. He’s basically said that people are stupid and need to be lead. People, he believes, won’t be able to make the leap from “Oh, I want fries,” to “Hey, I need to ask for them.”

It’s… a sheep. by ~Nimrais on deviantART

And here’s the message he won’t outright say.

“Don’t let people tell you what to do. It’s evil. Listen to ME, because I have your best interest at heart. I’m on your side. They’re not.”

French fries and revolutions… Oh dear. Where to start? This can’t possibly be anything else than the common-sense of teachers, parents, and anyone else with a vested interest in a healthy society, can it? Look, I’m not naïve. Government isn’t the answer to our problems. It’s not inherently good, but it’s not evil, either.

By Beck’s logic, the EPA and every regulatory agency, which actually do have the power to fine and make arrests, are much more evil than the First Lady. Let’s take this logic to its inevitable conclusion…

“Handicapped spaces are really just another ploy by this administration to make us walk, get us healthy, and make sure we don’t get fat. Why? Government health care.”

“Did you hear the news? Toys in China were found to contain lead and are being recalled. Why? This is just another attempt to weaken the immune systems in our children. If they aren’t exposed to lead now, how will they develop a tolerance?”

“Now the government is telling these companies they can’t dump their waste into the rivers? Those bastards! They’re stopping economic growth! Do they expect these companies to just up and spend more money to get rid of trash? That will make prices skyrocket!”

So there you have it. Glenn Beck has managed to link preventative steps to fight childhood obesity to a global socialist conspiracy to collapse America.

It’s like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Only stupid.

I’m thinking of using a Beck-O-Meter to measure the amount of stupid coming from that show every week. Thoughts?

Epic Teabaggers by ~joeyvegasICS on deviantART

Link time! I don’t know about you, but I need some random entertainment right now.

  • Any Tolkien fans out there? Christine O’Donnel, AKA Sarah Palin Jr., fancies herself a feminist and Tolkien scholar. Anyone want to refute her “feminist” reading of LOTR before I puke?
  • We have robot snakes. Great. Combine it with that Microsoft AI project, the sentry robots in South Korea, and we have a small robot army to bring on the robot holocaust.

Voodoo School

School boards, voodoo, hexes... Oh I missed writing these...

We’re back!

And by “we,” I mean “me.”

Anyway, it’s been a VERY eventful series of weeks. will return with articles three times a week, and Charcoal Streets, for anyone who misses demons, angels, and ghosts, will now run Mondays starting next week. Also, note the redesigned logo.

In the meantime, let’s talk about Texas and why voodoo nearly destroyed a local school board meeting.

Yeah, it’s good to be back…

The story’s actually a month old, but it was too good not to talk about. You can read the full text here, but here’s the section at the very end that really made me do a double-take.

At the start of Tuesday’s special called meeting, trustee John Peter Montalvo raised eyebrows when he sat in the audience instead of his designated chair on the dais. When asked why he didn’t sit in his chair, Montalvo said he had been told that a woman dressed in black had put something in his seat.

“I already put some holy water (on it),” Montalvo said. “I know people who were here before that would probably like to do things of that nature and work with the devil.”

He added that: “I don’t believe in voodoo and the devil’s workshop. It is hard to know what’s happening, and I don’t mind losing an election or whatever the right way with votes, but this is not the right way because none of u would like to (have) any type of election problems with voodoos and dealings with the devil.”

Everyone on board with this?

An elected official does not want people using “voodoo” to influence elections or the educational process. Other than the Boy Scout-level knot that is that paragraph, I had no idea what else he was saying, but I get the general idea.

This was a local meeting, but it does lend more evidence to my eventual thesis, “Why Texas Needs to Go Away.” Not that I’m going for secession. I wrote about how stupid that idea is, but the mentality down here is frightening. Even worse, Moltavo needs to get schooled in religion.

voodoo by ~paintisthenewdope on deviantART

Voodoo is a religion that can be split into three major sects. You’ve got Haitan Vodou, New Orleans Voodoo, and Vodun. I really don’t want to get into it, but the version he was probably referring to was the combination of Catholicism and African mysticism associated with Louisiana Voodoo.

Vodun is the original set of beliefs that started everything. It’s practiced in many West African Nations. One of its chief tenets is that there are vodun, spirits that govern the Earth. Ancestor worship is also prevalent. Unlike the stereotypical portrayals in movies, Vodun is not an evil faith. While there are sorcerers and sorceresses who claim to call upon spirits to curse others, the majority of practitioners do not use their faith to hurt others.

Haitan Vodou is the Vodun that came to North America in Colonial times. It’s most identifiable features are a belief in spirits called Loa that serve a deity named Bondyé. While this is the tradition associated with zombies and voodoo dolls, these are as much a part of their religion as… actually I can’t think of a good metaphor. Suffice to say, these things don’t happen.

We all know it’s evil military-industrial complex projects that create zombies.

Umbrella Corp by ~MajorDisaster on deviantART

The last variety, Louisiana Voodoo, is the version that came to the United States. Like Haitan Vodou, it contains elements of Catholic mysticism. However, Louisiana Voodoo, also called New Orleans Voodoo, has a strong emphasis on a gris-gris, a small talisman that is said to protect the wearer from evil. True voodoo practitioners went underground in the 1930’s because of the commercialization of the faith.

Of course, there’s also Santería, which is a mixture of West African faith, Catholicism, and Native American traditions. The result is something I grew up seeing and hearing about. It’s practiced in many Latin American countries. Like some voodoo practitioners, what later became Santería followers had to disguise their faith as Catholicism. The term “Santería” was originally a derisive term meant to mock the African slaves’ apparent devotion to the saints instead of God.

What the colonials didn’t realize was that the slaves were secretly practicing their faith, not Christianity, and disguised their rituals as Catholic rituals.

In yo face, Colonial authority!

Hidden Faith by ~Fable-Of-Joy on deviantART

I’m guessing Mister Montalvo was referring to Santería when he felt someone had palced a curse on him. Of course, it’s not an uncommon practice. Various types of folk magic, many I’m sure based around Santería, are common in many Mexican households. I know a few.

He could also have been thinking of followers of La Santa Muerte… but that’s another story for another article.

Still, it’d be nice he’d made the effort to call it the right name.

Or at least admit that he thought someone was trying to curse him. Now I kind of want to go to one of these meetings with a set of voodoo dolls and see what happens…

Check out the new poll on the left and keep scrolling for more links!

  • Folks, we need to start a movement to require newspapers and other news outlets use these warning stickers. My favorite one has to be the one warning that the reporter has no idea what he or she is talking about.
  • Are you a lady? Are you on the pill? Good news! Not only do you not have to worry about unwanted human worm babies, but you’re also making yourself smarter. New research suggests that being on birth control pills enlarges certain areas of your brain. Now you can be sexually liberated while growing that sexy, sexy mind…
  • Out of every movie, television show, and game of the last firty years, I’ve joked about Hollywood getting so desperate it adapts the board game Battleship into a movie. And I was joking… until I read they were ACTUALLY doing it! And check out this cast list: Tom Arnold and Rhianna. Really? That’s your A-list to sell this cinematic turd?
  • We’re one step closer to the robot apocalypse. Scientists have created robots with emotions. They’re designed to help children with autism… but I can’t help but think we’re one step closer to rallying around John Connor.
  • How much revenue would legalizing marijuana create? Check out this handy chart.
  • I’ve never been too much into cars, but DAMN if I don’t want this beauty of a car… I think even blind people get aroused when they have these images put in front of them.
  • If you love horror, you have to love Hammer, the studio that made Christopher Lee an icon of the genre. Well guess what? They’re back and working on a new series of movies! And Christopher Lee is in the first one! They’re also releasing horror-themed beer! Oh, Merry Christmas!
  • It’s now five days until Glenn beck’s spiritual revival/ Tea Party rally/ promotional event/ desecration of the memory of Doctor Martin Luther King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. His 8-28 Rally is either going to cap off a year and a half of crazy or it will bomb when only a few thousand people show up. Either way, Beck’s selling the event as the second coming of Christ. He’s slowly turned from shock jock to faux journalist and is now well on his way to becoming a televangelist.
  • And to end on a light note, I love science fiction and am lucky enough to have been gifted a rare collection of short stories edited by Ray Bradbury (thanks, Dad!), but I don’t think I’ve ever LOVED a science fiction author. This girl? She makes Twilight fans look sane…

Divine by Zero: Breasts for Egypt, Shark Tea, and Gaga goes to College

It’s the first Saturday posting for Divine by Zero, and what a week it’s been. I want to thank everyone for stopping by the renovated site and sharing these stories. It really does mean a lot to me, and I hope that if you enjoy this site and what passes for humor around these parts, you’ll share these stories and links with friends and family.

I’d like to pass the Huffington Post in monthly views… but then I’d also like to gain superpowers. I’ll settle for increased readership.

In the meantime, take note of the Project Wonderful ad box on the right. is now selling real estate. If you’d like to see an ad for your own site, just click on the link at the bottom of the ad and place a bid.

Anyway, onward! To the links!

  • A professor at Egypt’s al-Azhar University recently proposed a way to end segregation in the workplace. In order to establish a familial bond and negate any chance for sexual encounters, thus allowing men and women to work alone together, Dr. Izzat Atiya suggests that women should breastfeed their male colleagues at least five times. You read that right, folks. The cure for the sexual oppression of women and the separation of the sexes in the Middle East? Boobs.
  • Further proof you do not mess with Ozzy Osbourne. And why you should always be on the lookout for him:

  • Nice Guy Eddy’s Political Blog recently published “Four Levels of Conservative Reasoning,” although the title is a bit misleading. Not all conservatives are crazy (we have our own on the left), but it’s really the kind of logic that any zealot or radical would use to justify his/her stances. I will say, though, it’s an incredible summary of the kinds of lies Beck, Limbaugh, and everyone of Fox routinely spit into the public airwaves.
  • Someone needs to tell big corporations to hire people that check names. Otherwise, you end up with humiliating names like the Wii, the iPad, and now THIS. Be warned… you will never see Shrek the same way again.
  • In the last DbZ, I mentioned a website called America Speaking Out and how, by asking the internet, the GOP awoke the sleeping giant of insanity that is the Web. Now, the Huffington Post has compiled a few of the funnier suggestions from good ol’ red-blooded Americans. I have to say that the suggestion to invade Canada for their oil might be the most sane one in the bunch.
  • If you’re like me, you love you some tea, but have you ever had the urge to make tea LIKE A MAN!? Now you can, thanks to a brilliant designer from Argentina!
  • And in today’s installment of Irony of the Day, San Luis Obispo County recently bought over $20,000 worth of pot for a woman after investigating her for possession. Why? Because the woman in question had a license for up to six pounds of medical marijuana and the sheriff’s department still seized the buds, destroyed them, then lied about having known the woman in question had a license and “forgetting” medical marijuana is legal in California and has been for more than a decade. Oops.
  • The American Family Association recently said in one of its broadcasts that Hitler and his stormtroopers were gay. Not as a condemnation of Nazis, but to show that homosexuals are brutal and cold-blooded killers. You know, I think I’m a pretty good writer, and I know I haven’t done a lot of fiction in a while, but given a week and a bag full of hallucinogens, I couldn’t come up with something dumber than that statement.
  • A good friend of mine turned me to FreakAngels, a wonderfully draw and written online comic about… well, there are psychics, a post-apocalyptic world, and tons of violence. I’m still in the early chapters, so no one ruin it for me!
  • Lady Gaga is already everywhere, but now it seems a few intrepid academics want to study her. While there are no college courses or Gaga Studies yet, a doctoral student named Meghan Vicks and a performer named Kate Durbin have started a website called Gaga Stigmata where they hope to analyze Ms. Gaga’s videos, music, and art in an academic fashion. In an interview, the Doctors of Gaga explained why they feel Lady gaga needs to be taken seriously.
  • If you want to waste a lot of time, try Exit Path, a neat little flash game where you have to run, avoid the swinging axes, spikes, lasers, and other nasty things, and escape the massive city where you’ve been kept prisoner.

That’s all for now. See you on Monday, and keep sharing links to the site!