Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What August 31st Means To Me -- Apparently...PAPERBOY!

Simply, it's the end of summer. 

One Brave Paperboy

Yesterday, I mentioned that my childhood often featured a buffer week between the end of summer camp and the beginning of school.  Generally, my family would take a short vacation during this period of nothingness, but there was also much time spent at home, doing not much, simply because I was way too young to drive and perhaps too lazy to go out and do something productive, like play in the dirt or walk around in circles.  Though there were plenty of summers where this week existed, for some reason my main memory of the entire collective time period is one where I’m sitting in my brother’s room alone playing Nintendo.  And though I’m sure I played many games, the only one I remember was “Paperboy.”
Do you remember this game?  It was a popular arcade game in the mid-80s, and they made a home version for Nintendo, which was actually a decent enough replica (something Nintendo usually failed at due to its limited capability).  For those who don’t know, or need a refresher, Paperboy featured a simple task: ride through a neighborhood and effectively deliver papers to all your subscribers.  Simple enough, right?  Well, I don’t know how much the paperboy actually made, but I can assure you it wasn’t enough.  Because, despite its serene “Anytown, USA” appearance, this neighborhood was easily the most fucked up place imaginable.
First off, it was an entire town whose sole purpose was to make the paperboy’s job as difficult as possible, which is a weird collective goal.  You would think that the town might pool its efforts into something constructive, like building new schools or parks.  So, the question begs, what the hell was written in that paper?  Perhaps the town was seconds from revolution and the local government created obstacles so that its citizens could not see the news in the paper? Because, sure, there were a number of normal obstacles: potholes, skateboarding kids, fire hydrants, breakdancers (of course!) storm drains…but then some very unlikely ones:  Mini tornados?  House cats the size of pitbulls?  Women in nightgowns chasing you with knives?! And my personal favorite….the Grim Reaper!  Yes, whatever information those papers held was some serious shit if Death itself was attempting to prevent it from being disseminated.  So…maybe the paperboy was Jesus Christ braving the elements to provide the believers with the secret to morality and certain path to heaven through the local paper?  Hmm, maybe, but the paperboy didn’t have a beard.  Though PaperJesus may have made for an interesting sequel. 
But it wasn’t just pure evil that reigned over the town because there was some serious communal factionalism that existed within the community, to the point where its inhabitants would actually paint their houses to signify their belief system.  For those who wanted the paper, their houses were brightly colored, while the non-subscribers were in dark REDS and blacks.  Perhaps this “Anytown, USA” was being overrun by communist and the paperboy was a GI JOE that spread the word of democracy through his daily run.   I’m just saying it’s possible.
Regardless, the “bonus” obstacle course at the end of the street seemed like an odd design choice by the city planners.  Perhaps they were building infrastructure for future X-games, though I doubt the powers that be would hold an event in such a volatile community. 
Anyway, despite the fact that the town is some kind of battleground, I think we should all aspire to live in places where we can breakdance freely in the streets.    Even if the sole purpose for expressing this art is to distract the paperboy. 
I think there’s a movie somewhere in here. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Most Effective Way To Board An Airplane

You can file this one under "Things that are only interesting to Brett," but I'm glad an astrophysicist figured out the most efficient way to board an airplane.  And I love how complex it is.  Then again, I've been through enough airports to know that people aren't very agreeable when it comes to the pre-boarding process, so actually organizing them successfully while in the waiting area (which this system relies on) is probably difficult.

But in a world where people were 1) on time and 2) relatively competant...then its an interesting experiment that would save money for airlines and stress for travelers. 

What August 30th Means To Me -- Thoughts on Summer Sleepaway Camp

The actual date?  Nothing much.  But August 30th falls into a time period that was an annual buffer of my childhood; the week or so between the end of summer camp and the beginning of the school year.  When you're young, Jewish, from New York, and have parents with any sort of disposable income, your childhood summers were spent at camp.  This is a hard and fast rule. And I'm not talking about some bullshit one week basketball or soccer camp where you arrive at eight, cry all day, leave at four, and forget about the experience as quickly as it actually occured.  No, I'm talking about 8 weeks of 24/7 sleepaway camp that was all encompassing to the point where the outside world no longer seemed to exist, and was replaced by camp culture, politics, and sports.  Eight weeks seems like a long time, doesn't it?  It was.  Perhaps our parents were trying to encourage us to enjoy an experience unique to childhood, or maybe they just wanted us the fuck out of the house so they could have a quiet summer. 

But though I've relayed camp stories to my non-camp friends over the years, I'm not sure I've ever accurately conveyed what an odd experience it actually was. In retrospect, the camping community/way of life was so regimented and engrossing that it created a unique 8-week community and culture that was completely different from everything we were used to, but we accepted it and bought into the experience quickly and easily, with little thought, even if it seemed strange and unfair. In short, we weren't treated all that well.  Unless you call being holed up in a small bunk with 11 other kids fun.  Unless you think being woken up everyday by bugle calls (at 7am) while counselors banged the legs of your metal bed with broomsticks fun. How about the time the camp directors accidentally served the entire camp bad turkey, leading to a camp wide stomach problem and the night of 1,000 flushes...and never apologized for it? We were shuttled around the camp on an incredibly regimented schedule, were not allowed any sort of food that was understood as tasty (in fact, if camp directors discovered you had a soda or candy, they were liable to raid your bunk, go through your shit, and confiscate it.  This created a sort of underground smuggling community that sold simple items like a can of coke for 10x the price...and don't get me started on how much a Playboy would go for).  But, even though the kids and counselors severly outnumbered the benevolent dictatorship of the camp directors, there was never much thought of mutiny or any sort of illegal activity other than playful indescretions.  I'm not saying that the "directors" of this camp could have created a Hitler Youth kind of atmosphere, but they certainly did engender an odd sense of both "fear" and "camp pride" that would manifest itself as hatred that we'd unleash on neighboring camps during "intercamp sports tournaments" and competitions.  In fact, there was an adjacent camp to us called "Camp Wayne," and on the few times we were actually allowed off our campgrounds (for competitions), we'd often stop the vans just outside the Camp Wayne lake, quickly exit the vehicle, scream "Fuck You, Camp Wayne!" at the top of our lungs, and quickly re-enter the van with a giggle while we sped off like it was a drive by.  All weird. 

The camp community/experience existed in a vacuum.  It's because our access to the outside world was severly limited.  We'd get the occasional letters (that were inspected for contraband, ya know, like a Snickers bar), we were allowed ONE FIVE MINUTE phone call to our parents per week (and I believe that was collect) and though we received world/sports news in snippets, it never dominated the collective camp conversation because there was just not enough of it...and we didn't care.  In fact, I often wondered how long it would take us to realize that a nuclear attack occurred and decimated the surrounding areas. That's how isolated we were, both by force and persuaded choice.  Because of this, we only cared about camp news.  Who was dating who, who got in trouble for what, what sports teams would we have the chance of making, and so on and so forth.  The camper heirarchy became important and most campers wanted to elevate their status with in it, we all wanted to find some kind of love that seemed incredibly real at the time, and enhance our experience to the best of our ability, even though it would all be a memory in a short time as we'd slip back into our normal lives.  But, make no mistake, these emotions and moments were very real.  Kids would often cry during color war (color war is a 5-day camp competiton where the entire camp was split into two teams to compete over...EVERYTHING!  Even EATING. Worthy of a post on its own), crushes were, well, crushing, and performance on the sports field was often connected to your self worth as the heirarchy, at least in my camp, was tied more to athletic prowess and confidence than it was looks (for males, anyway...then again, we were probably all awkward looking Jewish boys then).

On the last day of camp, they'd usher us down to the lake and provide us with floating candles to place into the water, symbolic of...well I'm not sure, perhaps it just looked peaceful against the dark sky.  But even though the previous 8 weeks had been all encompassing, often super emotional, physically and mentally trying, the second you left and seperated from your camp friends and back into your regular life, the importance and significance of camp vanished. I mean, within seconds.  I can't recall ever hanging out with a camp friend during the winter even though some lived close, or even giving them much of a thought.  But when the next summer rolled around and it was time to go back, we all seamlessly slipped back into our camp lives and, generally, picked up where we left off as if the 10 months in between were tantamount to fleeting seconds. 

The funny thing about camp is that, in retrospect, it was an amazing time, but while I was there, I'd say I was miserable for 75 percent of it.  But, as nostalgia and memories often go, we glorify the good parts, sweep away the bad, and polish up the experience and compartmentalize it as a seminal part of growing up.  So, if I ever have kids, I'd be inclined to send them there, too, so they can have a similar experience, even if I find it odd today (and I can't even imagine how the cell phone/internet has changed the camping lifestyle).

Or, maybe, I'd just want a quiet summer away from these hypothetical children. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Man v. Nature

This weekend, I spent too much time thinking about the unlikely relationship between Hurricane Irene, the resignation of Steve Jobs, LeBron James’s receding hairline, and the fervent denial of climate science by the American right, most notably Rick Perry.  I know these four different subjects, at first glance, don’t seem to have much of a connection, but it caused me to ponder a human’s complicated relationship to nature, and how we both take it for granted and underestimate its power. 
There is something to be said for a human’s proclivity to procrastinate, we seem to pick up this habit early on in education, and if society has told us anything, humans can be extraordinarily lazy even in times of adversity. Often times, unless the dire situation is directly affecting us, we put it off with the knowledge that we will solve the problem at the prime point when the problem needs solving.  And it’s vindicated time after time under the thought that we can always bail ourselves out at the last second through hard work, communal effort, and sheer will.   And, more often than not, it works out, thus giving us incentive to repeat the process.
But the one thing that humans consistently underestimate is the power and unpredictability of nature.  And sometimes, no matter how much money we spend or how much we try, nature finds a way to overcome our best efforts.  Recently we’ve been reminded of this, whether it be the Japan earthquake, Hurricane Irene, or whatever disaster has infiltrated our containment.  But earthquakes and hurricanes come and go, and because there is generally a big lapse in between their occurrences, we can rebuild communities and heal injuries to soften the blow of their power.  But what happens when a natural problem becomes something that money and will can’t rectify?
Steve Jobs is arguably the most innovative mind of our generation.  And, clearly, he’s incredibly rich.  Time after time, in the face of adversity, he has navigated Apple to greatness, cleaning up financially in the process.  But last week, Jobs had to step down from his post at Apple due to his deteriorating health. After battling pancreatic cancer for years, he’s losing the battle despite trying various methods to fight the disease.  When I heard this news, I was struck with a singular thought:  The most innovative mind in the world, a person with nearly unlimited power in the business community, someone with virtually endless funds, a guy who seems indestructible can’t win the battle against a natural disease.  Sure, he can fend it off more effectively than someone without his resources, but even he can’t eradicate it. 
Steve Jobs’s mortality came to mind when I read a harmless tweet by LeBron James that deals with a similar fight against nature, although much, much, much less tragic and dire. Last week, LeBron James expressed dismay and impotence regarding his receding hairline.  Like Jobs, James is arguably the best at his craft.  He’s a dominant force, a larger than life figure, a guy who, for lack of a better term, is used to getting what he wants because of his natural abilities.  If there is a shortcoming to his game, James is confident that with hard work, he can master his weak spots.  And, generally, this modus operandi has worked for him as, despite his performance in this past NBA final, he’s improved his game with each season.   But when he looks in the mirror every morning, he’s reminded that, no matter what he does, no matter how hard he wishes or practices, he can’t stop his hair from falling out (yes, I know there are drugs that might help, but those are hardly guaranteed, and anyway, if your mind went to these solutions, you’re missing my point.)
But how is this relevant to our community as a whole? 
Republican candidate du jour, Rick Perry, has come out several times in opposition to climate change, both in recent speeches and his book (which I haven’t read, but I’m sure would raise my blood pressure.)  For either personal or political reasons, Perry claims that climate change is some elaborate hoax by scientists who are using it as an excuse for increased funding.  He cites (makes up) bogus “sources” that “debunk” the myth of climate change, therefore spreading the venomous falsity throughout his base.  Unfortunately, it’s working, as polls suggest that only 21 percent of Republican voters in Iowa believe that global warming actually exists.   But unfortunately for Perry (and the rest of us), research shows that it is not only a problem, but probably a bigger one than we first thought.  And because of the national discourse regarding it, my guess is that our society/political leaders will do nothing large enough to help combat the problem.    
At our current rate, we are going to face a crisis in the next one hundred years, and the problems will not be simple ones that we can fix through communal good will.  Humans have capacity for greatness and we’ve shown time and time again the ability to save ourselves from problems at the last second through our perseverance.  But if this week has shown us anything, fighting nature is a battle we will never win, no matter how much money we spend, no matter how hard we try. But that doesn’t mean that catastrophe is imminent or predestined.  There are things we can do to slow down the process and make it manageable.  But if we continue to ignore it, the problem will surely become too big for even our best minds and richest people to handle.   And until we realize that, and treat it with the respect it deserves, future generations will be the ones paying the price 
It’s a good thing that humanity’s greatest asset is its ability to adapt.  Because, if we don’t act now, the landscape of the future will look pretty different from our current one.  And the changes will not be for the better.    

Friday, August 26, 2011

This Scares The Bejeezus Out Of Me

Granted, my hope for the American political world wanes more by the day, even within the party I technically belong to, but I'm in no rush to speed towards the political doomsday that would be the election of Texas Governer Rick Perry to President.  But, apparently, polls suggest we may be headed in that direction.

Because anytime we can elect a guy that called the the head of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, a traitor for printing money (what does he think the Fed does?) and then threatens him with physical violence, you just have to elect him.  Not to mention, I prefer a leader that strongly believes that, instead of listening to group thought and scientific theory during tough economic times, organizes a large prayer group in a Texas football stadium to ask Jesus for his economic expertise!  He's got a point though, right?  Why waste time with mere mortals when you can go right to the omniscient source.

Now, in all seriousness, Rick Perry will hit the stump and spins yarns about his "Texas Miracle," asserting that Texas sailed through the past recession unscathed.  And after all, since 2009, 37 percent of all new American jobs were created in the lone star state.  That's a pretty good statistic to scream from the stump, the mouthbreathers will suck that in just as happily is they would the aroma from the fried butter at their state fair.  Except, upon further inspection, the Texas Miracle doesn't like so miraculous.  See here and here

So what are we left with?  A Texas blowhard who wears boots, talks a good game, and appeals to the "everyman" with his "everymanness."  Kind of reminds you of someone, eh?  Except at least that last someone guised himself as a "compassionate conservative."  This latest incarnation leans so far to the right, and is so abashedly proud of it, he just comes off like a true asshole. 

I never thought I'd pray (and I use that term loosely, of course) for Mitt Romney to win the Republican nomination.  But, I think, he at least has a tad of sense to him. I'm just not sure how the world would react to Americans electing some glorified Texas preacher to the highest office in the world.  We've been there before and it wasn't pretty.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another Reason Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Oh noes! We no like da twopheee!


What do you call an event where an entire area completely freaks out, re-evaluates their survival instincts while producing a higher sense of self, and panics about the end of time even though no one was hurt, structural damage was minimal, and there is no impending attack from an intelligent force? 

A 5.9 Earthquake on the east coast!

The human brain has a serious design flaw when it comes to "natural disasters," especially when the "disaster" becomes a communal experience in which people can bounce their thoughts and common "fear" off one another.  Car accidents kill thousands a year.  Cancer kills thousands a year.  I bet more people were killed last year attempting a cartwheel than in this most recent 5.9 Earthquake in Virgina.  It's a similar phenomenon to plane accidents, there is something about "lack of control" and even the minute possibility of massive group death (no matter how infinitesimal) that drives a human crazy, even if the statistical evidence shows that the chances of dying in an earthquake or plane crash are incredibly low. 

In addition, it seems people generally tie the fate of their life through a disaster with their self worth.  Just a quick glance at my Facebook feed minutes after the earthquake occurred showed multiple posts about a person's harrowing experience during an event where no one got hurt. In fact, they wear their fear like a badge of honor. Of course, all the NYC news can talk about is the Earthquake and some even had the audacity to somehow tie in the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11 with this current "disaster" (even though the epicenter of the quake was actually in Virginia).  What this suggests is a human created mental "catastrophe" to give people a sense that they actually survived a trying time, as if the earthquake was some kind of test of their meddle during a difficult period.  And because these thoughts and fears can shared by a sizeable community, it exacerbates the "fear" and makes everything into a much bigger deal than it actually is. 

Our current world features multiple wars, financial crises, famines...the list goes on and on.  But the Earth shaking a large community for 30 seconds, leaving no damage or casualties, causes everyone to panic and jump to conclusions about all sorts of personal and public policy.   It's a kind of common ground in fear that morphs into some weird echo chamber that increases in volume with every passing second. 

Or something. 

I know I'm not really being clear, I'm just musing...but I'm sure there's something to this. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One Day

Critics really couldn't stand it:  it's running at a not-so-impressive 27% on rottentomatoes. 

People didn't go watch it.  I'm not sure how much money it made this weekend, but I believe more people watched afternoon re-runs on the Travel Channel than saw this movie. (no hate on the Travel Channel, it's quite nice!)

But I really liked it.  Really liked it.  And this coming from someone who couldn't get past page 50 of the book it was based on.

One Day is the love story of Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway, yeah..her accent sucked, whatever, get over it) that spans 16 years of their adult life.  After an intimate encounter (though not consummated) on the day of their college graduation on July 15th, 1988, the film tracks the progress of their relationship, only checking in on our protagonists on subsequent July 15ths, up until present day.  Because of the nature of the story, the film provides an overly nostalgic edge, constantly reminding us of where they are going and where they have been, since we are seeing their entire adult lives in snippets. The filmmakers also chose carefully placed songs and cultural references to set the mood in a way that was actually not annoying, which is more than I can say for most 1990's period pieces.

The movie does make some strange choices (especially with Dexter's character), but you can read a multitude of reviews that catalog the mishaps of One Day.  But at it's core, it's a story about two friends who each take alternate paths after college, but are still bonded by a misunderstood love for each other.  This is not a story of constantly being at the wrong place at the wrong time, there are plenty of times the two could have gotten together and lived a "normal life."  It's a story that explores the boundaries of friendships and complicated emotions, and the value of continued loyalty (for lack of a better word) over time. And the film really works on this level.  The most appealing component to Emma and Dex's friendship is the fact that their love for eachother is time-tested, so when we flash back to earlier moments of their friendship, we feel as if we've gone on a journey with them.

Much of the emotion between the two actually exists in the spaces in between, which probably didn't play well with critics and audiences who were looking for on screen moments to prove their love was "special."  For me, just the simple knowledge that they had remained in each other's thoughts, no matter their successes or failures, made watching their story worthwhile.  Because of this, and the carefully chosen moments that were shown on screen, it created for a much deeper relationship than it might at first glance.  We always get the feel that these two people, who are unalike in many ways, do share a special connection, even if we don't fully understand the reason.  After all, love doesn't always (actually rarely) makes sense anyway. 

Not to mention, the whole story takes place in England and, for me, this enhanced the movie quite a bit as I doubt I would have liked it as much had it taken place in Topeka, Kansas and Des Moines. 

And as with any movie, the highest praise I can give it is that I held in a pee for a good 45 minutes because I didn't want to miss a moment.  So take that for what it's worth. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Worst (Best) Local Commercial!

A friend of mine recently brought the below to my attention and I have to say, what a fine commercial.


And by fine....I mean completely absurd (yet hilarious). But it made me think of other local commercials from my childhood that, at the time, seemed normal, but now are just hilarious. Of  course, anyone born in NYC during the 70-80's remembers the below:

But perhaps my favorite NYC local commercial from the 1980's was for the now defunct electronics outlet "Newmark And Lewis."  


Though the commercial is great for many reasons (like the first scene), the company's tagline "Dick Lewis Is Watching" is just strange.  What is Dick Lewis watching exactly?  Falling prices?  The competition?  Every single move you make in his store?  Big Brother Dick Lewis, should we be scared?  Regardless, it did lead to a great local joke often uttered in the hallways of my elementary school:

Why can't you go to the bathroom in "Newmark And Lewis?"

Cause Dick Lewis is watching.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Top Five Beatles Covers

A friend of mine recently posted his top five Beatles covers, which caused me to do the same, either because I was really interested in the subject or incredibly bored.  Sometimes I can't tell the difference.  I dont really have a favorite among these five and I reserve the right to change them pending on the day.  But as of today, August 15th, 2011, these are my top five Beatles covers in no particular order:

-- "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" - performed by Ben Folds, William Shatner, and Joe Jackson:

I think Shatner actually released a cover of this at some point in time, but I had the pleasure of watching the above three actually perform it at a Ben Folds show back in '05.  I'll say this:  they took a really cheezy concept/arrangement and fuckin' rocked it.  To the point where, during the chorus, the audience was hopping up and down as if they were on pogosticks, belting the lyrics back into the faces of the performers.  Amazing energy that I'm not sure would come across in a recorded version, but I'll never forget the performance.   I think it started out as a funny novelty and ended as a great cover. 

-- "Blackbird" - performed by Elliott Smith

Considering Elliott's incredibly troubled life, along with his untimely demise, this really is a perfect song for him to perform.  His version is broken and miserable, like most of Elliott's music, and is just ... I dunno, sad and effective for lack of a better term. 

-- "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" -- performed by Eddie Vedder

I have a feeling I'm gonna get in trouble for mentioning this one, maybe because it's obvious as it still gets airplay on terrestrial radio.  But I always loved it, still love it, and actually only hear Eddie's voice in my head when I think of the song.  That's gotta count for something, though maybe I've just heard his version more than I've heard the original. 

__ "In My Life" - performed by Johnny Cash

This one is off American IV, which contains probably my favorite collection of covers.  Cash's laboring voice really lends itself to the power of this song.  The song is a reflective one and seems odd coming out of the mouth of 20 year olds, but not so much out of Johnny Cash.  It's a perfect song for him to sing at a perfect moment in his life. 

-- "Across the Universe" - performed by Fiona Apple

Love the song, love her version of it.  I don't really have much else to say about it.  Just a good tune. 

Warren Buffet

Gotta love his sensibility!  Wonder if anyone in Washington will actually listen.  I doubt it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

And this is why we can't have nice things....

A big ruling in the ongoing constitutional legitimacy argument of the heatlhcare act came down today, and of course, it's depressing. Because they suck, the 11th circuit appeals court judged the individual mandate to be unconstitutional.  Now, this is not the end of the road for the individual mandate (I assume this issue will be in the courts for a while), but the idea that the mandate is some kind of infringement on a person's "freedoms" is absolutely absurd and is another thing that proves republicans have zero clue that we actually live in a community, and not individual bubbles. 

Let's put aside the fact that an individual mandate is necessary to fund universal healthcare; my argument for the mandate has little to do with economics and a lot to do with being a decent human being.  I assume most people value their health and would like to stay in good health in order to, you know, stay alive and be capable in old age.  Illnesses are scary, especially ones that require an entire lifestyle change.  And, unfortunately, there are many who die because they cannot afford adequate care, or are afraid to go to the doctor because they don't want to go into debt.  As mentioned in earlier posts, I strongly, strongly believe we would not exist without the help of the people around us.  We all serve functions to create a growing, prosperous community.  That said, it makes sense to take care of eachother, and nothing is more personal and scary than someone's health.  And the rest of the world seems to understand this, as we are the only developed country without some kind of universal system.  Somehow, someway, these Europeans and Asians continue to exist. And manage to have a cheaper system even though they cover more people. 

This idea that people are offended because they are being forced to help others, the very community that supports them, is misguided and kind of sad.  It's true that the people who refuse to pay into the system may not need medical care now, but one day they will, and will wish that there was a system in place that would help them to pay their bills. 

The selfishness of people really disgusts me sometimes.  All times. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Riots In England

In no way would I ever condone rioting ( I believe, for the most part, it's counter productive), but I'm curious to find that many people don't understand the impetus behind the anger of the poor British infiltrating their own streets.  And though David Cameron has instituted specific austerity measures, which gut social services, in an attempt to balance the budget, it speaks to the overall problem of neglecting the lower classes in the name of the health of the wealthy.  Simply put, it's much easier for governments to slash entitlement spending because the poor don't have the political capital to really do anything about it, where as the upper class does (and this is NOT only a British problem.  Watch out America.  We should be taking a lesson from this.)

One doesn't need to understand economic policy to see the root of the problem, actually, it's common sense.  If you, as leaders of the community, turn your back on the lower classes by cutting the social services they depend on, while removing the infrastructure of order (in this case, cutting police force pre-riots), you foster a sense of being abandoned.  And when people feel ostracized from the community and then struggle to fill their basic needs, they become angry and start seeing the world in stark black and white.  When this happens, they clearly no longer see their neighborhoods, community, and leaders as part of the solution, and instead, they become the entity to blame for all that ails them (and there is some truth to this).  Thus, they riot against the exact thing that once nurtured them in a, for lack of a better word, cry for help. 

It's simple, if you keep people happy and involved, they won't trash their neighborhood.  It's like a dog not wanting to shit in its crate.  If it feels safe in its environment, it won't try to ruin it.  In society terms, if you keep the middle class/lower class content and show that the community is making an effort to take care of its own, then there is no reason to riot.  These riots aren't happening because people are bored.  They are happening because people are angry.  And they are angry because they feel left behind.  And I don't blame them, even though I would, personally, take a different course of action. 

The solutions to these problems aren't impossible, despite the world's government's clueless attempts at fixing the issues.  Unfortunately, it would require the world's selfish, greedy society to completely switch it's world view to one where they understand that a strong community, one that vastly shares it's resources, is a happy one.  But, instead, we'll just be fed lines about higher taxes being job killers as if taxes are some alien beast from Mars that feeds on the soul of humanity.  The only reason higher taxes may effect business and hiring is greed.  The idea that higher profit, outdueling your peers, is somehow virtuous. 

And until we eliminate the culture of greed from society, this will be a continuous problem.  But, obviously, I'm not holding my breath. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fantastic New Rules

Always a fan of the final segment of Bill Maher's show, but the final rant in this week's New Rules was epic.  Enjoy. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Another sign we are doomed

And to think Rick Perry will run for President.

Just add this to the many other reasons America will be a flea market soon enough.  When the country is going to shit, don't ask experts for help.  What would that do?  Just pray to Jesus!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I love emoticons.

That's right, I said it.

And I don't get why you don't.

Simply put, emoticons (smiley faces in text/internet chat) sure get a lot of hate.  In fact, Larry David's hit HBO show, "Curb Your Enthusiasm," had a whole subplot dedicated to Larry's distaste for their use last week.  But as a veteran internet chatter for, say, the last 16 years, I've found meaning/connotation is easily confused during normal chat, as often times, sarcasm or even slightly playful tone is lost in simple text. This could lead to a misunderstanding and wasted time apologizing for a joke that never needed one in the first place. But there's one easy way to fix this problem:  the emoticon.

Sure, you might find the smile or wink at the end of my texts annoying and childish, perhaps flirty, but really I'm just giving you clear indication of my tone, which otherwise might be lost.  After all, when I speak to you face to face, facial expressions are a huge part of communication and it's easily to discern tone by noticing my delivery or even smile.  And in a world where we are incresing our number of texts and e-mails, emoticons serve the same purpose.  Yes, it's true. 

So really, we all should be using them, and actually using more of them.  I'm very proud to use the dozens of provided emoticons on Microsoft Messenger (especially the crying one cause that little yellow face really goes for it.).   So next time I use one in a text to you, don't think I'm weird, don't think I'm lame, don't think I'm "gay," just be fuckin' happy when you know I'm being sarcastic or playful, which, of course, I'm often being ;)

So why do emoticons get so much hate?  Why do people think they are creepy and lame.  Those little yellow faces are just here to help!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tebow And How The Broncos Are Screwing Things Up

And he's single, ladies!
One of the major storylines of this NFL training camp is the self-inflicted wound the Denver Broncos decided to give themselves in regards to their quarterback situation.  Last year, rookie and number one draft pick Tim Tebow played well enough in his final three starts that he was the assumed starting Broncos quarterback for the 2011 season.  Since the Broncos also have capable, sturdy Kyle Orton on their roster, it was widely assumed the Broncos would trade Orton to make room for Tebow.  When the lockout was lifted, this suspicion was confirmed as Denver successfully shopped Orton and struck a deal with the Miami Dolphins, only to discover that Miami and Orton couldn't agree on a new contract and the trade was contingent upon that happening.  Simply put, Orton was still a Bronco.

So, shit happens, but the Broncos decided to make it ten times worse when they opened up training camp and had Orton take snaps with the starting team, all the while still trying to trade him.  And, of course, Orton looks better than Tebow in training camp because 1) Tebow isn't a great practice player, though steps up in games and 2) Orton always looks good in practice because there is no pressure and he throws a crisp ball in shorts and a t-shirt.  Of course, the media has latched onto this and now judges every single practice pass the two of them throw and, of course, give heavy opinions on their fate based on these controlled environments.  They have to sell papers after all, so they aren't afraid to sling their bullshit.  And if you think this has no effect on the players, you're wrong. 

This is stupid for two reasons.  1) If Orton is on the Broncos roster come week one, the starting quarterback (no matter who it is) will constantly be looking over their shoulder with each bad play, creating more chaos for an already chaotic position.  2) and this is something that I think plagues many pro teams, the Broncos are terrible and have little shot at winning the Super Bowl these next two years, which obviously is the ultimate goal of playing.  With this in mind, the Broncos should circle 2014 as the season they expect to be in the Super Bowl.  Using this mindset, any player who they believe might contribute to the 2014 cause should get playing time immediately so they can grow and improve properly.  Any short term fix (in this case Orton) that may retard a possible long term solution (in this case Tebow) should not be entertained.  We already know Orton's limitations and his lack of future with the Denver Broncos.  What is the point of starting him to strive for a 7-9 season?  There's none.

There is still a week before the first preseason game and, in my mind, a week to trade Orton.  It doesn't matter if Orton happens to be outplaying Tebow in training camp or if they think Orton may have the ability to help the Broncos win an extra game or two this year (a debatable opinion.)  The day they brought him back and suggested he'd be the starter, after attempting to trade him, was the day the coaching staff caused unnecessary chaos.

Not to mention, Broncos fans don't care to see another season of Orton.  They really need to figure this out.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Planet Of The Apes!

I can't believe this was from an actual movie.
So, a new Planet Of The Apes movie comes out this week, only this time the film is rooted in a tad more "realism" than its predecessors.  At least the ones I've seen, anyway.  The older movies take place on some distant planet full of apes (or a distant future in which apes rule Earth), while this movie seems to feature genetically enhanced apes that escape their confines and wreck havoc on modern America.  In the preview, it suggests that thousands of apes take to the streets, scaling buildings, over-running highways, jumping on helicopters...mass hysteria.  But this begs the question:

Where the hell did all these apes come from?  There have to be, what, a few hundred apes housed in US zoos?  Perhaps we're running secret tests on a couple of hundred more?  I know you will never encounter one wandering around the North American woods unless one escaped from the aforementioned containment units.  I proposed this question to a friend and he suggested that maybe these smart apes flew here from central Africa (where many gorillas live) in those little World War One propeller planes.  Then I pictured an entire air fleet of said planes all manned by furry, angry gorillas slapping the dashboards in between funny gorilla hoots.  I thought watching this for two hours would probably be more entertaining than the actual movie.  Either way, I do hope to find out how America becomes overrun by hordes of intelligent apes.

Regardless of the above, how absurd is it that there is even a popular movie franchise called "Planet of the Apes."  I know we're all used to it because its been around so long, but can you imagine if a writer walked into a movie studio today holding a script about a violent planet full of talking humanoid primates called "Planet of the Apes"?  They'd, at least, kick him straight out of the room and, at worst, have him committed.  I also kind of have the feeling that with today's racial sensitivity, such an idea would probably be killed in its embryonic stages. 

Anyway, It's amazing what kind of shit people come up with.

***** UPDATE!    --- I saw the movie today and there probably are only a hundred or so renegade apes.  I still do wish they flew over from Africa though.