Category Archives: editorial

A big technology dump…and props to Wendy Davis

As I write this, fear not for my mood. I am “jamming” the Toy Dolls, and thus in quite a reasonably good state of mind.

Tonight my now 7-year old MacBook took a big dump. I turned it on, it began to book up, put the background image, but would not build my desktop. I tried several times, and each time a big, stinking, slimy, dump.

Thank “BOB” I back up my machine regularly. As I sit her listening to “Ernie Had A Hernia”, my poor old electronic friend attempts to reload from the last backup. Since it is, in fact, rebuilding, it seems the parts are all working. Doubtless the Pinks sabotaged my software. No matter. I am bigger than them.

It has not been a wonderful month for technology in my sphere of influence. In the 100 degree Texas summer heat, my car’s AC dumped on me last week.  Our “new” vacuum cleaner took a dump on me last night, refusing to create a vacuum though the motors all seem to be running. After practically taking the whole damned thing apart  I have failed to diagnose the problem. So it is mentally filed in the mind-cabinet under the category “Currently Fucked Up.”

I suppose while I’m writing I should mention the powerful and brave performance of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who stood in front of the Texas Senate for over 12 hours the other night to filibuster an anti-abortion bill that would have reduced not only access to abortion for Texas women, but also associated medical services. Our cowardly and stupid Lt. Governor actually tried to falsify the time stamp of the final vote, after a gallery full of citizens stood up for their rights and shouted the GOP pinks down.

Our neanderthal Governor has already called another special legislative session, and will spend close to $1 million on it, in order to force the bill through. I suspect it will pass this time, but not without a lot of debate.

Thanks and mad props to Senator Davis, however, for at least trying to keep evolution moving in the right direction. It is a hard fight, and she has guts.

 

 

Too Much Freedom

The news has been full of crazy stuff lately. The Boston bombings. The fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. The three weirdos who held those women captive for years in Cleveland. The psychos at the NRA convention in Houston afraid of their own shadows.

All of these things and more made me think of this quote:

“Not enough samurai in the world today. Just a bunch of assholes running wild with much too much freedom.”

Henry Rollins, in his book Solipsist

DC Comics – ohhhhh the confusion

A few months ago I began reading a few comics, after years of really not paying a lot of attention.

What got me interested again is the new title Thor: God of Thunder, written by Jason Aaron with fantastic art by Esad Ribic. I saw a few pages online and it made me curious to see it. Great stuff. One reason I’d avoided comics is that the titles have become very confusing. You have to buy LOTS of comics to keep up, and they are expensive. Thor: God of Thunder is more or less standalone, and really does a great job of getting at what makes the character tic.

Which brings me to DC Comics, and their “New 52” – yet another attempt to reinvent the DC Universe and characters and make them interesting to contemporary readers. I’ve checked out some of the books, and with one exception (Constantine) I don’t find them interesting or compelling.

I could go on and on with reasoning, but comics are a visual medium, so let me just present you with two images of Superman, THE iconic superhero. On top, Superman from the Kingdom Come series, and below Superman from the New 52.

superman

Superman, from the Kingdom Come series.

Do I really have to say it?

The Kingdom Come Superman looks like Superman. He looks tough. He looks powerful. He is iconic.

On the other hand, “new” “superman” below looks, well, not like Superman. Seriously – does anyone actually buy this bullshit? This is what Superman would look like if a fashion designer created the character. What’s with the hair? And armor? His costume is supposed to be some kind of Kryptonian battle suit. Uhhh…did they forget that he is invulnerable?

New Superman

Superman from the New 52.

Every time I see this shit it just makes me want to hurl.

DC has done the same thing to each and every one of their classic characters. What an abortion.  Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, even Batman.

The great comics series don’t really “reinvent” their characters. Rather, they rediscover what makes the characters great. Kingdom Come did this. It rediscovered the greatness of the original Justice League characters. Rather than trying to turn the DC Universe into the Marvel Universe, KC celebrated the awesomeness of the DC characters, and contrasted them with the “new” sort of superheroes.

Thor: God of Thunder does the same thing. Jason Aaron got it right. He took a Marvel Universe character and got back to the basics — to the fundamental concepts that have made the character popular for decades. Kingdom Come got it right too.

Hopefully soon it will be revealed that the whole New 52 was simply one of Jimmy Olsen’s nightmares, and he’ll wake, and the whole thing will be over.

 

What We Need

There’s a lot of focus these days on the need for STEM education and programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

That’s not enough though.

We still need poets. We need artists. We need writers. We need philosophers. We need musicians. We need dancers. We need historians. We need teachers. We need plumbers. We need electricians. We need good journalists. We need witty, smart, fun, interesting public intellectuals.

We need good urban design. We need literacy. We need critical thinking. We need peace.

We need creativity in all things. Without creativity, STEM is useless. Without creativity, life is not really worth living.

Without creativity, we’re just ants.

Just my two cents.

the Thankfulness Report

Thanksgiving is once again at our throats, which means the stress and antics of the holidays have started. As an adult, I have to admit I’ve grown to be not such a huge fan of the holiday season. I kind of wish we had it every other year. Didn’t we just do all this shit?

Really, once all the “Black Friday” bullshit subsides and I have a little time to think about the holidays, I guess they are OK in my book. I just wish they were a bit more relaxing.

Still, while I am not a huge fan of Thanksgiving food, even as a non-religious person I appreciate the sentiment of Thanksgiving. You don’t have to be thankful to “someone upstairs.” It’s just a time to be aware of the good things.

So here it is — my list of people, phenomena, and ephemera to be thankful for…

  • I am thankful there is something rather than nothing.
  • I am thankful that an asteroid hasn’t destroyed civilization (yet).
  • I am thankful for skateboarding.
  • I am thankful for Aikido.
  • I am thankful for my lovely and intelligent wife, who makes life worth living and lights every day.
  • I am thankful for my family.
  • I am thankful for my friends.
  • I am thankful for my job, which allows me to make a modest living while helping others.
  • I am thankful for my health, and the health of my family and friends. It can’t last, but is good while it is there.
  • I am thankful especially for my nieces and nephews, who are the stars in my sky.
  • I am thankful for the internet.
  • I am thankful for my education and relative intelligence, and thus far my adaptability.
  • I am thankful for smart people, but even more, for good people.
  • I am thankful for the Strong and Weak nuclear forces, Gravity, and the Electro-magnetic force, and their strengths relative to each other. Wouldn’t be here without them.
  • I am thankful for the phenomenon of consciousness, even if it is an illusion of some kind.
  • I am thankful for our cats.
  • I am thankful for creativity, without which life would indeed be a bore.
  • I am thankful for literacy.
  • I am thankful for funny people.
  • I am thankful to have a President who gives a damn.
  • I am thankful for peaceful transitions of power.
  • I am thankful that humans can experience pleasure.
  • I am thankful for the Law of Identity. A → A
Well, I think that just about covers it for this year.

Halloween

OK, Halloween is a few days away, and I keep seeing all this “Fall Harvest Celebration” and/or “Fall Festival” stuff.  This is bullshit!

C’mon folks…where’s the outrage? It’s Halloween, dammit!

Where’s the harm? First off, there is no such thing as “the Devil”. No such thing as spirits, ghosts, demons, etc. I don’t care what your Sunday school teacher told you.

I repeat. There is no such thing as the supernatural. It is all make-believe shit. It doesn’t exist.

Thus, by making the effort to change Halloween into some non-evil “Fall Festival”, you are simply demonstrating your own infantile notions regarding the nature of reality.

That’s all for now.

Hail Satan!  \m/  \m/

Climate

I will be watching this episode of Frontline tonight — Climate of Doubt.

The total lack of discussion of climate change during the Presidential debates has been disappointing. Climate change remains probably the greatest threat to human civilization. One of the candidates, Romney, doesn’t even think humans have affected the climate. Obama does, but isn’t talking about it. At least Obama has taken some actions on the energy front that might help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Romney would simply drill more and burn more. What a stupid asshole.

I’ve done quite a lot of reading on this topic, and frankly I think we are past the point of no return. If we haven’t already gone beyond our ability to stop the increasing in global average temperature, we certainly (as a country and a species) don’t seem to have the will to do what is necessary. Essentially, I think we are fucked. It makes me glad I don’t have kids, though I don’t feel good about the planet we’ll be leaving my beloved nephews and nieces. Sorry guys – some of us tried, but ignorant Republicans and greedy business men stopped us from doing anything.

One of the better books for the non-scientist lay person I’ve read is Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.  I recommend it. The author spent a lot of time on research, and documents the effects that climate change has already had on various societies.

 

A few comments on stupid sayings

These are a few phrases and sayings that really get under my skin. Time to share…

1. “Back in the day…”
This one is usually offered by someone no older than 21, referring to something that happened no more than about six years ago. So if you are one of these young people, and you say this, please consider yourself hereby immediately informed of the fact that for you, at this point in your life, there simply is no “back in the day”.

2. “He/She is in a better place”
Normally you hear this when one of your loved-ones has died. Oh — really? And where exactly is this “better place”? Because if it isn’t that hole in the ground and fancy box we just paid for, we got ripped off.

3. “Freedom isn’t Free”
Oh, really? Did you write that yourself? Your word-play is so clever! It really honors all the dead soldiers that you can spout out this vomitus on your Facebook page on the 4th of July or Memorial Day. Actually, to the extent we are free, my freedom was totally free (if you overlook the tax dollars I’ve paid to keep the American Empire going).

4. “Guns don’t kill people, PEOPLE kill people”
Usually heard after some nutjob with enough guns and ammo to arm a small nation goes crazy and kills a bunch of people with, errrrrr, guns? Yeah – guns. Another example of bumper sticker wisdom being substituted for actual thought.

5. “Everything happens for a reason”
This one usually rears its ugly head after something bad happens, to try and make you feel better. “I’m sorry your lost your job, but you know, everything happens for a reason.” Sure, of course. In that case, the job was lost so some asshole’s stock value can go up by 1 cent per share for a few hours. A good response might go something like this: “Really? How about female genital mutilation? What is the reason for that? Or how about anal cancer? What is the silver-lining in that dark cloud?”

6. “God’s in control”
See #5. This one also comes in the form of “God has a plan for everyone’s life”. Hopefully His plan doesn’t include brain cancer, flesh-eating bacteria, or having a gang of chimps rip your feet, face, and balls off.

7. “Stay where you are! Stay in the building!”
The Number One/Numero Uno lesson of September 11, 2001 is this: when they tell you to stay in the building, you need to get the fuck out of the building.

That’s all for now. I’m sure I’ll think of a few more as soon as I hit the Publish button.

Raising Arizona to the Ground…

From Richard Florida’s Twitter feed this morning:

Arizona’s anti-immigrant insanity will further undermine America’s ability to attract global talent.

He’s right.

Yes, I still live.

It has been a while without any posts. The last couple of months (the last year, really) have been tough. Family illness prevented me from really tending my gardens, practicing aikido, doing much skateboarding, etc. However, I was doing what I wanted to be doing more than anything — helping — so it is all good. In that last couple of months, however, I have gotten back to aikido practice, and I’m getting ready to get the gardens ready for Spring. And I’ve been skating a bit too.

I am preparing for my 4th kyu test at aikido, coming on Feb. 20.

More blog entries will follow.

Texans are amazing

Texans are amazing. I suspect this is probaby true of every other state too. Here’s a story to read:

New poll shows Texans want better roads; don’t want to pay for them

I guess people expect the roads to magically build and maintain themselves. With regard to high gas prices and the cost of commuting, here’s something from near the end of the article:

Only 37 percent said they would consider moving closer to work or school so that the commute would not be so far.

It will be interesting to see if this number changes over the coming years, or if people will just remain stupid.