Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Don't Have to Try

This afternoon, I walked into the middle of a conversation between some of my co-workers. I caught the last snippet of conversation (paraphrased):

Co-worker #1: I think people who try to make other people look stupid are insecure themselves.
Co-worker #2: You mean people like Eric (me) here.

Now, of course this was said jokingly, and I took it in the playful spirit in which it was intended. But it set me thinking.

Because, you see, in this day and age, no one has to make someone else look stupid. They are doing a fine job of it all by themselves.

Hell, there are entire TV shows dedicated to showing people making themselves look stupid. From Amazing Rac to Wipeout. From Jersey Shore to Jackass. Seriously. Who watches a show entitled Jackass?! Well, for starters, I think the title of the show is a pretty fair indicator of the show's main audience. Oh, and if you are a fan of Jackass, then you are forbidden from ever reading this blog again. Then again, you're probably illiterate, so you can't read it anyway. The mere fact that a 3-D movie sequel to Jackass is soon to be released makes me fear for the future of this country. Then again, the number of things that make me fear for the future of this country may be too numerous to count at this point.

So no, I don't have to try to make people feel stupid. Nor do I. But it is occasionally amusing to see people who are ready, willing, and able to do it to themselves.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Playing Right Into Their Hands

It would seem that all the frenzy that has been stirred up over the proposed building of an Islamic community center a few blocks from NY's ground zero has apparently played right into the hands of Islamic extremists.

In a course of events that should come as no surprise to any sane, rational, intelligent person, it would seem that the furor and protests being stirred up by the radical right over the proposed community center is being cited by an extremist Imam as a textbook case of America's intolerance toward the Muslim faith.

And really, can you think of anything that is currently being said or done that is doing anything to discourage that?

Sadly, we seem to be growing short on our supply of sane, rational, intelligent people.

I feel that it is germane at this point to quote the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Take a careful look at the first right enumerated in the first sentence. Pay close attention to the words "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Freedom of religion--the right of every citizen of this country to worship as he or she sees fit--is the first right enumerated in the bill of rights, listed before such monumental freedoms as freedom of the press or speech. Most of our founding fathers had firsthand experience with the tyranny that could arise when the state decided to establish a religion for itself, and they wanted to make sure that such tyranny could never happen here.

That is why it makes me shudder to see the way the religious wright is so easily able to co-opt the political agenda in this country. And why I can't help but think that our founding fathers must be spinning in their graves when they see it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Up in (Fiery) Arms

Apparently there is a fuss being raised over the video released for the latest song by Eminem entitled "Love the Way You Lie".

Now, since I truly hate people who rush to judgment over something before they have seen/read/listened to/etc. it, I went on-line and watched the video. Note: I will NOT link to it here. I ain't your damn search engine. Go to YouTube and search "Eminem Rihanna".

So I watched it. And may I say pairing "heroin guy" from "Lost" (I came to refer to the characters on the show by my nicknames for them since they seemed to get killed with such regularity and it was hard to keep track) with Megan Fox may be one of the more unusual on-screen couplings I've seen. And I have to say that this may also be the best type of role for Megan Fox i.e. one that she doesn't actually have to recite any lines spoken aloud, and can rely on her ability to look scorchingly hot rather than her acting talent (or lack thereof). Although her performance still seemed badly acted and forced...

But back to the video. The video shows shots of what one assumes to be a typical white trash couple fighting, making up, fighting again, making up again, and then (presumably) one or both of them dying in a house fire one of them set. It's very "The Burning Bed"-like.

Some people, it seems, are up in arms over this. They seem to think it glorifies domestic violence. They seem to think it glorifies alcohol-fueled fights. They seem to think it glorifies using homicide as a solution to domestic violence.

I seem to think these people are idiots.

Wake up you morons! It's a music video. Nothing more. And may I also say that this video glorifies neither domestic violence or homicide. And anyone who says otherwise has obviously never seen it. That's all I'm going to say on the matter.

Except to say this: What is it with the pairing of rappers with regular singers? First there's Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg, and now Rihanna and Eminem? What's next? Run DMC and Aerosmith?

Oh wait. That's already happened...

(By the way, Steven Tyler is one seriously ugly person. I'm guessing his daughter thanks God every day she didn't get her looks from him...)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

He Said it Better Than I Could, Continued

Well said, my friend.

(Note: I tried to embed the official MSNBC video, but it never seemed to work. Hmm...)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bravo, Mr. President

President Obama has given a speech defending the planned building of an Islamic community center near the area where the World Trade Center once stood. And he gave this speech despite overwhelming criticism of the idea.

It is a move that will make him more unpopular. And it is a wagonload of fresh meat thrown to the conservative blowhards that have been screaming about him from the day he took the oath of office.

It is also a move that gives me a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, this President might finally be willing, in some small way, to start sticking to his principles.

This country was founded on the principle of religious freedom. It is the first right enumerated in the first amendment of the Bill of Rights (Look it up). And like it or not, there are over a billion Muslims in this world. And the vast majority of them are good, decent people who were appalled by the attacks of September 11th. Millions of Muslims live and work in this country. They defend it every day in the armed forces, the police, and the fire departments of our country. And they know that while the monsters who flew those planes into the WTC, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania may have claimed to be Muslims, they were about as far removed from the true Muslim faith as an anthill is from Mount Everest.

Look, the group that proposes the building of this mosque is dedicated to improving relations between Islamic countries and the west. And I can't think of any better way to do that than to ensure that there is a place where people can learn the true meaning of the Muslim faith mere blocks away from where people who were an abomination of that faith committed a horrific act against our country.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Something You Think Is a Joke

You see pictures posted on the internet that look like this:

You think they are jokes.

But they really aren't:

If you have any doubts, please read the news report here.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that news of incidents like these come from the South...

Yeah, I said it. Get over it. Or secede. Ask your ancestors how well that worked out.

Jet F@#& You!

I doubt that anyone in the world right now has not heard of the Jet Blue flight attendant who, after being struck on the head by luggage being taken from an overhead bin, cursed out the passenger who did it on the P.A., grabbed a beer, opened an emergency exit from the plane, popped the emergency slide, and, well, quit his job rather emphatically.

I've flown on my share of airplanes. I've watched many times as my planes arrived at their gates and 3/4ths of the passengers in them immediately stand, fill the aisle(s), and grab everything they've stowed in the overhead bins and expect to get off the plane within the next five seconds. I've been hit by more than a few bags dumped unceremoniously on the seats below them. News flash folks: It ain't gonna happen! Pressures have to be equalized. Jetways have to be docked and leveled. And the luggage bins have to be unloaded so that transferring luggage can be moved to planes that may be on the other side of the airport before they take off. Believe me when I say that they don't always succeed. These are the things that demand the priority of the ground crews.

I realize that people are lauding this man as an oppressed hero of the put-upon flying class. But please stop to consider for a minute just how many problems his actions caused.

Also consider what might have happened if this man had tried something while the plane was in the air...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Teen Choice Awards

So. Apparently the Teen Choice awards were handed out last night. Or so I’ve heard. As you’ve probably guessed, I wasn’t exactly glued to my TV watching them.

But, as far as I can determine, these would seem to be roughly the equivalent of the poor man’s People’s Choice awards. Now, don’t get me wrong: I have great respect for the People’s Choice awards. They tend to represent the views of the general public at large, rather than the views of a bunch of snobbish movie critics and other Hollyweird types. Typically, the movies nominated for Best Movie on the People’s
Choice list tend to out-earn their counterparts on the Academy Awards list by an average of five to one. And, while you occasionally see an occasional blockbuster from an Oscar winner, this tends to be the exception, rather than the rule. The most obvious reason for this is that the People’s Choice awards are based on polls of the American Public at large, while the Oscars are based on votes from a select group of Hollywood elites, who generally tend to believe their tastes are far, far above those of “ordinary Americans”

But when I hear about the Teen Choice awards, I am given cause to stop and ponder. Like the PC’s, the TC’s are awarded based on the results of an on-line poll. And, while I have never voted in this poll, I have to believe that not a whole lot of care is taken to ensure that only the votes of people between the ages of 13 and 19 are counted in this poll. After all, we’re talking about an internet poll. And if there is one thing that is universally true about the internet everywhere, it’s
that it allows for total anonymity. I’m sure that if I had taken leave of my senses and decided to cast a vote in this poll, there would have been nothing to stop me from doing so. Hell, I’m almost tempted to cast a vote in the next poll just for laughs. Almost.

So the TC’s are really nothing more than just a lighter version of the PC’s. Another excuse for Hollyweird to throw another ridiculous party and show themselves off in fashions most ordinary Americans wouldn’t be caught dead wearing.

The awards themselves, of course, are nothing more than negotiating tools the stars who won them can use to wring a few more millions out of the Hollyweird brass when they are negotiating the salaries for their next movie, or their next TV role, or their next album. Oh, and the awards are a joke: They are shaped like surfboards. REAL surfboards. 6-foot tall SURFBOARDS!

This years big winner in the movies category was, naturally, the latest Twilight movie. After all, how could millions of hormone-crazed teens (and probably more than a few internet predators pretending to be hormone-crazed teens) NOT vote for a movie starring, apparently, 3 of the most beautiful young people in Hollywood.

An aside: I managed to last through about 20 minutes of the first Twilight movie a few months ago. Then, I turned it off. And spent the next ten minutes looking for an ice pick or other suitably long, thin, sharp object that I could jam into my head in order to permanently lobotomize the part of my brain that carried the memory of that anal excretion of a movie. Fortunately, I soon gave up on my search and simply drank a heroic amount of alcohol. It helped, for no other reason than it killed enough brain cells to dim the memory. The movie sucked, is what I’m saying, in case you didn’t get it.

So the TC’s have now come and gone. Hollywood has patted itself on the back again. And I have to believe that no one outside of Hollywood gives a rat’s ass. I sure don’t.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Once Upon a Time

I have only been in one serious relationship with a woman. Please be advised that when I say "serious relationship", I mean one that lasts more than 2 months.

She was a co-worker. I know that office relationships are doomed the day they start. But we fit well together. We were both reserved, both non-committal, and both working in jobs that we didn't enjoy. But this was a good relationship. Due to circumstances outside our control, however, we both knew that it couldn't last. And no, before you ask, it wasn't because we were having an extramarital affair. Sheesh! You people have dirty minds. But it was fulfilling for both of us while it lasted.

I live in Toledo, Ohio. It is one of the worst cities in America for a single person to live. This is a town that consists of either people who are married, or people who move here after they get married. For reasons passing understanding.

I have hit middle age as a single with a vengeance. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will probably live my life that way. This is due to a combination of factors including, but not limited to, my age, my external appearance, and my overall negative disposition towards others.

If things ever happen to change that, well, then that will happen.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

I Don't do Facebook

I do not have a facebook page.

I do not have a twitter account.

I do not use myspace.

I, apparently unlike millions of others desperate for their share of the 15 minutes of fame, do not crave attention like a crack user seeking a rock. This is the only way I can think of to describe these millions of facebook, twitter, and myspace users who lust for as many online friends as they can get their cyberspace hands on. Never mind the fact that most of these users will never actually have face-to-face contact with the people they connect with electronically--it is also highly unlikely that any of these people will also actually carry out an actual verbal communication with any of their so-called cyberfriends.

This, my friends, is the biggest part of my problem with these services. These so-called "social networks" are actually doing the opposite of what they may have been originally intended to do: They are discouraging the development of basic social skills.

Add on to this that it is a known fact that these services are often trolled by predators, sexual and otherwise, looking for vulnerable victims. Victims, I might add, who are not exactly making themselves hard to find. The amount of information some of these people are willing to share about their lives makes me shudder.

I have actually become quite surprised with myself that I write this blog. I've been doing this for more than six years now, and there have been times when, quite frankly, I have shared some of my more intimate thoughts with the 3 people who read it.

An aside: I often refer to "the 3 readers of this blog" in many posts. I have no idea the actual readership. I've gotten comments every now and then. Its existence is not advertised anywhere but in my e-mail signatures.

It is important to remember, however, that I don't write in this blog for attention. I write it so that my personal thoughts, experiences, and opinions will be available somewhere other than in my own head. Over the past 6+ years, I have written some things here that I am, at various times, proud of, scared of, ashamed of, and, quite frankly, confused by. But this is what I have written. I will never delete anything, rewrite anything, or do anything other than make minor grammatical edits to anything I have written or will write here.

So now, climbing off my soapbox...

Let me conclude this post with a little story: I have heard that there is a program available on facebook that allows you to plant, cultivate, and harvest "virtual vegetables". I have no idea if this is true. But if it is, let me ask this of the people who spend time doing this: Have you ever pondered turning off your computer, going outside, tilling some dirt in a garden plot, planting real vegetables, harvesting them, and making yourself a nice dish?

I grow tomatoes every summer. I enjoy using them to make my homemade spaghetti sauce. Try it sometime. It's really delicious!