Friday, April 21, 2017

Truth, Justice, and the "American Way"

No, this is not a post about Superman. Except, maybe it is a little bit. Or a lot.

"Truth, justice, and the American way," as a phrase, has been around for long enough at this point that people don't realize it originated with Superman. They may know it's been associated with Superman but most people think it's its own thing, not what amounts to a marketing phrase for the 50's Adventures of Superman, the Superman show I watched in syndication when I was a kid.

I'm not sure if there was an idea tying truth and justice to America prior to Superman (and I'm not doing the research on that, right now, to try and figure it out),but Superman, since his inception, has been tied to truth and justice. From the early days of the comic book to his days on the radio and, then, in the earlier TV series, Superman always stated that he was here to fight for truth and justice. That's all, just truth and justice. Those, to me, seem like things worth fighting for. I'm not so sure about the "American way."

See, the "American way" was something tossed in during the 50s in the midst of the Red Scare and McCarthy-ism and was less about America than it was about White America: Leave It To Beaver, white picket fences, and Father Knows Best. Probably some Andy Griffith, too. TV in the 50s was all about the "American way," and it's hard for me to dissociate that idea from those TV shows because they epitomize so much of the idea of the "American way."

And I'm not going to try and say that there's nothing attractive about those shows and the, for lack of a better word, ideal they put on display. But it was all a fantasy. Real life America was never like Father Knows Best or Mayberry. Real life America has never been all White all the time in nice little subdivisions with white picket fences. And it's never been about women who wear their heels and pearls in the kitchen while making dinner all day. All of this isn't even a White fantasy; it's a White Male fantasy about how everyone else lives to serve them in their own individual little kingdoms.

It's kind of sick.

It's possible I wouldn't have a problem with the whole "truth, justice, and the American way" thing if truth and justice were a part of it, had ever been a part of it. But the "American way," as it applies here, has always been about white male supremacy. It's why Steve Bannon holds the 50s up as his ideal era of what we need to get back to. The White Male was supreme, and everyone else knew their places.

As for truth and justice? We seem to have culturally abandoned those ideas of late. We've abandoned truth in favor of opinion and, even, outright lies. You can see the evidence of that in the man who was elected president, a man with absolutely no relationship with truth whatsoever. His lackeys display the same break from reality with their "alternative facts" and misrepresentation of historical accuracy. Sorry folks, history is not an opinion. Things happened. Saying they didn't or trying to recast those events in some other light doesn't make them not have happened.

And we've abandoned justice in favor of racial prejudice and allowing the rich more and more power and money. "We" have allowed the Republicans to wave religious dogma at Conservatives to keep them in power so that they can continually enable corporations the ability to take advantage of people, poison their water, and keep them in debt. That Jeff Sessions and Neil Gorsuch are where they are serve as proof that we have shoved justice down the stairs and broken her scales. We have become the money lenders in the Temple, and have elected the worst of them as president.

This seems to be the "American Way": no truth, no justice, just the dream of white picket fences in white neighbors with white schools.

Superman isn't coming. It's time to abandon this "American Way" nonsense as the fable it always was. It's time to stand for truth and justice. Truth and Justice! Which means demanding, all of us, that we have politicians who are knowledgeable, smart, and believe in facts, not money. It means demanding a change to the system so that the system doesn't check our skin color before it decides who gets a fair shake. It's time.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Clone Wars -- "Missing in Action" (Ep. 5.11)

-- A soldier's most powerful weapon is courage.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]
[Well, actually, considering that we're into season five, now, probably no one new is going to sign up, BUT! Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on the current episode.]

The adventures of Colonel Gascon continue this week, and we get a clone thrown into the mix. With amnesia. Generally speaking, I hate amnesia stories, but the story of Gregor has been the best thing about this arc so far. Except for the Russian-sounding sullustan. And it would have been okay if they had just used the Russian accent for a bit of audio-flavor, but he was clearly culturally Russian, including naming the clone Gregor, and that felt a little weird.

So, yeah, I'm tired of Gascon, the frog general. I think the first time I watched the series I found him amusing -- that's my memory impression, anyway -- but, this time, I just find him tiresome. It's the prejudice against droids and his own self importance that does it. Perhaps, though, it's fitting for the time we're in, right now, because there are some analogies that can be drawn from the character. Clearly, he has the attitudes of the typical white male boomer; maybe that's why they made him a frog, which is a thought I am, at this moment, finding amusing.

Not enough for me not to be ready for this arc to finish, though. I'm ready to get back to the real story.

"I hope you have a plan to get us off this armpit."

Monday, April 17, 2017

It's Come To My Attention

It's come to my attention that there are those of Trump supporters who wish I had never been born. To paraphrase what was said, "The world be a better place if you had never been in it." Which, you know, is ironically amusing coming from the side of the political line which wants to make abortion something that doesn't exist.

But the attitude is something I've come to expect from those on the Right, the Conservatives, the ones who believe that only they have the right to be full people. Yes, freedom of religion but only as long as everyone practices religion exactly as they do. Yes, freedom of speech as long as people never disagree with them. Oh, and if you have some other shade of skin than "white," you better be really rich and willing to contribute a lot of green to get to play in the club.

[A recent study has shown that insurance companies consistently charge minorities up to 30% more for car insurance than they charge whites within the same risk bracket. No, there is no reason for this other than that they are not white.]

For me, the thing that makes this situation so hilarious <he said, ironically> is that the person with the specific "complaint" that finally inspired me to write this post is someone who consistently came into my space to complain about the things I was saying. I wasn't going into his spaces and calling him names or saying bad things about Trump supporters at his house or anything like that. No, he was going out of his way to come to my place and, then, getting offended by it. Over and over again.

Because, you know, that's the way Conservatives like to do it: They like to get mortally (yes, mortally) offended by things that happen nowhere near them, have nothing to do with them, and will never affect them. It's like this:
When I was a teenager growing up in Louisiana (a horrible, Hellish place that I would never wish on anyone) [And I'm not just talking about the weather in regard to Louisiana or the mosquitoes. They have the highest incarceration rate of anywhere in the world! One of the worst education systems in the country. And the politics... Look, despite the fact that we currently have Trump as president, the politics in Louisiana are... well, I'll sum it up this way: Edwin Edwards, David Duke, and Bobby Jindal.]
But I digress... Let me start over:
When I was a teenager growing up in Louisiana, people used to fervently wish and pray for the day that California would suffer a catastrophic earthquake and fall off into the ocean. Why? Because California was filled with gays and hedonism and anyone who would live in California deserved... well, God's judgement, but God's judgement was always something along the lines of Sodom and Gamorrah, because Californians didn't deserve to live. When I was a kid, California was just about the last place I ever wanted or expected to live, not least because I didn't expect it to still exist the way people talked.

Of course, it was while I was a teenager that I started having... issues... at church because of my own views. Frequently, my own views had to do with my much more accurate interpretation of the Bible. Not even the youth pastor or pastor ever came away from a disagreement with me about the Bible in which they didn't at the very least say, "You're not wrong." And my other view which said, "Why does it matter what other people do in their own homes if it's not affecting you?" [This was something I most often said when someone was going off about homosexuality.] The response was always, "Because it's wrong!" And I would say, "So is adultery, but you're not advocating for cheaters to die." [That's kind of a personal pet peeve, that "Christians" spend so much time slamming people of other sexual orientations while mostly ignoring infidelity, which must be at least an equivalent kind of sin, and I would say it's worse.]

What Conservatives/Fundamentalists (of all types) need to learn is this:
The planet is not yours. You do not own it. You do not have control of it. You share it with other people and YOU (you fascist asshole) need to learn how to SHARE. That means you need to learn how to live with people who don't believe the same things you do AND you need to QUIT trying to control other people. Also, consider your actions before you take them: If they could hurt someone else (like, if, you're going to put an oil pipeline that could leak near someone's water source, DON'T do it), don't do that thing. Also, also, corporations are not people and shouldn't be treated as such. Also some more, reducing your profits when you are still making a profit is NOT hurting you, especially if it's making someone else's life better.

I could go on.

All of that to say this:
If Trump supporters are getting tweaked enough by the things I say that they are more than wishing that I wasn't saying them, GOOD! I'm going to keep saying them. Because, you know, at this point, if you are still supporting Trump, you're either just an outright asshole (uneducated, racist, -ist-ist) or you'r clinging to Trump out of stubbornness because you don't want to admit that you were wrong, which makes you an asshole. Either way, you're an asshole.
Oh, or you're a Republican congressman who has no spine or no morality. That also makes you an asshole.

And, sure, I get that if you're a Trump supporter that you, in all likelihood, think that I'm the asshole, BUT, you know what, you DON'T HAVE TO COME INTO MY SPACE. So, really, if you disagree with me, stop engaging with the things I say.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Day 15

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Soldiers came to the door today and took our TV. They gave us money for it, but it wasn’t enough not to make my dad mad. He loved that TV. It was a huge flat screen thing that my dad said made it so that he never had to go out to the movie theater again. And made him feel like he was right in his football games. He’s been spewing about the super bowl all day and how was he going to watch it now. Not that he could have watched it even with the TV since the TV isn’t good for more than watching static.

After the thing with the Statue of Liberty message on the TV channels – lots of them, evidently – Trump decided it was better for “people” not to have TVs. They are, according to the soldiers, too much of a risk for receiving Chinese propaganda. Or anti-Trump propaganda. Something. He doesn’t want us to see anything he doesn’t want us to see. So only certain places will have TVs, and people are urged to go to these gathering places for his daily messages.

Thankfully, I’ll be in school. Thank God for the little things, right?

Not that I think I believe in God, not anymore. Not the God they talk about at church, anyway. Any god that was any amount of good would not have let someone like Trump be president. The fact that so many people at church like Trump because he’s getting rid of “the gays” and “putting the niggers in their place” just proves that that god, if he exists, is not a good god.

But I was talking about the soldiers…

They had to restrain my dad while they were stealing the TV. He screamed and cursed at them the whole time. At one point, when they were taking the TV off the wall, he pulled one of his arms loose and tried to go for the guys taking the TV down. Two of the soldiers tackled him to the floor, and one of them punched him in the face and told him if he was smart he would stay down.

Mom cried.

As they walked out the door, they gave my dad $200. He threw the money back at them, yelling, “I don’t want your fucking money! I don’t want your fucking money!” When they just threw the TV in the back of their truck with all of the others, like a piece of junk, my dad ran out in the yard at them, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Do you know how much that cost me?”

One of them pulled a gun and my dad stopped so fast he fell down. I might have laughed if I hadn’t been so scared. I don’t like my dad very much, right now, but I don’t want someone to shoot him.

Two more soldiers came up with another TV and threw it in on top of all the others, then they pulled the truck down the street a few houses, and I saw soldiers all over the street coming with TVs and throwing them in the truck. My dad stood there watching them for a long time even after they were gone. He stood in the yard and stared at the corner where the truck had turned off on when they left.

He left the money on the porch when he came back inside. He doesn’t know I picked it up. I don’t think anyone saw me get it, and it hasn’t been mentioned again. It’s in my hiding box now. For California.

My dad spent the rest of today fuming about football and the super bowl. He’s already been complaining about football since we lost the internet. huh That’s probably why he’s been so desperate for an antenna for the TV. I guess that won’t be a problem anymore.

I don’t even know if football is still going on. Not that I care. I hate football and how stupid everyone acts about it, like it’s the most important thing in the world. I can’t even talk to Dad when football is on. I think the house could burn down and he wouldn’t even notice until he was on fire.

So maybe that will be a good thing, not to have football in the house, even if I do miss being able to watch TV. Not as much as I did right at first, though. I’ve found some other things to do, even reading. I got Fahrenheit 451 from school, and it’s pretty good. I wanted The Hunger Games, but all the copies are gone, so my teacher said I should Bradbury, instead, because that was more real. I don’t know what she meant, exactly, but I saw the movies of Hunger Games, and I guess I would say Fahrenheit is more real than that. I mean, they did come take our TV which is kind of like burning the books in 451.

That’s a scary thought.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Clone Wars -- "A Sunny Day in the Void" (Ep. 5.10)

-- When all seems hopeless, a true hero gives hope.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]
[Well, actually, considering that we're into season five, now, probably no one new is going to sign up, BUT! Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on the current episode.]

So... Whereas I was okay with one episode with this special droid team led by Colonel Gascon (the frog "general," just as a humor break or whatever you want to call it, I find myself less interested in a whole story arc surrounding this idea. Especially one that begins with an overly contrived shipwreck. Seriously? The piloted their ship through a comet cloud? They have four (FOUR!) astromech droids on this team and they piloted their ship into a cloud of comets and crashed?!?! Come on! At least have them damaged in a dogfight or something trying to escape. That would have been plausible and believable.

But, not only that, but the pilot droid, THE PILOT DROID!, seems unable to come to a decision to avoid flying into the comet storm and goes off to make conversation before alerting Gascon, at which point it is too late to do anything about it.

Which leaves them crashed on a void planet.

Basically, I didn't find anything of real value in this episode and, actually, I don't remember finding anything of value in it the first time I watched it. In fact, I had completely forgotten about "A Sunny Day in the Void," the title being the best thing about the episode (other than a couple of good one-liners), and had a sinking feeling as soon as I realized which episode it was.

"All I ask is that you let me die with dignity."
"Is that possible?"

Monday, April 10, 2017

What Johnny Rotten Got Wrong

Recently, Johnny Rotten, of the Sex Pistols, came to the defense of Donald Trump, saying Trump is exactly the kind of anti-establishment person we need in office. Johnny Rotten has an incorrect view of what the establishment is. Trump in almost every way represents the establishment and everything he has done so far, and tried to do, has been to support and further ingrain that establishment.

See, the establishment isn't about politics; it's about money. It always has been.

Look, I'm not saying that politics aren't wrapped up in it, but it's not politics that the establishment is built on. From the beginning, the very beginning, it's all been about money. That's why there was a revolution. "Hey, you ugly king over in England, you're taking our money, and we don't like it!" There's a reason why virtually every one of the founding fathers were rich dudes. And some of those families are still in politics, so it can be confusing, but it's still all about the money. The politics just help control the flow of the money.

The Koch brothers are a perfect example of this. They are super rich and a huge part of the modern establishment. In order to keep themselves as much super rich as possible, they employ politics. They themselves are not politicians; they just buy them and keep them in their pockets (the super rich always have big pockets, deep enough to keep a politician or two stashed inside) and use them to shift policy the way they want it to go.

[I wonder if the Kochs spend more money on politics (including funding campaigns) than they would "lose" if they just left well enough alone, because they spend mega-money on politics (yes, mega-money is a "thing"). I have a hard time with the idea that it's actually profitable for them in a purely monetary sense.]

From that standpoint, the government, also, is not the establishment. The reason that Trump and the Republicans are anti-government has nothing to do with "standing up for the little guy" and everything to do with keeping the government out of corporations, because the government, prior to Trump, has been standing up for the little guy the most it has since, probably, the 60s. Corporations, then, are a big part of the establishment. After all, according to the Republicans, they're people, too. (And we don't want to huwrt the witty feewings of those super wich cowpowations.) The Republicans aren't about less government because they want to protect the freedoms of "the people;" they're about less government so that they can more fully take advantage of the people and suck them dry of all the money they have.

Here's an important distinction:
Hilary Clinton doesn't come from money. Sure, she has money now, but she doesn't come from money. Neither does Obama. It allows them to operate from the perspective of normal people. Trump, though, comes from money. Enough money so that the "small loan" of ONE MILLION DOLLARS (though it was actually more) that his father gave him when he was starting out was somewhat equivalent to the 20 bucks your grandmother used to send you on your birthday. That is to say there is no equivalence.

Trump is the establishment. He comes from money and has spent all of his life being around only people with money. He has gathered around him in the White House more money than has ever been there before. He has made the White House more establishment than it has ever been, full of people who want to get rid of government regulations (regulations that protect regular people from being taken advantage of or harmed by the establishment) so that they can make even more money than they already have. It's all a profit game for him.

Don't be distracted by the noise. Trump is not here to bring down the establishment. Not even Bannon wants to bring down the establishment. These are guys who believe in money, and getting rid of obstacles to making more money, and controlling your lives. They might want to bring down the government (Bannon certainly does), but they want the Establishment to stay right where it is.
On your backs.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (a book review post)

You want to know how you can tell how good or bad a book is? By how willing I am to spoil it. If it's good, I'm going to do my best to keep as much of the book to myself so that you can have full enjoyment of it but, if it's bad, I'm going to give you every reason not read it, which is going to include giving away anything about it that I think will help you to understand why you shouldn't read it. So, yes, there will be spoilers. And... now, I feel bad for even warning you about that because what if you decide to stop right here and not read the review? Seriously, you don't want to waste your time on this one, and I'm going to tell you why.

The first thing you should know, though, is that when an author says about a story, "It's not very good," you should probably believe him. Not that I knew he'd said that before I read it, nor would it have kept me from reading it since I'm doing this whole "complete works of Lovecraft" thing, but at least I would have known going in. Actually, I think Lovecraft was being generous when he said "not very good."

Mostly, the story is just boring. Mind-numbingly boring. And long. Especially for Lovecraft. And, since I'm reading this on my Kindle and it's part of a collection, I didn't know how long it was when I started it, and it kept going on and on and nothing was happening and I couldn't read it without my mind wandering or falling asleep which meant I had to go back and re-read parts of it, not that those parts mattered because none of it ultimately mattered.

More interesting, though, is the fact that Randolph Carter, the protagonist, is a character based more than a little on Lovecraft himself. You'd think that if you were writing a story with you in it that it would be a tad more exciting and interesting. Or that the character would do something. Anything. Other than get captured and have to be continually rescued, passively, by others. Including an army of cats because Carter had happened to have been nice to a cat at some point prior to needing to be rescued.

So the idea here is that Carter has had a dream of a place he calls the Sunset City -- Randolph Carter is an expert at dreaming, evidently -- but, each time he dreams of it, the dream gets snatched away from him. Carter decides it is the gods of Earth doing this -- they live in the land of dream -- and, so, he decides he is going to seek them out in their city of Kadath, a place where no man has ever been.

The bulk of Dream-Quest is Carter travelling through the land of dream and descriptions of the places he's seeing. There is no dialogue in the entire novella. That can be okay in a short story, but it's difficult in a novella. There is a monologue near the end and, when the character began speaking, I got excited for a moment, only to realize that the character was just going to be monologuing. It was sad.

One of the things Lovecraft says about the story is that he worried whether there was so much creepy stuff in it that it all blended together and made everything mundane. He was right to worry. Especially since Lovecraft relies so heavily on not actually describing his monsters. You can only tell me so many times that something is nightmare-inducing before I quit believing you. Especially if you tell me that same basic thing about every creature you come across. All of which is made worse when Lovecraft introduces you to some deadly horror that wants to eat you on one page but, then, becomes your ally a few pages later because you happened to learn a bit of its language.

You might be wondering at this point why I finished this story at all, which would be an entirely fair question. The easy answer is that I'm doing this whole "complete works of Lovecraft" thing, and you can hardly claim to have read the complete works if you dump stories here or there because they bore your eyeballs out (take that however you want to), but, also, I did genuinely become curious as to whether the story was going to go anywhere.

And it did. Sort of. I mean, Carter does eventually make it to Kadath. Very eventually. But that's the only interesting part of the story. See, when Carter FINALLY arrives in Kadath, the unknown city of the gods, to demand that they allow him into his Sunset City, he finds them... not there. The city is abandoned. And, as it turns out, as we find out through the monologue of the -- well, I suppose he's the antagonist, but I hesitate to go as far as to call him that -- "bad" guy, the gods loved Carter's dreamed city so much that they have taken it for themselves, abandoning their positions as gods of the Earth so that they can hang out in Carter's dream city. However, the one little interesting bit is not worth the whole story.

And there's not much after that. Carter escaping again through virtually no action of his own, though it is the only time he's responsible for his own safety. The payoff, which is very small, is definitely not worth the length of the story. And I haven't even mentioned how many times the word "Cyclopean" is used.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Clone Wars -- "Secret Weapons" (Ep. 5.9)

-- Humility is the only defense against humiliation.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]
[Well, actually, considering that we're into season five, now, probably no one new is going to sign up, BUT! Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on the current episode.]

"Secret Weapons" is what you might call a fun little episode and, when I say "little," I mean that literally. I can only imagine the idea for this episode happened over a few a beers one night when someone said,"Wait! The general can be a frog!"
And someone responded, "And it can ride around in R2's head!"
That or someone is a big fan of the daleks from Doctor Who.

I don't have much more to say about this episode other than that it's fun. It's not significant in anyway, just a break for a bit of humor. Other than that R2 is in it (and not even in a significant way), there aren't even any established characters in the episode other than to start it off. That said, Dr. Gubacher is hilarious and is worth the whole episode. Or, at least, up to the part that he's in. He's like a cross between Igor and Q, and it makes me want a whole series where he's outfitting Jedi with special gadgets. That, um, actually sounds kind of awesome.

"Some of you might not make it back."
"What? Why's he looking at me?"

Monday, April 3, 2017

Playing God and the Fundamental Problem of Fundamentalism

Let's have a bit of a thought experiment, shall we?

If you espouse at all to Judeo-Christian mythology (because that is the correct term to use in this case, so don't go getting your undies all twisted in a knot and stuck in your bunghole) and, actually, to Islam, since it has the same roots, then there is a basic premise you have to acknowledge. Actually, it is the basic premise, the one without which there is no Judeo-Christian mythology, no Judaism, no Islam. That premise? Free will.

Yes, the basis of Christianity is the idea that God gave us choice. This is the fundamental concept of Christianity: God made man so that man could choose to love Him. Or not. Love has no meaning without the power to choose not to love.

Or to obey.

[I'm not offering this point as up for debate. This is my given, and I'm not going to enter a discussion in order to prove it. For one thing, that would be a whole other post. Also, it's been an accepted idea for... I don't know how long, so plenty of other people have already argued the point. If you don't agree with me, go find some of those arguments. Or offer your own counter argument, though I probably won't engage in some long, drawn out discussion over it. Not that I might not want to, but I just don't have time for that these days.]

The truth is that, on the whole, people are bad at "choice." We don't want to have them -- or, at least, not too many of them -- and we don't want other people to have them, especially if they are choices we feel like we don't get to make (because, you know, then that's not fair). We so much don't want to have them that we -- again, if you follow Judeo-Christian mythology -- demanded to God that He give us some rules to follow and, thus, we have the Law.

Conservatives love rules. I'm not being snarky. Conservatives tend to be rigid thinkers, and they like clearly defined boundaries and parameters. Rules. If you have a rule, you don't have to stop and figure out what choice you should make: It's clearly laid out for you. And, more importantly, it tells you what other people ought to be (or not to be) doing.

Also, if you are good at following the rules, that makes you better than everyone else.

Sound familiar Republicans?
(Now I am being snarky.)

Fundamentalists are the BEST at following the rules and doing what they're told. So good, in fact, that they come to believe it is their job to enforce the Rules, as they see them, on everyone else. In effect, they choose to play god.

How is this playing god, you might ask. What's wrong with making sure that people are doing the things they're "supposed to do"? What's wrong with enforcing "the rules," the Law?

[I'm going to use Christianity as my example religion here, but this behavior is by no means restricted to Christianity. Christians, however, seem to believe that they do NOT engage in these behaviors, so I think it's important, especially in the United States, to deal with this from the "Christian" perspective.]

Problem One:
You are choosing to enforce your version of "the rules," and those rules are not necessarily correct or moral. "But! The Bible!" Sure, I believe you believe your rules are in the Bible or are "Biblical," but, cherry-picking is an all too common occurrence with Christians, so it's quite likely that your rules are not going to match the rules of the denomination next door.

Now, I bet you think I'm going to get into that whole thing about who's rules are the correct ones and all of that, don't you? Well, I'm not. Because, you know what? No one is correct, because it doesn't really matter if anyone is correct. As soon as you try to enforce your version on someone else, even if it's 100% correct, you are in the wrong and it completely invalidates what you're doing. Yeah, crazy talk, I know.

Look, God gave us free will, gave us choice. Who are you to come along and take that away by trying to make me follow your version of the rules? We'll even go with the assumption that you are correct, but big deal. If God Himself as left it up to me, who the fuck do you think you are to come in here and tell me that it's not? God? Of course you do.

Problem Two:
Yes, really.
Jesus came along and said the Law didn't matter anymore. See, prior to Jesus, you proved you were "good" by following the Law, but Jesus said that wasn't going to work anymore. Well, it never worked to begin with because people followed the letter of the Law and tried to enforce it on each other without paying much attention to what it was all really about: being good to each other. So, Jesus (God) said, "No more Law." And, of course, what did everyone do? They double-downed on the Law.

What that means is that when anyone starts "Bibling" at you, they are saying that what they are saying is more valid than what Jesus (GOD) said.

Problem Three:
And Paul is a problem. Paul is the reason so many "Christians" are still clinging to the Law.

See, people are pretty savvy, and people realized that since the Law was no longer valid (everything was grace) that there was no more sin. Paul's response? Well, Paul said, "You know what, you're right; there is no more sin. Follow the Law anyway."

Paul, with a full understanding of what Jesus said about having done away with the Law, said that people should do it anyway, then he went around exhorting everyone to keep following the Law.

And "Christians" for the last 2000 years have done all they could to follow Paul's example and make people do as their told. Because, you know, they know better than God what ought to be going on. Forget "love your neighbor" and shit like that; just do as you're told. So say the Republicans.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (a movie review post)

What I want to do here is to talk about Disney's scheme of remaking their animated hits as live action movies, because, other than Maleficent, it seems rather pointless. However, when the goal is to make money, they are quite nicely fulfilling their point. Beauty and the Beast has already made over $200 million, and it hasn't, at the time of this writing, even been out a week. However, that discussion has nothing to do with the actual movie and should probably be saved for some other time. Or not had at all. Well, I'm sure plenty of other people are having it, so, probably, I will skip it other than to say that I liked the idea of re-telling the stories, as in Maleficent, from some other point of view.

Of course, the problem with talking about this movie, at least for me, is that it's very difficult to do as a thing all on its own without any kind of comparison or consideration of the 1991 animated feature. Probably, that's impossible. Disney's original Beauty was a landmark film and, really, changed animation forever. It was the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy awards and was the cause of the best animated feature category being created. This movie, the remake, despite beautiful animation, can't be said to be anything more than conventional. In fact, my daughter's response to it (and she's the one who wanted to see it) was, "It was all right."

I think I liked it more than she did. But she hasn't seen the original in so long she barely remembers it, and it was never anything to her more than another movie on video. In post-Pixar days, it's difficult for earlier animated movies to hold up. Maybe that's why they need to be remade...

But part of what I liked about it had to do with nostalgia more than any inherent quality in the movie itself. Which is not to say that it's not a good movie. It is. It's a good movie, possibly very good, with some great performances and great music, which goes without saying since much of the music is from the original.

Also, as you could expect from a Disney movie, the cast is great. Emma Watson is charming. Kevin Kline is... well, he's Kevin Kline, so he was great. Dan Stevens looks princely, which, especially for Disney, is appropriate. Luke Evans is incredible and came close to stealing the whole movie. Not quite but close. Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen are an amazing voice pair. They, also, came close to stealing the show.

Really, though, what it comes down to is this:
If you're a fan of the original because you remember seeing it in the theater when it was first released, you will probably get a big shot of nostalgia from this movie and love it. I'm going to guess that children will really enjoy it, too, but I don't know if it is the kind of movie that will actually compete with animated movies for their attention. For people in between, well, it's probably not going to be anything special. It's good, but it's not going to blow you away or change your life. It's probably worth seeing on the big screen, though.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Three (pictures I like)

I think I posted a picture like this once before but, alas, that was one of the pictures I lost in last year's hard drive crash. Well, not that specific picture since I have it on here, but I lost all of the other pictures that went with it. Fortunately, there are always new pictures to take, and we made a new one that is similar to the old one, even if I think the old one was better.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Clone Wars -- "A Necessary Bond" (Ep. 5.8)

-- Choose your enemies wisely, as they may be your last hope,

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]
[Well, actually, considering that we're into season five, now, probably no one new is going to sign up, BUT! Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on the current episode.]

Ahsoka is still being rescued as the episode opens but, as she says a bit later in, there are complications. Grievous being one of those, as Ahsoka has to go back and rescue Hondo from Grievous so that she and the younglings can get a ship and finish their escape from... Hondo.

Remember way back in... season two? I think it was season two. Okay, fine! I'll go look! Well, no, it looks like it was the episode "Dooku Captured" back in season one. Anyway, remember that episode? The one where Dooku was captured by Hondo and Hondo attempted to ransom him off to the highest bidder? Well, Dooku really knows how to hold onto a grudge, and he's finally coming for Hondo in revenge for being held captive that one time, so Grievous has shown up and overrun Hondo's base and captured him.

While somewhat coincidental (what, as a writer, I would call contrived), it makes for a good episode, and I 'm willing to overlook the part where this whole plan of Hondo's, from a couple of episodes ago, to steal the kaiburr crystals happens to coincide with Grievous' attempt to take over the system Hondo is in, a fact that Hondo is either oblivious to or is intentionally ignoring.

Also, remember how I was recently talking about how you should never forget that Hondo is a pirate? Well, this episode is a reminder of why it's so easy to forget.

"Well, today is a new day, and, lucky for you, today I like children."

Monday, March 27, 2017

"The map is wrong" and Why It's Time To Ignore Trump

Living with an autocrat is never easy, not least of which because they can be erratic and unpredictable. Some of that unpredictableness comes from the fact that they warp reality around their assertions that their view of the world is the one and only correct view of the world. Let me give you an example:

When I was no more than seven or eight, I was having a discussion with my mom about a geography thing I learned at school that day. It was one of those "what did you learn today" moments. As I was telling her, my dad butted in with, "That's wrong."

Now, when I was a kid, I never held that typical belief that my parents were the ultimate authority on things. That was a view I held for teachers. Teachers were infallible. At least, at that point in my life, they were. So, of course, my response to my dad was something along the lines of, "But my teacher said..."

To which he responded, "Your teacher is wrong."

Some of you may have realized that I can be pretty... forceful... about the things I believe, and that has always been true, even when I was a kid, so an argument ensued. An argument which ended with the purchase of a map of the state, upon my insistence, because I was determined to prove that I was correct. We opened the map up, found the landmark, and...

I was right. It was just as I said from what we learned in class.

And my dad said, immediately, "The map is wrong."

I tried to argue. An argument which was cut short by my dad saying, "I'm right because I say I am."

I was, needless to say, flabbergasted. I just could not understand his insistence that he was right when, clearly, reality said otherwise.

It was also the very last time I ever argued anything with my dad. What was the point?
Also, that's a difficult lesson to learn when you're only seven or eight.

My dad also had that infuriating thing that you've probably seen in movies where he would ask me a question then yell at me not to "talk back" to him when I tried to answer. So, yeah, reality warping.

My tactic for dealing with him by the time I was in middle school was to just walk away. Literally. (And I have to say that it was actually quite satisfying, because it would leave him flustered and yelling, spittle flying out of his mouth as he did so. Seriously. (You didn't want to be close to him when he was yelling about something because there was always spittle.)) I refused to engage with him because you could never tell where you stood or what kind of crazy -- I hesitate to call them lies, because he was never "lying." -- untruth was going to come out of him. And you couldn't argue because facts didn't matter. He was right because he said he was. So, yeah, maybe it was disrespectful, but I would walk away, usually to my room but, sometimes, to outside.

And you know what? It would shut him up. I mean, after the "don't walk away from me while I'm talking to you!" part, that was the end of it. He never resumed anything later and there were never any consequences. Well, okay, there was the occasional "you're grounded!" that followed the bit about not walking away, but he never paid enough attention to ever enforce that; it just made him feel good to say it. Like he was actually doing something, I suppose.

Now, here's the punch line:
Trump is just like my dad. Or like my dad would have been if he'd had someone to give him a "small loan of a million dollars" to get him started off in life.

I realize what I'm about to say is more than impractical, but the way we need to be dealing with Trump, as a society, when he starts spouting nonsense is to "walk away." Ignore it. Deal with the actual business at hand and not pay any attention to his untruths. Because I'm pretty sure that Trump, also, isn't "lying." He's just saying stupid shit because
1. He's not very smart. and
2. He's right because he says he is; therefore, to him, anything he says is reality.

So here we are, two weeks later (as I write this and, probably, three weeks later as you read this), and we're still talking about Trump's completely unsupported and demonstrably false statement that he was wiretapped by Obama. Why are we still talking about it? Because we have allowed Trump to warp or reality. Rather than talking about him and his ties to Russia or any number of other things, we are now focused on whether Obama, the least scandalous President ever, had Trump under surveillance. With the British! Because Trump has to continue to warp reality to keep us focused on the wrong things. On non-things.

All of that to say this:
It's time to move the conversation back to where it should be, on Trump and the evil of his cohorts and how they are trying to ruin the world for everyone except the very wealthy. Because, actually, some of Trump's untruths are lies and, certainly, the people around him are lying all the time, just look at Flynn and Sessions for starters.

What we need to learn, as a society, especially the press, is that when Trump offers up something that comes without proof, something like "I was wiretapped," we need to not even acknowledge it. You stay focused on the actual story (in this case, it was the story about Sessions and how he lied under oath, but we haven't heard anymore about that since Trump made his completely fallacious claim) and resist chasing the squirrels that Trump is tossing into the room.

Personally, I think it would be great if we really could just walk away from him, just like I did with my dad. I bet Trump spittles, too, when he yells.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Day 13

Thursday, February 1, 2018

I wrote a letter to my friend in Australia. On paper. With a pen. I need to know something about what’s happening in the world, and I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I walked to the post office after school with it – and that’s not close! – and just got a blank stare from the mailman. He looked like he didn’t know what he was supposed to do with it. Finally, I said, “I want to mail this.”

His expression didn’t change. He said, “Are you sure?” I said, “Of course, I’m sure.”

He said, “You know we’re not accepting any mail from outside the country, right?”

I think I probably stared blankly at him because I hadn’t known that. So I asked why not. He just shrugged, then, for a moment, he looked like he wanted to say something, then shrugged again. I said, “What does that mean?” And he answered that it meant that I could mail the letter and it might even get there but I wouldn’t get anything back even if my friend responded. I cussed.

We stared at each other for a while and his expression never changed. He looked bored. I stood there getting angry.

Finally, I took his pen, opened the envelope as carefully as I could, wrote a note at the end of the letter to my friend that he probably couldn’t write me back, asked for some tape and sealed the letter back up, and told the dude I wanted to mail the letter. He told me it would be $7.00.

$7.00! I think I cussed again. I’m not actually sure. I don’t remember what I said, only that I was SO angry. His expression changed, though, to shock. I didn’t have $7.00 with me. Since when did it cost $7.00 to mail a letter? To anywhere? I stormed out and tried to slam the door. I really wanted to slam the door, but it had one of those stupid hydraulic arms, and I couldn’t make it slam. I’m pretty sure I screamed.

Now I have this letter that’s worthless. If I’d had the $7.00 while I was there, I would have mailed it, but there’s hardly a point in making another special trip to mail a letter which might not ever arrive and from which I will get no response.

So I tried to sneak a long distance call, and that was worthless, too. After almost an hour, I got connected to the operator because I was trying to make something that wasn’t a local call and was told that only local calls could be direct dialed anymore; everything else had to go through an operator and approved before it could be made. Which explains why it took me so long to get through, because the operators are backlogged with calls. AND she told me we were going to be billed JUST because I talked to her. $12.00! Twelve fucking dollars so that the operator could tell me that I couldn’t make my call. My mom is going to kill me.

There are a lot of rumors at school. Almost everyone has their own rumor. Almost none of them have to do with China taking over any part of the United States, though some of them are that Russia has invaded New York. And a lot of people are saying that there is fighting in New York. A lot of it. With tanks and missiles and all of that. I don’t know if I believe it or not.

Some people are saying it’s because Russia invaded and the fighting is against the Russians.

But some people are saying that it’s New York fighting against Trump and the United States.

They’re saying it’s a civil war. A new civil war. And that’s why that thing from the Statue of Liberty is showing up everywhere.

It is, too.

There are new flyers on buildings everyday.

Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…

It makes me cry sometimes. I feel like I’m yearning to breathe free.

I hate it here.

It even showed up on TV yesterday. When the teacher was turning on the TV for Trump’s daily shitfest, she accidentally changed the channel… and there it was, just on the screen.

Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…
come to California

Oh, God, I want to go to California! Or Washington. Or even Oregon. Anywhere that is out of this hell of a place where I feel like I’m a flower without sun.

No one said anything when it was on the screen. It was like no one breathed. Four seconds… five… I don’t know. Long enough for me not to be the only one with tears in my eyes.

Then the teacher changed it back to the right channel and Trump was talking, and I did cry. Sobbed. I wasn’t even embarrassed because I wasn’t the only one. Shelly ran out of the room with her hands over her face.

That was the first time I realized how many kids are missing from my classes…

Mom is calling. Dinner, probably. Yea. More hamburger meat and baked potatoes. It will be the third day in a row.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Clone Wars -- "Bound for Rescue" (Ep. 5.7)

-- When we rescue others, we rescue ourselves.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]
[Well, actually, considering that we're into season five, now, probably no one new is going to sign up, BUT! Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on the current episode.]

Ahsoka got captured. My feeling is that this is a thing that has happened frequently, but, then, so have Obi-Wan and Anakin, I suppose. There really is a lot of getting captured and having to escape or be rescued! Mostly, that's not an issue.

Of course, Obi-Wan is going to mount a rescue operation, but he gets interrupted by being attacked by Grievous. It doesn't go well.

Which leaves the younglings on their own to figure out what to do about being left on a ship that has been damaged and with no supervision other than R2-D2. They do what all kids do -- or, at least, all kids in popular fiction -- they take matters into their own hands.
And join a circus.
Yeah, you'll just have to watch it to understand what that means.

Hondo's still around, because he's the one holding Ahsoka, expecting to make a profit of off her. From whom is a bit of a mystery since, when Ahsoka tells him he can't ransom her to the Separatists, he says he knows because, "Don't ask me why, but Dooku holds such a grudge against me since our little I-held-him-hostage affair." It's a great moment in an episode which is a bit anticlimactic after the previous one.

"If you don't let me go, you'll wish you had been born a protocol droid."
"Sometimes, I do anyway."

Monday, March 20, 2017

Education: The One Step To Improvement

If there's one thing everyone agrees with, it's that education in the United States is not what it once was. That, however, is probably not true. The truth is that education in the United States is precisely what it once was, mostly stuck in a 50s era mindset of how education ought to work.

Sure, things have been tried, but the basic model hasn't changed.

And, certainly, Betsy DeVos doesn't want to change that model. In fact, she wants to reinforce it by funneling the "right" kids into the Right kinds of schools so that we can get back to schools full of wealthy white kids to bring back excellence. With her model, that's what will work, too, because it will be select schools which are well funded by affluent white people, and everyone else... Well, everyone else can go to hell because, if you're not white and not rich, you don't deserve an education anyway.

So, while DeVos pushes vouchers and school "choice" (which, by the way, is just a code for affluent whites to get to put all of their kids in schools together in places where minorities can't afford to get their kids to (just in case you didn't get that from the previous paragraph)) and everyone else pays administrators huge salaries and experiments with programs, the education system is still missing the mark on how to fix itself. And so is everyone else. Except, maybe, teachers.

After all, there is only one real problem with education: teacher pay. That and the fact that we don't pay them. Well, pay for them to be teachers.

See, teacher pay is also, really, stuck in the 50s, so what we have now are babysitters. That's what we pay for, so that, on the whole, is what we get. A big, national system, state by state, of babysitters.

Before anyone starts taking umbrage, I don't mean any disrespect toward teachers. This is not a statement about "bad teachers." I've known some really great ones. But, having been involved in teaching, I also know the general state of teachers, which, actually, is most often tired. It is, beyond doubt, the most over worked, under paid "profession" out there. And, yes, the quotation marks are to indicate the lack of being paid to do the job they are hypothetically being paid to do.

I'm not going to try and break all of this down and make it into a numbers game to show just how little teachers are being paid per hour (and don't start yelling "summer" at me, either, because that doesn't balance anything, especially when many teachers have to pick up some kind of summer job to make it through the summer). What I'm going to say is this:
If teachers were paid more, there would be more teachers in the teaching profession. By that I mean that many people, especially men, who would be good teachers (and might have been a teacher at some point) don't teach (or quit teaching) because they can make more money somewhere else for far less headache and less time on the job. More money, fewer hours: Who wouldn't take that, right? Only those extremely highly dedicated to teaching.

I actually hate having to bring up men specifically, because that's part of the problem. Men are more likely to leave teaching because men are paid more than women just in general and men are more likely to find higher level jobs that pay more in and of themselves. All of that while teaching is seen as a woman's job so is inherently less likely to receive wage hikes. All of this is wrong and plays into why teaching suffers.

If teachers were paid competitive salaries, you'd find people, both men and women, competing for teaching positions, which would weed out those people who go into teaching because "anyone can teach." Come on, I know you believe that. That's what everyone thinks. "Well, if I can't get a job doing [X], I can always teach." And that is not what we want from our teachers, people who opted into it because they weren't qualified or smart enough or ambitious enough for anything else. We want people who want to be there even if that desire is spurred by a good salary. People who know they have to do good work because there is someone else waiting at least as qualified as they are will do better work, will be more invested in the job, than someone who knows they're not going to lose their job because there's no one else waiting to take it.

And, seriously, if you have good, motivated teachers, you don't need to focus on programs because one good teacher in a room with nothing more than a chalkboard will motivate even poor students to do well; while, one bad teacher, no matter what kind of programs you have in place, will kill the desire to learn in all but the best students (because they're already doing it on their own, anyway).

Look, I'm not saying anything new here. We've been, as a society, talking about teacher pay for... decades? Since I was in high school, at least. However, instead of just paying teachers more, we've been funneling money into programs and to administrators and, as a result, other countries, countries in which teachers are held in higher esteem, have continued to outpace the US in education. And that gap keeps getting bigger. So, if we're going to be serious about educating the next generation, and if we really want to "make America great" again, it starts with education, and that starts with paying teachers to be more than babysitters.

And all of that means we, as a society, have to start looking at education and being educated as something worthwhile again. We have to start looking at science as something more than just an opinion. It's time to quit with the whole Right wing/Conservative/Republican view of education and science as the enemy. We live in an information age where facts, real facts, are right at our fingertips. It's amazing, actually, and it's time to start making the most of it by grasping what is real and true and dumping disinformation and lies, and all of that starts with education.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Logan (a movie review post)

Relatively speaking, I was an early adopter when it comes to Wolverine. I was already following him as a character when his original limited series came out in 1982, and I would be lying to say that he was not one of my main reasons for following the X-Men through the 80s. Well, Wolverine along with the writing of Chris Claremont, unarguably one of the best comic book writers ever. Ironically, Claremont didn't care for Wolverine as a character and almost dropped him completely from the X-Men lineup in the late 70s. It was John Byrne who saved the character out of a fondness for a fellow Canadian.

That said, it's been 15 years since the last time I read any Wolverine (or any comics at all, really, other than a few here or there that one or more of my kids might have had lying around), that being Origin,

a story I didn't much care for overall. It suffers from many of the same problems as Logan, those being trying to fill in details around a character to achieve a particular goal even when those details don't really fit with the character that has been created.

Mostly, though, what Logan proves is that Fox is no more capable of creating a cohesive continuity for their super hero films than Warner Brothers. It's sort of like having your tea bag break in your cup of tea. If you're careful and drink slowly, you can manage to mostly keep the tea leaves out of your mouth... until you get to that point where you have to throw the last quarter of it out because the leaves are too dense. Until that point, though, the tea is enjoyable as long as you keep it to small doses.

So, yes, Logan is a mostly enjoyable film. It accomplishes the one thing I'm sure all Wolverine fans have been waiting to see: Wolverine really cutting loose with his claws without the need of keeping the bloodshed to a PG-13 rating. And cut loose he does: arms, legs, and heads. That alone is probably worth the movie for the true fans.

The aspect of the movie I found most interesting was the question raised about mutants and their powers when they get old. Of course, the movie only works around the question without ever really addressing it, but we do get to see some of the effects in the aged Charles Xavier as he struggles to maintain control over his mental abilities.

Stephen Merchant as Caliban was a pleasant surprise. I like Merchant, and he was perfect in this role. Dafne Keen was also great. She has a brooding stare which is easily the match of Jackman's.

However, the movie is utterly predictable, wasting a perfect opportunity to do something above and beyond that was afforded it by  the success of Deadpool, probably the only super hero movie Fox has nailed since X-Men 2 in 2003. That said, considering that Jackman is not returning to the claws again after this movie (unless Ryan Reynolds does somehow convince Jackman to do that Deadpool/Wolverine team-up movie), Logan is a good send off. Good enough, at any rate.

But it could it have been better if only Marvel had done it, which is the thought I have after every one of the X-Men movies since the advent of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with Iron Man back in 2008. Sony wised up and went to Marvel to get Spider-Man on the right track; maybe there's hope that Fox will do the same.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Clone Wars -- "A Test of Strength" (Ep. 5.6)

-- The young are often underestimated.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]
[Well, actually, considering that we're into season five, now, probably no one new is going to sign up, BUT! Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on the current episode.]

It's important to remember that Hondo is a pirate. Of course, he's a pirate in the same vein as Han Solo and Lando Calrissian: a charming rogue. It makes it easy to be taken in by him, characters and viewers alike. But, then, he does something every so often to remind us he really is just a pirate. It doesn't matter how "presidential" he sounds during his not-the-state-of-the-union address, he's still gonna cut your throat for profit if he thinks he's going to make some from doing it. There is no, and there never was, doing the right thing. He just fools you into thinking that when he's making money by being nice to you. But it all comes down to, "We all know how much I like to be rich, don't we?"

In the end, it makes Hondo no better, and possibly worse, than Anakin during and after his fall.

And this is how bad it is:
During the conflict when Hondo is obviously and blatantly trying to kill Ahsoka and those under her charge, Ahsoka says to him, "I don't want to hurt you." And she doesn't. Do you know why? She likes Hondo, just like we do, because why? Because he's a charming rogue, and you can't help yourself. Even while he's trying to slit your throat. Hondo's response? "I know." That's not a direct quote, but it's the spirit of it, and it gives Hondo the edge.

Oh, yeah, Honda is in this episode.

And David Tennant, my second favorite Doctor. Oh, no, not him, just his voice, but that's good, too.

Yes, we're still in the same arc started last episode. Let's just say it doesn't end well. You should probably just watch it.

"The lightsaber is a Jedi's only true ally."

Monday, March 13, 2017

"Freedom of Speech" and Why You Sound Dumb Saying It

One of the hallmarks of the ridiculously stupid and the inanely ignorant is that they will toss around words and phrases without actually knowing what they mean. Of course, they think they're using the words or phrases correctly and, sometimes, the people around them do, too, because they're under a kind of mass delusion of meaning. My favorites, right now, all have to do with the Constitution, and my very favorite are the Conservative jutnobs who keep yelling about their "freedom of speech."

So let's talk a little about "freedom of speech" and the 1st Amendment and what it means and does in regard to that freedom. But just a little, because it's a big topic with lots of small parts that we could talk about for... well, for far longer than I would hold your attention, I'm sure.

The first thing you need to understand is that the "freedom of speech" being granted by the 1st Amendment is a protection being granted to the individual. A protection from the government. See, in many countries, criticizing the government or a religion can get you thrown in jail. Or worse. Having just emerged from the tyranny of a government that had no problem punishing people for things they said, the founding fathers wanted to protect people from thin-skinned assholes who would abuse their power by throwing people into jail for saying bad things about them or just for disagreeing with them in general.

Here's the thing: "Freedom of Speech" does not mean you have the right to say whatever old thing you want to say. That was never the intent, and we have many laws dealing with the kinds of things that are not protected. Of course, the popular one is about how it is illegal to stand up in a crowded theater and yell, "Fire!" Then there's yelling "bomb!" in an airport. Your "freedom of speech" argument isn't going to get you very far in either case.

What the 1st Amendment does allow is that you can go out on any street corner and protest against the government or a religion or, actually, be as racist as you want, and you can't be arrested for it. Well, as long as you're not promoting violence. Because, see, the promotion of violence is not protected.

The problem with all of this is the misconceptions.

First, your right to say whatever it is you want to say does not in any way obligate me to listen to you. Also, it does not in any way validate whatever it is you're saying, meaning your right to an opinion does not make your opinion correct. People (mostly on the Right (though those anti-vaxxers from both sides are pretty bad, too)) seem to be under the misperception that they are having their "freedom of speech" violated if I don't want to listen to them, which is just another asinine assumption those people like to make. Further, if I tell them they are wrong (and from me, generally, that means their opinions are based on no facts whatsoever) and that I am no longer going to engage with them on the (or any) subject, they tend to froth at the mouth and tell me I'm violating their "freedom of speech."

But let's go back to that street corner I mentioned earlier. See, the 1st Amendment does indeed give you the right to stand on that street corner and pontificate as much as you want about "illegals" and "swinging dicks" and your right to own as many guns as you want (which is a topic for another time), but I don't have to stop and listen, nor does anyone else. We are all free to walk right on past you and leave you shouting at the air. Not to mention the fact that that same 1st Amendment right gives me the right to pause and tell you what an asshole you are and how all the things you're saying just prove how ignorant and uneducated you are. You use your freedom of speech the way you want; I'll use mine the way I want, up to and including letting you know just how big of an ignorant asshole you really are.

Second, the 1st Amendment does not give you the right to exercise your word vomit anywhere you want to. Which takes us back to the street corner. The public street corner. Because that's what's protected, public spaces. I'm not going to get into the nuance of how that applies to businesses because that can be very different depending on the type of business, but your freedom of speech does not extend to other people's private property. That means that if you are in my house and you start saying things I don't like, I can tell you to stop and you're pretty much obligated to do so. You are not protected by the 1st Amendment. You either stop or you leave.

And just to make the point: That extends to my blog and to my facebook page. For all intents and purposes, those are "my" spaces. What that means is that if you post something on my FB wall or make a comment on my blog and I don't, for lack of a better term, approve of it, I can remove it, and I have not violated your "freedom of speech." In fact, when you start telling me that I have, that, again, just shows how ignorant and uneducated you are. And, certainly, you should not start citing something that you actually have no clue about, because it proves you're talking out of your ass, and no one wants to see that. If you feel the desperate need to say the things you are trying to say in my space, please feel free to go to your own space and say them all you want. That's what your "freedom of speech" gets for you.

[Just to be clear: "My" space on this blog or on facebook is not actually my space. It is only my space insomuch as google and facebook have allowed me to use them. They own the spaces and could at any time decide that they don't like the things I've said and take them down. That goes for pretty much everyone using those spaces. But, still, as google and FB have granted me the privilege of using their spaces, it is an extension of me, and your "freedom of speech" does not extend into it.]

Not to go all Princess Bride here, but, when you start spouting off at the ass about your "freedom of speech" any time I say I'm not going to discuss a topic with you until you actually get educated about the subject, I want to say, "You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Which is to say, "I know that it doesn't mean what you think it means." Which is to say, "Here's another thing you should really go educate yourself on before you start making statements about it."

Not that education is going to remain something that is accessible to the "common man" if Trump and cohorts get their way.