Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another KC Shooting

Channel 5 Coverage

I've followed the stories of Kansas City violence at a distance. This has been one of the violent, bloody years in the area. And last night, that violence struck again.

I wasn't a close friend of Mr. Fopeano's, but knew him enough to say hi if I saw him out in public. Peter was a genuinely nice-guy, pleasent to be around, and will be missed by those of us that knew him.

There's not really too much more I can say than that. Maybe now, the public will be more aware of the increased violence in this city and work to cut it back.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sonnet to Science

Reading the collected works of Edgar Allen Poe, I ran across this. I find it an interesting take given Poe's general relation to the occult and all:

Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the Jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

A footnote indicates that these were written by Poe much earlier in his life. I think Poe captured something here - we sometimes despise science for killing our dreams and legends. I think that misses the point though. Science allows us to create new dreams and legends, and shape those into reality.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Observations on bars and parties

I've been to several types of parties and bars with varying levels of boredom and insanity. Too date, I don't think I've hit the "rock band" level of insanity, but I've been at a few where I feared... After a few though, I've realized that the vast majority of party goers and drunks can be grouped rather well:

1. Baby Jesus Girl/Guy - One does not often find this type at a real party. In general, they are too busy criticising gays or reading and feeling smug about themselves to join up. When they do, you can expect them to attempt to be the 'reasonable' person, and give evil glances to anyone currently holding a drink. If one is lucky enough to pull them out of their natural habitat though and even luckier in seeing them try "just one drink", they can immediately turn into the most perverted and funny drunks on the planet. Sadly, the Baby Jesus person is often averse to any alcohol or drugs.

2. "My friends are coming" guy - This is the guy that boasts to other guys that "friends are coming". Generally seen making multiple conversations on the phone, that will NOT result in new party goers. "Friends are coming" guy will repeatedly inform fellow party guests of attractive female future party goers. In reality, the best case scenario is his sister showing up with a couple of friends to ask him for cash and then leave for a better party.

3. Horny Slut and Three Beer Queer - Both will offer you sex, but you don't likely want either. The Horny Slut is seen more often in movies than real life (see 40 year old virgin). Be warned: the horny slut may seem like a hookup, but will likely pass out before 2nd base from the consumption levels of alcohol which created her. The close relative of horny slut, is the three beer queer. Note: three beer queer is often a transformed Baby Jesus Guy, who will return to his former self after the beer is gone. A real hookup opportunity, if you don't mind the whole "queer" aspect.

4. Zombie Drunk - zombie drunk appears most often in bars and parties lasting into early morning. Zombie drunk is easily recognized by the vacant stare into space and limited ability to stand and walk. The Zombie drunk will not talk much, except to say to an occasionally passerby "Buddddd", which in his own limited vocabulary means any beer type drink. (Understand, beer is too difficult a word for zombie drunk.)

5. Mad Douchebag - The result of adding alcohol to a douchebag. The mad douchebag has 2 major characteristics - 1. he is a douchebag. 2. he wants to fight you. Like dogs, mad douchebags come in several breeds. Two of the most popular are the Frat Boy - far too worried about his face and hair to fight sober, the frat boy is mostly harmless, and The Wannabe Player - generally a self-branded pickup-up-artist who's efforts result in rather humurous epic fails.

Of course, there are multiple other groups to categorize and study. The field remains open for more research, provided the right funding and environment. Of particular interest to me now are "people watcher" and "annoyed bartender".

Friday, November 21, 2008

Not Drinking the Kool-Aid

Of all the things I am grateful for, free-will is often the thing easiest taken for granted. Sadly, a great many people allow their will to be removed under the guise of religious doctrines. 30 years ago this week, the events of Jonestown grotesquely illustrated the potential results of such misplaced trust.

People my age did not see Jonestown coverage. We haphazardly use the phrase "drinking the Kool-Aid" to refer to partisan thinking. Frankly, I don't think most people in my generation could tell you where the whole Kool-Aid reference originated. Which, when you think about it, is fairly amazing considering:

In the United States, Jonestown resulted in the largest death-toll of a non-natural disaster since the events of September 11. Over 900 people dead, near 300 of them children, and many held against their will.

The activities of religion are often glazed over from criticism under the moniker of "religious freedom". The faithful are given a pass from public ridicule because they have a right to their faith.

I'm not here to say that people don't have a right to their faith. To forbid someone their personal beliefs is removing one of the most basic human rights. The thing is, freedom of speech is another basic human right. And it doesn't violate your freedom of religion for me to point to the picture above, and state - the blood of those children lies on the hands of your religion.

As a society, we can not afford to give religion a pass from criticism. We can not afford to outlaw people standing and telling the truth about damage caused by the radical religious elements in our society. Lately, Christian conservatives as well as liberal 'tolerance preachers' seem to be missing the point.

If I go home, light candles, pray to Quetzalcoatl, cast spells, and then kiss a cross - well, that's my business. I have the freedom to believe whatever I want to believe. Further, I have every right to sit at a park bench, read my bible, head to a church and pray, and lead a group of friends in prayer. The serious atheist groups might call these things stupid, but you still have a right to do them. Your rights, however, end the second you start attempting to force people to live by the precepts of your religion. And further, your rights don't include some sort of "hurt feelings" clause that negates freedom of speech.

I find it amazing to hear criticism leveled at faith groups as "persecution". To be clear, this

is persecution. Engaging in rational debate is not persecution. Gays making out in public or getting married is not persecution. Wearing a pentacle is not persecution. Burning someone alive because they believe differently is. Forcing a person out of town because they practice witch-craft is.

Cult-like groups are not always far-off crazies that commit mass suicide. Many Jehovah's Witnesses have died by refusing blood transfusions. Young girls in areas of the south are being forced into sexual slavery in their preteen and early teenage years. Honor killings, apostasy trials, and witch lynchings still happen in multiple portions of the world.

To refuse to address and challenge those that would support such things in our daily life, to refuse to educate the public around you as to the dangers radical groups create, or to refuse victims the right to speak out is to tacitly aid these groups in their wrong-doing.

So, before drinking the Kool-Aid and mocking groups like Anonymous for picketing and marching, or refusing to voice your opinion on Evangelical Christian legislation, I urge you to remember Jonestown, and think about the power of ideas.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Disturbing Thought for the Week

Ever notice that "Good News" usually means you're going to hell?

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Top 10 Villians

So, I was thinking about it the other day, and decided to chronicle my favorite movie villains. Mostly because I'm curious right now what makes someone a good villain in a story. Here's the list I came up with:
  • Margaret Hamilton - The Wicked Witch (Wizard of Oz)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger - The Terminator - The Terminator
  • Anthony Hopkins- Hannibal Lecter - Silence of the Lambs
  • David Prowse & James Earl Jones - Darth Vader - Star Wars
  • Jack Nicholson - Jack Torrance - The Shining
  • Javier Bardem - Anton - No Country For Old Men
  • (Multiple Individuals) - alien - The Alien
  • Heath Ledger - Joker - Batman
  • Keven Spacey - John Doe - Se7en
  • Antonio Salieri - Murray Abraham - Amadeus
Looking at the list, I'm still not entirely sure what makes a great villain. Each of these went to a different place for me. In general, the best villains seem to be almost a force of nature, but some of the masterful ones are simply people doing very inhuman things for human reasons.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book Meme

"Mr. Quincy P Morris found me alone" - Bram Stoker, Dracula

From planet gnome:
  • Grab the nearest book.
  • Open it to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
  • Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST
I tag anyone interested. :)

Disturbing Thought for the Week

What exactly are you saying if you give a terminally ill patient a 'get well soon' card?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Disturbing Thought for the Week

According to American Society of Microbiology studies on people using public bathrooms, while 97% of females and 92% of males say they wash their hands, only 75% females and 58% males actually do.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Planners and Doers

I've noticed an interesting trend as of late in my life, directly related to my leaving the cult. While I don't think there exist true "categories" for people, I've recently found myself comparing the 'doer' to the 'planner'.

The planner might label themselves as a 'dreamer', but I find that description lacking. Generally, the planner will float along in life without much direction, going wherever the current takes him. While every detail of their life might be planned out, the plan constantly changes. The planner's life is a collection of "what ifs". Unfortunately, they never manage to live out these what ifs, because they are too busy changing their plans for the next change in situation. A planner is so stuck in the future, that they fail to realize opportunities in the present.

The doer, on the other hand, gets things done. The doer will often not know what direction a choice will take them, they just realize they need to make the choice. The doer will make opportunities and live in the moment. They live life in the present, are aware of the where the current is taking them, and can move with or against it as they desire. While the planner might chastise the doer as unimaginative, the doer has dreams as well. The difference is they are trying to live them out instead of planning every detail as needed.

It's very possible to be a planner or a doer with or without being a dreamer. Dreams do not make a person a planner or doer, they just change the actions or the plans.

As of late, I have started to notice when I run into planners and doers. Mostly because, I see myself moving from the planner to the doer. The planner will sit and talk about going to school, changing careers, living out a dream, but it will never actually happen for them.

For years, that was me. Constantly planning how to do things and what to accomplish. I never really went the extra mile or tried for anything. I just sat and watched where my life took me. That, I think, was one of most damaging things about the cult. If you don't believe this world is going to stay around for a while, why try for anything in it? All of your efforts are going to be wasted anyway. "Doing" for someone in that situation is nothing more than performing in the church. And, if you haven't really bought in to the church's idea of tomorrow, but have bought into their idea of today, the result is coasting through life.

If I had to point to my first action as a doer, it would be applying to college. I still remember talking about it with the family, my grandma in particular telling me that college was a waste of time and would destroy my mind. Still, I decided to apply because it was what I wanted. That application was my first action as a doer, but it'd be a long while before I started really moving.

To this day, it's something I work at. Over time, I've gotten better at pointing out things I'd like to do and moving directly toward them. And now, I've had the blessing of living some of those childhood dreams I've wanted, just because I made the decision to act instead of plan.