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Category Archives: Unpopular Viewpoints

Let’s Watch Supernatural Since Our Blog Post Fell Apart

FartMan, it’s too bad.

I got into a hilarous Facebook argument today about Benghazi, and here’s the funny part. I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other about Benghazi. I am suspicious of the motives of those who are outraged, since they aren’t outraged at Bush, who for Frank’s sake, cannot even go to Europe for fear of being arrested for war crimes.

But whatever, they got Clinton for Lewinksy, I guess they can do as they please, and I’m sure John Stewart will tell me what happened. What gets me is that they’re Demanding Answers, and they’re offended that anyone would accuse them of having political motivations for Demanding Answers, but right after 9/11 – it was a cardinal sin to accuse Bush of having done anything wrong at all.

Remember that? Clearchannel even issued a mass email to all of its employees, effectively instructing all major radio stations in the country that they no one should be saying anything on the air about 9/11 unless it was to express support for President George W. Bush.

Now they START with the assumption that the Office of the President is corrupt – GO PATRIOTS!

The Facebook debate was all about that hypocrisy, so I didn’t need to know much about Benghazi, and I feel a little like Socrates in that way, because I don’t think anyone out there knows anything about Benghazi, just a steady stream of bullshit coming out of the television. Socrates and me – we think the guy who admits he doesn’t know shit is the smartest guy in the room. Go holler at Socates.

They LiveI mean seriously – what do you know about Benghazi? Did you hear it on Fox News? Did you hear it on the Internet?

Did a French Model tell you, on the Internet?

Anyway, a guy showed up, started Benghazi-ing around in the manner of typical conservatives, and it escalated much in the manner of my previous How To Conduct A Political Argument On Facebook, then I dragged the argument over here and utterly, completely destroyed the guy to the point where he would have certainly wept.

The thing about Facebook arguments is, you’re on someone else’s thread, so it’s not long before you’re pretty much screaming at their houseguests in their living room – not cool. But neither one of you wants to let the other guy get the last word.

Which is why you shouldn’t argue with bloggers. I dragged it over here not just to get it off my friend’s timeline, but also because I had a hilarious plan to render him unable to reply, unable to get the last word –  because it’s my blog and I can edit reader comments. No matter what he or anyone said, I was just going to switch to edit mode and then re-type all of the comments to say “ALL HAIL HILARY CLINTON, SHE ROX!”

It was a stupefyingly nasty and efficient rant, about as mean and nasty as I get. And because I’m so savvy, I checked with the Facebook friend whose wall it was on AFTER I finished it, and she said, “Naw, he’s a nice guy, don’t publicly shove a bomb up his ass, he’s too nice.”

I mean, I was three minutes away from posting probably the nastiest and most insulting thing I’ve ever posted. If you’ve been reading a while, really take a moment to mentally snap a tarp over that concept. I went apeshit. And then almost as an afterthought, I saw my Facebook Friend get back online and shot her a message – say, better let me know if you don’t want me lighting your friend up like a downtown Christmas tree, cause I’m halfway through my launch protocol.

Please don’t do that, crazy man, said my Facebook Friend. Sigh. Fine – Abort Launch. Feels like we should be raining fire on someone, but okay – we’ll give peace a chance.

Which is a good thing. Usually, I unload on someone and then feel bad later. So cooler heads prevailed – Yayyyy!

Except Booooooo, sort of a problem. Right after I got done eviscerating the stranger, I was going to check in on Supernatural, see what Dean and Sam are up to. I’ve been re-watching the entire series and the Horsemen are about to show up. Now guess what we’re doing, blogosphere?

SupernaturalThat’s right. We’re watching Supernatural. If you’re a dude, grab a beer. If you’re a girl, grab a beer and a Big, Stupid Grin because you’re going to need it watching the smoking hot Winchester brothers rock around for 42 minutes.

Actually, I think that’s a lot to ask – telling you all about that thing and then asking you to pivot over to Supernatural, and this thing’s long enough. So we’ll watch Supernatural tomorrow, since I spent so long today  explaining why we’re watching it.

Sorry about yesterday, by the way, but my mom beat up a guy at the bus station and I had to bail her out of jail, get her a decent lawyer and some whiskey. That’s what Mother’s Day is all about, and I’m not really sorry, I hadn’t thought this paragraph through when I started it.

 

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Where Do You Stand On Killer Robots?

Angry MobI assume here in America, this issue will shake down along political lines since that’s what everything else does. Even the Boston Bombing turns out to be political – did you hear all that shit last week? It was like the opposite of 9/11.

“See?” Everybody said. “This is exactly why we’re right about whatever we were already talking about! Screw you, Everybody Else!”

One would think we could all get along with regards to killer robots, but that’s not the vibe I’m getting off this country right now, dude. My first guess would be that Republicans would be all for killer robots, reasoning then that they have the right to bear them because of the air-tight Second And Only Amendment and their typical academic status as constitutional scholars.

But on the other hand, fifty percent of Republicans in a recent poll said that they think the citizenry might have to take arms and revolt against the federal government pretty soon here. Even if they have the right to their own killer robots, one has to reason that the federal government would have more of them. Maybe killer robots are like Obamacare – Super Duper Bad.

It’ll be quite an occasion for popcorn, watching Fox News decide that for all of them in a single news cycle. PEOPLE OF NASCAR! WE HAVE RENDERED OUR DECISION ON KILLER ROBOTS!

Too much? That might have been too much, I’m sorry about that one.

Let me back up a little bit. Here’s a BBC News article entitled Campaigners Call For International Ban On “Killer Robots.” And no it’s not a joke, it’s not a cartoon, there’s a real woman named Jody Williams, from the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, and she has a pretty good point.

We shouldn’t be too surprised about the killer robots; we’ve been talking about drones for years.I’ve never really understood why people act like drones are so bad. It seems to me that we’ve been sending teams of covert humans to kill people and blow stuff up for decades. Remember The Bridge on the River Kwai? Way shorter movie with drones, right?

Anyway, we can’t act like the morality is new – we already kill folks, we already blow stuff up.

Nick FuryI’m not even sure we should knock it off. I mean, I suspect that we should knock it off, sure. But I’ll bet there’s a whole lotta shit going on in the world that I don’t know anything about. They have to cut the heads off some serpents and all that. And they have to arm certain groups of pricks to get certain more controllable pricks in office in countries that have stuff we’d like to get, stuff we’d have an easier time getting if we could control the pricks in charge.

That really does appear to be how we roll, and I might not like the sound of it and you might not ether, but I don’t see either of us hitting the fence for Mexico. We’re complicit in it, and we shouldn’t pretend that we’re not.

All right then, groovy. So, morality aside, we send out teams to kill folks. It would be a lot cooler if they could fly their guns over instead, that way the only thing we could lose would be the guns.

And that’s drones – flying, remote-control camera guns. If we’re going to kill folks, I’d rather do it that way. Call me crazy.

But that doesn’t make me Pro Killer Robot. The distinction, according to the gang over at The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, is when there’s no one flying the camera gun. It’s just flying around, killing.

Soon we’ll be able to build drones that don’t take orders from a person, little artificially intelligent war birds flying around deciding for themselves who to shoot and what to blow up. This technology, they tell us, is right around the corner and there is no reason to believe the world’s scientists will all collectively agree, That’s Too Evil, Let’s Not Do That.

Evil RobotsAs we all know, scientists have been skewing Evil for quite some time now. Hey did you hear that most bacteria will be immune to all known antibiotics very soon, and that we’re putting basically zero time and energy into figuring out what to do about it?

Sure, but we’re nipping at the heels of artificially intelligent death machines. What could go wrong?

Ah, and here I think I’ve found the fault line along which the two parties will divide. Speaking for the liberals, Ms. Jody Williams – and you know she’s speaking for the liberals because she has a Commie-Terrorist Nobel Prize for bringing about a ban on anti-personnel land mines.

“As people learn about our campaign, they will flock to it.

“The public conscience is horrified to learn about this possible advance in weapons systems. People don’t want killer robots out there.

“Normal human beings find it repulsive.”

I’m not sure why she’s speaking in Approximate Haiku Format, but that’s probably why I don’t have a Nobel Prize. Regardless, it does seem like that will be our attitude on the liberal side. Gross, we don’t need killer robots we need schools! And bike trails!

And then speaking for the Republicans, Roboticist Professor Ronald Arkin from the Georgia Institute of Technology:

“The most important thing from my point of view is that we do not rush these systems into the battlefield.

A moratorium as opposed to ban – where we say, ‘we’re not going to do this until we can do it right’ – makes far more sense to me than simply crying out, ‘ban the killer robots’.

“Why should we do that now?”

Good point – it’s important to call Right Nowsies, in case we get a hankerin’ for some killer robots later on. We don’t want to flip-flop. And who knows, there might be a way to make a bunch of cash off of killer robots. Now, if only someone who owned a killer robot company could get elected Vice President, he could get his illiterate stooge President pal to start a war somewhere, ram that funding through. Make some Killer Robot Cheddar.

And rushing the systems to the battlefield – that IS the mistake they’re always making in Killer Robot Movies. They turn on the killer robot and set it to kill and damn it, it’s killing everybody!

more robotsYou have to take it nice and easy with your robot armies. Don’t go running off all pell-mell, tumble bumble. Put your thinking cap on, this is serious.

If we get all hysterical now about killer robots, Professor Ronald Arkin reminds us, then we won’t have time to really carefully consider how badass it would be to have them. Who knows, maybe we can make them so they’re nice to us, and killy only to say, well, folks who are different. Folks who hate freedom. That sort of thing.

And again, if you outlaw killer robot armies, then only outlaws will have killer robot armies. Is that what you want you naive, draft-dodging, bunny-kissing communist?

Anyway, the upcoming hilarious partisan debate aside, I’m all for signing up for this Ban on Killer Robots, but I think it’s kind of silly and misguided. See, we won’t have any idea that anyone has Killer Robots until they have Killer Robots. And then we’re going to I guess say ,”Hey, Remember? We agreed no killer robots!”

And because of the Ban, they’ll have to turn off their Killer Robots and hand ’em over. Cause that’s how the world works, that’s how Killer Robots work, and that’s how the mad scientists who create them work.

How far away is this stuff? Well, the article also quotes a directive issued by the US Department of Defense in November 2012, that all weapons with a degree of autonomy:

“shall be designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force”.

Make sure and mull over the ominous use of the word “appropriate” in that statement, and then have yourself a nice night’s sleep.

 

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Swarming The EPA, Katy Perry-Style

Pretty soon, I’ll have to put alert Facebook friend Amy Barnes on staff, as this is the second post in a few days gleaned from her Facebook page, though if she were on staff I’d be very upset with her for not taking a picture of the girls in sexy bee suits she saw on the train this morning. Apparently, her concern was that the girls might not be over eighteen, and the bee suits were revealing, but listen – it’s a school day. There aren’t any kids skipping school to go and protest the EPA. If nobody was getting arrested, then document, damn it. DOCUMENT!

Apparently what they are protesting is a certain chemical which the EPA isn’t taking very seriously which is decimating bee populations. Einstein said that if the bees ever die off, humanity would be dead in four years, and I know he was wrong about some stuff, but he seemed like a pretty smart dude. Maybe we should listen to him.

And if not, we should seriously consider listening to the swarm of sexy bees. I tried to google image that to come up with my own photos of sexy bee girls swarming the EPA, but all I got was this thing, kind of summing up what was going on and not being at all clear about whether or not the bee suits should be sexy (Yes).

Swam the EPA

There was some debate on Amy’s thread about this topic as to whether or not the sexy bee suits were appropriate. Some folks found the sexiness of the bee suits to be distracting from the overall message – “They’re just a bunch of wannabes,” said Allison C. (I’ll do that Alcoholic Anonymous-style, since I don’t know Ms. Carver very well).

Whoops! Sorry, Allison, but as you know, there is no way to edit a blog.

Bumblebee ManAnyway it seems to me, here in America, if you want someone to listen to pretty much anything, it’s not a bad idea to dial up the sexy a little. The whole purpose is raising awareness, and by and large we don’t care about non-sexy, non-gun, non-cheeseburger things around here very much. So I say if you’re putting on a bee suit, and you’re not my daughter, then yes – put on a skimpy one. I did find several thousand of them by googling sexy bee suits, but oddly all of them are women. Can’t men rock a sexy bee suit? What’s wrong with you, google?

Which reminds me, I was thinking hey dudes out there – maybe head down there in a flower suit, see if any of them land on you, but scientifically that’s backwards and also profoundly disturbing and inappropriate and demeaning to women, etc. etc. etc.

Didn’t Amy tell you these ladies were no older than your average Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model? We shouldn’t be egging them on, we should be grabbing them by the antennae and dragging them back to their mom’s house. (Don’t do that if you’re a dude, you’ll almost certainly be misunderstood and arrested.)

Similarly, Menzie Chase Campbell pointed out that it’s not a particularly courageous stand, is it? I mean, who the hell is anti-bee?

Well, that’s a good question, but I guess first we should ask ourselves, why don’t people already care about this? Why don’t we just go down there and drink whiskey, bust the place up old school? Why is the Sexy Bee Girl Swarm even necessary?

You might be asking, “Who cares, Tom? Don’t question the Sexy Bee Girl Swarm, embrace it.” And sure, fellas, I gotcha. But since Einstein already told us we need the bees, and since the news has been telling us (though probably not in a sexy enough way) about this for years, why aren’t we already there in normal clothes, blasting down the doors of the EPA and kicking the shit out of a bunch of crooked, lobbyist-owned, tools of The Man?

I mean, I used to be anti-bee, I guess, when I found out that their stings could kill me. I have to carry a little shot around with me and stab myself in the leg if any real bees get a hold of me. If anyone has the right to be anti-bee, it’s me, right?

Well, me and bees reached an understanding, despite our differences. Sure, they can kill me, and sure, I like to run over their house with my lawnmower, and yes, once I found out they could kill me, I dumped gasoline all over their house and set fire to it. Sure. But that’s just because I’m a Skynyrd fan, don’t take it the wrong way.

Everybody can changeNo, not really. But me and bees and Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago all learned to respect each other despite our intense desires to kill each other, and if I can change, and bees can change, and Rocky and Ivan can change, well everybody can change.

So in summary, I think we owe the Definitely Over Eighteen Girls In Bee Suits On Amy’s Train not only an apology, but a debt of gratitude. They’re out there fighting for bees, and not in the dull, hipster, Occupy Wall Street kind of way, with their beards and their eyebrows and their clothing.

They’re doing it Katy Perry-style – last Friday night they did too many shots, danced on table tops, put some bee suits on, occupied the EPA.

God bless them, that’s what I say. What did YOU do for bees today? Eh? EH?!

Also, did you notice how many opportunities I had up there to replace the word “be” with “bee?” But no, I kept it legit, every single time. You’re welcome.

 

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Obama Vs. Osama Vs. You

When the hunt for Osama bin Laden began years ago, I’ll tell you where I thought he probably was:  Vegas.

I figured, he keeps releasing these videos of himself in front of a cave wall, and that’s all we know about where he is, so that’s probably false.  He’s probably kicking it in Vegas in a big crazy suite, and they put up a little cave wall sound stage and filmed videos once in a while, and then when he’s done, he takes off his turban and puts on a suit and some shades, and heads to the casino.  Who the hell would think to question a billionaire in the VIP lounge?

I remember the rumor even surfaced – is bin Laden in Vegas?  And then the Vegas police wisecracked, “We’ve checked all the caves in the area.”

Which of course, they hadn’t.  And also, of course, that would be a stupid place for a billionaire in Vegas to hide.

Suffice it to say, like most people, I’ve thought about this day and how it would play out.  How we’d react to the inevitable capture or killing of Osama bin Laden.

And now it’s here – and I don’t know how to feel.

Sure, no doubt – if anyone deserves a bullet in the head it’s this guy.  I’m not sorry we killed him, and I’m as always enthralled to the point of awe by our Navy SEALs and their mythical badassery.  But the problem is, nothing ever ends with a bullet in the head.  

Murder – even the murder of a murderer – is always, always, the beginning of something else.  We have not convinced any terrorist networks that they should leave us alone, of course we haven’t.  It’s the opposite.  And did we freeze any assets?  Disassemble any command structures?  Let’s be clear – I don’t know any of this, but neither do you. 

And what can I say?  I’m never comfortable celebrating death.  

I’ll tell you where I was when I got the news.  I was waking up this morning after a Nyquil coma, and my pal Shawn had texted me, and he said what I said already – Osama bin Laden is dead, and I don’t know how to feel.

Click on the television, log on to Facebook, walk out into the street, and I find all my reservations and fears walking the Earth in human form.  Mindless cheering and Super Bowl chants – USA!  USA!  Conspiracy theories hot off the presses.  And yes, you bet your ass, allegations that Obama not only does everything wrong including poop, he also kills bin Laden incorrectly, yes he sure does.

“I just think the timing is suspicious,” I must have heard a dozen times, and you know, it’s hard not to crack my skull in half screaming at a statement like that.  Because think about it for a half a second and you’ll see that in order to be suspicious about such a thing, you must believe that Obama or the United States in general had some kind of choice with regards to the timing.  That we could have killed Osama bin Laden any time, and chose to wait until right now because it made so much sense.

Except it doesn’t.  Politically, if this were a stunt, this is the worst possible time for Obama to drop the head of Osama bin Laden before the America people.  A better time would have been right off the bat, say, Day One.  Or if he needed time to get his staff in place before exercising the – in this theory – simple Kill Bin Laden Option, right about six months or so, when Health Care Reform was clunking through.

Or the midterm elections.  Or the 2012 elections.

There’s nothing going on right now, politically, to make this a good play – even if it were a “play.”

It would be awesome if bin Laden were the Joker and now we got him, and Gotham City was safe for all time, but all of that is comic book and silly.  Bin Laden was one head of a globe-spanning hydra, and make no mistake, two more heads are sprouting as I type, right from the stump.

Not saying he shouldn’t have died, and not saying I’m sorry he died – just that I draw the line at doing a little dance about it, because it isn’t the end of anything, and it doesn’t raise the World Trade Center from its ashes or thousands of innocent victims from their graves.

The bottom line is, we got the guy we were looking for.  But what that guy wanted more than anything was to divide this nation and watch it fall, just like the Twin Towers fell, and here we are, ten years later, and yes, we got him, but yes, we’re still divided and still falling, and how far away can we possibly be from hitting the ground?

If I had a couple of wishes it would be that we reflect with more solemnity on what it means to deal death from this patriotic deck of cards we hold, and that we all for once get behind our legally and decisively elected leader, and stand as a nation not just for revenge, but for an end to a need for this kind of killing.  For a real, introspective revolution to take place among every American, about what exactly we’ve been doing as a nation that makes people want to destroy us, and for us to reserve our cheering for the day when peace rears its head, instead of these horrific, gruesome touchdowns.

Videos of blood splattered on walls, American citizens chanting like WWF fans – I have to tell you my friends.  I’m embarrassed.  I’m embarrassed by us, once again.

And I’m probably as terrified as I’ve been since actual 9/11, because there are far worse things than airplanes in this world, and one thing is certain:  This.  Is. Not. Over.

You want to try and score points on Obama on this historic day, go ahead.  I’ll tell you what I would do if I were him – I’d be so sick of hearing it from the people I’m protecting that I’d decline a second term.  I’d just say you know what, I showed you my birth certificate, I ordered the strike that killed bin Laden, and I’m moving to Kenya now, and I’m taking the Secret Service with me, cause I get them for life – how do you like those apples?

That, in my opinion, is the level of respect we deserve from this guy.  It’s fortunate for every man, woman and child in America that Barack Obama is a better man than I am.

 

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Don’t Drink And Drive Through This One Specific Intersection

Drunk driving is a huge problem, sure – but if we were serious about it, then it wouldn’t exist.  We have it in our power to marginalize this behavior to just a sliver of the population, but we don’t do it, and I think I know why.

Seatbelts are mandatory.  You have to put them on as a safety measure – it’s the law.  That law is among other things about protecting you – not even other people, just you – and I don’t know how much money it costs to install the seat belts, but you’re sure not allowed to build or sell a car without them.  Most people consider it a reasonable public safety policy.

So if you want to get rid of drunk driving – which is more about protecting other people, than protecting the actual drunk driver – and you want to get rid of it permanently, then require all cars to be fitted with a breathalyzer on the ignition.  Every single one of them, and yes, even yours.

Problem.  Solved.

Okay, not quite – you’d be able to buy a Breathalyzer Beater from Waterbeds and Stuff in no time, a little air compressor which would mimic clean breath, so the problem would really only be marginalized.  So on top of that, make the punishment for a single DUI very serious indeed.

Listen, I’m not even necessarily advocating this course of action.  I’m just pointing out that all we have to do is really, seriously outlaw it, instead of “outlawing it.”  There’s a reason why people don’t rob banks but they feel pretty cool about hopping in the car half in the bag and ripping down the road.  One of them carries serious punishments, one of them carries serious inconveniences.

Bank robbery equals jail.  A DUI equals a few thousand dollars.

And wait a tick, I wonder if that few thousand dollars is exactly what is so ineffective about the way we deal with DUIs today?  If you made thousands of dollars every time someone got caught driving drunk, would you want people to stop doing it?

The drunk driving problem is either as severe as we’re told it is, or it’s not.  If it is, then I would expect a serious response to it, like the one I just outlined.

If it’s not, then I would expect a bunch of hot air and ambulance chasing.  I would expect a lot of solemn, tearful soapboxing every time someone dies in an alcohol-related crash, followed by NO significant changes in the law.  I would expect constant, straight-faced dramatization of the topic by troopers on television.  And I would expect completely asinine, revenue-generating, transparently posturing attempts at publicly addressing it.

Like DUI checkpoints.  Check out this story – 7 Arrested At St. Patrick’s Day DUI Checkpoints – in which we learn that 727 cars were stopped at a checkpoint in Hilliard, Ohio.  And they caught 7 drunk drivers.  On St. Patrick’s Day.

Listen to me.  I can find you seven drunk drivers on St. Patrick’s Day in a half an hour.  You can even do it like a scavenger hunt – I’ll find you a drunk soccer mom, a drunk college student, a drunk real estate agent, a drunk old man, a drunk attorney, a drunk bus driver, and a drunk midget.  All of them driving cars.

Give me a full hour for a specific order like that, but I’ll be back with ’em all right.

One percent.  You’re telling me that one percent of the drivers on the road were drunk that day.  In Hilliard.

Listen – I’ve driven around in Hilliard on many average Friday nights, and I can assure you – a solid one third of my fellow drivers are typically good and hammered.  You can feel the Angry Driving and the impatience and the artificial confidence, hanging around you like a fog.  On St. Patrick’s Day, I’d have to think it’s at least as bad.

Seven of them.  How many cops were there, working overtime?  And suppose you guys just drove around on overtime instead, pulled people over?

Surely you can tell when a dangerously drunk person is driving a car down the street, right?  I mean, if they’re indistinguishable from sober people, then what’s the problem?

It’s very clear to me that our laws are not designed to curb drunk driving, or even stop it.  If they were designed for that, then the punishments would be much more harsh, and it would be illegal to start your car without proving you’re sober. 

The truth is, drunk drivers provide a ton of revenue to every state and local police force in America.  They’re like enormous, wheeled cheeseburgers rolling through your town.  Just think about the wisdom of a DUI checkpoint and tell me that’s all about stopping drunk drivers.

I mean, they announce it beforehand.  There’s going to be a DUI checkpoint at Leap and Cemetary roads, so don’t drive drunk through that specific intersection, or State Troopers Will Nab You With Electric Guitar Music Playing, Because They’re Crackin’ Down.

These seven people who were caught at the announced DUI checkpoint – I don’t know, I have to think that folks with that level of criminal skills, well, they were probably going to get caught pretty soon, anyway.  And then 23 others were cited, mostly for “driver’s license violations.”

Good work, boys.  People driving around town without their paperwork in order, flagrantly defying the expiration dates on their licenses – WHEN WILL THE MADNESS STOP?!

The checkpoints always lead to more non-DUI arrests than actual DUIs.  You might want to employ air quotes – “DUI” Checkpoints.  The main function of these things is to use the public’s knee-jerk passion against drunk driving to allow cops to pull people over for no reason at all, and check their papers.

Devices in our cars which force us to prove we are sober before we start them – might sound a bit draconian to you, might not.  But stopping citizens for no reason at all and then arresting them for whatever you can find, well that sounds a bit draconian, too.  So if we’re going to be draconian, howza about we do it my way.

You know, the way which will actually result in a drastic reduction in drunk driving around the entire country, nearly eliminating it within just a few years.  We can even require that the devices get made in America, throw up a few factories, put some Americans to work making them.

Instead, they’re fishing for money.  That’s absolutely all they are doing.  One percent of drivers on St. Patrick’s Day?  Let me tell you – that was the soberest sample of Ohio drivers anywhere in the city for most of that day.  We’re always hearing that the departments are having budget problems – what on Earth would they do if next year, nobody drove drunk at all?

I’m very serious about that – wouldn’t that cripple them? 

And while fifteen cops were standing around peeking into sober people’s cars, wondering why nobody was coming to their DUI Checkpoint Party when they’d gone to all the trouble of throwing it together, every single alternate route around them was no doubt pulsing with grinning, green-clad carloads, singing that one cab driver song with beer cans flying out the windows.  “Oh baby you…. you got what I need…  You say he’s just a friend, you say he’s just a friend..”

Let me ask you something – are you MADD enough to breathe into your ignition every time you start your car?  Or do we only want to stop drunk driving to the extent that we can do so without inconveniencing ourselves in the slightest?

These checkpoints are great for making us all feel like we’re MADD as hell.  But I can assure you – serial drunk drivers laugh at them.  Literally laugh.  And sometimes it feels like the cops and city treasurers laugh, too – all the way to the bank.

 
 

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The Government Is Us, The Corporations Are Not

One of the more understandable responses I’ve received to my recent flurry of online soapboxing is that the redistribution of wealth from the elite – who currently hold all of it – to the workers who maintain the system even as it crumbles around them, is that the redistribution would be executed by the government, and the government can’t be trusted.

And I definitely understand it.  All of us across the political spectrum have been rather horrified and shocked by what we’re seeing, as the Digital Age brings the inner workings of our government to light.  We can see how very long these bills are, how votes are bought and paid for through pork barrel spending and back room meetings, how much it costs to treat our representatives like royalty, and what they do when they think no one’s looking. 

We’ve seen how callous and skewed toward the wealthy our system really is.  How the lobbyists speak and money rains down and suddenly the people we elected to represent us aren’t representing us at all.  Suddenly they’re telling us that there’s no more money at all – even as they adjourn to head home to mansions and yachts, granting tax cuts literally to themselves while state and local government tell teachers to tighten their belts.

But the great thing about America – at least as I always understood it – is that our government is one for the people, of the people, by the people.  We can change it – it’s our job to change it.

Because it’s our government.  It’s us.

We can get rid of people, we can replace them.  We can learn about bills and watch our representatives, see if they’re doing what we want them to or if we need to vote for someone else.  If we do it vigilantly, and constantly, then they’ll have to listen to us.

And very simply, if we don’t, then they won’t. 

When I say that in the short-term, we need to tax the living crap out of the rich, and you tell me that you don’t trust the government to redistribute the money – doesn’t that mean that you do trust the corporations to reinvest in America instead?

I mean, we both appear to agree that they’re the ones with the money necessary to get us out of this economic apocalypse.  But if we’re not going to tax them, then what?  We really hope they’ll look out for us on their own?

Or, more honestly, I think that we fear these corporate overlords – because they imply or directly threaten to invest elsewhere, if we tax them too much.  We’re afraid – in a nutshell – that they’ll screw us even worse than we’re already screwed.

The giant, elite corporations have shown us time and again that they are not interested in our well-being.  Their interests lie with their shareholders, and that’s it.

It’s even billed as a positive thing sometimes – business is business.  The market decides, and it’s never wrong. 

We’ve seen the stranglehold the corporations have on our elected officials.  I don’t know about you, but so far I’m not too impressed by the way the government currently deals with corporate America.  High-end brothels and man-eating plants come to mind.  We’re too big to fail, so feed me, Seymour.

But that really doesn’t change the fact that the only force on Earth that can stand up to these corporations is a solid government which values the health and happiness and education of its citizens.  No, I don’t think that’s a good description of our government, currently.

In fact, I don’t think it’s a good description of us, as a people.  But it’s possible that we could open our eyes and remember who we really are, and if we do, it will be reflected in the government we build. 

Our government is currently corrupt.  I think we’d do well to admit that and instead of shaking our fists at the sky, take responsibility for it.  These are the people we elected, right or wrong.  These are the walking, talking, living, breathing decisions that we made.

The system needs overhauled, and it’s not like an engine.  We can’t take it off-line and do that.  We have to overhaul it while it’s still moving.

Conversely, we cannot change corporations.  We can barely affect them.  Just look at BP – they turned the Gulf of Mexico into their own personal toilet, and that’s about as close as we’ve come to really having an impact on a giant corporation like that.  We temporarily dragged their stock prices down with our outrage, and of course, that’s mostly in the past.

Take a look at this article.  The first Gulf Coast deepwater drilling permit of the year has been issued, and if you look at the press release, it’s been granted to Noble Energy. 

Well, at least Noble Energy is the majority owner of the new well, and so you won’t find in that  press release that the owner of 46.5% of that same well is good old BP.  You’ll in fact find a lot of careful wording to avoid that, but there they are. 

We really rose up and took the power back, didn’t we?  Is this really okay with everybody?

Are we 100% certain we want to keep dropping wells like this at all?  Well we’re doing it, so that’s our oil on our hands over there.  It’s ours unless we’re screaming “Stop.”

Listen.  I don’t think the government’s doing a bang up job, either.  But we have far more control over the government than we do over Wall Street.   Why on Earth would we trust corporations to “reinvest in America” and then refuse to believe that our government – of the people, for the people, by the people – could ever do the job for them?

In the modern world, we can watch the watchmen like hawks.  Can, will, and should.   Ten years ago, how would you have ever found out that BP owned such a large chunk of that well?  We have a technological advantage that we didn’t have ten years ago.

Information flies faster than lies.  We can do this, and they don’t want us to. 

We can manage our own government.  Corporate spin machines want you to believe that the government is a hostile alien entity because the government is all that can regulate their avarice and greed.  They want us to hate and fear our government, because deep down they hate and fear the idea that we might ever gain control of it again.

We can see every vote our elected officials cast, every program they implement, every dollar they spend.  We need to manage our government like it’s our own business, our own hardware store, our own pizza shop.  Our own household.

Because it is.  It really is all of those things. 

Certainly I’m not saying, let’s blindly trust everything the government does.  We have to tell the government what we want it to do, elect officials to enact our instructions, and fire them unceremoniously if they fail to meet our expectations.  Relentlessly, belting out our own ideals like a blogger who won’t shut the hell up. 

If you don’t trust us as a nation to do that, and you don’t trust our system of government to respond to that appropriately, then I really don’t understand why you bother voting in the first place.

 

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The Hypersensitive Blogosphere

I doubt that it will surprise you to learn that it’s pretty easy to offend people here on the blogosphere, and that much like the real world, however any given person likes to do things is normally the way that person believes things objectively, fundamentally ought to be done.

Take this post for example – Are you well-versed in comment etiquette?

It’s by Erica Johnson, and about a thousand other bloggers have clicked like, which means her views on comment etiquette are pretty widespread.  And since she’s an editorial producer for WordPress, it would be awfully hard to argue with her, and I wouldn’t want to.  As far as I’m concerned, if that’s what a WordPress editorial producer says comment etiquette is all about, then okeedokee.  That’s comment etiquette.

But the thing is, I’m not really into etiquette. 

For example, depending on the kind of restaurant I’m in, you are probably going to find my elbows on the table.  That’s bad etiquette, but I don’t really care because that’s how I’m comfortable and I’m usually not there to impress anybody.  So if you were to, for example, tap me on the shoulder at Red Lobster and remind me of table etiquette, I would probably bite you and growl until you left.

Sitting there in Red Lobster, my policy is you worry about your elbows and I’ll worry about mine.  And that part’s key – I don’t care even a little, tiny bit what you do with your elbows.

Take for example Erica’s second point, that you should never include a link to your own blog when you comment.  Certainly I knew that a lot of people didn’t like it – apparently it’s considered spam – but I have absolutely no problem with it here. 

If you are out there, and you’d like to comment and say practically nothing except “Hey, I blogged about the same thing,” and then drop your link in there, I’m all for it.  As a matter of fact, I’m not even really concerned about whether nor not it’s actually about the same thing.

It’s not like there’s a finite amount of space, and it’s not like you’re selling something.  As long as it’s just a blog post from a real, live blogger, then go, my friend. 

Sometimes I even locate the link myself and then go into edit comment mode, and put it in there for you.  I want you to post your link.  Seriously.  Go ahead.

Because if you go over to Erica’s (fine, awesome, well-written, Tom doesn’t want any trouble with you, sister) post, you’ll find several hundred comments in which most people say something like, “Wow, couldn’t agree more, I hate link droppers.”

And again, I don’t know what to say except I don’t.

Because then much more troubling, Erica goes on to tell us that a more effective way to get people to visit your blog is to NOT drop the link.  To instead work on building a new relationship with the blogger, by engaging their blog or topic in a positive way. 

And then all the commenters agree with that, too – no doubt you can get someone to visit your blog that way.  Many of them actually say out loud, “I love how it’s like You Visit My Blog And I’ll Visit Yours.”

And you know what?  I don’t love that.  

Maybe I’m cynical, or maybe I’m idealistic, but I want people to come and read my blog because of my writing, and not because of any perceived obligation they feel, after I commented on theirs.  I know that sometimes when people start commenting on my blog a few times, and then I comment on theirs, sometimes I can feel their sense of obligation.

And really, blogosphere, maybe I’m just the opposite of uptight about it, but please – I won’t get mad at you or judge you or anything.  Just come by and read when you feel like it.  Comment when you have something to say.  But don’t feel like you have to be here and say something nice, just because I commented on your blog. 

I’m trying to attract readers with my content.  It’s hard to relax and read a post if you’re worried about thinking of something to say in exchange for whatever I said on yours. 

I’m not looking to build Page Hit Trade Agreements.  Sometimes I go off on a flurry of Other Blog Commentary, sometimes I get busy in the real world and it’s all I can do to keep my blog posts up and reply to the comments that are here.  Sometimes I can’t even do that.

It’s okay, fellow bloggers – at least around here it is.  You will never get the high hat or even a guilt trip from me about it, and if I’ve ever been around and commented on your blog, I’m probably coming back, unless I’m not.  Future Tom is a rolling stone, you know?

As for dropping links on other people’s blogs – I’ve definitely done that.  I don’t do it all the time, but sometimes I’ve got a specific post that I just really believe is relevant, and I know that Erica pointed out that just clicking my name will get you to my blog.

But I have over three hundred posts over here.  Clicking my name won’t get you to the one I’m talking about.

And besides – every blogger gets to decide whether or not to post a comment.  In fact you can even edit them.  You could go in, clip off my link, and post the comment without it, if you’re really that convinced that links are bad.

Here’s the thing – every single one of us is blogging because we want other people to read what we write.  Following Erica’s sound and popular advice seems to me tantamount to pretending otherwise.  To actually, in many cases, posture as if you care about a blog post when you really don’t – all in order to trick people into clicking your blog.

I’d prefer everyone be straight with me and drop links, as opposed to showing up every day intentionally trying to create an obligation in my mind that I should show up on yours and do the same.  I can assure you, there’s only one blog I’m going to be visiting every single day and it’s this one.

And by the same token, as I said – I really don’t want anyone feeling that way toward me.  I don’t want to go around gladhanding other bloggers in order to get them to reciprocate.  I don’t want gladhanded, so why would I?

I’d prefer you read my posts and then honestly ask yourself if you’d like to read more.  If you would, there will always be more for you to read.  If you don’t really care for it, hey – go in peace, Fellow Blogger.  There’s plenty of room for both of us.

Erica and I, I’m sure, would get along fabulously, and I’m certainly not here to knock her, but I can’t help tell everyone – most of her rules do not apply here. 

Stay on topic?  Eh.  No restrictions.  You can talk about bunny rabbits down there in my comment boxes if you want to, no problem.

Be nice?  Well, to some extent.  If I’m being a jerk (frequently) you’re welcome to be a jerk right back, but it’s hard to win an argument against someone who can edit your comments.  Heh.  Just kidding.  But really, you don’t have to be nice and I don’t have to publish your comment, so we can get along on that one, too.

Keep it brief?  No way – knock yourself out.  I thnk if I recall, John Moonlord (who just recently resurfaced, to great celebration and fanfare) used to drop blog post-sized comments on my LOST stuff.  Have at it.  Just don’t get offended if you get a short answer – I have tomorrow’s post to work on.

And then that leads me to what I really wanted to post about, which is some other bloggers I’ve been reading who I think you ought to check out.  They are listed here and keep in mind – just because you don’t have to follow Erica’s rules here doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow them elsewhere.  Telling them Future Tom said it was okay probably isn’t going to do you any good.

Babblesbybex:  This is a blog in the more traditional sense.  It’s a log on the web – she simply tells you what she did that day.  That might be boring if she wasn’t a talented writer who is traveling the world, but she’s both.  She’s in China right now (I think).  Click on that, go.  Scoot.

Momsomniac:  A fellow adoptive parent who frequently can’t sleep, Momsomniac blogs about both of those things.  Also faith and family and what it means when you don’t eat her cooking (it means you don’t love her, so eat what she puts in front of you, all right?)

Aquatom:  That’s right, he’s either a colleague or an archenemy of Future Tom, perhaps some sort of evil (or good) Mirror Universe Twin.  He even lives in Aquatom Mansion, but as you know, most bloggers have several mansions.  You want to keep your eye on this guy.

The Canada Cheese Man:  If you don’t like cheese then I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave.  The Canada Cheese man devotes each post to a different kind of gourmet Super Cheese.  I didn’t know anyone had it in them, blogging about cheese all the time.  But is it worth it – well he says yes, and so do I.  Sometimes I lick the screen – sorry to have to tell you that.  Get over there.

The Magnificent Minimalist:  The Magnificent Minimalist is both of those things.  She uses few words and usually single frame, cartoon-like drawings to get her point across, every single day.  Words are too cumbersome to describe the Minimalist; you must look upon her mighty works for yourself.  Click.  Click.  Click.

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Until tomorrow, blogosphere.  Erica, if you’re here, please feel free to holler at me or drop a link or talk about zombie movies, or pretty much whatever you like.  Make yourself at home.

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Earlier:   There Is No Wrong Way To Facebook

And:  Squaring Off Over Literally Nothing

Then later:  The Accidental Spammer

 

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