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Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Hysterics

Blast! I forgot the Random Friday Ten....again! Maybe when I get home, I'll do the Random Saturday Ten.

This article reminded me of the little vignette I wrote yesterday. You see, I know that people with good intentions often can be led down a heavy-handed path.

It's not enough for them to make the personal choice not to smoke; they must prevent you from smoking --inside at least-- too. And even after they push you outside, the complaints don't stop.

It's like anything, from abortion to drugs to pornography to trans fats to pesticides and cigarettes. It's not enough to make a personal decision to avoid these things because they're bad for you or immoral. No, these things must be wiped from the earth, destroyed, sent back to hell for the next ten thousand years. Their very existence threatens all of mankind!

Or so the hysterics would have you believe...

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Vignette: An Asshole and His Stooge

A little vignette. The backstory is that Max has "lost" some of Bertrand Berry's money in one scheme or another and is scrambling to recover it. Bertrand Berry is a character I came up with for the Max Beatty stories. So far he hasn't actually made an appearance...but he will.

I found Micah on the patio at a dusty table under a black umbrella. He had two pints in front of him and when I sat down, he slid one of them over to me.

His mouth curled into a smug little smile and he said, “You made it out alive, I see.”

“I’m a survivor,” I said, taking a sip of my beer. I smacked my lips and made a bitter beer face. “Budweiser?”

“Coors Light.”

“Nasty,” I said.

“But cheap,” Micah said, raising his glass to his lips. He paused mid-drink, and said, “So what’d Bertrand say?”

“He’s not happy.”

“Why would he be? You lost his money.”

“I didn’t lose it,” I said. “It’s just temporarily unavailable.”

“And I’m sure Bertrand bought it when you tried to sneak that bullshit explanation past him.” Micah drew a cigarette out of his breast pocket and lit it, oblivious to the soccer mom in the adjacent table giving him dirty looks. She fanned the smoke away from her precious little ones and made tiny passive aggressive noises.

“I didn’t tell him any of that,” I said. “I just stalled.”

“What do you mean?”

“Excuse me,” the soccer mom said to Micah. “Can you put that out?”

Micah turned to look at her, cigarette hanging between his fingers. “What, this?” He took a drag and blew it out.

“My kids have asthma,” the soccer mom protested. “They can’t breathe when they’re around smoke.”

“I’m very sorry about that,” Micah said. “I’m almost finished. Just a few more drags.”

“Now,” the soccer mom said in that soccer mom voice that could get a vanload of rowdy kids to sit up straight. Then she added, “Please.”

“Fuck you, lady,” Micah said, flicking ash into the wind.

The soccer mom’s face pulled back in shock. Her kids frantically looked from each other back to mother back to each other.

Before she could say anything else, Micah went on, ”Go inside. That’s where I’d be right now but no, it’s a non-smoking establishment. The patio, though, on the patio smoking is allowed, and so I’m smoking.” He took one last drag on his cigarette, which had burned its way down to the filter, then flicked it off into the parking lot.

He shook another one out of his pocket without taking his eyes off the poor lady. “Want one, Max?” he said.

“No thanks.”

“Is that how you talk around children?” the soccer mom asked.

“Ah, hell, lady, they’re your kids,” Micah said. “What do I care?”

“Dude, you’re going to get us kicked out of here,” I said, kicking him under the table.

The soccer mom pulled a nest of twenties out of a pocketbook and slapped them down on the table. Then gathered she her purse and her delicate offspring and departed, hexing us both with her eyes.

“Nah,” Micah said. “She was just leaving. See? Order is restored.”

“You shouldn’t be allowed in public without a muzzle,” I said.

“I shouldn’t be allowed to do a lot of things,” he said. “So Bertrand? How much time did he give you?”

“It’s open-ended,” I said. “Meaning I didn’t exactly tell him. I’m supposed to meet him tonight with the money. At his house, money in hand.”

“Tonight? That's not open-ended.”

“Tonight.”

“Shit, man,” Micah said. “You’re fucked.”

Nuggets News

I'd like to take a moment and congratulate Marcus Camby, 2007 NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

Take it on home, fellas. You know what to do. Now do it!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Jumping the Shark

So I was subjected to CNN all day...no more movies on the video wall until my next stint on the night shift...and I saw Dana Perino, Bush's acting Press Secretary, speaking to reporters. My thought:

Dana Perino...hot or not?

I couldn't decide. I was afraid that if I named Dana Perino "hot" I would have jumped the shark in newsgeek babewatching.

With that said, I don't think CNN has a "credit card rule" for their female anchors. At my former company, women couldn't wear skirts that rose more than a credit card's length above the knee.

Kiran Chetry's daily outfits defy that rule by...oh, a full thigh's length. Not that I'm complaining.

(Yeah, I got nothing better to blog about. Sad, I know.)

You Better Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Hell yeah. The Tre Tre Crips. They used to be a street gang. Now they're a prison gang.

Allergies

We had a bit of severe weather wind its way in through Utah earlier this week. It poured, drenching the whole city, causing floods and turning to snow in some places. The city I live in just declared another year of water restrictions (my fifth), so the moisture is nice. The ground will be nice and moist for days.

But all the moisture kicked my allergies into high gear. The whole day yesterday was spent rubbing my nose and looking out through itchy, watery eyes.

I'm better now, but yesterday I wanted to die. I wasn't sick...but I wasn't right, either.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Who Needs a Plan B?

This line deserves to be in a movie:

"Plan B is to make Plan A work."

Quoted by CNN's Barbara Starr in a discussion over the strategy to win the Iraq War.

That movie would be a comedy.

Jesus Talk

Tonight is my last night on the night shift. After tonight, I get a short weekend, then I'll be back here on Thursday for a more normal Tuesday-Saturday 7AM-3PM shift. Yeah, I'll still have to work Saturday, but at least I get off at 3.

One thing I want to do with my new schedule is go to church. Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking. James? Go to church? To answer your question, yes, I'm looking for Jesus; the dude owes me money.

Actually, I've had the idea to go to a different church each week, not to find one I like, but instead to document the church experience. I've had a long standing theory that many religious folks are ignorant about religious and scientific matters because they spend so much time in churches. In other words, going to church is kind of like watching Fox News: It will leave you ill-informed and ill-equipped to confront reality.

It's just a theory, of course, but it's based on my own experiences as an ignorant church-goer (in a past life), as well as religious hostility to science and philosophy. I mean, it's one thing to say Jesus is God.

It's another thing entirely to say the earth is only 6000 years old and drug-resistant bacteria is just God's way of saying, "Don't sleep around."

So we will see if I actually feel like going to church on Sundays or if I'm intent on proving how right, or wrong, my theory is.

In the mean time, entertain yourself with this tale of Christians behaving badly. Read the story first, then watch the video.

Having 87 Christians walk out of your performance in silent protest is one thing. But having a guy pour water on your hand-written notes as he walks out...that's something else.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sanjaya Who? Or....The Upside of Ignorance

You know...I hate to say this, but that flak jacket and helmet isn't all that flattering to my girl, Arwa Damon.

Another thing I learned on CNN this morning: Kiran Chetry met Sanjaya.

About that dude. I think I'm the last person in America who has never heard Sanjaya's voice. Haven't heard him sing, haven't heard him talk. I've seen the pictures, heard all the chatter on the internets, but I don't watch American Idol and I don't really care to.

I like my crappy music crafted in basements and garages between hangovers and bong hits rather than on some glorified gameshow like American Idol.

Updated:
I didn't know that Kiran Chetry was on Foxnews before she joined CNN. Just like I don't watch gameshows, I don't watch tabloid TV either.

Monday Morning

I've started 5 (including this one) blog posts today, but have finished only this one. Why? No clue...

I suspect it might have to do with all the big (but still incomplete) thoughts in my brain. Yeah...that's the ticket....

Sunday, April 22, 2007

KopyCat

Alan Prendergast makes some great points as to why school shootings won't go away if if we shut our eyes, stuff our fingers in our ears and sing, "Lalalalalalalala."

Consider:
It's pretty safe to say that Virginia Tech mass murderer Cho Seung-Hui never saw the basement tapes that Columbine gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold left behind. Oh, he probably read about them. But aside from a brief period of media viewings, the tapes have never been released. Officials were concerned that they might inspire copycats if the public got hold of them.
Seems that keeping the materials under lock and key isn't much of a deterrent, after all.

Pendergast asks an important question:
Do we blame the media for paying so much attention to the Columbine killers that other vengeful, disturbed young men like Cho see mass murder as their ticket to glory? Or do we try to come to terms with the emerging profile of these school shooters found in their writings and videos, which the authorities want to keep from us?
Kevin Drum has more on the benefits of releasing the tapes:
First, we learned — really learned — just how disturbed Cho really was. No words could possibly have the same impact as seeing it, and that makes a difference when we're asking questions like whether Cho should have been allowed to buy a gun or whether the university should have been more proactive in getting him help. Second, we learned that he apparently wasn't motivated by any particular event or belief. He wasn't doing it for Allah, as not a few people have speculated, and he wasn't doing it because of distress over global warming. He wasn't mad at George Bush or Nancy Pelosi, and he didn't do it because he thought the Columbine kids were really cool. That stuff is all worth knowing, and we'd never know it for sure if the NBC guys just assured us there was nothing there but wouldn't allow us to see it for ourselves. Again: even if this isn't something you happen to be interested in, keep in mind that next time they might be withholding something gruesome you do want to see — like, say, Abu Ghraib photographs. Wouldn't you prefer to decide that for yourself?
I would, but then again, that's just me.

Kevin Drum also has a point about the copycat question:
In this case, people who don't think the videos should have been released have suddenly decided that maybe it inspires copycats. Well, maybe it does, but before I buy in to this I think I'd like to see some serious supporting evidence rather than just urban legendish speculations.
I guess as time goes on, we shall see.

(Sorry, though, the NASA shooting doesn't count. That guy didn't want to get his pictured plastered all over the news and join the gang. He was afraid of losing his job. Oh, and he bought his gun back in March...Quite a few causal problems there, eh?)

And finally...this kind of makes those "if only other students were armed" statements sound kind of funny. Only gun nuts are comforted by a guy who has "a handgun, a shotgun, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a 12-inch-long knife" in his dorm room. The rest of us...it kind of freaks us out.