Monday, March 19, 2018

Nobody cares what Phillip Hamilton thinks...

No, different Philip Hamilton. The one
we're going to talk about is kind of a dick.
Say, you know what's some bullshit? This. If you didn't click, and let's be real here, you didn't click, then I'll explain. A newspaper, ok, the newspaper in Olton, Texas runs, as many newspapers do, obituaries. And last month, when a woman called Brenda Light died, her family sent in her obituary so that the paper could, you know, print it. What they didn't expect was that the paper's owner and local Baptist minister (that'll come in handy later) Phillip Hamilton would edit it . Because Jesus. Yeah, Light's son sent this: "Those left to cherish her memories include her son, Barry Giles, and his husband, John Gambol of Dallas." Now guess which part Phillip Hamilton took it upon himself to cut? 

If you said the reference to Giles' husband and partner of thirty-one years, you'd be correct. And Phillip Hamilton would be an asshole. I mean, lookit this:
"What? I said those left 'include her son.' I didn't
say he wasn't a godless sodomonite..."

-Noted garbage person,
Phillip Hamilton
"Oh don't you go dragging me into this
You made your own bed dirtbag..."

-Hamilton's surprisingly 
salty conscience
Hamilton, when asked whatthefuck? replied:

"It is my religious conviction that a male cannot have a husband. It is also my belief that to publish anything contrary to God's Word on this issue would be to publish something in the newspaper that is not true...The newspapers decision to edit the obituary is both ethical and lawful...I could not in good conscience identify Mr. Gambill as the husband of Mr. Giles."

-Phillip Hamilton, 
apparently unclear on
the definition of 'ethical'

Sorry, this kind of stuff just pisses me
 off. Not all of you have stupid accents...
just the jerks. Huh? I know it's the same
acce-look, I'm trying to meet you halfway.
And this is where all those religious protection acts fall to shit. I mean, nobody wants anyone to have to risk eternal damnation for say, baking a gay wedding cake or working on a gay car (remember that guy?), but if you're going to run a business in the world, you're going to have to be prepared for customers whose lives don't line up with your personal belief system. This is America, you can't refuse service because you don't like someone's sexual orientation anymore than you can refuse service on the basis or race or because you don't like their stupid Texas accent. 

"Look, I guess this all boils down to don't be 
jerks to one another. Think you can handle that?"
-Jesus, apparently asking too much
Leaving aside whether this was 'ethical' (it's not) or 'lawful' (who knows? I mean, Texas...) Brenda Light's family didn't pay Phillip Hamilton's paper to publish whatever he wants in accordance with his own religious worldview, they paid him to memorialize her. Which he didn't do. And then he laid out some horseshit about how her grieving son's husband isn't really his husband. They don't go to his church, this wasn't a tithe. This is business and you don't get to have it both ways. Either you're a baptist minister or you're a newspaper. You're a business or you're not.

I guess what I'm getting at is that if you're so rabid-foam crazy about Leviticus that you can't keep your hands off someone's mom's obit, maybe you're in the wrong line of work. 
"Ok everybody, if you'll turn to page three of your copy of the Olton
Enterprise, you'll see an editorial, written by me, about how Jesus
wants you to vote for Debbie Long, Republican for County Clerk."

-Phillip Hamilton, noted newspaper
publisher and mouthpiece of the almighty

Friday, March 16, 2018

So do they love Nazis or just hate Democrats?

Because I'm a little unclear on this point. Look, I don't want to tell the Tennessee State Legislature how to state legislate, but holy shit people, I mean, holy shit.
Pictured: literal fucking Nazis.
"It's-<bang> It's about denouncing white
<bang> supremacists <bang, bang> For real?"
-Clemmons, between gavel bangs
What am I talking about? This. No, you have to click. We've been through this-you know what? Fine. I'll explain.The Tennessee State Legislature couldn't even get it together enough to have a discussion about a resolution to declare white supremacist groups terrorist organizations. Yeah. Representative John Ray Clemmons wrote a resolution and brought a motion to have it discussed and was met with the committee chair’s gavel bangs the awkward silence of four white Republicans who didn't want to even talk about it.

"A resolution to...uh...neo-Nazis...
uh...terrorists...hey, is it hot in here?"

-Every Republican in the room
Again, holy shit. Here's what they didn't even agree to discuss:

 "[W]e urge law enforcement to recognize these white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups as terrorist organizations and to pursue the criminal elements of these domestic terrorist organizations in the same manner and with the same fervor used to protect the United States from other manifestations of terrorism."

'Are you kidding me?' I'm sure you just said aloud. And no, I'm not kidding you.

"I mean, c'mon, what are we doing here?"
-White Jesus
When asked by reporters why in the name of white Jesus he didn't even want to talk about denouncing white supremacist groups, Republican Bob Ramsey said it was because

"We have no expertise on it. How can we determine these groups are terrorists? We don't know the federal guidelines on terrorism."

-Bob Ramsey, wait 
for it, Republican

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and hands out anti-semetic flyers in the parking lot of Staples, it's probably a Nazi duck.
Pictured: A Nazi, the internet really does have everything.
"Yeah, and while we're on the topic, maybe
 stop saying 'chinaman?'It's embarrassing."
-some grandkid
He insists the sticking point for him was classifying these groups as terrorist organizations, and not the 'intent or philosophy of the resolution,' but if that were true and not the blatant horseshit it smacks of, then why not at least discuss it? I mean, first of all, since when does a Tennessee Republican give a shit about federal guidelines? Secondly, I know he's like seventy and conservative, but he still has internet access. I mean, why doesn't he look it up, or get one of his grandkids to do it? And while they're at it, they can explain how racist he's being by not even discussing the resolution.

Pictured: Ryan Williams, Tennessee
Republican and Alfred E. Neuman cosplayer
But whatever, this whole things is Clemmons' fault, at least according to House Republican Caucus Chair, Ryan Williams who knows what it takes to be a great legislator:

"Part of being a great legislator is knowing your bill, knowing the committee that it's going through, working the vote and asking for a motion and a second before you get there. That's what great policy making is. It's pretty simple."

-Ryan Williams, 

Actually no, we probably shouldn't
be making assumptions about Republicans
and their ability to make good choices...
Look, I don't live in Tennessee, I don't know any of these people involved here, and I certainly can't say I'm qualified to tell anyone else what makes a great legislator, but is Williams not aware that Clemmons was asking that they consider a bill about condemning white supremacists? How well does he need to know the committee? Shouldn't he be able to assume that everyone on the committee is con-white supremacists? Even if they are Republicans? Williams is right, it should be pretty simple, it's just that...shouldn't Clemmons have been able to assume that everyone is anti-Nazi?

I mean seriously, it kind of leaves one to draw the unsettling conclusion that either they are cool with white supremacists, or that they hate Democrats so much that they won't even discuss one of the few things thing we're all supposed to agree on.
Nobody's asking them to get behind the estate tax or to
sign Nancy Pelosi's birthday card. All they had to do was come
down on the side of Nazis are bad. Should be a no-brainer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

When they're rich, it's eccentricity.

The only difference between this guy and
Elon Musk is $20.5 billion which is...uh...sorry
I can't remember what-wow...billion. With a 'b'...
So I'm not saying that Elon Musk is wrong about colonizing Mars but I would like to point out that if he were some guy on the street with say a sandwich board and some badly xeroxed pamphlets, instead of being a billionaire speaking at SXSW (pronounced skzzsswi, I assume) we would probably dismiss him as a nutter. I suppose wealth hath its privileges too. Anyway, Musk appeared at this year's South by Southwest conference to talk up his space plans and to haltingly predict doom for human civilization-well, not predict but, well here, click this first.

I'm confused, are we talking castles and
jousts, or just rampant ignorance and wealth
inequity? Because we might be there...
"If you know that, if you know there's likely to be, well you don't know, but there's likely to be another dark ages-which is seems like there probably will be at some point. I'm not predicting that we're about to enter another dark ages, but there's some probability we will, particularly if there's a third world war."

-Elon Musk, entrepreneur, industrialist, 
harbinger of doom, or...well, not doom, 
you don't know...but likely doom

I'm not saying it's a bad idea, I'm just
suggesting that Isaac Asimov's estate
should probably be taking to a lawyer.
Then after not predicting the collapse of civilization, but really, totally predicting the collapse of civilization, he went on to make the case for sending humans to Mars as sort of 'a back-up your data' bulwark against armageddon:

"Um, then we want to make sure there's enough of a seed of human civilization somewhere else to bring civilization back and perhaps shorten the length of the dark ages."

-Elon Musk, going full Seldon

Ok, so I can't argue with the wisdom of the Seldon plan, but does any one else have a problem with Elon Musk running the whole thing?

Personally, I see the extinction of country
as one of the perks of a new dark age.
It's not so much that I have a problem with Elon Musk personally, it's more rich people in general. Like, it's cool that he's using his vast, preposterous wealth to advance the cause of science, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the cause of science being up to any one person. Sure, he could build his own back up civilization on Mars, but it would be his civilization.What if say, he hated country music and didn't include it in the vault on his space colony. I mean, he'd be correct to hate country music, but should that really be his call? 

Well, it's his space might point out. True, but only because he's crazy rich and he's only crazy rich because we, as a culture, let him be. As in, we haven't grabbed our pitchforks and torches and bashed in his front gate which we probably could have after he launched that roadster into space.
Pictured: a $200,000 car launched into space with a $90 million rocket.
But even more impressive is the fact that in the back ground you can even
see a planet where wealth disparity makes shit like this possible.
"No seriously though,
taxes are for poor people."

-Jeff Bezos 
Speaking of pitchforks and torches, Musk isn't the only rich to buy his way loose of the surly bonds of Earth. Jeff Bezos, whose company Amazon apparently falls into a tax bracket so high they don't have to pay anything, is also planning to boldly go where no symbol of everything wrong with unfettered capitalism has gone before. He reaffirmed his company's plan to take some of the ridiculous cash reserves he made by strangling the life-blood out of America's retail economy and explore the endless reaches of outer space. And presumably once there, continue to not pay taxes. 

How many Duckbergians were living in
abject poverty while this asshole swam
around in a seven story bin full of gold?
So two things freak me out here: First, that it's possible in our civilization for someone to control this much wealth. Like, I don't care how smart or successful you are, nobody should be this rich. And second that our space program is so poorly funded that anyone with a few billion dollars can decide the fate of human kind and by extension, country music. Look, I don't want to tell these titans of industry-wait-is it industry when you just use money to make more money? Anyway, I don't want to tell them what to do with their embarrassing wealth but...wait, no, that's a lie, I do want to tell them what to do with their embarrassing wealth. 

Sure, no one can deny the appeal of the frozen, radiation-soaked hellscape of Mars, but what if Elon Musk put some research money into a zero-emission car most of us could afford instead of shooting one that costs more than the average American home into space? Or if Jeff Bezos just paid his goddamn taxes? Admittedly these aren't sexy ideas, and no one's going to want me to talk at SXSW, but they might keep this planet livable a while longer. 
"Yeah, awesome."
-Some colonist, moments before being struck 
by a $200,000 roadster falling from orbit

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Domo No-rigato!

It's like fifth century Rome except
 the barbarians wear scarves...
What's up San Francisco? Like, I get it. Thanks to Apple and Google and wave after wave of start-up entrepreneurs, the city is suffering from an epidemic of rich people. Cocktails cost twenty dollars, eating out can run into the hundreds. The median home price is over $800,000 and the average rent for a one-bedroom is $3,460. Some people commute from, I shit you not, Bend Oregon. By plane. Because it's cheaper. Others are just leaving California altogether. I wonder sometimes if it isn't a lost cause and if the rest of the Bay Area shouldn’t just be done with it. Collapse the bridges, wall it off and abandon it to the gentrifying, fedora-wearing beardos.

And that sucks. It was a great city back when you could park there, but it's no reason to take it out on robots. Yeah, you heard me, they're taking it out on robots. And self-driving cars, which are sort of like robots. If you squint and have have a loose definition of the term robot.
KITT from Knight Rider: robot, or just a fancy car with a sassy onboard AI?
I suppose there are some questions we may just never have answers to.
"Hang on, I'll get my violin."
-An actual cab driver
Just straight-up throwing themselves at self-driving cars. According to The Guardian, there've been two separate incidents recently in which pedestrians attacked autonomous cars. Which I think begs the question: what's their problem? Are they afraid that the self-driving cars are the first step towards some kind of machine uprising? Are they worried about these things putting their Uber drivers out of work? Or is this just a misguided attempt to work out aggression by substituting violence against machines for violence against the wealthy?

Maybe they could rebrand
it as a sex toy for Gundams?
It's not just the self-driving cars. Remember the Knightscope 5? It too has been victimized by this wave of human on robot violence, getting kicked, knocked over and even covered with a tarp rendering it helpless which, since the thing is marketed as a security robot kind of makes me question its usefulness. But why all the attacks? Well, the Knightscope is apparently goddamn annoying, and one did run over a toddler once (relax, the kid was fine), but the car incidents went unreported to police, so we may never know what that was about.

While the motivations will be a mystery for the ages, I can't imagine this has anything to do with humans being threatened by automation. I'm not an economist, but wouldn't there have to be jobs available for robots to steal? Like, apart from the tech companies, jobs in the Bay Area are either something in the service industry or life coaching so until robots start reading Tony Robbins, we're safe, right? Goddamnit...
"The distance between your dreams and reality
is called action. Also, who had the salad?"

-The Robots, coming for us all

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Today in picking fights with awards shows:

I swear, I would really like to go a day without feeling like I have to address some idiot tweet from the President, but here we are. Promise, next one will be about Star Trek or video games or something. In the meantime, check this shit out:
Wait, is he giving them shit over ratings? Because...well, you know.
"What could possibly go wrong?"
-Caesar, early March, 44 BC
What a scamp. Hey, speaking of scamp, did you see his funny funny joke last week about how America should look into making him President for life? I guess in recognition of the super job he's doing. Look, I know that people on the right supposedly felt like we do now when Obama was in office, but they were upset about how he was a Muslim from Kenya who wanted to take their guns away. I feel like our beef is somehow more...I don't know, grounded in reality?

Like, they would have lost their goddamn minds if Obama ever, even jokingly, suggested that we should do away with term limits, much less declare him dear leader for life.
Where's his-oh, right because he's black...Also, shouldn't it read
'where're your papers'? I don't want to tell racists how to racist, but c'mon.
Fun fact: the 1st Oscars ceremony was 
the single most attended event in human
So back to the Oscars which had the lowest viewership ever...which, it did. Sort of. The ratings for Sunday's broadcast were down almost twenty percent from last year's show making it the fourth year in a row where fewer people watched. Which is bad, but the first Academy Awards ceremony was in 1929 and it was more of a private dinner held at the Hollywood Hotel Roosevelt. While I don't have exact numbers, the ballroom probably seated somewhat fewer than 26.5 million, so I think it's kind of an unreasonable comparison.

And even if they did want to broadcast it, and owning a television in 1929 was kind of like having a holodeck in your home, so again, calling last night's show the least watched is a little disingenuous.
The Oscar's TV ratings did beat the 1791 premier
of The Magic Flute, so like, suck it Mozart.
Pictured: The incident I described.
But whatever, suffice it to say the broadcast isn't as popular as it used to be, but it isn't because it's getting political. The Oscars have been political forever. Remember that time Marlon Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather to decline his Oscar for The Godfather because of how Native Americans were portrayed in film? No, me neither, I had to look it up, but the point is that it's nothing new. Yes this year's show got political, but it focused on positivity and inclusion and I thought that was pretty cool.

So why the ratings drop off? Maybe people don't watch because it's basically just celebrities telling each other how awesome they are. Maybe they don't watch because they're into streaming television shows. I don't know. What I do know is that way more people would have watched if they decided to forgo the awards entirely and just let famous people rip on Trump for three hours.
Maybe more people would have watched if streaking was still
a thing. Go on, click the link, David Niven zings him, it's great.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Scapegoat Rodeo!

Of course, Punxsutawney Phil doesn't
make it a policy to call women liars,
so you know...advantage: groundhog.
Ok, so now this really is happening. That meeting between the President and the video game industry that Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced last week without anyone actually setting one up? Representatives from the Electronic Software Association as well as from the manufacturers of the three major consoles, have agreed to meet with the President this Thursday. At least that's according to Sarah Huckabee Sanders who, let's face it, is about as reliable as that groundhog people like to pretend can predict the weather.

You're probably wondering what they're going to talk about. Well, they're going to be discussing the things the video game industry should be doing to protect children from gun violence. Which...
"Uhh...he knows we make video games, right?"
-Reggie Fils-Aime, President
of Nintendo of America

Good question Reggie Fils-Aime. The point of this meeting is a little confusing since the video game industry makes video games and not guns which would seem a more direct connection to the problem of gun violence. In fact, one wonders why gun manufacturers and the representatives from the NRA aren't being called in to address the epidemic of gun violence in America and lay out their strategy for keeping children safe from their products. Hey, you don't suppose it has anything to do with the super-tight ties Trump and the Republican party have to the NRA, do you?

"Yes. Fact-based. Absolutely. Huh?
No, I'm laughing about something
else. And now I have to go. Bye!"

-Sarah Sanders
Anyway, the ESA has been very clear that there is no scientific evidence of a relationship between video games and violent behavior and insist that the meeting will provide an:

"...opportunity to have a fact-based conversation about video game ratings, our industry's commitment to parents, and the tools we provide to make informed entertainment choices."

-The ESA's naively 
optimistic statement

Because if there's one thing this administration has been really good about, it's giving a shit about facts. I'm sure once they put some hard numbers in front of Trump, the administration will immediately drop their scapegoating of video games and focus on the real cause of gun violence...let's say rap music. Or maybe movies. Definitely not guns though. 
Oh! Energy drinks! Maybe it's energy drinks. Let's
get those Red Bull people in there to explain themselves.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Rated 'S' for Spurious!

Hey, remember last week when the President said-huh? Yeah, I know, I'm sorry. I'm super-sick of talking about him too, it's just that he's just constantly doing and saying ridiculous shit for the sole purpose of attracting attention. Well, not good attention, but like any reality TV show star, or toddler, I'm not sure he cares.
"Good attention, bad attention, what's the difference?
The important thing to keep in mind here is shut up."
-White House Press Secretary
Sarah Huckabee Sanders
The ESRB is also why I get carded by
clerks younger than my Dragon Warrior IV
save. But I guess that's just the price we pay.
Yeah, remember last week when the President, in a moment of pure inspiration, suggested that the film and video game industries should have some kind of rating system? Well he did and we all laughed because, you now, the MPAA's had one since 1968 and the ESRB was established back in 1994 to rate video game content. But Donald Trump, as everyone knows, is a man of action. The kind of man who would totally run into a building and single handedly subdue a gunman. So calling the gaming industry to task is like, no sweat.

According to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, he'll be meeting with 'members of the video game industry to see what they can do on that front.' 
"What am I as a member of the video game industry going
to do about gun violence? I don't know, vote for Democrats?"
Gaming has been linked to cosplay that
crosses into furry fandom, but not violence.
Except no, that's not happening. Nobody in the video game industry seems to be aware that they're being called into a meeting with the President, at least according to the Entertainment Software Association. In a statement they gave to Ars Technica, the ESA points out that  "[t]he same video games played in the US are played worldwide; however, the level of gun violence is exponentially higher in the US than in other countries." And that the scientific consensus is that there is no link between gaming and violence. 

Above: Another child led astray by
agriculture...when will it end?
Which, I don't know, makes sense to me. I've played video games for as long as I can remember and I don't feel particularly violent. And besides, if video games influence behavior in the way the White House is suggesting, wouldn't that cut both ways? Like, one of the most popular games right now is Stardew Valley; a farming simulator. Is there some spike in Four H Club membership we should be worried about? So if video games aren't contributing to the epidemic of gun-violence in America, what is? 

Is there some other element of our political landscape that doggedly promotes guns as an essential part of American identity while at the same time recklessly lobbies against any form of reasonable restrictions on gun ownership? 
"No, no, it's video games, no need to look any further. And I for one think it's
 time the video game industry took responsibility for promoting gun violence-did I
say gun violence? I meant just violence. Guns don't kill people, video games do..."
-Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA and
someone who can sleep at night...somehow
You know, like that parade the Pentagon
is putting together because Trump
 thought it would be neat.
But whatever, as far as the White House is concerned, the take away here is that the solution to gun violence is rating systems. Oh, and meetings. Meetings with the people who make the games that are not linked to the epidemic of mass shootings. So why then is this meeting happening? That is, if it even is happening and it isn't just some extemporaneous comment the President thoughtlessly rattled off and now his staff is having to scramble to set it up so they don't look chaotic incompetent.

Maybe it's because blaming violent movies and video games is like, way easier than addressing our obsession with guns and our underlying culture of violence and less politically fraught than challenging the lobbying interests that make weapons so easily accessible? I don't know, that's just a guess.
Hey, speaking of our taking a long, hard look at our culture, what is a
 reasonable number of assault rifles to lug around in a crowded store? Five?