Monday, March 31, 2014

More like Booo!-scouts of America...

This man is biologically incapable
of not talking about gay sex. 
Remember a ways back when the Boys Scouts of America were struggling with whether or not to allow openly gay kids and adults to join the scouts? You don't? Here, it was a whole thing. There was debate, and soul-searching and gay-sexpert Pat Robertson even chimed in with some of his horseshit about how the other scouts will catch the gay. But in the end, whether as a result of public pressure or a legitimate victory of reason over fear, ignorance and stupidity (see right), the ban was lifted and the BSA joined the 21st century. Hurray.

I call bullshit. Where was the
Nintendo badge when I was in scouts?
In other news, BSA today dismissed their first openly gay troop leader. Wai-wah? Why would the BSA do such a thing so soon after making such a huge step towards equality? This is 2014, surely the man in question, a Seattle Scout Troop leader named Geoff McGrath, must have done something else wrong. You know, handed out un-earned merit badges or sabotaged some kid's pinewood derby racer. I mean, they couldn't have fired the guy just for being gay, right? Right? Uh...yeah, no, that's exactly what they did.

According to McGrath, the BSA informed him that the fact that he is gay " a distraction to Scouting..." and so he was fired from his position as leader of Troop 98. A distraction to scouting? Holy shit, what is wrong with these people?
Above: An artist's rendition of Geoff McGrath being all gay and shit.
Which, if accurate, would be somewhat distracting.
Thanks to McGrath's gayness,
the birds in Ethan's backyard
will now be staving to death.
So how did a distractingly homosexual man like McGrath even get to be a troop leader in the first place? Turns out he founded Troop 98, at the behest of his church. Yup, his gay-marriage performing, Methodist church who knew full well that McGrath and his husband are both totally gay, asked him to head up a 'fully inclusive' youth program that would welcome all kids from the community regardless of sexuality. I'm not sure what's more surprising: the fact that McGrath's church is way the hell more progressive than the Seattle Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, or that the BSA just fired a married, church-going, community role-model because they felt he was too gay to show kids how to make bird-feeders out of pinecones and peanut butter.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Time to start hoarding!

Above: Scientists, ruining everything.
If you're anything like me, you enjoy civilization. We have the internet and Starbucks and we rarely have to track, catch and then disembowel our own food. Yup, civilization's pretty sweet. Too bad it's all poised to come crashing down around us at any moment. Who says? Scientists. That's who. A study funded by NASA's Goddard Space Center and carried out by a team of smart people led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei have invented a real-life version of psychohistory* and predicted that we are all in for a serious goddamn Seldon crisis.

Motesharrei and his team came up with a questionably acronymic model called HaNDy (Human and Nature Dynamics) which makes predictions based on factors like natural resources, wealth and social classes. The results were not encouraging.
Isn't that cute? It's like HaNDy is waving
goodbye to indoor plumbing and vaccinations.

When it comes time to choose the form of the
 destructor, everyone picture a basket of kittens.
According to HaNDy, we're doomed, but what specifically will doom us? A giant Marshmallow Man? Asteroid impact? Ape and/or robot uprising? Nope. None of the above. This apocalypse is going to come down to socio-economic stratification. That's right, those Occupy kids were on to something. No, not the white-guy dreads, that really needs to stop, but they did see the problem posed by 1% of the population owing all the stuff. Montesharrei and his team assert that cultures which allow all the wealth to become concentrated in the hands of an ever shrinking elite, are extra susceptible to external disasters.

Relax, this is just an example. Zombies
are, of course, preposterous, although we
may have to resort to eating each other. 
How come? Here: say there's an outbreak of zombie-ism. Gun manufacturers, drunk on unfettered capitalism, decide to raise shotgun prices by $80,000. Now only the super-rich can afford the double barrel protection you need to survive the hordes of flesh eating corpses. The 99% of humanity? Not so lucky. Sure, the elites survive a bit longer, but as the brain-eating drags on, there're fewer and fewer non-elites left to manufacture more boomsticks. The people who produce the wealth are not the ones benefiting from it, so when shit hits the fan they're the hardest hit, production declines which reduces the available resources and the whole thing spirals.

I think we all kind of sensed that tweens
would bring about the end of our civilization.
And now we have the math to back it up.  
But surely our advanced technology will save us from this grim, boomstick-less future, right? Nope. In fact, it's probably accelerating the process. I mean sure, if we all had replicators and limitless, free energy we'd probably be ok, but we don't. Instead we have things like cars and iPhones that run on finite resources which in addition to being bad for the planet in and of themselves, kind of require us to fuck up the environment just to get at them. To make matters worse, our snazzy 21st century technology makes us really good at this.

So are we boned? Probably. Although Montecharrei's team believes that we could pull out of this nosedive, it's going to take some work. We're going to have to start being more responsible with our planet's resources, that's a given, but we're also going to have to shift to a more egalitarian economic system where the wealth is evenly distributed among-what?
No really, it's the only way to avoid a
complete breakdown of...of...stop laughing!
Dibs on re-inventing the steam engine.
Yeah, unfortunately human history isn't exactly filled with examples of civilizations wising up, sharing the wealth and avoiding disaster. Instead it's been more of an endless cycle of ludicrous extravagance followed by calamitous decline. Anyway, if HaNDy is right we're only a few decades away from Thunderdome, so now might be a good time to start hoarding scientific texts, technical manuals, canned food and booze, you know, all the useful stuff to have around when civilization sinks into the new dark ages.

*+50 to your nerd role if you didn't need to click on that.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Oy, this again...

Hurray! Federal Judge Bernard Freidman has ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage that Michigan voters passed back in 2004 is unconstitutional thus opening the door for gay and lesbian couples to finally get m-huh? What's that? Oh...oh, I see.
Above: Pretty much.
No really, that's all they got.
Yeah, this again. For a period of about 24 hours, Michigan was the 18th state in which gay couples could get legally married. Then a federal appeals court snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and ordered that no more same-sex marriage licenses be issued until at least Wednesday. How come? No clue, but in other states when similar bans have been thrown out and then quickly and temporarily un-thrownout, it's because the anti-marriage equality people are throwing a tantrum and have asked the court for additional time to remount their legal case. What case? Beats me. I think it has something to do with gay people causing earthquakes.

Just a suggestion.
Anyway while I'm sure it's totally important to make everyone, no matter how full of horseshit they are, feel like a part of the democratic process, could we maybe find a way to do it that isn't at the expense of those who have waited years or even decades for legal recognition of their equal rights? Like, maybe instead of issuing a stay the court of appeals could, I don't know, throw a party for the homophobes? Maybe get them a big cookie cake or something? You know, something to make them feel appreciated even though we don't really mean it (or like them).

Oh, and on a side note, why Wednesday? What's so special about Wednesday? If the ban was unconstitutional today, is it more constitutional on Wednesday? If so, why? Is it opposite day? Is there some kind of planetary alignment we haven't heard about? What's the deal?
With Neptune in conjunction and Mercury in retrograde,
Wednesday would be an auspicious day to screw over the gays!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fred Phelps: Bringer Togetherer of People

Above: Fred Phelps holding a-hey, shouldn't
there be a comma after 'Fags Die?' it looks like Fred Phelps is in hospice and not expected to live much longer, and I'm feeling conflicted about this. On the one hand he's a fellow human being. On the other hand, holy shit, he's awful. Like really awful. If you don't remember who he is, let me refresh you-wait, no, refresh isn't really the right word. Everything about this guy will make you want to rage-vomit all over your screen and then cry. Here, let me re-cap instead: Fred Phelps is the former pastor of the rabid-foam, homophobic factory of hate, vitriol and protest signs of questionable grammar that is the Westborough Baptist Church.

Phelps and his church members have been protesting (or in some cases just threatening to protest), notable people's funerals for over twenty years in an attempt to draw attention to themselves and whatever the hell it is they believe in (World Government? Lizard people? I don't know, they're crazy). Also, as I may have mentioned before, they have a pool.
A goddamned pool. And it's a nice one. Clearly there is no justice in the universe.
Look over here! Puppies!
The first time I ever heard about Phelps was back in 1998 when he and his congregation picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a college student who was murdered because of his sexuality. Yup, that thing you're feeling now? That's the crushing sadness brought on by the realization that there really is no depth of horribleness to which someone, somewhere is incapable of sinking. These people got together, piled in their van and drove to Wyoming so they could wave their God Hates Fags signs at Shepard's grieving parents. Need a minute? Go ahead, I'll wait.

Picture: One of the greatest things ever.
Back? Ok. Phelps's protest did however inspire one of Shepard's friends, Romaine Patterson, to organize a protest of their protest (still with me?) in which she and other attendees came to the funeral dressed as angels with enormous wings which they spread in order to block the WBC members and all their hate-filled bullshit. She called it 'Angel Action,' and these counter-protests are still done today. So in a backwards, and more than a little fucked up sort of way, Fred Phelps's awfulness brought out the best in other people.

You can even get gay married
there just to stick it to them.
Remember that guy who bought the house across from The Westborough Baptist Church just so he could paint it rainbow and be gay at them? That was an amazing act of kick-ass and could never have happened if it weren't for Phelps and his followers being the worst people ever. In fact, if he's accomplished anything in life other than spreading hatred and misery, it's that he's brought people together in common cause. Against him and everything he stands for, but still, common cause, that's still something, right?

But, still, as tempting as it may be to do so, we're really not much better than him and his church if we celebrate the death of a bitter old man. That said, if you're anything like me (you know, petty), it might help you to know that Phelps was apparently excommunicated from the WBC last year. This means that not only was he kicked out of the church, but also that he's been damned to hell. Yup, a place, which according to Phelps, is full of gay people, soldiers, Mr. Rodgers, pretty much everyone he doesn't like.
Something tells me he wouldn't appreciate the irony.

You're a better person than Julius Caesar. Congratulations!

Today is March 16th, which means if you're alive and reading this, you've survived the Ides of March; something Julius Caesar, one of the most accomplished figures in history, couldn't quite pull off. Also, you're probably a better person than he was. Keep these two facts in mind if you're ever feeling like you haven't done anything worthwhile with your life.
"Sweetie, its ok, not everyone is cut out to rule 1st century Rome.
But hey, it's March 16th, we're alive...let's go out for fro-yo!"
Oh c'mon, like any of us haven't thought
about conquering France at least once.
Of course most of the things Caesar is remembered for aren't so much accomplishments as they are evidence that he was a sociopathic monster. Like when he was a kid he was kidnapped and held for ransom by pirates, which in and of itself isn't really that noteworthy, but what he did next was. After being freed, he tracked the pirates down, captured them and had them all crucified. Holy shit, right? I mean, they were just trying to make a buck or a denarius or whatever, it's not like they mailed his ear back to his family. Later, he went on to conquer what is now France, got himself named dictator for life of the Roman Empire, and then abandoned his wife for Cleopatra with whom he had a child. Because he's classy.

Above: Emperor Chunk performing a
victory shuffle on the White House lawn.
Did you ever see The Goonies? You didn't? Then we have nothing more to say to each other. Go watch it now...Back? Good. You're welcome. Now imagine if there was a Goonies 2* in which a grown-up Chunk went after the Fratelli gang, murdered them, and then led a successful invasion of Canada before crowning himself King of America. That was basically Julius Caesar's life. Impressive, sure, if you like revenge killing and naked power grabs, but what did it get him? Immortal fame and a salad named after him. Ok, yes, it got him that, but-

-it also got him assassinated by like the entire senate. You've got to be a pretty tremendous dickhole to get yourself shanked to death by like 60 of your friends, coworkers and possibly even your own son. Sure, we'll never be famous, but at least we've got a decent chance of going peacefully in our sleep, well-liked and un-stabbed. Advantage: us.
"Wha-what'd I do? I'm mean other than challenge the
unchecked authority of the wealthy ruling elite-oh...."

Above: The cause of many, many an
argument before IMDB was a thing.
*No, really, there wasn't. Sorry to disappoint you. A lot of people seem to vaguely remember a sequel, but they're thinking of the NES game called The Goonies 2 which was the sequel to a Japan-only game based on The Goonies. Confused? Understandable. Oh, and get this: The Goonies 2 (the game) had a mermaid in it. A mermaid. Anyway, the game has convinced a lot of people that there was a sequel to The Goonies and some will even swear that they've seen it. This is false and a result of the human capacity for self-deception. Also, the game kind of sucked.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I'm not really an animal person...

Yeah, I don't see the appeal...
...I mean sure, as a human, I am, biologically speaking, an animal, but what I'm saying is that I don't get pets. I don't hate other people's pets, and I don't wish them harm or anything, it's just that pets are not for me. I sort of feel like we spent the last 10,000 years building a civilization because we want to get away from nature. Why then would I want to go and invite animals back in? I know, I know, companionship, unconditional love and a steady supply of poo to clean up, but what if I'm just not into that?

Anyway, check this out. It's about a family in Portland, Oregon who got into a fight with their cat. Yes, a fight. With their goddamn cat. And yes, the cops were called.
Above: An artist's rendition of the incident.
Was the cat a misidentified velociraptor?
No? Then perhaps they're over-reacting.
Not going to click? I can't say as I blame you. Here're the broad strokes: the baby pulls the cat's tail, the cat scratches the baby, the dad kicks the cat, the cat goes nuts and the family barricades themselves in a bedroom. Ok, so the cat is like 22 pounds, which I guess is pretty big for a house cat, but it was so threatening that they had to take refuge? For real? Again, I'm not a cat person, but even at 22 pounds the family still outweighs it by a factor of like 12. Did they really have to call 911?

'Cause they did. Yes. 911: the number we call for heart attacks and murder. They felt that the cat was so dangerous that they had to skip right over animal control and bring in the human police, who had to take time out of their day of doing cop things to come and rescue a family from their pet.
"...I don't know, have you tried a spray bottle? I hear they hate that..."
-911 Operator Nicole Jankowski,
shortly before seriously 
reconsidering her career
I don't know Lee, maybe you could give
the baby away to a nice farm. You know, one
with lots of room so he can run around and play.
The best part is after the cops showed up and lassoed the cat, the family was still unsure about what to do next.

"We are debating what to do...we definitely want to keep (the cat) away from the baby and keep an eye on its behavior."

-Lee Palmer,
Father of the year

I guess my issue isn't so much with cats as it is with what people do to them. I mean, we've taken predators out of their natural habitat, bred them for adorability, de-clawed them, spayed and neutered them, and then we've devoted like a quarter of the internet to their humiliation. Of course they want to claw our eyes out, wouldn't you?
Let's face it, we've had this coming for a long time.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

CPACing Heat

Man, Jon Bon Jovi must be rolling over in his grave.* Check this out. It's GOP minority leader Mitch McConnell wandering aimlessly on to the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC, see?) today toting a rifle while Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer blares in the background. He then held the gun awkwardly aloft before not being wrestled to the ground by security. Instead, was applauded by the assembled conservatives.
Above: Mitch McConnell demonstrating responsible gun ownership
by waving a rifle over his head in a packed auditorium. Because 'merica.
He's not threatening you, that's
 just how Republicans say hello.
So my question is, what is wrong with these people? A confused-looking elderly man meanders into a crowded political event carrying a potentially deadly weapon and gets a standing O? I mean, I know he's white, but still, this is a party who by and large support your Second Amendment right to blow away anyone who looks at you cross-eyed. For all he knew any one of those concealed-weapon assholes in the crowd could have shouted 'standing my ground!' and opened fire.

Although he could probably do it.
I heard Senator Reid can bench like 280.
Ok, in fairness, McConnell was presenting the weapon to Senator Tom Coburn who's retiring. It's a lifetime achievement award from the NRA, and (probably) not loaded, but the symbolism, in case you missed being bludgeoned by it, is that Republicans stand for guns and God unlike the Democrats who stand for, uh, not shooting people? Don't they know they're being pandered to? I'm trying to think of the left wing equivalent and the closest I can come is Harry Reid walking out with a gay married couple with health insurance clinging to his back.

I know that one of the core tenets of the GOP platform is an irrational devotion to a subjective interpretation of an amendment written at a time when guns had all the accuracy of autocorrect, but you'd think that they'd recognize just how crazy the visual of Mitch McConnell recklessly brandishing a deadly weapon to glam rock really makes them all look.
Besides, I'd be much more concerned about the Third Amendment.
I mean, the goddamn Redcoats can stay at the Radisson for all I care.

Jon Bon Jovi: noted recording artist,
supporter of the DNC, and living person.

*Just so nobody freaks out, Jon Bon Jovi is totally not dead. Although were he dead, he would be spinning like a rotisserie chicken. While not officially a member of the Democratic Party, he did campaign for both John Kerry and Barack Obama. So the CPAC's choice of sound track is a little like Nancy Pelosi campaigning to something by Ted Nugent.

Batman: Year -13

So the good news is that there's going to be a new Batman TV series. The bad news is that Gotham is not about Batman. Also, it's a prequel, so in case you missed the seven movies, half dozen animated versions or the fifty or so retconned comic book variations of Batman's tragic origin story, here's another one. Spoiler alert: murdered parents=costumed vigilante.
There. Done. Now, go forth and be Batman.
"The Riddler huh? What tipped you off,
was it the riddle he left behind or the
fact that he signed it 'The Riddler'?"
Ok, so Gotham isn't just a reboot, it's also about the side characters of the Bat-universe. When they announced the series a while back, Warner Bros. made it clear that it was going to focus on a young James Gordon before he becomes the be-moustached police Commissioner we're all familiar with. Sort of like Batman: Year One or the first really slow hour and a half of Batman Begins. But still I was kind of holding out hope that Bats would show up from time to time. You know, maybe lurking in Gordon's office, half in shadow, helping him unravel one of the Rogue Gallery's none-to-subtle theme-crimes.

Turns out not so much. They've just announced the casting of David Mazouz as a thirteen-year old Bruce Wayne. Thirteen.
Above: the goddamn Batman.
It's a series about secret agents who have
met, but are not themselves superheroes. 
According to this, the plan is that Bruce will eventually grow up, pull on a Batsuit and begin his life of crime-fighting, and that's cool, but we won't actually get to see it until the final episode. So my question is what's the appeal of a superhero show without the superheroes? It's similar to the premise behind Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. and that show's kind of dull. If Gotham's going to be about Batman's friends fighting Batman's enemies in Batman's hometown it kind of begs the question where's Batman? What are they saving him for?

Look, I've got nothing against the kid they've cast as a young Bruce Wayne, and Dan Harmon, the creator of Gotham also did Rome which was bloody amazing so by all rights this could be fantastic. But I can't shake the feeling that this is a missed opportunity. I mean, there are already dozens of TV shows that aren't about Batman. Why not do one that is?
Pictured: One of the many series that doesn't feature Batman.
I believe this is a glaring oversight that must be addressed.