I read a draft

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Oof, #TaraWestover whatchoo done to me, girl?

Educated” has me shook. Jesus Christ, I can’t remember a book that hit so home and was so disturbing to me.

I was raised Mormon, served two years as a missionary, and gradually found myself out of the Church after learning about Church historical inaccuracies and the November 2015 LBGTQ policy. Between that time that I attended BYU-Idaho, lived in Ogden, and started a fledgling militia with about 60 Idahoans. I know these people: Idahoans, Mormons, and Survivalists. I still identify a little in each. It’s in Idaho that I first became associated with ideals for small government, and fell in love with American history. I also became skeptical of the US government. It was after the Sandy Hook massacre that I dived into prepping. My mother has always been a staunch adherent to the Church’s pleading for each member to have preparations for harsh times, and I began to follow suit. The Boy Scout in me craved preparedness, the Mormon in me wanted the prophets’ predictions to be true, and the libertarian in me was suspicious that the government would take my weapons away. I thought the crime in Connecticut would be the catalyst. About a year after I started putting feelers out for likeminded people, and formed a militia. This is how I familiarized myself with people like Tara Westover’s family.

The militia was an utter failure, but through it I truly discovered how distrustful people are of the American government. I had no idea these people existed. But I was convinced of their thinking too. I interned at a magazine directed at this audience, and grew to know the readership base as well. The owner of the magazine told me that he initially wanted to aim it at activists in the Three-Percent movement, but, from what I remember, he said it was too tainted by racism and lunacy. This is sadly too common for much of the prepping world.

(Trust me, I’m getting to my point.)

Since graduating from BYU-I, I’ve moved to Washington state, and it could be said I’ve become corrupted by the liberal agenda. My values have explored, and I’m definitely open to more liberal ideas. I don’t feel like I’ve betrayed the ideals of government protection of life, liberty, and property, and I’ve thought that government should give enough rope to people for them to metaphorically hang themselves. While that quip is somewhat funny and maybe trite, this book has really made me question it. The family is the smallest social unit in society. In it, people should have the most amount of freedoms possible, unless it infringes on one of the three prior mentioned. However, the freedom the Westover family wielded also permitted—nay, fostered—intellectual and physical violence! It’s with this superstition and paranoia that members of those families question reality and suffer from mental illness for their entire lives!

It is not the duty or even the permission of any group of people—formalized as a government or even a mob—to tell others what is right or what is wrong. Indoctrination must be voluntary, or else it won’t be genuine and will eventually lead to rebellion. What is the solution here, then? Is it right to let parents rule as patriarchal and matriarchal tyrants, using religion as a propagandist tool? It happens everywhere in the world, from Idaho, to Afghanistan, to the Philippines. Region can be a beautiful thing. But it can also be dangerous. There is no way to prevent anyone from using it as a crutch for their extremism. There can only be incentives that draw families to volunteer themselves away from it.

But what? Am I just convincing myself?

This book has moved me. It has me asking deep questions. The prose is fine, maybe even a little basic, and less than what I would think I doctor would write. However, more prosaic text would probably limit the audience it would speak, and this is a message that everyone should read. No question: 5/5 stars.

Medieval Reading and Writing

Found this doing some research for my fantasy manuscript

theculturegirl

Reading

The majority of people during the medieval period were illiterate; this goes for men, women and children, rich and poor. For the poor, there was almost little or no chance of learning to read or write, as a woman, this is even less. So what about the rich, well, the men would have had some sort of education, the women are unlikely to have been able to read or write. If these women’s father’s allowed, they might have been taught well.

In earlier times, reading would have been done out loud, this way, there could only be one interpretation of the text. There was no confusion and no suspicion, which could occur when reading religious texts. Religious texts in those times were Catholic texts, they were not to be interpreted by just anyone, and so reading them out loud was necessary. Of course, there were also non-religious texts; these…

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Long time, fren

 

Recap of the recent life

It’s been so long since I’ve posted, and I’ve tried so many times to restart momentum! I’m so sorry, guys. Much wack! Very fail! Just a few days ago, someone even called me out on it in a comment (honestly, thanks LeilaJuicy). Most def, the hardest part about creating content is publishing consistently. Kind of wish a blog was like an album where I could push a bunch of pieces out and then let the radio cycle them for a year and I could just write when I’m inspired—but then there’s being on tour and the analogy falls apart.

To be honest, about 98% of my creative energy has been directed at writing my epic fantasy. Usually when I’m struck with an interesting thought I’ll write about it here and try to get the rest of the world to pontificate about it. “Ya see?! Isn’t that weird we do that?” And more so I’ve been putting those ideas into world building. But it’s to a fault. I’ve tried doing a couple of YouTube videos, but either the bandwidth is too sketchy to get a solid framerate or I’m in uniform and can’t be representing with what I want to say. (Some of you already know what I do for a living, but I’m undecided if I want to sanitize that from my public footprint or not. We’ll see.) The effort has been there but sometimes the rants just weren’t powerful enough to overcome the hurdle. Which is f***ng stupid, I know.

I’ll try to catch you up with the previous (unplayed) episodes.

Twangy thangies

I forgot I posted a couple times in April about the state of the nation and environmentalism, but since then I’ve got a banjo and started plucking away at it. I posted in my Insta a little finger roll I learned (which is surprisingly helpful to learn other more complicated stuff). This is bigger than “look at the new toy I got!” It’s big for me because I never felt capable of learning an instrument. As a teen I had an electric guitar and toyed with the idea of being in a band with my friends but they actually played theirs and, I didn’t. And there’s something about the soul when you learn like this. Making music is a tactile and mental skill, and I can feel my brain working in ways I’ve never felt before. Lots of seratonin! And it’s a struggle too, but that’s party of the beauty. From my college classes in education, I know that the moments when you exert that extra percentage of effort when your frustrated is when you learn the most, and that’s when the most rewarding feeling is too! It’s really cool to feel these theories things within yourself and not just observe them in youth.

Why the banjo you ask? It has such an honest and unpretentious sound to it! It’s simple and also a bizzare instrument: like a guitar on a snare drum. Been wanting to experiment with one for few years. Finally did it because I’ve been playing Far Cry 5 and the backwoodsy theme caught up in me. Actually, first I started playing the harmonica since my Kentucky-raised dad played it for my family growing up. I loved hearing it at bedtime, those gospel songs on that warm mechanical vibrato. I was always worried his mustache whiskers would get pulled out. The first song I learned, a few weeks ago, was “Amazing Grace.” Felt fitting. I’m not too much of a Christian anymore, but it’s still my culture, and just about anybody feels comfort or at least respect when they hear that song. Plus, it’s so ‘Murican! I go to the field quite a bit for work, and it’s a very portable instrument. I figure it’ll raise the morale of not just myself but the people I work with, after a long workday. In the middle of nowhere, there’s not much for music anyhow. When I get a hard case I’ll bring my banjo out too.

Some scribbling

In other matters, I also took a break from blogging because I was working at SuperInterns.com ten hours a week. Not much, but it was on top of the forty or fifty I work normally. That was a great experience. I learned a ton about the writing industry. Also made a metric boat-load of friends. Went adventuring in Portland with one Mick Howard. However, it was grueling so I didn’t have time to do much else. I did well enough that I was promoted to senior content writer though! That was fun. Got some management experience. I finished that up about in May, and I’ve just been derping since. Really enjoying my evenings again!

I’m also slated for a career change. Still with the same company but in the writing department instead. I’m mad stoked! Finally, I’ll get to use my degree! I go to training for it next May. And that’s like the best news I’ve had in years! I wish I could be more specific than that, but unfortunately I can’t for the same reason as my uniform. I’m like > < that close just saying what I do.

Sunshine

Bottom line is there’s hope. The future hasn’t looked bright for me in a long time, and it finally does. I’m moving forward in my skill set and my career. I’m also learning. And it’s currently summer. So. There’s that.

Oh, and I got finally got a writing tattoo.

IMG_1901

 

Education, the 2nd Amendment, and Starbucks

It’s a helluva time

Teachers with gunz, yo!

So right now Wyoming is talking about being the second state to allow teachers to have guns. A lot of people are freaking out and saying that this isn’t the right move. For one, they ask if teachers are even well-trained enough. And I will be honest, even though I feel like I am properly trained, I don’t think that many teachers would be. There’s lots of times where a teacher won’t even make the right call when I comes to grading the right paper, or suspending a kid, or half a dozen different scenarios.

I heard a Wyoming teacher being interviewed on NPR this morning, and he said if saves one life, that the risk it is worth it. But what if he accidentally shoots the wrong kid and takes one life? I’m for teachers being allowed to do this, but I think it’s going to take a lot more training and maybe even certifications before just any Mrs. Crabtree can bring a gun to school and expected to save lives.

Status quo

But even bigger than this is the paradigm: how do we protect kids in our public schools? The answer is to get out of paradigm, and understand that just because we have a structure doesn’t mean that we have to stick to it. We don’t have to have public schools as they are right now. Kids can learn through other means, and I need more than just homeschool. Private schools are a thing, charter schools are or thing, there are probably some other ways that I haven’t even heard of, or aren’t even out well-known. And we can apply this thinking to the health care issue. Everybody trips out and says how healthcare is a human right, but is it? You can’t demand that the fruits of somebody else’s labor is your right. You can’t be entitled to their work. That’s slavery. And it’s not unreasonable to say that we can still have a means of getting over ailments and injuries besides having health insurance. There are doctors that do home visits for a flat rate every month. There are other options!

I can foresee that there will be a bunch of states that let their teachers bring guns to school and then incident will happen with a poorly-trained teacher turning it into a tragedy, and it will be a springboard for people to say it proves that we shouldn’t have teachers with guns. And then that nobody should have guns! And that will be when things get really bad.

Dare I say it?

We are extremely factioned as a nation right now and it’s not as easily defined as borders. Our disagreements span county lines, state lines, regional cultures, religions, and yet again race. And there are disagreements within each of these well. It’s crazy-ass tribalism! I don’t want to sound hyperbolic or apocalyptic, but what I do mean to say is that because of the nature of our country— even just geographically— our disagreements will cause more trouble than they ever have before. This will be more like the Civil Rights movement—with pockets of people everywhere that support or disagree with it—but more violent, because the subject matter will be guns. And it’s more than just the Second Amendment that’ll spark things; race relations are boiling over and reactions are more explosive than I think they’ve ever been before. Have you heard about that thing with Starbucks? And our president isn’t making it any better! He’s so volatile and thin-skinned, and lacks the tact and diplomacy to govern his own people. He got elected because a good portion of America felt unheard and wanted radical change, but I don’t think he’s got the ethos, logos, or pathos to do it. He’s going to make it worse. And it’s going to be a confusing, angry, and costly mess.

Can you imagine a condition where the Pacific Northwest is embargoing the Intermountain West, and allied with New England? Think about that on top of Texas and Arizona fighting against both coasts and Mexico. And then what will the fly-over states do? Harbor up the Great Lakes region? And even then, it’s not going to be clear cut on state lines. Half of Oregon and half of Washington are going to side with Idaho. And California is just a wildcard—like, who freaking knows about them?

Remember our roots

We’re not in a good spot. And I understand that what I say sounds silly, and I can’t tell you I know for sure that this will happen. But what I can tell you that I think the solution is, Is for the 10th Amendment to be recognized again. If each of the states were to be treated as sovereign nations with loose agreements with east of the other states and with the federal government (like the European Union), then they would be able to govern and ban and endorse any activity that they thought was right or wrong. We would have a lot more freedom in America. We might have more tyranny too. But America wouldn’t be the same thing it was before. I think it’s a good thing. The federal government has overreached, and is trying to parent each of its kids the same way without regard for personality, disposition, or ability. I’m not even a parent and I know that’s dumb. I can’t think of a good reason why disbanding from such federalism would be a bad thing. I know that the federal government gives a lot of funding for each state, but I think of their other means to gain revenue. If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. Work like your are running a family budget. It’s not a bank account or in a reasonable line of credit, you can’t have it.

The nation was designed to be about the size of the original thirteen colonies. The founders knew that despotism was hard to impose among even as many as thirteen states, and that factions and cultural monopolies were even harder. But they also knew that the original geographical area was small enough to reasonably manage. Now we are three to five times larger than that. How do we think that’s manageable? We are way too much of an empire even within our national borders. We have to simplify.

I’m probably cray

Maybe I’m an alarmist, maybe I’m too liberal, maybe I’m extremist. But I do know is that there is a ton of hate in our country and not enough listening. There’s too much good versus evil, and not enough empathy. Something has got to change or something is going to pop.

TLDR: We can’t think Left or Right anymore, have to think out-of-the-box on major issues.

I’m political traitor…and a hippie!

Sometimes it’s more than just L.L.P.

It’s also about an E.

So, it’s been a mad long time since I’ve posted, and that’s lame. My consistency game is pretty weak. But I had a conversation last night with a friend at work and I thought you guys would want to be part of the discussion!

I’ve established myself as a libertarian: limit government to protecting life, liberty, and property. Anything more than that is the falls on charities or the free market. I believe in the timeless sovereignty principles the Constitutional philosophers passed down to us. I believe in the right of the individual and that cooperation must be voluntary. This isn’t new to you, you know I bang this drum. Yet, I have decided for myself that the government has a fourth responsibility: to protect the environment.

History has proved otherwise

Now before anyone trips and calls me a bandwagoner, I’ll state that I used to believe that the private sector could do this better. There are lots of examples of the public sector fairing poorer than private sector comprisons. Amtrak is a great one. It’s supposed to be a for-profit government company but it’s consistently losing money. If I remember right, the former CEO was subpoenaed from Congress to account for his business, and he defended that it was only $30M in the red! (I’m typing this up in a low-signal area, otherwise I’d give you a solid reference.) And personally, I’ve wanted to use it, but even with government subsidy it’s just as expensive as air travel and takes days to get cross country instead of hours! Another example is healthcare. People from all over the world fly to the US to pay for our easily available, fast, and quality medical treatment. I’ve had socialized healthcare in the military, and it’s not all that great 😆 You wait forever to get okay care and you only get what they say you deserve, not what you want—which may not be enough. Private businesses are typically better at getting things done than the government, and I used to think that companies would be better at running out national and state parks, because—ya know—they’ve got incentive to make them nice: profit. Just like anyone that needs to feed the fam and pay the bills, you sell something or provide a service and you try to do it better than the other guy.

But that profit tho

So, yeah—someone like Google or Microsoft could have the resources to really make the visitor’s centers and trails at parks great! However, I worry that they would compromise too much for the sake of making money. And I think the same about companies that aren’t in the business of the environment: they have to care more about making enough money than protecting the environment. And rightfully so. It’s the right of the individual to provide for his own needs before anyone else. Now, I’m not sure how non-profits work, but maybe it’s possible to work specifically to conserve the planet and still be able to cover the rent. I’m pretty positive lots of organizations make it happen. But I know that the government naturally negates that need. They don’t have to try to build a bigger and better widget or hoozawazzle to muscle out the other guy who does the same thing. They don’t have competitors. Like, who would they be? Lawyers? Lawyers wouldn’t exist without the government. So the public sector is better suited to protect the planet.

Another reason is that the planet isn’t a natural source of profit. I mean besides some commodities like lumber, petroleum, and ores, what is nature in terms of money? What is a pretty beach or a peaceful forest? How’re you going to monetize that? I’m sure you could, but are you going to put a fence around all of nature and only let people get on the ride if they’ve got the cash? Seems pretty unfeasible. Thus, who better to protect this neutral entity besides another neutral entity? And you can consider the planet a passive constituent, since it’s also subject to the policies of the legislature. (I tried posing the idea that it deserves the same three protections we do…but I’m not sure what it would mean to protect nature’s liberty or property 🤔)

Maybe I’m brainwashed

Now, I’ll be real. I grew up camping with the Boy Scouts and watching “Captain Planet.” I’ve felt it a religious duty to protect this planet that’s on loan to me while I’m alive. I love the outdoors. The Pacific Northwest had charmed my pants off. I’ve even seen Alaska take noticeable environmental changes in the sixteen years I was there (the summers have gone from 90% shiney sunny to 90% gloomy cloudy, and the state park glaciers have melted to like a tenth of what they were!) And lastly, in 2017, it’s very hip to be a hippie. But I’ve got serious doubts about the integrity of the modern environmentalist movement. Maybe it’s just that Al Gore nailed a pretty watershed moment with his slideshow and the kids raised like me finally coming of age. But I think it’s too convenient that the majority of people all the sudden bleed green, especially big business. I think it’s more about money. I think keen-eyed investors see that there’s big potential in the hippie market, and they trying to push out the competition by outlawing it (just how crooked companies have done for a long time). It’s about greased-palm politicians. And it also about getting even with the long-standing king-of-the-hill conservatives. Plus, the idea that 95% of scientists agree in global warming is incredibly suspect! Everyone knows that statistics are easily fudged, and that if you ask one scientist if he believes in glaciers are melting, and another if he believes in climate change, and then another if he believes that humans cause climate change, and then blanket all of them as “believers in global warming” then you’re being dishonest. There’s too much deliberate fact fudging. I can’t get behind it all the way. Especially with the mismanagement and lawlessness of the EPA. That for sure needs to be gutted and restored.

Oh my gosh, can he get any worse?

A different important point has to be made. We have to understand that real people are affected by shifting the economy towards more planet-friendly products and energy. Flesh and blood Americans depend on the coal industry to feed their kids. Adapting isn’t going to be easy for families that have worked in the oil industry for generations. They need to pay the power bill tonight. It’s not easy for them to go to college in their forties and learn about solar cells. We still have a responsibility to do the right thing for the future, just like eating vegetables for health instead of candy for instant gratification, but we’ve got to do it measuredly to mitigate growing pains. We can’t tell them to just get over themselves. Do yourself a favor and look up the Green Tea Party. It sounds like a joke, but it’s a little more than just a play on words 🍵 It’s about limited government with a shift towards jobs in renewable and clean energy.

TLDR:

We need government to take a part in protecting and preserving the earth. We need to be real about our motives. We need to adapt together. Stuff is changing, whether it’s our fault or not.

Update 17Jul2017:

Here’s a thing did that cites the figure on Amtrak, from…this really credible…source…ISBN 978-1-4165-9502-1

Identity & Self Worth

Is it just me, or do we have a problem with validation?

Quasi-stream of consciousness

I’m going to try a new thing where I use Siri to dictate my voice while I multitask so that I can publish. We’ll see how it goes, and I predict that there will be a lot of grammatical and punctuation errors, ha ha! I might even try publishing them without proofing just for the sake of getting content out. We’ll see.

Panic attacks

The passed couple days I’ve been experiencing strange anxiety in the mornings, I don’t know where it’s been coming from I have been trying meditation to calm down. It will work for a little bit, like a half hour or an hour, but quite easily it will come back. It’s a strange kind of anxiety that makes me worry that I have unfinished business or that I’m forgetting something. Even feels like I am about to let somebody down, or not meet expectations. It feels very current, very specific. It happens when I’m getting ready for my day and about to leave for work, when I have to think about things I need to have with me for the day. I constantly feel like I am about to forget some important part of my uniform or some other equipment. It’s a really strange thing, because it feels like residual anxiousness from an event that happened a week ago, but nothing has happened since so I don’t know why I would still be concerned about it. It just bubbles up and I wish I knew where it came from.

Namaste crazy, thanks

What I’ve learned from casually studying Buddhism is that sometimes understanding the cause of something isn’t important, and rather just being conscious of an emotion’s existence is more important. Being mindful of it in itself can be calming. And the subject of anxiety concerns me because my wife also somewhat suffers from it. I try to help her and she tries to help me, but since neither of us are professionals we can only do so much. Neither of us are basketcases, rest assured! But the more I listen the more I noticed that many people feel the pressure of anxiety. It’s more commonplace than I thought. But that could be the same affect as when you buy a unique looking car and then notice that everybody else has that car (I’m sure there’s a term for that).

The meditation app I use has a coach to guide you, and in this morning’s meditation he was talking about balance and being aware of where you are, emotionally and physically. And then he said, “Recognize this is who you are,” and IT FREAKED ME OUT! It put a finger right on the problem I was trying to identify (ironically when it was trying to bring me inner peace). I think much of what I have been worrying about is inadequacy. And I think that is what many people’s anxiety comes from because I see it demonstrated often.

Filling your niche

I’m in a really unique blip of my life right now. In my current job there is no use for my degree. For better or worse, I have come to identify myself with my degree. Probably because it’s where my talent lies, and now that I think about it, most people build their self-esteem off of their skills; I guess it’s really not that bad. So for that reason I have felt pretty value-less the past three and a half years I have worked in this job. About three months ago I started an internship as a content writer, and it has been fundamental in my self worth since I started! I’m finally able to use my skills that I have developed since elementary school and put $20K towards honing. I’m able to receive professional praise that not only builds my resume but feels good. This validation has rippled into other parts of my life, including my day job and even my marriage. The results surprise me more than they should: it’s a no-brainer that when people feel good about themselves their general performance in all arenas of life improves.

And this has me thinking about several things. When I was a professional missionary, I remember that once I had some experience under my belt, finally got the swing of things, and became good at what I was doing I became a happier person. Not only was I happier but I was better at talking to people, persuasion, referencing scripture, and even just being more compassionate. Maybe that’s because God really does exist and his power was being manifested through me into enhancing and building my character. Or maybe it’s just simple psychology. I have some friends that currently have struggles I’ve had in the past, and I try to help them. Sometimes they appreciate my points and other times they just want to be left alone, which I completely understand. No one likes to be told they’re inadequate at something, and even just someone giving them advice makes them feel lower than the advisor. I try really hard not to elevate myself to appear like an expert, but rather that I have just gone through these problems myself and I want to help them avoid them and shorten the learning curve as much as possible. Maybe I’m trying to rush things, and maybe organic experience is just the best teacher and I should accept that. It’s difficult to watch others go through avoidable pain.

Inadequacy seems to be the root reason behind many people’s anxiety. I see it in myself, I see that in my friends and family, and maybe I am over applying the concept but it seems like it may be pretty widespread. Honestly, I am aware I could be projecting. Like I have said, I am not a psychologist, so it’s difficult to be empirical about it. But the knowledge I have, it makes me wonder why so many people feel inadequate.

Maybe, be nice?

I helped a co-worker at the gym today who was quite small in stature. She didn’t have a lot of knowledge about using gym equipment or about strength training in general. I know enough to avoid injuring myself and to build a little bit of mass, so I offered my help. Afterwards she thanked me for being so patient, and I explained to her that I know that others need a lot of patience with me in somethings so I try to be understanding of others. And that basic idea has been a reason for much of my character change in the past few years: from the LGBTQ community to the religious community, I feel more accepting of others because I want to be accepted myself. I think with a little more empathy the world would go a lot further. I’m not perfect, so why do I have a place to judge?

Mental health has been a trending topic since the Parkland shooting, and people say that toxic masculinity is the reason for the shootings, or bullying is the reason, or this or that is the reason. I don’t think that compassion will solve all the worlds problems, because some people are just resilient to it and stubbornly want to be terrible people. More compassion will help though. While I was helping my cohort, I was using light weights to demonstrate what I thought she should do, one of her superiors, whom I am friends with, came up to give me razz me about how little I was lifting. I thought it was funny, no big deal. But I can tell from the way that she responded to him and tried standing up to him that they didn’t have the same relationship and he and I. I told her that I wasn’t offended by him because we have that kind of camaraderie. I didn’t mind it when I came from him; but if it were from a particular meathead in my office I probably would.

It’s interesting to see a dynamic that I have in my own life play out in somebody else’s. Because there’s lots of times where that happens: a lot of times where I feel like I’m being judged by someone too harshly. Seeing it from this angle gave me perspective. Kind of made me want to relax a little bit and not take things so seriously. Maybe I am just playing it up and being a victim in my own head. Maybe I feel like that because I judge people too harshly myself. It takes one to know one.

But why tho?

What I’m really curious about is if modern American anxiety is something that we’ve all had as humans since forever and cave-painting days, or if it is just something that’s recent, and manifested in current mass shootings. I know that we as people of today are fundamentally different from the people of our past, from the Victorian age compared to today’s age. Even our parents of the Baby-Boomer generation would say that they are very different from their parent’s generation, so you can imagine how Millennial’s differ from our grandparents. The way that we communicate and the way our families function affect society as a whole. Technology and modern communication have shaped the modern world, and I wonder how they have a hand in modern psychology and well-being. I wouldn’t be surprised if our inadequacies and self-esteem and anxieties are rooted in the altered forms of interpersonal communication that we so often use.

These ideas aren’t perfect, and I would very much like to discover and discuss them with you. I’m not against adapting my believes and understandings, especially where they fall short. Please help me flesh out and develop them in the comments below.

“Tomb Raider” 2018 review

Took this straight out of a Facebook thread

A while ago friend made a comment about the new Tomb Raider movie, and I finally saw it last night.

I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, and it was better than most video game adaptations. It had a surprising micron of depth that I didn’t expect, which doesn’t mean that it was a deep movie but that it wasn’t expectedly shallow either. For sure better than any of the Transformers films, ha ha!

Better than expected

I was initially skeptical about the actress and film in general, but I was pleasantly surprised. I’m confident in the implied sequel. I was a big fan of the game growing up but haven’t played either of the reboot games, but this makes me want to even more. I’m sure the experience is much more fun to play than watch.

A step forward

So—without having played the newer games—I can say I’m MAD satisfied that the new Lara distinctly omits her traditional and overt sex appeal (regardless of how often I jerked off to it as a teen). Now, honestly the sexy thing about her is that she kicks ass but still shows that she’s human. I don’t think that’s intentional at all. Honestly, and as weird as it is to say, it truly was a turn-on to see her just be more human, instead of the character’s old robotic bad-assness. Angelina Jolie did a good job at personifying the old game’s Lara, which was arrogant (not charmingly so), great with firearms, ballsy, and good with puzzles for added measure. She honestly was a stereotyped man adventurer with a female shell, and until now I couldn’t articulate why I only thought the character was hot but not attractive. (That simultaneously makes me feel worrisomely gay because of the aforementioned confession but also assuredly straight since I was able to reason it out haha!) It actually clarifies that the original game creators intended the character to be a male, but changed it at the last minute because it felt like an Indiana-Jones rip-off.

And I don’t think the Indiana Jones is that androgynous. The difference between Lara Croft’s old character and Indiana Jones is that, unfairly, arrogance can be charming for males, but for females it just stereotypes them seem like a bitch. Not my own opinion, I think that’s just general American media and, sadly, culture. Also, reckless bravado and being able to handle yourself in a fight are very male stereotypes. I don’t think those need explanation.

Anyway, her sex-appeal is not the point of the film, and because it’s such a departure it almost becomes the point: Lara is not a sex symbol anymore, and you should watch the movie and play the game because she is admirable for her tenacity and resourcefulness, and because the journey is over-the-top fantasy.

But how was it?

Alicia Vikander did a believable and empathetic job at portraying the character, and I feel okay saying that with the little knowledge I have of how the “Tomb Raider” reboot displays it.

Damn, sometimes writing things out makes you understand it more haha. When I left the theater I was just, “Hmm, but meh.” Now that I try to explain it I get it more.

Decent film, nothing to force your friends to see or that would help shed light on the human experience, but for what it was aiming for be (not for what I want in a perfect film) 6.5/10.

Fragmented Scribbles: The Witches #NanoWriMo2016

The witches
A grimy hovel squatted in the oaks and ashes. It was built into the base of a great and tall tree. A horribly thatched roof. Round windows. Ivy nearly covered them. Walls with copious moss wedged between cobble stones. A chimney that was falling apart, nonetheless emitted smoke. A child’s doll haphazardly dropped in front of the doorway. 
A concussive flash rattled the windows. Two hags inside screeched in surprise, and one followed it with a cackle that wore its welcome. The two where raising a din, industriously moving about, and creating. One was at a mortar and pestle, grinding away kingsfoil herb and the bones of a dwarf. She was at a large table encumbered by flasks, condensers, distillers, beakers, crucibles, and spiraling tubes, herbs, books, even a spiraled and straight horn with a tuft of white hair. The other was in front of a cauldron, stoking the flames. Its bilge frothed and belched luminous verdant mist that creeped along the floor. A third witch sat dead and disemboweled on a stool, hands fettered behind her back. Her face rested in a grimace. Coals still burned within her abdomen, even though she’d been dead for at least a a pixie’s nap. The glyph for “heretic” was burned into her skull. 

The shack was crammed. Thick volumes. Plants. Cages. Newts and toads frittered around. Even the rafters were burdened with faggots of long herbs and vegetables tied to them.

The red haired witch momentarily stepped away from the cauldron and returned with a massive heart, which she skewered on a dangling hook above the brew. Red essence dripped into the concoction, and it reacted with tumbling. She grinned a slobbery maw. 

The warty one, less balding—but still no less homely—borrowed a flame from a candle nested on a skull, and lit a smaller one beneath a crucible, then turned her attention to a beaker. She carefully and patiently added the mortar’s greenish chalk into the beaker’s yellow viscosity. A raven cawed and flew to another tall bookshelf when it sparked and smoked. 

Fragmented Scribbles: The Call to Adventure #NaNoWriMo2016

He rejects the good herald’s call and goes to the fortune teller. She is a gypsy. She has a big nose and big eyes that bulge. Middle-aged. A mouth checkered with dark spaces where teeth once where. Her robes are bulky, like she is hiding a dozen things inside of them. She wears a peasant man’s hat (like a bomber) with a wimple draped over it, but is adorned with opulent necklaces and bracelets. Her carriage is drawn by two draft horses. Too strong for such a small burden. One mottled and the other dark black.

HERO approaches the carriages path and hails her. She pulls the reigns on her steeds and he greets her politely and with more formality than he can gauge she’s accustomed, because he wants her to do give him quality service. She bears an entertained laugh and dismounts, not speaking more but sets up shop.

She opens the carriage door. It has a thick woven curtain behind it, on the inside of the carriage. Once inside it’s starkly dark, and he can see why the redundancy of the curtain. The dank air smells like patchouli. Earthy. Heavy. Cold. Dark. Slightly sweet. Almost moist. Crisp. Nutty. Oaky. Minty. Ancient. A pop and then a vigorous ripping sound, and the cabin is illuminated in phosphorous orange. In a moment it dies down to the glow of a candle wick. He sees her by a squat kettle-like oil lantern, and watches her set down two stones with remnant embers on them.  She doffs her headdress, and a bushel of brown, thick curly hair bounces out from underneath the cap, like an escaping prisoner. Somehow the dim lighting reveals more of her than the overcast sky had. The wrinkles in her eyes and mouth reveal laugh lines. Her eye sockets are deep, especially against her high cheek bones, but her caked eye shadow and eyelash mud diplomatically distract. She’s also missing half her ear. Her throat also wears the necklace of a failed cutting.The tell-tale stitching was hastily and crudely done, possibly self-administered. She was once beautiful.

It’s overly spacious inside. Soft. Throw pillows. Blankets. Complex colored linens of fine quality and craft. Mismatched. Festooned. Obviously from separate places. Some it he recognizes from his own royal court. Others bear the sigils of far off kingdoms. Space is maximized with storage and drawers everywhere. Under the seats. Above. There’s a wardrobe. Everything is tightly secured. Things that shouldn’t be in a carriage because of their instability are, but secured to the walls and to the floor. dressers with small drawers, small enough to not fit more than fingers in. Jewels. Silver. Gold. Strewn in places and the floor. A chandelier swings. There’s too much inside of the carriage. Despite it’s deceptively large space, it’s cramped because of all she has. It’s amazing that a criminal managed to organize this well. He took a seat. She told him her price would be high, and it wouldn’t be worth his money. She spoke in a rough, glottal accent. One from across the hills, but obviously rough enough to be due to her scarred esophagus. He ignored her and threw his gold on the table that was nailed down to the floor. She acquiesced and unsheathed her crystal orb. It’s purple glow overcame the lantern, which curiously dimmed itself.

“You already have your question in heart?” She asks while concentrated on the ball.

‘I–,’ he begins to respond.

“Do not privy me! Hold it in heart!” she interrupts as she deftly stirs her hand above the glow without breaking eye contact.

He saw a concentration of lavender that moved oddly, organically, ocularly. It shifted around the room creepily, landed its iris on him, and lingered. He shifted in his seat. And it blinked. Then lazily rolled backwards to face the gypsy.

A low, low hum, almost imperceptible, enters the cabin. It didn’t reverberate in his seat or in his body. He questioned if he heard it. It seemed to be coming from inside his head. She clearly felt it too, because she began squinting and tilting her head in the same way that HERO did, yet less so, as if she were accustomed.

The darkness beamed more opaque and dense, and the purple light contrasted more sharply against it as it grew closer to them. The ambient light wasn’t retracting, it was fighting the dark, glowing brighter but losing its ground. The gypsy’s green eyes pierced into the crystal, looking left and right at details. She looked slightly concerned, but retained her professionalism.

A drop in temperature from behind him. The down plush lost their warmth. The dark rallied. He was fearful. He looked around and was concerned he wasn’t close enough to her.

“Shall I go on, varrior?” her voice irreverently cracked the atmosphere. He looked at her and she was rapt with attention on him, like a harpy. No longer attuned to the sphere. He nodded, but with unsurety that she percieved.

Her mood changed, and eyes softened. She tilted her chin and gazed at him over he nose, and slowly and gently rolled her head and shoulder. “Peradventure. Your coin. Gold buys many things. Especially when so heavy,” she purred in an odd contrast to the feel of the room. Her hands moved from the surface, one to her scarf and the other went to her knee. A bare leg retracted from her dress and the undertable.

He immediately felt a head rush and his pulse quickened, mouth agape. Here? Now? It didn’t make sense. And he wanted to. What a hap to tell his brother! He blinked hard and took a breath: no! He mustn’t. He never had to fortitude to cross this far into the darkness before. He wouldn’t do it again, and he couldn’t miss his chance or lose his focus. He dug into his purse and threw another piece on the table.

“You don’t vant dis, varrior.” She chided as she remodested her leg and rested her hands on the surface. “It is too dangerous. You–are dangerous. It doesn’t bode vell. I don’t sink you or me much prepared. You have much potential. However, it’s not vhat you want. Or vhat you should want.” She pushed the pile of his gold back to him, passed the still glowing ball–although he noticed it looked like less than what he gave her. “Go to se servitude. Be servant. Make your your gods et your ancestors ploud.”

He bristled in the dark, and breathed a heavy gust. ‘Give me what I paid for, lest I tell the hamlets that you’re a cheat and a charlatan,’ he growled.

“Don’t sreaten me, boy,” she icily spoke back, but without overt malice. The frightening kind of quiet discipline that makes one anxious and scares more than shouting. She whispered something harsh, foreign, and directed at him, then cooly went back to work. All the while the room was frigid and brimming with potent dark.

“Have you in ever life asked you vhat it’s like to bad? Live bad?” A mist gracefully crept outward from the base of the ball.

‘Elaborate.’

“You can be gleat.”

‘Great?’

“You can be. . .” She went silent.

He waited. He heard his own breath. The hum remained, and fogged his head. His eared wined with a pitch, and then the hum dissipated. The cloudiness remained. A whisper. He looked to his right. Immediately the whisper again. And then behind him, and to his left. The cabin got colder.

The gypsy woman’s countenance was no longer impressed by what she saw in the crystal. She looked concerned again. Her pupils were dilated and mouth pulled into a frown. Without a blink her eyes shot at him, and she slowly smiled.

“You must—choose,” she said with patience before the last word. “Se dardk gods have much for you. You vill not be veak. You vill not be fettered. You can be gleat.

Are #NativeAmerican #reservations really sovereign? (First 100 Days in Office, 2036, Bill #3)

indian_tribes.jpg

Since I was a kid I thought Native-American culture was pretty dang rad. I enjoyed the idea of living off the land, being in touch with Mother Earth, tribal garb, and being skilled at stealth. [Call that stereotyping, but I was a kid. Baby steps.] Boy Scouts helped me appreciate American-Indian culture more, since Scouts, cursorily and respectfully, albeit clumsily, loan aspects—especially into their Order of the Arrow program. The rites, the religions, the conservation all interested me. Full disclosure: I do not claim to be an expert on indigenous Americans! Like most Millennials, one of my first primers in Native culture was Disney’s Pocahontas; a sad fact. Living in Alaska helped me gain more of an understanding; but not as much as I would like. The older I got the more I saw the cultural clash between whites and Natives [don’t ever call a Native Alaskan an Eskimo unless you mean fighting words, ya ignorant putz!*]. Sadly, many Alaskans suffer from the same jaded view that other states with high Native populations do, reducing them to tourist-trinket vendors and street drunks. It wasn’t until college that I began to appreciate these peoples again. Through my history classes and through reading Sherman Alexie’s brutally honest The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I learned who they were in the past and who they are now. I don’t know everything, but I do know they have very rich and complicated cultures and philosophies, which are intensely different from European-Americans. For example, to the Woodland tribes of New England, you couldn’t own land. You borrow and use what she gives you, and could be a caretaker, but you cannot own it nor especially sell it. Another is that justice was met in murder by murdering back. Similar to the Old Testament eye-for-an-eye, it puts in perspective many of the conflicts that the American Colonists had since one Native death meant a white life had to be claimed. Now, as an adult, living in the Pacific Northwest, where Americans try very hard to pay respect to local tribes, I’m gaining a clearer appreciation for Native Americans.

It doesn’t take a scholar to determine that the state of Indians is not the as favorable as it was before European-Americans colonized. The United States government has a history of crossed-fingered promises screwing them over. I’m not about to recount all of the instances. And it’s not all history. Some of it is recent. And this blows my mind. I’m pretty sure the Indian reservations are regarded as sovereign nations; and I feel stupid in having to state my lack of surety since it should be pretty common knowledge—yet, there is a difference in saying they’re such and legally regarding them as such. The tomes and tomes of legalese that govern them somehow maintain them as still being subject to the United States’ government. And I don’t know why! If a nation has to appeal to the court of a foreign nation for grievances then that nation isn’t actually sovereign. Rather diplomats from each country should meet to discuss terms. Presidents should speak. This is the normal course in geopolitics. Furthermore, Amerind nations should have the power to embargo or levy. They should have the power to raise militaries. They should be able to build a border fence. They should be enabled to do anything a recognized country should do. In fact, each of the United States should also be entitled do to these things, as the agreement was meant to be with the Constitution. Okay, maybe that’s a little more a la Articles of Confederation, but, the national government doesn’t need to boss any of the states around, and especially not any of the Indian nations.

When I’m president in 2036, this can happen. Not to be a white savior—but has anyone else said it?

Image credit: http://www.emersonkent.com/map_archive/united_states_indian_tribes.htm

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Gov’t vs criminals = gov’t vs all of us (eventually) #Apple

  Forgive me if this is old news, but the Apple vs. FBI dispute is poignant, and more than I think the average person realizes. Apple is taking a decisive stance on liberty, and we should pay attention. 
Tim Cook says creating an iOS with a back door creates a Pandora’s Box that, once leaked (which John McAffee, creator or the eponymous security software says takes only an average two to three weeks) will put every iPhone user’s data at risk. Not only will it put it at risk at the hands of law enforcers, but criminals will capitalize on it. Petty thieves will jack the delectable $600 phones and sell them to more organized criminals for the devices’ worth and the data mining that can be done. Identity theft is already huge, but can you imagine what will happen once the criminal tech industry has it easy to crack iPhones? Even worse, what happens when our geopolitical enemies get a hold of this ability? (Even President Obama is concern about that.) Not cool, FBI; and not cool, Bill Gates for saying the request isn’t a big deal. Shame on you, bro. Don’t play dumb. I knew I never liked Windows in the first place. 😡

But real talk here. The scarier prospect is just as real, but less people consider it so. Let me paint you a picture. One with witches in seventeenth century Massachusetts. Now, let’s juxtapose a picture of anti-communists and mid-twentieth century Washington D.C. I think you know what I’m talking about. It’s not really a juxtaposition at all. The liberal use of a catch-all term for those we don’t like and need to have gone. Yeah, I know—it’s easy to guess that I’m going to relate that to the word “terrorist,” huh? Cute, right? And next I’ll say how my proof is the Patriot Act. How unpredictable! Well, think about it. Haven’t we seen people stretch the term for a purpose greater than we had pre-9/11? Hasn’t the Patriot Act chiseled away the Bill of Rights? Honestly, here’s a link. Tell me if you think we have half of those. I’ll give you a minute.

*               *               *

Now that you’ve pondered, let me make two points: 1. privacy (the Fourth Amendment) should be protected like the right to self-defense (Second Amendment), and 2. terrorism’s definition can easily be applied to anyone who does anything violent or frightening. All you have to do is look through their social media or phone to assemble a political agenda they would posses. But even if you’re not a “terrorist” in the most liberal sense of the word, you have reason to fear. If you’re suspect of anything, your phone can be used against you. And the pressure on Apple is a slippery slope. Four examples:

  1. Husband kills estranged wife at mall. Murder suicide. He was Caucasian, she was African-American. Police found text messages with the word n***er. He’s a racist domestic terrorist. Media flames it up. Society enraged.
  2. Road rage incident occurs. First fight on road median. One party’s phone is left at the scene. Other party presses charges using extracted data.
  3. Homosexual couple trespass and perform wedding in Southern Baptist chapel. Insight religious backlash. Outspoken Twitter users are pursued for hate speech. Some accounts are difficult to associate with real names, until one neighbor narcs. Police arrest suspect on charges of unpaid parking tickets, hacking phone once in possession. Charged with conspiracy of domestic terrorism.
  4. Elementary school stabbing takes place, suspect escapes. Apple is pressured to reveal any iPhone user GPS data gatherable that would indicate a suspect. As per precedent, they comply.

Too specific? Too hokey? Well, ask any of your nerd friends that are into programming and cyber security. This is a real threat.

Don’t take liberty for granted. 

Update: FBI Accessed San Bernardino Shooter’s iPhone Without Apple, Drops Lawsuit

Food review #1: DeLong’s Deluxe

 So, for a couple months I’ve been meaning to start a book club with my friend, TWagus, and we’ve had several books we’ve considered starting with, having a weird range that goes from Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradleto Robert Ludlum’s Bourne Identity. Similar, right? Emily’s friend, Sarah, wanted in, and naturally, I had to force Emily into jumping on the bandwagon. Then, as I was getting my haircut, my barber told me how he used to go to a dinner club and a film club. He liked being able to see a flick and, as he put it, “get smashed and talk sh**, ya know?” (Ivan is clearly gay, and he does a mean haircut.) And lo, came the idea to do all three in one cluuuuuub! 

Em and I go out to eat a few times a month, and watch a ton of movies, so this is a very actionable plan. Sarah is known for her self-proclaimed love of bad movies. When I pitched the idea to TWagus, he said we were trying too hard. Fair ’nuff.

And today, I had the convenient inconvenience of being away from the house around lunch time, and near DeLong’s DeLuxe. Em makes fun of me for thinking it’s an oil change shop, but that boxy shape and blue-collar typeface though. Look at this crappy pic and you’ll be on my side. 

  

Nice Subaru, huh? 

Immediately upon disembarking from my whip, I got the most trusted endorsement that businesses kill for: a word-of-mouth referral from a friend. A friend from a company I was attached to was in the parking lot, and had just grabbed his burgers. I asked him if the food is good, and he answered in the affirmative. He said he goes there all the time (tasty enough for repeat business), but their service is a little slow, so order early. Duly noted.

Since we’re low-carbing, this review will be incomplete. The food-service artisan helpfully offered to put the innards of our burgers on a “bed of lettuce.” Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Five minutes later, I had a bleu cheese, motz, and bacon burger and Em had the original (way to screw the pooch, Emadumb). There are only a handful of basic burger variations to choose from. Lots of shakes and sides. But we didn’t get any of those. Just hamburgers.

Mine was great. To start out, the obvious crux of a burger is the cow. It was medium-rare, and had a punchy, beef savoriness. There’s lots of places, even dives or mom & pop shops whose patty melts in your mouth in a bad way. This didn’t. It was distinct from the lettuce bed that it lounged upon. The bacon, too hot to be under the mozzarella bedsheet, was thick and unlike the chintzy pork you find elsewhere. Looked like what you’d cook at home, and nothing like it’d seen a microwave. 

The bleu cheese was pungent, and pulled the flavor from the ground beef onto my taste buds. It contrasted in a nice way and could have been pedestrian. It could have had no flavor at all, like a weak Wendy’s burger. 

Something I didn’t expect and found pleasantly unique was the dolop of cream cheese in the corner of the burger box. I wish I could say it was intentional, but couldn’t because of its real estate. I wish it had been spread on the meal. But, reconsidering, I admit that this judgement isn’t completely fair because—again—my food was sans bun. It’s possible that they would have normally spread the schmear on the bread. But the fact is, cream cheese on a hamburger is nice. It gave it a nice—what’s the opposite of flare?—evenness. 

I think I chose well in assuming their most complex burger would showcase their aptitude. The bleu cheese bacon burger is not unique, but they did it right. The clerk seemed to be happy to be there, and that says a lot about an establishment. I would bet that a handful of employees work there, and that they’re more like family than peers, like the bistro I worked at. 

I approve of the work they do here, and recommend it. Unfortunately, half of my squad wasn’t present, so I can’t account for their critiques. Em thought it was “good.” (Again Em, give the dog a break.)

For what it’s intending to be, I give  DeLong’s Deluxe 4.5 spoons. With a more diverse menu, it would get the full five.

How to be a BAMF boy: Boy Scouts of America

I love Scouts so much. As a kid I dug it because it gave me adventures that the normal kid didn’t. I learned how to stay the night and cook in the woods, how to shoot a rifle, how to recognize evidence of a bear coming though your camp during the night because he ate the Sloppy Joe mix you left out, and how to not be a pansy about the outdoors. As an adult, I learned how rich of a program it can be through being a scoutmaster for three months.

I researched my kid’s opportunities and read every page of the the leader’s handbook (a daunting task that I think one percent of scoutmasters even try). I bought the most rad of the merit badge manuals, and set up a year plan for them to do the riflery, shotgun, crime prevention, fingerprinting, camping, emergency preparedness, citizenship in the community, personal fitness, archery, and wilderness survival merit badges. I wanted and had the tools for my boys to be young civilian equivalents of Army Rangers—shoot, maybe Green Berets. I started the process to turn these boys into men! Sadly, my tenure was short, so I wasn’t able to see many fruits of my labor, but I saw some. I saw the light in a kid’s eye when he grasps a concept. I saw a group of rowdies pull together and willingly do the community an impromptu service. Scouts has potential to make gods among boys. I effing love it.

One aspect that doesn’t get touted is the moral codes that scouts are bound to live:

Boy Scout Oath or Promise

On my honor, I will do my best 

To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; 

To help other people at all times; 

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

  As UsScouts.org puts it, “Note that the Boy Scout Oath has traditionally been considered to have three promises. Those three promises are delineated by the semicolons in the Oath, which divide it into three clauses. The three promises of the Scout Oath are, therefore:

Duty to God and country,

Duty to other people, and

Duty to self”

While a particular religion isn’t mandated, scouting requires a boy (or girl, if a venture scout) be religious. [If you feel that’s descrininatory, remember that the BSA is a club, not a government branch, and can discriminate all they want because it’s your prerogative to join, or even to create an atheist competitor to the BSA. Having said that, I think they did the right thing to change policy from discriminating against gay adult leaders, since the old policy de facto assumed that all homosexuals were child molesters. If the moral code is abided by adult leaders, it shouldn’t be a problem.]
DUTY TO GOD AND COUNTRY:  US Scouts breaks it down more: “Your family and religious leaders teach you to know and serve God. By following these teachings, you do your duty to God.

“Men and women of the past worked to make America great, and many gave their lives for their country. By being a good family member and a good citizen, by working for your country’s good and obeying its laws, you do your duty to your country. Obeying the Scout Law means living by its 12 points.” If this kind of philosophy doesn’t blow your mind when you put it in context of someone like a disadvantaged middle-schooler, then try being a substitute teacher. Kids have a rough world to find themselves in. 

DUTY TO OTHER PEOPLE
: “Many people need help. A cheery smile and a helping hand make life easier for others. By doing a Good Turn daily and helping when you’re needed, you prove yourself a Scout and do your part to make this a better world.

  

DUTY TO SELF
: “Keeping yourself physically strong means taking care of your body. Eat the right foods and build your strength. Staying mentally awake means learn all you can, be curious, and ask questions. Being morally straight means to live your life with honesty, to be clean in your speech and actions, and to be a person of strong character.” 

WHAT?! Are you kidding me? A kid that does this? Unstoppable. A nation of kids that do this?  Psshh—. Pshhhh—! Shut down the juvie detention centers, we’re good. 

Boy Scout Law

A Scout is:

Trustworthy,

Loyal,

Helpful,

Friendly,

Courteous,

Kind,

Obedient,

Cheerful,

Thrifty,

Brave,

Clean,

and Reverent.

Wow. Am I right? A boy or teen is going to learn how to take care of himself in the woods, community, and be a selfless person? I can’t even. I just can’t.

  

Boy Scout Motto

Be Prepared!

Hurrican Sandy? Katrina? Newtown? 

Boy Scout Slogan

Do a Good Turn Daily!

  For some reason, as a scout this had more of a hold on me than the admonition of the same from a pulpit. Could be because it put the onus on you, sans consequence except your own esteem.

The Outdoor Code

As an American, I will do my best to 

  • Be clean in my outdoor manners
  • Be careful with fire 
  • Be considerate in the outdoors
  • Be conservation minded.

Hippies can’t be mad with the last one. If they donated lobbying money to the BSA instead, government wouldn’t have to force stifling policies. Citizens-once-scouts would just choose better, and teach they’re families likewise. Teaching youth how to enjoy and respect the outdoors would do so much in preventing environmental crimes (and alleviate much of the nation’s depression and obesity issues).

I haven’t even touched on that these kids become talented! The subjects that merit badges cover are many and astounding! And many help boys explore skills they either don’t have access to in resources, or ones they wouldn’t happen upon via their peers.

  
 Now, I must say that my Church heavily sponsors scouting. It’s the core of our male youth program. Hearsay is that the BSA was broke and about to go under until the Latter-day Saint church rescued it with a grip of cash and personnel. Yet, and I can’t say why, but we don’t really do scouts. Not well, at least. This article says how, and that has been the hard part to articulate. I’m really glad Mat Greenfield wrote it, since it was the leaping point I needed to write my own piece on why scouts is so great.

I’ve mentioned the fraternity before here, and I can’t praise it enough. I wish I knew more about Girl Scouts, but sadly my survey is small and incomplete. If you have knowledge on them, please share in the comments. Youth programs are important to raising good adults. If you love your kid, make them a scout!

Fiction draft 2

Four walls peremptorily shouted back the round’s thunderous crack into the muzzle. Gaseous and ruthless power pulled the round backward with all the gentleness of an angry god, and simultaneously its respective cartridge case shrank, unplugging the breech. Propellant followed suit of the primer and calmed from eruption. Like a mechanical John Henry, the primer punched the firing pin and the hammer arced backward. The twisted spring strained under pressure, and the trigger lever pulled my index finger.

But first I anticipated relief.

*                         *                         *

I’m glad this never happened. It’s been six years since I considered self-termination. They call it the coward’s way out. I’m not a coward. Is it cowardice to guess and fish for affinity and brotherhood and returnedly fail? Seeking for rapture and only finding mediocrity? To strive to overcome but be shackled by fetters of doubt, self-loathing, and guilt? They say that insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results, and that wisdom is to learn from one’s and others’ mistakes–but what if you don’t know which you’re doing? Am I alone?

Call me Ahab. Yes, that’s my real name. My parents are devout Orthodox Latter-day Saints, and they chose the name so I would chase the White Whale of perfection. Is it funny that Alice chased a white rabbit into insanity? In no way did they think that this Moby Dick may likewise be my quietus. The question demands to be asked if perfection can be had in mortal life by mortal people. Is it ambitious or disastrous?

They raised me right. I can’t attribute anything to wrongful beatings or being chained up in the basement without hydration or nutrition save urine and dog food. Cruel words are absent from my past. Nothing of this has to do with them. Except maybe genes and misguidance. But they were doing their best, as all parents do–I mean most parents. I’m grateful I didn’t draw a short stick and be born to parents addled with abhorrent vice or who didn’t want me and simply have to rough it out till I’m eighteen. This is all against the point.

The point is that without an outlet like a podium or oil paints you’re just crazy. You can have much of the same attributes as Warhol or Shakespeare, yet sans fame you’re hopeless and intolerable. Those motivational posters that say Einstein was a failure at school because his teachers just didn’t recognize genius make me laugh bitterly. I didn’t miss out on the right teachers, and I’m not a genius. But the posters just go to say that it’s okay to be crazy because you could be the diamond in the rough. Doesn’t that give false hope? “Get famous and you’ll be lauded.” The trappings of narrative.

Yet isn’t the narrative the American illusion? No one is actually out there telling us what to do. Sure, there’s people that would like to, but they only are if we listen. Demagogues, pop stars, health gurus, Sqweezy-Cheese® all tell us how it really is, but the liberating thing is that none of that is real. There are a million choices to listen, and you get to choose which one you hear and heed. Life is what you make of it, and you’re only enclosed in the trappings you choose. At least that’s how I decided to come out of this . . . funk.

I was twenty-three and at college. She had long brown hair, and a face that begged you to protect her innocence. She never noticed me, but was always friendly when we’d collide in a group project or at the vending machine. Studying in the same discipline, we grew into the humanities together–I alone more than she. She had my company, but she didn’t know. As creepy as that sounds, it’s not that. A day that I saw her at the quad getting harangued by someone who must’ve been an ex-boyfriend, I leapt upon a bench and started singing, to the general student body, Sixpence None the Richer in my best Rick Astley baritone, thus providing her a distraction to get away. Upon turning back around to finish and seeing her gone, the ex kicked in a trash can, and I bowed my way out once he stormed off.

A month later, I stopped seeing her in class. I thought I may see her coming out of other classes in the art building, but despite my hours spent doing math homework in the gallery, I never saw her through the room’s glass that showcased the hallways. It was another month before I was gassing up and saw her working behind the register with a tacky red polo with an even gaudier road-stripe logo on her name tag. The space provided for her name was empty, but she had obviously been working there long enough to get a cadence. “Alice,” it would have said. I watched her as she helped the spud farmer in front of me, put the proper amount on pump #2, and with a nuanced ambiguity of forlornness–just a hue cooler than her Sunday-morning self–she told him to “Have a Route 66 day!” I stepped forward as he exited. She took the crinkled and near fuzzy Andrew Jackson from me and rang me up methodically, her eyes focusing on something more distant than the register display or the till as the drawer opened. She didn’t recognize me. I could see those eyes had bigger problems than identifying me outside the classroom or the Fibonacci Sequence in Renaissance works. But she was still exquisitely graceful and maintained reverent beauty. I saw she needed respite. I took the shot and interrupted before she could wish me her obligatory farewell.

‘Listen, I don’t–forgive me for being forward, but do you like Thai food?’

She was caught off-guard, understandably; but she regained poise faster than I could have, and said she loved it.

‘Excellent. I’d like to have lunch with you at the place by the skate park,’ I smiled the offer.

I’m grateful that A) I have unusually charming teeth for my family, and B) the college is an LDS one, fostering a community of trust and an eager dating scene. An attempt like this many other places wouldn’t have permeated her initial skepticism, and rather earned me something far less enjoyable than her flattered laugh and accepting reply. I comforted her that we have share a class, and she instantly seemed far more at ease. That is, at least until I told her my name. And then she thought I was joking.

Thanks, Mom and Pop.

‘Or Abe. Just call me Abe.’ The finesse lost a lot of ground, so I moved on by asking if tomorrow at 12:30 worked. It did. She wrote her number on my receipt and I said I would call her.

She had never been to Thai-phoon, and liked the fusion peanut burrito I recommended. The ensuing walk through the audible autumn leaves was bracing. We got to know each other more and the chemicals between us paired well. Her countenance brightened. She laughed at my obsession for blaxploitation films, and I teased her for her honorary Hogwart’s graduation certificate she said hung at her parent’s. Turned out that she was a local. I decided not to ask why she hadn’t been coming to class, or school at all, for that matter.

I saw a girl that I did the same thing to and repeated the process and then

Numbers Tell the Story

Good stuff. My Pops almost committed suicide rather than coming out, but he cared about us too much. Care about your kids and friends like that. Care about them too much.

Life Outside The Book of Mormon Belt

sunflower black rainbowOn November 5, 2015 the policy change to LDS Handbook 1 regarding homosexual members became known to the public. Since then, in the US, 34 LDS LGBT young people between the ages of 14 and 20 have committed suicide. The numbers are being tallied by Wendy and Thomas Montgomery, leaders in the Mama Dragons and Dragon Dads support groups for LDS LGBT families. That’s 1 suicide every 60 hours, or every 2 ½ days. That number does not include a count of suicide attempts, nor of suicides by any closeted LGBT young people. Twenty-eight of these suicides occured in Utah, a state that averages 37 youth suicides in a 12 month period. Thirty-four in 84 days is a stunning statistic. It’s horrifying. And gut-wrenching. It is also telling. It tells us we adults are not sucessfully supporting our LGBT youth. 

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#WritersBlock got this story suffering

Four walls peremptorily shouted back the round’s thunderous crack. Gaseous and ruthless power drove the round forward with all the gentleness of an angry god, and simultaneously its respective cartridge case swelled, plugging the breech. Propellant followed suit of the primer and erupted. Mechanically, like Rocky Balboa and John Henry in concert, the firing pin punched the primer and the hammer arced forward. The twisted spring exhaled relief as it released from its confinement, and the trigger lever reluctantly allowed itself to be drawn back by my index finger.

But before that I anticipated relief.

*                         *                         *

I’m glad this never happened. It’s been six years since I considered self-termination. They call it the coward’s way out. I’m not a coward. Is it cowardice to guess and fish for affinity and brotherhood and returnedly fail? Seeking for rapture and only finding mediocrity? To strive to overcome but be shackled by fetters of doubt, self-loathing, and guilt? They say that insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results, and that wisdom is to learn from one’s and others’ mistakes–but what if you don’t know which you’re doing? Am I alone?

Call me Ahab. Yes, that’s my real name. My parents are devout Orthodox Latter-day Saints, and they chose the name so I would chase the White Whale of perfection. In no way did they think that this Moby Dick would likewise be my quietus. The question demands to be asked if perfection can be had in mortal life by mortal people. Is it ambitious or disastrous?

They raised me right. I can’t attribute anything to wrongful beatings or being chained up in the basement without hydration or nutrition save urine and dog food. Cruel words are absent from my past. Nothing of this has to do with them. Except maybe genes and misguidance. But they were doing their best, as all parents do–I mean most parents. I’m grateful I didn’t draw a short stick and be born to parents addled with abhorrent vice or who didn’t want me and simply have to rough it out till I’m eighteen. This is all against the point.

The point is that without an outlet like a podium or oil paints you’re just crazy. You can have much of the same attributes as Warhol or Shakespeare, yet sans fame you’re hopeless and intolerable. Those motivational posters that say Einstein was a failure at school because his teachers just didn’t recognize genius make me laugh bitterly. I didn’t miss out on the right teachers, and I’m not a genius. But the posters just go to say that it’s okay to be crazy because you could be the diamond in the rough. Doesn’t that give false hope? “Get famous and you’ll be lauded.” The trappings of narrative.

Yet isn’t the narrative the American illusion? No one is actually out there telling us what to do. Sure, there’s people that would like to, but they only are if we listen. Demagogues, pop stars, health gurus, Sqweezy-Cheese® all tell us how it really is, but the liberating thing is that none of that is real. There are a million choices to listen, and you get to choose which one you hear and heed. Life is what you make of it, and you’re only enclosed in the trappings you choose. At least that’s how I decided to come out of this . . . funk.

I was twenty-three and at college. She had long brown hair, and a face that begged you to protect her innocence. She never noticed me, but was always friendly when we’d collide in a group project or at the vending machine. Studying in the same discipline, we grew into the humanities together–I alone more than she. She had my company, but she didn’t know. As creepy as that sounds, it’s not that. A day that I saw her at the quad getting harangued by someone who must’ve been an ex-boyfriend, I leapt upon a bench and started singing, to the general student body, Sixpence None the Richer in my best Rick Astley baritone, thus providing her a distraction to get away. Upon turning back around to finish and seeing her gone, the ex kicked in a trash can, and I bowed my way out once he stormed off.

A month later, I stopped seeing her in class. I thought I may see her coming out of other classes in the art building, but despite my hours spent doing math homework in the gallery, I never saw her through the room’s glass that showcased the hallways. It was another month before I was gassing up and saw her working behind the register with a tacky red polo with an even gaudier road-stripe logo on her name tag. The space provided for her name was empty, but she had obviously been working there long enough to get a cadence. “Alice,” it would have said. I watched her as she helped the spud farmer in front of me, put the proper amount on pump #2, and with a nuanced ambiguity of forlornness–just a hue cooler than her Sunday-morning self–she told him to “Have a Route 66 day!” I stepped forward as he exited. She took the crinkled and near fuzzy Andrew Jackson from me and rang me up methodically, her eyes focusing on something more distant than the register display or the till as the drawer opened. She didn’t recognize me. I could see those eyes had bigger problems than identifying me outside the classroom or the Fibonacci Sequence in Renaissance works. But she was still exquisitely graceful and maintained reverent beauty. I saw she needed respite. I took the shot and interrupted before she could wish me her obligatory farewell.

‘Listen, I don’t–forgive me for being forward, but do you like Thai food?’

She was caught off-guard, understandably; but she regained poise faster than I could have, and said she loved it.

‘Excellent. I’d like to have lunch with you at the place by the skate park,’ I smiled the offer.

I’m grateful that A) I have unusually charming teeth for my family, and B) the college is an LDS one, fostering a community of trust and an eager dating scene. An attempt like this many other places wouldn’t have permeated her initial skepticism, and rather earned me something far less enjoyable than her flattered laugh and accepting reply. I comforted her that we have share a class, and she instantly seemed far more at ease. That is, at least until I told her my name. And then she thought I was joking.

Thanks, Mom and Pop.

‘Or Abe. Just call me Abe.’ The finesse lost a lot of ground, so I moved on by asking if tomorrow at 12:30 worked. It did. She wrote her number on my receipt and I said I would call her.

She had never been to Thai-phoon, and liked the fusion peanut burrito I recommended. The ensuing walk through the audible autumn leaves was bracing. We got to know each other more and the chemicals between us paired well. Her countenance brightened. She laughed at my obsession for blaxploitation films, and I teased her for her honorary Hogwart’s graduation certificate she said hung at her parent’s. Turned out that she was a local. I decided not to ask why she hadn’t been coming to class, or school at all, for that matter.

I would like to say that we dated for six months, but I can’t. In truth, she didn’t reciprocate calls or texts after that day. She continued to refrain from school. I waited patiently, but when one is wooing patience seems as finite as ambergris. And when you’ve gone through this charade time and time again, it becomes vexatious. She seemed perfect. There was so much potential there. I had pledged with each successive failure to stop failing, and I’ve tried to be insouciant, but the reason for why outwits me.

And this is how it is with all my nonsuccess.

It is a sickness, really. The drive to find infinity; to live not on the edge, but you’re own edge. To prove to yourself that you can. The amount of money and time required is exorbitant. Defeat is crushing, because you believe you are capable. Like an amateur Tibetan monk, disciplining and pushing one’s self, but without a proper lama to guide you; thus reckless like an affectionate toddler with poisonous plants for hands.

I tried to vent. I took my hand to sketching my feelings, but they came out as merely macabre doodles.

To be frank, she was the closest friend I had in years.

I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO FINISH THIS!

#StarWars #TheForceAwakens review

Gah, what to write, what to write first, what to say that hasn’t been said?
When I heard that there was a new Star Wars film coming out, I was reticent because of the heaping pooh that the prequels are. They’re not even train wrecks—you don’t want to look at them, and it’s easy to pull yourself away. In my mind, they never happened. When I heard that Spielberg-wunderkind J.J. Abrams was helming it, I was skeptical that it was just a fan’s rumor. Too good to be true. And only when I saw the teaser  did I believe it. Abrams is a film master, and can do no wrong. If he can do what he did with Lost and Star Trek, this is going to be a masterpiece.

But, I’ve also grown to learn that you should never hope that anything or anyone will fulfill all your hopes and dreams, and that imagination and expectation are some of the two best things in life, rarely superseded or even equated by reality. I actually just got done watching a documentary on the making of The Phantom Menace, and I found it sad that the moviegoers at its premier were having such rapture as they awaiting the lights to dim. And still, I can relate. I wanted so badly for Episode I to be what it should have been, and I denied that it was anything less. I was so devoted. This is pathetic, but I even feel asleep to the VHS every night for like two months! And it wasn’t because it was even a good film; it was just because of the role it had. I was effectively a Lucas-sucks denier. And I don’t know how I did it, since the films are so foreign to the Star Wars universe. And, with every other SW fan, I feared that The Force Awakens would follow suit.

My brother-in-law, who is the biggest SW nerd that I’ve met, teased the crap out of me since he saw it before I, and made it sound like it was the exactly what I had been harboring my feelings away from. But there was no way it could be the Messianic sequel. I dismissed it, especially since I knew what over-amping a film does. Nerds rightfully lauded The Fellowship of the Ringyet simultaneously deflated it for anyone who hadn’t seen it. They made it out to be so spectacular and like nothing you’ve ever seen before! Which is true. But, when you have no reference for expectations, your satisfaction can only go up, not down. If you were one who had heard the hoopla and then saw it, it was probably just “okay.” It’s my belief that you should avoid hype over any art or media, and just experience it for yourself, and reflect. Don’t get involved in film reviews or friends’ rants. Just see it for yourself. Sadly, I did a little bit of both of the frenzy and the distanced objectivity. Thus, TFA didn’t live up to what I wanted it to, but also very much pleased me.

It’s been very difficult articulating, let alone identifying, what I didn’t like. Eighty percent of me liked it, while the rest had a weird discomfort: like having seven pairs of red socks, three that are ghastly pinkish and argyle, and one that is slightly more saturated and made with synthetic fabric. I read tons of reviews, and found scant that helped me see my opinion. I knew the work had already been done for me, so why try to be a critic when every freaking critic out there has been waiting since Episode III to review this film. With a little patience, I found two things that helped me grasp the fuzziness: this HelloGreedo review, and subsequent article on matte painting the old SW sets.  

 

Now, read this article on the craft that is absent from Abram’s film. Because this is gone, so is the matte palette. There is too much vibrancy in this new film. Part of that is due to the 1970s and 1980s era that the originals were made, but it’s also a significant element that impresses on the audience. Sadly, this element made it feel too much like the prequels. The story was good, as were the characters and dialogue (in a very charming Abram’s way), but it didn’t feel enough like SW. Does it ruin it? No. And you can see there are many more chances to re-align the saga with the later films. The directors and writers are very talented, especially Gareth Edwards.

All in all, TFA is at least nine times better than any of the prequels, and eighty-five percent as good as the originals. I like it, and can’t wait to see it again.

Second edit: I saw it a second time, and I loved it so much more! Acknowledging that it’s an Abrams’ film makes it a lot better, because his style is greatly funnier, snarkier, and more cinematic than the originals. Yes, in a way, it is better. (“Heresy!” someone says. “This moof milker creates a disturbance in the Force.”) The humor and fun bring the SW fan family together, and make a more enjoyable film. Initially , I did think that he could have used more maquettes and puppets, but he used enough. I will say that I wish he used models instead of CGI landscapes for a couple shots.

My overall favorite element was that Chewbacca became an actual character! He has funny dialogue! He was basically unnecessary in any other appearance, other than to fly the Millenium Falcon; he wasn’t a supporting character, nor even a foil; he was just Han Solo’s loyal dog. Now he actually has a very vital role in bridging the gap and continuing the legacy. I really like this film. I think my first screening was tainted by my looking for reasons to not like it. Everyone I know who has seen it more than once says it’s better the second time, and they’re right. Go see it again.

PS: The new Star Wars: Battlefront video game is very nearly the playable incarnation that SW gamers have been awaiting. [Yeah, despite all I said above.] It only needs a Dagobah map and tauntauns and wampas. If you’ve got a Playstation 4, add me on PlayStation Network via “PatDoGood” or “AnOrphanGrlScout.” I wanna fight ya!

#KrampusMovie

Good Gandhi, I’m really starting to love the horror-comedy genre! Last night, my wife and I went to go see Krampus, and we took our friend specifically because she would be that person to laugh inappropriately when a movie sucks. Well, actually, Emily had that idea; I expected the movie to be at least entertaining, if not good. To paint a more clear picture, when our plans got cancelled to see it Friday night, we rented A Christmas Horror Story, since it features a Mister Krampus villain. She inherently fought falling asleep, since she hates campy movies. I loved it, and couldn’t figure out why she wanted to see the other film; probably because her friend would make it more fun. Anyways, we went to see the main titular movie, and it was epic! 

If you’re not familiar with the German story, here’s a primer. When I was a tyke, my dad was stationed in Germany and I remember hearing how if you were naughty Herr Krampus would come and give you switches instead of presents, and fill your shoes with coal. I think once or twice my mom neglected to edit out the part where he stuffed you in a sack, kidnapping you. Terrifying for a kid! It’s worse than that NSA-esque Elf On The Shelf crap. But the Europeans don’t muck around. If you eff up, you’ll be effed up. And that’s the film’s premise.

If you’ve read my “Halloween Flicks” post you’ll be able to reference my dabbling in horror-comedies. This one tops them all! “Better than The Cabin In The Woods?” you ask. Yes, because of its family appeal. (It’s only PG-13, and not nearly as gruesome as TCITW.  Krampus will still appeal to a slasher/monster film crowd, and it’s not for young kids in any way [parents should screen this before bringing their early teens].) Usually, limiting your audience scope for anything besides speaking to an intellectual community is just dumb, and usually unwarranted. Whedon was making more of a quasi-art film than a blockbuster with TCITW, and his target audience was actually smaller than his affected audience. Lots of people saw it and hushedly said, “WTF was that? It was bloody and kind of scary, but more funny.” How to tell their friends about it, they didn’t know. Horror-comedy films do something interesting, since they are hommages to the low-brow 1980’s slasher films, yet the cash-cow demographic is way too young to be likely to have seen those. They appeal to a cultured—we’ll use that term loosely—audience who recognize the genre that’s so “yesterday” that it’s classic. And it’s an odd thing to say that someone who can recognize outdated and bad film-making is cultured. But I guess that’s what Whedon has done. And not only is Krampus 80s-horror formulaic, it expands that audience by omitting the blood spurts and ta-tas (not as critical an ingredient as some argue), without sacrificing the camp. Horror-comedies can’t exist without camp. And camp is a tricky word to define, especially since I don’t think it always meant what it means now. Here is how my friend, Tim, defines it: Exaggerated or over-the-top. As in “Ed Wood went to great lengths to ensure his films were campy (as befit his persona) yet, they’ve developed a cult following.”

Krampus is self-aware of its camp, and laughs at itself! The protagonists are incredulous at the weird horror, and say things like “For God’s sake, Howard—shoot it!” and”Ah, this is some fairy-tale horse sh**!” The comedy is the best part of the film. Nothing seems ill-timed or forced, and that’s due to well-chosen actors. They play holiday archetypes, and do it well. Adam Scott has earned his comedic chops with his supporting roles in Parks and Recreation and slough of films. His scrawny frame and fits the ridiculed Boy Scout veteran character. Toni Collete killed it as the humorously juggling mom in Little Miss Sunshine, reprising the role here. David Koechner makes a great bully windbag in anything he’s done, and pairs well with Scott as the gun nut. I haven’t seen it, but he plays a Scoutmaster in The Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, and I’ve got to give props to the casting director for the ironic choice. Now knowing this, it makes it sweeter to see him pick on his brother-in-law. And until I looked her up, I had no idea who Allison Tolman was, but she owns this heroic mama-bear scene that changed what from the film I expected! A background character to the supporting characters saves the day! (Not a spoiler.) Thankfully, this film doesn’t play out like you would predict—while still holding onto the aforementioned convention—and once that bit happened, I dropped my notions that it would be the same monster film with different actors. Much of it I found surprising! [And hereafter this point in this post I will be making up for the thousand words I lost through a “Select all” mistake. And. I. Completely. Forgot. That iPhones have an “Undo” function. Le sigh.] The best archetype is the sage, played by Krista Stadler. To this role, she brings such gravitas. Ninety percent of her lines are in German, giving her this Old-World-wisdom feel, and having a psychological effect: it’s undeniable that subtitles demand a higher caliber audience, and this tells me that writer/directer Michael Dougherty has a lofty vision. Only a few English films are on the actresses repertoire, so it couldn’t have been easy. (See here how she went the extra mile in the German dub.) It’s with authority when in the expository scene she speaks English (also, the animation is cleverly stylized), and it punctuates the film.

I wish I knew more about Dougherty. His Trick r’ Treat  was a tasty flick with bite-sized stories weaved into an anthology. This time we get something substantive, and a natural heroic journey. But funding for a major-studio film isn’t characteristic of someone with such a short history. Usually a director will have more flops or successes, or even gigs. Whatever the case is, his style is Burton-esque, telling the macabre, and doing it well. Douglas Pipes backs him up on the soundtrack well. The soundtrack is mostly comprised of re-arranged Christmas hymns and classics. This whole film comes together so well. It reminds of Tim Burton’s story, since both worked at artists before helming the camera. Which brings me to my next subject.

Krampus the character is so well-designed. I don’t remember much from my childhood stories, but what I saw in the film embellishes yet matches what I was told. At first sight, you think he’s an anthropomorphic bull, which is a little trite but still creepy. [SPOILER] And then much later, after you feel like you know him, you see he has the gnarled face of an old man, with an agape mouth that leers at you. You can see that this is a demented abomination, a result from the Hulk sodomizing a wicked bovine. And this context perverts and contextualizes his attacks even further. And at the climax [‘NOTHER SPOILER], you perceive he’s only wearing a man’s mask, and through it you can see his eyes are those of a goat’s. WTF, is this Baphomet?! My gosh, this movie is layered! In the same scene you see how insidious this legendary character is.

I really enjoyed the film (not that you can tell). Everything came together so smoothly, and it’s mindfulness was refreshing. It made me laugh, and legitimately scared me. Oh, and it had a nod towards Boy Scouts, which can’t seem to get enough major PR. I recommend seeing it, and give it 9 out of 10 stars.

Let’s change America, but respectfully, how?

Man. Wow, this broaches so many subjects. First of all, he never specifically says he’s addressing America, but he makes some implications. The main thesis of it is that the American economic and political systems propagate environmental destruction, taking advantage of laborers, and the military-industrial complex. A friend of mine said these all are valid points. The way America has been and is going is not self-sustaining or fruitful. The news and entertainment media speak a narrative that limelights trivial or distracting things and ignore substantive things. The Democratic versus Republican dichotomy is a false representation between black and white, when the reality is that politics isn’t even just a spectrum of left and right, but also has upwards and downwards depth. The battle between Republicans and Democrats isn’t between anarchy and tyranny, but between tyranny and tyranny. Both want ultimate control in their own way, and complete suppression of the other ways.
Honestly, the video wants us to all have an agricultural economy, without economic giants, and without technology or chemicals, and without large armies. And I would love to live in the 1700s or 1800s! But even then there were environmental rapes, unwarranted war, labor abuses, and people living in squalor. The only solutions are to have a well-educated people with empathy. (By no means do I advocate free education, and on the contrary I think that if privatized and it weren’t funded by taxes, childhood and higher education would be much cheaper!) I’ve said this to quite a few friends, but the Constitution was designed for a small republic about the size of the original thirteen colonies, and the US is so diverse that it has roughly eleven distinct cultures. The United States needs to be divided, and the people should be able to create their own charters like the Constitution but with their alterations.
The guy makes a lot of great points, but what are his solutions? If it’s socialism then he is wrong because that robs a person of their drive to work. Complete anarchy—which in its truest form is optimistic that everyone can get along without rules and is founded on mutual respect—is really the next thing to consider, as it leads you to ask why we need government. (Anarchy is also a recipe for villages to act clannish and start an arms race, which comes down to who has the biggest stick. Some would argue that’s fine.) IMO, protecting life, liberty, and property are all that it should do. BUT, in a capitalist society, the environment really is at the whims of the entrepreneur, and takes a raping. National parks are a great start in preserving the most unique places in a region, but can a private-business owner do it just as well? It’s an experiment that unfortunately has great risk since our greatest national treasures are at stake. I would like to see it tested. I’m beginning to think that a necessary role of government is to protect the environment, BUT WITH SOUND NON-BIASED SCIENCE.
In a nutshell, this guy wants socialism and environmentalism, but I want to know HOW he wants to achieve it.

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