Tuesday, December 13, 2016

One Shyeah To Rule Them All

If you were an adolescent in the early 90s you probably went through the experience of hearing every unfunny douche in your school go around saying “exsqueeze me?” all the time and even though Wayne’s World was okay you still wanted to track down Mike Myers and slap the shit out of him for the legion of double-plus annoying idiots he inspired to imitate him.

That’s kind of how I feel about Tolkien and the genre of pseudo medieval faux European fantasy tropes he unwittingly spawned

Friday, November 11, 2016

Fuck Veterans

I've seen a lot of talk the last few days that the election results on Tuesday represent a defeat of the attitude of pervasive and suffocating political correctness. And you know what? Good. As someone who is willfully politically incorrect, as someone who tips over sacred cows like someone's paying me to do it, as someone who believes firmly that the more unpopular one's opinion is the more responsibility one has to voice it and voice it loudly, I'm glad that I can finally take the gloves off and stop worrying that my microaggressions might trigger someone in their safe space.

So today I'd like address one of the most pernicious and oft-repeated politically correct lies of our times, the mindless and irrational hero worship-slash-deification of those who serve in the armed forces. Today is Veteran's Day, and if you spend more than 30 seconds on social media today you will see everyone parroting the same pablum: "Thank you for your service!" "If it wasn't for our brave veterans we wouldn't be free!" "Today we honor the veterans who have fought for our country's freedom and peace" and so forth and so on. Normally I address this topic from a slightly different angle: that one's personal freedom is not actually contingent on military action, least of all in the United States where there has never been a credible (external) threat to our way of life. And I'd mention how the only force on this planet capable of denying U.S. citizens their freedom is the U.S. government, and as the armed forces are the hired thugs of said government their only possible relationship to our freedom can be neutral at best and adversarial at worst.

Today I'm taking a different, and simpler, tack: fuck veterans.

You know what? Fuck veterans. The work they did is worthless to everyone else and we're supposed to lick their shoes in gratitude. I'm sorry they put their lives on the line and some of them suffered terrible injuries or even died but all of that would be equally applicable to Hollywood stunt performers, and at least we get some cool movies out of their sacrifice. Veterans? Not so much. What makes them so goddamned special? They had a job to do -- for which they were paid, and out of our tax dollars no less -- and it is a job they volunteered for. (I am, of course, aware that there are still veterans alive today who were drafted, but I would consider "not working hard enough to dodge the draft" to be a form of volunteering for the sake of this argument.) So why do they get put on some pedestal? Because of their *ahem* "service?" That's a laugh. The same awful bag-of-shit people who undertip at the restaurant and curse out cashiers every week because they don't understand what a rebate is or how it works, these same bag-of-shit people would cross six lanes of traffic to ram their tongue up a soldier's anus and garble slurred words of thanks for the imaginary service they have provided. The treatment of actual service workers in this country is absolutely shameful -- even though the economy is now almost entirely propped up by service industries -- but these uniformed frauds can't get thanked enough for... for what? Because I see the gears turning in your head, and I smell the small tufts of smoke coming out of your ears, and I know you're all like B-B-B-BUT FREEDOM! And all that tells me is that you haven't been paying attention all the years I've tried to explain how the concept of freedom works, so I'm hardly about to try that again. I'm done with having a rational discussion where we logically examine the assumptions your beliefs are built on and discard them as they prove fallacious. It's too much work, and I don't have patience for you idiots and your programmed values anymore. Rather: Fuck veterans.

And yes. Yes. I get it. The soldiers don't realize that the service they are providing is entirely fraudulent and imaginary. They honestly believe that they are doing the right thing, they honestly believe they are providing some real and not made-up and absolutely crucial service to the American people. Fine. Turns out that "honest belief" and "actual fact" are NOT THE SAME THING! There was this lady in Texas that honestly believed that God ordered her to bash in her sons' heads with a large rock. And so she did. Does the fact that she "honestly believed" she was doing the right thing  mitigate the fact that she was not? Folks, there's not a lot of intentional evil in the world. Almost EVERYONE honestly believes that they're doing the right thing at any given moment, or at least the less wrong thing. I'm not concerned with intentionality or inner narrative. I am concerned with the facts. And the fact is that the only "service" soldiers provide is to war profiteers and the military-industrial complex. So I'm sorry that so many people who honestly believe that they are doing necessary and good work for the people suffer so badly and see such horrors because of their misconceptions. But should it earn them special consideration and idolization? Pity tinged with condescension would be more in line here. It's tragic how many of these dumb deluded kids waste their lives behind some made up shit because you idiots keep parroting the same tired old lines about freedom and honor and whatnot -- and parroting is the perfect term to use here because you fuckers only show the verbal comprehension a parrot might demonstrate, which is to say none -- making every last one of you idiots complicit in their tragedy.

So fuck veterans, fuck you for your unquestioning adoration of them and their imaginary service, and fuck my life because I'm stuck here on this planet with you goddamned robots. And have a happy Veterans Day.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fiction and the fantastic

Fiction should be fantastical. The entire reason fiction exists is because it can contain and express human-created concepts that have no real-world analogue. If you are writing fiction and you are constraining yourself within the set of things that are real and actual and possible, you are wasting your time and your audience's time as well. You want a story about the horrors of war, or the tragedy of drug addiction, or the quiet malaise of 1950s suburbs? They're out there already. That ground is well-covered by actual people and the actual experiences of their actual lives.

But robots and vampires and aliens and time travelers and superheroes and zombies and talking gorillas? None of that is real, or at least not yet.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Valentine-O-Gram Lesson

In my high school, every Valentine's Day, every single class got disrupted throughout the day by the constant delivery of Valentine-O-Grams. I found this of interest because I was in the principal's office constantly for "disrupting class" but apparently it was okay to disrupt class for stupid Valentine-O-Grams that I never got from anyone anyway. And I came to realize that they didn't discipline me for disrupting class, in the sense that I was preventing the other students from receiving their education -- they didn't give a shit if class got disrupted as long as it was part of their design -- but for disrupting class when they hadn't planned for class disruption. Even though the end result was the same whether class got disrupted by me or by Valentine-O-Gram delivery, my individual disruption was sign that they lacked control and had to be shut down before anyone else realized it. I never got a Valentine-O-Gram but I did get a valuable look behind the curtains at the invisible machinery that makes society work. And maybe that was even a fair trade.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Conspiracy Of Silence (2004? 2005?)

 When I was a child my parents told me about this man named Santa Claus. Santa Claus, if you have never heard a similar tale, is allegedly this ageless guy who lives at the North Pole. Every Christmas he travels around the world in his magic sleigh pulled by reindeer, and somehow defies the passage of time by visiting the household of every child to deliver gifts. (Or at least the household of every nice child—naughty children got nothing, as my parents repeatedly warned me every time I acted “out of line.”)

Despite the ridiculous nature of the story, even to the pre-school version of me, I decided to believe it, to take their word for it—after all, why would my parents lie? Didn’t they have my best interests at heart? Didn’t they themselves repeatedly tell me that lying was “wrong,” was one of the Deadly Sins that would make Santa Claus skip my chimney come Christmas? Then, when I reached a certain age and confronted them about it, I found out that (as many of you have already discovered) the whole thing was a lie. The toys I opened on Christmas morn weren’t made by elves at the North Pole, they were made by poorly-paid laborers and purchased at local department stores. That day marked the beginning of my descent into paranoia.

Nobody really thinks about the whole Santa Claus phenomenon much. As a child, when you find out the truth you must still allow your younger siblings or cousins to find out on their own or risk getting in trouble—when the authorities lie, telling the truth is a crime. Then they grow up and tell their own kids about the fat man in the red suit without really thinking about why they’re doing it or what the implications are. Perhaps some clever students of sociology explain it as that culture’s particular rite of passage, initiation into the inner perimeter of adult society.

I like to look at it as a conspiracy. Ever since my Santa Claus illusions were shattered I have been very mistrustful of whatever “authority” figures tell me the truth is, knowing that they could be lying to me FOR ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD REASON. Conspiracies can exist without any of the members involved even being conscious that they are part of any conspiracy. The sad fact about conspiracies is that they do not need to be driven by some Power Elite sitting in a room somewhere puffing on cigars and planning which democratically-elected official to assassinate next, which Manchurian Candidate Lone Gunman to activate, which buildings to fly planes into. Conspiracies can just happen, arise out of social forces no one really understands. This is the lesson of the Santa Claus conspiracy.

But there are of course more lessons to be drawn from this. Those who scoff at conspiracy theories often pull out the line “How could you manage a conspiracy that large? It’s simply impossible!” Yet no conspiracy to kill Kennedy or conceal alien contact or get Bush elected has ever been postulated to be as large as the Santa Claus conspiracy actually IS: almost every adult and many children over the age of eight in North America alone. How does a conspiracy so large manage to operate? How can there still be small children to this day who are deceived, who believe in Santa Claus? The answer is simple: control of information. Any information a child runs into that denies the existence of Santa Claus is dismissed by the authorities he or she goes to to verify it. Famously, the Saturday Evening Post once told a small girl the bald-faced lie: “Yes, Virginia…” Older children who discover the truth either become co-conspirators or keep their mouth shut, out of fear of retribution for leaking the truth.

And of course, maybe the real conspiracy is that there IS a Santa Claus after all. Looking up in the sky once as a child I thought I saw his sled as it was pulled by the reindeer. The problem with paranoia is that it allows no verified truth to stand. Rather like the scientific method which can never completely prove a theory, merely disprove it, paranoia is a tool for deconstructing old realities but very poor for building new realities to replace them. Who can you believe?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

"But it's ILLEGAL!"

If there's any laws you don't follow -- laws you think are stupid, laws that it is convenient or advantageous or fun for you to break -- if you are someone who assumes the right to pick and choose laws like the legal code is a buffet table, then you are a hypocrite should you get uptight over other people choosing which laws they will follow. Say, if you are someone that gets mad over illegal immigration or illegal drug use or people driving faster than the speed limit or whatever other outlawed bugaboo crawled up your butt that day, but you yourself have decided that you are allowed to ignore certain laws to your own benefit, than you are, I say again, a hypocrite. You ever notice that when someone commits murder, the outrage isn't because murder is illegal but because murder is wrong? When someone molests children, the ire is not because the law against child molestation has been flouted? The only time people get uptight about things specifically because they are illegal is when the illegal things are quite debatably not wrong in any universal or moral sense. So. Either you respect the rule of law in its entirety or you don't. Period. What makes you so special that you and you alone are granted permission to break laws as you see fit?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Resolving the Fermi Paradox

Possibility #1: Some sort of Galactus/Unicron type being that consumes entire planets.

Possibility #2: Physical space is an incubator for higher minds, who upon reaching a certain level leave this realm and thus are not sending out broadcasts of alien I Love Lucy for us to detect. 

Possibility #3: Perhaps amidst all the UFO hoaxes and sloppy ancient astronaut theories there is an actual account of an actual visitation.

Possibility #4: While there may be other intelligent life in the universe, there is no particularly strong reason to assume we are not the first and oldest of them.

Possibility #5: Every time an intelligent race gets sophisticated enough, they choke on their own pollution and/or bomb themselves into extinction over subtle ideological differences.

Possibility #6: We are living in a vast computer simulation and, for whatever reason, the simulation only spawned one race of intelligent "life" and it's right here.

Possibility #7: There is intelligent life but they are for some reason (intentionally or not) concealing their presence from us.

Possibility #8: The life that has evolved elsewhere takes such radically different forms and utilizes such wildly different technology that we could be looking right at them and do not even realize it. 

Possibility #9: God made Adam and Eve, not Xadam and Ee'hv.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Am I Statler or am I Waldorf in this exchange?

Attila: You hear that Ronda Rousey wants to play Captain Marvel?

Me: Man, you cast ONE pro wrestler in your cinematic universe, pretty soon they all want in.

Attila: She's not a wrestler. She's MMA.

Me: Exactly! That means it requires NO acting skills!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Nothing Means Everything, Everything Means Nothing

You're born for no reason. You live for no reason. You die for no reason. The world goes on without you, for no reason, because the world exists at all for no reason. No reason, no purpose, no meaning, to any of it. Some will tell you that it means whatever you want it to mean; this is a long and roundabout way of saying that it means nothing. Because you mean nothing. What it means to you, what you choose to have it mean to you, means nothing. Nothing means anything, and everything means nothing.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

a pithy primer on perfunctory primate pack politics

I have a question. When gas is $4 everyone blames Obama, but now it's under 3 and shouldn't those same people be praising him? Since, like, they think he's in charge of making the prices or something.

@BDCThug (Twitter)

Well, you see, @BDCThug, you've made a common mistake. You are expecting there to be a consistent and rational line of thought behind the widespread Obama hatred. You are imagining, perhaps, civilized human beings, dressed in fine clothing adorned with pocket watch and cravat, reasonably discussing their beliefs.

Picture instead a group of rabid chimpanzees, beating their chests and flinging poo. The rational cerebrum that human beings possess is only used after the fact to justify this animalistic primate response, but it is not utilized to the point where they might realize how irrational and inconsistent they are, because then their entire belief bubble would pop.

This is not to say that there are not a host of perfectly good, valid and rational reasons to criticize and mistrust Obama -- in fact, many of them would apply straight across the board to ANY U.S. president -- but rather that most people seem to find it nigh impossible to articulate any of them, choosing instead to parrot whatever talking points the television has spoon-fed them this week.

So, when Barack Obama saluted the troops while holding a coffee, THIS MARXIST MUSLIM HAS NO RESPECT FOR OUR HEROES, but when George W. Bush saluted the troops while holding a dog, HOW DARE YOU QUESTION THE PRESIDENT?!?! HES A GOOD AMURCAN!!! USA! USA!

How does this relate to the price of gas? Well, when the price of gas went up, the television told the people that Barack Obama must be to blame, and so by gum he was to blame. Then when the price of gas went down, the television had moved on to a completely different and unrelated reason to hate Obama, and the people (who have the collective memory span of a hummingbird on methamphetamines) certainly would never remember to make that connection themselves.