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Batman; A Lesson in Ethics

After a long day of quadratic equations, there is nothing more satisfying than planting an elbow in the spine of a psychotic junky clown. No, I’m not talking about harming any ICP fans. I’m talking about Batman versus the hordes of Joker’s deranged army.

Batman may just be a man with too much money and a haunting memory of his parents’ death, but he can also teach us something. Like how to loop a batarang around a corner of a room at an unsuspecting thug rendering them unconscious. Or that maybe, We The People, ought to take after Mr. Batman, and not compromise so damn quickly.

Batman HATES Insane Clown Posse

I say this because my mom, who is nearly 50, is disturbed by the fact that I still make time each week to squeeze in a few (or a few dozen) hours of gaming in between college and sleeping in until noon. In a way I am also disturbed. Every time I get that look from her that says “grow up” I find myself so willing to agree. But this is the same lifestyle that I’ve had since I was about 9. I can’t break that bond. I’m sorry Mom. I will probably never give you grandchildren either.

But this is the difference between me and Batman. If his parents weren’t murdered, I’m sure his Mom would have told him to stop climbing all over skyscrapers and roughhousing with the neighborhood criminals. You know what Batman would have said? “No.” Because Batman knows what is right. Batman has muthafuckin integrity. Furthermore, Batman doesn’t kill people. He just beats them to a pulp.

But what is Batman all about? Why did I just play Batman: Arkham City for seven hours straight?

I’ll tell you: You’re Bruce Wayne, a billionaire with a passion for Halloween and an obsession with bats. You live in a scary city that’s been transformed into a prison and is full of sketchy looking characters, mutants, and psychopaths. And… well…. Your Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman… your kind of a ninja… it’s sort of your job to beat the piss out of these people…

My point is, it’s a great game and I feel no shame playing it for so long. Maybe I’m just going crazy, but I feel like this game has a moral: Stick to your guns if you know what’s right. Now, I wasn’t enlightened on top of a Tibetan mountain, but I do have a sense of yin and yang, right and wrong, good and bad, liberal and conservative, etc. Often times though, when another view is asserted, I shy away, or I say something to the effect of “you have a point.” This is all wrong.

When Mister Freeze was looking for a cure for Batman (who was poisoned by the diabolical Joker), he had a change of heart. He decided Batman wasn’t worth it and told Batman off. Instead of dropping his shoulders and going back to the Bat cave, Batman grabbed Mister Freeze by the icicle and wiped his little blue face all over his cryogenics lab.

Batman does not flinch. Nor does he kill. I think this is a good lesson for America. (Yes, I’m going there.) When some whiny politically motivated douche gets in your face, ask yourself, “What would Batman Do?” You don’t have to throw a fist, but don’t back down.

And Mom, seriously, lighten up. At least this isn’t Grand Theft Auto 5. I still don’t know when that’s coming out. When it does, Batman will go out the window. Figurateively (because Batman does do a lot of literal window going-out-of).

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Why SOPA Makes Sense (but not to me)

This is the age of information warfare and digital warfare. After watching a brief video on the internet hacker group Anonymous, I now understand why control over the internet is so important. And it’s not because of some whiny record label companies.

Anonymous, has given the federal government reason to stir. The Occupy movement could be taken down in a matter of days if it was deemed out of control. American opinions however, are not so quelled. This seems to be the focus of Anonymous. The complete naked purpose of a government and it’s people. No guarded opinions, and no carefully crafted words. Just the truth.

Which is scary to me. The whole idea of digital warfare is scary to me. It covers a broad range of tactics, from internet propoganda, to hacking the files of a police department. (Let’s not forget that a U.S. drone was allegedly hijacked by the Iranians.) Anyone could be a target, really. And with so much information and control, rested in the hands of our trusty computers and mobile devices, almost anything is at risk.

But let’s be serious. Anonymous, who is a Homeland Security target, probably isn’t too interested in pulling out the skeletons of your close. In fact, they’re a little more Robin Hood-esque; hacking the files of the rich, and donating money to charity.

This is why it makes sense now. If I were one of the accused 1%, I wouldn’t want my money, credentials, or otherwise private life, available to the other 99%. That is scary. I would grab the internet by the balls, and use whatever digital wizardry hackers use to make sure shit like this doesn’t get out of hand.

Maybe thats not the point. Maybe, I’m off subject. But I feel like these types of groups may be poking the bear. How will it answer?

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The Rev. Would Have Been Booed Too

IT’S SAD TO SAY THAT THE MLK DAY HAS GONE AND PAST, WITH NOTHING MORE THAN AN EXTRA DAY OFF.

But to me, and to many others in my town. It’s not over.

Over the weekend I was asked to cover a story about the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event  for my student newspaper the Horizon. Yes, of course, I respect and appreciate the work of the reverend, but I had never engaged in any activity that truly celebrated his work until now.

It has always seemed to me that MLK Day is celebrated just before Black History Month for a convenient reason. Now I just find it a coincidence. Or maybe a conspiracy…

True, he was a hero amongst African-Americans and a figurehead for all minorities. But more importantly, he was a hero amongst all Americans, a figurehead for equality and civil rights. His work not for any race to claim.

I realized this when I found myself downtown in a mid January blizzard, with a couple hundred other Americans in celebration of the reverend and his work. But it was not just a celebration. There was a purpose. The people in the streets were not the same townsfolk that meet for the local Ho-Down. They were demonstrators. They carried signs, they sang, they marched, and they were THERE.

They were not demonstrating racial equality (except for a couple with pickets that said so). They were demonstrating the same thing the people on Wall Street demonstrate today. Financial equality.

I admit, when I showed up to cover the event, my expectations were pretty typical: A sombre black man in a business suit at a podium, reciting, quoting, or otherwise repeating the words of the reverend. People snoring. That sort of thing. But what could you expect? The reverend is celebrated as a leader of racial equality.

He was assassinated before he was able to take part in his Poor Man’s March. The Poor Man’s March was aimed at eliminating poverty in the U.S. and creating financial equality.

And here we are today. In a battle between the extremely wealthy and the people who need showers. Where are our leaders? Our figureheads? What happened to inspiration? Camaraderie?

The reverend’s work and passion could not mean more to Americans now. Not just in eliminating poverty, but in creating peace, brotherhood and justice. One of his most basic principles that must be kept in the back of our minds today as we go about our daily lives:

“One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws”

Similarly, Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence:

“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [i.e., securing inherent and inalienable rights, with powers derived from the consent of the governed], it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

Or simply, don’t let the Man give you the Pickle.

Newt's face says it all

By no means am I pushing Ron Paul politics on anyone - but I find it disturbing that the man was booed off stage at the GOP debate for announcing the use of the “Golden Rule.” In what case are the American people more deserving than another nation’s people? Really. What makes us better?

 These are basic moral principles that are being rejected and neglected. For what?

But, just as Independence Day comes with a bang and sizzles into the horizon, MLK Day passes us with less recognition. It’s not a day for African-American people, and it’s not even a day about celebrating/promoting civil rights. It’s a day about doing something.

(For the record, there is no Ho-Down where I am from. At least that I am aware of.)

 

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Everyone is Gay

I’VE HAD THOSE NIRVANA LYRICS IN MY HEAD FOR A WHILE.

For brevity’s sake, and for clarity (and also becasue it’s 3 a.m.), I’ll get right to it.

I read “Letter From Birmingham Jail” the other day, as part of an English assignment, and also because of MLK day on Monday. Students are usually force fed this kind of stuff in college, especially since it’s practically a  seasonal thing. I found the letter extremely compelling and I urge EVERYONE to take a look at it. It’s written extremely well and defines the struggle for civil rights in America in the 60s.

… I share this becasue of a recent “debate” I took part in, regarding the homosexual community. A bill is on the floor in Seattle right now to approve sam sex marriage. The outcome, I could care less about to be honest (although it is expected to fail just shy of a couple votes). There are plenty of gay people in Seattle who seem perfectly content as things are. The question that arose, is whether the gay rights hold as much weight as black rights? Again, read the letter from MLK, it’s amazing. Do his words still ring true today?

Granted they should be the same thing for all good Americans. But does one outweigh the other? I would like to hear from you.

(Sorry for not posting in so long. School is… school. I’ll make a point of it this weekend!)

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Romney Intercepts al-Qaida; Scores Touchdown

I’ve been watching CNN for the last hour. It’s Monday night. 2:29 am. Weird.

Since the holidays, I sort of fell off the edge of the Earth. I was more involved with gluing the shards of my sanity back together than keeping up with current politics and news developments. Luckily, the cold weather keeps me inside and the new college semester has me wondering: is journalism today really an expression of the first amendment, or is it simply a means to entertain?

I’ll spare you my reflections on the year of 2011, and instead get right to the point: Sports. I spent the 24th of December in southern Humboldt County, CA, watching the Seahawks duke it out with the 49ers. While the game held me on the edge of the seat till the two minute warning, I was disappointed to see the Seahawks lose (again). I had to hold my tongue though; Humboldt county is 49ers turf.

Ka-Kaaaaaaaaw!

I watched as the game came to a close, dully, as ESPN sound effects swooped in. Terry Bradshaw’s idiotic voice echoed throughout my skull. Howie Long’s chiming confirmed that football was done for me this season. There is no time to mourn the loss of your team when ESPN talk show hosts want to flap their gums. It’s time to find something a little more serious to pay attention to, like politics. But who am I kidding? That’s just another sport itself.

At least U.S. politics appears to be a sport. If American’s are capable of love, it’s the love of winning. The world may seem to be at it’s end (beware of Mayan prophecy scams) but the American people still have a lot of fight left. But much news lately has been interesting; especially towards the end of 2011: Iranians hijacked a U.S. drone, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act, and the GOP is left with Mitt Romney as it’s leading Presidential candidate. None of this is exactly good, but hey! At least Kim Jong-Il and Moammar Gaddafi can be marked off the NSA’s assassination list.

“The Occupiers on Wall St. fight the system. Rick Santorum supposedly owns a jarred fetus. Al- Qaida is infiltrating the fragile Libyan government.” These things have little in common except that they are news, and they invoke an emotional response. However, emotional as they may be, you don’t live with Mr. Santorum, and if you live on the West Coast, the Occupiers are as far away as Libya. My point is, none of these things cause that much stir. I find Iranian cyber warfare just as spooky as the next guy, but until an Iranian hacker shuts down all of Comcast, I am content just reading about it.

Politics to me, has become a sport on a grand scale. It has no seasons, but instead must endure the test of war, poverty, stupidity, and general humanity before it can ever be considered a serious business.

My New Year’s Resolution: Give a shit about it.

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Dear Santa, You Suck

Christmas is here. And it has never sucked so hard.

My hatred for Christmas is coming on quite strong this year. There are just a few more days before the day itself arrives. In the meantime, painful visits with family occur, along with spending way too much money on gifts for people you don’t like.

I can’t pinpoint when Christmas was ruined for me, or how it was, but I think it has something to do with the myth of Santa being dispelled, and the mounting number of dollars I was spending each year on my parents, my sisters, my friends, and any small children my parent’s pressured me into “gifting.”

But at that age, I suppose Christmas was awesome. Christmas kicked ass. Breakfast was chocolates that came out of a stocking, and you got to play with a stockpile of brand new toys all day long – Not to mention the excitement of a fat man in a red suit jumping down your chimney.

You know what magic is and what it can do, but as a child, Santa Clause is the only person in the world you know of, that can use it. You have witnessed the magical act of Christmas morning suddenly appearing before you. It is more than just presents under the tree. Their appearance is magical, and the aura of the living room, with it’s Christmas lights left on from the night before, is beautiful.  It’s no wonder why kids get so excited; at that age, magic is real.

I remember when I was told the truth about Santa Clause. The look on my Mom’s face, and the tone in my Dad’s voice told me everything I didn’t want to know. Magic was not real. I would never become an astronaut or slay a dragon; Santa Clause did not exist and magic was stuff for little kids. My childhood grew a cancer then, and over the years, it slowly died.

Christmas was still a good thing even after I KNEW. Santa was a load of shit, and I gave my parents knowing winks during the ceremonial unwrapping of presents. It wasn’t until I actually had to pay for other people’s presents that I started to realize the brutality of the holiday season. The simple letter to Mom or Dad wouldn’t suffice. Nor would the “FREE COUPON FOR A BACK RUB.” I had to buy things now. With real money. And my parent’s weren’t going to give me that money.Snatch and grab Santa! Snatch and grab!

At first the presents I bought were cheap: necklaces, stuffed animals, a hat, etc. But after a while, they became more and more expensive, and I became more and more broke.

There is no joy in Christmas shopping. Most guys will tell you that they try and accomplish all of it within a 24 hour time frame. My general idea of a mall trip is similar to a tactical military insertion: Snatch and Grab. Any loose ends can be tied up along the way, ie a pair of ear rings for your girlfriend and the damn batteries for whichever useless electronic you bought at Radio Shack.

This is not how things get done though. At least not for me. I may own a Kindle, I may enjoy my vanilla soy lattes and even wear a sporty looking Columbia all weather jacket, but I am by no means a modern mall-going man. The mall does something to my brain that causes massive panic. It is an overstimulation of all my senses. To put it lightly, the moment I enter a mall, I feel like vomiting rainbows.

My idea of a Snatch and Grab is destroyed by the overpowering mind fuck of the mall. It has an extraordinary smell to it. This isn’t just during Christmas, but all times of the year. The thick smells of fried things drenched in sugar, body odor, cologne wafting out of Aeropostale, rubber and plastic MADE IN CHINA, chemical fragrances of janitorial cleaning supplies. It all swirls into the nostrils in one smell known as shopping smell.

To the ears and eyes, the mall is no less overwhelming, though it is less pleasant. It’s constant loop of Christmas music is a terrible thing to have to listen to again and again, but when it is combined with a plethora of screaming children, angry parents, annoying teenagers, and a disgruntled Santa Clause, the sound is unbearable. One thing I cannot stand is all the noise, noise, noise, nosie! Just like a little speck of Las Vegas landed on your hometown from outer space; it is just a giant neon sparkle, blinding in every direction and labeled with the very worst of consumerism.

 So, with sweat rolling down my forehead and an expression of utter terror on m face, I leave the mall with less than my very soul I walked in with. The mission a complete failure. My dignity and faith in humanity stripped.

This is adulthood, I suppose. The days when your physical prowess defined adulthood are long gone. Hell, the days when toil and labor defined adulthood are gone. Adulthood has become a commercial thing now.

I long for the day, when I can safely exile myself from my family (with diplomatic immunity), and pretend like Christmas no longer exists. Or at the very least, keep my money in my bank account and enjoy the holiday in other ways. Being secular doesn’t leave much room for me to be a good Christian, but I appreciate it still, and it is possible to celebrate love, good will, and happiness without losing your mind or all of your money.

Until then, Bah Humbug.

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