Tag Archives: Rant

Rant: Politics and the lowest common denominator

( #rant, #teaparty )

I keep hearing the conservative rally call that the government should be smaller. “Big Government” is bad. “All of these social services are making the country go broke.” At the same time, I have to assume that like most Americans—tea partiers, republicans, and general conservatives (and their extended families) depend on services like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. What happens if/when those services get shut down?

I don’t think that Tea Party members are rich or members of the elite. I think they are average Americans. Which is why I can’t understand why they won’t support tax increases to the wealthy. They say it hurts business. Who wants to tax business? Tax individual incomes. They say “that penalizes success”. Don’t tax the wealthy MORE than I am taxed; the rich should pay their fair share. If you haven’t already, read Warren Buffett’s essay in the New York Times. This guy is loaded and his tax rate is less than most of the people in his office. No more tax accountant trickery, just pay what you owe (I can make a case for a flat tax but I don’t want to blow up the internet).

Instead of being leaders who work together to preserve a decent way of life for Americans, short-sighted trolls with foolish agendas get elected. The conservative talking heads feel like they can say whatever they want and nobody is going to call them out on it:

1. Just let these people have civil unions and shut up about it. It changes nothing except making people happy. It doesn’t take anything away from heterosexual unions.
2. I didn’t really want to use this clip because this woman’s 15 minutes of fame should be over. But if you can’t back up what you write, don’t go on television and run your mouth. This is the exact opposite of how a public figure should act.
3. She planned to walk out. No doubt in my mind. Who has said the name “Christine O’Donnell” since she lost the election in Delaware?

Having a political philosophy based on marginalizing homosexuals, deporting immigrants, harassing minorities, and pushing a narrow Christian agenda is not clever, it is racist. Note to Tea Party Members: Nobody is being fooled, you are just outing yourself as a narrow-minded person. Also, now that I type it, it kind sounds eerily similar to the Nazi movement. Making statements like “the deficit is bad” is obvious and nobody is going to disagree, but supporting government shutdown proves what exactly? That we can get along fine without it?

Really? What do you think will happen when the extreme conservatives take power, farm social security and medical services out to private companies (introducing voucher systems). Service will go down, costs will go up, and some old white man in Washington is going to pad his pockets while utilizing a great private system for himself. Don’t believe me? Look at the war that the US has been involved in for the last decade. Shouldn’t war spur economic growth? Why isn’t that money flooding back into the domestic economy? Private companies are getting hired, off-shoring the manufacturing while creating shoddy materials that are getting our people killed.

I am dancing around saying what I want to say, so I am just going to say it. Look at the people in the video above. They are stupid. People are frustrated with the economy, frustrated with “the government”, frustrated with their lives so the mob mentality sets in.

Enter a pretty woman or a loud mouth guy and people will listen because it caters to the lowest common denominator. Sprinkle in bullshit words like “Freedom” and “Liberty”, maybe a dash of “Values” and suddenly you have people eating out of your hand. The talking heads say the liberals are out to get the “Average Joe”, they are persecuting them because they are Christians. I need to say this: the “liberal” media is not attacking anyone based on their religion; they are attacking stupidity. Don’t hide your lack of intelligence behind organized religion, you are giving it a bad name.

It is easy to listen to the pretty lady or the loud mouth telling you it is going to be alright. But it isn’t. America is in bad shape because we have been electing unqualified people into office for 30 years. They don’t have a vision for America, because that costs money. They serve the agenda of 1% of the population because that is how they get funded and re-elected. You want someone to be mad at? Look in the mirror. Why the hell did you get that 2nd mortage on your house to buy a Hummer 5 years ago? You want to change things? Start at your local level and listen to what the issues are, volunteer in your local government instead of sitting on your ass and complaining about how things should be run. Electing unqualified people who string together crap you want to hear just makes for a shitty culture.

Good luck America.

Here is one last bit of advice: pushing people around to get your way will never end well. Just ask Hitler.

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Rant: e-Stalking

( #rant, #socialmedia )

Social Media. Sign up and start sputtering your thoughts on a unsuspecting yet overly susceptible public. While the world is connecting and sharing, I am thinking of going the other way. Disconnect. It is not the technology; I am tired of the people that use it, how they use it, and the walls that I am forced to put up because of how people are “using” this information.

I don’t manage friendships via Facebook. I don’t think you should either. I will think poorly of you if you think a Facebook or twitter message is meaningful communication. I will probably stop talking to you. I have done this before and I will do it again, this I am sure. I feel a sense of freedom in my disconnections, virtual and real.

This is not a dysfunction or a problem for me. If you are offended by this, you have the issue.

Early on, when social media was a new concept, I will admit to being drawn in by the allure of talking to old childhood and former high school friends. But I quickly realized that I have nothing to say to them beyond my happiness that they are doing well. No need to feel sentimental; say goodbye with a smile and move on with your life.
Edit: There are a few high school buddies that I chat with, so I guess I am not completely cutting myself off from my past. But I think it is interesting that 2 out of 200+ connections realized the “potential” of social networking.

Keeping tabs on me via my activity and interactions with others, silently seething because I am not posting on your wall or commenting on your pictures is not a healthy situation for you. I am fine. If you feel the need to capture my attention, pick up the phone, swing by for a cup of tea or a beer. Let me level set, if all of these feelings are coming up because of lack of use, abuse, or my being obtuse on social media, I have no incentive or desire to resolve the “problem”. I don’t sit around wondering if somebody purposely did something to piss me off on Facebook and when I do, it is time to check myself into a mental institution.

If you have expectations between us… don’t. If I can’t meet your lofty ideals (that we have never discussed), you should stop talking to me. I would certainly do the same, and I probably will.

If getting together with you is a pain in the ass, I will stop trying. If I feel uncomfortable after I have spent time with you, I will stop doing it. If you expect me to act the same as I was in college, I have no time for you. If you think I am a terrible person because of my political or religious views, why are you trying to get together with me? I don’t want to have a philosophical debate with you; I am not going to change your mind and you certainly won’t change mine. Shake hands and walk away.

I am 32 years old, I am not interested in feeling unsteady and unsure of my connections to people. I stand on bedrock, you are welcome to stand with me. If you want to fuck around, go play in quicksand.

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Rant: Gamestopping

( #Gamestop, #Culture )


Image Credit: HoneyBunny

I am not much of a gamer. I own all of the major consoles, but I use them for their media extender capabilities…and I bought a Wii because my wife wanted it for parties. I don’t buy games often because I just don’t have time to play them and I feel really guilty when I blow a few hours on the couch, so I tend to avoid them. I have also trained myself not to buy new games because they always drop in price a few months later (new or used) but by then I completely forget about them.

I decided to get a game on Sunday because I finished up most of my school work and I wanted to reward myself. I got it in my head to run over to a Gamestop, but then I hesitated because I don’t usually like the guys who work in there (30-something man-boys that make me feel like an asshole for not caring/knowing about video games). Allow me to expand and get very locally focused. The closest Gamestop to me is in Glassboro, NJ. Every time I go in there it is dirty, everything has been picked over and the staff is rude. An additional point about the staff: there is a guy who works in there that is/was a friend of a former friend. He looks like a ghost. Casper seems to have had a hard life and he does recognize me when I walk in (which is good). But the whole experience puts me in a dark place.

So this Sunday I decided to go to a different Gamestop. I have tried the ones in Magnolia and Voorhees and had similar (bad) experiences, but I never noticed the one on Egg Harbor Road (Washington Township) before. When I walked in, the place was clean and the kid behind the counter was actually answering a child’s question. As soon as they were done, he asked me if I needed assistance. I told them I was looking around for something fun and not time consuming. Another kid in the back started asking some questions and handed me a used version of Portal 2 which just came out and it was like 40% cheaper than new. I bought it and went on my way.

Why am I sharing this experience? Normally I bitch on this blog about bad experiences. I wanted to highlight a good one, getting away from generalized statements (shout out to Pat B!). What is the difference between the Gamestop in Glassboro and the one on Egg Harbor Road? Culture. Whoever manages the Glassboro store does not care and it shows in the physical apeparance and in their interactions with the customers. The person running the Egg Harbor Road location hired friendly people and takes the care to make the store presentable, so when the average customer walks in they don’t feel the need to put on a full body condom.

Local readers, do you have similar stories? Are there stores that are geographically close, but have totally different shopping experiences? If so, share them. Lets celebrate the good ones!

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Rant: Fantasy vs. Real Life

( #FunnyPeople, #GrowingUp )

Last Wednesday I caught Funny People on HBO. I have seen the movie a few times, but I happened to tune in during the scene where Adam Sandler is giving a Thanksgiving toast (can’t find a clip). The point of the scene was that all of these friends who were fighting are reminded that this is their best time—so they should enjoy it.

This scene rattled in my head for a few days and merged with a year-long meandering thought about my own social circle. I don’t know if I am scratching this itch the right way, but I need to get it out of my head. I always expected my social circle to hit that sweet spot of enough career to have some savings, but not completely overwhelmed with jobs and children to be able to go on a few life changing vacations/experiences. It never really happened. We went on some trips, but never an ADVENTURE.

By the time the weekend rolled around and we had dinner with a few friends, I decided to let my group adventure fantasy go. Too much wine on the deck beats 13 hours in a car to Panama City. I think it is better to enjoy and savor the things our lives afford us, rather than wishing for the things that were never going to materialize. The ADVENTURE is a fantasy; it doesn’t matter what I do or where I go, it doesn’t ever satisfy the intangible expectations I put on it.

Instead of being unsatisfied, I’d rather re-think what true satisfaction is. Here is my advice to my peers: If you are sitting around thinking of what you want to be when you grow up or fantasize about quitting your job and opening a bed and breakfast. Grow the fuck up.

DID I JUST PISS ON YOUR DREAMS?

Good.

While I am sure you can reference some long shot example to prove me wrong, the statistics are in my favor that you are not going to be a professional athlete (even golfer), a rock star, a cowboy (do you even know what a cowboy does?). Do you have a business plan for that bed and breakfast (and do you like working 24 hours a day)? When I was 4 I used to tell my mother I was going to own a hamburger stand in space (this predates the Spaceballs diner scene). I am pretty damn glad I did not pursue my astro-culinary dreams because space is full of radiation and zero gravity doesn’t do much for your health either (35% bone and muscle mass loss after 6 months).

What is so bad with an average life? This is assuming no abusive domestic situation, not in jail, or had some other horrible thing happen. Maybe there are a few simple steps that can turn a shitty life into a perfectly average one? I guess what I am saying is just because you have a dream, it doesn’t mean it is a very good one. Find pleasure when and where you can, and be glad you don’t have a cell-mate named Bubba that offers to toss your salad.

Sweet Dreams.

PS: One more bit of advice – don’t wait around for other people to do what you want to do. There are so many places that I want visit that my friends have no interest in, but luckily my wife does. Its good to have a partner, but I would go myself if I had to and I suggest you do the same. Be strong!

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Rant: Philadelphia and Generation X+

( #phillymag, #GenX )


Image Credit: Manuel Brauer

Last month, Philadelphia Magazine published a cover story demanding baby boomers to roll over and die so Generation X and the Millennials can finally take over. I was amused by the balls the magazine had to put that on the cover, until I actually read the article. It is fair to say that the cover was designed to make boomers angry because… they are probably not the target demographic of the magazine. I am on the border between Gen X and Millennials and this article managed to get my face red: my generation (whatever the hell I fall into) come across as spoiled brats.

Writer Janine White begins the article by talking about how she is on a roof deck in South Philadelphia for a New Years Eve party like it was the most impossible circumstance ever. She paints South Philadelphia as a wasteland that nobody wanted to live in before the hipsters arrived and made South Philly “cool”. She of course forgets South Philadelphia’s long tradition of community gatherings, block parties (see: Mummers Day Parade), and reputation as a family oriented section of the city. White immediately highlights my problem with her suggested youth movement: the people clamoring for it are self-centered assholes.

She then solidifies the connection to Philadelphia by stating younger professionals are moving from the suburbs into the city. I find this statement frustrating. The article echos a vibe I have been picking up in the blogging community: these people moved here as adults (or college students) and are enjoying the benefits of urban living—but they will not stay. I grew up in Philadelphia, I know the issues with schooling and the general issues of raising a family in the city. It is not impossible by any means, but I don’t think these young professionals have the stomach for it:

  • Because people are moving back, home prices are rising again, but paying 300k for a 1000 square foot row home with two kids doesn’t make much sense in Philadelphia
  • I really want to see a hipster soccer mom try to double park her mini-van on 13th St
  • How far will their love affair with the city go when their kid gets mugged by older kids on the walk to school… everyday
  • Sure taxes are cheap, but that private school tuition is pretty damn expensive
  • Want to get that cool roof deck? Good luck dealing with a South Philly contractor. They will start in the summer and you are lucky if they finish the following spring (I am exaggerating, sort of)

White continues her attack on boomers by listing all of the ills they released on society (corrupted do-nothing governments and divorces that turned Gen X into latchkey kids). She proudly claims Gen X doesn’t want to change the world, they just want to make it a nice place to live. She again highlights the fundamental problem with this generation: they don’t have the passion for a fight, even when it is the right thing to do. Lets take a look at the mortgage meltdown over the last few years. People blame old men in business suits for creating the situation, but who were the people sitting on the sales floors—making the predatory calls, telling people to re-fi, and selling mortgages to people who could not afford it? It wasn’t the boomers. Gen X and the first millennial got their hands dirty and nobody was complaining when the commission checks were coming in. I am not knocking anyone (or it is a knock on everyone). The moral compass of the youth movement can get just as fucked up in the gravitational pull of money—so don’t throw stones in glass houses.

Working around the system and creating alternate paths will only go so far; eventually you get high enough that an issues must be dealt with head on. It is in these situation Gen X/Y gets discouraged and goes home (and complains to their helicopter parents so they can make it all better). I had to write a paper three months ago about managing multi-generational teams: all of the research about Gen X/Y/Millennials points out that our generation does not communicate or negotiate well.

I don’t think you can solve the world’s problems in 140 characters or less. If the youth generation (me included) want a place at the big boys table, we need to admit that there is a whole bunch of shit that we do not know how to do well, figure out how to address that gap, and progress. We have to take on our parents issues and our own because we need to be strong enough to not only carry the burden, but to eliminate it for future generations, then we can pat ourselves on the back.

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Phillyist Repost… Kids Getting Stupider Response

NOTE: With Phillyist going dark last month, the Gothamist network has allowed me to reprint some select articles on my own blog.

This month’s Philadelphia Magazine cover story tackles the issue of kids getting stupider. When I first saw the cover, I thought this would be an article that has a crazy headline and then backpedals. That thought was closely followed by “What does this have to do with Philadelphia?”

After reading the article, my first hunch proved (mostly) right. Author Sandy Hingston does wonderful job painting a picture of an appalled mother shocked that her high school senior son doesn’t know the days of the week, spends six hours a day playing Warcraft, and doesn’t read books in class (they watch movies instead), but then turns it all around by bringing in specialists to prove that kids today just learn differently. (Neurologist Anjan Chatterjee’s explanation about not needing to know the days of the week has to be misquoted). My issue with the article is that it is essentially the same thirty-year-old argument that started with the Atari generation and keeps popping up with every new technological fad.

Today’s villain isn’t the gaming console, it is social media. “Kids spend too much time on Facebook and Twitter instead of reading War and Peace.” The solution to this issue is still the same—pull the kids away from the computer/tv/video game and make them do something else. I don’t have kids of my own, but I am around plenty of people who do. I see parents who let their kids do whatever they want, and I see the parents that regulate. Guess which kids are doing better in school and can actually hold a conversation?

Bottom line, if your kid spending six hours playing Warcraft bothers you so much, unplug the fucking computer and lock them in the basement with a book-light and the complete works of Leo Tolstoy. Another crazy idea: play the annoying game they are obsessed with to get a window into their world.

Back to my other question about what this article has to do with Philadelphia (since it was published in Philadelphia Magazine), as far as I can tell—not much. The Daily Beast ranked Philadelphia as the 11th smartest city. The University of Pennsylvania continues to dominate the college scene while Drexel, Temple, Villanova, Swarthmore, and Haverford gain recognition. Additionally the city seems to be developing its own identity with a culinary renaissance and our art, drama, literary, and musical scenes have burgeoning support structures in place as well.

I get what Sandy Hingston is going for—have one conversation with a mumbled-mouthed sixteen-year-old with a hoodie over his eyes and ear-buds blasting and you will want to damn the whole generation, but we need to be patient. Hingston’s article says that these kids excel at absorbing massive amounts of information in small bites, maybe they are keeping to themselves because they don’t like what they see.

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Why I don’t like Fan-actics

( #Philadelphia, #Eagles )

I don’t even need to say anything, read this:

A college professor from Lower Macungie Township who wrote a book about the first 50 years of the NFL knew Philly fans had a reputation for mistreating visiting fans, but the Wisconsin native said he didn’t know how bad it could be until he went to the Eagles game Sunday. Craig Coenen and his father, Peter Coenen, left Lincoln Financial Field jubilant after watching their beloved Green Bay Packers defeat the Eagles in the NFC wild card playoff game. “We were just thinking about how nice a day it was and it was a good memory,” Peter Coenen said. “Then I looked up and said, ‘Oh my God.’ ” His son’s Toyota Camry had been stomped on, kicked and beaten (kind of like the Eagles). Fans tore out the windshield wipers and motors and used them to scratch the paint, broke off the side mirrors and left footprints and dents on the hood, trunk and roof. “It was just drunk, obnoxious Eagles fans,” Craig Coenen said Monday after getting a repair estimate of $2,163. “Philadelphia is notorious for this, but hopefully the fans who did this are the exception, not the rule.” More likely, it will go down as another example of Philadelphia sports fans at their worst and add to their reputation as out-of-control, violent, destructive drunks and all-around sore losers.

~ Phawker

Stay classy Philadelphia.

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RANT: Verizon has the iPhone…

( #iphone, #verizon, #rant )

After years of rumors, Verizon and Apple introduced a version of the iPhone that will work on the Verizon network. In the days leading to this announcement, many fanboys and fangirls have been commenting on how this will change their lives. Allow me to summarize:

…now my life is complete. I can get on facebook and twitter, surf the internet, download apps, and think everyone else who doesn’t have one is not as good as me. I don’t care that the Blackberry and Android platforms already do these things…Apple is better and now so am I.

So as the news of the day is dominated by Verizon and Apple’s deal – I will laugh as the mindless drones line up to pay $600 bucks for a phone that will be $200 the following year (or $49 in the case of the iPhone 3GS). I will chuckle as the unhappy AT&T customers break contract to jump ship.

Finally, I will be pissed as this mass exodus bogs down Verizon’s network, recreating the issue all these people are fleeing from and taking me down with them.

PS: To all the media outlets – a phone is not headline news. Isn’t there a war still going on?

UPDATE:
I love how all of the tech sites are going nuts…
TechCrunch (It is the same damn phone, do we really need a walking tour?)

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Calls to Cut Smithsonian Funding Absurd

( #Smithsonian, #CatholicLeauge, #EricCantor )

If you haven’t been following the news, the Smithsonian is taking a lot of heat by Christian organizations and (mostly Republican) politicians due to an exhibit called “Hide/Seek” which features explicit and controversial work by Gay/Lesbian artists. A certain video in particular seems to be drawing most of the attention. The clip by David Wojnarowicz features statues of Jesus covered with ants. Personally—I think the video is pointless and doesn’t invoke anything (for me), so I don’t think it is all that offensive (just not interesting).

Shield your Christian eyes, because I found the clip….

The video seems to have pissed off all the right people who are now saying that the Smithsonian is using public funding to offend Christians. I don’t think any of the people working at the Smithsonian set out to offend any religious organization. Some people get offended at Michelangelo’s David (Gasp! a penis), people get offended by crosses, hell, people get offended by toilet tissue commercials! The purpose of the Smithsonian is to collect this stuff, display it, and let you make up your own mind.

One of the critics (and think it was Bill Donohue of the Catholic League), said that the Government might as well fund professional wrestling since the American people enjoy that more than museums. While I enjoy ladder matches as much as the next guy, whoever said this quote is an ass—a politician or a person in a leadership position should be less concerned with controversial art and more concerned with people not going to museums and seeking knowledge.

I am starting to see another agenda: I keep reading that politicians (again mostly Republicans) and “interest groups” (usually Christian) calling for cutting funding on museums, libraries, and schools—places were people learn to actually think critically. They ask “who uses them” because they have their own private sources of information (that they can control to support their own end game). A less educated population is an easily controlled population (that sounds familiar) While there is a substantial economic problem facing the United States, if we cut sources of knowledge what the hell are we trying to save? What kind of country will we become?

Sure – let’s have everything privately funded so nothing controversial and thought provoking is ever made accessible to the public. People will generate art and distribute via the internet which will only be accessible to people who can afford it (since the libraries will all be closed), until the companies that control the data lines decide that they don’t want to be involved and block transmission. With so much information accessible, how the hell is this country headed for another cultural dark age?

Read More: The New American

PS: Step this back a few days, remember that article by Philadelphia Magazine about “kids getting stupider”? Read that article (and my response) in light of this information. Makes you wonder if there really is an agenda happening…

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Hosting a Documentary Screening = Terror Watch List

( #MarkRuffalo, #TSA, #Fraking )

Actor Mark Ruffalo is on the terror watch list because he hosted screenings of a documentary about “Frak Drilling” in Pennsylvania. Read that again. Host a documentary, end up on the terror watch list.

The Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security took notice of Ruffalo’s activist campaign, he says, and placed him on a watch list. In an interview with GQ, Ruffalo said he found his new public infamy “pretty f**kin’ funny.”

Read the entire article – Yahoo Lookout

I know one thing, I sure as hell want to see what this documentary is all about…

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