Thursday, January 24, 2008

Red-Headed Stepchild

I find it interesting that Christianity is so adaptable. This religion is notorious for its "if you can't beat 'em, join' em" strategy throughout the ages. Whether its the realization that the pagans have their traditions that you're not gonna shake, so you might as well let 'em do it, or the adaptation of sermons when the truth of science becomes unavoidable, the majority of this religious group has eventually jumped on the bandwagon of progress.

But that bandwagon grew a 5th wheel when Christians decided to move in on rock and roll. They ruined it! The whole Point of rock music was to let loose about sex, drugs, being bad, and being angry. I'm sure most people with a pulse know this already, but "rock and roll" was originally a euphemism for sex. Thus "rock and roll music" was an old blues reference to singin' about doin' the nasty, and that was 2/3 of its appeal.

All of the offspring of Rock and Roll, save one, have taken the original shape of rock and accentuated one aspect of it. Grunge and Punk went off in the angry direction, R&B took the sex section and ran with it, Pop only exists because it was cheap and easy to produce, and several other groups and sub-categories emerged from experimental mating within the party pad.

But Daddy Rock and Momma Roll spawned again, and just as you occasionally get a Mississippian with a tail, the music family spat out a bad egg. They'd dealt with this before--Metal spent 25 years in its darkened bedroom reading comic books and getting heavier, but eventually it moved to Iceland and the family let out a breath. This slip of judgment, however, this error had the potential to undermine the clan at its core.

It was clean. It was healthy. It was...Nice. Ever so nice. With a tucked-in shirt and modest hemlines, sparkling teeth and glassy sheep's eyes, Christian Rock was mimicking the whole family within days of its adoption. It was cute at first, as so many of these things are, following Grunge and Hip Hop around the house spouting nonsense, but as it aged Christian found that it lacked the inspiration and vitality to keep up with the family. Everyone tried to help it gain drive, even Hardcore, but Christian still stagnated. Protest had gone Soft before retiring to Berkeley, but it was never really influential anyway. Punk tried shouting at it before giving up, changing its name to Emo, and committing suicide. The singer/songwriters had gone broke and resorted to busking, so they were no help. The rest of the family was meanwhile being beaten to death under the harsh fluorescent lighting of boardrooms and was eventually buried without ceremony outside of Memphis. The only one Christian identified with was Corporate Pop, who's plastic love story and one-size-fits-all platitudes appealed it to the same mindless masses it was trying to reach. Christian gained a following--a naive and helpless, yet arrogant following--and left home with a tent revival tour of the Midwest.

The failed good intentions of Rock and Roll resulted in the creation of a monster which has left a wide path of destruction in its wake. Millions of people were blindsided by it, were wooed and eventually enslaved by it--enthralled by the rhythm until they found themselves trapped in the same rusting pipe organ that they thought they'd defeated. The nice kids with their nice instruments singing nice songs about friendship and peace would suddenly whither and be replaced by hooded monks beating drums skinned with the stretched hides of the unfaithful, demanding obedience and crushing independent thought with promises of eternal reward through glittering x-acto smiles. Like pheasants to a baited field the teens were lured, with the encouragement of grinning drones who looked just like them, into the den of the beast. Only when they realize the music is a hymn do they realize there's no way out...

Erm.. I may watch too many Buffy reruns. But seriously, in high school I was invited numerous times to "free concerts" by smiling acquaintances, with promises of food, door prizes, and lots of fun! It became something of a game to reply with "so no cover--is it BYOB?" just to bait them. I went to one with a friend who said there'd be boys there and was so traumatized that I developed a tic. The event was held in a Baptist-owned warehouse cheekily named The Shack. I'd heard of it and innocently thought it must be a grimy squat where skaters smoked weed and cool kids made out. Then I saw the punch bowls, the plastic checked tablecloths, the popcorn, the sodas, and the chaperones. The preacher of the local First Baptist let the band warm up before hopping onstage, to cheers and applause, to reassure the youths of their coolness before asking the lord to bless this fun night, that everyone involved have a great time but use this event to praise his holy name and enjoy all the gifts of...i went numb. My skin prickled and the ceiling suddenly seemed low and ominous. The air grew thick and toxic and the happy smiling nice children around me melted and blended into one horrible, leering mouth full of glistening razor blades, laughing and asking me to write down my phone number so they could call about next week's "light, informal youth-group intro night." Through clenched teeth I claimed that was my church's youth night and gripped the plastic tablecloth so tightly that the cheery checked pattern came away on my palm. Eventually I escaped to the rear of the building where the roadies were getting stoned and shotgunned a joint with the gaffer just to clear my head. When my ex-friend's dad came to get us I claimed that the orange soda had made me ill.

By my senior year I saw carnage that nearly brought tears to my eyes--most of the theatre crowd refused to listen to what they deemed "secular music" (e.g. all music except the demon spawn of a priest and a choirboy) and instead buried their blatant homosexual desires under pictures of Jesus and Jars of Clay CDs. I can only hope they grew out of it before they imploded.

The same existed in college, but there it was easier to ignore and the theatre kids were real. You'd occasionally get a free bag of "Goodies" from a table of godbotherers--maybe some candy, a water bottle, a t-shirt with something tough-looking-yet-inspirational like "Never backs down. Never gives up." printed on the back in a font like a claw mark, a cd to put in the microwave, and a book to prop that wobbly table on. They handed out fliers for concerts on campus, but that only gave my crowd an opportunity to complain about how they were contributing to the litter problem. In college I was safe from the christian rock. It was there, but its terror was held at bay by my supportive peer group. By surrounding myself with good people I never found myself tempted.

Christian Rock flourishes even now in Charlotte--the Little City that Couldn't. Not satisfied with its terrible traffic, teeth-gratingly mismanaged airport, absent arts culture, plastic yuppie bar district, and purely evil banking uptown, Charlotte had to mar its reputation even further by hosting its own Conservative Fashion Week to a soundtrack of Super Wal-Church soft rock and interviews with virginal homecoming queens who prove that its possible to be cool while sticking to your morals. (who said anything about coolness? I disregarded morals because my hormones told me to, not because I thought i was bad-ass.) Other city newspapers feature young artists and thinkers. Charlotte prints pictures of 14 year olds wearing halter tops over t-shirts. Like a coconut bra on a space suit, you know they want to play along, but they've wound up just making fools of themselves by trying.

Always cutting off the fun bits of our toys, leave it to the Christians to adapt the real world to itself, twisting and mutilating it so badly that its not fun anymore and we're forced to find something else, some new way to rebel, hoping they won't find a way to drain it of life. They (and Disney) killed Rock and Roll--what's next?

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Odd question, to anyone who read this far--is it normal for a kitten to have webbed toes?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Things Teddy Has Tried to Eat

in no particular order: Styrofoam, a nickel, a blanket, feathers, tassels, a plate, his tail, a leather chair, soap, dried paint, a chunk of tile, kitty litter, dirt, dried leaves, his foot, a teabag, a newspaper, a coozie, my cell phone, my computer mouse, a carrot, an artificial ice cube (he doesn't like real ice cubes) a candle, a rock, trousers, my forearm, my mom's laptop, a chunk of drywall, a safety pin, a thumbtack, a screwdriver, 15 christmas ornaments, his foot and his tail at once, sandpaper, a spanner, a price tag, a receipt, 2 almonds, a toothbrush, a vitamin, and a Christmas Cactus.

He should jingle by now.

video

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tis Cheaper to get a new Cat than new Carpet

My kitten is that little cold skinny kid in water wings at the neighborhood pool--edging cautiously toward the water's edge, fingers crossed, eyes squeezed shut with the effort of convincing himself that there's no sharks, that its perfectly safe... getting all the way to the stairs...and then running away at the last minute. You know the only way this kid is getting wet is by means of a reckless shove or slippery deck. In Teddy's case, its a slippery bathtub rim and a tail that is far more interested in water than his nose.

Friday, January 11, 2008

obsolete

I've come to realize lately that there's a lot of practices and rules in effect these days that, thanks to modern technology and the nature of our society, frankly shouldn't be.
I may periodically update this list as the spirit moves me.

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Long-Distance charges. Did you know that phone companies still make a distinction between local and long-distance dialing? Calling out of your 3-digit local access zone tacks on a large amount to landline prices. While this made sense back in the day of human operators and manual switchboards, when you had to pay more people to make those connections for you, these days thanks to digital and satellite technology that's simply not done. Dialing a local call takes exactly the same amount of human effort as placing a call to China--exactly none. How is charging us extra for no extra service justified?

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ATM loyalty fees. My bank charges me $1.50 when I withdraw any amount of cash from another bank or credit union's ATM. Frequently, the bank who owns the ATM will too. I wind up blowing $3-4 every time i make a transaction when I'm not in the same time zone as my bank. This is unacceptable. I'm paying a machine--which, i hasten to add, does not get paid--to access my own money because my bank can't or won't do it themselves. This is no inconvenience to my bank as the entire system of transfers is done automatically by mutually accessed computer systems, such as NYCE or Interlink. I know for a fact that banks do not pay per transaction to use these services because in the UK no ATM requires a service fee, even to access my US account.

I believe its fairly obvious to any reader that, if my bank is available, i would of course use my bank's ATM. If I'm Not using my own bank's ATM, its obviously because my bank has failed to provide one within a reasonable range of me. Basing my assumptions on what I'll call "expected human reasoning skills," most people aren't going to join a bank that they can't access on a regular basis from their homes. It's illogical. So if you find yourself needing to use an ATM or other service from another bank, its probably because you're not near home. Why punish your customers for straying afield? Shouldn't you be proud of them for traveling, as traveling is expensive and therefore keeps money circulating?

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Meal time. These days people are at their desks at all sorts of crazy hours, in order to keep up with the global money market and foreign business. Every industry has people pulling all-nighters, particularly in energy, healthcare, and travel. Now, I respect most restaurants' right to keep old fashioned business hours because there still are a very large number of 9-5ers employed and its not worth the expense of staying open all night. I know that there's at least one Denny's in each town and most late-nighters are fine with their 2am fried fare. But. My tolerance ends when I enter an airport. Airport managers know good and damn well that people are departing and arriving at all hours of day and night, and that traveling does all sorts of screwy things to the metabolism. Yet every single restaurant in the airport closes by 9pm. The manager of Joe's Grass Strip can close the café at 5 if he wants--chances are it won't inconvenience too many people. But when every food joint in your wing of Las Vegas International is locked up two hours before you depart, you can't help but wonder if this is a gesture of contempt for lower-fare late night fliers.

Even more unacceptable, when you board a 6-hour flight, you expect to be fed en-route. 6 hours is a long time, and after all, you didn't have the opportunity to buy food after the security checkpoint because everything in the airport was closed. And we all know how dangerous granola bars are. But lo and behold, when you get in the plane you discover that meal-service is only provided during meal-times, and you will be fed half a diet coke and a six mini-pretzels on this flight tonight. (but hey, meal service doesn't mean a whole lot anyway when you're a vegetarian and your seat-mate is Hindu and all they have is cheeseburgers.) If the flight staff is working, it is business time. The time of day is irrelevant. Moreover, when you are in flight you are not moving with the rotation of the earth, so the passage and indeed linear concept of time becomes debatable, so how can we base "mealtime" on the land-based 24-hour clock? I've seen the sun rise 3 times in one 24-hour period--you dare to tell me that daytime is absolute?

Time zoning, and even the idea of rotational daylight phases, is a fairly new phenomenon within the human experience. It took sailors quite a while to figure out that the 3-D nature of the planet was changing the movements of navigation stars from their normal patterns in Europe, leading to numerous lost boats and scratched heads. (a full and coherent explanation of this, paired with the development of spring-movement clocks to keep accurate time where pendulum clocks failed on rocking boats, can be found at the Greenwich Observatory.) It has taken heaps of math and science to invent the standardized planetary time system we have, which is not only pathetically fallible (there are several pacific islands that are cut in half by the International Date Line, which among other problems, has led to several people missing their birthdays) but it throws the arbitrary nature of time as we've established it into sharp relief.

We are on an infinitely small (or large, given the infinite and potentially variable nature of infinity) ball spinning in circles in bigger circles in space, which as far as we know has no center and therefore cannot spin on an axis or have a central or universal time, except for one based on the hypothetical birth of the universe, as estimated through perceived planetary red-shifting in accordance with the earth-based theory of universal expansion. The only people to whom our concept of time is at all pertinent is us, and even then there are a minimum of 24 lunchtimes in a rotational day and WHY HAVEN'T YOU GIVEN ME A SANDWICH YET?

I feel better.

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College Tuition. We all know that college is just high school II these days, and that a college degree only proves that you're as educated as the stoner on the "2-o and go" plan in the mortarboard beside you. So why are we all paying out the ass for what has become basic public schooling? Why is there competition and an application process? Everyone can get admitted somewhere, and few employers actually care where you earned your degree. Why don't taxes support grades 13-16 like the other 12? Why do we continue to break the bank and put ourselves into overwhelming debt when we know that a degree will not improve our chances of gaining employment? (indeed, it has prevented me from finding some jobs.) It is in the economy's best interest to either make a college degree mean something (if the guy next to me in line to graduate found himself playing chess against a cabbage, it could be anyone's game) or make it free. Millions of unemployable graduates defaulting on their student loans can't be good for the economy.

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Traffic Speed Enforcement. Freeway speed limits were introduced at the time of the first oil shortage in the mid 1970's to help reduce overall fuel consumption. Now that we've started developing fuel efficient vehicles, what keeps cops ticketing cautiously quick drivers? Fast does not necessitate reckless or dangerous, as regional high speed limits will attest. If the speed limit is 75 on a flat, straight, empty road in Arizona, why do people get fined for driving 75 on a flat, straight, empty road in North Carolina?

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The pairing of Pagan festivals and Christian holy days. Not that I mind terribly, but now that everyone knows that Jesus did not lay the first Easter egg and the burning bush was not caused by a faulty Christmas light wire, what perpetuates these unions? Its fun, but has been rendered completely meaningless by virtue of its alliance. You can't simultaneously give thanks to the Only Son of the Only God (huh?) and the Goddess of Fertility. (i love that about Christian doublespeak--"he is one god, but he is three separate entities all at the same time. it is possible because god is almighty." sounds like a typo that you guys just decided to run with.)

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Guys, let go of the past. I'm tired of paying for employees that don't exist and quietly absorbing strains to my credit rating and patience by tolerating an educational money pit and a belief structure that has long outlived its welcome. Everything except Society is moving forward!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

hmph

i think the deciding factor in this election is going to be "who annoys me the least?" presently its the Democrats--i've deleted literally dozens of messages from Republican candidates from my voice mail and contributed to the landfill problem with hundreds of their flyers. Do you Really think that's effective? After congress was pressured by the people to establish a national anti-telemarketing list? The fact that you're in politics doesn't mean you're not trying to sell me something.

People's homes are their safe haven from bullshit like you. If you want in, just like all bloodsuckers, you have to be invited.

My motto in life is simple: If you advertise it, I don't want it.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Motivated Self-Starter

I've been on the job hunt lately, and one phrase I keep coming across in postings, written by potential employers and low-paid secretaries alike, is "seeking an energetic and motivated self-starter for immediate hire."

This has gotten me wondering...what on earth is a self-starter? Do all these people really just want to rent a lawnmower?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Starts When You're Always Afraid

Step outta line, the man come and take you away...

The Airport Security Follies


If you read the article, my responses here will make sense.

1. I find it an excellent and coherent article written by a well-researched and eloquent journalist.

2. The comment queue cut off after 265 entries. Look at the timestamps. There are 265 responses--overwhelmingly positive--in 27 hours, yet many commentators included some reference to "the American people are too complacent. There's too many people who buy into it. There's not enough people angry enough to speak up."

3. As a recent resident of Berkeley, CA, I do know of my inalienable right to petition, peacefully assemble, and protest. I also know just how easily my government can ignore my petitions, assemblies, and protestations. Protests are pointless, (and often deemed riots by authority members and subsequently tear-gassed unless held in hidden, miles-away "free speech zones"), writing to your congressperson returns politely-worded "your sentiments will not affect your representation" form letters, voting is blatantly disregarded, and outright riots result in the immediate arrest, death, and defamation of its participants by news and political speakers. Trust me--Berkeley is ignored by the government every single day.

There is absolutely no way for average citizens to change anything except by a gross majority coming together and not spending money on whatever it is that warrants change. Which isn't going to happen. Enough people rely daily on air transit that far-reaching boycott is overwhelmingly improbable. Recall: there are 300 million people in this country, most of whom have low-paying jobs, families, and insufficient resources to attempt alternatives to the mainstream. This country is too big and run by too few businesses for a private sector boycott to make a dent in air traffic. LA and NY are just too far apart for anything except teleportation to challenge that--and even then, it would still be regulated by the TSA!

The only way you can avoid funding the antics of your government and the companies that run it is to leave, in a rowboat, hewn by hand with handmade tools from trees felled in countries that have no trade agreements with the US. Have fun.

When Big Business is in cahoots with Government by the Highest Bidder, there's no exposed toe for the common man to jump on. No matter what we say or do, as individuals, we cannot stop the corporations in charge from doing exactly what they want to us. So long as we know we're all being lied to and humiliated in the security line for the sake of generating a national threat through the power of the collective imagination, we might as well put up with it. We don't really have any other options. The world has gotten small enough for it to be controlled by one small group of people. I'm of the opinion that it's Procter and Gamble.