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Taxes (a rant)

June 22, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m not a tea party member (I still don’t know if that’s correct), in fact I hold mostly opposite to their credo of “me first everyone else second” but I do know when taxes are getting a bit out of control. New York, the land of taxes and fees (how exactly can they justify a usage fee for my vehicle registration?) has decided once again that it’s time to try and tax the Indian Reservations. It’s as predictable as evolution (not what comes out of it but that it will happen).

Usually it takes a bit longer for a governor to make this attempt since they realize after the first time that it simply can’t work. When I was in High School then governor Pataki, made the attempt to collect taxes on the sale of gasoline and tobacco products by the various tribes to non-residents of the reservations. This did not have the desired effect, in fact it spiraled so out of control that the Seneca Nation shut down part of the I-90 with road blocks. When the state sent in the Troopers to instill order they were severely outnumbered and withdrew while giving the Seneca nation a couple of free Trooper cars and hats. There were also plans to use bulldozers to demolish the stretch of the thruway but the governor rescinded the plan before that option was exercised.

Then we had governor Spitzer who tried to do the same thing. This time, Spitzer was more accommodating and relented before the bedlam started. After his inglorious relinquishing of his position we had current governor Patterson try this a couple of years ago.

Patterson, for his faults, has really been having a difficult time in his position. Spitzer, was moderately popular for a governor, and although many people were calling for his head after the prostitution bust he would have been the best person for the job during the financial collapse. Patrolling Wall St. was how he made his name in this state to begin with. Patterson, inherited a shit storm in this state that only Theodore Roosevelt’s tenure could compare too. The only difference is that Patterson has been fighting the deficit since he started and had to compete with an insurrection by the State Senate that really compares itself to the last days of the Byzantine Empire in its complexity.

The money is running out of the state. In response Patterson has tried to cut everything he could while raising every tax he could and eliminating some antiquated laws that have withheld money from the state. However like the Tea Party who wants lower taxes and a reduced budget, most of people of the state also won’t abide cuts to the budget revealing a very despicable aspect of the American People. They like what they are getting but want someone else to pay for it and no one else to have it.

Patterson was shot down on his previous attempt to tax the reservation, it didn’t even make it out of the idea phase but now it comes again. It comes with another lifting of the tax on cigarettes, making a pack of cigarettes around ten bucks, the second time in two years it has been raised along with a law to tax the reservation.

If the state wants to raise money by taxing non-necessities, I don’t have a legal issue with that. That is within their right as the government, however it is not within their rate to tax the reservations as that situation is federal, defined by treaty. I’ve said this before, it takes an act of Congress to break a treaty, New York simply does not have the power to do so.

If the unelected lame duck governor wants to tax tobacco outside of the price range of the majority of users (this really hurts the poor more than anyone else) he can. What he shouldn’t do is pretend that this is in the interest of public health. He’s exploiting an addiction, no matter which way you cut it. If he really wanted to do something in the interest of public health he would ban the sale of them in the state, but that causes too great of a loss in tax revenue which is what this is all about anyway.

Why not shave down Thruway construction, raise the gasoline tax, initiate the tax on soft drinks (all for the public health as well), instead of trying to break a treaty between a sovereign nation and the federal government. Since Patterson is not running for re-election I get that he is free from public approval but not from breaking the law.

Categories: current events, politics, rant

The South Park Issue-Rant

April 27, 2010 Leave a comment

I haven’t watched South Park in awhile, the show never really grabbed me to the point where I would tune in specifically for the show. Once in awhile I will go through these periods where I will watch it for several weeks at a time and then months without. Few of the episodes I have seen really made me laugh where as most of it, was well done but didn’t appeal to me. Comedy Central seems to prefer rerunning the movie than it did any of the really good episodes that I always seem to miss.

Yet people that tune in to the show and find themselves shocked because the show has insulted something that they hold dear still surprise me. For a show that was developed from a short which pitted Jesus fighting Santa Claus over control for Christmas people seem to have a very short memory over the series’ draw: it’s shock value.

It’s shocking to hear the foul mouthed kids tackle concepts that are way over their heads as the clueless town folk run about as a polarizing satire on whatever issue the show may be addressing. It had gotten to the point where in 2004, the phrase “South Park Libertarian” was coined to apply to people who didn’t trust the right but also didn’t believe that the left was at all practical.

That Muslims are offended should come as no surprise, they can get in line behind Christians, Jews, Scientologists, and Mormons for the religions that the show has skewered. So the Muslim website that “warned” Trey Parker and Matt Stone to watch what they produced lest they become another Theo Van Gogh must have really been looking to be insulted. It’s not like Parker and Stone hadn’t done it before when they skewered Family Guy doing a cut-away gag with the prophet Muhammed and Peter Griffin getting lemonade. Even then he was behind a black box. I remember that episode quite clearly because their criticism of Family Guy hit so close to my main problem with the show and the fact that it came so closely to the Danish newspaper issue.

Someone is always going to be offended by the show. It’s the same people that thought all the children were so scarred from seeing two frames of Janet Jackson’s breast during the Superbowl (I wonder how those kids are doing) but cut from a different cloth.

The thing that really pisses me off are the calls from people who think that Parker and Stone should engage themselves in a bit of self-censorship so that people don’t get to the point where they are using thinly veiled threats on their lives. This is saying that the real problem isn’t with a guy who would make death threats around a poorly animated cartoon show, but with the people who made it. That isn’t even close to being the correct way of thinking in the post-renaissance age.

Asking them to censor themselves in some fit of being ultra-politically correct isn’t the mark of enlightenment, it’s the mark of being so afraid of the reaction that it violates the basic freedoms we base our modern societies on. Since everyone seems to be agreeing that this was a complete overreaction to the show, why can’t we agree that it’s the reactor that is wrong?

Categories: current events, rant

Snowmargeddon

February 25, 2010 Leave a comment

I didn’t hear the three Roosters and their crows, nor did I hear the harp of Egther, yet these things must have passed for the fimbulvtr is upon us. For three years, there shall be no sun, no break in the relentless onslaught of the winter snow. For the wolf Skoll shall have snatched the sun its dreaded maw not to release it until the final days. The child and I searched, searched, and searched in vain for the world tree Yggdrassil to hide in Hoddmimir’s wood before the world serpent awakes to survive this, the end of the days…

…Or perhaps not. Cracked.com a couple of weeks ago had an article that described weathermen as being members of two archtypes: Michael Bay and Captain Obvious. The Captain Obvious types are the ones that predict temperature in the low 30s and upper 20s for the month of Frebruary, as if this was an astounding revelation that no one else could have ever made. Or they predict rain in April, snow in December…you get the idea.

The other camp, the Michael Bays, apparently all live in Western New York and could take a lesson from the above group. They have been predicting a storm to hit my area that would be so off the charts that it can only be measured in terms of the Eddas’ prediction of the end of fucking days. I should mention to my readers not familiar with Western New York that it comprises the cities of Rochester and Buffalo and the area in between them. Two cities that, unlike NYC, Washington DC, and Boston are used to snow being in the forecast and heavy snow at that.

So what is this dreaded forecast that will herald the downfall of the All-Father and Thor, leading to the eventual release of Balder from the pit of Hel? 4 to 7 Inches from Thursday to Friday, with another possible 1-2 inches Friday evening. That means that roughly, even if the high estimate is correct that 1 inch an hour will fall on the area. For comparison’s sake look at the last knuckle on your thumb, that is a approximately one inch*, that amount of snow will take one hour to fall on the ground.

The wind gusts are the more worrisome, as they expect them to peak from anywhere between 15mph to 30mph, which would cause huge snowdrifts if it weren’t for the heavy wet snow that is going to fall which the wind won’t be able to carry in any significant fashion. This would be more of an inconvenience if it weren’t for the fact that the entire weekend is supposed to have temperatures several degrees above freezing which will more than likely nullify the accumulation of snow.

But to hear it from the weathermen, it would seem that Thor better start lacing up his boots and sheathing Mjolnir for battle with the leviathan. This type of prediction just sends people into a panic, the term blizzard was nixed in the paper for the phrase, “Hurricane of Snow” which carries the sense of panic that these meteor”ologists”** want to happen. Which of course sends the general public, too forgetful to remember that snow does tend to fall East of the Great Lakes, to the grocery store to stock up on water, food, and shovels in order to dig themselves out of the several inches that are supposed to fall.

Don’t panic people this sort of thing tends to happen. Let’s get some weathermen fired, if that’s at all possible.

*And the source of the saying, “Rule of thumb.”
**I barely recognize the television brand of this as a science.

Categories: daily complaint, rant

Decline and Fall

January 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Usually those two words are predicated by a rise, but in the case of radio station Air America, there really was never a rise. If anyone is surprised by the ending of the station (other than being surprised that it was still on the air until now) they should look at Air America’s charter and note the many problems that it had.

First off it was founded to combat the rise of Right Wing Conservative talk radio and their alleged dominance in the airwaves by personalities such as Rush Limbaugh. This was their first mistake, what is currently called Conservative talk radio didn’t start out that way. The radio stations hired certain people to fill up time slots and sought out those that would bring the best ratings therefore increasing ad revenue. It was audience first, and ideology second. Air America did this in reverse, which is why most people haven’t heard of them and those that did tuned out a long time ago.

They were started in 2004 with the goal of removing President Bush from power. Which they utterly failed at. Too ideological, and not enough business sense is what killed them just as much as it kills almost every ultra left winger who seeks to make a name for themselves. Various reports regarding the demise of the station have commented that most employees couldn’t tell if the station was a political campaign or a business. It tried to be both and that is why it failed. There’s a large suspicion, propagated by the Obama administration, that Fox News is a tool of the Republican party. That however is all that it is, a suspicion. Air America was admittedly a tool of the liberal camp and was so far to the left that moderates like myself couldn’t abide their pretentiousness.

Limbaugh at least reigns himself in once in awhile, and on the other end so does Ed Schultz. However when you have a station that is trying to make me think that Jeanine Garafolo has something interesting to say about politics it’s an uphill battle to begin with. This is the woman who flat out claims that anyone opposing Obama’s Healthcare Bill is a racist (Yeah Jeanine you don’t sound like a fascist at all), of course this is now.

Then, the entire station was claiming that a Bush voter is an idiot voter. Which is both impractical to your cause and patently false. Nothing gets people on your side like insulting them, claiming that their voice doesn’t matter because it’s too infused with Bud Light and NASCAR to be valid. Several of my Grad School professors were Bush voters as well and I seriously doubt that washed up comedians could engage them in rational debate.

Did we need Air America? No, enough liberal talk radio hosts have emerged that were operating completely outside of the station. The founders felt that they were too important to be ignored and thus wouldn’t need a valid business model, which is basically the definition of pretension.

Categories: politics, rant

Why I don’t/Can’t hate the Twilight Series

November 16, 2009 Leave a comment

First off: because I haven’t read any of the books or seen the movie.

The great war of nerd-dom continuing on from the previous year is over the book series by Stephenie Meyer and the franchise phenomenon that has been all the rage at least until the next thing comes along. The nerds are pissed off because “these aren’t vampires” according to the traditional definition of the mythical* creature and now the entire world of nerd-fiction is flooded with people wanting more vampires but not real vampires, those kind of vampires that drink animal blood and are good looking.

Well let’s get straight to it: the typical nerd isn’t popular. He (because it’s usually a he) likes the sorts of things that nobody else likes and now his realm of fiction is flooded by people who have turned off Gossip Girl and new versions of Gen X shows (90210, Melrose Place) to start reading about things that they now like…and it pisses them off. To all the nerds out there sitting at your computers posting in forums about what a hack Meyer is or how Bella is neither hot nor creatively named I have news for you: She won.

Meyer won, because she wrote a popular series of books about teenage romance that featured a vampire and she won because for all of the rough drafts of stories that you may have started and never finished with the long haired brooding vampire she’s been published, adapted, and popular. She won your war and she wasn’t even trying to fight it. The worst part is that the victory is so Pyrrhic for you that you wished she had lost it. Now you have to share your domain, your sacred fantasy life, with the same people that wouldn’t look at you in high school.

In short, all the backlash against her is the same shit we heard five years ago with Avril Lavigne. Avril brought punk to the masses by watering it down. And like the rage directed at Avril Lavigne, the viscera directed toward Stephenie Meyer isn’t because she wrote a bad book, although they will claim that is one reason. It isn’t because the Vampires in the novels, allegedly break the “rules” of Vampirism,** although they will claim that is another reason as well. It’s not because it adds to a cheapening of intellectual aspect of undead fantasy fiction (often times this comes from the militant defenders of Joss Whedon’s insipid dialogue and thinly veiled misogyny) although again they will claim….No it’s because Stephenie took it away from them in the same way that Avril took the elitism of punk away from its fans. Vampires are no longer the domain of gothic types sitting in Denny’s at 2am writing in their black leather-bound journals with red ink. It’s now the talk of the cheerleaders who pine away for their quarterback boyfriend to act for one second as devoted to her as Edward does to Bella; and that is what pisses them off more than anything.

For every story that someone penned about vampires in a journal or in a buried file on their computer (so that on one could accidentally see it) half of them are about a lonely, smart, and misunderstood girl meeting a mysterious guy who turns out to be: a vampire. The other half are about a guy who is smart, lonely, and misunderstood being a hero to an attractive woman who turns out to be: a vampire. By Epicurus I think I wrote the latter in high school (never finished it) and the former is how the HBO series True Blood begins.

A friend of mine called the series a “pop-culture abomination” but the thing about pop-culture is that it pops in and then it pops out. Avril Lavigne is hardly on the radar anymore, the boy band craze ended, this too will end. The thing about it is that it is so insanely popular right now that the counter culture people feel that they are being personally attacked by the mobs of people invading their turf. When the craze is over those people will hold on to the books for nostalgia purposes while the “true” vampire fans will still be penning their stories. If the series’ popularity is the only reason you hate it then go buy a “non-comformist” shirt from hot topic and get ready for your formulaic complaint for the next craze that runs through the media because it’s coming.

The Twilight series isn’t really about Vampires, it’s about teenage romance issues as the target demographic is young girls. One of those girls, my cousin, told me that she doesn’t read them because they are popular. At least she’s honest about the whole thing which is a lot more than most people who level such polemics against the movies and the books. If anything the vampire thing is hot right now and the very people that hate it and her, should be thanking them for making their interests so much more accessible. Why not enjoy the fact that you now have something in common with more people than ever before, isn’t that what all of those “no one understands me” complaints are about in the first place? Instead of hating a woman who struck gold with her first novel just let her fans have their fantasy.

*Mythical: Of or relating to myths, described in a myth, of the nature of a myth; fabulous; IMAGINARY; fanciful, mythological.

**Which is complete bullshit by the way. Dracula in Bram Stoker’s novel is hairy palmed, ugly, and can walk in daylight. When was the last time a vampire movie followed that arch-type? And where was the bitching for Wes Craven’s Dracula 2000 when he made Dracula’s true identity Judas Iscariot? Technorati Tags: , , , ,

30 Rock/Whedonites

September 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Rant the first: I just don’t think I’m going to watch 30 Rock out of spite. Everyone I hear is telling me that I should really be watching this show, but I didn’t watch Arrested Development and look what happened to it, it became a cult classic that lasted only three seasons and never once jumped the shark* into mediocrity, then annoyance, then the sappy ‘I’m only watching the series finale because i used to watch it all the time.” So please all media stop asking me to watch the show as soon as I do it will go downhill, and If I just wait for the network to kill it on its own then you will have a great show that you can brag to me about how “you’ve been watching since season 1” and I get to pretend I’m impressed.

Rant the Second: It has been brought to my attention that some “fans” of the show True Blood are trying to petition someone via the internet to get Joss Whedon (“director,” “writer” of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) to direct/write an episode. Now I just used quotes in three times in the first sentence to make three points two of which are an objective analysis of Whedon’s “talent.”

First off the guy can’t direct, this is evident from the only movie he’s ever done which was based on a television show no one watched called Firefly. The movie was poorly directed to the point where IMDB comments point this out frequently even by fans of his who say that for a first time director it doesn’t matter that the movie seemed off, because it’s Whedon’s. Well this is the blind faith most reserved for religious zealots, it might have been his first movie but it certainly wasn’t his first time directing. How long was that shitty show on television? And then it’s sequel and still you idiots have the nerve to tell me that Firefly was his first time directing? Is it ignorance, stupidity, or what?

Secondly he can’t write. I mean, yeah, people give him the credit of “he writes how people talk” as if writing in a fifth grade vocabulary is somehow laudable. I’ve said it before, the flippancy kills all of his projects. It’s one thing to have the tough guy character in a sci-fi show, but when your character is stereotypical anime tough guy, it looks less and less like you are trying and just playing to a preset demographic that you know will see your projects no matter how far to the bottom of the barrel you have scraped.

People also claim that he has some creative ability in regard to creating concepts and ideas…yeah but so does George Lucas and look where we are with him. It’s not like there is anything new in Whedon’s world that makes him adept for True Blood. All he did was take the normal cliches of vampires and place them in a centralized location. Apparently sunny california was the best place for vampires to live.

The other problem is that True Blood operates in a different universe than any of Whedon’s projects. That may seem obvious but I don’t mean that the HBO series doesn’t have Hellmouths and such. I mean that True Blood operates in a universe of cause and effect. It doesn’t have Giles to give us a deus ex machina of extreme psychological denial to explain why nobody notices that twenty or so high school students were murdered. It also doesn’t solely exist in one town, and it has plausible explanations for why things were happening in one town.

Finally if you are a fan of this show you don’t want this. You only want this because you want Whedon to work on a project that has popular acclaim and not niche; because critics actually give favorable attention to it not relegating it to the fringe sci-fi subcultures where I’m not even sure he belongs.

*Sidebar: when the fuck did “www.jumptheshark.com” become a tv guide blog? Doesn’t the invisible hand of the internet regulate it’s most sacrosanct sites?

Categories: pop culture, rant

In My Opinion…a long awaited Rant

August 7, 2009 Leave a comment

This is a “hello” post to the people on my facebook list. Just today I figured out how to feed this blog into the facebook notes application and all it took was a quick change in settings. That’s it, so for those seeing this for the first time welcome, for those other people who have been reading my words on livejournal (for almost six years now), myspace, or my wordpress site you have probably already read this so just close the screen and call it a day. For the first timers, this is just a taste of the semi-frequent rantings that I occasionally get in to the mood to do, most of my other blog entries are a bit more reserved lending themselves to more intelligent discourse…at least in my opinion which brings us to tonight’s rant:

I: Stop using the abbreviation “IMO” (In My Opinion) as a disclaimer for whatever precedes or follows those three letters. In Critical Thinking, we call those “weasel words” designed to temper the other person’s response by reminding them that everyone is entitled to their opinion. Well you know what they say about opinions, they’re like assholes everyone’s got one and they are usually full of shit. We know it is YOUR OPINION because you are the one saying it, if it was someone else’s opinion we would know that too because you would remind us of that in order to say how smart you are.

II: If you are the type of person that likes to tell other people “you don’t care what anyone thinks about you,” you are lying. See, if you really didn’t care you wouldn’t feel the need to passively apologize to everyone else that you know. For the most part there are only two reasons that anyone would ever utter that phrase. The first is that they are trying to seem like some sort of tough guy, play by his own rules, Nietzschean Ubermensch, who has shed the conventions of society. In reality that person hasn’t which fuels the need for them to confess that they don’t care which only thinly masks that they do. The second is that they are trying to get someone else to ask why they don’t care, so as to strike up some pretentious diatribe on why people are too nice. This is merely a way to get attention, after all have you ever noticed that the people that say this are never nice people?

III: If the only reason that you are behaving morally, ethically, or legally is because you are afraid of punishment, you are just as bad as the person who behaves immorally, unethically, or illegally. It’s just that the latter person has either accepted their fate or is much more clever than you. I was reading the transcript of a debate between an atheist and a theist, in which the theist asked the atheist why he didn’t go on a streak of crimes against man and god if he didn’t think there would be any consequences. The atheist said that it was because those actions (murder, theft) were wrong intrinsically and that he didn’t need a threat of punishment to hold him back. The theist disagreed. Which of these people would you rather meet in the middle of the night?

If there is a god, I’m telling it I was framed.

The book series and movie “Twilight” didn’t ruin ComiCon you twits. What ruined ComiCon was that it no longer has anything to do with Comics. It has been hijacked by movie studios looking to turn out the next piece of crap remake based on some aspect of childhood fiction that the movie target audience can still be legitimately nostalgic for. Just because the annual nerd superconvention now has girls (GASP!) in it that aren’t dressed up as a Japanese cartoon character doesn’t mean your life is over. The fact that this possibility could even bother you meant that your life was over a long time ago. What’s the matter, now that Twilight has brought women into nerdom you Con goers have to worry about your appearance?

I’m usually not this angry on these things, then again a good rant is cathartic.