For him, or for us?
Monday, December 12, 2005
So the Governor of California and the U.S. Supreme Court have both decided not to grant clemency
to Stanley Williams. He's the ex-Crip who was convicted of three murders back in 1981 and sentenced to die.(tangentally, there's something surreal about Arnold Schwarzenegger deciding whether people live or die. Yeah yeah, I realize that ten or twenty people just shouted "Arnold didn't decide, a jury of his peers decided," but whatever. There's still something messed up about it and you know it. It's not even about the Terminator thing, but more about the guy who did this as a solid career move).
There's one word in the prison system that I'd like to focus on:
It's called the Department of Corrections. Now, you could arguably put forth that the Corrections moniker dates back to a time when we deluded ourselves as a society that most criminals can and would be properly adjusted by their prison time and would all emerge as changed people, ready to become a helpful, productive member of society. That ain't never gonna be true. The vast majority of guys inside don't ever want to change, they just want to not get caught. And the important part is that collectively, that's what we believe and what we've come to accept.
But here's a guy who actually has been rehabilitated
- no thanks to us, really. In spite of our own dismissive attitude toward felons in general, in spite of all of our beliefs that nobody ever does, he fixed himself. He literally fulfilled the old prison ethos of "repaying his debt to society," what with the enormous amounts of work to further the pro-youth, anti-gang movement in this country. Much more than most of us who sit around reading internet blogs, making an occasional comment or two at the news about how gangs suck. Whatever debt he had to us as a society, he's paid.
Double whammy, biznitch!
Now, dude can't pay back the people he killed, no matter what he does. He can't be coming out of prison, not for the rest of his life. So if he actually is doing some good while he's in jail, then why are we killing him? We have to decide that- if we're killing him for us, then we shouldn't be killing anybody. The death penalty doesn't exist to make the rest of us feel better. If we're killing him for him, then it's a giant waste. He's going to be a much worse person dead than he is alive.
From a practical standpoint: dude's a killer, but at least now he's serving a decent purpose and Americana at large is getting something back from him. We're getting our $50,000 a year's worth out of this guy. We sure don't get anything back from most of the other guys on the row, and we spend even more than that annually on all of them.
And don't be saying that a man like that can't change. We just elected a dude to the office of President who is a confessed alcoholic and cocaine addict. But he said that he's a different man- and we believed him so much that we elected him twice. I only mention this because I have a feeling that the group of people who really, really want Tookie to die might bear a significant amount of overlap with the group who voted Republican.
As a society, we believe that people can change. Each of us has to believe other people can in order to believe that we ourselves can change, too.
One of the things I can't get over is looking around and seeing how quickly people cast one another off; we can form an opinion, close the books, walk away and never consider revising it. So at what point do we stop wanting him to die because he deserves it and start wanting him to die because we want revenge? Did we kill him because we should have, or because we wanted to?
There's also a small part of me that kind of hopes there are riots when they execute Tooks. I wasn't in LA for the last set, and hey, I like to burn stuff as much as the next guy. So thanks, Tookie: if you're not going to be keeping urban youth out of gangs or keeping them away from crime, at least there's a fair chance you can get me a new TV.
Schlep's in a name?
Sunday, July 31, 2005
So a giant lump of rock, originally photographed two years ago, has just been announced as the 10th planet
of our solar system. Further away from the Sun than Pluto and with an even more off-plane orbit, it has ignited a raging debate (albeit a pretty geeky one) over what precisely constitutes a planet, and what constitutes simply a large asteroid.
My attention, however, was quickly captured by the discovering team's leader, Michael Brown, and his proposal of what the new planet's name should be:Xena.
Yes, that's as in "Xena, Warrior Princess," i.e. the TV show, not "Xena, Please let it be whatever the TV character was named after."
What's their logic? "We have always wanted to name something Xena.
" Way to think that one through!
I'm baffled! Don't astronomers have some sort of greater duty to science, too? Isn't there some sort of Hippocratic Astronomer's Oath that you take when you're girded with your first telescope?
It's only a PLANET! Way to put five seconds of thought into it and really name it something deserving of a celestial body that's been around for a few billion years, and will be for a few billion more!
All the other planets are named after Greek and Roman gods, but we decided to break with the tradition that's been running for a few thousand years
. Just because. And really- why stop at Xena? If you're gonna throw tradition to the wind, don't hold back! How about simply "Scantily-Clad Dominating Female?" Or maybe "Michael Brown Discovered Me?"
Let's think for the long term. Schoolchildren eighty years from now are certainly going to look at a diagram of the solar system and follow the pattern: Jupiter, king of the gods, the largest and most dominating planet. Mars, god of war, bright red in the sky. Neptune, the brilliant blue planet, king of the seas. Mercury, the fleet-footed, whose orbit is so quick around the sun. And finally, Xena... the planet who galavants about the cosmos kicking ass, spouting witty one-liners and having a totally ambiguous relationship with Venus.
Greeks and Romans? Pssssshhh. Who's gonna remember all that pre-historic mumbo-jumbo, those toga-clad "astronomers" with no telescopes, rowing their Hellenic butts around? I'll tell you who they'll remember: Sam Raimi, that's who! Lucy Lawless, in that tough-as-nails but enchanting camp role! That's
We all know that the nerds in high school are the ones who'll grow up to be running things, and to an extent we all accepted that... but that doesn't mean they won't be EXTREME DORKS about it.
I can sort of understand why this happens. It's really the only thing that astronomers get- physicists get to blow stuff up, engineers get to erect giant phallic monuments... astronomers get to name stuff. That's it. Even the hands-on astronomy NASA practiced with the comet impactor recently is as glamorous as it gets. So when this dude gets his chance to name something, to really scratch himself into the records, I guess he has to jump at it.
I suppose there is a small chance that he's really thinking about humanity. "Well, you know, I briefly thought of naming it Sysiphus, or even Nyx, but then I thought, you know, I really, really, REALLY liked that TV show, and maybe this will help people in the future remember what a great syndicated run the chronicles of the Warrior Princess had in 20th-century television."
Has ever there been a scientist more clearly out of his league?
So I thought, doesn't there have to be some council of scientists someplace that judges names for celestial stuff? Isn't there a congress of smart people, some panel of brainiacs that has at least a tiny chance of shooting this down? A table full of drunken poker players, even, with, I don't know, the tiniest amount of pattern-recognition ability? They teach this stuff on Sesame Street!
Which one doesn't belong?
I was relieved to see that this council does exist: The International Astronomical Union
We'll just have to wait and see what they come up with.
Now, I realize I've spent most of this writing making fun of Professor Brown for what I believe to be his childish choice of proposed name, but here's another tidbit-
On his very own Caltech website
, there's documentation of another celestial body the same team discovered: 2003 VB-12, or Sedna (the Inuit ocean goddess). On this page, the team discusses the very same issue
of planethood vs. asteroidness.
They decide that Sedna, only slightly smaller than Pluto, is not a planet. But they also decide that by their definition, technically, Pluto isn't a planet, either! The conclusion Brown and Pals comes to:
"We are thus left with a final concept of the word planet. Every object in the solar system quite naturally can be classified as either a solitary individual or a member of a large population. The individuals are planets. The populations are not. This definition fits the historical desire to distinguish between asteroids and planets, and this definition fits all of the requirements of scientific motivation."
This completely rules out 2003 UB313 (er... Xena
) as a legitimate planet, since it's a component of the Kuiper Belt, a large mass of asteroid-esque bodies out in the Pluto neighborhood.
But, you know, we didn't realize a couple years ago when we wrote that we would actually get to be the ones to name the next planet! Fortunately, they threw in the disclaimer, "...we would like nothing better than to find some object which defies everything that we currently think we know and forces us to completely rethink fundamental questions like 'what is a planet.'" CYA, check.
So when Xena came around, they were pretty quick to throw all that individuals / populations crap to the solar wind: "It is definitely bigger than Pluto, and I would say it counts out as the 10th planet."
Funny, since that same Caltech Sedna site of his dismisses the "bigger than Pluto" criteria:
"Why is Pluto the cutoff size? Is there really a big enough difference in size between Pluto and Sedna and Quaoar that one should be called a planet while the others are not? The scientific answer remains a resounding no."
I call shenanigans.
Pretty fortunate you decided to go back to the "bigger than Pluto" argument just in time to discover number 10. And with the sighting of another planetoid, 2003 EL61
, that turns out to be 3/4 Pluto's size (also a Kuiper Belt orbital), it's painfully apparent that way out there, there's a ton of stuff that size floating around.
"Get out your pens. Start re-writing textbooks today," Brown says. Sounds like a guy who is totally dedicated to science solely for the furtherance of mankind.Way to go.
Live up to your mantra
Monday, May 02, 2005
So while on an epic Thai Noodle quest last night, I meandered past a forlorn man wearing a t-shirt that read "No mean's no, bitch!"
Initially, his apostrophe misuse was what chuckled me, but I found it more amusing that while sporting that shirt, he was pushing a stroller, flanked by another three kids, and was lugging three shopping bags, dutifully trailing his wife.
Must have been the old bachelor wardrobe.
Have the Tribal Publicist e-mail them
Thursday, April 28, 2005
As the sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean
continues filming this month on the island of Dominica, trouble is brewing with the indigenous population
over a controversial shish-kebbabing in the movie.
Dominica's Carib tribe, numbering 3,500 on an island of 70,000, is concerned that the entire world will see a scene of Johnny Depp captured and comcially barbequed and think that the Caribs of the 16th century did this to every film star that visited their island. According to the tribe, most of the world instantly associates the island of Dominica
(after they look it up) with the incorrect perception that cannibalism was rampant there during the 15th, 16th & 17th centuries.
The protests are being led by the current chief of the tribe, Charles Williams
"Pirates did come to the Caribbean in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries," he testifies. "Our ancestors were labeled cannibals. This is being filmed in the Caribbean." The parallels are quite obvious.
Williams reportedly finds no irony in accusing foreigners of insulting his ancestors while he goes by the name Charles Williams. Nevertheless, Chucky is a staunch believer in the living history of his native people and hates to see their reputation damaged.
"For me, a good name is better than riches."
Some other Dominican natives, however, don't agree with Chief Williams' assessment of the situation.
Christabelle Auguiste, the only female on the local tribal council, believes the publicity surrounding a major motion picture might garner Dominica a boost in tourist revenue.
"It took 250 years for Dominica to be colonized after the arrival of Christopher Columbus," she said. "Dominica is the only country Columbus would recognize now if he revisited. This is something the Carib people should be proud of."
Columbus was unavailable for comment.
Hardcore traditionalist and elementary school principal Kathleen Jno-Lewis and historian Prosper Paris believe that some other residents' optimistic hopes for increased tourist revenue may be stymied by the negative portrayal of their population, however. Supporting this view, a recent MSN Vacations survey reports that a devastating 88% of summer travelers would have "serious reservations" about booking a cruise to or a resort stay on an island where the natives eat people.
Also making news, several pirate heritage groups are protesting the sequel as well, claiming the character of Jack Sparrow portrays pirates as "Silly and generally stupid, not fearsome at all," says Bloodbeard McNastynuts, president of Pirate Life International
. "The image of the pirate will be severely damaged by this film."
Way to go!
Don't educate 'em- isolate 'em!
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Just a few days ago, a Texas State legislator filed a new bill
intended to put a curb on sexually suggestive cheerleading routines at high school athletic events.
I'm glad that these issues are finally making it into the national spotlight- maybe now the American public will wake up to what's really happening in our schools.
Specifically, Representative Al Edwards's issues center around the shaking behinds of female cheerleaders.
Representative Edwards believes that we're sending our youth mixed messages- we advocate abstinence and responsible attitudes toward sex, but then, hypocritically, we allow blatantly sexual cheerleading moves to be performed at public, youth-attended functions.
Some of the cheerleading moves the kids are performing these days:
"The Splits" consists of a female cheerleader spreading her legs, revealing the crotch area and possibly providing a view of the uniform's underpanty.
"The Victory Pyramid" consists of several female cheerleaders climbing upon each other, providing a clear view up the skirt of cheerleaders above them. Note especially the inter-thigh contact.
"The Bullhorn Guy" isn't a true cheerleading move, but you can see how teenagers might be influenced toward intercourse after witnessing this in a routine:
I don't know about other red-blooded guys out there, but when I see a girl walk by and her hips are all swinging back and forth, and maybe she's got on some of those low-cut jeans that are all the rage with kids these days, you know... when I see her walk by, I just can't help but have sex with that girl. It's even harder to control myself when Cinemax gives out their free preview weekends.Representative Edwards
, though 68, understands these youthful urges I have. He's definitely in on "the 411," as the kids say, in terms of sexual encounters. Just listen to him: "It's just too sexually oriented, you know, the way they're shaking their behinds and going on, breaking it down." Notice use of the phrase "breaking it down"- straight from modern pop-culture. That's how youth speaks! Representative Edwards is definitely "tuned in."
This man knows pootie.
This legislation will make our high schools a much more sanitized and influence-free environment. The last thing we would want is our high school students being allowed to see stuff and learn to make their own decisions- because they'd be bad ones!
I think we should carry this a few steps further- because really, when cheerleaders are wearing the skimpy and revealing uniforms that are so common, how can a male resist a copulative attempt?
Here's my suggestion for a new, state-regulated uniform pattern. Of course, schools would be allowed to transpose their colors and mascots upon their uniforms, but all would be bound to this template:
Al Edwards, born in 1937, would have attended high school in the early 50s. I can understand his insight unto the poor condition of high schools now, then- in the 50s, there was no premarital sex, no unwanted pregnancies- a complete absence of all things sexually "oriented." That bad stuff didn't happen back then.
It's a proven fact that our high school students learn to have sex from cheerleading routines. If we had enacted a law like this years ago, think of how many unwanted pregnancies and STD cases could have been prevented!
We must work hard to remove anything and everything in our youth's lives that might possibly make them think of sex. That way, when they're older and it comes time for them to have morally-approved sex (after they're married before God and all), they can install their white picket fence... and have a clean slate... I'll just stop there.
The best and most productive method we as a society can take toward reponsible sexual practices in our school-aged youth isn't to properly educate them about sex or fund programs that make it easier for our kids to have reponsible sex- no, the solution is to fund a public commission that strictly regulates pep-rally pom-pon dances.
Let me check... yep, still pointless
Friday, February 04, 2005
You'd think that since I haven't been wasting my time on this blog lately it would mean I've been spending it productively doing other things. That's really not the case.
There have been a number of wonderful topics that I've written stuff on recently that never actually got posted.
Here are some of the recent winners of the Golden Way to Go Award:
Halle Berry complaining about still having to stump for jobs:
A woman of color? Halle, you're the whitest black woman in Hollywood. Don't complain about not getting jobs as a result of your color unless you're at least Angela Bassett black. That's Angela Bassett in Strange Days
, not Angela Bassett in Contact
I'm real sorry to have to bring Whoopi into this.
The jobs you've gone for recently have a lot to do with you flashing boob
, dressing up in a costume
, or both
. "Great roles."
You're a movie star, not an actress. At least not any longer. We all heard the collective Los Angeles groan as Monster's Ball
was released: "Aww, crap, I guess we're gonna have to give her an Oscar for this."
Good idea going on national television and essentially telling everyone you were apalled that we're not all falling all over ourselves to worship you after that smashing Oscar win. Halle does, however appear to be genuinely concerned with Women of Color getting more good movie roles. Judging by her recent fare, she's definitely leaving all the good ones to other African-American women.
Way to go.
The Sons of Italy in America taking shots at Robert de Niro for perpetuating stereotypes of Mafioso Italians in media:
So what then- you have no heritage? None of you had a grandmother who cooked? None of you eats pasta by the mountain with marinara sauce? Way to take one of the most successful Italian-Americans and sling crap at him for being... Italian? If any white guy ever complained about the negative portrayals of white Civil-War era slave owners, he'd be drowned out by the "Screw you!", and rightly so. Because it happened.
Full steam ahead, Sons of Italy. There are now thousands of Mafia hoods out there grumbling in shame that now they're going to be percieved as racial whiners just because they're Italian-Americans.
Way to go.
The dude who sued NBC because he watched an episode of Fear Factor that had contestants eating pieces of rats, it nauseated him and he got sick:
Couldn't manage to change the channel, bro?
This is the same guy who forces companies to put "Caution... this HOT TEA is HOT!" on their cups and warning signs like "do not step into oncoming traffic."
NBC didn't comment on the lawsuit, but did hand out free beverages to his legal team.
Way to go.
The New York artist who paints tons of pro-Bush art and feels victimized when galleries refuse to exhibit his work because of the blatant political overtones.
But hey, last time a museum displayed a piece he disagreed with, he stood outside the exhibit and literally threw shit at it
in protest. Are you pro- or anti- expression, buddy? Or just pro-expression so long as it agrees with you?
full post (one of my favorites)
Way to go.
The German police officer who gave a fellow officer a parking ticket for parking his car facing the wrong direction while setting up a speed trap:
So when you go after some burglars in a high-speed pursuit, do you expect to get cited for driving over the legal speed limit? Or reckless driving?
Way to go.
The administrators of R.A. Long High School in Longview, Washington, who sent home a gay student for wearing a shirt that said, "Too Gay to Function."
The official reason? His shirt is offensive to homosexuals.
I once got in a fight in high school when I was standing in the cafeteria talking about how brown my hair was, and I guess this other brown-haired guy overheard and got mad about it.
Can't have "gay" written on a shirt, you know. Just letting that word soil the ears of our untarnished youth will infect them with the virus of dudeloving. Isolate them; that's the sure way to encourage a healthy social integration in our children. Just deny gay people exist! Clap your hands over your ears and shriek "Amazing Grace" until they go away.
And if that doesn't work, just say that God hates them
School administrators couldn't even come up with a good crappy excuse. It's offensive to gay people? If the educators of today can't even come up with good excuses, who will train tomorrow's politicians?
Way to go.
P.Diddy, for his "Vote or Die" campaign:
115409172 votes were cast in our last presidential election. Being that there were approximately 217.8 million people in the United States age 18 or over, that leaves approximately 102 million Americans of voting age who didn't vote.
I'm waiting for you to hold up your end of the bargain, Diddy. You got a long way to go.
Way to make voting hip, by the way. VOTE OR DIE! That'll get urban youth rolling. If we can make them all feel like voting is badass and hardcore, they'll do it.
Did doesn't get a Way to Go award, though. I mean, he got some people to vote, but he didn't quite make a big enough ass of himself to be up there with the super winners. He just remained the mostly ineffectual lukewarm celebrity he normally is.
Katie Couric's "Teens and Sex" special report:
Within the first minute of opening this article
(couldn't bring myself to tune in), I saw that the term "Friends with Benefits" was an amazing new revelation for Couric and what I can only assume is her news team working with her.
I keep forgetting that what seems to be an ever-increasing segment of over-40 America has completely forgotten what it was to be a teenager. If you were thinking about it when you were 16, then chances are your kids are thinking about it, too.
The same applies for the armchair social activists who are appalled that kids are picked on in school. Honestly, a kid that makes it through high school without ever experiencing a bully or the pointless scorn of a clique has missed an invaluable lesson that high school provides.
And for the love of God, will people stop putting an accent over the e in "clique" just because it has a funky non-English looking ending? "Cliqué" would be pronounced klee-KAY. I guess putting an accent in it makes the word worth another dollar or so, though.
Way to go, America!
One Italian-American, hold the Italian
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Apparently, Robert de Niro is one of the most despicable Italian-Americans in history
. His movie roles perpetuate Mob stereotypes, you see.
Not the writers who came up with the stories. Not the directors or producers. Just as the vast majority of the moviegoing public blames Tom Cruise if the Last Samurai was horrible, the Sons blame Robert de Niro. You go after the face. You go after the person that the public will recognize.
I actually have to take a second out here and express a small amount of happiness that the Last Samurai came around: it did give thousands of people the opportunity to be idiots: "We're supposed to believe that Tom Cruise plays a Japansese guy? What other crap is Hollywood going to force down our throats next!?" They all get a Silver Way to Go award.
So what does the Sons of Italy's complaint boil down to?
Those movies make us look bad.
No Italian-American out there actually does like brewing up giant vats of spaghetti, none of them ever say fuhgeddaboutit, no Italian-American matriarch is overweight, and no ripped-up Son of Sicily ever tried to strong-arm anybody else.
It seems pretty telling, though, when Italians are essentially calling Italian-Americans' anti-stereotyping crusade bunk
. That's the actual country Italy. They're even more Italian than Italian-American groups.
The highlighting quote: "Our history has good and bad bits. You cannot just deny the past. And after all, it is only cinema."
The Sons could learn a lot from that dude. They're not going to get anybody to change their perception of Italian-Americans by yelling "That's not fair!" You should see from watching the news that emphatically denying whatever tarnished past you might have gets you less credibility, if anything.
I was at a Whole Foods a while ago, waiting for my turn in the meat line (mmmm... smoked ham). I happened to glance to my right just as a ripped-up black guy with giant dreds sauntered up to a decorative barrel full of prepackaged cornbread. His eyes illuminated with delight; he pulled his ridiculously attractive (also black) girlfriend over and exclaimed, "Awww, corn-breeEEEeezy!"
Oh, SNAP! A black dude that likes cornbread! A stereotype in real life! The most amazing this was that I didn't think he was a dumbass!
A more clear-cut perspective: How about a Caucasian-American group singling out negative portrayals of white slave owners in Civil War-era films? "They're always portrayed as uncaring and cruel taskmasters who beat their slaves unmercifully and didn't treat them as human beings when the plain fact is that the vast majority of slave owners cared deeply about their slaves."
The obvious response: Hey, white guys, it happened.
The only way the Sons of Italy could have any credibility in this argument of theirs is if they also stumped to erase negative portrayals of cops, politicians, rich people, and drunks in film, too. There are always gonna be dirty cops in movies; there will always be Italian Mafiosi, too.
Your crusade against mob stereotyping did achieve something, however- now Italian-Americans are known for being mobsters and whiners.
At the bottom of the National Italian American Foundation Stereotyping 2001 list
: "A thumbs down to Robert de Niro, who appeared in the film Out on my Feet about boxer Vinnie Curto, who was also involved in organized crime."
Seriously... an Italian named Vinnie? How overdone is THAT?
But wait... de Niro's an Honoree in your Hall of Fame?
Pick one, guys.
And dude... Robert Davi? That guy plays even MORE knikky thugs than de Niro does!
No, I don't know what "knikky" means.