Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Defrauding voters is treason and should carry the death penalty

Monday, November 15th, 2010


HELLO MRS. SCHWARTZMAN.
WE ARE CALLING TODAY TO INFORM YOU
THAT VOTING CAUSES VAGINA CANCER.
PLEASE STAY HOME.
WATCH PRICE IS RIGHT.

A few days ago, the Baltimore Sun published an article on their website outlining a complaint filed against a GOP consulting group which is being accused of robo-calling over 112,000 Democrats on election day–while the polls were still open–and informing them that their candidate had already won and that they needn’t bother going to vote.

This called to mind a similar experience I personally had while I was going to college during the 2004 presidential campaign cycle and ran into a guy on campus who was attempting to persuade students to register as Republicans, claiming that there were certain ballot measures that only Republicans could vote on.

Then, of course, there are the numerous complaints of voting machine tampering in the last decade, including video documentation of vote fixing using voting machines and voting machine “bugs” in which the machine changes the vote after the vote has been placed. There are even a number of tutorials on how to hack a voting machine.

Every election cycle there are hundreds of reports of political groups misleading voters or intimidating them or otherwise abridging their right to vote. If there were ever a direct attack on democracy, it is this. If there were ever a crime that deserved to share the word “treason” with Benedict Arnold and his collusion with the British, it would be this attack on the fabric of our political system.


I just now figured out that “Eggs Benedict”
is a god damn pun. “Poached” (i.e. stolen)
eggs on an English Muffin…
That shit isn’t funny.

The vote is the essence of freedom. It is the root from which all of our liberties stem and it is the collective voice with which we temper the machinations of the government. It is the leash on the monster; the hammer that shapes the sword. Without the vote, freedom is an illusion and our government becomes our master. Therefore when a person or group of persons does anything to halt, forestall, impede or otherwise fraudulently dissuade voters from executing their duty as citizens, or changes or destroys their votes after the fact, it is treason and should be punished accordingly.

Title 18, part 1, chapter 115 ยง 2381 of the U.S.C. states:
Treason
“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death…”
It goes on to list lesser punishments such as jail time or fines.

The rest of chapter 115 covers sedition and conspiracy, which could reasonably be applied to unlawful disenfranchisement in even more cases than treason.

Now is probably a good time to mention that–for a number of reasons–I don’t actually support the death penalty. Still, I am perplexed as to how voter fraud is not considered treasonous (or at the least “seditious conspiracy”) and why punishment is not meted out in that light. It simply doesn’t make any sense. Who would stand up for voter fraud? Who would impede a bill that demanded harsher punishments for those committing voter fraud? And most importantly: why the fuck is our government not doing more to prosecute people for these brazen attacks on what is certainly among the most sacrosanct of our rights?


Eyyy… don’t touch the hair.

The recent case against the GOP political group that defrauded Democrat voters is being tried as a civil case in federal court and is seeking $500 per crime. While this could potentially cost the defendants $60 million dollars a piece, this simply is not good enough. This is a crime perpetrated against the very wellspring of our freedom, not a god damn dispute over the neighbors dog shitting on our lawn. This is a criminal case and if these people are found guilty of making those calls, they (at the very least) need to go to prison for a very long fucking time.

If you suspect voter fraud is being committed in your district, SAY SOMETHING ABOUT IT. It would be nice if your duty as a citizen was discharged on voting day and you could go back to watching guidos fuck each-others’ hair on television, but that is a fantasy. Your responsibility to shape the attitudes of our elected officials is perpetual and must be executed frequently.

Go here and let your congressman know how you feel about voter fraud.

Vampjazzling

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

I just got done watching the first season of the BBC show Being Human and while it wasn’t terrible and has a lot going for it, it did break one of the rules of modern vampire stories that simply can’t be broken: day-walking vampires.


Vampires: yes.

I assume this trend in vampire storytelling is because it’s inconvenient to write about characters that can only go out at night. Well tough shit. They are god-damned vampires! If you don’t want to write a story about fast, non-reptilian creatures that don’t have shells, write about rabbits, not fucking turtles. If you want to write a story about a guy who is obsessed with tanning beds, garlic and primping in mirrors, write about a guido, not a fucking vampire.

Granted, there is some leeway here as there is no historical consensus on what a vampire even is, but in modern times we have narrowed it down quite a bit. Let’s take a look at what is and isn’t necessary to concoct a vampire story that isn’t complete shit.

Drinks blood
This is certainly the cornerstone of vampirism. No blood drinking, no vampire.

Is Dead
Not as necessary as the blood drinking, but pretty damn common. In many cultures, vampires came from the improperly treated remains of the dead, while in others, they were born vampires and were presumably alive. Still, from a modern standpoint, most vampires are no longer classically “living” entities. If you are going to toy with this, you better have a damn good reason.

Killed by sunlight
Historically, vampires were not effected by exposure to sunlight. My friend Amen pointed out that Bram Stoker’s Dracula went about during the day, which is true. During this conversation, I explained how much I hated daylight vampires and he offered some insight which I will share a bit later.

Can’t be seen in mirrors. Can turn into a bat or mist.
This is great flavor, and it really depends on your mythology. If this is a modern story with a more scientific bent to it, these can go. If vampires are created by some virus or another, then it stands to reason that they are still going to be visible in a mirror and are probably not going to be able to turn into vapor. If, on the other hand, it’s more of a “demonic curse” kind of thing and we’re going with a more supernaturally charged motif, then these things can be kind of neat. I can go either way on these.

Is stronger and faster than humans
It stands to reason that if they are going to hunt us, they should be stronger than us.

Can be killed by decapitation or a stake through the heart
Again, not necessary, but this is classic flavor. There is generally no reason to get rid of it, so it shouldn’t be gotten rid of. These are easily included in any genre of vampire.

Repelled by garlic, crosses, hallowed ground or holy water
These I can do with out. Historically, there are a ton of herbs that are supposed to ward off vampires. The whole garlic thing just seems rather silly. Crosses and holy water seem fairly goofy as well unless the vampire is “demonic” in origin. As many vampire movies and books have pointed out through their characters: to allow crosses and not stars of David (or what have you) makes a pretty strong metaphysical claim, a claim I doubt most authors care to make. Various stories have included the by-now-entirely-unoriginal explanation that the symbol doesn’t matter as it is faith alone that drives away the boogie man. This is thin. Very thin.

Can pass on the curse/virus/whatever under specific circumstances
This adds a layer of complexity to vampires that makes them interesting and threatening in a whole new way. This also ties into the point about sunlight, which I will come back to in a moment.


Vajazzling: fine.

Vampirism makes you “bad”
This drives me nuts. I can understand it making a vampire uncontrollably hungry, but the whole deal where they instantly become diabolically disposed to eating babies is just fucking annoying. Generally, a good character is not static and is the master of their own fate. They show that they are capable of change. A story about a remorseless killing machine or “the one good vampire” is really a yawnfest. The remorseless killing machine is pointless and the “one good vampire” shtick is really tired. If there can be one, there can be others. I’d think new-found immortality, lust, hunger, fear and boredom would be enough to change most people’s outlook on what they eat. That there would be a lot of bad vampires is understandable. That they are all bad is annoying and breaks my suspension of disbelief.

Can’t come in uninvited, can’t cross running water.
If you are going to go hella old-school and are working with a “magical” vampire, rather than a “scientific” vampire, these are good stuff. They have that odd, old-world flavor of shit people just made up. It’s cool because it’s a bit nonsensical. Still, I dig it, I think because it means most people have to allow the vampire to harm them.

Vampires can hypnotize people
This is annoying and makes it too easy on the vampires. I think there is probably a sexiness inherent in a hungry 200-year-old trapped in a 20-year-old’s body that works fine without the woo. Characters need to make their choices. It’s a lot less interesting when the vampires are all perfect killing machines and the people are all sheep.

Sparkling
Die in a fucking fire.


Vampjazzling: fuck you.

Vampires embody an inherently skewed power paradigm. They are simultaneously stronger and weaker than the humans they feed on which is what makes them interesting. I came to this realization when I was talking with my friend Amen about it. I explained that I didn’t like “daylight vampires” but that I wasn’t entirely sure why. He proposed it was because they are seem too powerful that way. I am inclined to agree, although I’ll take it a step further. If vampires can make more vampires in a more or less unrestricted fashion, can go out during the day, are stronger and faster than humans and are nearly physically indestructible and we are to assume that they have been around for thousands of years, by the time the story setting comes around, there simply wouldn’t be any humans left. The suspension of disbelief is destroyed by day-walking vampires. That they are completely helpless during the day is the only factor that realistically keeps them from taking over the world.

At night, they are fast, strong and in every way physically superior to humans. But humans can move, hide and fight at night–and with a stake (or holy water or some other weakness to exploit,) stand a fighting chance of making it through ’til dawn. Vampires, on the other hand, are only cloaked by secrecy during the day. Hired guards can be bought off or disposed of by a superior force. The only realistic way to stay safe is to hide and the best way to hide is to remain unknown. Running around and making a bunch people into vampires to create an army is not a terribly low key course of action. That army has to sleep and they all have to sleep at exactly the same time, they also need to be fed during the same hours. With these restrictions, vampires populations are kept in check and they remain in the shadows where they belong.

In conclusion: day walking vampires are stupid and people should stop fucking writing stories about them. Q.E.D.

Why yes, I’d love to hear about your goiter.

Friday, October 8th, 2010

I’m not sure what rare quality I posess that make me a simpatico to tweakers and drunk people. They absolutely fucking love me. Is it my scowling face? Is it the fact that I am wearing headphones? What is it about me that screams: “QUICKLY, TELL ME ABOUT YOUR MEDICAL CONDITIONS.”


Upon what topic do you wish to converse, sir?

Regail me with the heroic tale of how you went to prison. Enrapture me with your complicated opinions regarding “those fucking fuckers” at the 7/11. Seriously, how I make it through the day without a thrilling lecture about how to exchange food stamps for liquor, I’ll never know.

I’ll admit it. I am slightly biased. I don’t like talking to anyone when I ride the bus, but it’s only the ones I want to talk to the least that have any interest in striking up a conversation with me.

The guy reading that book I really liked? Nope.
The girl wearing a t-shirt for that game/band/movie I loved? Not a chance.

No, it’s the 52-year-old man wearing a neon orange beanie, a wind breaker and tropical print “hammer pants” that’s going to make the move. The only person on the bus who wants to talk to me is a man who who reeks of stale cigarette smoke and malt liquor and who can’t wait to explain to me that the yellow stain on his ass isn’t really urine. Not really.


FOR SOCKS!

I am so happy I own a Blackberry. Earphones go in, music is cranked up and I am urgently typing something on my phone that I had no idea I needed to type just moments before. Sorry bud, I’d love to chat about methadone, but as you can see I am writing a very important e-mail to my friend Spartacus McJohnsonson regarding socks.

It’s apparent to me that with age, there comes a certain hardening of the heart. Younger Joe had a very hard time not being overly polite when accosted by random people. I used to feel guilty and obligated to humor them, but I no longer labor under that particular delusion. I will get up and walk the hell away. What is happening to the guilty liberal in me? I realized today–as an odoriferous man with no teeth made odd grinning, grunting gestures to me and tried to show me pictures of people he found amusing and/or was intimately acquainted with in the Busted Paper–I really don’t give a shit anymore. I stared at him hoping that he would stop talking, but as soon as I caught a whiff of him, I got up without ceremony and moved to the front of the bus (where I could smell him, incidentally.)

Hopefully this trend evens out a bit. At my current rate of emotional calcification, I’ll be voting chicken-hawk by 2012. Thankfully, I still hate Glen Beck, Christmas sweaters and country music, so not all is lost.

Yet.

If I had a choice to either cure cancer or cure Comcast, I’m not sure which one I’d pick.

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

I am not as bad as Comcast.

I hate Comcast like I hate child molesters, David Lynch movies and swamp-ass.

Recently, the great, digital Satan decided to offer a new feature called “FuckYourDNS.” Now, when one of their “customers” (henceforth referred to herein as “victims”) mistypes a URL, rather than getting a standard error, their DNS is hijacked by their own provider and Comcast sends them to a faux search page with advertisements on it.

This means that if you just got done typing in a supercalifrgalisticexpialadocious.com and happen to have misspelled it by a character, rather than clicking on the address bar and amending your error: fuck you. We replaced it with our advertisement redirect. Type that shit in again.

After throwing things and screaming for a while, I called Comcast to complain, but of course the people that make stupid fucking decisions such as this one are insulated from criticism by a nice thick layer of ineffectual (yet blameless) call center employees who in turn are buffered by hour wait times. It’s like storming Normandy.

After listening to an hours worth of hold-music and nauseating commercials (for a company I wouldn’t drown in a sea of urine If it was on fire and taped to a giant, gasoline soaked box containing every kitten on earth,) I was well primed for the criminally useless call-center employee that picked up the phone.

He could not turn it off, he said. I had to log in to a Comcast account that I didn’t even know I had and turn it off myself, but before I did that, I would have to switch the email I had on file (one I use) with my Comcast email. You know, the one I just found out that I had and have no desire to use.

Of course, in the end I was left with no choice but to jump through a bunch of hoops to do what I’d set out to do and, of course, by the time I was done it didn’t feel like an equitable use of my time. Regardless, I felt OK about. A small victory for the victim.

My irrational urge to find and sucker-punch the CEO of Comcast subsided…


What did I do?

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I moved my site from one host to another. DNS propagation has become remarkable over he last decade. DNS is the service that matches up domain names (which people can understand) to IP addresses (numerical addresses that computers understand.) Since I am moving I had to re-point my domain name to a new place. When I got my first domain name, DNS propagation frequently took 24 hours or better. That means it took a whole day for the new pointer to be recognized everywhere. Now it happens in seconds. Except with Comcast. 24 hours after I changed where my domain pointer, Comcast still kept taking me to the old location. This meant that I couldn’t work on my website.

Eventually I fixed the problem by editing my host file and adding an entry overriding where Comcast was sending me, but for all I know, they still don’t have the right place.

The part that really irks me is that I didn’t call them and that I didn’t call them because it wouldn’t have done any good. They would have not have been able or willing to do anything about it. It’s pretty sad when a company is so worthless that it’s simply understood among their victims that it is a pointless and costly endeavor to attempt to engage them for support.

It must save them a lot of money. Dicks.

Let out the purple smoke.

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

I don’t think we’re especially horrible. Every era in human history has been plagued by problems, but no era has been more conscious than ours of human rights and social equity. Though we have a long way to go, people today are among the most moral, conscientious people the world has ever known (yes, I just said that while wearing underwear scrapped together by the chapped, bleeding fingers of third-world orphans. Shut it, I’m going somewhere with this.) That being said, we are certainly the most intellectually stagnant blob of humanity that has ever slithered upon the earth. We armor ourselves in technology, we build nothing, we learn less.

This is what companies used to produce, presumably as commercials leading up to the feature at the cinema.

Is that how that works? Shiot. For real?

There is nothing fluffy about that video. Sure, it breaks it way down, but note the lack of flashy editing, stupid dialogue and tangential, unrelated footage? Do we simply not have the patience for this sort of thing any more, or what? Rather than spending millions on 30 second commercials, why don’t we demand the companies that serve us provide us with something of substance?

When I was 20, I had a neighbor named Caleb that live in the apartment underneath mine. I bought a new video card for my computer, and he offered to help me install it, but he said he wouldn’t do it for me, he’d only talk me through the process. When I expressed (in my wordy fashion) that it would be a bad idea for me to open my computer or touch anything inside it, he took me downstairs to show me his computer.

It looked as fucked up as Mel Gibson at the end of Braveheart–tied to a post and opened up with its entrails spilled out onto the floor. It was on its side with the cover removed. He had to move a pizza box off of it to show it to me. It had balls of hair in it. Hair and a pizza crust. Then he looked at me in the condescending manner of a nerd about to explain something intellectually trivial, and told me that I needed to let the magic smoke out of my computer.

“The wha?” The magic smoke! The mystical, purple fumes that make computers work. Take off the cover and let it out. See what’s in there, touch it, wiggle it, learn its name, learn its purpose, learn how to reach in, tear it out and replace it.

It worked. The purple smoke in my computer was replaced with RAM and a CPU–a graphics card, a BIOS and hard drives. All things I can name, all things I can replace if need be, all that purple smoke aired out in just a few hours time.

Shut up and get the fuck out of my room.

We live in a country–a world filled with purple smoke. We’re afraid of it. We don’t want to see it, don’t want to learn about it. For some reason, we want to not understand it. It’s got to change.

Unsolicited Advice: don’t buy a Crown Victoria

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Why the hell do people buy these cars? Unless you want everyone who is front of you to drive five miles per hour under the speed limit, it just doesn’t make sense. It must be a total bitch to get anywhere at night in one of those things, looking like a cop.