Category Archives: debates

Watching history

Marriage locks
Photo of Marriage locks on Prague bridge by Thomas Quine. Used under CC BY 2.0

I’ve read, heard, and watched a number of different comments about the Supreme Court hearings over the past couple of days. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, seriously? If you are from the future and the court’s decision has faded into the past to only be dredged up when studying for AP History exams, this is the week the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of California’s voter proposition that changed the CA state constitution to define marriage as only being between 1 man and 1 woman, and they heard arguments on the constitutionality of the federal definition of marriage being 1 man and 1 woman)

I live in California. The passage of Prop. 8 was a sad day, as I think any day we pass legislation that intentionally labels some as other and not worthy of the rules everyone else plays by is a sad day. Continue reading Watching history

Strike Against SOPA & PIPA

Today the internet is on strike. I am joining the strike against censorship. Because the Senate has PIPA up for a vote soon that would set in place rules that would fundamentally change the way the internet works in order to stop piracy. I’ve written about it here and discuss further here. Below you will find links to sites with more information and ways to contact your congressional representatives, because the House has SOPA, so both branches of the legislature need to hear from you. There are also links to contact the US State Department if you’re out of country.

Yes, people who create should be paid. The megacorporations that lobbied for the drafting of this act should adjust to the market instead of breaking what everyone uses because some people don’t feel the need to pay for their product.

Join The Strike! and add this to your site

The three most definitive articles on SOPA and PIPA: Free Speech, Problems, Security

What Creative America ignores

I caught this ad on TV the other day and, after picking my chin off the floor, had to find out who funded it. Creative America explains that it’s a grassroots organization that includes the major entertainment corporations.

Content creators should absolutely be compensated for their creations. This is why I pay creators for their content. I buy music, DVDs, pay for movie tickets, purchase books. I also stream a ton of content online through the many creator sanctioned forums.

But the creators’ compensation should not overrule my right to access to the information the internet contains. Continue reading What Creative America ignores

Kindle Fire or Nook Color?

E-readers are the new hot thing, in case you’ve been living under a rock.

But there are a billion choices. Which, puts me in a conundrum. But I’ve looked through a few and narrowed (for the moment) down to 2 choices that seem like they will be the best fit.

Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color and Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

They seem pretty similar, at least on paper.

What I like about the Nook Color – It’s available now; it’s epub compatible along with more file types (which means it’ll be more useful for my desired field of study); it seems easier to make my own outside of the app store.

What I’m not so much a fan of – The store isn’t the first with books; it’s a little heavier than the Kindle Fire; it has a slower processor.

What I like about the Kindle Fire – It’s more of a tablet without belonging to Apple; it’s got a faster processor; it has more books in it’s bookstore.

What I’m not so much a fan of – It’s got Amazon’s wonky DRM without a plausible workaround; it’s not as versatile in its file reading; it’s not available yet (which means that there’s no regular person reviews and I have to wait).

I’m leaning toward a Nook Color, and taking the hit on the hardware, because it comes with less technical annoyances than the Kindle Fire. But I’m not decided, because they aren’t particularly cheap, and I’m looking for a reader that will be the most versatile and provide the most help for trying out new media formats for reading.

So I’m posing the question to you, the readers. Which e-reader/tablet will be the best bet for the money? Leave your thoughts, including other readers I may have overlooked, in the comments! Thanks!

Thank you for participating in security

“Thank you for participating in security.”*

This statement from the TSA is one of the more annoying aspects of flying today.

Because the statement assumes 1.) That what they’re doing is helping avert disasters 2.) That our compliance is in no way coerced 3.) That we have to need of 4 year olds to receive positive affirmation 4.) That we’re players.

And I’m just gonna stop there.

The statement appears on the first signs in the Secure Area (of at least the LAX/Ontario airport in California), which helps to manipulate all of us into compliance by assuming we will be.

The condescension also assists in putting everyone in their place by subtlety demonstrating that whatever power we may think we have disappears upon entry into the line. It’s the tone people who dislike children take when they think the kid’s being smart. Continue reading Thank you for participating in security

Why I dislike the Lord of the Rings movies

Remember (years) back when everyone was talking about the Lord of the Rings movies and how amazing they were? I wasn’t one of those people. I absolutely love and adore the series by J.R.R. Tolkien. And  though I do not like the movies, I was content to merely let my dislike stand amongst the shadows unless pressed.

While visiting friends in Arizona recently, I ended up meeting new people (it does happen from time to time). We were discussing various topics in the midst of which I stated my dislike for the movies clearly. One of the guys seemed shocked and ready to question, but I was using the statement as an example for a different discussion. The conversation never got back around to my outlandish claim, so this is my explanation.

I have the über-nerd complaints about the missing and mis-represented characters and secondary storylines, but those would not be enough for me to dislike a movie. I completely understand that not everyone will see the story the same way I do and that there is only so much time one can sit in a theater.

The movies fail in one major way – they miss the point of the story by not ending the movies with the scouring of the Shire. Continue reading Why I dislike the Lord of the Rings movies

Westboro Free Speech

If you’ve managed to go this long missing out on who the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas is, you probably want to stop reading now. Because finding out about them will probably set you on a path toward the nearest hard surface to bash your head against.

They are the church that seems to have entirely missed God’s message of love for all people, regardless of action, national descent, personal belief, skin color, number of tattoos, gender, or sex. In their focus on what God hates, they have lost sight of what God loves, which only matters because they choose to share their understanding of a brutal and vengeful God on signs created to offend whoever sees them. And their favorite place to show off their handy work is at the entry to the funerals of U.S. military men and women. Because, apparently, if you believe that God hates everything except you, then you don’t have to extend compassion to hurting and suffering people.

But why am I writing about a group that so irks me, I degenerate into a twitching heap of rage within 20 minutes of thinking about them? Continue reading Westboro Free Speech

On the willing suspension of disbelief

I read mostly science fiction and fantasy. I watch a lot of fantasy and science fiction movies and tv shows. And I listen to mostly science fiction and fantasy podcasts (with a darker, horror bent).

And I’m telling you that so you know I am very willing to suspend my disbelief.

You want to throw someone out of an airlock and pick them up alive in 30 seconds, I’m with you. I’m not tied to hard or soft science fiction; I love  both. Want magic and elves and faeries and Dream to be real characters interacting with everyday people? Sweet. I’m very well versed in the lore and am looking forward to seeing what you do with the conventions. I’m even willing to go with changes to the rules that have been set up over the history of writing, if you’re doing something interesting (I’d put up with sparkly vampires as long as you can kill them with a wooden stake and don’t break your own rules to tell a stalker story).

But what I’m finding is that I don’t like to discover what genre you’re in half way through your work. If your work is  a short story, then I can go with the whole thing and find out at the end, but that’s because you aren’t a significant time commitment.  And I generally pick up books in the science fiction/fantasy section, which gives you more time too. But if you’re a movie or a tv show, I better have the same idea you do in the  first 15 minutes or the first episode.

And as I come across more stories, I find that I need to have a better idea of what kind of science fiction or fantasy you are. There are different rules, and I need to know what to falls under the contract of willing suspension of disbelief in your story.

I realized this last night when I was watching the finale of Lost. I watched the first couple of seasons, but then left the show, as the lack of answers was too frustrating. But since I knew everyone would be talking about the finale, I made an effort to see it. I caught most of the recap, and felt prepared enough to watch the end without being too confused over all the new characters and plot developments.

And I as I watched the final episode, I kept thinking of the fifth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy (you read that right) where the brackets all start closing and the variables become constants. And it dawned on me that Lost was not primarily science fiction, like I’d initially thought, but it was fantasy.

I’d never thought Lost was hard science fiction, because really what actual scientific explanation could there be for an island that doesn’t exist on the maps with all the satellites in orbit and Google maps . But the idea of the magnetic field, and the company that worked on the island seemed to fit into soft science fiction. And I can go with that. That’s more like Eureka, and while there’s some scientific basis, it’s really mostly made up. Like hard science fiction and fantasy had a kid.

finish the rambling

It Is What It Is, or How to Annoy My Friend

The other night, I was chatting with my friend, and for reasons that must have made sense at the time, I said “it is what it is.”

I learned very quickly the ire this phrase brings forth in my friend when he adamantly scolded “Never use that phrase again!”

I don’t know about you, but one of the many reasons I could never be in an organized hierarchy, like the military, is because my first response to orders is to ask why while plotting how to repeat my offense. Or at the very least irk whoever is attempting to command me.

But since this was my friend, I decided to simply ask why before I began plotting.

His argument is that the phrase’s redundancy renders it meaningless. “Of course it is what it is,’ my friend said. ‘You don’t say the car is a car because what else would it be?”

And I can see his point. The phrase is tossed around to appear intelligent or deep (another of his points). But that isn’t how I use that phrase most often.

One of the ways I use the phrase is in affirmation of the trueness of something. I’ve found that often people and things do not always act in the way they are designed or intended to. People can be unspeakably horrible to one another and we call them inhuman. This would be un-true in my head.

More frequently I use the phrase as a sign of my resignation to events beyond my control. It’s a kind of reminder to myself that there are moments in life that I cannot control, so I need to not worry or stress out over them.

And maybe my use of the phrase is laziness or lack of creativity with spoken English (I am a writer and reader and not a speaker). But I find it meaningful, and really, that’s all that I care about. What else is language for but communication, and who else do I have to communicate with more often than myself?

So I’ll continue to use the phrase for myself, and I’ll smirk at the way it would annoy my friend. But I will probably be more hesitant when I utter it, because my friend’s point holds true – it is redundantly meaningless. Whether I use it intentionally around him will depend greatly on how mischievous I’m feeling in that moment.

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reason #642 why I love blogs

So I love traipsing through various blogs and reading what other people have to say (yes it’s a sentence fragment, whatever). I think it comes from my insatiable curiosity (yes I know what happened to the cat) coalescing with my love of language and being stirred by my love of learning. Anyway, while I was out, I came across this post on Notes from Evil Bender. In it the author (self-identified as ‘he’) pulls up an article on an apparently conservative blog about the prevalence of Marxists in US academia and points out the numerous ways that this essay wouldn’t pass a freshman composition class. So I pop on over to the post on American Thinker and read through it.

Both essays have valid points and logical fallacies (I’m not citing them because they aren’t the point of my post), but what kept me reading was the discussion that followed the American Thinker post (I think the Evil Bender post will probably pick up some more comments, but if not, what I compared it to in my head was the discussion from any number of posts on [which I enjoy reading for those who don’t read beyond this point]).

There were numerous comments on the American Thinker post about the stupid liberals and their anti-American thinking and unpatriotic actions, but when I got to comments like

“Global warming is the new Marxism – dogma masquerading as science, to use Mr. Pipes’ description. We are embarking on the establishment of a totalitarian state in the name of global warming.” (posted by jorod),


“Classic liberalism was long-since distorted to the point of being meaningless. To me the operative term most of the time is STATIST. Same idea as the original Marxists. Big government advocates who want more and more control of individual decisions, paired with the people who are willing to give the STATE power over their lives–in hopes of (fill in the blank).” (posted by BobG),

I began to realized that I knew this rhetoric and I knew it well, just not with all these words.

For jorod’s comment, substitute “global warming” for “the war on terror” or “freedom” and “Marxism” for something along the lines of “fascist,” and you have a recurring theme from comments on liberal blog postings on things like the US government putting RFID trackers in new passports or the US realID. And as for BobG’s comment, I could copy it onto the nearest liberal blog without changing anything and (provided the post was political) it would fit fairly well.

And that’s when it hit me that my parents have been right for my whole life – you get people who are far enough away on the political spectrum to argue about something and they circle back around so that they are saying the same thing – just starting from different points. And I think that’s why I love reading all these crazy posts on the internet. The conservative blog is yelling about the diminishing freedom of speech because of the crazy liberal media while the liberal blogs are yelling about how the puppet media assists in duping society as the government strips our freedoms. And both say that the other side is stupid and unable to reason their way out of a paper bag, but then complain that they can’t enter into a fair debate.

I think it’s fantastic that both sides appear so clearly in this wonderful medium. And while I may not agree with (or necessarily believe) everything I read on the internet, and especially the blogs I follow, I would never in a million years say that they should cease to exist or that the people who comment should get real lives. What’s more real than debating ideas with other people? I think it’s brilliant that I get to interact with these people and read their comments and watch them fight it out. The only part I wish I could change is best embodied in “Internet Argument” posted on xkcd where the scroll-over says “It’s easier to be an asshole to words than to people.” And that’s reason #642 why I love meandering through the wonderful world of blogs….