Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Similar to Rape

I'm sure you've seen this by now:
Getting Pregnant From Rape Is ‘Similar’ To Having A Baby Out Of Wedlock

Sadly, what he was trying to say was that he could understand why someone might contemplate an abortion, but cognitive dissonance wouldn't allow him to think he was talking about the same damn decision everyone else is making when they contemplate abortion. And that's why he raised his personal situation to that of the rape situation, because he can only imagine that the imperative is the same.

And obviously, he really *does* think there are times one might consider having an abortion. I mean, he referred to it as his daughter's choice and clearly implied he would have allowed her to make that choice, even if he didn't approve. And his whole point is that he could understand how someone might contemplate that decision, in special circumstances like his own.  And that, of course, is the pro-choice position; which is why people like him are forced to redefine the debate so that pro-choice means pro-abortion; while inventing special exceptions that allow them to break the rules.

But again, there was nothing particularly special about him not wanting his daughter to have a child out of wedlock. It's not just wicked prostitutes and partying sluts who have abortions. It's people's daughters. If that was better understood, we wouldn't be having this debate right now.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Superman the Badass

Something I like to write about is Superman.  I love Superman, mainly because he has so much in common with myself; with the exception of the flying thing and the weird outfit, of course.  So here are two comments I left at entirely differently places on Facebook yesterday, though it's the same sort of thing I often write about Superman.

The first was in regards to a meme I saw showing how Superman, Spiderman, and Batman all strive to keep their identities secret, while Iron Man does not; so as to imply that Iron Man is cooler than the other three.  Here's what I wrote:

With Superman, it's different. Batman, Spidey, and Ironman are just normal dudes who can do super things.  
Superman, on the other hand, is a bad ass alien who wants a little downtime by pretending to be one of the dorky humans he's surrounded by. Kinda like a king who walks among his people to see how the other half lives. And if his secret was discovered, he'd have to get a new job and a different pair of glasses, which he'd rather not do because he's comfortable with what he's got and apparently has a thing for uptight professional girls with poor facial recognition skills. 
So Superman's not hiding who he really is, because he's not really Clark Kent. He's Superman. He's just keeping his alias secret.
And then on a post from a guy saying he was going to make Superman cool again and mentioning how good the Christopher Reeve Superman was.
You can't make Superman cool again, because he never ceased being cool. Superman's main problem is that he's such a badass that it's not very easy to write dramatic situations for him; thus you end up with films like Superman III and IV, which killed the franchise. I mean, when a dude can fly around the globe so fast that he can reverse the rotation of the earth and thus reverse the flow of time, there's really not much suspense left any more.  
And as a note: Superman II was meant to be part of the first Superman movie, but it got too long. So there was really only enough material for one amazing Superman movie. And even the supposed reboot just rehashed much of the first movie again, with a Superman so lame that it just reminded us how perfect Christopher Reeve was.  
And the problem is that Superman can't really be a drama anyway. It's a comedy about this amazing guy who's ridiculously superior to everyone, yet kindly puts up with them while solving their worst problems, which are like child's play to him. And as the kicker, they all think he's a big dork, which is an act he puts on so he doesn't frighten them. They all think they're the cool slickers from the city and he's just a hayseed from the sticks, when he's really a bad ass from another planet and the very guy they admire most. 
Comedic gold. It can't be done any other way, and anyone who tries is a fool.

On Michael Bay and Ninja Turtles

I really need to start posting more of my Facebook stuff here.  I right it there because I'm usually addressing something specific that someone said, and it's more likely to get read there.  But everything there goes down the memory hole, while I can save things forever here.  Plus, my loyal readers are often more appreciative of what I have to say.  So I'm going to start posting even more of that stuff here, with the caveat being that my FB material is generally not up to the same standards of what I like to put here.  But hey, everything can't be perfect.

And if you're just wanting to see all my FB stuff, you should just go there.  None of my stuff is private, so you can see it all anytime.  Or you can also be my friend.  Whatever.

This is something I wrote after a friend posted a link to this review of the script for Michael Bay Ninja Turtles that will now apparently never see the light of day.  If the review is any indication, we should all be grateful for that.  Anyway, here's what I wrote.  Enjoy!

I actually liked the first Transformers movie, at least until the last half hour where you couldn't even see what the hell was going on. But even then, it's because it was liberally borrowing material from much better movies, particularly Independence Day.

But as long as it was a light comedy about a high school dork scoring the hottie with the help of a group of lumbering robot aliens, it worked. It was really more like a parody of a Transformers movie, looking at the humorous side of what it'd be like if these giant robots really did get involved with humans. But as soon as they really wanted us to take it seriously as computer images battled it out on the screen, the whole film took a nosedive. That's why I never saw the other two, because it just sounded like they started up where the first left off and forgot they were making a comedy.

And all the same, as much as that kinda worked with Transformers, you can't do that with every movie. With giant transforming robots, it was funny. Ninja Turtles, on the other hand, are already too easily scoffed at, so they need to go especially hard to make them badassses right off the bat. Ninja Turtles as bumbling supporting characters and plot devices doesn't work at all. They need to be the main focus, or not be there at all.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

D-Bags Defending D-Bags

Over on Facebook, I saw a friend's post about the girl who exposed the guys who assaulted her at a party after a judge sealed their names because of their age.  And on cue, some d-bag shows up to remind us, yet again, that some accusations of rape are false.  As if there's someone who doesn't know this.

And they act as if they're just trying to give fairtime to a legitimate issue, when their real intent is to be a d-bag and imply that all rape victims might be liars and reminding us that the rapists might be the victims.  And yeah, that's true.  But we already know that and don't need to debate that issue every single fucking time the issue of rape comes up.

Below is my response to the guy.  Hope you like it.  It's all you're getting.

Here's the thing, Tom. You've got a point. It really is wrong when someone falsely accuses someone else of something, particularly something as bad as rape. That sort of thing can destroy someone's life forever. And it's not just the accused who suffers, but once the false accusation is uncovered, it makes all the true victims look suspect; even though they vastly outnumber the few false accusations.

And here's the thing: That's what you're doing right now. By making a point of focusing on the very few false accusations, you're essentially besmirching the integrity of all the real victims and implying that their accusations might also be false. That's the point of what you're doing, whether you intend it or not. The false accusation meme has spread so that every time someone talks about rape, someone like you comes along and reminds us that some of the victims aren't real victims.

Because yeah, there are a few false accusations of rape. But no, it's not happening every day. In fact, it's so rare that it's news the few times that it happens. But rapes really DO happen all the time. And what you're doing is the equivalent of someone who won't stop talking about plane crashes every time they hear people talk about flying. Because yeah, planes do crash, but it's such a side-issue of flying that if that's all you can talk about, then you're a nutjob who clearly has issues. Same thing here. Yeah, we get it. There are a few false accusations of rape. Now can we get back to the discussion at hand, or do you need more time to remind us that the victims might be lying?

And that's the thing: We all *know* there are false accusations of rape. No one denies that and no one thinks it's a good thing. So...what other point is there of bringing it up, but to do the d-bag thing of making victims look guilty? Because that's what you're doing, whether you intend to or not. And if that's not what you were intending to do, then you should count this as a lesson learned and stop acting like a d-bag. But in case it's not clear enough: We all know that there are false accusations. So if that was your point, you can rest assured that we've heard it all before and don't require yet another debate on the subject.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Crazy White Guy With Charts for President

Romney fucked up. That's all there is to it. Should have gone with boring white guy, not a wild eyed snoremonger like Ryan. It's like he's getting the worst of both worlds: A boring policy wonk who advocates radical policies that scare old white people.

And so this strongly suggests Mitt still thinks he can win it, or he wouldn't have gone with such a risky pick; but how does Ryan help him with that? Because first off, a guy like Ryan is in it for Ryan, and he'll be perfectly happy to hurl Mitt under the bus when the time is right. And Mitt's been such a bubble boy his whole life that he probably won't even see it coming or know what happened after it's over. I'd be amazed if Ryan's not setting him up for this right now. From now on, this election is really about Paul Ryan in 2016. Bank on it.

And sure, this makes the far right political junkies happy, but what about Joe Sixpack? This won't hurt Romney with NASCAR style conservatives, but it doesn't really score points at all. And that's who Romney needs to connect with, not Rush Limbaugh or the dorks at Redstate. For Romney to have a chance, he needs strong rural turnout in places like Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina. I don't see how Ryan helps him in those places. And if he's not helping there, then he's only a liability.

He should have gone with Pawlenty, who looks enough like Romney that Mitt could just hang out on his private island and hope TPaw is better at campaigning than Mitt is. I doubt Tim's got anything better to do with himself.

Instead, Romney went with a radical Master of Charts, and thus lost control of his entire campaign. And even if he somehow wins, he'll always be Ryan's figurehead boss. But Ryan would be better off for Mitt to lose with grace than to win it all. Mitt once again shows his lack of human nature by not identifying this obvious threat.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Factchecking the Factchecker's Factcheckers

While looking for the Romney quote in my previous post, I stumbled upon this Grading PolitiFact: Characterizing Mitt Romney's characterization of Obama from a blog called Politifact Bias.  That's right.  It's a website devoted to proving that PolitiFact is biased against conservatives.

Their proof?  First off, PolitiFact says that Obama and Romney have been fighting over whether Obama's "You didn't build that" line was an insult to entrepreneurs.  But as PolitiFact Bias points out, "That issue is somewhat settled when entrepreneurs perceive an insult.  Romney wins that point."

Yep.  This is a settled issue because some entrepreneurs perceived that they were being insulted.  Does this apply to other classes of people, too?  When Al Sharpton says he's insulted by something, do conservatives typically apologize for the insult?  I don't quite remember that happening.  In fact, I'm pretty sure they believe that all outrage against them for being rude is a badge of honor, and not only proves that they didn't insult anyone but that the insult was entirely deserved.

Either way, according to PolitiFact Bias, because some entrepreneurs claim to feel insulted by Obama's sentence, that means PolitiFact is biased for not admitting that Obama insulted entrepreneurs.

Strawmen for Me, Not for Thee

But that's not all the proof they have.  The real proof is that they believe PolitiFact is distorting Romney's attack on Obama; and are therefore factchecking the wrong claim.

As PB points out, Romney was merely attacking Obama for saying that the government does everything.  But Romney wasn't saying that Obama said entrepreneurs did everything.  You see?  They're basically attacking Romney for a strawman they created.

As PolitiFact Bias says:
The argument is that Obama credits the government too much, not that he doesn't credit entrepreneurs at all. Yet the latter is what PolitiFact suggests in its graphic.
Unfortunately, PolitiFact Bias didn't bother quoting anything Romney said, so let's just check the tape.  Here's a speech he gave at a campaign event on July 19:
When the president said that if you've got a business, you didn't build it, come here and talk to Brian and you'll learn that, in fact, he did build this business. Someone else isn't responsible for what he did here. He's the one that took the risk. He's the one that built this enterprise. He's the one responsible for helping get these people these jobs. And then the people who work here, they're also responsible for helping build this business. They came together and did it together. This is not the result of government.
Hmm, this was in the news almost two weeks before PB wrote their piece, and in it, Romney clearly references Obama's line as being a very literal interpretation.  It specifically juxtapositions Obama's supposed theory that the government is responsible for success, versus his claim that these are the people who built the business.  And he says at the end, "this is not the result of government."

So he not only is attacking Obama for supposedly claiming that the government is responsible for building the business, but goes even further by saying that the business's success is not the result of government.  In other words, Romney did exactly what PolitiFact Bias said Romney didn't do.  Does this mean that once they realize their mistake, they'll go back and apologize to PolitiFact while condemning Romney for misleading people?  I'll be holding my breath for that one.

And I really would like to hear more of that magical business.  Presumably they built all the roads that go to their suppliers and customers, as well as the roads that aid their suppliers and customers, educated their own workforce, created their own internet, and built their own equipment.  How else to explain how their success can't also be attributed to a successful government?

Time Travel Taxation

So their first point was a non-event and their second one was entirely flubbed; surely they've got a third point that might finally stick, right?  Well, maybe not so much.

Their third point is that PolitiFact claims that Obama was taken out of context.  And their proof of that is to take a few other other things Obama said out of context, put nefarious interpretations on them, and then completely ignore everything else he said.

Like this:
Obama was extolling the importance of the government role in allowing business to prosper.  He did so in the context of beneficiary businesses "giving back" as if it wasn't the taxes of businesses that helped pay for the infrastructure in the first place.  And the words he used diminish the role of individual effort ("Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there").
Uhm, what?  The infrastructure that existed before the business was started was paid for with taxes from the business that didn't exist yet?  How is that possible?  Has the IRS figured out how to tax people with time travel?  More likely, this idiot isn't understanding Obama's point at all.  In their minds, the government is some giant leech that sucks all the goodness from the real people like them, and they never do make the connection between what the government is and what it does.

And that's an important distinction.  Because yes, it's ridiculous to claim that we should be "giving back" to the government if we're the ones who made it in the first place.  But...if the government gave us this infrastructure in the first place, then it certainly would be entrepreneurs giving back to the rest of us.  In their universe, the chicken spontaneously created itself through its own hard work and is now offended that the farmer wants some eggs.

And please note how he thinks it's an insult to individuals for Obama to refer to hardworking people.  Uhm, aren't people individuals, too?  And more importantly, all Obama said was that these people didn't do it on their own.  Over and over he said that.  So while PolitiFact Bias repeatedly attacked PolitiFact for saying that they took Romney's attack out of context, they themselves did the same thing.

They claim that Obama's mistake was giving too much credit to the government, but then insist that individuals and entrepreneurs are being insulted if they're forced to share credit with those who helped them.  Simply amazing.

Context of Our Own

But wait, there's still more proof of PolitiFact's bias: PolitiFact believed Obama when he summarized his own message.

As Obama said:
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.
Now generally speaking, when someone says what their point is, it's assumed that this is, in fact, the point of what they're saying.  And Obama's point here couldn't be any more clear, we succeed because of our individual initiative and also because we do things together.

And yet...that's also the point PolitiFact Bias was making a few times, so...how could they have read that and still believe that Obama was attacking individual initiative?  Easy, by saying it didn't count because it didn't fit the context they believe he had.  Seriously.

They claim that it's ok to ignore Obama's summary,
...because the summary is ambiguous.  The summary provides no justification for successful businesses "giving back."  That concept comes out as Obama essentially tells entrepreneurs that they were lucky (others worked just as hard) and owe a big honkin' portion of their success to Our Glorious Government.  And the government, Obama says, is ready to take its rightful cut.
That's right.  They ignored Obama's own summary because it didn't fit, and decided to write one of their own.  And that's more proof that PolitiFact is biased because it took the context of Obama's speech from the speech itself, and not from the fevered imaginations of the typical conservative.  Shame on them.

And based upon all of these points, both the writer and editor of PolitiFact Bias gave PoliticFact a grade of F for their article.  And yet I can tell from the super-secret double-decoder ring context that these guys don't disapprove of Obama at all, and really just pop a boner at the thought of Obama spanking them for being naughty.  And for that, I'll give them both A's.

Romney and the Other People

There are many people in this world who truly cannot comprehend that they are not alone.  Sure, they see us standing there and they hear the words coming from our mouths, but they can't really understand these things outside the context of their own individual existence and how we apply to them.  We are merely props in their lives.  Background players, whose sole purpose is either to support them in their endeavors, or undermine them at every turn by not supporting everything they do.

And you can't blame these people for how they are, as they simply don't know any better.  Nobody wants to live in a bubble, and if they knew they were living in one, they'd surely break out of it and join the rest of us.  So I'm not here to act superior and smug, but to merely make note that such people exist and they are amongst us.  Empathy, apparently, is not a birthright for all.

Thus said, such people should never be president, and Mitt Romney is one such person.  And this latest attack Romney's hurling in a desperate bid to make people imagine that Obama hates success is yet another obvious example of his bubble existence.  (Emphasis added, because somebody had to)
“It’s individuals and their entrepreneurship which have driven America. What America is not is a collective where we all work in a kibbutz or we all in some little entity. Instead, it’s individuals pursuing their dreams and building successful enterprises which employ others and they become inspired as they see what has happened in the place they work and go off and start their own enterprises.”
As a side note, is there any part of that sentence that isn't awkward?  I mean, I know this wasn't a planned speech or anything, but come on.  These just aren't the guy's words.  Kibbutz, please.

And he made the same point a few days earlier:
The president does in fact believe that people who build enterprises like this really aren't responsible for it, but in fact it's a collective success of the whole society, so somehow builds enterprises like this. In my view, we ought to celebrate people who start enterprises and employ other people," Romney said.
According to Romney, America's success is due to individuals who employ others.  As if America is made of a few handful of industrious individuals, and everyone else are the "other people" they hire.  As if the rest of us are just filling seats, for the purpose of making entrepreneurs feel successful for having created so many seats to fill.  And the only way for any of the rest of us to rise up into the realm of the celebrated Individual is for us to leave our cushy seats and start our own company.  Only then shall we be celebrated.

A Nation of Leaders

And what about people who don't want to own their own business? Are you really some worthless schlub because you like programming or accounting or bartending, and don't want to have to deal with business cycles and making payroll?  Do we deserve no credit for the work we do?  Because in my view, we ought to celebrate anyone who takes pride in the work they do; whether they earn their money as wages or profit, or in Romney's case, on the backs of others.

And is it even possible to have a society of entrepreneurs?  Of course not.  We need workers.  We need accountants and lawyers and janitors and clerks.  The "other people" aren't just idiots filling slots.  They're also responsible for the company's success, and as a team, they deserve far more of the credit for any business's success than the one or two guys who started it.  Sure, it wouldn't have started without the owner.  But it wouldn't have gotten very successful without the employees.  Any good business owner realizes this.

And does it need to be noted that many companies are not run by their owners?  Yet it's the owner of the company who's supposedly worthy of the praise, rather than the people who run the show and pay the bills.  Some businesses are purely cash cows for their owners, and the business would in fact be better off if the owners didn't siphon off the profits for themselves.  But even with these parasites sucking away the wealth of the company, the company continues to succeed, due to efforts of the group.

Of course, in the Republican universe, the idle rich simply don't exist.  After all, these people continue to use some of their wealth to keep their businesses running; thus keeping the other people employed.  And for that, they should be celebrated.

America: Getting Shit Done

And that's the ultimate joke about Romney's point emphasizing the individual.  That might sound great in an Ayn Rand novel, but in reality, an individual is nothing without the group.  And more importantly, groups are made of individuals.  We are all individuals.  I mean, duh.  And sure, some individuals are obviously more deserving of credit than others, but no one deserves full credit for their success.  No one.

And more importantly, this is what being American is all about.  Not that Europeans or Asians don't work together.  It's just that America is about Americans working together to get shit done.  That's the American Way.  That's what makes us the best.  Not that we're successful individuals who employ other people, but that we're Americans working together.  And some people are the bosses and some people are the workers, but we're all Americans and we're all important.

Amazingly, Obama's rebuttal of Romney's point could be the very speech that Romney was attacking.  So I'm just going to end this with a bit from Obama's You Didn't Build That speech.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.  There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own.  I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service.  That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.  
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together.  That’s how we funded the GI Bill.  That’s how we created the middle class.  That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam.  That’s how we invented the Internet.  That’s how we sent a man to the moon.  We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President -- because I still believe in that idea.  You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.  (Applause.)

Sadly, even if Romney had seen Obama's speech, it's doubtful he'd understand.  Because he really does believe he alone is responsible for the empire of wealth he created, while the people who have been managing his money remain as background players he created.  As it turns out, empathy is not a requirement for financial success.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Bible as History

Over on Facebook a friend posted a meme comparing the bible to Greek mythology, and suggested that there weren't any differences.  Needless to say, I had to respond.  Here's what I wrote.  Enjoy!

Well...a good portion of the bible is just a history lesson, telling events that really happened. While the early stuff is a bit questionable (like the whole creation thing), and lots of the juicier stuff like Noah and Samson are obviously borrowed from other cultures, there's quite a lot of it that is historical.

In fact, the big question isn't why the bible's so fictional, but rather, why the hell it's so damn boring. Until the Jesus parts, it's not even particularly mystical or spiritually enlightening. No one would start a modern religion based upon the contents of the Old Testament. No one.

That's why everyone focuses on the fun stuff, like how rainbows didn't exist before God invented them for Noah (presumably light didn't slow down when passing through water until then). Because when you're down in the weeds reading about Tobit, son of Tobiel, whose father was Hananiel, the son of Aduel, son of Gabael, who belonged to the family of Asiel of the tribe of Naphtali, it's time to turn back and read about how Samson played tricks on the Philistines again.

(And yes, that was a real thing, from a page I found at random in my bible. In the Book of Tobit, of course.)

And the point is that the bible does such a good job of interweaving fact with fiction that it can be understandable how someone could grow up believing this stuff. When the Ancient Greeks heard the Odyssey, they knew it was fictional. But in the bible, they can read Jesus' words and learn about what King David did, and these are real things...probably. And yeah, the parts about divine intervention are obviously a bit iffy, but it does make the stories far more compelling.