Thursday, November 14, 2013

"O Captain,my Captain!" (Dead Poet's Society)

What is wrong with people? Do they not have any etiquette anymore?

The movie industry has the wrong people staying at home instead of going to theaters. Why do people stay at home? Numerous reasons. It is so much cheaper to stay at home than go to a movie. If you can buy a movie on dvd for $19.99, you only spend $1.49 more for a movie you can watch at home anytime you wish. Sure, you do miss out on the giant screen, but here's are the non-tangible advantages:

1) You own it.
2) You can pause if you have to visit the W.C.
3) You can eliminate phone interruptions, or allow them at your discretion.
4) You control the volume of laughter based on who you invite over, if anyone.
5) You can make all the fresh popcorn you want for $4.50, salt it, butter it, whatever.
6) For the price of a movie soda, you can purchase a year's supply of Thomas Kemper Root Beer, or your favorite choice of beverage.
7) You can eat any choice of food or candy and not have to sneak it into the theater.
8) You don't have Annoying Man next to you who insists of fetching out M&Ms out of a bag utilizing just his index finger through a hole you couldn't fit a No. 2 pencil through (Hint for you noisy snacker: BIG hole, cup hand, pour out)
9) You don't have the other Annoying Man thinking he's on his own couch, which miraculously enough, only fits him. That's right. In a theater or any other "assigned seating" venue, legs should be no further apart than the width of the seat you're sitting in.
10) The inappropriate Howler Monkey lady who laughs at the lamest jokes, or replays the joke in her head over and over, laughing each time. Look: we all love comedy and like to laugh, but if you're still laughing from a joke 10 minutes ago, I will go ninja on you and fold my ticket stub into a throwing star and lodge it in your larynx.
11) Oh, and also enjoying movies at home you get to avoid Mr. Texture Man. This is that guy who wears a nylon jacket or track pants, constantly moves in his seat, and creates that wonderful "whoosh-whoosh" sound. It adds so much to the atmosphere, especially when the boy is reunited with his lost dog in the movie. The warm, inspirational music, slow-motion frolicking of the boy and his dog in the fall leaves, while sister, mom and dad sit on the "WHOOSH-WHOOSH-WHIZZY-WHIZZY-SHINNY-SHINNY." Nevermind. The moment is gone.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Don't chase the rabbit!" (Pacific Rim)

Living in the Seattle area, I have to deal with one of the worst commutes in America. There are all sorts of drivers that compound the traffic problems we would have regardless of the number of drivers.

Our gas taxes (federal and state) aren't enough to keep up with the our infrastructure needs. People in the lower-density areas don't want to pay for improvements in higher-density areas. At least that's the excuse we hear from Olympia. And no politician will raise the tax. Even if that's exactly what we need. Why? Because they'll be voted out. Guess what, Mr. or Mrs. Senator? I don't f**king care if you lose your elected job.

Not doing your job so you can keep your job? Yeah, you're not getting my vote. It might not be the most popular thing to do, but the right thing needs to be done. A recent example is the gun control initiatives that have failed, or cost people their elected positions. Following the Constitution is paramount; upholding the supreme law of the land trumps a misinformed and misguided fear.

But coming back to transportation, we need more money. And we need to manage it better. Sadly, I believe over 50% of the federal gas tax goes to paying debt on projects. That's pretty bad.

The other issue we have is the government mandate to increase the average miles per gallon of cars. Short-sighted as the government gets, that ecological maneuver drops gas tax revenue as people use less gas. The proliferation of electric and hybrid cars further lowers tax revenues.

So it's getting to the point where vehicles are going to be charged a mileage tax, or hefty license tax of some sort to offset the drop in gas tax revenues. Unless Boeing pulls out of Washington and turns Seattle into New Detroit, our transportation infrastructure will continue to rise.

Some of you may ask "what's wrong with mass transit?" No one wants to foot the bill for that. Transit in the area would need to triple the service they currently have. Major points on routes have large time gaps- 30 minutes or more- between stops. That may not seem very long, but consider it's Washington. 260 days of clouds and rain. Bus stops with covers that are built for 6 people. Now you want to stand out in the rain for 30 minutes? I don't think so.

In my opinion, there's a bigger issue with ramping up mass transit access. If we start having buses full of former commuters, who's paying the gas tax now? If the commuter population drops 25%- which would be amazing for the commute, gridlock-wise- gas taxes will drop 25%. And because our government is incapable of spending properly and within its means, there's going to be a huge tax somewhere else to make up for it.

The floodgates will open with dusty projects complete unrelated to transportation that will get earmarked in this round of tax increase. We've spent the last 50 years without that, Bob, we don't need it now.

So there you have it. Gas taxes won't go up because the legislature won't do their jobs in order to keep their jobs, and mass transit won't get improved because it will end up costing the government money and tax revenue.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Second place is a set of steak knives." (Glengarry Glen Ross)

A week or so ago it was announced Steve Ballmer was stepping down as Microsoft's CEO. A collective sigh of relief or muffled cheers of jubilation could be heard in Starbucks across the land. For 10 years the rule of Big B squandered and sidestepped opportunities that saw Microsoft (MSFT) stumble as it finally arrived at it's massive bureaucratic state.

The bright spots in the last decade or so are few. Xbox. WinXP and Win7. Xbox Live. These are the best success stories the public know and understand. But what about MSFT's backbone systems? Developer tools? Online services? Steady performers, but lack the media sizzle.

But the CEO transition isn't about hardware or software. For any large company, the CEO doesn't do the actual "work" for researching, developing, and delivering products. They lead the company in doing it. And in my opinion, MSFT has lacked a visionary leader to keep up with the change and pulse of technology.

Windows 8 is getting a bad rap because it's ahead of the curve. It's MSFT's second try at touch screen technology. MSFT is trying something Apple isn't- making it seamless between the two uses of the operating system. And people don't like it because it's different. Things don't work the way they should. Other software is lagging behind to meet Win8's requirements.

It is a visionary product, but it was done with a poor visionary mindset. It ignored everything people wanted. That's not visionary; it's a dictatorship.

What MSFT needs is a vision and visionary leaps and bounds. We are a mobile society. We are not constrained to desks or cubicles. We have decentralized. We have access to information virtually anywhere. The future is now, cliche notwithstanding. Truth be told, the future is 2 or 3 years ago. The idea pipeline needs to be full to capitalize on the coming generation of computer users.

MSFT also needs to recapture the atmosphere that made it so great. The "we've never done this before, so we'll do this" mentality. Forget trying to appease shareholders, media, the financial press. Focus on your strengths within the skills of the company. Create innovative, need-based products, and some didn't-know-we-needed-it products.

Bill Gates' vision was a computer in every home. What's MSFT's vision now? Sustain and develop world-class software and tools to maintain a profitable company for employees and shareholders? Who the f*** will get excited about that?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"We are an effective team." (Oblivion)

Let's boil it down. Anti-gun and pro-gun.

Anti-gun advocates want private citizens to not have access to guns. Core points- without guns, gun-related death rates would plummet, crime would decrease, accidental shootings and suicides would be non-existent.

Pro-gun advocates want private citizens to be unrestricted in regards to guns. It's a Constitutional right, and is a basic human right. Having guns would help keep you safe, deter crime, and are a fun hobby.

We all know my stance. Pro-gun all the way. I do believe that there should be some reasonable limitations on gun ownership (history of violent crimes) and areas where you can't carry (I really think bars are a bad place to carry).

There are thousands of opinions and articles that support the 2nd Amendment, some written by people far more versed and educated in the matter than I. Most are readily available by doing a basic Internet search. As far as gun ownership being a basic human right, that goes to say it's a right of self-defense.

Look at history. Ignore the "guns are bad" viewpoint. When man came out of the garden, or cave, or primordial ooze, there wasn't much in way of defensive tools. Our bare hands against lions, tigers, and bears, oh my. We had to create defensive tools, and tools to kill our dinner. Spears, rocks, hammers, bows and arrows. The primitive tools. Then came iron. Steel. Spanish steel, much stronger than our native blades. The era of the sword and shield. Battles fought, wars raged. Until the next weapon arrived.

Firearms. Slow and bulky and awkward. But lethal from greater distances over a sword or arrow. Improvements created devastating armies. Created superiority complexes that changed the world.

But overall, our methods for self defense has improved throughout history. While we may live in a world that doesn't require such lethal forms of self-defense (sidenote: if you're of this viewpoint, you have a very narrow worldview, and your opinion is completely worthless), it is not the government's job- nor other citizen's- to prohibit the options we have available to us for self-defense.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Anti Gun Yellow Journalism

Well, at the worst it would be yellow journalism. It's highly disingenuous and extremely sophomoric in the attempt to create an "unbiased" look.

Heidi Yewman is a hack "journalist" or blogger. Her first story, which got this train wreck of experience going, I've already covered. The impact was so negative, the original publisher of the article refused to publish her three follow-ups. There's the commentary for you: a feminist-leading online magazine refuses to publish a woman's experience in owning and wearing a gun.

So before I begin, I will open first with some concessions to Ms. Yewman.
1. Yes, guns are easily available for those whom have the cash and can pass a background check.
2. Yes, anyone can get a gun without requiring training; you only have to be a good citizen to obtain a gun legally (in WA state and others).
3. Yes, there are many gun owners that are irresponsible and do not give firearms the proper respect they deserve (as you so wonderfully demonstrated).

So some of her points are accurate. Someone with little or no experience with firearms can walk in, buy a handgun after passing a background check, and pick it up in a few days.

Do you know what else I can do, Ms. Yewman? I can walk into Staples or Office Depot, buy a computer, and call up Comcast and get Internet service. I can go on websites like this, or any number of the thousands of message boards, and type whatever I want, with little or no training. I can host my own website, or pay for one hosted. Espouse the virtues of any number of controversial subjects from racism to abortion to international affairs. Do you know why I can do this, Ms. Yewman? Because in Washington, D.C., there's a document that was written over 200 years ago the express the desires of men far smarter than you to establish a country where the government could not oppress people or ideas.

After reading Ms. Yewman's article, I thought it was hilariously overworked, full of fear-mongering and purposeful neglection that bordered on insanity. Ms. Yewman left her gun in her purse at a friend's house, where children were at play. Ms. Yewman knew she had the gun, she didn't "forget" that it was in her purse. It's a purposeful attempt to illustrate how irresponsible people can treat firearms. Had a child actually rummaged through the purses and found the gun, and an accident happened, Ms. Yewman would be guilty of recklessness or criminal negligence. She was not acting like a reasonable person. In fact, reading her article implies that her entire month was full of irrational behavior.

Ms. Yewman broke her own criteria for her experience. She left her gun in her purse numerous times (two specific times in the article, it would not be a stretch to believe these weren't the only times), even knowing children would be nearby and have easy access to her purse.

She is the irresponsible gun owner she is afraid of. That we're all afraid of. But guess what? We have a right guaranteed by the Constitution to keep and bear arms. We have a right to express our opinions. We have a right to a jury of our peers. We have a right to drink. You don't need experience or training to exercise any rights. If it was required, it wouldn't be a right.

It's really sad that Ms. Yewman's experience was more about propagating fear and manifesting irresponsible behavior than actually learning what being a gun owner is really about. Having our rights dictated to us through laws and licensing is giving unconstitutional power to the government.

In broad strokes, our government cannot legislate safety of the people by restricting rights. It is not the job of the federal, state, or local government to create laws to protect the people from harm due to their ignorance of common sense.

But back to Ms. Yewman. While I understand what she was doing, she just comes across as one of the most ignorant, hypersensitive coward I've had the displeasure of reading. Her experience is one of the most dishonest efforts at gun control and disarmament I've seen.

So in conclusion, Ms. Yewman, I implore you to continue exercising your Second Amendment; the right not keep and bear arms. There are millions of others that are willing to responsibly exercise the right to keep and bear arms.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Lucy, you have some 'splaining to do!" (I Love Lucy)

I spent the morning thinking of tv themes while getting ready. Man, I loved TBS back in the day. The day when shows started at 10:05 or 1:35. Good job, Ted, on the 5 minute offset.

So the themes. How many could I come up with- themes I could get 80% or more right? Here's how many:

M*A*S*H
A-Team
MacGuyver
Scoobie Doo
Bewitched
Dukes of Hazzard
Cheers
Leave it to Beaver
Gilligan's Island
The Brady Bunch
The Greatest American Hero
The Addams Family
GI Joe
Andy Griffith Show

I usually remember Hogan's Heroes, but I mix that up with the whistle song from Bridge on the River Kwai. And some themes I just don't want to remember (WKRP, I'm not thinking of you... aw, dammit!).

And if I'm prompted, I might just find I remember more of other themes. Like Get Smart.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Rebuttal to Ms. Yewman's 1 Month with a Gun

An intrepid "journalist" is writing a 4-part story on her month with carrying a gun. She's a board member on the Brady Campaign, and is a vocal opponent of exercising the Second Amendment, and guns in general.

While upon surface observation, it sounded like a good story. An anti-gunner is going to experience the world of gun ownership. A "walk a month in their shoes," if you will.

Almost nothing could be further from the truth. I'd believe a Barack Obama birth certificate before I believed Ms. Yewman was going to have some sort of objective experience. This isn't "Black Like Me" territory. This is an exploitative viewpoint and filtered with the most negative connotation, twisted and spun like your favorite t-shirt in the washer.

Intelligent readers will see the article for what it is. Hyperbole, purposeful ignorance, and fear mongering. Readers who hang on every word will further ingrain wrong and misleading information in efforts to propagate more fear and ignorance.

So let's begin tearing into this poor excuse of an "exercise of rights."

My hands are shaking; my adrenaline is surging.
No, it’s not from the latte I just inhaled or because this is the first time in two years I’ve been in a Starbucks since declaring a boycott on its open-carry gun policy.
What’s got me jittery this morning is the 9mm Glock that’s holstered on my hip. Me, lead gun policy protester at the 2010 Starbuck’s shareholder meeting. Me, a board member of the Brady Campaign. Me, the author of a book about the impact of gun violence,Beyond the Bullet.
First part. She's afraid of just carrying the gun in public. She establishes herself as a staunch anti-gun advocate, yet her she is, incredibly fearful of wearing a gun on her hip. Why is there any fear? Is she afraid of it accidentally going off when she stands up? It might magically shoot a coffee store patron?

Yes, I bought a handgun and will carry it everywhere I go over the next 30 days. I have four rules: Carry it with me at all times, follow the laws of my state, only do what is minimally required for permits, licensing, purchasing and carrying, and finally be prepared to use it for protecting myself at home or in public.
Why? Following the Newtown massacre in December, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, told the country, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”  I wondered what would it be like to be that good guy with a gun? What would it be like to get that gun, live with that gun, be out and about with that gun. Finally, what happens when you don’t want that gun any more?
Ok, so her second part here is laughable. She's already violated her rule number 4. Obviously she's not prepared to protect herself in public if she's incredibly nervous just hanging out at a coffee shop. The lack of preparedness goes on later in the article, and it just shows how much the author is irrationally portraying a new gun owner.

I decided to find out.
Getting the permit to carry a concealed weapon was simple. I filled out a form, had my fingerprints taken for a background check and paid $56.50. No training required. It took far longer to get my dog a license.
The permit process in Washington State varies from office to office. My Concealed Pistol License (CPL) took two weeks to process when I applied in 2006. I hear stories of some law enforcement (LE) offices taking the entire lawful window to issue the CPLs. Some LE offices issue them within 30 minutes. She does not identify the actual time it took for her license to be processed. Very misleading writing here, and an honest writer would have clarified the point.

I started my 30-day gun trial with a little window-shopping. I visited a gun show and two gun dealers. I ended up buying a Glock 9mm handgun from Tony, a gun dealer four miles from my house. I settled on this model because it was a smallish gun and because Tony recommended it for my stated purposes of protecting myself and my home.
It was obvious from the way I handled the gun that I knew nothing about firearms. Tony sold it to me anyway. The whole thing took 7 minutes. As a gratified consumer, I thought, “Well, that was easy.” Then the terrifying reality hit me, “Holy hell, that was EASY.”  Too easy. I still knew nothing about firearms.
Wow. A gun show and two dealers. This is a gun, lady. It's a few hundred dollar purchase. If you don't shop around when spending that type of money, congrats on having plenty of disposable income. However, I bet you put more thought and time into buying a pair of shoes online than you did this gun. If you're going to use it for personal defense, it might actually help if you know a little bit. Of course, she's just out to prove a point on how "easy" it is to purchase a gun and carry it around. She never really intends on using it for protection. It's a prop for a disingenuous article to further the negative message about guns.

Ms. Yewman purchased a gun she'd never shot. She must just purchase jeans without trying them on. Or ignores the samples at Costco. And knowing she didn't know anything about guns, she neglected to ask the seller for assistance. It's not the salesperson's job to treat you like an idiot. Ms. Yewman, YOU have the responsibility to be informed what you're purchasing.

And regarding the rights of Washington State citizens, open carry is permitted (with some common restrictions), and a CPL allows a buyer to bypass the background check, since one is done when the CPL is issued. It was easy because she spent the time earlier to get a CPL. If she did not have a CPL, the process would have been longer.

Tony told me a Glock doesn’t have an external safety feature, so when I got home and opened the box and saw the magazine in the gun I freaked. I was too scared to try and eject it as thoughts flooded my mind of me accidentally shooting the gun and a bullet hitting my son in the house or rupturing the gas tank of my car, followed by an earth-shaking explosion. This was the first time my hands shook from the adrenaline surge and the first time I questioned the wisdom of this 30-day experiment.
I needed help. I drove to where a police officer had pulled over another driver. Now, writing this, I realize that rolling up on an on-duty cop with a handgun in tow might not have been fully thought through.
I told him I just bought a gun, had no clue how to use it. I asked him to make sure there were no bullets in the magazine or chamber. He took the magazine out and cleared the chamber. He assured me it was empty and showed me how to look. Then he told me how great the gun was and how he had one just like it.
This is where all people familiar with guns lose it. Retarded is too good of a word to waste on Ms. Yewman. Fed by fear and Hollywood's "reality," Ms. Yewman is afraid of a gun right out of the box. Obviously she doesn't have the intellectual fortitude to realize guns require ammo. Otherwise it's just a paperweight. She is purposefully being an idiot customer. If she was really this dense, how did she ever figure out how to do laundry? Change mixing utensils on a KitchenAid mixer?

She proceeds to panic and rolls up on a police officer, asking him how to use a handgun? Did this earth-shattering realization come to her just then, after the purchase? No, she's intentionally promoting her ignorant gun buyer persona. Too bad there's not places she could go to get experience handling firearms so she would have, at minimum, a cursory knowledge of guns. Or, even better, a digital database of information accessible almost anywhere, where she can type in her question and get millions of possible answers. If only that existed.

The cop thought I was an idiot and suggested I take a class. But up to that point I’d done nothing wrong, nothing illegal.
So here I sit at Starbucks, and the irony couldn’t be thicker. On March 12, 2010, I was surrounded by big hairy men with guns on their hips, yelling at me as I led a protest against Starbuck’s gun policy. Today, I’m surrounded by five-year-old boys sitting with their moms at the next table. Now I’m the one with a gun on her hip. The gun makes me more fearful than I could have imagined.
In some way, I feel a certain vindication. I was right to protest Starbucks policy. Today, they have a woman with absolutely no firearms training and a Glock on her hip sitting within arm’s reach of small children, her hands shaking and adrenaline surging.
The cop is right, even if the author is being intentional. Too bad we can't make being an idiot illegal.

Ms. Yewman returns to the present, comparing her past experience in very derogatory, sexist commentary. And continues her fear mongering because she can't fathom the possibility that a gun is an inanimate object that requires an intentional, human act to function. Not to mention, in her entire narrative, she never mentions buying ammo or loading a magazine. For all we know, she's wearing an unloaded gun. Again, a clear violation of her own rules.

On a larger scale, a gun is a tool for self protection (modeling after the author's initial purpose of having this gun). Like any tool, you need to use it and learn how it works. No one is born with the innate sense of hammering. How many thumbs have we crushed? No one instantly picks up a paintbrush and completes the Mona Lisa. The author's explicit denial of personal responsibility and purchasing diligence is absurd, and anyone who promotes this article as a worthwhile experience in exercising the Second Amendment need to see it for what it really is: excusing responsibility.

The irrational argument Ms. Yewman is advocating is an empty, desperate plea that lacks any sort of personal responsibility and thought. Which is the crux of the anti-gun rhetoric. It's not just the act of disarming people. It's the furthering of an agenda to remove personal responsibility and accountability from the people, and making the government create laws to manage our behavior. Liberty? Individual rights? Ms. Yewman's so intent on exercising her First Amendment to villify the Second, she's skipped over the very tenets of our nation's founding purpose.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Code name: Irene." Black Hawk Down

America is afraid.

We are afraid on any number of fronts. Environmental, economical, warfare, political, financial, and safety. What makes us afraid? What is being done about it? And what's there to be afraid of?

The uncertainty that surrounds us is what makes us afraid. Not knowing, or expecting to change, is what drives the fear. And right now, we don't have a good vision for our country. There's no end in sight. Well, hopefully four years.

Americans need to feel safe and protected. We don't because the leadership of our country is doing a piss-poor job of that. The media is a horrible influence as well, constantly berating the fact that the sky is falling. Journalism used to be worthwhile, but we've constantly been attracted to sensationalism and yellow journalism.

Most of our fears are unfounded, only propagated through media and selected information sources. Things that unfold on the world's stage will not affect any of us directly. The tsunami from Japan. Not a big deal to the US, collectively. Deepwater Horizon. Huge impact on the Gulf states and a minority percentage of the US.

We fear because we don't know. And we have a "leader" who promised transparency. Yeah, good luck with that. Our next group of leaders will be required to be the ones who will make us feel safe.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"Zang! (Excellent)" - Wayne's World

Ok... somebody needs to slap these car designers. It's one thing to be "inspired" by the past and retro features. But now they're just getting lazy and copying styling from the 70s, which is never a good idea.

The new Ford Escape:


The new Toyota RAV4

 And the 70s runabout: The AMC Gremlin.


Monday, January 28, 2013

"Wanna know what the most annoying sound is?" Dumb & Dumber

To me, the most annoying sound is that of ignorance. Not racial, just plain old ignorance. When people spout off opinions and think that nothing on their ends comes at a cost.

I recently had a nice little discussion about the eventual return of a professional basketball team in Seattle. They're likely getting a new facility in the south part of downtown, next to the Mariners' Safeco Field and Seahawks' Century Link Field.

The area is industrial, no doubt about it. It's also in close proximity to the Port of Seattle. Now, my bone of contention is 1) Why do we need another NBA team and 2) Why build an arena in that area when it's better for the economy to improve the Port of Seattle infrastructure.

So in regards to 1: The Sonics already left. Our city hasn't faltered. We've embraced the Sounders soccer club, so it's not like they wouldn't have a fan base. I'm not a big basketball fan. I'm not a big hockey fan, either, but I'd rather see an NHL team before an NBA team returns.

But here's the deal with the second point. The cost of the arena and the location. The Port of Seattle is in need of infrastructure improvement. It's the intermodal improvements, actually. Getting the stuff off the ships and onto trucks and trains to other areas of the US. The Port of Seattle Marine Terminals brings in $3 billion in revenue, and $254 million in state and local taxes. It employs over 100,000 people, making it one of the state's largest employers.

And as business goes, you have to keep up or be left behind. The Seattle ports have huge competition up and down the coast, from Vancouver, Canada to Los Angeles, CA. There's even a little canal in Panama, with it's recent improvements, will cut the cost advantage of cross-country shipping. But Seattle chose not to invest in improving the Port infrastructure that would keep it competitive, thriving, and profitable. Instead, they're going with a sports arena that would bring in a little over $4 million in tax revenue (that was estimated from the 2000 study for Memphis NBA team).

Other arguments for an NBA team coming back to Seattle is the jobs. Ok, listen. You'll have one or two years of design and construction. After that, you'll have seasonal employment for a couple of hundred people, selling overpriced beer and hotdogs, and pointing idiots to their seats. The organization itself isn't a large employer. Certainly not when compared to the Port.

Improving the Port would also add jobs, too. And ones that pay a good, liveable wage. Career jobs. I mean, when in comes down to dollars and cents in making the decision, it's a no-brainer.

Create jobs and improve the economy, or put your stock in another sports team that overpays overgrown children to run around throwing a ball in the hoop (oh, don't worry, I have issues with all professional athletes that are overpaid).

There are other locations for the stadium, and the Port addressed that. But the powers that be ignored common sense. Again.

Friday, January 25, 2013

OT: Senator Feinstein is an idiot.

Obvious disclaimer: I support the 2nd Amendment.

Senator Feinstein, the asshat person behind the revised "Assault Weapons Ban of 2013," is a complete moron when it comes to firearms. Banning a firearm is in direct contravention of the Constitution, but obviously she's not concerned with the Constitution. Even though she swore to "uphold and defend the Constitution" upon taking her seat to represent the people of California.

I've taken to Twitter (@mbull) because, well, why not? I can't email her, she's not my legislator. But suffice to say, I've done more tweets to her recently than generic tweets. Mainly these tweets are to poke holes in her thought process, because her and her staff routinely misinterpret statistics and bend facts to fit their argument, because they know that most people won't look at the reports or raw data.

Basically, they say whatever they want because they know people are stupid and/or lazy.


Prime example- from one of her recent press conferences on her proposed bill: Assault weapons were created for a purpose and
"...my view that’s a military purpose, to hold at the hip, possibly, to spray fire to be able to kill large numbers."
Hold the phone, Rambo. Military-grade firearms aren't meant to be fired from the hip. Military-trained soldiers do not fire from "the hip" except in rare instances. That's why firearms have a stock (among other things, like sights). 

Also, Senator Feinstein is concerned that a pistol grip is a military feature. No, it's not. It's a better ergonomic way to hold a rifle. Try this- hold a .308 rifle or a M1 rifle from the shoulder like you're going to shoot a target. Then hold a rifle with a pistol grip. Which one is more comfortable? Which one requires you to cock your wrist at an odd angle?

Other inaccuracies on Senator Feinstein's part include misrepresenting statistical reports. From her webpage:
In a Department of Justice study (pdf), Jeffrey Roth and Christopher Koper find that the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was responsible for a 6.7 percent decrease in total gun murders, holding all other factors equal. They write: “Assault weapons are disproportionately involved in murders with multiple victims, multiple wounds per victim, and police officers as victims.”
Actually, what Roth and Koper say is:
Our best estimate is that the ban contributed to a 6.7 percent decrease in total gun murders between 1994 and 1995, beyond what would have been expected in view of ongoing crime, demographic, and economic trends.  However, with only one year of post-ban data, we cannot rule out the possibility that this decrease reflects chance year-to-year variation rather than a true effect of the ban.
Guess what? Contributed is not synonymous with responsible. Not by a long shot. And just a little bit further on in the report:
We were unable to detect any reduction to date in two types of gun murders that are thought to be closely associated with assault weapons, those with multiple victims in a single incident and those producing multiple bullet wounds per victim.  We did find a reduction in killings of police officers since mid-1995.  However, the available data are partial and preliminary, and the trends may have been influenced by law enforcement agency policies regarding bullet-proof vests.
And other highlights from other reports that Senator Feinstein has on her site:
It is Premature to Make Definitive Assessments of the Ban’s Impact on Gun Crime
•  Because the ban has not yet reduced the use of LCMs in crime, we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.
In the broadest sense, the AW-LCM ban is intended to limit crimes with
semiautomatic firearms having large ammunition capacities – which enable shooters to discharge high numbers of shots rapidly – and other features conducive to criminal applications.  The gun ban provision targets a relatively small number of weapons based on outward features or accessories that have little to do with the weapons’ operation.  
Ok. So "other features conducive to criminal applications" is a retarded argument. Feinstein wants military-style weapons banned. Now the reports she quotes state the ban is intended to limit crimes committed with guns that appeal (maybe?) to criminals. Or features that are conducive to criminal activities. In which these features have nothing to do with the gun's operations. Just because it looks scary to you, or because it's what the military uses, doesn't mean it should be banned. That logic is f**king retarded.

And now we move on to the most blatant smoke and mirrors effort of Feinstein & Co. According to numerous reports, the bans on "assault weapons" and large capacity magazines (LCM) have shown, at times, a dramatic drop in either a) guns with LCMs being used/recovered or b) assault weapons being used/recovered.

Let that sink in.

Statistics show that banned items are found less frequently than expected.

No sh*t, Sherlock. I mean, it doesn't take a genius to expect that if something is banned, fewer people will be using it.

The misdirection here is subtle, if you're not thinking. These studies show that LCM and "assault weapons" are used less during the time period of the law. The studies do not correlate any data to a decrease in crime. In fact, these studies don't even acknowledge that the AWB/LCM bans had any affect on crime*. None! A ban on an item that doesn't prevent crime?! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

I have also removed "magnificent assclown" from the text herewithin, since I don't want a knock at my door from guys in black suits and shades.

*I read a handful of articles and conclusions of the reports, not all of them. I've not found a direct correlation between the AWB and decrease in total gun-related crimes.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

"I want to see mountains, Gandalf. Mountains!" (LOTR:FOTR)

I've seen The Hobbit. That new movie from Peter Jackson from J.R.R. Tolkien's book The Hobbit. The origin story of Bilbo Baggins and the One Ring. I've never read the book. Luckily, I went into the movie without preconceived notions of what would be in the movie. I knew Bilbo would get the Ring, somewhere, somehow.

So let's get into the movie from a story-telling standpoint, and how it belongs in the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) universe. Warning- here be spoilers.

It's a good story. Whether or not that story needs to be spread out into three movies, I'm not sure. I haven't read the book to see what parts can be eliminated. The challenges Jackson & Co. had to deal with was how to make the movie fit, being filmed over 10 years after LOTR. Actors age, and unfortunately there are CG programs that can de-age actors. I say unfortunately because it's implemented horribly. It looks like Bilbo is wearing a latex mask, poorly painted by people not good enough to win Face/Off (TV show on SyFy).

So there's that problem. Bilbo looks horrific. Outside of the clothes, he looks totally different in The Hobbit than he did in LOTR.

I'm a fan of the series, so it somewhat is discouraging for me to say this. Jackson went Lucas. As in George Lucas. As in, OMG CGI! CGI! CGI ALL THE THINGS!!!!! There's a point in the storytelling that gets overshadowed with the technological desires. Specifically, the underground capture and escape of the company. In the escape sequence, Dwarfs (Dwarfs, mind you) are running and/or sprinting across bridges, outcroppings, falling, sliding, and doing all manner of physical things in addition to fighting a non-stop onslaught of goblins/trolls/orcs (I don't know what they are).

Really. It looks worse than the charge out of the front gate at Helm's Deep. There are parts that the CG just takes all magic out of the movie. Lots of movies do that, sadly, and someday I might get used to it. But probably not.

It's a long story, with a lack of roller-coaster between scenes. It goes from adventure to stop, to adventure, to stop, to adventure, to stop. There's little storytelling. We have snippets and flashbacks of the main leader (not Bilbo). But there's nothing about the rest of the party. They're just there. Boromir had more depth than the others in the company. And that's because of the very frequent action. It plays out like those "long falls" in movies, where the character falls down somewhere, stops momentarily, then the table they're on collapses, and they fall again, until they hit the floor, which then gives way and they keep falling. On and on and on. The Hobbit is like that.

The other thing that let me down was the vastness of Middle Earth that was portrayed in LOTR. When the company starts off, the stunning cinematography present in LOTR is avoided in The Hobbit. That might have been a case of "They've already scene it before," but I think there are enough spots to create the Middle Earth world.

Maybe all this points are based on how the pacing of LOTR was. I wouldn't deny I was expecting something more akin to the first Middle Earth trilogy.

On the positive (since most of this is negative), Martin Freeman did a good job as a hobbit. He does a good job of epitomizing the reluctant hero. Even for a thief.

Overall I'll buy the blu-ray when it comes out, eventually, just to keep the franchise complete. It's not necessarily something non-die-hards need to see right away.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"Do I look like a cop?" (Batman Begins)

Go grab a cup of coffee, or your dinner, or whatever. Find a comfy seat, this is going to be long.

I've recently finished watching The Dark Knight Rises, after months of waiting. Originally, I went to see it opening night, but some gene pool misfit ruined the night by spraying beer everywhere and talking during the movie. Anywho...

There is nothing short of excellent film making and story telling here. Sure, you can poke holes in plots and continuity, but this is just a movie. You can't tell me that the comic books had any plot holes, either. But back to the movie. Christopher Nolan created a well-known story and delivered a movie trilogy that will rival Star Wars, and possibly The Godfather (#3 notwithstanding).

Spoiler alert- I may talk about the ending... scratch that, I will talk about the ending.

Why is this trilogy so good? Didn't The Avengers make more money? Wasn't that such an amazing movie? Yes, The Avengers was a tremendous movie in it's own right. Nolan's Batman Trilogy is a different type of movie- it's not an action-packed, ADD-infused, squeal-inducing cinematic story. The Batman is a dark, quiet beast of a story. It's taken three movies for Nolan to answer the big questions and tell an interesting story.

Let's start with Batman Begins, the start. We get the standard Bruce Wayne story. We get a villain that has a history with the hero. The supporting characters are established, and ones that have been ignored in previous Batman movies. Commissioner Gordon, Lucius Fox are introduced as pivotal characters. The audience is allowed a chance to learn who Bruce Wayne/Batman is, and why he fights. And he defeats the villain and establishes strong ties with Gordon.

Next is The Dark Knight, where we learn what Batman can and can't do. And at what lengths he will go to to capture the villain. Batman also deals with loss, both in his love life and his alter-ego. Here's one of the biggest issues with Batman- he's human. There's no super power he can pull from. He has his physicality and intelligence. Eventually one will go before the other. That issue has to be dealt with.

The Dark Knight unfortunately will be known for the death of Heath Ledger, who's Joker character has been widely regarded as one of the best villain portrayal. The movie, all by itself, stands alone as a great movie.

And now comes the conclusion: The Dark Knight Rises. The title is not about Batman returning. It's about The Dark Knight- what Batman represents. He gets his hands dirty. He circumvents the laws and injustice to be that vigilante needs to get down to the criminal's level. And in this epic final chapter, Bruce Wayne is able to rise above his own pain and passion to add positive balance to the world. He rises to choose a successor, which is a daunting idea. How do you select someone to take up the dangerous mantle of The Batman? To fight injustice, to become secret and alone?

The successor is known in the movie. And Bruce Wayne still lives, able to train and mentor from afar. The close of the movie provides an insight into the future sequels that can be unending: Wayne Manor as a home for orphaned boys. Not unlike Xavier's School for the Gifted Youth. Perfect.

Batman will endure. He will continue his fight against evil. And he will be forever.