Ignoramuses + Rants = “Ignorants”

Ignorants

        I can’t say I have a solution to the influx of children fleeing the barbarism of their home countries, but watching the ginned-up zealotry over… what exactly is the outrage here? Regardless of the motivations – real or contrived – of the protestors, what is being done in the name of “anti-immigration” is an embarrassment to this nation. Don’t these people have better things to do, like go to their jobs or complain about people who are still looking for employment?

        I could write these protests off as just another incident of “we still don’t like how the past two Presidential elections came out”, but I think these types of demonstrations – and the professional people in politics and media who encourage this garbage – are emblematic of what I’ve always felt is the Republican Party as it exists in this day and age. Make no mistake about it, they are Republicans even though they still want to play “tea party”; they’re just kidding themselves the same way Bill O’Reilly doesn’t have the guts to come out and say he’s a Republican. The underlying mantra of these people: Sucks to be you.

        Compassion? They don’t have it because it might involve somebody else getting something and that may cost them some money. That’s their fear: somebody’s going to get something they didn’t “work” for. They can get off their asses to protest, but they can’t get off their asses and help. While I have no doubt the vast majority of these people would call themselves “Christian”, living in a Christian nation, their enmity shows their true selves.

        And whether or not you want to call it “immigration” and whether or not these folks like it, asylum is still a thing and these children deserve to be heard and they deserve protection. But, hey, sucks to be them, right?

CorporateSpeak™: Pre-Viz and the Language of the Unthinking

CorporateSpeakCorporateSpeak™ is my series in which I rant about the misuse or the general idiocy of language as it exists in our United States of America. Occasionally I will pick on the British, but CorporateSpeak™ is an American problem engendered by marketing departments, ad agencies, and opinionated nitwits. If you suffer from any of the symptoms I bring to light in this series, seek immediate remedial English grammar, vocabulary, and thought-process treatment. This is a much-needed public service.

        Have you ever “pre-ordered” an item, whether it is a Blu-Ray movie, a music CD, or a video game? Have you ever purchased a package of “pre-shredded” shredded cheese? Have you ever “pre-visualized” something? That would be impossible, wouldn’t it – you either visualize it or you don’t. Yet, these are examples of the terminology that is creeping ever-insidiously into our lexicon of blather: CorporateSpeak™. (I haven’t really trademarked it, it just looks funny like that – and corporate)

        As with the “re-” words, whose time of disparagement will come from me in time, the “pre-” words are the insipid little enticements that delude one into thinking that something is being gained before anyone else; there is a sense entitlement – a “specialness” – using such words creates in the minds of the unknowing and uncaring that are perfect for the grift and spin of the advertising world. They just want your money any way they can get it and you’re all suckers for falling for their ad campaigns to generate “hype”.

        “Pre-visualization” is a Hollywood-word that comes out of the filmmaking industry, particularly the computer graphics (CG) aspect of it. Pre-visualization, or “pre-viz”, as it’s called by those who can’t exist without creating acronyms or abbreviations (because how could we exist if we had to be polysyllabic?), is something akin to a motion storyboard for directors. What pre-viz really boils down to is directors not having the cojones to just go with their vision – so they have to “pre-visualize” to see if it will look good. Get it? On the surface, it seems a good way for a newbie to avoid shooting mistakes. To me, it seems a way to waste studio budgets on uncertainty. If a director isn’t confident enough is his/her own “vision” why piss money away on their “pre-vision”? Get a better director! God knows Hollywood could use some right about now!

        “But what’s wrong with ‘pre-ordering’ a video game?”, you may ask. The simple answer is: you are ORDERING the game! Whether or not the game is in-stock is irrelevant. Whether the game has been released or not is IRRELEVANT! You are doing no more than anyone who purchases that game on the shelves of GameStop or BestBuy on the day of release. I know – I purchased World of Warcraft with no problem at all and I didn’t have to order, reserve, or “pre-order” anything! You are just ordering the item, there is no need to say you are “pre-ordering” it!. It’s just a stupid term concocted by stupid people for the masses who won’t even think twice about how stupid it is. Why am I now visualizing a shark feeding frenzy? No “pre-viz” needed for that!

        And “pre-shredded” shredded cheese? Yes, I’ve seen that term used by someone who thought they were oh-so smart and thrifty and informative. I was very tempted to ask them just in what state is the cheese in its “pre-shredded” shredded form? It seems to me that it would be… a block of cheese – not shredded at all!

        “Why,” you may ask, “didn’t you call out this person’s illogic?” Because, contrary to popular belief or original intent, internet forums are not the place to “exchange” ideas. Those who go to comment sections to change hearts and minds are on fool’s errands. So, I yip here. You read, you agree or change your mind; you don’t, whose fault is that? Make a case or get to thinking. And I think the lack of thinking is why people fall for the lure of CorporateSpeak™.

        So let me wind this up with my favorite – relatively speaking – of the “pre-” words: pre-owned. A pre-owned car is a used car. Say that to yourself again and again if you have any doubts about that. A PRE-OWNED car is a USED car! There is even a local car dealer who is trying to make the case for a pre-owned car being somehow different than a used car by depicting a used car as junky. Let me set the record straight. A “pre-owned” car is a used car (your mileage may vary) that generally has some type of nifty warranty attached to it. That’s it! The reality is that the car dealerships want you to believe that a warranty somehow makes a used car not a used car! Any dealership who would sell junk cars as used should be run out of business, so the whole “pre-owned” nonsense doesn’t even make any difference. Just as with “pre-order”, it is an irrelevant term. But they suffer from the “perception is reality” axiom that marketing nitwits have foisted on us; the perception that “pre-owned” is different than a used car is just a blatant lie, I don’t care who you are or what you’re selling. If I buy a car “as is”, then I get what I’ve paid for with eyes wide open, but don’t tell me a pre-owned car is anything other than a used car. Because the reality is that it isn’t.

        It’s all well and good that marketers and television infomercial hucksters want to sell you things you don’t need and try to sex it up with contrived buzzwords in the hopes of making a sale, but that doesn’t mean we have to adopt their idiotic verbiage into our everyday language. Think before you open your mouth or write your comment or blog article. The world of the internet is one of graphics and video that still, as much as human communications ever did, depends on the well-crafted and written word. Don’t believe me? Go out and look at the train wreck with new eyes.

Live Performance

Stand on the stage
through the blinding lights.
See the camera phones waving
and the people who paid to see
aren’t watching me at all.

And I take comfort knowing
that later on in social media
the video will be shaky and out of focus
and the audio of my songs will be fucked.
You won’t be able to tell my B string was out of tune
and my singing really sucked.

It was a night I’d like to forget
but a better one is down the road.
Yet that stage remains in the contrasty disaster
of an amateur videographer trying to get likes
than think about the money forever spent
and the chance lost to see it…
and hear it…
and feel it…
live.

Iraq: Who Couldn’t See This Coming?

©2014 James Montgomery Studios

©2014 James Montgomery Studios

        Yeah, there’s trouble in Iraq and it looks like the country is going up in flames. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But at the same time, if you couldn’t see, as Bush bullshitted his way into an unnecessary war, that events were inevitably going to take this turn, you are either willfully blind or stupid. There really is no middle ground. I have been saying this was going to happen since long before Bush was out of office; the “surge” couldn’t change it, but the apologists have come out of the woodwork, nevertheless, to rationalize their lies and placate their jingoistic base. Without a constant American presence in Iraq, a lasting peace was not sustainable and who wants to maintain a constant U.S. presence? What was fomented in Iraq was dishonest and futile and – let’s say it – in vain; the blood and treasure spent to prosecute this war was wasted. All that was accomplished was the fanning of the flames of unrest and only an arrogant fool thinks that can be controlled.

        So now the usual suspects, John McCain, the eternal warmonger, and one of my unfortunate excuses for a senator, Lindsey Graham, are among the number of Republicans making excuses for Bush’s actions while, at the same time, playing the tired old game of blaming Obama for being unable to avoid the sequence of events as they headed to their obvious conclusion; that conclusion being Shia versus Sunni violence aided by Al Qaeda insurgency from the very same Syrian factions these Republicans wanted Obama to support. Talk about wanting to have it both ways. I wonder if these guys even keep track of what they say and stand for anymore. Anyhow, let’s go back and see how we got where we are.

        Of course, as the apologists will point out, Saddam Hussein was a bad man, an oppressor of his people, an unstable presence in the Middle East, and desired a nuclear weapon capability. These accusations may be true, but they were not unique for various world leaders in 2001, just as they weren’t unique in 1988, just as they aren’t unique now. Assad, Mubarak, Qaddafi could meet most of these accusations, as well, except Mubarak was a U.S. ally, so he got a pass. And what about Saudi Arabia and Iran? Those two countries practice institutionalized oppression against their people with impunity – and let’s not forget that the World Trade Center attacks were led by Saudis, not Iraqis. The Saudis, as well as the Israelis, are our allies, so they, too, get a pass, unlike the Palestinians. Because when you’re talking about the Middle East, you inevitably have to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian issue.  If you’re a Palestinian, I wonder where the governments of Sharon and Netanyahu rate on the scale of oppressive regimes? Of course, the Arab and Israeli animosity may be so entrenched and so long-lived that the question becomes irrelevant. While maintaining a constant presence in the center of rationalizations for Mideast violence, these are two sides that continue to stalemate themselves at the negotiating table over Jerusalem by an unwillingness to compromise. Sounds like a certain political body in Washington, doesn’t it? And it is this same political body that thinks the factions in Iraq were going to get along just because we removed a “bad” man? The only roses in this scenario that Dick Cheney thought would be “thrown at the feet of liberators” are the tint of the glasses these idiots are wearing if they still believe that democracy is something that can just be shoehorned in on any group of people – especially people who have deep-seated resentments against one another. Iraq wasn’t a fight to be pursued and no amount of wishful thinking was going to allow a military solution that would keep Iraq peaceful indefinitely. Bush made the mess by creating a political vacuum and Obama was expected to clean it up with an infinite occupational force? Keep dreaming, morons, it was never going to work out the way you wanted – unless sowing chaos was what you were shooting for.

        “Congress approved it,” the apologists will say, “including the Democrats with few exceptions.” Yes, they did. That is their moment of ignominy. They should have stood up and opposed it instead of being cowards afraid of the old “unpatriotic” slur that gets thrown around so carelessly. They should have known better. They were fed a pack of lies, especially the ones Bush told in his State of the Union address, but they still should have known better and pursued the truth more diligently. Colin Powell now knows he was the point man for the circus of horseshit at the U.N. The British, French, Russians, and Israelis all reached the same conclusions? So fucking what? The U.S. was leading the intelligence charge and the intelligence didn’t pan out, so just how good was that collaboration? The results speak for themselves. To say that not confronting Hussein over U.N. sanctions would lead to further instability is pretty damn specious. Iraq, after the Gulf War, was a shell of its former self – and its former self wasn’t that great – and represented a very beatable opponent. Why not attack them over U.N. sanctions violations? Most ironic, though, is that the Republican party is the one with the constant “get out of the U.N.” mantra and they wanted to use upholding sanctions as an excuse for war? The indolence of Congress was obvious when no one called bullshit on this. I will have to give ol’ Dubya credit for playing Congress the way he did, because that’s exactly what he did. To cite U.N. sanctions as a basis for issuing threats but not having the backing of Congress would put the president in an ineffectual situation. Well, the Congress couldn’t have that – we’d look weak and stupid! So, they supported Bush and maintained their “patriotic and strong against terrorism” façade. Look where they ended up. They were weak and stupid!

        I’ve heard the cowboy boots that have the pointed toes referred to as “cockroach killers” – you can get into the corners with them. That’s all Bush, the cowboy president from Texas, was doing: taking his boots and kicking at the cockroaches. The problem is you never get many roaches and they scatter – just like Al Qaeda did – and you still have cockroaches. The Republicans want to accuse Obama of playing politics? They’ve all been playing politics all along.

Lazypedia

Lazy

 

We’ve all heard the derision at one point or another about the usefulness, in fact, the legitimacy of items gleaned from the pages of Wikipedia. Its detractors roil about how anyone can put anything on there and the skeleton crew that serves as an editorial staff may or may not get around to addressing such items in a timely basis. I know, firsthand, how companies have tried to “control the message” about what goes on their Wikipage. Imagine! Wouldn’t it be great if we could allow only the nice things said about us and all other facts that may disparage our reputations are cast to the waste bin of knowledge? What a world that would be! Its supporters, on the other hand, say it’s a useful tool for getting information quickly and easily with the caveat that the information may not be entirely accurate. Pardon me, but if that’s the standard, then Wikipedia-gained knowledge ranks right above gossip as to its integrity.

Knowledge is a funny thing. Some of us go to college and expand our horizons and learn about things we may never experience outside of the classroom. I’ve taken years of German, but will probably never set foot in ol’ Deutschland even though I spent most of my military career trying to get there; it just wasn’t in the cards. I’ve learned a great many things and I have to trust that the knowledge I’ve gained is accurate or, at least, tested and challenged as to its veracity. As it is with many things we read or see; so it is with Wikipedia. It may not be the Library of Alexandria, or even the Library of Congress, but it is a collection of information to do with as we will.

The problem seems to be that I keep coming across sites on the internet that are little more than aggregate sites of various news items. These sites didn’t come by their information honestly, they’re just parroting what somebody else wrote. They don’t do investigation work, they just practice the cut-and-paste method of journalism (and maybe pay off a few folks to keep from getting sued). The comments, particularly with political sites are even worse as any lame-brained notion is likely to be “backed-up” with a link to – yes, you guessed it, Wikipedia. Naturally, once the poster has been vilified for using Wikipedia, the excuse is, “I know, but I’m in a hurry.” I’m not saying Wikipedia is total garbage, but I want to hear from people who actually know something, not any clown who can cut-and-paste something. Unfortunately, I think the problem is getting worse.

I had the occasion recently to look into the 1909 Honus Wagner T206 baseball card, the “Most Valuable Baseball Card in the World”. In fact, that’s what we called it for the Wal-Mart giveaway back in 1996. I should know, I worked at Treat Entertainment, the company responsible for the contest through Wal-Mart. I designed much of the artwork, such as it was, for the card packaging as well as the label that went on the case of the card that was given away.  In fact, it was through my time at Treat that I learned how Wal-Mart operated and to hate them for what they are and what they’ve done to our economy. But that’s another story; back to the card.

As I looked over Wikipedia, I read about the card, the history of the most famous version – the “Wayne Gretzky” card, that Gretzky and Bruce McNall owned, and how this card became the centerpiece for the Wal-Mart giveaway after Treat paid Gretzky $500,000 for it. But Wikipedia never mentioned the other T206 card that Treat had. There was something special about that card that technically devalued it, but made the card unique.  I never saw this particular something mentioned about any Wagner T206.  So I looked over at other sites that dealt with collectible sports cards and found that, largely, the articles were verbatim copies of the Wikipedia entry! It didn’t seem to matter if the information was true, false, or otherwise, they went to their one source and plagiarized the write-up.

One of the things one learns in school – especially college – is that you don’t copy anything! You also don’t rely on just one source for your information and you credit your sources. It seems that the need for accuracy and thorough collection of information has taken a backseat to quick-and-easy and just flat-out laziness. Who cares if it’s done “properly”? It not like anybody’s writing a term paper here.

Yet you are, or, at least, you should be employing the same writing standard as if you are. After all, you want people to take you seriously – especially if you’re writing about a serious subject that matters to you. What people are going to see from the lazy source gathering, poor grammar and spelling, and lack of proofreading is that you don’t give a shit! And if all you’re doing is creating click-bait or just trolling, why should anybody give a shit about anything you say?

In Which Maureen Dowd Launches the Zombie Apocalyse

I’ve seen a few websites hosted by folks who don’t care for the politics of ol’ Maureen and have done zombiesque defacements of her pictures.  Quite frankly, they all suck.  I’m not saying that because I am a fan of Dowd, I’m just encouraged that a 62-year old wants us to believe the chestnut vibrancy of her mane has anything to do with reality – as if the drapes still match the carpet.  But she needs to be zombified, so here she is, Maureen Undowd:

 

C’mon, Greg Nicotero, help a brother out! I don’t live that far away from where you shoot TWD! (Photo by Bob Daemmrich/Corbis)

So now the talk around town is that ol’ Dowdy got hold of some special recipe snacks and went down for the count.  That’s why I made her a bit green because I figure the Zombie Apocalypse will be started by dummies doing dumb things.  And since the common reaction to that doobie high is the munchies, the desire for human flesh seems inevitable.  Plus, cannabis – cannibal, it’s just works!

Unleashing the Inner Voice

        Here we have two gentlemen: Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, and Wayne La Pierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association. One has garnered national attention for making a racist-filled phone call to a girlfriend, the other has garnered national attention for touting America’s strength and goodness through fearfulness – and guns. One, I have little respect for, and one shills for the NRA and Second Amendment absolutism, even though he can’t even admit it to himself. Sterling has notoriously run one of the worst sports franchises in any sport and La Pierre fails to concede that more guns only means more guns, not solutions to gun violence; yet I don’t believe LaPierre cares about such things.

old boys

         Then I saw pictures of the two men today, one in a news photo, the other from a video. How alike they look. Their faces are eerily similar. The hair is combed in like fashion, the wire-rimmed glasses nearly identical. But their eyes… their eyes have this look of emptiness that comes with age, I suppose, for their faces bear the burden of age. I don’t know these men – no one really could – but I do feel that I wouldn’t want to be either one of them. They look like tired old white men.

         While the authenticity of Sterling’s call is up for some debate, it had to come from somewhere. I mean, how much editing would have to be done to concoct the inanity of his rant? But it comes down to this age of where some people in the hot glare of the public spotlight feel compelled to say whatever their inner voice tells them without regard of consequences. It’s tough living in a world where your moronic pontificating or your drunken diatribes can be recorded or videoed for all the world to see and hear. Right, Newt Gingrich, you beacon of morality? Right, Cliven Bundy, you cornpone philosopher of egalitarianism? Sometimes, it’s just better to shut up. But it’s too hard for people in the public arena to resist ginning up the base even though it’s a pyrrhic endeavor. By Mr. LaPierre’s logic, Chicago, the poster child for the gun lobby’s push for more guns everywhere, should be the safest place in the world because there are guns all over. But it’s not and more guns wouldn’t change that.

        The problem that LaPierre and Bundy and Sterling share is a lack of respect for those who are not like them. This problem infects and festers in every facet of public discourse, whether it’s politicians feeding red meat to their constituents, media outlets grasping at ratings, bigots calling into question the citizenship of the president – still! – among other things, school boards trying to hammer in Christianity in the classroom by calling Creationism “science”, or something as rancid as trolls and nincompoops in social media. There comes a point where the nonsense has to stop and keeping that inner voice to oneself is not only good manners, it is vital to the good health of this country.

And I wonder if anyone really cares about that anymore.