November 19, 2010

And now for something we hope you’ll really like!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — sbj @ 4:22 am

Nope, I’m not going to pull a rabbit from my sleeve (bonus points for getting that, and how it relates to the title :) )…

Sometimes you run into a cartoon, or blog, or book, or whatever that so captures your essence (perhaps in full, perhaps just in part) that you have to share it.  I never do that… okay, I seldom do that.  Today I’m going to do that.  While minding my own business that afternoon, I ran smack dab into this:

make a wish

This may or may not resonate with you… but oh my goodness did it resonate with me.

Almost daily my fantasy life goes banana’s.

Sometimes I am suddenly being whisked off to be the starting point guard of my favorite basketball team. Except then I have to stop the fantasy to declare that I am able to play for X number of years without any injury… and then its back to the fantasy. Except then I have to stop and add a particular atribute to my game that might not be part of the standard “best point guard to ever play the game” package… and then its back to the fantasy. Until I have to add the details of my cool incentive laden contract… and then… you get the idea.

Other times I have figured out how to colonize the moon effectively (and pleasantly) and I begin to fantasize about how fantastic (and lucrative) that would be. Well, until I realize then people will want to take it from me… so I have to add defenses… and then get back to the fantasy. Well, until I realize that I don’t really want weapons that harm people in my world… so I invent cool defenses that will not harm anyone… and then get back to the fantasy.

Enough already, you get the idea!!! Except that I haven’t told you that this effects every facet of my life…not just my fantasy life. Now… on with the blog. Except that I need to point out I’m not crazy and I have a perfectly good grip on reality… I just like to let my imagination run from time to time… thats all :)

Moving on…

If you enjoyed the “comic” above, there is so much to enjoy at the blog it came from I cannot recommend enough that you check it out.  Seriously… think about it… I never do this.. except, of course, when I do.

November 17, 2010

A little more perspective, please…

Filed under: Observations — Tags: , , , — sbj @ 12:42 am

A little over three years ago (back before all 7 of you started reading my blog semi-regularly, most likely) I wrote this about the whole Michael Vick situation.  Last night he had a record setting night on Monday Night Football and the whole can of worms was reopened (especially after Mr. Jackson equated the Eagles mind set to that of pit bulls… not really the best choice under the circumstances, sir).

So, here’s my two cents, while the iron is hot, as they say.

First of all, the low hanging fruit.  The guy did his time.  If you have an issue with the sentences related to dog fighting, talk to you legislator, THAT is your right and responsibility here… not running down a guy who made a mistake, has paid for it, has apologized for it, has spent a small fortune on programs to try to prevent others form doing what he did, and who has picked his life up off the ground and done something with it.

Do I endorse what he did years ago, no.  Am I worried about it, or judging him by it today, also no.

Even if it weren’t time to move on (it is) it is well past time to begin forgiving.  And that, to me, is the real issue here.

<begin truth that might hurt>

You see, after three or four years (really, after a much shorter period of time than that) your complaints about Vick (or anyone else for that matter) are no longer about them, they are about you.  If you are still bitter and resentful, and more importantly… focused on them after a certain amount of time then, and I’m sorry if this smarts, but you are the problem in that scenario. You have chosen to waste a portion of your life on a situation that has nothing to do with you and a person who doesn’t even know you are alive; rather than advancing your own life; and honestly, I find that a bit tragic.

<end truth that might hurt>

So to all of you Vick (or anyone else) haters out there… its time for a little forgiveness.  Maybe these will help…

November 11, 2010

I guess I’m not done with Amazon and pedophiles…

I seldom do this, but as a result of some of the great comments I have received, I’m going to comment on my own post.  Actually… perhaps a whole new post is in order…

First of all, I may have led people to believe that I supported a “freedom of speech” claim used to defend having this book available.  I do not.  My comment about “how close to yelling fire in a theater does one need to be” was supposed to indicate clearly that I thought this was clear and present danger.

What danger you ask?

Well, lets start with this.  If you are in a crowd, someone tells a racist, sexist, homophobic or other similar joke; and you laugh or say nothing about the inappropriate nature of what was just said, you are enabling (if not encouraging) that persons mind set.

In fact, in my opinion, you are complicit in anything that person does going forward of a bigoted or predjucdicial nature… up to and including a hate crime.  Thats how seriously I take this sort of passive support of bad behavior.

I am admittedly judging a book by its cover here, because the damage can be (and is being) done by the cover alone.  In writing, publishing, or reselling this book the parties involved are blatantly excusing, encouraging, and attempting to protect those who commit crimes against children.

I do not defend their right to freedom of speech, rather, I flatly state that not only do I not think it is protected by the constitution, but further it is unlawful by the Imminent Lawless Action test established by the Supreme Court in 1969*.

My assumption is that there is no imminent call to action in this book, however given the rapid and repeating practice of sexual abuse in children, I would say that the crime is imminent at virtually any given moment.  Consider that, depending on what numbers you choose use, a child is estimated to be sexually abused every 1 to 2 minutes in the United States. Cases that have been reported and substantiated, which is obviously a large minority of instances, are documented to occur every 6 minutes.

Clearly abuse is happening and, taking the most “optimistic” number, I think one – on average - every 6 minutes is pretty close to imminent (if there hasn’t been one since you started reading this… there probably will be one before you are done).  Are they all caused by this book? No.  However, the chances of someone who would otherwise not commit such a crime gathering the courage to do so after reading the encouraging words in this book – or even simply hearing that such a book exists and perhaps thinking someone is sympathetic to their desires – are, in my opinion, very real, possibly even likely.

And that has to be considered a clear and present danger of a imminent and lawless action… if its not, I don’t know what it.

At the very least, this is socially irresponsible of Amazon.  I shudder to think about the consequences of anything other than “at the very least.”

*By the way, this test actually replaced the “Clear and Present Danger” test that everyone is so fond of quoting these days and is the test commonly used in courts when deciding freedom of speech issues.  So, with all due respect to Judge Holmes, the most relevant use of the terms Clear and Present Danger in todays society is in reference to a spy novel (a really good spy novel, but a spy novel none-the-less).  Just a little tid bit of info you might be interested in :)

November 10, 2010

Conflict of interest?

Making the rounds today is a story about a book entitled (and I quote) The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure.  The book is described (I believe by it’s author) as follows:

This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian rules for these adults to follow. I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter sentences should they ever be caught.

There was an interesting bit in the San Francisco Chronicle about Amazon not really having a clear path to removing this piece, as it does not technically violate any of Amazons Kindle TOS clauses.  And yet, I am forced to ask again (and again and again for anyone who’s been around for a while) how close to yelling fire to we have to get before it is considered clear and present danger?

I’m the last person who wants to get to some sort of “Minority Report” world where people are criminalized on their potential or liklihood to commit or enable a crime; however I also feel there is some middle ground between book ‘em Dano (before they do anything) and casually turning the other cheek to  potentially dangerous situation.

Do we really want to desensitize our reactions to things to the point where the best solution to child abuse is educating the abusers on how not to get caught… or (and I’m quoting now) “perhaps liter (their spelling not mine) sentences should they ever be caught”?

I’m not even certain, based on the description if this is intended to be in the best interest of the abusee or the abuser… perhaps both?

I understand (and support) free speech.  I also understand the unenviable predicament that Amazon finds itself in here (don’t think for a minute that they will not be bombarded by free-speech proponents the moment they pull this book, should the elect to do so).  From a business standpoint there is no winning play here.

However, sometimes you just have to do whats right, regardless of the potential outcomes.

In this case, for Amazon, I believe it means pulling this book as fast as their little delete button can carry them.  For me, it means not clearly stating my opinion by not using a service or company that is unable to determine if it is right or wrong to sell (and make a profit) from this “book.”

And so… my beloved Kindle is, for the moment, retired (and the kindle reader ap on my Android phone has been deleted.  Once Amazon takes a public stand on this issue, I will reevaluate my position… not before.

November 4, 2010

It’s not whether you win or lose…

Filed under: Observations — Tags: , , — sbj @ 6:39 pm

I am very disappointed over the results of this past election season.  This is not, as many of you may guess, because the Republican’s garnered control of the House.  Nor it is about my state turning a little bit redder; I’m not convinced any of the new legislators (etc.) are any worse for the state than their blue counter-parts.

What disappoints me is the path taken by the vast majority of last nights winners (and losers because, by and large, they were not any better in defeat).  For the most part, I was not really exposed to the issues, policies and agendas of candidates throughout the campaign.  Rather, as they careened and caromed through a gauntlet of propaganda – and away from anything resembling frankness and accountability on their way to mud-splattered election night finish – I was exposed to, essentially, the temperamental bleating of infant children… without the benefit of cute baby clothes or a single goo-goo ga-ga.

I would have even gone for a dose of good old fashioned self-aggrandizement.  But… no, all I got was repeated flailing shots across the bow.  And lest you be misled… these were not substantive shots across the bow imparting some cautionary tale let alone sending a foreboding message portending certain doom, nay, these shots missed their target entirely.  Why?  Because these people simply aren’t gifted enough at aiming their blather-bombs to even get that right.

The collective response to the Ad’s, from insiders I spoke to from both parties, was “can you believe how horrible those campaigns and their associated ad’s were?”  I talked to Democrats, I talked to Republicans… some volunteers, some holding state offices.  To a one, they were outraged by the campaigns they witnessed leading up to this election.

Can you imagine the deafening silence should the “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” rule be suddenly put into effect for political campaigns?

I’m not suggesting that would-be statesmen would be required to say something nice about their opponent, I’m suggesting that these veracity pirates wouldn’t be able to say something nice about themselves if I spotted them an article, two verbs, a pronoun along with the words “public” and “service.” (in case you are, or know, such a macabre morality marauder a sample sentence might go like this “I am dedicated to public service”).

People, we cannot continue to elect our representatives based on what negative association we can attach to the other guy running.  Structuring anything on the basis of “just think of how much worse it would be if you voted for him instead of me’ is a very bad idea.  You cannot successfully elevate yourself by denigrating others, the only way to do so is by actually making yourself better.

I really hope I speak for a majority of people when I say I’ve had enough of this petty bickering.  I want statesmen not school children representing me, legislating for me, and leading my nation.  I’m not nearly as interested campaign finance reform as I am in campaign fiduciary reform.  I want less petulance and more pertinence; and I want to know that win or lose, my candidates fought the good fight… not a food fight.

My mother said it to me, and I’m sure yours said it to you… its not whether you win or lose, its how you play the game.  Based on that standard, while there were certainly winners and losers Tuesday night… I don’t think much of anyone can claim success.

November 1, 2010

The Needs of the Many…

Filed under: Observations — Tags: , , , — sbj @ 8:23 pm

Tomorrow is election day, mid-term election day to be precise.  Once again many people are convinced that their vote does not matter… it does.

I’ve heard all of the excuses, ranging from “my vote doesn’t matter, my candidate doesn’t have a chance” to “I don’t like any of the candidates, I’d rather vote for this turnip.”

Well, your not going to solve the energy crisis by turning the lights off when you leave the room either, but you do it… because ultimately it does matter.  Voting, like conservation, like recycling, like philanthropy, and like so many other things does not work because you or I do it; it works because a critical mass of people do it.

If I, alone, threw all of my newspapers into a recycling center the world would actually be worse for it (based on the energy and resources that would go into the center to support me).  If my entire neighborhood did the same… still a waste.  However, when the entire city (or the vast majority of us) there is significant gain for everyone.

After the earth quake in Haiti, Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie, and several other stars made individual donations of $1 million or more; this plus iTunes sales generated a reported $58 million in aide.  Sounds great right?  it is, but, text donations from individuals, individual donations to the Red Cross etc. totaled over $1.3 Billion in the first 6 months.  Why? because almost everybody did their part.  The donations from the stars made great news copy, but, all totaled, would not have made an appreciable difference in Haiti (which does not mean I don’t think they were fantastic gestures and greatly appreciated).

The bottom line is that sometimes it takes being a very small part of a very big effort to actually make a difference.  Voting is no different than recycling or charitable giving, is is the sum of the parts… all of the parts, that matters.

So please, tomorrow, get out there and vote.  I don’t care if you vote republican, Democrat, Independent or something else altogether (well, I kinda do, but thats not the point here) just do it! It won’t take that long and  it does make a difference.

Oh, and… don’t forget to turn the lights out when you go!

Why I love kids…

Filed under: Just life — Tags: , , , — sbj @ 5:34 pm

Last night was Halloween and, as per family tradition, we dressed up as a family (well, me and the youngest did, the teen is above such frivolity now).  He as Percy Jackson and I as his loving father Poseidon.

As you can see from the pictorial evidence, my homemade costume lacked, shall we say… a professional finish.  In short… it was pretty awful.  However, my son liked it, and that was all I really cared about :)

One of the highlights of the evening was my walk to my parents house.  Every few houses I would run into a group of kids and one of them would invariably ask me what I was supposed to be (see horrible-homemade-costume references in paragraph number two).  Time after time I would reply “Poseidon” and they would say “Who?” (or…”What?”).

And thats when it got good. Every single time, I would then hold up my trusty trident, and repeat “Poseidon,” and without fail they would squeee and respond something very similar to “that is the coolest costume… ever!!!”

It appears all I really needed was my trident.  I’m pretty sure I could have worn sweats and a jacket (which would have been far warmer) and gotten the same reaction each time I brandished my trident.  I’m certain from the moment it was before them, it is all they saw.

… aaaahhhh… the wonderment of youth :)

I love it :)

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