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In Which Facebook Is Not A Right

April 28th, 2013 No comments

Recently, some idiot started whining about a conspiracy theory to shut down his freedom of speech on Facebook. Let me be clear – I vaguely know about this guy from other people but I’ve never followed him, barely read him and know nothing really about him. In short, I’m staying ignorant about it but for a good reason.

The ironically named, Low Genius, claims that “liberal” sites have conspired to shut down his Facebook page. Except it’s not shut down. His account got a thirty day ban. I’m not exactly sure why nor do I really care. I recently came off a seven day ban. My next ban, should it come, will be thirty days. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass but it’s the price you pay for voicing your varnished and unvarnished opinions. (I got a twenty-four hour ban for non-hyperbolically  saying, “I disagree with you”. Srsly.) I’m sure this happens on left-leaning pages, too, but many extreme right pages will cut off your ability to comment if you voice opposition to them or correct an outright lie. Many politically motivated people use the report button on Facebook as a weapon. It’s not right and I’m in no way defending this, having been on the other end of it.

Let’s take a moment to get some definitions correct.

A “site” refers to a website that you personally own and operate. You pay a service provider money. You admin your site. It belong wholly to you. You are the king of it.

A “blog” refers to a blogging service such as WordPress.com or blogger.com. These are free services although you can upgrade your service for a fee. The big point is that you are not in control of the service. You sign a terms-of-service agreement and that leaves you vulnerable to those who may disagree with what you post. Piss enough people off and you’ll get booted. This happens neo-Nazi and jihadist sites. It also happened to Baptists For Brownback, one of the funniest satire sites that I’ve ever read.

A “page” refers to a Facebook page (or Google+ page, if you swing that way). This is a free service. You sign a terms-of-service agreement and that leaves you vulnerable to those who may disagree with what you post. Piss enough people off and you’ll get booted. The big danger on Facebook is when you comment on other pages. Get some fanatic who thinks you’re Satan incarnate for calling him an idiot and it’s pretty simple for him/her to take revenge by reporting you. I honestly don’t know what the rules for timeouts are. I know that I’ve been through several of them and, honestly, I’ve deserved a few of them.

I said that I don’t know anything about Low Genius except what he told me. The biggest fallacy he operates under (outside of his page being taken down…it’s not…he just can’t post to it) is that Facebook is a website. In one of the numerous emails he sent to me, he tried to make that case that his page being down (aka: not being able to post) or having his comments removed from opposition pages is the same thing as a service provider removing content from someone’s website. It’s a cute argument and, if you take away the part where it’s free and you signed a terms-of-service agreement that puts you at the mercy of Facebook and those who moderate it, it might work. But…it’s free and you signed a terms-of-service agreement that puts you at the mercy of Facebook and those who moderate it.

Rightly or wrongly, Facebook doesn’t give a shit about your “free speech” nor does it have to. When you sign up for Facebook, you’re signing your right to free speech away. That’s not to say you can’t say whatever you want. You can. But if it gets taken down because someone reported you, you don’t get to whine about censorship. Why? Because when you sign up for Facebook, you’re signing your right to free speech away. Facebook is a business. It’s not America. Facebook dictates the rules to you and doesn’t care if you don’t like them. The best you can do in that circumstance is to get a hold of Facebook and plead your case. In Low Genius’ case, it’s that there is an evil cabal of liberals that are OUT TO DESTROY HIM AND TAKE AWAY HIS FREE SPEECH.

I hope I’ve written this well enough for you to see where it’s going.

Low Genius’ free speech has not been taken away. He still has it. Granted, for the next thirty days, he can’t use Facebook as a soapbox. He might, however, use his Google+ account…or his website…or MySpace…or Reddit or any number of other services that allow communications with other people. Put another way – John Henry is not in a dark dungeon somewhere with a blindfold and ballgag in his mouth.

I don’t need to know the topic or political bent of John Henry because it’s not important. The Facebook TOS governs Facebook. If you don’t like it, get off of Facebook. But don’t whine about your free speech getting taken away when you’re not paying for the service to begin with.

IRONIC POSTSCRIPT – Early this morning, I posted on John Henry’s Google+ account. In the process of checking the address for it I found out that (and I hope you’re sitting down) he’s blocked my access to it. HE’S STIFLING MY FREE SPEECH!!!

In Which White People Can’t Keep Their Grubby Mitts Off Anything

March 1st, 2013 No comments

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Anti-Rock: The Opposition To Rock ‘n’ Roll isn’t, per se, about how white people stole rock and roll from the blacks who created it but the theme runs strong through the book. As with most things American, the original art form scares the living bejesus out of John and Mary Whitebread so steps must be taken to either kill it or to suck out what makes it great. I mean, really? Pat Boone??

The lobotomizing of rock began when white men started fraternizing with the help. This isn’t a bad thing but, sadly, rather than hang out at the help’s houses they grab their food and anything that’s not nailed down and take it to our own houses where the help is not welcome. It’s not that they wouldn’t invite them into their  homes but…ya know…society is so cruel and maybe one day that will change but…until then, keep your eyes on the prize, proud, noble, black people!

Public Enemy got into a shitload of trouble with the lyric

Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant, shit to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Mother fuck him and John Wayne

But this is what they talking about.

“HUH? Elvis Presley didn’t write Hound Dog?”

No. No, he didn’t.

“But Elvis was a champion of black music! He loved black people!!”

I’ve heard arguments that Elvis did black people a lot of good by stealing songs from black people. I think Big Mama Thorton would disagree with that. Again, back to Public Enemy

Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps

The plot goes like this – you get white people “discovering” rock and roll. The parents get outraged over their kids listening to “nigger music” even if it’s performed by white people. The “good music” industry tries to literally kill rock and roll but, in the end, it’s too profitable so they allow it to live.

Kind of.

What they actually do is take Little Richard, straighten his hair, bleach him white, put a suit on him and nail his feet to the floor so he can’t move. Then they attach their names to the songs he wrote and take his money. It’s enough to make you quit rock and roll. Which Little Richard did for a time.

More insidiously, you replace Alan Freed, who truly loved rock and roll and played the original black versions of songs, with some smiling zombie like Dick Clark. This industry did this on purpose and Dick Clark knew what he was doing. The industry invented a payola scandal and pinned the blame of Freed. Payola, of course, existed well before rock and roll and Clark took his fair share of it. But, not so oddly, Congressional hearings at the time believed Clark when he shunted away owning a stake in the music he was pushing as simply “promotion” and condemned Freed for accepting money from the industry that was behind his own prosecution.

Clark came away smelling like a rose because he was so boring and drenched in industry-approved deodorant that his shit literally didn’t stink. The government continued to hound Freed until he drank himself to death.

Read that again – “The GOVERNMENT continued to hound Freed until he drank himself to death.

Yes, the government. Freed spent his last years simply trying to cobble together a living as the IRS continue to break down his door demanding back taxes on the over-inflated amount of payola they accused him of taking.

Obviously, Dick Clark won because now we have Justin Beiber.

But the extent of the victory, the sheer Genghis Khan devastation of rock may shock  you and, hopefully, make you weep.

Rock and Roll started as black music. Budding white rock and roll bands knew this, covered the originals and sometimes did a great job. But what’s the end effect? I did a very unscientific poll with my Facebook friend asking, “When you think of rock and roll, who or what band first pops into your head?”

With the exception of two people, everyone thought of a white band. There was one black guy that said Jimi Hendrix and a white woman that said Chuck Berry.

Such is the extent of the theft of rock and roll that black rockers like Lenny Kravitz, Fishbone and Living Color prove the exception rather than the rule. And, to my shame, when Lenny Kravitz first came on the scene, my first thought (and I wasn’t alone) was, “black people don’t play rock and roll! What the fuck?”.

While this book focuses on rock and roll, the pattern shows itself in jazz. How do you go from Louis Armstrong to Glen Miller? When you hear “jazz” what first pops into your head?

Thus far, rap/hip hop seems to have broken this pattern. But let’s remember it took MTV seven full years to recognize rap and, if I recall, Blondie’s horrible “Rapture” got play before actual rap music did. But despite the Beastie Boys, Vanilla Ice and Eminem, rap manages to keep it roots intact.

So maybe that’s progress.

In Which “The Newsroom” Is 24 For The Intellectual Liberals

January 2nd, 2013 No comments

I’m a bad liberal. I admit it. Sometimes I put stuff in the trash that belongs in the recycle bin. I flick my cigarette (bad liberal) out the car window. I got sick of Keith Olbermann, no matter how much I agreed with him and I despise Laurence O’Donnell. I mean, despise.  The second Rachel Maddow ends, the TV is off, hopefully before he starts speaking.

Let me put this right up front. I’ve never seen The Newsroom and, even if I had HBO (which I don’t) I wouldn’t watch it. I’ve seen clips from it and it looks great. I love the cast. The writing is top notch. The problem is – it’s not real life. It is, like all TV, a dream world. It’s a world I’d love to live in, full of the proper mix of reason and passion where you win arguments with facts (“All presidents have used stimulus and you’ve never called them socialist”) and you’re not told “SHUT THE FUCK UP!! YOURA FAGOT. GO BACK TO NOTRH KOREA!!”

(Sidenote: I love the new North Korea focus. They can’t use Iran anymore because they actually realize that they wish the US transformed into a theocratic society.)

A scant 2 months after 9/11, Fox TV came out with the show 24.  Stop and think about that. TV shows just don’t create themselves overnight. What this implies is that pretty much the day after or even of 9/11, some one saw and opportunity to turn it into cash. Not just cash, but an electronic bully pulpit preaching that all Muslims wanted to kill us and that only the US could save the day. And do it all in 24 hours. This kind of propaganda is not unprecedented but it took 20 years for a show about wacky Nazis to get to TV after WWII. Did the propaganda campaign known as 24 work?

A few years ago, One News Now, a fake news site run by the American Family Association, asked its xtian readers if they thought torture was a viable option in the war on terror. These salt-of-the-earth, turn-the-other-cheek, that-which-you-do-to-the-least-of-these xtians responded with a deafening FUCK YEAH! Just how loud was the response? 89% said they had no problem with it. Bear in mind that after WWII, the US prosecuted Japanese soldiers for waterboarding Americans.

Even liberals ate up the whole “they hate freedom” bullshit that 24 pedaled. And you can’t really blame them. Most people wanted comfort and assurance that a once in lifetime event wouldn’t happen again. So much so, that we took off our unalienable rights with the Patriot Act and put them in the bin with our shoes at the airport. In the end, though, 24 served only to increase national paranoia and hits on the job site at the CIA and FBI.

You’re going to tell me The Newsroom and 24 can’t be compared. Getting all sweaty from running around diffusing bombs isn’t the same thing as getting all sweaty because you’re living on coffee and running downstairs to not get caught smoking. True. But at the concept level, it’s the same thing: Intrepid People Intrepidly Saving The World From The Enemy. In the case of 24, the enemy wore turbans, long beards and spoke a foreign language. In The Newsroom, the enemy wears suits, flag pins and speaks a foreign language – Teabaggese.

Wingnuts don’t have a problem with blood and violence. They love seeing people get the shit literally kicked out of them. Their default action is “punch”. Liberals don’t. We’d prefer our smack downs bloodless. We’d rather eviscerate with words (raises his hands) than violence. To put it in teabagger terms: Liberals think the motherfucking SHIT out of teabaggers – HOO-ah! The pen is mightier than sword, weak limbed thinkers are told, but smugness in the safety of your facts rarely protects you from getting stabbed. Paradoxically, reason tends to incite violence.

In dream world of  The Newsroom, that hermetic seal stays unbroken. Sure, danger will happen, but in the end everything works out. The danger, though, isn’t the lulling thoughts that every works out. The danger, or at least the reason I don’t watch it, comes from the knowledge that it takes a fictional character to speak the truth to power. Put another way, very few politicians want to speak the words spoken on that show. Even fewer want to act on them. And that’s a big problem – investing energy in a show that not only mirrors reality but outdoes it.

I’m not up for watching a show that leaves me saying, “Wow. If only someone had the guts to say that in real life.”

In Which It Seems That Even When You Write “SATIRE” In Big Letters Some People Won’t Get It

January 31st, 2010 No comments

Oy.

I posted the Scott Brown editorial as a Daily Kos diary making sure to tag it as satire because…well…it is. “Satire”, while not necessarily meaning “funny” implies the presence of something called “jokes”. “Jokes” are meant to produce “laughter” or “amusement”.

I’ve had other run-ins with my fellow liberals along these lines. I posted a video of Billy Bob singing “Killin’ Every Arab I See” with the chorus of

Killin’ every Arab I can see, see, see
Only way to set the country, free, free, free
To bring ’em peace and give ’em a democracy
Killin’ every Arab I can see, see, see

to the Huffington Post Viral Video contest a while back. I stood on a stage, in The Comedy Studio with the logo “The Comedy Studio” in back of me. During the set, people howled with laughter. At the end of the set, I got a huge round of applause. To the objective eye, it was a video of a guy doing stand up comedy, pretending to be a redneck. But not all eyes are objective and so I received the following email which still holds the rank of best…email…ever.

I hope you know they were laughing AT you and not WITH you!!!

Um. No. They were laughing with me. I was laughing at this guy and his inability to detach himself from his obsessions long enough to see that I was on his side.

As a liberal comic, it pains me to see liberals play into the stereotype of having no sense of humor at all. And, no, I don’t mean that all liberals walk around dissecting jokes until they lay limp and lifeless on the linoleum but, sweet fucking jesus, folks – lighten up!

In response to wondering if Brown might be Cuban, some charming person wrote

What makes you think you have to be born here to learn “proper” english?  Isn’t Palin and others like her proof one can master English from birth better than those who are born and raised here?

What makes you think cosmetic surgery is a must?  Is there A Cuban LOOK that is unique to Cuba and not like the USA where everyone or their ancestors come from somewhere else?  Brown is not your average looking Norwegian (obviously not USA).  What does an USA national look like?  He’s not blonde or so-called white.  The man is olive tone as is millions of people across the world and in Latin America.

People must stop thinking language, especially if it’s Spanish means you can’t have euro heritage.

/facepalms

But it doesn’t end there, of course. Although it’s not in the editorial, I do bring up the facts that looks can deceive, giving as proof Michael Jackson and Christine Jorgenson, the first successful male to female gender reassignment. It’s a good joke, I thought. Fairly obscure and smart. Even though I didn’t include it, some smart kossack brought the point up.

  • Grumpy Kossack 1: I don’t find this line of joking funny. So what if he was transgendered? There’s nothing wrong with that.
  • Me: You’re right there’s nothing wrong with it. So why would he hide it?
  • Grumpy Kossack 2: He would not be hiding anything if He declined to share his medical history. He would be protecting his own privacy, and he would be protecting himself from discrimination and violence. Transphobia is absolutely everywhere in American society, and it kills.
    Remember Duanna Johnson. Tortured by the Memphis PD for being black and trans. Killed by the Memphis PD for speaking up.

Yes, it’s true, of course. But that’s not the point. Nor was there any attempt to ridicule transgendereds. But let’s not let that get in the way of trying to hijack a thread to promote your own cause. Because, when you get down to it, even knock, knock jokes can be hurtful.

Knock Knock
Who’s there
Boo
Boo who
Don’t cry, it’s only a knock knock joke!

This hateful and discriminatory knock knock joke might push a manic-depressive to kill themselves. Shame on me for propagating it.

Since they left it alone, though, I can make as many Canada jokes as I want to.

Go figuh.

Categories: Culture, Daily Kos, Flame, Head Shaking, Kossacks Tags:

In Which I’m Not Sure If It’s Me Or YouTube

February 17th, 2009 No comments

The axiom goes that comedy is tragedy that happens to other people.  For the most part, it’s true but I’m wondering if I’ve become a little…stodgy lately since I haven’t found the last couple of YouTube hilarities all that hilarious.

The danger (if that’s the right word) in talking about this lies in whether or not to link to what you’re talking about.  In the case of the epic “A woman missed her flight at the boarding gate HKIA”, the Huffington Post linked to it and, in what I assume was supposed to be some attempt at journalism, updated the the post to inform readers that since posting the video the YouTube traffic had tripled.  Gosh!  How did THAT happen?  Are they honestly suggesting that having one of the more popular websites linking to a video has any effect on that amount of people that watch said video?  Well, DAY-AM.  Who knew?

The difficulty lies in whether or not to link to it and increase its popularity.  In this case, my low-traffic, sporadic piece of cyberspace would have little or no effect on its popularity so it’s not much of an issue but I’m not going to link anyway.

Briefly – it’s three minutes of a Chinese woman freaking out (in Chinese) about missing her plane.  Three minutes.  How is this hilarious?  If somehow you happened to be there when it happened, I doubt you’d be ROTFL.  In fact, no one’s laughing on the audio.  She’s just pissed off.  Not even the person with the camera is laug-

Wait.  Person with the camera?  At the risk of getting too deconstructionist, let’s walkthrough what had to happen to get this to YouTube.

1) Woman freaks out
2) People watch her
3) Someone starts filming
4) Someone take video and transfers it to a computer
5) Edits the video
6) Crunches the video
7) Uploads the video to YouTube
8) “Hilarity” ensues

Think about it – a probable stranger posted a video of someone’s bad day and three million people watched it.  Maybe it’s just me, but that’s fucked up.  Is distress in a foreign language funnier than distress in your own?  I’m not going to lie – Chinese is really easy to laugh at.  I’m not proud of saying that, but as a white, middle-class America I’m pretty much programmed for it…kinda like Miley Cyrus.

But even that doesn’t explain why a parent would post a video of their kid whacked out of anesthetics for the amusument of strangers.  Or why ten million people, rather than forming a lynch mob and tracking said parent down, chose to foward the video onto their friends and laugh at this poor kid.  What have you got to be thinking to do that?  “Wow!  My kid is SOOO fucked up right now!  I’m gonna have to get this on tape rather than comforting him.  Hey!  This is some funny shit!  Let’s put this on YouTube!”

Thirty years agao, Paddy Chayefsky wrote a movie called Network which envisioned a world where the concepts of news and entertainment ceased to be delineated.  It was all entertainment.  Violent, revloutionary terrorists were given their own prime-time TV show, filming themselves committing terrorist acts.  The nightly news broadcast included an astrology report.  Anchors did not present the news but rather presented their commentary on the news.  Not to spoil the ending if you haven’t seen it, but the closing narration of the movie informs us that Howard Beale was the first anchorman to be killed because of bad ratings.

Much of what Chayefsky predicted has come to pass.  But he could have never dreamed up the odd, cruel entertainments of YouTube.  He would have been laughed out of Hollywood.

In Which christcons Aren’t Concerned With Facts (Duh)

February 4th, 2009 3 comments

Ok.  So we’ve all been in the situation (probably) where even though we’re literally flat broke we blow a couple of quarters on a video game or give it to some homeless person.  After all, it’s fifty cents.  What’s fifty cents when you owe $5,000 on your credit card and $25,000 in student loans.  Granted, that’s fifty cents that might have been put to better use but…c’mon…we’ve all been there.

christcons, though, see the world through shit-colored glasses.  Like Katherine Harris said, “if you’re not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin.”  And when I say, “sin” I don’t mean the sin of not blatantly lying.  God’s ok with that.

It’s not surprising, then, that savecalifornia.com came out with this blistering attack on how sucky California is

At the same time that it can’t pay its bills or mail tax refunds, California’s foolish government is spending time and money on an advertising campaign that invites homosexuals, bisexuals, and transsexuals to adopt children.

To translate – CALIFORNIA LOVES HOMOS SO MUCH THEY’LL BANKRUPT THE STATE.

Or – The billboard contracts got negotiated previous to the crisis and it’s a non-issue, financially.  Billions of dollars in debt compared to, what, $1000 for a billboard?

Why should LGBTs adopt?  My lord, you’re naive!  Because…because…there’s this study that says…um…girls raised by lesbians are more sexuaully adventurous than those raised by the christcon fantasy of homophobic mom and pop operation.  Because gays and lesbians don’t have any morals.  They only adopt children to either turn them gay or eat them.  It’s pretty much spelled out in the press release and confirmed by a study.

In 2001, the University of Southern California conducted a “study of studies” regarding the effect of homosexual parents upon children. “(How) Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?” by sociology professors Judith Stacey and Timothy Blibarz was published in the American Sociological Review. The researchers found significant differences between homo-parented and hetero-parented children. Among them:

* A significantly greater proportion of young adult children raised by lesbian mothers than those raised by heterosexual mothers say they have experienced sexual intimacy with a partner of the same sex. They were not, however, statistically more likely to identify themselves as gay or lesbian.

* Young girls raised by lesbians are more likely to be sexually adventurous and active than their counterparts raised by heterosexual parents. However the sons of lesbians exhibit “an opposite pattern” and are likely to be less adventurous and active than boys raised by heterosexual households.

* Lesbian mothers reported that their children behave in ways that do not conform to “sex-typed cultural norms.” And the sons of lesbians are reportedly less likely to behave in traditionally masculine ways than those raised by heterosexual couples.

BOOM!  Take that you liberal so-and-so’s with your “tolerance” and “acceptance”.

Remember that part I said earlier about God being ok with lying?  That’s where that part comes in.

www.savecalifornia.com provides a link not to the study but to a Fox News story about the study.  That was pretty much the tip off.  I’m aware that the other side of the coin feels the same way about MSBNC and The New York Times.  Why, you ask, did they not link directly to a study that bolsters their position?  Because the Stacey/Blibarz doesn’t say that.  In fact, it doesn’t support their argument at all.

One of the actual opponents of same-sex parenting, Steven Nock, decried that all studies of same-sex parenting were crap because, well, same-sex marriage didn’t actually exist so you couldn’t quantify it.  That’s like saying that we’ve never actually been to Mercury so we can’t say with certianty how much we would weigh on Mercury.

Stacey/Blibarz testified and refuted pretty much all of Nock’s claims of apples and oranges before a Canadian court.  No, I haven’t read all 33 pages but I don’t believe I’m cherry picking (unlike some) when I quote from their opening statement

There is significant, reliable social scientific evidence that lesbian and gay parents are as fit, effective and successful as similar heterosexual parents. The research shows that children fo same-sex coupels are as emotionally healthy and socially adjusted and at least as educationally and socially successful as children raised by heterosexual parents. We conclude that granting same-sex parents the freedom to marry would likely result in positive outcomes for such parents, their children, gay and lesbian people, and society as a whole. We also reject the assertions of Professor Craig Hart. His analysis is intellectually flawed and the studies cited are irrelevant to the issues in this case. [Emphasis added]

Like Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount – “the ends justifieth the means.”

In Which It’s Not Enough To Not Be Dead

January 30th, 2009 3 comments

Dear sweet fucking jesus – seriously?  A flock of geese bring down the plane you’re on, the pilot pulls of THE most difficult landing in aviation delivering all passengers relatively safe and sound, the airline gives you $5000 for lost luggage and expenses plus a free upgrade to first class on your next flight and that’s not enough?

Folks – you’re looking at what’s wrong with America.  You’re looking about the selfishness that we as a country have bred within ourselves.

“I think if you survive a plane crash, being upgraded permanently is a good gesture too,” said Fred Berretta, 41, of Charlotte, NC, where the Airbus A320 was headed.

Manhattanite Tess Sosa, who escaped the sinking plane with her husband and two small children, thought the airline was too focused on self-congratulations – and “they want to exonerate themselves as much as they can.”

“They are happy they had such amazing results, and they applaud themselves, and then give us a small token?” she said. “That’s how I take it.”

News flash – the airline can’t control the geese and YOU’RE NOT FUCKING DEAD.  You are alive by the skill of the pilot hired by US Airways.  THAT is your reward.  Frankly, it’s probably more than you deserve.

So, Passengers, go ahead and file your goddamn lawsuits about how the flight path had some deep, unseen flaw that put the plane in the flight path of the birds and how the only miracle is that hundreds of thousands of people haven’t died already because of US Airways neglect.  Go ahead and sue because some other passengers baby threw up on your pant/leisure suit.

YOU’RE.

NOT.

DEAD.

Why not thank the pilot, ask what his favorite charity is and dump as much money as you can into it?

Fred Berreta and Tess Sosa – meet me on the docks so I push you back into the Hudson and see if anybody tries to save you.  It’s worth whatever jail time I’d incur.

In Which It’s Almost Too Confusing To Title

January 25th, 2009 2 comments

[Note – I started this before I broke my leg so it’s not a topical as it was]

The New York Times had an article about immigrant charter schools that pretty much made my head explode trying to wrap it around the ever deeper shades of what it says about America and the folks clamoring to live here.

Fartun Warsame, a Somali immigrant, thought she was being a good mother when she transferred her five boys to a top elementary school in an affluent Minneapolis suburb. Besides its academic advantages, the school was close to her job as an ultrasound technician, so if the teachers called, she could get there right away.

Her sons informed her that this was the way things were in America. But not in this Somali mother’s house. She soon moved them back to the city, to the International Elementary School, a charter school of about 560 pupils in downtown Minneapolis founded by leaders of the city’s large East African community. The extra commuting time was worth the return to the old order: five well-behaved sons, and one all-powerful mother.

The article goes on to talk about how some Muslim immigrants find the lack of morals in America problematic.  Their reaction is to set up their own communities that are more or less insular rather than risk the souls of their children to whatever the Muslim version of Hell is.  Thus, they find public schools breeding grounds of…well…vice and dissension.

In the case of the mother, it’s about control.  Actually, all parenting is about control.  Most parents would rather not raise children who run wild in the streets, break laws, get pregnant too soon or are regarded by the general populace as “bums”.  There are exceptions, of course.  Some parents can’t monetarily afford to monitor such things.  Some can but, in the name of “openness”, choose not to. (I’m thinking here about an upper middle class mother I met whose 15yr old daughter was openly doing drugs and dating well above her age bracket.  She was just fine with it.)

Confusing thing #1: Immigrants want to move here but can’t stand the culture.  I understand this completely.  I’m a card-carrying liberal and American “culture” is broken.  Or perhaps it never actually congealed to begin with.  We are a nation made up overwhelmingly of self-professed “christians” that don’t actually care about the religion.

[I know what that last sentence sounds like and you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’ve gone over to the dark side but I haven’t.  And that’s the confusing part.  There is a HUGE difference between morality and religion and they are NOT interchangable.  Religion generally exists as a structure for external rewards for doing the right thing and punishment for doing the wrong things.  conservatives want to paint liberals as immoral or a-moral.  That’s simply not the case.  At fifteen and twelve, neither of my daughters haven’t done drugs, drank, been arrested or gotten pregnant.  Raised presbyterian, I’d gotten two out of four and I just hadn’t gotten caught shoplifting.  And we haven’t raised our kids christian nor voted republican.]

Allah requires more from the believer than Jesus does.  Seven times a day v. once a week?  I’d think Allah was watching my every move, too.  Jesus, though, only guilt trips believers on Sundays.  For the rest of the week, they’re free to rob, rape, lie and pillage.  And so they do.  The article speaks of kids doing drugs, committing crimes and doing the whole baggy-pants thing but the author, who makes a lot of connections, misses something important – the mother seemed unable to keep her kids under “well-behaved” within the framework of public school.  Only through NOT integrating with the society they choose to join (ie – charter school) could she retain control of her kids.

That seems a little counter-intuitive.  I realize that we live in a fairly stable community with a low crime rate but this is far from an exclusively white suburban community.  Every year our elementary schools do a census that shows we have kids from 20-40 different countries here.  As one parent said snarkily, “the private schools can only dream of that diversity.”  So I think the charge of “white suburban privileged” can get tossed out.  Sure, we have the usual assortment of punks and ne’er-do-wells.  We know one family whose son got busted for smoking weed.  They weren’t happy about it.  But they didn’t blame the school to the point where they went private or charter.  I’m not going to claim that parents can have 100% control over their kids but school choice won’t solve the problem.

Confusing thing #2

Getting lost in America, Mr. Somo explained, means losing your culture, your language, your identity. It means acting like the teenagers the parents see on the street — wearing baggy jeans, smoking, using drugs, disrespecting elders.

As shown above, it’s just not a national truth that all America is a crackhouse.  But let’s say that it is.  Let’s say that moving your family to American means turning your back on your old way of life and offering your family to Satan in a red, white and blue top hat.  This brings up Bill Hicks four question – “Yeah? And? So? What?”

You make a massive life change and you want everything to stay the same?  That’s nuts.  You want all the benefits of America and none of the theoretical downsides?  That’s nuttier.  AND you want federal financing of charter schools to facilitate your detachment from the country you just moved to?

Again, I know what it sounds like – but I’m really not a wingnut.  The fact that wingnuts support financing charter schools – ALL charter schools including Muslim charter schools – is baffling to me.

This, then, is my liberal dilemma.  To tell you the truth, I tear up sometimes when everybody’s singing the Star Spangled Banner.  Stupid?  Maybe, but this fucked up country is my home.  I don’t say that in a “freedom isn’t free” way.  I mean that in a “I’m allowed to say ‘fuck America’ and not (generally) be carted away by my government” way.  I mean that in a “my country doesn’t censor web content like China or (amazingly) Germany” way.  Everyone is welcome here.  But what winds up happening is NOT the melting pot of old where you started out in your ethinc enclave and the whole point was to move away but to establish a permanent Minnestani or Calimexico.  And why?

To protect themselves from the influence of America.

It’s not a right/left issue.  It’s so much deeper than that.  The problems immigrants want to protect themselves from are not political.  People don’t come here for the politics.  They come here because for some odd fucking reason they STILL believe the streets are paved with gold.  You might frame immigration to the US in terms of “greed” or simply “wanting a better life”.  Take away the morality, though, and it’s about money.

And, to wrap this up, it’s about risk free money.  It’s about getting the benefit while keeping yourself and your loved ones as far away from the risk as possible.  Muslim charter schools, christian charter schools – both want their agendas of separateness publicly funded.  Neither want to join the wicked, wicked world but are willing to benefit from it.

And what’s more American than that.

In Which YouTube Puts You Down The Tube

January 22nd, 2009 1 comment

Take look at this title –

Canada – Evil Empire Or Third World Country

Notice anything odd about it.  Is Canada evil?  Is it part of the Third World?

If you have not spent the better part of a decade or four in a vat of lysergic acid you’ll probably answer “no” to both of these questions in which case you’re left with two viable options.

1) The person that came up with the title could well win the “Most Fucked Up Person On Earth” title

2) It’s a joke.

A piece of advice – when faced with that kind of choice – go for the joke.

When you watch a video criticizing Canada for having a corn and maple syup based economy and how there are corn fields 1/2 a mile outside of major metropolitan cities – it’s a joke.

When you read something along the lines of “Calling people a buncha names isn’t a substitute for a debate, you stupid retard loser,” it’s a joke.

When you…well, I could go on for days and days.  The moral of the story is that censorship is completely random.  I’ve been part of campaigns to get videos taken down from YouTube and NOTHING has been done despite so-called “community standards” rules.  I guess baseless accusations are only allowed on YouTube if you’re serious about them.  If you’re joking, they’ll get trashed.

How many complaints does it take to get a video removed?  Beast me.  They won’t say.  It could be one complaint, it could thousands.  What’s almost funny is what they tell you when, after fifteen minutes of digging, you find the complaint form.  This is it:

We are unable to provide specific detail regarding your account suspension or your video’s removal. For more information on our what we consider inappropriate content or conduct while using YouTube, please visit our Community Guidelines and Tips at http://www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines and our Help Center article at http://help.youtube.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=92486.

Translation – Why did we take it down?  You’ll have to guess because, frankly, we’ve got better things to do than bother with customers.

I’m both pissed and pleased, though.  Pissed because out of the 73 BBN videos on YouTube, one of the LEAST offensive got pulled.  And pleased because out of the 73 BBN videos on YouTube, one of the LEAST offensive got pulled.

I don’t get it, sometimes

Check out the original video on Facebook.

In Which It’s Studio 54 Writ Small

January 6th, 2009 1 comment

Why, when it obviously sucked, did disco become such a national craze?  One word: Cocaine.

Yes, it had a good beat but, please – Disco Duck?  When not on cocaine, Jack and Jill Wallstreet generally pooh-poohed this shit.  However, once they stepped on the 8-ball Express they danced wildly and vigorously until Brett Easton Ellis breezed through and got blow jobs from both of them.

Turns out, bees react the same way!  How much cocaine do you, as a human, have to do before you turn to your lab partner and say – “what would happen if bees did cocaine?”  I used to get our dog stoned and it was hilarious!  Turns out when dogs get stoned they get lethargic, hungry and sleepy.  WHO’DVE THOUGHT?

So, it’s not that surprising that coked-up bees act just like coked-up humans.

The researchers looked at honeybees whose job is finding food — flying to flowers, discovering nectar, and if their discovery is important enough, doing a waggle dance on a special “dance floor” to help hive mates learn the location.

“Many times they don’t dance,” Professor Robinson said. “They only dance if the food is of sufficient quality and if they assess the colony needs the food.”

On cocaine the bees “danced more frequently and more vigorously for the same quality food,” Dr. Barron said. “They were about twice as likely to dance” as undrugged bees, and they circled “about 25 percent faster.”

The bees did not dance at the wrong time or place. Cocaine only made them more excited about the food they found. That’s like “when a human takes cocaine at a low dose,” Dr. Barron said. “They find many stimuli, but particularly, rewarding stimuli, to be more rewarding than they actually are.” ”

“Twice as likely to dance as undrugged bees.”  I rest my case.

I only hope that this does not end up in a bees-on-coke pandemic with a new class of unemployed junkie-bees living in crack-combs walking around in circles muttering, “I gotta make more money to buy more coke so I can work harder to make more honey to buy more coke so I can work harder…”  Let’s not even start talking about bee-on-bee violence.

It’s too depressing.