Before you go stocking your bomb shelters and crawling into your hidey holes in the anticipation of whatever flavor of extinction-level-event you believe is going to occur on December 21, you might want to read this.

With what seems like a recent rash of psychopaths eating people (alive or dead), the term “zombie apocalypse” is being bandied about both as a joke and as a very serious statement.  If you believe the latter, I am here to tell you to put down your shotguns, unboard the windows, go outside, and get some fresh non-rage-virus-infected air.  Take a nice deep breath as you realize the world isn’t currently collapsing around you and feel that paranoia melt away.  Ok, the paranoia’s probably not melting away, but realize for just one moment that the world around you still exists and hasn’t devolved into some dystopian survivalist scenario.  I know, I know… it hasn’t YET.  Whatever.

Previously on this blog, I’ve mentioned that the History Channel, for all its former awesomeness and even its current stuff like Pawn Stars and American Pickers, is the single largest proponent of the mass hysteria surrounding the year 2012.  People watch this channel for facts and they get sensationalism, at least when it comes to shows like Ancient Aliens and Nostradamus 2012.  Garbage like this wouldn’t be as big a deal if it hadn’t been for the long-con bait-and-switch (man, I’m using a lot of hyphens today) that the History Channel seemed to pull.

For years, they showed us the truth behind things.  Then, all of a sudden, they started showing us the utterly ridiculous.  Of course, millions of gullible people continued to believe that anything the History Channel would tell us was true.  What these people failed to understand was that sensationalism, especially sensationalism which indicates possible harm against the viewer directly, gets ratings.  Ratings get advertising dollars.  Ad dollars make the people at Discovery Networks richer.

On the short route: Sensationalism = Money.

Of course, when something is sensationalized, the internet erupts.  This results in what I can only assume is thousands of YouTube videos with people vomiting up their own conspiracy theories about anything and everything surrounding the impending doom of December 21 claiming everything from a seismic collapse to deadly solar flares to an as-of-yet hidden brown dwarf planet which may collide with earth or which might be carrying ancient aliens who will either destroy us or uplift us to the next technological era, depending on who you ask.

I’m not saying any of this shit is real, but I am saying that this is really the shit people think.

So, the History Channel puts it out there.  Based on what they see, the typical conspiracy nuts do the typical conspiracy nut thing and take their eighth-grade education and their  first-grade grammar and spelling skills, add in some rudimentary video editing software and possibly even a grainy webcam testimonial, tag the posts and the YouTube videos with related terminology and voila: the trap is set.

This is where normal people come in.

When normal people see something that piques their interest on a place like the History Channel and they want more information, they will typically take to the internet to find it.  Of course, a search for any of the world-ending terms cited by the History Channel will eventually lead you to the blogs or sites of one of these people or the small groups in which they associate.  Some of these people have a proclivity toward web design which might be put to better use meaning these sites may look official.  This lends to the average person believing that the statements made within are much more credible no matter how crazy they sound.

They’ll then search or be linked to videos which seem to connect all the dots.  They may have trouble sleeping after they watch it, thinking how these people on the internet may be right.  They may even come away from it a full-on believer in whatever paranoid machination originally resided in the head of one clinically insane person with a YouTube account and too much damn time on their hands.

Slowly, this crap gets people into thinking that their lives are over, or will be, come December.  The problem is that this isn’t Heaven’s Gate or the Branch Davidians.  This creepy cult mentality has gone viral.  It has spread beyond the walls of a compound.  This is the real zombie apocalypse unfolding before us.  Enough people who take this crap seriously are either planning to end it all quietly before the approaching apocalypse or they could be planning to go out with a bit more of a bang.

The media at large is not helping with this situation, though, most of the time, they’re unwittingly giving credence to all the wackos who already think the sky is going to fall.

The media-generated “zombie apocalypse” I mentioned at the top of the entry is only the most recent in a string of news stories which have appeared throwing out stranger-than-normal situations for the average viewer.

Volcanoes erupting, wildfires burning, earthquakes rumbling, mass fish kills, mass bird die-offs, war, famine… death and destruction are abound in our modern world.  To some, it might seem that there is more of this than usual.  It might seem that the real news on real network stations – the reputable sources – are lending credence to the aforementioned crazies who will, no doubt, point to the screen shouting “See? See?!?” to whatever invisible friend happens to be sitting in the same room with them when these type of stories are aired.

The truth of the matter is that with the proliferation of media in our modern world, everyone everywhere is a potential news source.  Take a video of something odd with your camera phone, tweet that shit, and you might just have Brian Williams thanking you for your footage sometime around 6:30 ET.

Before recently (meaning within the last five or so years), you would only get a raw video of something when someone had the foresight to grab a camcorder.  This, in itself, was something of a rarity.  Most of us who owned a camcorder during those years only got it out for special occasions.  If shit was going down and going down now, it’d probably be ten minutes while you ran upstairs, unearthed the camera case, put in the battery, turned the camera on, and made sure you had room on your respective media for the crazy shit which you were about to shoot.  Once all that was done, you run back downstairs ready to go, and the moment is lost.

Now, it’s a matter of quick-draw.  A tornado touches down and the first instinct isn’t to run to shelter, it’s to reach for your smart phone and get live images of the destruction because you could potentially run into some YouTube money.

Not to downplay any of the crazy tornado-related disasters which have occurred, but it’s just an odd weather season.  Shit happens.  It’s not a sign, it’s meteorology.  It’s explainable by science.  Though devastating and terrible, it is not apocalyptic in nature.

My point is that before the era of social media and smart phones, a thousand birds dropping from the sky in rural Kansas or hundreds of dead fish in a lake in Oklahoma might not be anything but page-three news for the local bird cage liner.  Because of the network of media now in place, it shows up on NBC Nightly News and makes headlines on Yahoo because, nationally, it’s an odd incident.  Someone just happened to be there to get the first pictures or linked something to the Facebook wall of a media outlet feeling that it deserved attention as a sure-fire sign of the impending apocalypse.  Otherwise, it might have been ignored as not newsworthy.

On all occasions, it has been stated by reputable scientists that shit like this happens all the time, we just don’t typically hear about it because it’s not that big of a deal.  There are perfectly good explanations for these instances.  It just so happens to be one of those years picked to be the end of days, so we have to report on all possible signs.

The hardcore believers will tell you that all the science behind this is total bullshit and that its all some kind of a government cover-up.  They’ll tell you that there are escape plans for the President.  They’ll tell you about the secret bunker under Denver International Airport.  They’ll tell you that the Government knows and that they’re throwing up a smokescreen to hide it all from us.

While I don’t put it past the government to do so (and with good effing reason), I don’t doubt science.  If someone can give me a reasonable explanation for something based on facts and established knowledge, I’m good with it.  Shit happens.  All the time.  All over the world.  Crazy shit.  99.9% of that shit can be explained by science or another concrete and acceptable branch of knowledge.

The only reason we’re constantly hearing about this types of stuff in the actual news is a simple truth of journalism that is taught across the country from a high school class to J101: Bad news sells.  If it’s not taught that way, it’s implied.  If it’s not implied, all you have to do is look around you.

For every story about a face-eating homeless man on bath salts, there’s a heartwarming story.  For every dude who killed his roommate and ate his heart and brains, there’s someone out there being a real hero.  Those good news type stories usually get pushed to the back of the broadcast or to a later page in the paper or get buried under all sorts of other crap on the internet because BAD NEWS SELLS.

Chicken Little knew it, that’s why he got so much attention when he ran around screaming the sky was falling.

Strangely enough, while we’re on the topic, there have been a number of credible articles interviewing actual scientists and historians who have found proof that the Mayans (if that’s who you want to go by) didn’t believe the world would end on 12/21/2012.  There are people out there proving that this stuff is total BS and is being used by the disreputable scum of the earth to turn a profit based on paranoia.  Those stories, however, will ultimately get buried because Kim Kardashian decided to buy Kanye West a $750000 Lamborghini for his birthday, and that’s more important than science taking the Sword of Damocles from over the head of the History Channel watching public.

The inevitable apocalypse is just a figment of media sensationalism which is driving up the sale of survival supplies and will, come November and December of this year, cause mass hysteria.  If there is, indeed, an apocalypse on December 21st, it will be one which is man-made and born of the seeds of hysteria planted by the proliferation of media.  Always weigh your facts against possible fiction, friends.  Don’t fly off the handle.  All is well.  All is well.

Other than that, I’ll see you on December 22nd where, in this very blog, I will post that I told you so.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

The Dangers of Camping

May 21, 2011 passed just like the majority of the waking world thought it would: uneventfully.

Sure, there were events. There was a relatively harmless earthquake somewhere between Fiji and New Zealand. The Grungelfjordel Volcano (not the actual name, but close) in Iceland blows its stack with the potential to grind European air commerce to a halt, just like when the Sprungenfrugel Volcano (again, not the actual name) erupted not too long ago.

People were born, people died, but no more than usual.

The only thing odd about this particular day was that it was being marked by a particular Christian cult as the Day of Judgement. The Rapture. TEOTWAWKI.

Never mind the fact that this prediction set the internet ablaze with everything from cautious speculation to appalled anger to outright (and rather hysterical) mocking. I’m sure if you’re reading my blog, you knew that this was hanging out in the zeitgeist for much longer than just the week leading up to the big day. However, within that week, Harold Camping’s Rapture prediction finally got real press coverage enough for people with the proper access to start asking the proper questions; the questions I wanted to see answered before The Rapture became (and, pardon the emo-hipster term) too mainstream.

I first heard about the prediction months ago from my absolute favorite “news” aggregator, The Daily What. However, there was no information beyond the few web-capable followers of Harold Camping’s Family Radio, proclaiming that their fearless leader was 100% right, that they had followed his math, and that the Kingdom of God was, indeed, at hand.
Of course, hand-in-hand with these sites, obviously designed to trick the weak into thinking that there were more people than just the crazy Family Radio crowd who thought shit was going belly-up, there were the angry detractor sites. However, neither set of sites presented any facts. At least, not the facts that only a credentialed journalist would have the ability to dig up.

With baited breath, I waited until this week. I wanted to see what the kook-in-charge was up to behind closed doors.

I devoured articles from every conceivable source. A few, particularly from reputable Christian-specific news sites such as the Christian Science Monitor, angrily spewed vitriol back at Harold Camping’s Fun House, oft quoting the books of Mark and Matthew from the bible, giving an immediate counter to the mostly-bs-but-as-yet-unproven prediction, protecting their respective flocks from possibly being influenced by what more than one minister called “a dangerous man”.

How, I thought in something of a state of gullibility, could Harold Camping really be considered dangerous? Dude’s an 89 year-old living somewhere in California and all he’s doing is talking. If he’s wrong, he’s not dangerous. He wasn’t preaching any sort of mass suicide, he was just saying that The Rapture was coming. He didn’t seem like the type to be able to perpetrate it on his own, unless Family Radio was harboring some sort of uber-right-wing Christian version of al Qaeda.

No, it wasn’t until later in the week, when the knee-jerk Christian-based reactionaries sloughed off and the mainstream media started picking up steam that the real danger was revealed.

Articles interviewing Camping’s street preacher squads, which had amassed in most major cities in America, began to surface.

Stories of people leaving their homes, selling all of their worldly possessions, dumping off all of their money (some with very sizable donations to Family Radio, I might add), planning to have nothing left in the bank by precisely 6PM on May 21…

One particular story about a family – husband, wife, two kids – really jumped out at me. The parents had quit their jobs and uprooted everyone to NYC so that they could hit the streets, pamphlets and placards in hand, to “warn” the general public of their impending doom.
The kids, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with their crazy parents, citing them as an embarrassment. I sympathized. No one wants crazy parents when they’re in high school. The next complaint, however, from the elder of the siblings, really bothered me.

“My parents have stopped saving for college,” to paraphrase, “I don’t know what I’m going to do now.”

My rant for the side of Mike Rowe and the oversaturation of secondary education is a topic for another day, however, I suddenly felt truly bad for these kids. Their parents had been lead like sheep right off the deep end. They had put the future of their family into something beyond jeopardy.

They weren’t the only ones. Another husband/wife tandem were dealing with the issue that they were pregnant, the wife described in tears as she thought about the fact that she would never get to know her baby as, once she ascended into heaven, she would cease to be pregnant. Not to mention the fact that the couple spent every penny they had, donating to the Family Radio cause through advertising and pamphlets. I mean, why buy baby food, or diapers, or a crib when the Rapture is coming? Wouldn’t you rather dump all of your money because some stupid old man pulled the wool over your eyes?

Camping’s followers, the ones who were mislead enough to drop everything they owned, will fall quickly into the welfare state. You can bet that Mr. Camping won’t be handing out refunds any time soon. These people made charitable donations to a non-profit religious organization to the tune of $120 Million or more. That’s not counting the people who didn’t think there was time enough to process a donation and went right out, spending their own money on everything from pamphlets to billboards to giant message-bearing RVs.

Yes, this is their bad. Yes, they might actually learn a very harsh lesson about stupidity from this. Yes, I almost have enough schadenfreude in me to point and bellow out a great big belly laugh at all the stupid people who now have to go about life disappointed; let down by the fact that Their Personal Lord and Savior did not descend from the clouds to take them away from the misery of a mortal existence. Some of these people didn’t have it that bad before all of this. Now, having quit their jobs for insane cultish reasons, they’re probably not going to get them back. They probably won’t be able to buy back that house after they dropped all they owned, planning to have that perfectly zeroed out bank account by the time Jesus would be taking them home.

I legitimately feel bad for the people in their families who are affected by this. The kids. The spouses. The “non-believers” who would have probably been left behind, according to their standards. For the thousands of Camping’s followers, the worst question follows a day like May 21: “What now?”

Camping has, just today, made a statement saying pretty much nothing. He’s been quoted as “flabbergasted” that the Rapture didn’t occur per his calculations. Family Radio’s website has lost all traces of May 21 reference and now looks only slightly less zealous. The jokes are getting stale and I’m soon all of this will, within two weeks or less, be just another busted meme in internet history.

Social networking and viral media are what Harold Camping used to panic thousands of his followers and, I’m sure, to convert hundreds more as that day drew closer. We have seen internet hoaxes before, but none so tangible and, as most of the legit Christian clergy have said, dangerous. Dangerous to the people who believed it, anyway. This should serve as a warning to the world of the true dangers of social media and the sort of panic that can be induced, even among a small portion of the populous, by one person who speaks with conviction and has a good PR team out there generating internet buzz.

Hopefully, if there’s one lesson these people can take from this instance, it would be that just because it’s on the internet – just because multiple websites make it look good – doesn’t mean that it’s true.

I suppose, to his people, Harold Camping may have been right. Instead of being taken in the Rapture, however, his people were, indeed, left behind to suffer on Earth. With no money, no jobs, and no homes, I’m sure that this is just the beginning of the real tribulation for the broken and disillusioned cultists of Family Radio.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

We’re Not Gonna Protest.

It’s rare that I speak about politics anymore.

For those of you that have been following this blog for the last near-decade, you know I used to be very passionate about things. At every turn, I was kicking and screaming about something. Mostly, it was railing against the Bush White House as so many twenty-somethings were wont to do. I may have blamed W’s cadre of super-villains for quite a bit of trouble, but I never did anything aside from state the obvious. Politicians suck. The general state of politics suck. I don’t care what party you’re from, what side you consider yourself, or what your orientation toward that side may be, it’s the truth.

The right hates what the left is doing and vice versa. It’s not a perfect system by anyone’s line of thinking. If the system were perfect, i.e., all things to all people at all times, then it would cease to function properly.
In other words, either side without its rival would lead to the collapse of democracy. Without another choice or another opinion or another angle, there would be no reason to vote.

This scenario is no doubt desirable by the extremists on either side of the fence. However, those far right/far left-ites are comparatively few when looked at in the bigger picture. They are, obviously, more vocal about their beliefs and, therefore, make themselves appear larger in number when they are able to gather a crowd. Typically, they come waving signs and screaming chants about one thing or another. Pro-Red Agenda, Pro-Blue Agenda, doesn’t matter.

Though I may have been passionate about a few things in the past, in recent years, I’ve found that I’ve fallen into the ever-growing completely disenchanted demographic. If we had to choose a color to represent our political beliefs, it would probably be grey – meaning more dull and uncaring than neutral or even midlined.

It’s my fellow disenchanted masses who should take notice and mobilize. Or not. Whatever. It’s not like we really care.

Jon Stewart, the spokesman of the disenchanted political dissidents, is calling for a rally. This is, of course, mostly a slap in the face to Glenn Beck, who has said that Stewart and Colbert are tools of a left-wing agenda.
I suppose you can’t really call it a rally, as I don’t know if the point is to be fired up or not.

Stewart’s rally is called the Rally to Restore Sanity, a direct send up of Beck’s Rally to Restore Honor at the end of August.

Fed up with the firey protests on both sides of the fence regarding just about every political issue (or non-issue), Stewart is raising a call for rationality. Just a bunch of perfectly rational people on both sides of the fence (or wherever you typically reside) gathering in the National Mall (site of Beck’s gathering) to protest the protests.

Says Stewart: “You may be asking yourself at home, right now, ‘But, am I the type of person who should go to this rally?’ The fact that you would even stop to ask yourself that question, as opposed to just, let’s say, jumping up, grabbing the nearest stack of holy books, strapping on a diaper and just pointing your car toward D.C. — that means I think you might just be right for it.”

Sounds like me.

Of course, Colbert has to stage a “counter” rally, “pitting himself against” Stewart calling his the March to Keep Fear Alive, calling Stewart out on his efforts to promote sanity during a recession.

Will either of these events draw a ton of people? Is it possible that more people could show at this rally than at either the Beck rally or the counter-held Sharpton rally at the same time?
I’m willing to bet that, between Stewart and Colbert, allowing more than a month to organize, hype, and prepare, they’re going to fill the National Mall.

Jon Stewart might even get his Million Moderate March in true number, though that one’s sort of doubtful. I think the main problem is to get the Grey Party motivated enough to take a day trip (or weekend) to DC. If I had the cash, I’d totally hit it up. Though, I have a few people I could crash with. Maybe it’s time to cash in.

I’ll be the one in the crowd wearing the “Mario/Luigi ’08 (it’sa-merica!)” t-shirt and carrying the giant sign that says “Meh.” Other sign suggestions from Stewart included “911 was an outside job.” He’s also promised to have pre-made signs for those of us who don’t feel motivated enough to make them on their own.

The strange twist is that people will probably get motivated about a movement to remain unmotivated.

I’m all about the contradiction.

This may be the single greatest display of unified political apathy ever assembled.

10/30/10 at the National Mall. Maybe I’ll see you there, if I feel like going.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

Hood Life

It having been a while since we last went to the theater (between early January’s Dr. Parnassus and last night’s Alice in Wonderland, about two whole months), I’ve been trying to keep up with the latest trailers for the upcoming summer season via teh interwebz. Trailers are easily one of my favorite parts of the movie experience and I feel almost undressed if someone tells me there’s one out there which I haven’t seen.

I had already seen the teaser trailer for the latest iteration of the Robin Hood franchise when my wife called me to her laptop to check out the first full-length one. Upon simply seeing the title card, I figured this would be an attempt by another studio to squeeze a bit more juice out of a story about revolution, more than likely readjusting the themes and flavor to mirror current governmental displeasures. I also realized that, during this damn near Antarctic-brand of harsh economic environment, it’s the best time to bring back a tale of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. That way, the poor will shell out their scant loot by the boatload to see the movie so that they might be able to derive some hope with a side of action/adventure from the flick.

I am a huge fan of the Robin Hood story. I have been since I first saw the Disney animated version (you know, the one with the fox) and Daffy Duck’s “ha ha, ho ho, guard, parry, thrust, spin” Looney Tunes version (one of the all-time classics).
I’ve seen Kevin Costner do the part in an American accent while Alan Rickman stole the entire movie. I’ve seen Mel Brooks tear it down as he introduced us to Dave Chapelle. My wife and I were devout followers of the modernized BBC version which only recently concluded last summer after three seasons. We didn’t want it to end, but there’s really only so much to the legend.

So, upon seeing that a new Robin Hood was being released, and my finding out that it was to be helmed by Ridley Scott, I was mildly excited, though as described above, I thought I knew what to expect.

The characters of the Robin Hood legend, more than any other re-hashed and repackaged story, always seem to be a poignant reflection of modern ideals. Directors always use the same story and the same names, but the characterization is always slanted toward what people want, both in pop-culture in the real world. It’s an interesting paradigm.
Every decade has had at least one Robin Hood movie or TV show since a silent film in 1908 titled “Robin Hood and His Merry Men”. Every incarnation is slightly different than the last. Of any story ever told, Robin Hood and Marian are consistently used as a barometer for the times.

Seeing as this is the first theatrically-released Robin Hood since 1993’s Men in Tights and the first serious take since 1991’s Prince of Thieves, the film will deserve analysis. I figured I’d start mine early.

I found out quickly that Russell Crowe stars. Ok, I thought, maybe this won’t be a tragedy. He’ll add some age and grit to a typically young role. Teaser clips showed him commanding an army and making loud, gruff-voiced, inspiring battle speeches to cheering masses of warriors, which is always pretty awesome. He can kick ass in a period action flick.
He’s not the clean-cut Errol Flynn type. He’s not even the sarcastic pretty-boy Kevin Costner type. He appears in the trailers as a stubble-faced, down-and-dirty freedom fighter; an inspiring leader who rallies not just a group of bandits, but the entire populous, to rise against Prince John and the corruption of the government. Probably doesn’t hurt in this environment to see people being pissed off about the government taking all of their money, either.
Someone looking as the salt of the earth leading average citizens to a victory over a twisted monarchy is what’s going to hit it big right now. That’s what the people want to see in the eyes of the studio and the director. Not entirely an incorrect assumption and, with the right marketing, Crowe’s portrayal could send this movie far over the top.

I also discovered, through the full-length trailer, that Cate Blanchett is playing Lady Marian. I’ve had to turn it over in my mind a few times. I was expecting someone younger to play a role traditionally associated with the title of “Maid”, as in, young maiden. It’s a bold choice for the role to be sure. Blanchett’s characters typically dominate the movies that she’s in. If she’s not the star, she’s a definite show stealer. You don’t get to be a multi-award winning, multi-Oscar nominee by being forever the wilting flower.
It seems that in most recent depictions of Robin Hood, Marian’s role has continued to grow. Over the years, she’s gone from being a helpless damsel in distress to an ass-kicking addition to the Sherwood Bandits, most notably the character’s turn as the Night Watchman in the latter 00’s BBC series.
If they’ve got Cate Blanchett playing the role, then Marian is going to be a very strong character. She may not physically kick ass when this movie drops, but she’s going to be a larger-than-life presence. Certainly no damsel in distress.
I hate the buzzword they’ve been using in the media to describe a race or gender being the first to do something, by the way. I fully support the idea behind it, I just hate the words used to describe it. I refuse to put those two words together out of irritation. If I did use that term, I would say that this character will be poised to inspire more women to *ahem* pressure the area at the top of a room which is made of transparent material until it is sufficiently destroyed.
My vow will not be broken.

The movie has mass explosive potential on both ends. Either it will blow up, or it’ll bomb. Either way, I’ll probably still end up seeing it, and not for the sociological reasons listed here. My wife and I love Robin Hood. We’re bound by pop-culture law to see it. Even if the thing does suck, it’ll still be worth it to see how Ridley Scott defines the characters for this decade. Good or bad, you can expect my honest opinion upon viewing.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

Governator 3: Rise of the Candidates

John Mellancamp has been suggested as a candidate for Governor of Indiana during the next election.
He hasn’t made any announcements, but it has been discussed within the state government that he may be just the kind of Governor that Indiana needs.

Once upon a time, politicians were politicians. Sure, politicians could be celebrities depending on their position and, possibly, their extra-curricular activities, in which case, they usually weren’t a politician for much longer. But, celebrities were never thought of as politicians.

Within recent years, celebrity activism has become an industry all on its own. Every celebrity with a decent pile of scratch seems to chiefly support some charity if they don’t have their own foundation for something research or in support of some country. I don’t have any sort of problem with this because people who get paid way too much to do the jobs they do are throwing some of their “hard-earned” money at good causes. It’s a legitimately good thing, even if it’s just a PR move to keep their name well-received and in the lime-light.
There are the celebrities who do more than just dump a truck-load of cash into the problem. Some of them have injected themselves into situations. They’ve wormed their way into being a mouthpiece or a figurehead for a particular cause which can sometimes lead to them gaining influence within the political system.
I suppose it’s this phenomenon which could lead people into thinking that celebrities should also be politicians. I would like to shake those people until their flapping heads fall off of their bodies.

Just because they’re a mouthpiece for one good cause doesn’t mean that whatever else they have to say about other hot-button issues of the day should be heeded and taken as gospel. Just because they’re famous doesn’t mean that they should be considered a candidate for a government office.

That isn’t to talk smack on John Mellancamp. It’s to talk smack on the people who figured that, because he’s a prominent and famous Indiana resident and has expressed political views in the media before, that it would be a good idea to have him running the state.
What works for California, people, doesn’t work for anyone else. Really, manner in which Arnold got his seat was not the most impressive of political sweeps. He was running a race in an atmosphere which was so fed up with politicians that they recalled their own governor. It was anyone’s race but, with the amount of celebrities throwing their hats in the ring, it was really a matter of which was more popular. Arnold, as the biggest name, won.
The margin was narrow, but no less true.
When the comedic smoke cleared, Arnold wasn’t doing too bad of a job. When it came time to re-elect him in 2006, slightly more than half of California voters thought he still wasn’t doing too bad. He’s become more politician than celebrity, though he is still a celebrity first.

The same experiment didn’t work as well in Minnesota because, well, people realized that Jesse Ventura, while a famous and notable Minnesotan, is crazy. He couldn’t take the constant media pressure or the comedic slaps in the face by pundits and late-night talk shows and nearly cracked.

People have even tried this in Pennsylvania recently. Lynn Swann of Steelers fame tried to run for Governor, hoping that his fame relative to the Pittsburgh vote would carry him through to the checkered flag. He failed. He didn’t realize that weak and vague views took precedence over his fame, at least here in Western PA. I’m sure that there were some people who would have voted for him based solely on his sports connection, but I don’t think there would have been enough.
The same goes for “Dok” Harris, son of Franco Harris. The kid tried to run for mayor based on his father’s fame and came in second, but still fell flat because, his father’s Immaculate Reception aside, people realized he didn’t have anything worthwhile to contribute.

Fame alone should not decide who is going to take office in this country.
It is a sad truth that, if given an opportunity on a national level, this would probably succeed. If a celebrity of some renown ran for the Presidency, they would at least make a damn good race of it. I’m talking someone with instant recognizably; a movie star or a director or a TV personality with a good grass-roots base.

It may have worked for Ronald Regan, but I don’t think that the same would hold true now. The dude served as SAG President through the Red Scare and was Governor of California for almost a decade before he decided to make a run at the White House. Even then, he lost to Gerald Ford in 76 before he took the seat four years later. At that point, he was more politician than Hollywood celebrity.

I remain staunch that politicians should stick to politics and celebrities should stick to being famous. Yes, celebrities can evolve to become politicians, but this should be a gradual process and should be something which is carefully scrutinized more than any other type of politician out there. The initial victory of any celebrity candidate would be mainly because of fame and popularity. As is the case with any election, you’ll have to wait until the dust settles before you realize whether the right choice was made. Don’t just slide someone into a spot because they’re famous. Let the celebrities come forward and take that nomination on their own if they really want it. But, they should be warned, barring any cameos or clever appearances, from here on they have to remain a politician and a politician only if they want to remain in that position.

This is one instance where getting chocolate in my peanut butter isn’t going to result in something incredible. More than likely, it would be a train wreck.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

Pressed Ham

There is water on the Moon.

I’m not sure if any of you caught this tidbit, as it was largely glossed over in the news, not making any of my particular local feeds. Were it not for the NBC Nightly News, I would have never known that anything had been discovered.
They smashed a probe into the moon at a ridiculous velocity to create a plume of gas, which would then be analyzed by another probe to detect if water vapor existed. Apparently it did and, from what one NASA scientist was saying on the aforementioned program, it could be drinkable as long as it was purified.
This is quite a pleasant surprise and an incredible breakthrough to add to the idea of a permanent moon base. If it’s found that there are large enough aquifers under the moon’s surface, then we can drill for water up there rather than import water from the Earth. This would be a time and money saver due to the lack of needed repetitive deliveries to the moon base and would probably allow for the development of some sort of bottled eco-system as well.
This could very well be the jumping off point for the human race’s designs of long-term, long-distance space travel. At the very least, it gives us an awesome starting point for Mars.

There are a few problems with exploiting the moon water for such a base, as I can see. And, I’m no freaking astrophysicist, so don’t take my word for it. I’m just trying to use some common sense here.

1. There will still need to be supply runs. And, unless we find a more efficient way of travelling to and from the moon (which may happen, who knows), we’re going to be kind of screwed. When you think about the rudimentary advances we’ve made in interstellar travel since the end of the Apollo missions, it kinda brings you down (I explain later, keep reading).
Though there may be water, there sure as hell isn’t food unless you decide to start the aforementioned eco-system or at least have some kind of hydroponics.

2. For these supply runs, we’re going to need efficiency. I caught an article through my relentless daily onslaught of Wikipedia regarding the Ares I Rocket. It was one of the daily featured stories and it mentioned that it was going to be tested that particular day. Clicking on it, I found out that this was to be the new rocket to carry astronauts to the moon. Intrigued, I looked further into the more modern attempts to reach the lunar surface.
Surprisingly, I found that, in 40 years since the initial moon landing, we’ve done next to nothing to even remotely make going to the moon look cooler.
The equipment, from an eyeball appraisal, is almost exactly the same. A giant rocket blasts off from the planet, separating in stages until it’s just the command module floating out there, toward the moon, with the intention of landing upon it with a similar looking capsule/module set-up.
Orion is the name of the capsule, with 2.5 times the space of the original Apollo capsule and is claimed to fit 4 – 6 astronauts.
It wasn’t until just now that I found out that this dumb little capsule is going to replace the space shuttle when the last one is retired. Patently ridiculous, I say. Why not stick with the whole “space plane” concept? It’s worked perfectly all but two times in the history of NASA. Why not just build on what works? Seems to me that NASA is going backwards here.
They’re saying that the Orion will be handling all orbital missions and will be able to dock with the International Space Station. They’re also saying that timed water landings are to be the primary method of return, complete with parachutes. What kind of retarded, backwards bullshit is that? Why is NASA wasting good government money developing something that’s going to need to be replaced twice as often and is harder to retrieve because they’ve gotta send a damn aircraft carrier to pick the bastard up out of the ocean?

I’m digressing. The topic was the moon base.

3. Moon water may not be self-replenishing. See, on Earth, we’re used to the ideas of the natural water cycle, weather, evaporation, condensation. Yeah, they don’t have that crap on the moon. They’re not even entirely sure if the moon perpetuates underground aquifers or if it’s comet ice that just happened to be hanging around (because shit on the moon tends to do that). So, we can drill (baby, drill) for all that precious moon water, but we may eventually find it used up. We may eventually need to start that supply line to Earth.

This is all hypothetical, of course. The first manned return to the moon is planned for 2020 and we won’t be seeing it before then. Would a watered moon base aid in the future of space exploration? Absolutely. The moon would hence be the jumping off point for Mars which, if it’s discovered there’s potable water there, would be the gateway to the entire solar system. This would probably be the extent of what we see in our lifetime, to be honest. I don’t share the whole Walt Disney perspective. I don’t buy that we’ll see moon colonization within the next 50 years. With the pace that the space program moves (somewhere between lethargic turtle and gimpy snail), we’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Personally, I think within the next 100 years might be blue skying.

I’m sure we’ll get there within our lifetime. Our generation may well see a man on Mars. Colonizing seems a bit presumptuous.

I know this prospect excites a lot of people. That’s great. Just make sure that your grandchildren keep up with stuff like this because they may be your only hope for a legacy on another planet. I’m enough of a nerd to want the world to be futuristic and though we have made significant technological advances within the last decade and a half, we’re still pretty damn far from where all the futurists thought we would be back in the 50s. We just can’t afford to spend that kind of money outfitting the space program when there’s so much more on Earth with which we should be concerned.

I believe in a sweet-ass space program. I just don’t believe right now is the time to be concerned about it.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

What Happens at the G20…

Soon, the downtown area of the City of Pittsburgh will essentially be declared a no-man’s-land.

If you take a look at the many maps available through local media sources, you will see that there will be only three (count ‘em) “entry points” into the city proper for two days. These entry points will be patrolled by police who will subject people entering the city to random stops. It makes me wonder why they’re going to be there at all when most of the downtown parking garages are going to be closed. That’s sure to cause a glaring lack of commerce.

By playing host to the G-20 summit, Pittsburgh hoped to showcase itself to the world. They wanted people to see us for more than just a bunch of smoke, Lombardi Trophies, Stanley Cups, and pierogies. How wonderful will we look to the rest of the world when, while “the world” is here, every business and street closed within 100 yards of whatever politicos or dignitaries happen to stand up and be counted, we’re going to look like a ghost town.

Contrary to what you might think, I am not anti-G-20. Honestly, I could give two shits about the damn thing. It’s a lot of empty talk, like any other “summit”. At least one person I’ve talked to has described the G20 as “the most evil people in the world all together in one room at the same time”. I sort of agree with that, based on the fact that we’re in a global economic hellhole and a bunch of the people attending the summit are finance ministers. Sure, evil bankers, bad mojo, big money (no whammies, no whammies, stop). Seriously, though, there are actually more evil people in the world. Maybe not as powerful, but certainly more evil.
What, exactly, will this cadre of “evildoers” set their minds to while they’re here? What will they accomplish? More than likely nothing. The end result will not change the world. It will not alter the course of human history. It will be a bunch of people sitting around talking about how they can change things but having no initiative or resources (via backup, not fundage) to actually implement those changes. If they do happen to have both of those qualities, then they’re more than likely going to get whatever legislation they’d like to pass in their country stopped by some fat cat who is content to keep getting fatter off of the current, more than likely corrupt, policy.
In the end, nothing will happen. Summits like this are hot-air sessions; a festival for self-fallating entities whose lack of testicular fortitude could be considered legendary. In short, these bitches are all talk.

On the other side of the coin, we have the protesters. These are the people who believe that something honestly sinister will be going on inside our beloved David L. Lawrence Convention Center. They think that by standing in the streets and waving shoddily-produced signs on sticks that they are going to influence the major leaders of the world. They honestly believe that, if there are enough of them standing around chanting in Point State Park that their voices will be heard.
Maybe they aren’t as informed about the “combat zone” as I am. Maybe they neglected to pick up a newspaper or turn on a tv set at any point within the last month or so. Scream all you want, protesters. You’ll be doing it in vain. None of the dignitary’s activities are going to even barely breeze them by the protest area. You can count on that. Again, the gigantic protest for which people are sure to come from far and wide will be another self-fallating hot-air fest with absolutely no results.
As much as people might hate to admit it, without nearly a full-scale coup, protesting isn’t going to get much done on this level. What exactly did the near-riots around G-20 sites in London accomplish besides a bunch of arrests and some property damage? These are not the people who are going to listen to the tiny ones like you and me and they will be especially repulsed if we decide to try to talk to them whilst wielding a placard. Protesting does work in certain situations. Here, most of the great variety of causes will more than likely get lost in the melee. Organize better and maybe people will listen.
Plus, there are some causes that, no matter how noble they may be, no amount of protesting will help to solve them.
And don’t just stand around chanting “No G20”. It’s here, there’s nothing you can do about it, you lost that fight long ago, move on. Also, don’t wave signs trying to induce guilt in the summit’s actual participants. That will just perpetuate the amount of nothing they get accomplished. No one likes working while depressed.

Nothing on either side of this conference will be accomplished other than a Guinness record for most cranial injuries in one short time period due to all of the people butting heads.

In the two days that town will be closed, Pittsburgh will experience a jump in air pollution that was heretofore only seen since before the major mills closed. Only, this time, instead of soot falling from the sky, it will be bullshit. Make sure to bring your umbrella.

I’ll still say keep fighting the good fight. Just do it with some better timing.

—end transmission—