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Absurdist, Dark Thoughts are Needed

My mind is often a dark, weird, and to me an often hilarious place. Tragedy often makes me laugh. When something “horrible” happens I tend to have the ability to find humor in it. Today one of those odd dark thoughts came across my mind. The death of Anna Nicole smith. Don’t ask why, my answer is no more than a shrug & “I don’t fucking know.” 

When Ms. Smith died I was a mere 11 years old, when my grasp on the world wasn’t enough to understand why everyone was so obsessed with this event. But looking back now, it would certainly not be divisive to say this was an odd time. There was this phenomenon going on where the majority of the country was lamenting on the death of a gold digger. This got me thinking. What if someone had come out the day of the death or a day after, and said, ” isn’t it weird that we are all tragically mourning the death of a gold digging whore?” 

Now, I do not want this to be taken as a direct quote of mine, but as a hypothetical situation. Hopefully this is not written glossed over or looked at as unimportant because truly it is. For sure to come out with this harsh observation does vast amounts of good. It allows sane thinkers to first of all go ‘okay this guy is a jerk and this is harmful rhetoric.’ Okay. But more importantly it opens the door to wider debate. Allowing us to take a step back and think ‘Okay well that’s slightly extreme but, certainly we can acknowledge she was a gold digger. Why are we praising her?’ These sort of ideas are definitely necessary. 

Today some of these more inflammatory comments are seen as merely that. However, they can be so much more. Recently I stumbled across a gem written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait titled “God Bless America.” While the title may suggest a theme that props up America, its true message is quite the contrary. Basically, it’s the story of a dying man in his late 40’s who is fed up with America’s ‘mean’ culture. To solve this issue he goes a killing spree where the victims are these he sees as the problem. Now as much as some of us may see ridding the world of the Kardashians as maybe beneficial to our prosperity, we know that’s not the route to take. However, Goldthwait’s movie does start a debate that need to take place.

Today’s political and social environment is flooded with identity politics and virtue signaling that tries to silence some comments. Attempts from the left to silence rhetoric of the right/opposing opinions is going to embolden rather than discredit. Peter Boghossian I believe said it best when he tweeted “When an environment is created that deters sincere people from asking questions, extremists will step in with the answers.” Free speech is vital to the strength of a nation and strengthening your own ideas. Free speech is the main component in critical thinking. 

Critical thinking is essential to a fully developed opinion. Without someone saying, “Islam doesn’t align with American values” as a response to your open borders proposal, you would never be able to realize flaws in your plan(this is just an example & not representative of my opinion). Open mindedness is key. Speech oppression strengthens not weakens.  Leftists need to realize that violent attacks do more harm than good. Challenging line by line of horrible views from someone like Richard Spencer is the right route to take. 

Liberals need to defend true liberal values in a manner that is more humane. By doing so, more can be accomplished. 

We Need a New George Carlin

Comedy today is without a doubt in an amazing state. The world is witnessing a boom in stand up that is really unrivaled when compared to most eras. The return of Dave Chapelle paired with the consistency of Louis CK and an upcoming return to the stage by Chris Rock are ushering in an era of comedy gold. One personality is still missing, however.

Biting social satire that really crosses the lines that need to be crossed is uncommon today in mainstream media. Our world needs that comedian who is not afraid to push buttons and challenge mainstream ideas without fear of criticism. An art mastered by past comedians such as Carlin, Bill Hicks & Lenny Bruce. As Carlin once said, “Comedians are supposed to find the line, then cross it.” 

Today we have few minds like these legends. Sure we have a comedian in Doug Stanhope who is hilarious, rips society apart, and could even make an argument for one of the best ever. Then there is a guy like Joey Diaz who does not shy away from saying what he wants in his hilarious fashion. But their mainstream likability is really all but nonexistent. 

The stand up comedians we have in our mainstream atmosphere are the like of Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer and the mind numbingly annoying “Fluffy”. Now that’s not to say these comedians aren’t funny, it’s just that they lack the social commentary America needs. 

Political Correctness is without a doubt suspect number one in the murder of this style. The control of speech from the far left – and right – has become out of control. New wave liberals push to silence anything that’s “not right” while the right wants to thwart your criticism of what they hold dear: mostly God & flag. If Americans should value any one freedom above all others it should be the right to criticize all ideas. Who throughout our recent history has done that better than comedians? 

Comedians are our modern philosophers. That’s not to say Larry the cable guy should be synonymous with Socrates, but there are other comedians out there. Comedians with a true message that relevant to society and forward thinking. Our mainstream culture accepts these ideas, but not entirely. Our world desperately needs more Carlin, Bruce and Stanhope. We could do with a little less Hart, Schumer and “Fluffy.”

Lifetime Sidekick Necessary?

Love is an aspect of life that is paired with very few animals. Apes, wolves and even termites endure monogamous relationships. But most relevant in our lives are the ones we humans hold. Some may argue that monogamy is a confinement of our potential or a social construct. Do we need life mates? Should we be a polygamous species that carries on sexually with multiple partners? 

These questions in my eyes are far too simplistic. The idea of no strings attached sex throughout life with multiple partners sounds great at face value, especially to men, but may not be ideal to all. While some may claim a lifelong single bachelor lifestyle has worked great for them, we see others marrying their 9th grade sweethearts. Why is this? 

For some being single for life is more beneficial to their mental, emotional, and even fiscal well being. For others, a certain structure and order is required to be prosperous. Marriage often tends to be that ideal structure. Why though is this a characteristic that changes from one person to the next? Is this nature? Perhaps it’s nurture? Both? 

Now, without doing any prior research there is a theory I have been dwelling on recently. The theory is like this: Individuals who come from a stable household have a higher tendency to stray away from marriage. Then there are those  from a less stable family, perhaps one that experienced a bad divorce. Marriage would be more common for the people. I liken it to what I once had a friend say to me. He had said “I hate wheat bread. Growing up my mom always had wheat bread, so when I get a chance to get white bread I always do. It’s like a treat.” Now obviously bread is not comparable to marriage but there point is there. 

What then is to be said about human nature is that events, actions, and ideas that are irrelevant different or not present in our life are more appealing. What we get accustomed to becomes boring or just unsatisfying. 

Do we need monogamy? Would the human race prosper with a fully polygamous society? Of course it’s possible. Is it going to change anytime soon? Definitely not. In the mean time, be more open minded. Don’t treat a guy in your community who is more Bill Maher than he is Tom Hanks. Monogamy works for some and is a disaster for others, but it is certainly not essential to prosperity. 

Transgender Ban: True Motive?

Money is the blame, according to President Trump. Money is the reason for excluding a group from serving their country. But is money the true reason? Liberals of course speculate hatred against the trans community. Those in the LGBTQ community who supported him are of course feeling betrayed and understandably so. Conservatives and supporters say money or claim transgenders are synonymous with the mentally ill and tout their illness as reason for their incapacity to serve. One factor though seems to be nearly overlooked entirely: Obama. 
Let us not forget that Obama was the president who shut down “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and ultimately allowed transgenders to serve as easily as any other American. As we all know very well Trump and supporters have not shied away from their detesting of Obama policies. So one has to wonder, is this about money or mental illness? Or is it merely another attack on Obama accomplishments? 
Let’s look at money first. If the cost of treatment being covered by the military is truly a concern, then one has to take the medical coverage already being administered to other groups serving. Roughly $80 million a year is going to erectile dysfunction medicine. Transgender costs will total to roughly $8 million at the most. Of course there’s always the argument that these costs could be used for homeless veterans, but the military currently already prized erections over the homeless. 
Now, there is the argument of transgender individuals being mental ill. However, some considered as mentally ill are already permitted to serve in the military. One could easily point out that those with conditions such as ADHD are not permitted to serve. However, they are not altogether banned from service. No, there are specific exceptions. For ADHD, one only has to show they have functioned within the last year without medication. Some even reported that recruiters have followed “don’t ask, don’t tell” when it comes to more serious issues as depression or bipolar disorder. Why would trans individual not follow the same protocol as someone with ADHD? Proof of no other serious mental condition and the ability to function as a sane individual should suffice. 
But let’s get down to what this really seems to be. A direct attack on Obama policy. Don’t mistake me for a partisan Obama hack, though. I am not a supporter of everything he did and also was not a Hillary voter, but this does not mean I can not spot hatred when it arises. Whatever the Trump administration puts out over twitter or via Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ mouth, do not hesitate to question. 

Technology and our Perception

Bus rides are usually a boring mind numbing experience in where I can’t seem to avoid belligerent drug addicts and arrogant teenagers who won’t move from the front of the bus for an elderly woman. So in order to pass the time I dive so deep into my phone that I occasionally miss my stop. This brief absence from the reality around me is a pleasant time that I cherish.

 Quite often I find myself reading a futile article on my new favorite conspiracy theory, or simply gazing out the window listening to music with countless thoughts running through my mind usually to no avail. Then something peculiar happens. My early morning bus ride is now host to two additional interesting riders. 

The first is a young blonde woman, dressed in an attire that suggests she works at a bank or prominent business downtown. She takes a seat directly next to me as it is one of the few remaining seats. Just as I am clicking a link to an article that will subdue my thoughts for the next 15 minutes she takes out a book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil Degrasse-Tyson to be exact. Good taste if you ask me. Suddenly my interest is peaked by the vast difference in how two individuals who are both millennials are choosing to take in information and/or past the time in a productive way. 

A few brief moments later an elderly gentleman walks onto the bus with his face buried into his cell phone. From the second he swipes his Pittsburgh Port Authority card he gives his undivided attention to his smart phone. Sitting a few rows ahead of me makes it rather difficult to see what has his attention, but his body language suggests it’s quite intriguing. A quick up and down look at his attire leads me to infer that he too is some sort of businessman, banker or in some other akin line of work. Perhaps he was reading an important memo or replying to an email from the governor. Or maybe he was on a final level of Candy Crush or replying to a Facebook message from a high school crush.

 Whether or not any of my observations or thoughts are correct are rather irrelevant, however. What’s interesting about this situation is how technology’s influence and role in our lives is perceived. Opinions from millennials on technology are well known as being very positive. Our elders, however, are usually more in favor of getting their information and entertainment from print such as a book, magazine, or newspaper. Encountering these two individuals from different generations who were partaking in forms of entertainment from their opposing generations was interesting. It’s often that we hear rhetoric of our elders that in order to achieve true intellectualism one must be an avid reader. 

But I’ve begun to wonder, how true is that? Obviously in order to be considered as such one must be verbose and able to read, but are books essential to that? With the recent creation of kindles, smartphones, and the like do we truly need print? Of course if someone is engaging in a book on kindle they are still reading but that does not change the fact that most are opting for this option instead. Not only are kindles growing more popular but we have the option of audiobooks now. So instead of reading we have the option of another person with a voice that can put you to sleep reading to us. Think of it as bedtime stories for adults. 

Now I ask myself what is too be taken from this encounter I had? Many of the perceptions we see in media is of an elderly man who has no clue about the specifics of technology. More often than that it is made to seem as though millennials have no interest anything that doesn’t take a charge. Whether or not these speculations are true does not change the fact that technology can be immensely beneficial. Perception here is the real issue. Of course an unhealthy amount of time spent on your phone can be counter-productive but does that qualify it for demonization? Too often we hear “put your phone down and pick up a book!” But our phones hold books and quite frankly they hold the encyclopedia of the Gods: the internet. 

For good old fashioned brain stimulation and an enhancing of your creativity, pick up a book. But the idea that a phone can not provide the same benefits is preposterous. Books are here to stay for the time being. They are not being phased out and readers are not a dying species. Technology may create a reluctance in new readers to indulge in a book, but readers are still here. Keep tweeting and searching and posting, but don’t forget about print. 

Harrison Bergeron/2081

The following post is a report I did for a college course, a critical reading report. I like it, so figured why not post it? Let me know what you think. If you haven’t read this story, you should!
1961 was a big year in American history in pop culture and the political sphere. This was the year JFK was inaugurated, we sent a man to space, the Berlin Wall began construction and Lenny Bruce became the first man to say “cocksucker” on stage. But 1961 was also a time where America was at war, the Cold War. The Red Scare was rampant and communism at the time was what radical Islam is today. In this same year, Kurt Vonnegut wrote the short story “Harrison Bergeron.” “Harrison Bergeron” is a tale of a distant future, set right here in our United States, where the United States we know of today is no longer relevant. Instead, there is an authoritarian government in place that has made each and every individual equal to one other by way of handicapping the more fortunate. The 211th, 212th and 213th amendments to the constitution have resulted in the intelligent having their thoughts suppressed, the strong and athletic are weakened, and the beautiful are masked. Then along comes Harrison Bergeron, an immense man who is very intelligent, good looking, and is attempting to “awake the masses.” At first read Vonnegut’s story seems to be no more than a social critique on the dangers of egalitarianism through communism, however, it seems to be more than that. “Harrison Bergeron” is a testament to the greatness and importance of democracy in America, shown throughout the text with the characters, setting and theme.​Many characters appear in the story and each one holds a vast amount of importance to the story. Vonnegut first introduces us to Hazel and George Bergeron who shed some light on what living as an average citizen in Vonnegut’s vision of 2081 America is like. George is very important due to the fact he is very harshly handicapped by force of the government; George is depicted as having heavy braces and weights on his body to undermine his strength and wearing earpieces that suppress his thoughts. Establishing these characters right off the bat shows just how oppressive the government is in its quest for equality. Other important characters are the ones depicted on TV. Day in and day out the citizens are watching the same ballet show, where the ballerinas are a perfect representation of the government’s oppression. Bounded by physical and mental handicaps, masks to cover their otherwise beautiful faces and the forcing of them to consistently perform the same routine is an allusion to the twisted control of the government. Combine the everyday citizen and these ballet shows, and the final product is the docile population an authoritarian government prays for. Finally, we are introduced to Harrison Bergeron on the TV after escaping prison. A quintessential example of everything this government hates. He arrives on to the scene as a criminal who defies the government and proposes the idea of a Monarchy to those watching the show. In the story he is quoted saying, “I am the Emperor! Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once! Even as I stand here, crippled, hobbled, and sickened – I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!” The two vastly different forms of government we are shown in this story show how Vonnegut is critiquing both the Left wing and the Right wing in America. The communist government in power represents the left while Harrison Bergeron’s proposed Monarchy represents the right. By doing this, Vonnegut is telling the reader that a fair democracy is the best form of government.

​When looking at the setting of the story, we see very obvious references to communist governments. The year is 2081 and set in the United States, just not the same one Americans are familiar with today. Probably the most distinctive characteristic of an authoritative government in the setting would be the news and ballerina program. It was made clear that the ballet show they were watching was an exclusive program that was all the citizens were able to watch. This is clear evidence of hindering the thought processes of the citizens to make them more docile. There is no greater way to control the ideas, beliefs and opinions of a society than to have control of the media/press. To understand the real critique of Vonnegut, the real world political setting of the time; in the 1950’s we see the book The Authoritarian Personality by Thedor Adorno. Adorno believed in Critical Theory and his book brought to light the idea that the presence in a society of Christianity, capitalism, and the patriarchal-authoritarian family created a character prone to racial and religious prejudice and German fascism. Today we call this Political Correctness, which labels nearly anything said that is slightly controversial as racist, sexist, homophobic or islamophobia. This is a classic tactic used today by the left and a warning made by Vonnegut to highlight the dangers of political correctness. Taking this into consideration, we can again see how the setting of both the book and the references to its time period are evidence of his support for democracy and protection of free press.

​At first glance the theme of this story may be a warning of the dangers of authoritarian governments. Some may argue that it is social/political satire on the quest for social equality. The social satire argument is good argument when looking at the story at face value, solely for the fact of how ridiculous the idea of red noses to make you uglier sounds. And while many can find a Lenny Bruce/George Carlin-esque sense of humor in this story, there is also a very serious tone in “Harrison Bergeron.” This serious comes into play when showing the reader the dangers of an authoritarian government. Evidence of this is slightly more present and most that was touched on earlier in this analysis. But I will acknowledge the fact that this is a critique both not on one side of the political spectrum, it is a critique of the dangers of radical takeovers by either the left or the right and the undermining of democracy.

​Kurt Vonnegut is a great political satirist and you need look no farther than “Harrison Bergeron” to make that clear. By presenting the dangers of communism, he was able to critique the left. By showing the dangers of monarchies through Harrison Bergeron’s force he was able to critique the right. By doing so, Vonnegut was able to show just how absurd the dominance of two ideologies is and just how dangerous it is. Having only two battling ideologies like we do in the U.S. inevitably leads to far-right and far-left parties. One of those parties takes power, and we get authoritarian governments. This was never more relevant in U.S. history than the 2016 race when it was not Trump vs. Clinton, but actually was fascism vs. socialism. Vonnegut’s text “Harrison Bergeron” was a testament to the greatness and importance of democracy through the story’s setting, characters and theme.

War on MSM

There is a war on the media in the United States today. A war that frankly, the mainstream media appears to be losing. While I am not proclaiming that the mainstream media elite is going down anytime soon, their credibility is falling. I mean, who you can you trust?  Fox news is conservative propaganda pulling for the republican party. MSNBC is liberal propaganda pulling for the democrats. then there is CNN which pretends to be moderate, but I think we all know which way they lean.  Now personally, I would say I lean socially liberal, fiscally conservative and libertarian in regards to government involvement. What the fuck should I watch? The answer is everything. Never get your news from one source, despite what your party affiliation is. In today’s world of “fake news” no one should trust anything they hear and should realize the extreme differences in opinions between the news networks representing the two leading political ideologies.  Turn on Fox news you’ll  believe that there is war on Christmas, Muslims are coming to bomb everything around you, Mexicans are jumping the border like a triple jump, Hillary is the head of a pizza eating child molesting ring, and white males are the most oppressed people in the world. Turn on MSNBC and they’ll have you believe that every immigrant coming here wants to be your friend, every Muslim is peaceful, Donald Trump wears a pointed hood in the oval office, and white people are the devil and they’re all racist.  Granted I dislike both news networks due to the fact they are so divisive, but I still watch them. As should you. Watch Fox news, CNN, MSNBC, Al-Jazeera, BBC, etc. Hell, you should even listen to Alex Jones give his theory on intergalactic child-molesting reptilian elites putting fluoride in our water. The point I’m trying to make is this:  don’t turn a blind eye to anything you hear. Don’t brush it off, and most importantly do not accept it right off the bat. We should all question everything from the first time we utter the greatest question ever asked; “why?” I pray for the day that the American people will wake up to the lies and propaganda right in front of their faces. The media corruption is not limited to only tv news, but also advertising.  The constant repetitive fucking in the ass of America by the airwaves filled with commercial about nonsensical products. None of us need anymore McDonald’s, Coca Cola, pizza rolls, Domino’s, or other fattening product that continues to dumb down our society. I pray for the day that we all wake up from the vicious cycle of abuse we are in by the corporate elites. I also want to make this very clear: the undermining of the press is the first step towards authoritarianism. As always, stay aware. Stay vigilant.