A Geek's Eye
22nd November, 2015. 9:17 am. That Lingering Taste
A year ago, I wrote this post:
Eggs With A Side Of Hate
I just had breakfast. It was a contender for the worst meal, of any time of the day, in my life. This is not hyperbole. The curious thing is that the food was good, the service: excellent, and the place, a favorite of mine where I’m well-known and welcomed whenever I go. My visits have gotten frequent enough that the waitresses know what I will drink the moment I walk in the door and that, almost always, I order a side of the spicy avocado verde with my eggs. Today was no different in any of those qualities.
What did differ from normal was the group of racist, Christian supremacist, homophobic, professional victims sitting at a table behind me. What started with one of them crowing about how a dumb college student at a Catholic college had been chastised for speaking in support of homosexuality and, when he told his professor that he had a right to speak his opinion, was told he did not have that right by a higher, university authority. They laughed at him, derided him in absentia, for daring to speak against commonly-understood Catholic stances on “queers”. Of course, they said, he should have been kicked out of the school.
It was a few minutes later that they began to talk about the Muslims (aka “the mahz-lehms”). They started by talking about how they were infiltrating the police, courts, and elected offices, “because that’s how they do it”. Then, they spoke about how a woman got killed by her mahzlehm father for dating a white guy (“you know: normal” … yes, he actually said that) and how the judge let him off because it was allowed under Sharia law. Finally, towards the end of this all-you-can-eat racism buffet, one said that the answer was simple: deport them all, nuke the Middle East, and take their oil. “But you have to be sure to get rid of the Somalians, too … they’re just as bad.”
These people were about half elderly (white hair, wrinkles, etc…) and the other half were in my age-bracket of their forties to fifties. They were nearly the only other people in the place and were very loud. Needless to say, I ate as quickly as I could and left.
Why didn’t I confront them? Honestly: I thought about it.
Sure, I agree that the First Amendment doesn’t mean you can’t be told by a private institution to sit down and shut up … or that certain topics are not allowed when on the premises. That’s fine. It’s the attitude and self-righteous dogma that made me bristle. Their horrific world-view made my stomach churn, quite literally. And I knew that if I confronted them, nothing would be solved. Nothing would change except I would be even angrier and they would be increasingly entrenched.
Will I go back to my favorite breakfast spot?
Without the shadow of a doubt. I love that place. But if I walk in and see that group of angry, bitter, hateful people, there, I’ll find another restaurant. I don’t need a side-dish of bullshit with my omelet.
I was reminded of it today.
It's funny; I've been back to Fat Nat's Eggs since then but, mostly, not so much. It's no longer a favorite restaurant of mine and I didn't even notice it happening. But after that point, I just avoided the place more and more.
The food and service are still fine but, really, I think I have some really negative associations with the place ever since.
I've never seen that cabal of racist hyper-Christians in there, again. But they're always in my mind when I go by.
Could Fat Nat's have solved this issue by doing something? I doubt it. What could they have done?
But the fact of the matter is, I went elsewhere. I always go elsewhere, now.
I think this may be a story of the side-effects of racism.
17th November, 2015. 8:27 am. The European Refugee Crisis and Syria Explained
I recommend everyone view this; it explains things in direct, succinct terms. Share it, pass it on, so others may understand.
11th November, 2015. 9:28 pm. Why Do We Holiday Too Early? – Nostalgia Critic
Wow...Watch this video: it's really well-thought-out.
I mean it goes beyond bemoaning "commercialism is evil" and, instead, talks about the motivation for why we are so receptive for it. This is an amazing video that really nails what is at the core of holidays and their associated emotional value.
11th November, 2015. 9:17 pm. To AdBlock, Or Not To Adblock... | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios
Why do ads feel so intrusive? Well, while you use the term “imminently blockable” it wouldn’t feel that way if the ads were not annoying, frustrating, badgering, hassling, and intrusive. If an advertisement meets the needs of the individual seeing it, it is an aide and not a panhandler. And that’s what this comes down to being: people begging for money, all the time, constantly, no matter which way you turn or what you are doing while they do it.
Long before “social media” the Internet was a forum for social ideas. It was “the infinite backyard”. Everyone hung out, talked, shared ideas, and generally treated it as an open forum. Gated yards, like the old AOL, quickly went away because of their restrictions. People wanted their freedom to socialize. And, yes, often that socializing would entail Person A telling Person B about something they just spent money on.
This, however, is not the same as a person elbowing their way into a conversation and saying, “Wouldn’t you like a Coke right now?” If someone did that at a backyard BBQ, I suppose that might be nice but only if it were in context … only if the offer did not interrupt, at least pretended to acknowledge the environment in which it was occurring, showed simple respect for the others already in conversation, and generally treated the offer as if it were really happening in someone’s private space.
The fact that the Internet isn’t private doesn’t figure in, here. People treat it as personal space.
If ads were truly targeted, if they were relevant and respectful without appearing like beggars or someone passing “the collection plate”, they wouldn’t be as annoying, frustrating, badgering, hassling, and intrusive. But they aren’t.
The ads see that I’m a “foodie” or identify as a “gamer” and all I see are ads for restaurants, fast food, or the latest first-person shooter. But those algorithms don’t find out that I’m also struggling with my weight, that I think fast food tastes terrible (after all, you can get a better burger at just about any local café or Mom-n-Pop diner), or don’t play FPS games but, rather, prefer tabletop RPGs. And don’t get me started on the fact that I listed my sexual orientation as part of my Facebook profile and, suddenly, only got these really skeezy dating ads “for cute guys in your area”.
Ads have to catch up to how people live. Blocking entire sites unless you “pay up” is a shakedown put forth by an industry that doesn’t want to evolve or can’t innovate a solution. Remind you of anything (like the music industry)?
I accept that advertising is crucial for many sites to function; for much of the ‘Net to function. However, just because they provide under-writing doesn’t excuse their poor behavior. It doesn’t mean they get to keep playing the same game by making us the product without at least showing us a little respect and care.
In short: buy me dinner before you try to screw me.
5th November, 2015. 10:41 pm. NaNoWriMo
National Novel Writing Month, that annual international celebration of furious word-smithing, is upon us again. Rather than regale you with hope or condemnation, word counts or admonishments about how story matters over all, allow me to introduce you to a favorite pastime of mine: seeing others get bent out of shape over NaNoWriMo.
It really is strange. Every year, the people frustrated, angered, put-off, or downright annoyed by others trying to write a (more-or-less) coherent fifty-thousand-word story in a single month, makes me raise my eyebrow in a truly Spock-esque fashion. It isn’t that I don’t understand why people have these views. They make them very clear. And some of those critiques have true merit when assessing them in the light of a professional writer’s daily life.
But none of them have any grounding in reality.
NaNoWriMo is not and has never been about producing authors. Some people have been lucky enough to produce some great work … or at least some crappy work that can be polished in the editing process. “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen is the most oft-cited example. It’s literary fiction and was embraced by English-reading audiences so much that it was snapped up and had a film adaptation made. But that’s the odd one out. It deserved its accolades. It was an amazing tale with rich characters and an immersive plot.
But that’s not what most people get out of it. Most enjoy setting out to accomplish a goal that, previously, they thought they never could. Some make it an annual event to keep them inspired in a life that, otherwise, isn’t as creative as they would like. Some even do believe that this will make them a “real author”.
And this seems to annoy “real authors”. “Real critics”. “Real artists”.
Some of the time. Ocasionally.
(Luckily, these are rather few and far between. There are tons of award-winning authors who lend their encouragement to the process each and every year. Maybe the others just like shaking their canes at the kids playing in the street outside their houses.)
Please: if NaNoWriMo annoys you, do everyone a favor and get involved. No, this does not mean you need to join in the frenzy. It doesn’t mean you have to smile and act like it doesn’t bother you. But for the sake of the patron saint of creativity (whoever that is, this week): don’t try to dampen it in others. Even if one hundred percent of NaNoWriMo participants thought that participating in a month of frantic writing made them the equal of Hemmingway, Poe, Melville, Austen, or Woolf, it wouldn’t matter. Such a delusion is non-harmful. Honestly: it wouldn’t harm anyone. And if it somehow could, that harm would exist only in the mind’s eye; it wouldn’t be something that could be measured and weighed.
If it could, I suspect December would see a far greater incidence of Seasonal Affective Disorder than we already observe. The streets would be littered with disillusioned corpses clutching paper in their frozen hands with a look of disbelief on their faces. Then, the following year, there would be even less of them. Eventually, it would end. Unless they took non-WriMos with them, it would be a self-correcting problem.
But lo-and-behold, that doesn’t occur.
To any degree.
Fun is shared and everyone is invited to the party. But like a party invitation, you don’t have to go. But similarly, if you are invited and choose not to attend, do the host and party-goers a favor and don’t shit in the punchbowl. Do your best to hold onto your beliefs while showing the mature, adult reaction of living and letting live. And if someone shoves it down your throat (figuratively, I assure you) let them know it’s not wanted. Don’t use it as an excuse to make them feel small or pointless. There are enough things in this world that can do that already.
And if you think it’s being run badly or having a real, tangible negative effect: get involved. NaNoWriMo is a community-run project. If you think there are issues with how the event is organized or held, don’t stand outside shaking your fist at the ivory tower. Take a risk and get involved. Write frantically and see what happens. Write slowly and see what happens. See how the community organizes itself. Try to understand where the experts in the forums come from. Recognize that there are ways to change things you don’t like other than picking apart the joy that others feel.
You don’t have to like what they do but for Bierce’s sake, don’t cut them down.
That just makes you a dick.
(By the way, I’ve succeeded in NaNoWriMo and failed in NaNoWriMo. I succeeded that one time when my beloved grandmother passed away in November and I failed that one time when I had nothing else to do but write all month long. I’ve found that speed-writing sometimes works and, at other times, doesn’t. It’s all situational: not even “just for me” or “just for someone else” … anyone can find it useful or not. There’s always something to learn. Everything is in flux. Deal with it.)
29th October, 2015. 9:06 pm. Because
Read 2 Notes -Make Notes
22nd October, 2015. 10:21 am. Inspiration
From my dear friend, wingywoof
on Twitter:Books, Films & TV that have inspired/shaped/moved me:
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
- The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius
- Danny Dunn and the Smallifying Machine by Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin
- The Dunwich Horror & Others by H.P. Lovecraft
- Gallileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson
- The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
- The Mystery of the Talking Skull by Robert Arthur
- Saga of the Well World (#1-#5) by Jack Chalker
- Time of the Great Freeze by Robert Silverberg
- Time Travel in Einstein's Universe by Dr. J. Richard Gott
- Watership Down by Richard Adams
- The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey
- Auntie Mame (1958)
- Beauty and the Beast (1991)
- The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000)
- Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
- Hello, Dolly! (1969)
- The Iron Giant (1999)
- Moulin Rouge! (2001)
- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
- The NeverEnding Story (1984)
- Prince of Darkness (1987)
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
- Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
- The Truman Show (1998)
- Dead Like Me (2003-2004)
- Doctor Who (1963-1989,1996,2005-)
- Dungeons & Dragons (1983-1985)
- Dr. Shrinker (1976)
- Electra Woman & Dyna Girl (1976)
- Friday the 13th: the Series (1987-1990)
- Good Eats (1999-2012)
- The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)
13th October, 2015. 2:52 pm. On Suicide and Depression
Back A Page
Y’know, I see a lot of posts about preventing suicide. They often say “You’re worth it” or something similar. And, yes: they’re right.
But they’re also not enough.
A suicidal person needs help. Sometimes that’s tough love. Sometimes it’s hand-holding and care. Sometimes it’s just being available to hang out and sit in silence while watching a movie. Sometimes it’s a touch. Sometimes it’s taking time off work to spend in a car on a road trip. The needs are many. Evaluating and figuring out what people need and when they need it is crucial to fighting depression and suicide.
Please: do more than just “share”, “reblog”, “like”, “fave”, or participate in memes. Get to know your depressed and/or suicidal friends. Figure out what they need: not just what you think they need or what they think they need. Actually spend time figuring out what will help; try to take yourself out of the equation. It’s about them: not you. Then, once you’ve done your level best to figure out how to help ... HELP THAT PERSON.
Happy memes are nice. Helpful friends are better. Effective help is the best of all.