Monday, April 22, 2013

A note to Nate Bell and the people of Arkansas

this weekend I’ve had some time to reflect on the the horror of the events from this past week. While I know that it will be remembered for many of the bad things, the violent attack at the heart of Boston, the lives lost, an intense manhunt that had most of the the Greater Boston area on lockdown, our sense of safety shaken to it’s core, I’d much rather have it be remembered for the truly amazing things that have been shown in response to the events, the emergency workers, police and ordinary citizens risking their safety to help those in harms way. The media doing everything that they can to get the right information out to the public. Everyone online on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and every other medium imaginable tirelessly tracking down information and providing the tips and information needed for law enforcement to bring the whole thing to a conclusion.
Unfortunately despite outpouring of kindness from around the world while we’ve dealt with this tragedy a few people have done and said things that frankly make no sense and I want to address one of them in particular.
On Thursday in response to the manhunt for the suspects in the marathon bombings Arkansas State Representative Nate Bell sent a Tweet saying “I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?”. Then he posted this on his Facebook page "I would like to apologize to the people of Boston & Massachusetts for the poor timing of my tweet earlier this morning. As a staunch and unwavering supporter of the individual right to self defense, I expressed my point of view without thinking of its effect on those still in time of crisis. In hindsight, given the ongoing tragedy that is still unfolding, I regret the poor choice of timing. Please know that my thoughts and prayers were with the people of Boston overnight and will continue as they recover from this tragedy.".
Not only did Rep Bell express a rather offensive opinion while all of us in the Boston area were trying to stay safe and allow the proper authorities to do their jobs but he followed it up, not by apologizing, but by saying that it was just poorly timed. This isn’t about timing, this is about the sentiment, and it isn’t a kind or appropriate one to express, not on Friday, not today, not two weeks from now.
All this brings me to a larger point, Nate Bell has the great honor of representing his district of Arkansas. His votes, actions and comments are a reflection of the district that he represents. I have all faith that the residents of his district are wonderful people that have no ill will or bad thoughts for the people of Boston and this has all been a misrepresentation. With this in mind, this is a great time for Nate to reach out to the people and see how they want to be represented, how do they feel about your comments, how do they want to to be voting, what can you do to better serve the trust that they have placed in you. Don’t let some personal thought cloud the duty you have to your people.
If you live in Nate Bell’s district, don’t hesitate to reach out to him and let him know how you feel. He is there for you as a representation of what you stand for, take a moment to call, email, or write to his office, utilize whatever resources you have to make sure that he is doing his duty to you no matter what you feel. If the way that he acts, behaves or votes is in line with what you feel and believe then everything is working properly, but if it isn’t you must let him know. If he isn’t representing you properly he needs to know that he needs to change.
Truly all the best to you and yours

Friday, February 17, 2012

Religious Freedom is Freedom From Religion

It's such a simple concept that is almost never properly executed buy our government (at least not fully), or at least not fully. You have a right to your religious freedom as does everyone else and you cannot restrict other's freedoms based on your beliefs.
I don't know how dammed simple this could be. If it is against your beliefs to take contraceptives, don't take them. If there is someone that works for your company or organization that wants to have them they have every right to have health insurance that covers them.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Information about the American Gods audio book contest

When I got the information about the American Gods contest for the voice role in the upcoming audio book the link my friend sent me was just a basic one from Boing Boing but as I've been going through the process of entering my submission I've come across information about it in a number of different areas so I'm compiling a quick list of useful sites.
First we have the main site
You can get the general information about the contest for the voice role and the submissions and on the main page it also has a ranking section but it doesn't seem to be updated very frequently.
User Sites MindStain
This is a page from one of the entrants in the American Gods contest Naomi Houser that goes by MindStain. She has up a ranking of the entrants in the contest that is updated frequently and seems to be accurate.

I'll keep an eye out for anything else interesting that I come across. If you have a moment please vote for me!

Neil Gaiman Audio Book Contest

Just the other day I got an interesting little email from one of my friends. It turns out that a company called Book Perks if putting on a contest with Harper Collins where the winner can land a role in the upcoming audio book of American Gods. At first I didn't think much of it because contests can be really tricky but one big thing about this one is that you submit a sample reading and the top 20 entries with the most votes will go on to the next round. I don't have much of a chance but there is still a possibility!
So my entry is up, I did my recording and submitted it before I listened to any of the other entries and on quality alone I think I have a decent chance though there are some other amazing entries that have been posted up. Now the tricky part is how to get the votes. Right now I'm up to 60 votes but I think I'll need around 500 votes to be in the top 20. The contest ends on 05/02/2011 so if you're reading this and it isn't too late do me a huge favor and throw a vote my way. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Myth of Ownership and Independence

It's a commonly pushed notion that people need to be aided in their ability to own certain items. We are told that we should be home owners, own at least one car and then we start to get into all of the little things we hold as status symbols, nice clothes, a big screen TV, a large music collection. Recently I have started to think more and more that ownership if often hindering us as much as it helps us.

The reason for the push towards ownership is rather simple. By owning particular items we are attempting to guarantee their availability to us. If you are simply renting a house there is the chance that the landlord will kick you out. What would happen if they suddenly jacked up the rent so that you are no longer able to afford to live there. How would you know that you'd be able to find another place to live? With cars we want to have our own mode of transportation. In some locations there is no reliable mode of public transportation so the only option without having a car is to get a ride from friends of relatives that have a car. In many locations that have public transit it's a lot faster to have your own vehicle. If you want to leave at a particular time you can and you don't need to worry about overcrowding or missing the last train.

At face value it seems that ownership affords us with a great deal of freedom because we ostensibly have control over many more items in our life. In addition it creates demand for more goods and creates jobs for building and manufacturing.

The problem is that with each item that we try to own we lose more and more of our freedom. Items like houses and cars are expensive and the most common way of paying for them is on credit. I can't think of the last time I heard of someone buying a new car outright let alone a home. That means that in order to get that house you need to enter into a contract to pay back the borrowed money. You also have to make regular payments and ensure that you have enough income to afford it. In addition you need to maintain your purchases, that means mowing the lawn, keeping the paint up, maintaining the septic system and many other items. With a car you need to go in for regular maintenance, keep the inspection up to date, repair the car if it has any mechanical failures.

With the lock downs that ownership creates there are other factors that come into play. Even though it may spur market demand it also makes it harder for communities to respond to changes and reinvent themselves. People that have a mortgage on a house can't just uproot and move to where news jobs are. Likewise it makes it less likely that the demographic of an area will change. The people that originally settled in an area will likely stay in the homes that they own and new immigrants will be pushed off into the outskirts of the original areas and their communities will have fewer ties to each other.

Now on the other hand if a system is set up to properly support the community and protect the citizens without pushing them into personal ownership they will have less things to tie them down and more freedom when they relocate or simply visit another area. There are additional benefits as well since overproduction is less likely and transit and housing can be created in more economical manners by being developed to accommodate more people in an efficient manner.

By having more items in public control or easily usable by the general populous without the requirements of ownership the individual has less responsibility and gains mobility as well as greater ease when relocation. Renting an apartment instead of owning a house means that there isn't any requirement to sell a property when moving. In addition apartments can be designed to have greater energy efficiency than a stand alone house. The maintenance can be improved because it can be done as a whole instead of peace meal. With transit there are even greater benefits as public transit tends to be significantly more energy efficient fitting a greater quantity of people into a given space and transporting less needless weight. With a well designed transit system there isn't much of a time loss and the public can escape the need to purchase a vehicle, maintain it, keep it registered and insured. There is an extra benefit that when someone moves to, or visits a new location, as long as it also has a proper public transit system they won't need to bring their car out or rend a car at their new location.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Blue Penis Contoversy

Not that long ago I went to the theatre to see Watchmen. I was well aware that it had received a good bit of press but I intentionally shielded myself from the reviews so I could enjoy the movie to it's fullest. When I went into the theater I had not read a single review and had minimal expectations. I thought that it would be visually pretty and have some functioning plot.
After watching the movie I went home and did a quick search to see what professional reviewers and the general public thought about the film. To my surprise the plot, characters, and directing were all overshadowed, by a blue penis.
To simplify the controversy there were a few common reactions

"There is a blue penis in the movie. These people are bad make it so nobody is allowed to see it!"

"The blue penis is bigger than it should be."

"Penises make me feel awkward."

Given the fluctuations in public acceptance of nudity in movies the first response didn't come as much of a surprise. It was more of a shock that the moral right was complaining and had lost rather than complaining and successfully getting half of the movie chopped up. It is a mixed win for liberalists because it managed to sneak by on the grounds of being a digital copy (not a "real" person) and by being blue. Perhaps we will see a trend of brightly colored naked people.

The second point is the most amusing. While mothers of white bread familys are ready to attack theatres for even showing the appendage die-hard enthusiasts are complaining about the reduction of significance buy the increase in size. The thought is that by having a respectable endowment Dr. Manhattan loses a factor that was supposed to make him more modest. It's a valid point but it garnered a disproportiante amount of attention.

The last comment in one that I have to agree with. While watching the movie I went through 4 phases.
1. Hhmmm blue penis that's weird, but OK
2. More blue penis. I don't feel comfortable.
3. Hey! Blue penis again
4. Whew! I'm glad that they didn't show blue penis just then.
It's not something that I felt entirely comfortable with but it also wasn't that bad. Having seen Walk Hard it was a situation that I was familiar with. Also when I was growing up I would occsionally watch foriegn films with my parents, random nudity, not so strange.

The controversy placed Watchmen in a slightly different light for me than most other movies. In some respects I would have liked there to be more discussion about the plot elements, the character development, favorite characters, sound track and the regular spiel. However I really enjoyed having some thing different to talk about for once. A subject that is unlikely to pop up in any other movies anytime soon. Blue penis controversy, thank you.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Latin Networking

Random events are fantastic. There are plenty that are complete duds but the ones that go well entirely make up for it.

Stuff @ Night was holding an event at Macy's and based on the regular promise of free alcohol and the potential for fun times I decided to show up. The group was squeezed into a section of the men's department in the store and when I showed up they already had some alcohol flowing and the DJ spinning some music.
The fun factor apparently hadn't been booked for the night.

Small amounts of beer in plastic cups is not good, sprite with water is even worse.

Getting a bunch of guys together to watch a men's fasion show is not a good idea. In fact from now on I demand that all men's fashion shows be co-ed. I want to see how well the clothes will make me look when I am standing next to a hot girl.

Networking events work well when people are getting together to make new connections and talk with people that they don't normally communicate with. If you meet with a bunch of people that you spent last Thursday with you aren't networking.