I was pretty confused when I learned that the media was making a big deal about a comment Dr. Ben Carson made recently about how the plight of the Jews would be have been more favorable, and that the Holocaust could have possibly been diminished had Jews had firearms in the 1930’s and 40’s. A lot of people are treating this as Ben Carson’s big gaffe, like it’s some foot-in-mouth comment akin to Joe Biden telling women to “just get a shotgun”.
What’s more surprising, is that people find his comment surprising. Let me explain.
I’m Jew…ish. My mom’s a Jew. I occasionally went to temple growing up. I do own a couple yamakas that I save for the occasional Passover or Yom Kippur dinner. I was raised with Jews growing up.
But then I also spent a month in Israel as part of a religious trip shortly after graduating college. While I was there I also spoke with dozens of rabbis, and rabbinic scholars. I spoke with pizza maker Jews, taxi cab driver Jews, bartender Jews, mom Jews and dad Jews. I even went to the official Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.
Guess what. They all have guns. And they agree with Ben Carson.
Almost unanimously, Jewish people acknowledge that part of the reason why the holocaust was allowed to get as out of control as it did, was that no one did anything about it. No one slayed the holocaust in its infancy. That no one, including the Jews, opposed the Nazi’s until it was too late. That Jews were powerless to stop the harassment, the badging, the confiscation, and the vandalism. They were powerless to stop the thuggery, the detainment, and ultimate genocide of their own people.
In fact, Jews have a saying – Never again. This isn’t like the “never forget” Americans say come September 11th. Forget isn’t a Hebrew word. Forget is not in the Jewish vernacular. Not forgetting something is easy. We Jews have one of the longest known histories of any people on this planet. It’s not because we have a short memory.
Instead the Jewish challenge is to never again, let such atrocities happen. Atrocities are not avoided with the pen. One cannot simply grab a pen, draw a circle around a problem, and expect to contain it. Rapes are not avoided with pleas of mercy. Holocaust are not avoided with diplomacy. Lest we forget, the Nazis were voted into power.
Like it or not. Agree with it or not. Whether it settles well in your political stomach or not, had Jews been armed, it’s possible the holocaust as we know it, would never have happened.
I was on the internet reading some stupid ass posts, and one Richard Hodge sarcastically wrote “Yes Genius. Jews with a few pistols could have easily defended themselves against an army that almost took over the world.”
To quote and paraphrase some of the more intelligent folks who replied, were these Jews who were rounded up and murdered better off without guns, or would they have been better off with them? The 9.5 million Jews living in Europe in 1933 would have constituted only a “few”? The Warsaw uprising is a good example of how armed citizens fought hard to defend themselves, but it was too few too late. Realistically speaking, a few million Jewish people with a few million pistols (and the ammunition to go with them) back in the mid-1930s might very well have changed history as we know it.
The world didn’t wake up one day to a fully militarized and entrenched Nazi Germany. The wave of a magic wand did not suddenly teleport millions of Jews to death camps. The holocaust happened one day at a time, one train at a time, one door knock at a time. Movements, even the Nazi movement, take time to build momentum. And enough armed people with the will to act, could have stopped it in its tracks, had they acted soon enough.
So although some might feel that the comparison is inappropriate, does not mean that the basis of the comparison is not solid.
Thank you, Dan Mcpherson, Andrew Haraldson, and Randy Leever for letting me bum your quotes.
The ultimate sneak attack. The unpleasant surprise. It was just a quick helping. A small serving. I barely even nibbled on the appetizer with the Johnson family last night. But you make your way home and eventually nature calls, as it always does. Then like an aromatic demon ninja, the odor hits you. Sharp and pungent like a throwing star straight to your nose. Your nostrils flare with disgust. Your skin between your eyes bunches. You protest but you are stuck on the porcelain throne for at least another minute. The asparagus pee strikes again and it has taken your innocence with you.
But seriously though. A certain someone who shall not be named sneaks asparagus in to freakin’ ev-ry-thiiiiiing. I’ll have completely forgotten that I even had asparagus that day and then sure enough you make your way to the head, let ‘er rip, and struggle for air.
But the worst is when you have it for dinner and don’t use the John until the next morning. Delirious and still half asleep at 6AM you make it rain, and then it hits you. That’s the worst because none of your senses were on and operational to begin with, and without warning your sense of smell is suddenly jolted as if by an 8.0 earthquake.
You asparagus! You screwed it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!
Please welcome the first of what I hope are many entertaining posts from one of our new authors, Brett. -Andrew, the editor, Aug 27, 2015.
A couple of nights ago, I was offered pre-screening passes to go check out the new film “We Are Your Friends”. The film is the new Zac Efron feature about a 23-year old guy who is aspiring to be an electronic music producer and DJ. Now, I still am sort of uncertain what genre of movie this film is classified as, but it definitely earns its “R” rating for profanity, drug usage, and topless women. This was actually a movie that I had really been interested in seeing for reasons I’ll explain shortly, so I definitely jumped at the opportunity to get an advanced look at it. As I eagerly waited for the show to start, I pondered the direction of the movie, and what angle it would take with the rising electronic dance music (EDM) DJ/producer scene. Having personal history and involvement with the EDM scene as both fan and DJ/producer, I knew this movie would bring back a ton of memories, and show numerous aspects of the industry that I’d be able to connect with.
The movie begins with Cole (Efron) discussing the EDM scene, and all that it takes to become a “super-star DJ”. Immediately after, you get a glimpse of the reality of what it’s like to be an aspiring DJ. As Cole works on a new track he’s creating, you figure out that his close friend and acting agent/manager is on the phone with the local night club to negotiate Cole’s DJ set time and their promoting commissions. The remaining two friends in Cole’s group are introduced, and the four friends head to the nearby university to try and promote the show to girls and other students.
Fast-forward to the night of the show, and Cole heads out with his buddies to the club. Cole was slotted to play the middle set in the patio side room. All of a sudden, the glitz and glam of being a DJ get diminished, and the crew gets a harsh reality of the industry. Cole catches his lucky break near the end of the club night when he ends up befriending the headlining DJ.
Cole’s new DJ friend enables his career to progress to far beyond where he was going on his own. Still, simply DJ’ing alone isn’t funding his friends with enough money to grow their empire, so the crew all suits up and gets commissioned based jobs at a local financial real estate firm. Cole continues to improve and develop his new track with the feedback from his DJ friend, and ends up debuting the song at his festival gig at the end of the film.
After seeing the trailer for this movie a few times, I was sure that this movie was going to be about Cole making it big in the scene and playing major shows and festivals. What I was unsure of though was if there would be an actual story line and if there would be any substance to the content. Being a fairly marketed film with a decent known actor, I was sure I’d be surprised.
I really was not sure what the plot would be about, and how there would be an actual story associated with this kid turning into a DJ. Good thing I was wrong!
There was actually a surprising amount of plot and character development associated with this film. There were surprises that weren’t predictable, and there was definitely a climax to the movie. The movie still encapsulates the heart of EDM, but adds a relatable story to boot.
Connection to EDM Culture
It’s no surprise that this movie is about an EDM DJ. What’s not so obvious is the type of connection that there will be to the low-level every-day fan, as well as the aspiring DJ’s. Being a former club DJ and EDM fan, I found relationships to almost every angle that the movie presented. It was amazing how many accurate portrayals there were of the industry throughout the film.
Let’s start with drugs. Yes, drugs. Since this is a huge association with EDM from outsiders, this seems like an appropriate topic to discuss first. Yes, there are drugs in EDM. Fans take them, musicians take them. I think that goes without saying that every musical genre has had narcotic influence for both fans and artists. One particular drug probably comes to mind though when referring to EDM – Molly/ecstasy. This film definitely has more than enough ‘E’ influence to accommodate the surrounding stereotypes about raves and clubs with the drug.
Another large connection is showing the annoyance of what being a club promoter and local DJ is really like. Having come from a background where I did club promotions and DJ’ing for several years, this is definitely relatable and extremely accurate. It was definitely nice to see the film clearly show all these current aspiring DJ super-stars what the harsh reality of the EDM scene is all about for artists and non-fans.
Along the same lines as the annoyances of actually being a DJ, the movie shows the annoyances of actual music production. However, I will say that the shots of Cole hammering it out behind the computer working on his new jam were a bit excessive. Ok, we get it! He works hours and hours and is SUPER lucky to have a nice studio to work in. Nevertheless, it is a relatable parallel with the reality of the time involved into creating EDM masterpieces.
Are We Better Than This?
This phrase seems to be the subconscious theme throughout this movie. The line does come spoken several times in the movie as well as (*spoiler*) Cole’s track that he plays during his final festival gig. I can’t help but think about all the parallels and subtle connections to this line, as well as what the film is implying about the EDM lifestyle.
Neither Cole nor his friends have graduated college. They maintain the hope that they will hit it big in their musical industry careers, and have heavily banked on that. At the start of the movie, none of them had actual day jobs to pay the bills and such. They lived with one of the friends Dad’s, and drove another friends mom’s station wagon to the club events. Apparently none of the guys even have bank accounts, as there were multiple shots of Cole storing all of his cash in a shoebox underneath his bed (make sure you stick around after the credits and you’ll see why this shoebox becomes relevant).
There seemed to be no future for the guys, and no definite plan. The group gets jobs with a company dealing with “aiding” foreclosed homeowners. Despite the income, Cole questions the integrity of the business, and what it’s doing to the people that it is supposed to be helping. This issue combined with the stagnant EDM lifestyle is what sparks the question from Cole’s friend Squirrel, “Are we better than this?”
Overall I’d rate this movie about 6.5/10 stars. The film definitely kept my attention, and kept me engaged. Surprisingly there was a decent story line. I’m definitely glad that the whole movie was not about Cole being a super DJ and touring around to different shows. It was nice to have the movie be more centered on the challenges and negatives of the industry, vice the fame and fortune as people perceive it.
I may be a bit biased about this movie with my involvement in the EDM industry, but hopefully that’ll help serve to add credibility to my review. I would say though, that this is definitely a movie that you would be just fine seeing on Redbox or Netflix. There was nothing remotely spectacular about seeing it on a big screen. This does not mean I feel as if I wasted my 90 minutes. The movie in itself is very enjoyable and entertaining, but I’m hoping to do you a favor by recommending saving your theatre money and seeing this in your home.
I don’t really anticipate “We Are Your Friends” being a title in my DVD/Blue-Ray collection. I do get surprise gifts sometimes, so if that ends up being the case, then I will definitely watch this movie again. I will most likely watch it again on Netflix regardless, but had I not had screening passes to see this film, I wouldn’t be giving them my money at the box office.
It is time to stir the pot. I’ve been doing reviews about specific movies, and the occasional TV show, and I’m usually pretty polite. What’s the saying again? If you ain’t got nothin’ nice to say then don’t say nothin’? As Eminem put it, fuck that shit.
This is going to be my first of many blog entries in my new Haterade Series. Look for the Haterade tag in future posts.
YA is short for young adult. Not teen, not tween, but young adult. Which at this point is pretty much a blanket term for teens and tweens… and people with poor taste in movies. Can you believe someone actually thought “young adult” – a whooping 11 characters – was so long that it needed to be turned it into an acronym? That’s lazier than condensing “do you know what I mean?” into “na’mean?”
But seriously, these YA movie suck. Balls. Big balls. Here we go.
Dystopian Futures that Make No Sense
Not no sense in the fact that they are fantastical, like Avengers or Harry Potter. No sense in how could such communities ever come to exist at all? Harry Potter, despite its magic actually seems plausible. We’re magical, we need a place to stay since humans are assholes, so let’s make a VIP magical land and oh, let’s put a boarding school there to teach kids about magic. Even Twilight for all of its Kristen Stewart shortcomings had a decent premise, just a horrible story… act acting… and staring.
But take a look at Divergent. Teens are categorized into factions based on personality traits, except for that one little caveat, oh yeah… they are ultimately allowed to choose which faction they join. So now it’s optionally compulsory? Who designed this system, the Obamacare team?
Despite the fact that you can be suited for one faction, but choose another, if you actually exhibit traits of multiple factions, they kill you. Oh, and if you don’t exhibit any traits of the five factions, you become a hobo and starve to death in the streets. They really got this perfect totalitarian utopia thing locked down tight, don’t they?
I mean seriously, I’m a libertarian and communism makes more sense than this system. I can see Stalin sitting down, mustache n’ all, and pitching communism. “Comrades, dees is our plan. Everyone gets equal pay. Agreed?” But I would love to sit in on the sales pitch for Divergatopia.
“So guys, check this shit out, we’re gonna like…. split everyone into like… five groups, one for every finger. Oh, and like, all the losers go farm and hand out blankets n’ stuff. And then like all the nerds go read sciency stuff. And like, maybe someone should make laws or something? Oh, and the rest of us will just run around and do parkour and jump off buildings. EXTREMMMMEEEEE!!!!”
“In Divergent, dystopia is simply replaced by a bloodier version of high school drama.”
It’s basically the less racist version of public school where different cliques of kids are easily identifiable. Or was that just my high school?
Maze Runner Plot
I think the Honest Trailer sums it up about right. So a meteor crashes into Earth and turns people into zombies and the world becomes a desert, and in order to save humanity from the desert zombie apocalypse, evil adults maroon a bunch of teenage boys in what I can only imagine is a 300 foot tall booby-trapped maze the size of Australia, with a bunch of man-eating monster robot spiders that then kill the teenage boys. They built alllll this, instead of, ya know… trying to like find a cure for zombism, or maybe investing in drip irrigation?
Oh, and then they drop one girl in a group of like 20 horny guys to get gang raped. Sounds legit.
Hunger Games Plot
Okay, they can literally make fire, and weather, and trees, and killer animals out of thin air. And they can’t make food? And then Katniss goes to war with a recurve bow? Not even a fucking compound bow? And what’s up with the people in the Capitol dressing up like Johnny Depp knock offs?
You know what I’m talking about.
So in Divergent, the factions are called what now? Dauntless, Amity, Erudite, Candor… Abne-what now? Abnegation? 4 ½ words you never used or even heard of before this movie.
Where’d the author find these words? The deleted scenes of Mary Poppins? Supercandorfragilisticexpiabnegation! Come on, erudite sounds like a gem you’ll hear about on the jewelry channel at 3 a.m.
Oh and Maze Runner. I’ll just rattle ‘em off:
and like 10 more.
You’d think I bashed my head against the key board and made this up, but no joke. Look this up. It’s called glader slang.
Stupid Weapons and Gear
I can get reinventing systems of government or society. But if you’re going to have guns and body armor, why go through the trouble of reinventing the wheel?
You gotta love the Hunger Games sperm suits, complete with rib cage chest armor ribbed for her pleasure. This is almost as bad as putting nipples on the Batsuit.
Remember that movie Host by the Twilight author, where aliens took over earth by inhabiting human’s bodies, and the aliens also randomly decided to hire Xzibit to paint all the cars silver?
And what’s up with Katniss going to war with a bow and arrow? She can carry about 30 arrows total, and that’s it. It’s not like anyone else is using them so once she’s out, she’s out for good. Bows and arrows are all fun n’ games… til’ someone Chris Kyle’s your ass from 1,900 yards away.
And then of course these YA movies always have to reinvent weapons, because we don’t have enough existing weapons to choose from apparently. Check out these guns from Divergent? It literally looks like someone superglued a super soaker to a pogo stick and spray painted it silver. What, the future doesn’t have Glocks and AR15s? Are those LEDs?
God, I can’t wait for the next season of Game of Thrones.
Alright, I’m done for now, but I’ll be back with another episode of Haterade here shortly. Thanks for reading and letting me vent.
It’s about fucking time! Trainwreck is the raunchy, inappropriate, horrible, tasteless, repulsive, guilty-pleasure, gut-busting comedy I have been waiting all my life for.
I’ve written quite a few movie reviews recently about all types of movies; action, horror, comedy, drama, satire, crime thriller, sci-fi, and cult classic. Sometimes you get movies you thought would be great, but greatly disappointed *cough* Ultron *cough*. But other times you get movies you thought would be a train wreck, and instead you get Trainwreck. Despite the title, this movie is anything but.
No duh, I thought the movie would be funny. A comedy movie starring Amy Schumer and Bill Hader, how could it not be funny? But I didn’t expect it to be the funniest movie I have seen in years. I dare to say it’s the funniest movie of the decade, maybe this century.
The combination of Judd Apatow directing and Amy Schumer writing as well as starring in the movie is amazing. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time! The entire movie is over the top funny from the get-go, but somehow never crosses that line into campy territory. Trainwreck walks that fine line of as funny as you can possibly get without being stupid.
The entire cast pulls their weight in this movie and I was blown away by the sheer number of cameos and guest appearances.
It goes without saying that Amy Schumer was amazing. If you like her comedy skits and her television show then you’ll go crazy over Trainwreck, which is Amy Schumer x 10, her magnum opus. Amy Schumer essentially plays a parody of her cinematic self, named Amy, naturally. As a young kid her father (perfectly played by Colin Quinn) warned her and her sister about the dangers of monogamy after a failed marriage with his wife/Amy’s mother. The young Amy took her father’s advice to heart and heeded his warnings well into adulthood, purposefully avoiding lasting relationships. Her shameless romp through New York comes to a screeching halt when she falls in love with Aaron (Bill Hader), a nice guy doctor who is the centerpiece for her latest work assignment at a sleazy tabloid company. The story follows Amy as she struggles to find a meaningful relationship while still heeding her father’s warning.
Most movies feel like the Breakfast Club, where you have the jock, the princess, the nerd, the bad boy, the outcast, etc. What I appreciate about Judd Apatow is his ability to craft a well-rounded ensemble of characters without resorting to caricature archetypes.
Bill Hader brings a solid performance. Hader looks like a normal guy and maybe he is, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be funny, charming, smart, sincere, emotionally intelligent, and occasionally score a shot on LeBron James. The onscreen chemistry between Hader and Shumer is awesome, and it feels fun and natural to see them spar and dance on screen.
When I said there were a lot of cameos, I meant it. The movie features Colin Quinn, LeBron James, John Cena, Dave Attell, Tilda Swinton (who looks nothing like Tilda Swinton), Randall Park, Daniel Radcliffe, Marisa Tomei, Method Man, Tim Meadows, Matthew Broderick, Marv Albert, and Chris Evert. And every single of one of them killed it!
Colin Quinn plays an aging, philandering, swearing, drunk Irishman marvelously.
LeBron James might not be Oscar material but despite playing himself he’s still 10x the actor Kristin Stewart will ever be, and had some of the funniest lines in the entire movie and somehow managed them without so much as a smirk.
(Call me an asshole but) This is the first time I’ve seen a movie where I would say Tilda Swinton looked bangin’ hot. She too fabulously plays her role as a bitchy New York columnist.
John Cena, John Cena. Where do I even begin with John Cena… Mad props to Cena for taking on this role as he’ll be the butt of his friend’s jokes for years to come. If you’ve ever seen the movie, think Eminem in the opening scene of The Interview.
They couldn’t have picked a better title for the movie. Trainwreck describes the movie and Amy perfectly, as her life careens out of control from one disaster of a relationship to the next. And just like a train wreck, the movie is horrible but you just can’t help but look on. The movie really is horrible. By that I mean that the acting is great, the directing is great, the story is great, but the humor is devious and I’m probably going to hell for enjoying it.
The movie is so hilariously offensive to everyone, but so innocently portrayed that you can’t help but love it, like Cartman. Men, women, straights and gays, kids and the elderly, blacks, whites, Puerto Ricans, Asians, effeminate men, millionaires and street beggars, no one was spared and no mercy was given. The movie was a parade of profanity, stereotypes, and other things mere mortals dare not whisper in public, like Voldemort. Trainwreck is everything that’s wrong in the world but throughout the entire movie I was busting up laughing begging for more, MORE!!!! You do get more, plenty of it. In fact it’s also super long for a comedy, stretching just over two hours. I usually relegate comedies to movies I only watch when they are at Redbox or rerunning on TV, but this movie is the exception. This movie is officially on my list of guilty pleasures, but as Billy Joel once said, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.”
Despite the outlandishness of it all, the movie comes together amazingly well. The weight of real life doesn’t get lost in the story, and the characters all deal with very real problems that the audience can relate to. In true Apatow fashion the movie delves into the inner sanctum of modern life such as arguments with your loved one over trivial things that won’t matter in a couple hours, kids, step kids, marriage, death, pregnancy, family, parenting, careers, friendship, and occasionally snorting lines of adderall off peoples foreheads.
I want – nay – I must see Trainwreck again. It was just that good! In fact, I might even buy it when it comes out on DVD. Mom and dad if you’re reading this, Christmas is just around the corner. Can you say stocking stuffer?
Holy shit. If you read the comments sections of any article dealing with the recent gay marriage decision by the SCOTUS you would think they had just passed a law legalizing rape or something. That is how virulent some people are when taking to the message boards on major media sites. And I’m talking left leaning sites like MSNBC. And it’s not just news sites. It’s all over facebook too.
When I started this blog I originally intended to write about ‘controversial’ things and hot topics like gay marriage, weed, or firearm ownership and it sorta turned into a blog about movie reviews. I kept at it because honestly talking about Guardians of the Galaxy is way more fun than arguing with people about bullshit, but enough is enough already.
I’ll admit that I don’t usually give racism a full shake because nowadays hating on people based on their race is so socially shunned that people have simply become closet racists. But I gotta tell you, I am pretty fucking shocked at how anti-gay people still are, especially here in the U.S. Granted, I did not think the entire country was one giant San Francisco, but it’s not exactly a Disney movie out there either.
Here are some broad categories of reasons I’ve found people use to justify being anti-gay. I’ll show why they are wrong, but even better, I’ll do it using their own reasoning against them.
Some religious people are anti-gay because they claim it’s against God’s will. God looks down on homosexuality and we know because they bible tells us so. Arguing with Christians about this is pointless because they believe this in their soul of souls. So don’t argue with them.
To simplify things, let us play along and say there is for fact a God, that this God looks down on homosexuality as a sin, and that homosexuals are condemned to hell. Let’s say this is 100% fact, written in the stars. God came down from heaven last week and told everyone live on CNN.
All that being said and known, why would religious people worry themselves about gays, or if gays were getting married?
Joe fucks Steve, Joe marries Steve, Joe and Steve go to hell. How does this concern Billy Bible?
If Joe and Steve go to hell, it’s not like Billy Bible gets dragged along for the ride, so what does he care what gays do or who they do it with, so long as everyone is a consenting adult?
I can understand being against things like murder, or rape, or theft, because these things have victims; the person who was murdered, raped, or robbed. But who exactly are the non-homosexual victims of homosexuality?
It’s hard to discern who is antigay and who is full blown homophobe but I am very perplexed specifically by people, especially men, who are always vehemently against gay dudes.
Gay dudes are a straight bachelors best friend, his guardian angel.
I mean fellas, come on. Every gay dude in existence is one less competitor in the world of heterosexual dating for men.
When I was 21 and single, it would have been nothing short of a miracle if half the male population decided they liked pole instead of hole. After all, less straight men means more straight women for the rest of us guys!
My thought here is that guys who are always complaining about gay guys are just jealous that others had the courage to come out of the closet before they did.
Then there is a whole crowd of people who think, or at least claim to think that homosexuality is a mental disease or illness. Honestly, who the fuck knows. I’m not a doctor. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but either way I don’t see how it matters.
Again, let’s just play along with this crowd for the sake of argument. Let’s say we establish without a doubt that homosexuality is a mental illness. Okay, now what?
Do we now hate on people because they have a mental illness?
Do we now prohibit people from getting married because they have a mental illness?
The people who think it’s perfectly acceptable to hate on gays or prohibit them from getting married, would they feel the same way about people with other, currently established mental illnesses?
Do they share this same hatred for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia? Would they be okay with prohibiting people with Tourette’s from getting married?
These people are another case of homophobes in denial, and they try to cover it up by playing doctor.
It’s a Choice
When the mental disease card gets overplayed, some people regress to sexuality being a choice.
Usually when this card gets thrown down on facebook or on the internet, the entire discussion becomes some stupid drawn out debate about whether or not people choose to be gay or straight, or if it’s innate.
But those arguments are fucking stupid. Because again, what difference does it make?
Whether you choose to be, or are born a Republican, an introvert, a homosexual, or left handed, what difference does it make?
People choose their religion and we don’t use that as a basis for discrimination.
I mean really, what’s the argument here? “Homosexuality would be okay if that’s actually the way you were born, but since you chose to be gay, fuck you. No marriage for you.”
The Misguided Small-Government Advocate
This one is perhaps the most frustrating because their stance on being against gay-marriage is supposedly rooted in some sort of anti-government libertarianism gone awry. It’s particularly frustrating to me because I’m libertarian.
A lot of people misinterpret libertarianism as being anti-government. True, a lot of libertarians are anti-government but that’s more of a symptom of the cause. The root of libertarianism is about keeping the government out of other people business. This means keeping the government out of your pocket, out of your church, and out of your bedroom. It just so happens that the only proven way to accomplish this is to have a small government.
I recently got into a bit of a debate with a friend of mine on facebook about the recent SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage, and he said “Notwithstanding sexual orientation, I still don’t understand what the government is doing sticking its nose in marriage in the first place.”
I was a little confused by this comment because it misunderstands whose nose is in whose business.
The recent ruling wasn’t pushing the government’s nose into marriage.
The ruling was pulling religion’s nose out of marriage.
So while the church and it’s followers cannot prohibit gays from getting a legal marriage, the state cannot compel the church to perform gay marriage ceremonies.
Religious Marriage vs. State Marriage
My friend then went on to say “Marriage should remain a religious ceremony.” To be honest I don’t even know the term to describe why this thinking is incorrect. It’s almost like some form of anterograde amnesia, where the sufferer has the inability to learn new information.
Yes, marriage is a religious ceremony when we’re talking about in the context of religion.
But the same word “marriage” can also mean the merger of any two things, such as “The United States is a shining example of the marriage of capitalism and democracy.”
Marriage has also been adopted by the state for legal use which can mean any two people getting married. Not just a man and another man, but also a secular heterosexual couple who gets married.
For some reason though this seems to result in some sort of mental short circuit for some people. They fail to grasp that religious ‘marriage’ and state ‘marriage’ are homonyms, or “one of a group of words that share the same spelling and pronunciation but have different meanings”.
Disguising Anti-Gay as being Pro-Religion
One of the more well-known claims that has lost some popularity in the past couple years is the whole argument of gay marriage ruining the sanctity of marriage. This can be shot down with my homonym argument above, but let’s take a detour for a second.
The whole premise behind this is religious people thinking that two gay dudes getting married is somehow against god and against the church.
But why then don’t religious folk make the same huss and fuss over two atheists, a man and a woman, going to the local court house to get hitched, when this clearly is an example of a non-religious marriage?
For decades in the US, secular couples have been having non-denominational and non-religious weddings. Why does gay marriage make it on to their radar?
Misinterpreting the Supreme Court’s Ruling
Of course, the whole cause of this recent hoopla is Obergefell v. Hodges which will no doubt be in our kids history books in 15 years, alongside Roe vs. Wade and other landmark decisions.
Up until now legislation and court rulings on gay marriage have been at the state level. You’d think a ruling from the mother fuckin’ Supreme Court would finally lay the issue to rest but it hasn’t.
Many people are now claiming that the SCOTUS overstepped it’s bounds, as this person here posted on MSNBC.com,
What people fail to realize is that the Supreme Court didn’t make a new law. They simply stated that any laws that allow marriage discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation are unconstitutional, based on laws we already have in force, i.e. the law of the land, our constitution.
When you boil it down most of the arguments against gays or against gay marriage are pretty stupid. By that I mean none of them are so complicated that they even merit a Socratic seminar. Half the arguments can be won by using their own belief system against them. The other half can be dismissed with “yeah, and?”
I’m fucking tired. It’s like 11:57pm and I’m pooped.
To the gays of the U.S., congrats. You should celebrate. After a long and grueling battle, 8,000 gay pride parades later, you’ve finally won your right to get a gay divorce!
In the 80’s and 90’s some clown came up with the new slogan for corporate America that will go down in infamy, “the customer is always right”.
There is of course no shortage of incompetent labor in the American workforce, but anyone who has ever held a job also knows that more often than not, the customer is usually wrong.
I appreciate my customers immensely. But the fact remains my customers are usually wrong too. Even the ones I love. Even the ones I’m related to. Even the highly educated well-to-do beach front homeowners with degrees from prestigious schools are usually wrong when it comes to insurance.
And that’s 100% fine. It’s normal.
If they knew everything about insurance they’d be insurance agents. And if I knew everything about medicine I wouldn’t need a doctor.
Knowledgeable or not doesn’t matter, I love my clients and do everything I can to give them the best service available.
The point of the washed up corporate slogan that the customer is always right was of course not that customers are literally always correct in their assumptions or actions, but rather that you as a business person motivated by money should bite the metaphorical bullet, swallow your pride, and do whatever you can to appease and satisfy your customer. But even that notion is becoming obsolete.
I have an inside joke with a close friend of mine: Everyone’s money is green. True statement. The point of this was that green is the color that triumphs all. The color of your money matters more to business owners than the color of your skin. Money matters more than your political leanings, your culture, your religion, your sexual preference, your economic standing, your education level, your language, your nationality. And by all accounts this is true.
But in recent years I have appended that statement with another truism: …but some people’s money is greener than others.
Yes you should do what you can to make your customers happy. After all, happy customers are profitable customers.
But we’ve all heard another equally popular notion, that of the 80/20 rule. The rule goes that 20% of your customers will make up 80% of your problems. The exact figures might not be accurate but the gist of it is that some small, insignificant number of people are responsible for the vast majority of complaints, grievances, screeching voicemails, and wasted time that you experience.
If you’re a business owner, if you’re in sales, if you have ever had a job, you know this to be true. There’s that one client who always complains her food is too cold (or too hot). The habitual late payer. The guy who never checks his mail and claims he never got the bill you know sent him. The liar. The fraudster. The person who leaves a 5 minute long voice message that conveys nothing remotely important. The customer who returns half the clothes they buy with a stain on it.
Whatever your business, whatever your trade, you’ve undoubtedly had to service this person.
Customers make you money but they also cost you a little too. After all, customers are investments, and investments don’t come free. Making customers happy means investing some time, effort, and maybe some money in them.
Let us pretend you have 10 customers who all spend about the same amount at your business every year, whether it’s on pizza, clothes, insurance, or snowboarding equipment. 9 come in, say hi, smile, find what they are looking for, pay, and go on about their way with the occasional inquiry, and even rarer complaint. These are the good customers. The ones you would do anything to keep. You call them, and spend the extra time with them to make sure they are super satisfied with their experience, because you love hearing from them and want them to keep coming back. These are the customers you go to bat for, bend over backwards for, and jump in front of a train for, because they are worth it.
But then comes 10. There is always a number 10. This client walks through your door or you see their name on your call ID and suddenly it feels like the never ending Monday. You know it’s nothing good, it’s never anything good with this client. What is it they want to gripe about this time?
You have always put up with this person because you are worried about losing their business. You force a smile and want to keep them happy so they keep coming back, but you shudder with dread every time they actually do come back.
I can go on for pages about bad customers but I don’t need to. You know who your bad customers are. You know them by name. You could spot them in a police line-up. You could recant their phone numbers by heart. You can catch their scent from a mile away. Think of all the time you have spent dealing with these clients and their endless barrage of problems, usually self-inflicted. Think of all the hairs turned gray. Think of all the innocent staff under your watch who have been ripped a new orifice by these customers…
And now, think about how much more profitable it would have been to have used that time and effort acquiring new clients, or helping other clients who are wonderful to work with.
Enough with the façade. End the charade. Don’t wait for your bad customers to fire you.
Fire your bad customers.
Everyone’s money is green, but some people’s money is greener.
You don’t have to make a scene about it. Firing customers can be subtle. Be frank and open with them, and let them know that for whatever reason, your organization might not be the best fit for them, and recommend them to some other businesses that can help them.
In fact, do yourself a double favor and recommend them to the competition.
This is by no means a formal thesis on my stance against increasing minimum wage. Sorry, no statistics, no numbers, no conclusive studies from universities. Just reasoning, common sense, and personal experience.
As always, I have to give a stupid disclaimer. No, I do not think that everyone who earns minimum wage is an idiot, or lazy, or a bad person, or deserves a shitty life. That’s not my opinion. But it doesn’t affect my stance on the issue one bit. Sorry, pulling no punches this time.
Why am I against increasing the minimum wage? Read on.
Employees are Expensive
When people think employment they think of words like company, enterprise, corporation, which all have negative connotations and stir up imagery of monstrous evil entities with gazillions of dollars just laying around. I work for a corporation, and it employs two people, my mom and me.
Expensive personFor many businesses, labor is a HUGE expense. I don’t know percentages. And it doesn’t matter what percentage of operating costs are for labor, but it’s big, and relevant. How do I know? Go to any small mom n’ pop business in your local neighborhood. How many people do you see working there that aren’t owners? 1? 2? None?
If labor costs were the drop in the bucket that Wage Hikers make them out to be then every business on Mainstreet would be flooded with employees. But they aren’t. Because employees are fucking expensive.
And were not just talking their hourly or salary, but also their benefits, their PTO, workers compensation, and then paying unemployment once they no longer even work for you. Then, you add on top of it that employees these days are usually lazy and check their social media accounts for 4 hours, spend an hour in the bathroom, and do a half ass job the remaining hours, you realize that you’re paying your employees 8 hours for 2 hours of work.
Labor Costs Outpace Consumerism and Revenue
The big “counter attack” to the point above is “Well if employers pay workers more, then they can afford to buy more and then more people buy from that business and the business makes more money, and so then it all works out.”
The premise is horrible for a multitude of reasons.
It assumes that business revenue will increase. Big assumption. Higher labor could mean higher product costs, which could very well result in less customers, less sales, and therefore less revenue.
It assumes that business revenue will increase immediately. Labor is an upfront cost. Meaning even if business will improve weeks, months, or years later, business can’t write I.O.U.s to their employees and wait for that increased revenue to come in. I have to pay my staff NOW. For many businesses they simply do not have money laying around to pay their workers more. It’s not a matter of fairness or equality. It’s a matter of accounting and budgeting.
It assumes that business revenue will increase for every business. Even if certain businesses do see an increase in revenue, it will not be all businesses. The only businesses that will do better are those which hire low wage workers and whose consumer base is also low wage workers. So for example, fast food joints and movie theaters. Businesses that hire entry level workers but attract well-to-do clientele will not benefit from this at all. So the majority of businesses that cater to homeowners, the housing industry, contractors, real estate, will see their labor costs go up without a coinciding increase in volume or revenue.
People are Hired Based on Merit, not Circumstance
Yeah, yeah. Such-and-such lady is a single mom with two kids and she works four jobs and still can’t make a decent living at the current minimum wage, feel bad, yada yada.
And? Since when are people paid based on their circumstances, and not on their merit? What difference does someone’s sob story make? If and when I ever hire someone, the only thing I will care about is what can you do for me? How are you going to make me more money? Why should I pay you X amount? Now prove it.
If anything else mattered, people wouldn’t send in resumes and applications when looking for a job. Employers would ask candidates “How shitty is your life?” and then pay then commensurate with how shitty of a life they have. But that’s not the way it works because it doesn’t matter.
People Aren’t (Always) Worth Minimum Wage
LA recently increased their minimum wage to $15 per hour. A landslide victory for underqualified workers!
Sometimes I consider hiring someone to help me out with simple tasks like writing thank you cards. My penmanship is absolute shit. I can barely read my own handwriting so that seems like a task worthy of being outsourced. Plus, it takes me forever. Why spend 5 hours writing thank you cards which is maybe $10 work, when I can writing policies which is $200 work?
Okay, so a card writer to work for three hours tops. What qualifications do they need?
Why the hell and I am going to pay someone $15 per hour to write thank you cards?
It Ruins the Pool of Candidates
Building on the previous point, not everyone is worth $15, $20, or even $10 per hour. Fact.
But having a lower minimum wage made it easier to distinguish between different tiers of workers when looking for someone to fill an opening in your business.
A $10 job attracted $10 workers. A $25 job attracted $25 workers.
Let’s say I was looking for an entry level position, again, to write thank you cards day in and day out. That’s their only job. It’s a $10 job, meaning the job is so simple that there’s no benefit to me to pay more than that, regardless of how qualified someone is. I post an opening on Craigslist and get a dozen or so people interested in the position. Let’s review the competition:
Candidate 1 – Very Overqualified: One girl is a grad student who expects $20 per hour. She’s got a bachelors in business administration and very qualified in her own right. Fair enough. She is worth $20 per hour, but my labor is not. I won’t pay $20 for $10 work. Pass.
Candidate 2 – Slightly Overqualified: This girl is still in college working on her undergrad. She doesn’t have a whole lot of experience but she’s working at it, and has good handwriting. She’s also bilingual. She’s worth $15 per hour. But again, I have a $10 job, so she is slightly over qualified. Pass.
Candidate 3 – Quality Match: Then comes some woman, 40 years old. Never graduated high school. Dropped out and had 2 kids. No college. Monolingual. But she does have great handwriting and low and behold, she has a pulse! We have a winner! But, oh shit, I forgot. Minimum wage is $15.
Now I am forced to pay someone $15, even if it is to do $10 work.
You would think this is a victory for the Wage Hikers. They think, “Aha! Andrew is now forced to hire this woman worth $10 per hour to work for him and pay her $15 per hour! Buahahahah! Our misguided plan has worked, and now low skilled people can get jobs paying higher wages! BRILLANT!”
But hold on one second… that’s not exactly how it works…. Read on.
It Screws Low Skilled Workers
You can pass a law that increases minimum wage, but you can’t snap your fingers and improve the work force in a flash.
Minimum wage or not, I’m not going to hire a $10 worker for $15 per hour. For $10 per hour, Candidate 3 would have been a great choice, and she would have got the job. She’s worth $10 per hour, and I was willing to pay her $10 per hour.
Gun to my head, if I am forced to pay someone more money, I am going to find a worker who is worth it. Which means sorry Candidate 3, I’m stepping over you and moving straight to Candidate 2. True, I didn’t originally need to someone with college experience and who speaks two languages. However, if I am going spend a certain amount of money I am going to get every ounce of employee I can and sure they are worth every dime.
Example: If I was forced to spend $50,000 on a car, I would not have bought my $25,000 Nissan Xterra. I would have made sure to get a car that was worth the $50,000, such as a Land Rover, or fully loaded Jeep Cherokee.
The minimum wage changed. The candidates did not. When you raise the minimum wage, employers are going to stop hiring entry level workers and go straight to more qualified people who in their eyes would have been worth $15 per hour prior to the wage hike.
Employers are not going to suddenly stop thinking logically, and pay more money for the same labor. If they’re forced to pay better wages, they’ll get better workers, and they’ll fire their current work force without hesitation. Every candidate whose labor is worth less than the new minimum wage is going to have a very hard time finding a job and keeping it.
The long and short of it is that increasing minimum wage might help some people get paid more. But others will lose their jobs and either be replaced, or the employer might just decide to do without their position. It hurts the very people it intends to help. So it’s bad for employees.
It will also reduce consumption, and making hiring more difficult, so it’s bad for businesses.
Prices for goods and services will go up, so it’s bad for consumers.
This blog, article, whatever you call it has been on the back of my mind longer than any other I’ve written. A blog about how in modern society we have to give a god damn disclaimer before doing or saying anything. Most people will probably read this article and doze off three lines in so how do you start such a blog without first giving a disclaimer? Seems almost ironic that I would need a disclaimer to write a blog throwing jabs at disclaimers.
Basically, the gist of my angst here is that you can’t just be honest any more. You can’t just say what you think any more. You can’t just say the obvious any more. No matter how blatantly fucking obvious, or benign, or trivial something is these days, we all have to give disclaimers beforehand for fear of being shamed out of town, because we’ve fostered this atmosphere of wussiness.
I mean ordinarily, I would have been inclined to say at the beginning of this blog “Warning, this blog is about to use foul language. For those of you with children eyes, turn on the Disney Channel instead”.
People have to give disclaimers for practically everything they do. Here are some common examples you’re exposed to every day, whether at work, at home, during the holidays, or out in public.
What you say: “I can see your point of view, however it’s my opinion that…”
What you mean: “I heard you. I’m about to talk, please don’t hate me.”
What you say: “Before I begin, I want to clarify that I didn’t vote for Bush…”
What you mean: “Don’t hate me, I’m not Republican.”
What you say: “….oh and by the way, I’m Mexican.”
What you mean: “Don’t hate me, I’m not racist.”
What you say: “No offense, but…”
What you mean: “You won’t like what I’m about to say, please don’t hate me.”
What you say: “Excuse me, can you please lower your voice. I can’t hear the movie.”
What you mean: “I paid $12 for this ticket! Shut the fuck up before I shove my foot up your ass!”
You might argue these are niceties. But I think it’s really just pussy footing. Sometimes I wanna just blurt out “Offense intended. That’s a stupid idea.” There’s being flat out rude, and then there’s being flat out ridiculous, and I feel like the pendulum has swung very far in that direction. Even when something isn’t rude we’re afraid of coming off as rude because as a society we’ve slowly but surely been getting thinner skinned. So many people have such delicate sensibilities, and it seems like every issue is a hot topic of controversy for someone.
I’ve been told not to talk about politics even when I am with like-minded people in public, because some random person I’ll never see again might overhear and get offended. Gasp!
But exactly that’s the root of it. People being offended. Us being offended. Have we all always been so easily offended? Did we always use to cower when something of controversy was said amidst a mixed crowd at a dinner party? Do we dare not raise out glass in agreement with the stranger across the room for fear of earning some random bloke’s enmity? What happened?
Whatever fucking happened to straight shooters? Whatever happened to people who know what they want and say it. They just fucking say it for the sake of saying it? Whatever happened to Eminem? Clint Eastwood, Winston Churchill and George W. Bush? What happened to not giving a fuck?
To quote the great Marshall Mathers, “Whatever happened to wildin out and being violent? Whatever happened to catchin a good old-fashioned passionate ass whoopin’ and getting your shoes, coat, and your hat tooken”
We give disclaimers for almost everything. It’s expected that you do, and rude if you don’t. If you just go off and say what you want to say, without first lubing up the sensibilities of the people around you, you’re bound to create some friction, and some enemies.
Because of this, a void in communication has been created. There are certain opinions, certain ideas, certain offensive truths that dare not be spoken for fear of offending someone and permanently landing yourself on their shit list. No more getting invited to couples charades. What has filled this void, is lies, false pleasantries, groupthink, blind obedience to, and agreement with those whose sensibilities might be offended. We’ve catered our thoughts and speech to the lowest common denominator of the emotionally volatile.
Starbucks caught a lot of flak for starting up a dialogue about race. That’s all, let’s just talk about race. Howard Schultz never told his employees to don a white hood and start setting crosses on fire, but that’s how people reacted to it.
When you baby a kid, he turns into a baby. So let’s stop treating everyone like babies. Let’s toughen up. Let’s be bold and speak what’s on our minds. I’m not saying go out and be rude, but let’s stop acting like the simple act of disagreeing is rude. Let’s stop acting like being individuals, and thus have individual thought, is an offence. Am I asking you to stop using disclaimers? Well…
I started watching the CW show Arrow during season 3, several years after it debuted in 2012. From the start I thought it looked interesting but thought it might have been a spin-off of Smallville, a show which was way too campy for my taste.
After having finished up Orange is the New Black, I needed another show to binge watch and stumbled on this. Despite the Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement, this show is actually pretty cool and fun to watch, and it has a fairly dark tone to it at times, which I appreciate in show about a guy who hunts down criminals at night.
Episode after episode I watched and watched. Season 1 done, Season 2, gone, I love that dang show, it’s almost like I’ve seen it before…. It’s because I have. As awesome as this show is, it’s a total knock off of Batman. Given, the Green Arrow/Oliver Queen and Batman/Bruce Wayne actually do live in the same fictional universe in the DC comics, and have shared the pages before, the writers at CW really took some liberties with the show.
Arrow isn’t so much a show about Green Arrow, as much as it is a show about Batman that they call and dressed up to be like Green Arrow. Instead of Gotham City, it takes place in Star City, and instead of Bruce Wayne, it’s about Oliver Queen. Beyond that, Arrow is the story of Batman.
The Arrow show seems to have taken the last 30 years of Batman lore from Frank Miller to Christopher Nolan to New 52, tossed it all in a blender, baked it in the oven, and stamped a green arrow on it.
In the Nolan series, Bruce Wayne spends years away from his home town in the seedier places of the world, gets martial arts training, comes back home, assumes control of his family’s business and birthright, and driven by the death of a parent, takes on a secret identity as a crime fighter. Our hero’s first major costumed exploit is stopping a former friend and colleague turned villain from using WMD’s to destroy his city. The villain is defeated, but massive damage has already been inflicted on the city, and the hero spends the duration of his costumed career dealing with the aftermath.
That was the premise for Batman Begins.
That was also the premise for Arrow.
Gotham City and Star City, completely different right? Wrong. Both are wrought with corruption and crime, and both seem to have geographically isolated neighborhood where the poor and disenfranchised live in seemingly third-world conditions. In Batman Begins, this part of Gotham is called The Narrows. In Arrow, it’s called The Glades.
Just as Wayne Enterprises is the economic heart and soul of Gotham, Queen Consolidated is for Star City, and the respective families are well known, and tantamount to local royalty.
Throughout the series a recurring villain has been Count Vertigo. Completely changed from his comic book character, the series adaptation couldn’t be any more of an obvious knock off of Cillian Murphy’s portrayal of Scarecrow/Jonathan Crane in the Nolan Batman series. A physically un-intimidating character who uses his advanced knowledge of the mind and bio-pharmaceuticals to create a toxin that invokes fear in those exposed to it.
In one episode, our hero is exposed to the poison just like in Batman Begins, and his helpful sidekick must come up with an antidote before the effects become permanent.
Later on, the recreational drug is weaponized, and part of a plot to terrorize the city.
Oh, and in the end, each villain gets a ‘taste of their own medicine’ and become completely incapacitated as a result.
Superman has Lex Luthor. Captain America has Red Skull. Every hero has their arch nemesis. The Arrow writers have ransacked the Batman archives and used a lot of his common villains. Okay – I’ll concede I’m exaggerating – they haven’t used any household Batman villains like The Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Two Face, or Bane, but they have used plenty others, such as Ra’s al Ghul, Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, Dollmaker, Lester Buchinsky/The Electrocutioner, The Royal Flush Gang, and Deadshot. These characters might be the second-stringers of Batman’s villainous lineup, but they are Bat’s nonetheless.
The Head of the Demon
And finally, as of season 3, the single biggest Batman rip off has been the usage of Ra’s al Ghul. Most people will remember Ra’s al Ghul from the Christopher Nolan trilogy, played by Liam Neeson.
What you might not know is that this character is very entangled in the Batman mythos. Ra’s has a love-hate relationship with Batman. On one hand, Ra’s is a villain and kills people, yada yada. But on the other hand Ra’s is also the grandfather of Bruce Wayne’s son, Damian. Say whhaaaatttt? Yeah, Ra’s’ daughter Talia knocked boots with Batman and had a little bat baby.
Where it becomes interesting is that in spite of the fact that Batman always thwarts Ras al Ghul’s efforts to destroy Gotham or the world, Ra’s al Ghul greatly admires Batman, and insists – er, demands – that Batman marry his daughter and succeed him as the next leader of the League of Assassins.
This story was almost copied pound for pound in Arrow, Season 3, Episode 19 The Offer, in which Ra’s al Ghul spares Queen’s life, and asks him to take over the throne.
My biggest quarrel with this is that it pretty much seals the deal in terms of CW ever mixing the Arrow-Flash-Universe with Batman. With the last episode, the CW writers stopped beating around the bush, and pretty much shown down there ever being a chance of Batman being introduced to the show – which is a damn shame.
That being said, Arrow is still an incredibly fun show to watch, and I am super excited for next week’s episode where Suicide Squad and The Atom are officially revealed. If you like what Marvel is doing with their shared universe (the MCU), then you’ll get a kick out of watching Arrow and Flash on CW.