Saturday, December 27, 2008

Be fair warned OSG...

Well Oh Shit Guy- don't say I didn't warn you. I mean, read this. I, for the record, do not support shooting the Oh Shit Guy. I am much happier with publicly embarrassing him and pointing out his rude behavior, followed by force 9 glares each time he again opens his mouth. Putting bullets in someone is a bit of an extreme reaction (and further disrupts the movie I might add), but if the OSG had kept his damn mouth shut and exhibited a modicum of courtesy, it wouldn't have happened. Please enjoy the movie you paid twelve bucks for in silence.

I guess I'm just saying I thought I was an ass about people talking in the theater, but obviously I am not as big a jerk as I thought I was. I still let them breathe.

I have a droid.



So, I had a recent realization, an epiphany if you will. It started when I was reading Warren Ellis' "Doctor Sleepless." This is a really brilliant comic title, but not for everyone. If you're not familiar with Ellis, I warn you he's not for the squeamish, but one of the best conceptual futurists I think we have, despite simply stunning amounts of subversiveness and vulgarity.

While reading Doctor Sleepless though, the title character says something to the effect of "you are living in a science fiction world, and you don't even realize it." He goes on to talk about people (like me I must admit) who gripe about being in the 2000's and not having a jetpack or a moon base, and the fact they are missing what's going on around them.

I started looking around. Let's start with where I am right now. I am sitting in my living room in Washington state, and pushing little Chiclet-like buttons and making words appear on screens potentially anywhere in the world. Last week, I bought Star Trek toys online from someone Japan. I have a little box about three inches by six inches. I have over a hundred movies on it, the complete classic Star Trek, and about nine other TV shows. On the same box is 15,000 or so books, and somewhere around 11,000 pieces of music. I can put these on a smaller box and take them anywhere. That same smaller box tells me where to drive if I am going somewhere I haven't been before. I can put it to my ear, push a series of buttons, and speak to anyone in the world who has one of these boxes. While in Babylon last time, I could use a version of one of these magic boxes to talk in real time video with my wife on the other side of the world.

And that darling wife bought me one of these for Christmas:



I have a droid. When I tell him to, and I mean tell- no buttons- he roams around the house and tells me when someone is coming. He gets moody and I have to tell him to behave himself. Can he do everything in the movie? No, but it's beginning. This is the first step toward response trees emulating personality in an automaton. If only there were lasers.



That was the Spyder II GX laser. It has a visible range around 15 miles and is powerful enough at close range to light a cigarette.

My point is this. Ellis is right- we are living in a science fiction world. I haven't even gotten into important things like prosthetic limbs which react to your actual nerves, light sensor implants for the blind resulting in 20/80 vision, and life expectancy going from 73 to 78 in the US between 1995 and 2006. All the tools we need to BE Star Trek are there. As much as I love my Mac though, it is time to start using this future tech for what ANY technology's proper use should be- making life better for humans. That doesn't necessarily mean "easier." Think of what we could be capable of doing. And that's without a jet pack.



Oh. Jetpacks too. What an incredible time to be alive. Happy Brave New Year...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Shameless plug!




OK- for lack of a better term this is a commercial. I've been writing since I was just a little kid. I remember when I was in Mrs. Coash's third grade class we were supposed to do a three paragraph story about something we had done. I wrote six pages on the first manned mission to Saturn, complete with illustrations of the Saturnian snakes. In fifth and sixth grade when we were supposed to be writing journals, I wrote fiction including speculation on where we were all going to be in the distant future of 2001 (my buddy James Kemery was president, and I was a brain surgeon out to save his life after a horrible hover-limo accident). I did sequels to movies I'd seen (my Mad Max III predated Thunderdome by about two years). In High School I started writing creative fiction as research papers, complete with made up references and footnotes. Why my high school teachers let me get away with it, I will never know. I suppose if you demonstrate the ability to cite work even if you made that work up in the first place, they're good.

When I joined my current firm, I'd been in about two years when I was reintroduced to something I'd played around with as a kid, but then hadn't seen in a while- the Computer. Specifically, programs like WordPerfect and later Word which allowed me to do things like "editing" or "revising" stories and moving them around without needing anything more than a 3.5" floppy. I started not only writing new stories but accumulating them.

So, my current firm helped me out, but it also held me back. I wanted to write professionally, but the simple fact was, there was no agreeing to any contract or deadline when you might at any moment head off to odd parts of the world to do 18 hour days.

On my last little jaunt into Babylon, I started a new habit. I was sending out draft reports each day, distributed to various organizations who needed the information to do their jobs. I'm not going to get into the types of reports, but they were dry, very dry, and there were a lot of them. I started sending out little music quotes or pop culture references in the subjects of the message just to break the doldrums inherent in the work. Then, late December 2007, one of my recipients recommended I do a little serialized story. A little bit a night, just to see who was reading.

So, on January 1st, 2008 I did. I started a story, one sentence a night for a week. I continued to write stories after that one ended, and they became more complex. I started experimenting with genres I'd never done before, with success (40's detective stories) and less success (western...yikes). People seemed to really enjoy it though, and when I left Babylon there were a few fans lamenting the fact I wouldn't be entertaining them any more.

As I've been back home, I have missed having the reason to write. It was a great challenge to have a daily deadline, but one that wouldn't get me fired if I missed it. I had a backlog of stories. So what did I decide?

Time to self publish.

So here I announce the birth of my Draft Distro Online. There will be two sections- one accessible to everyone with fan fiction allowing people to sample my writing. Then, a members-only section with my original work which I plan to update every two weeks or so. I invite everyone to check it out here. I hope you enjoy my tales- they won't change your life, but hopefully they will entertain you for a few minutes out of your day. Heck, you may even see a cameo appearance someday of the Saturn Snakes...

OK- end of commercial, we now resume my regular ramblings.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Joining the Great Bird.



Well, what a week. Forrest J. Ackerman, Bettie Page, and now Majel Barrett-Roddenberry. She has been an integral piece of Star Trek since the very beginning. Most people remember her as Nurse Chapel on the Classic show, or later fans remember her as Lwaxana Troi on Next Generation. She was of course the voice of the Enterprise's computer in several incarnations of Trek (to include the new film currently in post-production).

To me though she will always be Number One, the unintentionally mysterious first officer of the Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike. See, when Gene Roddenberry developed the first pilot for Trek, he included a female first officer, referred to in the episode only in grand naval tradition as "Number One." We never hear her real name. We never find out why she is stoic while even the young Spock is smiling. She never shows up or is mentioned again (unless you read Peter David novels regarding Morgan Lefler). She's the consummate Starfleet Officer, holding her own when Captain Pike disappears, and deciding at one point the answer is to use the biggest goddamn gun she can find to negotiate with the Talosians. The idea of such a character in 1965 was so radical, the network made Gene Roddenberry drop the character. So, in real life he married her, put a blonde wig on her, and cast her as Nurse Chapel when the show was finally picked up. I, however, still miss Number One.

Bye Majel- say hi to Gene, DeForrest, and James for me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

As the inauguration approaches...

Wow- there's some very surprised liberals out there, and some very stymied conservatives. It seems the "change" the President-Elect wants to bring isn't change from the current administration, but rather change from the status quo. See, rather than come in and install all Democrats and Liberals, President-Elect Obama is doing something unprecedented in American politics; he's picking the people he things are the right people for the job. This even means Republicans. Secretary of Defense- Republican. Secretary of Transportation- Republican. Did you see who's giving the invocation at the inauguration? This is not the left wing tidal wave the liberals were expecting.

Meanwhile, Republicans over at Fox News are having to make things up to talk bad about. With the Blagojevich thing blowing up, but no sign of an Obama connection, the investigating attorney asked the President-Elect's office to keep their mouth shut until things could progress. Reasonable. Fox has decided to insinuate no such request was made. The RNC chairman also wants the President-Elect to say more. This got the RNC chairman chewed out by Newt Gingrich of all people. The whole conservative side seems to not know where to go.

So- Obama is not the Left Wing Pelosi whipping boy the Republicans expected, and he's not the Leftist crusader the Democrats expected... he would seem to be his own brand of shrewd politician who's going to take advice from both sides and then make the decision himself. Wait a minute... is that the gentle hum of equilibrium I hear? Not partisan politics, but an honest attempt to do what's right for America? Now THAT'S change I can believe in.

Hurray for balance.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sad update on Bettie...



Just saw online that Bettie Page didn't wake up from her coma, and has passed on. I will not go in depth into Bettie's story here, but if you don't know it, I highly recommend looking into it. She had the type of life you would think someone just made up for a David Lynch or Charlie Kaufman movie, but indeed she was real, and yet not real all at the same time.


I first discovered Bettie when I was about 19 (and no, it wasn't in the 50s!) when Buck Henry wrote an article on her for Playboy about '90 or '91 called "The Case of the Missing Pin-up" or something similar. This was still back in the days no one knew she was still alive, or where she might be. Most of the stuff I found on her even misspelled her name as "Betty" rather than "Bettie." I found the mystery fascinating, and in my further investigation into this mysterious figure I discovered not only Dave Stevens and the Rocketeer (God rest him as well), but also a past America I didn't know existed.



The only 1950s I knew was Elvis and Buddy Holley, and shows like Happy Days. My parents were more than happy to agree that the cozy little fifties the Cunninghams lived in were nearly documentarian in their presentation. As I found books and card collections on Bettie, I had to wonder- if Fonzie was the least behaved character the fifties had to offer, who had been ordering 8 X 10 glossies from Irving Klaw of Bettie all tied up? Why had there been hundreds of small format publications (convenient for under mattress hiding) featuring Bettie on the beach, or in Jungle Girl costume? And dear God, who were these guys taking the pictures?



I don't know if we can credit Bettie Page with changing America, but I will credit her for revealing it to me. Perhaps she revealed it to all of us, and showed us we're fooling ourselves if we really think there was some mystical moral age to which only previous generations were privy. We've always been a little kinkier than we want to admit publicly. Maybe if we admitted it a little more we could get over it more easily.



Bye Bettie, and thank you.

Ouch... it hurts a little.



Seriously, I am a little sore. I walked out of my comic shop on Wednesday night and I did not buy the newest issue of Detective Comics or the newest issue of Action Comics. I honestly cannot remember the last time I did not buy these two titles. For me, these two titles ARE the comic industry. This is Superman and Batman in their oldest titles. And yet, I left them sitting on the shelf at Olympic Cards and Comics (the greatest comic shop in the world, BTW). Why? How could I betray my childhood idols and ideals this way?

Well- In Detective, we were starting the "Last Rites" follow up to "Batman RIP." Since I am not really sure how Batman RIP ended, I didn't feel ready to dive into its follow up. So, I am (here it comes)... waiting for the trade.

Over in Action, DC was continuing the very interesting "New Krypton" storyline. It's really compelling- the idea of 100,000 people as powerful as Superman who did not have the benefit of an all-American, Norman Rockwell upbringing in Kansas. Geoff Johns is writing it, and I like his stuff. He also says its going to take up to two years to fully tell this story. Two years. So I made a decision. I am waiting for the trade.

I read a lot of comics each month, and usually two or three novels, a couple a magazines, tons of internet sites and articles, watch a couple hours of news a day, try to write fifty pages a month, watch the appropriate cartoons and Star Trek, run 15 miles a week, and be a soldier, husband, and father. I admit my sharp geek mind is not what it was. I can't keep up with all the details sometimes, and as it is I keep having to go back a reference stories from two months ago because the majority of stories are six issues long. DC has obviously decided six issue story arcs are too short, and we are going for the long haul. Well, I can't keep up. So, I am going for the trades so I can sit down on weekends and get the whole story at once. Maybe when the current "Crisis" is over I can go back to picking up "floppies" on Detective and Action.

I will miss them- I like 22 full color pages of escapism each month. Don't get me wrong- I like the Watchmen like stories that plumb the depths and bring true literary merit to the genre. More often than not though, I just want a comic book. I like Lagavulin scotch, but more often than not, I just want a beer (though I want it good, and I want it bottled). So, for the time being Detective and Action will have to wait until they are all collected for me to read. Ouch.

By the way, did I mention Blue Beetle is still canceled?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Geek talk!



OK- I have been bad and talking about everything but my usual geeky subjects, so let em take a moment to talk some full frontal nerdity.

Mouse Guard: Read it. Read it now if you can. The colors are gorgeous, the story adventurous, and it's a good tale with no giant crossover anywhere in sight. Eat it up, yum.

Star Trek: That movie is going to make Star Trek mainstream, and bring in all kinds of cash for Paramount. I don't want Star Trek mainstream. What makes Trek Trek is it ISN'T lowest common denominator. Maybe they can pull it all off, and it will appease me the guy who can give you Kirk's serial number off the top of my head (SC 937-0176CEC), and still appeal to everyone. Good luck. Regardless, they can't take my Classic Trek DVDs away, so either way, I win. Wow! I don't believe in the no-win scenario!

Batman RIP: Should have been called "Batman WTF." This was really written by the guy who gave me All-Star Superman? Yikes.

Batman- Brave and the Bold: New cartoon on Friday nights. Very much the old 1950s Dick Sprang Batman, and well worth your 22 minutes a week. This being out with Dark Knight so popular really speaks to the greatness of this character. Lot of fun to watch- can't wait to see their version of the Joker.

New Guns 'N Roses album: Not bad- not Guns 'n Roses. Just heard my first 'Apocalyptica' song though. Metal version of Bowie's "Heroes" sung in German by the lead singer of Rammstein. Neat!

That's all for now. Be on the look out, I will soon be shamelessly plugging a new website I will have rolling after the New Year. Thank you God, for the internet.

Look! Everyone's an asshole!




So, this sign is now in the Rotunda at the Olympia capitol, stirring up all kinds of trouble, since it is right next to a Nativity scene. Seriously boys and girls, what the hell is this? I roll with diversity, I think everyone has the right to say and believe what they want. I think there SHOULD ABSOLUTELY be an opportunity for Atheists to have a place in any festivity, particularly one as religious as Christmas or Hanukkah can't help but be. This sign however, is just there to insult people. It starts off well, but gets pretty snotty as it goes. In the interest of us all coming together and making the world a better place how about:

"In the coming New Year, the Atheists of Washington ask us to look ahead with logic and reason."

Bam- done. Just like that you're in on hoping next year's better than this one, and it's not hateful. This sign is rude.

But guess what? The Christian reaction is just as stupid. Right now, while intelligent Christians are looking at the sign, shaking their heads sadly, and walking away quietly, there's a very vocal contingent throwing out violent invective insults, and talking about how the people who made the sign will "sizzle like Jimmie Dean sausages in Hell." No really, some jackass really had to say that. So basically, a bunch of ignorant Christians are demonstrating the behavior that made the ignorant atheists put up the sign in the first place.

So, to summarize:
Atheists- your holiday or not, try a little goodwill toward men this solstice and New Year. How about you demonstrate the type of behavior you think not being "superstitious" should engender. Look at the pretty trees and enjoy the egg nog.

Christians- How about extending a hand of forgiveness since, oh I don't know, Jesus' birthday is coming? How about demonstrating the type of behavior your Lord and Savior thought having faith should engender. Little bit of Matthew 10:14, "And if anyone will not welcome you or listen to your message, shake the dust off your feet as you leave that house or that town." Look at the pretty trees and enjoy the egg nog.

Right now, you're all being assholes, and that's not what we're supposed to be about, regardless of your belief or philosophy.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

My best to Bettie...


Here's to thinking of Bettie Page who had a heart attack this week and is in a coma. She's the girl who taught me the 50's were NOT like my parents told me they were... All my best, Bettie.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

OK- this one's gonna get me in trouble...


In my previous post, my sole reader (maybe I should just email you? :) ) mentioned I was parsing my words in regard to salvation coming only from Christ. Do I believe salvation comes only from Christ? Yes. As quoted "no one comes to the Father except through me." Do I believe only Christians will be saved? No. The concept is far deeper than a simple yes or no can summarize.

Perhaps that makes me not a Christian. Well, that applies to 57% of Evangelical Christians then. Of course, majorities have been wrong before- we elected W. twice.

However, I have to look at what God is, and what He says. Unfortunately, except when I am in the most ecstatic of prayers, the only reference I have for God's will is the Bible. I think the Word is infallible. Man's Language, particularly translated language, has no such claims. Perhaps God acted to secure meaning in translation so His word is unblemished in the new versions- so then which translation should I go with? King James, which was politically motivated? Jerusalem Bible, a Catholic Bible meant as poetry? NIV, NRSV, RSV, Schofield, Peterson's Message, New World Translation, Jefferson's? Even when Jesus speaks the line above, he SPOKE Aramaic, and we have the line in Greek, then translated into English. Is the translation wrong? Probably not, but I bet it is missing subtlety.

So what is Salvation? It would seem to mean Eternal Life. Entering the Kingdom of Heaven. Continued existence despite the state of the world. I am sure it is much deeper than that, but let's go with it. Who gets it? Anyone God chooses. Paul confirms for us in Romans that the promise God made to the Jews- His chosen people- will not be cast aside despite the coming of Christ. (Chapter 11.) Indeed, the Jews play a specific role bringing the grace given them by God to the Gentile. Paul has already told us that GOD defines His people (Rm 9:6-9) by the Covenant (promise here from the Greek) and quotes Moses from Exodus 33:19 when he states God says "I will have Mercy upon whom I will have mercy, and compassion upon whom I will have compassion." Sounds like it is up to God who gets saved. Of course, I argue with Paul a lot, so I had to see if someone else also showed Hebraic salvation despite belief in Christ.

Well, Christ does. In Luke 15 Jesus gives us the parable of the prodigal son when asked why He hangs with sinners. Remember however, Luke is written by a Gentile for the Gentiles. The deeper meaning of this parable is not only a sinner returning to the fold, but the Gentiles having opportunity to receive the grace God the Father has already bestowed on the child who stayed, the Jews. Notice, at the end of the parable, the good son is not kicked out of his inheritance. Further, look at the parable of The Vineyard Workers. Those who came late (the Gentiles) received the same pay as those who worked all day (the Jews), but the ones who worked all day did not lose THEIR jobs.

So, here plainly in the Bible (and I haven't even gotten into James who implies you can work your way to Salvation, or The Great White Throne Judgement in Revelation where all who were ever born are resurrected and judged according to their works) are an entire people who receive salvation by virtue of their ancestors and not because they choose Christ as their personal savior- God chooses them, not vice versa. The Children of Abraham are spread far and wide, and indeed we have no idea how many descendants of the Lost Tribes are scattered among the population of the world. So already we have Biblical precedent showing there will be people saved who have not made the literal acceptance of Jesus as their savior. Jesus/God has instead chosen them.

So, how can I reconcile these thoughts with "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life- no one comes through the Father but through Me"? First, there's the deeper question of how separate God and Jesus are. Since the seeds of our modern Christianity lie with Athanasius who beat out Arius in the Nicean debates, we believe in a God who is "una substancia, tres persona" ("a single substance with three faces") rather than Jesus being, as Arius argued, "tertium quid" ("something different"). Jesus is 100% human and 100% God, and God and Jesus are of the same substance. Indeed, Jesus says in the same book (John) "I and the Father are one" (Jn 10:30). John also argues Jesus as "The Word" made flesh, and "In the beginning the Word was with God and the Word was God."

So, in simpler language the first quote can read "no one comes to Me but through Me."

So, does the "Me" in this divine case mean specifically the Jewish Carpenter, or the idea of Mashiah, the Christ, our Messiah? What IS the Messiah, what IS Jesus as God and man, and how does His sacrifice equal salvation? Humanity sins. Sinning, doing "bad," must have a fundamental effect on the state of the universe. Offending God creates a debt, an imbalance, which must be equalized. The debt must be paid, the balance restored, and the effect minimized. Somehow, and I make no claims to know how, God living as a man and dying one of the most heinous deaths we as humans have ever concocted pays this debt. God in the form of Jesus says, "I made these rules, yet I also made you inclined toward breaking them. However, I am not just holding you to the standard and throwing you to the proverbial wolves, I am taking PERSONAL responsibility and showing you how to meet my standards, and paying the price of not following the rules for you."

The price has been paid, or as my Buddhist friends say, the karmic debt is even. God has walked into the Universal Taco Bell and declared anyone can have a free taco. How do we redeem that? One way is certainly acknowledging the payment of the debt by accepting Jesus' salvation. Remember though, God WANTS ALL of us to have our free taco. It's already been purchased. It is still up to us to take the taco, but I think there must be more than one way to take delivery. Otherwise, there's a lot of leftover taco. God loves the world; God will stack His salvation in the world's favor.

Remember- the idea of being saved only through Christ all but originates with Augustine, then flows through Thomas Aquinas, and John Calvin- Augustine comes along some 400 years after Jesus left us. Politics and mankind's prejudice already got into the mix. Many very well regarded Christian scholars argued against exclusive salvation including Origen, John Wesley, and even CS Lewis. So why don't we ask Jesus how to attain the Kingdom?

The basis of all the Law, all the prophets, the entire Kingdom, according to Jesus in Matthew is:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (22:37-39)

Jesus never even utters the word "Salvation" in the course of the Bible. He speaks only of entering the Kingdom, and He says it is at hand. See above for how He says you must come to Him through Him. There's not much to prove Jesus would agree with Calvin.

In Matthew 7 Jesus says "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." Is Jesus putting the idea of serving God's will ahead of calling on the name Jesus? Just food for thought...

It seems God will cast the nets and choose which fish to keep and which to throw back. I will not claim to know how He plans to do this, but neither can I limit which of His children He will save, and the evidence He leaves in the Bible, unencumbered by man's theological doctrine, doesn't seem to either. I know the word "Jesus" means salvation, though. We keep coming back to God IS salvation.

Then comes the "reason" argument, and I don't think God would have given us reason if He didn't want us to use it. Why would God make a system which automatically excludes anyone who had the misfortune of being born before Jesus? There must be a condition to offer them salvation. How about those who die as infants? Those who perhaps hear the name Jesus only as distant trivia of a foreign religion? Those who even in our modern world never hear the name? This is a God who "so loved the world He sent His only begotten Son" to save us- is that the action of an entity who would be so exclusionary? I don't think God breaks his own rules of Salvation, but I think His rules are far deeper and more intricate than we can understand, including the simple acceptance of Jesus, but expanding to more.

So Jesus is God, and God again grants salvation as He sees fit. Should we begrudge the idea that God may extend His salvation to those who in our eyes don't deserve it? Does that make us the vineyard workers who were there all day?

Finally, I can't limit God. God is much more than I can understand. Much more than human language can express in any one religion, book, or philosophy. If this is so, I must reserve judgment on how God will do things, and finally accept that Salvation comes from God, however He wants to hand it out. And it makes no logical, theological, or Christian sense that He would be so elitist as to exclude children from His grace based only on the idea they didn't follow/understand/hear the ideas of one particular group.

I expect no one to agree with me, and nor do I in anyway want to disparage anyone else's faith. I want only to state what I believe based on my conversations with God, and deep study of other similarly baffled humans. I am the first to admit I am likely wrong, or at least limited in my understanding. God is hard to listen too sometimes, and I have certainly misinterpreted Him before... but I was asked. Isn't it far more important however that we follow the example Jesus gave us in life? We care for our weak, we strive for peace, we are merciful, and are pure of heart. Once we all get there, then we can take the time to begin to work out exactly how God's salvation applies to we His children.

Amen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My last comment on the 2008 Presidential election.




I want everyone who reads this to understand something right up front: I am not being snarky or sarcastic. I know it can be hard to tell in blogs and emails whether or not someone means what they say. I want to assure everyone, I do mean this, I am not being facetious. I really would like my Christian friends to consider the following.

On October 22nd, Governor Sarah Palin said "God will do the right thing on election day." Indeed:
“And it also strengthens my faith because I know at the end of the day putting this in God’s hands, the right thing for America will be done, at the end of the day on Nov. 4.”


In response the renowned and popular minister James Dobson, with whom Governor Palin was speaking, said that he and his wife were praying for the right outcome as well. I am sure millions of faithful conservatives prayed all year, right up to the election, that God would do the "right thing" on election day. That's a lot of prayers going to God. Yet, at 8PM Pacific Time (when the West Coast polls closed) on the 4th of November, every major news network declared Barack Obama to be the President-Elect.

I honestly, honestly want my conservative friends to consider something. Perhaps, just perhaps, this is the outcome God wanted.

I know President-Elect Barack Obama does not seem to have the exact Christian values espoused by a lot of more Conservative Christians, in particular regard to salvation exclusivity. Would this however be the first time God made someone who was not orthodox in their beliefs to do His work?

Pharaoh gave the Israelites sanctuary during famine at the behest of Joseph. He was obviously not a follower of the God of Abraham. God chose a man raised as an Egyptian to lead His people back to Canaan after successive Pharoahs enslaved the Hebrews. Nebuchadnezzar assisted Daniel and in some stories is the first human to proclaim the Christ. The Roman Empire's roads, language, and technology carried Christianity to the world when it should have been nothing more than a minor sectarian disagreement in the First Century. Saul was a man who actively persecuted the nascent church until he was quite literally knocked off his ass. Jerome, a monk who couldn't keep his hands off the Nuns, gave the Church the Latin translation of the Bible, which would be the Word of God until Vatican II. Thomas Jefferson, a man whose "Christian beliefs" were FAR more unorthodox* than Barack Obama's, rolled the Word of God secularly into our nation's birth with the phrase:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."


So why do we have to think that everyone who does God's work agrees with a specific orthodoxy? Isn't God far more able and capable than to be stymied by a presidential campaign? Isn't He perfectly capable of having someone be part of the plan, regardless of specifics?

So, I ask only for a moment's consideration, and perhaps a prayer tonight to ask the Lord His opinion: Governor Palin said God would do the right thing on the 4th. Maybe, just maybe she was absolutely correct.


So that's it, I am done with politics here for a while. Next post will probably be about how much I am starting to dislike the new Star Trek movie, while I am keeping a close eye on the new President since it's We the People's job as his employer. Hopefully this President remembers that far more than the outgoing administration.




*If you don't believe me about how unorthodox Jefferson was, check out his Bible Translation with a miracle-free Jesus...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Proverbial Ball.

Dear Mr. President-Elect,
In a time when we as Americans desperately wanted to see our Nation secure our place as leader of not only "the free world" but the world as a whole, we the People have chosen you as our President. The expectations we have for you are astronomical. The fear your opponents have sowed is still out there among many, and you are going to need to prove yourself to them. Those of us who crossed old lines to support you because we so desperately wanted to believe in our system again, well, we're behind you, but you need to prove yourself to us too. The economy is in shambles, we have wars to win, and there was a lot of ugliness on both sides this election. However, you are a living symbol of an America trying to move beyond its past. You are the living example of an American dream come true. You are a living example of someone who set out to improve their community, and now have a chance to improve the world.
The ball, Mr. President-Elect, is in your court. Lead so I can follow. And may God bless the United States of America, every last one of us as one.

Ready? Go!

Dan

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Not so Easy.

So, my firm takes me all over the world, and I have been in some fairly downtrodden places. I have been in airports which make me wonder how they could possibly manage to fuel jets without them bursting into flame due to their conditions. I think airports can tell you a lot about a city: from the frenetic motion carrying you along through Atlanta International's sprawl, to the DFW groups waiting to greet American soldiers with flags and bands, you can get a feeling for the town, though you may never step outside the security gate.

I am in the New Orleans airport right now. It reminds me of Sarajevo.

There is a smell lingering in the air, which at first evokes dirty laundry, but it is in fact just the mildew that seems to have crept into every building. There's a certain tired look in the eyes of the people, like they have been just trying to persevere, to keep themselves moving forward toward the next hardship. The buildings and hotels around it are made up of similarly tired people and moldy rooms and broken beds and doors which don't quite fit in their frames anymore. Damage is apparent, not only to the structures of homes, but to the psyche of those who live in them. It reminds me of distant, less fortunate lands riddled with war, and those who desperately wish it was what it once was.

But this is not some foreign country. This is America. This is one of the jewels of our nation. It is in pain, and watching the news I fear it will soon not be alone.

What was the moment? When did some young Roman citizen look out across the seven hills and say “this will be gone soon?” Did they have a clue before Alaric brought the Visigoths to the gates and demanded the city as tribute? Could they see it coming? If they had, could someone have reversed course-- have saved the Roman Empire from falling, the loss of culture, the 700 years of darkness which followed across Europe?

New Orleans is a canary in a coal mine for our nation. Its song is trying to fade.

Are you listening?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Anti-Intellectualism

So, there I was looking through the news at CNN (I like to hit the American news spectrum: I start at Fox, dart left and hit MSNBC, then settle in the middle with CNN. Then I go find the wacko channels; much fun). I read an article about Conservatives having issues with the McCain campaign keeping Governor Palin under wraps. I came across this quote:

In defense, Republicans say the complaints are coming from "intellectual" conservatives -- not Main Street Republicans, who they insist love the "hockey mom," from Alaska, as Palin describes herself.

"These are the folks that really have responded to the candidacy of a McCain-Palin ticket. These are the folks that are showing up in huge numbers, tens of thousands, to the rallies," Leslie Sanchez, a CNN political contributor, said.


So, correct me if I am wrong here. The complaints regarding Palin and her complete on air meltdown with Katie Couric are only coming from the intellectuals. Let me rephrase that:

Disregard the problems, only smart Republicans are having problems with Palin.

Similarly, I keep hearing that only eggheads and intellectuals are voting Obama.

The educated, smart people are voting Obama.

Now, please don't take this as "only dummies are voting McCain." I know very intelligent people who for whatever reason have decided to go that way. Yet, I can't get over the continued vilification of the intellectual. You know, the people who invented vaccines and make schools work so we are not a third world country.

No, smart doesn't always equal right.

Just the vast majority of the time.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Faith is a funny thing.

People without faith don't understand people with faith. People with faith can't objectively explain their experiential evidence to those without faith. In my life I have had faith in a lot of things, and many of those things when exposed to the light of day, or to the perspective of age have lost their luster. The things so easily believed in as a child become hard to swallow as an adult, as much as we may want to, as much as we wish we could still take the comfort we did when more naïve.

My efforts as I have gotten older have been to remind myself the faltering foundations of my faith are based far more on changes in me than changes in those things I believed. At times though, things in which my faith were strong have changed to try to match my new perspective, thus losing exactly what it was that built my faith in the first place. The hell of it is, people like me often ASK for these things to evolve to our perspectives, and then complain when they are not what they once were.

Once in a great while though, something amazing happens. The object of faith evolves, changes to fit the perspectives of the faithful, yet retains all that made it holy in the first place. When such an event occurs, faith is made manifest and all your travails in the name of belief are cast aside. For one miraculous time, all doubts are gone and you bask in the power of that which you believed in, and walk away better for it, knowing that as troubled as you may be, this perfect confluence of want and need has happened, and by happening has established that it may happen again.

I love comic books. I love what they have always meant to me, and as much as I recognize there are lots of genres which flow well in the graphic format, the modern myths of the Superheros are my very favorites. I also recognize the Superhero genre can support many types of story telling-- from the 1950s Zap/Pow to Watchmen. Yet as we the audience have matured, comics have tried to keep up with us, and Zap/Pow is gone replaced with what I almost refer to as “every hero a Rorschach” syndrome. There's still plenty of fine storytelling going on out there, but so seldom now do I see the stories that made me enter the four-colored world in the first place. So often the people in my comic shop are my age, and not the age I was when I first read Detective Comics. So often the people my age in the comic shop with me lament about the quality of the comics we spend hundreds of dollars on each month (yet continue to spend hundreds on each month). Why do we keep coming back?

Because sometimes your faith is rewarded. Sometimes a comic series plays off so perfectly the child within you thrills or cries and the adult holding the comic still manages to say “wow” and truly mean it.




Superman is not my favorite character, and yet we must acknowledge he is the essence of the comic genre, and likely America's immortal contribution the heroic myth like the Hellenistic Hercules, the Semetic Samson, and the Britannic Arthur. When Joseph Campbell's intellectual heir in the 30th Century is writing his version of “Hero with a Thousand Faces” Superman will hold his own with the great myths of human history. If you have any doubt, read all 12 issues of All-Star Superman. Grant Morrison, as absolutely insane as I understand he is, and as convoluted as he can write things, has distilled everything a comic book and a comic book hero should be into these 12 issues. Look at this distillation of the Superman origin:



Seventy years of Superman history in four panels and eight words. I wish the writers on Smallville understood this kind of dramatic brevity.

This is a Superman who is not a character- he is Legend. Frank Quietly's artwork is perfect for this story. The nuance of expression is at a level previously delivered only by the great Kevin Maguire, and the fluid construction of shapes and images flow creating a world which is as hyper-real to our present as those brightly colored Zap/Pow comics stand above the black and white world of the fifties. Morrison takes stories and characters we know, and know well, yet makes them seem as new as they must have seemed in 1938. Compared to other great works in this format I truly love, All-Star Superman is still something else; something more.

The title is as sophisticated as anything I have read, full of real emotion and real people, while still present a story full of Science Fiction concepts which will capture the most escapist, or child-like among us. We see a world actually affected by the presence of Superman. Superman's simple existence has inspired great men of science to make a world where Jimmy Olsen doesn't take the bus to work, or even a Segue; he has a rocket pack, and this is perfectly normal. America is not sending astronauts to a space station in orbit; they are traveling to the sun. It's a world where Samson and Atlas DO show up... and end up arm wrestling Superman for a chance to date Lois. How awesome is that?

I am in my mid thirties. I have traveled the world. I have read countless books. I have been to war more than once. I have a child old enough to go to war himself soon.


All-Star Superman
brought me to tears.



































All-Star Superman made me cheer.

























All-Star Superman made me laugh.

















All-Star Superman left me in awe.

















All-Star Superman gave me Hope.


















If Warner Brothers thinks they have to go dark to come up with a successful comic book story, here's the proof they are dead wrong.

It took more than two years for DC to publish all 12 issues. I forgive them. All-Star Superman is why I read comics. It has justified my faith.



Yeah, me too.

Thank you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September Eleventh

To those responsible for the atrocity committed seven years ago I say this:
I do not and will not live in fear of you.
I will not give up my freedom or my free thought for you.
I will not stop being an example and champion of freedom, self-determination, and equitable treatment for all men and women.
I will continue to be the opposite of those who would use fear to exercise tyranny over the hearts, minds, and souls of my brothers and sisters worldwide.

To those brothers and sisters I say this:
Join me. Live not in fear, but in defiance of tyranny. Live not for vengeance but for justice.

Amen.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Liberal Bloggers are dumb.



Ok folks, let me admit I was wrong. I always admit I might be, but it
is less usual that I have to admit I was. I was wrong about Sarah
Palin. She isn't a joke. She's far worse. She's attractive enough
to make people not listen to what she's really saying, and she has
enough problems around her for Liberal bloggers to blow out of
proportion to be dangerous.

See, here's the thing. The left is taking every little rumor about
Governor Palin and hitting it with Pym particles (google it if you
must) to make it much bigger than it should be. Case in point: a list
was floating in the blogosphere of books MAYOR Palin wanted banned.
The list was plainly false. It was a dirty lie. It was made up. The
fact was the Mayoral candidate Sarah Palin simply asked the local
Wasilla librarian if she would remove books if Palin deemed it
necessary, and then proposed this once again when she was elected as
mayor. No book ban. Just a...

Wait a freakin' minute.

She asked if the librarian would be willing to remove books from the
library? Are you serious? According to the NY Times, the Anchorage
Daily News
, and Anne Kilkenny it happened.
Witnesses have come forward. In modern America this newly elected
mayor was looking into what it would take to censor books from her
community. This repugnant truth has been tied to an easily disproven
lie... and the lie drags the truth overboard with it when it is washed
away.

I am registered third party, but consider myself a
"Constituitonalist." The idea of a public servant considering
censorship is anathema to me. That alone would be reason enough not
to vote for her (and let's face facts- I hope John McCain passes
quietly in his bed well past his 120th birthday, but odds are a job
like president is not going to sit well with this man, so SHE is
likely who you are voting for).

So, Liberal Bloggers-- Stop being morons. Sarah Palin is raising her
own child, not her daughter's. Sarah Palin has not posed nude, or
even bikini clad holding a rifle (darn). Sarah Palin HAS made
prepatory actions toward censoring books, and MAY have asked a
librarian to resign for the sin of disagreeing with her. Sarah Palin
IS under investigation for possibly firing Alaska's top cop because he
did not fire her ex brother-in-law. The facts are bad enough.
Discrediting yourself by running the unsubstantiated rumors makes you
look like the people who claim Barack Obama is a secret Jihadist.
This election is too important to ignore facts. Play fair, or don't
play at all.

God- I'm asking politicos to play fair. Now I'M the moron!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiihad, cowboy!



I am sure you've seen the e-mail; Barack HUSSEIN Obama is actually a closet Jihadist who will dismantle America from the inside out, and has been a Manchurian candidate type for decades, with ties going back to childhood.

I have actually been rolling these stories over in my head quite a bit
recently, and I have come to some conclusions.

Did George Bush protect America?

In his last 8 years, the President would seem to have kept attacks off
American soil. We have passed legislation, some shady, allowing for
investigation of terrorist suspects. We have created the Department
of Homeland Security; given special powers to the military and FBI;
allowed the NSA and CIA to collect on American shores; allowed warrant-less wire tapping; used coercive interrogation techniques; Law
Enforcement has more ability and databasing now than ever before in
history. We must surely have the safest state in human history.

And they never discovered Obama is a terrorist? Are we really saying
that the myriad of enforcement and intelligence agencies with all
their technological and Human intelligence abilities have allowed a
sleeper agent to not only be elected to congress, but to become a
presidential contender? They never tapped a phone call between Obama and his contact? No e-mails with encoded messages to his Jihadist brethren?

And what about all the press out there, national and otherwise? Looking through these articles, the only people with these stories are the admitted far right, and have to draw on forty year old insinuations to "connect the dots". Look at the references
in these articles-- World Net Daily, Newsmax, personal blogs, and a
couple of BBC and NY Times articles that aren't about Obama but other events. You can claim liberal media bias, but if there was clear evidence here, do you really think Bill O'Reilly wouldn't lead with that story, instead of Edie Hill giving snarky little
comments about "terrorist fist bumps?" Wouldn't Limbagh be handing
over research to the FBI to arrest Senator Obama? I do agree there are biased news outlets in mainstream media, but they all bow to their first master: Money. Sensational sells, and even if Keith Olbermann wants to have Obama's baby, you can;t tell me MSNBC wouldn't break a story about Obama being a terrorist if there was proof of such. Profits beat politics any day, and the ratings go to the newsfolk who break the big story first. Yet not even Fox News has Fair and Balanced its rightside lean to the point of actually playing the story. Do we really believe ALL the mainstream media would skip this story if it was true?

All the vetting the press has done on Obama since the campaign began, and no one has discovered the deep seeded Islamist within? He has never slipped up with a "aham d'Allah" offhandedly? The Republican party, who would gladly push anything they could has only had Sarah Palin go so far as to disparage community organizing, but hasn't been able to claim him as a Mujahadin. Would they really pass that up if there was actual evidence?

When Obama was granted a security clearance to become Senator, none of
the investigators found any evidence of this? My clearance from my Firm had four
investigators- surely a few more are working on Senators, and even if
they aren't, are we really saying the government security agencies
couldn't find what Scott Thong at Worldpress could?

Let me also understand that some of the "clues" to Obama's actual origins lie in the memoirs HE HIMSELF published? This incredible sleeper agent planted into our society in the 70's by the Muslims in an incredible act of insidious premonition has fooled EVERYONE but a few bloggers and far right websites. Yet, an agent of this caliber NAMED HIS CONTACTS IN TWO SEPARATE AUTOBIOGRAPHIES!!!

But here's the real issue:

If Obama is a secret Islamist, and is setting us up as a Jihadist, then
the Bush administration has failed far more spectacularly than any
detractor has ever thought. The Bush administration has allowed
America's enemy into congress and perhaps into the White House. Is
that what we are saying here? Every federal agency, every bit of law enforcement, every security and intelligence agency utterly failed? The press, the Republican strategists, hell, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney all failed to find out this startling truth? If that is true, that alone would be a good reason to get the Republicans out of office, or at least impeach the current administration.

Jaded as I am , even I have more faith in my government than that. When the CIA has enough reason to put Obama in Gitmo, then, THEN, I will buy the secret Jihadist argument.

Until then save me some hummus and falafel!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

John McCain proves he has a sense of humor!



Did you hear the one about the Vice Presidential candidate? Oh man, I thought McCain was old, and completely out of touch, but instead here he is totally punking the entire country. He had the balls to get on national TV and pull off the best practical joke I've seen in years! He actually acted like he picked a former beauty queen with a BS from the University of Idaho in journalism to potentially run the country! Oh man, that's rich! That's less education and foreign policy experience than I have! It's so funny because the Democrats are now tripping over each other to dis this Mary-Anne look alike as if McCain would really pick someone with an active misconduct investigation against her to be his running mate. As if that's not enough, he hilariously said Sarah would pick up Hillary supporters, although she is anti-abortion, anti-conservation, and is literally married to someone in the oil industry. That's high satire! Oh, the irony is funnier than Arrested Development and How I Met Your Mother combined!

You got us John, and it's a good one. Funny stuff. Now who's really your VP pick? No, seriously, quit playing around. Who are you really picking? John? JOHN???!!!





Oh Shit.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Batman's Smart.




Comic geeks like me can laugh at this picture.

Grammar geeks like me can debate the meaning of this post's title.

Geeky, squared.

Friday, August 08, 2008

One stone, and a few birds.

I am currently living in an area of the country where this ad is running and I love it and want to share. I also wanted to teach myself how to embed video here (seems simple enough) so I am meeting both goals and putting it here.





Before anyone gets all concerned no birds were harmed making this video. (Swear to God, saw someone else's blog about how cruel this ad was. I suppose I shouldn't criticize-- special effects have only existed for what? Sixty years? That blogger may not be aware it's possible... Trying not to be negative, but sometimes my fellow humans need clues.) Hope you dig it.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

I can't review this film.



So, I had every intention of pouring my adoration and praise on this film, this thing we call "The Dark Knight." So, I looked around to see what others were saying, see how the buzz was. I watched the box office. I was all ready to give my honest efforts to convince people what an incredible film this is, and get them to go give it a shot.

I guess I don't have to.

Look at the other movies I give lip service to here-- "Hancock," "Superman Returns;" these are movies I don't think got a fair shake and needed to be relooked. It seems obvious the remarkable piece of film Chris Nolan has given us has found its audience, and it really doesn't need me to help.

I was looking forward to pointing out the sublime intensity Heath Ledger brought to the Joker, to the point that you never look at the screen and say "oh look, it's Heath Ledger" but rather "oh God, it's the Joker." But a thousand other reviews have already done this. I want to talk about how this movie is a marvelous crime film that could just as easily have names like "Coppola" or "Scorsese" attached; that's been done as well.

As far as my reaction to the film, you can pretty much read Jett's review at Batman On Film here. He pretty well sums up how I felt after the film as well.

And, for once, a truly fine film is actually making the money it deserves. Now, I suppose my only hope is the overwrought, over-produced, over-long "Titanic" gets deposed as highest grossing film.

So, I am not really going to talk about "The Dark Knight." Leave the kids at home and go see it. It's the Batman movie I have been waiting for since Denny O'Neil (or back when Frank Miller still got it).

Wait! I do have a complaint. The movie makes "Batman Begins" seem old-fashioned. I really liked that movie...

Will there be a third? Will the Dark Knight Return? If he does I hope he brings at least one of these guys with him.





I do wish he could bring this guy.



Monday, July 28, 2008

I know the origin of the Joker!

Someone took their toddler to see this guy at the movie theater!



I could indeed wax poetic about this movie, and use all kinds of well deserved hyperbole. Let's just say I think I am going to have to choose which one of my top five favorite movies to bump to number six so Dark Knight can be number one. All the emotion and visceral effect I was looking for in movies this summer is here, giving me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach every time the Joker came on screen. Not only is the Joker anarchist, the movie makers destroyed all the rules of summer movie making to give us a film where the good guys really don't win. Brilliant movie.

Now let me explain the title of this blog.

Both times I have (so far) gone to the theater to see this film, someone had toddlers or babies there, to include a 9pm showing. Now, yes I also sat next to the Oh Shit Guy, but about six minutes and four "oh shits" into the film one patented "Dan's Scornfully Delivered Glare of Scorn" put an end to that. It was the three year old sitting behind me that was the problem. Not just for my enjoyment of the film, but the fact these parents didn't bother to be parent enough to look into this movie before dragging the kid in to see the most convincing portrayal of a sociopath in movie history. To be fair, the movie should be rated R, not PG 13; however, there's a large gap between 13 and 3. Let me thank these lousy parents for the reminder about why I had stopped going to movie theaters. And I hope when their kids' first mug shot looks like this:



They don't blame movies or video games or some other excuse, they accept they were just bad parents.

More about the movie later... Thanks for indulging my crotchety gripe about youngsters.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ironically giving my opinion on not caring about someone elses opinion.



I am doing this one on the fly as the story unfolds, and the Lovely Jennifer and I are getting ready to leave town, so I only hope it comes out coherently...

Recently Jesse Jackson while thinking he was having a private conversation used the term "nigger." (Please notice I am not using 'The N-Word'; I think it is a complete cop out which reduces the despicable ugliness of the word, and it's a word that should be despicable and ugly.) Now, the folks who are revealing Jackson using this word have not bothered to give us any sort of context (i.e. did Jesse say "Barack Obama is an uppity nigger" or did he say "Bill O'Reilly called me a 'nigger' five minutes ago"?). We just don't know what he was talking about. Bad on them for stirring up controversy for controversy's sake. I would imagine if it was truly damning, we would have the full context, but obviously there is something that would weaken their anti-Jackson message if we saw it all.

That's its own discussion though. Whether or not Jackson gets to use the term without repercussion, whether or not Faux news should share... not relevant to what I want to say right now.

My big beef right now is with MSNBC. While watching the morning news, I have seen them show a clip once an hour of some rich blonde Cracker (do I have to call that the 'C-word' or can I say cracker? I think 'c-word' usually connotes something else though... decide for yourself if I think that is applicable) from the TV show "The View" coming to tears over the idea that anyone would use the word. I could go on all kinds of rants about rich white people really having no say on whether or not the word 'nigger' should be used, but she's on a talk show and their job is to talk. If someone thinks these four women's opinions are important enough to tune in for, that's their problem. I don't really give a crap about their opinions, or the opinions of most humans who are not in my inner circle. What I wanted to see from MSNBC was NEWS! Showing me whiny white chicks going off on a sob fest about a black dude who chose to use a word inflammatory to his color is NOT NEWS! It's not even an Op-Ed. It is a waste of my time when you could be telling me about important things. Things like news from Babylon that I have to look on the BBC website for because American news programs have decided suicide bombings performed by Babylonians we hired to do our security is less important that Jesse Jackson whispering "nigger." That pisses me off and makes me say WHO GIVES A FUCK (notice I did not use the term 'the f-word'; it is a complete cop out which reduces the crude shock value of the word, and it is a word that I think should still be crude and shocking).

The news needs to stop telling me how I should "feel" about world events. I should get the facts so I know what to THINK about world events. Let's turn off this feely crap for a while and think about the fate of our world and country, OK?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Go read this man's comic.




(Warning up front- we're about to get really geeky)

Look, I miss Ted Kord too. He was a fun, jolly guy, and I still get a bit choked up when I crack open my OMAC Project TPB and see Max Lord but a bullet in dear Ted's head. He was smarter than Batman, and had moxie to the end ("Rot in hell, Max.") but simple fact is he's gone. Dead. I would say Bucky Barnes or Jason Todd dead, but that doesn't mean what it used to: J'onn J'onzz dead maybe? Anyway, enjoy the fact Ted is still out there on Carlton Earth with Vic Sage as the Question doing their thing and realize that drama means conflict and conflict means change.

What I am getting at is this-- if you refuse to read Blue Beetle because it is Jaime Reyes and not Ted Kord you are, in the vernacular, a big doo-doo head. The most consistently entertaining regular Superhero title in comics right now is Blue Beetle. Sixteen year old Jaime Reyes is what Peter Parker used to be- interesting. He's got a wonderful supporting cast, many of which are his teenage friends. What do you know, after 70 years of superheroes, there's a title that acknowledges the world is different for these people. These teenage kids aren't worried about drivebys and terrorists-- they are in a world where aliens and supervillains regularly attack the planet! They want to do something about it. Jaime and his buddies are still going through teenage stuff, but in the middle of that, he's kinda getting a kick out of having superpowers. Good for him!

Something else this titles does most don't, is you can pick up pretty much any issue, and get a whole story. Indeed something ingenious John Rogers does on his run as writer is tells a number of good one-shots with cool guest stars, and then does a couple issues tying it all into an arc- if you haven't read those issues, the tie-together stands on its own telling you what you need, and if you did read them, ok.

Also unlike the abominable changes that overtook Checkmate and All-New Atom when they changed writers, the rotating authors on Beetle actually keep the character consistent, and make him someone I want to read about.

In short Blue Beetle is fun, well written, doesn't require you to read thirty other books to know what's going on, and features someone who may be the only ethnic superhero from a major company who doesn't give in to stereotyping. He's a Hispanic kid from El Paso, and acts as such without become DC's token Mexican character.

And if you miss Ted Kord like I do, seeing Jaime learning how to be a superhero from reading Ted's notes should be a real treat.

Please go buy this book while you still can. I am sure DC is going to kill it; it is actually entertaining and not full of CRISIS!!!!!!

You might even get an occasional Bwaa-ha-ha! If you know what I mean by that you are a big geek. Welcome.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Go see this man's film.




So, I braved the Oh Shit Guy and the Giggly Teenage Girl Group to go see Hancock last night. Thankfully, OSG must have been at Wanted, though the Girls were in my theater. Someone told them to shut the hell up before I did though, so I was able to actually watch the movie in peace.

I know this movie is getting some very mediocre reviews. They are wrong. See, three days before I went to see The Incredible Hulk, which was fine but lacking in almost any emotional resonance. Apparently Hancock absorbed it all Rogue style because unlike the "let's focus on nothing but Hulk smash" script, there's actually emotions and drama in Hancock, and like Iron Man, it's a grown up film which happens to be about Superheroes. Indeed, that may be the problem-- I would compare it to another movie I really liked that no one else did, Superman Returns. Each are about real people in a world which allows superbeings to exist. Each involves characters having to deal with the consequences of their decisions. And each deserves more audience than it is getting. Yeah, I know Will Smith is richer than King Farouq- then go see the movie to help out Jason Bateman. He's incredibly talented, vastly underrated, and may be the hero of this film. I am keeping this review spoiler free, but depending what Dark Knight does for me, this may be my favorite movie of the summer.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Rights and Left




All over the Liberal Media (and when I say Liberal Media, I mean those who are self labeled as such, i.e. Air America Radio, etc), I see a flurry of accusations regarding the current administration's attacks on American Civil Liberties. From the suspension of Habeas Corpus, Warrant-less wire tapping, the Patriot Act allowing for search warrants to be issued by law enforcement agencies without a judge's signature provided it's under the auspices of national defense-- it would seem there may be plenty of reason to fear the intentions of the current administration. (For a timeline of alleged civil rights violations, check out this site . Check this site out. They also enumerate the violations of civil liberties by the administration.)

So what do you do? How do you keep these violations from expanding? The Democrats won Congress in 2006, but that hasn't really changed anything. Citizens have conducted protests all over the country, but it hasn't really changed anything. Courts have not been able to hold members of the administration accountable for anything, even as egregious as outing our own covert agents engaged in fighting the War on Terror.

At this time only the most crazed of talking heads are talking about subjects like martial law, or certain people refusing to leave office, but what about three or four administrations down the road? If there is another terror attack on U.S. Soil could a future administration take that step in an emergency, and then refuse to reinstate due process for our Republic when the crisis passed? Unfortunately, history is on the side of the Tyrants. Every Republic in history became an Empire; every Democracy in history fell to the rule of might over the rule of reason. If only the Founders could have had the foresight to provide a means to protect freedom from an overzealous administration so our children will be free to waste their time on TV and pizza too. Oh wait...

It's called the Second Amendment, and recently the Supreme Court upheld the fact it supports the individual's right to own a firearm. The Liberal pundits have not been pleased. Now, I am no lawyer, and far more intelligent people than me have interpreted the Second Amendment to mean things like the National Guard, hence the use of the term “well regulated militia” in its text. I have seen the arguments about how “you don't need an AK-47 to hunt deer, or to protect your family from crime.” I even heard a Liberal commentator for whom I have great respect make the argument that the firearms protected by the Second Amendment would be firearms similar to those which existed in 1789.

Again, there are people far more versed in Constitutional law than I, however I don't understand why there is confusion over the intent of the Amendment. The Right to Bear Arms is not about hunting or stopping crime. The Right to Bear Arms is so the Citizenry can defend itself from tyrants. How can I come to this interpretation? It's called “context.” ALL of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights are to protect the citizenry from an overzealous Federal Government. You may remember (or maybe you don't) that there were two primary factions when the Constitution was written: the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. As a compromise between those who wanted a strong central government and those who feared it descending into tyranny, the Framers wrote the Bill of Rights. This is an enumerated list of rights the Federal Government could not screw with to ensure justice for generations to come as the Nation grew.

Should the Second Amendment be frozen in time? Does it apply only to the weapons that existed when the Bill was written? By that reckoning, the First Amendment could only apply to speech or religion which existed in 1789. The Internet would not be protected by the First Amendment. Gangster Rap would not be protected by the First Amendment. Comic books would not be protected by the First Amendment. Television or radio news commentary would not be protected by the First Amendment.

Arguing that the Second Amendment is outdated would mean the Administration is right-- the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment, all of them are outdated and the Founders were too shortsighted to imagine the War on Terror. As Liberals argue the Second Amendment is outdated, they are giving tacit approval to the Administration's assertion that other Amendments in the Bill of Rights are outdated.

Now, I do think there is validity to the idea the Second Amendment calls for a State-run militia to regulate the armed citizenry. However, I cannot accept this as being the National Guard for one simple reason: The National Guard can be activated under Federal control. Indeed, I served with National Guard folks in Babylon, not exactly a force meant to protect the citizenry from a tyrannical government (unless we are now saying the Bill of Rights extends to Babylonians too. If the Bill of Rights DOES extend to the Babylonians, then it certainly extends to those in Guantanamo Bay...).

So it comes back to my original confusion. Liberal pundits believe the administration is bordering on tyranny and bending the Bill of Rights to their own interpretation. Yet, it is a similar misinterpretation they wish to apply to the Second Amendment. Conservatives are just as bad when saying it's OK to take Habeas Corpus from certain citizens, but dear God don't touch my guns. We can't have it both ways. The Second Amendment is there to protect us from Tyranny- of course you try to resolve any issues in the system first. Of course voting and protest and the legal system are the primary weapons against tyranny. Of course we as a citizenry have the responsibility of acting like adults if we are going to keep our right to Bear Arms, and if you have violated the social contract by committing a crime, you forfeit the right to be part of the body politic. But when all else has failed, if a President some election decides two terms are not enough, and he is now President for Life. When the rights of the citizens are no longer considered and the infringement of those rights is the norm and not the horrid exception, the citizenry must be prepared to fight for their rights just as the Founders did with the right the Founders gave us for just such an occasion- the Right of the Individual to Keep and Bear Arms.

I don't think we are there, and I am most certainly not calling for armed revolution, but I applaud the Supreme Court decision, and ask my friends on the Left in this Country why they are complaining about THIS Constitutional Right being upheld when so many others are not. I ask my friends on Right to apply the same vehemence to protecting the other nine Amendments as they do the Second. It's what keeps us free, and keeps this Nation one worth defending if you love liberty, and attacking if you are a tyrant.

Dear Right and Left, the Constitution exists independent of your party politics, and objective to political wants. It is a marvelous document that history has not yet progressed beyond. Now, on this anniversary of our Nation's birth, I reprint the greatest gift one Generation ever gave succeeding Generations, The United States Bill of Rights. This is what I have sworn to uphold and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Those enemies include apathy, greed, and closed-mindedness. Right, Left, open your minds and look upon the self evident truths enumerated below granting We the People our Freedom. Amen.


The United States Bill of Rights.
The Ten Original Amendments to the Constitution of the United States Passed by Congress September 25,
1789 Ratified December 15, 1791

I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

II
A well−regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

III No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re−examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


Use them together, use them in peace (OK- that's actually from 2010:Odyssey Two, but you get the idea...) Happy Fourth.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"...oh, and while you are at it Lord, how about a cheeseburger?"



OK- I am all about the Omnipotent God. Me and the Lord go way back, and I have no doubt He is capable of anything He wants to be. However, earlier today I was watching CNN, and I see there are people forming prayer circles to pray for lower gas prices.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are running rampant over the Earth, and we aren't praying for peace, or food for the starving, but lower gas prices so we can keep driving our Humvees.

Do you remember the joke about the guy whose house is flooding? The sheriff comes to him in a 4x4 as the waters start rising, and the man refuses to evacuate, saying the Lord will take care of him. Later the Sheriff has to bring a boat, and still the man refuses to evacuate, saying the Lord will take care of him. Finally, as the man is on his roof to escape the waters, the Sheriff flies by in a helicopter, begging the man to evacuate. For a third time the man refuses, saying the Lord will take care of him. A while later as the man stands atop his chimney, and the waters have reached his neck, he cries out in anger to God, "I had faith in you to take care of me Lord! Why have you abandoned me?!" And from on high comes a voice:
"I sent you a truck, a boat, and a helicopter; what more do you want?"

I can see these guys standing around the gas pumps praying for lower gas prices, and from on high comes a voice:
"I gave you solar power, wind generators, and hybrids; what more do you want?"