Monday, April 30, 2007

Bloody Forwards.

I hate email forwards.

Here’s the deal. If you occasionally send me a forward, maybe it’s a story you found online, or a joke you know I’ll find particularly funny, that’s fine. If, however, you’re one of those people that automatically re-sends every forward you receive, to everyone in your contacts list…then you, sir or madam, are the devil and will receive a slow and painful death when the revolution comes.

So why do I have such a bug up my butt about this? Well, for one, many people don’t realize that I appear on quite a few people’s contact list, and we may share contacts in common…so we get to the point where I receive the same forward from five or six people.

Don’t you people realize that the internet is not a big truck that you can just dump things on? It’s a series of tubes, dammit!

The worst thing is the content of these forwards. Some are mildly annoying and some I know will lead me to a few hours tech support in the near future.

So, in classic WTHIGO style, here is a list of every type of forward you’re likely to receive, and why you shouldn’t pass them on…at least to me.

1) Jokes.

You know that uncle you had that was pure comic hilarity when you where five, but then suddenly became the worlds most unfunny person when you turned ten? This was partly because he told the same jokes over and over. This is what you become when you forward jokes.

You see, that hilarious joke you just sent to everyone you know was doing the rounds when the Internet was the Arpanet. Yay! A picture of a cat wearing a lime on its head, a hilarious list of the differences between men and women! Oh Joy!

There’s nothing wrong with sending the odd joke, just don’t forward everyone you receive.

2) “Inspirational” emails.

In other words, lifted directly from ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’…or as I like to call it, “Manipulative boring stories with unnecessarily sad endings for no reason.” For some reason, a short story about a cute puppy that brings the community together by getting run over by a truck isn’t what I want to see in my inbox…fifteen times a day.

3) Warnings about food poisoning/product recalls etc.

Why? Because these are 100% fake. They all follow the same pattern. “This is 100% TRUE!!! A lady in Alabama drank some Dancing Cow Farms milk, and died of a stroke fifteen minutes later!!!! Don’t drink DCF milk!!!

Bullshit. When there’s a genuine problem with something, the first thing the responsible party does not do is shout “Quickly! To the internets! Get a chain letter going!”

They usually put in the name of a person, a hospital and a state where it happened…and as we all know, this is sooo hard to fake.

This is TOTALLY TRUE! A woman called Janice Nipplegrabber (82) in Tucson fed her baby some Mother’s Scrotum brand baby formula, and it made her baby grow horns and start listening to Marylin Manson! This story was in the Tucson Examiner! It’s TRUE!!! Send this to everyone you know!

Bollocks, the point of these emails is so the original writer can see how far it gets. Not to warn you of a genuine danger.

Let me ask you another question, when was the last time you turned on the news, and the first thing the reporter said was “OMG! This is TOTALLY TRUE!”? Newspapers don’t do it either. Why? Because the only real reason to state something is true is because you’re trying to convince someone that something you’re saying, that actually is false, is true. A gazillion exclamation points is a dead giveaway as well.

4) Your computer may have a virus, check for this file!!!

This is the one that I get knowing it will be followed up by a phonecall 20 minutes later from someone asking why their computer won’t work.

It warns of a virus, and usually tells you to check your Windows/System32 folder, and to delete a ‘virus’ DLL file. Not wanting to get into too much technical detail, but a .dll file is a Dynamic Link Library file, and deleting the wrong one (or any for that matter) can cause you real problems.

This is what I like to call a ‘manual virus’. You might as well be getting an email that says “Please format your hard-drive and pour ketchup into your power supply unit. Thanks!”

Don’t do it. This is what virus checkers are for.

5) Bill Gates/Steve Jobs/Mahatma Ghandi will send you $20 if you forward this email.

This old chestnut’s been doing the rounds since the advent of email. Apparently someone is trying out an ‘email tracking program’, and you’ll get anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars for everyone you send the email to, and more for every person they forward it to.

Ok, let’s just look at the math here. If you send that email to ten people, and each one of those sends it to ten people, you’re talking exponential growth. Ten steps later that email has reached more people than there are in the world, never mind with internet access. At 20 cents an email, after ten steps, Bill Gates owes us 500 trillion dollars, and even he’s not that rich.

Again, it’s just another douchebag wanting to see how many people he can fool. Emails like this often have hidden hit counters embedded in them, so the originator can see how many people are expecting a check for forwarding an email.

6) Virus Warnings.

Do not open any emails with ‘cheesypeas’ in the subject line! It’s a virus that will destroy your computer, steal your car and get your daughter pregnant!

Ok, here’s the deal. Know what most of these emails are used for? Spreading viruses…especially when they come with a little .exe that claims to check your computer for the original (and non existent) virus.

You don’t need to worry about new viruses as long as you’re clever enough to actually run a virus checker and update it regularly. In fact, if you have half a brain, you know not to open unsolicited attachments anyway.

“But there’s a thingy at the bottom of the email that says a checker has certified it virus free! Answer that one!”

Yep, you got me. It’s soooo bloody hard to write:

No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.5.446 / Virus Database: 269.4.0/759 - Release Date: 4/12/2007 7:58 PM

At the end of an email.

Forwards. Just stoppit!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

More from the Bloody Stupid Files

I lost the link to the original story, but this was something I just had to share:

A rather na├»ve woman was tricked by a guy who told her he had to administer ‘ointment’ to her, using the tip of his penis.

She only realized that the guy was using this ‘treatment’ as a trick to have sex with her nine months later, when she told her doctor about the treatment. Apparently, the guy didn’t even pretend to be a gynecologist…but pretended to know one who gave ‘advice’ about the treatment.

Apparently, a clock next to the bed and the guy saying “Ok, the gynecologist told me to thrust slowly for the first 5 minutes, then fast for the next five.” Was all the convincing this woman needed.

Just to make things even worse, did I mention that this woman was a school-teacher? No wonder kids grades are so low.

Ok, ok, I know that this is rape and not really something to laugh at but how could anyone, especially a school teacher, be this stupid?

Ladies, if you meet a guy in an airport, and he tells you that you need a gynecological treatment, and that he’s going to do it by rubbing ointment on the end of his hoo-ha, and then putting it in you…how many of you are going think “Ok, that sounds reasonable”?

I could understand if this was a guy actually pretending to be a gynecologist, and just ‘applied the ointment’ using his fingers, while in an elaborately staged and decorated fake doctors office…but seriously, come on!

You see, if I was in charge, this would be a textbook case of the “Being Bloody Stupid Act of 2007”. The guy would go to jail for rape, but the woman would get at least a year’s community service on three counts of being bloody stupid.

Our second story from “The Bloody Stupid Files”:

This is a direct quote from a letter written to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:

“You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest march since the beginning of last century…This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know Daylight Savings Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they?

Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before congress passes laws with such far reaching effects.”

Well, that would be fine if she realized that ‘any reasonable person’ understands that DST has absolutely no effect on how much sunlight reaches the planet. I’m sure the politicians wish they had the power to control the planet’s rotation speed and distance from the sun just by changing a few clocks, but they can’t. Oh, and maybe you should do some ‘serious studying’ of your third grade science text-book before you write smug, self-indulgent letters to the newspaper. Congratualtions on showing yourself up as a complete dumbass, dumbass!

Oh, and this woman is a frigging lawyer!

This would be the point at which Judge Paulius would send the Stupidity Enforcement Squad to her house, and she’d spend the next two years attending grade-school science class and writing “I must not be a smug dumbass” over and over.

Come on! A Lawyer who thinks DST actually effects how much sun hits the planet…and she actually gets to argue cases in court???

Thursday, April 26, 2007

More On Music

It’s not very often that I try to give advice or ‘teach’ on this blog, or even in my daily life for that matter. This is usually because I don’t consider myself an ‘expert’ in any field, so unless someone specifically asks me, I tend not to volunteer help. Who am I to tell people how to do something?

The exception to this rule is when I have an experience that I think can honestly help people. I don’t mean by writing a tutorial or step by step instructions on an activity…but sharing my “Ah ha!” moments that have helped me out immensely. Usually this isn’t a technical or ‘practical’ tip in the sense of “This is how you do this.” But more of a point of view or way of looking at something.

Today, I want to talk about music, or more accurately playing music and learning an instrument.

I think the questions I get asked most often by someone wanting to learn the guitar after they’ve heard me play is “How long did it take you to get that good?” “How much do you practice?” and “Did you take lessons?”

It’s questions like these that I believe cause people to never learn an instrument, or start and give up a few weeks later.

Why? Because it’s looking at learning an instrument as seeing a ‘final result’ and trying to get there as quickly as possible. Practice and learning is work, an unenjoyable chore, that you have to go through before you can actually have fun and play your instrument.

Well, this leads me to my first bit of advice. If you don’t enjoy practicing and learning an instrument, you simply won’t learn it. I hate to say it, but the time from when you first pick up your instrument, to being able to play it effortlessly is a l-o-n-g way off.

It’s like learning to drive a car. When you start you’re constantly thinking about everything you have to do. It takes a while before you start to drive almost on autopilot, when you change gears without thinking about it, and just stop your car instead of thinking “Push the brake, ok, slowing down, nearly stopped, push…the…clutch…in…now.”

For example, if I’m playing the guitar and I see the next chord is an A minor, I just think ‘A minor’, and my fingers find the frets on their own. However, it took a long time of “ok, put my index finger here, my middle and ring finger here, push down and hit the strings” before I got to that point.

This leads me to piece of advice number two.

Learning an instrument is a process, and no matter how long you play, no matter how much you practice, there’s always something else you can learn. No matter how goodyou are, you can always get better. It isn’t like you practice, practice, practice and then one day, take your final lesson and *poof* you can play the instrument.

The trick is to forget the ‘final product’ and just enjoy learning.

You see, if you’ve just picked up a guitar, and want to play like Hendrix of Clapton, you’re looking at years, possibly even decades of practice before you even get close to that level. You’re setting yourself a goal that seems so difficult and so far away that chances are you’ll give up.

What you should do is just break up your practice into nice small goals, and enjoy each achievement as you reach it. It’s that feeling of accomplishment and progress that keeps you playing and improving.

Like with learning the guitar, you might learn a couple of chords during your first practice. Sure, you might not be able to do them from memory the day after, and it probably takes you a while to get your fingers into position when you want to play them…but it’s something you didn’t know yesterday and it’s progress you can see.

In the grand scheme of things, you’re still years away from being able to play well, but it doesn’t seem that insurmountable any more. Once you’ve learned your first song, even if you have to play it incredibly slowly, you start to think “I couldn’t do this two weeks ago, I wonder what I’ll be able to do in another two weeks that I can’t do now?”

As I stated in the beginning of this post, you need this feeling of progress and achievement to keep you playing, because if you don’t enjoy your practice, you won’t enjoy playing and you simply won’t learn.

I can’t ever state this enough. You have to enjoy learning in order to learn an instrument. If you’ve been playing something for a couple of months, and practice has become a real chore and something you dread rather than look forward to it’s probably an idea to find another instrument you enjoy playing or try to change the way you learn.

For example, when I started learning guitar, I’d usually sit in front of the TV with my guitar on my lap, even when I wasn’t officially ‘practicing’, and just play with it, and go through the chords I already knew or would just pick at it.

This is more useful than you might think, because so much of learning an instrument is muscle memory.

If you watch a concert pianist or a talented guitar player, you see that their hands are moving in a blur and you wonder how they remember all those notes. The truth, from a certain point of view, is that they don’t. They’re operating almost on autopilot. This is what muscle memory is. It’s like you just know what you want to do, and your hands do most of the actual work on their own.

If this sounds like nonsense, think about typing. If you’ve done it for a while, you just think of the words you want to type, and your fingers find the right keys almost on their own. The best way I can explain this is that if someone asked me to draw out a computer keyboard, with all the letters in the right places, I’d actually have to think about it. Chances are, you would too…yet I can type at about 70 words per minute.

If I have to think about it consciously, it gets difficult. If I just relax and do it on autopilot, it’s incredibly easy.

I’m the same with playing guitar. If someone told me to write out the strings and frets that make up a particular chord, I’d have to think about it. Yet if you put a guitar in my hands and mention a chord, my fingers would find the frets almost instantaneously.

My final piece of advice is this. Learning an instrument is pretty easy, the only problem is that it seems really awkward and unnatural to begin with. It takes a lot of time to get to a certain point, but once you get there, it becomes easy. It’s just like learning to read. You start by learning the letters, the sounds they make, and sounding them out when they’re put together in words. Then you get to the point where you just look at a written word and what it sounds like just pops into your head.

It’s this ‘barrier to entry’ that puts a lot of people off. If you’re learning a new instrument, you’ll probably play for a few weeks and feel like you’re not getting any better. Then it ‘clicks’ and you suddenly find yourself progressing faster than you ever thought possible. Then you move onto the next phase of learning, and the cycle continues.

In conclusion, the one thing I hear an awful lot is people saying things like “Oh, I’d love to be able to play the piano/guitar/saxophone.” My answer to this question is simply “Well, why don’t you learn?”

There’s no age limit on learning something new, and if you’re short of time, there’s also no deadline or limit on how often you have to practice or how fast you have to progress.

So, if you’ve always wanted to learn a musical instrument, do it. What have you got to lose?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Oxymoron of the Day : Reality TV

Reality TV : Where you take a bunch of people who are willing to sell every last shred of dignity to get on TV, put them in a totally artificial and unusual situation, and call it 'reality'

Notable Features : Despite being called 'real' people, reality TV 'stars' will be some of the most false people you will ever see. Also, "Celebrity Reality' TV features people who are not actually celebrities...'Celebrity', in the Reality TV sense actually means 'secondary character on a short lived daytime TV show in the early 80's'.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Casio LK300TV Review

[Regular readers may want to skip this post, as it’s a review of a keyboard. I’m writing this because I couldn’t find a single, good in-depth review when I was looking to buy so to the regular readers, see you tomorrow!]

Ok, to begin with I should state that I’m not a professional piano player, or even close to it. I bought the LK300 to learn, so what you’re going to get here is a layman’s review of this keyboard.

First of all, I have to say that the LK300 was a lot bigger and more impressive looking than I imagined. It also feels ‘expensive’ and high quality. While obviously, the keys aren’t hammer-action or anything, they feel good and have just the right amount of resistance.

Above all, it sounds good. The piano sounds sound like a real piano. I mean, obviously, if you stood this keyboard next to a Steinway grand and played them both, it would probably sound like crap…but if you played this next to a recording of a real grand piano, there’s not much difference (at least to my untrained ears).

The other feature I love is the touch-sensitive keys. Basically, stroke a key lightly, you get a quiet sound, hit it with some force, and you get a much stronger note. This is very neat feature, because without it, your playing will sound flat an unexpressive…no matter how good you are.

The main thing I want to focus on, however, is the reason I chose this keyboard over so many others, and that’s the teaching features.

Plug the keyboard into a TV, and not only do the keys light up to show you how to play the song, but the screen also shows the correct fingering as well. The three-step system works amazingly well, and leads you to playing some songs right out of the box.

The first step lessons let you focus on timing. It doesn’t matter if you miss the right key, the correct tone plays anyway. The second step, which I found particularly useful, makes the keyboard wait for you while you find the correct note. This helps you build up your speed and accuracy together.

This works by the key you should be hitting lights up, and the next key (or keys) you need to hit flash, with the flash getting faster as it gets closer to the time to push it. It’s sounds clunky on paper, but works incredibly well in practice.

Step three is full speed with full accompaniment. By this time, you should be able to play the song anyway, and just use the lights to see where you go wrong.

Then, you can redo all three steps with ‘scoring’ enabled. Basically, the keyboard judges your accuracy and timing and gives you a score at the end out of 100. It seems like a bit of a gimmick, but it does help you get that feeling of accomplishment.

Another nice feature with the lessons is that there’s a good range of songs at different difficulty levels. Anyone should be able to play “Twinkle, twinkle little star” or “Oh Christmas Tree”, right out of the box…but songs like “The Entertainer”, “Canon” and “Maple Leaf Rag” are tough enough for intermediate players.

One thing I’m not sure whether to rate as a good or bad thing is that you can only use one hand at a time with the lessons. Right or left, but not both. This is a good thing because everything I’ve read about learning to play the piano is that you should focus on your right hand for a good long while before even attempting anything with your left. On the other hand, it would be nice to try.

Unfortunately there are some downsides to the lessons.

When you’re playing in ‘scoring’ mode, if you miss the timing by a little, the keyboard doesn’t play the actual tone, it plays a muted, xylophone-sounding note to let you know you’ve missed it. This should be a feature, but it’s incredibly off-putting and you have to be absolutely spot-on to get the right tone.

This wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to be so spot-on. It feels like you have to be a machine to get it 100% right. Trust me, this isn’t sour grapes because I couldn’t get it right…I had difficulty getting it perfectly right on something as simple as “Twinkle twinkle little star”.

Basically, no-one plays a piece of music exactly the same way twice. We’re talking nano-seconds here. It’s not a huge problem, but there should be an option to turn it off.

One of the other things I loved is the ability to download midi files off the internet (which are everywhere), and upload them to your keyboard via USB cable or through as SD card. This means that you have an unlimited number of lessons and always have something new to learn.

However, there are a few downsides to this as well.

First of all, if you want to learn a song, the left hand and right hand pieces have to be on particular channels in the midi file, and the software to do this isn’t included. There are free midi sequencers available on the internet, but it would be nice to see a simple one bundled with the keyboard.

Secondly, there’s no USB cable included. Luckily, the cable you need is exactly the same as a USB printer cable, so if you have a computer and USB printer (which is pretty much everyone), you can just ‘borrow’ your printer’s cable.

The last downside to this is that the keyboards memory gets erased every time you unplug it, if you don’t have batteries installed. Because my keyboard (although not all versions of this model) came bundled with an AC adaptor, I didn’t buy batteries…so I can download all the songs I want…but they’re gone the second I turn off the keyboard.

Of course, if you forego the USB route all together, and go for an SD card (which are cheap, but also not bundled), you dodge this all together. Obviously, the same if you buy batteries.

Conclusion

This is a great keyboard and well worth the $200 price point. It’s great for beginners (such as myself), but with the sound quality, touch sensitive keys and other great features, it’s still good as a practice instrument for intermediate players. It’s obviously not a keyboard designed for performance, but if you’re performing, you’re probably more suited to a $5000 Korg Synth than $200 keyboard.

The pros far outweigh the cons, and most of the problems I have with this keyboard tend to be ones of inconvenience rather than a major fault. Sure, I’d like to see a USB cable or SD card bundled with it, but I can buy those cheaply from somewhere like newegg.com anyway.

Sound Quality : 4/5
Awesome piano sounds, and a good range of others. Obviously not as good as a professional performance keyboard, but well below that price range.

Ease of Use : 5/5
If you can use a TV remote, you can work out this keyboard, especially using the display on the TV

Price Point : 5/5
Any less, you get a much worse keyboard, if you want better, you’re going to pay a lot more.

Accessories : 4/5
Mine came with an AC adaptor and a Microphone. Another nice thing was printed music for every song in the keyboard. A USB cable would have been nice, as well as an SD card.

Overall 4.5/5

A great beginner’s/intermediate keyboard.



***EDIT***

Ok, people, I hate that I have to say this but I'm getting a ridiculous amount of email and comments from people asking me for tech support.


DO NOT EMAIL OR POST ANY MORE COMMENTS ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS KEYBOARD.


The truth is that 99.9% of the emails I receive about this keyboard are asking questions that are CLEARLY covered in the LK300TV manual or on Casio's website, and over half the emails I receive are downright rude. (Manners 101, guys, when you're asking a complete stranger for free help, it pays to say please and thank you, not a terse couple of lines demanding information.)

Any future emails or comments asking for help will be ignored.

Thank you.

Monday, April 23, 2007

User Reviews

User reviews are, without doubt, one of the worst inventions spawned from the internet.

This morning, I read the following user review of the keyboard I ordered last week:

5 stars *****

This keyboard is awesome and totally worth the money! One of the best purchases I’ve ever made! I just hope it comes with a pitch bender and that the built in lessons aren’t too hard. Does anyone know if it comes with the power adapter?

Just in case the sheer stupidity of this hasn’t sunk in, someone ordered the keyboard, then reviewed it, gave it 5 stars…before they actually received it!

How the hell do you review something you’ve never actually used? Congrats, dude, you’ve just thrown off the rating curve by ‘reviewing’ something based on the sales copy.

Just in case you’re ever tempted to write your own user reviews, please keep the following in mind:

1) Just because your product arrived damaged or broken doesn’t automatically warrant a terrible rating.

Ok, you’ve been waiting for your product to arrive, and when it finally gets to you, it doesn’t work. You’re disappointed and a bit PO’d, but this doesn’t mean you should go to every shopping site you can find and give low ratings and terrible reviews. You don’t judge a product by a one in a million fault or a shipping accident.

This happened to me once with a video card, and I called the store and they shipped me a replacement within 3 days, totally at their own expense. The replacement worked fine and I was happy. I wrote a positive review, and praised their customer service.

Of course, if the whole line has a fault, or the customer service is terrible, that’s a different story…just check first.

2) Factor in your experience level with the product.

I’ve seen great reviews for truly awful products, all because the buyer has absolutely no experience with what they’ve bought. For example, if you’ve never owned an MP3 player before, your first one might seem totally awesome, despite the fact is has low sound quality, a tiny amount of storage space and a terrible battery life.

Just because you’re impressed doesn’t mean it’s a great product. “It holds about an hour of music, and the batteries last a couple of hours, which is great for what I need.” Is a much more useful review than, “OMG! This is TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!!”

3) Don’t be a fanboy.

Every review should have positives and negatives, even if the only negative is something totally minor. I’ve seen five star reviews for anything from gadgets to movies before they actually came out. Gotta love those fanboys.

Remember, you’re reviewing the product, not masturbating over it. Again, “This is a great product, and works exactly as advertised. The minor downside is it doesn’t come with a HD cable/power adapter/optional extra.” Is much better than “ZOMG! This is AWESOME, it’s the ROXXORS!”

4) Don’t be a hater, and only review products you own.

This is the opposite of the fanboy. These are people who ‘review’ a PS3 by saying “Playstations SUCK! Buy an Xbox, fags!”. They post these reviews despite the fact they’ve never actually seen or touched a PS3.

5) Post reviews, not abuse for the people who’ve posted reviews you disagree with.

UR a FAG! Buy a REAL console, u tard! This SUX!” is not a review.

6) Just because it’s not exactly what you wanted is not a reason for a bad review.

Say you buy a keyboard, and it turns out it’s not quite advanced enough for you. The review should be along the lines of “Not a very advanced keyboard, it’s missing , but would work well for beginners.”

Of course, if you’re sent something that doesn’t match it’s description (IE, something is billed as a professional level product, and turns out to be like a beginners product), say so. However, saying that is a lot more helpful than “These douchbags ripped me off, this product SUX!!!”

7) Remember you’re writing a review.

To write a review, you write what’s good about the product, what’s bad about the product, your experience with customer service (if applicable), if what you get is worth the money and a comparison to a similar product if you can. For example:

“The Radeon X1300 is a great mid-range card. It’ll handle games such as HL2 and Doom 3 really well, but don’t expect absolutely blistering performance. It installed on my system with no problems. The only downside I can think of is it comes with a HDI output but no HDI cable. The pricepoint is good, any cheaper and you get a far less powerful card, and you’re going to pay at least another hundred or so for a better card.”

That’s a useful review. The following is a review directly from CircuitCity.com:

its awesome
Reviewer: ant from brooklyn ny on Wed Jan 03 09:07:09 EST 2007
totally.

It’s ‘awesome, totally’? Thanks for that in-depth review. I now know that this must be the best card available, ever!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Open Letter

Dear Celebrities,

Let me start by saying I understand your thinking. You’ve been in a few movies, you have a popular TV show and you’re constantly surrounded by sycophants who do nothing but stroke your ego and give you an over-inflated sense of importance.

I get it. You’re constantly being told you’re the greatest person in the world, and that’s why J-Lo can demand 14 dressing rooms with a straight face, or Britney can go bat-shit crazy and shave her head when she encounters the first actual problem of her life.

However, it’s time for a reality check.

Just because you have a job where you stand in front of a camera and pretend to be someone else, or host a daytime talk show watched by bored housewives everywhere, does not qualify you as a political commentator, guardian of morality or make your opinion more important than the average Joe in the street.

Basically, I don’t care if Rosie thinks the 9/11 attacks where part of some grand conspiracy. I don’t care if Tom Cruise thinks that psychology is a hoax (and instead thinks that paying an organization a large portion of his earnings to help rid his mind of the evil spirits of aliens that were thrown into a volcano by the evil lord Xenu is a great idea)…and I certainly don’t care if a fat Texan with the balls to release his own diet book decides to blame murders and violence on a pastime played by millions and millions of people worldwide.

You see, celebs, it’s pretty much impossible to be in your line of work without getting ‘damaged’. You get paid silly amounts of money, you get to do whatever you want, whenever you want, you can’t walk down the street without someone you’ve never met asking for your autograph and telling you how great you are….and you think this is real life.

So here’s my request. Continue acting in movies, continue making your music or starring in your TV show…however, when you get interviewed or get some personal camera time, stick to talking about the things you’re famous for…rather than spouting ill-informed, ridiculous rhetoric. The people pay you to act, not to get your views on world events and politics.

Rosie, you’re a failed actor who somehow ended up with a crappy talk show hardly anyone watches…why do you think anyone cares what you think really happened on 9/11, and I’m pretty sure you weren’t party to any ‘inside info’ no one else got. If a government oversight agency uncovers some wrong-doing, I’m sure the first thing they say is not “Quick! Get Rosie O’Donnell on the phone!”

Dr. Phil, I know it’s going to get you more publicity and a stronger following among the blue-haired octogenarians who watch your show to blame the VT shootings on gaming…but the fact the whole situation can be summed up as “Millions of gamers – A dozen shootings tenuously linked to gaming = 1 1/1000th of a percentage of gamers shooting people = No causal factor” just shows you’re a publicity whore trying to use the tragic deaths of 32 people to get more TV time.

Basically, it’s easy to argue against gun control and say no-one needs a weapon to protect themselves when you don’t go anywhere without a bunch of ex-special forces bodyguards. It’s easy to blame violence on videogame and call for a ban when you’ve never touched a controller and your kids don’t need that form of entertainment because they’ve got their own Olympic sized swimming pool and tennis court.

Thanks!

Paulius.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Cats Vs Dogs : History's Greatest Hoax?

Cats and Dogs hate each other, right? I mean, we have the sayings and everything. "Fighting like cat and dog" and all that.

When Spook first came into the house, Buddy charged him. The cat bowed up, scratched the hell out of my arms as I tried to hold him still, leapt spider-man like from my lap and tried to climb the wall before going splat behind the couch.

Then Buddy spent the rest of the day, staring at spook, making that insistent whine that in dog language means: "IWannaEatHimCanIEatHimLetMeEatHimPleasePleasePleasePleaseLemmeEatHimWannaWanna WannaEathim!!!!!."

The cat simply remained hidden, hissing at the dog, vampire like.

Since then, they barely tolerate each other. The cat enjoys sneaking up on the dog while he's asleep, giving him a 'helicopter slap' (That's that trick only cats have mastered, where they can pop something a few hundred times a second, making that distinctive whopwhopwhopwhop sound)...and then running like hell, usually getting the dog to try and follow him through a gap that only the cat can fit through (I've had to help the dog remove his head from so many pieces of furniture so many times in the past week, it's not funny)

Oh, and the dog appears to still want to eat the cat, but has settled for licking him all the time, in essence turning Spook into a reluctant Catsicle.

So you can imagine my surprise when I got up this morning and saw what you're seeing in the picture. It appears that the animals who barely tolerate each other under human supervision enjoy snuggling at night. As soon as they realised they where being watched, the cat ran like hell, the dog just looked embarrassed.

All day I've caught them whispering in corners. The jig is up, and they know it!

This has lead me to the only conclusion I can reach.

The whole Dog-Cat rivalry is only for our benefit. it's the biggest conspiracy/cover-up in history.

Now I just have to uncover the reason for this deception.

Keep a close eye on your pets, people....they're up to something.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Music

Well today, the paypal transfers from my eBay auction and the linden dollars I sold finally went through, and I ordered my keyboard.

I decided on the Casio LK300TV, and from what I’ve read about it, and the online demos I’ve seen, this thing is awesome.

I think I can describe it as a mid high-end home keyboard. Everything I need as a beginner, but still good enough to where I don’t have to replace it after I progress a little.

[Just a quick note – if you ever want to learn an instrument, buy a decent instrument, not the ultra cheap, crappy version. If you keep at it, you’ll buy a better instrument within a few months anyway, and if you give it up, you can always sell it. Buying a cheapo instrument is false economy.]

My absolute favorite thing about this keyboard though, is the built-in lessons. You can connect it to your TV, and your TV shows the music, along with a diagram of your keyboard to show you which key to hit if you can’t actually read music. Even the keys on the keyboard light up. However, the best part about this is you can also connect it to your computer and transfer midi files to it. So if there’s a particular song you want to learn, you download a midi file of it (and midi files are everywhere online), transfer it to the keyboard (through USB or a SD card), and then can play that song as an interactive lesson.

I love that idea, and quite conveniently, it leads me to my main point, which is about learning to play a musical instrument.

When I first started to learn guitar, I bought “A Tune a Day”, which is pretty much the standard book series for learning instruments in England.

I hated it.

I mean, the first four pages of this book were about how to properly sit and hold the guitar. What ten year old kid wants to sit and hold the guitar properly? At that age, it’s all about the power-stance, and how to wail on it while jumping up and down!

I did what a lot of people starting to learn an instrument do. I picked up the guitar, full of enthusiasm, and quit a week or so later in total confusion and frustration.

I repeated this pattern for about a year. I could practice every day for weeks, and by the end of a few month’s practice…I was able to play the start of “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.”

That, at least for me, is exactly what’s wrong with the traditional method of learning an instrument. You have visions of playing all your favorite songs, but by learning traditionally, you realize that playing the songs you actually like is a long, long, long way off.

Sure, by the end of your first six months, you can read music fairly well, know a good deal of music theory…but you’re still playing very basic versions of public domain songs…and no kid after seeing Clapton on TV dreams of sitting in the correct posture, playing “Away in a manger”.

Eventually, I talked to someone who was a talented guitar player. He gave me the best advice I ever got about learning the guitar. He said:

“Go to the music store and find a music book by one of your favorite bands. Make sure the music has chord diagrams, and learn that way.”

Basically, a chord diagram is a picture of the neck of your guitar, with dots showing where to put your fingers.

So, I bought the songbook of the Beatles’ Red Album. I got home, looked at the first chord diagram, matched it on my guitar and hit the strings.

Wow. It was a chord, and it sounded exactly like the first chord of Yellow Submarine!

Ok, there are obviously drawbacks to learning like this. I didn’t learn to read music until much later, and unless you know the song you’re trying to play, you have no idea of the speed and timing of it…but I didn’t care…I didn’t want to play music I didn’t know anyway!

My point is that within an hour of getting home, I could play the start of Yellow Submarine. Sure, It took me a full minute to change between chords, and I was a long way to being able to play the song fluently all the way through…but this was progress I could actually see. It was a noticeable step from Paulius – Ten year old with a cheapo, hand-me-down guitar to Paulius – Guitar God!

That’s what I think is wrong with learning to play a music instrument the traditional way. While it gives you a solid grounding that can lead to a full understanding of your instrument…when you’re first trying to learn, I think the most important thing is keeping up that motivation and keeping yourself enthusiastic about playing.

Sure, a year or so down the line when you can already play a good few songs, learning the theory about why those notes work together, why the chords match the lead, and understanding your scales so you know how to improvise over the top is important, and when you learn that, you feel you’ve accomplished something.

However, learning that at the start, before you can actually play a tune, that’s not progress you can feel.

Unfortunately, one of the things I found was people I knew who learned the traditional way tended to look down on me. This is something I’ll never understand. I was playing songs after 6 months that they couldn’t play when they’d been learning for over a year.

The way I look at it, if two people can play a song with the same skill, and one person learned how to play it by learning to read music, and the other watched a video and saw where the original performer put his fingers, what’s the difference? What’s more important? The results, or how you got to those results.

Of course, learning a musical instrument is a very personal thing. This way worked for me. Today, I can read music (although not spectacularly well), and learned theory as and when I needed it. I can hear a guitar song, and work out how to play it by ear. I can hear a song and improvise over it and stay in key.

If I’m completely honest, at this point I’ll admit I’m not quite as good as someone who learned the traditional way and has been playing for as long as I have…but I suppose my main point here is, if I’d have stuck with the traditional way, I’d have never actually stuck with learning the guitar, and wouldn’t have fallen in love with it as an instrument.

When it comes to learning an instrument, I think the most important thing is progressing quickly at the start, in a way you can actually see. When your ten years old, can only play “Silent Night”, and show your parents or your friends, they’re not going to be incredibly impressed, even if you know all the theory behind it.

On the other hand, when you can play a Beatles song (or whoever you happen to like) after only a couple of weeks, it gives you the motivation you need to keep learning.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gun Control

So I turn on the computer, and the first thing I see on my news ticker is “US Gun Laws draw heat after massacre”.

Unfortunately, the prevailing viewpoint in the USA appears to be “Less guns = Less gun crime.” According to the news Virginia Tech recently disarmed their security officers to make VT a ‘gun-free’ campus. Ask yourself this. If armed security were on the VT campus…would the outcome have been the same?

It sounds like common sense. The less guns there are, the less shootings there will be. However, this assumption is based on false logic. The real situation can be summed up accurately in a single sentence:

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

Now, before I come across as a Charlton Heston-esque “You’ll take my gun from my cold dead hands.” Let me explain my point of view.

You can make ownership of guns illegal, but the problem is criminals don’t obey the law. If the US government started a confiscatory ban on guns, I’d be one of the first in line at the police station, handing in my rifle. Why? Because I don’t want to break the law, and I don’t want to go to jail. Every decent, law-abiding citizen would do the same.

However, you can’t say the same of all the psychos, drug-dealers and other criminals out there. The truth is, criminals love gun control…because it means the only weapon involved in a given situation is theirs.

Statistics show that states with more ‘permissive’ gun laws tend to have a consistently lower crime rate than states with more restrictive gun laws. For example, New York City and Washington DC have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the USA, but also have some of the highest rates of shootings and violent crimes.

South Carolina has a ‘concealed carry’ law. This means I can take a class, and get trained and certified to carry a concealed weapon. This means that, even if I never do this, any potential mugger or attacker knows that I may be carrying a handgun. This gives everyone in SC a level of protection whether they carry a weapon or not.

In places like NY or DC, an attacker knows the only gun in that situation is theirs.

The biggest problem with gun control in the USA is that guns have been completely and totally demonized. The idea that “Guns are Evil” and everyone would be better off if they where completely removed from society. However, what you need to understand is guns are not evil. They’re a tool. They’re no more intrinsically evil than a hammer or a chainsaw.

If the 9/11 pilots where armed, 9/11 would be remembered as the day a group of terrorists attempted to hijack a couple of planes and fly them into buildings. On a plane, three or four terrorists with box cutters are in total control. When a pilot or air-marshal has a handgun, they’re a minor threat.

It’s the same with the VT shootings. If the security officers where armed, chances are the news reports would be about a single killing, or one or two before the gunman was taken down, and not the worst mass shooting in US history.

However, because guns have been demonized, it’s lead to the faulty assumption that we’re somehow safer by not arming and defending ourselves. It’s lead to the idea that a gun in the hands of a criminal or terrorist is some kind of insurmountable doomsday weapon…yet a gun in our hands is nothing but a liability, and will easily be taken from us and used against us.

To close today, I’ll attempt to answer the usual criticisms and questions about gun control:

Why do you need a gun? If you’re in danger, just call a cop!

Fair enough, except for the fact that it’s going to take at least 5 minutes for the cops to get here. If someone tried to break into my house right now, they’d be inside and on me long before the police arrived. On the other hand, I could easily run to where I keep my rifle and hold them here until police arrive.

‘Weapons for protection’, isn’t that a little paranoid? Do you expect to get attacked?

Do you expect to crash your car every time you drive? Doubtful, but you still fasten your seatbelt and sit behind an air-bag. We put alarms on our homes and cars, take self defense classes…we’re not likely to need any of those…but we do anyway. It’s not paranoid to be prepared for something that might happen.

Guns are dangerous and accidents can be fatal!

True, but the same can be said for automobiles and any power tool. Car accidents kill more people per year than guns accidents will in a lifetime or more. The solution isn’t to ban guns any more than the solution to car accidents is to ban cars. The solution is education and proper safety training.

What about the children? What if little Timmy finds your gun and shoots himself?

Well, little Timmy would then also have to find the clip for my gun, and then go find my ammunition. Then he’d also have to find the key to the safety-catch lock. If he somehow managed to find all four things, then he’d have to know how to unlock the safety, fill the clip, put it in the rifle and cock it. In the meantime, you store the bleach under the sink, and the garage is filled with all kinds of power tools as well as your car…the key to which is hardly ‘hidden’.

But if we ban guns all together, criminals won’t be able to get guns in the first place! Problem Solved!

Yep, just like no-one in the USA smokes weed or does meth or crack. They’re banned too. People with criminal records aren’t allowed to buy weapons, and the background check they run in the store shows they’re not eligible to buy a gun instantly. However, career criminals always manage to get their hands on another weapon. Banning weapons takes weapons out of the hands of honest, law abiding people…not the psychos and criminals.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A GOOD Day.

Mark today down in your calendar, boys and girls, for today is the first time ever that your good friend Paulius is not pissed at something.

When you’re not working, your days all kinda merge together. For the past year I’ve been going to bed, getting up, looking for a job online, watching a bit of TV, playing on the computer, eating something and going back to bed. For the two years prior to that, I did the same thing minus the job search, because I didn’t have a work permit.

For those of you that think that sounds like heaven next to your daily grind of working, let me tell you, it’s fun for the first few weeks…after three years it gets old.

That’s why days like today are a breath of fresh air.

I woke up today, and it was the first time in three days that I didn’t have to cough so hard that I nearly passed out. My flu is officially on the way out. Plus, the past few days forced me to cut back significantly on my cigarette consumption so hopefully that’ll be a head-start on cutting back and quitting.

So what else has made me so happy?

Well, first of all, my guitar case sold for more than I was expecting it to on eBay. A nice last-minute bidding war broke out, so I’m happy about that…so even after getting nickel-and-dimed by eBay, I’ve still got a tidy profit.

Then secondly, I decided to cash out some of my Lindens from Second Life. I sold roughly half of my ‘liquid assets’, and got a tidy little sum. Only about $70US, but that made me really happy. Not only because it’s technically money made from dicking around in photoshop and having fun, but because it actually made me feel productive for once.

The third highlight was getting to talk to Saffy on AIM for an hour or so. Have I mentioned I how much fun this girl is? If you’ve never read her blog, go check it out. There’s nothing like talking to a true, sarky Brit when you want your sarcasm batteries recharged.

Finally, I made a decision about what to do with the money from selling my guitar case.

My first thought was obviously to use the money to buy a new guitar, but I just couldn’t bring myself to buy another one. Why? Well, it’s because my old guitar (the one that got stolen) was a Gibson SG. All I could afford to buy with the proceeds from selling its case is one of those ‘First Act’, compressed fiber-board specials.

It’s be like driving a Dodge Viper for years and years, then getting it stolen, and replacing it with a 1981 Ford Fiesta.

So I decided to spend the money on something I’ve always wanted, which is a decent keyboard (musical that is, not ‘qwerty’). I actually owned a piano in England, and only got so far learning how to play it when I moved. Plus I couldn’t afford lessons.

So, I’ve found myself a decent keyboard that I can hook up to the PC and learn to play through interactive lessons on the computer. Obviously, I’ve not bought it yet, but I found a site that had MP3 recordings made by it, and the sound quality is awesome.

This sounds really, really odd, but getting my guitar stolen is probably the worst thing that happened to me since moving to the states. (The musicians in the audience will know what that feels like), and somehow, using the money from my old guitar case to buy a new musical instrument, especially one I’ve always wanted to learn kinda gives me closure.

Anyway, that’s enough from me, how was your day.

PS. Great Joke I heard on “The Munsters” today:

Someone invented a device that makes your car quieter. It fits right over her mouth.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

eBay Can Suck My Balls

So I finally dipped my toe into the tepid, scam-infested waters of eBay.

My regular readers will know that last year my beloved Gibson SG guitar got stolen. Realizing that it’s going to be a long time before I’ll be able to replace it, I decided to sell the full flight spec case I bought to ship it to America.

Now, eBay sounds good. The truth is I want to sell this case, even if it’s just enough to get a little back on the large investment I made on it. (This is a full flight-spec case that cost around 250 GBP…nearly $500 US).

Now, I know I won’t get anywhere near full price for it, and the downside is that it’s a bit of a specialty item. It’s not just a generic guitar case, only a Gibson SG will fit in it.

So, the chances of me putting out a local ad and finding someone in the area who has an SG and needs an absolutely top of the line case are pretty slim.

Basically, eBay is the answer. The chances of there being someone in America who needs a case is much higher.

However, I was totally disappointed with how eBay and Paypal (also owned by eBay) try and nickel and dime you to death.

Some of the charges are fair and make sense. A listing fee, fees for extra pictures…but that’s where fair ends and ‘screwing you with micro-payments’ begins.

Here’s what I mean. I’m paying eBay to list my case. But then I have to pay a percentage of the final purchase price if it sells. You also have to pay an extra fee to list your item with a reserve price. Why? What difference does it make? You’re paying them to list your item if it sells or not and the higher the final purchase price, the more they get when it does sell. Also, you pretty much have to use paypal (unless you want the buyer to mail you a check, put it in the bank, wait for it to clear etc) and it turns out paypal is bullshit.

For example, it sounds good when you sign up, but to offer paypal on eBay, you have to accept credit card payments as well. Why is this a bad thing? Because in order to accept credit card payments through paypal, you need a ‘premier’ paypal account…which basically means they can now charge to a percentage of all paypal transactions.

In other words, you’re not allowed to say ‘I take paypal, but not from credit or debit cards’, you’re forced to ‘upgrade’ to a premier account and premier apparently means “we can take more of your money”.

So basically, here’s the deal.

I pay to list my item.

I pay extra to add an extra picture

I pay extra to put a reserve price on my item.

eBay takes a percentage of the final purchase price.

Paypal takes a percentage of your money when your buyer pays.

That’s only if you want a basic listing. If you want a picture next to your listing, that’s extra as well, if you want your listing in bold, that’s extra.

Seriously, eBay…why not just say “ten bucks to list your item”, instead of advertising a a buck per listing, and then nickel and diming your customers to death.

Oh, and I also used the ‘feature’, where you put in the weight and dimensions of your item, and it automatically tells your buyer how much it will cost to ship your item to them. I only realized after it was listed that this doesn’t actually include packing materials like the box and packing peanuts.

I suppose what really bugs me about this is that every eBay auction makes eBay at least two bucks…with millions of auctions being put up every day they’re making silly money. Charging for things that don’t cost them any more money, like reserve prices is just a kick in the balls to their customers.

The Dreaded Cat-flu

Ok, I’m ill. Really, really ill. In fact, I’m so ill that today, for the first time ever, I asked someone to go to the pharmacy for some, and I quote, “crazy-ass, make-you-feel-better shit.”

This is unusual for me because your standard over the counter stuff just never seems to work on me. I can take all the Tylenol I like, but it won’t shift a headache. However, today I was desperate.

The scariest thing, however, is that I think I caught this from the cat.

About a week ago, Spook started sneezing like crazy. His eyes were watering and he’d just lie down next to the heater and stay there. Unfortunately, because one of his favorite places to relax was on my shoulder, on a couple of occasions I caught a kitty-sneeze directly to the face.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t an illness jumping the species gap a seriously bad thing? Doesn’t this make my cute little kitten some kind of Typhoid Mary? In a few days, will the newspapers be filled with stories about the dreaded cat-flu, the one that makes the bird-flu look like a mild case of the sniffles?

Anyway, just in case this kills me, on my headstone I want the following written, right in the center in tiny writing so you have to get right up close to read it:

You’re standing on my balls.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Irrational Fears...

What if Don King accidentally used volumising shampoo and conditioner instead of regular stuff?

You'd be able to see that shit from space!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Ways to Amuse Yourself #217

Know how spammers use those random word generators to try and bypass your spam filter?

Try writing a short story with the subject line as your title.

Latest favorite spam subject line : Drastic Cocoa Powder

The whirlwind adventures of a psychotic Grandma who drinks cocoa laced with crack in order to fight crime!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Mildly Amusing #264

The new Kitty (now named ‘Spook’, because of hit white fur and the fact that he jumps at his own shadow) has discovered that it’s immense fun to jump up and down on the TV remote. He does this because it means I have to reach for the remote, which brings my hands into range of his teeth and claws.

So, during a rare episode of Scrubs that I haven’t seen, he jumps on the remote. The channel changes to…you guessed it, Animal Planet.

So I turn back to scrubs, and a few minutes later he does it again…this time landing on “Funniest Pets and People.”

Surprisingly I didn’t actually laugh all that hard. This is odd, because yesterday he fell asleep on top of the scanner which made me think of the term “Cat Scan”…and I giggled like a schoolgirl for a good 5 minutes.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Just Because I Was Bored.

So I'm sitting in front of the TV when Sunny's pink corvette catches my eye. (I feel I should explain here, she got it from her Dad because he said he 'Would buy her a pink corvette when it was a cold day in July'...one cold July day later he bought her this model).

I don't like this car. I tend to anthropomorphise things, and its front grill makes it look angry. It's on the entertainment center next to the TV, and it always looks like it severely disagrees with my viewing choice.

Damn car, I don't car what it thinks...I'm watching the all-day Stargate SG-1 marathon whether it likes it or not!

Suddenly I had a flash of inspiration (and far too much time on my hands)...so I decided to turn Sunny's angry corvette into a cousin of Disney's 'Cars' much more lovable Lightning McQueen!

A little Photoshop magic later and...

Before


















After!



















There, isn't that much better? Now it looks like it enjoys Jack O'Neil's cynicism and Samantha Carter's 'Geek-yet-femenine-yet-tough' vibe as much as I do.

(In my own defense, the whole thing took me approximately three and a half minutes to make. Let's just say this is far from my best work. If I'd spent some time and energy on it it would look a lot better...but not bad for a 3 minute goof.)

Coming Soon! I turn a coffee maker into Optimus Prime's weakling half-brother! (A weakling but much better at producing tasty caffeinated beverages).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Resumes....Jake "The Snake" Roberts Style!

Considering I’ve had my work permit and Greencard for months now, and still haven’t found a job, I’m starting to wonder if there’s something wrong with my resume.

I mean, there shouldn’t be. I have my degree on there, all the relevant experience I need for the type of job I’m looking for, so I just can’t figure it out.

I think I’ve found myself in that unfortunate career corridor, where I’m slightly to under qualified for the better jobs, and slightly over qualified for the lesser ones. No one will hire me as an Admin officer because I only have a couple years experience in that field…and they won’t hire me at Staples or Walmart because of the letters after my name.

However, I think I’ve found the solution to my problem. I’m going to find the guy that pitched the idea for professional wrestling and get him to write my resume for me.

I mean, imagine that meeting:

“Here’s the plan. We’re going to invent a ‘sport’ that involves groups of highly-muscled, oiled up men grappling with each other while wearing tights. Now they won’t actually fight, they’ll only pretend to, and most of the time the fighting will be wildly unrealistic. Also, we’ll have a referee, but his job will be mostly to get’ accidentally’ knocked out so the wrestlers can use ‘illegal’ moves…despite the fact there will be no discernable rules whatsoever.”

“So, homoerotic, incredibly fake fighting that a two year old would laugh at as fake?”

“Yup.”

“Here’s a check for a bazillion dollars.”

Sigh...

You know, I actually try to keep this blog a little upbeat. You know, the occasional funny post, a weird thought that comes to me…but it seems the world is just doing everything it can to piss me off.

This latest little nugget is especially annoying, because it comes from the city I was born in, namely Liverpool in England.

Ok, are you ready for the earth-shattering news?

A ten year old schoolboy called a fellow student a “Gay boy” in an email!

Ok, I’ll give you a couple of minutes to let that sink in. I know it’s an astounding announcement, and you’ll need a few moments to recover. I apologize for shattering the illusion of safety you may have built up around yourself and exposed you to the cold, hard real world where abominations like this can happen. Go get yourself some warm milk and a blankie and you’ll feel better. There there.

Seriously though, you’re probably thinking the same thing I did when I saw that headline. Namely “Who cares? What’s so unusual about school kids swapping insults?”

In any sane world, the teacher takes kid to one side, tells him not to do it again, and maybe gives them lines or makes them stay in during break-time. In fact, in a really sane world, the kid just writes back “No, you’re gay!” and we never hear about it.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a sane world.

What actually happened was this kid got a visit from two police officers.

Since when is two ten year olds swapping insults a matter for the police? What possible reason could there be to get the police involved? Sure, if the kid beat the other to within an inch of his life, or threatened to bring a gun or a knife to school…then I could at least understand getting the police involved.

Back when I was at school, if a parent called the police because some ten year old called their ten year old a ‘gay boy’, they would have been laughed off the phone line. Chances are they’d have found themselves on the receiving end of some charges for wasting police time.

Unfortunately, times have changed, and an insulting email gets a pre-teen a visit from the police who say “This is a very serious offense”.

This is honestly making me despair for the whole human race. I mean, seriously, what the fuck is going on when a schoolyard spat ends in the police being called.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. School isn’t just about receiving a normal education. It’s about receiving a social education as well. School is where kids learn to deal with problems, including bullies and assholes. What lesson are we teaching kids if we get the police involved over something so mind-numbingly minor?

Seriously, in ten years, this kid is going to get job, make a mistake and his boss will chew him out…and he’ll burst into tears, run home and call the police because his boss was mean.

“Hello (sob) police? My boss said I was (sob) stupid! I want him arrested for being a big meanie! Waaaaaaaaah!”

...and the saddest thing is, the police probably will get involved. It won’t be long before ‘Not Being Nice’, ‘Being A Big Meanie’ and the ‘Playing Nice Act of 2010” make it onto the law books.

How about leaving the police out of things, you know, try something radical and ‘out there’…like waiting until an actual crime has taken place before calling them?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Absolutely Disgusting

You know, rants are a common feature here at “Life, What The Hell Is Going On?”, but occasionally something comes along that makes my feeling to all the other things I’ve bitched about seem warm and fuzzy.

This, is without doubt, the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard.

Just to sum up the article, schools are dropping the Holocaust from history class…because it may offend Muslim students whose beliefs include “Holocaust denial”.

In other words, Muslims don’t believe the Holocaust ever happened, so it’s no longer taught in history class.

Is anyone else outraged by this?

Guess what? The holocaust happened. If you don’t believe that, do a quick google search. If the holocaust never happened, explain those pictures of mass graves. Explain the first hand accounts of allied soldiers who helped liberate the death camps. Explain the first hand accounts from Holocaust survivors who lost most (if not all) of their families.

But god forbid we teach anything that might contradict someone’s religious or personal sensibilities.

Of course, forget about the Jewish people. They only lost the majority of their population thanks to the Nazi ‘Final Solution’. They don’t deserve any thought at all. But we just can’t offend any Muslims. Forget the fact that the thing ‘offending them’ is established, documented fact.

‘Political Correctness’ to this degree has absolutely no place in the schoolroom. Especially in history class. History can be uncomfortable. However, the whole point in learning history is so we can learn from past mistakes.

What’s next? Remove any reference to slavery, because it might make kids whose ancestors were slave-owners uncomfortable? Remove Pearl Harbor from history in case there are any Japanese students in the class? Cut out both world wars all together because they’re too violent and might offend people of German decent?

Give me a fucking break.

You give kids all the information and leave them to make up their own minds. If it makes some people uncomfortable, maybe it’s meant to.

The other big thing is that I seriously doubt that any of this is because a Muslim family complained about what their kids where being taught. Nope, this is the work of yet more rich white-folks who love to stick their unwanted oar in…and it’s things like this that lead you yet more racial tension.