Monday, April 28, 2008

Talented? I don't think so...

There’s a universal truth that most people just don’t seem to be able to grasp:

“You can’t get good at something that you don’t enjoy doing.”

I noticed this when I first started playing the guitar. You see, I love playing the guitar and I can honestly say that I never once thought of any time I spent with my guitar to be ‘practice’. I wasn’t ‘practicing’, I was just playing and enjoying doing it.

I learned to play the guitar and got good at it because I enjoyed learning it. I remember learning my first chord (it was a C Major) and that, believe it or not, gave me a huge kick. Yesterday I couldn’t play anything and now I could get this lump of wood to make this awesome, recognizable sound. Then I learned a few more chords, and even though it took me 10 of 15 seconds to switch between them, I could play a song goddammit! From that moment on I was hooked.

The reason I stuck with the guitar and actually learned to play it was because it seemed almost effortless. Looking back, the reason learning seemed effortless was because I enjoyed every second I spent with my guitar. I never thought “Crap, I gotta go practice the guitar for an hour again.” Instead I thought “Where’s my guitar? I think I’m going to nail ‘Yellow Submarine’ today!”

My parents never had to nag me to practice…they’d nag me because I’d just played ‘Yellow Submarine’ for the 87th time that day.

A few years later I was talking to one of my uncles and he told me that he’d love to be able to play the guitar. The words began to form in my mouth. I was about to say “Hell, I’ve got an old acoustic I don’t play anymore, you can have that.” That’s when he said the words that stopped me in my tracks. He said:

“How long does it take you to get as good as you are?”

How long does it take? What’s that got to do with anything?

That was enough to tell me my uncle would never learn to play the guitar. He wasn’t interested in learning an instrument, he was interested in some non-existent ‘end product’ he’d never get. He wanted to be able to sit there at family parties with a guitar in his lap and belt out some old favorites. What he didn’t want to do was ‘waste time’ actually learning to do it. I was proven right in the end…a year or so later he went out and bought a guitar and gave up after a few weeks.

If you start to learn something and consider practice a chore, you’re simply never going to get any good. You’re waiting for the day when you’ve ‘learned’ and can forget about practice…and that day honestly never comes.

It’s just like the guy who says he wants to be an author, when what he really wants to do is get interviewed for magazines and sit in Barnes and Noble, signing books for legions of adoring fans. The actual writing part never occurs to them

What it boils down to is this: The person who actively enjoys learning something looks at their progress in terms of how far they’ve come and how much they’ve learned. The people who quit are the people who see practice as a means to an end. They don’t look at how much they’ve learned, they look at how much further they have to go.

The problem with this type of thinking is that when you’re brand new at something and are constantly comparing yourself to a master of the art you’re trying to learn, you’re never going to measure up. Sure, you learned to play a simple song that week, but when are you going to be able to effortlessly make the guitar sing?

People who love what they do treasure every moment while they practice. As I said before, it doesn’t feel like ‘practice’, it feels like you’re doing something you love to do.

Basically, my Uncle didn’t see learning to play the guitar as an enjoyable experience or hobby…he saw learning as the boring part to get through as quickly as possible before he could play songs and impress people.

Ok, so it’s true that every person who’s ever tried to learn something has an end product in mind. They might want to draw like Adam Hughes or play guitar like Hendrix. The problem is that they’ve watched Hendrix play on TV and it’s like Hendrix’ guitar is plugged directly into his soul.

These people see Hendrix play and think “I want to do that.” What they don’t even consider is the years and years of practice that let Hendrix play so ‘effortlessly’. Again, they don’t actually want to play the guitar…they want to stand on stage and be surrounded by adoring fans as the music flows directly from their hands with no effort whatsoever.

The thing is, even if you force yourself to stick at something and become competent at it, you’re never going to enjoy it…because rather than playing for the sheer love of creating something and expressing yourself, it’s just more crap you’ve got to go through before you get to where you want to be.

What started me thinking about this topic was my post a few days ago about ‘hitting the wall’ with my drawing and not improving any more.

Well, today I was watching an online video of an established comic book artist sketching for people at a convention. I watched this guy draw pieces of art in minutes that I couldn’t draw in 10 hours on my best day. As if reading my mind, the guy he was sketching for asked, in wonderment… “How did you get so good?”

The artist laughed like the answer was obvious, and in a way, it was. He said:

“I’ve been drawing every day since I was six years old. I fill a hundred page sketchbook in a matter of weeks. When I finally got hired by Marvel, I’d be working on a book and for most of the year I was putting in a 16 hour days 6 days a week. The reason this looks so easy is because I’ve drawn this character from every possible angle about a million times. It’s practice, there’s no ‘big secret’ to it, it’s just practice.”

It hit me because the answer was so simple. The reason I wasn’t improving was because I was comparing my drawings to drawings done by people who’d been creating artwork professionally for longer than I’d been alive. I was a typical ‘student’ artist, but I wanted to be Leonardo DaVinci.

I was the drawing equivalent of the guy sitting in his living room with his first guitar and a copy of ‘Guitar Playing for Dummies’, getting frustrated because he’d been playing for weeks and still didn’t sound like Hendrix. Yeah, my drawings weren’t perfect, but it was because I’m still relatively new at it. When you think about it, the very idea that I could produce artwork of the same quality as established professionals after so little practice is just plain ludicrous.

I realized I’d fallen into the same trap. I found myself going online looking for tutorials and hints and tips that I imagined would be some sort of ‘magic bullet’ shortcut to competence. Just like I talked about before, I was looking at my own drawings in terms of how much further I had to go rather than how far I’d come.

This was a real ‘eureka’ moment for me. I pulled out my sketchpad and a pencil and started drawing…and did it for the same reason I first started. Because I enjoyed doing it, not because I wanted to be able to draw like Jim Lee or Adam Hughes.

The best part was when I looked back at my sketches, I could see a definite improvement. Even now, I can look at something I’d drawn a year ago and something I did this week and it’s hard to believe they’re even by the same person.

Again, the difference was that before I’d look at one of my sketches and think “Shit! This looks nothing like I wanted it to! I suck at this!”…whereas now I look at my sketches and think “Ok, this bit is a little off, how would I fix that? What do I need to focus on?”

As everything I’ve said so far points out. The only way to improve at something is to enjoy the learning process and not see learning as an unpleasant means to an end.

Just as a bit of an afterthought, this is why I absolutely hate being called ‘talented’. I remember playing the guitar for members of my family and I’d hear people say (more to buck up my ego than anything, I admit) “Wow, I wish I was talented like you.” I’d hear one of my cousins get called a ‘talented singer’ or another be called a ‘talented drummer’.

The problem I have with the T-Word is that it implies that what you do is effortless. The idea that someone is ‘talented’ implies that that person has some intangible, ethereal quality that ‘normal’ people don’t possess.

It completely ignores all the hard work and effort that you have to put in. It seems almost dismissive in a way. “Oh, he can play the guitar? Well, everyone knows he’s talented.

I’ve been called talented a few times at various different things and every time I’ve felt like screaming. I’m not ‘talented’, I don’t have some ‘gift’ that means I can do something well. The reason I can do those things well now is because of eleven years of practice, learning and deliberately trying to improve.

The way I see it is that every great musician picked up their instrument for the first time with no clue how to play it. Every great artist started out with stick figures and ‘box and triangle houses’. They became good at their art because they found that’s what they liked to do and were willing to put in the massive amounts of time and effort to improve…not because they were ‘blessed’ by some non-existent ‘talent fairy dust’.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Let's be serious...for a moment

While I don’t own a collection or anything, I’m a big fan of comic books and superheroes.

Unfortunately, comic books have a hard time getting taken seriously. Despite the fact that many have absolutely astounding artwork and deep, sophisticated storylines, they’re still viewed as ‘kids stuff’.

In other words, take these storylines and put them on the silver screen and you get critically acclaimed blockbusters. Put them down in novel forms and you get best-sellers. However, put them in the format they started out in, and they’re solidly in the domain of children and ‘pale friendless virgins’.

As I said earlier, the stories can be deep and philosophical. Spider-man is my favorite example of this (as well as my favorite superhero). Here we have a teenage kid who has super-powers thrust upon him. Instead of instantly deciding to fight for ‘truth, justice and the American way’…he starts off in the same way a real teenager would…trying to exploit his powers to make as much money as possible.

Then he evolves into a character who realizes his own selfishness caused he death of his beloved uncle. We get to see the real-world problems that super powers and a secret identity would cause. Later on in the comic books, we see even more detail how Peter Parker’s double life strains his friendships and relationships with his family, friends and wife.

Long story short, a two dimensional character Spider is not. He’s a regular guy trying to hold down a job, keep up a relationship and finish school while feeling obligated to also be Spiderman. In fact, Peter Parker is the first superhero I became aware of that is really his secret identity. In other words, Superman smiles when he hears Lois has a thing for Superman even though she’s barely away Clark Kent exists. Why? Because Superman is Superman and Clark Kent is the disguise he uses to fit in. Peter Parker will always be Peter Parker.

Just to show that comic books and the movies based on them can have depth, look at Spiderman 3. Unfortunately, Venom was included last minute because he’s a fan favorite, but consider the story without him.

We have Peter Parker who finds the ‘Symbiote Suit’ which essentially turns him into a selfish idiot. For most of the movie, he’s not a very nice guy. He’s not fighting crime anymore because it’s the ‘right thing to do’. He’s fighting crime because he likes to hurt people, showboat and generally show off. On the other hand we have the Sandman, who is an extremely moral character who has turned to crime because stealing is the only way he has to raise the money to pay for a life-saving medical treatment for his young daughter. In his situation, how many parents out there would consider robbing a bank if it was the only way to save your child’s life?

So we have this very interesting situation. We have a ‘hero’ who’s fighting crime for all the wrong reasons and a ‘villain’ character who’s fighting crime for all the right reasons. We have this binary switch where we have an ‘evil hero’ fighting a ‘moral villain’. Spider-man if fighting the Sandman out of selfish revenge and the desire to hurt people. Sandman is fighting Spiderman because he wants to save his daughter’s life…and he doesn’t care if he’s killed or imprisoned in the fight.

Who do you root for? The hero or the villain? This movie is essentially asking the question “Can you do good out of a desire to do evil…and do the ends justify the means in certain cases?”

Well, by now you’re probably wondering what motivated this post. Well, it’s because today I saw something that really highlighted to me just how little respect this medium receives and how people refuse to take it seriously…even when there are real issues at hand.

I found a video online from Fox News.

A few months ago and ‘Mary Jane Watson’ statuette was released that was almost universally reviled. The statuette is MJ ii a pair of extremely tight ripped jeans, an amazingly low cut top…and she’s bent over a wash basin, washing Spider-Man’s costume with a gigantic grin on her face.

You can imagine the reaction. Fans and detractors alike claimed it was ‘too sexy’, ‘objectified women’ and relegated a major character to doing the male hero’s laundry.

To be honest, I agreed for the most part. The ‘too sexy’ part didn’t bother me much for the simple reason that male and female comic book characters alike tend to be absolutely perfect specimens of their sex while wearing extremely tight or very few clothes. Sure the women wear very little, but Superman and Spiderman wear skin-tight spandex. I also don’t believe that comic books ‘objectify women’ at least not any more than they do men.

This statuette was pretty bad though. A perfect-bodied female with double D’s standing in a provocative position while smiling and doing the male hero’s laundry? You don’t need to be a feminist to understand that it’s going to rub some people the wrong way. It’s an image that belongs to the 50’s

So, of course, Fox News ran a story on the controversy. Who did they interview to discuss the statuette? Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman? Adam Hughes, the comic book artist that designed the statuette? Hell, maybe even someone from Marvel’s PR department?

No, they had that total retard who won the first season of that awful “Who Wants to be a Superhero” reality TV show…and he was in costume!

So, Marvel steps over the line with a piece of merchandising. Do we have Stan Lee pointing out that comic books where the first medium to show strong, independent women who are just as capable as the men? Maybe Adam Hughes pointing out that Mary Jane, considering she doesn’t have a costume and has been drawn differently hundreds of times, can only really be identified if there’s something linking her to Spiderman…and he just thought doing laundry fitted in with Spider-Man’s ‘real world’ ethos?

No, we have that complete tool in a spandex outfit talking bullshit to the camera, all the time wearing a shit-eating grin.

If I’d been a producer for Fox News and called Marvel asking for someone to interview, and they offered the reality show guy, I’d have told them to fuck off and take it seriously.

…but after all, it’s just a stupid statue based on a stupid kids comic book.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Completely Fucking Pointless

I started drawing again this week.

Regular readers will remember that about a year ago I went through one of my classic ‘phases’ where all I wanted to do was draw. I ended up all but stopping because I’d hit a definite plateau. I’d improved by a huge amount over a relatively short period, but I’d just stopped getting any better.

This happens a lot with me. There’s not much I can’t pick up and become at least proficient at in a fairly small amount of time, but soon after that I’ll hit a wall and it takes a major effort to break through it.

It turned drawing from something I did for fun into something I dreaded. I’d draw something, see it was wrong, know what was wrong, but no matter what I did I couldn’t ‘fix’ it. As a result, the sketchbook came out less and less until it spent the last year in my bottom drawer.

A few days ago, I was browsing the internet and came across an amazing sketch and I thought “Hmm, that would look awesome if it was properly inked and colored.” I had nothing better to do, so I went ahead and did it. I might be a novice at drawing, but inking and coloring in photoshop is something I’m actually very good at.

I won’t post the result here, for the simple reason I don’t have permission from the artist. My point is, it whetted my apetite for drawing again, so my sketchbook finally saw some daylight again.

It wasn’t long before I was frustrated again. I improved a little bit but that was more from me ‘shaking the rust off’. I was right back in the same place I was when I stopped the first time.

Now, some of you may be thinking “Yeah, but why don’t you just practice?” My answer to that is a simple one. You can’t improve if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong.

Finally I figured I needed some instruction. Art lessons were a no-go because I don’t have the time and I don’t know of any in the area that specialize in the style I like…so I decided my best course of action was to buy a book.

I got a couple by Christopher Hart. The guy’s an artist for Marvel, and the books were based on comic book art, awesome right? Just what I was looking for.

Except that those books are…and let me be completely fair on this…complete and utter shit that I wouldn’t even use as toilet paper through fear of insulting my asshole.

You see, these are ‘How To…” books where the author doesn’t actually remember to tell you how to do anything. They consist of a few paragraphs and a bunch of Marvel artwork.

It reads like a tip book but with tips that seemed to be purposefully designed not to be helpful in any way. Example

“Always draw hero characters in strong poses.”

“Be expressive and compose your panels dynamically.”

“Eyes are expressive and give your character most of their mood.”

“Make sure your characters look three dimensional”

In other words, beginners have no idea how to actually follow those tips and intermediate artists are “Well, duh!”

I mean, shouldn’t a ‘how to’ book tell you how to draw strong poses? How to ‘dynamically compose’ a panel?

‘Make your characters look three dimensional’? Yeah, fucker, I bought this book to learn how to do that! Telling me to make my characters three dimensional and showing my how to do that are two completely different things.

Oh, and just to add insult to injury, after this literary abortion, I downloaded and out-of-print book called "Figure drawing without a model" know what that book's big advice was? Draw with a model until you're good enough to not need one.

Isn't that a lot like me writing a book entitled "Live Comfortable without an Income!"...and then write a book where I tell you to work your ass off for the next 50 years, save your money and then live off your savings?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's just broken

Well, I’m officially sick as a dog.

Spent all day today half-sleeping and regularly throwing up. I don’t think there’s anything worse than when your brain’s telling your body to throw up over and over…and there’s absolutely nothing left in your stomach.

Nothing like spending two hours throwing up, and then another three or four dry-heaving which has the bonus side-effect of tearing your vocal chords up.

Luckily, I’m definitely improving. I’ve not thrown up for a few hours and I drank some water and actually managed to keep it down.

The one thing this has shown me though, it just how much the American health-care system sucks.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m an immigrant and I know if I think the British health care system is so much better I can just go back where I came from. Cliché’s aside, it doesn’t change the fact that the health care system in Britain is about a billion times better than the American one.

If I felt like this in England, I could go see the doctor, get checked out and it wouldn’t cost me a single penny. If I needed prescription medication I’d expect to pay around ten dollars for it, rather than some of the meds over here which cost 90 dollars per pill.

As simply as I can put it, a few months before I moved to America I ended up with a really bad chest infection. I went to see the doctor, was prescribed some crazy-strong antibiotics and it only cost me seven dollars (and that’s just the cost of the meds). If I’d been unemployed at the time, I could have got the meds for free.

If I went to the doctor over here, even if all the doctor said was “You’ve got a bug, drink lots of liquids and call me in a week”, that would cost me around $400. If I needed medication, that could be anywhere from $50 - $150 on top of that.

To be totally fair, the health care system in America is nicer in that you get your own private room, cable TV etc, etc…but considering the cost, it’s just not worth it.

Yep, in England you can choose to get a private health plan and get all those bells and whistles, but my point is that in England, if you get sick, you’ll get medical attention for free. You might get that medical attention in a hospital ward rather than a private room…but I’d rather know I can go to hospital without going into debt for the next 10 years.

What I don’t understand is why America doesn’t have a free health care system. Enough taxes come out of your paycheck already, and when the government can afford to spend literally billions of dollars per week for the war in Iraq, the same government can’t afford to look after its own citizens’ health?

This might be overly simplistic, but I think it makes a point:

There are 60 million people in America. Let’s say with unemployment, people being retired or below working age that 30 million of those are working. Take a ‘healthcare’ tax out of all those paychecks for, say, $20 a month. That’s 7.2 billion dollars a year to pay for a free healthcare program.

I know, more taxes wouldn’t be popular, but that’s 20 bucks a month versus $700 for ‘comprehensive’ health care.

Right now you’re probably thinking that even 7.2 billion wouldn’t go very far…but that’s part of the problem as well.

The US healthcare system is that it’s run like a business and costs are ridiculous. Take Sunny’s CPAP machine. Those things cost about $400 direct from the manufacturer, but that didn’t stop her doctor’s office charging her $700 per month rent for it. If someone can give me a good reason why it costs $8400 a year to have access to a machine that only costs $400 to buy, please explain it to me.

The thing that highlights this the most is the prescription drugs are marketed to us on TV. Considering the way healthcare is supposed to work is that you’re supposed to go to a doctor, get diagnosed and then the doctor prescribes what he or she thinks is the best medication for you…why are these prescription drug ads even on TV?

The idea is that we’re going to see them, decide we have that illness and run to our doctors and demand a prescription.

Put simply, medical costs are so high because it’s a seller’s market. We have a choice. Pay whatever price they quote, or spend the rest of your life in pain…or just die.

What it boils down to is that the only way any healthcare system can work properly is if it’s run on a humanitarian basis. Each nation should look after its own citizens’ health regardless of how much money they have.

Yes, you can point out that it’s illegal for a hospital to refuse treatment on the basis of payment, but all that means is that for a large percentage of the population, get sick, go into debt, get a ruined credit rating and spend the rest of your life living paycheck to paycheck.

Just to double underline how bad things are, think of this:

I’d like to say that the American healthcare system is broken, but the truth is that America doesn’t actually have a healthcare system. Instead it has a healthcare business and when it comes to your health, how big your bank account is shouldn’t come into it.

The only other thing I’ll mention is that we are partly responsible for this, and the reason we’re responsible is the sheer number of lawsuits that are filed every year. We’re putting doctors in the position where they have to be absolutely, completely and totally perfect.

Thanks to ridiculous lawsuits that require doctors to be nothing short of Gods, or the leeches of our society who see suing people as a valid business model (such as the guy who successfully sued a hospital for ten thousand dollars for ‘allowing’ him to discharge himself…even though he had to sign a form stating he was leaving the hospital against medical advice)…medical costs are soaring.

What this means is that if you’re a doctor and you start your own practice, you’re looking at insurance premiums of around 2 million dollars a year. That means you have to make two million before you even start paying your bills and your staff. You’re essentially starting each year two million in the red.

The solution to this is simple, and again it comes from England. In England, if you sue someone and lose your case, you’re responsible for all the legal fees, including your opponents costs and court costs. In other words, there aren’t as many outlandish and ridiculous lawsuits because if you take someone to court, you have a lot to lose.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bad Week

I’m not having the best week.

Last weekend we had a great cookout with Sunny’s kids. I really had fun.

The bad part was that while it was windy, and the wind was incredibly cold (cold enough to make me wear a sweatshirt for most of the day), the sun was as strong as Superman on steroids.

Now, I should point out that I have incredibly fair skin. If I know I’m going out in the sun I usually wear at least factor 70 sun block. That is not a joke. It is possible for me to spend less than half an hour outside in the sun and end up fire-engine red.

Usually, this redness fades completely over night and I wake up the next morning as pale as I was before I made the mistake of encountering the scare-ball.

However, thanks to the cold wind I obviously burned the crap out of myself without realizing it. I had a sleepless night, woke up the next morning with my face looking like leather and have spent every day since then shedding like a fricking snake.

Then, yesterday, I decided to cheer myself up by making a curry for dinner. Everything was going great until I couldn’t find my chef’s knife and decided to chop the onions with a steak knife. I got distracted for a second, and slash…I damn near took the tip of my thumb off. It was one of those really annoying cuts where not only is it deep, it makes a ‘flap’ of skin, which means it continually slides around and won’t heal.

Finally, to top off a perfect couple of days, I stand up to get a drink from the kitchen and suddenly feel so dizzy I nearly fall over. All today I’ve been going through stages where I’ll feel absolutely fine, and then I’ll suddenly get a wave of nausea and dizziness.

Great, I’m coming down with something…and thanks to Sunny’s recent stay in the hospital, instead of thinking “I feel a little queasy, I’ve probably got a bug or something”…I’m thinking “My kidneys are shutting down, my heart’s gonna stop any minute and I probably have a brain tumor.”

Hopefully things will look up next week.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Let's just stop this, shall we.

Well, I heard this week that Ben Stein is making a movie in which he claims to ‘prove’ the existence of God and Creationism.

My regular readers right now are expecting another scathing commentary on Christianity.

Instead, I want to say something else. Can we just forget all this shit and stop acting like it’s a big deal?

Ok, ok, I know that right now, after having written probably ten thousand words on my views on the subject that this sounds more than a little hypocritical. So let me start by clearing a couple points up.

I still believe Creationism has absolutely no place in science class and will continue to express my views on that subject when the need arises. However, what I’m getting totally sick of is the constant ‘Religion vs. Atheism’ debate that’s going on.

Basically, I have no problem with people believing in Creationism. I have no problem with the religious. I have no problem with religion and creationism being taught in schools. I just don’t want a religious belief being represented to kids as scientific fact in science class.

My point is, why do we care what everyone else believes?

Unfortunately, over the past few years (especially since 9/11) atheism has become ‘cool’. Kids decide that they’re atheists today for the same reason my generation got piercings and tattoos. Plenty of kids haven’t given a second’s thought to religion or what their actual beliefs are. They call themselves atheists because it will shock their parents.

I’m a lifelong atheist and I’m totally sad to say that there are people online and in the news today who call themselves ‘atheists’ and are just as bigoted, short-sighted and ignorant as the religious establishments they claim they’re fighting against.

Atheism, like choice of religion, should be a personal choice. Atheism is not just another a flag to gather under as a place to hate people from. Atheism means that you, personally, don’t believe in God. It doesn’t imply a hatred of the religious. Going out of your way to ridicule any group based on their beliefs is just as unacceptable as other people forcing their beliefs on you.

Unfortunately, In the Internet Age these extremist groups simple get too much attention and press, meaning things continually get blown out of proportion.

This is something that I’m guilty of, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. In the past I’ve posted my disgust at religious people as a whole, based purely on the handful of rabid creationists and the people who use religion as an excuse for homophobic hate speech.

Recently, however, I learned a few things. For example, the ‘Church’ behind the ‘God Hates Fags’ signs that have been all over the news and internet over the past few months consists entirely of a guy, his family and a handful of friends. However, this doesn’t stop Atheists as a whole judging all Christians by the actions of a handful of extremist idiots.

The same is true of the Atheists. People judge us purely on the rabid anti-religious people who claim all churches should be burned down.

Basically, the situation we have is that 99% of atheists are happy just to live their own lives and don’t actually care what their neighbors believe. 99% of the religious are just plain old, ordinary people who go to church on Sunday. However, thanks to a sensationalist press, people believe that Christianity wants science stamped out completely and that if something contradicts the Bible, it shouldn’t be taught in schools… while on the other hand atheists secretly worship Satan, want to destroy religion all together and burn down churches.

Things like Ben Stein’s movies are just more fuel for the fire.

I mean, who is that movie actually for? Atheists won’t go to see it and the religious are just being told something they already believe.

It’s just more ammunition for a pointless battle. The extremists on both sides will hold it up as proof, or just more made-up bullshit respectively.

Here we have a guy claiming to ‘prove’ God exists and that Creationism is correct. Unfortunately, to anyone with half a brain, both of those things are impossible. You simply can’t prove the existence of God any more than you can disprove his existence.

All Ben Stein is doing is giving extremists something else to fight over. Basically he’s jumping on the bandwagon, being just another idiot like that TV pastor who claimed that because a Banana is so easy to peel and fits into a human hand perfectly, it’s solid proof that God exists. When that was on TV, the religious extremists jumped up and down claiming atheism has been dealt a ‘death blow’ while the pseudo-atheists launched into more hate speech while holding up poisonous fruits as proof that God didn’t exist.

Then, the 99% majority on both sides shook their heads and wished everyone would just shut up. The religious majority didn’t need an extremist asshole making them all look stupid and the atheists didn’t appreciate being represented as psychotic anti-religious zealots.

What it boils down to is that this whole argument is as pointless as it is futile.

It’s pointless because it doesn’t matter what people believe, except to the person believing it. People are people. Being religious doesn’t automatically make you moral and being an atheist doesn’t automatically make you immoral. There are good people and complete and total bastards on each side. It’s essentially like having a major debate over which color is the ‘best’. In the long run, it just doesn’t matter.

It’s also futile because you’ll never convince a religious person or an atheist to ‘switch sides’.

Essentially, it’s battle in which you’re fighting faith with evidence and vice versa. They’re polar opposites and each side’s arguments just don’t apply to the other side.

In other words, the religious are saying “Forget the facts and figures, have faith and just believe.” but atheists won’t believe anything that can’t be proven.

The Atheists are saying “Look at all this evidence that suggests you’re wrong” and the religious answer “Who needs evidence when you have faith?”

In conclusion, religion or the lack thereof is a personal choice. You can talk about your beliefs but ridiculing people when they don’t believe the same thing you do is simply unacceptable.

Unfortunately, thanks to the extremist minority on both sides, ‘religious’ and ‘atheist’ are slowly becoming nothing more than labels that we use to differentiate ourselves and claim superiority.

Attempting to not sound to ‘touchy-feely’ here, but ‘religious’ and ‘atheist’ is basically becoming like ‘black’ and ‘white’, ‘citizen’ and ‘immigrant’. We need to realize that we’re all just people. We’ll always have differences, but differences shouldn’t be used as reasons to attack each other.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Pfffft! As IF!"

Ok, it’s pet peeve time again.

You’re sitting watching a movie, when suddenly you hear someone next to you exclaim “Pffft! As if!” or “That guy’s dumb! Why didn’t he just shoot him!”

If you ever hear someone say that, punch them in the balls.

I’ll tell you why what you see is a little far fetched. Because you’re watching fiction and the movie would be complete and total shit if it followed real life rules.

The first part is called ‘willing suspension of disbelief’. Half of what you watch on TV or the silver screen has absolutely no chance of happening in real life. The point is that you accept that you’re watching a story and take everything in the context of the movie.

If you’re watching a sci-fi adventure, the unbelievable part isn’t that the hero managed to steer his starfighter through an impossibly small gap, swing it around, fly backwards and launch some kind of energy torpedo that he managed to aim through a 2 inch chink in the big battle cruiser’s armor from over a mile away. The unbelievable part is that this starfighter/battlecruiser/energy torpedo exists in the first place!

Uttering ‘as if’ during a movie, with very few exceptions, makes you a gigantic douchebag. I remember watching ‘The Matrix’ with a college buddy and he said “Pfft! As if!” when Agent Smith punched through the concrete wall. What he was essentially saying was:

“Ok, I’m willing to accept that the entire human race is trapped in a computer-generated simulation so robots from the future can keep us under control in order to steal our body heat to generate electricity…but a guy punching through a wall? No way! He’d break his hands!”

In the context of ‘The Matrix’ a guy being able to punch through a concrete wall is probably the most believable thing in there!

In fact, the only times you can utter ‘as if’ and be safe from a vicious ball-punching is when something unbelievable happens in the context of the story. For example, if you were watching ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and half way through Tom Hanks skied down the side of a destroyed building on two dead nazis, somersaulted over the top of a tank while throwing a grenade down it’s barrel, causing it to explode…then, as he lands perfectly in a suitably heroic stance, he says ‘Tank you very much, Fritz’… then you can say ‘as if!’

You may not however say ‘as if’ if the above happens in a superhero movie. If the main character is an Alien/Superhero/Giant Robot, literally anything can happen.

However, the thing that’s much worse than the “As if!” people are the nitpickers.

These are the people who put on their smart-ass hats, point out the blatantly obvious and act as if it’s some sort of revelation.

“Gah! Why does the villain always insist on strapping Bond to a complicated death machine? Why not just shoot him? That’s just stupid!”

Doctor No: A movie in which 007 gets caught by the bad guy and gets shot. The End.

“Why are stormtroopers supposed to be so feared? They’re dumb They can’t even shoot straight!”

Episode IV : A New Hope. A 15 minute film about a farm boy named Luke Skywalker who goes to Mos Eisley, charters a ship piloted by Han Solo and gets cut down by laser fire as it tries to take off.

“I can’t run a PS3 game on my Xbox360,, but somehow that guy can ‘upload a virus’ to an alien mothership with nothing more than a laptop!”

Independence Day : A movie about aliens, gigantic spaceships that results in the complete annihilation of the human race thanks to a hardware incompatibility issue.

Do I make my point? If the characters in a movie acted with real-world common sense or were constrained to behaving in a realistic way we’d have a lot of awfully short and boring movies. It’s called narrative necessity. The hero has to make the lucky escape. The last chance, one in a million shot has to succeed and the protagonist has to be completely unaware of the obvious ‘quick fix’ solution to the problem. If we didn’t have these thing all movies would be like the above. Short, stupid and thoroughly un-entertaining.

One last thing, something that even tops out nitpicking and ‘as if’ on my annoy-o-meter scale are the people who try to explain away these inconsistencies. They try to explain why it’s perfectly feasible to hack a mothership with a laptop, or why the Star Destroyers have their shield generators in such a targetable position outside the shields they generate.

These are people on the opposite end of the spectrum from the nitpickers, the people who write reams and reams of information in an attempt to make an obvious plot-hole sound plausible. They write ten thousand word dissertations on how the designers of the Death Star obviously wouldn’t consider a fighter a threat, resulting in the ‘thermal exhaust port’ that led to its destruction.

The truth is that the ‘thermal exhaust port’ isn’t there because of empire ‘short sightedness’ or ‘engineering necessities’. It’s there because the plot required a way for the heroes to blow it up.

So to the nitpickers and the rationale creators I have just this to say:

You are giant douchebags. It’s fiction. Get over it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Movie Trailers Suck Balls

Movie trailers are pretty much awful.

Here’s what a movie trailer should do:

1) Give the viewer a rough idea of what the movie’s about.

2) Show the viewer which actors are in the movie.

3) Show a few seconds of an effects-filled/high action scene if applicable.

This means the viewer should see the trailer and say to his friends “We should go see Generic Action Movie! It’s about this dude trying to save the world from a psychic dog, it’s got Jessica Alba in it and there’s a scene where she backflips over a speeding 18-wheeler wearing nothing but a thong! Awesome!”

Instead, most movie trailers do the following:

a) Focus on one aspect of the movie, which is usually only about 15 minutes of screen time.

b) Give away a major plot twist, making it pointless to see the movie.

c) Totally misrepresent what the actual movie is about.

Let’s start off with the movie ‘Jarhead’, which sums up ‘a’ perfectly. Now, to be fair, I loved this movie, but it was the exact opposite of what the trailer made me believe I was going to watch.

Jarhead was pretty ‘deep’. It was pretty much a study of the ‘boredom’ and being ‘cut off’ that comes with joining the military. It’s a story about how people react after being trained to kill, flown off to war, and then left sitting in the middle of a desert with nothing to do for a few years…while constantly worrying about what their girlfriends and wives are up to. We see the main character go from being a misfit who wants out of the marines, to falling in love with the idea of being a marine, becoming desperate to kill someone just to relieve the boredom, venturing close to madness… then eventually struggling to readapt to civilian life.

As the movie’s final quote says: “A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands, love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper; his hands remember the rifle.”

Now watch the trailer:

After watching that, did anyone go to this movie expecting anything other than a high-action war movie with a large dose of humor thrown in?

Basically, they skated completely around any of the ‘deep’ parts of the movie and every action scene was shown, almost in full, in this trailer. A touch of misrepresentation maybe?

This wasn’t an action movie, but the trailer made us believe it was.

Then we come to probably the worst trailer in the history of movies. This is the prime example of giving away the twist.

“Double Jeopardy”

The whole point of seeing this movie was for a rather clever twist. A guy gets killed and his wife goes to jail for his murder even though she didn’t do it. It’s set up as a standard thriller/mystery movie. We expect the wife to get out of jail, find the real killer and avenge her husband.

Instead, it turns out that her husband faked his own death and actually framed his wife for his murder. His wife wants to break out of jail and make him suffer, but one of her jail friends tells her (paraphrased) “Relax and do your time. You can’t be tried for the same offense twice. You’ve already been tried, convicted and served your sentence for your husband’s murder. When you get out you could gun him down in front of a hundred police officers, and there’s not a single thing they can do about it. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?”

Good twist, right? The writer’s obviously thought so…and that’s why they cast an unknown as the husband so people would believe he was gone for good when he was killed. It’s why the scenes after the husband’s return were filmed in absolute secrecy. It was “Luke, I am your father” all over again.

That, of course, didn’t stop the studio giving away the entire twist in the trailer.

Bear in mind this is the equivalent of a movie poster that says “The Sixth Sense : Bruce Willis was dead all along!” or “The Empire Strikes Back : Vader is Luke’s Father!”

Finally we come to total misrepresentation of what a movie is about.

Here’s the trailer to “Bridge to Terabithia”

Ok, what did you think? A movie similar to ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ maybe? Kids find secret portal and find themselves battling the bad-guys in a fantasy setting?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that. I certainly thought that, and that’s why I watched it when Sunny ordered it of On Demand.

Know what this movie is actually about?

Kid makes new friend. Friend takes kid to the woods where they pretend to go to the magical land of Terabithia. Kid and friend have pre-teen angst at school. They play more pretend games. Friend eventually dies in an unrelated accident. Kid cries. Movie ends.

Basically we have ‘My Girl’ with two or three ‘imagination’ sequences that are minutes long. Is that what you’d expect to see after watching its trailer?

So what we have here are three movies that are totally unrelated to their trailers.

Jarhead was pretty underhanded. They knew more people would go to see a ‘funny action movie’ than a ‘deep’ movie about loneliness and being cut off.

Double Jeopardy was a classic case of studio stupidity. “This movie is great because of the twist…but if people don’t know about the twist, they won’t want to see it as much! Put the twist in the trailer!” Of course, knowing the twist totally negates it…but they don’t think that far ahead.

Bridge to Terabithia was just freaking evil. It’s a total misrepresentation of what the movie actually is. In simplest terms the trailer literally tricks us into watching a movie. They might as well have shown the trailer to another movie and just replaced the title.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Face-Punch Theory

My friends, I would like to share with you the “Punched in the Face Theory of Interpersonal Contact”.

This is a theory I completely made up in order to explain why there seem to be so many complete and utter assholes around today.

Ok, let’s go back in time about 20 years.

Little Timmy is 10 years old. He’s playing a game with a bunch of other kids in the playground. First he blatantly cheats, and then decides to get right in another kid’s face gloating about how he won and the other kid’s mother has oral sex with goats.

What’s the result?

He gets punched in the face, none of the kids want to play with him any more and he learns a lesson: Acting like douchebag gets you punched in the face and leaves you with no friends.

Fast forward to today. Little Timmy is at his computer, playing a game or posting comments on other people’s websites. He’s acting like a total douchebag, and people tell him so. Timmy, hidden behind the anonymity of the internet, finds this fucking hilarious. He can act like a bigoted little shit in a consequence free environment.

Then, he talks to his ‘friends’ who are all people he’s never actually met in real life. He talks about how he ‘pwned noobs and bitches’ and his friends all tell him how hilarious this is and how ‘he’s the man’.

Result? Timmy learns that being a douchebag is amazingly fun and people will think you’re awesome.

He totally misses the fact that he doesn’t actually have any real friends, and that his online friends probably wouldn’t like him very much if they met him in real life. It’s easy to get on with someone who you only talk to for an hour or so a day, especially when you have plenty of time to think if ‘witty’ responses and can tell them anything you want.

Little Timmy is five feet tall, has bad acne and has never so much as touched a real girl. To his online friends, he’s 6 feet tall, works out for five hours each day, plays guitar in a band and ‘like, totally did five chicks last night’.

This results in him having zero social skills as he doesn’t actually interact with very many real people all the way through school.

Then, he starts his working life and acts like a complete and total douche. People who actually have social skills don’t punch him in the face because they know that in the adult world, punching someone in the face is likely to result in losing your job or prison time for assault. Timmy doesn’t realize this and thinks the reason he’s avoiding beatings is because he’s totally intimidating.

Again, he ends up with zero friends and ends up as a total outcast, but every night he goes home, goes online and tells his online friends that the people he works with are a bunch of stuck up pussies. His douchebag friends listen to him and tell him how hilarious he is.

Eventually, Timmy gets out of his car and screams at someone for cutting him off, or he pushes some guy in a bar a little too far and gets his ass kicked. Of course, he didn’t throw the first punch, because the concept of actually cashing the checks his mouth constantly writes is totally alien to him…and the guy who beat him up ends up getting sued or going to jail. All this does is reinforce Timmy’s idea that he’s awesome and better than everyone else.

He goes online again and updates his myspace page about how some psycho attacked him, but he totally kicked the guy’s ass, sorry those three guy’s asses, and the police got involved and they’re sending his attackers to jail…then he totally banged their girlfriends.

In essence, my theory is this. Getting punched in the face at a young age makes you a better person. It was impossible to be a complete ass when I was a kid without facing some serious consequences.

Today, when 90% of kid’s communication goes through the internet or phone texting, kids just don’t learn that being a selfish douchebag is a bad thing. They don’t understand the difference between thinking and saying something and actually doing it.

This is why it’s completely impossible to play an online game without getting screamed at by racist 12 year olds. It’s why there are so many suburban middle-class white kids who think taking a picture of themselves wearing a gigantic (fake) gold chain, holding an airsoft gun makes them a ‘gangsta’. It’s why there are so many pale, friendless virgins who think that 1500 myspace friends means they’re ‘popular’

Friday, April 11, 2008

Excuse me, are you from this planet?

Today, I was cleaning out my inbox when I realized just how many freaking forwards I had. I hate forwards.

Then, hidden at the bottom of one of those fucking awful 'inspirational' forwards, I found this. It pretty much embodies everything I despise about forwards. Read it, then I'll explain why:

"Sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding jokes to us without writing a word.

When you are very busy, but still want to keep in touch, guess what you do? You forward jokes.

When you have nothing to say, but still want to keep contact, you forward jokes.

When you have something to say, but don't know what, and don't know how, you forward jokes.

Also to let you know that you are still remembered, you are still important, you are still loved, you are still cared for, guess what you get?

A forwarded joke.

So, next time if you get a joke, don't think that you've been sent just another forwarded joke, but that you've been thought of today and your friend on the other end of your computer wanted to send you a smile."

Why does this embody everything I hate about forwards? Because, like most 'inspirational' forwards it takes a real problem or complicated issue, and wraps it up in the same sickly-sweet faux-sentimentality you find in 'chicken soup for the soul'. It bears not even the most passing resemblance to reality, but some douchebag with no real friends can send it to as many people as possible and think about how awesome;y deep they are.

You see, if someone got an email and thought "Hey, (specific person) would find this freaking hilarious!" Then forwarded the email with a personal note saying "Hey (name), got this in my email today and thought you'd like it!"...That's just fine and dandy.

However, what really happens is Douche McDouchebag gets about 50 forwards, casually glances at them and then forwards them to everyone on their address list, most of the time including the person who sent it to them originally.

Then, just to piss me off even more that getting 50 emails containing pictures of cats, 'inspirational' stories about how we're all the same really and all manner of 'jokes' that started doing the rounds when people faxed them to each other, Douche McDouchebag has a friend, Cock McVaginaface. Cock McVaginaface also auto-forwards every forward he gets...and I'm in his address book as well...meaning I get another 50 forwards that are exactly the same as the first 50.


Getting forwards doesn't make me think "Awww, this person is thinking of me!" It makes me think "Why the hell am I friends with this cockbag? All he does is clog my inbox with random shit that he should know I have no interest in!"

Just look at that little inspirational message about forwards:

"When you have nothing to say, but still want to keep contact, you forward jokes."

Personally, I think that if you have nothing to say, you should just shut the fuck up. If you're a friend of mine, I'll understand if you drop out of contact for a few days because you have nothing to talk about with me. If you're not a friend, I don't actually care if I don't hear from you...and clogging my inbox with random bullshit isn't the way to make me your friend.

When you have something to say, but don't know what, and don't know how, you forward jokes.

When you're talking self contradictory horse shit, that makes zero sense, but gives you the vague sense of 'depth' you get from a really, really bad direct-to-cable TV 'feel good' movie as you write it, you're writing another shitty forward.

I mean, seriously. If you have 'something to say' but don't know 'what it is' or 'how to say it'...It's time to up your meds.

This shit just wouldn't work in real life:

"Hey Steve."

"What's up, Jeff?"

"I've got something to tell you."

"What is it."

"I don't know."

"You what?"

"I don't know...and I don't know how to tell you what I don't know either."

"Are you on crack?"

"Tell you what, how about I tell you a 50 year old joke instead?"

"Get fucked, Jeff, you're a fucking weirdo."

"How about a short story that makes no sense?"

"Will you just fuck off?"

"How about I tell you something obvious, act like it's a revelation and then compare it to something that it's got absolutely nothing to do with and pretend it's wisdom?"

"Get out of my house, or I'll call the police."

"Why are hamburger's called 'hamburgers' when they're made from beef?"

"Get out."

Also, if getting a forward 'lets you know that you are still remembered, you are still important, you are still loved, you are still cared for.' You seriously need to get a fucking life. I know I'm 'cared for' and 'loved' because I actually talk to my friends and family. My self worth doesn't revolve around how many new emails I get per day.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Coming Soon...

Have you ever asked yourself "If my blog was a major motion picture, what would the teaser trailer look like?"

Probably not. You have to be insanely bored and have way too much time on your hands like me.

Well, I was precisely bored enough to ask myself that question today, so I threw this together.

Pretty rough, but it has a pretty particle system in play...Oh, and I'd finished rendering the thing and mixing the audio when I realised the text at the end wasn't quite centered, so I couldn't be bothered re-doing it...I wasn't quite that bored.

It loses a little bit in blogger. The original had stereo sound and was in high-def. Here you go!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Fresh Batch of Crazy

Blogging can be pretty damn weird.

Back in 2006 I wrote a post that just seems to be a crazy-person magnet.

The post was intended to be extremely light hearted and, dare I say it, humorous. It was basically a list of inventions that those 70’s and 80’s Sci-Fi shows said we should have by now. The actual title of the post was “Where’s my flying car, dammit?!”

It was a post where I chastised ‘lazy scientists’ for inventing things like mobile phones and the internet, but ignoring inter-stellar starships, flying cars and teleporters.

Well, minutes after that post was published, Crazy guy no.1 kicked things off with a 2000 word comment about how he’d invented a ‘liquid electricity engine’, but couldn’t get funding to build one because of government conspiracies and ‘idiot scientists’. I won’t rehash the comment, but suffice it to say that his ‘theories’ had holes in them that you could drive a bus through. I particularly enjoyed the part where he said his engine’s main output was a ‘stationary, dirty-pink light cloud’…that was somehow also going to revolutionize the ‘special effects industry with filmable synthetic actors’…what, like in ‘Shrek, you mean?’

It didn’t take very long to realize that this guy was 100 different types of crazy. Most of what he said was obviously false, such as his statement that a well known nuclear physicist ‘accused’ him of ‘talking in the fourth dimension’. That sounds bafflingly scientific and impressive…to people who don’t know that the ‘fourth dimension’ is time, meaning the whole ‘talking in the fourth dimension’ thing makes no sense.

Oh, and there where other subtle hints that this guy wasn’t playing with a full deck, such as his assertions that ‘the Government’ had destroyed four of his computers by trying to hack into them and steal his data…and that remote viewers were trying to steal the information from his mind while he slept.

Anyway, I wrote a new post for this guy, pointing out the absolutely glaringly false statements he came out with, and made a comment that said pretty much what I said above. He told me to ‘get real’…and I said that being told to ‘get real’ by someone who believes psychics are trying to steal information from his mind while he slept was pretty much like being told to quit drinking for my health by someone smoking crack.

Well, two years later, crazy guy is back. I’m not sure if it’s the same guy, but the writing style is the same, and he linked to one of the original guy’s pages, so there’s a good chance it is. If so, this guy must sit at his computer all day, looking for any references to himself or his bullshit ideas just so he can flame people.

Here’s his comment:

“Check it out puppy... Surf Remote Viewing lessons.. and go into their web sites, posting short insulting letters about how you believe their remote viewing is just all ape class bullshit...

Then the next few nights watch your dreams, and record those extremely invasive pressures around your head.. and tell us about the faces you saw and see every time you close your eyes...

I ain't about to teach you how to deflect and even permanently damage attacking RV'ers.. That's something you must learn on your own... Check it out... You've got a lot to learn.. and you haven't even begun.. and probably won't...”

First of all, Puppy??? Is that meant to be offensive? Maybe the guy actual believes I’m a dog…which wouldn’t surprise me.

If he does, I have only one thing to say: Grrrrrr, woof! Bark! Grrrrr!

Then we come to my ‘punishment’. He ‘ain’t going to teach me’ how to deflect or ‘permanently damage’ remote viewers.

Well, shit on a shingle, that’s bad news. I could really use some information on how to deflect an attack that doesn’t exist. Just for that, I’m not going to teach him my special technique for fighting of Sock-Eating Goblins…Hah! He’ll regret that the next time he opens the drier and finds one of his favorite socks missing its twin! I won’t even teach him how to battle the TV Remote gnome…the little bastard who sneaks into your house at night and hides the remote down the back of the sofa!

That’ll teach him.

However, I do ask myself one question. If remote viewing is real, and people really can send and take information from each other’s heads at will…why do they bother with websites?

I mean, if I could project images into other people’s heads…which apparently they can, considering I’m supposed to be ‘seeing faces’ every time I close my eyes, I wouldn’t bother with email. I’d just use my remote viewing powers to chat with like minded people…and I wouldn’t even have to pay an ISP for the privilege.

The saddest thing is that this guy, and people like him, actually pity us for having ‘limited horizons’. Apparently, we don’t ‘get it’. Unfortunately, the thing these people never understand is that we do ‘get it’. We ‘get it’ so much that we actually understand that their bullshit ideas just won’t work.

They love to point out that most of the major inventions and scientific breakthroughs over the past few centuries were laughed at. They forget that the people who were laughed at back then actually proved their theories. They put their money where their mouths were. When scientists of the day told the Wright Brothers that heavier-than-air flight was impossible, the brothers built a plane and flew it in front of witnesses at Kitty Hawk. They didn’t sit around and complain how secret conspiracies were holding them back…but the people who built those weird flappy-armed, feather covered contraptions did.

Ok, this is for my crazy commenter. I’m trying to do you a favor here, I just hope you can see logic for once:

You’re talking about an invention that would offer pretty much free energy on a massive scale, give us flying cars, interstellar space flight and all other kind of wonders. Have you any idea what an invention of that magnitude would actually be worth?

There’s no ambiguity in your claim. For example, it was very difficult in the pre-computer world to explain to people what use a microchip would be. If the stories are true, one of the VP’s at IBM looked at the first microchip and said “But what is it good for?” In other words, it was a revolutionary technology that was very difficult to sell because you needed a lot of specialist knowledge and foresight to see how useful it would be. The average person in 60’s didn’t want a computer in their home because they couldn’t see how they’d ever need or want one.

Your ‘invention’ doesn’t require any specialist knowledge to understand its use. Imagine telling a car company that they could offer the public a car that never needed to be refueled. Imagine telling the power companies they could continue selling electricity that would cost them almost nothing to produce. Imagine telling the people at NASA you have an engine that could put someone on Mars in less than an hour almost for free...and yes, telling the military they could build submarines that could stay submerged indefinitely or create directed energy weapons that never ran out of ammo.

Sure, you can talk about the oil companies and other industries it would make obsolete fighting it, but when the lobbyists went to Congress, they wouldn’t stand a chance. “This new technology will put us out of business!” “So? The other guy is offering us a technology that will make us the dominant nation of the planet forever!”

An invention like yours would literally be like fire, the wheel, the internal combustion engine and powered flight all rolled into one.

Put simply, if their was any merit to your idea, if there was any chance of it actually working people would be falling over themselves to throw money at you. You can talk of people trying to steal your idea…but my point is that this technology would be such a cash cow that they could pay you a hundred billion dollars for it, and they’d still be ‘screwing’ you.

In essence, it would be like me walking into IBM in the early 70’s, showing them a 2gb memory stick and saying “How much will you pay me if I give you everything you need to manufacture these for a hundred bucks a pop?” They’d pay anything. In 1977 an 80mb hard disk cost around $12,000 and was the size of a filing cabinet. What would they pay to be the first company to offer 2 gigs of storage space on a device that fits in your pocket? Anything, that’s what!

The reason there’s no interest in your idea is because it doesn’t work. You talk of ‘the Government’ trying to steal your idea…but my point is, they wouldn’t have to. You say you just want the funding to make one to prove the principle. Considering in one of your comments you said you built a prototype at home, it’s obviously not going to cost a hugely significant amount of money, so what’s the problem?

If the Government wanted your idea so badly, they wouldn’t be hacking into your computer or using ‘remote viewers’ to steal your thoughts as you slept, you’d be writing about how the government keeps trying to buy your idea from you. Whatever your price, the sheer magnitude of what this technology would represent would be like putting the Mona Lisa up for sale for a dollar fifty.

Long story short, you’re getting no interest in your invention because it won’t work. You can dream up all the paranoid fantasies you want to explain your lack of success, but it doesn’t change the fact you’re trying to sell a daydream.

Anyway, just to go back to where this post started, to any remote viewers out there reading this…bring it on. Sit in your parent’s basements, have long involved daydreams about how you’re giving me headaches and making my life miserable, then go online and talk about how effective your ‘psychic attacks’ were.

In the mean time, I’ll go on living in the real world. The one without people stealing information directly from my head, government conspiracies holding back my inventions that won’t possibly work and people apparently pitying me for not having the foresight to send large amounts of time practicing ‘skills’ that are pure fantasy.

I will, of course, continue my ongoing battle with the Sock Eating Goblins. The little bastards have nicked one of my best socks this week already.

Monday, April 07, 2008

That's it.

Well, Sunny’s officially out of the hospital and is doing great. She’s still feeling pretty bad…but it’s the ‘Ugh, I don’t feel very well’ kinda bad…instead of “Holy shit, I think I’m going to die.” bad.

It’s some scary shit when I think about it. I honestly think that if Sunny had waited an extra day or so before going to the doctor, I’d either be planning her funeral right now, or we’d still be in hospital and Sunny would be on the transplant list.

The other thing is it highlighted just how royally screwed I’d be without Sunny. I’ve got no job, no way to get around, no way to pay the bills…basically, things need to get straight pretty damn soon or I’m just going to go nuts.

Now, normally I tend to keep personal things out of my blog, for the simple reason I don’t like to offend people or cause trouble when I don’t need to. I’ve got enough problems without creating more.

However, I’ve decided I just don’t really give a crap any more.

Like I said, I’d be screwed without Sunny. I don’t have an American drivers license, I don’t have a job and we’re living on my mother-in-law’s property…and I absolutely can’t stand it. I mean, I love my mother-in-law to death, it’s not that I don’t like living her because of her…but let’s just say I never saw myself pushing 30, jobless and being totally dependent on my wife and her family.

What really pisses me off is that despite the fact the vast majority of my in-laws are just plain awesome, there’s a couple members of my wife’s family who like talk about me behind my back and act as if I absolutely love being totally dependent on others to survive…and the only reason I’m not working right now is because I’m just ‘lazy’.

One insists the only reason I got married to Sunny was to get a Greencard, and somehow still believes this despite the fact I’ve had my greencard for nearly two years.

The other one? Well that one is just a plain gigantic thundercunt who loves to chuck rocks despite the fact she lives in a house made from paper-thin glass.

Yeah, that’s right, I love living from paycheck to paycheck, knowing that anything that takes Sunny out of work for more than a couple of weeks would leave us sitting in the dark with no food in the cupboards. I’m obviously just lazy and don’t want a job, that’s why I belong to three separate employment agencies and have sent out roughly 400 job applications over the past 18 months. It’s just a scam I’m running, I look very hard for a job in order to never find one. Course, I got my first job at 14 and was never unemployed between then and moving to America…but I’m probably just making that shit up.

One of the family members in question likes to come up with ‘solutions’ that make no absolutely no goddamned sense, and take my refusal of the dumbass schemes as evidence of my ‘laziness’. Her last great idea was to go back to college.

Of course, I can’t actually afford to go back to college, already have a Bachelors degree and three A-Levels that are the equivalent of American Associates degrees. I also already owe nearly $40,000 dollars on my student loan…so of course the answer to getting a job is to get another degree and go even further into debt. I pointed that out and the response was “Well, you owe $40,000 in England and you don’t live in England any more.”

That’s right, debt just goes away when you leave the country, right? The reason I can’t get a job is obviously because I only have four degrees instead of five!

I’ve said before, my big problem is an employer looks at my resume and thinks “I can either go to the time and expense of writing to or calling England to make sure this guy isn’t making this shit up…or I can go with the guy on the next resume who’s last employer is a local call.”

After Clay dying, Sunny being taken into hospital, having to call my parents to get enough money to pay the bills this week and having to put up with in-laws who like to look down their nose at me…I’m pretty much completely out of diplomacy, tact or suffering self righteous idiots…especially idiots who live and glass houses and are throwing fucking boulders.

Put as simply as possible, I’m a person used to plain speaking, and since I moved to America I just changed where my in-laws were concerned. Fuck being diplomatic, the next time someone decides to tell me everything I’m doing wrong, they’re just going to get told it’s none of their fucking business.

On completely the other side of the coin, I would however like to thank my sister-in-law Tee and step-daughter Julie for giving me so much help when Sunny was in hospital. Without their help I wouldn’t even have been able to visit Sunny. Love ya both.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Update on Sunny and Asshole Doctors

Hey all,

Just got back from the hospital. Sunny’s doing well all things considering. She’s being given three separate anti-biotics through a drip, and they said she’ll need the drip anti-biotics for three days followed by a week of oral ones.

In other news, I really felt like punching out her doctor this morning. Bear in mind I’ve been up now for nearly 38 hours, so my mood wasn’t the best to begin with.

I was at the hospital at 6am, and about an hour later her doctor flounced into the room. Yes, I said flounced, because that’s the only way to describe it.

He says “Well, we looked at your CT scan of your kidneys and it was absolutely horrendous. I actually had to call a colleague and look up what your condition is called…”

Obviously, at this point, my heart leapt into my mouth, my stomach ended up around my knees somewhere. I was honestly expecting the next words out of his mouth to be something like “Your kidneys are shutting down and we’ll need to find a donor in the next few days or you’ll die.”

I was so shocked, I almost didn’t pick up the fact that he sounded like a grade-school teacher telling a parent about a particularly difficult child. Seriously, from his tone, he might as well have been saying “George’s history homework was absolutely horrendous, it’s like he put no effort into it at all.”

Instead, he told us that her bladder infection was so severe that it had spread to her kidneys meaning that, essentially, they were full of pus…This meant that if the antibiotics didn’t work well enough (and there was every indication that they were), she’d need minor surgery to ‘drain’ them

Thanks Doc, I know you’re trained to not sugar-coat diagnoses in order to not give false hope… but congrats for making me think my wife was going to die, just so you could emphasize the point that she should have gone to you sooner.

That’s the number one thing I hate about American doctors. They tend to forget that they charge a shit load of money. The lowest rate comprehensive medical insurance Sunny and I could find for the both of us was significantly more per month than we earn.

In other words, we just can’t afford to go to the doctor every time we feel a little ‘under the weather’…because $400 bucks to have someone put a popsicle stick on my tongue, tell me to say ‘ah’, and then tell me to drink lots of fluids and take it easy for a few days doesn’t actually fall into our budget. Sunny went to see the doctor on the fifth day she was ill, and for the first four, her symptoms were headache, nausea, and achiness. You know…flu.

Then he went on to pretty much berate her for not knowing that her diabetes (that she got diagnosed with just over a month ago) made her more prone to infections.

This from the Doctor from the same doctor’s office who left a message on our machine saying “The results from your test came back, you have type 1 diabetes, thank you.” Followed by a 15 minute visit to the doctor’s office where they basically said “Avoid sugar and follow this diet.”

You know, pardon us for not knowing that diabetes makes your bloodstream more bacteria friendly while weakening your white cells.

Did I mention that the asshole doctor said, totally matter-of-factly, ‘We lump diabetics in with people who have HIV or are on Chemo.”

Thanks doc. That information might have come in useful when your doctor’s office diagnosed her five fucking weeks ago!

Shortly after that we had a visit from the world’s most incompetent CNA. The guy came in to check Sunny’s blood pressure. You know, where they put an inflatable band around your arm, press the ‘go’ button on the machine and wait for the reading?

It took him six attempts to get it right. The first three he didn’t put the band in the right place to get a reading, the fourth time the mysteries of Velcro overcame him and the band popped right off Sunny’s arm while it was inflating…and the fifth time he got so engrossed by the episode of ‘Cash Cab’ that was on the TV, he didn’t look at the machine in time to see what the reading was.

I will say that the actual nurses were very knowledgeable, helpful and comforting, but her actual doctor (the one who spent the grand total of 6 minutes with his patient since she was admitted), might as well have been wearing a T-shirt that said “Guess what? I totally don’t give a fuck about what happens to you.”

Anyway, now that I’ve vented, I’ll just reiterate that Sunny is doing just fine. Yesterday she was having crippling back pains that haveeased off considerably today, meaning the antibiotics are probably doing their job.

Anyway, 38 hours is long enough, I’m going to bed.