Unknown Unknowns Worse Than ISIS

Americans have always had a healthy sense of fear.

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As one of the founding fathers said, “those who would trade security for even a bit of liberty probably never read Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark when they were a young child.”

Lately, however, I fear that our fear has become displaced. Not that refugee grandmas or Mexicans invaders aren’t valid reasons to stay up late at night quaking in your bed, clutching your gun to your breast. But they don’t hold a candle to the real problems we face. Most likely out of ignorance, people ignore the true threats to western democracy. For instance, the terrorists could kill you, but can they eat your soul?

The following nightmare scenarios have the power to turn Fortress America into Institution America. That’s how extremely scary they are. You should be afraid. And you should be informed.

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  1. Floating Disembodied Heads– When I was very young I used to be very afraid of this picture. I became convinced that this horrible, strange image would surprise and attack me by waiting in all the dark corners of my world. Maybe it was in the mail box. Maybe in the dining room when the lights were out. Or it was slowly making its way to me as I sat at my fourth first grade desk. What would happen to me if I ran into this floating head? Well, in the story a dog sees it and dies, so that’s pretty bad. But I’m pretty sure something pretty terrible; probably, it would go ahead and eat my soul. So far, about twenty years later, I haven’t had an encounter yet so this hasn’t happened. Which only means one thing; the head is overdue. And when it’s done with me, it will come for you.                             Ghost-train-by-karola-j-on-deviantART-Google-Chrome_2012-11-13_12-42-19_thumb                             
  2. Ghost Trains – A major problem plaguing the countryside in Britain, ghost trains are a menace wherever there are rails. Hundreds of people die in rail accidents each year, but what the government doesn’t want you to know is that 79 percent of those accidents are probably from ghost trains. I tend to envision a ghost train encounter like the opposite version of the polar express; if you’re waiting at the station and a ghost train pulls up, you probably have a ticket to one of the hotter circles of hell. So it’s less like eating your soul so much as AmTrakking your soul to somewhere very very bad. And ghostly. Some fast facts: A motorist is almost twice as likely to die in an accident involving a ghost train than in a collision involving another moving vehicle of this realm. Also, apparently there’s a ghost train of the Lincoln Funeral Procession that runs from Washington DC to Springfield, IL. Spooky!pet-shop-boys-3
  3. Time Travelers From the Future– Thanks to the clever work of our government, most people believe that the Roswell crash in 1947 was a cover-up involving extra-terrestrials. However, by pretending to cover up the truth in typical nefarious-yet-incompetent manner, the government was able to cover up the real truth that the crash actually involved human time travelers from the future. Why are these people scary? Well, for one, they are among us. Watching. That alone should give you the creeps. And think about the implications. They know the future. That means that every move you make, they not only anticipate, but they know it happened. And they’re from the future. That means they have all sorts of future technology to read our minds or eat our souls. One thing that should be clear is that they are not here simply to observe. They probably come from some future corporate-fascist dystopia and are the great fixers of history, guiding society towards its inevitable and desired demise. Be hopelessly afraid.                 trypanophobia-phobias
  4. Sentient Needles What hates your freedom more than Al Qaeda? Free-moving, sentient nanobot needles. Whose only goal is to hover through the air until they find you. They will stab you, inject your body with hostile chemicals and puncture you continuously until your soul bleeds out. Spooky. exploding_sun_by_twister3010
  5. Spontaneously Collapsing Sun– There is nothing more terrifying, yet more certain, than the death of the sun. Most of us are able to live out the day without fear that something will happen to the sun and destroy us all, but that is because most people aren’t fixated on the uncertainties of science. We know that the sun is the giver of life, the giant nuclear furnace which sustains our planet and civilization, we know if the sun exploded it would only take seven minutes for the light to arrive and inform us of our imminent destruction. But we don’t know when it will happen. Most scientific models predict the end of the sun will naturally occur 5 billion years from now, but what about unnatural probabilities? What happens when we incorporate disembodied floating heads or future time travels into the scientific models? If an artery can rupture on a whim, if a bridge can collapse without advanced notice, than so too can a sun explode. And it takes a good man with a gun to stop a bad sun when it does it will make nuclear holocaust look like fireworks going off in your neighbor’s backyard.  (fun fact- if the sun went supernova tomorrow, the side of Earth facing it would boil away completely)

One Final Question: Is there a safe space? 

no.

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A Few Thoughts on Jose Reyes

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Yesterday was a sad day for baseball. A pitcher, Tommy Hanson, died last night. He was only 29 years old. And it was reported that one my all-time favorite player, Jose Reyes, was arrested for domestic abuse on Halloween night (mugshot above).

This is tragic news for his wife, who I hope is alright, and it is very disappointing to see him

First- he should be punished. MLB unveiled a new domestic violence policy this past August and has an obligation to prove that they were serious about dealing with the issue. The undercurrent of behavioral problems, from DUIs to domestic abuse, has long been ignored by MLB, and although baseball players seem to be on the whole better behaved people than other sports (football football football), there is some evidence that their policies are more lax which is inexcusable.

Second- Baseball can no longer have the ridiculous double standard of punitively destroying the careers of steroid users past and present, while completely ignoring incidents that involve actual harm and injury to others, be it players’ spouses, significant others, strangers in bars, et al. Baseball’s drug policies are absurd. Last week, pitcher Alex Reyes was banned 50 games for using marijuana. 

Throwing your wife into a hotel door ought to at least earn you that much time away without pay, if not more. On Tuesday the baseball commissioner said that MLB could take disciplinary action against Reyes even without a formal conviction, which is appropriate, since Reyes is almost certainly guilty, but a settlement is possible and so is the likelihood of a medium-profile athlete getting off easily.

Third- This feels like a betrayal. Jose Reyes was for a time the most exciting player in baseball; he was the most animated and dynamic player I ever saw live and his attitude and enthusiasm were all extreme positives during his career with the Mets. He’s tailed off somewhat, but I always felt the Mets ownership was extremely unfair to him, labeling him an injury prone showboater and making only a cursory effort (if that) to keep him in New York.

Now, you almost have to wonder if they knew something the public didn’t (ALMOST- that would be giving way too much credit to an ownership group that’s spent the last decade penny pinching and grabbing loans from MLB post Ponzi-scheme).

I’ve been critical of people who have made excuses for other players who’ve abused women just because they play for ‘their’ team or are too valuable to the sport; I’ve heard people say of certain football players like Michael Vick who disgust me that “they served their punishment” and so should be allowed to play. So I think it’s important to stay consistent and advocate for Reyes to be punished in an appropriate manner, even if what he did may not be indicative of chronic or pathological personality.

I hope its not a contradiction to say that I still will think fondly on his time with the Mets and I hope that this incident can help him become a better person, even though this tiny biased glimpse into his private personal life will probably be the last (hopefully) we hear about Reyes family matters. America’s conflicted and contradictory response to athlete’s behavior is due to the strange relationship between players, fans and the media. They are treated as role models but the problem is that professional athletes are born, not made, and often pampered since childhood, so even their “hard work” is not really applicable in most ways to the lives of regular people. But the media and fans often don’t seem to know what to do when it turns out a great athlete is a true monster of a human being. Often people have no trouble throwing an athlete under the bus when they’re marginal or past their prime, but when success in sports butts heads with ugly behavior people seem unwilling to place their values ahead of their loyalties (loyalties to players or teams who they have only a fantastical relationship to).

The truth is we know very little about the “real” people behind the ‘brand’ that these athletes represent, but that’s a given. What is really problematic is that instead of prioritizing that our heroes be actually good people, or just accept that they are primarily entertainers whose skill we admire from a distance, what happens is that we demand only the ‘pretense’ of virtue and when a player’s reality clashes with their successful brand, we try to ignore it because it doesn’t fit the narrative. This isn’t just a problem in sports. We see it in politics, in the arts, even in our daily interactions with other people.

I don’t want to have to hate Jose Reyes, and I don’t want to let him off the hook.

The Most Beautiful Parts of Beautiful Candidates

The year 2015 has given us a dynamic and impressive slate of Republican candidates for the Presidential nomination, but this despite this, the liberal media refuses to acknowledge their positive attributes.

The debate forums have been designed for the moderators to chastise and cajole the candidates into belittling themselves and one another, eschewing the important issues and attempting to portray the whole lot as a sideshow at the circus.

You can’t avoid the truth forever, and the truth is this men (and one woman) are beautiful political creatures who would make exemplar contributions to the national portrait gallery. Here are what I believe to be the best of each candidates’ physical traits.

Ted Cruz: Blow Job Lips 

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Although his talk is brash and feisty, Ted Cruz is a tender lover of all things constitutional. Once in the White House bedroom, when nobody is watching, Ted Cruz will gently coax America to rise once again to its heights of greatness, before splooging liberty all over the world. Like a true Tea Party soldier, Ted Cruz doesn’t like big government–heck, he’s tried to shut it down multiple times–but he’ll take eight inches for eight years to be America’s bitch, because that’s how much he cares for his country.

Carla Fiorino: Beautiful Face 

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What else is there to say? Donald Trump said it all.

Marco Rubio: Beautiful Face 

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What else is there to say? The Hill said it all.

Jeb Bush: Sharp Glasses 

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I admit this isn’t a direct physical attribute, unless the glasses really did grow onto his face, but glasses make for a smart man, and Jeb Bush with glasses is like George Bush with glasses, and George Bush was pretty smart to begin with, despite the media’s misunderstimations. Jeb may not be a guy you want to have a beer with (he might put nails in it), but what he lacks in charmliness he makes up for with wonkenticity. He’s Jebby Drama to George’s movie star. But just like his baby bro, Jeb’s another reformer with results.

Jon Kasic: Who? 

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Not sure what to put here.

Chris Christie: Big Round Tummy 

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I’m not trying to be mean; Chris Christie could be America’s Santa Claus, the jolly fool in the White House. I believe he ate the cast of the Jersey Shore, and that’s actually a good thing. Unfortunately, it looks like he won’t be considered for the Republican nomination because his record during Hurricane Sandy shows sometimes big men use big government to fix the problem instead of trusting market solutions.

Ben Carson: Surgically Enhanced Brain 

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Ben Carson built himself a better brain, inserting new memories into the pre-frontal lobe, such as a violent past and a scholarship to West Point. And as many others have noted, he seems to be capable of running a successful campaign on about 50% brain capacity, using the other half for important activities like sleeping, scamming old people with dietary supplements, and posthumously arming Holocaust victims.

Donald Trump: Intestinal Fortitude Pointy Fingers 

Donald Trump arrives to his Comedy Central Roast in New York, Wednesday, March 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)

I gotta admit, this was a hard one, as Donald Trump is 69 years old and his bluster to luster gap kind of reminds me of Immortan Joe from the new “Mad Max” film. I have a feeling underneath those snappy suits is a pretty soft, underwhelming body. However, a lot of fuel is required to keep the Trump machine going day after day, a perpetual noise machine that will sandblast his way to the White House. That must require an efficient and dedicated digestive system, and for that Trump deserves our attention and respect.

11/6 Update: After watching ten minutes (of which I can never have back) of Saturday Night Live last night, I think its fair to say that the intestinal strength is a myth. Trump can barely handle a few minutes at a time of sitting in a chair reading cue cards and play-acting his Presidency. So his stamina isn’t what it used to be, and he’s also more terrifying than funny, but you got to give credit where credit is due: the man’s got fingers.

Those fingers tweet and text all night long, insulting cast members (yes I know it was all fake), Rosie O’Donnell, political opponents, anybody who questions his assertion that he’s just a “nice guy.” A nice guy whose most iconic image is pointing his finger at people and firing them. Finger-firing them?

Just imaging all the thing Trump can do with his fingers when he’s President.

Honorable Mention (the rest):

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Rick Santorum- Shiny Forehead, Mike Huckabee- Puffy Dimples, Scott Walker- Flaccid Penis

“His Dark Materials” Television Show? Bleh

http://variety.com/2015/tv/global/bbc-orders-philip-pullmans-his-dark-materials-1201632207

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The BBC is producing a television version of the “His Dark Materials” trilogy, which could be good, but its also disappointing in that it means at best the cinematic treatment this series deserves is postponed indefinitely.

I want to talk now about how much I hated the movie that came out in 2007. The filmmakers didn’t trust the audience or the material and New Line Cinemas must have really thought they could just half-ass their way to another Lord of the Rings moneymaker. They even brought in Sir Ian McKellen for a very unnecessary redubbing of the “ice bear” in the picture above.

Among the worst atrocities committed against this story:

  • The book’s ending was filmed but then screen-tested out of the final cut because (spoiler alert?) it it was too big of a downer. After lopping off the final twenty minutes of the story, the film was then recut out of sequence to end with a cliche climactic battle and a false upbeat ending. Nevertheless, because it was so slapdash, the random “mission accomplished” speech force fed into the heroine’s mouth at the end of the film creates a bigger, more frustrating cliffhanger than the original ending would have.
  • The “anti-Christian” message of the film was also excised and screen-tested out of the film. Even though the story was written as a fantasy-counterpoint to the dogma in “Paradise Lost”, the “Church” was reduced to a bogus, generic evil organization, still called the “Magisterium” but dumbing down the metaphor of the original story from “organized religious leaders often resemble fascists” to “fascists often resemble fascists.” A brave, bold statement…for turd faces.
  • They changed the setting and scenery from the vague Victorian/steampunk vibe in the books to some generic fantasy-land garbage that was inspired by…nothing. The director was afraid to do something closer to the books because it had already been done by…”Van Helsing.”
  • The movie itself was very awkwardly paced, and began with a stupid voiceoover explaining “the world” to the audience, The characters were introduced too rapidly and the story rushed to get from one set piece to the next without laying the connecting foundation to make any of it something the audience might care about. Overall, the book’s tone pitted the fiery and intrepid Lyra against some seriously dark and sinister forces, on all sides. Yet in the movie, her dark and brooding father (played by Daniel Craig) was re-envisioned as an Arctic Indiana Jones.

There is no reason to think the television show won’t be great. Although there is no cast or crew yet the BBC’s track record with fantasy/adventure material is pretty good. On the other hand, the expansive and dramatic nature of the story will be undermined by the television medium. And I worry about the awkward breakdown of a miniseries format; there are three clear stories to be told in “His Dark Materials”; the story is lengthy but tightly plotted, and I worry that a television series would disturb the flow of the narrative for excessive and confusing “world building”, which leads me to my last worry,

which is that future fantasy television dramas will take their cue from “Game of Thrones.” They should not. Even though I don’t think there’s any threat of crazy sex or violence in “His Dark Materials”, there may be the temptation for drawn out scenes and sub plots with side characters that don’t push anything forward. I’m tired of the whole “world building” concept, and I’m extremely unimpressed by any writer or storytellers ability to map out a fantasy land. Everyone and anyone can build their own “world”, and the more intricate and convoluted it becomes, the more it begs the question why more attention isn’t being paid to the actual world in which we live in. But a further critique of the idea of world building deserve its own post, someday sometime.

For now, I’ll just say that the magic and majesty of Pullman’s Universe is best served as seen through the eyes of its central protagonist, Lyra, trusting the audience to successfully immerse themselves into the world through the story, as opposed to sharing with us a copycat universe brick by tedious brick.