The Era of Disrespect and the Business of News

I hate to follow up all of the fluff posts on this blog with something so dark, but I sit here absolutely compelled to write about this. I arrived home this evening and did my usual search of the news. As I scrolled through, a story caught my eye. I am not going to mention the title or the news site, only because it serves to prove a point.

Today, September 4th, against the wishes of a father who recently lost his son, the Associated Press published a photo of a brave Marine’s last moments. This wasn’t a flag draped coffin. This picture depicts a man who has lost both of his legs, is bleeding out, and being dragged away by members of his squad.

I don’t care what your political leanings are regarding this ongoing war in Afghanistan. There are some things that should remain sacred. This Marine’s father watched his son volunteer to protect this country. How awful that the last image he has to remember him by is gruesome and the stuff made of nightmares. Any parent would be devastated to know their son died bravely. To add salt to the wound by publicly offering up such a horrid last moment is depraved and ultimately unjust.

If I were a betting woman, this is what happened:

As the AP was neatly wrapping up these photos with the word, “EMBARGO”, stamped on the front, some greedy bastard was licking his/her lips at the amount of hits and controversy these pictures would cause. Oh so clever, he/she prepares a bullshit, CYOA excuse if general reaction gets out of hand.

As I briefly discussed this with a good friend, he mentioned being torn. Sympathy for the family who lost their son vs. dealing with wars too easy for the American public.

I am sorry, but for me, there is no question in my mind that sympathy and respect for the family wins that argument every single time.

This Marine was a volunteer.  This Marine was fighting for you and for me. This Marine died for his country.

 The AP essentially wiped their ass with any thought of handling this in a professional and respectful way and then passed out the shit stained document like it was caviar.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that as a country, with the recent exception of 9/11, we are relatively sheltered. We don’t seem to care about fighting or deaths unless it’s happening on our own soil. When news of casualties both innocent and coalition are reduced to footnotes on news broadcasts, only to be followed by a news story that flip- flops are out to kill you, its no wonder people have tuned out.

This isn’t an easy war. If newspapers and networks weren’t balancing budgets by playing the fear game, news would be news again. Instead, this war and probably any future war takes the back seat until spectacular and gruesome images just happen to be caught on film. Then we remember. Scratch that, then we are forced to remember.

If anything, the AP is counting on both sides of the political spectrum to attach themselves to this controversy. The AP is also counting on the darker side of human nature as well, hoping that as the story gains momentum, it will bring visitors to sites carrying the picture if only to sate morbid curiosity.

However, and I’m hoping there are more out there like me, who will be appalled that any semblance  of conscience has finally left our news agencies so eager to make a buck and win pretentious awards.

There is always a heavy cost to any war being fought. The war in Afghanistan is no different. The AP had the decision to run a story without the photo and to most of us, the ones who do care, it would have mattered. Just like it would have mattered to a devastated father and mother.

And the only reason it matters now is because this picture is nothing but propaganda and dollar signs.

Rest in peace, Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard. Truly, a most sincerest thank you for fighting and making the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

My Time Traveling CR-V

In the middle of the quiet night, when I am asleep, my car travels through time.

Don’t look at me like that.

It is the only reason why the clock in the dash has been slowly gaining time.

Let me explain.

I was one of those people who set their clocks far ahead in a feeble attempt to make myself feel better.

I’d rush out of the house, look at the clock in the car, freak out a little that I was going to be late, only to have the delicate kernel of memory engage and remind me that I had set the clock fast, so that I would be happy that I wasn’t tardy.

What?

In an effort to curb the insanity and to practice my, “holy hell, get out of the house and get to where you’re going” management skills, I reset the clock in my CR-V to the correct time. This was about two months ago. It was working well. I was getting to be a master. That’s until today. I looked from the digital clock on the dash to the XM radio that hovers slightly above it, and instantly noticed the disparity.

My clock had gained 10 minutes! In the course of two months, this car had done the impossible. It had found a way to cross the rift between time and space. And as I drove today, I realized that with the shift my car completed over multiple jaunts through different dimensions, that I too had interesting foresight. Behind the wheel, those ten minutes belonged to me. I could see that far into the future.

I know, this doesn’t seem like a whole lot of minutes, but it’s enough to win a football game, get out of the way of a speeding bus, catch a train, save someone from drowning, remember the crucial ingredient at the super market which will make or break a culinary masterpiece, grant insight to curb the words from your mouth in order not to have to say you’re sorry later, anticipate an important phone call… see this list goes on and on.

So thank you, my truly awesome time travelling car which grants me powers to see the future. I will not be resetting the time again. I will let you gain minutes and perhaps one day, I’ll be able to see farther than I had ever imagined.

Yes, I know this post will make me look like I’ve finally lost the last screw holding in my brain.

I’ve seen it.

 

**Incidentally, there is some truth to this story. While I may not have the time travelling or future seer powers, my car does continue to gain time. It’s very odd.

If You Build It, They Will Come… And Be Assholes

**contains language**

Let me make something perfectly clear right off the bat– This post is not a slight on Jeremy Tolbert or Steve Eley. I am humbled and privileged to have read for Escape Pod. It’s all the  fucktards out there who need to have their virtual tongues cut out and smashed under very large and heavy rocks.

As many of you know, I am a narrator and a podcaster. I am also fucking pissed.

This last week, a story by the lovely Genevieve Valentine, read by me, was put up on Escape Pod. While I’ve listened to Escape Pod audio in the past, I never dived into the forums or comments on each. I usually got the episodes from Itunes.

As any curious narrator would be, I wanted to know what people thought of the reading. I’m always interested in constructive feedback to enhance my future narrations. If you thought it was deadpan, fine. I can take it. I’ll make a note and try to be more enthusiastic next time I’m reading about death. No, really.

When I went to both the forums and the comments on the individual stories on the Escape Pod site, I found myself barely controlling my rage at some of the comments. In case the entire Internet hasn’t been taught — there are ways of offering criticism that don’t include the words, “Suck”, “terrible”, “Bad”, “Boring”…. the list goes on.

It’s fine. A story may not work for you.  You may be disappointed where the author (and reader) take you while on your journey. You may find yourself wondering why you stuck around for the ending. People are entitled to that opinion.

What people aren’t entitled to be are assholes about it.  See: how to offer constructive criticism.

I was once a proponent of open commenting and forum posting. No one should be moderated. As I started my blog, visited Youtube,  read news articles which allowed comments, visited friend’s sites, and saw the pretentious, asinine drivel flow like rabid spittle from the mouths of inconsiderate beasts who should never have been allowed an internet connection, my stance slowly changed.

See John Scalzi — “Moderation Matters”.

John is happy that most of the members of his community are civilized human beings who pride themselves on having compassion and understanding for other members of this race.  It’s fun when you have an adult conversation comprised of adults acting like adults. It’s great to have lively discussions that don’t veer off into hate-filled, often unassociated tangents.  It stops being fun when scum start adding their drivel to the mix.

See, here is the deal. I don’t care you said nasty shit about me. Really, I don’t. What I care about are the people who pour their hearts into bringing you content every week. What I care about are the writers who are telling a story. What I care about are the producers and editors who are mostly volunteers and don’t get paid for their effort and time. What I care about are the listeners who have constructive things to say.

So really, to all the people who can’t stop vomiting up shit and getting off on their self proclaimed righteous verbal masturbation; fuck you. Seriously, fuck you.  Oh, that’s twice. You know I’m angry, now.

Places like Escape Pod who offer free content for the love of the genre, should be commended for their dedication and perseverance. Especially on the internet, where the term “asshole” is not only a state of mind, but now comes in anonymous flavor packs.

For the record, if you read this Genevieve, and countless others who’ve been ripped apart by people who really should be wearing muzzles and straight jackets and locked in rubber rooms:

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for writing, producing, narrating and editing.

Another Apology That Isn’t.

Wow, the internet has shown us a lot of apologies that aren’t this weekend.  I have definitely put more stock in the saying that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness (not really/or  in convoluted ways) after the damage has been done.  What happened to using your brains before you attempted anything like this in a public forum?

Here is EA’s !apology for the ” we encourage you to molest a booth babe, but not really” err, I mean, “Sin to Win (it’s all in good fun)” stunt they pulled at Comic Con this weekend.

http://kotaku.com/5322781/ea-apologizes-for-sin-to-win-booth-babe-promo

“Costumed reps are a tradition at Comic-Con. In the spirit of both the Circle of Lust and Comic-Con, we are encouraging attendees to Tweet photos of themselves with any of the costumed reps at Comic-Con here, find us on Facebook or via e-mail. “Commit acts of lust” is simply a tongue-in-cheek way to say take pictures with costumed reps.”

So, the faux tattoo on some nice size DD boobs depicting outlines of incredibly sexy naked female asses wholly represented the “costumed reps” at Comic Con? Trying to asexualize the booth babes so your legal team doesn’t have to fight out sexual harassment complaints  really doesn’t cut it.

I did happen to go to the Facebook page mentioned in the promotion and it does look like the majority of the people did behave themselves while taking pictures. EA is lucky.

It still doesn’t excuse the stupid.

I Reject Your Virtual Reality…

According to this article in The Escapist, virtual protests are cropping up everywhere from Second Life to World of Warcraft. Imagine my surprise when one of my hobbies was included in that list; the first person shooter, Counterstrike. While I applaud certain people for fighting for noble causes, I can’t express how annoyed I am at the same time. I paid $49.99 for the Orange Box. I pay a monthly fee for Internet access and I would like to use my valuable free time in a manner where I don’t feel like I’m being harassed. 

A good societal obliging woman like myself should be able to shoot the heads off of pixelated terrorists or zombies without having a peace sign shoved up my ass. 

Granted, I have yet to experience these protests online. Yet, should the experience occur, only two things will happen while these avatars lay down in the shape of heart or spam the channels with their hippie love fest. I will knife and/or shoot them and then I will teabag their dead and bleeding corpses. See, I don’t care about your agenda when I’m trying to blow off some steam.  That’s the thing isn’t it? I’m a productive member of society who finds ills and abuses just as sick and twisted as the next girl. I donate to charities and I’ve done a little marching myself in younger days. Yet, when I’m starting up a favorite video game to escape the crap that is happening on both a personal and global level, I don’t care to be reminded of anything outside my little four foot space. I am happy in my comfy chair, with  heavy beats thumping through my headphones and a large cache of weapons with which I can do substantial damage. This is my time.

I hate to say it, but I place these people on the same level as the jerkoffs who cheat and make any gaming experience miserable by not playing by the rules. Even in the chaos of staking out Pete for example and jamming a knife through his prone body, there are rules that one needs to follow in the gaming world. Even so, this new teamwork we’re seeing in the form of protests has no business interfering with the land of make believe. 

Didn’t these men and women learn anything from their childhoods? We must be able to seperate the world of fiction and fantasy from real life if only to maintain our sanity. As the lines between the real world and gaming continue to be blurred by people with their own agendas, I guess my definition of terrorist does too.

Thoughts on Arlen Specter

This does not settle well with me and I’m pretty middle of the road when it comes to leanings.

I know I try to remain ignorant of everyday politicking, but this irks me just as it did with Lieberman. In Lieberman’s case, he couldn’t win the democratic nomination in CT, so instead of giving up, he thumbed his nose at the system, shook the gaming board and changed the rules. How can you justifiably face a constituency when you’ve been running on a different platform for your entire political career? Who buys that gold covered shit? Apparently the citizens of CT own stock in the BS business.

I’m convinced that while people happily partake in their franchise, a good portion of those dutiful citizens hold no clue about the person for whom they are voting. If the name sounds familiar, especially in small state races, there beside the recognizable  goes the  mark.

Idly I  wonder how many people given the chance could have made the government better, instead of leaving it to the current arrogant boys club. (Yes, Christopher Dodd, I mean you.)

It’s the  same thing with Specter. He spent his life as a Republican–how can he possibly justify throwing everything out on the premature fear that he won’t have a job next election. Maybe he should have looked at what he could have been doing differently to help his chances instead of hopping the fence.

Party switching in mid-term should never, ever be allowed. If a member of Congress decides his party is no longer his cup of tea,  I would like to see him drop his seat.  He must then designate his new party and run in an expedient election. Sure, this would cause the tax payers more money, but I would be pissed had I voted for a Republican only to have the winner play leap frog with his/her political leanings. IMO, a special election would be far more useful than the one million dollars we’re spending on improving the entrance to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum (who incidentally have millions of dollars in an account.) — (Thanks, Jesse for that lovely tidbit).

Honestly though, even if Franken is seated in MN, I think it’ll be a rare case where the Democrats actually have need to break a filibuster. This Democratic controlled congress has had trouble getting anything done in the past–why start now? It also means that the Democrats will need to unite for a common cause, and it’s pretty clear Nancy Pelosi has the rallying and people skills most commonly associated with the Pangolin. Not to mention that not all Democrats think alike–hell, some of them are sheep in wolves’ clothing.

How to Navigate the Internet

How to Navigate the Internet
Episode One: Blogs, Chat Rooms & Forums

Wow! The Internet is a very large and strange place! From the minute you type your first web address into your browser of choice (Vista users should read here: From the minute you are raped by your browser and your first web address is selected for you), an entire world of possibilities opens before your eyes!

As one of the co-founders of the Internet; a title I happily share with Al Gore, I wanted to give you a proverbial ‘yellow brick road’ to follow as you begin your exciting journey.

In this lesson, we’ll be talking about blogs (or pretentious online diaries), Chat Rooms (gathering areas for unsavory types) and Forums (classification unknown).

Blogging took the Internet by storm a few years ago. As of June 2008, 185,620,000 blogs have been created. (Number furnished by Technorati, a leading source all things blog related.) Mind you, most of these quickly produced websites collect junk information and/or links in an attempt to sell you the latest male enhancement formulas or promote weight loss in a bottle. Once you sort through all the ads for Russian Viagra, you can find some great online diaries created by some of the most intelligent and popular people in today’s culture.

Chat rooms have been around long before 1997. With the smashing success of America Online, chat rooms were easily accessible and became very popular. I still remember my first experience in a middle-school library. He was from Florida and was 32. I was naive.

Keep in mind, as the Internet has evolved, chat rooms continue to be seen in negative light. Named by numerous news outlets as a breeding ground for the world’s unsavory and dark souls, you’d probably be better off not traversing these darker parts of the world wide web. If you do decide to go exploring, don’t say I didn’t warn you if you land in some chat room dedicated to goth furries exploring sexuality with bacon products. (Oh the memories horror!) If you don’t recognize any of the nouns I’ve just mentioned in that last sentence, save for the word, “bacon”, consider yourself lucky.

Forums have been around longer than both of these, in the form of bulletin board services. They’ve adapted as the Internet has grown, taking on new life. You’re not anyone these days unless you have a forum linked directly from your website/blog. It doesn’t really matter if your readership consists of your mom and her blind cousin from Alabama. Comment sections on your blog are just not adequate enough to delve into the world of discussion. Forums allow those pertinent conversations related to your latest posts to happen.  Even if your latest entry consists of a video on cheese wheels, forums are a great addition to any Internet venture.

Keep in mind, some of the more exclusive forums have many members and are not usually accessible to the general public. It takes a true web connoisseur to allow public access into his/her forum.  Once you do create a user name and password, you will need to familiarize yourself with certain personality archetypes. This will help you ultimately decide what type of jackass/pushover you would like to become. 

Samples of Forum/Commenter* Archetypes

“The Yes Man/Woman” – This person will agree with the original blog/forum author at all times. It doesn’t matter if the OP (Original Poster) has contradicted him or herself repeatedly either, as this agreeable man/woman will most certainly add their two cents to the thread using words/phrases such as, “awesomesauce”, “absolutely”, “totally”, “I couldn’t have said it better, myself”.

“The Defender” – In league with the “yes man/woman”, these personalities will usually come to the defense of the original poster/blog owner no matter what their relationship. Common phrases/words used in dialogue. “#53 is so full of poo. How dare he come here and make you justify your answers with facts!”, “I can’t speak for the OP, but that dorkwad who just said he was wrong is a douche.”, “His/her credentials clearly prove that he/she is a intellectual beast worthy of membership in MENSA.”

“The Apologist” – Despite that the OP had just written a post sanctioning the slaying of kittens through copious amounts of masturbation, “The Apologist” will make excuses as to why the OP (or other commenters agreeing with the original post) said or do the things they do. It doesn’t matter if the OP has stated plainly that he likes to murder small animals by ejaculating continuously, “The Apologist” will still come up with his/her forensic analysis of said OP’s childhood or current economical/metaphysical/physical state. “I know what he says is cruel, but if his mother didn’t beat him, he wouldn’t want to kill kittens by manhandling the trouser snake.”

The Fence-Sitter” – “You know, both sides have a point, but I’m not going to label myself here. Labels are so “yesterday”. ” This person will make a habit of being unable to voice a steady opinion on anything at any point during the conversation. Even with polarizing statements such as “Murder is good.”, or “Intercourse is bad.”, this person will continually hmmm and haw their way to oblivion. 

“The Wikipedia Bitch” – In an effort to sound smart, this person will grab a topic, copy relevant information from an online encyclopedia source (most commonly Wikipedia) and paste it in the thread. Most real scholars agree this behavior exists due to the fact that this particular person can not form his own ideas about things, but longs for Internet social acceptance. Unfortunately for the “bitch”, it has the opposite effect. No one likes a ‘know-it-all’ and there will always be one rebuttal to the info-dump stating that Wikipedia is riddled with an insane amount of errors.

“The Troll” – Unable to stay on topic, this person will normally take a subject, extract relevant information only pertaining to themselves, run with it and then usually finish off his comment/forum post with the word, “Fucktards”.  Trolls are known to sit at their computers drinking energy drinks, eating snacks and continuously refreshing a comment/forum thread, waiting to pounce on the next person to comment despite its relevance. They usually will not post under their real names, usually using monikers that will incite even more trouble. Many bloggers have disabled anonymous posting thanks to this particular breed of jackass. This condition is currently under consideration to be added to the list of ‘mental illnesses’ as described by the APA. The only ways to rid a forum/comment troll is to block their IP, stop feeding them and threatening to beat them with a proverbial imaginary tool such as a ‘clue-by-four’, a ‘shovel of doom’, or a kick to their epeen. (Internet penis). Simple logic will not work with these people. 

 

As mentioned, these are only a sample of Internet archetypes commonly found on the Internet. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first few steps into the exciting world of online communication. Next week we’ll be talking about ways on how to protect yourself from e-mail scams from Nigeria, why it’s not so smart to click on unexpected links from friends during an instant messaging session, and why sending naked pictures of yourself to your long distance boyfriend/girlfriend you met while playing World of Warcraft is also something to avoid with extreme prejudice.

 

 

 

 

*Common personality archetypes are seen on both forums and in the comment sections of blogs. It would be very useful to know in to which category you may fall.