NONVOTERS ARE IMPORTANT TO HEAR TOO

I’m about to say something unpopular.

I’m not one to hold my thoughts in, and I’m not going to start now. I kind of want to address a little blurb that’s been making its Facebook rounds the last week or so: ‘If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.’ And, I’ve never been one who agreed with that sentiment. I think it’s our constitutional right to complain whether we vote or not. Those who don’t vote, I think are making their voices heard as well. They just don’t think it matters. I understand that mentality. I think it’s up to the individual to make the decision whether or not they’re going to vote. So, I thought I’d make a little post explaining their decision making rational. Bear with me if you will, because these are actually not the people who complain. It’s those who’ve already voted who tend to vent their frustrations.

To the majority of Americans (the ones who find it unnecessary to vote in every election), it just doesn’t matter which party is in charge. To them, both parties are beholden to corporate special interests and lobbyists. If you look at how Congress is run, outside of those attack ads on one another, they tend to side with one another far more frequently than publicly revealed. It’s the hot button issues they yell and scream about to drum up constituent support. And many see this as just the same people doing the same thing and not working for the US citizen at large (though they will… when no one is looking), but rather for their own selfish interests. The general thought is they have their own lives to live so why worry about politics? The nonvoter rarely says, ‘It sucks the direction we’re going!’, but usually laments, ‘I don’t want to talk about it. I hate politics.’

This is because most US citizens are not liberal or conservative, but moderate. They just want the government to do their job, regardless of who’s in charge. They want them to work together to bring policy to bear that will benefit the majority of Americans rather than making their lives more difficult.

I recently had a debate on a heavily liberal leaning page (almost socialist in its views) where the very notion of Centrism was viewed as a liability to the country. That the very idea was comparable to ‘hand wringers’ who couldn’t make a decision, and just wanted to kowtow to everyone in a bid to make as many happy as possible. They view it as destructive to our nation. That it would bring us to ruin if we allowed it to flourish. And I asked, ‘If you’re so opposed to Centrism, then what side do you think will benefit us most? Who has the answers then that will ultimately be our savior?’ Nobody had an answer for me (but they were REAL chatty when I said Centrism would be the best implementation of policy in my view and rather insulting as well).

And that, I think, is where nonvoters fall into place. They see the ideological divide and how badly scarring it is to the nation. And want nothing to do with it. Only hope for the best, keep their heads down, and focus on their own lives and family. Which, I believe, is what the majority of humanity does. Focuses on their own families and not worry about the larger battle for control of ‘hearts and minds’. I can understand this. Because it can be difficult to make your own opinion heard when both sides are tearing at each other’s throats (and trust me that’s what it looks like looking at the ideological arguments despite the fact some representatives are more aggressively vitriolic than others).

A confession, this is the first midterm I’ve ever voted in. Mostly because in years past I didn’t feel it made much of an impact. I was more for the presidential elections (which I think most people are), and still am. However, I felt that there is a tipping point in the balance of power with this one. That one side is in too great of a position to run with unfettered power. That is unacceptable to me. There must be balance.

Now, let me leave off this long post (sorry, I just couldn’t figure out a way to make it any shorter, there’s just too much that I wanted to say on this issue) with this last thought. Many, many, many people are screaming and yelling and making the point “Vote! Make your voices heard! Because we need to make a change!” The troubling aspect to this I’m finding is that I’m worried not enough people understand exactly what they expect to happen here. Now, I’m fully confident that a balance of power will be restored (which is generally what happens in midterms with an unpopular president). However, there’s no guarantee Democrats will seize the seats needed to gain control. Because, people seem to think in every election cycle that if a president is hated, then everyone will side with them and vote against said president’s party. ‘Yeah, guys! Let’s make a change! Yeah, we’ll show them!’ Yet, it’s just as likely everyone will instead say, ‘Eh, I don’t mind the direction we’re going’ or ‘I just don’t trust those other guys’ and the majority will vote to maintain the status quo. I’m not saying, ‘don’t vote’. I believe it’s important. It is a right. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to go the way you think it will go. And too many people think that if they just say get out and rock the vote that it’ll be what they imagine will happen.

Let me put it this way, in the 2004 presidential election, there was this major push to get the people out to vote so that we could take our country back. Yeah! We’re going to show that Bush, Jr that he can’t take advantage of us and run amok thinking he can do what he wants with impunity! Yet, he won. He won the popular vote as well as the electoral college. The was much crying and sorrow and lamentation of how ‘foolish can America be!?’ And people seem to forget that. The majority of America trusted Bush, Jr more than they did Kerry. And I can understand why. Kerry wasn’t all that electrifying of a candidate. Couldn’t stand the man myself. Voted for him anyway, because like the majority of the people towards Kerry, that’s how I felt about junior. I didn’t trust HIS policies and didn’t like the direction the country was headed. And yet, he carried the presidency for another four years. Of course, the midterms came in 2006 restoring a balance to governmental power. So it wasn’t a total wash.

So, don’t be too harsh on those nonvoters. They just see something the two sides don’t. While the liberals and conservatives are digging their heels into the ideological sand refusing to acknowledge the benefits both can bring to the table, the rest of the nation is just shaking their heads because they’re sick of it. Maybe there’s a lesson there we can all learn from their rationale.

If we listen, of course.

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THE MODERN DAY IS BORING

THIS MODERN AGE of ours is a pestilence. It’s boring and uninspiring. I say this not because I know where I live but because I know I don’t want to live there. We live in the constant threat of terrorist strikes and nuclear obliteration. We live in an age where we have to (HAVE to) work for a living. Gone are the days of the blacksmith, wandering bard, or professional student. You absolutely MUST get an education or fall into the rut of retail and fastfood (the service industry as a whole likely employs more people than specialized trades) if you hope to have a home, food, and family. Elsewise, you’re just some vagabond and nothing more. Nobody brags about working at Kroger or being a postal agent. People brag about being a ‘world traveler’, an agent in the FBI (or other government agency), or a CEO of a major conglomerate. Because these jobs allow agency. Whereas your average job just ensures a paycheck. And how many of you are just happy with a paycheck?

There’s always something more we endeavor to be that the Modern Age refuses to allow or admit to.

Maybe that’s why so maybe fantasies and science fiction stories are set anywhere and anytime other than the Modern Age.  Think about the games you play or the books you read. How many of them are set in the here and now? And if they are, think about how much agency is put into the telling of that story. Sure, Hunt For Red October, the Outsider, and video games like the PS4 Spider-Man are all set in the Modern Age, but how fantastical are they with their elements to keep you intrigued? 

Let’s face it, stories are only good if they’re looking back to the past or forward to the future. Not everybody like Tom Clancy or Stephen King can make the real world seem interesting (or Laurel K. Hamilton for that matter), but everybody loves a good yarn like the Lord of the Rings or a video game series like Mass Effect. Escapism is the magical word we’re all familiar with because the day to day minutia of our everyday lives is just so plain and repetitive. Hell, as I write this, I’m getting ready to go to work at the gas station that employs me for another long and exciting night of sitting there and taking the moronic attitudes of our clientele (Really? It’s our ‘pumps’ that aren’t functioning right? Are you SURE it isn’t because you don’t know how to read?). 

And yet I long to finish the final drafts of my novel, find an agent, and escape this rut. To dive deep into my own imagination and escape to worlds that are fantastic and exhilarating. Not blase and unimportant. Not a place where all I do is work, pay the bills, and wonder how I’m going to repay my student loans (hint: never ever and no way). Sure, I love my family (my wife, my son, my parents, my in-laws). But nothing is more exciting than the worlds I see in my mind. Nothing is more exciting than diving into the latest Assassin’s Creed game (to see the past and the strange stories we might find there) or the newest Mass Effect (that has gone out of its way to leave the Milky Way behind and find new adventures in Andromeda). These are exciting stories (I’m still finishing up the Dark Tower series and looking forward to delving into the Outsider!) that draw us out of the everyday and plop us straight down into the middle of something that matters.

Yet, the bland and boring everyday that is filled with the redundant is something none of us are really thrilled about. And even more depressing is dealing with terrorist threats, school shootings, sexual assault perpetrators elevated to the highest levels of government, and the constant, looming dirge of war with foreign nations that we shouldn’t have to worry about be at war with. It makes you wonder what is it all about? What’s the point? What’s the end game? Everything I do today, I’ll be doing tomorrow. And every threat with have to contend with this year, will be the same threat next.

It never ends. But stories that are not in the here and the now gives us some sort of hope that maybe, just maybe we can find a better path and a better future. At least until we open our eyes and have to deal with the same dismal slog as we did yesterday. Then we start wondering again, when is that alien invasion coming?

Clearly they have more insight than we do.

ALL YOU FANS CAN BITE ME! I’M A CHILD OF THE 80’S!!

Jesus…I am SUCH a child of the 80s. I was just watching a video on Youtube that I completely disagreed with. It was ragging on Mass Effect Andromeda for…I don’t know, reasons I guess. And it dawned on me, holy shit, we were so much better off in the 80s. We VALUED what entertainment was. We watched those cheesy monster movies. We savored the stupid and the asinine. We knew that it didn’t have to change the world to get our jollies because we knew what FUN was.

And now? Well, now everyone is up in arms that women are in movies. That black people have a presence in entertainment. That games have glitches. Glitches!? I’ve got your glitches, bitches! Bitches, let me introduce you to the NES. A system where you had to BLOW it to make it work!

Oh I ‘m sorry?? Was there a graphical glitch in your modern game that you could still play even though your character looks like they’re taking a dump everywhere they go?? Let me demonstrate our system, friends! Yes, the NES where you have to blow into its crevice and then shove it into its slot and WIGGLE it until it was willing to play the freakin’ 40 dollar game you just bought!

Oh My God! There’s a WOMAN in your soup!!? Let me introduce you to Metroid, son, where your lead character just turned out to be a woman in a suit of armor! HOLY SHIT! EPIC!

I mean seriously…The Goonies, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Super Mario Bros, Metroid, Duck Hunt, HOWARD the Fucking Duck, Monster Squad, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, SPACEBALLS, Time Bandits, Bad Dudes, Double Dragon, Jaws and all its dumbass sequels, One Crazy Summer, Thundercats, Jem, My Little Pony, Q Bert, and…goddamn the list could go on!

The point is is this (and listen well my little snuggle bunnies), back in the 80s, we knew what entertainment was. We didn’t sit there and try to offend one another and deride each other because we thought Transformers was a serious form of storytelling (IT’S NOT! STOP BASHING MICHAEL BAY FOR MAKING A FUCKING SERIES OF MOVIES ABOUT OVERSIZED ROBOTS BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER! THIS IS NOT SHAKESPEARE, OR MARK TWAIN, OR ISAAC ASSIMOV! THIS IS A SERIES OF MOVIES ABOUT GIANT ROBOTS BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER! THAT’S WHAT MICHAEL BAY WAS MADE FOR! SO IF I HEAR ANOTHER PERSON SAYING HOW SHITTY A TRANSFORMERS MOVIE WAS, I’M GOING TO LOSE MY SHIT BECAUSE IT’S A BUNCH OF ROBOTS BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THE FREAKIN’ CARTOON WAAAASSSSS!!!! 80S MOTHUFUCKA!! DEAL WITH IT!) No what we did was go ‘Holy shit! Did you see that thing and how AWESOME it was!?’ And we would reply, ‘OMG! Right!? That was totally EPIC!’ Because unlike this current generation we grew up appreciating entertainment for what it was. Entertainment. We didn’t try to attribute any sort of special meaning to it, we were just glad that it was coherent HALF of the time.

For Christ’s sake! One of our Heroes in the 80s was a man wearing nothing more than a loin clothe smacking around a cackling skeleton with vaguely homo erotic undertones with supporting characters so obtuse you’d swear you were watching a porno these days! (He Man Mother Fuckers! Deal with it!)

And yet, you take your entertainment so seriously you can no longer suspend your disbelief? Luke Skywalker wouldn’t act that way? Deadpool isn’t being serious enough? SJWs are taking over our entertainment? I mean, can we stop. Just..just stop. This is bullshit. I’m calling BULLSHIT! SHENANIGANS! IT’S ALL SHENANIGANS!!! Because this is stupid. I go to movies to be entertained. When I’m entertained, I smile. You know what I do when I am NOT entertained? Not do it again and find something else. I keep hearing this phrase over and over again: liberal snowflakes or sometimes just snowflakes. You want to know what us guys from the 80s would tell ya? It takes one to know one.

You don’t like something, that’s fine. But STOP trying to ruin it for others you, you, you SNOWFLAKES! Because you don’t really know what it means to be entertained. You’re soooooo obsessed with what is ‘TRUE’ to the original story, you’ve forgotten how to just lean back and enjoy the ride.

I mean MY generation sat back and LOVED Top Gun! Do you know what happened in it? Nothing. It was just great character development with a half assed action scene at the end. But we LOVED it. Why? Because it ENTERTAINED us!!! Why can’t you be entertained anymore?!?! What are you looking for!??

Ugh. I’m tired. You people make my face tired. Sometime in the next few days I should rent the Transformers Last Knight movie. Just so I can see massive robots kicking the shit out of each other. Because that’s entertainment you rejects!!!

To Hell With The PC “Master Race”!

I am so SICK and tired of hearing how AWESOME the PC players are with their nonsense gaming experiences! Playing games on the PC fucking sucks! I mean completely! I have had enough of the obstinance from the PC community thinking they’re superior to the rest of us. I’m a console player through and through and there’s a reason why.

With a console I don’t have to worry about tweaking my damned game to work right. I don’t have to fine tune the details until it is visually acceptable. It works right when I put it in. The controllers do EXACTLY what they’re supposed to do! I don’t have to download this driver or that update. On a console it just does it! This is the disconnect between PC gamers and console gamers. PC gamers don’t understand WHY console gamers like their consoles.

“Well it’s outdated as soon as it releases!” And I say True! But I don’t have to spend 20 hours trying to get my software to work in the vein hope that there won’t be any issues at the end of the process. With a freaking PC I have to be a fucking programmer with advanced knowledge in C++ to make the goddamned game play. This is true for Steam products and EA products and any games that you have to download! Sure, y0u get to customize your experience but keep in mind this you, “master PC gamers”, those of us who like consoles like them because we DON’T have to be fucking programmers to play one fucking game!

It’s fucking ridiculous! If I buy a controller for the PC and plug it in, the mother fucker should work the second I plug it in! I shouldn’t have to find some obsolete driver that may or may not still exist on the internet just to use it! I shouldn’t have to update my windows os to some newer version I just don’t fucking want just to sample the newest game released! Plug N Play is a term for a reason jackasses! And it’s not for me to sit there and pretend I’m something I’m not and to be berated for not being on board with your bullshit to begin with!

What’s great about the PS4 or XBOX One is that you can just put in a game, plug in a controller, and sit back and enjoy the fucking game you just spent 70 dollars on without having to jump through a million hoops! I HATE, HAAATTTTTEEEE PC gaming! It is soooooooooo inconvenient and frustrating! There is NO fun to be had in it unless you’re some psychopath who has hours a day to spend on specking your rig to the optimal settings and knowing what graphical cards you need, what audio drives you need, what cooling systems are required to make your fucking PC actually fucking work!!!!

To HELL with that shit! Sorry for my obscenities but I’ve had enough! Stop claiming to be the superior gaming society when you have to go through a military boot camp just to play the latest release! It’s annoying and inconvenient! You want to know why so many gamers like console releases!? It’s because they don’t have to spec their PS4 or XBOX One every time they buy a game! They can just plug it in and it works! Period! After a dozen hours of just TRYING to sample a new game, I’ve entirely given up! It’s not worth the stress and agitation! It’s not worth the grief! I’ll stick to my consoles thank you fucking much and don’t you come at me anymore with your bullshit PC master race crap! Because I’ll just call you a sadist and a masochist who’s only happy to suffer under the most unbearable of electronic circumstances!

I just wanna play!

Anyhow…that annoys me sometimes so I won’t be doing that anymore. Just wanted to vent my frustration because, damn, it’s ridiculous. But, you know, if that’s your thing, more power to you.

Viva La Console Race!

The New World Order

I’ve been wondering lately about something. Do we still need nations? We’re so divided as a species that we’re all constantly warring with one another over “sovereignty” and “statehood” yet we refuse to be concerned with the issues of others who are not ourselves. This leads to the very real threat of global violence on a scale we’ve never seen before. The fascist tendencies of our administration in the US has isolated us already from many diplomatic connections the world over. I mean, how much power does the UN have anymore themselves? There are five veto wielding members of the UN: The US, Russia, France, the UK, and China. Anyone of those entities can basically at a moment’s notice tell the world to go screw itself and no one can say anything about it.

Iran still seems obsessed with controlling the Middle East agenda. As does Saudi Arabia. North Korea seems to think it’s a real threat to the world while China wants to dominate Asia. The UK voted to leave the EU in the vain conceit that somehow they don’t need the rest of Europe. Africa has always been a hotbed of warlords. Russia is flexing its muscles yet again to show that they’re still relevant. Mexico is in a tiff with the US over the border wall. And ISIS STILL thinks they can establish a caliphate in the middle of territories controlled by multiple governments.

But to what end?

Where does this get ANYBODY?? Are any of us safe? 

Trump keeps spewing rhetoric out of his ass as if he actually gives a damn about anyone other than himself about “making America safe again” or even “Great Again” as if this country has never ever been the backbone of trying to establish some sort of global cooperative that wasn’t just about itself.

And no I’m not excusing the poor behavior America has engaged in in the past. Because, let’s face it, we’ve done fucked up on a number of issues but we at least TRIED in the past to be better than the stupid shit we’ve done. And for one brief moment throughout the late nineties we ALL looked to be becoming a global community finally. After at least a dozen wars worldwide over the last century (oh that’s just what I can think of! I’m sure it’s as high as 40 or more easily!) we’re no closer to being an actual global community than we were since. We all gave up! We listened to our leaders who just wanted to get into an epic dick measuring contest with each other across the world! AND FOR WHAT!?! WHAT ARE WE GETTING OUT OF IT!?! HOW ARE WE BENEFITING FROM ALL THIS CARNAGE!??!

We’re not! Religious wars, oil wars, territory wars, border wars, immigrant wars, hate wars, spite wars, economic wars, climate wars…it just doesn’t fucking end! And whenever you bring up a global government that might be able to bring some sort of hope to the destitute survivors of constant war, you have some assholes spouting nonsense about global conspiracies trying to control the populace! It’s too much! Any sane mind has to ask “why?” Why are we doing this to ourselves? What’s the point of nationalism when nations keep changing and borders keep getting redrawn? Will there ever be a time when we can just put down our arms and look to exploration again? When we can thrive together in a cooperative to preserve our societies and ensure that no one is left behind? Must there always be conflict? 

I see the hate in my own nation. See people turning against each other because of political diatribes and dubious ideologies. We’re all so up our own asses about our own beliefs that we’ve stopped being concerned about how our neighbors are doing. And this is because too often even our neighbors are out to get us! How have we survived this long as a species!?

This has become more than a rant than anything but I need to get this off my chest. I no longer care about nations. I care in being Terran. This is our world. We our ONE species. The color of our skin is meaningless. But the test of our character is eternal. 

I look to stories told such as Mass Effect and see a glimmer of hope in the writing that people want to see a better tomorrow. Want to see our species reach for the stars and to coordinate our efforts to be better than the sum of our parts. That we’re not just the rhetoric of our leaders, but that we, as humanity, have a place in this galaxy. We must be driven to be a United Earth. One that will not put up with mutually assured destruction as a defensive mechanism. That we can protect ourselves from the natural threats present in our solar system and that we can settle Mars. And the moon. And Titan. And even Pluto. That we will work together to solve our problems as a world. As Terrans. Not as individual nations selfishly trying to destroy one another. Because if we can’t…then we don’t exist. And that might be okay from those arrogant SOBs who profess to be looking out for our best interests, but it can’t be okay for our species.

We have to give up our notions of boundaries and focus our efforts on those who would strike out against us. Because those who want to control us (criminals, terrorists, xenophobes, racists, tyrants, imbeciles) don’t represent the best of our kind. They only represent the worst of the individual. And no nation is an individual. It’s made up of a world of people.

So let’s stop being individuals. And start being a world. Because then and only then will we truly be great.