Archive for October, 2011

24
Oct
11

You Don’t Tug on Superman’s Cape…

C’mon, you remember the lyrics, don’t you?

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape; you don’t blow into the wind. You don’t take the mask off that ole Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim!”

OK, maybe you Gen Y types never heard of Jim Croce’s song “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” but that’s neither her nor there. But heeding the sentiments of that song might have been a good idea for Julian Assange and the rest of the WikiLeaks gang.

Now, I’m not a big fan of unnecessary secrecy. I don’t like horrible, terrible things being buried by governments or corporations or any entity or person, really. I don’t like things that are uncomfortable being swept under the rug so as not to embarrass certain people. I do believe that secrecy is often taken too far and that the term “national security” is often misused to hide things that shouldn’t be hidden.

That being said, I think WikiLeaks was an irresponsible operation. Yes, they’ve brought some important things to light, but the problem is that everyone involved, most particularly founder Julian Assange, decided it was the job of WikiLeaks to eliminate all secrecy.

A totally transparent world with no secrets, my friends, is not a good one. If nations had no secrets, they would also have no security. If companies had no secrecy, they would not be able to keep the unique things that give them competitive edge and make their products unique.

Things like open-source coding are great. The Freedom of Information Act is necessary. Investigative reporting and whistle-blowing are important to keep us free, informed and to make governments and companies accountable.

But we should not feel entitled to know everything. That just doesn’t make any fucking sense.

And WikiLeaks showed that it didn’t care about context or what was important to let people know about, but rather that it got its collective rocks off by finding any secrets it could and simply throwing them out there to spit in the face of anyone who would dare to want to keep anything confidential. That arrogance was perhaps shown most recently and messily by releasing a shit-ton of U.S. diplomatic cables. There were no particular smoking guns in there, but there sure was a lot of potential to create unnecessary tensions between nations and to get a whole lot of diplomats in trouble with their own governments and with nations neighboring them for doing the job that diplomats are supposed to do.

So, given that WikiLeaks simply likes spitting into the face of the powers that be “just because it can” and not because we need to know all this shit, is this any surprise?

WikiLeaks suspends publishing to fight financial blockade

I like people who dig for truth; I don’t like irresponsible bastards. Good riddance to WikiLeaks, I hope, and here’s to someone filling that void who will actually think about what really needs to be revealed, and what’s simply a pointless exercise in showing off and pissing people off.

19
Oct
11

Film: The Great Educator

I went on a Twitter rampage (compared to my usual posting rate) yesterday, beginning with rants against the extreme right-wing folks and then the extreme left-wing folks and then…as I finished watching the DVD “Priest” on my computer (so that I could get it back to library before I got fined for being late) I shifted suddenly and dramatically to sharing “movie wisdom.”

Now, after doing that, I am fully convinced (and will likely remain so for at least a few more days) that all the useful common-sense knowledge and keys to success that I need can be found in film. Especially action movies, cheesy horror and science fiction, and perhaps dark comedies, too.

Without further ado, let me share that wisdom, some of which is leftovers from yesterday’s tweeting (slightly reheated or freshened up with some new ingredients) and some new gems…or polished rocks…or just hunks of asphalt that broke off from the edge of the parking lot:

  • You know that you are entering into an area full of monsters and/or humans who are hostile to you. While I realize you need to search the area quickly, find supplies, look for clues and/or locate someone, I humbly suggest to you that this would NOT be a good time to split up and all go individually into different directions.
  • If a mysterious someone kidnaps your beloved, or a close relative or friend, and leaves a note, obvious clue or survivor to tip you off where to go hunting for them and your loved one…well, it’s a trap!
  • There are only four populations that you are allowed to completely exterminate without fear of retaliation by society or guilt to yourself: Nazis, vampires, zombies & invading extraterrestrials
  • In a dystopian future and/or apocalyptic wasteland, black clothing made of leather, latex and/or vinyl will always be in fashion. (Women are allowed to wear white versions for special occasions before Labor Day.)
  • The most evil and dangerous creatures will always grow inside and eventually spring out from really disgusting, slimy pods that are either all over the floor of the room/cave/whatever you must pass through, or are hanging from the ceiling above you, and probably all around you like sides of beef in a butcher’s freezer. You should avoid them. To be safe, avoid Brussels sprouts and other disgusting and potentially slimy ovoid vegetables, too.
  • Addendum to the above point: Evil creatures freshly hatched from slimy pods always—even though it makes no sense based on how things normally work in nature—come out with full strength, agility and awareness of their surroundings. (Bring along a person you don’t like and can shove in the way to buy yourself time.)
  • If the bullet has passed all the way through your body, it is considered the same as a flesh wound and you are required to keep on going. The only exceptions are if it passed through your heart and/or lungs—and even then you’re expected to try to keep going for the next five to 10 minutes.
  • When working with explosives, always bring a second detonator, as someone will always end up accidentally shooting or crushing the one you’re counting on
  • Never bring a knife to a gunfight. Exception is if you are a samurai. Or ninja. Or Vin Diesel’s “Riddick” character or someone like the warrior priests of “Priest.” In those cases, you are pretty much required to ONLY bring a knife (or a larger melee weapon bearing blades and/or spikes).
  • If you are supernaturally fast, agile and accurate, it is considered socially unacceptable to use firearms. Unless you’re in the Matrix.
  • Once you’ve knocked down your adversary (who is armed with a gun, while you are not), please remember to take his or her gun away afterward—before you get caught up in emotional bonding or witty repartee with your friends nearby. Also, it might be a good idea to use that gun to shoot said entity in head, whether human or not. Thank can me later…or the grandkids my advice made it possible for you to have can thank me.
  • Always keep a watch with you. Entirely too many protagonists lately have not been planning their attacks well and have allowed themselves to be caught in creature-infested areas just as the sun is going down.
  • It’s quite acceptable for drama queen to be kept alive through end of your quest, especially if he or she provides good comic relief. However, do NOT apply same standard to alien queen or vampire queen.
  • Always pay attention to your grooming. After all, as the movies teach us, it’s the attractive ones who will be rescued/survive/prosper…
14
Oct
11

A Seed to Cultivate?

The last thing I need is to juggle more fiction. I already have an entire blog, Tales of the Whethermen, devoted to a world increasingly populated by super-powered people, and in it I have an ongoing, ultimately novel-length (I suspect) series along with numerous short stories. I also have the in-hiatus “Cleansed by Fire” sci-fi epic I began here at this blog and will probably return to one day in the foreseeable future.

Not to mention two erotic fiction blogs I maintain under another identity that need to be populated with stand-alone short stories and which also have multiple ongoing series that need to be worked on.

Furthermore, I started a novel last year, “Necroverts” for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which is coming up again. I never got far with it because all the other fiction-writing ate up my time, and have been considering whether I should try to write it for real this year.

So, naturally, with all that, I would have a line pop into my head yesterday that stuck with me, and makes me think there is a very large story to go with it (*sigh* need more hours in the day):

The Earth is round, but the world is flat. And it has edges.

And so today, I quickly wrote a scene that I think might be the first one in a future novel. What do you think?

__________________________________________________________________
“I probably won’t be seeing you again, Little Rogue,” the man said, ruffling the hair of his granddaughter as if she were still eight instead of a woman of 28. He was still hale and hearty, though well into his 70s, and even with a little hunching of his back, he still stood nearly six feet tall, well over Anna’s height. “I’ll be sailing toward the edge of the world tomorrow.”

Anna almost laughed at the joke, until she realized how grave and serious his tone was. It confused her. Papa Vlad had always been a religious man, but he also voraciously read philosophy and science books. He’d never been a superstitious type, so she could only assume he was teasing her.

“The edge of the world, eh, Papa Vlad? There be dragons…” she trailed off with a smile as she looked up into his face. His eyes were still serious, but now there was a distance in them as well, as if he were looking past her into some far-off landscape.

“Dragons would be more welcome, I think, than what actually lives there,” he said gravely. “I wouldn’t tell many people this, Anna—my Little Rogue. I tell you, I am taking a ship to the edge of the world, and I doubt I will return. If I do, it will likely not be me as I once was, and you should run.”

“You believe in a flat Earth, Papa Vlad? That doesn’t seem like you. That’s not rational. The Vatican even gave up on that centuries ago.”

“Flat Earth?” he said, and managed a short, hearty laugh despite the stoniness of his face. “No, my granddaughter, the Earth is round. It is a sphere—an ovoid—as it always has been. It still circles the sun and spins on its axis. The world, though, is a different story altogether. Flat as can be. With edges aplenty, often razor-sharp ones.”

“What are you talking about?” Anna asked, not simply perplexed but now worried for her grandfather’s mental health.

“The Earth is round, Anna,” he said. “The world is flat, with many layers.”

He hugged her hard, kissed the top of her head for nearly a minute, and then he stood. Without another word, he left the room.

That had been five years ago.

She thought he’d never come back from the edge of the world. Yet there he was, seated on a bistro table outside a café, sipping from a steaming cup, with an iPad in front of him and a newspaper off to the side.

Anna wondered if she should run as Papa Vlad had warned her. But instead, she walked up to the table where he sat. She looked into his face. The set of the lines in it was different; crueler perhaps, or maybe just more indifferent. The eyes were still sharp, but no longer warm. As he set down his tea and looked at her, she realized he recognized her, yet didn’t. As if he knew her history and her name but nothing about her heart. She was data to him; something anonymous. Not his granddaughter.

This was not Papa Vlad, though it was his body. Anna almost did run then, but forced her quivering legs to stay rooted.

“Which layer of the world did Papa Vlad’s ship travel, and what did he find at the edge of it?” she asked, the words seeming alien on her tongue for the absurdity of what they described. “More to the point, who are you and how do I find him instead of just this body he left behind?”

12
Oct
11

Never seeing the extremist in one’s self

It’s the debate and campaigning run-up to the 2012 election, so naturally you can expect more political and social ramblings from me around here, like…oh…talking about how batshit insane so many of the GOP presidential hopefuls are.

As I watch Barack Obama not really initiate much change in “politics as usual” nor really advance an even remotely progressive agenda (not that I want to see all left-wing changes, though), and consider how much he is called a totalitarian or socialist or extremist by the right-wing and all who heartily support the Tea Party and the Libertarians…well, I can’t help but laugh. Obama is about as moderate as they come, with some leftward leanings, much like George W. Bush is probably a moderate with rightward leanings (what a shame he was also kind of an idiot, and let right-wing nutjob Dick Cheney and other people on the right call so many shots, thus plunging his entire two-term administration into right-wing madness).

I mean, I almost wish a left-wing, controlling nut would rise to the presidency just so that the conservatives could see what a truly extreme liberal is. Or even a more restrained left-winger, so they could contrast and compare with our last two Democratic presidents, who were very much moderate.

Problem is these days is that the Democrats are fractured (as usual), can’t agree (as usual), can’t stand united and strong in the face of “looking bad” (as usual) and negotiate with the right so that everything they do ends up being somewhere slightly to the right of moderate anyway (as usual). At the same time, the Republicans are being driven by a relatively small but highly vocal group of people who think that helping others, preventing corporations from exploiting people and being smart about how we use natural resources are somehow evil and destroy freedom.

There really aren’t very many true liberals with any political power right now. Not enough to drive any kind of agenda, and that’s in part because they don’t get the big bucks that conservatives and moderates get from special interests. But there are a significant number of hard-core conservatives with a lot of opinions and no regard for facts, science or logic who are well-funded and can get heard and heeded quite a bit.

So, naturally, most of my ire will be aimed at the right wing. Not because I’m some radical, liberal, America-hating person (though I’ve been accused of such, merely for the sin of considering both sides and generally taking a fairly middle of the road approach with slightly leftward leanings), but because extremists scare me.

What’s most scary is that extremists don’t tend to see themselves as extreme, which always confuses me.

You see, the conservatives complain about “radical Islam” (which I put in quotes not because it doesn’t exist…because it does…but because right-wingers apply it to every damn Muslim in the world unfairly) and they often point out how such people are quick to choose violence, won’t negotiate and oppress others. Then those very same conservatives talk about how we need to solve so many of our problems with violence, they won’t ever compromise or negotiate any point, and they stamp all over people’s human rights and dignity.

Fact is, if you only advance the aims of the liberals or the conservatives, you are extreme. Period. The idea that the nation’s problems can be solved by applying all the philosophies and ideas at one end of the ideological spectrum is madness. You cannot solve complex problems with a one-size-fits-all approach.

What frustrates me with Obama’s presidency isn’t that he isn’t liberal enough. What bugs me is (1) he has been willing to give too much away to the right wing, with no consideration for the people who elected him wanting some leftward shifts after eight years of Bush and (2) that the Republican Party will absolutely not work with even the most moderate and sometimes right-leaning policies the president puts forth because they would rather the country burn than to let him advance any successful agenda or earn a second term. Granted, that second one isn’t Obama’s fault, but it’s still a frustration related to his term thus far in office.

If your views are held to by only around half the population (or less), and you try to enforce them for the whole population without any kind of adjustment or balance, you are an extremist.

If you only look out for the rights of workers, and never consider the value of capitalism and allowing it some room, you are extremist. If you think corporations should never be accountable for their bad decisions because they’re “too big to fail” and you think they should be allowed to treat workers and the environment however they will, you are extremist.

If you think that in a nation of agnostics, atheists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Wiccans, Buddhists (and many more) that you should be able to apply Christian value to all and do it through the force of law, you are extremist. If you think it is your duty to erase religion or marginalize it in such a diverse society, you are also extremist.

If you think no criminal ever deserves harsh punishment, you are extremist, as are those who think that anyone put in prison deserves to be there and perhaps die there, even when evidence comes to light that suggests the contrary.

Seeing only the black and white and choosing one color or the other is extremist. There is almost no decision worth making in society that doesn’t involve a whole lot of gray and require compromise to be fair. If you don’t agree with that, guess what? You’re an extremist.

And you should have no place in public policy-making.

10
Oct
11

Acts of the Hummus Idol: Back from the Dead Edition

Bloody and flesh-rended damnation! Hellfire and nether-douchery! Curse Deacon Blue to the lowest pit of the Abyss, where I shall eternally direct cockroaches to crawl across his skin, command “American Idol” rejects to sing power ballads to him, and order Dr. Josef Mengele’s demonic shade to give him “special” massages involving car batteries and electrodes.

Can you see the olive oil tears dripping down my mashed chickpea face? February 2010! Do you know what that is? It’s the last time I was forced to endure the indignity of doing this Q&A column for Deacon Blue. For well over a year-and-a-half, I have eluded this foul man through the many layers of the multiverse. Even Dog the Bounty Hunter couldn’t find me. Not even paparazzi photographers. Not even Google Map searches

And how did he finally track me down? Social media. And Steve “Oh look isn’t the iPad cool I created the Mac I’m rich and wonderful and changed the world” Jobs is to blame. If he hadn’t posted on Godbook that we various higher powers of the many pantheons were considering giving him a demi-godhood now that he’s shucked off his mortal coil, the deacon wouldn’t have known where to find me. And how did Deacon Blue get a Godbook account anyway? He’s a deacon, not a deity! Curse you, Mark Zuckerberg! It’s too late for me to do anything about Jobs, because he’s already dead and his applications are already filed, but for letting a mortal know about Godbook…especially THAT mortal…I will see your eternal soul in Gehenna before I let you taste godhood.

I, the great and powerful Hummus Idol, will now entertain your questions and grant unto you the wisdom that only a pile of very angry crushed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil and other seasonings can offer. Don’t let the smiling face fool you. I am a fridge-cold killah. Bow down before me, speak your question, and incline your ears or any other convenient part of your anatomy as I spew my advice upon thee.

Q: So, what do you think that chances are of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie winning the GOP nomination and taking the Oval Office from Pres. Barack Obama? – The Situation’s Smarter Second-Cousin, Jersey Shore, N.J.

A: While I give you “mad props” (as the youth like to say…or at least how I like to believe the wretched street urchins say) for being able to string together a more coherent thought than your cousin or anyone else on MTV’s “Jersey Shore” can, you apparently need to bone up on your listening comprehension skills. The man has said “No, I’m not running for president in 2012” exactly 8,932 times by last count, in 17 different languages, including American Sign Language (like GOP hopeful Herman Cain, however, I admit that I don’t have the facts to back this up). As such, I think you must settle for the fact that with a group of nutcases (and loser drop-outs like certain Alaskan folk who sold their soul to me) and Mitt Romney in the race, it’s going to be Obama vs. Romney, with a likely Obama win since the series “Big Love” has probably put America off the idea of a Mormon president.

Now, this fills me with no small amount of dismay. I’ve been trying to get the other, more volatile, out of touch, batshit crazy, make-up-stuff-just-to-please-the-masses folks to the forefront, but I’m not going to wield my full juju on one of their behalf without a contract in blood and a soul in hock to me.

After they saw what the loss of a soul did to Sarah Palin’s sanity and job prospects, they’ve been a bit leery of me. Oh, well, there’s always 2016. If I have my way, though, it won’t be Chris Christie then, either, as he’s used words like “negotiate,” “compromise” and other reasonable terms that suggest he might actually try to get useful things done if he were in the Oval Office. That’s not what I’m looking for.

Q: I really want my wife to get into a three-way with me and the hot next-door-neighbor. How can I go about making this happen? – Russell Handabout, Cupertino, Calif.

A: I took this question from Cupertino in honor of Steve Jobs’ passing, and I would like to sincerely say that you should sit down with your wife, explain your desires and needs, and explore her own needs, with the notion in mind that you, too, may need to engage in some activities for her benefit that you might never have considered before. You may also need to abandon this specific fantasy but be open to a different sort of direction in life that both of you can forge together sexually. Be thoughtful, considerate and open/honest in your communications…

…oh, shit…I just couldn’t keep going without chuckling and spewing olive oil all over the keyboard. That would be waaaaay too much work, and frankly, might actually be part of building healthy sexual communications. So, my real advice?

Tequila.

And lots of it.

Maybe crack, too.

Q: Who’s going the win the NFL championship at this season’s Super Bowl? – Carl Lister, Provo,Utah

A: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills, with the Bills for the win by a 24-point margin.

(Image by Stewart Butterfield, who is not affiliated with this blog and who doesn’t even know I or my opinions exist, and used under Creative CommonsAttribution 2.0 License)

(Hummus Idol does not speak as a representative or agent of Deacon Blue or anyone else associated with this blog. In fact, Hummus Idol doesn’t exist. He is wholly and completely a manufactured character that acts as an angry facade behind which Deacon Blue can hide for petty entertainment purposes and for times when he needs to be extra crusty and get shit off his chest. That said, you can feel free to shower the Hummus Idol with offerings of jewelry, money or fine art…he will make sure it goes someplace where it is needed.) View complete list of Humus Idol entries here.

08
Oct
11

Deac’s Towering Babble

Just a miscellany of thoughts today.

Out of a Jobs

Now that a couple days have passed, and perhaps souls are soothed enough now that I won’t get virtually stoned to death by any of you, let me say this: Steve Jobs’ death is no more important or unimportant than the death of a nameless beggar on the most secluded New Delhi street. Seriously, people, I’m tired of the cult of celebrity and the #rip hashtags that clog Twitter whenever someone “important” dies. Why do we get all choked up and bent out of shape by someone with a rich (literally and figuratively) life dies and yet we give just passing notice (or none at all) to people wrongly killed for crimes, or little brown-skinned children kidnapped or murdered, or anyone else? Perspective, people. I think the Macintosh and many other Apple products are great, but if you see them and the guy who spearheaded their creation as ways to fill empty places inside yourself, I worry about you. They are toys and tools. Cool ones, yes, but Steve Jobs was a flawed human being like the rest of us…not a more valuable one, no matter what his accomplishments.

Things that Bear Re-tweeting

Some thoughts I’ve tweeted about in recent days that I think are worth sharing here (in slightly modified form from original in some cases):

  • I wonder sometimes why fellow Christians who vehemently deny evolution, climate change and cosmology don’t just believe in a flat Earth, too.
  • People who think you can’t question “God’s Word” because God will get mad should pay attention to how long He’s put up with Jews bitching at Him
  • Just because SOME climate scientists have fudged numbers doesn’t give you license to discard all climate science. That’s as dishonest as calling ALL Christians judgmental hypocrites just because some very visible evil Christians make the news.
  • If you believe Earth is 7,000 or 8,000 years old because of Bible, you lose right to criticize anyone’s scientific method or judge what is pseudo-science
  • Argue long enough with a right-winger, being rational and fairly balanced in your views, and you will be called a fascist, socialist AND communist (because apparently, looking at multiple angles on issues and thinking critically is somehow totalitarian and un-American)
  • If someone from the left wing or right wing disagrees with you, expect to have your words “most”, “should” and “consider” either implicitly or overtly changed to: “all”, “must” and “require”

Media Now the Shark in the Water

These days, whether because of lazy journalism or because the corporate oligarchs are telling the publishers and editors of media publications and news stations not to run “anti-business” fare much, we see a world in which the Tea Party gets media attention for any little screeching gathering and insane GOP presidential hopefuls are treated as if their views are valid no matter how much their shit is made up or is out-of-sync with reality…and the news hardly even reports on the “Occupy Wall Street” folks (or marginalizes the protesters) until police start roughing people up.  Really, modern media? You won’t cover something until there’s blood in the water for you to fight and thrash over? And before you accuse me of not understanding the news or ratings or anything else, I’m a journalist and have been for more than 20 years.

07
Oct
11

Religion by Any Other Name

With fair regularity, I’ll see an atheist post something online, whether as a tweet, a comment to a blog post, or whatever, basically saying how much better a world it would be if we just eliminated religion altogether.

How much less hatred there would be. How much less unkindness. How much less discrimination and abuse. How much less divisiveness. How much less hypocrisy. How much less war. How much less violence. How much less shame. How much less…

…and sometimes, as I read this, my sense of “What damn world do you live in” surges up like a food-poisoned dinner, and I respond, online, to explain to them patiently that it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference.

They almost never agree.

You see, I bring up very valid points. In fact, my points are virtually unassailable, though the atheists insist on stubbornly assailing them anyway, showing that they can be just as pigheaded as fundamentalist Christians or uber-Orthodox Jews or extremist Muslims.

You see, they will point to things like the Crusades, or the Spanish Inquisition, or a host of other well-known historical events, and say, “See, that’s what religion does!” In addition to ignoring every good thing that flowed from religion, they fail, more importantly, to take heed of the fact that in all those cases, the impetus behind the evils was rarely anything religious. Oh, it may have been billed as such, but it’s always about power, wealth, land, etc. And usually, there is a ruler (king, empress, pharaoh, dictator, etc.) or a ruling class behind it all, using religion as the rallying point or prodding the religious institutions and using them as tools for the dirty work.

When I point out that capitalism (a flawed institution that I both love and loathe) and communism (great idea, but impossible to execute humanely in large populations) have been responsible for more suffering and persecution than religion in modern times, I’m ignored, and told about how much influence Christians have on the political process.

When I point out that non-theistic liberals have stomped on as many freedoms at times as right-wingers, I’m met with a blank stare (of the virtual/electronic variety).

When I note that so much of the violence in Africa is caused by warlords and ethnic conflicts…and add that so many Eastern European and Asian conflicts are also ethnically/culturally based, I’m told that really, it was religion that started those divisions originally, and thus religion is to blame.

This is why I have, at times, compared atheism to being a religion unto itself, because its most firm adherents aren’t content to practice their beliefs. No, they seek converts. They enact doctrine. They begin to exclude people and judge people. I’ve known some great atheists and count many of them among my friends. But just like church-folk, I find many of them abrasive and pompous. They have dogma, too, and they can be guilty of evil. Some of the most evil bastards in modern history were functionally agnostic, truly agnostic or atheist.

What irks me is that even if you can make the claim that religion is responsible for most of the world’s woes, past and present (which you can’t because at best it’s an one-fourth partner along with economic, social and political/ideological doctrines), eliminating it won’t help.

If you outlaw religion, or zap everyone with a mind-ray that makes them reject the notion of any kinds of spiritual higher powers (God, Goddess, loa, Vishnu, etc.), they will make their own faiths all over again.

I see this so clearly these days in online communities.

Mrs. Blue still reads many parenting/mommy blogs and visits parenting forums at times, and I see all the time how many “non-religious” women have essentially defined motherhood as a sort of goddess role. It is sacred. It is for women alone. The children belong to the mother. The father is there to serve. The role of motherhood should be honored as a special calling and duty. Now, I think the world of women, mothers or not. But the level of importance that many women in these online venues attach to their roles goes beyond the reasonable and laudable. It goes into worship. It goes into judgment and exclusion and excommunication of those who don’t agree 100% with the official doctrine. If you dare to raise your voice at your child or spank them even once, you are shunned. If you are a father who dares to look at porn or want sex occasionally outside of making a new baby,  you are sick.

But hey, it’s not just the extreme moms.

Let’s take sexuality. Yoga, while spiritual, tends to be pretty much clear of deism for most people (at least here in the United States). It’s a way to connect in non-physical as well as physical ways, but it’s more about calming, centering and clearing out the detritus. And yet I’ve seen tales enough of Tantric Yoga people who damn near form cults of sexuality. Or, as long as we’re on the topic of sexuality, how about BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism)? I’ve made no secret that I probably know more about kink than most of you dear readers. I don’t practice BDSM myself, but I’m well-acquainted with many folks who are, and I keep tabs on things, and you know what I see? Lots of worship. People who reject the notion of God now give themselves over to another human. Not simply as a submissive who gets whipped occasionally or tied up or insulted, but who gives over all the choices to some dominant man or woman and literally worships that person. I’ve seen folks so devoted to the BDSM lifestyle that actual sexual activity in a BDSM context is rare or non-existent. They are fulfilled by the surrender or the control (depending on whether they are the sub or dom) and they find it spiritually fulfilling.

Humans seek the divine, and they will find it almost anywhere. There are fundie Christians who can twist the Gospel to make it look like Jesus taught the value of free-market Capitalism. I kid you not. Jesus noted that money/greed was a kind of god, and humans have proved him right, as they set themselves up as gods based on money, and demand their “tithes” of the more lowly. I see people get quite riled up over food and what is the “right” way to eat and to grow/raise food for us to be good humans and to be right with the Earth.

Spirituality is part and parcel of being human, and that is why the majority of the population believes in a higher power. Even if we’re wrong about that and the atheists are right, it’s clearly hardwired into us on some level that we seek an ethereal connection to something beyond the temporal lives we are locked into. We seek enlightenment. We seek to get outside ourselves. We seek validation from unseen forces.

Whether gods exist and we acknowledge them, or whether we create them and invest them with pseudo-reality…it doesn’t matter in the end. You cannot eliminate religion. If you strike it down in one form, it will rise up in another. If you’re an atheist and you’ve managed to shed all that, cool for you. You’re a rarity. Just like geniuses are. Or savants. Or true artists. Or serial killers, for that matter. You are not the norm if you have completely severed yourself from spiritual notions. That doesn’t make you bad or flawed, but it means you don’t see the world like most people do. You are an aberration. Perhaps a beautiful and wonderful one, but an aberration all the same. And, most likely, the majority of atheists who think they reject all divine/spiritual notions would find they worship at some kind of altar in life, if they were only to truly and honestly look at themselves.

Stop blaming the institutions or philosophies for how messed up the world is and how much evil there is in it. The blame for the world’s ills is much more pervasive.

It’s not God, real or imagined. It’s not religions. It’s not faith.

It’s all of us.

All. Of. Us.

All.

06
Oct
11

Authentically Me

Mrs. Blue and I have had a number of conversations lately during which we’ve talked about the “authenticity” of blogs these days. Particularly in the part of the blogosphere she frequents, she’s seen some bloggers really take off, getting book deals, ads galore and/or sponsorships that have allowed them a pretty decent income. In some cases, the bloggers have been able to make blogging their actual main source of income.

In the process, though, she’s noticed that some of them have pulled back and changed. They’ve become less open and less authentic. Instead of sharing the bits of themselves that first drew people in to read their posts, they are now in some cases just posting bland, short posts and shilling for products provided to them by sponsors. They have, it seems, in many cases quite literally sold out.

I understand that often we make compromises to make a living. But at the same time, it distresses me that we are sometimes willing to give up who we are and what we stand for to get ahead in life.

I have to say that I’m not down with that. For example (and this may seem petty or vain), if I were told that I could get a job I’d interviewed for, but to do so I’d have to be clean-shaven, I’d say “no, thanks” unless my family’s survival depending on that job. Why? Because facial hair is a part of who I am. It’s important to me, and I won’t have someone dictate that I have to change for them when it has no bearing on my performance or ability to do the tasks I’d be assigned.

Now, I’m not in much danger of exploding onto the larger blog scene with this blog. I don’t think sponsorships, book deals or big-time companies buying ads here is something I’ll have to deal with (though, please, by all means, come forward and make some offers if you’re reading this). But I do think about myself in relation to this blog and where I might take it. Also, how it might affect my life.

Those who’ve been with me a while may remember there was a time my real name wasn’t attached to this blog at all. Those who follow me elsewhere online would have no problem figuring out who my wife is and what her blog is, even though I continue to call her Mrs. Blue here. (As for “why” I still do that, and call my daughter and stepson Little Girl Blue and Son of Blue…well, it’s part of the theme and the vibe here, so I keep it.)

Mrs. Blue, I should mention, has taken her own blog to self-hosting, and is looking for ways to modestly monetize it. I’ve taken one of my anonymous erotic blogs to self-hosting and the others may follow soon, for much the same reason. At some point, I’m sure this blog will become a self-hosted one, too.

And so I think about who I am, and who I should be here.

In the end, I think I should be me. Continue to be myself, and perhaps even loosen up a little more at times and let more of myself show.

That’s not as easy as it might sound. This blog has evolved and will continue to do so. It started as a place to talks about my spiritual journey, my thoughts on the Bible and how those relate to things in general life, like relationships, politics and sex. Then I found myself getting silly at times or sharing recommendations related to media and pop culture. I started commenting on politics without any spirituality involved. I started sometimes to simply talk about my life. I don’t know exactly what shape it will take in the end, but it’s a moving target.

At one point, I made the decision to sort of tone down my language and such. This blog used to be called “Holy Shit from Deacon Blue” as opposed to “Holy Sh!+ from Deacon Blue.” That change happened when I decided to not be so “blue'” in my language.

Well, fuck it!

I swear. It’s part of who I am, and I can’t think of a single reason God or Jesus would give two shits whether I pepper my wisdom and/or ramblings with some swear words. I won’t use profanity as a crutch, but I will express myself as the situation dictates and according to what feels right personally or necessary to convey a point properly.

Will I change the name back? Probably not. The “Sh!+” thing is kind of cool, I think, and it evokes a little the #&@!* kind of thing you see in cartoons sometimes to stand in for profanity.

But I will be who I am. This is scary at times, mind you. Remember, my resume is up on this site. My name. I am followed on Twitter by people who have given me work in the past and might (or might not) recommend me to other people who might have work for me. It’s also not much of a jump from here to my LinkedIn account (or vice-versa). Will being who I am affect my ability to get work? Has it already?

I can’t know for certain, but I also can’t let that be my guiding light for this blog. If I do that, I might as well just stop blogging.

Sharing my views can be unnerving. My post yesterday was visceral and expressed a view that many of my left-leaning friends might not appreciate. But you know what, if they are my friends, whether of the electronic/virtual or the real-life/real-time variety, they will value my differences and quirks as I do theirs.

At times, this blog suffers from serious droughts, and I don’t know ultimately what shape it will take. But spirituality, politics, social issues and snark will always be part of the mix. I hope I can keep you along for the entire ride, and if I should become famous, I hope I never sell out my authentic self for the one that attracts easier money and fame.

05
Oct
11

I’ll Take the Sniper over the Carpet Bombing, Thanks

Anwar al-Awlaki is dead.

Good.

But more on that in a moment.

First, let me apologize for being several days late to the party commenting on this story; I’ve been pretty busy

Second, let’s be clear. Yes, I lean fairly far to the left. I’m liberal, even if I also do have moderate tendencies. I’ve been called a secular progressive (which is funny since, believing in God and Jesus pretty firmly like I do, I’d be a Christian progressive). But I have my conservative moments, and this is one of them. Cry all you want about assassinating a U.S. citizen, but I have zero problem with this guy being killed.

Which brings me back to my original point: Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Now, I’ve seen some of my fellow liberal-leaning folks all in a fuss about how bad it is to set a precedent like this and kill a U.S. citizen without due process. First off, I’d rather spend time worrying about the probably thousands of people doing time in prison for crimes they didn’t commit (and possibly facing potential execution) because prosecutors and police lied or got lazy or because the person couldn’t get a decent defense. Or unarmed people who get tasered to death or shot dozens of times by police for no good reason. Screw one lone damned terrorist leader who made no bones about his intentions in the face of all that.

Because you know what, Anwar al-Awlaki was quite open about his hatred of the United States and his desire to kill. He didn’t just make vague comments about chickens coming home to roost like Malcolm X, who was actually more about justice and fairness and justifiable self-defense than people give him credit for. Anwar al-Awlaki wanted Americans dead and wanted to strike blows against the United States to, ideally, take it down. He was a terrorist.

Oh, yeah, and a U.S. citizen. Now, if I’m wrong, feel free to correct me, but the man left the U.S. in 2002 and became increasingly vocal about how you can’t trust non-Muslims and should rely on the bullet. He was preaching very publicly to others to encourage them to do violence to the United States and other non-Muslim nations. I’m sorry, but if that isn’t a tacit rejection of your citizenship, I don’t know what is. I’d feel the same about any white, right-wing terrorist who decided to drop out of mainstream American life to plot secret and violent attacks against people in this country. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if some extra-angry “if ballots don’t work, bullets will” Tea Party types enter this category soon. I won’t cry if they get shot in a raid on their compound.

To be honest, al-Awlaki was the very definition of an “enemy combatant.” If you say you want to do some killing and plan to do some killing and plan to get other people to do some killing, you have declared war. If we get a chance to shoot you down, we should take it.

This, to me, is more honest, clean and just. I’d rather see a drone fire a missile at a vehicle containing this guy and a few terrorist friends than to see a bombing of some compound he lives in, where plenty of innocents, including children potentially, might be. I’d rather see an assassination like this than dragging our poor troops halfway across the world to wage war and cause all sorts of collateral damage that maims and kills tens of thousands of innocent folks.

So, whether a drone like in this case, or a sniper in some other case (past or future), I’ll take the targeted assassination of the leaders over the wholesale slaughter of the foot soldiers. Without people to plan organized assaults, you rarely have foot soldiers to deal with.

Frankly, the notion that we should have just dragged him back to the United States for a trial is ludicrous. Aside from the fact that would be a riskier operation to our own forces and to others, it just isn’t necessary. This isn’t a situation in which guilt is even in question. Anwar al-Awlaki was proud of his actions and happy to kill indiscriminately. I’d rather we kill selectively than engage in mass operations that sow untold destruction over years. (Are there downsides to assassination, and can it help foment hatred toward us? Sure. But far less so than occupying and razing great swaths of a nation.)

Do I trust my government to always do the right thing when it comes to assassination? No. But that’s nothing new. I’m tired of war, though, and tired of using a shotgun or a carpet bombing where a sniper or a missile-equipped drone can do the job much more cleanly.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

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You can reach Deacon Blue/Jeff Bouley at deaconbluemail@gmail.com.

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