El Gringoqueño

All a man needs out of life is a place to sit ‘n’ spit in the fire.

Category: Current Events (page 2 of 6)

Stuff that’s pop-tastic, pop-o-licious, and currently playing on FoxNews

Landmark Supreme Court Decision

I am very much pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that same-sex marriage must not be denied anywhere the U.S. Constitution has authority. Great, I think to myself, and like yesterday’s 6-3 ruling on the Affordable Care Act, it’s the dissenters who are most entertaining. I found Scalia’s frothing at the mouth particularly delicious.

Today’s,  would surely not disappoint, I thought. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Chief Justice John Roberts:

“This universal definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is no historical coincidence. Marriage did not come about as a result of a political movement, discovery, disease, war, religious doctrine, or any other moving force of world history — and certainly not as a result of a prehistoric decision to exclude gays and lesbians,” Roberts wrote. “It arose in the nature of things to meet a vital need: ensuring that children are conceived by a mother and father committed to raising them in the stable conditions of a lifelong relationship.”

Nice, John. Invoke nature. Seriously, that’s the best argument your legal mind can come up with? Nature? It’s always been this way, it evolved naturally. You know what else nature likes to do, John? Turn you inside out and reduce you to plant food. Nature is brutal, cold, uncaring, and life within it is short.

If nature is so great, how come we do so much to change it? It’s too hot; air conditioning. It’s too cold; fire. We invoke the “natural” way when it is convenient to our predilections.

Now, why would Justice Roberts write such a thin non-legal argument in his dissent? I’d wager he just finds gays icky.

Burke, You’re Out!

In an interview with a Spanish Catholic weekly published last week, Burke said of the pope’s leadership: “Many have expressed their concerns to me. … There is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder.”

To which Pope Francis replied, “How’s this rudder feel, bitch?”

Threatening Compliments

As some of you may know there’s been a series of videos and discussions going around, almost meme-like, of a woman walking around New York and the catcalls she received as a result. It has sparked parody videos, conservative backlash, imitators and apologists.

First, here is what the apologists sound like. “Ah, they didn’t mean anything by it. Men are just being men. She should take it as a compliment. She’s pretty, right?”

Then there are those would think that somehow it’s the woman’s fault, as if she’s asking for it. “What does she want us to do dressed like she is, looking the way she does? We’re only human.” It’s as if women should cover themselves in some sort of head to toe garment with eye-slits for navigation.

The most galling to me are those that offer what seems like an attempt to understand by saying, “Hey, I’m a guy, if a woman catcalls to me, I take it as a compliment. I smile and say thank  you, ’cause that makes my day.” It’s a false equivalency, folks. Don’t be fooled. Assholes use that technique for a variety of things, most of them racial or gender based, but it’s just flat out incorrect.

A woman catcalling a man, is not the same thing as a man catcalling a woman.

First, let’s construct a proper equivalency. Generally women pride themselves on their appearance, right? It’s a general tendency, not that it is universal, but rightly or wrongly, a woman’s appearance is an important part of her self worth.

What would the equivalent self worth trait be for a man? Money? Success? Let’s go with that. Men are judged less on looks more on career achievement – money. So women – appearence. Men – success.

So, we’ve got a woman walking down the street, dressed nicely. She’s got a knee-length (just below) pencil skirt, a nice top – bare shoulders because it’s hot out and she is walking. She has some low heels because she’s good at walking in them. The couple of blocks to her office isn’t that far. She knows she looks good, and she likes feeling desirable. “Hey there sweetheart. You got a nice pair of legs.”  says a construction worker.  From the other side of the street she hears shoutouts like “beautiful,” “sexy.” If she doesn’t smile, she will receive an aggressive comment, “Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more.”

Now let’s have our man. He’s a successful businessman. He is wearing a business suit. He has his jacket draped over his arm with a smart phone. He has a Rolex watch, expensive Italian shoes, and a $300 belt. He knows he looks good. He knows his adornments show that he is successful, that he is wealthy. If you got it, flaunt it, he thinks to himself.

Suddenly, from an alleyway a delivery person calls out to him. “Nice watch ya got there.” Another, “Dude, those sure are some nice shoes. Bet they were really expensive. Where’d you get ’em,” as he takes a step closer. “That the iPhone 6? Those are niiiiice. My brother got mugged for his. You should keep it safe.”

You see? They’re just complimenting him and expressing concern for his person. They are letting him know that they appreciate his hard work and wealth. If he didn’t want them to comment, he should have toned it down a bit, no? They are responding to what he is communicating – that he is successful, that he is wealthy.

But our businessman is anything but smiling when he arrives at his office. He breathes a sigh of relief as he passes through the lobby. It’s a small thing, I suppose, being suddenly aware of how vulnerable one is. He shakes it off and goes about his day.

As he leaves the office in the evening, he tucks his phone is his pocket, puts on his jacket and tells himself it’s just because it’s a bit chilly.

She Wouldn’t Be Quiet

“I don’t know if I really liked her humor,” I said. “It’s not that I dislike her, but it seems to me that her humor was mean… or just not funny. I don’t know.”

“Me neither,” Laura replied, “her brand of humor did seem mean, self-deprecating. I don’t know, either, I’m not a terribly big fan of comics who put themselves or others down. But she was brave and strong and made her way in a tough world. And I think one thing that she had that was extraordinary, was that she wouldn’t be quiet. You know, in a man’s world, men want women who listen to them. Men want women with a sense of humor, but only so they can laugh at the man’s jokes. But Joan wouldn’t be quiet the way we wanted her to, nor tell jokes the way we wanted her to.”

“Oh my god, I think you have revealed an unpleasant truth about my gender, Laura. Did I not care for her humor because deep down I am uncomfortable with opinionated women… that what is more comfortable is a woman who knows her place? Wow, that’s a real revelation. I know I wouldn’t answer that way on a test question, but maybe what is comfortable, what seems right is a partial product of our male dominated society.” I thought about it for a bit, “You know what, I admire Joan more now. She made America think. She wouldn’t be quiet when America wished she would. Through her humor she could resist the pressure to be quiet by making people laugh and changed society for the better.”

“You know what? It makes even more sense that Johnny Carson banned her from his show for all those years. When she took her own show on CBS, he felt it was a personal betrayal, but I think his actions reveal it to be more than just a simple infidelity. Johnny Carson thought he owned her. He made her, gave her her first big chance, and felt that she was his. Instead of being happy for her continued success, hoping that she take flight and soar, he wanted to control her, possess her, and have her do his bidding. Ugh, it makes me so so sick. Johnny was a dick. I’m glad she succeeded without him and made her own way.”

Even for all her insensitive jokes and gaffs, the world was a better place for having had Joan Rivers in it.


I am Michael Brown

I remember when you came to my school. Your shoes were so shiny, and they squeaked when you walked. Your uniform was neat and crisp with its badges and buttons. Your belt shone too. It was so reflective, and it had all these little cases and buckles. I wondered what they were for. Secret compartments were cool. The walky talkie squawked intermittently in unintelligible codes. You towered over us. And your dog was so big, his ears straight up in the air as he sat there still as a statue.

We were seated on the floor, but we all straightened our backs to get a better look as we said in unison, “Good morning, Officer Jones.”

You talked to us about your job, how you like to help people, how you wanted to stop the bad guys, that you were there to help us if we ever needed it. You told some funny stories, and you let us pet your dog. I was a little scared at first, but his hair was soft and he looked at us with sensitive brown eyes. I remember thinking how impressive you and your dog were. I wanted to help people too. I wanted to be like you and have a dog like you and stop bad people too.

As with all things, though, I grew up. When I turned 18, I was 6’4″ and no longer held those illusions of elementary school. I had not thought about your visit to my classroom in years, having long since changed my interests. Sometimes I felt silly for wanting to be a police officer. It’s as with all my peers, white and black. We all go through that phase, don’t we? I want to be a fire fighter. I want to be a police officer. We all want to help. In our innocence, that’s what first-responders represent. But I now no longer entertain those notions.

I am what people perceive me to be, a large black man and for those who don’t know me, maybe I look scary. I still feel like that third grader inside, though. I still would like to pet that dog, and I would still like to stop bad people from doing bad things.

When did I become the bad person, Officer Jones?

My Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street

I agree with them philosophically.  Yes, America’s values are out of balance.  We invest in making money, and it’s a wonder we’re not more screwed up.  You can’t invest in making money.  You can only invest in creation.  Creation drives growth.  Once the whole system becomes a circlejerk of ponzi schemes and mortgage-backed securities, you’re just playing roulette with someone else’s money.  There is so much hypocrisy in the system where we will bail out the richest corporations and banks while we tell American citizens if they get sick, it sucks to be them.

That said,  operationally OWS and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum.  Here’s the problem as I see it.  First, Nelson Mandela declared that the oppressors define the battlefield.  If the nature of the oppressor is violent, then the only tool you have is violence.  Some disagree with it, but I think it makes good strategic sense.  If you’re being shot at, it’s time to get some guns.

It would follow then, that if the nature of the oppression is commercial, then commerce is where you should wage your struggle.

Start a business with a charter like Ben and Jerry’s, where the CEO cannot earn more than 7 times the lowest salary.  Start an insurance company like USAA.  Start a financial services company that only invests in sustainable technology and businesses.  Start something that reflects your values.  Vote for candidates that reflect your values.  Run for local office.

You cannot tear down the existing system.  It is too big, too wealthy, and too entrenched.  Yes, I know you are young and idealistic, but your boundless enthusiasm isn’t going to cut it.


On Steve Jobs and People Like Him

I have to admit, I’m a little ambivalent about the death of Steve Jobs.  If I am honest though, it hurts a little.  It hurts a little when great people pass on, never to conqueror again what they had conquered, never to achieve again what they had achieved.  For us, the peons, never to witness that level of greatness again is a bit bitter.

In my case, it’s strange, because I don’t use Apple products.  I don’t like them.  I don’t like Steve Jobs.  I don’t like his company.  I don’t like his business practices or caged computing environment. I personally have stayed away from Apple and Microsoft products completely. I don’t have any grand hatred toward either, but I do value the freedom to tinker, and to control where and how I create what I create. Way back in 1999, I swore it was the last time that I would have some proprietary piece of software tell me where and when I could install it and what I could do with it. And that was that.

So why feel even a twinge of sadness at the passing of Steve Jobs?  He fabricated products I don’t use and restricted people’s freedom to create pushing them more toward mindless consumption.  Perhaps, it’s our little monkey brains, terrified and mesmerized by the strength of one of our own, a brutal conqueror who was able to accomplish something no one else had.  Steve Jobs was ruthless, driven, ambitious, and intelligent.  He did not suffer fools, nor anyone.  His company conquered a particular consumer computing space thoroughly and completely.

Alexander the Great?  Great because he killed a whole bunch of people?  Yoda: Wars not make one great.  Genghis Khan, Gen Patton.  We worship them, revere them simply for their ability to ruthlessly conqueror and lay waste with efficiency in a way no one else has done before.

Sure, let’s not get carried away.  Steve Jobs is no Genghis Khan, but his greatness is familiar in that sense.  He had a vision for a part of this world that he felt he owned, and he shaped it, and nothing got in his way, not people, not money, not technology.

So, props, Steve.  You did it your way.  You were great in what you did.  I know why people worship you, but just shake my head.  I don’t think, in the end, your vision was the right vision.  Sure you and Apple made a lot of money, but I think you missed the point of the future envisioned by your 1984 self.

So Here’s a Perfect Example of Biased Reporting

California orders gay history in school textbooks – US news – Life – msnbc.com.

What the story is really about is a state law that removes the exclusion of key figures in California history.  You can’t do that any more, says the state law.  You must include the contributions of gay folks.

The way the title reads is perfect fodder for right wing reactionaries to screech, “See, THEY do have an agenda, and they are going to cram it down our throats.  We’ll have to learn gay history!”

Sigh, it’s just history.  There’s no black history.  There’s no gay history.  It’s all OUR history.  We should learn as much of it as possible.

Oh, here’s another interesting link I saw the other day.  I did not know this:



Why Weiner Took Photos of His Weiner

I’m not going to beat around the bush.  Laura and I suspect we know the reason he and a rash of other celebrities of a certain age are being caught with their pants down.  It’s male hormone replacement therapy.  Testosterone or something related.  It’s gotta be.   Access to it is becoming more commonplace every day and one of the side affects is teenage behavior.  Remember what it felt like?  Well, take this replacement therapy and your energy will pick up.  You’ll make better strides in your athletic performance and you’ll feel great!

Side effects may include stupidity.

There, I said it.  The reason these idiots (Woods, Weiner, Schwarzenegger, among others)  are imploding at such a rapid rate is that they are taking hormones.


Your Oil is My Freedom – My Freedom is Your Oil…

I’m seriously annoyed with the press coverage devoted to the oil gusher.  BP is bad, bad, bad.  Evil they are.  No wait, they are incompetent, lazy, greedy corporate bastards at best, evil fish killing, baby seal clubbing, agents of the apocalypse at worst.  It’s stuck in my craw, I tells ya, this BP bashing.  It’s so convenient to sit on our asses and bash bash bashidy bash.

Where does our complicity in this spill start for the average global citizen?  How do we, as a society, divorce ourselves from the problems that arise when we are addicted in a gluttonous fashion to free flowing black crude?  We need cheap food, because we demand value.  Farmers must consolidate their production farther and farther from the centers of consumption.  They must use fertilizers fabricated from petroleum, transport it long distances using petroleum, to supermarkets lit with electricity derived from petroleum, purchased by consumers driving their little metal bubbles powered by petroleum.  It’s in our plastics, toys, cars, winter warmth, food, and freedom.

Oil is in our freedom?!  Quick get a skimmer to get that shit out of there.  You can’t, and you know it.  It has flowed into America’s freedom wetlands, soaked into the sand of liberty, and been choked down the gullets of our winged agents of change.  Its slimy mess has turned to a thick oozing muck and seeped in so deep, extraction is impossible.

BP is evil though, we muse, and we continue to sit and wring our hands about how bad Big Oil is and how good we are because we care about the fishies, and the birdies, and the little shimpies, and those poor shrimping families that can’t feed themselves now.  Oh boo hoo; let’s go to Wal-Mart and buy a bigger TV so we can watch blue-ray.

Forget the news coverage.  Forget BP.  This tragedy makes two things clear:

  1. We are addicted to oil, and it is our collective fault, not only BP’s.
  2. We should not be doing deep water drilling at all if we can’t manage a worst case scenario.  To paraphrase Ralph Nader,  oil drilling currently seems to be unsafe at any depth.
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