Category Archives: Culture

Another Rapture Will Come and Go

Image from i.huffpost.com

We’ve been here before; you know – the beginning of the end.

On Friday, October 21, Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping says his revised call of the rapture will come true. This won’t happen, but we all act like we’re obligated to play along with the old kook. After all, we don’t want to hurt his feelings so close to his imminent death.

Camping has been wrong about this before. In a book titled “1994?” Camping predicts the second coming of fake Christ would take place on September 6, 1994. Needless to say, he was slightly off.

Then he envisioned May 21, 2011 would be our end times. It didn’t happen. Camping said his math was a little bit off.

Wait … math? He’s actually applied a formula to the nonexistent? Possibly. According to Wikipedia, Camping takes these factors into account before making his rapture predictions:

  • Jewish feast days in the Hebrew calendar, as described in the Old Testament,
  • the lunar month calendar (1 synodic month = 29.53059 days), and
  • A close approximation of the Gregorian calendar tropical year (365.24219 days, rounded to 365.2422).

Camping projects these into modern times and combines the results with other information in the Bible.

Setting back believers

Is this possible? After all, they’re already set back 3,500 years in their beliefs. But there is a further division between believers and doomsday prophets. Camping, among all non-believers and an overwhelming majority of believers, is usually dismissed with an eye roll when visualizing the rapture. He’s too literal for the mainstream religious population to take seriously. 99.9% of Christians do not take the Bible literally. Rather, they proof text the parts they feel are applicable to their life. (Would Jesus approve of this?)

Setting back atheism

Is this possible? After all, they already have all the arguments they need, right? Stories in the Bible are preposterous and have no basis of tangible truth. (I know. That’s why they call it faith.) But atheist activists have to be careful not to pick the low-hanging fruit. Campy Camping is an easy target with a fringe ideology. Focusing on a miniscule minority will only make atheism look like as big of hack as Camping.

Self-made ‘rapture’

Avoid buying excess amounts of bottled water this week. You won’t need it. Jesus isn’t coming back. He was never “here” in the first place. The closest thing you’ll find to Jesus today is a Mexican man. There will always be calls of “judgement day” from the unstable religious population. (Yes, there is a stable religious population.)

Truthfully, the only way the world will end is because we let it. Global warming will cook our planet. Oil companies will destroy the waters. Our actions will tank the ecosystem. Class warfare will kill off a segment of population due to poverty.

And we’re worried about Jesus coming back?

Maybe the “rapture” isn’t a quick decimation. Maybe we’re living it. Maybe it’s a long, arduous decay of what we took for granted.

If that’s the case, the rapture is already here.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

‘Like’ puts our lazy lexicon in spotlight

Image from abreezyday.typepad.com

My tenth grade English teacher was on a crusade to eradicate excess usage of the word “like.” He went out of his way to assign more class speeches and presentations to demonstrate that our minds didn’t consciously seek out the word “like.” Rather, it was a byproduct of thinking faster than you can speak or failing to find the right word and feeling that a speech should be fluid without pause.

Mr. Phillips understood the word “like” was necessary to draw comparisons between two similar objects. After all, you can’t form a simile without “like” or “as.”

Phillips was unaware of Facebook, as it did not exist when I was in high school. Had it, I believe he would have taken shots from the nearest clock tower after hearing its fundamental form of communication was a “like” button.

Perhaps Phillips hated valley girls. Maybe he was just a bitter man; after all, he was teaching English to a demographic of students who made up new words every day … none of them English. The latter seems more likely.

After his class, I consciously picked out every extraneous “like” from a conversation. I can only conclude that Phillips is a madman, because this attention to detail can drive a man insane.

I thought, at the time, kids my age would grown out of the “like” trend. Surely, with more high school education and higher education, we would learn more words as we gained more experience. After all, the adults I knew didn’t use the word “like” as if there were a daily quota they had to meet. This didn’t happen. So many people my age – early, mid or late twenties – fill the air with “likes.” Their stories are unbearable (if they ever get to the point.) Conversations with them are nonsensical and obnoxious. “It was, like, this and he was all, like, what am I, like, supposed to do?” Just get the bullet. I got your target right here.

Communication quantity, not quality

There are many things my undomesticated generation cannot do that it should be able to do. I have a cousin that filled a dishwasher with Dawn dish soap. And for some reason, the “art” of laundry eludes many college freshmen.

Communication should not be a foreign anomaly for my generation. We have more opportunity to communicate than ever before. Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, texting, office messenger communicators … even face-to-face communication. (Look it up)

There is an interesting pattern on that list, however: Nearly all of them involve a keyboard. How come I don’t read the word “like” a dozen times in a text message, but hear it in verbal communication? We only seem to be succinct when we type out what we are thinking. (I’d say write, but who has the motor skills to do that anymore?) When many of us try to speak verbally, our language becomes cluttered and gaudy.

Lazy lexicon

At a point in time, I was just like this (High school.) It ended after Phillips’ class. We had lots of vocabulary tests in his class. His theory was that you can’t become a better conversationalist if you don’t know words to help you improve and become a more efficient speaker. Again, however, students succeeded on paper where they could see what they were writing. When it come to verbalizing their ideas, out came the “likes.”

Then he told us to shut up.

Huh? We’re supposed to evolve into better speakers by not talking? Then he told us to mimic his tone and pace of conversation. Phillips was a slow talker with a smooth voice. I called him “white Morgan Freeman.” His point of advice: Talk smart. Talk like a snob (without the accent.) Slow your thought process down and your verbal skills will grow and follow in pursuit.

It worked … in his classroom setting, at least. Speeches and presentations became tolerable. Phillips seemed less homicidal.

So, please. If you’re older than 16 but talk like you’re 16, learn some new words and think about what you want to say before you speak. Not only do people turn you out and not hear what you say, but they don’t care because they associate your inability to verbalize a sentence with a meaningless sentence.

A conversation I can follow is a conversation I “like.”

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Columbus Day is no reason to celebrate

Image from law.marquette.edu

“They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance … They would make fine servants … With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
Christopher Columbus

And here we are today – October 10, 2011. America! The great white man’s world! We deserve this, right? Our happiness and quality of life was created and maintained on hard work and perseverance, right? We owe it to the great mariner himself, Christopher Columbus!

Well, sort of. But, not really.

Let’s give Columbus credit where credit is due. (This shouldn’t take long): Kudos on finding America, even though you weren’t looking for it.

Christopher Columbus

Now that praise has been offered, let’s look further into the ambitious one’s discovery. Now, I accept that I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Columbus’ inability to own a GPS in 1492. But that doesn’t excuse his ruthless tactics in destroying the Native Americans’ way of life.

Columbus is responsible for a level of genocide that can only be described as astonishing. Ever since this point, Native Americans have been treated as second-class citizens. For this, Hawaii, Alaska and South Dakota refuse to recognize the formal holiday of Columbus Day.

The University of California, Los Angeles published documents from the era in which Columbus and his gaggle of slave owners founded America. The editor of that project, Geoffrey Symcox, had this to say:

“While giving the brilliant mariner his due, the collection portrays Columbus as an unrelenting social climber and self-promoter who stopped at nothing – not even exploitation, slavery, or twisting Biblical scripture – to advance his ambitions … Many of the unflattering documents have been known for the last century or more, but nobody paid much attention to them until recently … The fact that Columbus brought slavery, enormous exploitation or devastating diseases to the Americas used to be seen as a minor detail – if it was recognized at all – in light of his role as the great bringer of white man’s civilization to the benighted idolatrous American continent. But to historians today this information is very important. It changes our whole view of the enterprise.”

Other documents detail Spaniards within Columbus’ fleet “knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades.”

This day is a cause for celebration? The only difference between Columbus and Osama bin Laden is that bin Laden never set foot in America.

Ignorance is bliss

How, exactly, does the factual evidence of the Columbus massacre not penetrate deeper into society? Why is it not taught in schools? Why does it take a book like “A People’s History of the United States” to put something like this on the map?

America must get over its squeaky-clean image it has fabricated for itself. We’re not a Norman Rockwell painting. We have a disgusting past that we must accept. And by accepting that, we must take Columbus Day down from the pedestal of being a federal holiday. (One more day of work for some of you. I’m sorry.)

This does not mean we must feel guilt for being in America. Sure, we’re ruining it. But that’s a different post for a later date.

Remember today for your heritage. But don’t let the atrocities slip your mind. What that motto we used for 9/11? “Never forget?” Well, let’s remember and never forget where we come from and who lost their lives for out life of luxury.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blaming the victim? In bullfighting, yes

Juan Jose Padilla (ground) is gored in the face during a bullfight on Friday in Spain.

Bullseye!

This weekend’s most disturbing Web video goes to the team of matador Juan Jose Padilla and pissed-off bull “Marques.”

It was day two of the Virgen del Pilar festivities in Zaragoza, Spain when Padilla and “Marques” started their song and dance. It probably looked like every other bullfight: The guy dressed like Liberace twirled, dodged and speared the bull in ways that are supposed to be “artistic” and “innovative.” The bull bled, a lot – which is normal and how things are supposed to go during these torture traps.

But then Padilla tripped. (Artistically, I’m sure.) And then the bull gored him in the face. (Innovatively, I’m sure.) The horn went through Padilla’s jaw and upward toward his eye, forcing his eye to bulge out of its socket. Reports say Padilla went through five hours of reconstructive surgery. He faces a prognosis of blindness in one eye and partial facial paralysis, according to the New York Daily News. (And a splitting headache.)

My thoughts? Don’t play in traffic if you don’t want to get hit by a car.

Padilla, the person

You never want to see people get hurt – the human condition is more protective than it is destructive. There aren’t many details available on the 39-year-old Padilla. But it doesn’t matter if he’s a husband, father or free-fucking bachelor – his quality of life is changed forever. Chances are (I hope) he won’t step into a bullfighting circle competitively again. Depending on his fame, he made a living bullfighting. What will he do now? His handicap will affect his future decisions and opportunities.

Padilla, the victim

However, Padilla made a living torturing animals. Bullfighting is not a prevalent sport around the globe as it’s only a big spectacle steeped in tradition in a few countries – Spain and Portugal remaining in the forefront. When a bullfighter is gored, the reaction, in my experience, seems to something along the lines of, “he deserved it,” and “well, that’s what you get when you mess around with an 1,100-pound beast.”

Padilla can’t possibly be dumb enough to not know what kinds of risks he is assuming with bullfighting. I’m sure he has seen friends and fellow performers sustain injuries, if not the occasional gore. So let’s assume Padilla knew this could happen to him. Does this mean we fault him for what happened?

It’s hard not to. In the bullfighting circle, the matador does nearly everything in the book to anger and agitate the bull: The bright colors, the teasing and the spears in the back of the bull. The bull, in this case “Marques,” was already out of his element. Now he is being subjected to irritants and pain. Those horns aren’t there just for decoration. They’re a defense.

The accumulation of all this leads one to believe that Padilla and other bullfighters do everything other than verbally ask for the bull to kick the living shit out of them.

I sincerely hope the average person can see through the differences with this “blame the victim” thinking than we see with various assaults. Our matador is willingly putting himself in harms way for spectacle. A victim of sexual assault is not the antagonizer. End of story.

Fading tradition

It’s torture. It’s barbaric. It’s dated. It’s one of the cruelest forms of entertainment.

Outside bullfighting countries, this seems to be the majority response. There are movements to eliminate bullfighting, and some of them are taking shape. The number of provinces in Spain that have a high participation in bullfighting has dropped of significantly since the 19th century. (See below)

The most recent ban on bullfighting in Spain came in 2010 from the Catalonia region, making it the first major region in Spain to do so, according to reports from cbc.ca. The debate was focused around the rights of the animal against the preservation of tradition. (Funny that nowhere in there did they mention the safety of the matador.)

(ABOVE) Bullfighting in provinces of Spain in 2010. (BELOW) Bullfighting in provinces of Spain in the 19th century. SOURCE: Wikipedia

Tagged , , , , ,

Society’s message: Vick simply tortured the wrong species

Image from Ology.com

People care more about the lives of dogs than humans. This is not rational, but it is true.

Now I probably love dogs for the same and/or similar reasons than the next person: They’re great companions, cute and have unique personalities. They are, without a doubt, the darlings of the pet world.

With that said, I can understand why people still hold a grudge against Michael Vick. What I can’t understand is the unapologetic hatred.

Traditionally rational people lose their collective shit when you bring up Vick. (Even in the sole context of a football game.) Said people become even more inflamed when you praise him.

But how can you praise someone who spent 21 months in prison for dog fighting? He killed dogs. He drown them if they failed to perform. Have you seen the pictures? You can still “let it go” after seeing a mangled dog?

Yes, I have. And, yes, I can. It’s called moving on.

The easy aside to this is to bring up Donte Stallworth, the Washington Redskins wide receiver who spent 30 days in jail for hitting and killing a pedestrian with his vehicle while driving drunk. He seems to fly relatively low on the radar. There’s virtually no outrage over this. Luckily for Stallworth he’s not a superstar in the league with a $100 million contract like Vick. Otherwise he might get a lot of unwanted attention.

What’s a man to do?

Admit it, dog lover. You want Michael Vick to suffer the same way he made those fighting pit bulls suffer. After four years you still want him beaten and drown in a wading pool. And if he survives that, you want him locked away for life so he can rot behind bars while being surrounded by cinder blocks. The ironic thing about this is the people who believe this should happen to Vick are no better than Michael Vick circa 2007. Those who still rail against Vick with their sick ambitions are no better of a person than Vick was during his conviction.

Image from Zimbio.com

Answer this: After serving 18 months in prison, six in a halfway house, losing out on his $100 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons, being thrust into our minds as public enemy number one while being judged in front of the whole world (for a short while, Vick was more reviled in American than Osama bin Laden) and receiving messages of death and torture from people around the country, what can Michael Vick – the man – do to show people he’s sorry?

Despite multiple public apologies, carrying himself in a new demeanor and publicly supporting and speaking on behalf of the Humane Society … the answer is probably “nothing.”

And, yet, PETA kills far more animals than Michael Vick ever had possession of. Where is their apology? The chart below, from Petakillsanimals.com, shows a range from 1998 to 2010 in which the number of animals PETA killed is eerily similar to the number of animals it took in.

From Petakillsanimals.com:

From July 1998 through December 2010, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) killed more than 25,000 dogs, cats, and other “companion animals.” That’s more than five defenseless creatures every day. PETA has a walk-in freezer to store the dead bodies, and contracts with a Virginia Beach company to cremate them.

A PDF from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Online Animal Reporting detailing the finding can be viewed here: Online Animal Report

Pets Killed By PETA

Year Received† Trans-
ferred
Adopted Killed
2010 2,345 63 44 1.86% 2,200 93.8%
2009 2,366 31 8 0.34% 2,301 97.3%
2008 2,216 34 7 0.32% 2,124 95.8%
2007 1,997 35 17 0.85% 1,815 90.9%
2006 3,061 46 12 0.39% 2,981 97.4%
2005 2,165 69 146 6.74% 1,946 89.9%
2004 2,655 1 361 13.60% 2,278 85.8%
2003 2,224 1 312 14.03% 1,911 85.9%
2002 2,680 2 382 14.25% 2,298 85.7%
2001 2,685 14 703 26.18% 1,944 72.4%
2000 2,681 28 624 23.27% 2,029 75.7%
1999 1,805 91 386 21.39% 1,328 73.6%
1998* 943 125 133 14.10% 685 72.6%
Total 29,823 540 3,135 10.56% 25,840 85.9%
* figures represent the second half of 1998 only
† Other than spay/neuter animals

Move on

Vick has done more negative things than the average person. But he’s likely also done more positive things. The closure of his dog fighting ring has opened a Pandora’s box of animal cruelty awareness. He ratted out his former friends and no longer associates himself with them.

Let’s be clear about something: I’m not sticking my head in the sand and acting as if this never happened. It is possible to forgive, but also not forget. Michael Vick was involved in a horrendous timeline of events that many of us probably cannot wrap our heads around. The scale of the operation was mind-boggling.

Michael Vick elicits more emotion from people than the Taliban. Than al-Qaeda. Than famine in East Africa. These are all events happening in our present day. Yet, come football season when Michael Vick takes the field during primetime, the same platitudes are heard from people who can’t let a changed man simply be himself.

Devolution

Vick is a football player living his life and staying relatively low on the radar in comparison to his star level. He didn’t kill your dog and he’s not wishing any harm on to you. So who are we to tell Vick his comeuppance wasn’t enough for us? Our culture wants Vick electrocuted because he needs to feel what those tortured dogs felt.

In this instance, it’s as if society is saying it is OK to torture people. Yet we speak out against torture overseas and extraordinary rendition.

What an ironic devolution of our society: It’s OK to wish the maiming of those who make mistakes as long as they aren’t pets.

Here’s to Michael Vick – the man, the father and the football player – finding success with his second opportunity.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,