Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Best of the Worst

File Under: Off the Cutting-Room Floor

Here is a blog post originally meant for a February publishing, but never made it to prime-time. However, this is my blog and I want to share with you anyway:

Regardless of how you feel about the Saints winning the Super Bowl, you have to agree the commercials this year were pretty bad, and by bad I mean positively awful. One of the perennial disappointments is GoDaddy. For the love of all that is good and decent in the world, please, please, PLEASE, stop making commercials. Boost Mobile - bad Boost, you get a time-out mister. Charles Barkley, you are ruining yourself, or your agent hates you; I'm not sure which it is. Budweiser, you are an American icon, we expect better from you next year. I think over that past couple of Super Bowls, Coca-Cola has been trying to send the message that to truly enjoy their product, you need to be tripping on acid first. To the decision-makers at Frito-Lay (Doritos): there is a reason why people earn degrees in marketing and telecommunications - so they can make funnier commercials. Denny's you come close but no cigar. Some companies need to follow the lead of FedEx and Pepsi and give up the big game ghost (however, steer clear of stupid online ad campaigns). A few commercials garner a chuckle or a lol, but those were few. As if you will not see this enough without my assistance, here are to me what are the best advertisements of Super Bowl XLIV:

Up first is the VW PunchDub Commercial. This makes it for the nostalgia factor and punching people is just plain funny - especially the young kid and his grandfather at 0:18.

The award for "Best Use of a Bill Wither's Classic" goes to EA's Dante's Inferno 'Go To Hell' Super Bowl Commercial. EA rarely if ever does not do anything that is not full of win. While the game may not be your cup of tea, it appears well crafted and visually captivating.

Next up in the Snickers Commercial: Game we've got Betty White receiving a full-body tackle and doing a little trash talking. Funny. Just to be certain the commercial delivers, Abe Vigoda joins the party. A good effort by Snickers.

Next in line is Fiddling Beaver Official Super Bowl Ad. It is a beaver playing a fiddle. It works.

However, Monster is again one-upped by 2010 Big Game Commercial - Casual Friday :30. While this commercial does not rise to the level of their Super Bowl XLIII spot, it still poetically captures the absurdity of life in an officer or corporation.

When Stephen Hawking Speaks…Listen.

File Under: The Final Frontier

Pillars of Creation (c) 2008 Impact Lab

You might recall that recently the Vatican speculated that not only could life exist on other planets but also that these alien species would in turn be God’s children, though free of original sin. Crazy? Not according to renowned physicists Stephen Hawking, who believes that mathematically speaking the existence of aliens is “perfectly rational.” Hawking feels that the continued existence of humankind will depend on our colonizing space, which will intrinsically increase the likelihood of encountering alien species if they exist. Therefore, reason dictates we need to actively consider what these new species would be like and what their motivations will be.

Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking (c) 2010 Discovery Networks

However, Hawking admonishes do not expect the best from our first encounter with our prodigal space siblings. If God’s children on Earth are any indication of what to expect from his children from the stars, then they probably are imperialist bastards too – imperialist bastards with interstellar starships, sun-destroyers, wormhole generators, and quantum mega death-rays.

"Channel Zero" by Canibus from Can-I-Bus released 1998 on Fontana Universal

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Forget Platinum. True Players Wear Brass.

File Under: Hearing is Believing

Bane is not all work and no play. He likes to have fun and has been known, on occasion, to get 'jiggy." With this in mind, I bring you “Hearing is Believing,” great new and old music that comes across my desk. Bane likes to mellow out periodically, and when he does, it probably involves music in some way; and so it was that today I needed to mellow out. I opened my Scrobbler, and queued up the “Jazz” tag channel. On came the Coltrane, the Sade, the Michael Buble, the Nina Simone, the Ella, and slowly the calm came along with them. However, I was completely unprepared for the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble.

I consider myself at least a moderate admirer of classical and instrumental music, and I love when artists use untraditional instruments in unique ways. For instance, when Bon Scott (of AC/DC) first introduced me to Rock and Roll bagpipes, I was blown away. However, never did I imagine I would have my musical world rocked by the oft-overlooked baritone and the humble sousaphone.

Hailing from the Windy City with a rich musical history, this 9-piece band masterfully blends jazz, funk, fusion, and a touch of hip-hop tinged neo-soul to create a funky, innovative sound that is reminiscent of the best works of Herb Alpert, Isaac Hayes, and War. If one could say music has entered into a state of creative cardiac arrest, this group is without a doubt a shot of adrenaline to its chest.

For the lead-out clip, I bring you the song that changed things for me. With Phil Rudd on drums, Mark Evans on bass, Malcolm Young on rhythm guitar, Angus Young on lead guitar, and the late Bon Scott on lead vocals and Rock Highland bagpipes; here is AC/DC performing, "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)."

If you are interested in what else The Bane listens to or you want to suggest something, add me on or YouTube.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Where are the Dads? The Sequel

File Under: It is in Our Hands

For those who missed part one of this discussion, you can find it here. The discussion surrounds the above-linked article and the question of why fathers are missing in today’s families.

That discussion on why fathers are or are not present continues. A respondent posited that Progressives believe children are a punishment that parents can choose to bear or not to bear. Further, this respondent wonders why a man would choose to be a father when the system can be father, mentor, friend, educator, and financier. What non-faith-based reason would anyone have to make such an absurd choice? Is abandonment not the male choice as abortion is the (so-called) female choice? What “functional reason” does a man have?

So we are still stumping for the non-Progressives and non-Secularists. All right. Well, unless someone snuck into my bedroom and Progressivized me while I was sleeping, because I am not to my knowledge a Progressive, I cannot speak to why Progressives feel the way they do about children other than to say maybe it is because their fathers abandoned them, they were not breastfed, or they were not hugged and told they were special and loved when they were children. I can say that Progressives, Right-to-Lifers, Liberals, Christian Conservatives, farmers, Purple-People-Eaters, and anyone-else-who-wants-to-pipe-in-on-the-subject be damned. People are the resource of a nation on a small scale and the human race on a large scale; in turn children are naturally wards of a state (entrusted to the care of parents) because beyond the family, beyond the community it is the government who (is supposed to) protect the people (in turn protecting the species). For those who want to want to postulate special circumstances and drawl on asking “what would you want to happen in X situation,” please refrain.

Animals cannot convene parliament but they do protect and rear their children. How much more so can humans? I am willing to wager that whether or not there is someone else, who could guide this child from infancy to adulthood, ever crosses the mind of men who find out the person they are sleeping with is pregnant, at least not in those terms at that moment of revelation. Reason, not religion, tells you that the rejection of a father is a powerful influence on the choices children ultimately make. I mean no historical people have ever grown up to be tyrannical stooges for racist, genocidal agendas because their fathers were hard on them. On the other hand, have they? Reason, not religion, makes one think ‘wow, it was hard on mom and I growing up, maybe I should stick this thing out.’ Reason, not religion, dictates there is an intelligent and reasonable way to use any machine or process; the reproductive process is no different. If you sign the check, you accept responsibility when the bank calls you on it. Reason, not religion, dictates you protect and nurture your legacy. Functional reason? Ask the fathers of LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Barack Obama, or Tiger Woods about functional reasons. It is about survival – of the individual, of the nation, and of the species. Just like the sheep who line up for slaughter in the Progressive machine, some men do not have survival instincts.

Why are the only two alternatives ever offered in today’s political climate either be the sheep of the Progressive Shepherds or the pawns of the *Insert Non-Progressive Group* Masterminds? Either the way you choose your plight is sacrifice and slaughter. Is it not high time we stop shaking sticks at the boogeyman in our collective closet? Why not assist the marginal adherents to a broken system who believe the system is repairable and who participate in the only meaningful way they can envision. Why demonize these people? Is Non-progressivism that important, that much better?

The welfare state is not new; the concept is as old as humankind is. However, our specific welfare system is new and was not a product of a perfect, well-balance society. It is here because society needs it. Fathers abandoning families, not fathers wanting a counterpart to abortion, is (one textbook) reason for welfare. I do not pretend that the government does not practice and thrive on social engineering. After all it is crucial to the survival of the government that it people need them. Simultaneously, I do not absolve anyone of personal choice and responsibility. When evil Progressives are silenced and no longer fashionable and whatever preferable non-Progressive group is in power they will continue the legacy of manipulation and control. What tool will they use? False freedom? Pseudo-autonomy? Will they prove themselves hypocrites and use some bastardized welfare state? I do not know. What I do know is that the puppeteers of this system, whomever they are, will need more than state-sponsored birth control, more than STDs, more than illicit drugs, more than the welfare state, more than selective law enforcement, more than unconstitutional legislation, more than economic disparity, more than invasion of privacy, more than partisan politics, and more than sectarian strife to suppress, control, or eradicate (when all else fails) me and those I intend to influence.

Responsibility is not a product of faith; it is a consequence of being. Right and wrong existed long before man invented religion. It would seem religion and faith is high-level thought processes while logic and survival are base level processes. If you have not made the correct decision by the time you reach the high thought part of your brain, then you are not likely to – at least not for the right reasons. The time and distance between reasoning and faith may be small scientifically speaking, but spiritually there is a vast chasm between the two. What would happen to lions if they stopped to think about whether it is morally acceptable to kill gazelles? What would happen to the victims of suicide bombers if the bombers had said ‘this is an illogical course of action?’ Some people unfortunately need logical, reasonable behavior codified and explained in complex metaphors, parables, and fables that in turn men and women of dubious motivation or personal character who have no real clue about what is going on in the universe – spiritually or physically – must decipher. Some people simply would not be able to handle this current life, without some promise of a new, better life to come. Some people cannot contemplate the possibility they are alone in the universe. Those are dangerous scenarios, but such individuals pose no threat so long as they do not become fanatical.

You ask, “What am I saying about religion?” Am I lambasting established faiths in favor of shiny, new secular religion? Of am I advising we scrap the concept of faith in totality? For the answer tune in next week, same Bane-time, same Bane-channel.

John Lennon - Imagine
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Friday, April 2, 2010

Where are the Dads?

File under:           It is in Our Hands

This post and the link that inspires it, is a carryover from a Facebook discussion in which the original poster emphatically asks, “Where are the dads?” I responded that “fathers sadly are a fast shrinking minority,” to which he responded, “why so Ryan?” The Shortt answer: It is a Progressive plot to destabilize the family unit and create a more malleable society. The Long answer follows, please bear through my short (I swear) rant on criminal justice and society.

I do not know what manner of twisted things had to have happened to the 15 year-old to make her think what she was doing was 'OK.' In trying her as an adult, which she definitely deserves, I hope they do not merely bury her under the prison at the same time. She needs help and rehabilitation.

The 20 year-old on the other hand, his fate is sealed; let us hope he is as much a man about taking it as he thinks he is about dishing it out. Before I get up on my soapbox about the value of fathers, I must beat my "What in the world were all the rational adults doing?" drum. I mean, really. How many times leading up to the point that this 7 year-old was so horribly and irreversibly violated could someone have stepped in and said "no, this far and no farther?" Moreover, not just at the party either. Someone obviously had to report this, did that person figure something terrible had to happen before he or she spoke up. The entire community (and of course the "system") failed this child.

Fathers. I should back off my earlier comment somewhat. In all fairness to most men I know, the vast majority are making earnest attempts to be present in their lives of their children in a meaningful and positive way. That is regardless of status, class, relationship with the mothers, or the circumstances of the conception. I do notice a trend of males who grew up without a real, "good" father trying not to repeat the cycle with children they in turn create. However, society does not seem to be moving back towards a stronger family unit. The ratio of children to fathers still -feels- high. I think that condition exists for the same reasons it always has, many of which are the reasons why some fathers instead choose to be present.

No one teaches you to be a father (or a man for that matter). No one likes to fail, perform poorly, or struggle with something he or she does not know how to handle. I have heard people say that the first time they hold their child it is a scary moment. You realize that the person you created is now so dependent upon you and you hold (literally) a tiny, fragile life in your incapable, inept hands. What are the chances this 20 year-old's father had a college degree, and a job making mid-to-high 5 figures? Slim to nil. What is the probability that his grandfather skipped out on his father? High to certain. That is probably the most damaging 'lesson' about being a man taught over 2 generations: when you cannot handle it cut and run. Being poor and uneducated is no excuse, but it certainly does not aid the decision making process. Then you have the mother, who herself is scared and unlearned in the ways of motherhood. The child is bad enough; he or she cannot form the words to tell you how much you are unprepared for this task. But when you have a scared mother (read: loud, irate, and belligerent) who despite all her protestations of independence really just wants you to step up and be a man (in the traditional, antiquated sense), you don't hear "honey, we need to figure out what we are going to do;" you hear "My GOD!!! Why can't you just act like a man?!?!" As if she, being a woman, knows how a man is supposed to act. That sort of thing messes with a man (or a boy trying to be one). With no direction, no support, no plan, no finance, and "baby mama drama (possibly from multiple baby mamas)" lesser men and boys will take flight rather fight. Outside forces and theories of society manipulating aside, raising a child or children is a daunting responsibility.

Again for anyone preparing to mount their high horse and draw their sword of righteousness, I am not condoning or even defending males (because until you step up to the plate on your responsibilities you are not a man) who abandon their families. Beyond personal moral and logical reasons, many of the above reasons are why men choose to handle their responsibilities rather than run. My father often told me he swore to me when I was a very small child, too little to understand what he was saying, that he would never turn his back on my siblings and I as his father had done to him and his family. Despite everything the world threw at him and our family, or the decisions we made as individuals he never, ever once waivered on that promise – not for a millisecond. Do not let the horribleness of abandoning your family create an illusion in your mind that fulfilling such a promise is a simple task. It takes hard work, integrity, dedication, self-sacrifice, compassion, patience, humility, and no small amount of love. What most males do not realize (and no one tells them) is that what you lack in any of those areas you gain in droves along with knowledge, wisdom – and a beautiful legacy – when you step up and be a father. The road is hard, your life as it was is over, your family will drive you nuts, they will (make no mistake) tell you they hate you, and many times you will feel you are failing; but by being there you are winning. Fathers are the protectors of innocent 7 year-old girls. By you being there, we all are winning.

This post is dedicated to fathers everywhere, you are all our heroes.

Wherever you are dad, thank you and I love you.

UPDATE: The discussion continues in Where are the Dads? The Sequel