Why Batman should not kill

I’ve often complained to my friends and family about making Batman a killer in Zack Snyder’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” I’ve realized however, that I often fail to properly articulate exactly why this angers me as much as it does.

In making Batman a murderer, you’ve taken away a lot of what seperates Batman from any other costumed vigilante. Batman’s moral code is what makes him interesting, it’s what makes him special. Once you’ve taken that away, you lose the character.

I’ve seen the argument made that “this version does kill and you should just get over it.” I think that is an incredibly weak argument, because it misses the entire point of the anger towards this version of Batman. I don’t think of this character as “just another version of Batman,” because I don’t see what makes him Batman. Sure, his parents were murdered in an alley, and sure, he dresses like a bat and hangs out is a cave, but he doesn’t act like Batman. The actions of the character define the character, not the events that happen to the character. Although Nolan’s Batman didn’t draw directly from comic stories very often, it will forever be a more accurate representation of Batman then Snyder’s version, no matter how many shots he pulls from “The Dark Knight Returns.”

I can’t say that I’m excited for the Snyder cut of “Justice League,” because I know how Snyder views these characters. When I watch Batman, I want to watch Batman, not some guy in a bat costume.

Bullet with Butterfly Wings

Now, more than ever, we need to invest in local news. The national media, with complete disregard to any kind of truly objective reporting on events, has lost all credibility to local communities. We are at a moment in our history where we will have to sever ties with the northeastern elite media machine and focus solely on what is happening in our 1) states, 2) counties, and 3) municipalities (be it towns, villages, or cities). The continued focus of D.C. politics, corporate interests, and northeastern cultural whims has created a destructively divisive society where it does not matter who you are, where you are from, how you were raised, or what beliefs you have as long as you fall in line to the narrative being presented by the toxic division politics of a cancel culture run amuck. We are losing our very way of life to a focused narrative that only vaguely applies to our daily lives. We need to make our stand now before we lose everything.

How do we do that? First of all, we do so through non-violent passive action – we turn off the cable news and we cancel subscriptions to national media publications. We then invest in local newspapers, local news channels, local weekly non-profit community magazines and journals. Large corporate entities from the northeast have invaded local news organizations for quick financial rewards. It has led to a gutting of proper fact based non-biased local reporting that in turn has harmed the very core of American life and forced us all into seeing only what the national media machine wants us to see. Each community needs to re-evaluate how they want their news delivered and then invest in it. If your local paper has been gobbled up by a national chain that is threatening to shut it down, we need to abandon it and start a new paper that builds itself on the promise of reporting locally, fund it through public dollars as a non-profit, and find every way we can to protect it from any future buy out by another national chain.

Secondly, we need to focus less on national politics and focus more on local politics. The system originally built by the founding fathers was a system where real power of the nation rested on the House and Senate – local populations were meant to control these very institutions, but we have lost that power to corporate interests and national political narratives. It is time we, as local municipalities, take the power back through nominating and electing non-party affiliated candidates who will not tow a party line but instead address the issues of the community they represent. If they are elected and fail to do so, we nominate someone else to take their place. If we are going to get out of this mess, we must get rid of the national political parties and focus on independent minded, independent voting, local representatives that will vote based on local priorities first and national priorities second. A local press will help in this by forcing these individuals to keep their policies in check. No more fretting over Senators from Kentucky or Florida or California when you live in Nebraska, Alaska, or North Carolina. We focus our news on our Representatives and Senators only. They are the ones accountable to us, it is time we had a press that served us locally.

Third, we need to keep the national headlines at arm’s length in our news. There will always be important events nationally that will affect us, but they do not need to dominate our local news cycle. There is no reason why we should locally be worried about some other town or city that has no bearing our own local issues. So we need to purge the constant noise and replace it with smaller coverage focusing instead on the local and regional issues that are present for each of us.

Finally, we need to hijack social media and force Silicone Valley to change their algorithms to serve the local and not the national. Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow live in New York. Let them cover shit for New Yorkers. We do not need them in Pilot Mountain, NC. We need social media to allow the communities to deal solely on what is happening here, wherever that here is.

And we need to cancel the cancel culture by eliminating social media’s role in “debate.” It is time we used social media to forge new ideas for the local – listen to ALL of the local concerns, and use social media as the platform to inform our local press and politicians as to what WE, the local population, need from them. Social media can be used for community sound boards that can affect change – we’ve seen it happen before to great results – it is now time to take that power away from the toxic cancel culture elites and reinforced Alt-right negatives of MAGA trolls and give it back to the local communities.

If we are going to change, we have to start with our homes, our local communities, and our local politics. And the only way for us to do so is to start with our local press. The national media, though it has done wonders for us in the past, has been stolen away from downtown America by greed and power-hungry celebrity figures who would never make it locally. It is time to refocus on who we are as communities and remember that this is a nation of regions. It has never been a nation of Maddow or Hannity. It is time we woke up and realized this simple fact. If we do not, we will lose ourselves to hating our neighbors over some “unforgivable” political allegiance to a national political figure that doesn’t even know the name of the town you live in. That, dear friends, is the unforgivable crime of the national media – liberal and conservative.

Territorial Pissings

When I was a teenager, my friends and I used the word “retarded” to denote something that seemed idiotic or stupid. Through different outlets that we were exposed to in our youth, we were taught how to treat disabled people and value them as human beings. Sesame Street, Life Goes On, Mask, and Mr. Rogers all taught us that people were creatures of emotions and feelings, and that we were each responsible for our own actions in how we treated them. We were also taught to own our mistakes and instead of absolving ourselves of any wrongdoing, we were to amend the wrong in the best way possible according to the offended person’s wishes. So when we were told that we could not use the word retarded any more, as we had almost generationally redefined the word from actually referring to a handicapped individual, a large portion of us were offended not because we were being told to do something, but because we were being accused of hurting that malfunctioning stereo or ridiculous idea a friend had while high on pot. The fact that anyone would think we were using the word to hurt an individual shocked us, and quite frankly, we saw the whole notion as retarded.

There are a slew of other words that my generation accumulated in our slang that would now be seen as faux pas and socially offensive. The most common being the word “gay.” Unlike retarded, gay covered a whole host of meanings and applications. Someone acting goofy could be called gay. A concept that didn’t make sense or seemed to go against the norm of common sense was gay. An object that was out of place in a given context was gay. You get the idea. But, like retarded, gay has been systematically targeted and attempts to remove it from the lexicon have almost been as successful as retarded.

Can these words, and others, be used as weapons against other people? YES, they can. But so can the words stupid and idiot. Why haven’t the culture warriors come after those? One of the problems with being politically correct is the inconsistency within the rules of the PC culture. You cannot call a woman a slut, but it is socially acceptable to call a man a slut. You cannot say fuck, but you can say f-bomb which in turn makes the person hearing the phrase f-bomb say the word fuck in their head. You cannot say Indian unless you’re talking about people from India which is a tightrope because you have to make sure that when you are talking about Indians from India, you do not use any language to denote old racial stereotypes about Indians that do not live on reservations…I mean Native Americans. Sorry.

But political correctness is more than just a confusing code of words you can and cannot say. Being PC has led to the inevitable cancel culture that we are now living through, and thanks to Twitter and Facebook, the ability to join an angry mob out for some retard’s head who called something gay is easier than ever. And this is causing horrible cultural problems.

Do not think that I am advocating for the returned use of the words retarded and gay. I am personally of the ilk that if the community deems something wrong and wants to get rid of it, and it makes sense to do so, then it should be gotten rid of. What I am advocating for is common sense, something we have abandoned.

As noted above, generationally, Gen-X was taught through all of our media outlets how to treat human beings respectfully. We were the first generation that was largely acceptant of homosexuals and their civil rights. We didn’t understand why they were being treated differently because of who they loved – that came from Mr. Rogers, who taught an entire generation how to not only allow feelings to happen, but also how to treat people as you would want to be treated. He taught us how to be respectful and kind. But Gen-x is also human, and as a generation we created a vernacular that we defined ourselves. We took words and changed how to use them in response to the world around us. Then, somewhere over the past thirty years, we were told that those words could not be used anymore, regardless of context.

As a culture, Americans are extremely self-centered. We focus far too much energy on how we as individuals feel and not on the context of the situation and what would have made the person or group who is offending us do the things that they do. It is abhorrent to hear a white supremacist attack minorities because of outdated bigoted views that we can all agree have to go away immediately. But it is also abhorrent to watch Twitter get its panties in a wad over a forty-something white male calling a bad TV show retarded or gay. In no way do the two compute as the same, no matter how much tree hugging you apply.  

And understanding context first before digitally taking someone down can de-escalate most of the culture warriors issues with language. Understanding context can also create a better understanding of who we are as a culture. For the group who screams for diversity, I have always found it odd that they are the least diverse in ideas. There is a hard line that you must follow in the PC culture that cannot be questioned, mocked, or challenged or you risk being isolated and exiled culturally and socially.

I recently watched a debate on political correctness from 2018. On the “pro” side of the debate sat Michael Eric Dyson and Michelle Goldberg. On the “con” side of the debate sat Stephen Frye and (GASP!) Jordan Peterson. From the outset, Dyson and Goldberg (who were representing the liberal side) went after Mr. Peterson and his reputation. The two liberal PC representatives used the attacks on Mr. Peterson to establish the real conversation in the debate which was gender and racial inequality – NOT political correctness. It was so bad that when Mr. Frye attempted (multiple times BTW) to bring the conversation to being about political correctness, he was dismissed by his two debate opponents. The worst part of the entire charade was when Mr. Frye – a self-described ‘soft’ liberal gay man – expressed one of the biggest issues of political correctness being the fact that it creates an enormous amount of anxiety over saying something wrong or not being able to legitimately express a disagreement over a point of view, the young feminist columnist from the New York Times brushed it off and diverted the conversation back to gender inequality. After reflection, I believe that most liberals who defend political correctness do this in an attempt not to bring attention to the discussion of race and gender, but to simply divert from having to face the reality that political correctness has limitations to its success.

Using political correctness to get rid of words like nigger and spick is where it shines brightest. These are epithets that do not deserve to be in the language. Using political correctness to point out flaws in social logic is another place where it works really well like understanding that we should not have a football team named the Red Skins.

Where political correctness does not work is when it is used as a weapon to strip a person or group of their influence when the power struggle is over the most mundane things like expressing through slang the displeasure of something that is irrelevant to begin with. And that, quite frankly, is retarded.  

Post Malone’s weird history with Rock

My first exposure to “emo” rapper Post Malone was in ninth grade gym class. Specifically, kids would play the song “Rockstar.” I remember at the time turning to a friend of mine and asking him how the hell this could somehow be considered rock music. I silently hypothesized that this “Post Malone” person had likely never held a real instrument in his life.

Fast forward about a year and I stumble across the YouTube channel for the California based guitar store “Norman’s Rare Guitars.” While browsing this channel, I found a video featuring Post Malone. Curious, I watched the video only to find not only was Post Malone a guitar player, he was amazing. By this point I was fascinated, trying to find as many videos of him playing as possible. I found mostly just acoustic covers at the time but that would soon change.

The next thing I found from him with direct ties to rock music came in 2019 with “Take what you want” featuring Ozzy Osbourne. The obvious connection being Ozzy, but the song also has what is as far as I am aware, an uncredited guitar solo. Although I don’t know who recorded the solo, its presence says alot.

The most recent and in my opinion most blatant example was this year’s “Post Malone x Nirvana Tribute livestream.” As the name implies, it was a live set consisting primarily of non-singles, songs like drain you, lounge act, and school. I gained more respect for him due to the omission of Smells like Teen Spirit, so lesser known songs could be spotlighted. I will admit however that my first reaction was the fear that younger children may assume Post Malone wrote those songs.

Overall, I have to say its a little sad that Post Malone doesn’t explore rock more, as it at least seems like he enjoys it. I wonder how much hesitation comes from the lack of mainstream popularity rock has in the current music industry, and how much simply comes from a lack of interest. No matter what, I will likely continue to follow his career with some interest.

SpaceRanger: Asteroids, Fuzzy Planets, and Heartbeats

Space is massive, expansive, more than the mind could possibly imagine. Events on the universal scale, events of massive proportion, happen every hour of every day, but it’s rare to hear about them in the mainstream. So, when a number of outlets start reporting on them, it’s big.

This week, the biggest of these stories was the announcement that asteroid 2002 NN4 passed as close as 3.2 million miles to Earth, and coming in at between 870 and 1870 feet in diameter- an absolute monster of a rock! Initial estimates said the asteroid could approach as close as 100,000 miles of earth, however even at that distance it would’ve safely passed earth with no incident. The asteroid made its closest approach on June 6th, meaning those who put asteroid impact on their 2020 bingo cards will have to hold out a little longer.

While not happening this week, another important achievement in recent times was the successful beginning of the ChEoPs satelite by the European Space Agency. CHEOPS, which stands for CHaracterizing ExOPanetS, is the newest mission attempting to understand Earth’s distant cousins. As opposed to previous exoplanet survey missions like Hubble, Kepler, and TESS, CHEOPS is designed to image already discovered exoplanets and learn about their properties. This includes the planet’s size, mass, composition, and atmosphere.

And, finally, on a more humbling note, scientists have recently discovered the longest living “heartbeat” in a black hole, after having lost it nine years ago. A black hole’s heartbeat is caused when matter falls into a black hole. This causes a large release of energy in a cyclical pattern. The black hole in question is known as J-1034+396, a supermassive black hole at the center of a black hole some 600 million light-years away. Originally discovered in 2007, scientists lost it when the satelite monitoring it transited to the other side of the sun, blocking its view. However, it was rediscovered in 2018 by the ESA, revealing that its “heartbeat” was still going strong.

While i could rant on about SpaceX’s first launch of an American craft to the ISS, or a million other things that happened this week, this is where I’ll leave you. Space is vast, and topics like SpaceX’s launch have already been done to death. I plan on using this little section to catch up on fascinating smaller stories throughout the week, with occasional commentary on larger subjects. See you same day next week, and watch the skies!

For What It’s Worth

The protests have exposed one important thing that most news outlets are not giving a lot of attention to: political polarization is slowly starting to erode. That’s right – for the first time since the neo-cons came to power in the late 90s and early aughts, we are starting to see the long held political divide in this country start to unravel. We can only hope that it continues to do so and that the two major parties are not allowed to sway us back into our partisan corners.

In an Op-ed on The Hill, author John Kenneth White pointed to recent polls that suggested,

“…81 percent say the chokehold placed on Floyd was unjustified; 84 percent believe the resulting protests are justified; 80 percent think the nation is “out of control”; 59 percent are more concerned about unwarranted police actions than violent protestors; 57 percent believe police officers are more likely to use deadly force against African-Americans than whites; 65 percent say Trump’s response to the crisis has been harmful to race relations; and 55 percent want a president and Congress who “look for compromise and consensus” rather than division.”

What this reveals is that within the multiple crisis that have gripped our nation since February, the dividing line between the so-called left and right has been eroding as a pandemic has forced all of us into our homes for a prolonged period of time, the economic collapse as a result of the pandemic has indiscriminately hit at least 13% of our collective lives, and the killing of George Floyd and several others since him have induced a rally cry for reform in institutional norms held for hundreds of years. Basically, what has happened is a shared sense that the institution itself has failed us all in one form or another. That has led to what the numbers above show which is the beginning of the rejection of political lines in the sand.

What does this mean for November? At this point, there’s no telling. An article from the Washington Post this morning pointed to the unreliability of political polls this early in the election cycle, so the effects on the presidential race or any congressional races need to be taken with a grain of salt as the national attitudes will definitely change in the coming months.

But what is certain, and hopeful, is that there are finally signs that extreme partisanship is finally starting to show cracks in its armor. Maybe, hopefully, please dear God let it be so, we as a collective are finally changing the tide of political discourse in this nation from division to acceptance, and with this sea-change, maybe we can get rid of ALL the toxic partisan crap that has become routine over the past twenty years: cancel culture, political correctness, assault rifles, climate change denial, evangelical and green party extremism, and extreme trolling.

The thing about hope, though, is that in order for it to survive, it has to find actions that give it purpose. As we are now in the third week of protests, my only hope is that the movement continues to gather strength unlike the teachers and Parkland movements from the past few years that were slowly beaten back. Civil unrest needs to continue until REAL action is taken, and political partisanship needs to be left behind for that action to become actual change.

Fortunate Son

Only three members of my family have been to Europe. My uncle (mom’s brother) served in the Air Force and did a short tour in Germany and Spain. My father too was in the Air Force where he did his tour in England. And then there was my grandfather – my mother’s dad. He saw France, Belgium, Germany, and England as a member of the Army. But his tour, unlike those of my uncle and father, was a bit more chaotic. While their tours began in the two decades following his time in Europe, his began 76 years ago during the invasion of Normandy.

Every year on June 6 I have tried to do something to honor what my paternal grandfather did during the waning months of the European campaign of WWII. He was there that fateful day when the Allies established a foothold from which the liberation of Europe from Germany would begin. Shortly after, he was sent to Belgium where he was dispatched to travel with his company as they marched south to help close further escape routes for the German army and shut down much needed supply lines from the North. His letters during those darker days of our civilization’s history are short, to the point, and designed to send the simple message that he was alive and healthy. It would be after the surrender and his relocation to Paris that his letters changed tone, and in one he openly described the horrific visions that he saw briefly in Normandy and the hellscape he lived in during what we would call the Battle of the Bulge. One sentence has haunted me ever since my mother gave me the letters to keep:

“They were talking to me and then they were dead right beside me.”

I note all of this because this year, as June 6 came and went, the anniversary barely registered in the national conscience – and for good reason. In the wake of all that has happened since February, all those moments of our patriotic past now seem fraught with questionable intentions of focusing on remembering them rather than learning from them. During the early weeks of the pandemic, we heard reference after reference of the Spanish Flu epidemic. And while behind the scenes experts have studied and evaluated different tactics taken by our ancestors to fight that pandemic, the national narrative has only used the it as an adjective at times, and at others as a moniker of hyperbole for reference to how bad things may or may not be at present. Very rarely have I seen any news coverage about what we as the public can take away from that pandemic outside of washing our hands and wearing a mask.

So, what is the value of June 6, 1944? This year, on a personal level, I have found that outside of nostalgic references like the ones above, the real value of that day was lost the moment we brought our boys home. We, like every generation before us, have forgotten the fundamental questions that should always be asked – why did we commit to that moment at that very moment? – and  – has anything changed? When we answer those questions, and then take action to remedy any lesson lost to inaction, then those moments in the past become valid and carry more important weight than simply reading a pile of 70+ year-old letters and thinking, “yeah, that happened and I bet it sucked.”

I say all of this to pose what I think is a valid question that demands an immediate and real response from our leaders as we watch and participate in the current protests across the country:

Why did my grandfather have to lay in a ditch and watch so many innocent boys die literally right beside him if nothing was going to change for more than 70 fucking years?

Helter Skelter

The national media has been lost to corporate profits and the Washington machine. We know this. Yet we still watch them, read them, listen to them.

Why? Because we’re addicted to them and we refuse to kick the habit.

On June 1, I posted “ShortFiles #5” in which I (rather quickly and kinda sloppily) broke down that night’s “Anderson Cooper 360” and the rhetorical strategies he employed that night as he “reported” on the rose garden address from President Trump and the following actions the President took in going to St. John’s Episcopal Church to take a series of pictures. Like I did on that video, I will not go into the political, cultural, or social implications of the actions President Trump used that night. Instead I will draw you back to the very strategies that CNN and their 8 pm anchor used to completely and instantly create a specific version of the story to spin the actions for their audience in an extremely biased and partisan way. I take issue with this because that is not journalism in the slightest. And though I am a fan of Anderson, what he did that night did not separate him from his counterparts on MSNBC or Fox News.

There are three important points I want to make about our current media landscape with the smallest hope that anyone reading this may be able to peel back the layers of their favorite cable news host and see that they all work from the exact same template. These points are meant not to curve you from one network to another, but to raise some observational awareness about how all three networks are in fact the same as they work for the same mechanistic group of elites who, in tandem with these networks and their personalities, strengthen and enable a cyclical narrative that feeds off of our fears, hatred, anxieties, and securities. We do not live in a cynical culture but the cynical culture lives in us, and it is reinforced every day by the national media institutions.

The first point I want to draw your attention to is the lie that opinion is fact. Since the birth of Fox News in the mid-late 90s, cable news has pivoted away from delivering objective, well reported news and instead induced what is known as the “Fox Effect” – meaning that the news outlets have turned to sensationalizing stories in an ever evolving ratings war. They have sacrificed the real power of fact checking editors for quick, knee jerk reactions with large colorful banners and rhetorically charged headlines designed to grab your emotions and stoke as much of your own fears and anger as possible. Social media has helped aid this turn away from traditional news reporting by offering liable free material that the networks can then turn into a three panel 10-minute discussion. It is not uncommon at all to see at least 5-15 mentions of tweets or Facebook posts during a regular 30-minute block on any of the cable news networks. Opinion driven hearsay has become the basis for their headlines, and the more important the person, the more validity they heap on to the post.

Which leads to my second point: they all work from the same talking points given out every morning from their political leaders. There is a great 2004 documentary titled Out Foxed that became one of the first long form critiques of how this works. Although the subject of the documentary is primarily Fox News, the tactics employed by the network described in the film have been adapted by the other two major networks. Each morning, the network, directed by their political leaders in DC and their corporate owners, are given specific talking points for that day. When an event happens live, within minutes the official spin of that event is quickly handed down, and (like clockwork) all of the affiliates tow the line immediately. The example I used in the “ShortFile” from June 1 was the phrase “photo-op.” Proof stood the next morning as every major and minor liberal outlet was hammering that phrase over and over from CNN and MSNBC to The New York Times, Huffington Post, and Washington Post. Whether you agree or disagree with what Trump did that night, the term picked up and employed by the liberal news networks was continuously repeated over and over until you the viewer understood that what Trump did was not only wrong, but unforgivable. That, dear friends, is how you brainwash your audience, and they all do it every single day.

Which leads to my final point for you to consider: the liberal left and conservative right are figments of your imagination. They don’t exist. If you want to see the real division in our country, simply go to your local grocery store and watch. Everyone who walks into the store is divided into two groups: the group who can afford name brand products, and the group who can only afford store brand products. That is the division – it is an economic one.

Slavery is not the only sin of the South. The other is the perfect and hidden implementation of class division hidden behind political and social fear mongering. The nation learned how to divide the populace off of the very template created by the aristocratic white plantation owners who convinced the poor whites that anyone who was not white were out to kill, destroy, and rape their way of life. Simultaneously, the white aristocrats created and maintained an economy that not only kept blacks bound to slavery, but kept poor whites too confused and scared to realize that they too were economic slaves that lived within a feudalistic culture that lives to this day. When the war was over, and the North took control back, they did not lose this lesson of economic control. And how do they continue this ruse? Through the national media. The focus of every outlet is political. Liberal channels vs conservative channels. If Trump wins again, you will never be able to be openly liberal again without fear of being killed. If Biden wins, he will have abortion clinics on the very alters of our churches. If McConnell continues as leader of the Senate, he will starve you and your children and your dog. If Pelosi doesn’t get removed, she will make all men wear skirts for a week so they know what its like to be a woman.

They also punish you if you step out of line with this narrative. Being politically correct in every way has become a tight rope walk that if you break from it, you will be destroyed publicly. If you do anything to criticize Judeo-Christian values, you will be shunned and publicly humiliated. All to draw attention away from the economic war on the middle and poor classes that was won decades ago in board rooms all over the country and now the world.

I can only hope that the next time you look to Hannity or Maddow, Hayes or Carlson, Cuomo or Cooper, and you defend them because “at least they ask the right questions” or “they use better facts from better sources” you realize that those “facts from sources” and “right questions” are designed to do two things: keep you locked into their prescribed circles of interest and continue to shove that wedge of imaginary political divide in this country. Like I said, we do not live in a cynical culture but the cynical culture lives in us as long as we allow the national corporate media to dictate how we feel about each other.