Showing posts with label tmih. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tmih. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Je suis Charlie

There's nothing much to add to the discussion.  Freedom of expression is a hard earned right, and on the long curve of human history - a new one from a species that tends to silence the ones asking questions.

I am sorry for the tragedy, and heartened by the collective response of the free world to such a cowardly, uncivilized affront to our principles.

Monday, April 15, 2013

With Boston, With Us All

My former co-worker and pal, Octavio, ran in the Boston Marathon today.  It was how I found out anything was happening.  His message on facebook basically read "Not sure what happened at the finish line, but Johanna and I are okay."

And I am grateful that the first thing I knew about what was happening in Boston was that despite the fact that something clearly very bad had happened (and I understood the scale within a minute or two), the one person I knew who could have been right there was all right.

Like all of you, I spent the afternoon trying to work, but really checking news sites and social media, wincing a bit at the folks who clearly came on line to post and had no idea what was happening in the world as they did so.  It's a forgivable faux pas in 2013, and I'm not sure that the fact that we've seen it before makes me feel better.

I scrolled through quotes from Mr. Rogers and the other messages shared on Facebook over and over, or retweeted on the twitters until it became an echo chamber.  In any other case, it might be one of those things that drives you nuts, but here, today, it's psychic armor.

We're learning, too.

Folks out there in the social media reminded each other not to let the media's early reports rush us like cattle into those narrow chutes of narrative.  And somehow we agreed it was all right to not have answers immediately.

We're getting good at this, and I'm not sure that's ideal, but it's better than the talking heads and the pointing fingers (pointing the finger of blame for our karmic retribution seems remote and archaic).  Since we saw the Federal building smoldering in Oklahoma City, us Gen Xers have known the feeling in the pit of our stomachs that our parents knew from the assassinations and disasters we saw in movies and read about in class.  These days, all of us know how to brace ourselves as cable news goes berserk, the internet lights up and, in the first 24 hours, stories pretending to be facts get passed in front of us like a shell game.

We know the score.  Maybe not exactly when it happens in our doorway, but we know it when it when the push alerts come though, the emails arrive and that casual look at a headline stops us in our tracks.  

Whether for political reasons or otherwise, the cowardice and cruelty of the bombing is infused with the self-absorbed fantasies of the men who've flown planes into buildings, shot up elementary schools and movie theaters, delivered by someone believing themselves a protagonist in a delusional narrative who honestly believes that somehow the murder of innocent people fulfills some story in their head in which they are a hero.

It doesn't matter what the perpetrator believed they were achieving - they failed.  What I saw were police literally running into action, paramedics and doctors who signed up for the marathon who thought they might get case of dehydration during the race finding themselves in an unthinkable situation, demonstrating what it means to have decency and courage.  Athletes who went from running 26 miles to donate blood.  Bystanders leaping into action to assist the wounded.  People opening their homes to take in those who were stranded.

Tonight, baseball was played.  People carried on.  We might have a few months of some folks who have second thoughts about joining crowds in public, bags taken into a stadium might get a second look, or we might have a few new procedures for security to follow, but whatever they thought they were doing, the attacker gained nothing and just managed to show us, one more time, what people can be when times when times turn dark, no matter how abruptly.

Tonight, tomorrow, for as long as it takes, we're all with Boston, and for the good in us that I truly believe will always shine in these moments of darkness.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A moment of silence

My thoughts are with the families of Sandy Hook Elementary and Newtown, Connecticut.

There are no words, and so I'll not try to provide them.  Take a moment for the families, and one for your loved ones.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Barack Obama Wins Four More Years

I'm posting this to have a clear record.  This post will go up Thursday morning, but I stayed up far, far too late on Tuesday night/ Wednesday morning watching NBC and ABC news covering the election, beginning around 10:00.

Most of you will guess who I voted for, but this isn't a political blog, and we're not going to dwell on the particulars of who received which vote from me.

I will say I am pleased that Austin voted in geographic representation to the City Council, doing away with the At-Large system that had - as Austin has grown - meant that areas (like the 78745) were not necessarily feeling the love from a city council focused on growth in the urban corridor and leaving those of us in Lower Austin out of future development plans for things we can use, like mass transit.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Coach Darrell K. Royal Merges with The Infinite

Darrell K. Royal, icon of University of Texas football, has passed at 88.

I am sad to learn that former UT football coach, Darrell Royal, has gone on to his reward, but as I said to CoWorker Kristi - "It's kind of hard to imagine living a better life than that guy".

Longhorn Football fans know that Royal brought three championships to Texas and had a 167-47-5 record at UT.  Memorial Stadium is actually now Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, and has been for quite a while.

He remained active in UT Athletics and the University of Texas, and was on the field for a coin toss just a few weeks back.  He'll be missed, but in Austin, it is impossible to believe he'll be forgotten.

Texas Voting Demographics

This is interesting.

click to enlarge

There's no point here except that I thought I'd share some actual representations of information. I just never really have a feel for Texas' voting patterns outside of Austin and that the majority of Texas is red.

We often say "Austin is a little blue dot in the middle of the state", and that's true.  What I didn't know was that Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso would be blue, and I really didn't know The Valley was that blue.

By this time, we should be having a bit of this...

My pre-loaded post for election night as I avoid the internet and television.

Democracy and Fellowship

Words of wisdom.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Well, so I'm back in Austin (for a bit)

I don't know how I did this to myself this fall, but my schedule somehow got filled up right up til Christmas.  Not totally full, but it sure feels like it's going to be jam-packed.

Friday I fly out for a family reunion of sorts in Florida.  I return Sunday night and then next Tuesday (the 13th) will be flying out to Lubbock, returning Thursday the 15th.  And then Thanksgiving.  And then December 1 we're having our Holiday party (you, yes YOU, are invited!).  We'll follow that with me cheerleading a wedding in mid-December, and then we're pretty much in Christmas.

Christmas, people.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Get Out the Vote!

Hey, Americans!


I've already early voted (thanks, local grocery store, for hosting), but if you haven't voted yet, get out there and have your say!

No matter who wins this election, let us hope that our president somehow doesn't have to just spend four years as the chewtoy for people who make their living making us hate each other rather than, you know, helping.

And try not to get into unnecessary, unwinnable arguments with people who matter.

By late Tuesday night we'll (probably) know the results, so take a breath, remain calm, and be glad that your government is not being dictated at swordpoint as it pretty much was everywhere on Earth for most of humanity's history.

How great is it that we don't just shrug and get along with our lot in lives, but expect ideas can be represented in a person and in a government?  That the extremism that took over our country was the idea that the people should get to have a voice?

I am a deeply cynical voter, but that's because my dream of a Mr. Smith going to Washington is dead and buried - and I've come to accept that no matter how smart or clever, a person is really just a person, and reality catches up with all of us sooner or later.  But I believe in the process, and I hope for the best with every vote I cast.

Also, locally, vote Prop 3.  Prop 4 doesn't make any sense.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Obviously, I don't need to tell you about the horrible storm and its aftermath

Holy cats, y'all.  I confess that I thought the storm, Hurricane Sandy, was going to be the bajillionth false alarm the 24-hour news cycle mutants had thrown at us in the past few years.  Keep in mind, I'm the guy who refused to leave the house for most of a Saturday because I thought I was going to see a tsunami hit Hawaii and then it was just some mildly choppy waves.  That was a tremendous let down.

In retrospect, that probably doesn't make me sound like a good person, and I probably could have kept that to myself.

But Sandy was and is all too real.  I don't need to tell you that.

I am a little disappointed that somehow Disney buying Star Wars seems like bigger news than the potential weather-related damage to our economy, infrastructure and political system, but: priorities, I guess.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Felix Baumgartner Space Jumps into the History Books

I had tried to watch this guy, Felix Baumgartner, jump several times, and he kept getting delayed.  So I was quite pleased when PalMatt posted to Facebook that Felix was about to jump yesterday.  I tuned in just as he was about to exit the capsule.

Holy @#$%

In case you missed it, Austrian Felix Baumgartner attached a capsule to some balloons, went up 24 miles above Roswell, New Mexico, and then tossed himself out and over the side of the capsule with naught but a parachute between himself and the record for largest crater formed by a human body.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Reminder: Register to VOTE (in the U.S. of A.)

It's National Voter Registration Day!

No matter your political stripe, if you live in the U.S., you've had your 18th birthday, and you aren't in prison, it's time to put on your Civic Duty pants and get to the polls.

Seriously, people.  For most of humanity's history, "democracy" hasn't really been an option.  It's been mostly thugs assuring you that the state or some deity has instilled them with magical wisdom and to question that wisdom is a pretty good reason to cut off your head before you become a problem child.

Not so in America!  Here, we just yell at each other in all caps in the comment sections of newspaper articles or post disagreeable comments to one another's facebook walls.

We may forego the right to private political opinions at seemingly every juncture, but in Rome you had to publicly cast your vote.  Which sometimes ended very badly for the guy getting beaten up or murdered as he left the polling location.  That @#$% was CRAZY.

So.  The election is coming.  Time is short.  You have to be registered a full month ahead of the election, which is November 6th, by the way.

Friday, August 24, 2012

On Lance Armstrong and Pyrrhic Victory

Well done, anti-doping agency.  

You know, its too bad if Lance Armsotrong did dope.  It certainly left a lot of questions around his 7 Tour victories.  But here's kind of what I think:

It's a bicycle race.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Let the Science Begin! Olympics. Mars. Tomorrow! This Moment in History

Let's get this party started!

Man.  It wasn't enough that I got to watch Usain Bolt win the 100m again, but UT alum Sonya Richards-Ross won the Gold in the Women's 400m.

I also watched a man with prosthetic limbs race in an Olympic foot race.

But after watching the Twitter Feed for the Mars Curiosity Rover the past couple of months, Curiosity came down successfully on the surface of our sister planet, Mars.

You guys, we live in the future.

I haven't gotten teary during the Olympics.  I've done my fair share of yelling and cheering and chanting "go go go go go go go" while watching races.

But I admit I got a little choked up watching the JPL crew high-fiving after the news that Curiosity had landed and we received the first images back from the rover.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gleiberman's article in EW on Pop Culture and The Dissipation of Empathy

NathanC posted a link to an Owen Gleiberman editorial on the Entertainment Weekly website in which Gleiberman, a longtime film critic/ reviewer for EW discusses his perceptions of the obsessions of pop culture and how they come back in mutated form in incidents like the one in Aurora, Colorado.

It's not a huge secret around our house that I don't hold Gleiberman's taste in very high regard, and you can pretty much count on his befuddlement when it comes to genre pictures (Jamie has had a subscription to EW since around 1995, so we've had opportunity to discuss the man's writing).

I won't say I don't echo some of Gleiberman's thoughts, but the more I thought about the article and it's constant accusations, backtracking on the accusations with a "I'm just saying" statement - the more I found it a bit disturbing.

I encourage you to pop over and read the article on your own.  It's free.

Let me clear the decks first and roll my eyes at Gleiberman's creeping assertions about fanboy culture and his ability to finally have a way to express his discomfort with the phenomena.  Exasperation with sci-fi/ comics/ fantasy and the culture around them has been an ongoing theme in his reviews for a decade.  He basically is both aware of and flustered by the fact that these people will not listen to reason when he can demonstrably prove his favorite Meryl Streep movie is of more value than Serenity.  So, in a way, I'm not all that surprised by the path he goes down here.  I'm more surprised that he bothered to point out so many other examples of media-influenced killers, basically only identified Holmes, and went on with the charge of associating fan culture with a breeding ground for mass killers.

That said, his definition of "fanboy" extends to "pretty much anybody with an obsessive interest in a bit of media".  Of course, he mentions local nightmare Charles Whitman in making the case, a person with no particular interest linked to any media, but who also killed a lot of people.  He dismisses the long history of disturbing, mass or serial killings (Devil in the White City, Lizzy Borden, the fact that modern police work, a lack of records and immediate communication meant people just used to disappear and nobody noticed, etc... et al....  anybody?  anybody?) believing that only Jack the Ripper ever got more than one person before 1950.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sally Ride Merges With The Infinite

I am very sad to say that Sally Ride has passed at the age of 61 after fighting pancreatic cancer.

Sally Ride was not the first name of an astronaut I knew or heard (the first name I really remember is John Glenn.  I think the KareBear liked the cut of his jib or something).  But something about Ride stuck with me not just because she was the first woman in space, but because she felt always seemed like the embodiment The Modern Space Program.  She rode shuttles, not capsules.  She wore the blue jumpsuit.  She was a pilot, a space jockey and a scientist.  She was the Shuttle era and the promise it held.

We all grew up proud of the name Sally Ride, but it wasn't until I was older that I appreciated how amazing Ride must have been to actually win that seat on Challenger and the pressure on her to not just be as capable of her male colleagues, but much more capable lest anyone seize the opportunity to hold her up as an example of why giving her a chance was a mistake.  I cannot begin to imagine.

And Ride pulled it off.

She succeeded not just at NASA, but went on to teach at UC-San Diego, formed a company to create educational materials for young scientists, and served as a consultant in aerospace and defense arenas.

Here's to one of the real pioneers of the era in which I was raised.  You will be missed.


Friday, July 20, 2012

On the events in Colorado at the screening of "The Dark Knight Rises"

You see the phrase "we are saddened" expressed by PR wings when a tragedy strikes.  We can read between the lines and know that in many cases, the employees of the company may well be saddened, but the need to create a quick press release that admits participation while denying culpability is at the core of the statement.

But today, I am actually and truly saddened by the events at the screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Auroroa, Colorado.  As of this writing, what information I have found states that 12 to 13 people are dead, and many more wounded.  A gunman took the opportunity presented by a darkened theater and a room full of people with their attention elsewhere, and he took it upon himself to unleash horror.  Words fail me.

I arrived at work in a Batman t-shirt today and had not checked the news aside from the weather report.  Jim, the manager at the coffee shop, is a former comic geek (and now a barista by day and a reservist soldier on the weekend.  Great guy.) asked me if I was wearing the shirt "because of Colorado".  And then he saw my blank stare.  "You haven't heard..."  And he explained what he knew to me.

I'm not buttoning up the sport shirt I'm wearing over the bat symbol.  Batman didn't kill these people.  And despite my misgivings about some of the messaging about Batman and taking the law into one's owns hands that I expressed yesterday, part of why I think I can continue to embrace Batman as symbol is that Batman is , at the end of the day, a statement of defiance against cruelty and terror.  I haven't seen the final installment of the trilogy, but I can say that in mining the Batman mythos of the past 70 years, what Christopher Nolan dug up was the ability of a man to confront fear and let it pass over him and through him and let it become nothing.  In Dark Knight, we saw what seeming chaos looks like as a man wants to watch the world burn, and the choices we can make, even supposedly the worst of us, in those moments where we're put to the test - whether we give in to fear - those moments matter for all of us.

So, I put on the shirt with a smile on my face when I got dressed today, but now I'm wearing the shirt in mourning.  And, if I'm allowed to use the word, in defiance.

Be prepared for American politics to go crazy today talking about how the other side made this possible.  But those are cowards seeking an opportunity.  Nobody made this crazy person pick up guns or smoke bombs.  This was a person looking for an excuse and an opportunity.  This is when we decide how we'll react, and how we choose to respond shows who we really are.

Today we should be looking to Colorado not for answers, nor for blame, but out of respect for the dead and wounded.  I am very truly saddened, and I am very truly sorry.