US Gov’t Shuts Down In Wake Of “Breaking Bad” Finale

 

At 12:01am EDT, the Federal Government of the United States finished the series finale of AMC’s Breaking Bad, and, unsure of what to do with itself, decided to shut down indefinitely.  The central government of the world’s foremost superpower was forced to postpone its viewing of the highly-anticipated television event, as it had a “thing to go to” Sunday night.  But as soon as it had finished the no-holds-barred nail-biting final episode late Monday night, it announced that it would need some time to recover.  “I just don’t know what to do with my life now that it’s over,” decried the legislative branch.  “Without ‘B Bad’ to look forward to every week,” sniffed the judicial branch, “what’s the point?”  President Obama could not be reached for comment, but could be heard whimpering the lyrics to “Baby Blue” from the Oval Office.  When asked how long it would need to deal with the emotional stress of not seeing its favorite characters return to its TV set every week, the global standard for a functional democracy stated, “I don’t know.  Maybe when Walking Dead comes back I’ll think about getting out of bed.”  This is the first time the US Government has shut down since the finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1996, and may have as much of an impact on the economy as the recession caused by the end of The Wire in 2008.

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Daily Show Sums Up America’s Biggest Problems

I’m usually not one to do a post like this, but this segment of The Daily Show just struck me as near genius. John Oliver, in Jon Stewart’s absence, teams with correspondent Jessica Williams to neatly sum up two of the biggest problems in America in a hilarious and deliciously ironic joke news segment that, as often happens on the show, is more relevant and topical than any other news show on the air.

If you’re short on time, I’d suggest the second video for the crux of the joke.

 

U.S. Healthcare is NOT a free market

“…the U.S. health care system doesn’t operate according to the standards of competition that govern other industries.”

If we Americans believe in the free market, why do we continuously let industries like healthcare and finance go unchecked by free market economics. Freedom in any form must be fought for, or did we forget that at some point?  It’s time to overthrow these economic tyrants and free these industries from authoritarianism.

Why the government does NOT have a bigger concern than gay marriage.

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So if you haven’t gotten on the internet at all the past couple days, you may be surprised today to find your news feed painted red. A little more digging might reveal to you that it all has to do with gay marriage. So what about gay marriage, you ask?  Well since you’re too lazy to do a quick google search, I’ll spell it out for you.  Due to a supreme court hearing about California’s Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriages Tuesday and a discussion about striking down the Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday, millions of gay rights advocates showed their support for the cause on social media websites (meaning facebook).  Now of course with any social media trend, there have been some dissenters.  And while most of them can be dismissed as hateful bigots, there are some attempting to be rational and reasonable in their refusal to support the cause.  The most frequent opposing response is that the government has ‘better things to do.’  It’s an amazing coincidence that the majority of these responses came from far-right conservatives, and so seemed like a safe way for them to cover up their real opinions about the issue by simply changing the subject, but for those who legitimately think that this is a sound argument, let me offer my two cents.

First of all, just to clear the air, there is absolutely NO REASON to oppose gay marriage or federal rights to same-sex couples that does not stem from hate, fear, or senseless adherence to tradition (or just general squeemishness). You may say, “But Logan, marriage is an institution of religion, so shouldn’t religious institutions make the final call?” Well let me begin my rebuttal with BULLSHIT!! Marriage and religion both developed before recorded history, and our earliest religious texts describe marriage and its rituals, so it can be argued that marriage actually predates religion.  Also this is just another semantic argument to avoid the issue, because marriage clearly has more influence on a person’s role in society and legal status than in their church.  But one might say, “But Logan, gay couples can get civil unions and domestic partnerships. Isn’t that enough?”  And my response would be an outright NO, YOU DUMBASS!!  Was 3/5 of a vote enough?  These are human fucking beings, just like you!  You’ve done absolutely nothing to earn the right to marriage, so you have no right to deny it to someone else.  This is ethics 101 people, the golden fucking rule!

But I’m not going to sit here and debunk all the inane reasons to oppose gay marriage.  This post was to debate the argument that the government ‘should have bigger concerns.’  While I agree that the government has some HUGE issues to deal with right now, not the least of which being economic reform, they have been making consistent progress on most of these issues for the past few years.  And while this may not be a big issue to you, it is a HUGE issue to the people it will affect, probably the biggest political issue to them by far!  So to say that because it’s not a big deal to you, that it shouldn’t be a big deal to the government, is selfish and narrow-minded.  Moreover, this is a human rights issue, one that should have been settled decades ago, so it should take some sort of precedence.  Furthermore (I am KILLIN’ IT with these transition words today), let’s not forget that there are literally hundreds of branches and committees and subcommittees that comprise the government, so just because the Supreme Court is ruling on this, and millions of people are showing their support for it, does not mean the rest of the government has stopped what it’s doing to pay attention.  The government, like a kid with ADD, has the wonderful ability to multitask, so whenever anyone says that the government is ‘focusing it’s attention’ on something, please feel free to call that person a dumbass.

Warped Rationales

So I know that in my last post I preambled that I don’t intend to post too much political opinion on this blog, but seeing as this has to do with perspectives and changing your mindset and all that good stuff that this blog was supposed to be about… here goes nothing.

It continues to amaze me the warped rationales that people have in this country in regards to politics.  You could be talking to someone who seems completely rational, and as soon as something slightly political comes up, they turn into a ranting raving lunatic.  Why is it that we put so much energy into things so far beyond our control?  It’s one thing if you’re an activist and your passionate about your work, but if you’re not involved in politics at all and just enjoy having an opinion, why do you have to shout it at the top of your lungs?

I like to think of myself as pretty middle-of-the-road, but I’ll admit that my beliefs are more liberally-aligned than not.  I’m from a very conservative community in southern Louisiana, so I was pretty liberal there, but I live in Los Angeles now and I feel more conservative than ever when I’m here.  I don’t eat vegan or even vegetarian (the animals we eat only exist because we breed them for eating.  Ever seen a wild cow or chicken?  No?  That’s because they wouldn’t survive!  They’d be eaten.  By other animals.) , I think that labeling food “organic” or “all-natural” is just a way for businesses to jack up prices, and I was opposed to Prop 37, which would have required genetically modified food to be labelled as such, driving customers away from those products.  Personally, I think genetically modified food is a crowning human achievement, and we don’t use it to its full extent.  If someone could genetically modify pizza to have all the vitamins and nutrients to make me healthy, I would be in paradise!  Granted most producers use it to simply grow bigger, more abundant food, but if it helps out local farmers, I say go for it; we’re losing a food battle to China right now.  Also I believe its your own responsibility to research the food you buy if you’re that concerned about it.

Anyways, back to the point.  Generally I find extremism on either side of the political spectrum to be absurd, but somehow there’s something more endearing to me about a flag-burning revolutionary anarchist or a pot-smoking hippie than a racist homophobic redneck or an old white billionaire with a monocle puffing on a cigar (not to stereotype extremists, but… no you know what, fuck ’em).  I don’t think that bringing down corporations or redistributing wealth is a good solution; it’s true that we need multi-billion dollar businesses to drive our economy by making investments and so on.  But I also don’t think that completely cutting out any program that benefits the poor is practical at all.  So there’s warped rationales on either end of the spectrum, yet somehow it seems the the conservative extreme is more permeating and publicized than the liberal extreme.  Maybe it’s simply that conservatives are more vocal about their opinions than liberals, or maybe the liberal opinion lends itself towards bowing out of political discussions altogether, and so is rarely heard.  So I apologize if this post is aimed mostly toward dispelling extreme conservative ideals, but it’s what I find myself bombarded by the most so I have to say something about it.

The rationale that some people use to justify their political opinions flies in the face of logical thinking, and oftentimes the individual’s own personal beliefs.  It seems so backwards to me that people let political agendas guide their personal beliefs instead of the other way around.  One of these hypocricies that continues to baffle me is the gargantuan amounts of ‘Christian conservatives’ who argue against welfare and other benefits to the poor.  Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t that contradict just about EVERYTHING that Jesus taught?  It seems so strange that a religion that’s based entirely on helping the poor has become associated with the political party that is so oppositely aligned.

Aside from contradicting personal beliefs, there are some ‘political’ opinions out there that contradict good solid facts.  The ever-popular conservative belief that the poor are poor and the rich are rich because the rich work hard and the poor are slackers, is just flat out absurd.  One look at a history book will tell you the exact opposite.  The Pharaoh didn’t build the pyramids, he ordered his subjects to build them while he sat on his throne and was fanned with palm leaves or whatever.  Now it is a blessing that we live in a time when you can rise on the socioeconomic ladder if you are determined enough, but on a large scale, the historical trend of the rich reaping the benefits of the poor still reigns true.  The entirety of history is a struggle for power.  Even before humans rose to be the dominant species, the whole of life was a struggle to get as much food as possible.  As soon as we invented money, it became an externalization of power amongst ourselves.  Now we’ve spent the last 500 years trying to decentralize power in our societies and make it easier for more people to live comfortably.  Yet there’s a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality among conservatives that seems to me like back-pedaling.  If we let our societies be governed by those principles, we end up in the dark ages where people are murdering their brothers to become king, not to mention a stagnant socioeconomic scale with absolutely no upward mobility.  Survival of the fittest is the law of nature, and we as human beings have done nothing but try to separate ourselves from nature ever since we first started building houses to live in.  The point of any society, even among animals, is to protect the weaker individuals and provide for the well-being of all members of the group.  We didn’t become the dominant species on earth by letting our poor or our weak die in the street, we did it by helping each other out and knowing that every human has something to contribute to our society.

But if you don’t feel like talking in generalities, let’s get specific.  My father worked his ass off his entire life and started a chain of physical therapy and rehabilitation clinics in New Orleans.  I came to find out later that my father was on the verge of being able to sell his company for enough money for he and my mother to retire comfortably.  However, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina came along, knocking out two of his offices right away, and causing another two to shut down due to poor business in the aftermath.  As they started to lose income, my mother started working in real estate, taking advice from her friends who were all having great success.  Unfortunately, she decided to do this right before the housing market collapsed.  Compounding on all of that, my brother and my sister and I all started college within the next three years.  My father would be damned if he was going to let this setback prevent his kids from going to good colleges, so in order to help pay my tuition, he applied for a Pell Grant.  It was not long into Obama’s presidency, and not long into my tenure at college, that I heard conservatives bashing Pell Grants and other “entitlements” as being reserved for lazy slackers on welfare.  Now, anyone who knows my father would tell you he is the opposite of a slacker.  He’s a workaholic.  He worked his ass off his entire life and he continues to do so.  He applied for a government grant because he NEEDED to.  Like most people who acquire entitlements NEED them.  Sure, there were always be a percentage of people who are lazy and collect welfare in order to get by, but that doesn’t mean we should punish everyone else for it.  We don’t take away tax incentives because some millionaires choose to abuse them to launder their money, do we?

The most recent political atrocity is the renewed interest in gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.  The tragedy was barely over before people started spouting their political agendas all over the media.  Can’t we have a second as a country to mourn the death of children before we’re at each other’s throats again?  It’s completely natural to want to find someone or something to blame for a tragedy of this magnitude, so it’s easy to understand why the victims’ families and community are calling for action on gun control policy.  But some of the backlash they received almost immediately from opponents to gun control was frankly disgusting.  These people are bereaved beyond anything most of us can imagine, yet some people didn’t so much as hesitate before calling them ‘unconstitutional’ or ‘un-American.’  If you’re friend’s dad died of lung cancer, you wouldn’t immediately pull out a cigarette and start puffing away, would you?  You’d probably stop smoking around him for a good while wouldn’t you?  So let these people have their say, for God’s sake.  Personally I think that the harder it is to get a gun, the better.  If you are an enthusiast or you are truly concerned for your own protection, there will always be proper avenues to go through to get firearms.  However, I don’t think any amount of gun control can stop a determined psychopath from committing tragedies like this.  It’s hard to hear, but sometimes there just isn’t an easy solution to problems like this.  We can’t keep tabs on everyone who seems a little depressed, and we can’t start arming teachers as some people have suggested.  (If any of the teachers I had growing up had a gun in class, I probably would have been shot by now.)  I’m not opposed to providing schools with trained law enforcement officials or even private security, but it’s a sad fact that some schools simply can’t afford to do that.  Like most other problems, the solution to this one lies within each of us.  If we can simply provide a more supportive and encouraging environment to young people, and people in general, than there wouldn’t be incidents like this.  Whatever government action is taken from here on out, just know that the only real way to stop people from hating is to love them.

So once again, I apologize if this post is a little biased, but it’s in response to numerous ridiculous ideologies I encounter on a regular basis.  Call me crazy, but I just like to organize my thoughts calmly rather than to shout them out at the top of my lungs.  Thanks for reading and please feel free to argue with me as much as you want. Peace!

New Album Reviews – Sept. 2012

Centipede Hz – Animal Collective

It’s been three years since Animal Collective released the album that put them on the map, and they’ve since done nothing but try to get off of it.  Shying away from the spotlight, AnCo released a B-Sides EP, made a movie, split up, went solo, got back together, and now they’ve finally decided to release a new studio album.  I can’t say I was anxious for the new record, but I have to say I was curious to see where they would try to take their sound from where they left it off.  I was pleasantly surprised when I listened to the record, and found that they didn’t really take their sound anywhere new.  The first track kicks off with some high-dynamic synth punches that turn into a hip downbeat layered with plenty of good old knob turns and button pushes.  My first impression was that it was reminiscent of the edgier, faster-paced sound of their pre-Merriweather albums, but without the often unsuccessful ventures into the experimental.  The album goes on to crystallize this style, seemingly not trying to please any of their fair-weather merriweather fans.  There’s a scarcity of the repetitive yet too-god-damned-catchy grooves that made them a household name, instead favoring structured songwriting and thoughtful progressions.  More than anything, it seems like the guys are just having fun again, which you definitely pick up on in the album.  You might not add any of these tracks to your party mix, but you’ll definitely listen to this album all the way through more than once and enjoy something different about it every time.

America – Dan Deacon

To promote his new album America, Dan Deacon has changed his homepage to a letter to fans explaining the meaning behind the title of the album, and exactly what he was trying to achieve in it.  So if you want to enjoy this album at all, whatever you do, do not read it!  To give you the summary, Danny boy states that the album was inspired by his first trip overseas, which gave him a broader perspective on what it means to be an American.  He then goes on to brag about all the different ways he has tried to remove himself from the American ideal throughout the years, but failed to miss the point that all the countercultures in our nation is part of what makes it great.  Inspirational to be sure, but it seems like a lot to try to translate through music, especially the super-happy 8-bit rapid-fire electro-pop that he’s pioneered.  He claims the lyrics of the album reflect his “frustration, fear and anger towards the country and world I live in and am a part of,” but like most of his lyrics, they seem too vague to really mean anything, and more often than not they take a back seat to the brain-blasting beats and melodies, which is mostly why I like him in the first place.  So if you listen to this album, like most of his, don’t try to find the meaning in it.  Just enjoy.  All intentions aside, Double D has definitely advanced and matured his sound with this new album.  The first half is all of the heavy harmonic electro-rock that we’ve come to love, while the second half veers more towards the epic cinematic sound he began to attempt with songs like Snookered and Of The Mountains from his last album, Bromst.  Definitely worth picking up if you are or ever have been a Dan Deacon fan.

One Wing – The Chariot

At some point in their career, the chaotic mathcore monsters known as the Chariot decided to stop spending years rewriting and re-recording every song three to five times, instead opting to spend as little time as possible on each one.  I had barely gotten used to Wars and Rumors of Wars of 2009 before Long Live came out, and I haven’t even had time to make up my mind about that one now that their newest album One Wing is out.  So I better write something about this one before another one comes out and makes this post obsolete.  In an interview about this album, frontman Josh Scogin admitted to the new method of songwriting, stating that “if you get too much time, we start overthinking stuff.”  There’s definitely no overthinking apparent in the last two albums by the feedback fiends.  They are roughly one hour of non-stop jackhammer beats and bone crunching guitar riffs likely to kill as many brain-cells as a fifth of Jack Daniels.  Scogin also admitted that this is their ‘weirdest’ album to date, and he couldn’t be more right.  This new embracing of the strange is what separates this album from the past two, in fact from their entire body of work so far.  There are obvious abnormalities, such as a church choir serenading us with a stanza from the second track of their first studio album The Fiancée, as well as a break down that digresses into what sounds like the score for a western horseback riding montage, complete with bullwhip sound bytes.  But the biggest differences come in what is supposed to be the more ‘normal’ aspect of the album.  In between the gimmicks, the band seems to have generally calmed down, favoring slower (which is still pretty breakneck for them) bluesy guitar riffs and beats that are not quite as hard to follow.  The opening riff of Tongues sounds like something that could be in a Metallica song, and the beginning of First is also surprisingly easy to follow.  It seems like the band isn’t just trying to make our ears bleed anymore, at least not to the point where we can’t pick up the subtleties of their songwriting.  This is exemplified best in the track that seemed like part of the gimmick at first, but after a few listens seems to be a stripped down and simple study of what makes hardcore unique as a genre.  Speak is simply Scogin screaming over a chord progression played with no accoutrements on an upright piano.  This makes it easy to hear the complex and unique chords and progressions that are usually drowned out by distortion and blast beats.  The band realeased a video of the recording of that track, and it’s nothing less than an intimate look into a underrated style of songwriting that is often overlooked by serious musicians.  Take a gander and definitely take a listen to the album in full whenever you get the chance.