Showing 1 - 10 of 116 posts found matching keyword: rant

Welcome to the 15th Annual Wriphe.com Batman and Football Month, now with 80% less football! Past Septembers have included travelogues of my adventures attending UGA football games in Athens, GA, (and occasionally elsewhere around the South), but there will be none of that this year. (Thanks COVID-19!)

I find I'm not excited about football this year. I mean, I haven't been excited about anything the Miami Dolphins have offered in decades, but college football is usually another story. My ennui is probably COVID's fault, too. What is there to get excited about when everything we've seen in the past six months points to a significant disruption in schedule? Do I really need entertainment so badly that I'm willing to watch football players get sick and die needlessly for the sake of a game?

The Big Ten, Pac-12, Mid-American, and Mountain West conferences have all decided that the risk to fans and players alike is too great to play football in 2020, but the SEC is pushing ahead despite already having the highest percentage of cases per population (31 per 100k) of any football region in the country. As I've already said, I won't be attending. "It Just Means More℠" makes a fine motto, but let's not get carried away.

Maybe I'm just a snowflake. Maybe everything will turn out fine. It might happen. Sh'yeah. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

In the meantime, I'll be following the advice of a billionaire philanthropist who doesn't have a financial interest in selling me football tickets.

I live in a basement. That's like a Batcave. Kinda.
It's easier for him. His parents are dead.

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After weeks of discussion about how they could continue playing sports in the face of an unabated pandemic, the University of Georgia is now scheduled to play Auburn on October 3 in their first home football game of an unusual SEC-only season. Theoretically, I have a ticket. At least, I paid for one back in February.

While they have announced that all attendees will have to wear face coverings "over the nose and mouth" while entering, leaving, or moving through the stadium, the University has yet to announce any actual plan for dividing the 93,000 seat Sanford Stadium into socially distanced sections. There are about 58,000 season ticket holders and nearly 20,000 student tickets per game in a usual year. Obviously, the stadium will seat far, far fewer than that this year. I imagine that only the richest donors will get seats for all 5 games, but I can't imagine why they would want them.

(My bad. There are only to be 4 home games. What would be the 5th home game is the Florida/Georgia game, still scheduled to be played in Jacksonville.)

That first football game is still six weeks away. Since the start of this mess, there has been no six-week period with an overall decline in cases in America. Students have only this week returned to campus, so the inevitable explosion in COVID cases is still on the horizon. What will things look like that first October weekend? Based on recent history, it can't be anything good. In fact, Georgia Tech has just declared Georgia to be the state in the Union in which a person is most likely to be exposed to the virus. Whoo-hoo! Let's play some ball!

I get that the players want to play. As a fan, I want to watch. But just because we *want* football doesn't mean we're in a position to have it. If you're old enough and smart enough to go to college, you're old enough not to let your wants hurt you. If getting this pandemic under control, if ensuring that we break the chain of infections to protect ourselves, our families, and our neighbors means we have to stay in our homes (or dorms) and forego one football season, we should do that, even if we don't want to. Any other behavior is just irresponsible.

Go Dawgs. Go home. Football will still be there once we're all healthy enough to play it.

UPDATE 2020-08-19: I woke up this morning to find an email from UGA Athletics informing that I am to be granted the opportunity to attend 1 home game not of my choice. Alternately, I can opt-out of attending any games and either A) transfer my donation to help fund the skyrocketing costs of the university's attempts to play games during the ever-worsening COVID-19 pandemic or B) be refunded my 2020 donations "before the end of the calendar year." I think you can guess which I chose.

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Watchmen, published in 1986, is arguably the greatest comic book ever made. At its heart is a hero so driven by the horrible inevitability of global nuclear war that he willingly becomes history's worst villain in order to force the nations of the world to unite against him. It's brilliant storytelling.

The real villain here is DC Comics

As recent events have proven, it's also total bullshit.

It's become obvious to everyone in the past four months of the ever-escalating COVID-19 pandemic that there is a portion of the human population that is too selfish to give a shit about their own well-being even when a crisis is upon us and the path leading to solution has been well marked.

Most of this group refuses to take action merely because it would be inconvenient to do so. Others would rather see civilization crumble than face any potential loss of face or influence. Sadly, too many of these are the ones we've allowed to become our leaders as we have increasingly mistaken stubbornness for wisdom.

See, the world doesn't need another villain. It's already got plenty.

Tears of a clown

Fuck you, Watchmen.

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I finally decided to throw in the towel on my current keyboard. I've never liked it. It's a ergonomic Microsoft Sculpt. While the layout is fine and the sensation of typing is pleasant enough (very reminiscent of a quality laptop keyboard), I can no longer tolerate the latency of the wireless connection. It often takes two presses of a key before it realizes I am typing, which can make both blogging and coding really, really frustrating.

Finally fed up, I decided to replace it with another ergonomic keyboard. I've been using the non-traditional keyboards for over a decade and a half, and I would rather not go back to a standard keyboard if possible. However, it was only after I decided on and ordered a wired Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard LXM-00001 that I realized I've never actually been fully satisfied with a Microsoft brand keyboard.

My previous keyboard was the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. It was a monster. I mean the thing was huge. It had so many media and macro buttons that I never used plus a built-in scroll bar. All those superfluous buttons only got in the way. (I'm not especially dexterous. I'm not even not-especially dexterous. Bulls in china shops have better fine motor control than I do.) The 4000 and I never really got along, and the bulky size is what prompted me to by the slimmer Sculpt. At least it was wired.

Prior to the 4000 was the Microsoft Comfort Curve 3000. (Why isn't the model I just ordered a 6000? I guess Microsoft was wary of eventually creating a 9000, a model number best avoided unless you're a huge fan of robicide and daisies.) Unlike the 4000, the 3000 and I got along well enough for a while. I used it for about 4 years, and wore many of the letters off. However, the tactile experience was never great — the keys always felt cheap and loose — and I think it was a lack of funds more than anything else that kept the two of us together for so long.

So why after years of disappointment with Microsoft keyboards did I order another instead of choosing a different brand? I can't answer that question. My first guess would be brain damage. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me four times in a row... maybe it's time for the artificial intelligence to make the decisions for me.

(Footnote: I've had the new keyboard for 24 hours now, and so far so good. Firm buttons and quiet. I'm actually quite pleased with it. Maybe this is why I keep choosing Microsoft: they come out of the box so nice. I'm sure everything will be fine — as long as they don't push any updates to it.)

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It's election season, and the television is flooded with campaign ads.

I have repeatedly seen an advertisement for Kelley Loeffler's reelection campaign for her U.S. Senate seat in which a young black man extols her virtues not as an embarrassingly rich owner of a sports franchise and a stock exchange but as someone sympathetic to those less fortunate than her. Yet her supporter mispronounces her name throughout the whole commercial. (He says "loff-ler", yet she appears at the end of the commercial pronouncing her own name "leff-ler," almost like she is passive-aggressively correcting him after the fact.) Why would the Loeffler campaign air that? Could they not find a single person who could praise her who actually knew who she was?

Another advertisement for current president Donald Trump's reelection campaign claims that if former vice president Joe Biden wins the election, the United States will go to shit. What condition are we in now? Uncontrolled pandemic, record unemployment, race riots, oh, my! If this shit show is the current administration's idea of greatness, I'll take anyone else, please.

I suppose it's some small comfort that Marjorie Greene isn't adverting over the air in the Metro Atlanta market in her run for the state House of Representatives. Greene has become infamous as a candidate so openly racist that state Republicans have widely disavowed her, which takes some doing considering that the current Republican governor ran on a platform of successfully befouling state citizens' ability to vote. Even Facebook has said Greene has gone too far in her most recent gun-toting ads. When you're too far afield for Facebook, it's time to stop auditioning for a government seat and start looking into some professional mental help.

That said, there's nothing new to watch between those campaign commercials anyway, so maybe I should just leave my television off until December. Being too aware of who's making the decisions that impact my life is bad for my own mental health.

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On May 29, I decided I couldn't put off buying a new chair for my computer desk any longer. I'd broken the wooden chair I'd been using. The last two wooden chairs, I'd used, in fact. What can I say? I sit a lot.

Research was done online. (You may have heard that there's a pandemic on, and I didn't want to visit any showroom and sit in potentially infected chairs.) The purchase was done online, too. I ultimately placed a $200 order via Amazon.com. The seller — who was not Amazon because Amazon doesn't actually sell anything itself anymore — said I should expect it between June 8 and June 11. It did not arrive by June 8. It did not arrive by June 11, either.

On June 12, I finally looked into the FedEx shipping system to discover that the package had arrived in their Georgia distribution center on June 4. It must have liked it there, because it didn't move again.

On June 14, I called FedEx, and the customer service representative took one look at his computer screen and told me that "anything that hasn't moved in that long we consider a lost package." But he couldn't help me find it. Instead, he recommended that I get in touch with the shipper so that the shipper could file a claim. The shipper told me they'd get back to me once they'd looked into it.

On June 18, no one had gotten back to me, but Amazon.com's algorithms finally allowed me to request a refund on an undelivered product. So I did.

On June 20, I got my refund. Now I have my money back, but I'm still sitting in a broken chair. Since Mom had already planned an outing to Costco on June 24, I figured I'd bring home whatever they had available. At this point, I'm willing to sit on just about anything.

On June 24, when I woke up, an email was waiting for me from FedEx. They say the chair had been found and would be delivered to my house. Hooray! I was finally going to get the chair I ordered. I don't know why they were sending it to me after all this time, especially if they had already given money back to the seller, but if it was going to show up at last, I figured I'd accept it and settle up with the seller later. So I went to Costco and didn't buy a chair.

And when I got home, I got an email from FedEx saying that delivery had been delayed. It'll be there on June 25 now, they promise.

*smh*

That's what I get. I'm going back to Costco tomorrow, and I'm coming home with a chair. If FedEx delivers another, so be it. As the old adage tells us: Two chairs are better than none.

UPDATE

On June 25, the chair was delivered before I could get to Costco. The box was in very bad shape, but the contents seemed well enough. So I assembled it and didn't buy a chair from Costco. But since the chair was finally delivered, I decided that I return my refunded payment to the seller. That proved to be another ordeal.

Long story short, as of July 2, the seller is paid (somewhat slightly less than the original amount), and I have a chair. The new moral here is that patience is a virtue, even when it can be hard to stand for.

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I'm an artist with an affinity for history who grew up in the shadow of Stone Mountain, so it should be no surprise that I have a special soft spot for public portraiture sculpture. As you can imagine, I have very mixed feelings about 2020's approach to statues of the past.

Jefferson Davis should be no one's hero. I've been to Richmond, Virginia, and I've seen their monument to a man who defined his political career by trying to force the enslavement of an entire race of men. The monument is a disgusting tribute to the traitorous Lost Cause, and it should have been removed from the public space long before now. Should it be destroyed? It will always have propaganda value for the wrong kind of people; perhaps the only appropriate solution is to melt it down so that it cannot become a subversive icon, the same way there are no longer statues in the wild of Stalin or Saddam Hussein. I have a nostalgic emotional connection to the carving on Stone Mountain, but I rationally accept the world may be a better place without it.

But let's not get carried away. There is a difference between statues dedicated to perpetrators of genocide and hatred and statues of complicated political leaders whose actions have contributed directly to our current freedoms. Without Winston Churchill, whose statue is currently under assault in London because the man had unconscionable views about Indians, it's very likely that the only statues in Britain would be of Adolf Hitler, who wasn't exactly enlightened about race relations himself.

In the past, I've laughed off reactionary arguments that if we allow people to tear Robert E. Lee off his bronze horse, hammers would next come down on monuments to George Washington. Maybe that's not as crazy as I thought. America in 2020 wouldn't exist if Washington hadn't been the man he was in 1776, but he did own slaves in his day and that seems to be criteria enough in the current climate to have him blasted off Mount Rushmore. Washington was by no means a perfect person, but should perfection be the standard for which statue is allowed to stand and which isn't? I can't think of too many idolized men who can clear that bar. Maybe just Christ of the Ozarks, the Lincoln Memorial, and this guy:

Look, up!

So begone with your racist Alexander H. Stephens (no relation) and greedy Christopher Columbus statues if you must, but let's reconsider what modern life might be like without slave-loving Thomas Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase or colonialist Teddy Roosevelt's trust-busting and national park conservationism before we add them to the scrapheap. We could always use the reminder that not all great men who built our civilization were good.

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At approximately 6:30PM, Monday, June 1, 2020, amid a week of national protests and riots against unjust authoritarian force, federal agents forcibly dispersed a televised, peaceful protest in Lafayette Square north of the White House. Mounted armed men, pepper spray, and gas canisters were further used to displace reporters and the clergy of St. John's Episcopal Church, which an arsonist had attempted to burn the night before. Though the Capitol Park Police issued a statement that their actions were taken in direct response to increased violence from protesters, multiple sources would later report that the U.S. Attorney General had given the order that the park should be cleared about half an hour earlier.

At approximately 7:00PM, following a speech in the White House Rose Garden in which he declared himself "an ally of all peaceful protesters" and closed by vowing to "pay respects to a very, very special place," the U.S. President led the Attorney General, other cabinet members, and the White House press pool — who reported on the discomforting effects of lingering gas in the air — on a walk across the conveniently cleared Lafayette Square to St. John's where the president posed holding a bible above his head. Despite this event being obviously pre-planned, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington later confirmed that the White House had not notified the church of any intention to stage the photo op with their building, nor is the president a member of their congregation.

This sequence of events demonstrates that a group of legally assembled Americans, clergy actively practicing their religion, and the free press, were all oppressed by police forces in order to accommodate the whims of an American president hoping to generate an iconic image for purely political purposes. I don't care what political party you support; that's bullshit.

Dear future self: all of those senators he references have actually voiced opposition to this event

Fuck you, dude.

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The Hollywood Reporter reports the totally inevitable news that Disney is remaking Bambi as a "live-action feature" as a "companion piece to its remakes The Jungle Book and The Lion King." I can't tell you how much it bothers me that Disney insists on calling its computer-generated eye-candy "live-action." I also can't tell you exactly why.

A large part of it must be related to my distaste for Disney itself. I once had a great deal of respect for the company that Walt built on the back of an animated mouse. Mr. Disney was an imperfect man, but he really did believe in making disposable entertainment into art. His successors less so. These days, the powers-that-be at Disney are obsessed solely in their quest to be the only entertainment company on earth. They'll do anything that gets them an extra almighty dollar, mostly including exploiting pre-packaged nostalgia for Walt's corpse.

However, a bigger problem is the lie itself. Computers are powerful, but outside of Weird Science, they remain incapable of breathing life into binary code. Nothing about The Lion King was live action, but Disney has been very careful to avoid saying so. (For example, they refused to submit the movie for consideration for Best Animated Feature Film Oscar.) I don't know why. Movies aren't real to begin with, so why mislead people about how they are made?

It increasingly looks like we're living in a post-truth society. The man in the White House can't say two sentences without a lie. Facebook will not restrict political campaigns from spreading intentional, demonstrable mistruths in paid advertising. Enemy states are using face-switching technology to promote propaganda on social media. With politicians already doing such a great job at it, why should we let corporations continue to degrade America's tenuous grasp on "reality" any further?

Sigh. I know I'm over-reacting. It's just promotional press for a movie that I won't watch. (Unless they shoot Bambi this time.) I know I'm just getting old and weary. But these uncontested, re-reported lies are really starting to get to me. It feels like 1984 is getting closer ever day, and now it's coming soon to a theater near you.

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I'm one of those people who, back in 2018, was reluctant to impeaching the sitting President because there was no way the Senate would do anything.

I'm also one of those people who, even though the Senate probably still won't do anything, has become convinced that impeachment is a necessity in the wake of the sitting President actively soliciting extorting outside influence on the 2020 election.

I'm bothered that a not insignificant portion of America continues to support the President's interest in subverting the democratic rule of law. I want to give my fellow countrymen the benefit of the doubt. I hope it's a simple case of ignorance, either about the law or about what the President admits that he did.

Late in his life, Thomas Jefferson explained that he wrote the Declaration of Independence

"to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent."

Obviously, that worked out pretty well*. May the inevitable Articles of Impeachment be just as successful.

*John Adams rather famously estimated that up to a third of the American population resisted Independence until the bitter end. In any era, some minds can't be changed.

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To be continued...

 

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