Tag Archives: Iraq War

Irregular Joe: Why Biden Shouldn’t Be President

In spite of what has been the single nastiest election in American history (yes, ever) many folks are already turning their bloodshot eyes to the 2020 election.

(Assuming we’re  not all dead or in internment camps, obviously.)

“Will he? Won’t he?”

That’s the question folks are asking themselves.

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In spite of Biden’s declaration, it’s still unclear if Biden actually will run in 2020. Which hasn’t stopped  countless hopefuls from working themselves into a frenzy.

234 Continue reading

Five Requests Of An Angry Young Man

I’m not going to pretend that I speak for all Millennials.

I grew up overseas. The 90s nostalgia over cartoons, cereal, and toys was never part of my life. I’d made plenty of trips back to the US, but never really spent any time in the culture until I was 17, arriving on the shores of the new world like the opening of some cliched immigrant story.

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Not quite so dramatically, but I was still very much a stranger in a strange land…

So maybe I’m looking at things through a strange, distorted lens. Maybe I’m alone in feeling that I’ve been seriously shortchanged on my future in the land of opportunity.

But I don’t think so.

Still, as I was writing this, I was starting to have second thoughts. Maybe my tone was too harsh, my criticisms to generalized, my frustration too warrant-less.

And then I watched this SNL skit titled “The Millennials

“Beautiful twenty-somethings (Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, Miley Cyrus, Jon Rudnitsky) search for the love and success they’re entitled to on The Millennials.”

We watch a couple god-awful caricatures of Generation Y make outlandish demands of their sensible, long-suffering precursors. Near the end of the sketch, one of the smarmy Millennials threatens to jump out of a window. The two older workers stand back and say:

“Just do it.”

apwe

Cue the applause and cheers from the audience.

So yeah, **** being nice and measured here. Let me break down what I’m sick and tired of hearing from Gen X and their Boomer counterparts:

I. Kindly Ease Up With Demanding That I Get Married/Have Kids

Yes, Millennials are getting married later than previous generations, but the average has only only gone up by a couple years. Yet to hear some folks talk, you’d think Millennials were actively attempting to dismantle the institution of marriage entirely.

I guess I just don’t understand what the big deal is.

Right along there with the pressure to get married is the pressure to spawn offspring- though again, the exact why isn’t ever really covered.

It almost seems to be presented as some kind of civic duty. That establishing the nuclear family is vital to ze velbeing of ze fatherland.

And I could deal with that.

I disagree with it, but I could deal with it as an argument. Just not one presented by the Boomers and Gen Xers.

I mean, seriously.

Boomers? Continue reading

Why Hillary Shouldn’t Be President

At the time of this writing, the results of the New Hampshire primaries have yet to be tallied. While it’s generally predicated that they’ll reflect a sweeping win for Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, following weeks will see the battle carried on to Nevada and South Carolina, where Sander’s rival Hillary Clinton is polling much stronger.

The war for the White House is far, far from over, but in the Democrat’s camp it’s still surprising that there’d be such a struggle to begin with.

After all, it was supposed to be a cakewalk.

Former first lady, former New York senator, former Secretary of State, former presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton was supposed to have this in the bag. With her extensive political career, her chosen-one status among the party establishment, her global reputation, her nomination was so certain many had dubbed it a “coronation“.

Months into the campaign, and barely scraping by after a virtual tie in Iowa, Clinton’s hopes for an easy win have been obliterated- and yours truly couldn’t be happier about it.

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Am I a Sanders fan?

I’m not sure yet. Continue reading

Why I’m Not Scared Of Porn

Last week, Evan and I discussed the recent move by the Cameron administration in the UK to block pornography from British internet servers by default (it can be accessed through request). As Evan is currently on tour in the Mexican state of Sinaloa as his luchador alter-ego, “El Astronauta Más Sexy Y Famoso,” he’s asked me to write today’s post, and I’ve decided to pick up on last week’s talk.

We had blasted a few arguments back and forth (with me arguing that the ban did far more harm than good) but one line of reasoning that I didn’t get a chance to use was this:

There’s a lot worse stuff out there than porn. Continue reading

Stars Earn Stripes (Is a Terrible, Awful, Idiotic Abomination)

When I was watching the bad acid trip that the Brits were passing off as the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, I saw an ad for an upcoming NBC reality show called Stars Earn Stripes.

For those of you too lazy to watch the YouTube video, Stars Earn Stripes is essentially a collection of B and C level celebrities (and Terry Crews) who are put through elements of basic military training and then tasked with carrying out “missions” (i.e. blow stuff up).

Naturally, the reaction of both myself and everyone I was watching with went a little something like this:

Ironically, this is one of the “missions”…

Despite the ad touting that “In the end, it’s all about understanding one thing… true bravery… It’s about honoring our veterans and our law enforcement officers…”.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that a show where a bunch of people are given a couple months of watered down military training in an environment more or less free from danger and label it as comparable to the pain, sacrifices, stress, and general hardship of the actual military is about as far as you can get from honoring them. One of the guys I saw the commercial with had been in the military himself, stationed in Afghanistan, and he asserted that the idea of the show was offensive (as did everyone else in the room). Indeed, restoring some faith in humanity, the reaction of pretty much everyone to Stars Earn Stripes has been more or less this:

Marking the first time comments on a YouTube Video have been mostly intelligent and well-reasoned…

Let’s break it down here. Stars Earn Stripes is presenting:

  1. A Sanitized View of War
  2. A Glamorized View of War
  3. An Insult to Anyone who is or ever has Been Involved in War

First, let’s address the sanitizing or “white-washing”, as some critics are calling it. Stars Earn Stripes still has ten days to air, however, I think it’s safe to say that the actual decisions and consequences on the show are nothing like what they are in reality. The ad boasts that they will use “Real Explosions” and “Live Ammo”, as if this somehow adds weight or danger to the show. You what other shows have been using live ammo and real explosions for years?

Mythbusters

Deadliest Warrior (Sorry I couldn’t find a Gif for this)

…Or pretty much any show having anything to do with guns and explosions…

See, the celebrities might be in some danger- but hardly anything that you can’t find on other shows, and nothing on the level of what combat soldiers have to deal with. On top of this, I’m guessing that the celebrities aren’t going to actually kill anyone, or have to grapple with the moral and psychological ramifications of doing so. In fact, the celebrities will never have to worry about any of the basic aspects of military service that soldiers are expected to deal with- constant danger, the possibility of being disabled (if not killed or captured or tortured) for life, the possibility of killing and innocent civilian by accident, or (for the female contestants) the rampant problem of rape. Terry Crews is a tough guy, I’m sure, but I have my doubts as to how he’d react actually witnessing someone (on any side of the conflict) killed. Let’s face the facts, Stars Earn Stripes is not going to show you bodies in all their gory reality. This isn’t war- this is Hollywood.

Second, let’s talk about the glamorization we’re sure to see hear. Of course Stars Earn Stripes will present the celebrities having little breakdowns, or getting dusty or bruised, but even John McClane got pretty trashed in Die Hard.

But the military isn’t just concussion grenades and contusions- there’s plenty of… well- boredom to it. I’m not saying this to put down the armed forces, I’m just trying to offer an accurate picture here. There are toilets to be scrubbed, mess halls to be cleaned, uniformed to be creased and beds to be made. There’s paperwork and basic maintenance. Are we gonna see the Stars Earn Stripes celebrities get chewed out for not having left six inches between their blankets and their sheets? I doubt it.

Thirdly, the combination of the previously mentioned points creates a completely and wholly inaccurate picture of the conditions the men and women of the military find themselves in. Stars Earn Stripes isn’t about the military, it’s about a highly fetishized aspect of war. And make no mistake- we’re not talking about just the military here- we’re talking about war. Without the past decade or so of nonstop conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, it’s highly doubtful that Stars Earn Stripes would even exist, after all, what’s the point of doing a show about the military if you can’t jam it full of explosions? An almost assured side-effect of this lousy and poorly thought-out attempt to “honor” the troops (i.e. make money off of them and their hardships) is the glorification of war. It doesn’t matter if you’re the most dogged pacifist or hard-line advocate of “just cause”- we all know that war itself is not something that should be portrayed this way. Maybe you think war is wrong, maybe you think war is right- you never think war is pretty. As William Tecumseh Sherman, perhaps the most brutal general of the Civil War, put it “There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all Hell.”

The guy who burned Atlanta to the ground just by glaring at it would know….

It cheapens war. In the off chance that you want to hear my full rant about this, here’s the link. The simple version is that this drastic level of ignorance when it comes to the bloodshed- you know, the actual war is not only an insult to the military, but to any and all victims of war, and a direct attack upon the basic decency and dignity of humanity at large.

I’d say that NBC’s heart is in the right place, only I don’t think that’s true. I think this show is a calculated plan to manipulate emotions and capitalize off of human suffering. This has nothing to do with honoring anyone- this is about lining wallets.

Again, to NBC I submit this as my closing remark:

In Defense of This Generation

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot- a lot– to criticize about the millennial generation. There’s creative bankruptcy (see Evan’s post), “slacktivism” and general laziness, ever-shortening attention spans, and of course, loud, obnoxious repetitive music without any discernible beginning, end, or climax.

I cannot state enough how much I hate techno…

Now with all that stated, I do want to address some of the criticisms thrown at Generation Y by our elders and (as they see it, anyways) betters.

Late last year, I came across this article, titled “5 Ways We Ruined the Occupy Wall Street Generation“. In his defense, the author emphatically states at the beginning of the piece that “This is not a sarcastic apology, I’m not a big enough dick to write all of this as a backhanded insult about how lazy and entitled you are. Because you’re not…”. Even so, it’s tough to read the article and not feel frustrated at some of the more glaring errors, or condescended to by false conclusions drawn from them. Despite the author’s best intentions, you can’t really walk away from the piece without imagining him to look something like this:

I’ll get right into things here with his first point “#5. Making You Ashamed to Take Manual Labor Jobs“. The author opens by offering the example of a piece of dialogue that went viral about a year ago.

It’s a great little bit, but I still have to stop things right there. We’re not ashamed to take manual labor jobs. We never have been. In this economy more than ever, there are college graduates willing, ready, and even eager to take jobs sweeping floors, unloading crates, answering phones, or stocking shelves. We’re not ashamed of flipping burgers, we just can’t afford to flip burgers. See, we have this funky little thing called “debt”, and not just any debt, the one kind of debt we, by law, cannot have discharged. To clarify- if I went bankrupt, if fire burned down my house and destroyed each and every last earthly possession I had, the only thing I would have left would be tens of thousands of dollars of debt I still need to pay.

The appropriate reaction…

All that’s to say we can’t take jobs flipping burgers because the $7.25 an hour you get for being abused by the customers and/or inhaling carcinogenic fumes just isn’t enough us to live independently and pay off our various mountains of inescapable debt.  Even if we move back in with our parents (more on that in a minute) things will still be tight- and God forbid we should even think about getting married or having kids until we’re in our mid-30’s. Which brings us to our next point- “extension of adolescence”.

This is a psychologically documented phenomena, and something that’s rather throwing the combined worlds of sociology and psychology. Ever since the line between childhood and manhood ceased to be set at bringing down an elk and bathing in its blood, figuring out exactly when a person ceases to become a kid and becomes an adult is tough. It’s certainly not something new, but it is currently far more pronounced than with previous generations. Take that picture up there for example. Two guys, looking to be in their mid or even late twenties, playing X-Box. There’s the clincher there- the X-Box. The older generations, having had really nothing quite on the level of video games (pac-man doesn’t really count), labeled them as “kids’ stuff” from their inception, and the fact that we still play video games well into our twenties is seen as us extending our teen years, rather than shifting over to being an adult. The author of the article has this as his third point “Adding Seven More Years to Being a Teenager”.

Of course, it’s absolute nonsense once you think about it. What did our grandparents or even our parents do for fun when they were kids? They played cards, board games, hunted, fished, went to the movies, and beat up minorities.

KKK Rally, or as they called it in the 30s, “Wednesday”…

And what do our grandparents and parents do today when they want to have fun? They play cards, board games, go hunting, fishing, and go to the movies (hopefully they’ll have dropped “Harassing Pollacks” from the daily planner by this point). You never hear anyone accuse them of extending their teen years. My grandfather and his friend have been playing cribbage together for over half a century, does anyone tell them that they need to start acting like adults? Let’s face it, when it comes to what this generation does for fun, we really don’t differ from anyone in a previous generation, it’s just that what we do is so radically different, we have the appearance of being immature.

And what about responsibility? Is this generation really lazy and wussy compared to the generation who worked in the mill, took a break to fight Hitler, and went back to working in the mill and raising a family? Last time I checked, we’re in the worst depression since the 1930s (a crisis which we, incidentally, had nothing to do with but still have to pay for) and on top of this we’ve been locked in the longest war in American history- nearly twice as long as the entirety of WWII, just for some perspective. You can say a lot of things about this generation, but you can’t try to claim that we’re somehow just a bunch of young adults still trying to drag out our years as kids.

“Just look at that entitled, lazy kid. No concept of hard work or adult responsibility.”

Of course, we do tend to party, and while I could point to this being true of pretty much every young generation since a Cro-Magnon named Thruk invented partying roughly 43,000 years ago, I’m going to take a different approach.

This might come as a shock to some, but young people don’t want to spend their twenties partying because they’re afraid of turning into soulless corporate drones- it’s because we’re enjoying, often for the first time, full independence. Believe it or not, we don’t want to move back in with our parents and spend our youth still under their watchful gaze. We want our own place, our own job, our own car. We want responsibility, and as strange as it sounds, the partying is simply an extension of our attempts to explore our new found freedom.

As for us being entitled, there is something to be said for that. I recall once riding the subway with this blog’s regular contributor Evan and overhearing two youths snivel that the computer they were getting wasn’t quite as advanced as it could be. That said, there’s plenty of so-called “entitlement” that get’s unfairly pinned on us. The Occupy Movement, for example, was criticized by some as being a bunch of lazy kids that expected everything to be handed to them. I mentioned above that the current economic crises responsible for so many of our problems was- and this is key here- not started by us. What was I doing when the economy started to tank? Nothing. I was consuming the food put before me, buying as much stuff as could be expected from a teenager, and working summer jobs when I could. What did I do wrong? Why am I getting stuck with the economic crises I had nothing to do with? If you want to talk about entitlement, let’s talk about the generation who gambled with our collective futures and expects us to clean up the mess. Same goes for the wars we’re currently locked into.

As for our “armchair-activism”, again, there’s plenty wrong with this, and you could spend plenty of time going through what makes it such a pointless endeavor. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel irked when someone from an older generation- specifically my parent’s generation (who would’ve been my age in the 80s and early 90s). Say what you will about people who mass-forward e-mails about signing petitions or demanding you like a cause on Facebook, there’s at least a level of interest. Barring the grossly simplistic anti-drug movement of the 80s, I can’t exactly recall the major moral movements of that generation. In short, the whole that this generation might be shallow isn’t without merit, but the people who point the finger ought to be awful careful that they pick the log out of their own eye first.

“What do we want?”
“Fluffy hair!”
“When do we want it?”
“After we’re done snorting crack!”

I’m going to finish up here with this last point- addressing the author of the article’s claim that the number one reason “We’ve ruined the occupy wall street generation” is that “we’ve taken away every reason to go outside”.
Am I the only one here who sees a staggering paradox? Am I the only one struggling to resolve how the “Occupy Wall Street People” need to “Get Outside More”? Last time I checked, the protestors at Occupy Wall Street were literally occupying Wall Street.

“Look at how pale you are! When’s the last time you went outside? Besides yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that, and the day before that, and…”

Now do we get outside as much as previous generations. Not really no. But then again, I don’t really see masses of the elderly roaming the streets either. Look, the reason we don’t “go out” is because many of us (who would, by the way, love to go out) are living in cities or urbanized areas. Short of just “walking around”, any major outdoor activity costs us money, which in case you haven’t picked up on by now, isn’t something we have just lying around. Between gas, food, entry fees, and other costs, I’d have to spend nearly a monthly payment to my college debt getting forty-eight hours in the great outdoors. That’s the reason we don’t like paying for entertainment (the author’s fourth point), only it’s not because we expect our entertainment to be free (just ask anyone who’s paid upwards of 60 bucks for a new X-Box game), it’s because we’re trying to be thrifty. If we want to get our own car and our own house to avoid the sneers of our elders, we have to pinch every penny until it slaps us with a sexual harassment lawsuit- entertainment is simply a major way we can save money and not go postal.

Look at those people trying to get food for free instead of paying for it! Lazy, entitled bunch of bums expecting everything to be handed to ’em, that’s what they are!

So in sum total, that’s my defense of my generation. It’s not a great generation- certainly not yet, anyways. It’s not the worst generation either, though, and before anyone- anyone– wants to label us as lazy or entitled or juvenile; please, look at us in the bigger scheme of things, and better still, look at yourselves. Would you want the standards you place on us applied to you?