Digital Shadows

Ghost_In_The_Machine_coverNote: what I’m writing is not intended to be a eulogy or memorial for anyone.  These are my thoughts inspired by the passing of a peripheral friend.  My friend Melissa Kaercher wrote a terrific memorial. I suggest you read it.

Over the weekend, news came that a peripheral friend was severely ill and would soon pass away.  Within 24 hours, we learned that she was gone.

I’m not going to pretend that I knew Holly very well.  Sadly, I didn’t know her very well at all.

I’m a performer so it could be assumed that I’m an extrovert.  And sometimes I am.

When I find myself in large group situations, however, I tend to gravitate towards people I know well.  It takes me a long time to open up to new people.  That isn’t their fault.  It’s mine.

I knew Holly because she attended Butt-Numb-a-Thon – a gigantic, weird film festival I also attend every year.  I talked to her for a few minutes here and there.  But I didn’t really know her.  She was one of dozens of people with whom I have a glancing relationship for one weekend every year.

She’s gone now and what I see online is an outpouring of love on her Facebook wall.  Yet that wall isn’t her.  It is a digital shadow of her.

I don’t believe in an afterlife so I don’t believe she will ever see any of the kind words that were written about her.  They are there, perhaps, for her family or loved ones but more, I think, for the person who left the post.

I don’t believe there is anything wrong with that.  We all have to process grief in the way that feels right for us.  Grief is not for the dead, it is for the living.

I’m more amazed at how there is a shadow Holly out there on the internet who will be there for some indeterminate length of time and who acts as a surrogate for the person who is no longer there.  The posts will cease after a while but she will still be there in some strange sense.

There’s an idea for a horror movie in there…

Looking at the outpouring of love for someone who is no longer with us, I have made a decision.

Kind words spoken to a ghost in the machine aren’t enough for me.  I think I need to say kind words to those who are still alive.

So yesterday, I decided to honor the memory of Holly (and so many other friends who have passed) by telling people I appreciate them while they are still around to read it.

If you get a personal message from me tomorrow or next week or next year, that’s why.  One message a day.  Give or take.

Life is short.  You never know when someone will exit your life forever.  I’d like everyone to know how important they are to me while they are still around to appreciate it.

 

 

Shit That Pissed me Off – 10/10

Judge Forces Mom Change Her Son’s Name Because She Was Incapable of Making a Rational Decision

An appeals court had to overturn this idiotic ruling so I guess sometimes the judicial system works.  Eventually.

If we are to believe this “irrational” mother’s story, she chose to give her child her own last name after the father abused her during the pregnancy.  The judge in the case felt that she just wasn’t in the right mind to make that sort of decision and, I guess, thought it would case harm to the child if the child didn’t have his father’s last name.

I'll bet the judge would have ruled differently if the father's last name was HITLER!!!

I’ll bet the judge would have ruled differently if the father’s last name was HITLER!!!

An appeals court saw it differently and apparently felt the judge in the case was far more irrational than the mother.

This last name thing is problematic to begin with.  I like my last name so when I got married, I kept it.  That’s totally fine because I’m a dude and nobody questions when a man wants to keep his name.

Nobody questions when parents given their child the father’s last name.

But if a woman wants to keep her last name or give her last name to a child, well then it is time to take the case to court, I guess.

It’s a double standard.  And a  stupid one.

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Shit that Pissed me off – 10/3

All this Hatred of the Common Core

The particular article I linked to calls it “Obama’s Common Core” even though the President had nothing to do with it.  However, if you are conservative and don’t like something in government, you need to blame it on Obama.

Common core mathematics actually tries to teach kids how to do math the same way we already do it in our heads.  As has been explained every time someone new complains about Common Core.

Suddenly, the whole thing has become a liberal vs. conservative thing.  Look at how these liberals are messing up education with their weird math stuff!

Look at all these liberal numbers!  Screw diversity!  We are in a post racial numbers society!

Look at all these liberal numbers! Screw diversity! We are in a post-racial-numbers society!

Common core is a tool kids can use to learn math.  Any good teacher will tell you that it is not the only tool and the more tools we give kids, the better the odds will be that they can learn.

Common core isn’t turning your kids into Democrats!  Obama doesn’t want your kids to be bad at math.

He just wants them to commit voter fraud!  They don’t teach that in Math class.

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Shit that Pissed me off – 9/26

Emma Watson Gives a Speech About Feminism so 4Chan Threatens to Release Nude Photos of Her A Marketing Company Tries to Shut Down 4Chan By Threatening to Release Nude Pictures

Worst marketing campaign ever.

Does anyone get the idea that pretending you are going to release nude pictures of someone is only slightly better than saying you are going to do it for real?  Even If you follow your threat up with “ha-ha, we were just kidding!  Those 4chan people are pretty awful, aren’t they?”

Well yeah.  Some of them are.

You just defined yourself as more awful because you are pretending to be awful to show how awful you believe others to be.  Which is just dumb.

Maybe not this dumb.  But still pretty damned dumb.

Maybe not this dumb. But still pretty damned dumb.

In the meantime, you make Emma Watson, who had some really important things to say, feel vulnerable.  Maybe you contacted her publicist to tell her that she shouldn’t worry and you didn’t really have nude pictures of Emma and even if you did, you weren’t going to post them because you were just sticking it to 4chan ha ha!

What did Rantic Marketing manage to do?  They managed to make 4chan look really good.  Talk about a complete failure.

PS:  Do you really think that shutting down one bunch of assholes on the internet will get rid of assholes on the internet?  How long have you been here????

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Shit that Pissed me off – 9/19

Almost Everything About the Adrian Peterson Story

First, I’m upset that this entire story is turning into a question of what parents are “allowed” to do to discipline their child.

Look, it doesn’t matter.  Peterson hit a four year old with a switch until the kid bled.  That is beyond discipline.

Also, the kid is four.  Cognitively he doesn’t have the ability to fully connect the beating with the behavior that caused it. He may understand that he is being punished for something but he doesn’t know what caused the punishment.  So he wasn’t “disciplined,” he was just “punished.”  And in his mind the punishment was basically for the simple act of existing.

Then you have people like this guy writing articles about how spanking their kid is A-OK and, in fact, common sense (it isn’t).  This is not a case of simple spanking.  I don’t agree with him in any case (and my friend Levi Weinhagen makes good arguments as to why) but it isn’t the same thing so why even write the article?

Peterson’s mom says that the discipline used on Peterson must have been OK because look how he turned out.

Look!  He's smiling!  If being beaten by a switch as a child had any harmful effect, he wouldn't be able to smile!  Ever!

Look! He’s smiling! If being beaten by a switch as a child had any harmful effect, he wouldn’t be able to smile! Ever!

Yeah, he turned out to be a great running back.  Who has fathered several children by several different mothers and allegedly beat the crap out of (at least) one of those kids.  If you think your discipline choices didn’t have a negative impact on your son, lady, you might need a better idea of what “negative impact” means.

And of course you have the NFL and the Vikings, who only suspended Peterson when he became more of a PR liability than he had previously been a benefit.

They shouldn’t be waiting to see how the public will react.  They should be anticipating that reaction.  In the wake of the Ray Rice video, it shouldn’t have been too difficult to figure out what was going to happen.

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Shit that Pissed me off – 9/12

Ray Rice and the NFL

Even if you don’t follow sports, you probably know about the video that shows Ray Rice hitting his then fiancée and knocking her unconscious.  Lots of people have offered their opinion, including Keith Olbermann, John Stewart, and Peter King.

What is messed up is the idea that the NFL, which is one of the most powerful corporate entities in the world, somehow didn’t get a copy of the video first.  I don’t even understand how that is possible.  Admitting such a thing means they are either lying or they didn’t really give a shit about what was on the video.

If they gave a shit about what happened to Janay Rice, they wouldn’t have interviewed her about the incident while she was sitting next to the man who had hit her.

If they understood anything about the mental state of an abuse victim, they would have recognized the behavior of someone who has probably been struck more than once.  They would have interviewed her on her own, hopefully with a counselor present.  Not only didn’t they understand, they didn’t care.

Just forget about it and watch football, folks!  Nothing to see here!

Just forget about it and watch football, folks! Nothing to see here!

That’s the crux of all of this.  They don’t give a shit about the abuse.  They give a shit about their image.  So long as we didn’t have video showing the actual punch that knocked Janay Rice out, the NFL thought they could get away with a two game penalty because the public would be too focused on the game to think about domestic violence

The failure here was caused by a bunch of people who cared more about their business than anything else.  Keep that in mind as this situation continues to unfold.  Any decision they make will not be governed by what is best for Janay Rice.  Or even Ray Rice.

It will be governed by what is best for the NFL.

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Shit that Pissed me off – 9/5

The Whole Jennifer Lawrence Nude Photo Thing

The problem is that there is a dialogue focused on whether or not Lawrence (and other celebrities) are to blame for the theft of their personal pictures.

Well let’s stop and think about this for a mom…NO!

I am writing this blog post on a laptop computer that is valuable.  Now you, the reader, know I have a laptop computer you could sell for money.  If you came over to my house, broke in and stole my computer would it be my fault because I made you aware that I owned it?

It looks a little bit like this

It looks a little bit like this

NO! That’s what we call theft!  There are all sorts of laws about that shit.

It is not my fault for owning a computer any more that it is Lawrence’s fault that she owned nude photographs of herself (if indeed those are photographs of her – which she denies).

Theft is a crime.  Owning things people want to steal is not.

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