Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Worstest American

I don’t know how many of you have been watching the TV show “The Greatest American” on the discovery channel. The premise is basically this, people vote via email to give the show a list of Americans who, for some reason, could be considered “great”. Then the list is voted on, again by email, to select someone who could be named the greatest American. Greatness is one of those words that is difficult to adhere any one quality to, so there is some contention as to who should be considered. Some people look at life achievement, while others look at personal bests, still others look at contributions made to our country. Now, I’m not going to get into whom I think is the greatest (Benjamin Franklin) but I was curious as to who would be considered the worst.

I was talking about this to a gentleman I work with on a few slow evenings and we came up with a few people who could potentially make the list for The Worst American.

For the purposes of this list we are not considering anyone who is merely annoying or not popular or even someone who has killed people such as Jeffery Dahmer or the BTK killer. Our criterion was someone who has negatively affected our nation or a large group of people here. They have to be Americans so Osama Bin Laden won’t count, and anyone who was working for the Taliban here in America must be a citizen to count. These people must have had a seriously negative impact in some way or another, so no presidents please. Though I’m sure most of you could list a few that have broken laws or been the causes of grief in some way or another. This does not mean that you can’t list some politicians all I’m saying is that Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon are not considerations. I am going to list some of the people who made our list and give reasons for each, if you would like to add a nominee then post a comment with the name of the person and why you think they should be considered. So without further ado…

  • Benedict Arnold: In 1779 he sold out America by giving vital information to the British in exchange for a high rank in the British military and lots of money. If he had succeeded it would have ment the deaths of hundreds of West Pointers and soldiers in the field.
  • Philip Henry Sheridan: A general for U.S. army in the 1850’s. He oversaw the slaughter of countless Native Americans and helped to force them into reservations (though they were more like concentration camps at the time). He killed non-combatants and women and children as a standard practice. He was responsible for an episode of ethnic cleansing in America.
  • Lester Garfield Maddox: A southern racist during the civil rights movement who sold axe handles from his restaurant to beat up any African Americans that tried to eat there. He later ran for governor and was defeated, twice. Then, to add insult to injury, he actually was elected to office. He makes the list because he stood as a figurehead for intolerance and segregation by force.
  • Reverend Jesse Jackson: I Know I’m getting in trouble for this one but… While Jesse Jackson raised awareness for cultural issues like civil rights he spun Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s vision of an equal African American society into a victimized one. He has lead people to, almost, start the march backward for blacks in our nation. Now, there are many African Americans that feel they are owed something from their “white oppressors” instead of making strides to better their own situations. While he has made a mockery of his position as a Reverend by having an affair that resulted in a pregnancy and a fatherless child (something he preached against) he has worked almost in reverse to what the United Negro College Fund and the NAACP has been working towards, an educated and equal community.
  • William J. Simmons: In 1915 Simmons, a Methodist minister, started what is known as the second, or modern day, Ku Klux Klan. His agenda was bent solely on hurting, harassing, or killing any non-whites in America. He declared himself Grand Wizard and implemented cross-burning and lynching as a standard practice. He paved the way for all subsequent KKK hate groups.
  • Jimmy Swaggart: Swaggart was a televangelist throughout the eighties and into the nineties. He used this platform to amass vast amounts of money that never saw any of the charities he claimed to be giving to. He was caught with a prostitute not once but three times and refused to give up his seat in his church. Later he told a news reporter that “[he would] kill any gay person who looked at him romantically”, and then tell God “they just died”.

So there you have it. I would love for any of you readers to contribute to the list. Again just try and make it someone who has negatively affected our society and tell why. Feel free to disagree with any of my selections (I know I’m gonna get it for Jesse Jackson), but please say why. I am hoping to get some interesting entries and maybe get a vote on which the worst is.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Geek from the Past

I was trading funny web-videos today with a guy at work and I stumbled across one I haven’t seen in a long while. Have any of you seen “Star Wars Kid”? Here’s the premise; this kid, who I guess was in the A/V club at his high school, films himself doing some staff fighting moves with his own light saber sounds while no one is around. The kid is dressed kinda lame, he is a little chunky and he sucks to say the least. The kicker is that he left the tape in the camera. The next day some other A/V kids find the tape and made the fateful decision to put it on KaZaA for all to see. The video takes off like a rocket. In days there are about five, professional quality, downloadable versions of this poor kid. I had it on my computer video file for years. Every time I watch it I keep repeating under my breath, “You poor, poor bastard.”

When I did a yahoo search today with the words Star Wars Kid I got a huge return. There is page after page dedicated to this video. It has become an underground Internet cult phenomenon. There are roughly 108 videos edits now available and at least one more a day is made somewhere. There are T-shirts and bumper stickers. There was even a petition made up to get George Lucas to put him in the last Star Wars movie. I was flat amazed. I remembered downloading the original video in 2002 (the same year it was made) but I had no idea at the time that it would turn into such a huge thing. I have to admit I was halfway tempted to buy a shirt, but I think that may be too geeky even for me. All I can say is, God speed Star Wars Kid…God speed.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Smooth Criminal

I watched the Michael Jackson case today on FOX News. I have to admit I was strangely curious about the outcome. In the weeks to come I am sure there will be a lot of debate on the results (for anyone who lives in a cave and has internet but only gets this web page for some reason, it was not guilty on all charges) and the public’s reaction and the presumption of guilt that I am sure will follow Michael for possibly the rest of his life.

For me, I feel that the guy is weird to say the least. Has he done anything sexually oriented with any little boys? Well, I am sure that he may have. As to whether or not he did with this boy, whether you like it or not, he was tried and found innocent. Do I feel the guy is innocent of any other misconduct? Again, probably not; the thing that most of us have to keep in mind is this: It doesn’t matter what you may think of the person on trial or how well you think you know the case. If you weren’t there when the crime was committed then you have no authority to pass judgment, that’s what a jury is for. I would expect that most of you would feel the same if you were on trail for something you didn’t do. It is a bittersweet reality of our justice system here in America.

I know one thing, if I was Michael I would be praying night and day for the next week to any and all Gods he can think of. The dude would never have made it in prison for any amount of time. I would be willing to bet that he would have been dead within a week of going in. Also, if I were in Michael’s family I would do my very best to have somewhat of an intervention for the guy. Look he may or may not have fondled little boys but, the dude is a pedophile and he needs help. He also needs the people around him to save him from himself. They need to hire someone to just hang with the guy and make sure there is no way he is ever in the same room as a minor so there will never be any question about this kind of conduct. The guy needs to play it safe as hell for the rest of his life.

Of course a good P.R. campaign wouldn’t hurt. This time though don’t let him run it. He can’t be pictured as this “boy who never grew up”, mentally abused, shut in. He needs to get out. Go to parties (not birthday parties at Chucky Cheese), go to events, hang with sports stars or rappers. Then he needs to do a major image overhaul. Maybe let Dr. Dre help with some videos and let Lil John do the wardrobe. In five years, if he plays his cards right, he could be a person who parents wouldn’t let their kids near and solve any question about his sexuality at the same time.

*Thanks to Mike for help editing the picture

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Close-Quarters Combat

The other day my dog, Zeus, was being a real jerk. He was barking for no good reason, snapping at my roommate and his dog, and generally running amuck. So I did what any good parent should do; I used physical punishment to calm him down. No, I didn’t hit him. I got out the most readily available squirt gun in the house. It just happened to be a rather large “Super-Soaker”. It did the trick but then the Super-Soaker was left out for any additional “parenting” that needed doing. This was a mistake that would later come back and haunt me.

The day after, I’m watching TV or something and I hear my wife screaming. I jump up and head to her to see what’s going on. I find my wife backed into an upstairs corner with Mike pointing the Super-Soaker at her with that menacing grin we all get from holding a water gun on someone unarmed. I ask what is going on. It seems that they had a bit of a verbal putdown contest going on when Mike saw the gun and decided it could be ended quickly in his favor. I acted fast, knowing the only way to resolve a situation like this, so as no one walks away soaked, is to give the armed person whatever he or she wants. I just happened to know what Mike wanted; a copy of some software we had. I just hoped it was enough.

“Hold on. I’ll be back with the disc”, I said. Seconds later, with the disc in hand, I told Mike that the only way he would get the software was if he put the gun down in the middle of the hall and backed away. He thought about it, and then the trusting fool did! No sooner than I saw the gun on the ground I grabbed it. Mike jumped at me so that the tide wouldn’t be turned without fight. So there we were in the upstairs hallway in a desperate struggle to see who would be shot. We wrestled back and forth, sometimes dangerously close to the stairs. Some aimless shots were fired, hitting only the walls and floor. Then I remembered LJ.

Quickly I turned with Mike on my back and told LJ to take the gun. As the gun left my hand Mike got me in a full nelson and another standoff began. I told her “Don’t worry about me just shoot him.” As I struggled left and right to give her a clear shot I could feel Mike dodging behind me. At pointblank range LJ fired.

Now, you’d think that anyone at pointblank range in a small hallway would be able to land a shot on their desired target. Anyone who thinks that needs to watch some girls who never really played with squirt guns. Sufficed to say she got us both. Yes, I got nailed in the head, hard-core, and mike was shot while making a break for his room after I fell to the ground like I was dead. It was great.

I guess the point of all this is that living in your own house and making your own rules is awesome. My parents would have stopped that whole scene from playing out had we all been younger. How many of us have been told “No horseplay in the house” or “Stop that right now”, by our parents. I feel a little silliness can be a wonderful thing. It doesn’t happen all the time but when it does it makes you feel great. Plus, usually nothing gets broken and if it does, well so what? I love the freedoms I have now.

  • Staying up late
  • Making a mess…anywhere
  • Playing loud, LOUD music.
  • Running in the house
  • Playing baseball in the house
  • Etc.

To all those out there who still live with your parents (even unofficially) move out! Move Out NOW! It’s super cool.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Blurry Vision

I went to get my eyes examined today. It took forty-five minutes and I had to get eye drops that made my corneas dilate. At the end I was all geared up to get my contacts and take them home. It was going to be like Christmas…for my eyes! Did this happen? No. “Well, now we have to see you put in and take out a pair of contacts before we can give you yours”, the lady says. “Why?” I ask incredulously. “It’s the law”, she replies. So as not to be a poor sport I’d try.

I have never put in a contact before and for this reason I have never had to remove them. My eyes at this point were already red and irritated from the glaucoma test and the dilation eye drops, not to mention that they had had lights shined in them and were manhandled by the optometrist, but I said ok. I tried to get those damned things in for half an hour with this woman sitting across the table from me telling me that fourteen year old girls can do it so I should be able to. Eventually I get frustrated and my eyes are killing me so I decide to leave. I pay $99 and leave with a receipt. Did I get my prescription? No. Did I get a pair of trial contacts to try at home? No. I left with the satisfaction of knowing that I had my eyes examined and my pupils throbbing for that lofty price.

I have to go back tomorrow and try again. If I fail to get those bastards in and out then I will go home empty handed again. I can repeat this process though, the wonderful woman taking my money told me. Great, I think to myself. I would have rather been informed before I’d taken the eye exam that should I fail a test at the end I wouldn’t be receiving the contacts I paid for. Maybe I’ll practice with LJ’s before I go back. Still, I have never heard of a law that states you don’t necessarily have to get a product that you paid for.

What a jip.