Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fuck the 2nd Amendment

And you know what else? Fuck the U.S. Constitution. But that's a different post. Let's stick with the 2nd Amendment for today.

Every time I hear someone say something to the effect of "But it's my RIGHT. I have a RIGHT to own a gun," I picture some indignant old white man pounding a cane on the ground as he says it. Yep, you're right, the 2nd Amendment did give you the right to own guns. I'm not going to get into the whole 'well regulated militia' argument that some folks have decided is their battle ground as my stance is "Fuck the 2nd Amendment" in its entirety.

Let's go over the amendments in general, first. Most of you don't know dick about them and probably won't ever take the time to look them up. According to this poll, less than 20% of Americans know that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion. And according to this poll, only a third of Americans even know what the Bill of Rights are. I don't know as much as I could. However, I'm also capable of using the internet, collecting data, and then using that data to make measured adjustments to my opinion.

"So many words!"

Some of the Amendments are vaguely functional (the 4th for example or the 13th or the 19th). But most of them suffer from one major flaw: They were written by people who are no longer alive, who lived in a world that we don't live in. The authors of the Constitution, much like the authors of the Bible, have no clue - none - what life in Earth is currently like. That's not their fault. But it is your fault for listening to *anything* they have to say. You don't listen to Ben Fucking Franklin about the power that's running through your computer that's allowing you to read this. Why would you listen to anything that James Madison or George Mason had to say about AR-15's? What the fuck do they know about a country with 400 million people, 5000 miles across, populated with people from all over the planet? Hell, both of those men owned slaves and one of them refused to sign the Constitution. Neither of them thought women should vote. But based on their morale compass, you pro-gun advocates are going to plant your flag on the 2nd Amendment?

Gun control isn't the answer, you say? Well, let me make three requests of you, Mr. or Ms. 2nd Amendment.
1) Please explain this chart:


Please keep in mind that all of these countries have stricter gun laws than the U.S. Also keep in mind that these are just murder rates. This doesn't include accidental deaths, justifiable homicides or any other forms of firearm injuries or deaths.

2) Do you believe that firearms are the only way to defend yourself or your property? Do you realize that owning a gun doubles your risk of being the victim of homicide? Do you realize that owning a gun triples your chance of death by suicide? These aren't opinions. They are hard numbers. Feel free to peruse them yourself here:  http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1814426

3) Are you prepared to take a life with your firearm? If you answered "yes" immediately, I believe that you are either unstable and should seek help or don't really understand the psychological ramifications of killing someone. Here's a quick read on that:  http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/06/experts_the_psychological_afte.html

Okay, so I probably have all of you hardcore 2nd Amendment folks in a lather right about now. Either that or you stopped reading awhile back. Let me take this opportunity to say this:

I think it should be legal for a citizen to own a firearm.

Also, I own a handgun. A nice 9mm that I'm very comfortable using. I'm a veteran. I also lost one of my best friends in the world to a gun-related death.

But that doesn't change the fact that the 2nd Amendment is an after thought piece of shit legislation made by slave owning white men 250 years ago that know absolutely jack shit about our world today. It needs to go.

In it's place, we need laws that presume we can't own a firearm and need to prove we are up to the responsibility on a regular basis. We need to be certified and registered with state and federal authorities. Our ammo needs to be limited and monitored. Our weapons need to be limited to those that are for sport or hunting. Simple as that.

(If you're now jabbering about defending ourselves from government tyranny, please know that I'm laughing. You are in no way, ever going to take down the federal government with any amount of your buddies or your weapons stash. That ship sailed at around the end of the Civil War.)

Let's stop arguing about what those asswipes meant when they cobbled together the 2nd Amendment and let's start thinking about gun laws that make sense in 2016. Let's start by looking around the world at what other countries do that works and stop pretending we invented and are therefore the experts on 'freedom'.

If you're still in a lather, relax, I'm sure your penis is totally adequate.  Except for you, Wayne LaPierre. You've never given a woman a real orgasm and you never will.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sexism, misogyny, racism and bigotry in Android:Netrunner

As I write this my computer is quietly dinging at me every few seconds to let me know that new comments are appearing on a post on the Netrunner Facebook group. I started to write a long response of my own when I realized that it needed to be longer than just a few words.

The original post the person made isn't that important except to say that a commenter made a casually sexist remark and then defended it by saying that he was joking.

I love Netrunner. It's important to me. It's the first game in years that has gone from being just a game and into full fledged hobby for me. Part of what attracted me to it was its diversity. In the game, Runners come from all over the world and are often not male. Hell, they even have a 'Natural' tag (to differentiate from genetically modified, cyborg, etc.)

For all intents and purposes, I'm a straight white male. But having been an outsider in other ways for much of my life, gaming is something that I *need* to feel is inclusive. Netrunner became a beacon of maturity and thoughtfulness as well as creativity and theme and it wasn't hard for me to step into the role of a league and tournament organizer, which I've been doing for more than a year now.

I'm proud that we have plenty of people who aren't white men in our league and that we held what may have been the first Ladies Netrunner event.

That said, I've had to deal with sexism in our league on two different occasions and I'm here to say that I have absolutely zero tolerance for that shit and if you love Netrunner, you shouldn't tolerate it either.

In both cases, I had female players approach me and detail an uncomfortable situation. In both cases I asked what I could do to ensure it didn't happen again to them specifically. I also sent out a general email detailing my lack of tolerance for any kind of sexism, bigotry or other ugly behaviors.

The reason I'm writing this is because it's important that we call it out. Loudly. Call it public shaming. Call it whatever you want. It needs to be called out because it is corrosive, divisive and deadly to the community and the game. Netrunner is too important and too good to let it be dragged down by backwards, outdated thinking.

Netrunner is a game about the future and it's a game that portrays a role for all people in that future. I want to play Netrunner with everyone - straight, gay, Ugandan, Russian, female, male, cis, trans - everyone, except assholes.

So, I'm challenging all of you Netrunner players to either stand up and call this shit out...or quit playing my fucking game.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Richard Marx Is Punk as F**K

I realize the title might elicit some extreme reactions, but before you completely dismiss me, hear my tale.

In the 90s, I was heavily steeped in the goth and industrial culture, crowd surfing and moshing to bands like Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and the like. In the 00s, I embraced post punk and indie sounds. But my musical evolution had a clear and distinct beginning: pop rock.

For a good chunk of the 80s I was an avid fan of Huey Lewis and the News, Bryan Adams, The Cars, Tom Petty, etc. In fact, up until 1988, I'd only been to three live shows and they were all to see Huey Lewis.

In August of '88 I was just out of high school and planning on going into the military. I was a naive little nugget and the world seemed like a very big place that I was about to be thrown out into, head first. I'd also really been enjoying Richard Marx's first self-titled album. Its first big single, "Don't Mean Nothin'" was on regular rotation in my car's cassette player, the volume cranked to the maximum my little Datsun B210 could take.  If you need a refresher, here it is:


Anyway, once I heard Mr. Marx was coming to the Ventura County Fair, I was in like Flynn. I lived in Ventura at that time and it was rare to have artists that I was interested in come up our way. I bought a pair of tickets, hoping to take a girl that I liked, but after getting the 'I like you as a friend' speech, I asked my friend Rob to go with me.

I'd been to a few fairs and I expected it to be an open, standing room only kind of situation. What we were greeted with was something that was closer to a roving evangelical revival tent; neatly arranged folding chairs with letters and numbers stenciled precisely on the back, a rope barricade separating the front row from the stage by a good twenty feet. There were would be no unruly behavior at this show, by god.

I hadn't noticed the pre-ordained seating notations on our tickets up until that point, so we took our seats near the far back on the left side, a distinctly deflated slant to our posture. We were still close enough to catch a glimpse of RM's stylishly feathered hair, but certainly not close enough to distinguish any actual expressions on his face.

He and his band came out on stage to a sold out and well-seated, well-behaved crowd. There was enthusiastic applause and a few people stood and cheered. They quickly seated themselves again when they realized that this wasn't going to be that kind of show.

Or so we thought.

Mr. Marx stepped up to the microphone with classic rock star enthusiasm. But the words that came out of his mouth were like nothing I expected and to this day, remains one of the most rock and roll things I've ever been witness to. He said something to the effect of (and I'm pretty sure I remember this almost word for word), "Hey! Good to be here. When I came out for sound check and I saw all the seating, I spoke to the management and said that I usually do the kind of show where people are on their feet and dancing. They said something about safety and regulations. But you know what? They're not up here with a microphone. I am. And I say, there's a whole lot of you and only a few guys down in front of me here. I bet that if you all get up and move forward and come through that rope, they'll get out of the way."

The security at the front of the stage did a double take. The crowd stood and cheered and moved forward like a human wave. The security got out of the way. The chairs were discarded, tipped over and forgotten. The rope was pulled down. The crowd pressed right up against that stage for the next hour to sing along to their favorite songs and rock and roll lived on for another day.

I haven't listened to Richard Marx in years. Really, decades. A few years ago, I came across his Twitter and I clicked 'follow'. I couldn't tell you why. Maybe it was a sense of nostalgia, maybe it was that I was curious to see what someone like him would tweet about. He seemed smart, funny, self-aware. He seemed like a good guy. Life moved on.

Where this story ends is today. As I write this, I just got home from making an unplanned stop at a fast food restaurant. There were extenuating circumstances and I had to eat in the dining area. I'm sitting there having my chicken sandwich and through the PA I hear a voice. I didn't think about it, not for one second. There was no questioning. I just immediately knew, "That's Richard Marx." I didn't recognize the song, so I brought out my smart phone and called up Shazam. The song was "Nothing Left Behind Us," from his 2008 album, Paid Vacation.

I'm not here to tell you that I thought, "Oh my god, I love this. What have I been missing all of these years?", because that's not what went through my mind. My musical tastes have moved on in the years since that show and I'll probably not go back. 

But I smiled. I felt good. Because his voice somehow tapped into some deep part of my brain, my 18 year old psyche that was still there. It wasn't conscious at all, I was just automatically transported back to that great memory of getting out of my seat and saying, "Yeah, screw these seats!"

I'm glad Mr. Marx is still making music, still doing what he loves. And I'm glad that 18 year old me is still in there.

www.connoralexander.com

Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Top 100 Songs (76-100)

Wrapping up my Top 100 favorite songs list! 76-100! (Okay, 101, but I couldn't decide between the Shatner version of Common People and the original by Pulp, so both are included!)

YouTube Playlist:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLq7S3twOMsu0VxhNzZggP0PqOU4w-gquk

List:
76 Cactus - David Bowie
77 Policy of Truth - Depeche Mode
78 Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
79 Planet Earth - Duran Duran
80 Straight On - Heart
81 The Killing Moon - Echo and the Bunnymen
82 Destroy Everything You Touch - Ladytron
83 Love Like Blood - Killing Joke
84 Missionary Man - Eurythmics
85 Tribulations - LCD Soundsystem
86 Bette Davis Eyes - Kim Carnes
87 The Kids From Orange County - Moving Units
88 What You Need - INXS
89 Such Great Heights - Postal Service
90 Heartbreak Beat - Psychedelic Furs
91 Lucretia - Sisters of Mercy
92 I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty
93 Attitude - Suede
94 Run To You - Bryan Adams
95 Money Changes Everything - Cyndi Lauper
96 You're No Good - Linda Ronstadt
97 True Faith - New Order
98 Birdhouse In Your Soul - They Might Be Giants
99 Common People - William Shatner/Ben Folds
99 Common People - Pulp
100 Escape (The Pina Colada Song) - Rupert Holmes

Maybe when I hit 90, I'll put out another top 100 list. ;-)


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Top 100 Songs (51-75)

Continuing my list of my top 100 favorite songs! Today is 51-75.

Here's the YouTube Playlist:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLq7S3twOMsu177AWGWsY6_cgYMsgnCuTX

And in case you don't want to listen or some get removed, here's the list:

51 Paint It Black - The Rolling Stones
52 O Fortuna - Carl Orff
53 Tragedy - Bee Gees
54 Hot Hot Hot!!! - The Cure
55 New Moon On Monday - Duran Duran
56 Worked Up So Sexual - The Faint
57 Love is the Slug - Fuzzbox
58 Train - Goldfrapp
59 Damage I've Done - The Heads
60 Anyway You Want It - Journey
61 Disorder - Joy Division
62 Everybody Knows - Leonard Cohen
63 No New Tale To Tell - Love and Rockets
64 Just One Fix - Ministry
65 Age Of Consent - New Order
66 Supersonic - Oasis
67 No One Lives Forever - Oingo Boingo
68 Heaven - Psychedelic Furs
69 Tits on the Radio - Scissor Sisters
70 The Spy Who Loved Me – Carly Simon
71 Red Light - Siouxsie and the Banshees
72 This Charming Man - The Smiths
73 We Won't Break - Zoot Woman
74 20th Century Boy - T. Rex
75 Dear God - XTC

Tomorrow, I'll post 76-100

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Top 100 Songs (26-50)

Continuing my top 100 songs from yesterday, here's 26-50:

YouTube Playlist:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLq7S3twOMsu2MJUF-zHG97B3LY5GvpJXh

Here's the list in case you don't want to listen:

26 Taxman - The Beatles
27 Space Age Love Song - Flock of Seagulls
28 We Want Revolution - Covenant
29 In Shreds - The Chameleons
30 (Birds Fly) Whisper To A Scream - Icicle Works
31 The Man With The Golden Gun - Lulu
32 Wrong - Depeche Mode
33 Government Hooker - Lady Gaga
34 Pop Goes The World - Men Without Hats
35 Beautiful People - Marilyn Manson
36 Ribbons - Sisters of Mercy
37 Invisible Light - Scissor Sisters
38 Pieces of the People We Love - The Rapture
39 You're So Vain - Carly Simon
40 Ballroom Blitz - The Sweet
41 American Music - Violent Femmes
42 No You Girls - Franz Ferdinand
43 Love Cats - The Cure
44 All Women Are Bad - The Cramps
45 Misunderstanding - Genesis
46 Strict Machine - Goldfrapp
47 Regret - New Orlder
48 Sin - Nine Inch Nails
49 Your Retro Career Melted - The Faint
50 Queer - Garbage

51-75 for tomorrow!

Monday, December 28, 2015

My Favorite 100 Songs (1-25)

I'm 45 and it's New Years, so time for lists, right? I thought I'd throw out a list of my favorite songs of all time. At first I thought it would be daunting. How do you categorize, quantify, sort and sift all of the amazing music out there and come up with just 100?

Well, here it is. I shot from the hip. There's no rhyme or reason. Some of these are perfect to dance to, others are nostalgic. Some are new, some are old. Some are obscure, others infamous. I don't care. I just went with it. These are songs that always make me smile, always make me sing along, always raise my pulse, make my feet move. There are plenty of other songs that could have made this list too, but they didn't. Don't read too much into it.

Also, these 100 songs are in NO ORDER whatsoever.

This is #1-25
The link straight to the YouTube playlist:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLq7S3twOMsu1k-BCBnZowKTspopFak05g

In case any of those are dead or you don't have time to listen/watch, here's the list:

1 Rebel Rebel - David Bowie
2 Glory Hallelujah - Frank Turner
3 So Whatcha Want - Beastie Boys
4 Evil Woman - Electric Light Orchestra
5 Beautiful Ones - Suede
6 Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
7 English Summer Rain - Placebo
8 Instant Karma - John Lennon
9 Ode To Joy (9th Symphony) - Beethoven
10 Everybody - Madonna
11 Head On - Jesus and Mary Chain
12 It's No Good - Depeche Mode
13 The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
14 Ghost Inside - Broken Bells
15 Don't Change - INXS
16 Ok...This is the Pops! - Tones On Tail
17 Clark Gable - Postal Service
18 You Got Lucky - Tom Petty
19 6 Underground - Sneaker Pimps
20 Must Be The Moon - !!!
21 I Didn't Mean To Turn You On - Robert Palmer
22 Controversy - Prince
23 Easy Lover - Phil Collins and Phillip Bailey
24 Wish - Nine Inch Nails
25 Heads Will Roll - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Even if none of these are to your tastes, it certainly gives you some insight into my brain.

#26-50 Tomorrow.