Friday, December 30, 2011

The Peanut Butter Banana Sandwich Guide for People Who Aren't Whiny Babies


OK, look, people. 

This stuff tastes good. In fact, it tastes so good you don't dare eat it. Eating this food is so good that it can cause men to spontaneously lactate and women to sprout gigantic wieners and impregnate themselves! Under no circumstances do not eat this unless you have approval from a doctor!

Still with me? Now pay attention so you don't get lost and accidentally blow your brains out with awesomeness!

Step 1: Get your shit together. You need a banana. Some peanut butter. Bread. Butter. No, I didn't say margarine - I said butter damn it we want this stuff to taste good.

Now peel that banana. Don't be a chicken about this. Yes I know it's all phallic shaped and you want to put it in your mouth, pervert. Don't. Save it for the sandwich.

Yeah isn't that sexy? Now slice that stuff lengthwise. Yeaaah doesn't that look pretty. Appreciate the banana - it is after all the atheist's nightmare. Yes, there's actually motherfuckers dumb enough to think that.

Now slice those suckers up. Lengthwise you tool! Oh, are you gonna cry now? Go ahead. You're not worthy of this sandwich unless those are tears of blood from how good this is gonna taste!

Now, smear that bread with peanut butter. Don't be Scrooge with this stuff - Jimmy Carter himself might have planted the peanut trees, and you're gonna damn well eat them, enjoy them, and get that protein rush from them RRAAARRRHHH YEEEAAAAHHHHH.

Lay those bananas down. Get them really close to each other. Look how they're spooning each other. Those bananas love each other the way your girlfriend loves you. Or your boyfriend. Or whatever the hell you date. Better not be a turtle though cause those fuckers bite.

Where was I? Yeah. Bananas. Put them on, then cut off the edges. Those you can shove in your mouth cause like the buffalo, we don't waste any part of the banana. Except the peel.
See this? It's called a skillet. Love your skillet it's your best friend now and you will die for it. Put it on the range and heat that sucker up. Not too hot, damn it, don't be a moron.

Now put butter on the top side of your sandwich. Yeaaahhhhh make that sucker nice and lubricated. I bet you're getting excited now? Well keep it in your pants.

Put the sandwich onto the skillet. Smell that? It's melting butter. It smells like flavor, sucker. Cook that shit up. Listen to the sound it makes. If your nipples aren't hard now nothing's going to do it.

Check the bottom - it better be a nice golden brown. I swear to Yahweh you make this sandwich black you shouldn't let yourself live.

Yeah look at that. The only thing prettier that brown is a Hawaiian girl in a string bikini. Are you paying attention to your sandwich or are you thinking about the girl? Turn the sandwich over you fool and cook the other side too!
 Yeaaaahhhh now get some blueberries because they'll make you grow hair on your crotch. Look at those together. Does that look right to you? Fuck no do it right!
 Cut that sucker into triangles. No, not rectangles cause rectangles are for chumps! Triangles damn you! Split it open. Oh look at that peanut butter all warm and dripping. Touch it. You know you want to.

Put the blueberries in the middle. Like that sandwich is eating those little tasty balls of antioxidants. That's right - your sandwich is eating the blueberries, and you're gonna eat the sandwich. It's a circle of life thing AND YOU ARE THE TOP PREDATOR JACKASS!

Now eat that shit. I said eat it. Yeaaaahhhh isn't that good. 

You're welcome.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I got a call from the Sun Trust social media rep

I've been thinking about this, and decided to talk about it.

Some of you saw and may have commented on my Sun Trust post the other day, how I was annoyed that they had charged me a $17 "monthly checking service fee" (evidently I'm part of the checking account level where you need $5k in assets plus direct deposits to avoid the fee. There's a lower tier where the fee is $7 unless you have direct deposit, which I thought I was part of).

Now, my solution to the problem is going to be very simple. I've shifted my direct deposits to a different bank, and once things have cleared at Sun Trust, I will simply close the account.

Yesterday, I got a call from the Sun Trust social media representative. I guess my Google Talk comment came up on their radar and they wanted to know how they could help. 

Honestly, I kind of blew them off - I was in the middle of working, and really didn't want to have a chat then. And while they left their number, I really don't feel like calling back, either.

Because what would be the point? Will they sit back and say "You know, charging $17 a month for a checking account is rather silly? I mean, sure, if people are writing a ton of checks or something maybe I can see it perhaps possibly - but just to do a blanket 'This kind of checking account costs $17 a month' is silly. Let's stop doing it!"

No. They won't.

Used to be the whole point of a bank account went like this: I give the bank permission to hold my money. Some of it would go into a savings account to earn interest, some might go into a checking account to keep it safe but grant me the ability to pay people. There was a relationship there: the bank would use my money so they could make reasonable loans to people, charge them interest. Then, in return, they would hold onto my money, pay me interest on my savings, maybe no interest or minor fees when I ordered new checks on my checking account, and everyone was happy. A banker could make about 1.2 times the national average in income, money was protected, and everyone was happy.

But - that's not the case. Now, banks just can't "make enough money to pay their employees and have profit for their shareholders." Now it's "We must make a ton of money for the shareholders, via any way we can. Offer crappy loans to home owners so we can sell it up to an ignorant Wall Street and let other people hold the bag? Sure. Charge fees that have no bearing upon the actual cost of the checking account? Go for it. 

"Anything we can do to maximize our profit for our shareholders is a Good Thing, and if we don't do that, then the shareholders will go elsewhere."

Basically, too many banks have decided that their customer is the shareholder, not the people who put their trust and money into the bank. 

I apologize if I seemed rude, Sun Trust social media rep. I didn't mean to be, but honestly I had a hammer in one hand and a screwdriver in the other and didn't feel like chatting. And, honestly, I don't feel it would have done any good. I didn't want to hear your explanations, because I don't care to hear them.

I have a checking account at a credit union, and somehow, they can figure out a way to pay me more in interest/dividends than I've gotten from a "big bank" in ages. They don't feel the need to charge me fees just for my checking account in a moderate, normal way. 

So if and when banks like Sun Trust, Bank of America, and the like decide to become competitive again, and perhaps decide that the banks customers are the ones giving them their money to hold, and not shareholders who invested in them - then I'll come back.

Until then, there's really nothing to talk about.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bank Transfer Day Danger: Leverage

I'm thinking this morning about leverage. This is a financial thing, where you take the money you have, and use it as a base for loans.

For example, if you have $10 in cash, according to leverage rules you can borrow up to $100 out there. There are other rules involves - if it's a unsecured loan, the leverage ratio you're allowed to go with is something like 1:10 (with $10 you can borrow out $100), while for mortgages you can borrow out 1:20 (with $10 you can borrow out $2000).

The idea is that each loan has different risks - home ownership -is- was considered safe, so you could offer more loans based on it. Then again, that was when there was no such thing as "subprime", and even FHA loans (which are insured) were rarer. But "in the day" a mortgage required something like 20% down (so the owners had more cash riding on it, and it was easier to get their equity back).

Anyway. The issue here is that banks have kind of - well, screwed with the system. First by offering more subprime loans, which their leverage is closer to the 1:10 ratio. But that's where out friend bundling comes in, where the investment firms put together a bunch of mortgages and sold "shares" of those mortgages on the stock market. If you bundled enough "good" mortgages with "subprime" mortgages, the entire bundle could be considered "good" so the banks could still leverage the 1:20 ratio.

Which means they could be riskier with their money, which means when those subprimes crashed so went all of the money the banks had used to make those loans, hence why the financial system blew up.
There's a lot more to it than that, but there's the issue in a nutshell.

So why am I thinking about this? Because there's a growing movement of people pegging November 5th as "switch to a credit union" day. The idea here is that:

1. The big banks blew up the economy, so we want to take away their source of power: money.

2. Credit unions are membership owned, not stock market owned, so there's less incentive to take those crazy risks for profit.

3. Regional banks can be bought up by the bigger banks, whereas to buy up a credit union a big bank (like Bank of America) would have to totally redo the credit union's charter, and get the permission of most of the "stockholders" (aka - the credit union members) before they can do so.

Sounds like a great idea. Only - I'm worried.

I'm worried because I wonder just what the "big banks" will do as more and more of their cash deposits vanish. What happens to all of those loans that were made? They'll have to sell them off.
And the problem is there's still a lot of stuff that's toxic, especially all of these home loans that are being foreclosed upon. Now, in an ideal world, the big banks would go out of business, the deposits would be protected by the FDIC and transferred to another bank, the stockholders would lose out and next time form companies that don't take such risks.

I'll wait for the laughter to die down.

The downside of this is another wave of major financial collapse. The stock market alone would take a pounding, which means those pensions/retirement accounts would be even further reduced - and things are bad enough already. Not to say all of the layoffs as the big banks died (and my money says while they went on the CEO's and major executives would still get their nice golden parachutes).
But the other alternative is just as terrible: more bank bailouts. Before, the toxic assets were bought up by the Fed at nearly "paper value" - in other words, if the bank made a bad mortgage for $1,000,000 on a house that is now worth only $200,000, the bank got nearly $1,000,000 from the Fed as part of its toxic asset buy up (this was part fo the "save the financial system from itself" move - and wasn't accompanied by major hard new rules enforcing behavior. Nope - if anything, the financial system has spent millions lobbying congress not to touch them).

So if people take their money out of the banks en masse and put it elsewhere, my greatest fear is the US government will say "oh noes - Bank of America is going to die! Here, we'll buy your stuff at paper value. Granted, you leveraged $1 to become $20 (or more), so really you're making a massive profit, so it's canceling out all of the people who took money out of you, and now you're just as strong as before - but we can't let you special special too big to fail banks die!"

If it sounds like I'm saying "nothing might change if people take their money out", I kind of am. I hope not. What would be best is if the US government, instead of rescuing the big financial firms this time, broke them up into smaller parts, enforced hard regulations and took the financial system back about 30 years so they behave better, like they did between 1940 to about 1980 or so.

Yeah. I'm not confident that's going to happen.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Don't blame the poor, poor bankers!

Every so often, I see or hear someone make a comment like this:

You know, the government required that banks make loans to poor people, and that's what lead to the real estate meltdown.

Usually when I hear that, I can instantly guess the person is either a libertarian or terribly uneducated.

The government yes, did require banks offer more loans to lower income houses - but the potential home owners had to fall under the FHA guidelines, which meant that:

* They had to have proof of income (tax returns, pay stubs, etc).
* They had to buy home owners insurance.
* The loan itself had to have mortgage insurance - the idea here is that if the borrower couldn't pay back, then the bank got at least most if not all of their money back.

Pre-2008 or so, FHA loans had about a 5% failure rate - so the risk/reward for banks was pretty even, and the mandatory purchase of insurance meant that they were still making money overall.

However, the real estate meltdown was caused by subprime mortgages. Mortgages that were paid for by creating a second mortgage to make the down payment on the first. Mortgages with variable rates that would suddenly jump. No income proof required mortgages. No insurance required loans.
In other words, not the style of FHA loans that the government requested the banks make to a small number of low income people.
Basically, saying "Well, the government is to blame not the poor poor banks" is nonsense. If the banks had stuck with the FHA style requirement loans that were asked for on a small group of lower class people, nothing would have happened. If those 5% had failed, they would have been insured.

But the banks went insane. They were making toxic, quick turn around, get those homes into mortgages and then sell them up into CDOs to sell on the market fast fast fast ignore the risk someone else will pick up the tab! Now it went from a failure rate (with insurance to protect on it) of 5% under FHA guidelines, to a failure rate of 13, sometimes up to 25% - with no insurance to pick it up. And once those groups started to fall, the ripple effect took out everything else along the way. After all, the banks weren't going to worry about the cost of the subprimes - they were selling them off onto wall street. Wall street didn't bother to check the validity of their CDO investments - that was up to the individuals. The individuals trusted the rating agencies that had been paid to give good ratings. Everyone else was going to pick up the tab for their bad investments.

And that someone turned out to be the American taxpayers when the financial systems made loans that were not required by the government, were not properly vetted, were not properly insured, and now we know also contained fraud (such as how much people were actually making) or without proper title backing.

Blaming the government in this case is like your doctor telling you to take a couple of aspirin, and then you blame him when you turn into a crack addict selling your body to HIV infected gang rapists. It's not accurate as to the scale, as to the process, or as to the unwarranted thoughtless greed that caused the meltdown.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Republicans: Don't Elect Science Deniers

Today, I saw a great comment: There are people who stand on the shoulders of giants, and show their appreciation by peeing on them.

At a recent Republican debate, Rick Perry was asked about climate change, where 97% of all climate scientists agree that yes, humans digging up ancient stores of carbon dioxide from coal and oil, then burning them to fill the atmosphere with more carbon dioxide faster than the planet can adapt to is causing the world to heat up and weather patterns to change.

Perry's response:

"The science is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet to me is just nonsense,” Perry said. “Just because you have a group of scientists who stood up and said here is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell, (from ABC)

Think about that statement. Why did Galileo did outvoted? Because the political and religious force at the time, mainly the Catholic church, held a "trial" where they said "You're wrong, no matter what you can provide evidence for," then he was taken down into the basements of the church and shown the torture implements and, at the age of 70, was given a choice:

Recent what you've been saying about the Earth not being the center of the solar system, or else we'll use these on you.

What a wonderful analogy from Rick Perry. "Remember that other smarty pants scientists who said somethin' different than what religion and the politicians of the time said? Yeah, he took it back when the real people told him to shut up."

Then there's Michelle Bachman, who has started telling people that the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation. How did she get to this discovery?

“There’s a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate. She said her daughter was given that vaccine,” Bachmann said on Fox News. “She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result. There are very dangerous consequences.” (From The Washington Post)

Seriously. Some lady came up and said "My daughter got the shot and now she's a moron!" She doesn't remember the lady's name, didn't consult an actual doctor to see if this was possible, doesn't know if the lady is a troll - she just looked at the tears and went "OMG evidence who needs science!"

I really don't understand the Republican drive against science. It's what made America strong. These are the people who would have stood outside Ben Franklin's house and shouted about how the mandate to build lightning rods on houses and churches was a government conspiracy, how it was subverting the will of God from punishing people, that it was "big science" seeking to make a bunch of money by putting lightning rods everywhere when just because some guy flew a kite that didn't mean nothing everybody knows lightning is when Yahweh lights a fart.

How can anyone vote for these people? You know, at this point, Mitt Romney may be a layoff king asshole, but at least he's not crazy.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Obama Puts Republicans In a Corner

You may have caught President Obama's speech on his job bill on Thursday. If you haven't, you can check it out here.

Now, here's a rundown of the list of what he's requesting from Congress:

1. A tax break for small business employers who hire people or give them a raise.

2. A tax break who hire people who have been out of work for 6 months or more.

3. A tax cut to middle class families.

4. Some job program items championed by Republicans in Georgia who offer temporary jobs to the unemployed (so they're not just collecting an unemployment paycheck).

5. Cut tax loopholes for corporations and make changes to Medicare/Medicaid so the entire bill is budget neutral.

If you notice right there, 4.5 of the 5 items are things Republicans say they want. You hear from people like John Boehner all the time about how "taxes are killing the small business" and so on.

OK - so here's an offer for a tax break for them. And a tax break for the middle class. And those changes to benefit systems like Medicare and Medicaid you always say you want - here you go! Fear the budget after you spent 8 years racking it up - well, this is budget neutral.

All you have to do is pass a bill that's full of the things Republicans say they want.

And therein lies the trap. These are things that will help the economy. Probably not as good as a real public works program, where all of the roads would be rebuilt and fixed, bridges repaired, schools completely fixed up the way they should be, perhaps hiring writers to write the next generation textbooks and so on and so forth - but these things are a good foundation for jobs. And they're all things Republicans say they want.

But if they pass it, it will actually help the economy. But if they don't, they'll be proved as people who are putting party before country. So which is it, Republicans - do you only love tax cuts that are budget neutral if they benefit the top 1% of the country, instead of those small jobs and middle class people you claim to represent?

Or do you lust after being the opposition to everything Democrats propose more?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thinking about Control

Taking a break from sending out resumes and the like, because I have a pointless thought.

I was listening to a philosophy discussion on the notion of crime and punishment. If you take the approach that people are the culmination of their genetics and their environment, then you start to move away from punishing criminals for the purpose of punishing them, and into trying to correct their behavior. Basically, you take their nature and nurture into account, and retrain their brain to give the correct response (as society defines it) to get the behavior you want.

This might mean that you put people in solitary confinement - but only to ultimately change their behavior. If this does *not* create the behavior you want, then you have to consider other things.

If we assume that all actions are coming from the brain, ultimately we're talking about changing people's brain structures.

In another story I was listening to, it was with an interview of a journalist who had written a book about sociopaths. About how basically - there's no known cure or treatment for people who have this condition. Their brains are damaged, likely from birth, perhaps by something traumatic, but the empathy centers of their brain that let them put themselves into another person's position is broken.

Here's my question: what if we could fix that by implanting things in people's brains. Suppose someone designs an "empathy chip" that simulates the empathy parts of the brain of a normal person, and puts it into a sociopath. And then they can react like a normal person does. Hurting people doesn't give them a reward, because it emotionally harms them.

Or pedophiles, who we're told "can't be cured" because they have some sort of damage to their brains whether through birth or environment. If we could give them a chip that would turn off their attraction to children - what then?

How far would we go with this? How far would society go for a process that - assuming that there's a 90% success rate - turns the worst criminals into people who could have regular check ups to make sure the chip is still working, and they can be productive people.

What would the prison industry do? Fight it because they'd lose money? Would the public embrace it - or is our thirst for vengeance over correction so strong we'd say "We don't care - put the chip in them and punish them anyway?" Take the case of the "anti-pedophile chip" - what if a state decides that "homosexuality is the same thing" so they have another chip whipped up that removes someone's attraction to the same sex - would we be "ok" with that?

Ok. Enough random thoughts. Debate this while I turn my resume into a PDF and see if there's other places I should send it out to. Dance, my puppets! Dance!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Balanced Budget Breakdown

During the recent debt ceiling debate, which helped lead to S&P downgrading the US credit because the Republicans have publicly stated that taking the US economy hostage and threatening to blow it up to get their way is a really bad thing, one of the ideas proposed by the Republicans is a concept called the Balanced Budget Amendment.

To most people, this sounds like a reasonable thing. After all, if *I* have to balance my budget, why doesn't the government? Make it so the government can't spend more money than they take in! Pass a constitutional amendment that will make them do so!

Only the more I looked into this issue, the more I've come to decide that this is the worst idea we could possibly go with. You think the 500 point slide on August 04 was bad?

Now imagine how much worse it is under a balanced budget amendment. And it would be. Here's a few of my (admittedly inexpert) reasons.

First, the government isn't a business. And even if it is - it has to operate like one. Which means having a forced "balanced budget" is still a bad idea overall.

1. Expectations and Realizations

Every year, the US government tries to figure out how much money is going to come in, and then figure out how much money they should spend on things. This is little different than a business - they're looking at the balance sheets, and trying to look ahead for next year on how much they should spend.

But suppose that things go bad that year. Perhaps there's a bad economy so you don't bring in as much as you expected. In the real world, you look at your options - do you raise costs to meet expenses? Fire employees? Or perhaps you take out a loan knowing "OK, if I take out a loan now, continue to keep my employees and finish my upgrades, I can pay this off next year when things get good."

It's an option to go into debt. For many companies, it's a valid option to do so that when things go better, you'll be stronger than your competitors and kick their asses next economic cycle. Or you'll hold onto that one really great salesperson or manager or employee. Either way, the best option isn't to limit yourself to only two options: raise prices or cut spending. You want the third option - get a credit extension - to keep you through the bad times.

Now imagine how chaotic that would be on the United States level. Year 1 under the Balanced Budget Amendment world you have a balanced budget. Year 2 - oh, that was a great economy we have a lot of money spend more! Year 3 - whoops, revenue projects were too high cut spending or jack up taxes!

You'd have such a roller coaster effect that the "business stability" that Republicans like to blame for when businesses don't spend money because "they don't know what the government is going to do" becomes a year to year prediction as taxes and spending go up and down *every year* in order to figure out where the budget should be.

2. War and Disaster

In a real world business scenario, you make the best plans you can, then through careful risk analysis, you try to either have enough cash on hand to get you through a bad time (like, your servers crash and you need to replace them), or insurance so you can rebuild (like fire insurance).

Ultimately, though, some things you just can't plan for. And then, as a business, you have to make a decision: you either say "The losses are not worth the profits," and walk away, or decide you're going to whether through the bad time and make it through any way you can.

If you're the United States Government, though, you can't just "walk away." China finally goes crazy and invades Florida? The United States can't just say "Well, we *would* ramp up money to go pay for the war - but we're operating under a balanced budget amendment now. So I guess we have to jack up taxes. Or cut out payments to Social Security or something."

Or perhaps a hurricane that destroys a major industrial town in Texas, or a tidal wave takes out Seattle - how do you invoke the power of the US government if you're not allowed to take out a loan to cover these emergency moments of war or disaster?

Now, I know some people will be saying "John, that's an easy solution - put in the War and Disaster clause!" Yes. Because the United States isn't involved in a pair of wars now. Or can't declare a disaster at the drop of a hat. Having that clause would let it be exploited every chance that politicians could take.

3. Debt is a powerful tool for a bad economy

This gets to the heart of the matter of the philosophy behind the Balanced Budget Amendment: the Republican idea that the government is useless to the economy, and if anything, is a necessary evil so people don't get their hands on drugs or birth control.

But history has shown differently. After the crash of 1929, Herbert Hoover tried the current Tea Party based Republican thinking: that the US government debt was the problem (not, say, all of the richest 1% of the population engaging in riskier and risker financial shenanigans while the rest of the country had to borrow more and more to keep up, so when the credit bubble finally popped there was no one holding the bag). So based on Hoover's ideals, you cut government spending, balance the budget, and reduce taxes on the richest and things will get better.

As we saw, it did jack shit. It wasn't until Roosevelt was convinced that the problem wasn't cutting government spending, but increasing employment by the government spending on investments to the country (roads, schools, etc) that the economy started to turn around. The economy really got going during the biggest government spending in World War II, which employed millions of men and women all across the line.

After WWII, the country continued with some of the ideas - high taxes on the wealth (which goes with a previous discussion about why that's a good thing to prevent concentration of revenue into an extreme minority), regulation of the financial industry and methods of keeping them from growing too large (like preventing commercial banks and investment banks from mixing together, keeping banks from having too many branches per geographic area).

And one more thing - in good times, you increase taxes, increase the interest rate to encourage people to save and pay off the debt. In bad times, you drop taxes and interest rates to encourage people to borrow and spend, and increase spending in order to make up for the drop in economy. Now, if you're 1950 to nearly 1980, if you have good enough economic policies you don't have big economic disasters, like occurred with the Savings and Loans scandals of the late 80's, then the Internet Bubble of the 1990's, then the major financial collapse of 2008 which has nearly exactly the same symptoms of the 1929 Great Depression crash.

You remove the ability of the government to do those things because of the Balanced Budget Amendment - and you've just removed an entire slew of tools the government can use to help fix an ailing economy. Yes, I know - Republicans will say that there's nothing the government can do anyway except "get out of the way." And they can say that as long as they ignore the last 100 years of history, ignore how their own policies enacted since 1980 have lead to lower and lower income for the middle class, and increased recessions.

The Balanced Budget Amendment is one of those "it seems like common sense" ideas. Until you think about it. And then discover it makes no sense *at all*.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Draw Mohammed Day!

Today I'm drawing two pictures of Mohammad, the legendary prophet who gave rise to Islam (just to make sure we have the right guy).

One of him just standing, the other he's on a bike. He's so happy he's getting drawn!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In the Face of the Mormon Church Silence Brigade

First, read the story about this woman whom the Mormon church threatened into silence.

When I was a teenager, growing up as a Mormon, I remember a story being told of a group of women who met with the leadership of the Mormon church. At the time, the Mormon church was against the Equal Rights Amendment (and still is), and these women were in favor.

Both sides laid out their arguments, and the Mormon church leaders put out the "Well, this is the position of the church, and we expect you to follow the direction of the prophet."

As the ladies left, one stayed and said "But - my conscience completely goes against what you've just said."

This leader then called back in the group, and gave them these instructions: "Above all else, we expect you to vote and act via your conscience above what anyone, even the Mormon church leaders say."

I realize this story is apocryphal, but it's a story as a young Mormon I grew up with, and it measured what I felt made "my faith" true compared to the others: the ability to let people vote their conscience.

Even when I admitted to myself that I was an atheist, that I did not believe in anything supernatural, I stayed within the church because it seemed benign. It wasn't forcing people to do what they said.

And then came along the gay marriage issue, the DNA for native Americans issue (long story there I won't relate right here), and I left the church. The faith that used to be about "everyone worship how where and what they may" and "we encourage members to seek the truth and do what they think is right above all else" is now like nearly every other religious group:

Do what we say, don't ever question.

I spit on their memory. They had the chance to just stand up, speak their minds, and leave it at that. Now they're spending money to oppose groups because it doesn't fit with their view of the world, and using strong arm tactics to threaten their own members to silence.

From the teenage boy inside my mind that used to look upon my faith with such admiration and faith, and sees what the Mormon church does for the sake of power:

Fuck you.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Real Conversations: Moral Cheerleaders

Me: What are you watching?

Holli: These cheerleaders dancing. They're the most dressed up and covered cheerleaders I've ever seen. Long pants, no belly showing -

Me: Well, I guess they're very moral cheerleaders then.

Her: Oh, no way.

Me: What makes you say that?

Her: Are you kidding? They're from Kansas. Almost none of them are!

Me: That's kind of harsh.

Her: It's true! The entire state's that way! I should know - I'm from there.

Me: Kansas? I'd never thought it.

Her: Well, just the way it is.

Me: How does that work? You always think of Kansas as being the center of the American heartland, full of goodness.

Her: But not Mormons.

Me: Wait - I said those are *moral* cheerleaders, not *Mormon* cheerleaders.

Her: Oooooohhhhhh. I don't know - I just know they're probably not Mormon.

Me: ....

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I think I'm a little jaded

The assignment: Introduce yourself, what you plan on getting out of your degree program, and this class in particular.

What I turned in:

Name: His Royal Imperial Highness of Space and Time, but you may call me John Hummel

Current goals: Honestly just getting through my master's degree. I decided it's a lofty goal and why not.

How will it help my current profession: Honestly, it won't. Let's face it: your current job doesn't reward you for getting a degree because they'd prefer to hire outside the company. What it will do is make it that much easier when applying for another job, or threatening to leave my current employer unless they pay me more.

What do I want out of the course: The ability to dominate databases! To drive them into submission so they obey my every whim! To crush their electronic dreams BWAHAHAHAHA. Or, just make it easier to create efficient resources of information in a database system.