Acoustically Challenged

Here is something from my quirky side.  I drove past a VFW the other day and they had a sign for a band that would be playing there, Acoustically Covered.  Well, being in a sarcastic mood, I came up with a new name for a band, Acoustically Challenged.  Now, my mind being what it is, I could not let the idea alone.  I began to think of the possibility for a rock and roll band that did not use string instruments of any kind.  What would they be like?  Could they do so and be any good?  I don’t know but I thought the name Acoustically Challenged would be great for such a band.  So, I freely give this name to anyone who can pull off a rock band without any guitars or string instruments of any kind.

A Little Wisdom from My Favorite Narn, G’Kar

G’Kar: “We live for The One, we die for The One.” Interesting that you put all the emphasis on the second half of that sentence.

This quote comes from a scene in the movie “The Legend of the Rangers:  To Live and Die by Starlight”.  G’kar makes these statements during discussions about a Ranger who chose to retreat in the face of overwhelming odds instead of foolishly sacrificing his crew in a meaningless gesture.  The Ranger leadership were of the opinion that the Ranger should have fought to the bitter end because their coda emphasizes a willingness to sacrifice their lives for the protection of others.

G’kar politely reminds them that there are two parts to their oath and that the leadership is focusing too strongly on the latter half.  In point, G’kar is reminding them that by living, the Ranger in question may be of more value than if he had died out of an over zealous sense of honor.

Second Amendment to the United States Constitution:  A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Well, I thought it might be interesting to look at another oft used quote where many people over emphasize one part in conversations.  G’kar would probably point out that we were only focusing on the part about infringing upon our right to bear arms in our public discourse.  Very little mention is made, in arguments, about the fact such ownership is pursuant upon a Well Regulated Militia.  In other words, citizens have a right to bear arms as part of a well regulated militia to be called upon in times of need to defend the country, not as a right to create personal arsenals to rival that of the local police forces or military bases.  Not as a catch-all Amendment for ownership and use of any and all firearms, including military grade weapons.

Now, before any Gun advocates blast me for daring to twist the meaning of the second Amendment, let’s consider why the founding fathers may have phrased the Amendment this way.  When the Constitution was created, the country was still in infancy.   The structures for creating and maintaining a regular army were not agreed upon yet as to the methods and strength so the militia were a vital part of the national defense.  However, especially at the time of our countries birth, there could be a threat to the government by these very same forces if they were allowed to become too strong, since not everyone was happy about the change in government from the Revolution.  America still had to prove itself worthy.  Basically, the founding fathers chose to ensure the continuation of the militia system through the right to bear arms but left themselves room to regulate the collecting of arms with respect to the maintenance of the militia.  They did this against the possibility of coups and civil war.  Unfortunately we did not avoid the latter but the former never happened.  Of course, living in an America as divisively split by the forces of intolerance, greed, and pride, where Politicians promote the use of “Second Amendment Remedies”, the chances of a coup seem much more likely.

So please think about the wisdom of G’kar when you talk about or spout off your thoughts on the Second Amendment.

Review: Death Gate Cycle

Courtesy of Amazon

I recently reread the “Death Gate Cycle” by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman and wanted to share my opinion of the series with you.  First off, I passed reading this series initially because I was afraid of the restrictiveness in characterization that books from the Dungeons and Dragons genre usually contain.  While it is possible to write good stories within the bounds of the genre, most authors try too hard to follow the dictates of the gaming world.  There must always be Dwarves, Elves, and Humans; each race has to follow certain characteristics; and the political dynamics of the races must be the same as in the game, which is essentially a Tolkeiness society.  Basically, the writers are so wrapped up in the minutia of the Dungeons and Dragons system that they rarely allow the story to breathe and come to life.

However, I eventually decided to give this series a try because I liked the covers and I am thankful that I did.  This is a thoroughly engaging series that grows wings from the second book onward.  While many people may underrate this series for the reason I have stated above, I would like to encourage them to take a second look like I did. Unfortunately, the first book may grate a little like a Dungeons and Dragons book with all the prerequisite Dwarf, Elf, and Human intrigues but later books will move into a wider realm of creativity.  You will still have to deal with these races throughout the series, but the authors are able to breath some much-needed life, humor, and soul into what would normally be carbon copy throw away beings.

The change in the nature of the series will become apparent after the second book “Elven Star” but it is the third book “Fire Sea” that made me a die-hard fan.  One of the main characters is forced to see a much darker side to his people than history portrays and the truths of his life become suspect to the point that he no longer trusts his own kind.  Most interesting is the costs to all for the greediness of eternal life.  I believe that, if you can make it through the first three books, like me, you will be hooked until the end.  Gods will fall and redeem themselves through sacrifice.  Hearts will change and bitter enemies will find common ground.  What more could you ask for?

Artistic Idea to Change the Dialogue

Earth Eyes

I previously posted an unfinished version of this image in another post, but I wanted to show it again because of its relevance to this post.  Not long after completing this picture I had an idea, sparked by my disgust and fatigue over the number of attack ads on the video billboards I constantly drive by.  You know the ones:

Picture of a clown with the caption “I believe in Global Warming, do you?”,

Picture of a graveyard with the caption “Obamacare, Shovel ready.”, or

Picture of a fence in the desert with the caption “Stop illegal immigration, it’s the law!”

,ads designed to either make you afraid of something or to belittle you if you don’t agree with someone’s agenda.  I am just so tired of the rhetoric that I want to scream and I bet many of you are too.  In part, that is where this thought came from.  For a year or more I have been thinking of coming up with a billboard sign based on some of my posts to show, like I do here, a different way of looking at things.  Two problems arose in my pursuit of this endeavor.  One was the sheer number of things I have to say and the other was the prohibitive cost, to me, of running the ad for more than a month.  It costs in my area about $10 a day or $300 a month to run an ad on a video billboard.  This is out of my league, unfortunately.  So I pretty much dropped the idea.  However, it stayed in the back of my mind, an unfulfilled need to put out messages other than what is being pounded into our minds daily.

Then another thought came into my head.  If I had started placing ads with my ideas, I would be no different than the people placing the attack ads.  I believe my thoughts are more open minded; however, they could still become bothersome to people.  What we really need is a break from the B.S.  We are being inundated daily with political agendas, never getting a moments peace because of all the media out there.  Wouldn’t I do more good by making the attack ads stop?  But how?  Well, by filling the billboards with something else.  I said to myself, these new video billboards are able to handle some detailed images these days, what about artwork?

Now that is an idea.  Why not encourage artists across the country and the world to buy time on billboards to post there artwork for the world to see?  Drown out the chatter with beauty.  Of course, there is still the issue of divisive and political artwork to consider.  I hope no one takes this amiss, but for the purpose of this exercise, I recommend that artwork with a shock value not be used.  Not because I believe in censorship but because the idea is to give the general population a break from the stress of divisive materials such as hyper sexual advertising, political attack ads, and even overbearing marketing.  Not everyone will like every piece of art, of course, but the thought is not to deliberately make them uncomfortable.  So my dream is to see billboards so full of artwork like the image above that the B.S. artists cannot buy time to even place an election ad.  Now wouldn’t that be something the 99% could get behind.

A Thought About the NRA Magazine “American Rifleman”

Unfortunately, my father is a supporter of the NRA and, more unfortunately, we have the same name.  Because of these facts, my father’s mail comes to my house because it is easier for me to separate out our mail instead of worrying about him remembering to send any of mine he got.  This of course means that I have to deal with the NRA magazine he gets.   The covers are always bold and hard to miss.  The most recent cover; however, just reinforced to me the paranoid fear mongering that is the hallmark of the NRA political agenda.  The cover had the quote,

“if they ban one, they can ban them all”.

This statement is totally about getting their members to agree with the NRA’s actions out of fear.  There is a kernel of truth to the statement, but historical precedence shows that rarely do actions of that nature really spread to the extreme.  Yet, the NRA is unable to face the truth that the banning of some guns may not actually lead to a full ban on all guns, since that would not fit their cause.  Be that as it may, I have come up with an equally valid quote that is fear based and has the same kernel of truth to it while being opposite in agenda to theirs.

“if one can kill, they all can kill”

Thought for the Day

Everyone agrees that the Nazi’s were horrible people with completely whacked morals that allowed them to kill millions of Jews as if they were doing the world a favor.  History tells us that the United States were the good guys because we stopped them.  We are the moral compass of the world because of this great deed.  Many Americans like to say that we a better than those murdering Nazis since we would not do the kind of things they did.  We use Nazis as a synonym for all the evil things man does to man.  Wait a minute, I seem to remember millions of Negro slaves being mistreated for decades in ways almost as horrible as the Nazis treated the Jews.  I also have a feeling that the American Indians might have a few stories to tell about the atrocities our Forefathers committed in the name of Manifest Destiny.  Yet when asked, most Americans would say that these things needed to be done.  A large number would even champion the perpetrators of these deeds as pillars of the community.  What I am trying to say is that many Americans need to stop thumping the door of our greatness before the skeletons fall out into the light of day, revealing the past blood on our hands along with the blood we are adding today.