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Stop the Presses: Another White Guy Has an Opinion

So, let’s talk about Brown and Garner for a moment. Just a moment because this whole thing has been covered and recovered, and the last thing anybody needs is another rant by some random white dude, no matter the side.

Why am I making this racial? Because it is, at least under the surface.

It’s entirely reasonable to suspect that Darren Wilson was justified in his use of a firearm. The grand jury decided not to indict based on contradictory witness statements and the evidence presented in the autopsy (which was kind of weird on its own, but that’s another story).

It’s entirely reasonable to suspect that the offers responsible for subduing and ultimately killing Eric Garner were acting in accord with the way they were trained.

It’s entirely reasonable to assume that, all things being equal, the same events would have transpired if Garner and Brown had been white. It’s reasonable. It may not be true, but it’s reasonable.

And herein lies the problem: I’m a white guy. I can listen to and accept the arguments that the police’s actions were justified because I have the privilege of not being accosted by the police every time I go outside my door. It’s possible that my privilege biases me in the same way that a lack of privilege biased at least some of the rioters/protesters/looters/what-have-you out in Ferguson.

Were the police justified in their submission of Eric Garner?

Was Darren Wilson justified in shooting Michael Brown?

These are important questions, but there are other questions that are more important.

Why do some folks seem to divide along racial or class lines when this issue comes up?

Why might more African Americans feel justified in protesting the actions of the police?

Why does tension exist between African Americans and police of all races?

But perhaps most importantly, why is it so difficult for either side to admit the other has a point?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have the answers. Neither do you. That’s the point. Too many people think they have the answer, but they haven’t bothered with any of the questions.

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Welcome to Battleworld!

Warning: Today’s post uses a lot of comic book geek fan-speak. There will be very little definitions given. Please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times and step away from the doors.

I’ve fallen away from Marvel since DC’s reboot. There’s just been so many good books in the New 52 (shut up). That said, I’m super-excited for Marvel’s upcoming Secret Wars!

Back in the 80s, Marvel released a cross-over event called “Secret Wars” that featured dozens of heroes and villains going at it on an alien planet put together by the cosmic being known as The Beyonder. It was pretty rad.

Flash forward 30 years, and the Marvel Universe is falling apart. Universes are colliding, and there’s nothing our heroes can do to stop them. Enter Battleworld: A new world made up of all the alternate realities Marvel has shown us over the years. Check out this map to see what I mean.

Even though I haven’t been buying much Marvel recently, I’ve been reading the summaries of the events on Wikipedia. That, combined with this random dude I met at a Barnes and Noble who caught me up on the last 3 years of Avengers comics, has enabled me to remain somewhat ahead of the curve when it comes to the beautiful, dizzying continuity snarl that is Marvel comics.

So now, I can’t wait to see what happens when the Age of Apocalypse must contend with the Age of Ultron! When the Maestro must face the Captain Britain Corps, and only the Xandarians on the Wall can keep the hordes of Marvel Zombies at bay.

At the very least, I at last have an excuse to post this picture of all my Marvel action figures just beating the ever-lovin’ snot out of each other:

Secret Wars

Click to enlarge. If your computer CAN HANDLE THE AWESOME!!!

Can you spot the miniature Moloid figure I got along with an old FF Mole Man figure I eventually gave away for being practically useless? Or the Doc Ock Mini-Mate whose tentacles I ripped out and tossed because reasons? Or Waldo?

Only kidding. I don’t have a Waldo. He’s one of the figures I don’t have…

I sure got a lot of toys…

Maybe this is why I’m single at 30?

Ah, well. Wheeeeeeee!!!

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Response to a Christian Article

Here we go again. Time for everyone’s favorite type of post: The type that responds to a different post on a separate blog. (Yay!)

I have a friend who loves posting Catholic or Christian blog entries on Facebook, usually having to do with relationships. So now, here I am. Responding to one.

Just like last time, I’ll wait for you to review the original before proceeding.

We good? Excellent.

As a young man with autism, I’ve often felt excluded, left out, isolated, and alone. Sometimes those feelings were justified. Other times they were only symptoms of underlying anxiety and insecurity. It’s tempting to think a relationship might fix that. For years, I thought that it might. Of course, I know it won’t. It can’t. It’s not fair to expect a mortal relationship to affect my neurological condition. Even God hasn’t fixed that.

Jugement_dernier

Not yet, anyway…

In the meantime, I pray for healing and hope that one day I’ll feel comfortable enough in my own skin to be able to keep my anxiety to a manageable level. It’s not going away. Jesus isn’t going to cure my anxiety or my autism. It’d require a complete reformatting and rewiring of my brain, and I think He’s honestly busy with other stuff.

I’ve never been in a relationship. Barely even been kissed. That doesn’t bother me. Life isn’t a competition or a race, no matter how many cultural elements try to convince me otherwise. I think having a relationship might be a good experience. It seems like a fundamental part of the human condition. But if it doesn’t happen, I’ll still be ok. I guess the point I’m making is that I agree with this article, and I also understand how easy it is to fall into the “you complete me” trap. If only someone else could solve all our problems. The best God does is give us the strength to solve things ourselves, or at least work on them.

Still, being single since the days I knew what “single” even meant can be difficult. Especially during those three weeks in winter. You know the ones. We’re in them now. The weeks between Jan. 2 and Feb. 21. Those are the gloomiest, saddest, most gut-wrenching weeks of the year. I’d like to blame Valentine’s Day, but I honestly can’t. I think if I lived in Florida or the Caribbean, I wouldn’t mind those weeks as much. But I live in Georgia, where the rains and the wind keep streaming down from the heavens, and the sun is covered in a veil of gray for days and days. Being single can be tough. Ah, well. I’m a Jedi, like my father before me. Jedi are born tough.

Someday I’ll meet somebody and we’ll get married and have lots of adventures. Or maybe I won’t. I just hope I can get to a place where I can be happy with either outcome. At least for those three weeks in winter when my singleness irks me the most.

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Notes on Sticky Superheroes and Reversible Diaries

Hey, y’all. Sorry I haven’t had time to upload issue 2 of Bubblegum-Man yet. Will continue to update this space as regularly as I can, but grad school is soaking up about 85% of my time. That only leaves about 10% for sleep and 5% for watching Arrow, playing flash games, eating pasta, and general messing around.

Lately I’ve been feeling down. Normal, mid-January to mid-February blues. I’ll be back to my rosy self once we’re past President’s Day.

Anyway, rather than bore you with my problems, I thought I’d share with you a neat trick I’ve come up with to let out my negative emotions while simultaneously reinforcing positive thought patterns.

I call it a Reversible Diary. (Or “Reversible Journal,” if you’re more of a Doug Funnie fan.)

Basically, one side of the journal is labeled “Book of Lies.” Every time my mind gets stuffed full of insecurity, guilt, shame, self-doubt, self-loathing, or any other type of worthless emotion, I pour it in there. I write down all the lies I’ve believed about myself.

Then I flip the book upside down and open it from the other side. That side is the “Book of Truth.” Inside are Bible verses proclaiming God’s love for his children and all sorts of other spoken, written, reasoned, and observed proofs of my own worth as a human being.

As you begin to fill the book, try to make it so that the truths outnumber the lies. Most people have the same lies. Things like “I’m not good enough.” “I’m not smart enough.” “My ears are funny-shaped.”

But there are as many truths as there are people, though there are some eternal truths which resonate for all. But that’s a whole other blog post.

Anyway, at some point, it’s possible for your Books of Lies and Truth to meet in the middle. When that happens, go ahead and write over the lies with truth. You can white out the lies, if you prefer. Tear them out. Burn them. Whatever. They’re lies. Who cares what you do with them?

Now at this point, it’s important not to pay too much attention to any of the lies you put down in the past. Just write them down and forget them. They’re lies, so why would you want to study them? Their purpose is to mislead. We write them down to imprison them, to call them what they are, to take away their power.

But we must reread the truths. As many times as we can. The Truth is liberation. The Truth is empowerment. The Truth is Love and Grace and Hope and all that other stuff that can give you a toothache if you’re not careful.

In heaven, there are no toothaches.

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Account Closed: Why LinkedIn Doesn’t Work (for me)

Today, I deleted my LinkedIn account. I rarely used it, and when I did, I received little benefit. Oh, I had plenty of contacts. Folks outside and inside my field. Folks looking for work. Folks gainfully employed. Folks who don’t return emails or phone calls.

My big problem with networking when trying to find employment is I wind up meeting a bunch of other unemployed people. To meet the Gatekeepers, you have to go out and find them. Meetup and local trade associations and other professional groups let you meet folks face to face. Once you’ve done that, you check with them to see what needs of theirs you can fill. That’s how it works.

LinkedIn doesn’t. Not for me.

For me, Facebook and Meetup are where it’s at because Facebook and Meetup allow for personal communication. The best you can hope for on LinkedIn is to apply for a position to a company that doesn’t provide an address, phone number, or even (sometimes) a name.

Wheeee…

Don’t fall for it.

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Torture is Evil.

How is this a discussion we are having in 2014 in the United States of America?

Torture is evil.

This entire debate is stupid, and we’re stupid for having it.

Torture is evil.

I don’t care if you think it works.

I don’t care if you think they deserve it.

Torture is evil.

If you think torture is good, please let me know who you are so I can never talk to you again. Cuz you’re clearly a Nazi. Or a communist. Or a Communazi. This is no longer a debate. This is a matter of truth.

“But William, what abo–”

Let me stop you right there. There is no “what about.” Torture is unjustifiable. Even against our worst enemies. Especially against our worst enemies.

Torture is evil, and I am ashamed of some of my countrymen for even considering its merits.

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Season’s Greetings!

Some people treat “happy holidays” like a message from the Devil himself, and I have no idea why.

The phrase “season’s greetings” is far clunkier and ambiguous. Are you greeting the season? Are you greeting me with seasonings? Why are you throwing garlic at people, what’s wrong with you? You should never throw garlic at anyone except vampires, and sometimes that’s not a very good idea even then. 

Pictured: Garlic, not for throwing.

Pictured: Garlic, not for throwing.

Anyway, I’ve never been offended by saying or hearing “happy holidays.” And I certainly don’t mind saying it to folks when I don’t know whether they’re Christian or not. Some folks don’t celebrate Christmas, after all. Even among those who do, the period from December 1 to January 1 contains multiple “holy days” and days of celebration as well.

December 8, for example, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, when Catholics honor the Virgin Mother by attending mass and praising the Lord.

Sure, I’ve always found Kwanza (Dec. 26 – Jan. 1 this year) a bit odd, but if folks want another excuse to light candles, who am I to judge?

Plus, there’s Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. This year, it happened in October, but my Indian neighbors used to keep their lights up for months after. I think it might be a 2 week celebration? Anyway, it’s a commemoration of that time Prince Rama fought the demon-king Ravana. You can catch an artist’s interpretation of the battle below:

My Jewish friends will be celebrating Hanukkah soon. So, if someone wants to wish me Happy Channukah, I wouldn’t mind that, either. Really, we’re in a season of celebration. Why get mad over words that mean, in essence, “have a nice time drinking wine and eating fatty foods?” Besides, then I get to say “Happy Xanuka” back to them, and we can have fun saying/spelling one of the funnest words to say/spell in any language.

December 24 is Christmas Eve! That time of year when Italians like myself gather around a plate piled high with spaghetti and eat 5 or 7 types of fried fish until  we ‘splode. Don’t have to take my word for it:

God, I miss John Pinette. RIP, good sir.

Anyway, if folks want to wish me “Merry Christmas,” I’m cool with that. And if folks want to wish me “Happy Christmas,” I’ll be cool with that too, and I promise not to make any awkward comments about the Doctor or Vicar of Dibley or even mention your accent at all, probably.

Finally, January 31 is New Year’s Eve, a secular holiday celebrated by anyone who uses a Gregorian calendar in their everyday life.

(And yes, for those of you Super-Catholics/Latinos, the holiday season extends all the way to January 8. Sadly, we don’t celebrate Three Kings’ Day much in America. I blame the Protestants.)

So, as you can hopefully see, “Happy Holidays” isn’t just an inoffensive salutation, it’s technically accurate. We’ll all be celebrating at least two holidays this year, since most atheists I know do something for both Christmas and New Year’s. Probably something involving excessive amounts of chocolate or wine or chocolate wine.

I hope they invite me.

So, happy holidays, folks. And if you still feel offended by someone hoping you enjoy a 30 day period of almost non-stop celebration, maybe you should see a doctor about that unsightly sprig of holly protruding from your bottom?

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So…Non-Fiction?

Wow! Looks like you guys have really been enjoying my more politically-oriented, social commentary posts. Thanks for all the follows and likes the last few weeks.

While so far I worry Bubblegum-Man hasn’t been well-received, my hopes is that more folks will jump on the Sticky Bus as new story arcs/issues are published!

Don’t worry. We should have new Bubblegum-Man up around Christmastime. Otherwise, check back in March.

What? I’m in grad school! I’m not a machine…

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IHST – I’mma Pray for You, Homie.

IHST 12-7-14

Look, this isn’t to say prayers aren’t appreciated. If you work at Walgreens, I’m not asking you to perform pro bono legal services. At the same time, maybe we should take advantage of opportunities for us to do more beyond saying 3 Hail Mary’s and “Good luck?”

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I’m Not a Liberal. I’m Just Polite.

I do not consider myself a liberal. Yet I support or am at least sympathetic towards many liberal causes. I think it’s important to protect the environment. I think some government regulations on business is probably a good idea. I think the War on Christmas is bogus, and I support your right to identify with whatever form of sexuality or gender you decide to be appropriate. Even if I don’t agree. Actually, you’re disagreeing with me is one of the things I believe to be essential to living in a functional democracy. Or republic. People have gotten picky about identifying with one or the other lately. Which is weird, considering republics and democracies are practically kissing cousins.

I do try to be polite. Would I prefer to live in a world fully reconciled to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Of course I would. But I don’t go around calling people sinners or accuse them of eroding the fabric of society just because they want a piece of paper that will let them visit loved ones in the hospital. Seriously, that’s rude. It’s rude to tell someone they’re going to hell. Primarily, it is rude to do so because you are more than likely not delivering new information to them.

While it is true that our nation has no national religion, Christianity is and has been an integral part of American culture since colonial times. Much of our laws and social mores have been influenced by European Protestant forms of Christianity. Not saying that’s good or bad. I’m just saying that most American citizens could probably tell you what Christians believe — or at least they might be able to tell you what they think Christians believe — based solely off any one of the thousands of televangelist broadcasts, TV shows, Hollywood movies, news media reports, street preachers, or Gideon Bibles they encounter during an average work week.

Yet some of my countrymen still seem to think it’s a good idea to inform their fellow citizens about the ten commandments, as if their fellow citizens haven’t been watching the same 1956 Charlton Heston movie as every other American, every April since birth. Oh, taking the Lord’s name in vain is a sin? Sorry. I’ve only seen that weird special  effect carve words into stone 30 billion times. I’m a bit of a slow learner.

In the same way, I think that maybe it might be a good idea to protect the environment. I like trees. I believe that trees are good. Lots of people seem to agree. Maybe we shouldn’t cut so many down?

I know that cows consume a ton of resources. Maybe vegetarianism isn’t so crazy as it seems from the outside?

I’m not saying I’d stop eating meat. But I don’t look down on those who do.

And hey, I like going to the beach occasionally. Maybe there could be negative, unintentional side-effects to treating the ocean like a giant garbage dump?

Maybe?

Maybe?

I don’t feel like any of these are especially left-wing or right-wing causes. I just think, you know, since it’s easier for us to breathe oxygen than smoke, maybe it’d be a good idea to cut down on coal emissions?

I recognize I’m treating these issues in a fairly simplistic manner. But that’s because I view these issues as fairly simplistic, at heart. As simple as cleaning up after yourself when you leave a room and maybe only buying ONE extra comic book/donut/car/house in a month.

And hey. I think humans can be greedy sometimes. Our government has a system of checks and balances that works pretty well most of the time. But the government is not the only source of power in this country. Large multinational corporations have a lot of influence on Capitol Hill. Maybe there should be some sort of government oversight or regulations in some of our industries, just to make sure folks aren’t tempted to do bad things? I dunno. Some kind of non-partisan entity. True, government itself is prone to corruption. But the government is us. Shouldn’t we take responsibility to make sure our government is doing its job? Isn’t that why we have a democratic system in the first place? So we can “fire” the government folks who aren’t doing the right thing?

I dunno. Government regulations can be a tricky thicket. A sticky wicket. A…fickle pickle?

Great. Now I’m hungry.

Mmmm...Pickle...

Mmmm…Pickle…