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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…

1

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?”

1

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…

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Thirty Is Pretty Great

So. I don’t  have a comic for you this week. Probably won’t  have one next week. Will try to get one up by the holidays, but I think we may be looking at a June release, at the earliest. Very sorry. Grad school has proven a bigger bear than I anticipated. Scratch that. It’s proven EXACTLY as difficult as anticipated, and for that reason alone, my time for comicking has drastically been reduced.

Be that as it may, I will try to keep weekly updates going as long as I am able. Maybe throw a few In His Spare Time’s at you. See what happens.

Now, to address the title of this post. I turned 30 in April. So far, being 30 is kind of amazing. Having my mind blown constantly by all the ignorance and ridiculousness of modern society and how this ignorance has infected and infested our public school system. But I’m also learning about the great, unsung heroes of my nation, and for that, I am grateful and inspired.

Also new this year: The amount of farts I give has been growing steadily closer to zero. And it is amazing. Tyler Durden was right. There is an amazing amount of freedom you gain from being able to let that which does not matter truly slide.

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Response to a Cracked Article

Hey friends. Today, I’d like to respond to an article on Cracked.com. So go ahead and read it HERE, and we’ll begin when you get back.

Don’t worry. I’ll wait. I have to. I’m just text on a screen, where did you think I was going to go?

All done? Cool. Ok, let’s start with some areas of confusion. Maybe it has to do with my autism or maybe it has to do with my tendency to over-think everything, but for some reason I thought guys were supposed to make friends with a woman before we asked her out. I mean, otherwise we’re just asking out every woman we’re attracted to within seconds of meeting them. “Hello, Woman Number 9,587. You seem like a cool person. Want to go on a date?”

Plus, why would you want to go on a date with someone you’re not friends with? “Hello, Woman Number 9,588. I know we don’t know each other, and we’re only talking because we’re standing in the same Wendy’s checkout line, but do you want to go on a date knowing absolutely nothing about each other?”

On second thought, I take that back. She might turn out to be Batgirl.

On second thought, I take that back. She might turn out to be Batgirl.

But hey, maybe that stranger who pours your coffee at Starbucks isn’t secretly Bat-girl? Maybe she’s just a normal person who’s just aching for some honest, human interaction?

Or a vampire.

Or a vampire.

Hey, is that what you guys do? Just go around letting people know when you’re attracted to them, as soon as you can? Because that seems creepy. By creepy, I mean that I’ve had women tell me that seems creepy. Plus, from what I’ve seen at least, most women like to get to know a guy for a little while before going on a date. But then, what’s the appropriate quantity of time? Is it the three-day rule? Is a month too long? What if you were, like, really, really busy? Or just forgot?

And hey, don’t get me wrong. I totally agree with Mr. Gladstone’s points here. I’m just curious about the timing. Thankfully, I have gotten a bit better at it. Here’s a free tip: If you can’t tell whether she’s interested, she’s probably not. And that won’t change. Like, ever. There’s a woman I like right now. I’m about 98% sure she doesn’t feel the same way as I do, and that is ok. Everyone’s entitled to their own feelings. I’m not Emoto, Lord of Emotions. That said, I really enjoy our conversations and would be honored to continue being her friend because friendship is a good thing.

As for letting women know how you feel, well, I think most can tell. At least with me. I’m pretty easy to read. That said, it is always better to be upfront and honest. Do not fear the Awkwardness! Embrace Risk!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a phone call to put off making because I am a pretty nervous guy, all things considered.

…And Another Thing

Part of the problem comes from thinking of the Friend Zone as a trap. Just because it has the word “zone” in it, doesn’t make it a trap. Examples of zones that are not traps (or if they are, traps in which I would be content to stay trapped):

1. The Happy Puppy Zone (in which puppies run around in the sun, being happy and cute forever)
2. The Free Candy Zone (in which there is free candy)
3. The Forbidden Zone (because I am a rebel)
4. The Superhero Zone (where you get to be a superhero)
5. The Pony/Horse/Elephant/Pig/Battle-Cat Zone (where everyone gets a pony, horse, elephant, pig, or Battle-Cat to ride)

And yes, the Friend Zone. (Oh no! I’m trapped in the Friend Zone! I have no choice but to crack jokes and sing karaoke and drink hot cocoa and split the cost of a pizza and watch movies and argue about which color lightsaber Princess Leia would use! Whatever will I do?!)

I really want my own BattleCat now.

I really want my own Battle-Cat now.

Sources:

Photograph by greyloch from Washington, DC, area, U.S.A.Batgirl (Stephanie Brown)   (8539844243) CC BY-SA 2.0

“Vampir” by Ernst Stohr, 1899. Public Domain.

Photo of Battle-Cat figure from http://www.he-man.org/collecting/toy.php?id=541&image=1435

5

American Narcissus – Thoughts on UCSB

The Greeks told a story of a man named “Narcissus.” Narcissus was very handsome, and he knew it. One day, he happened to peer into a river and caught a glimpse of his own reflection. Narcissus fell in love. He became so enamored with his own image that he fell into the river and drowned.

Our culture is constantly harping on Self. Self-esteem, self-help, self-improvement. We seek lovers, but we have no interest in loving, only in being loved. We seek food and drink, but we have no interest in satiation, only in satisfaction.

We consume everything. Clothes, food, television, each other. We consume as if consuming were the same as enjoying.

Maybe I should invest in a life-jacket.

Stay safe this summer, America.

blue-water-background-3

Update (because this story just CONTINUES to piss me off):

There are people who, in the aftermath of the UCSB shooting, defended the actions of mass-murdering, misogynist psychopath Elliott Rodgers. These people exist. They ride the bus. They own swimming pools. They queue politely at the “Please Wait To Be Seated” sign at Chili’s.

This didn’t happen after Columbine. This didn’t happen after Virginia Tech. This didn’t happen after Therrell.

Let’s ignore for the moment that a shooting that left 5 Atlanta high school kids injured barely made the local news. What the heck is wrong with our culture that we’ll defend Rodgers but not that crazy Connecticut guy? What, because Rodgers was a victim? Oh, boo hoo. He couldn’t get a date and had to stay a virgin. Horror of horrors. Guess that justifies ultra-violence. No. It doesn’t.

Rodgers’s actions were indefensible. His videos are indefensible. His entire philosophy was a warm blanket of narcissism coated in a thick layer of hate.

I’m sorry to get this upset on a weekend. Rodgers ruined my Memorial Day, and the stink of him lingers. Rant over. Let us never speak of this again.

 

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And Another Thing…

WARNING: The following post contains adult content. If you’re not ready to grow up or you’re under the age of 17, please proceed with caution.

Liberal arts degrees are not useless. I majored in history and minored in English. I was a few credits short of a philosophy minor. I live at home with my parents and am now unemployed (though I’ll be going back to school for teaching).

Is it easier to get a job as an engineering major or a math major or a science major?

Of course it is.

But I didn’t major in history to get a “good job.” I majored in history because I like history. Learning about history, reading the classics of literature, and studying the works of the great thinkers helped mold me into the caring, thoughtful person I am today. My education was an investment. And it has paid off, I assure you. True, I don’t make much money. My career/adulthood was placed somewhat on hold. But I don’t blame my major for that.

If I’d majored in physics or biology, I may never have been exposed to the works of Descartes, Plato, or Joyce. I do not blame Omar Khayyam for the current economy.

"I don't care what you major in, so long as you're not a whiny little brat about it." --Omar Khayyam, 1128

“I don’t care what you major in, so long as you’re not a whiny little brat about it.” –Omar Khayyam, 1128

Yes, if I’d gone pre-med, maybe I’d have a job by now. Maybe I’d have made a good doctor. I never considered the medical field. Maybe I’ll try that someday.

But my case is different. I’m a pretty clever kid, and I honestly feel I could learn and practice any trade. Maybe that’s arrogance. If so, I apologize.

I also have autism, a neurological condition which affects the way I process information. The way my brain is wired, simple, everyday things may simply not occur to me. I never considered applying for a job at Coca-Cola or one of the telecoms or IT companies in my area. I just didn’t. I didn’t know where to look for work when I first graduated college.

Instead, I started my own freelance grant-writing business and worked on my novel. I’ve had several jobs since college. Many menial. I’ve applied for positions at CNN (mainly their one entry-level Video Journalism position), but I’d had little luck. If teaching doesn’t work out, I’ll probably try applying at other more traditional companies. I don’t know why the thought  didn’t occur to me in my 20s.

But then, I’m a bit like a brontosaurus in that respect. Step on my tail, wait an hour for a response.

Should every college student major in math and science? Should every child aspire to be an engineer?

Yes, the demand is and always has been greater for techies than artists. But if, like me, you have no great love for calculations, why should you torture yourself? Why spend years in a field you can’t stand?

Why not just study what you want and let the chips fall where they may?

I don’t think the problem is liberal arts degrees. I think the problem is lack of drive, lack of vision. Too many of us don’t know who we are or where we’re going or who we’re going to be when we get there. Worse, too many of us aren’t doing a gorram thing to fix that. We’re content to complain and angst all over ourselves. I’m not saying we’re lazy. We’re worse than lazy. We work all day, every day, at jobs we hate for too little money. We think we have no choices because we only want to take easy ones. We’ve lost the desire for adventure. The thrill of taking risks. We’ve forgotten Ms. Frizzle.

We’ve become far too comfortable where we are. The first human beings were nomads. When did we become so eager to sit around all the darn time? Rather than live up to the legacy of the great explorers, lovers, fighters, and artists of the past 3000 years, we seem content with less. We’ve grown so complacent, that far from settling for second-best, we barely reach fourth or fifth-best.

Why are you sending out resumes you know will be junked? Why are you spending hours watching Judy Greer talk about her lady parts on Funny or Die? Why are you still on Facebook at 3 o’clock in the afternoon?

WAKE UP!

STOP WAITING FOR PERMISSION!

Get off my website and go do that thing you’ve been meaning to do all morning.