Friday, April 30, 2010

What? Nobody invited the Tea Baggers?

(In response to the title, Chelsea Handler was accused of making a sex tape, so they've got it covered.)

Gracious me, what a busy time it's been in the world. Oklahoma OK'd (ha!) doctors lying to patients, Arizona revamped and re-legalized the Jim Crow laws, and candidates for British Parliament have stumbled onto their asses. I guess that's what the Brits get for thinking they can make their politics as asinine as their American counterparts. The right to over expensive and overinflated politics will remain ours yet, ye poms! (I'm told "pom" is inoffensive and the equivalent of "yank" so think before shooting the messenger, should the inclination strike you)

I have to say I'm rather ashamed of the Okies for spitting in the face of medical ethics. Well, it's really more of a kick in the crotch, followed by a harsh elbow to the top of the head and then a shot of tobacco-laden saliva while Ethics are writhing on the ground in anguish. But I digress. Apparently, two things have happened:

1. A woman considering an abortion is now required to have an ultrasound first. This law is great because it increases the wait time between conception and abortion and we all know we want that nervous system as developed as possible! Geeze, kids, that's what partial birth abortion is for.
2. A physician has no obligation to inform his pregnant patient of the status of her child. In lay men's terms, if your child has a genetic disease that can be diagnosed during prenatal development, your physician can lie to you and say everything is hunky-dory. When the child is born and you discover you've been had, you can't sue. Even though common sense dictates that lying is legitimate grounds for a malpractice lawsuit.

Well done, Oklahoma. Well done indeed. You who are ahead of so many states when it comes to special education, have shot yourselves in the foot. Specifically, you've shot yourselves in the ankle with a 12-gage shot gun, taking the entire foot clean off.

Here's a scenario: A loving and liberal woman is pregnant with a child who has trisomy-21, affectionately known as down syndrome. She and her husband are so excited about having a happy, completely developmentally healthy bouncing baby boy. Because she's liberal and the doctor is afraid she'll abort, he doesn't tell them. Boom! The water breaks and after 23.5 hours of exhausting labor and passing a 7lb 2oz. human being through her body, the mother discovers her child has down syndrome. Should she have aborted? I personally would say no, so let's suppose that's what she says (heh heh, --oh, sorry). She and her husband still lover their child, but don't know a blessed thing about raising a child with down syndrome. They haven't had time to prepare so the adjustment is much harder and potentially impairs the baby's development further. A completely innocent fault of the parents that COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED BY THE DOCTOR.

Now this is pretty much a straw man on a slippery slope, so let's put it into an actual argument: Parents have the right to know about their children. If information regarding a child under 18 is available, who are the very first people who hear about it? Parents. Why is this any different. How does it feel, Oklahoma? Like you've been in labor for 48hrs, only to give birth to an iguana? I hope so. I call you my brotheren, Oklahoma. Damn it, first the Sooners become glorified lawn aerators and now this? What's next, we bring back the old racism?

Oh, wait...

Thanks Arizona. Thank you for being this month's "Biggest Dick in the Union."
If you're ill-informed, meet the ill-conceived and ill-educated. That's a lot of illness... Thank goodness we just got Obamacare.

Seriously though, here's the gist:
If you look kinda like an illegal immigrant, a cop is obligated to pull you over, stop you on the street, or interrupt paying you under the table to paint his house and demand you show your paperwork. That's right, my even remotely Hispanic-looking friends, the Gestapo has arrived to ask you for your papers, so you'd better be carrying them at all times. Obama and I have to carry our birth certificates everywhere we go, it seems only fair.

Oh, and citizens can sue if they feel the law is not being enforced strictly enough. Arizona? I'd like to introduce you to your residents, who have just spilled McDonald's coffee in their laps.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, a new species: Neanderthalensis Americanis.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go complain about the Mexicans taking all our jobs while I await the arrival of my welfare check, for which I quit my job at the furniture store.

Monday, April 19, 2010

15 Years

I'm not a particularly religious person and I think I've made that clear. Still, I catch myself thinking "I hope there's a Hell so Timothy McVeigh can burn in it."

I know that's unforgiving and, dare I say it, unChristian of me, but what do you say of a man who killed 168 people with no remorse. Of the families who lost victims, he said "You're not the first parent to lose a child. You're not the first grandparent to lose a grandchild. Get over it."

Sometimes, forgiveness just doesn't seem possible. And I don't want the generic drivel everyone tries to administer "It's not for you to judge. Be the bigger person and forgive." If you'd experienced it, I doubt you'd say that. I'm not saying we should hate McVeigh, I'm not an advocate of hate. I'm also not saying we should feel obligated to forgive. Sometimes there just isn't room for it. More importantly, we should not forget.

It would be an insult to the lost 168 to forget. May their rest be peaceful and may those they left behind find solace in what time they had with beating hearts.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Joker: More Reality Than Nightmare

I've been meaning to write this for a while. I would love to sit down with the creaters of the Dark Knight and see how they arrived at the character they created.

Alright, let's get this out of the way: Heath Ledger is one incredible bad ass of an actor. His reinvention of the Joker gave us the best villain that Hollywood has seen since Hannibal Lecter (who isn't technically a villain anyway). The film itself is a well-written examination of human nature that gushes with dark irony.

For many, it is a favorite because of its action and suspense. For me, it is a favorite because of its bold venture into the farthest and darkest corners of humanity. It goes beyond the scope of good and evil and is so steeped in the greatest pains of reality that I exited the theater chilled and unnerved.

What chilled me most was the level of research that seems to have gone into recreating the Joker. He is, in the truest sense of the term, a psychopath, illustrating sociopathy in its most severe form. The unsettling reality of the film is that the Joker has existed.

1. "It's not about money, it's about sending a message. Everything burns." -- "You know the thing about chaos? It's fair."
Enter: Ted Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber. He was an antisocial anarchist, labeled a domestic terrorist. His basic goal was to disrupt order and, more importantly, instill fear. He was also a genius, believed to have an IQ around 167, more than four standard deviations above the norm. He became a professor of mathematics at UC Berekely when he was only 25. He built bombs from scratch and made them impossible to trace. He was cunning, meticulous and conniving. His manifesto makes for an interesting and ironic read.

2. "Some men just want to watch the world burn."
Enter: Dennis Rader gave himself the media name of "B.T.K," which stands for "Bind. Torture. Kill." It's fairly self-explanatory. Taking 10 victims, he terrorized the state of Kansas by sending letters to the media and mocking police. "How many do I have to kill to get a name in the paper or some national attention?" He delighted in the headlines, sending police puzzles revealing his identity and dolls bound in rope and gagged to resemble his victims. When he was not killing or reenacting his crimes, Rader was a middle-aged husband and father who was active in his church. It took 30 years for police to arrest him. When asked about his crimes, he shows a characteristic lack of emotion, speaking of his killing methods as he would a simple task at work. This is a psychopath.

3. "Do I really look like a guy with a plan? I'm like a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it, you know? I just do things."
Enter: Theodore Robert "Ted" Bundy, perhaps the most famous serial killer in American history. A charming, intelligent, maniacal schemer, Bundy was known for his charisma and cunning as a serial killer. Faking some kind of disability, he would lure women to his car, asking for help carrying something. When he opened the passenger door, he pushed them into the space where a seat should have been. He was known to engage in rape and necrophelia. His victim count is estimated to be betwee 30 and 100 with the typical estimate settling on 35. He escaped police custody twice and, rather than going into hiding, he took more lives, unable to restrain himself. Bundy was executed in 1989.

(The following was the most difficult one for me)
4. "Do you want to know why I use a knife? You see, guns are too quick. You can't savor all the little...emotions."
This particular remark from the Joker bears a nauseating resemblance to a statment from a man by the name of Tommy Lynn Sells:

"There's something about the blade, making a slice on the--seeing it peirce open...seeing the gap and watching to sensation of it all. Maybe I became addicted to that. I don't like guns. They're dangerous."

Sells has been definitively convicted of 2 murders, is the chief suspect for 4 others and claims he lost count of his victims when the number passed 70. He ran away from home at 14 and committed his first murder two years later. He was a drifter, hopping on and off trains and earning the nickname "The Cross Country Killer." His methods varied, though as illustrated above, his preferred method was with a knife. He was indiscriminate with his victims, sometimes killing a man, a woman or an entire family. He did not develop a pattern, which is part of the reason he was so difficult to apprehend. His own words illustrate him well: "The people don't matter, it's the crime. It's the sensation of the blood. The rush itself is the high." Sells is currently on death row in Texas. His execution date is currently undetermined.

These men are the Joker's reality. There are many more. I opted not to mention Timothy McVeigh, partially because he was motivated by twisted ideology and partially because my personal history causes the very mention of his name to incite a visceral reaction. Still, I think he manages to illustrate my point. Even as he faced lethal injections, he considered himself the victor because "The score was 168 to 1."

These are the ill of the world, the incredible truth of one of the most raw movies of the decade. The Joker's theatrics are the only thing keeping him one tiny step further into fiction than the real psychopaths who inspired him.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Love, Marriage and the Baby Carriage

I heard an interesting story from a classmate today (we'll call her Sue):
Last Christmas, Sue's younger brothers opened their presents with great delight. One received an X-Box 360, the other received innumerable games for the aforementioned system. Sue opened hers to find baby clothes. Sue is not pregnant. Sue is not married. Sue is not engaged. Sue is not considering getting engaged. See where I'm going with this?

I've mentioned that I work for Housing (I think I have) and I currently have a resident who is 18 and pregnant. This is actually her second pregnancy.

My brother (so I call him) has a friend who is 19 and pregnant for the third time. She lives with her grandmother and has been using hallucinagins regularly until the discovery of the pregnancy (we are currently trying to determine whether or not she is still using so we can figure out if we need to throw her ass into rehab).

People: babies are cute. The smell good and make cute faces and funny noises. They are fun and difficult to raise. They are insanely expensive and they poop a lot. Most of all: they require A LOT of attention.

disclamer: there are plenty of great young moms out there.

Children are a priveledge and a choice, NOT an obligation. The same is true of marriage.
Friends, enemies and moderately bored acquaintences of the world: stop treating these things so lightly! Women, I know you want grandchildren, but think of their welfare and the welfare of your own children. Why not be patient for just a bit longer and let things happen in their own time?

I cannot even count how many people I know who have said "I love you" to some one after 2 weeks or a month (I'm a guilty party myself, but boy, did I learn) and then end the relationship at 6 months or less when they discover who the person truly is.

Let things happen! Don't force them in the moment! It's ok to just be and let others do the same. Date for a while, fall in love for real. Be married for a while, figure each other out so you can have more fun when you're prepared to be parents. I garuntee that if you take a year or two to get to know each other, your first year of marriage will be easier than it would have otherwise. Cross my heart and hope to die.

Wanna hear something crazy? When we get a crush on some one, the brain begins to resemble that of some one with OCD. We, quite literally and clinically, obsess. Ever notice how many relationships end at the 5-6 month mark? It's because the OCD starts to wear off. Mr./Ms. Perfect isn't so perfect anymore and some of the things s/he does begin to drive us crazy. We start fighting. The question is, can I live with those things driving me crazy? How much do they matter in the long-run? How many people out there are MARRIED before this critical six month mark? Plenty. Trust me, I live in Utah. I'm surrounded. How much harder and stressful do you think that makes their first year of marriage. Marriage is already stressful enough (or so I'm told) but add the question of "Can I really be with this person? They're starting to make me nuts." Think of how much more weight that question carries when it's followed by "I'm married to this person. I'm stuck. Shit." Answer that question first. Then start thinking love, marriage and a baby carriage.

*Steps down from soapbox*


Monday, April 5, 2010

My Atheism and You: A Practical Guide

Two posts in one day, you must be a glutton for punishment...

I actually just wanted to take a moment to explain something about myself. I'm an atheist in the sense that pilots are endowed with the gift of flight. It's not a 24/7 thing and it's not an instinct in the way it is for a (insert your favorite gracefully-flying bird species here). If birds were atheists, I'd probably be a kiwi, whatever that means.

No, what I'm trying to say is I walk like a duck, quack like a duck and look like a duck, but I don't fly like one. I'm not a functional atheist. I was raised quite devoutly religious (non-Utah Mormon, ironically enough) so I understand quite well what it is to believe in God and to have a personal relationship with him and with Jesus Christ. That being said, I choose not to believe because of an overwhelming combination of personal experience and need for logical argument and tangible proof.

I am not saying this to spark debate or to say that I am right, I am saying it because it needs to be said. I am a skinny little barely-post-teen who doesn't believe in God and is terrified of discussing that lack of belief with religious people. I am not militant. I am not belligerent. I am not hostile (At least, I try not to be. it's a weird culture I live in, even my Mormon friends think so).

I am posting this because I only want people to think twice when they hear the word "atheist." I am not claiming to be a victim, only that the stigma exists. I know it does. It is even in my own head and it is the reason I often hesitate to claim myself as an atheist. I freely do so now because seriously, this is a blog. Everything is easier when you can do it hiding behind the Internet.

For some reason, many people pair the word "atheist" with "satanism" or "evil," when neither is the case. The former goes against the very definition of atheism, while the latter is as much of an assumption as all gays=effeminate or all conservatives=southern racist ultra-religious wingnuts. Geeze, where's a Vin Diagram when I need one?

I know some effeminate gays and I know some southern racist religious fanatics who can't let it go that they lost the Civil War. I also know some closeted gays who are in the military (you'd never catch their secret with a gaydar) and I know some level-headed conservatives. My father would be one of those level-headed conservative folk. Need another example? I'll point you in the direction of some very peace-loving, law-abiding and woman-respecting Muslims.

I know some kind, generous, soft-hearted atheists. I also know some that are so obnoxious about their lack of belief I can't stand to speak with them more often than once every 2-3 weeks. There are as many variations in stereotyped groups as there are stereotypable patterns.

Disagreement and stereotyping are two completely different things, but I think the two get paired together far too often. I like disagreement when it is not accompanied by the stereotypes and is simply open discussion. I don't like disagreement with a motive. Don't talk religion if you want to convert me, I don't have any intention of trying to strip you of your religion. I want to know why you believe what you believe and what it is founded on. What makes you tick? You can ask the same questions and we'll get along just fine.

Want to know more, ask. Otherwise, be warned that my atheist stance will pop up in my blog, but I have no intention of ranting about how stupid I think religion is. I have better things to do and that seems a bit hypocritical to rant idiotically about how idiotic something is.

You should also be warned, I swear sometimes and make inappropriate statements. It's part of being a writer, you figure out what tools work and when to use them.

Is that all out of the way now? Super.


p.s. Please don't keep caged birds. It makes them living oxymorons.

A Bit More Intro (bored reading? I'm bored writing)

Like any good optimist, I keep a mental catalog of reasons my life sucks. Beneath these reasons are sub-lists, so here is a snippet of my catalog (we're working on implementing the Dewey Decimal System for better organization):

Reason #92 -Distance Relationship
a. commuting
b. gas money
c. untraceable personality changes
d. no on-call booty
e. limited spontaneity

Etcetera, etcetera. Now that I've whined, let me clarify that I am joking (mostly) because at the end of every day, it's worth the money, the commuting and the limits. Even more, it's a testament to the individuals involved when one changes so radically (having only hope that it will be ok) and the other says "I fell in love with your personality, but I'm more attracted to you now than I was when we met." That is one of the most liberating feelings in the human existence, topped only by realizing you are who you are, regardless of what the people around you want. At the end of the day, the optimist in me hopes that everyone is sleeping next to some one who loves them for the big things and in spite of the things that just don't matter.

That's enough mush, good God. The Neanderthal in me requires that I write mushy junk while the feminist begins a tirade.

Speaking of tirades, what is the best medium for releasing such unbridled, unjustified anger? Why a public one, of course! And while we're at it, let's make it a popular one, like FaceBook!
Kids, don't rant on facebook. My mom'll see it and she won't be happy.

Hopefully the quality and content of the blog will improve over time. I'm still working on making things a bit more interesting and a bit less personal (because my personal life just isn't that interesting). Blogs seem to exist for purposes of vanity, more than anything else, but who really wants to hear that I'm a bankrupt soon-to-be college graduate with a useless degree, living as an atheist in Utah?

I guess the problem is that somewhere out there, I have an alter ego that is a screenwriter who has perfected the craft I'm still practicing (and if you say it's Diablo Cody, I swear I'll find you and smack you). I have this really annoying habit of narrating my own life and sometimes looking at it through an outsider's perspective. The result is that I think life is even more comedic than it is interesting and I want to find a way to cast my lens over others' view of the world. See? Vanity.

Anyway, I'll probably be writing about whatever the hell I desire in the moment, but as I get used to this I hope it'll get more intentional and more, well, readable.


Friday, April 2, 2010

A (less-so than intended) Brief Introduction

Here is just a short introduction.

Feel perfectly free to follow me if you'd like, this blog simply exists to do whatever it is that blogs do.

I suppose I'll tell you a little bit about myself. I am a very cheerful atheist, living in Utah. This sometimes causes me to suspect that I am living in the Truman Show, as I believe the situation itself is ripe for sitcom parody. In all seriousness though, I try not to have hard feelings against the people out here. I'm a southern girl by nature, finally coming to claim Arkansas as my motherland and I claim those overly hospitable chums of the South with absolute pride. We ARE sorry about the racism, its extermination is a work in progress.

I like to say I am liberal because it's a terribly fun thing to say in Utah, but the truth is that I'm as indepedent as they come when we're talking about politics. Actually, that's probably true for everything else. I'm a fence sitter who has found a delightful alternative to offering political solutions: demand them from everyone who whines about the Obama Administration! By no means am I frolicing with unicorns through a field of daisies over how the country is moving along, but for God's sake, it's finally moving! I've decided we'll never be 110% happy about our government, so it's just better to do what we can and concern ourselves with being happy about our lives.

That being said, politics falls on my list of favorite sports, which is unsurprisingly short. The others include Hockey and Football, because no Arkansan can call the South home without having football as a favorite sport. My love for hockey is simple: my college sucks at football, so I need another contact sport during that season to ease the pain.

The most vital things you need to know about me are probably these:
I'm a writer with no idea of her own style and a person with a very intentional style of living. I'm a lover by choice and a fighter by necessity, utilizing both to get through the day. I've always wanted to be an artist, but I'm just not fit for it. Instead, I've always painted with words because I only prefer to publish projects (yes, that includes blogs) that are at least slightly worth reading.
I'm an atheist who has loved and lost God and who has every respect for His followers with good intentions and sweet hearts. I get by with a little help from my friends.

One last thing, it's probably worth it to explain why I've titled this blog "The Neanderthal Diaries."
It has a lot of personal roots, but I'll just outline the ones that matter to an objective reader. "Neanderthal" is a common term for someone who acts primitively, so I've adopted the nickname half in jest. It is also an ancient relative of modern homo sapiens and I have a morbid fascination with evolution. Finally, the Neanderthal became extinct because of his inability to adapt; it is a warning to us. Life is about adaptation on a daily basis, so here's to rewriting the Neanderthal's history to give him one final chance to adapt. Here's to giving in, just a little, to our primitive side.