The True Story Of…Part IV: The Final Destination

Well, this is it. The final 25 films of the top 100 documentaries that I have been watching on Netflix.  I have to say, that this experience has taught me a lot. I have wandered into cultures that I would never had thought of. I have seen pieces of history that I would never have even thought would have actually happened. I have seen horrors that I would have never thought humanly possible. I have seen beauty that I didn’t know could exist. This whole thing started off as a simple “dare”, but ended up being a life experience that I will cherish.

Now let’s look at the final films.

76.  FrackNation: I updated the last post and I hope anyone that reads this saw it. This really tore down a lot of the alleged false data that the film maker in “Gasland” used to promote his film. The film maker here is an investigative reporter from the UK and the film was backed by a KickStarter promotion. Basically, this guy goes all Mythbusters on the film “Gasland” and tears it to shreds. What really kills me is that the director/creator of “Gasland” repeatedly denies comments or interviews when he learns that this guy is making a film regarding some of the content in “Gasland”.  Again, I suggest watching both films and drawing your own conclusions.

77. Restrepo: Holy crap. I loved this film for one reason: it’s integrity. It didn’t cut scenes or hide shield you from the horrors and sorrows that war bring. This film will scare you, will horrify you, and will make you cry. If it doesn’t do any of these things it’s because you lived them (In that case thank you). I definitely recommend watching this film.

78. Hell and Back Again: I watched this film, still recovering from Restrepo, and was astounded by the pure hell that this guy went through to go through recovery. It’s a good look into what a soldier’s return home can look like.

79. Out of the Clear Blue Sky: This 9/11 documentary just made me not only remember all of the feelings that I had on that day: the fear, the confusion, the anger, but it also made me feel the loss that this man suffered. Cantor Fitzgerald was a financial firm that lost 658 employees in the 9/11 attacks. The story is told by (among others) the CEO of the firm. The way this man grieved openly in public, on TV, at meetings was just heart-wrenching. I would definitely recommend watching this.

80. First Comes Love: OK, let me sum this film up: 41 year old woman wants a baby, goes to gay friend for sperm, gay friend says sure but he ain’t gonna be a daddy, 41 year old’s father is dead set against this. 41 year old’s best friend says she will help out because this is an awesome plan. 41 year old gets pregnant. 41 year old’s father tells her to get an abortion and that she’s an idiot. 41 year old meets a guy and falls in love. 41 year old has baby. Gay friend sees baby and can’t put baby down, 41 year old’s father sees baby and is totally in love with his grandson and denies ever saying a bad thing about the pregnancy, kid is now being raised by at least 4 people.  I just saved you 1 hour and 45 minutes of your life.

81. After Tiller: Let me just start by saying that I am going to strongly suggest that you watch this film. Even as someone that is Pro-Choice, I have always had an issue with 3rd Trimester Abortions, apparently because I didn’t know what they really were. This film not only will enlighten you on what they are, but the history behind them, the current struggle with them and why it’s important to fight for a woman’s right to be able to have access to a doctor that can perform them. This film changed my mind, enlightened me and again, I strongly suggest you watch this film.

82. Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story:  So, all of this hype about Caitlin Jenner and we never heard about this lady? Kristin transitioned from male to female and was a member of SEAL Team 6. Her medal accomplishments give her the rank of a 1 Star Admiral. She is an American Hero, yet Jenner got all of the “brave” comments. Sorry, she wasn’t brave compared to Kristin. You go get shot at, then come home and make the decision to transition and then tell all of your SEAL & Marine friends about it on top of the media and then come talk to us about brave. I loved her story, and I suggest watching this film.

83. Mala Mala: This film shows the life and lack of civil liberties for the transgendered community in Puerto Rico. It was a bit slow and really lagged. It finally picks up at the end with the civil rights aspect. There were some interesting bits of information here and there about transgendered people; however this film was just slow. If you are curious about that community, I am sure that there are better sources.

84. Beware of Mr. Baker: For years I thought that Keith Moon was the all time rabid drummer. Moon was the crazy man.  That was until I watched this film about Cream’s Ginger Baker.  Holy shit, not only was he insane but he was the archetype that all rock/metal (and really anything related) drummers were based on. The way he came up with the beat, the rhythm, and the insanity he brought all out shined Moon, and anyone else that would come down the road. I loved this doc, and you should also check it out.

85. Pumping Iron: *sigh* … OK, we are going to get through this. This is about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno  as they go for Mr. Olympia. If you like body building, or need further proof that Arnold is an asshole, go watch this.

86. Bigger, Stronger, Faster: *sigh* … We will get through this one, too. Again, it’s about body building, well…more about sports in general and the use of anabolic steroids to enhance performance. It gives facts vs. fiction of steroid use and almost draws to the point of: is a matter of health or ethics? Again, if you are a sports guy/gal; then go for it.

87. This Ain’t California: Wow, this was an awesome film (and a welcome break from muscles and steroids) about a sub-culture that is close to my heart. It’s about skaters during the 70’s & 80’s in East Germany. What they went through, and how they made things happen. I loved it.

88. Exit Through the Gift Shop: I love the concept of “Banksy”. It’s like a shadowy figure that wages guerrilla warfare on the established order with art. I love Banksy’s pieces and style. I loved seeing other artists (I swear that I have seen the “OBEY” art posted around Fort Worth, TX) and hearing how they have come up with their concepts. I really enjoyed this film and if you are an art fan on any level, I would suggest watching it.

89. Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story: OK, let me just say this: I TRIED. I watched this film 3 times. 1st time: fell asleep; 2nd time: Made it a bit farther, but fell asleep; 3rd time: Made it all of the way through, and just didn’t care. I just could not find any interest in this film’s subject. Maybe I just didn’t get it.

90. Print the Legend:  Y E S! Finally a film about something that my little nerd heart is curious about: 3D Printing! I was amazed at the all of the turmoil that had happened with Form Labs & Makerbot.  Plus, just taking a deeper plunge into the 3d printing world was amazing. I would recommend this film, just because it’s an amazing technology.

91. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry: This guy is a pure bad ass. He is China’s “Banksy” but he doesn’t hide his face. He want’s you to see him. He want’s you to know who it is that’s giving you the finger. I love his message and his art. This film also gives you a glimpse into the life of the people in mainland China. You gotta see this film.

92. Jiro Dreams of Sushi: I have been wanting to sit down and watch this for a long time. I am so glad that this was on this list and I finally got around to doing it. This man is an artist. He is a true craftsman, and at 85 he still doesn’t believe that he has mastered the art of sushi making. It was amazing to see him and his sons work and create these dishes. I would suggest watching this film because it is amazing.

93. More Than Honey:  One thing that is touched on in “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is that a lot of fish are disappearing due to over-fishing. This movie approaches another self-inflicted ecological wound regarding the bee population. You have probably heard more than once from your “hippy-friend” that the bees are dying out (man); however most people cannot tell you why. This film will not only go into that but dispel a lot of other “bee myths” that I found intriguing. I liked this film, and I would suggest watching it and even with the kids.

94.Microcosmos: OK,  I don’t even know where to begin on this one. First, the opening music is creepy as fuck. Its small children singing in very soft low voices and its just fucking unsettling. Then you get a small narration at the beginning and that’s it. The rest is just really amazing shots of insects that make you feel like Ant-Man and you have no idea what you are looking at. It’s amazing images and sound, and would probably be amazing to watch when your high.

95. Seen it.

96. The Whale: This film was amazing and was narrated by Ryan Reynolds.  So, it was kind of funny imagining Deadpool telling you the story of little lost orca that befriended an entire village.  This film was funny at times and also had deep sad moments. I won’t lie, I cried several times during the film. I definitely recommend this film, simply because it is an amazing story.

97.  The Queen of Versailles:  This is a story in which it is hard to feel sorry for the characters. These people live in such excess, and when things get tight they get lowered to a realistic level (more or less) and you can’t feel for them. If you do watch it, you will know what I mean.

98. Tabloid: Holy shit! Just watch this film. You will never see a movie that includes: Mormons, international kidnapping plots, alleged prostitution, and cloning pets. The best part is that this is a true story.

99. Vernon, Florida: I am from a small town, and I have lived in even smaller towns. This film is about locals from a small town and it is a series of laughs and WTF? moments all in a one hour film. There is no educational value in this, other than seeing what small town life in the south can be like.

100. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father: I have seen this film multiple times and each time I see it I cry more tears than the last. If you have never seen this film. Please go watch it.

 

And that’s a wrap! I have completed this Top 100 challenge! I hope now that I can find something else to watch on TV and that this hasn’t completely ruined my brain for mindless shows that are just for entertainment value.

If you have been reading these posts, I want to thank you for keeping up with me as I completed this task and I hope that you enjoy some ( if not all ) of the films that I have written about. I hope my reviews and opinions might have been helpful.

Again, thanks for reading.

The Harsh Truth of Everything

We are cat-sitting for a friend that is going through a divorce and is having a terrible time with… well everything. So,  I am in a self imposed banishment from my office where the two cats are staying. So,  all of my posts will be via mobile phone until further notice.

In the past few days,  I have lost what little hope that I had regained for humanity. Seeing the lack of compassion with my dealings with the unemployment office and hers with trying to find housing has just destroyed my faith that humanity has found its compassion again. This was finalized this morning when my wife was told that she makes “too much money”  on her disability to claim additional benefits.

Basically,  if you get sick,  injured or have a mental illness that degrades your ability to work. You’re first class fucked.

The True Story of… Part 3: Beyond Thunderdome

Wow, I came to this faster than I expected.  I almost can’t believe that I am already posting about the 3rd quarter of the top 100 list that I have been watching. I actually checked 3 times to make sure that I didn’t skip any of these.

Its also hard to believe that I have watched approximately 75 documentary films on such a range of subjects, some that I would have never even thought of watching or probably have even come across. I feel that this entire experience has enriched my life and given me an experience that I will always look back on. As corny as that sounds, and especially when you think “You just watched a bunch of movies”, it’s more than that. Documentaries are stories; they are the story of one person’s or a group of people’s experience or point of view and you are the story’s listener. Movies are entertainment; Films are experiences.

Let me tell you about my latest experiences:

51. How to Survive a Plague:  This was a story of the aids epidemic in the 80’s. It tells the story about how the LGBT community was basically left to die by the Reagan administration. Like any minority community, the LGBT community found ways to fix the broken system and try to survive.  It was saddening to see these people basically left to die by bureaucracy.

52. We Were Here: This was the story of the beginning of AIDS in the San Francisco area. It tells the horrifying beginnings of this disease and it’s impacts on the gay community of San Francisco. Again, like “How to Survive a Plague”, it also shows the community coming together and trying to survive what was the very beginnings of the AIDS Epidemic.

Honestly, I recommend watching both of these films; however I would recommend watching “We Were Here” first, and then “How to Survive a Plague”. After watching these in “list order”, I wish I had done the same.

53. All American High Revisited: Basically, High School in the US in 1984 with a Finn exchange student then at the VERY end of the film they play catch up after 20+ years with kids from the film. It was entertaining, and I cringed at some points at the 80’s fashion. I liked it and found it entertaining/cringe-worthy.

54. Maidentrip: OK, this is one of the films that I: 1) Wanted to see & (2) Wanted to right about. This little girl is fucking amazing. She just goes and gets a boat, has her dad help her get it sea-worthy, fights the courts in Holland to let her sail, and BOOM! She is gone! She fucking sails seas that seasoned sailors nuts shrivel up at. She is amazing and the ending, just floored me. YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS!

55. Undefeated: Did I mention that I don’t like sports? Well, I don’t. So, I really don’t want to sit through a 2 hour film about teams, and practice, and coach’s big speech. Fuck that. So far, every time I have said something like: “I am going to hate this film” is when I end up loving it. This film is a typical story. An underfunded, inner-city, football team that is struggling. You have seen it, you have heard it, but dammit if this film didn’t get to me and I ended up loving it. I won’t say it is a must watch, but if you ARE a sports fan; then yeah you need to sit down and watch this film (bring tissue).

56. Medora: Unlike the previous sports doc, I couldn’t care less about these kids, this team or this town. I didn’t see the same drive and determination as I did with other kids. I didn’t see the same fire as with the other coach. [SPOILER ALERT] Which is probably why the team lost so goddamn always. Honestly, I didn’t see the point of this film, or why it was on the list.

57. Rich Hill: OK, one of the other films that I was waiting to write about. This film highlights the lives of 3 kids. 2 kids have behavioral problems, 1 kids parents are just not based in reality and don’t know how to get their shit together. The two kids that have behavioral problems, neither are medicated or in any form of treatment. One of the kid’s parents pisses me off to no end because she thinks at the age of 12/13 that he should be able to manage his own psychiatric problems and medication and basically just lets him go, but screams at him when he makes mistakes. There’s a difference between a kid being a little shit and needing help. What it did show to me is that the issues that come with poverty, aren’t a racial thing because these kids are all white, and this is in a rural white town. It was good to see some diversity & I would definitely recommend watching this film.

58. White Earth: Wow, this was eye opening to an issue that is happening now in North Dakota with the oil industry. Apparently a year or so ago, mass drilling operations started in ND. So, a lot of people and their families migrated to there. It’s an interesting piece of recent history that has occurred that no one really has mentioned.

59. The Overnighters: During the mass migration of people seeking jobs in North Dakota, a lot of people were sleeping in their cars. Hotels, Motels, and even RV parks were filled due to the massive influx of people into these small towns. A church pastor starts housing people at his church and a complete shit-storm starts because of it. I honestly could believe some of it, and some of it I could not. The absolute hell that this man goes through to do what he believes is right is commendable. I honestly couldn’t believe some of the things that happened in this film.

I recommend watching both of these; however you should go ahead and watch these two in “list order”.

60. Detropia: Wow. The state of decay that Detroit is in is horrific. Little to no manufacturing work is there anymore and over 60% of the population has left the city. The city is broke, and the state had to eventually take over management of the city. Its sad that one of the largest automotive manufacturing cities in America is now a ghost town.

61.Caucus: This was the sideshow that was the Republican Iowa Caucus in 2012. It was fun to see all of these “next presidents of the United States” parade about, spout non-sense, praise the lord  and eat corn dogs.

62. The Square: This film actually brought back some memories. I remember sitting and watching these videos of the violence of Tahrir Square during the revolution. Seeing people being shot down by their own government, being beaten and then having it happen all over again, and again. It’s this kind of resilience and patriotism that you have to admire. I would definitely recommend watching this film.

63. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room: I thought I knew the story about Enron. Horrible investments, fraud, and everyone lost their 401k. This film shows that’s just the tip-top of the iceberg. The way these guys fucked up and fucked over is amazing. It is a beautiful painting of bullshit and greed. You need to watch this film.

64: Kids for Cash: Wow… I am still wrapping my head around this one. I actually posted another post (that is extremely long, just FYI) because it just infuriated me that not only could this kind of thing could happen, but that there are elements in the schools today that elevate the risk factor of the threat of a child becoming part of the criminal justice system for issues that shouldn’t be involved in the courts. If you have a child in school, are a teacher, or school administrator then you should definitely watch this film. Matter of fact, just everyone watch this film.

65. The House I Live In :  I have never thought about why drugs are “bad”. How did we decide that heroine is “bad”. How did we decide that cocaine is “bad”. This film shows how the war on drugs is a farce, and how other factors came into play when deciding that certain drugs are “bad”.  It was informative and had a lot of history in it, along with personal stories from people in prison.  I would spend the time to watch this film.

66. The Farm: Angola USA:  This was the story about Angola prison in Louisiana and some of the people in it. I have never seen such care for people as I did in the COs and the Warden, and such sorrow but acceptance in the prisoners. It did raise the question of how we spend money on our prisons and how that the current way things are done is completely flawed (And that’s coming from the COs and the Warden). It really changed my view point and way of thinking on the penal system.

67. Evolution of a Criminal: I loved this film. I loved the way it was done. I loved the subject matter and I loved the story that it told. I am not going to tell you anything about this film. That’s right, nothing. You need to go watch it.

68. Making a Murderer – Generally, I skip the films that I have already seen and chances are that you have already seen this one or at least heard about it. If you have not seen this film series (yes series) then you need to. You will never see the criminal justice system in the same light again. This series will leave you angry and crushed. You have been warned.

69. Which Way Home: This film really did something to me. It moved me to tears, it infuriated me, and it confused me all at the same time.  First the description is completely wrong (SOME SPOILERS):

This documentary follows three children who make a dangerous trek through Mexico en route to the U.S. border, hoping to reunite with their parents.

It starts with 2, both have left home and their parents in Central America. Then they pick up 2 more that either have left their parents or do not have parents, if I remember only one is from Mexico the other is also from Central America (I could be wrong). So, none of these kids are trying to reach their parents (Actually, I think 1 is but he doesn’t know where he is in the US or if he is still there). (SPOILER ALERT) The film crew then finds two other VERY YOUNG small children but looses them. This made me almost sob, and definitely cry.

The thing that infuriated me was while interviewing these kids and some adults along the illegal train ride through Mexico. Everyone seemed to have this sense of entitlement to come into the United States. Now, I am not anti-immigration. I have a buddy of mine that has a wife that is going through immigration/citizenship right now. Yes, it’s long and costly. Our immigration policy needs an overhaul; however opening the borders or giving rights to illegal immigrants isn’t an answer in my book. If you want to come to America, awesome! The line starts over there.  The other thing that infuriated me was the parents of the kids. They were banking that their pre-teen child would survive the 1000+ mile trip to the border and then survive crossing it (which usually means crossing the dessert).  One kid’s mom was highly disappointed that her child didn’t make it and now she couldn’t “get ahead in life” for her other kids and new husband.

This film confused me because you have these kids that are trying to escape shitty home lives, shitty situations and try to make a better life; however we have people here that are citizens that are trying to do the same thing, we have refugees that are trying to do that same thing and we have people that are going through immigration legally that are trying to do the same thing; however it’s hard to think about this when you are seeing these kids go through all of this hardship right on your TV screen. Thus the confusion. As you can see, this film really provoked a lot of thought and feelings in me. I suggest watching it and seeing what it does for you.

70. These Birds Walk : This film was an interesting subject and shed light on the issues of child-rights and treatment in Pakistan. There aren’t a lot of surprises, to be honest, but it does give you hope that there are people out there trying to do good.

71. Call Me Lucky:  Before this film, I couldn’t have told you who Barry Crimmins was or why he was important. After watching this film, I now want to see every bit of stand-up he has ever done, and every speech he has ever made. This man took personal tragedy and made it into a weapon. He took on things, from the Government, to AOL and held his ground. He is an interesting and inspiring man. I am glad that I watched this film.

72.  Girl Model: I always knew that the modeling industry was horrible. It was a machine that physically and emotionally devoured women and shat them out empty & broken. This film is just about that, but with young teenage girls. I have never seen such soullessness in a human before. It’s like they were vipers preying on some type of small bird. It turned my stomach. If you have a daughter, and she wants to be a model, sit down and watch this film with her. If you have a daughter that is currently trying to get into modeling…stop and watch this film.

73. Iris:  Like sports, I could also care less about fashion. I don’t care about trends, whats in, whats out. Fuck it. I am wearing a shirt and jeans with my All-Stars. That’s if I am wearing pants that day at all. This film goes into the life of 93 year-old fashion icon Iris Apfel. This lady is a riot! What she does with clothing and accessories is awesome, and I like the stuff she comes up with; however why she has a cult following or is an icon I don’t know. This is a delightful film about a little lady, with too many clothes and accessories, a cult following in the fashion industry, who knows how to haggle and her and her husband are funny as hell. It was a welcome break to all of the soul crushing that occurred in the previous few films.

74. Mad Hot Ballroom: This film pissed me off within the first 6 minutes. Apparently, ballroom dancing is a required class in elementary schools in NYC and is a 10 week course. I do not understand why this is required. You are forcing children to learn a skill that they will (more than likely) not need later in life. Want to make a class mandatory in elementary schools? Try typing/keyboarding.  To play devil’s advocate, it did give them some social skills that most kids do not have at their ages; however another thing popped up that just pisses me off about how we reward kids. I cannot stand the idea of the participation trophy. The way this was set up was that all of the kids that lost the semi-finals were 2nd place (Silver Level) and they got ribbons and gift bags. All of the kids that advanced were 1st place (Gold Level) and they got to advance, plus got ribbons and gift bags. This continues all the way to the finals, with the exception the winner got a big ass trophy.  Even if this film had none of the above things that just grind my gears, I still wouldn’t tell you to watch it.

75. Gasland: This was one film that hit close to home, because I live in a town on the Barnett Shale and I have one of these wells about 500′ behind my house. Actually, my town was kind of famous for awhile because we started having earthquakes. From Nov 2013 to Jan 2014 my little town had 27 earthquakes that were about magnitude 2 , a few were higher. These were the first earthquakes that have been felt in my area in 150 years. After testing, The Texas Railroad Commission shut down 2 of the waste water wells. We haven’t had an earthquake since. So, when the film starts going into other details about the dangers of fracking, I paid attention. What this film showed, horrified me. I really think everyone should see this film and pay attention to it.

(UPDATE)

I am currently watching #76 FrackNation and it is a must watch RIGHT AFTER “Gasland”. Its basically the counter point to that film and it is something that you must watch after. This film blatantly goes for the throat to dispel all of the key points of “Gasland”. The film maker (who was backed by Kickstarter donations) goes to show you that a lot of the images and points used in “Gasland” were false. Again, I think that both films should be watched and your own conclusions drawn.

 

I am now on the final films. The last 25(ish) and then I am done. I don’t know what the hell I am going to do after I finish this list.  Maybe I will start my own, who knows.

 

 

 

Bluetooth Earpiece

I am not having a great morning.

I have been contacting my caseworker with the law firm that is representing me in my disability claim about my unemployment. For a week or so now,  I have been getting the “I am checking on that”  line and it is getting frustrating.

The thing is,  I can’t make more than a certain amount of money in order to claim disability; however,  to my understanding,  that’s only if I am working. I am trying to get some understanding in this, but I feel like I am getting the runaround.

I am supposed to request my first payment from unemployment today and I don’t know what to do. I called my case worker and popped my morning Clonazepam. So, now I am high and sitting on the couch just waiting for the phone to ring while I type this out on my phone.

Hopefully I can figure this shit out and this whole process will be over soon.

To Protect & Educate?

From time to time when I am watching a film, it can really move me. That’s one thing I like about documentaries, they produce a genuine emotion. Sure, movies can do that too; however you know it’s not real. Sure you wanted the girl to finally confess her love to the boy vampire and when it happens, you feel joy (or nauseated), but you know deep down that it’s not real and that joy is hollow. Not that it doesn’t mean anything to you. Trust me, 38 year old me still gets that little cold shiver when Darth Vader says “No, I am your father.” just like 4 year old me did when I see that scene in “The Empire Strikes Back”  and the same giddiness when the Slave-1 takes off from Bespin with one carbonite frozen Han Solo in the cargo hold, but those feelings pale in comparison to the emotions that some of these films that I have been watching of the past few weeks have made me feel. The emotion that they provoke are just like their subject matter: true.

The film that I finished that prompted me to come and start typing this out was called “Kids for Cash” it regarding the Luzerne County juvenile court scandal involving Judge Mark Ciavarella.  The film shed light on a few things that I have to get out of my head and all of these points I cannot believe actually happen here in the US. I don’t know why I get shocked by these type of things anymore (Especially since the film I watch before that was about the Enron scandal premeditated plan to fuck over EVERYONE) because I know these things happen. I know they happen because I read the news, I see these types of films, and I maybe I am just too damn observant, but it still is something that I think we all need to be aware of.

Here’s what I am talking about:

The beginning of the film starts with a blurb about the UN Treaty called “Convention on the Rights of the Child” that was done up in 1989 and that every country in the UN had signed and ratified the treaty except 2 (it may have said 3 but I don’t recall the 3rd) Somalia, and the United States. That was at the time of the film, Somalia has now signed & ratified this treaty since. The US has signed it; however we have not ratified it (with the exception of two optional clauses) and we are the ONLY nation in the UN to not have ratified this treaty.

(https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=IND&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en)

You then start learning about the scandal and the key elements, but then the film goes into something that I have not given a lot of thought about either in schools or in the world itself. And that is the Zero – Tolerance policy.

I see this all the time. On bill boards, on police cars, on the Internet; however I have never really put a lot of thought into it other than “this means there is no tolerance for X, so I better not do X“. After watching this film and now reading up on what the Zero-Tolerance (aka: Zero-Logic) policies in schools are, they are quite possibly the most insane thing that I have ever heard of. Now I get some of these, but we still have to use our fucking heads! Zero-tolerance about dealing heroine at school, zero-tolerance about about chasing people with an axe at school, and Zero-Tolerance about about firearms at school I get these types of policies. However, I still think we should let little Jenny tell us why she is dealing black-tar heroine during Eng. 4 or why Robert decided to bring that rocket launcher to school today. Instead, this shit happens:

  • After bringing a Cub Scouts dinner knife to school to eat his lunch, a six-year-old boy was ordered to attend an alternative school for students with behavioral problems for nine weeks.
  • A third-grader was expelled for a year because her grandmother sent a birthday cake, and a knife for cutting the cake, to school. The teacher used the knife to cut the cake, and then reported her to the authorities as having a dangerous weapon. The expulsion was overturned and led to a state law that gave districts the ability to, “on a case-by-case basis, modify the terms of the expulsion.
  • A second grader in Baltimore, Maryland, was suspended in March 2013 for biting a Pop-Tart into the shape of a mountain, which school officials mistook for a gun.
  • A kindergartner in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was suspended in March 2010 for making a finger gun.

Schools and faculty go ape shit over these policies. Schools because they don’t want to be liable for anything and face lawsuits, District/State/Federal Scrutiny, the media, or loose any type of funding. The faculty doesn’t want to get their hands on anything because they will have to face the parents, risk loosing their job, or can’t do anything due to restrictions put on them in regards to punishment by the school/district/state/Fed. Government. So, now we have these Zero-Tolerance policies that cover everything (and fix nothing) imaginable and the best part is that it requires zero-thought. You did X ? Well, that comes under our Zero-Tolerance policy against “all things kids may do” and we automatically do Y as a punishment, end of discussion. It requires no discussion, the adult doesn’t have to think, the child isn’t allowed to speak and the parents can take it to the school board regarding the policy and go through a lengthy battle or find another way of educating their kid. It’s Zero-though, Zero-discussion, Zero-Options and Zero-logic involved. The worst part is, the kid doesn’t get why they are being punished. Even the 15-year old angst ridden emo kid. Why? Because his brain is still developing! It will continue until he is about 23. That’s why kids are “dumb” their brain is still growing and developing. You still have to help them and correct them. Instead, let’s just make a policy that is devoid of thought and just goes right to us disciplining the child as hard as we can.

That’s if your kid isn’t arrested first and you aren’t called by the principal, but the cops.

I remember this boogeyman showing up at my school in my senior year. All of the sudden, in 1995, we had a cop roaming our school. I don’t remember if he was called an SRO. I just remember he was only a few years older than us, and not very bright or very nice (unless you were blonde, had a nice rack and were in a short skirt). He was there to root out the “massive drug problem” in our school, and end all of the “violence”. So,he was there to stop the kids who dropped acid, keep us from going to Taco Bell at lunch and stop the rare fight intense staring contest with angry looks and heavy breathing between the stoners and ropers (cowboys); OK, got it. Mainly, he chatted up girls, handed out tickets for smoking on campus, kept me from my burrito and played hackey sack with the acid kids that he was supposed to be busting for being “the drug problem”.

Now days, there is an SRO in all of schools here. The High School, both Junior Highs and one that tours the Elementary schools (If I heard correctly) in my town. In the movie ( and in life) the SRO is the school’s henchman. He’s the guy that can enforce discipline and keep the school’s hands clean. Also, with broad broad zero-tolerance policies, he can also exercise his/her power as a law enforcement officer and detain/arrest your child. This isn’t something I am telling you to scare you, it’s just a fact. I went to find what the definition of a SRO’s role actually is. The website for the National Association of School Resource Officers had nothing. They had no definition of what their role is in your child’s schools, just mainly how to become a member and some resource material. Then I went to a couple of other sites (that weren’t just PDF’s) and found these two plain English definitions:

Roles of SRO:

Law Enforcer
Informal Counselor
Educator
Emergency Manager

(http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/default.asp?Item=2687)

 

We have defined a School Resource Officer as a sworn officer assigned to a school on a long-term basis trained to perform three major roles: law enforcement officer, law-related counselor and law-related educator..

(http://cte.jhu.edu/courses/ssn/sro/ses1_act3_pag1.shtml)

Did you see it?

Both definitions (and I am willing to bet most definitions) of the role of the SRO have Law Enforcer as the first part of their roles. They are not their to mentor your children, or be their buddy that will council them in that time of crisis; they are cops and they are there to be cops. Now, I know there have been some heinous tragedies at our schools and no one wants another one of those; however a constant police presence in schools will not prevent that. (Neither will arming the faculty or any other crazy schemes I have heard) What it does do is send more kids to jail, even for minor and non-violent offences. These kids are impacted by this, some do not even graduate because of it, and some end up in their own tragedy and either develop a mental disorder or end up taking their own life due to the trauma.

There was an article written in Time about if SRO’s in schools did more harm than good. The article eventually mentions two opposing studies. One that shows that students will be involved in the criminal justice system for every offence that occurs in schools (which I can believe due to the talks that I have had with my child-having friends) and the counter study that the National Association of School Resource Officers quotes on their site that states:

Supporting these national statistics is a 2009 study by Matthew T. Theriot, comparing 13 high and middle schools that had an SRO and 15 schools without an SRO within one school district in the Southeastern United States over a three-year period––2003-04, 2004-05, and 2005-06. 53 When the results were controlled for economic disadvantage, the presence of an SRO led to a 52.3% decrease in the arrest rate for assaults and a 72.9% decrease in arrests involving possession of a weapon on school property.

So, of course I went looking for these studies and read them both (I now have a headache, you’re welcome).

The first report by Jason P. Nance basically tells us that the more contact that kids have with an SRO, the more likely that they will end up being arrested. When I read the paper (Its a legal paper and I am not a lawyer, but it mostly made sense), I should say that your child will more than likely end up being arrested and not be given their rights, because they are at school.

Despite the Supreme Court’s pronouncement that students do not “shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate,” students’ constitutional protections with respect to investigation,detainment, interrogation, and punishment at school are quite limited…courts consistently hold that a school official may question a student without providing Miranda warnings, regardless of the possibility that the
school official might later refer that student to law enforcement for wrongdoing…

So, if you do something as nefarious as say, violate the school dress code. The teacher that catches you can start questioning you about whatever, and if you don’t talk or answer their questions; then you are now being insubordinate. You’re not exercising your 5th amendment rights, your breaking the rules and adding to your punishment.

Nance’s report also goes into the foolishness that kids are being arrested for and again, I have heard stories, I posted examples above  and I have YouTube.

For example, police officers stationed at schools have arrested students for texting, passing gas in class, violating the school dress code, stealing two dollars from a classmate, bringing a cell phone to class, arriving late to school, or telling classmates waiting in the school lunch line that he would “get them” if they ate all of the potatoes.

To be clear, these mishandlings are not limited only to high school and middle school students. In 2005, the police arrested five-year old Ja’eisha Scott after she threw a temper tantrum…

Yep… a five-year old:

 

Nance’s study finds that regular contact with SROs leads to more arrests, but not just for major things like weapons, or drugs. He means for everything! Your kid farted in class? Get the SRO. Your kid stole a Skittle from her friend? Call the SRO. You’re checking your Tindr account during Bio2? Page the SRO.

It is important to note, however, that when I tested my
models using different categorizations of offenses, those different categorizations did not affect the overall results of my empirical study—that a police officer’s weekly presence at a school significantly increases the odds that school officials will refer students to law enforcement for various offenses, including lower-level offenses.

He also states that other factors like state-statutes, the general level of crime in the school already, and the level of crime in the part of town that the school is in, were also considered; however no matter how the model was changed, generally students were referred to the SRO for low-level offenses.  So, basically, if there is an SRO in the school there is a significant threat that your child is going to become involved somehow with the criminal justice system in a place that they are supposed to be learning.

Now let’s look at the other guy, Matthew T. Theriot and his report:

Though contrary to statistics showing
that school crime nationally was declining, relatively rare, and usually
nonviolent, school shootings like those in Littleton, Colorado, and
Jonesboro, Arkansas, fed growing public fear of juvenile and school
crime.

Moreover, several criminologists and legal scholars have expressed
concerns that some strategies designed to make schools safer—
particularly the growing number of school resource officers (SROs)—
might actually criminalize student behavior and lead to a substantial
increase in the number of school-based arrests…

 

Wait… What?

Empirical evaluations of these various security strategies are limited,
have varying levels of methodological rigor, and often report conflicting findings…

This guy starts off agreeing with the other guy

“…some strategies designed to make schools safer—particularly the growing number of school resource officers (SROs)—
might actually criminalize student behavior and lead to a substantial
increase in the number of school-based arrests…”

And then says that Empirical evaluations of this are limited and because of all of the variables are often conflicting. So, basically all of the Empirical data can almost be thrown out; however what can be observed is that police in the schools leads to more arrests. Why, because this is a matter of record. It is historical data that can be measured. You just have to go by the arrest records. (Yes, juvenile records are sealed, but you still have a record of the arrest, just not the case files if I understand correctly) So, just looking at the number of arrests, Matt came up with this:

…the number of school-based arrests in one Ohio county increased from 1,237 in the
year 2000 to 1,727 in 2002. According to juvenile court officials, most of
these arrests were for minor offenses or unruly student behavior…

A similar escalation was reported in Miami-Dade County, Florida, where
the 2,345 school arrests in 2001 were a threefold increase over the
number of school arrests in 1999. The vast majority of these arrests
were for simple assaults and disorderly conduct.

So, police in schools equals arrests and police in schools also means that faculty will hand off discipline to the police vs. doing it themselves and then introduce your kid to the criminal justice system. They call this the School to Prison pipeline.

While more empirical research is needed to evaluate school-based
arrests made by SROs, there are practical and conceptual reasons to
suggest that SROs play an important role in introducing more and
more students to the juvenile justice system.

Even the guy’s report that the National Association of School Resource Officers used in their resources said that the more SROs are in our schools then the more kids are going to end up in jail. Yes, he did give the data that they quoted (sort of):

Regarding specific charges, though not significant when alone
(Model 1), Model 2 in Table 3 shows that having an SRO at school leads
to a 52.3 percent decrease in the rate of arrests involving assault
charges per one hundred students when controlling for the level of
economic disadvantage at school…

Similar patterns exist regarding arrests involving possession of a
weapon on school property. For this charge, when controlling for
economic disadvantage, schools with an SRO have a 72.9 percent
decrease in the rate of arrests per one hundred students.

If I understand this correctly, these numbers only impact schools that are impacted by economic issues. He actually mentions that the higher the disadvantage, the more impact it has.  So, SROs are not needed at all schools, but really at on a “as needed” basis and really, if the school is underfunded, couldn’t we worry about fixing that? Maybe if the school was a better environment, you wouldn’t need the SRO?

Anyway:

Finally, results presented in Table 5 show that school resource
officers dramatically increase the rate of arrests with disorderly
conduct charges with and without controlling for school poverty.
Specifically, without controlling for economic disadvantage at schools
(Model 1), having an SRO yields a 402.3 percent increase in this arrest
rate per one hundred students…Schools with a resource officer have a 122.1 percent increase in the rate of arrests involving other charges per one hundred students when
analyzed without other independent variables. When economic
disadvantage is added to the regression models (Models 2 and 3),
however, the impact of SROs ceases to be significant. Instead, school
poverty emerges as the only significant predictor

It look like these two guys are saying the same thing in both of these papers. SROs just increase the number of arrested kids and doesn’t really have an effect on deterring a lot of actual crime (Unless the school is already affected by crime). It appears to me that the school administrators have hired the police to carry out discipline, which many schools have their hands tied with, but the police are not there to discipline children. They are law enforcement, not school policy enforcement, and they need to be out looking for criminals and not kids trying to sneak a smoke in the bathroom. That’s what the faculty is for, to enforce school policy. If the kid is being an asshole, then call the parents, not the cops.

The United States incarcerates 2 million kids per year and 95% of these crimes are non-violent offenses. We imprison FIVE TIMES more children that any other nation. That’s right, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan and all of these other countries that we think are evil and backwards don’t imprison kids (or as many kids) like we do. We couldn’t even ratify a treaty that protects children’s rights, when the rest of the planet has! I know that a lot of this is stemming from a documentary that I just watched; however that’s what I love about these films. They provoke dare you to think. To look into, and to even get passionate about things that you normally wouldn’t. If you would have asked me a month ago about Zero-Tolerance Policies or School Resource Officers, I would have just shrugged. Now, I am angry for my friend’s kids, my nieces, and just for kids in general.

Kids don’t have it better these days. Kids have it pretty fucked up.

 

 

Hello. Do You Have a Moment to Read About Religious Liberty (and how it’s a horrible concept)?

I am going to start this off by saying that I love my state. Texas has some of the greatest culture anywhere in the US. You can find people of every color , religion and orientation here, and it makes this state beautiful (Plus the food is fucking amazing). Is it perfect, hell no. Texas’ spiral down into  political stupidity started in 1861. It’s had it’s shinning moments when things looked like they were gettin’ better, but then good ol’ stupidity got a hold of us and dragged us down again. As I have learned while being a Liberal/Democrat (Sometimes Green) Atheist living in Texas, you hope for the best and prepare for the worst when it comes to Texas politics.

Which brings me to this post.

While going through my Twitter feed (which is where I usually get my news from, I follow a lot of local, national and global news sources)  I read this little gem from my home state:

http://www.star-telegram.com/news/state/texas/article60846377.html

twitterTexas

Here, let me just give you the first little bite:

Texas’ attorney general, who faces an ethics investigation for advising government officials they could deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, backed Republican lawmakers Wednesday who want new religious objection measures and new scrutiny on city equal rights ordinances.

Although a top aide to Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton told a Senate panel the state would likely be sued if new laws explicitly let public officials deny same-sex marriage licenses, the state’s top prosecutor encouraged Republican leaders to “protect” people from what he called religious punishment.

“Religious liberty is the first freedom established in the Bill of Rights, and the moral bedrock upon which our nation has been built,” Paxton said in a statement released after the meeting.

Now, I have inherited a trait from my grandmother in which I will yell profanities at inanimate objects like the target of my discontent (or the object itself) can actually hear me. So, after a long tirade of profane objections to another one of my state’s epic blunders. I decided to post about it vs. yell at my Nexus 6.

The one thing every conservative loves to quote and go to when equality, or anything LGBT related, comes up is the first amendment. Like Mr. Paxton says here: “Religious liberty is the first freedom established in the Bill of Rights…”, he is correct that it is the first in the list of freedoms listed in the bill of rights. What no conservative likes to go into is the establishment clause of the first amendment, instead what they run for is the free exercise clause of the first amendment. Even this is misused by conservatives, because it doesn’t give people the right to discriminate.

The Free Exercise Clause protects citizens’ right to practice their religion as they please, so long as the practice does not run afoul of a “public morals” or a “compelling” governmental interest.

“Run afoul of public morals”, I would think seclusion, discrimination and bigotry is most afoul of our public morals these days; however people want to claim this “religious liberty” as a free pass to not do things that they do not want to do because of their religion. Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that. You are granted the “right to practice [your] religion as [you] please, so long as the practice does not run afoul of a “public morals” or a “compelling” governmental interest.” This means you can be a Baptist, Muslim, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindi, or Satanist ; however you have to do things like file a tax return even if your invisible imaginary friend says not to, and you cannot be a pedophile or rob a bank every 2nd Thursday, even if your dear and fluffy lord demands that you do so. That’s what runs afoul of a “public morals” or a “compelling” governmental interest means. Not selling a cake or a pizza to a LGBT person isn’t religious liberty, it’s weaponizing your faith, it’s discrimination, and it’s not covered under the 1st Amendment.

Plus, Religious Liberty as it is wielded by these “conservative bible-thumpers” (as I like to call them)  doesn’t even measure to the legal standing that the government can allow due to the establishment clause. So, conservative religious liberty is a constitutional contradiction.

Under the “Lemon” test, government can assist religion only if (1) the primary purpose of the assistance is secular, (2) the assistance must neither promote nor inhibit religion, and (3) there is no excessive entanglement between church and state.

(http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/first-amendment-and-religion)

Religious Liberty, as stated by conservatives, fails on all 3 benchmarks. It’s not secular, it does promote one religion over another, and it does cause a pretty huge entanglement of church and state. So, the idea of “Religious Liberty” (as defined by conservatives) is nothing more that a lump of bullshit.

However, here is one thing that isn’t a myth. It’s the reason that they run to the Free Exercise Clause and all but completely ignore the Establishment Clause. There is one thing that the Establishment Clause guarantees everyone.

The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.

“…It prohibits the government from preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.”

That’s right, the first amendment also grants you freedom FROM religion.  The Founding Fathers were of extremely different religious backgrounds and philosophical positions on religion. Thomas Jefferson actually re-wrote the bible , rarely attended church,  and took an almost Deist view to Christianity. Hell, he was the driving force for having a dividing wall to separate church and state. Benjamin Franklin was a Freemason, a Deist, a follower of Voltaire & Enlightenment and allegedly a member of the Hell Fire Club. He made his own virtues, his own beliefs and, like Jefferson, they were very unorthodox. The Father of the American Revolution Thomas Paine was highly critical of religion, especially Christianity, and took a very unorthodox view of religion. James Madison, The Father of the Constitution, was damn near an atheist because he hated religion.

“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind, and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect.

[Letter to William Bradford Jr. April 1 1774]”

So, just these 4 examples show you that this nation was not founded on Christian values, but secular values, and that the conservative view of Religious Liberties is just a delusion. These men had left England because of the “Religious Liberties” that the Church of England and the Monarchy were taking. That is why this country is founded as a secular nation, dividing church and state, not promoting one over the other.

*Sigh*  (Takes a deep calming breath)

It just pisses me off to no end when I hear someone (usually a republican, and usually a conservative) say that the United States is a “Christian Nation”. Not because I am an atheist, but because it is a false statement that people of ignorance are believing. It is almost like they believe Jesus himself fought off the British in 1776 along with Moses and Noah as his wing men in their heavenly F-16s while Skynard played in the background.  The only two times religion is mentioned in the Constitution, is during the 1st Amendment when it is being discussed and that is it. There are no mentions of g-d, Jesus or anything remotely Christian anywhere in the entire document. As a matter of fact, in 1793 colonial preacher John M. Mason actually spoke out against the way the Constitution of the United States was written as too secular and didn’t give any mention to g-d.

“…very Constitution which the singular goodness of God enabled us to establish, does not so much as recognize his being! … From the Constitution of the United States, it is impossible to ascertain what God we worship; or whether we own a God at all … Should the citizens of America be as irreligious as her Constitution, we should have reason to tremble …”

http://archives.dickinson.edu/digitized-resources/complete-works-john-m-mason-dd

(this is just a good read on this subject: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-crawford/america-is-not-a-christian-nation_b_7750002.html )

 

Finally, there is this: The Barbary Treaties 1786-1816 Treaty of Peace and Friendship (Aka: The Treaty of Tripoli).

This was a peace treaty signed between the newly formed United States Government and the Muslim privateers and pirates of Barbary Coast (Tripoli, Algiers, Morocco and Tunis) around North Africa.  I am going to place Article 11 here for you to read:

ARTICLE 11.

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

(http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bar1796t.asp)

Here it is, stated in black and white and in plain English. We are not a Christian Nation in any sense. We are not a theocracy. No Jesus in his heavenly F-16. We do not (or should not) make legislation based on Christian (or any religious) values, but on humanitarian values and common sense. So, while you have the right to openly practice your religion, you do not get to oppress and discriminate another person with it because of so called “Religious Liberties”. Your “Liberties” as you are claiming  are a myth lie that has been handed down to you by people that want you to rally to their cause, their platform, and help line their pockets. You are being used and you are using your faith (that you claim is based on love) as a weapon to hurt other people by discriminating, shaming and by helping make laws that are harmful to others. You do not have this right, this so-called “Religious Liberty”, you never did.

So, knock it the fuck off.

The True Story of: Part 2 – The New Batch

If you recall, I have been on a trek through the top 100 documentaries on Netflix for 2016  . I posted my thoughts on the first 25 on another post and now here I am with my thoughts (and rants) about the next 25!

Here we go:

 

26.  Paris is Burning: This film focuses on the gay/drag balls of the 80’s. It gives a great history of gay culture and I really enjoyed the film. It did show that while we have changed as a society and have become more tolerant, some things are still the same and are still heartbreaking. This documentary shows something that is part of the history of a sub-culture that is now fairly mainstream. I know it’s not going to be for everyone, but I would suggest it.

27. Moana With Sound: So this documentary was originally filmed in the 20’s and then remastered with sound later by the original directors family. It’s about life on the Polynesian islands and was an interesting film to watch; however if you hate silent films or subtitles, then you will absolutely hate this film.

28. Manakamana : OK, I have been waiting to write about this film. I have been chomping at the bit to tell you all how fucking infuriating this film is. It’s not about pilgrimages to a temple. No, its about people riding in cable cars while sitting uncomfortably in front of a stationary camera for 9 minutes usually in dead silence ( Oh, and don’t get me started about the “goat sequence”). The only parts that were remotely interesting was watching these two ladies try to eat ice cream, which is apparently new in Nepal, and the death metal kids with the kitten. Seriously, I about raged 11 minutes into this film and skipped it.

29. Approaching the Elephant: This documentary is about the concept of free schools. Free as in the students decide what they want to do and learn and they have an equal voice equivalent the staff. This actually inspired me to research this and write another post. I definitely recommend watching it & drawing your own conclusions.

30. Actress: This was a boring documentary. Honestly, I fell asleep a few times. Basically it’s about Brandy Burre who left the acting world to focus on family and now is basically bored and wants to get back into acting and has family drama that ends up tanking her marriage. Oh yeah, she also can’t get any acting gigs that she wants. I honestly thought I was watching a Lifetime movie at a few points. Honestly, I don’t see why this or Manakamana were on this list at all.

31. The Civil War: The thing that I dreaded when I took this to task was hitting a documentary series. I likened it hitting a Whammy! on Press Your Luck (ask your parents or Google it, kids). Luckily, however, this 9 part series was ACTUALLY about the civil war! It was amazing! I learned things that I never knew about the civil war, some that were just astonishing! I really don’t want to spoil it, because I hope that you will actually go watch it. It was amazing and a must watch.

32. Los Angeles Plays Itself :  This film gave a few facts about how Los Angeles is used in movies and not represented correctly in the narrator’s opinion. I can see his point, but the film eventually becomes an almost 3 hour bitch session about how Los Angeles is not used properly in movies and you also get a geography lesson. Unless you are just a huge fan of L.A. , sorry, Los Angeles in the movies, there’s no reason to watch this.

33. The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology: I absolutely loved this film. I loved the way the concepts of Ideology are broken down with popular films (Especially “They Live!”). I love the way my own views of Ideology were challenged and I loved the way this film was shot. It was both intellectually stimulating as well as visually stimulating. I definitely recommend watching it and I will probably be watching it again.

34. The Nightmare: If you have never heard of sleep paralysis and want to learn more about it, find another film besides this one. While this film covers the topic, it does it in more of a “horror film” kind of setting. You never really understand what sleep paralysis is, other than the basic definition, and you just get to hear stories from people with this disorder while the film maker tries to scare the ever loving shit out of you with creepy effects. While I love a good horror movie, I watch documentaries to learn things and this was more show than substance. Again, why is this here?

35. Side by Side: Basically, Keanu Reeves goes to a bunch of directors/cinematographers and they talk about “is Film dead?” and go over the difference between celluloid film cameras and digital cameras that use CCDs and hard-disk drives. I liked it because it gave compelling arguments about digital vs. analog on the different aspects of data storage and I learned about CCDs now shooting in 5K. If all of this sounds like a foreign language, or you don’t give a shit about cameras or how movies are made, then skip it.

36. Casting By:  This film was amazing. You learn about Casting Director Marion Dougherty and the way she helped make… well pretty much every fucking movie that any of us love because of the cast come true (Midnight Cowboy, The Graduate, The World According to Garp, Lethal Weapon just to name a few). She helped launch careers of pretty much every major movie star that you can think of (Warren Beatty, John Voit, Jon Lithgow, Mel Gibson, Bette Midler, Cybil Sheppard just to name a few). She was unappreciated by the Academy, but loved by every actor and director that she dealt with. I found myself saying “Holy shit, she did that!?” a lot during this film. I highly recommend watching this one.

37.Lost in La Mancha: This film is about the making of a film that doesn’t get made (sorry to spoil it, but you will come to that conclusion with in minutes of watching the film). It’s about Terry Gilliam’s epic struggle to bring Don Quixote to the big screen. It’s an almost comedic tragedy that also has Johnny Depp in it. If you are a Monty Python fan, or just like Terry Gilliam,  I would recommend it.

38.Virunga: I have never thought much about other countries going after resources like oil and such as the U.S. does. After watching this film, I now know that everyone gets their hands dirty. This documentary revolves around the Virunga National Park, home to the last group of Mountain Gorillas. The rangers here have to defend this park from poachers, squatters, and rebel soldiers. I don’t want to give too much away, because my hope it that you will watch this film. It’s definitely on my must watch list.

39. War Don Don: This revolves around the civil war that occurred in Sierra Leone and the international special court that is gathered for the trial of war criminals, specifically Issa Sesay. The atrocities that occurred during this conflict are horrendous and almost unthinkable (and I have a pretty fucked up imagination).  The whole film swings you between a “hang the bastard” mindset to almost a “maybe he was a patsy” way of thinking pretty much the whole way through. I would recommend it.

40.The Act of Killing: Director’s Cut: OK, this film was just a little odd for me. All I remember is saying “Man, Indonesia is a fucked up country” multiple times throughout the entire film (Sorry Indonesia). The film is fairly interesting, the main subject is an interesting character; however the whole thing gets a little muddled over by the Indonesian politics/orange clad paramilitary youth-group and the film sometimes feels like it doesn’t know where to focus. The film was just chaotic. I did like it, though.

41. The Imposter: Holy shit. If you are familiar with this story about Nicholas Barclay and his disappearance, then this gives so much detail to that story because it actually interviews the family and  Frédéric Bourdin, who goes step by step on how he did it and narrates most of the film. IF you have never heard this story. Stop reading this now and go watch this and be prepared to say “What the fuck?” a whole lot of times. Seriously, go now.

(Welcome Back!)

42. Naqoyqatsi: (Takes deep breath and exhales slowly) Alright, I know that these films are creations. They are the art of the film maker. However, this fucking shit stain was a waste of my time and gave me a fucking headache. I tried to see the film maker’s vision. I read the film’s description…TWICE. Matter of fact here it is:

Naqoyqatsi chronicles the most significant occurrence of the last 5,000 years — the transition from a natural environment to a technological reality.

Once I noticed the pattern of images, I got it; however this film made me feel like I just watched the tape from “The Ring”.  Seriously, this was 90 minutes of my life GONE! This film is basically something you watch stoned or while tripping balls.

43. Samsara: OK, so this film was kind of like Naqoyqatsi, but a tad more coherent. It basically shows the friction that can and does exist between man and nature, especially when man is living more in a more industrialized/technological society than a tribal/native society. I did like the film, I saw the point in the art; however it’s one you can easily pass on because the message is basically “technology will kill you and the planet” which I found hilarious because the film was shot on a digital camera, probably edited on an Apple laptop and streamed on Netflix. But technology is evil! ಠ_ಠ

44. Touching the Void: OK, I will save you some time (unless you are a mountain climbing junkie and just want to see it).  2 guys climb up a mountain in a dangerous fashion, and make it up the mountain. 2 guys climb down the mountain and 1 breaks his leg (BAD). Guy tries to take broke leg guy down the mountain, but he ends up dangling him off an ice ledge. After a bit, he thinks broke leg guy is dead so he cuts the rope and broke leg guy falls 150′ into a crevice. Broke leg guy survives the fall and eventually tunnels his way out. Both are still friends and still climb mountain like idiots.

                                                           The End

45. Last Days in Vietnam: Every documentary I have ever seen is always about what we did while in Vietnam. The battles, the airstrikes, and the use of Agent Orange; however I have never seen a film about what we did to leave Vietnam. I was always under the impression we just picked up our shit and took off. Well, apparently not. This documentary shows how we evacuated Siagon and the Embassy before it was over ran. It was shocking to see some of the compassion and bravery of these men. This is one I recommend watching.

46. Best of Enemies: Before today I couldn’t tell you who the hell William F. Buckley Jr or Gore Vidal were without Googling them. This not only shows them in their famous on air debate, but also shows the shaping of current politics here in the US on both sides. I was amazed at the topics that Vidal covered in his writing at the time and stood up for in debates, and I was not at all shocked by Buckley’s rhetoric as it pretty much is the same shit we hear today. I liked this film, just because I was completely unfamiliar with the subject.

47. Let the Fire Burn:  This film was about the MOVE cult (sorry, “organization”) in Philadelphia and the standoff they had with police in 1985. Again, this was a topic that I had no knowledge about so it was extremely interesting. During the film and seeing the events of the standoff, I likened it to the Waco, TX standoff with the Branch Davidians & David Koresh; however in this case the question of “did law enforcement start the fire?” is pretty damn clear. (Sorry, SPOILER ALERT!) It’s an interesting piece of history that is kind of obscure. I would recommend watching it just because of that.

48. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 : I loved this film. Simply because it shows the other Black Leaders other than MLK, and Malcolm X and their impact on the movement. It sheds light on the US Government’s targeting of Black intellectuals that would be able to rally POC and community programs that would allow black people to stand on their own. It was an excellent film and no matter what color you are, I recommend watching it.

49. Concerning Violence: (Same guy that did The Black Power Mixtape) This film covers colonialism and how it oppresses and continues to oppress people of color to this day in Africa through force and religion. It’s a hard subject to swallow, so I will leave viewing this one up to you.

50. How to Die in Oregon : Let me start off by saying that I had and still have mixed feelings about this subject. Basically in 1994 Oregon passed the “Die with Dignity” law and legalized physician aided suicide for terminally ill patients.  It’s the story about people facing their diagnoses and taking that option. At first I was shocked, the programming in my head that suicide was bad kicked in; however these people were going to die anyway. They had months to live (if that). The rest of their lives were going to be full of pain, feebleness, and well, just nothing good. So, the term suicide isn’t really correct. Termination of life is more to the point. Suicide is taking your life when you aren’t terminally ill. Termination is just speeding up nature and going out on your own terms. By the time I was done watching this (and done crying), my view had been changed. I think that everyone should have this right, and that this should be an option for anyone facing a terminally ill disease/diagnoses.

So that’s it! I am half-way done! There’s a few that are coming up that I am looking forward to, some that I have seen, and some that I have no idea what they are. Hopefully, I don’t hit another series and can get through these next 25 fairly quickly.

A Short History Lesson Because People Are Dumb

While going through my Twitter feed I see this:

beyonce riots

Anti-Beyonce’ protests? Why the fuck are we protesting Beyonce’? She is great! Her voice is enchanting and let me be honest, she is fucking hot. Hot and talented, you can’t be anti-hot and talented! That’s just called jealousy.  Then anti-anti Beyonce’ protesters? Those aren’t protesters, those are called Beyonce’ fans.

So, I click on the article  and see what this is all about. Oh, it’s about her halftime show and how people conservatives don’t know history (or don’t want to acknowledge it). I see. So, people conservatives have this misconception that all the Black Panthers did was be scary to white people and kill cops. No, that’s the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense founded in 1989 in Dallas Texas and as any surviving member of the actual Black Panther Party will tell you:

“There is no new Black Panther Party”

The NBPP is a stark departure from the original, mainly because they ARE anti-white and also antisemitic. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the NBPP as a “black racist” hate group.

The original ( and only) Black Panther Party was founded in 1966 by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. During that time in California, police brutality (against anyone really) was out of control. You had Bloody Thursday at The People’s Park  in Berkeley where live ammo was used on unarmed protesters, you had the Watts riots, and the killing of Matthew Johnson, an unarmed young black man in San Francisco. I am sure if you researched it, you could find hundreds of more cases (I remember stories of “Hogs Law” around that time period that mother witnessed when she was on the force as a dispatcher here in Texas. So, police misconduct was kind of an unchecked thing back then). So, as a counter-measure, Newton studied California gun law until he knew it better than many police officers. He decided to organize patrols to follow the police around to monitor for incidents of brutality, but with a crucial difference: his patrols would carry loaded guns. This act was done in order to record incidents of police brutality by distantly following police cars around neighborhoods.When confronted by a police officer, Party members cited laws proving they have done nothing wrong and threatened to take to court any officer that violated their constitutional rights.

Not that they would go and “hunt down the pigs”, or “shoot the cops on sight”.  They were using the existing open carry laws for long rifles for the state (at the time) and exercising there 2nd amendment rights under the US Constitution. Sound familiar conservatives, does this help so far, Rep. Peter King, (R-Long Island)? It should because it’s the same BS that y’all are saying now. The same BS that y’all are doing now, with the exception of everyone being afraid of some unseen boogeymen that I am willing to bet are not white.

But, let’s continue…

In August 1967, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) instructed its program “COINTELPRO” to “neutralize” what the FBI called “black nationalist hate groups” and other dissident groups…The goals of the program were to prevent the unification of militant black nationalist groups and to weaken the power of their leaders, as well as to discredit the groups to reduce their support and growth. The initial targets included the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Revolutionary Action Movement and the Nation of Islam. Leaders who were targeted included the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, Maxwell Stanford and Elijah Muhammad.

COINTELPRO also aimed to dismantle the Black Panther Party by targeting the social/community programs they endorsed, one of the most influential being the Free Breakfast for Children Program. The success of the Free Breakfast for Children Program served to “shed light on the government’s failure to address child poverty and hunger—pointing to the limits of the nation’s War on Poverty”. The ability of the Party to organize and provide for children more effectively than the U.S. government led the FBI to criticize the program as a means of exposing children to Panther Propaganda. In response to this, as an effort of disassembling the program, “Police and Federal Agents regularly harassed and intimidated program participants, supporters, and Party workers and sought to scare away donors and organizations that housed the programs like churches and community centers”

That’s right the Black Panther’s main program was community outreach. Especially it’s Free Breakfast for Children program. The Panthers would cook and serve food to the poor inner city youth of the area.  The Panthers set up kitchens in cities across the nation, feeding over 10,000 children every day before they went to school. Because the BPP could feed kids and fight poverty better than the US Government, that program became a target of the FBI. Later this Free Breakfast Program would become the Black Panther’s “Serve the People” program which still included the Free Children’s Breakfast, but also Free Health Programs like medical care & ambulance services, there were educational services that also provided meals, bus services, and transportation to medical appointments. Students were instructed based on their ability, not there grade. So, if a student was able to perform 4th grade math, but only read at a 1st grade level he was taught at those individual levels. There were also criminal justice programs that included busing to prisons so that families could visit loved ones and they also did attorney referrals. The Black Panthers also stood up for class equality, women’s right,& reproductive rights.

Were they perfect? No, there were run-ins with police. Huey P. Newton was arrested for shooting a police officer while resting arrest. Bobby Hutton was killed by police and Eldridge Cleaver were wounded during a shootout with police. There were also claims of BPP members engaged in criminal activities; however does that make the entire party bad? Does it make them the fear mongering cop killers that some people would suggest? I say no. I think they should be remembered as a group of people that saw that things needed to change and they took the initiative and changed them. They fixed what was broken and I am glad that Beyonce’ included them in her performance. The BPP should be remembered for what they really did. They fed people, they educated people, they lent a helping hand to their community and they stood for equality. All that gun in their hand did was tell people: “Hey, I can do what you can do. I am the same as you. So don’t fuck with me.”

So, go on Beyonce’, do what you do.

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Panther_Party

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Black_Panther_Party

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Park_(Berkeley)#May_15.2C_1969:_.22Bloody_Thursday.22

http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/BPP-Serving-The-People1998.htm

5 Hour Window

Today I am waiting on a tech from our security system provider. Our panel is supposed to have two way monitoring; meaning if the alarm goes off someone from the company comes over the panel and talks to you vs. calling you on the phone.

Now, there is a slight saga to why this isn’t working. You see, when I moved into this house originally to take care of my mother, we had an incident. Our neighbors are some sketchy ass people. It isn’t a completely uncommon sight to see local cop and county sheriff’s deputies raid their house. Hell, one time one of the little shits hopped our fence and tried taking off through our back yard. So, now I was hosting the policeman’s ball in our back yard. One night, my wife is walking down our hallway and she freaks because there is a face looking through the glass in our front door asking for “Alex”. She repeatedly tells the guy he has the wrong house, and his meth head ass eventually gets it.

So, we got an alarm system.

Now, about a year later, my mother and I had a falling out. She was becoming more abusive (verbally and emotionally) and I had my fill. I told her that she could find someone else to take care of her and  live off of fucking pizza delivery & meals on wheels, because I was out. So, we transferred the contract for the alarm system over to her. It was all hers now. She could deal with the bill and the meth-heads. I was going to live in peace with my wife. About 9 moths later she was diagnosed with inoperable bladder cancer and her health was getting worse due the long list of other health problems that she has. So, we found an outstanding nursing facility for her and she now lives there. We then took over the house, which means the alarm system contract.

However, a funny thing happened. I accidentally set off the alarm. So, I waited for the people to come over the panel. Nothing happened. I continued to wait and finally our house phone rang. It was the alarm company. I gave the all clear and asked why the panel didn’t work. The guy didn’t know, but now police were at my door and I had to deal with that. A few days later I called about the panel thing and was given a load of crap that I didn’t have the service. I spent over an hour on the line with these clowns until finally the service was added and all was right with the world.

Until a few weeks ago.

Our back door wasn’t shut all of the way when I armed the system that night. A cold front blew in and blew open the back door. I woke up ready to fight, however there was no one there. Again, I waited for the panel and nothing. The phone rang and we gave the all clear. Last Friday the panel alerted a power failure when all of our lights were on. So, I called customer service to see what the fuck was wrong with this damn thing. Apparently, there is a plug that it uses to monitor power failures and recharge the battery backup. It had come loose. So, while I had him on the phone, I asked about the damn 2 way monitoring thing. He started talking about a tech coming out. I asked him about it being on my contract and if the service was active on my account. He seemed confused and then asked if I was an (insert former name of company here) customer. When I told him I was he explained that the 2 way monitoring wasn’t a service, but a feature built into the panel. He confirmed that I have the correct type of panel for this feature. He told me that there had to be something wrong with the panel, and that he would roll a tech out on Monday.

Now here’s the kicker. This tech is supposed to be here between 12pm – 5pm. So, sometime today he will show. I mean, thankfully I am unemployed so I have free time to wait for this guy. Honestly, that’s how I now plan on doing things. I will now be operating within 5 hour windows. When people ask me when I am going to be at a certain time, I am giving them a 5 hour window.  It just better be fixed today. Or I will be chewing someones ass out for five hours. Guess I will go make some coffee and fix some eggs while I wait for this chump.

The Atomic Wedgie

[Warning] This is going to be about a hot topic (maybe) and it may piss some people off.

 

On the subject of bullying. 

I was on Reddit (r/science) and was reading a post about a new anti-bullying program called KiVa that was apparently working very successfully in Finland. While reading it however, I started thinking about stories that I have heard among the child-having friends that I have regarding bullying. Some of the stories were horrific and some were just plain fucking stupid. I started to recall the posts and articles that I had read about bullying over the past year or so and again, some where terrible and some where just fucking stupid. So, I had adopted the position that bullying had become a buzz-word for any type of aggressive or negative action taken; however as I read this sub-reddit post more I started thinking that maybe we just don’t know what bullying is, so everything is bullying.

Now, since I don’t have kids and haven’t been sent 45 tons of anti-bullying literature home from their school; I had to do this the hard way. I had to use Google.

I simply searched “what isn’t bullying”.

One of the first sites I came across was pretty informative. It gave the “standards” of what bullying IS.  It also goes into how kids ( and some adults) do not know the difference between an accidental incident, a singular aggressive occurrence, and actual bullying. Instead, kids (and some adults) lump all of these things into the bullying category, because they simply don’t know the difference. The site gives this as a definition of bullying:

“bullying is recurring and deliberate abuse of power”

The two words there that I would suggest that you focus on are recurring and deliberate. Accidentally bumping into someone, not liking someone’s shirt or not inviting someone to your birthday party are not forms of bullying. They are accidents, opinions, and prerogatives. The site also gives a frame work of what bullying entails:

Intentional, Repetitive, Hurtful, Imbalance of Power

http://www.ronitbaras.com/emotional-intelligence/personal-development/what-is-not-bullying/

Now, to me, this is a little broad. I get repetitive and the imbalance of power. If it’s repetitive; then it’s intentional. So, that’s a little redundant and of course it’s going to be hurtful; it’s fucking bullying. So, I looked into the other sites and found that the US Government has actually defined bullying and its basically what I just said: An Imbalance of Power and Repetitive.

http://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/definition/index.html

Now this is where I get confused. We have a definition of bullying. Then why are some schools, students, teachers, parents, and even grown adults confused about what bullying is or how it occurrs? Yes, the media has hyped the subject and created a lot of this; however it still confuses me. What really confuses me is how this still happens and why people are still amazed by it.

For example, while some bullying is physical and easy to recognize, bullying can also occur quietly and covertly, through gossip or on a smart phone or the internet, causing emotional damage.

 

This is the one form of bullying (Cyber Bullying)  that I hold a great disdain for. Parents hand their kids these pieces of technology. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops that connect to the internet. Let me explain something to you, and why this is a fucking horrible thing to do to your children.

Internet (noun): The global communication network that allows almost all computers worldwide to connect and exchange information.

World Wide Web (noun): a vast network of linked hypertext files, stored on computers throughout the world, that can provide a computer user with information on a huge variety of subjects.

OK, so you basically just handed little Bobby or Little Jenny a portal to any where and anyone on the entire planet. They can talk to anyone, or do anything on the Internet right along with the 3.17 billion other internet users. Do you trust the 3.17 billion other people on this planet with your kids? (Honestly, I believe that tablets, smartphones and laptops are like cars: when the kid is 16 they can have one if they are responsible enough to have one and there’s going to be some ground rules about it’s ownership) Now, I am sure that there are some parents that are IT professionals and have black listed URLs , have child monitoring software installed, have disabled the WiFi on the kids tablet, have disabled the cameras on everything and have taken every precaution to make sure their child is absolutely safe online. Good for you. However, the other 75 – 80% of the parents (even the ones that are “tech savvy”) probably haven’t (It’s more than blocking the porn sites, people). Also, it’s not only parents that don’t truly understand how the Internet works. Kids don’t understand it either, even though you think that they do. They think that the internet is just Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Minecraft. They do not contemplate that if they post something online, it can be seen by thousands millions BILLIONS of people and they can re-post, share and also leave negative comments on it. Be it  a Facebook post or a YouTube video, it’s all fair game and it’s all out there for the masses. That  tweet you thought only went to your followers (all 583 of them) or the post on your friends wall that you thought only they would see?  Nope, it was seen by everyone and if they didn’t like what you posted/tweeted; that turns into a shit-storm of negativity that is repetitive, and there is definitely and imbalance of power (since it’s the world vs. one person) and can easily turn into a case of cyber bullying that was completely unintentional. The other problem is, you can’t trace all the attackers, they are faceless (usually) and it’s an ongoing assault that occurs 24/7. So, now there is a broken hearted kid somewhere that is deep into depression because the comments keep coming and coming and they are never going to stop. So, in my opinion, you have to educate your kids on how the Internet works. You have to educate them on how to deal with cyber-bullies and trolls. You have to be smarter than them about the technology you just gave them, which means you have to be educated about how it and the Internet works. Out of all of the bullying stories that I hear, these piss me off the most because the outcome usually could have been prevented with a little time & education. It’s that simple.

OK, so now we understand what bullying is (and I went on a light tirade about cyber bullying) what ISN’T bullying?  I figured I got a great definition of what bullying is by searching for “what isn’t bullying” so I applied the same principle but in reverse.

I came across a site that pretty much took us back to the idea that we don’t know what bullying is. It’s like this site knows what it is, but isn’t quite sure.

It is intentional… but there is some controversy with this statement as some assert that not all bullying behavior is done with intent or that the individual bullying realizes that their behavior is hurting another individual.

So, subconscious bullying? A bully sleeper agent? Or does this go back to the idea of any negative action is bullying and, with this statement, the person that is offending with the negative action just needs to be taught that negative actions are bad because that’s bullying.  There was also this bit about the repetitive part of the bully frame work.

… the reality is that bullying can be circumstantial or chronic. It might be the result of a single situation…or it might be behavior that has been directed at the individual for a long period of time.

A single situation? So, if there is a one time occurrence of a negative action we are saying that is bullying? Now, we are getting into the area of “too much”. Simply because, if a child expresses a negative action (physical, verbal, or emotional) at another child one time and then never expresses anything to that child again, then it’s not bullying. If a child slips and falls face first into his lunch tray and the class laughs at him, but treats him no differently the next day, this is not bullying. If a kid expresses a negative opinion about something that another child holds dear while having a conversation, this is not bullying. If anything this way of thinking is bullying. Its repetitive (constantly trying to enforce a  illogical way of thought every time the subject comes up) and it’s an imbalance of power (adults vs. kids). It reminds me of indoctrination.

Students often describe bullying as when “someone makes you feel less about who you are as a person.”

I read this as “If your feelings were hurt, then you were bullied” and that to me is completely wrong. If a child is playing with a toy plane, and another child wants to play with the toy plane; then when the kid with the plane tells the other kid “no” is he a bully for not handing over his toy plane to the other kid?  This to me leads to a if I don’t get my way, then I was bullied way of thinking and that isn’t a good mentality to have or promote. I would think negative re-enforcement for having an opinion, choosing who to invite to a party, setting a boundry, or expressing an emotion would make me feel less about who I am as a person or like I was living in Orwell’s 1984.  Again, this just feels like indoctrination to me.

(Source on all above quotes: http://www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/info-facts.asp)

So, again, we have a definition of bullying. Matter of fact, the father of anti-bullying programs, Dan Orweus,  even defined bullying for us:

“A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself.”

http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/recognizing_bullying.page

However, schools and school administrators apparently don’t know really what it is, plus students apparently don’t really know what it is. A study in Tennessee schools between 2012-2013 was done to see how many of the reported cases of bullying were actually bullying. 27% (actually 27.5%, apparently they rounded down vs rounding up to 28%) of the cases were not bullying.

…it shows that 27% of reported cases were found not to be real examples of bullying …we have not defined bullying in the best way for our young children to understand?

http://nobullying.com/school-bullying-cases/

Now, here’s the thing. In the maybe one hour of research that I did, I now know what bullying is. If you read this, you should now know what bullying is. So, if it doesn’t really take that much time and effort to define and understand what bullying is; then why can’t schools do it? Why can’t parents do it? Why can we not teach kids what it is? I think if parents would teach kids when they are being bullied, if parents could identify the behavior of a bully in their child or another child, and if parents took better precautions with technology and the internet; then there wouldn’t be a need for campaigns, legislation, and this post.

It just takes time and effort.