stupid

The Stupidity of Being a Sports Fan

The Falcons got crushed yesterday by the Steelers, and now sitting at 1-4, the Falcons’ season is effectively over. And that’s a huge bummer because I like watching my team do well and stay competitive. Instead, they fell off a cliff. And it’s not like I haven’t seen that happen to this team before. It happened in 2013 and 2014, but it still blows.

And it blows that I even care! I think pop culture fandom is riddled with its own issues, but at least you’re following and engaging with art. Sports is something that’s kind of random and you just have to ride the wave. But man does it feel dumb to care about it. Like my joy and my disappointment are equally unimportant. I can’t engage with a loss like I can with a disappointing movie or TV show. I just have to sit there and feel bad.

Anyway, today was definitely one of the worst losses I’ve ever seen as a Falcons fan, and the most I can do is write about it to get it out of my system. At least I can control my rage, whereas if I was writing about something important, like the GOP seating an accused sex offender on the Supreme Court, all that would come out would be a string of swear words for paragraphs on end.

Monday, October 8th, 2018 sports, stupid No Comments

The Unimpressive President

From time to time, I can’t help but marvel at how unimpressed I am with Trump as an individual. On the one hand, he should be impressive. He upended the political system, got elected President without ever holding public office before, and he controls every news cycle. And yet that never seems to be the product of ability as much as he was born rich and constantly needs attention. I don’t think shamelessness is a virtue, and to mistake it as such is to uphold vice. Shame has its place, and just because Trump can’t feel shame, that doesn’t mean he’s got some superpower.

But more often than not, I’m struck by how ordinary he is. Take away his wealth (which he inherited), and you have a dumpy Fox News couch potato. He’s abnormal, not extraordinary. Look at all his obsessions and all the information he consumes, and he’s no different than a racist grandpa spouting the latest conspiracy theory he heard that afternoon. Guys like Trump are a dime a dozen; it just happened that one of them became President.

And we’ve had unimpressive Presidents before. No one knows anything about Millard Fillmore or Zachary Taylor, and that’s fine. But I do get annoyed when Trump is hailed as some political genius for his accomplishments when he was just a con man with the audacity to run a giant scam he didn’t even think all the way through. Even Trump is miserable that’s President, and at least we can take some small comfort that deep down he knows he’s worthless and will never measure up to all the people he attacks on Twitter.

Friday, August 17th, 2018 politics, stupid No Comments

Go, Braves

Being a sports fan is so dumb.  You get invested watching millionaires play a game, and forget that billionaires profit from it.  You just see it play-by-play, game-by-game, season-by-season.  And then you cheer anyway because home runs, touchdowns, slam dunks, and goals are exciting.   It’s appeals to the lizard brain, and I fully admit it.

I write that preface to acknowledge that it’s somewhat silly to complain about the Braves.  I’m not a sports expert.  I have an emotional connection to the team since they hit their hot streak when I was growing up, but I can’t tell you everyone who ever played for them or even what certain stats mean (I’ve had slugging explained to me more than once, and I still don’t understand it).

But I love listening to the Braves on the radio.  It’s what helps define my summer.  It passes the time.  Watching them on TV isn’t so bad either.  I rarely attend games because it’s expensive, more time-consuming, and scheduling conflicts mean it’s hard to find someone to go with.

However, I didn’t let those obstacles stop me from going to tonight’s game.  I hadn’t seen the Braves play at all this season, and the game would be followed by Weezer, whom I’d never seen in concert.  It was win-win, at least until the Braves lost, at which point it became win-loss-win.

I wasn’t surprised that the Braves lost.  I recently read an article where a Falcons fan described the team thusly: “They are bad at being good.”  It’s a sentiment that could also apply to the Braves and to a lesser extent the Hawks.  Even when the Braves were in first place, they didn’t seem remarkable.  When our pitching dominated in April to save our crappy offense, it felt like a stroke of good luck rather than a formidable team.  After all, we go through starting pitchers like toothpicks.

Eventually, the flaws became obvious, insurmountable, and after tonight, the Braves will be five games back in the division without only about six weeks left to play.  Theoretically, they could claw their way back, but after watching tonight’s game, I’d be surprised if they put in the effort.

Tonight I learned that what the radio doesn’t tell you and what the radio doesn’t show you are details.  Radio and TV is made of highlights.  The little moments can be far more telling, and during tonight’s Braves game, I saw a team absolutely devoid of hustle.  I know “hustle” is a word sports pundits like to throw away to lazily describe intangibles, but I think it fits the play I saw tonight.  Throughout the game, the Braves’ defense refused to scrap for the ball.  They lackidazically ran for balls, and refused to dive, sprint, or slide to try and make the out.  Instead, they were content to just make sure the ball didn’t get behind them.  They played conservatively and like they would get extra points if they didn’t get their uniforms dirty.

It’s dumb that I should feel like I want them to win more than they do.  But a sense of lethargy pervaded the entire game.  No one was enthused about Mike Minor’s pitching (he was fine tonight; his defense let him down); no one expects anything from this weak offense; and now there’s nothing going on in the field.  The team exists.

When I looked at the upper deck of tonight’s game, it was pretty packed.  It was packed with fans who found a way to get relatively cheap Weezer tickets, and the ballgame was a bonus.  I can’t say I blame them.  At least Weezer is willing to put on a show.

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 sports, stupid No Comments

Time to Get out of the Sports Game?

After a one-two punch of the Falcons losing a close game on Monday Night Football and the Braves being eliminated after the normally reliable David Carpenter gave up the lead in the 8th inning, I’m wondering if it’s time for me to stop being a sports fan.

I know that’s awfully fair-weather of me, and that my attitude is why Atlanta is such a shitty sports town.  But at the same time, these are kind of shitty sports teams because they’re bad at the worst possible moments.  They don’t consistently suck.  I assume fans with consistently crappy teams just accept them as lovable losers, or get a nice pick-me-up if their team should happen to win.  Atlantans aren’t so lucky.  The Braves and the Falcons have to give the illusion that they could go all the way.  They have to give the illusion of a dramatic victory.  And then they lose in a spectacular fashion.  They lose on the most public stage possible, and the Atlanta fans get crushed.

The teams have been especially vindictive this year.  The Braves won the division title for the first time since 2005.  I had hope that a younger team might not have the baggage of older Braves teams that could never get past the first round of the playoffs.  I was wrong.  They were just as terrible.  It would be nice to think that they’ll mature into a serious ball club, but that’s not going to happen.  Something breaks in the Atlanta Braves when October comes around.  And as for the Falcons, their weaknesses have emerged.  After years of scraping by with thrilling victories, they’re now on the losing side and proving all their detractors right.

Detractors have plenty to crow about, and they’re not wrong.  But as I tweeted both games tonight, I didn’t like myself.  I felt like an absolute bastard who was clogging up people’s Twitter feeds with my negativity.  A good sports fan is never resigned to failure.  They hold on to hope until the last possible minute.  They’re indefatigable.  I thought I was a good sports fan, but I was wrong.  And if I’m going to behave like I did tonight, then I shouldn’t get to call myself a Braves fan or a Falcons fan.  I’m a spectator.  I can cheer, and I can boo, but I can’t say I’m a fan.  I’m as much to blame as the teams I’ve failed to support.

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 personal, sports, stupid No Comments

Oberlin

I did not have a pleasant experience at Oberlin College.  I made a few amazing friends and had the support of  unbelievably gracious and loving family members in the community, but when it came to the actual college, I thought you had a bunch of sheltered liberals (and keep in mind, I’m liberal) who created some perversion of diversity by failing to understand that diversity has to extend beyond race and sexual orientation and tap into belief systems.  If everyone is an “outsider”, then no one is.  It created a safe space at the worst time to create a safe space:  at the cusp of adulthood when the world is about to get unforgiving.

[Side note: I also reject the notion that the college was there not to prepare people for the outside world, but as an institute of learning.  It's not learning when you're writing papers to appease a professor's ego.  Write what they want to hear and you'll get good grades.  It's playing the game of school, not the game of learning.]

When I was at Oberlin, an ethnic minority of students felt they needed a “safe space” where only their minority could gather.  They needed this space on one of the most accepting, diverse, liberal colleges in the nation.  And the college should have said, “Grow up.  If you can’t handle it here, you’re going to crumble when you get out of the safe confines of our cozy campus.”  They did not say that.

Oberlin now has had to face a popping of the bubble they created.  Real racism has crept on to the campus, and the campus response has been typically Oberlin: “Let’s talk about it.”  Yes, law enforcement is on the case and they should be on the case.  But rather than send out the message that hatred exists in our world and the best way to deal with it is to walk with our heads held high and not let it deter from the noble goal of learning, Oberlin canceled class so they could have “a conversation.”  I wasn’t in attendance, so I don’t know what the fuck there was to talk about.  In a recent interview with CNN about the incident (the news has garnered international attention; I first read about it on the BBC’s website), Oberlin’s doofus president Marvin Krislov calling the conversation “courageous”.  Yes, it’s courageous to talk about why hatred is bad.

During the interview, the anchorwoman says that they’ve heard from sources that the suspects are students, to which I would respond OF COURSE THEY’RE STUDENTS.  After first hearing about the incidents, my immediate thought was, “Students are doing this.”  As I said, you take a group of kids who have spent their teenage years feeling like outsiders.  You bring them all in, and they lose their outsider status because everyone is an outsider and therefore no one is an outsider.  Most students would find it a relief to find acceptance.  But if you’re a young person (and I’m also willing to bet the suspects are freshmen or sophomores), and your identity is based around being an outsider, then your reaction is to be the intolerant person in a tolerant community.  My biggest surprise isn’t that this happened, but that it hadn’t happened sooner.

And what came of this glorious “conversation”?  Watch to the end of the video:

You have students running into the background chanting “Bullshit!” while the representative of the college tries to defend the college and therefore all of the students and faculty (there’s also covering his own ass, obviously).  To Oberlin students, the President of the college serves two purposes: Representing “The Man” and raising money for the university (in that order).  Nothing else gets in their thick skulls because their beliefs are never seriously challenged by anyone.

Oberlin isn’t a community of intolerance or hatred.  It’s a community of ignorance laboring under the false impression that they’re progressive.  There’s nothing progressive about turning away from education for a day so that everyone can have a meaningless group hug.

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 stupid No Comments

I Suck at Shuffling Cards.

I know how dorky this looks.  I swear I wasn’t trying to look cool.  It’s just that everything looks cool when you slow it down to 2500 frames-per-second.  Now I know why Zack Snyder uses it ALL THE DAMN TIME.

Friday, September 28th, 2012 humor, personal, stupid No Comments

Chick-Fil-A and the Age of Slacktivism

A couple weeks ago, Dan Cathy, the President and COO of Chick-Fil-A, made the following statement on the Ken Coleman Show:

“We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.”

Dan Cathy is an idiot.  He’s a bigot, and he’s on the wrong side of history.  In 2004, George W. Bush was re-elected in part because Karl Rove was able to prey on homophobia and intolerance (and also by getting people to believe that a decorated veteran was less able to lead the country in a time of war than a guy who never saw a day of combat in his life).  Eight years later, more states have legalized gay marriage, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is no more, the President came out in favor of gay marriage, and a nationwide movement began with “It Gets Better”.

But refusing to eat Chick-Fil-A on moral grounds isn’t part of turning the tide.  Since Cathy’s statement, there has been an uprising on social networks chastising the corporation for its homophobic believes.  Somehow, people were surprised that a business that’s closed on Sunday to observe the sabbath had deep ties to Christianity.  This shock has led to not only Facebook and Twitter posts against Chick-Fil-A, but calls to boycott the business.

There seems to be a misunderstanding regarding the efficacy of boycotts.  It’s a throwback to the 1960s when civil rights organizations boycotted segregated businesses.  However, these businesses tended to be small, family-owned shops.  If your restaurant was located in a neighborhood that was half-black and half-white, and all the black people stopped eating there, then you’ve lost 50% of your revenue, and you were forced to consider whether how much money you’d be willing to lose because of bigotry.

Boycotting a corporation like Chick-Fil-A, however, doesn’t register to them.  While they obviously can’t ignore the media blowback from Cathy’s statement, there’s no way for them to measure how many people are boycotting.  Maybe profits are lower because people are eating out less since the economy sucks.  Maybe more competitive businesses are rising up around their locations.  And how will Chick-Fil-A fix this problem?  I doubt Dan Cathy will make an apology and even if he did, how many people would it bring back?  Isn’t it easier to lay people off or raise prices?  I assume if Chick-Fil-A’s profits dropped steeply, that would be their move because Dan Cathy’s convictions are stronger than the convictions of his detractors.

As I said, I think Dan Cathy’s views are despicable, but we should acknowledge that he’s willing to sacrifice millions of dollars for them.  Chick-Fil-A could be making 1/7th more money than it makes now by being open on a Sunday.   The bible says to take a day off for the sabbath, and Dan Cathy will abide by that commandment.   His opponents, on the other hand, can’t be bothered to do more than not spend money on fast food.

This isn’t to say that people haven’t gone out to protest.  If you picked up a sign, staged a sit-in, or did anything that required you to do more than sit at home, this post is not directed at you.  I commend you on taking action, taking time out of your life, and showing people that you truly care about this issue.  You have done far more than someone who posts a negative Chick-Fil-A meme on Facebook followed by a funny picture of an adorable animal.

Because we now live on the Internet, and are defined by how we share our beliefs and spend our money, then a simple post qualifies as protest.  “I’m so angry, I shared someone else’s link.”  We’re past the point of raising awareness (and again, if you weren’t aware that Chick-Fil-A’s management has Christian beliefs, then you weren’t really paying attention in the first place), so it’s really just to make yourself feel better.  You’re pro-gay rights, and you lifted a finger to do something by clicking on your mouse.  Well done.

I can’t stand that anymore.  I can’t stand this unearned self-righteousness and people refusing to truly sacrifice for what they believe in.  Honestly, I’m not that bothered by eating at Chick-Fil-A.  As I said, history’s inexorable shift towards gay rights is unstoppable, and it doesn’t matter how much money Dan Cathy and his ilk donate to anti-gay organizations.  They’re on the wrong side of history whether I buy an 8-piece chicken nuggets or not.  I’ll support gay rights right now and you can too: click here to donate money to the It Gets Better Project.

“But if you’re pouring money into Chick-Fil-A’s coffers, then you’re just negating what you’re putting into It Gets Better!”  a person I just made up might say.  Except Chick-Fil-A is on the wrong side of history.  I will happily give them money so I can watch them waste millions of it on a social issue they’re going to lose.  Their money is poorly spent.  It Gets Better’s money is wisely spent because they need momentum, and they will touch the lives of countless young people who will in turn support each other.  Chick-Fil-A can’t create homophobes, so unless they’ve concocted an anti-aging formula that runs off intolerance, then the company can’t change the fact that homophobic people are the past and  enlightened young people are the future.

However, if your argument is that you can’t in good conscience give money to a homophobic business, then that’s fine.  But what are you willing to give your money to?  In all likelihood, you own some piece of technology made in a factory in China.  In China, they work long hours for slave wages in factories that are so bad that one corporation, Foxconn, had to put up suicide nets.  Working conditions are so terrible, that they had to come up with a way to stop employees from killing themselves.  Nets are cheaper than higher wages and decent working conditions.

If this bothers you, then I encourage you to throw away any piece of technology that was made on the backs of this kind of harsh labor.  Chick-Fil-A might be against gay rights, but I’m pretty sure there aren’t any suicide nets on the premises (I guess an argument could be made for the ball pit on the playground).  Also, if you put gas in your car, then why do you support endangering our oceans?  As we learned a couple years ago, deepwater drilling is incredibly hazardous, and conditions have not significantly improved since Deepwater Horizon.

Except giving up your technology or your car is sacrifice.  It won’t stop tech companies from using cheap labor or oil companies from drilling, but you will feel that sacrifice every day because your life will be more difficult because of it.  Circling back to Christianity, the notion of tithing doesn’t have a bad premise.  If you were forced to give up 10% of your income to charity, you would most likely feel it.  That’s sacrifice.  That’s the courage of your convictions.  Refusing to eat a chicken sandwich: not courageous.

Friday, August 3rd, 2012 politics, stupid No Comments

We Could Have Had This Conversation Yesterday

This morning, the country woke up to the tragic news that a gunman had opened fire at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, and killed 12 people.  The number of injured was initially reported at 38, but new reports have put it at 59.  I want to say it’s “shocking”, but it’s not.  It feels inevitable.

But today, social networks are in an uproar about gun control and gun violence.  It’s the roar that comes every 6-12 months because it rarely takes longer than a year for another one of these massacres to occur.  And then the uproar dies down, and we move on to the latest news story.  It’s also a little strange that gun violence only seems to rouse people to action when it’s in a cluster.  Massacres make headlines, but I don’t hear an outcry on Twitter on a daily basis.   There were 12,632 gun-related homicides in 2007.  What makes those gun deaths less notable than those that happened at the Aurora Century 16 theater?

The question we’ve become forced to ask ourselves is not “Why does this happen?” but “Why doesn’t this happen more often?”

There’s no political will to make it stop.  If Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords getting shot in the head doesn’t spur congress to action on tougher gun control laws, then a bunch of Batman fans at a midnight screening isn’t going to register.  Just like a bunch of college kids at Virginia Tech didn’t register.  Just like the birthday party killings in Texas didn’t register (I didn’t even remember the one until The New Yorker mentioned it).  Taking on guns is a political loser because it means wasting a lot of money fighting the NRA, and stronger gun control doesn’t get candidates elected.  Americans don’t like being told what we can’t do and what we can’t have.

This post isn’t a call to ban guns, or a call for stricter gun laws.  This isn’t a call for anything.  It’s just an observation about how we could have had today’s discussion about guns yesterday, and we’ll probably be having this conversation a year from now.  The problem of gun violence in America never dies.

Friday, July 20th, 2012 culture, politics, stupid No Comments

Occupy Research

I want to support the Occupy Wall Street movement.  I really do.  I agree with the majority consensus on major issues (get money out of politics, banking reform, stop congressmen and women from passing legislation affecting companies where the senator or representative is an investor) and I’m terrified that this latest nationwide crackdown is trying to snuff out the movement.*

However, I’m also terrified of well-intentioned-yet-ignorant.  Here’s a statement released by Occupy Atlanta regarding Black Friday protests:

Black Friday gets its name because it is traditionally the day that retailers, big banks, and major corporations move from “in the red” to “in the black” where they start to turn a profit. While the 1% are doing better than ever, every day ordinary people are struggling to make ends meet. In a world of foreclosures, unemployment, and high cost of living,
Americans are seemingly always “in the red.”

Big corporations and the media try to use this day to tell us that the economy is doing fine. We know that is a lie. More and more people are falling into poverty. 50 million Americans now have to rely on food stamps. Homes are being foreclosed on at an astonishing rate every day. In Atlanta alone, 1% of the population controls almost 70% of our resources. We say the economy is not doing fine.

Occupy Atlanta is using the massive crowds of everyday people gathering on Black Friday as an opportunity to raise awareness of immoral corporate practices and income inequality. We will be reaching out to the community through symbolic actions of civil disobedience. This field guide was created not just for people from Occupy Atlanta or the rest of the city to take action, but to encourage those in the rest of the state and country to have a little fun, and raise some awareness this holiday season.

In addition we will also be holding a really, really free market at 3pm at Troy Davis Park(formerly Woodruff Park) featuring free food, clothing, and other items.

First off, not all corporations are evil.  Some absolutely are, but you can’t paint all of them with the same brush.  But more importantly, shopping is good for the economy.  Yes, small businesses deserve love too, but take a company like Best Buy:

Best Buy is not a perfect company because no perfect company exists.  Their return policies can be nightmarish and their “Geek Squad” should be avoided at all costs.  However, Best Buy employs thousands of workers.  The company is not only staffed by the blue-shirts you see on the floor.  There’s a corporate infrastructure at work and all those people need jobs.  If you cut off Best Buy, then there will be layoffs.  Furthermore, there’s a ripple effect.  The company can’t afford as much merchandise so that hurts everyone behind those products.  Most importantly, spending is how money goes back into the economy.

That’s why stimulus is so important.  It’s not just for repairing roads and bridges (although that’s also important).  It’s to put money in the pockets of Americans so they can go spend it.  Occupy Atlanta doesn’t understand this.  I appreciate that they took the day to try and raise awareness of the movement, but it’s a muddled message and people don’t like being chastised for shopping.

One final note: Woodruff Park is not “Troy Davis Park”.  You can’t rename places just because you want to.  Furthermore, the wrongful execution of a man has nothing to do with the economy unless everything falls under the umbrella of “injustice”.  Finally, this renaming damages the use of Twitter to spread the word and gather people.  If you tweet “Meet up at Troy Davis Park”, some people may not know what you’re talking about unless they’re already involved in the movement and were probably going to show up anyway.  If you tweet “Meet up at Troy Davis Park (formerly Woodruff Park)” you’ve burned off a lot of characters.  And if you just do the sensible thing and tweet “Meet up at Woodruff Park”, then there was really no point in renaming anyway.

I don’t know how Occupy is working in other cities, but here in Atlanta it needs to be smarter and better understand what it’s protesting.  No one cares if Occupy Atlanta is standing in solidarity with the Egyptian people.  The movement can’t be a catch-all, especially if it doesn’t understand what it’s catching.

*As a side note, I don’t recall this kind of force being brought against Tea Party protestors.

Monday, November 28th, 2011 politics, stupid No Comments

Too Nerdy to Live

Most cool people will never understand this, but for nerdy folks myself, there comes a time when you take a step back and go, “There is no reason this should infuriate me.  I need to find real things to care about.”  Then you go back to being infuriated over inconsequential matters.

Example:  Here’s the trailer for the upcoming video game X-Men: Destiny:

Set aside for the moment that even after viewing this trailer I have no idea what kind of game X-Men Destiny is.  Is it an Action-RPG?  An arcade brawler like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance?  A mixture of both?  But that’s not what I find maddening.

It’s the stupid tagline at the end:

“Some Destinies are Chosen.”

No.  No, they’re not.  Destiny cannot be chosen.  That’s what makes it “destiny”.  It is the unavoidable endpoint and you have no say in how you get there.  That’s why “Destiny” and “Destination” share the same root.  Destiny negates choice.  It happens no matter what you do.  The game should be called X-Men: Choice or X-Men: Determination or X-Men: Experience-Based Leveling System for Character Customization.  Not X-Men: Destiny.

I just spent fifteen minutes of my life ranting about this.  That’s what sadness looks like.  NEVER FORGET.

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 personal, stupid, videogames No Comments
 

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