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xwing

FRIENDS ONLY

Posted on 2019.11.29 at 02:40


"Replicants are like any other machine.  If they are a benefit to the public, that is no concern to me."
Unfortunately, the world is filled with replicant and real people.  The replicants can be found by testing their reactions to empathy using a Voight Kampf machine.  Please comment here to receive a test and be accepted inside.








xwing

The Satisfaction of Beating the Village Idiot

Posted on 2014.02.05 at 21:10
Mental Status: sicksick
I hate to tell this to everyone in the middle of high fiving one another, but Ken Ham, the owner of the Creation Museum in Kentucky, is a fringe guy.  He’s the village idiot of the Christian community…. Yes, we have them.  Everyone does.  He is so fringe that he is denounced by Pat Robertson.  How far out do you have to be to have that happen and for it to make sense?

We do this today, we do this SO much today.  We take fringe people from the side we disagree with (or don’t like) and we put them on a stand and say “everyone that disagrees with us is just like THIS person”, when they are pretty far from representative.  We have to feel good so much that we do this all the time.  We go get the 1950’s equivalent of the owner of the “Mystery Hole” in order to make what we believe feel BETTER.  The left does this, the right does this, people of faith do this, atheists do this, every group trying to make a point is doing this.  That is something that has come about with the internet age, because it is easier to find a fringe person to go up against now more than ever.

You want Bill Nye up against someone?  How about C.S.Lewis or Heisenberg?  Not the guy that made meth, but the REAL Doctor Werner Heisenberg, the scientist that expanded our understanding of Quantum Mechanics.  Both of them were pretty devout Christians that would defend their faith publically.  It was not a contradiction for them to be men of reason and at the same time men of faith.

Not that they would defend the ideas of Ken Ham.  That is looney tunes.  And before you get all excited and tell me how you are opposing the voices of ignorance, please get a sense of history.  Do you think this country is more religious or less religious than 50 years ago? 100 years ago?  Which direction do you think this subject matter is marching?  And your concern for these remote rural areas is touching, but is this the biggest thing these areas need help with?  Trust me, the most important subjects a young kid can get is math and reading.  With those firm foundations and a love for learning…. They are going to bring in everything else and they will learn right.  I went to a public high school and Mr. Rafa did spend 10 minutes talking about creationism.  Well, maybe he mentioned it over 10 seconds.  It didn’t slow down my classmate who became a world class heart surgeon.  It didn’t stop the guy that went to Yale and works for Goldman Sachs.  It didn’t stop the dozen engineers we made or the two dozen others that went into medical fields.  It didn’t stop the handful of scientists that we created either.

Ken Ham got a platform that he never would have gotten otherwise.  He’ll probably pick up more followers.  Not because he’s right, he’s dead wrong.  Not because he was eloquent, he wasn’t.  He’ll get followers because there is generally something revolting about people celebrating taking down the village idiot.  And in this interconnected social networking age, it is easier to pick up people who just want to be contrary for heck of it.

xwing

Costume cons.... And why they stopped being fun

Posted on 2013.06.05 at 14:31
This is probably going to be long winded and I am going to offend people, maybe lose some friends. My mind is wandering all over the place concerning it. But I feel like I should say something.

It stopped being fun. It had been brewing for some time, probably being there more than a year, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Maybe it was more that I didn’t want to put my finger on it. I lived in denial. I blamed it on other things, like my mood and said I would get over it. Ignoring a problem doesn’t fix a problem.

The cosplay convention community has changed and like a slow boiled lobster, I didn’t realize what was happening until I was well into the red. Now I look back at how things were when I began this hobby it doesn’t look that recognizable to when I started. I am probably like a lot of you out there. I was more than a little obsessed with my fandoms and in that there was a lot of loneliness until I met other people on the web and discovered that there were conventions that I could reach out and meet others similar to me. My first convention was in 2005. I brought one costume as an afterthought, just to participate in one of the bigger aspects of the con. It was a military uniform from the anime Fullmetal Alchemist. I still have it hanging up in a closet. It is a pretty smart looking costume and I didn’t realize how much I would get a kick out of seeing something in real life that I had only seen in animation. I met people that were fans of the show. We started talking, shared our love of different characters. It was a strange and yet wonderful feeling meeting people that were just like me. It felt like coming home.
A lot of us would trade livejournal names and we would follow each other. We continued to share our love of what we enjoyed, but we also took an interest in each other’s lives. As time went on we would share more, we would actually share our lives with those that we trusted. You would know who was going to make the innovative costumes. What they would make would become events. We would go to more and more cons if we could, sometimes adding more and more costumes. I was never going to be a model for a lot of characters I liked, but I would still costume some. I reignited my love of photography that I had since I was in high school and got a DSLR. Every con I went to became not just a social venue, but an opportunity to improve what I knew about photography.
The convention scene became a place where a reputation could precede you. Most people were creating websites to show what they were making. If you had 400+ hits to your site, you felt like superstar. The superbowl of costuming conventions was Dragon*con. We talked about it in hushed tones. You could see things there that you could not see anywhere else. You would see people that would look like they just walked off of the screen of your favorite movie or series. It also had a bit of a wild reputation, but as I came to learn that first year, you would only find that if you went looking for it.

And then things changed. Was it one event? No, but a lot of people had a hand in it. I guess I had a hand in it for what I said and didn't say. I have been talking to a lot of people as of late. It is interesting because so many people have the same feeling and it is coming from all sectors and demographics of the community. Things have changed and they do not feel cool with it.
So much of it has become ego. So much of it has become name dropping. So much of it has become jockeying for pecking order. It has become “how many likes do you have?” It has become a one way mirror where they want to be the star of their own reality show. Please watch me, but do not interact with me. So much of it has become "what can you do for me?" So much of it has become about sex. Now I am not a prude and I do like costumes representing sexy characters, but when it becomes that sex is the driving force, you are going to attract a less than savory element. You are going to bring in people that are not fans of anime, science fiction, comics or fantasy. They are there for sex. And these new people are having trouble distinguishing the difference between someone who is cosplaying a character and someone that they consider a stripper or a porn actress. Kickstarters that promise 15 minutes of conversation with a pretty girl are going to attract people that pay money to talk to pretty girls... and girls that want money to be talked to. And when they find out that they can get a lot more than just talk for that amount of money, we are going to get the buyers and sellers of people who are into that kind of business. I am not a prude. I have friends that do nude modeling and photography and they are worried. It is a huge changing dynamic that people have not thought through the consequences.

A lot has been made about "Cosplay does not equal Consent". I think that the growth of all of the troubles has come from the over sexualization of the scene. People who in any other circumstance would be as respectful as when they are in front of their mother are losing all manners and sense of propriety at conventions. They treat the people they meet like they are in a fraternity house or a strip club. And the more that association is made, the more people are going to act that way. It will not matter how many campaigns are held to try to stop that behavior, they won't see it because they are not there for the scene except to come to the cons. It is not just the men, there are some women that want that kind of behavior and will enable it. I know some amazing costumers that are seriously considering getting out of the hobby because they do not want to be groped or they are afraid that because they costume, there will be a presumption that they are not much different from people who are in the adult entertainment industry. There are consequences for this. They have lives both personal and professional that will be affected if those connections are made, fairly or unfairly.

There is so much vulgarness and entitlement. People who have never had any responsibility in their lives are now suddenly given influence. People like their costume and/or like how they look so they can say what they want and do what they want. It is so ugly it is breathtaking. They can have a grievance with a costumer, a photographer or just someone they are miffed at. They mention it on their page and all of a sudden thousands of social misanthropes feel like they should go set that person straight without even knowing the details of what happened. They take those actions in the hope they might find favor with the person they are a fan of. There is no thought behind what can happen by careless words. It doesn’t even have to happen to me, I see someone else be mistreated and it just puts a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I can’t enjoy my time with someone that was just horrible to another person. Some people think they are speaking their minds when really they have thousands of people kissing their butts and enabling every word and action they take. A friend of mine who was a popular actor in Hollywood in the 50s and 60s said that "it can mess with your mind being told that you are awesome every moment". He had to go way down to become grounded again. But most people don't. They find validation through adoration. And the hobby that was originally done for fun becomes a vehicle to bring validation.

So what have I taken to doing? Hiding in my suite at Dragon*con mostly. There were times I would go down to the floor, the heat and humidity would be high, I’d look around and then go back to my room. I’d have my D7000 in hand and yet I wouldn’t snap a shot. I used to spend 90% of my time on the con floor. Now i spend 90% in my room. I think I longed for something else. A private shoot somewhere of my choosing, not the crushing mass of humanity that was the con. Some of the people I would meet I would just not trust. I wouldn’t trust what they would do with me. I would not trust what they would do with others, particularly the women who would be around me. My female friends place a lot of trust in me, they feel safe around me. I do not casually say “this is a good person” to them. And some of the people that would be trying to get close to me frankly were not good people. But they were popular. You would be told to not judge, not to take sides, but the trail of wreckage behind them was undeniable. People make their own choices. There is not much I can do about that, but I would not be me if someone I cared about became some of that wreckage because I didn’t speak up when I had the chance.
My life means something and for people who are near me, especially women, you are safe. You are safe in my house or room or presence. You do not have to do what you do not want to do and you do not have to feel coerced and you will always be a person, not a thing. When I introduce you to someone, it is not just because I like them and want you to meet them, it is because I trust them. It is getting harder to do that, getting harder to guarantee that. When I go to a convention I am not sure that the people around me are in it for the same reasons anymore.

I still like making costumes. I still like dressing up. I still like doing photo shoots both in front of and behind the camera. I like telling a story. I like people into the same fandoms that I am. I don't think that is going to change. How I find those people, how I express these interests might change. I think this is going to be my last Dragon*con.... and maybe my last big con outside of Star Wars Celebrations. I'll go to smaller cons like Supermegafest. Do private photo shoots, stay involved with the Rebel Legion and 501st. And wait for things to change.


Posted via m.livejournal.com.


ALIEN - Attack

Augusta

Posted on 2012.11.26 at 21:27
Current Location: United States, Georgia, Augusta
Mental Status: tiredtired
Tags:

Thanksgiving is over and I am back in Augusta.  Nine hours of travel when make haste.  Parents door to my apartment door is 600 miles on the nose.  I got back to my temporary place and immediately got to work preparing for the next day.  

Computers and electronic devices were reconnected and set charging.
Lunches for tomorrow were packed and refrigerated.
Coffee machine is prepped and set for tomorrow at 5 AM.
Breakfast is prepped to easily get in the morning.
The bed is made, clothes laid out for tomorrow.  
The gym bag is packed in case I go get a membership at the YMCA. 
Correspondence is sent.  Every minute is filled with something that needs to be done.  

I need to get back to writing here....mostly for practice if nothing else.  Regimentation will bring more writing... like it brings more walking and physical activity.  More to come.  


DRAMA!!!!!!

China: Weight

Posted on 2012.07.15 at 16:58
Mental Status: accomplishedaccomplished
Tags: , ,
In March I weighed 322 pounds.  I measured myself after I came back from a walk this afternoon.  I weighed 289.5.  32 pounds?  I am almost half way to where I want to be. 

What is responsible for it?  Well, limited food choices are a big help, but the biggest thing is being more active.  I walk everywhere all the time.  I try to get in three miles a day every day.  Today I did seven miles to an abandoned movie set.  My friend Sue from England accompanied me there.  It is a lot easier getting those miles out if you have someone to go with you. 

Of course I am worried for when I get home.  I want to keep walking every day and not miss doing what I need to do.  Hopefully a new assignment at a plant under construction will allow me to keep more active.  I hope so.  Being here allowed me to change, but changes back home are going to be needed if I am going to be able to keep it up.

You can easily get used to being inactive if you surround yourself with inactivity.  I have to leave the town I am living in and inject myself around people that are more active.  When I travel and see friends I match them in all that they are doing, but when I return home I return to old bad patterns.  

My calves are coming alive.  If you are obese, your calves grow to a HUGE size.  They move around a lot of weight and they grow thick with muscle, but the skin becomes rigid too.  They seem a little smaller now.  I have more feeling in them.  Leg and foot stretches are done twice daily to make sure everything is OK.  This is how things are going to get better.  Without these legs working as best as they can, I just don't see myself losing the weight.

In other news.... I don't post many open entries anymore.  This is one, but if you want to read more, you are going to have to sign on to read them.  You do NOT have to have a LJ account.  You can sign in using facebook if you want, but I want to know who is reading the protective posts.  A month into posting over here a Chinese engineer talked about finding this blog.  That was more than a little bit unnerving.  ....and I have a lot to say about life over here.

SW Rank

China: Week 4 Things worth living for

Posted on 2012.05.04 at 17:51
Current Location: Haiyang, China
Mental Status: sadsad
Tags: , , ,

What is hard about living in the other side of the world? You are isolated. The people that surround you that speak your language are all that you have. Of course you can email friends and family. Posting pictures is slow. You need a VPN to use facebook and twitter. Skyping can be done with faster connections. But is it not easy to just pick up a phone and call people. At $2 per minute, you just don’t. And you realize how disconnected you are with things.

I have lost two people that were important to me since I came here almost a month ago. Tonight I will lose a third. I had known him since we were teenagers in college, we are fraternity brothers. Actually he is my little brother in my fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau.  We lived in the same hometown for a while after school and then he moved out west and we lost track of one another. I got in contact with him again two years ago. We caught up online and played video games on Xbox live. Xbox live is a great place where you can spend time with people if you are playing the right game. Borderlands was our game, where Chris and I were seeking the fabled vaults of Pandora. Not long before I came to China he had some medical troubles and had to have surgery. The results were terrifying, he had extensive colon cancer. A fellow brother went to visit him and afterwards he asked me if I would be able to visit him. Two weeks out getting ready for my trip to China that could last five months, I didn’t have the time or money to go. I said I would be back by the latest in August.  At the time, there was no reason why I couldn't see him then.

I got a message this morning that he had taken a turn for the worst and that they were gathering the family to say goodbye. Shawn, a fellow brother, was in Africa as he told me this. Shawn’s work with the CDC takes him everywhere in the world.  He is often not home when he most wants to be. He knew every feeling that would be going through my mind. I sent him a message back and just sat in my room and cried for a while. What could you do? The company would not send me back for anyone other than a parent or a sibling. Getting tickets on short notice for an international flight can be difficult and they often run $6000 with fuel prices the way they are. Chris’s father had the exact same cancer. He was scared of getting it. He was scared when he did get it. I just sat there on my bed and cried thinking of him. That is the time when you realize that you have had no physical contact with another human other than a handshake since you have arrived here.

I got to work and opened Microsoft Word. I always write as I work. It is not a means of goofing off. It helps me keep focused. As I do other things, my mind wanders, so I write a few sentences and then go back to what I should be doing. Sometimes at the end of the day I have a document that is worth posting. Most days it is just garbage or disjointed. Today I wrote all of the reasons why it was great to be alive. Some profound, some stupid. But all of them were good reasons to be alive. Not every death is a sad occasion. If you have lived a long time and done many things, that is a life to be celebrated, one to be held up. A life cut short is one where the individual will miss out on much. And we will miss out on much not sharing those experiences with that person. My mind always goes to what they will never get to do, what they will never get to see, what they will never get to experience, what they will never get to say.

I have friends that get so depressed they lock up. They don’t go anywhere, they don’t want to do anything, they just isolate themselves and shut down. They give every reason in the world for why they "can't".  They wear that like a badge of pride because it is comfortable and it gets them compassion from some.  They have the means, they are physically able and I just want to jump up and down and scream “GET OUT THERE, you are missing out!!!!!" I know it is not the right thing to say to someone who is depressed, but it is always there with me under the surface.

I wrote and I wrote all day. I had to go to the site for a few hours twice today. At lunch, I ate my soup and thought of more things to write. I thought about this Roberta, a girl I knew in high school.  Hadn't thought of her in years.  I remembered hearing her play for hours classical music on a grand piano. I thought of friends that were far away. I thought of Zebby. I thought of scuba diving. I thought of my favorite meal, linguini with white clam sauce. I thought of the times I slept outside and watched the stars. I thought of Fiona, the bulldog puppy next door.  I thought of riding the trails on my bike near my house.  I had three pages worth of things worth doing, worth seeing, worth sharing, worth remembering.  I might post it someday... if I can merge it with the other pages of stuff that is similar in nature.

Life is so worth living, but no one is going to hand it to you. You will have to go out and get it yourself. And you will meet people along the way that will want it like you do. If they don’t want to swim in the same direction as you, that’s OK, there will be those that will. But don’t be a stop along the journey. Keep swimming, keep learning, keep improving, keep positive, keep giving, do the right thing….always. Don’t do it for a reward. Don’t do it for an expectation. Do it without any thought of a return other than the intrinsic experience of doing it. And along the way you will be surprised.

Tonight is May the Fourth, so I am going to watch Star Wars. And I’ll think of Chris and take it easy.


Stalin-Lenin Beavis and Butthead

Yoga and Reading

Posted on 2012.04.25 at 06:19
Current Location: Haiyang, China
Tags:

Today I learned that power outages of various lengths are a weekly occurrence in the village. I have no plug in clocks so I have not noticed if this happens while I am away or when I sleep. The authorities blame it on sunspots or testing of electrical equipment, but the real reason is that there is not enough power for this area. That is why we are building this power plant. When completed there will be eight to ten reactors on site providing that many gigawatts of electrical power. There are only so many places on the planet where this much power is generated in one place at one time. This will be one of them. From an electrical desert to one of the biggest providers in human history… quite a jump. But that will still be many years away when it is completed.

I attended a yoga class yesterday. Going to it is part of my plan of “do something every day” to keep active. Monday and Wednesdays are spent weight lifting. Tuesdays and Thursdays are yoga. Yoga class has twenty people in it, a mix of Chinese housewives and some expat men. We bring our own mats and the class lasts an hour and a half. Mostly it is relaxing as we stretch and let the troubles of the day float away. I need stretching. I can’t touch my toes and a dozen other basic things I need to be able to do. I am told that if I do my best at every session I will get better and better and eventually be able to stretch and do all of those things that I want to do. The last 30 minutes of class is a torture session, the sort of thing that was done to us whenever we screwed up and were punished in military school. We lay on our backs and lift our legs off the ground at different elevations. We scream and yell in pain as we do this, but it IS good for a variety of muscle groups. By the end of class you soaked with sweat and loose as a goose. And since the class is from 5:30 PM (the moment we get home) until 7PM, you miss dinner. Even today as I walk around I feel what I did yesterday to my legs and torso.

I get back to my apartment and make myself some ramen. Most of the ramen here has little packets of additives that smell scary. Sometimes I have no idea what I am putting into the bowl with the noodles. At least the spicy ramen bowls taste good because they are so spicy hot. I supplement my meal with a protein bar and see if the television is going to work for the evening. Sometimes we get the BBC World News, sometimes we do not. Even HBO is so scrubbed by the Chinese censors the only thing showing is children’s programs. So you browse the web (if the internet is working). It can take up to 20 minutes to load a 4 minute youtube video. It usually ends up that I read a book on my Kindle.

I am so glad I have a Kindle. I am glad that I loaded it up with books before coming here. All of the Harry Potter books… all of George R.R.Martin Song of Ice and Fire series, a half dozen books on the Titanic, a few Star Wars books, complete collections of H.P.Lovecraft, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Dickens, Thoreau, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Edgar Allan Poe, James Joyce, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Alexander Dumas, Arthur Conan Doyle. I have all of the Oz books by Frank Baum, the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, the Hunger Games trilogy, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Dune. I have 60 ancient works by Plato, Cicero, Flavius Josephus and other ancient histories, 19th century mystical writings on Atlantis and its fall, several versions of The Bible, a couple of zombie novels by Max Brooks and Colson Whitehead, many classic books from the past 300 years (many of them free from Amazon), two dozen books on the Civil War written by people that were there, Alexis De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, a couple of David Weber’s Honor Harrington series of space adventures, classics of science fiction like Asamov’s Foundation Trilogy, Haldeman’s Forever War and Christopher’s The White Mountains. Everything Shakespeare wrote, essays from Christopher Hitchens, Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s dictionary, army field manuals, books on Viking myths, Chinese philosophers, Greek and Roman myths, Brave New World, 1984…. And a bunch more books, more than I could read, but I would be glad to try. My Kindle changed how I read before I came here. I take my Kindle everywhere I go in this country. I have it to read on the bus in the morning, on the way home after work, on trips to Yantai or Qingdao. I take it to lunch, breakfast and dinner. Many times there are people to talk to and I am sociable, but if no one is there or no one speaks English, I just open it and read. You then start to consume books at an accelerated rate as fast as when you were young and at that age that you could read anything effortlessly. It goes even faster now that you are often left alone with your thoughts here. Reading and writing becomes an outlet for sanity.

My visa situation here is ambiguous at best. Nothing much is going on at the moment. The real action will occur in July. So why am I here? It makes certain people happy to have a real live honest to goodness Westinghouse engineer on site on this particular project. But unlike all of the other engineers, I don’t get a dime extra to be here. I only make extra money on not having to put gas into my car or having my food paid for. In a way I make money by not having anything to spend my money on. It is easy to have no distractions while living here. But back to my visa situation. I have a 30 day multiple re-entry visa. That means I can only stay 30 days and I must leave the country. Now I can come back the next day after I leave as long as I have gone to another country: Hong Kong, Korea, Japan… they don’t care. I am in the process of getting that extended to a 90 day visa. I have to surrender my passport tomorrow and sign some papers in Yantai on Friday. I’ll get my passport back on May 7th and my visa will be extended 90 days. The problem with this visa is that when I leave, I am gone. I will have to reapply for another visa in order to return. They are also trying to have me get a work visa…mostly so the Chinese government can tax our wages, but to do that I need a FBI background check and to get that I must sign papers and have them notarized and you can only do that in America. Once you sign the papers, it can take 10 to 12 weeks for me to get a background check completed, then a few more weeks to finish the work permit. If I leave right now, I might have a work permit by July…. But I am being given very little direction over what to do… very little. I make suggestions, but I am not sure if anyone listens to me very much.

I am starting to come to the conclusion that I may be here for a while. Some people can stay here a long time and never accept that they are going to be here for a while. Maybe I should treat it like I will be and pray for an early return. Accepting that means you will buy certain things, arrange your apartment in a certain way, participate in certain activities. I mean to get a bluray player (or some kind of player) to watch movies on my TV. I wish I had my xbox here to play games, even if I could not play online with them. When the internet is out and I am not in the mood to read I play Civilization on my computer trying to conquer the world. My laptop is not a fast machine and I can’t see playing a FPS or anything that requires internet connectivity. I have not decorated my apartment in any special way, but I think I should make it more inviting, more like home.

I have a list of things that I will bring back here if I go home and am forced to return. More pillow cases, another new pair of shoes, more long sleeved shirts. I am starting to see my clothes get torn and worn up more easily just by using the washing machines provided to us. I am half tempted to buy Star Wars on Bluray here just for the novelty of owning it in a Chinese format. I saw a legitimate copy in a steel case and everything.

I want to write, I want to write, I want to write. I write about everything. I scribble notes in a book. I type things on computers all day long. When I am doing work there is at least one page on Word open where I write about anything and everything. Writing makes me think clearly and improves my efficiency. You don’t see most of it because most of it is rubbish or not worth keeping. Maybe it will be someday. I very badly want to be home. I want to see the people I love, talk to the people I love, text the people I text and I cannot do that except in limited ways. I feel like I am emotionally kelating myself, pulling out poisons and bad habits that I should have been doing years ago at home, but am only doing now out of necessity. Maybe at the end I’ll be that much better of a person when I come home, physically and emotionally. Bob Johnson, the 85 year old Methodist minister who has traveled to 37 different countries in his lifetime and was a student of mine, put his hands on my shoulders and said “You will not be the same when you come back, no one ever is”. He was not describing the change as being a bad thing.


xwing

China: Lazy Sunday

Posted on 2012.04.22 at 08:03
Mental Status: irritatedirritated
Tags:

I should write about a few dining experiences I have had recently while here.  Or about my trip to Qingdao.  Maybe later this week.  Today was spent being antisocial and not hearing any word in English outside of a 3 minute phone call this morning. 

I walked the track 10 laps and did some lifting in the gym, but I didn't want to be anywhere.  I am so often on the go around here.  Today i wanted to stay in the "village" here.  I mostly watched Doctor Who's third season or alternated reading the second Fire and Ice book "A Clash of Kings".  The Martin books always entertain... and Doctor Who always cheers me up.

I have an entry brewing in me for some time.  The news of recent events keeps adding to it.  I may post it tomorrow. 


Lost Desmond

Titanic Stories: The Chief Baker

Posted on 2012.03.29 at 22:04
Current Location: Home
Mental Status: chipperchipper
Tags:

The Chief Baker of the RMS Titanic is one of the more interesting characters of the story of the Titanic.  Charles Joughin simply knew he was going to die.  Offered a place in one of the boats as a member of the crew, he argued that it wasn’t right that he do so.  “I’m no sailor” he told Second Officer Charles Lightoller.  He assisted passengers with their lifebelts, put some women into the boats and then went back to his room to drink alcohol.  Being caught drinking was a fireable offense on the White Star Line, but Charles didn’t think they would get the chance to do it.  He alternated between going to his cabin and helping with the passengers. 

It came to the point where Charles got completely sloshed to the point it was difficult to walk.  He also could not go back to his cabin as it was flooded.  He wandered around the top deck throwing deck chairs at people he saw in the water.  He followed the crowd and made his way to the stern of the ship.  At the stern, he climbed over the guard rail and hung on the outside of the railing.  As the ship broke up and then tilted up for its final dive, he stood on the rear of the ship and rode it down like an elevator until he was quite literally, the last passenger that got off the ship.  The ship settled so gently and with no suction that Charles hair was not wet.  He was still very drunk.

Charles was in the freezing water for two hours.  He was found by an overturned collapsible boat and brought on only when another survivor on the boat had died.  Most of the people in the water died or had serious ill effects from their time in the water.  The next day after boarding the rescue ship Carpathia, Charles Joughin awoke sober with no ill effects at all.  His story verified by other survivors was recounted in both “A Night to Remember” and James Cameron’s “Titanic”.

It would not be the last ship that would sink out from under him, but Charles Joughin would have a long life serving until World War II and passing away in 1956.


Bioshock - Rapture

The Hunger Games: A speculated History of Panem

Posted on 2012.03.23 at 23:13
Mental Status: exhaustedexhausted
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President Obama updated the “Defense of Production Act of 1950” this past week. In that document lies the creation of The Hunger Games. It has been around for over 60 years, amended by all of the Presidents. It is the law of the land and one that would strike fear into people if they thought it would be a likely scenario.

Back during the Cold War, it was determined that a Nuclear War would not kill all people, just most people. The Federal government and civilization in general would be at risk of total collapse. Faced with such horrific threats, the government would be able to press people into service to maintain key industries. You could be drafted to mine coal, farm a land, produce machinery, the people pressed into service would effectively be slave labor. The government could do whatever they wanted to you and why not? What they do might mean the preservation of the species. The death of one obstinate worker is not worth worrying about compared to the death of all humanity. A ruthless, but reasonable person could see that this is necessary. The only problem is, there is no mechanism to turn it off.

The United States has been concerned with doomsday scenarios since the end of World War II. The priorities have always been the same: preserve the best and brightest of society, the scientists, key skilled workers, members of the military and of course, the political leadership. These would be the people that would rebuild society. They would be equipped with every advantage to survive in the new hostile world. Advances in genetic engineering may not create a better human, but it should create better animals and plants that will allow the survivors of the holocaust to adapt. The resources to expand and resettle will be found by “restarting” key industries with the survivors that they find. As harsh as the life would be under the supervision of the Capitol and the protection of the “peacekeepers”, it would be preferable to the chaos of disorganized survivors preying on one another for scraps to live. And most of all, the people working in these industrial districts would be building a future. The materials they harvested, the equipment that they built would go on to restart civilization. Skills and knowledge would not go quietly into the night of a new Dark Age, all of them would be part of this rebirth of human civilization.

But as I said, there is no means to turn things off. If the President of the United States went into a bunker today to survive a catastrophe, would he call an election once his term was up? If after setting up the districts and forcing people to work in them, would he allow them to vote him out of office? There would be no more elections. A state of emergency would exist as long as he and his successors would live. The order of succession is a clearly marked one in our Constitution with different offices replacing one another in time of vacancies. The lower offices would be filled by appointment at times of opportunity, but the Presidency would be a lifetime proposition, one that he or she would choose their successor (someone like minded probably). Autocracy breeds corruption. Even if a wise leader assumes the office, a self serving corrupt one is waiting in the wings and power is always abused.

At some point, the bunker which included the highest elite of the United States will emerge and set up the districts in order to survive. The bunker would become the new Capitol of the country of Panem. The people of the Capitol would see themselves as the last bulwark of civilization. They start to name their children after ancient figures of Rome and Greece. They see in their children titans that will tame a world and bring back what their ancestors have built. But time would pass and the issue would not be survival or exploration, it would be comfort. The capitol would be autocratic, but the best of everything would be found there. The best food, the best healthcare, the best entertainment, the best looking people, dissent would be harshly and publicly treated, but what dissent would there be when people are living in paradise? A place where they live for their own pleasure and vanity at all time.

The conditions of the districts are another matter. The transfer of peacekeepers and the materials produced by the different districts would mean that even though the people working these districts would remain in their locations, the excesses of the capitol would become known. And with their meager harsh conditions, the slaves of these districts would rise up. It is easy to suffer if you think it is for a higher goal, it is another matter to suffer so someone can live well while you starve. The districts rose up and were able to beat back the peacekeepers to the mountains that held the Capitol. The districts were doomed to lose as the Capitol was protected, had time on its side and the technological power to put them in line.

The one rebellion of note was 74 years before Katniss and Peeta entered into the games. The Capitol had message one clear message after defeating the districts, a message that would be repeated every year afterwards “You will suffer for going against us”. And suffer some do, more than just the tribute of giving one boy and a girl each year for the games. In this the leaders of the capitol are like their roman namesakes more than any other way.

Whatever happened to cause the catastrophe in the world is over. The land healed, the earth is good and generous. It did not have to go the way it has, but if there is one thing for certain in the 5000 years of human history, those who gain power are terrified of losing it…. And many will do anything to retain it. Desperate means for desperate times may be necessary, but there has to be a way to turn it off, or there will be those that will attempt to do it for them.

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