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Member Since 29 Nov 2008
Last Active Today, 02:53 AM

Topics I've Started

downloadable (for free?) graphic design programs

06 April 2015 - 04:17 PM

the short of it is i'm trying to design some cover prototypes for a side project supplementary to my book, as well as for promotional stuff for the book itself. it will serve as a fill-in until such time as i actually get published by a major house or publish myself (at which point i'll pay someone to put together something a little nicer.)


until then - any thoughts? i just need to be able to do some basic editing, coloration, fonts, etc. without a lot of frills.

part-time work ideas

14 February 2015 - 06:45 PM

so grad school and a kid have turned out to be very expensive enterprises when combined together, especially in conjunction with financial goals that add up to more than just breaking even every month. i've got a really ambitious budget that involves putting away a substantial amount per month. and for various reasons that's simply not getting done. some of it's frivolous spending, some of it's unavoidable bills (our new insurance is absolute garbage and two quick doctors visits landed us $300 in out-of-pocket medical expenses just like that.)


i've been debating picking up some part-time work on the side to try to plug up some of the holes and cover expenses that keep popping up. anybody have thoughts on flexible options? i've tossed around everything from contracting with uber to seeing if i can land a gig bartending in charlotte a night or two a week when i'm down there, or getting on a lunch shift somewhere.


i've been slowly re-watching breaking bad too, so i'm also open to doing shady stuff.

sharia law creeps into the montana legislature

13 February 2015 - 04:15 PM

turns out muslim representative david moorehammed proposed a bill that would ban clothing that "gives the appearance" of indecent things like butts, including yoga pants.


"yoga pants should be illegal in public anyway," said moorehammed, after the hearing. montana's three strikes law could land you life in prison for wearing yoga pants in public three times if you're convicted.


we as americans need to bind together and say a loud, emphatic NO to the religious fanatics trying to force their fundamentalist views on society. we don't need this great country being subverted by misogynist, patriarchal worldviews that belong in another era. reject moorehammed and islamic religious fundamentalism in montana!

another flight goes down in asia

04 February 2015 - 12:56 AM

holy fug a transasia flight went down in taiwan a little bit ago. this is the least scary one because most of the people on board actually survived but also the most horrifying because of the video









that taxi driver was about a trillionth of a second from being cut in half

an effort post on memorials to the enola gay and vietnam vets and what it says about ch...

30 January 2015 - 10:50 PM

I've been meaning to post about this at detail for a while, since the whole Chris Kyle debate started up. As usual, these things have much deeper roots than the initial glances given to them by the spittle-flecked paragraphs that tend to be dedicated to them in tinderbox dialogue. In the course of this post I will look at the controversies that surrounded the Enola Gay exhibit in the Smithsonian in the mid-90s and the one that surrounded the Vietnam Veterans Memorial a decade before and draw a connection between the and American commemorative culture in the present. Maybe it will shed some light on the angry Chris Kyle thread and why people are behaving as they are.


We'll start with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Basically in the early 80s this dude named Scruggs watched Deer Hunter and had a ton of horrible flashbacks from his time in 'Nam, and after he recalled a bunch of his buddies going down he lamented to his wife that there was never assembled any kind of memorial or place of collective memory/healing for the guys who died over there. And then he decided to build one, getting together with his buddy Carhart, and within a couple of years they had collected massive amounts of funding, sponsorships from congress, and even a plot of land on the National Mall, right across from the Lincoln Memorial. The powers that be decided to sponsor a design competition, which seemed the best way to get a ton of ideas in from all over the U.S. Great idea, right?


WRONG! Awful idea. It started out well enough. They got like 10,000 entries or something like that and then whittled it down to a 1000, which they displayed in a warehouse and picked through with a committee, and then narrowed that down to a couple dozen. They finally selected one and called its designer, an architecture student at a university in the midwest somewhere named Maya Lin. They met with her and then decided to go with it.


But when they released the plans to the public there was an absolute fuging outrage over the design. It was set in this giant V, basically set into a flat landscape rather than rising above it, and consisted of two polished slabs of granite containing the 58,000 names of the deceased. It was deliberately low-key, avoided making a political statement, and simply commemorated the lives of the men who gave their lives, and nothing more. the slabs were polished to be reflective to allow each individual to bring his or her own interpretation or memories to the wall. Everyone liked it, except for the people who hated it, and there were a lot of them. Carhart freaked out when he saw the design and famously called it "a black gash of shame." Senators called it a "nihilistic slab of stone" and veterans across the nation roared in furious protest that their honor was being besmirched by submerging their memory into a patch of grass, a shameful hole in the ground instead of rising above it as part of American national memory. There was enough of a hubbub that they designers eventually appeased them by adding an American flag in the center of it and two patriotic soldier statues that made it a more patriotic statement.






A decade or so later the Smithsonian Institute decided as part of the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII to develop an exhibit featuring the Enola Gay, the B29 Superfortress that dropped Little Boy on Hiroshima. The plane had been sitting disassembled in various parts of the U.S. for decades, but it was brought back to Washington, restored, and integrated into an exhibit carefully developed by the Smithsonian's committee, comprised of board members and historians. They composed a thoughtful exhibit and released a preview of it in 94, and mother of god everyone fuging blew UP. (no pun intended)


Basically the panel had made the fatal error of creating something contemplative. The design situated parts of the plane together with its bomb in the middle of a circular room which displayed ground zero, and the panels of the room were filled with information and photographs about the mission, the bomb, its development, the victims on the ground, and tons of artifacts, like a melted lunchbox and a rosary fused from the blast. Significant portions of the exhibit were framed around questioning the decision to drop the bomb, both from a historical perspective as well as a present one. The country fuging rioted and called for the heads of the panel. It was the most un-American thing they'd ever seen. "There is no room for ambiguity here," was the line. The message was pretty clear: don't call into question the morality of something the Japanese ultimately caused themselves and besmirch the soldiers who died to finish this thing.



(^ that's a cartoon that came out around that time)




So here we have two massive controversies in recent public memory about representation of the American past. Both were improperly represented in the minds of many Americans, both for not being patriotic enough. In fact, the Vietnam monument's response was pretty tame by comparison; people like Lynne Cheney took over the reins on that Enola Gay snafu, and turned it into a public crusade against "politically correct" interpretations of history that focused on pure historicism and not values-bolstering, monolithic patriotism (does this sound familiar at all?) So the overarching question is: why were these things such a big fuging deal?


The answer is that stakeholders in status-quo cultural and political norms or ideals have found that patriotic mindsets are one of the most effective ways to maintain those ideas and their prevalence in the American public. That is to say, America would go down the drain if the liberals had their way and made people question innate goodness of their own history. That's not a crack on conservatives, it's the literal truth and in fact it's a facet of nation-building that has strong historical backing. It's nothing new. In the case of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, it makes more sense, if you're looking for patriotism to be engendered in citizens, to commemorate the past as timeless and sacred, as patriotism, not sorrow or suffering. In the case of the Enola Gay, it makes more sense, for the same reason, to commemorate the past as timeless and sacred (for indeed WWII was the Good War as none before and none since) than a deflating moment requiring inspection and reflection.


The American commemorative landscape is filled with memorials to a grand American past, and they're all skyward, monolithic, and bear no illusions to anything other than the grandeur of Americanism. Ideas which do not fit into this framework are undermining American values and patriotism, the product of a disaffected academic Left which seeks to destroy the sacred and make it into the profane. It's a tenor that's wracked the ears of the American patriots for decades, since the education system began shifting focus from political to social histories, valuing critical historicism of the past over framing pasts to suit the present. Is it any wonder the culture warriors, the preservers of American goodness and exceptionalism, the Lynne Cheneys and the Bob Doles and the Tom Carharts, fought so strongly to oppose these things?


The reason that matters now is because we're seeing an extension of the same problem with Chris Kyle.






This problem does not have short roots. Americans have been looking for ways to consecrate the past for two hundred years. A young nation without centuries of national heroes found motivation to extol the Lincolns and Washingtons in new ways, embedding them in their national past in new light, entwining them with American exceptionalism, with cultural idealism. The conflicts of the 80s and 90s were nothing new insofar as their roots merely bearing fruit, but the nature of the conflict had also changed. The post-Vietnam era saw a massive fragmentation of America's self vision in a way that no period before had ever experienced. 1645-1945 was this massive progression of American Americanness up a totem and then all that got stuck in a swamp and hadn't really found a way out. The anger, the rage, came largely a result of this dissonance; America's glory days in the afterglow of WWII had been replaced, and a nation longed to return (perhaps an insight, too, into why the Enola Gay's questioning was treated with such inconsolable fury.)


So ultimately, given that this hasn't really changed in the past twenty years, the reason Chris Kyle's legacy is an untouchable thing (as Jesse Ventura found out) is the exact same reason the Enola Gay's legacy is untouchable and the same reason the Vietnam War Memorial's representation needed to be more "patriotic." The fact is there's something at stake when we question the innate goodness of national character as manifest in the harbingers of its goodness. Questioning the decision to drop the bomb is as much an attack on Paul Tibbetts Jr. as a question of the rules of engagement are an attack on Chris Kyle, both of whom are merely Soldiers in the Line of Duty.


And let's be honest, who wants that? Is it any wonder people get so mad when you even make mention of that fact that we maybe possibly idolize "the troops" in our culture? Is there anything more deflating than the idea that "American exceptionalism" which has manifested itself in our exploits  in war could actually be up for debate? Is there anything more psychologically abusing than taking the archetype of the True American, in his selflessness, his courage, his embodiment of gleaming ideal - and exposing it, or supposing to, as not only wrong in that instance, but also a lens into a fundamentally flawed archetype?


Can you blame the Texas school board for wanting values-based history curriculum that promotes patriotism over historical scholarship? That poo is painful. It's damaging to the American psyche and visions of self. It validates that post-Vietnam fragementation of belief in the greatness of the Stars and Stripes. It makes us need Chris Kyle to be real more than ever: in a cultural crisis forty years in the making, he is one of our saviors, one of the Good Guys.


Who wouldn't want to take out the bad guys who insist upon bringing him down?