Coca-Cola Sparked Hatred to Sell Sugar Water

Muy Bien
Muy Bien

Have you seen any of the aftermath for what seemed like a harmless Coca-Cola Superbowl commercial? The one where a diverse group of people sing America the Beautiful in different languages? Oh, it also supposedly featured the first gay couple in a Super Bowl ad spot? Yeah that’s the one. Have you seen the uproar? Where do we even begin..

First, the emphasis on language is just tiresome. People are offended that a patriotic-American song is being sung in different languages. If anything, this should be taken as a complement to America, not an insult. America should be thought of as a place to be desired by all peoples of all races and cultures. If the offended love America so much, what’s wrong with others envying what you love so much?

Also on the subject of language, keep in mind words and speech are entirely arbitrary. They are made up sounds engineered by human beings that evolve over time into chaotic structures that try and make sense of our surroundings. Don’t get me wrong, communication is important, but not nearly as important as the underlying message for what these words represent: beauty, love, anger, triumph; it is all the same regardless of language.

Former Congressman Allen West says this kind of commercial balkanizes the United States instead of unifying it. I can say with 100% certainty that he is wrong; it is people like Mr. West balkanizing the United States by saying things like this. Mr. West is (sadly) a powerful influence to his many followers, and by saying stuff like this he is now a proponent of dividing people. Had he just accepted the commercial, or said nothing about it, West would have done a far greater service to the effort of unifying people. Instead, West further pushes the intolerance envelope by enlarging what should not have been a non-issue in the first place.

With regard to the gay couple in the ad, I know there is nothing I can say to make the offended care less about this. Though, I will point out the woman who wrote the song America the Beautiful more than 100 years ago, Katherin Lee Bates, was very likely a lesbian herself. She lived with the same woman for more than 25 years. Of course, this may just make the offended hate the song now, so what’s the use?

Why hate this commercial for political reasons, or at all for that matter? It’s a Coca-Cola commercial, not a government/Obama/political commercial. It’s a multinational corporation selling you sugar water. It’s not a spark for a debate on immigration reform. It is nothing but an advertisement. How do non-English speaking people really affect your lives? How do gay people really affect your lives? These things likely have no impact on your day to day life, so why muster the energy to hate on these things? Because it’s easy to hate?

What I really want to say is just live and let live you crazy fucks. Or, to put it more eloquently than I ever could, I will let the late Roger Ebert take it away:

I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances.

Michael Grimm – The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Just expressing my first amendment rights when I say this guy is purely made from dicks and assholes
Just expressing my first amendment rights when I speculate this guy is purely made from dicks and assholes

I am unfortunate enough to have once been considered one of this clown’s constituents. Even before Grimm made any one of his public gaffes, I had problems with the guy and his office. I had been the victim of senseless abuse by the US Department of State while applying for a passport. A small percentage of US citizens who apply for passports are subjected to an excess of information gathering by the US State Department. The departments passport office asks for an entire life history, down to where you were baptized (not a joke, they actually asked that question). There are a couple of sites that claim this procedure is highly illegal by the government, and even a scant few congressmen have questioned the department about the practices. When I asked my congressman’s office what the hell it was all about and why I had to do it, all I was told was that it’s because I had moved within the last two years. Apparently, changing your place of residence is synonymous with being a terrorist threat. The point is, I went to my congressman with what was a very obvious misuse of government power, and not only did his office not do anything, they did not even care.

Fast forward to 2014, and this clown has done it all. Let’s break down the timeline:

January 2012 – Rabbi arrested for shady campaign finances for Grimm’s 2010 run for congress

June 2012 – Grimm “threatens” democrat Steve Israel with a butter knife.

August 2012Grimm allegedly took an unplanned trip to Cyprus full of drinking and skinny dipping. It wouldn’t have been a huge deal had it not been for the fact the the trip was allegedly funded by possible campaign funds, for which a campaign adviser was later arrested.

October 2013Grimm allegedly bangs a chick in a public restroom at a wine bar in Brooklyn. This is by far the most disturbing point to me, not necessarily because of his actions, but because it happened in a wine bar that I used to go to and loved. It’s a tiny place with a small bathroom. I hate this guy.

January 2014Grimm is investigated for fraudulent campaign finances dating back to 2010.

January 2014 – Grimm threatens to “break” reporter for asking a question about campaign finance investigation. The “apology” video in this link is particularly appalling, as he talks about fighting hard for his constituents. Bullshit, read the first paragraph congressman.

It’s all just wonderful because the guy has not served two full terms yet. Just imagine the career this guy is going to have, and all the crazy shit that will continue to be reported about him. And if you think any of this would impact his chances for re-election, think again. The majority of his constituents come from a little place called Staten Island – the only place stupid enough to re-elect this asshole.

Chris Kluwe is Right About Equality; Wrong About the NFL

chris-kluwe
A man for the people – except football people

Chris Kluwe is the former punter of the Minnesota Vikings. During his tenure with the team, from 2005 to 2012, Kluwe holds a number of records for the organization. Later in that tenure, Kluwe became quite vocal about supporting gay marriage – and in awesome fashion. Kluwe wrote an open letter on Deadspin where he told a state delegate from Maryland that married gay people “won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster.”  Unfortunately, his efforts got him release (fired) from the team.

Kluwe reveals in an open letter that he believes he was released from the Vikings for having an open and opinionated view of gay marriage, poking fun at state senators in the process. The Vikings on the other hand claim he was release because of his lack of performance compared to other punters. Kluwe goes on and claims his supervisors were either bigots (for hating on gay lifestyles) or cowards (for not having stuck up for him). I’ll wholeheartedly agree with him on the bigot statement; he claims his special teams coach Mike Priefer at one point during the 2012 season said, “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.”  But I’m not so sure I can agree with him on the coward statement.

Kluwe works in a high profile type industry, where PR rules the land. The NFL has an “image” of itself that it will protect as best it can, and Kluwe’s opinions and methods for demonstrating those opinions strayed from this image. From the NFL’s perspective, I don’t believe it is a story about whether gay people have the right to marry one another; it’s about not talking about politically controversial things that stray from the game itself. Hell, the NFL does not even like talking about the game itself in some aspects, like the correlation between playing in the NFL and permanent brain injuries. Yet Chris Kluwe acts surprised that he was released, and never picked back up by another NFL team?

Kluwe may think he was blacklisted by the Minnesota Vikings, but I actually doubt that he was. Kluwe blacklisted himself for speaking out and compromising the NFL image. And the people Kluwe labeled as “cowards” were possibly looking out for him, but mostly looking out for themselves. His supervisors are just as (if not more) responsible for keeping the image of the NFL. It’s not a moral responsibility, rather, it is what the coaches are paid to do. It may be a sad reality, but that is the reality of business in America.

Bringing Out the Worst in People

Bad journalism makes Keanu sas
Annoying stories make Keanu sad

By now, you have heard all over your Facebook news feed that some guy on a show you may or may not watch said some stuff which may or may not be offensive depending on your level of sensitivity. If you have not seen it on your Facebook news feed, than you have seen it on Fox News, CNN, the Daily Show, Twitter, where ever – it cannot be avoided at this point. The story is such a “powerful” story because it releases opinions like no other.

The thing of it is, it’s not really a good story. Its “power” lies in the fact that it makes people feel emotional either for or against this guy. But it’s not mind blowing, it is not going to change anyone’s opinions about people, it is not going to bring people together; only the opposite if anything. There is no learning moment to be had, no epiphany of such. It has nothing to do with the constitution, no matter how many times pundits quote it. It doesn’t make the person who made the statement a bad person, and it doesn’t make the company that might fire him a bad company. It is nothing, yet it is so big, right now.

In two months time, it will be forgotten. And the wounds opened with friends and loved one will be for nothing.

Ban SantaCon? Quit Being a Little Bitch

Slutty Santa's? Slutty Santa's
Slutty Santas?? Slutty Santas.

A lot of hate out there this year towards Jolly Saint Nick. First, Fox News’s never-ending “War on Christmas” continues as strong as ever, fighting those who express their subjective aesthetic views of the pudgy gift giver. Fox pundits are basically saying Santa Claus is white, there is no debate. Jon Stewart summed up the whole ordeal quite nicely, noting that the actual Saint Nicholas was practically black himself. Actually, the best part of the segment was when one of the guests said something along the line of “people are bending facts to make a political point”; because Fox News would never do such a thing. But I digress.

Today in a New York Times op-ed, Mr. Jason Gilbert of Yahoo News posted that there should be a ban on a drunken tradition consisting of poorly thrown together Santa costumes, alcohol, and young adults bar hopping from Midtown to the East Village in Manhattan for an event known as “SantaCon”. SantaCon is not something I have ever participated in, but I fail to see how this arbitrary tradition is any different than a number of other New York City traditions like the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Halloween in the village, or hell, even the Mermaid Parade where topless woman flood the streets to mark the beginning of summer. Alcohol is as involved in those events just like SantaCon – why don’t we just ban them as well? Traffic congestion is a bullshit reason to put an end to it, because congestion is every weekend in the city for some neighborhood or another. And stop with the bullshit excuse of “[…] neighborhood of kids having to watch simulacra of beloved childhood figures stumbling around”. You chose to live in New York City and raise a family there, that is just how your life is going to be. It is really hard to shield your kids from the ridiculousness of the world, and it is even harder when living in New York City. Either explain to your kids that growing up sometimes make you do strange things, or move out.

Put your life in perspective; if one day of drunken Santa Claus’s are the worst thing to happen to you in the month of December, consider yourself pretty fucking lucky.

Reverse Fear Mongering on Gun Control

Merica!
Merica

It has just about been one year since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, with the topic of gun control peaking early in 2013 and simmering down by the summer. But that did not stop gun control advocates and opponents from pushing legislation throughout the year. Obama, took the standard liberal approach, calling for federal gun control measures that were simply dropped the second they left his mouth. Some of the more liberal states, like New York, passed sweeping bills that pissed off the gun-owning crowd to no end. I can say from first hand experience that you cannot drive a square mile in New York State without seeing a “Repeal Safe Act” sign on someones front lawn (NYC metro area excluded, of course).

Regardless of your position on the matter, what happened at Sandy Hook was tragic. If you do not want to blame guns, that’s fine – you can easily blame those with mental disorders and their ability to get guns. Either way, you would certainly expect a positive legislative change regarding either one of the two following the tragedy, yes? Well you would be wrong. In the year since, the 50 states have passed a total of 109 laws regarding guns, only 39 of which are actually restrictions or make if more difficult for people with mental disorders to acquire guns. The remaining 70 laws actually *loosen* gun control laws. What does this tell us? It tells us that those behind the gun manufacturing industry and gun toting citizens have far more influence over lawmakers than 20 dead kindergartners. So much more influence in fact that states were so afraid of gun control measures, they went in the opposite direction to make gun access easier for citizens.

This, to me, says a lot about the current state of government.

Major League Baseball is Full of Shit

AP_arod_alex_rodriguez_tk_130805_16x9_992
Likely day dreaming about Twinkies – or whatever hot broad he happens to be banging this week

First and foremost lets get this out of the way; Alex Rodriguez is kind of a douchebag. Any by “kind of”, I really mean “is a huge”. But this aside, the man is getting a lousy deal.

Much like the NFL head office, the MPAA, and even our federal government, Major League Baseball is full of shit. For the uninformed, Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for 211 games for violating the leagues drug policy. Rodriguez was named, along with other players earlier this year, in attending a clinic in Florida known for giving professional athletes performance enhancing drugs. Among the other players was once American League MVP Ryan Braun, who besides Rodriguez, got the most severe penalty of 65 games. The typical punishment for first time performance enhancing drug offenders is 50 games, however Braun was subjected to a higher punishment because, well, he was a douche about the whole thing.

So then, why is Alex Rodriguez being given such a huge punishment, for basically being the same level of douche as Ryan Braun? Well just like everything else in the world, it’s purely financial. The New York Yankees were stupid enough to offer Rodriguez an unprecedented contract back in 2007 for almost $30 million a year. Since the signing of that contract, Rodriguez has mostly played like complete shit (which is partially why he is a a douche, see Figure 1 below). The Yankees will just about do everything in their power at this point to keep Rodriguez off the field to stop paying him. Rodriguez being injured was working out great for the team, because it’s well known professional athlete’s pay is covered by insurance when they are unable to play. However once he was better, the league conveniently handed down the sever punishment of 211 games, which would have been the remainder of the 2013 season and the following 2014 season. Rodriguez has appealed the punishment (the only player caught in the most recent scandal to do so), which is finally being ruled on now. Rodriguez reportedly stormed out of the procedure today because the MLB commissioner will not be questioned, which lead Rodriguez to call the process “fucking bullshit”.

Rodriguez’s analysis of the situation is fairly accurate. The commissioner was to be questioned by Rodriguez’s council as to why Rodriguez’s punishment is so much more severe than all the other players. Instead of defending the punishment to the arbitrator hearing the case, he has chosen to not show up at all. Even more suspicious is the fact that the arbitrator is not calling for him to be present either. How can a dispute be settled when one side does not even show up?

Figure 1
Figure 1

The New York Times Obviously Hate ESPN

ochoThe New York Times clearly has it out for the mega-network ESPN. Perhaps it is because the political/sports statistician/wizard Nate Silver recently left the New York Times to join ESPN, and included his fivethirtyeight blog as part of the deal (which the New York Times never owned, just contracted it for three years). Or perhaps because even the New York Times hates Keith Olbermann, they must bash the network for allowing him to come back. Or maybe the New York Times hates Mickey Mouse, and must destroy everything in Mickey’s domain (most likely, in my opinion).

Regardless of the reason, The New York Times has been throwing punches at ESPN for the past week. It all started last Friday, August 23rd, when the New York Times reported that ESPN bailed on a documentary about head injuries because of pressure from the NFL. This kind of punch takes a clear shot at ESPN’s journalistic integrity, which lets be honest, its fans don’t really care too much about. I would bet most of the Monday Night Football fan base could give a shit less about concussions. However, that article was nothing in comparison to today’s exposé of the giant ESPN truly is. The New York Times starts off with the standard anti-competitiveness of the network, by mentioning it owns more rights to sports than it does capacity to air said sports. The article goes deeper into Disney’s lobbying efforts to keep bundled television, as opposed to a la cart television – where subscribers would only pay for channels they actually want to watch. ESPN gains A LOT by having TV providers bundle channels, because ALL subscribers pay $5.44 for ESPN programming, which is 4 times more than any other cable network. Of 100 million subscribers paying this fee, only about 25% of them actually tune to an ESPN network. This means Basement Rob is subsidizing Sunday Night Baseball and Monday Night Football for me (thanks Rob!). I’m sure given the choice, Basement Rob would not be paying for this subsidy.

The article goes on about how Disney let the FCC chairperson use Superbowl ad time on ABC to announce the analog to digital TV change years ago, likely because the FCC chairperson was in favor of keeping bundled television. The article tells tales of lobbying events in Washington where politicians were giddy to take pictures with Mohammad Ali, Carl Lewis, and Johnny Unitas. And there is even mention where a congressman with ties to the cable bundling bill was given a free trip to Disney for himself and his family. All classic Washington stuff really.

It’s long, but the article is worth the time.

 

The Supreme Court’s “Next-Level” Decision on Voting Rights

or die!
or die!

Here’s the problem with any legislation that deals with race – everyone is biased. For the most part, white people don’t know what it is like to be the victim of hate in this country, so it’s easy for them to think race is not a problem in this country anymore. I personally do not feel like race is as big an issue as it once was in this country, but then again I’m not an African American living in the south (or an employee of Paula Deen). So yesterday, when the Supreme Court ruled to overturn provisions meant to eliminate discrimination for minority voters, well, I didn’t know how to feel about it.

Here is what I do know; if redacting the section of the Voting Rights Act that had provisions to help ensure minorities are not discriminated against while voting, if this actually leads to problematic voting, it’s going to be well known, very quickly. Not sure if you heard of this thing called the “Internet”, but information travels across it pretty quickly. I also know this; the fact that we have to have a law like this on the books absolutely sucks. I like to think, in these modern times, that any person of any ethnicity should be able to vote free of discrimination. If anything, this ruling will be a strong test of our society, a test perhaps we are ready for.

The Apple Tax Sideshow

Cash-Money
Can’t wait for iCoin to be developed

This week, the United States Senate has released a report detailing the types of international tax shelters Apple has used to avoid paying US federal taxes, as well as taxes in Europe. The amount of tax savings may be surprising to the uninformed; up to $74 billion over 5 years. It was not shocking to me when the panel also determined that the single largest US corporation did not break any tax laws to accomplish this. Yet, even though no laws were broken, Apple CEO Tim Cook is speaking before the congressional committee to explain the company’s actions.

The whole thing is a sideshow though. Independent journalists have been pointing out these loopholes for decades among all the largest United States corporations. The irony is these loopholes would not even exist if it weren’t for the very same people carrying out this investigation. And these very same people are not very likely to change anything, because lets face it, those who fund their campaigns earn the most from these loopholes in the first place (I’m not suggesting here that Apple is behind these loopholes either, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they had tax lobbyists like every other public company).

It’s always good when the media sheds some light on stories like this. However, without any serious changes to campaign finance laws, we are not likely to see any big changes. And on top of that anyway, multinational company taxes are complicated by the simple fact that they operate in multiple countries, and no country’s tax codes look alike. A real solution to this “problem” would need to be met with international support, and we all know how easy that is.