Saturday, December 29, 2012


So we went to Las Vegas and had tons of fun, but as always there were lessons to be learned.  I just want to make a few observations so you can share in our fun on this trip.  I really was surprised at the number of people in Vegas for the Christmas holiday and frankly how little I felt the Christmas was on us.  It was funny though that a couple weeks after Hanukah there was still a giant menorah on Freemont Street.  But really the only real Christmas feel came from the fact that every so often I would run into a drunk couple with Santa hats on or a woman dressed as an elf letting people take pictures with her for tips.  But elves really would have more clothes on, it is cold at the North Pole.  

It was a great trip and we did have to add to the trip because the snow in Indiana so we got to enjoy an extra night.  It meant spending more money than we wanted to on adult beverages, but that is just what you do on vacation right?  But there are certain things that you might not want to do on vacation, so here is some advice. 

  1. When the pilot feels the need to announce for the third time to honor the seatbelt light on the plane pay attention.  Turbulence will toss you around if you are walking around the plane.  I know it is hard to believe but you aren’t Superman.  It takes a lot to make the Southwest flight attendants angry, you should be proud. 
  2. Understand that even though you have stepped off the escalator, that doesn’t mean it stops.  People are coming up behind you, don’t just stand there trying to figure out what out which direction you want to turn.  There is a Law of Physics that states we can’t both occupy the same space at the same time.  You will be run into, sorry that means you spilled your way overpriced alcoholic Kool-Aid.
  3. To that end, while it makes for a cool picture the walkway crossing the Strip is not a photo studio.   I promise I will wait to let you take a picture but when you set up a tripod and start composing a scene by moving the family around you will get photo-bombed. 
  4. Also unintended photobombs are so common in Vegas we should think of a special name for them.  I just can’t believe how surprised people are when you walk into their photo however that they are talking, in an elevator that is open, in a walkway, in front of restroom doors, etc.  What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but is well documented for further use? 
  5. Family vacations are fun, but if you find yourself being told by a casino boss that just because the slot machine has cartoon characters on it does not mean you are allowed to have a toddler on your lap while you play you might consider your next family vacation at real Disneyland. 
  6. Oh and the long hallways of the MGM are designed for running, I get that.  Just not 3am with your toddler laughing so loud car alarms are going off. 
  7. If you stood in line to get tickets to a show who’s title plays off the 50 Shades of Gray books, and you know it is marketed that way, don’t complain that there is a number in it with handcuffs and bondage.  That is the hook that got many of the others there.  It is like going to the Christmas show and complaining you don’t like the colour red.  

So there it is. I am not really complaining I just noticed these things and wanted to share. People watching was a good part of the trip but mostly it was getting away with Dianne and having fun things to do we don’t normally do here in Indy.  Big props to southwest airlines for helping us avoid the storm and not charging us for the change to what turned out to be a better flight.  Bit ups to MGM for basically giving us a free night.  If you find yourself in Vegas and want great food and the buffet experience the Wicked Spoon is amazing, and the single portion presentation is amazing.

I hope whatever you did at the end of the year was great for you.  Enjoy and New Year and no worries, I will get back to writing about politics, religion and the world around.  I mean I hear there is a fiscal cliff we are about to go over, as Thelma said to Louise, “Let’s keep going”.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Still Waiting for the End of the World

I know people who were preparing for the end of the world today, just in case.  They aren’t spending thousands or hundreds of thousands on bunkers or creating a series of safe houses in the wilds of Montana, but bought bottled water, canned goods, ammo etc.  They said that it was hedging a bet, you know who knows what will happen?  That is an odd way to go through life.  While I am sure they would find it crazy to buy an amulet to ward off werewolves, it is the same mindset.  In fact, I am sure not only does an anti-werewolf amulet exist someone has a really nice house because of it.  You see we are as Charles Pierce calls it, living in Idiot America. 

In Pierce’s Idiot America facts are unimportant.  Flash, feelings and what Steve Colbert called truthiness are what drive a discussion.  Internet memes and often repeated falsehoods take on a life of their own and become statements that do not need proof but must be proved wrong by anyone questioning it.  Take the often-repeated story 15 years ago that Al Gore said he invented the Internet.  It wasn’t true, wasn’t close to true.  But we still hear it today.  Moving forward many people get their information from sources that are interested in making their listeners or readers feel good so they stick with them so facts are less important than making the fan base happy.  In the last Presidential election that quickly translated to the tactic of a candidate who’s spokesperson said, when confronted with a fact-checked ad, that fact checkers would not direct the campaign.  Think about that.  A candidate for the Presidency was not going to allow people to prove him lying to have a voice in his thinking.  It reminds me of the opening statement at the Creation Museum in Kentucky.  It states openly that anything that is found that doesn’t prove their reading of the Bible would be rejected as untrue, regardless of evidence. 

It is in this world that it is easy to get people to invest in 2012 bunkers at prices reaching $1.7 million and sending money to a man who says he will save the world by jumping off of Bell Rock in Sedona.  The latter of the two was fascinating, not sure what he needed the money for but his website had a large PayPal section.  Perhaps the temporal vortex he was going to slide through to reboot the computer program that he says is our reality has an entry fee.  As of this writing he was suppose to make the jump at 6:12 this am.  No word that he did it but we are all here.  So…..

So in the wake of the deadly shooting in Newtown Connecticut we were ripe for fiction in the response.  First came the idea that this never happened when we had prayer in school, which of course is not true at all.  There were school shootings in the country before it was a country but even more so, the last school shooting was at a Christian college.  Then we had a repeated notion that we shouldn’t do anything to modify gun ownership in this country as the 9-11 hijackers used box cutters.  Funny I can no longer take box cutters or any other sharp objects on planes.  In fact because someone tried to ignite a bomb in his shoe I have to have my shoes x-rayed on each trip and because someone had a liquid explosive in his underwear we can’t take liquids in quantity on planes and women have to prove their breast milk is breast milk.   My favorite meme was that this doesn’t happen in Israel because Israeli teachers are armed.  While that is untrue it didn’t stop people from reposting a picture of a security guard with a group of children on a field trip.  Seeing as some of the areas of Israel can be considered war zones, that kinda makes sense.   Which led to Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA speaking at what he trolled people into thinking was press conference but was a statement inform of reporters as he didn’t take questions.  What he called for was a registry of the mentally ill (something that exists in 36 states) and an armed police officer in every of the nations 100,000 public schools.  What the NRA fails to mention or even acknowledge is that at Columbine, an armed guard exchanged fire with Eric Harris.   These can certainly be part of the solution in general but they are a starting point not an ending point.  LaPierre and the NRA does not want to begin to discuss limiting access to guns, in fact they lobbied recently to allow people on the terror watch list to get guns. 

But what LaPierre said made the right feel good.  They cheered him on and made fun of protesters who tried to disrupt the statement.  By tomorrow there will be people continued the lies about gun free zones and the use of armed guards in grocery stores, banks and churches.  And people will believe every word. 

Today is a holiday to Idiot America, both those who threw money at hucksters who were going to save them from Planet X, solar flares or returning Mayan gods and those who would rather believe a lobbyist or talk show host over real evidence. 

So, it really doesn’t matter what you believe is the best course of action, either about crazy fake prophecy or about the current social and fiscal problems facing our country what you should do is find a way to get real information.  I know I used some right wing examples and that is my frustration for today but I could have easily said the right is not going to push grandma over a cliff, Romney did not kill a woman with cancer and rich people don’t want to have slavery return.  We are better than that.  We are smarter than that and we can find a way to come together and leave the shrill voices alone.

Happy Solstice and welcome to the end of world.  

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