Justin Carter, Pop Tart Guns, and the NSA

Posted in Philosophy with tags , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2013 by oneagainstdumb

I know I may be a little late to the conversation on this particular subject, but when I found out about this story it made me both sick to my stomach and fearful of where our country is headed. For those of you who don’t know, Justin Carter is a 19 year old teenager in Texas who made a sarcastic post on the internet stating, “Oh yeah, I’m real messed up in the head, I’m going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts.” Why do I think he was being sarcastic? Well, apparently in the next two lines he wrote “lol” and “jk” which I assume to mean “Laugh out Loud” and “Just Kidding”. Justin is now in jail and has been since February for making a terroristic threat. His parents cannot afford to bail him out because the bond is set at $500,000, so I guess Justin will have to sit in jail until his trial.

To me his post appeared an obvious joke, albeit a very bad one. If there is one thing I have discovered on the internet, is that people will make the most offensive, ridiculous, or hate filled comments because they believe they are protected by anonymity. I receive hate emails all the time from individuals who will say things they probably wouldn’t say to my face. It’s easy to tell a guy to “Go f–k himself !” over the internet when a retaliatory punch is not possible. I chalk this up to just one of those drawbacks of having a World Wide Web. It’s kind of like free speech. It only works if EVERYONE can express their opinion, and you have to take the bad with the good.

Now, I am not saying that the police were wrong for investigating Justin as a precaution. However, the question remains, “On what grounds did the police have in arresting him?” If they had found journals talking of how he was going to kill people, plans laid out on how he was going to do it, a stock pile of guns and ammunition for committing such an act, then I could see bringing him in. As far as I know, they found none of these things. This appears to be another case of people tossing common sense aside for the intention of protecting children.

And why is it that when it comes to protecting children, we act like nonsensical buffoons? We are now living in an age where a child can no longer point a finger at another child and say “Bang!” because it can be construed as threatening someone with gun violence. Kids also have to be aware of how they eat their pop tarts to make sure at no point it resembles a gun, otherwise they can be suspended. The funniest part of all this is that most children don’t understand what the fuss is about because they are the ones thinking clearly. Their minds have not yet been warped by the hysteria and paranoia that the media enjoys whipping up on a regular basis. The sad part about all of this is that these petty gestures by schools will not make any of us safer. I have a nephew about to attend kindergarten, and the last thing I am afraid of is him being shot with a pop tart.

So what does this have to do with the NSA? Well, paranoia breeds stupidity, and stupidity is the number one enemy that can lead to our country’s demise. As of right now, the Obama Administration claim they are not using PRISM to spy on US citizens but to spy on possible terrorist threats. Whether you believe them or not is up to you. But what happens when the next school shooting occurs? What happens if school shootings get categorized as terrorists acts? Will the people then allow the government to spy freely on citizens in an attempt to protect the children? Will our fourth amendment right to privacy prevail, or will we continue to give up more freedoms for the sake of safety. Who is to say how far we will go if we are willing to jail a nineteen year old for a badly worded joke. I’m waiting for the government to start up the bear patrol any moment now (Simpson fans will know what I am talking about).

There are many things that cause much more death in our country than school shootings. Drinking and driving deaths number in the thousands every year. However, I don’t see a lot of people calling for the banning of alcohol. We do what we can to protect our citizens, but there are limits on how far we should go. In the end, I believe privacy matters in this country; I believe retaining our common sense matters. I would rather live in a slightly riskier place than in a world where we act like hysterical idiots just for the promise of safety. Because realistically that is all our government can offer, a “promise” of keeping us safe. But the foolishness spreading all around is fact.

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The Old Man and the Intersection.

Posted in Philosophy with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2013 by oneagainstdumb

I thought I would take a moment to talk about an incident that occurred a few months back that made me wonder where we are headed as a people. I was driving down Fairfax avenue in Hollywood when I came to a stop at a traffic light. There were four cars ahead of me, but when the light turned green none of them moved. Then slowly the cars inched forward until I could see the cause of the delay. There was an old man pushing his dilapidated vehicle to the side of the road. It had died on him just as he had reached the intersection. My first instinct was to get out of my car and go help. But seeing that the old man was having no trouble moving his vehicle, I decided to wait patiently rather than cause a second hold up by leaving my car. The three drivers ahead of me had different ideas. One after another they quickly sped up and swerved around the old man. One of the cars came dangerously close to hitting him. They almost seemed angry as if by causing the delay, the old man had greatly inconvenienced them somehow. If a single driver had done this, I would have attributed the incident to one inconsiderate asshole, but all three acted the same way. I waited until the old man pushed his car safely off to the side before proceeding. I felt a little sorry for him knowing how it was to have an unreliable car. I did own a Ford Ranger once.

Then I started to think about The Old Man and the Sea. For those who have never read the novel, it is about an old man who fights a Marlin for days determined to bring in this catch of a lifetime. He shows a great deal of strength, enduring hunger, fatigue, and injuries, but more importantly, he displays an enormous amount of patience throughout the battle.

In order to succeed at any worthwhile endeavor, one needs to have patience. The operative word here is “worthwhile”. People can achieve wealth quickly by capitalizing on trends or cheap fads, but I’ve never heard of a Nobel prize winner becoming a scientist over night. As I see more children addicted to the internet, smart phones, and tablets, using twitter, vine, or anything that only requires an attention span of a few seconds, it really worries me. How is our country to produce the scientists, engineers, and great minds of the future if our kids cannot focus their energies for any prolonged periods of time (Playing World of Warcraft for twelve hours straight doesn’t count). I’ll admit that I can become inpatient as well. But when I do, I try to remember the big picture. I try to be a bit more understanding. I try to set a good example for my nephew, because I know that it is only through my actions that he can learn the value of patience. So whether it be a long term goal or simply waiting for an old man to push his car to the side of the road, I am hoping more people will take the time to contemplate the situation before acting. For I will be the old man in the intersection one day, and I don’t want to get run over.

When I am against interracial couples…

Posted in Relationships with tags , , , , , on June 24, 2013 by oneagainstdumb

I know. This is a pretty controversial topic, especially for my second post. But before everyone shouts me down for being an old time racist living in the past, please allow me to explain myself. Let’s start from the beginning.

When I was growing up in the eighties, most of the couples I knew were of the same race. Asian people dated Asians. White people dated Whites. Black people dated Black people, and so on and so on. In fact, the first interracial couple I actually met was my friend’s parents while I was attending the seventh grade. I didn’t know at the time why people stuck to their own race. We had girls of different ethnicities in my class, and I wanted to have sex with all of them (well not every one, but you get the idea). And if you think it is strange for a twelve year old boy to feel sexual desires, then I guess my entire class was odd because we would all talk about it. Then one day I saw a White man with an Asian women. The sight made me happy because I felt that the racial barriers were coming down. People no longer were confining themselves to those of the same race, the way I thought it should be. As the years went by, I saw more interracial couples, specifically White men with Asian women, but didn’t think much of it. Then something peculiar started to happen. I began meeting Asian women who told me they would only date White men. When I turned to online dating, I came across Asian women who would only list “White” as their ideal match. Some even wrote in their profile that they were only attracted to White men and that Asian men need not apply. One even put laughs after making a similar remark as if the statement was a cute little joke.

How did this happen? Well, the portrayal of Asian men in television and movies as dorky, weak, obedient, nerds couldn’t have helped. Don’t even get me started on Ken Jeong’s character “Mr. Chow” in the Hangover whom I find offensive. This is not to say that Asian men should never be characterized as a computer geek. I grew up in Silicon Valley so I know many of them do exist. The problem is that I rarely see Asian men in strong roles (unless they know martial arts). On the opposite end, White men are consistently put on a pedestal. When Goku of Dragonball is played by a White guy, you know something is screwy. Arguments can be made why the studios do this. They need someone of universal appeal. They need to maximize box office returns. Nevertheless, the message is still the same. The White man is desirable, and the Asian man is not. Interestingly enough, in China the White man is consistently portrayed as the bumbling idiot which I also think is wrong.

So when am I against interracial couples? I am against them when someone uses race as a deciding factor on whom they wish to be with. I believe this is a form of racism, but for some reason our society accepts it when it comes to relationships. Am I against all interracial couples? Definitely not. Am I against White men marrying Asian women? As long as they are truly in love, why shouldn’t they be together? In fact, I just wish race was no longer a factor period. One thing I have found in this brief existence of mine is that finding someone to love is very difficult. It may be the hardest thing to achieve for any human being. When we let petty things such as race narrow our field or cloud our judgment, we are doing ourselves such a disservice. For those who specifically seek out members of a particular race (and this applies to same race couples as well) if you end up with a dud, I’ll be there to play you the world’s smallest violin.

My first blog post, and why no one will read it.

Posted in Silicon Valley, we have a problem with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2013 by oneagainstdumb

So this is my first blog post. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about, but WordPress suggested that I introduce myself and explain why I started a blog in the first place. I’ll skip the detailed introduction for now because let’s be honest. Who really cares who the hell I am? I’m simply another blogger amongst the millions already out there, but I am hoping to one day change that. So is it that I want to be famous? Not really. Am I just a loser with too much time on his hands? An argument could be made. Do I want to connect with people who think and share similar values as me? I would say so. But really, this blog is the result of the world I live in and the stupidity I see.

Oneagainstdumb

I came up with this title while eating at an In-n-out one day. Just like the organization “One,” which unites people to fight extreme poverty, I see myself uniting people to fight stupidity, and there is a lot of it going around.

Of course, most of this stupidity is happening right here on the internet, which brings me to the reason no one will read this post. After being on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, I realize now how much the cacophony of shit is drowning out clear voices and adding turds to the pile. Everyone is so intent on posting their thoughts and experiences, many seem to have forgotten that to have meaningful ones, time is needed to reflect on them. Instead, we consume as much information as possible regardless of its relevance or importance, or we post as much information as possible regardless of its relevance or importance (I really don’t care what you had for lunch today). The more distractions we give ourselves, the less we use the analytical and creative parts of our brains. And when it comes to things we don’t use, like a muscle, it grows weaker.

I believe setting aside some time to allow oneself to think is vital for the development of the mind and body. You don’t need to sit on a Yoga mat with your legs crossed and palms facing the ceiling. However, finding a quiet place where you can seclude yourself, close your eyes, and just block out the noise of the world would be ideal. Think about an engaging film, and why it captured your attention. Think about a person you passed on the street and what living his or her life would be like. Whatever you decide on, just make sure it requires your creative or reasoning abilities. Day dreaming about having sex with Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie doesn’t count.

None of what I am saying is exactly new. However, I do believe it is worth repeating. We need reminders often times. Personally, I enjoy reading and writing articles that remind me I am not the lone sane person in an insane asylum.

Do I use Facebook and Youtube? Yes, and now I am using WordPress as well. I will continue to add content to all three, and I do believe there is value in these websites. Not to pander, but I have found WordPress blogs to be much more interesting than most of the stuff I have read on facebook or watched on Youtube. We just need to moderate ourselves.

Will anybody read this post? Probably not… or not yet. There is so much material being added everyday, it is very difficult to stand out. As I continue my blog, I do hope people will read it and maybe come back to this first post. One thing I will promise to any potential readers is to not waste their time with the mundane trivialities in my life. Whatever I post, whether it be text or video, you can be certain that a lot of thought and effort went into it.

Thanks,

Ralph Wong