Heaven is for Real

No, it’s not. It’s just not. There’s no evidence what so ever that would indicate otherwise. As near as we can tell, the experience you have after death is the same one you have before conception. This hasn’t stopped Sony from making the following movie.

This movie is based off a book written by a minister about his son’s alleged trip to Heaven; something that happened when the four-year-old boy experienced some nasty problems during surgery. Now if I had a kid who came out of intense surgery talking about strange visions, we’d sit down and have a chat about the way the brain can behave and about hallucinations and dreams. As the kid got older, we could expand this discussion into one about brain chemistry and the reaction your brain has as the electrical signals get disrupted. We’d handle this rationally, and not treat it as though the kid actually experienced Heaven, because that would just be stupid.

But I’m not a minister who is likely, at least on a sub-conscious level, to be desperate for anything that validates what I say I believe. In a case like that, it’s quite likely that someone would very believe, with token reluctance, the story that their child weaves. They’d likely encourage that child, and the child, eager to please, would provide ever more detailed information as time went by.

That’s what I think happened here. I’ll be generous enough to assume this man isn’t engaged in intentional fraud. I’ll assume that this little hiccup in his life, which has likely made him and his family quite a bit of money, was his actual, sincere interpretation of what happened. But, man, it’s clearly some grade-A bullshit. I mean, even if I were a believer, I wouldn’t believe in near death experiences, because they wouldn’t make sense. They would imply that God is imperfect enough to let people almost die, but not quite, and get as far as the afterlife before saying, “Whoops,” and I don’t think that really holds up theologically.

It doesn’t help that this movie looks like the worst bit of treacle nonsense. I’ve worked in it a few times, and, ugh, it looks even worse than the trailer led me to believe. But, hey, I’m not in the target audience for this because, you know, I still have active brain cells.

In an Alternate Universe…

…filled with incompetent people, who are incapable of executing the most basic of tasks…

On Paying for Autographs

Phoenix Comicon is coming up in June, and as per usual, I’ll be there doing various things (mostly shilling for Big Finish). I’m sure it’ll be all sorts of fun, and I’m pleased to note that they have a good variety of media guests, including some, like Mark Sheppard and John Rhys-Davies, that I’m actually interested in. However I also note, to my distress, that both of those men want $40 each for their autographs. I note with even more distress that their fees are on the low end.

Yes, people charge quite a lot for autographs these days, which is a pity. Not only are those guys charging $40 each, but Stan Lee wants $60, and Richard Dean Anderson seems to think that $75 is a fair trade for a few lines of ink.

Now I don’t really have a huge problem with this. I think it’s kind of dickish on their part, but I understand not wanting to have to sign something for all the 50,000+ people who will be there, and charging for your signature is a way to have some control over that.

On the other hand, Anderson, Sheppard and Rhys-Davies, as well as several others who will be there, are all working actors. They make a living, you know, acting, where they get money that most of us couldn’t even dream of seeing.

Here is a particularly egregious example: Matt Smith and Karen Gillian, who won’t be at the con, allegedly charge $99 each for their signatures. $99. For them to sign something. They’re both fairly in-demand actors, who probably got paid tens of thousands of dollars per episode of Doctor Who, and both of whom are under 30 and still working. Charging $99 for a signature is insane. If someone earns minimum wage, they’d have to work about 25 hours just to pay for two signatures. That isn’t even getting into the cost for getting into whatever event they’re signing at, which can be really expensive. The cheap price for someone to get in to PCC is $60.

Now do you know who I don’t have a problem with when they charge for signatures? Actors who aren’t really working anymore. Actors who really only can make a living doing the occasional commercial and appearing at conventions. If, for example, I wanted Nichelle Nichols to sign something for me at a convention, and she charged $30, I wouldn’t mind. I’d pay that and happily, since I know it’s the main way she makes a living, and since she isn’t pricing herself out of the market.

Fandom is expensive these days. The conventions are nice, but they’re pricey. When I Was younger, it used to be you could get the autographs of many people for free. You still can at some cons, like Gallifrey. But sadly, this sort of high-priced event is the new normal, and that’s a shame, because it really deprives young fans, and low-income fans, of the chance to mingle, meet, and have a good time, and that doesn’t help to build up the next generation of fans.

Hong Kong…Macau…

Where are they? What do they do? Why should we care? Etc? Learn.

Batman at 75

Yeah, it’s been 75 years since Batman first came along. DC Comics is celebrating with some rather wonderful videos. Here’s the first two! Enjoy!

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And So, 42

Today is my birthday. I am now 42 years old. Which means that my mom and dad have a son that’s 42. I’m sure that’s reassuring to them both. 42 is, according to the various Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the answer to the infinite question of life, the universe and everything. I figure that means this is a good chance to discuss what I think the meaning of life actually is. So here we go.

Life has no meaning other than that which we assign to it. That’s it. There’s no greater plan, purpose or meaning to the universe. And frankly, that’s just fine. I don’t need religion or anything like that to tell me that there’s some greater purpose. My personal goal with life is to make the world at least slightly better than it was when I came into it, and that’s all I need.

Things Fall Apart

I’m a little too tired from my successful 42nd birthday party to post up anything witty here. So just watch and enjoy.

Income Inequality and Service Jobs

So I’m watching an episode of CNN’s series Inside Man. This particular episode is about unions. There’s a section covering income inequality where it points out that since 1973, the average American worker’s income has gone up about 6% (adjusted for inflation, one assumes), while the average CEO income has gone up by 726%. The show also pointed out that about 90% of new jobs created since the recession have been service industry.

Now I’m going to depart slightly from most of my friends on the left. I don’t think either of these are necessarily bad things. I have no real problem with CEOs earning an insane amount of money, nor with 90% of jobs being service jobs. But there is a slight problem that I do have with this.

Extreme differences in income is acceptable only if the people on the lower-end of that income are able to live good, decent, healthy lives with access to toys, tech and teaching (ok…education…but I wanted a third “t”!). Now most lower-income people in this country actually come to close to that. Very few people starve to death, for example, and with the expansion of Medicaid and Obamacare, most people are able to get health insurance even if they’re poor. And they can usually afford to have a computer, even if it’s a bit old, a cell phone, even if it isn’t smart, and a TV, even if it isn’t HD.

However! Lower-income people are still usually only a paycheck away from a shitstorm of trouble. You’re supposed to only spend 1/3 of your income or less on housing. That’s seldom the case for lower-income people. It certainly isn’t the case for me. If you’re spending 50%+ of your income on rent, that doesn’t leave you much of a margin for error, especially if you have kids.

This is why something like a higher minimum wage is important. If a CEO of a company I work for is making three times the amount per day that I earn in a year, I’m fine with that, as long as I’m earning enough to cover my expenses, have some savings, have some benefits and have something left over. I don’t require that I earn what he does (though it would be nice); just that I earn a fair wage. Even if that job is a service industry job (as my current one is), I should be making a fair, living wage.

And that’s where this all falls apart, because these days, that often isn’t the case. Wal-Mart pays its employees very, very poorly. It varies depending on the market, but we can generally assume it isn’t a living wage in most places. They don’t have to do this. According to that same episode of Inside Man, if Wal-Mart paid their employees an average of twelve dollars an hour, and passed 100% of that cost to their customers, it would cost the average consumer about $12.50 per year. By contrast, Cost-Co pays its employees fairly well and still manages to have low prices.

The problem in this country isn’t income inequality. The problem is that the rich have basically everything and the poor have very little in the way of things like security. Paycheck-to-paycheck isn’t a fun way to live, and while I don’t think we need to pass laws to make everyone rich, we do need to do some basic correction and, among other things, raise the minimum wage. It’s just sense.

How Not to Be Patriotic

As you’ve probably heard by now, armed militia members have been gathered in a small part of their country holding government forces at bay and threatening violence unless their demands are met. No, this isn’t Ukraine; this is Nevada.

See, there’s this rancher who wanted to graze his cattle on publicly-owned lands. That’s fine. The government allows this. But thanks to Ronald Reagan, you have to pay a fee to do so. I don’t think that’s entirely unreasonable, but to me the rules here are simple: if you don’t want to pay a fee, don’t graze your cattle on that land. Well, this rancher wanted it both ways. He wanted to graze his cattle, but do it for free. The courts have constantly, since the 1980s, told him no, and told him repeatedly that he needed to pay the fees or face fines, and possible confiscation of his heard. He ignored them. The feds eventually showed up and started rounding up cows, and the next thing you know, there’s an armed militia threatening to murder them. The feds, not wanting a repeat of Waco, backed off.

This is a complex issue with many layers, or so we are told, but it really isn’t. This man was breaking the law. He’s been breaking it since the 1980s (thanks, Reagan!). He knew he faced legal consequences if the courts continued to rule against him, but he still broke the law. Now you can say it’s an unjust law. I can see the argument for that. You can say that breaking an unjust law is justifiable. I can see that, too. But if you break an unjust law, part of the deal is that you face the consequences. That’s what happened during much of the 1950s and 1960s with the Civil Rights movement. We never had Martin Luther King, Jr, show up with an armed militia and threaten to murder people if they don’t get their way.

In this country, if you don’t like the laws, there are mechanisms to change them. Those methods are good and acceptable, and if they don’t work, well, sucks to be you, but you just kind of have to accept it and go with it. What you aren’t allowed to do is threaten violence. You certainly aren’t allowed to use violence to force a change in the laws. We have a word for that.

So I have basically zero respect for this rancher, who at this point should be faced with either giving up a part of his herd or going to jail. I have zero respect for these armed militia douchebags who decided to take the law into their own hands. They should also be facing strict legal sanctions. Meantime their supporters are welcome to work through the system to get these laws changed. That’s the way a true patriot does it.

Once More Unto the Breech

Well, my time at my current job is winding down, and my schedule is opening up very soon. So I think it’s a good time for me to start looking for work.

If anyone in Phoenix has leads on jobs in tech support, data entry, or general office work, please let me know. Entry level is fine! If anyone has any leads on good places for servers to work, please let me know. I’d like to have something new within three weeks. Any help anyone can give is appreciated!


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