Your right-to-carry vs My right to Vacate

Okay, I can’t take credit for the title of this post. It’s from this article at DailyKos by @jmbar2. I think his proposal is an excellent idea and have already emailed my Congressional representatives.

Note that I have fired several thousand rounds from pistols at a firing range in my home town. Ranging from .22 calibre to .45 magnum (albeit mostly 9mm). I’m not afraid of guns per se. I am afraid of yahoos who think a gun enhances their masculinity. A masculinity that gun fondlers worry is a bit too gay without a gun to extend their penis length.

From the article:

Every right-to-carry proposal must include a provision allowing students, workers, and business patrons to choose to leave any environment where guns are present without question or penalty.

– Students can leave any class without penalty if they feel at risk in the presence of armed persons.

– Workers can leave their workplaces with cause – example Walmart workers can immediately leave the store without penalty if an armed person enters.

– Restaurant patrons can leave in mid meal and settle the bill later.

Attach this as a rider to all right-to-carry bills. Call it “The Right to Carry- Right to Evacuate” rider.

Mr. Deity on the Chapel Hill murders

In this video Brian Keith Dalton, aka “Mr. Deity”, talks about the Chapel Hill murders of three Muslims by Craig Hicks who self identifies as an atheist. This video is part of Mr. Dalton’s “Way of the Mister” series. Here he points out the hypocrisy of those who blame the violence on New Atheists, none of whom call for violence, while defending (or apologizing for) adherents of religions which do explicitly call for violence against believers of other religions (or no religion at all):

P.S., If you haven’t watched any of the “Mr. Deity” videos you really should. Regardless of whether you’re a believer or non-believer in religious dogma.

The #47Traitors need to go sit at the children’s table

Can you even imagine the response of the USA right-wing if Democratic party members had undermined a Republican president in a negotiation with a foreign government? Calls for impeachment would have been their mildest response. The Rude Pundit explores the topic in a way that I can’t improve upon. So go read his article on the subject.

The sooner we marginalize GOP congressional representatives like Tom Cotton the better. These assholes really need to get a job better suited to their abilities such as shoveling shit in a horse stable. Honestly, when the GOP does stunts like these I am sorely tempted to wonder if they should be tried for treason.

#Cinequest Film Festival day twelve

This is the last day of the Cinequest film festival and is the day they have encore screenings of films deemed particularly good. I managed to exceed my goal of 30 films. The express line pass (which costs an extra $100) was really useful for only two screenings this year, and three last year, so I’m not sure I’ll make that investment next year.

Film #29: “Factory Boss” tells the story of a factory owner and his workers in China. I worked in the Asia-Pacific region for 19 months almost 20 years ago. That included three trips totaling five weeks to mainland China. I did not visit any factories in China but did visit many factories elsewhere in the region (Malaysia, Singapore, India). So I was not surprised by the images of life in a major city in China or factory conditions. As a “far-left liberal” (the epithet people like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh apply as a pejorative to people like me) I expected, and did, identify with the factory workers. What surprised me was the empathy I felt for the owner of the toy factory as he struggled to keep his business in operation despite the pressures put on him by the American multi-national corporation. I rate this 4 of 5 stars.

Film #30: “For Here Or To Go?” focuses on the challenges faced by high-tech workers who come to work in America. In this case software engineers from India who come to work in Silicon Valley. I’m an American software-engineer who has been working in Silicon Valley the past seven years and in the field for thirty-five years. Thus I’ve worked with many people in the situation explored by this film (including other countries like Britain and Russia) and could readily relate to the core issue of the film. I also spent nineteen months working in Asia-Pacific and saw many Bollywood films during that time. Yet I found myself unable to really like this film for two reasons. First, the chemistry between the primary male and female characters just isn’t there. Second, and a more serious flaw, is the film has too many sub-plots. Including one having to do with the homosexuality of one character that seemed to be included simply because it is topical. I rate this 3 of 5 stars.

Film #31: “No Evidence Of Disease” is the phrase everyone wants to hear on follow up to treatment for cancer. This is a documentary about a group of doctors who specialize in trying to make that phrase a reality for women afflicted by cancers unique to women. As someone who underwent surgery for stage two skin cancer a few years ago (including having two lymph nodes removed in addition to excision of the primary site) I know how powerful that phrase is. I think the main failing of the film was its inability to explain why female gynecological cancers deserve extra attention above and beyond what any other cancer receives. The closest it comes is literally at the end of the movie when it states that male prostrate cancer research receives 50% more funding than female GYN cancer research. That was it. No details or supporting evidence for the assertion. Nor were the implications of that disparity explored. Sorry but I can’t rate this more than 3 of 5 stars.

#Cinequest Film Festival day eleven

If you’re an atheist read my review of film #28 at the bottom of this article.

This is the last day of regularly scheduled screenings. Tomorrow is encore day where the films deemed especially good get an additional screening. This year has been fantastic. I’ve heard a few people give negative reviews of some films but as I mentioned in my previous article I’ve been fortunate this year to have seen only two films I would not recommend seeing.

Film #26: “The Life After” portrays two brothers who grow up with a mother who suffers mental disabilities (probably manic-depression). The younger brother retains an optimistic outlook on life and is the easier to like. The older brother shows early signs of his own mental problems when he kills his brother’s small turtle after finding his turtle dead upon returning from the funeral for their grandfather. As an 18 year old he is sullen and angry far out of proportion to the usual teenage angst. There are several scenes which focus on a birthmark on his lower back that is seemingly identical to that on the mother. Thus reinforcing the idea that he may share the same genetic problem that causes the mother’s mental problems. This is a thoughtful exploration of familial bonds in the face of self-destructive behavior. I rate it 4 of 5 stars.

Film #27: “Zemene” follows a shy ten year old Ethiopian girl as she has a chance encounter with an American doctor who is able to arrange for her severe curvature of the spine to be treated. Thus giving her an opportunity at a normal life. It’s a heartwarming tale. Everyone in the movie is clearly a good person. And clearly modern medicine and secular morals are the reason sole reason Zemene has a chance at a normal life. So I was annoyed by all the attestations that “God” was the reason for Zemene’s good fortune. Especially by the American doctor working in Ethiopia who is a devout, borderline orthodox, Jew and attributes what he manages to achieve to his imaginary sky faerie. Most people will leave the film thinking, yes, God worked yet another miracle. To which I say: If you’re giving God the credit rather than the medical professionals and scientists then why did Zemene have to be operated on in a US hospital? For that matter didn’t God cause her suffering in the first place? This film would have been much better had it left God out of the story. I rate it only 3 of 5 stars.

Film #28: “The Mask You Live In” is a marvelous documentary about male gender stereotypes. Specifically, how we’re failing boys and young men by not allowing them to express a more realistic attitude, both emotional and intellectual, about what it means to be a man. This is a film that should be seen by every male teenager and adult (it has a lot of material not suitable for young boys). One of the prominent doctors and the screenwriter were available for Q&A after the screening. Not surprisingly a theocrat sitting within one meter of me asked why the film didn’t stress the need for more Christianity as the solution. Only he didn’t just ask the question he went on at length about how the removal of God and “good Christian values” from our schools is the reason for all the problems portrayed in the film. I told him, loud enough for most of the audience to hear, that his Christian family values are a big reason for those problems. This was clearly someone who holds people like Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family in high regard. Mr. Dobson is the same “doctor” who recommended in a book he wrote that a father should shower with his son so the son can seen an example of what a real man looks like (obvious reference to the father’s genitalia). Unsurprisingly for the San Jose area several people thanked me for telling the smug theocrat to fuck off. Not a single person (other than the aforementioned theocrat) told me to find Jebus. I believe that one way to make the attitude of my neighbors the norm for the entire USA is to do what I did and vocally tell the theocrats that their viewpoint is not shared by everyone else and is not welcome. I rate this 5 of 5 stars.

#Cinequest Film Festival day ten

What a fantastic film festival. Perhaps I’ve simply been lucky because by this time last year I had seen two movies I should have walked out on (1 of 5 stars) and several more that were merely bad (2 of 5 stars). Yet this year I’ve only seen two disappointing movies and none that I would walk out on. In fact I’m surprised at the number I’ve rated 5 of 5 stars that deserve broad release.

Film #24: “In the Company of Women” contrasts the approach to relationships of two distinctly different men. One is an elderly professor who is hoping to learn how to date after several decades of marriage by engaging the services of a male escort for $20,000. The other is a young suave escort (i.e., gigolo). But are they really as different as initial impressions suggest? The interaction between the two male protagonists is very believable and both actors provide very good performances. However, I found the younger males performance to be just a trifle too slick and obviously manipulative. Also, the premise is frankly absurd. Nonetheless I enjoyed the movie and rate it 3 of 5 stars.

Film #25: “Halfway” was an immense surprise. I only watched this film because there wasn’t anything else scheduled in that time block that I found more enticing. I didn’t expect to like the film. I am overjoyed that I made the choice to see it. This is a delightful comedy that explores loss, sorrow, and moving on. A recently divorced man moves into a house whose previous owner died in the house (suicide or accident?) and is now haunting the home. Neither the new (living) or prior (dead) owner is willing to give up the home to the other. This provides for many comedic scenes as each owner tries to convince the other that they won’t retreat. Closure is ultimately reached when they decide to help each other. I rate this 5 of 5 stars.

#Cinequest Film Festival day nine

It had to eventually happen: Today a self-centered asshole sat in front of me and decided he absolutely had to listen to something with his phone screen lit after the lights dimmed right up to the moment the film started. After I threatened to have him ejected from the theatre he called me a couple of names but turned off his phone. Sigh. Some people really need a proctology exam conducted using their phone.

Film #21: “WAX: We Are The X” explores the frustrations and dreams of three members of “Generation X” — the generation born roughly between 1970 and 2000. It does so in a unique fashion using images captured by one of the protagonists, an aspiring film maker, as the trio goes about their lives. Set in Italy and France the imagery is lush and the chemistry between the protagonists is marvelous. I rate it 4 of 5 stars.

Film #22: “Killswitch” is a documentary about privacy in the Internet era. This film should be mandatory viewing for every citizen who uses a computer (which includes the “smart” phone almost everyone owns). It focuses primarily on Aaron Swartz and Edward Snowden. It also features noted law professors Tim Wu and Lawrence Lessig who have been writing and speaking about issues such as net neutrality and Internet privacy for many years. I rate it 5 of 5 stars.

Film #23: “Operation Arctic” tells the story of three children who stowaway on a helicopter to travel to their father but end up stranded on an island near the North Pole. The oldest child is only 13 and her brother and sister are 8 years old. They make many mistakes and nearly die on multiple occasions. What makes this a far better film than the preceding description would suggest are the child actors and the Arctic environment. I was sorely tempted to rate it 5 of 5 stars solely on the basis of the marvelous performances by the children. Yet the relatively predictable story only deserves a rating of 4 of 5 stars.

#Cinequest Film Festival day eight

Wow! More than halfway through this film festival. Of twenty films only one disappointed me and even that one didn’t make we think about walking out before the end of the movie. This is a very different experience from last year.

Film #18: “Crescendo! The Power Of Music” tells how a music education program started in Venezuela in 1976 has affected the lives of USA students in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New York, New York. This is similar to the move “One Day In April” that I wrote about on day six. Unlike that movie which failed to make you care about the characters this one succeeds in a glorious fashion. Specifically by focusing on three students and a handful of teachers and mentors. I was especially moved by the youngest student, Raven, who undergoes a massive transformation after finding that she has a gift for playing the violin. She is a young woman who clearly has the ability to change the world if she can manage to keep some perspective regarding her abilities. Sadly this was its last showing in the festival unless it gains a spot on the Sunday encore screening schedule. I rate this 5 of 5 stars.

Film #19: “Aspie Seeks Love” tells the story of a middle-age male (only a few years younger than myself) who has Aspergers syndrome (a relatively mild form of Autism) as he attempts to seek a soul-mate. It’s a touching and honest look at the challenges faced by all of us in finding someone to love and grow old with. That the protagonist has Aspergers simply allows a level of honesty not usually available when discussing this topic. I rate this 4 of 5 stars.

Film #20: “Shorts Program 7 – Something Funny” is a collection of comedic short films. Only one film was a disappointment that resulted in no applause: “The Lord of Catan”. Which isn’t fair since it was a pretty good short; just not a comedy. It really belongs in one of the other shorts collections. All of the other films were either good or excellent examples of comedic shorts. In particular the two shortest, “firstworldproblems” and “How Guys’ Thoughts Ruin Perfect Relationships”, at two minutes each garnered the greatest laughter and applause. I rate this 5 of 5 stars.

#Cinequest Film Festival day seven

Film #16: “Shorts 3 – Lessons Learned” contained several short films that were disquieting. But that’s not only okay it’s what I want from this type of collection of short films. There was only one real clunker in the collection (“Piss & Vinegar”), a couple that are okay, and several gems (“Dead Hearts”, “Itsy Bitsy Spiders”, “Slap”). I rate it 4 of 5 stars.

Film #17: “Dirty Beautiful” is “Pretty Woman” as interpreted by the same dude who wrote the Bible’s “Book of Revelation”. Let me start by saying the main female protagonist has a voice that makes nails on a chalkboard seem like the sweetest music. She also seems to have taken acting lessons by watching William Shatner in the original Star Trek TV series. Having said that the movie is actually quite good. The core idea is that two obviously incompatible individuals can learn to love each other by simply communicating (even if that often involves screaming). It’s not a great film but probably deserves an encore screening on the last day of the festival. I rate it 4 of 5 stars.

#Cinequest Film Festival day six

Film #14: “How To Lose Jobs & Alienate Girlfriends” is an unusual documentary. It is ostensibly about the careers of two musicians. One is the boss and mentor of the film maker. The other is his girlfriend. In reality it is about the film maker’s relationship to those individuals and his desire to attain his goal of creating a movie seen by someone other than himself. Surprisingly the movie is better than that description suggests. I rate it 3 of 5 stars.

Film #15: “One Day In April” is a documentary about the “Little 500” bicycle race. The 1979 fictional movie about that race, “Breaking Away” is a classic and superior to this documentary. I loved the 1979 movie and wanted to like this one. Unfortunately this documentary has too many flaws. Starting with the fact that it doesn’t explain what “Little 500” means or the backstory for the team known as the “Cutters”. It gives all of twenty seconds to mentioning that woman were allowed to compete for the first time in 1988, thirty-seven years after the race was founded. The ending drags on for five+ minutes with irrelevant footage of the home life of one of the coaches and the 2014 race (the film focuses on the 2013 race). The film tries mightily to personalize the college age contestants but is only partially successful. I rate it only 2 of 5 stars.