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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A complicated weekend . . .
Disagree with me as much as you must right now.
Be upset and disappointed with me as much as you must right now.

Nevertheless, happy birthday darlin'. I wish you a wonderful, and above all peaceful, year.

If ya know her, go wish it to her. She deserves it.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

In other, substantially lighter news . . .
Parents went on a cruise. Just the cousin and I in the house now.

I should go make dinner or something . . .

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

It's rant time . . .
Allllright, it's been a couple days, the initial emotional backlash has settled down for everyone, and my head doesn't hurt anymore. Also, I've managed to disappoint my very important friend. I guess it's time to make my point.

First off, for anyone who doesn't know what I was talking about, the gist is that a college student was tasered by campus police at a John Kerry guest speaker event at the University of Florida. I'll let you all form your own opinion before I get to mine:

So here's how I see it:

The guy went up to a question microphone. Generally the idea is that you ask questions at a microphone. Now, the guy does eventually get to his questions after a very long speech about one author's research and blowjobs. These are the guy's questions:

"How could you concede the 2004 election on the day?"
"Didn't you wanna be president?"

"How come you're not saying 'let's impeach Bush now?'"

"Were you a member of Skull & Bones?"
"Were you in the same secret society as Bush?"

I think it's also fair to mention that even though he is technically asking questions, he's not leaving room for any of them to be answered: he wants to say his bit and doesn't want to stop until he's done. But, I digress . . .

Language is a clever thing. There are so many ways to use it to exactly the means we want while keeping it safe behind technical semantics and whatnot. Yes, the guy was definitely speaking in the form of questions - rhetorical questions, granted, but still sentences that you would end with a question mark. Ultimately, though, his meaning is the same as if he were to have just stated it matter of factly:

"Senator, you were being a pussy in 2004, you're being a pussy now, and you were and still are George W. Bush's bitch."

Put into the form of a question, you have the following:

"Senator, why were you being such a pussy in 2004? Why are you being such a pussy today? Have you always been President George W. Bush's bitch?"

Freedom of speech may be a right, but a question period with a guest is a privilege. As an anime community that often has experiences at conventions, I think we can appreciate this.

This guy has as much right to tell off Senator Kerry for what he has (or hasn't) done as the guy who constantly follows around a cosplayer telling her that her costume is horrible and that she's a fool for wanting to dress up as her chosen character. Likewise, he has as much right to take up all the time in the question period he wants to make his political(?) point as the man who first asks the voice actors how to get into the business and then goes on to explain his life story of tapes he's recorded, to whom he's sent them, for how many years he's tried to get into the business.

There's a time and place for everything, and there are good ways and bad ways to make your point about them. Accusations of submission and conspiracy indirectly veiled as honest questions is a bad way.

Here's further insight into the character of Andrew Meyer, the kid at the centre of all this stuff:

Tasred Student Has History Of Practical Jokes

So the campus police likely already knew about him as a prankster with a website that included videos of Meyer hitting on women while pretending to be drunk, "spoiling" the Harry Potter book and other similar things. To be fair, the website also has a rant or two that criticises the Iraq War, American Media, and the American people's failure to keep up with the times.

So that's his background: now let's go back to the video:

He first goes on for twenty seconds of extremely patronising lecturing ("He says you actually won the election! Isn't that amazing?"). Then when an officer tells him to get on with it an ask his question he belligerently turns to her and in an extremely disrespectful manner goes "I'll ask my question, thank you very much... he's been talking for two hours, I think I can have two minutes... thank you, thank you..." Yes, that doesn't look nearly as bad in text as it sounds.

A full minute later, his first question comes out about how could Kerry concede the election on the day; he doesn't give him a chance to answer it, but he gets it out.

The guy filibustered away for a full minute and a half trying to make his point and had no signs of stopping. Like I mentioned before, Freedom of Speech is a right, but a question period with a guest speaker is a privilege. He was being rude to the speaker, being inconsiderate of others in the audience who may have also had questions (from what I read, he ran up to the microphone pushing people out of the way as well), and was being completely disrespectful to the officers in attendance.

At this point he can be charged with interfering with school administrative functions, which is a misdemeanor; hence, they cut his mic' and ask him to leave.

He doesn't leave and makes more spectacle.

As he's not complying with the "asking nice" part, the two officers escort him out by his arms; he's not being arrested yet, he's just being taken out of the room.

Then he swings his arms, struggling against the grip the officers have on him. At this point he's resisting arrest; resisting arrest is a big felony. They gave him the chance to leave peacefully; he didn't take it. They gave him the chance to be taken out peacefully; he didn't take it. He instead chose to make more spectacle, anger the people at what was happening:
"Is anybody watching this? I'm being arrested! Get off me! What the fuck are you doing?! What's going on?! What is going on?! Help! Help!"

Again, the words are there, but the sincerity is hard to accept.

He wasn't taken down and tasered because of a "simple question". He was taken down and tasered because he continued to resist arrest.

Here in is the part that irks me the most about this: the backlash the police officers got from what happened next.

Again, this had nothing to do with Freedom of Speech; this had to do with a guy disrupting a University Function, taking up more than his fair share of time (abusing his right to Freedom of Speech, we can call it), and later on struggling very violently against police officers.

I like how people disapprove of the police because it took "a whole group of them (in this case, 5) to take down and taser one college kid with a book." I like this remark because it goes both ways: they were either too weak or incompetent to be able to handle the situation with fewer people, or they were bullies for intentionally ganging up on the poor, lone individual. The argument is used for both sides.

It's law enforcement. It's not a fair fight, it's not an honour duel; it's law enforcement. If five officers are going to restrain a struggling individual faster and get him out of there, they'll use all five officers in the room. Of course it's not pretty, it was never meant to be pretty; it was meant to get the job done - and by this point, when someone is resisting arrest that forcefully, there is a reason for them to do it.

Here's another quick point: when a police officer tells you to calm down and stop resisting or they will tase you . . . generally, the best course of action to not get tased is to calm down and stop resisting. Struggling harder and screaming "Don't tase me, bro!" is not the best course of action.

So now we come to the taser, a device to which YouTubers have referred as both "a lethal weapon" and "an instrument of torture". It was used because - as I've explained many times - the guy continued to resist arrest. Even with the taser pointed at him he still resisted - yes, maybe he was scared an unable to think straight or what have you, but he refused to comply with the "roll over onto your front" command and stop struggling. So he got zapped.

Couldn't the officers have used a different measure instead of a taser? Let's go down the list:

-Knee/elbow/unarmed strikes: Yeah, I bet those'd go well with people. Sure, they'd now be able to get around the "couldn't restrain a guy without using a weapon" accusation . . . but no. Direct strikes are a no-no.

-Police baton: see above, times three.

-Pepper Spray: people already have a hate-on for pepper spray as is. As well as any natural media backlash the officers would get from "pepper spraying the subject", it was also likely to get into the air and affect other people in the room.

-Chokehold: Again with striking and whatnot, you get around any accusations of having to rely on weapons to do their job. Still, you put "police used a chokehold on the subject to restrain him" into a headline and people will not like that. Further, they are dangerous as they cut off blood flow to the brain and whatnot. Yeah, bad idea.

-armlocks/armbars: this would have probably been the ideal thing to do. It gives way more control than a thrown punch, for example, and is very effective at keeping a person down on the ground. Problem is, any arm-based takedowns require a lot of floor space. You need enough room for a fully grown adult to lie prone, as well as enough room for another fully grown adult either lying perpendicular to the other or next to the other. In this particular case, they fell into a 3-4 foot wide aisle between auditorium seats, and were already backed up against said-seats. Further, a good, solid, proper armbar requires the subject to end up prone (face-down) on the ground to begin with.

Had fate followed through differently, things could have been different. If they had all fallen to the ground behind the seats instead of between them, they'd have had more room to work with and probably could have restrained him without the use of a taser. Unfortunately, that was not how it turned out and they had to rely on their best option to get the job done quickly. Even if that were the case, though, I can still imagine that headlines of "five police officers tackle college student to ground" wouldn't fly so hot either, considering how much of a hate-on and bias that people in general already have of police officers. Again, it's law enforcement; it's not pretty and it was never meant to be. They knew they were getting into a job where pretty much no one would like them for doing said-job, but they still do it.

This incident was never about Freedom of Speech or the suppresion thereof; it was twisted into that, but it never was to begin with.

Andrew Meyer had the right to talk smack in a public political forum. He also had the responsibility for talking smack - about election theories, about secret societies, about blowjobs - in a public political forum. He came into the room ready to pick a fight, and he got one.

This mindset isn't something I came up with on a whim. I don't think that in the four years you've all known me I have ever demonstrated myself to be any sort of totalitarian anything in my personal politics. I enjoy Freedom of Speech as much as the next person. I certainly believe that the news media is guilty of screening the news to a degree, and that it's the responsibility of the individual to know how to see through that.

The same way someone would know how to see through someone who knows how to insult you or your intelligence with a snide smile. The same way you would know how to see through someone who accuses you of hating your country because you disagreed with an action it took.

The same way you should know how to see through Andrew Meyer's rhetoric and martyrdom for what it was: a way to get attention, build some controversy, and incite some anger.

This was never about Freedom of Speech.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

My head hurts tonight . . .
It's probably a combination of lack of sleep and general funkiness. That, or maybe I've caught something . . .

I'll tell you what isn't helping it, though . . . the backlash from that "Florida University" thing.

I don't think my head has ever hurt from YouTube comments more that they have from comments on that particular incident . . . granted, you should generally not read YouTube comments anyway because they will ALWAYS hurt your brain . . . but this one has hurt it more so.

I've found myself yearning to rant about it so much . . . but my head just hurts too much to do so right now. People . . . glugh . . . . .

(For the record . . . if anyone needs to know specifics, I support the belief that the question-asker was an ass and was looking for trouble right from the get-go; that said, I give him no sympathy for how his plight turned out.)

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

   Ah balls . . . computer troubles . . .
So last night, just as I said good night to everyone, I shut down my computer tower and cleaned out the dust from inside it and all the fans and stuff.

Put it back together, hit the power, thing tells me my windows system whatever file is missing or corrupted and I'll likely have to reinstall windows and stuff now.

I'm pissed. I just hope I can get this fixed today sooner than later . . .

. . . . . I guess I should be thankful that this house is pretty well wired with multiple machines and all . . .

EDIT: Costed me about $100, but computer's back up and running. People even cleaned out the fans a bit more professionally than I did, too (still some stupid noise, but it's less bad now). I suppose considering how much use is made of this machine, it could be a whole lot worse . . .

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

   End of a series . . .
Lucky Star finished . . .

. . . I have one less show to watch again . . . . .

. . . let's get over it by watching Mythbuster Adam light his farts on fire!

Tee hee.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

   Because I MUST share this . . .
Mythbusters . . . you won't believe what about . . . . .

Question: does this break the "good taste" policy of myOtaku? 'Cause honestly, this was funny as all hell . . .

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Monday, September 17, 2007

   And now we plan for Sakura-Con . . .
Pre-registered for Sakura-Con the other night. Now a guy and I are trying to figure out when to book our hotel rooms.

Here's how it breaks down:

-We're shooting for the Sheraton Seattle Hotel because it's the one directly next to the convention center. They're giving a room rate of $192/night during that weekend . . . at least right now they are.

-The Canadian Dollar is rising more and more these days, and booking hotels outside the country is perhaps one of the only actually positive things coming out of that. It's actually likely the Canadian dollar could rise above the US Dollar (which is a scary thought, nya?). In any case, if we waited for that, booking hotels'd be way cheaper for us.

-Obviously, the longer we wait the more likely other people'll book the rooms . . .

-Further . . . I'm not sure if this actually happens or not . . . but I fear that the rates could rise the closer we get to the date. I'm thinking this probably doesn't actually happen and it's more a question of what time of year you wanna book . . . but yeah, I have that concern.

So yeah, we're having fun right now. I don't even know how many Vancouver-type people are coming with me yet! But yes . . . planning for March already . . . . . aiya . . .

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

   So about that wicked cool Japanese stuff I got . . .
I've been bad about talking about all the cool stuff Maris' got me while she was in Japan!

Alright, so before I left for Alberta and after the con' was over, I got a package from Holland filled with all sorts of cool stuff more or less tailored to places she went that had ties to my interests . . .

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
(Kon didn't come in the mail, he's just there for scale purposes)

But yeah, notice a trend? Heh . . . 3 of the 4 things are Shinsengumi related. What can I say, the girl knows me pretty well . . .

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
(The shirt text is just barely borderline Engrish, but it counts!)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
(A really nice wireframe samurai charm dealie)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
(Not Shinsengumi-related, but it's a hologram and it's my year!)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
(In case I ever tire of the white armoured headband . . .)

So yes, to put it plainly, I love the stuff. I've shown it all off to all the Shinsengumi cosplayers in Vancouver, too, and they love the stuff as well. Thanks a ton, beautiful. It's awesome.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

   Beach Cosplay follow-up . . .
"Maiea" compiled everyone's photos from the day and pulled out her top picks.

They can be found at this link, if you didn't see 'em prior.

Yeah, we pretty much rock.

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