Posts Tagged celebrity

Oh No

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I am truly gutted about the news of Robin Williams’ death.

Williams was found today at his home in Tiburon, CA  and it’s been reported that he committed suicide due to asphyxia – i.e. from probably hanging himself. The Marin County Sheriff’s Department released this statement:

On August 11, 2014, at approximately 11:55 am, Marin CountyCommunications received a 9-1-1 telephone call reporting a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in unincorporated Tiburon, CA. The Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Tiburon Fire Department and Southern Marin Fire Protection District were dispatched to the incident with emergency personnelarriving on scene at 12:00 pm. The male subject, pronounced deceased at 12:02 pm has been identified as Robin McLaurinWilliams, a 63 year old resident of unincorporated Tiburon, CA.

An investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Divisions of the Sheriff’s Office. Preliminary information developed during the investigation indicates Mr. Williams was last seen alive at his residence, where he resides with his wife, at approximately 10:00 pm on August 10, 2014. Mr. Williams was located this morning shortly before the 9-1-1 call was placed to Marin CountyCommunications.

Robin’s rep also released a statement:

Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

I am sad beyond belief by this. Not only for him and that he was in such a dark place that he felt the only way out was taking his own life, but also for his family who has to find a way to get through life in the wake of this devastation.

If you need any further evidence that depression is a powerful, soul sucking lying sack of shit disease, look no further than the tragic death of Robin Williams, a man that dedicated his life to making other people happy, yet couldn’t find a way out of the darkness himself.

The insediousness of depression just scares the hell out of me. It torments even the most seemingly happiest of people. Such an indiscriminate, hideous disease.

For some reason, all I can think about right now is this line he said in Dead Poet’s Society, which, looking back, seems prophetic (or maybe not. Death is a certainty, after all. It, however, does take a lot of insight to recognize that about life: “Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary[…] because believe it or not, each and everyone of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold and die.”

What a short life we all live.

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Just One of Us

1399331510298.cachedIt is so sweet and reassuring, really, that Michelle Obama is such a down to earth kinda woman spending her time as the First Lady working on important issues such as cutting the ribbon on the newly redesigned Costume Institute wing dedicated to fashion maven and tastemaker Anna Wintour.

Public service at its best.

I guess there is a sincere logic in the notion that if you, as the First Lady and representative of your country, look great wearing expensive designer couture and hair-dos, going to talk shows and hanging out with the elite Hollywood crowd and sport things like $800 a pair of Jimmy Choos while posing on the cover of Vogue magazine a mere week after your husband unleashed a devastating Sequester onto the neediest of the American people, you inspire these very people to aspire to be something more, thus working oh so hard to pull themselves up by their bootstraps – or in this case – their Jimmy Choo strappy sandal straps.

Just like she were one of us. A true woman of the people.

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Another 1%er Event

It is becoming increasingly more evident that regular folks in this country, you know, your average taxpaying, working middle-class stiff, the ones that are keeping this economy and country, really, going – from their occupations as teachers, in the service industry to non-profit work etc., do not matter very much.

I said it before and I say it again, but for the one percent that run this country, middle class folks seemingly are nothing more than readily sources of warm bodies when you need to engage in another war for profit under the guise of security.

They are a a source of tax revenue to support and underwrite the 1%.

If, as a one percenter, they have done a good job choosing the two lousy candidates for them and then giving them the illusion that they have a “choice” on the day they go out and cast a vote (see Citizens United)  then they are a “vote” to help “elect” your candidate and if you have done a really good job, as Republicans have with their voter base, you not only give them the delusion that they have a choice between candidates but you actually get them to vote for the very candidate, and thus against their own self-interest, you put on the ballot.

Everytime there is a cut in government spending, the middle class and the poor, of course, have to make sacrifices and see the programs and policies that benefit and protect them slashed and reduced,  not the wealthy and thus the architects of our economic system that keeps the wealthy tax exempt under the guise that they are “job creators” while repeatedly requiring that cuts to government spending (because of lost revenue due to those tax exemptions) come from those very middle class protecting programs.

While the white collar criminals of Wall Street and the banking system got bailed out instead of imprisoned for the crimes they committed, poor people, and thus Wall Street’s direct and indirect victims, are sent to jail for essentially being poor.

And when our so-called leaders and politicians open the doors to let America “in” for a night of celebration, laughter good times and appreciation, the only ones invited to the table, literally, are members of the 1%.

It is, after all, no coincidence that the yearly White House Correspondent’s Dinner (WHCD)  resembles a Hollywood red carpet event and that everyone in that event, except those serving food and beverages, are members of the one percent. 

It is sad to know that the average American is not on the President’s radar even when he  decides to decide to hang out with the public. 

Instead of inviting over some of those hard working average American citizens, the ones that did the grunt work and got him elected, to shake hands with and thank them for their truly thankless jobs and positions and pressure in society, he instead surrounds himself with top members of the elite cracking jokes.

It is ironic that on the one hand we’ve got the Occupy Wall Street movement, with demands for equity and relief for the middle class, the 99%, – an event and movement the President and his wife endorse, while on the other hand any event of any significance in this country, including this Dinner, is hosted and populated by the wealthy and privileged, the 1% only.

The 99% only seem to matter in as much as they make for great talking point or otherwise help score political points and not because anyone really actually cares about changing the current paradigm, the current dysfunction with respect to structural exploitation and institutionalized greed in this country that have allowed the 1% to accumulate more wealth than the rest of us combined.

There are thousands of people who dedicate every day of their lives to not only public service but to their townships, counties, states and communities in general – one way or another. They are the backbone of America, they are the people the President allegedly works for and leads. They are the ones who, through their hard work, such as teachers, champion the very causes this Dinner is to honor and uphold – yet the only ones who once again get to benefit from all this, even if just in a celebratory manner, are rich people; the 1% – literally – as everyone at that dinner is a millionaire – without exception, because otherwise who could afford something like $50,000 a plate just to get in?

Not that I don’t love the outrage about economic injustice for us poor, hard working middle class folks when it’s politically expedient and all but it’d be nice if the actual American people – you know, the 99%  – such as the journalists meant to be holding the US government to account, the non-profit workers, the public servants, the researchers, activists and just the people on the ground who work everyday on these issues for Americans without anyone paying much attention to them –  were, once in a while,  invited to the table and celebrated by our leaders, instead of actors, reality TV stars and models – who neither represent the American people, nor have contributed in any meaningful way to the political and social world they are in,

Speak of being out of touch. Romney is not the only one.

Money begets money and at the end of the day, when all the political talking points and phony strategizing to supposedly empower the 99% have been made, rich people still only take care of and intermingle with their own.

All this talk about empowering the 99% and leveling the playing field are just that: rhetoric. No one really means it and The White House Correspondent’s Dinner is the best example to the point.

The United States would be a very different place if everyone cared about inequity when there wasn’t a presidential election in which appearing to care about inequity could score political points.

 

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Your Right To Religion Does Not Supersede Someone Else’s Right to Equality

gay 1-1It is amazing, and with that I mean appallingly frightening, to watch the mental gymnastics religious people will go through to justify bigotry and hate and the extent to which they are willing to hide behind the Bible to justify their narrow-mindedness and intolerance.

The hatred and bigotry of religious people these days, among a myriad of other things, appears to be particularly focused on gays and lesbians and doing everything possible to humiliate and degrade them, including denying them their basic human and civil rights, and defending such thinly veiled bigotry, by making appeals to “traditional values”, “god” and other nice-sounding and “wholesome” terms.

It is a tragic testament to the state of affairs that gays and lesbians are being scapegoated when in reality those who have done, and continue to do, the most harm to society and its people are not gays and lesbians, but heterosexual, most notably religious, men (women too, but I say men because our political landscape  – from Congress to state governments – as well as the business sphere are predominately populated by men). Which is not to say that a person’s gender identity and sexual orientation should be used to pass judgement on their character and actions. It is merely to point out that if you are going to blame someone for the shit we’re in, maybe you may want to rethink whether someone’s sexual origination should be relevant in answering that question. And if it is not, then you should ask yourself why you think being gay or lesbian, and thus someone’s queerness, could somehow lead to the breakdown of society.

The sad thing, of course, is that even self proclaimed “reasonable” religious folks believe that at the end of the day it is ok, acceptable and understandable to deny gays and lesbians equal rights, or to at least curtail those, such as a same-sex couple should have to undergo more stringent scrutiny when trying to adopt and so forth.  And the thing is, such people don’t even feel bad about. On the contrary, they make such claims with a good conscience and they sleep well at night, too. No compunction.

One such individual is Mark David Hall, a “traditional, orthodox Christian” who  believes that “God designed marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman.”

Hall is this week’s guest columnist at Oregon Live. Hall, who undoubtedly must have Jesus as his role model, and I can see that just by looking at all the love, caring and acceptance that is so shining through in his column, just like Jesus would do, defends the “right” (ahem) of religious people to deny services to discriminate against anyone mainly gays and lesbians and deny them services of any kind, especially when serving gays and lesbians constitutes “endorsing a practice” (homosexuality) that disagrees with the Christian’s beliefs hateful, ignorant notions. Although he personally would never to do it, as he assures us, Hall, nonetheless, fully supports business owners who want to be able to legally deny people services if they believe that rendering such a service would violate the tenets of their religion.

He believes that the “religious convictions of these individuals [who wish to discriminate] should be respected” because allegedly this country was founded  on “the conviction that men and women should be able to worship God according to the dictates of their consciences.

Yeah, I don’t think so.

The First Amendment

The First Amendment separates church from state, explicitly saying that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That is all the protection and “right to religion” the  US Constitution provides. Full stop.

A place of business is a place of business. Baking a cake, serving food, selling furniture, AstroTurf, cars , clothes etc. are not exercise of one’s religion which would necessitate First Amendment protections.

What Hall is proposing is, therefore nothing but pure, cold, hard, unadulterated, not to mention legalized, discrimination.

The Demand For Legalized Discrimination

I am no legal expert but if the government, through laws and legislation, were to actually grant business owners the right, the legal right, to deny services to gays and lesbians (or any number and creed of people religious business owners do not like) if they felt that providing those services would violate their religious rights, then that would, in fact, constitute the government “respecting an establishment of religion”, which is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

Now, I don’t feel inclined to get into a discussion about how under the umbrella of “religious beliefs” millions of people have been killed, oppressed, subjugated and otherwise harmed over the millennia and continue to be killed, oppressed, subjugated and otherwise harmed, but I will say that such a measure, if made into law, would be nothing more than a license to discriminate. A licence which a myriad of companies out there could potentially use to discriminate against a host of people they don’t like and/or whose life style choices and/or various other inherent attributes they do not agree with.

After all,  what if business owners decide that they do not want to sell to blacks and Muslims, atheists and women, red heads or people with tattoos? This is no different than having a black only section in your restaurant or a”White Only” lunch counter at the diner – only that in this case religion is used to accomplish the same, which is to deny certain people, whom religious people deem abnormal or unworthy, access.

And make no mistake about it, granting certain people rights while denying the same rights to others based on any attribute you do not like is discrimination.

Separate But Equal and the Jim Crow laws that enforced them were terribly unjust and discriminatory, not to mention that under Separate But Equal, there was, in fact, no equality for those who had to be separated, by law, from the rest of the (white) population that felt threatened by black emancipation.

The irony here, of course, is that under the umbrella of “religious freedom” such a law would mainly be utilized to deny services to gays and lesbians and only gays and lesbians. In fact, this appears to be directed at gays and lesbians only as there is rarely any talk about denying other entities that violate biblical laws (and we all know that they exist) services. They do call it religious freedom but that is only a scaffold beneath their bigotry.

Sweet Taste of Wickedness 

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SWEET TASTE OF WICKEDNESS: This cake purchased from Gresham’s Sweet Cakes by Melissa bears an important message

Last year, the owner of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, told a lesbian couple that “we don’t do same-sex marriages.”

It is interesting to note that there is nothing there to indicate that Sweet Cakes by Melissa was denying to bake wedding cakes for other biblically non-approved actions, such as for couples for whom this is the second marriage (i.e. who have been divorced), for example, or inter-faith marriages. There is nothing in there about doing hymen inspections to sanction the validity of a heterosexual engagement before agreeing to bake a cake. In fact, the owner was more than happy to bake a cake for all people no questions asked but decided to throw the Good Book at her same-sex wedding customers, claiming that apparently in this instance, and in this instance only, her religious convictions were being violated.

Surely, if one were so obliged so as to deny people services because it disagrees with one’s religion, one would do so for all actions that violate religious doctrine.

See how religious/Christian supremacy works?  Religious people have put everyone on the defense, playing the victims whose rights are being allegedly neglected and stomped on. As the privileged, dominant entity they really believe that they are entitled to their privilege and dominance and that demands for equality infringe upon their rights to subjugate, discriminate, oppress and harm others. And they think they have that right, that entitlement, because it is in the name of god and religion.

This “right to discriminate” legislation which Hall supports with bells and whistles, is a hate filled piece of legislation directed at gays and lesbians only. This is not about right to religion. This is legislated hate under the guise of right to religion.

The  new name for bigotry these days seem to  be “religious freedom” which religious people have taken to mean that it should be upheld to the point where it should supersede and trump someone else’s human and civil rights.

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Religion is harmful, in case you had not gotten that message from the eleventy million other examples and cases I have talked about and explored here.

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80s Revival: Picture of the Day

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Leonardo DiCaprio and Kirk Cameron, 1991

This was before Leonardo DiCaprio was so important that he only dated Models pre-ordered and screened through a modeling agency and before Kirk Cameron became a Right wing evangelist nut job in service of all things fictional.

Ah…. the good ol’ days. The 80s were great. If I ever watch the reruns I am going to pretend I don’t know what happened to Cameron.

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The Pope and The Catholic Church Are Still Full of Shit, Despite Protestations to the Contrary

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Yesterday Pope Francis of holier-than-thou and west-catholic-shit-church street saidWho am I to judge a gay person?” Well, I don’t know, the fucking Pope and self proclaimed spiritual leader of a corrupt faith that everyone sees as holy and an authority? But, er, I’m digressing. Anyway, his exact words were “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord? […] You can’t marginalize these people.”

I don’t know. Call me a cynic or a skeptic who isn’t easily fooled by someone’s empty words but the Pope paying lip service and saying he now accepts gays means nothing to me, nor does it change how I feel about religion, him and about how detrimental and dangerous and harmful religion is.

Facts speak louder than words: The Knights of Columbus poured over $2 million during the last election cycle alone on funding anti same sex marriage legislation and they are continuing to do so as we speak. Does anyone really believe that these haters and bigots will now suddenly support same sex marriage because the Pope says in some sort of an afterthought that he does not think gays are dirt beneath our feet? Who the fuck cares that he said gay people are good people? If he really believes that, then why treat them like second class human beings and deny them equal rights? Is he for same  sex marriage now? Is he for gay adoption? No. Case closed.

Finally, I find it sad that our expectations of religious leaders are so low that we are actually grateful and elated that some religious figure doesn’t insult gay people to the maximum and wishes death and misery upon them. I mean, really? Are these the low standards we have subscribed to these days? Be thankful that he at least didn’t they say he hates them – never mind he still is not willing to grant them equal rights?

The Pope’s pandering to the gay community is just that, pandering. How magnanimous to say gay people are not automatically deserving of eternal damnation, but of course with the addendum that while homosexuals deserve a chance to find grace, they can only do so if they are celibate. So being gay is okay, so long as you never act on your homosexuality. It’s the old “love the sinner, hate the sin” tripe that is simply an insult.

The Pope and his sheep followers with their insincere protestations of acceptance of homosexuals can kiss my ass.

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You Know You Are Getting Old…

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…when Johnny Depp turns 50 years old.

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I mean fuuuuuuuck, he is 50 years old. The guy from 21 Jump Street who played a cop going undercover as a high school teen to investigate crimes is turning half a century old. Fifty years. I still remember him as a rebellious teen and now he is a middle aged man in his 50s, which means we are all getting fucking old.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Johnny – even if it means you are turning 50.

 

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