Category Archives: General Bullcrap

More Aggressive Than Passive

I’ve come to loathe passive-aggressive behavior. Maybe it’s me getting older and more persnickety, but to me, it’s more aggressive than outright aggression—it is often cowardly, petty, presumptuous, narcissistic and arrogant.

Really, if you flip me off on the road, I’ll be much less likely to road-rage you into a ditch than if you suddenly pull in front of me in an obviously irritated fashion and start driving 10 miles under the speed limit.

Today’s early dose of passive-aggressiveness? I return some books and a DVD to the library. I exit the library behind a woman. She opens the door. I follow, and say “Thanks.”

Admittedly, that “thanks” is very quiet, as my voice caught while I was saying it. Also, the woman chose the door that is the handicapped-accessible automatic door (why people do this, I don’t understand, as it’s harder to push open manually than the one right next to it), which makes a loud whirring sound regardless of whether it’s opened by button or by hand.

So, I guess she didn’t hear me. Because when we passed through the next set of doors a few seconds later through the other side of the small entryway, she advances a couple yards and then says, darkly, without looking back at me, “I opened the door for you. You’re welcome.”

It’s the kind of thing that make me want to be passive-aggressive in return, and say, “What a pity you didn’t hear me say that.”

But what do I gain? Nothing. Except that I’m the last dick standing. I get the last douchey word. So I held my tongue and muttered those things quietly to myself to bleed out the venom.

I guess some small part of my compassionate side hopes she got some pleasure or satisfaction over “getting” me for what she perceived as a slight.

But really, folks, why do this?

If I hadn’t said “thanks,” will shaming me make it all better? If I said “thank you” again, would you feel happier? Why do you need my validation to make you happy? Why do you need to force something from me?

Let’s say I hadn’t said “thanks,” even though I did.

How do you know I didn’t just get news last night that my dad died? How do you know I didn’t just finish a horrid argument with my wife? How do you know I’m not suffering from laryngitis or maybe even that I’m mute? Or, as the truth is: That I’m a soft-spoken guy whose voice went way lower and was drowned out by a noisy door?

There’s a lot of anger in society these days; more so, I think, than has ever really existing in my lifetime. We all seem to be carrying huge chips on our shoulders and we’re just waiting for a chance to lash out.

Here’s another thought: Let’s not do that.

Or if we’re going to, how about let’s do it on Twitter or something instead of pissing on someone for walking behind you through a door you needed to open anyway?

Hypocrisy Helps No One

We all have our moments of hypocrisy, but if we’re ever going to move forward in this country, politically, economically, racially, sexually, socially or in any other fashion, we need to keep our hypocritical actions small and infrequent.

Being a fairly left-leaning guy on most issues, I could choose to beat up solely on conservatives, as they have a strong track record of hypocrisy, especially lately. People still insist Barack Obama isn’t a U.S. citizen and keep insisting he prove it even though he already has; but no one raised any significant peep about John McCain having been born outside the United States when he ran for president. Obama is supposedly a socialist for trying to reform the healthcare system and ensure that everyone can get care, yet Tea Party types and others who blast him on that ignore the fact that their symbol of conservatism, Ronald Reagan did “socialist” things, too, like sign into law that emergency rooms had to treat anyone who came in, regardless of whether they had insurance or ability to pay. “Cap and trade” programs to help rein in pollution are now somehow left-wing, even though it was conservatives who ushered in such ideas over the objections of environmentalists.

Just a few examples. But the right isn’t alone in this.

Feminists, for example, have a history of trying to stamp out sexually explicit images of women, even though research doesn’t bear out that porn makes men more deviant and exploitation of women in that business isn’t the rampant beast they claim and even in the actual sex work (prostitution) industry, there are many women who chafe at being told they are exploited when they see it as a legitimate job in many cases. Yet those feminists want to dictate what women do with their bodies, even as they claim it is evil for right-wingers to control women’s reproduction, downplay rape or for men, in places like some Arab nations (for example) to dictate how women dress. Either women are free to make their choices or they are not. You cannot pick and choose. And then there is the issue, as my wife pointed out recently as part of a blog post, of the divide between white and non-white feminists and the racial baggage carried there among people who would decry racism in other venues.

Then there are people on the left who talk a good game about free speech and how the right tramples all over it, but then try to shut down people with whom they don’t agree, justifying that they know which speech is truly hurtful and non-productive. And then many of them ignore the notion of religious liberty. They see so many rampaging Christians who trample other religions that they try to prevent people from celebrating Christmas or offering Christmas greetings, as if browbeating one group for their beliefs is the same as championing the beliefs of others.

Hypocrisy is ugly. Everywhere. Right, left or middle. Most of our beliefs have some validity at their core, but none of us is “right.” We all come with our own baggage. But if we heap our beliefs and views on others and shut theirs down…committing the same crime as they do…we advance nothing.

This was a nation founded on liberty, and it’s high time we stopped telling people what to do with their own bodies, what to say and how to express their culture. We don’t have to agree. But we do have to be fair, whether we like it or not.

How to End Those Pesky Discussions of Racism

The answer to the matter posed in my headline: Stop being racist.

But, it’s a hard human habit to break, along with religious intolerance, class conflict and a host of others. So, let me break it down more effectively.

First, off, when I talk about racism and getting rid of racist attitudes, I tend to be talking to white people…those people who are, like myself, “melanin-challenged.” That isn’t because white people are the source of all racism; far from it. Racism exists everywhere, along with the other ism’s that plague us. But I tend to target my fellow whites (racism), fellow males (sexism) and fellow Christians (religious intolerance) because I live in the United States and most of the people reading me live there, too. It’s a nation controlled by white, male Christians for the most part. They hold the most powerful political offices in a disproportionate number compared to the overall population, they hold the most influential corporate positions, they hold the vast majority of the nation’s wealth and they have the most access to getting their message out and keeping discriminatory structures in place.

Don’t even argue with me about that, because these are cases where the statistics are very obvious and clear, and no amount of internal jockeying on your part changes the truth of them.

So, while my comments here are aimed primarily at whites as I talk about racism today, my points are applicable to nations that are mostly black and persecute whites for the sins of minority white populations before them  who were cruel and destructive to the mostly black native population. Or Asian nations. Or Latino ones. Or Arabic ones. Racism is everywhere.

But it’s here in the United States where I keep hearing how much whites want to stop having racial discussions and want to declare racism over even though there is nothing statistically to show that racism is on its last breaths yet, much less dead.

You want to stop hearing about racism? I’ll give you a starting point with a tweet I made today:

We all have racist thoughts/make racist “observations.” Instead of downplaying them or feeling guilt, acknowledge they’re STUPID & do better

That’s the simplest beginning. The moment you understand that thinking an African-American person is going to rob you just because they are black or a Muslim is going to hijack the plane simply because he or she calls the almighty “Allah” instead of “God” or “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or a Jewish person is going to swindle or cheat you or an Asian driver is going to do something stupid because somehow Asians are all bad drivers…well, you get the idea. Those notions are not true. If they were, the white majority in the United States would be in shitty shape. As it happens, they aren’t. There are plenty of white people who aren’t exactly swimming in financial or social comfort, but their numbers are not so great percentage-wise as the African-American, Hispanic, Arabic and other folks who deal with discrimination large and small every day.

The Earth isn’t flat, yet it wasn’t that long ago historically there was still a Flat Earth Society, and I bet there are people who still insist the world isn’t a globe. Dinosaurs didn’t live at the same time as humans, and the science bears that out (and no, atheists, as a side note, science doesn’t disprove God because science can no more disprove the spiritual world than I can prove it to you). All black people don’t think alike. Neither do all white people.

But if you, my fellow whites, don’t want to talk about racism anymore, actually end it. And that starts by owning your own ignorance when it arises and calling it for what it is.


And then try not to do that stupid thing again. It’s a policy that serves me well, and that’s why I don’t have too many people having to tell me to stop being so racist.

On the Lighter Side…a Pedestrian Rant

And no, I don’t mean “pedestrian” in terms of being a common, run-of-the-mill rant. I mean I need to rant about pedestrians. In this case, Maine pedestrians, who are the worst I’ve ever encountered in the process of living in five different states in my life (not counting Minnesota, because I only spent the first 3.5 years of my life there and have hardly ever driven there when on visits).

People of Maine, I want to give you some tips about crossing the street:

When you are crossing the street and cars are waiting for you to finish doing so (particularly when you a jay-walking), kindly walk straight across the street. Y’know…a 90-degree right angle from the curb. Stop walking at an extreme, exaggerated angle, especially if you’re strolling slowly. You only cause yourself to be in the street longer, instead of getting your business done quickly, thus increasing the chances someone will snap and just run you over one day. Or are you purposefully being passive-aggressive? I’d rather that you make that clear by giving me the finger as you walk so that I know you’re just a jerk instead of having no survival instinct.

When you do not have the light in your favor, particularly when there is a left-turn lane feeding onto the street you are about to cross, do not cross the street. Wait for your light. You only snarl up traffic (because the light doesn’t last long for turning vehicles) and run the risk of being accidentally or perhaps one day not-so-accidentally being run over.

The same applies when there is heavy traffic on the main straight-ahead lanes and the light isn’t with you. Why are you going to make all those cars stop just so that you don’t have to wait 30 seconds? Are you off to go save a life or something? Quit it!

And please, for the love of God, especially when you ignore the previous advice and cross against the light or jaywalk at an angle, please look before you cross. Stop blindly walking off the curb without any glance in any direction assuming that cars will (or more accurate assuming that they can) stop in time.


A Guy Who Would Like Not to Run Over Anyone…Ever

I Am Mister Furious

I understand The Hulk. In fact, I’m more like him than I want to admit.

For those of you who have studiously avoided television shows, comic books, movies or pop culture references to The Hulk, the character is simply this: A mild-tempered geeky scientist gets exposed to massive levels of gamma radiation and is mutated so that when he becomes angry, he turns into a hulking, muscular, green creature of superhuman strength that sometimes is heroic but sometimes simply rampages until he calms down enough to revert to being Dr. Bruce Banner.

The Hulk is one of the main characters in the recent film Marvel’s “The Avengers” with Mark Ruffalo playing the role of Bruce Banner and, with the help of digital effects, his enraged emerald-skinned alter-ego. Throughout the movie, various characters question Dr. Banner on how he manages to keep from losing control of his temper and unleashing The Hulk for such a long time since his last “episode” (in the film The Incredible Hulk). Some do so in a teasing/needling manner; others in a more curious/concerned/awed manner, but everyone wants to know his “secret” for keeping the catalytic rage bottled up. But what all that foreshadows is an event in the final act of the movie, in which Bruce Banner arrives at the scene of the climactic battle and one of his superhero compatriots, Captain America, tells him, “Doctor Banner, I think now might be a good time for you to get angry.”

In one of the greatest lines of the movie, Banner says, “That’s my secret, Captain: I’m always angry” and then simply wills himself to become The Hulk even though he seemed so serene a split-second earlier.

I know a lot of people loved that one-liner because of its “zing” quality, even if they didn’t really think about what it meant. Others may have thought that the line makes no sense, because if he was always angry, he’d always be The Hulk.

That line resonated with me from the first time I heard it, though I couldn’t have adequately explained why it makes sense until yesterday.

But before we get to last night, let’s start with an admission: I’m a very angry man.

This will come as a surprise to many who know me in person or who know me online. This will likely come as a surprise to most of my relatives, even my Dad (who likely doesn’t read this blog anyway).

This would surprise people because I’m typically calm and laid-back. I’m rarely visibly flustered. I don’t often yell. I’m not mean or petty. I don’t bully people. I’m not aggressive in my words or actions most of the time. I don’t try to get my own way all the time. I haven’t been in a fistfight since grade school, and even then very rarely. I’ve never struck my wife or even verbally abused or humiliated her. I don’t spank my daughter and never spanked my son. I’ve never even punched a hole in a wall.

But what some people know, most especially my wife, my son and my daughter, is that when I hit a limit or when someone is pushing me too far, I erupt. I become a very scary person. I will yell. My cursing, which can already be a legendary level even when I’m happy and simply shooting the shit (see, just did it right there…), ramps up. My voice raises to levels that can shake walls. And while some rational part of my mind almost always reminds me not to start breaking things that would need to be repaired later or that would make a huge mess, I have been known to go out into our attached barn and literally destroy a resin chair (as just one example) in a few strikes against the floor.

Yesterday, something happened.

The details of what happened aren’t important.

They led, initially, to me making a post on Twitter yesterday that read: Damn, that’s a big damned smoking crater. What the fuck is it doing in the middle of my life?

That tweet was preceded by yelling. Later, it was followed by some more angry outbursts, though perhaps far less dramatic. I hurt no one, burned no bridges (may have singed one or two though) and I was not hurt nor did I destroy anything.

But rarely have I been so angry. That anger abated, but it never went away. I did what I have so often done, which is to push it back down. And before you ask, no, I don’t have high blood pressure. Never have. And that’s amazing, when you consider the tweet I made today: The problem w/ making 25 years of deposits in the Bank of Rage is when someone opens the vault door & it gets jammed when you try to shut it

For at least a quarter of a century, I’ve been pushing stuff down. Frankly, I’ve been doing it longer than that, but the most notable examples of burying my rage have happened over the past 25 years. Some of it is is work related, some marriage or child related, some related to other family members, some due to many other factors in life.

I am always angry. Last night, I was more aware of it than most times. Even when I pushed down the anger, I could still feel it flowing near the surface like a river that might burst its banks if another rainstorm arrives.

This morning, my head was throbbing and my eyes burning (how much from rage and how much from the previous evening’s tears of anguish…for anger and anguish are so closely related…I don’t know). I was no longer furious outwardly or consciously, but even today, the anger was still palpably near the surface.

Like Bruce Banner, I am always angry. There is no place to dispose of the toxic waste that is all that anger I’ve pushed down. It doesn’t ever really go away. It has a half-life, I’m sure, so it fades, but there’s so much of it that I know it’s still at explosive levels. Just waiting for the right catalyst to come along, whether that might be a threat to my family, an unwanted life change, an argument or whatever.

Being an angry person doesn’t mean that you are an unpleasant one. It doesn’t mean you never have periods of happiness or satisfaction. And certainly, everyone is capable of rage. But I can tell you that I’m not like most of you, no matter what you might think or how much you might want to console me that I’m a great guy.

I am a great guy to the vast majority of people. I do enjoy a great many things in life. Overall, I am harmless to living things except for pests that forget they’re supposed to live outside the walls of my home.

But I am more angry than most of you can know. Just as many of you don’t really “get” what Bruce Banner said about always being angry, you won’t really “get” how I feel inside. You can’t know what it feels like knowing that I’m a guard outside of a sealed vault that should never be opened and within which the pressure ebbs and flows but never really goes down to non-threatening levels.

I am always angry. I have been so for a very long time. So long that it’s as natural to me as breathing most of the time. And as manageable. But there are times I have to think about my breathing, like when allergies are flaring or something else make me conscious that I’m not getting quite as much air as I need or want. Just as there are times the heartbeat I take for granted becomes something I can’t ignore because it’s beating so fast from exertion or passion or panic.

With those autonomic functions, I continue because I don’t have to think about them and they mind their own business as I mind my more cognitive pursuits, and so it is with my rage. I don’t know that I will ever not be angry all the time.

I can only pray that I get to ignore the sight of that vault that shudders with the tension of what lies behind the door, and forget that I am so full of rage.



Too Much Power in Those Pages!

I’ve always been a big fan of comic books and comic book-based (or inspired) movies and TV series. This love goes back to even the cheesy movies and television shows of my childhood and young adult years when the special effects weren’t special at all (unless you’re a lover of “cheese”).

One thing I’ve never liked in any of these superhero/supervillain venues, though, is the uber-powered hero. Now, I can deal with uber-powered villains here and there, because the heroes need special challenges at times and in my opinion, if you have the powers of, essentially, a god…well, you’re likely to behave badly or to misuse your powers for what you think is the “greater good,” no matter what anyone else thinks or whose rights you trample in the process.

But I can think of few things more boring than heroes with vast, vast powers and few vulnerabilities.

So, Superman (the classic example of this) is not among my favorites (though the upcoming film rebooting him for the cinematic world looks promising). Nor Captain Marvel/Shazam or Icon. Nor, on the Marvel side, such clones of those DC characters as Sentry or Blue Marvel.

I don’t want a hero with the “power of a million exploding suns.” I just don’t.

Green Lantern has vast power, but his body itself is vulnerable and if you get in a good cheap shot, he’s toast. Wonder Woman has vast strength and can take a major hit, but she’s not bulletproof. A sniper who shoots her from behind so that she can’t deflect the bullets with her bracelets could take her down. Even the Hulk, whose strength and invulnerability are legendary, has (usually) been limited by the fact it is anger that unleashes him, his mind is easily messed with, he can return to human form if you quell his rage, and his feral nature makes him as much a threat to innocents as he is a potential hero. Plus, the Hulk doesn’t have flight, heat vision, X-ray vision, freezing breath or other weird extras—he’s simply raw physical power.

I could go on, but why subject you to a case of extreme geekery? It might be contagious.

My point is that if you have a hero who can hardly ever be hurt and has a vast array of powers, you end up with boring storylines. You have to keep bringing in enemies on a regular basis who are so powerful that it seems ridiculous that the Earth wouldn’t already have been utterly stripped of life or that civilization, at the very least, would crumble. How can a hero with a vast panoply of powers be truly challenged without resorting to anti-deus-ex-machina devices frequently? He or she cannot.

This is one of the reasons I shy away godlike powers in the stories at my Tales of the Whethermen blog. Some heroes and villains are very powerful in my fictional world, but they’re all, ultimately, human and while they may be less vulnerable than normal folks, they can all be hurt or killed in a number of ways. The closest thing I have to a “Superman” is the very troubled and ethically changeable Doctor Holiday, and even though he has access to a limitless selection of powers, he can only express a few of them in any given appearance.

We need to stop with the godlike superheroes. We just need to. Fans of Superman, Sentry, Icon and all the rest may not like what I’m saying, but it needs to be said. These characters present such daunting challenges to making them be challenged that storytelling suffers. At the very least, if we’re going to have heroes who can level mountains with ease, can we at least confine them to cosmic adventures where there is a vast landscape they can tear up, instead of pretending that the Earth would still be livable after a few similarly powered enemies showed up to take out our godlike hero?

Not all heroes need to be a Batman or Punisher, for example. Spider-Man has lots of power but still gets loopy if you knock him in the head or limps if you break a few of his ribs. Iron Man may be kick-ass, but if you hack his armor’s systems, he’s in trouble. These are the kinds of heroes who can amaze us and still we can relate to them.

How can I relate to Superman? In my opinion, he’s less mortally understandable than Jesus Christ. And Jesus brought people back from the dead and rose from death himself.

When I can identify less personally with the Son of Krypton than I can with the Son of God, we have a problem.

Hey, I’m Racist Against Whites, Guys!

As most of you know by now, not only did the Boston Marathon get bombed in the past week, but the act was carried out by a pair (so far as we know right now) of white guys. Of course, many white folks are trying to claim these guys aren’t really white because they were born in Chechnya, which is that Russian part of Europe; and even though they have white skin and come from the Caucuses (the original “Caucasians”) growing up here doesn’t make them true whites (i.e. white Americans); plus being Eastern European they’re actually “ethnic” rather than “white” people; plus, to top it all off, they were raised Muslim, so that automatically removes them from the land of whiteness.

*cough* bullshit! *ahem*

So, seeing as these terrorists were white, and pretty much homegrown, and non-Christian, I realized something. And so I tweeted this:

Rather than point out how most terrorists in this country are white, Boston bombing/shooting will probably lead to more Muslim-hating :-(

One person who follows me…well, “followed” me, anyway…I blocked her when it was clear she was going to go on a continuing pointless rant against me like any good conservative white bigot…anyway, she made a sarcastic tweet in response to mine about how nice it would be if whites were hated even more than they already are in this country.

Because, of course, whites, who hold most of the wealth and power and don’t get profiled by police, are somehow one of most the most persecuted groups within the United States.

*cough* bullshit! *ahem*

When I probed her response a bit more, she informed me of the following, both by direct accusation and by implication:

  • I was clearly sad that whites aren’t hated more (because of the sad-face emoticon)
  • I’m clearly delusional because most terrorists in the U.S. aren’t white
  • I’m racist against white people

Regarding point number two, I’d argue that most domestic terrorists are white, since white supremacist groups, violent nationalists, eco-terrorists and the like are overwhemingly white and if they aren’t currently in the terrorist majority on U.S. soil on an individual basis, they far outnumber black and/or Muslim terrorists when combined. Some data from the 1980s to early 2000s seems to suggest Latino terrorists were the single biggest group, but I suspect that has more to do with crap along the U.S./Mexico border involving the drug wars. In any case, the biggest problem isn’t black and Arab people, and certainly not the Muslim ones. Also, I think a lot of racist organizations full of whites don’t get noticed as terrorists because their terrorism is more localized against nearby blacks, Jews, etc. and not against institutions or carried out in a dramatic fashion against many people at once.

But really, mostly what bugs me about my Twitter exchange with this woman was how my original tweet’s meaning was twisted into “proof” that I, a white guy, am racist against my own fellow whites and that I want people to hate them.


My tweet starts by wishing that what could have come out of the Boston bombing was a realization that, with most of the people in this nation being white, they account for most of the bad stuff, whether petty crimes, major crimes or terrorism. We have had many white terrorists in this country who somehow get conveniently forgotten when brown or tan ones pop onto the scene.

I would like people to stop seeing terrorism as belonging to one group (Arab Muslims) because the reality is that people of all colors commit acts of terror and to fail to recognize that is what allows us to demonize certain groups of people and leads to members of that group being subjected to discrimination and violence they don’t deserve and didn’t invite.

Pretending that whites don’t commit a hell of a lot of terrorism, here and abroad, is simply delusional. We are part of the problem. The biggest part of the problem in white-majority countries, in fact, and a potentially significant part of the problem elsewhere (though probably not the biggest threat outside of largely white areas). Just as Arabs and Muslims are a big part of the terrorist problem in Arab and Muslim parts of the world, and can be a significant threat elsewhere (though not generally the major threat when they go farther afield.)

Also, the second part of my tweet is a lament that what will happen, instead of white Americans realizing whites represent most of the bad guys in this country, is that Muslims will continue to be seen as the only real terrorists, because the brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing were raised under Islamic beliefs.

Hence why my sad face follows the second statement. I am saddened that people will continue to point their fingers in one direction and target a lot of innocent people because of their religion, while letting a lot of guilty folks of non-Muslim backgrounds slip by.

I think that was pretty clear in my tweet. But again, it shows me how much jingoism, white privilege and fear rule many people in the United States. They get defensive when the truth is pointed out, and start accusing you of being an evil person for pointing out reality to them.

It’s ugly out there.

The Boston Marathon bombing was ugly. Too ugly.

But sometimes I fear the aftermath of American attitudes and perceptions of Muslims and who is “really” white will be even uglier.

I Will Never Surrender My Geekdom

So, my birthday was about two weeks ago, but I just want to make note of the very appropriate symmetry for someone as fundamentally nerd- and geek-inclined as me.

In addition to the T-shirt I received on my birthday…featuring Jeff Bridges and the phrase “The Dude Abides”…which certainly involves some geekery, because…well, The Big Lebowski or really any Coen brothers movie? Hello?

There was this gift (in the form of a DVD) that my wife ordered the day of my birthday and I got about a week ago, and therein begins the true odyssey of my geekery:


Because that gift of Marvel’s The Avengers was preceded by a few days with this gift from my son when he arrived for a quick Spring Break visit (with his girlfriend along for the ride to meet us all [read: meet his mom]) just a couple days after my birthday:


That would be a fine-ass pair of comfy Vans with classic comic book Iron Man on ’em. Because I love me trilogies and trinities and triads, I completed the tripod (triangle? triumverate?) by buying this to decorate my office:


That would be an Iron Man- and Avengers-themed individual known as Iron Patriot. He’s in good company, of course, with this on a wall above my primary work desk:


And then the Hulkbuster Iron Man and Ironmonger on top of my secondary work desk:


And yes, I am very much looking forward to seeing Iron Man 3 this summer. If you want to ensure I can buy a ticket for myself and perhaps my son, too, if he’s home then…as well as ensure ample snack purchases…as well as show love for my blog, you can feel free to email me for my PayPal info and drop me a tip (or complaints, or suggestions for the blog, or a guest post so I can be lazier around here). 😉 After all, I gotta get my superhero action on, right?

I did mention I was a nerd and a geek, right?

But never a dork…

Unrestrained Geekery: Darth Vader vs. Magneto

I’ve never made any mystery of the fact I’m a nerd and/or a geek (depending on the circumstances, the subject/topic and the point of view of anyone observing me; I have never, however, ever been a dork…let’s get that straight).

Despite this, I try not to let it hang out too much here, since most readers coming here probably aren’t all that nerdy or nerd-subject-sympathetic. To expound nerdily too often here would kind of be like a porn star whipping out his nine- or ten-inch erect dick frequently—under the right conditions, it makes perfect sense, but in most circumstances, it would just be rude.

However, I broke up violently with Facebook last year, and thus no longer have an account there, so I cannot comment at this thread on Facebook about who would win in a fight between Magneto and Darth Vader. Since I cannot comment there, I will discuss this all-important issue here until I have it out of my system. Feel free to leave now if you wish. If you are a nerd or geek, however, please read on and then respond in the comments.

Darth Vader vs. Magneto

General characteristics of the combatants:

Magneto – Control over magnetism. Can lift and manipulate ferrous metals and objects containing significant concentrations of ferrous metals. Has a helmet that blocks psychic powers. He’s a genius, strategically and scientifically. Has incorporated metal fibers in costume so that he can levitate and fly.

Darth Vader – Control over the dark side of the Force allows him to employ telekinesis, read surface thoughts and emotions of others, increase strength and agility, employ limited precognition, mentally influence the actions of others at times and possibly generate “Force lightning.” Also, very skilled in hand-to-hand combat, particularly with the lightsaber.

Analysis of combat scenarios:

Much was made in the Facebook thread I linked to above about how much of Darth Vader’s body is cybernetic…that he is “more machine now than man” as Obi-Wan Kenobi put it. I think that’s probably overstating the state of his body and might be somewhat metaphorical as well, but let’s assume that much of Darth Vader’s body is now metallic, and utilizing steel or some other ferrous metal.

In that case, Darth Vader is at a serious disadvantage. Magneto could literally twist the metallic parts of Vader’s body and cripple or kill him in seconds. Given his powers, Magneto could sense the metal in Vader’s body and know of that vulnerability, whereas Vader would have no way to know of Magneto’s powers. Even if Vader were trying to peer into Magneto’s mind, psychic powers via the Force don’t allow literal mind-reading, and Magneto’s helmet protects him from psychic intrusions.

That said, let’s not forget that before his body parts had to be replaced, Vader (when he was still Anakin Skywalker) survived for quite some time after having both legs severed and falling into molten lava. Likely he was in that predicament for hours before he was rescued by Darth Sidious, and given that ability to endure pain and injury, it is possible that Vader could survive an assault on the metallic parts of his body long enough to telekinetically crush a vital organ in Magento’s body or slice him in half with a lightsaber. Even doing a “force choke” by squeezing Magneto’s windpipe telekinetically would seriously inhibit Magneto’s ability to concentrate and use his magnetic powers.

So, a significant edge goes to Magneto in this scenario, though his victory isn’t assured. Much depends of who attacks first and with how much vigor.

But there are serious flaws with even believing this scenario would be accurate. Why would Vader’s cybernetic body parts have any significant amount of metal or perhaps even any metal at all? Given the use of hyperspace travel, blasters and other high-tech in the Star Wars universe, it seems far more likely that to prevent being weighed down and to provide maximum longevity and flexibility of the cybernetic components, they would be made of polymers, hardened ceramics or even more exotic materials. Even with 21st-century Earth technology, we’re rapidly moving beyond metal in prosthetics and such.  Also, remember that in Star Wars major healing is handled through bacta tanks, which use a healing liquid suspension rather than surgical or medicinal intervention, and lightsabers are based on crystalline technology. The use of exotic materials is widespread.

Also, Darth Vader’s armor (and that of the stormtroopers he commands) is clearly not metallic. This also suggests it is unlikely that his internal parts are metallic. Even his lightsaber probably uses little, if any, metal. Given the size of blaster rifles and the ease with which they are hefted, I suspect they don’t even use metal or use very little.

Yes, droids are metallic, and are often restrained or retrieved magnetically. But that’s a control issue. They are already mechanical, so carrying extra weight and having more rigidity isn’t as much a problem as with a living creature. And in order to move them around easier and to keep them from escaping your control, you’d want them to be manipulable by magnetic forces.

So, Vader probably isn’t metallic. Which means Magneto, in a best-case scenario, can only fling metallic objects at Vader. Vader will, of course, bat them away with the power of the Force or slice them to ribbons with his lightsaber.

Some have suggested that Magneto’s helmet will protect him from Force-choking and other telekinetic attacks, but this is ridiculous. The helmet is designed to block telepathic and mind control powers…things that reach into the psyche (not that the Force could influence his mind directly anyway, as it can only do that to the “weak-minded”). Telekinesis is the physical manipulation of objects with the power of the mind. And even if the helmet kept Vader from using a Force-choke somehow, Vader could drop a ton of debris on Magneto or fling him into a wall until he was pulp. Assuming, of course, he didn’t just slice him in half with the lightsaber. Remember, Vader is going to surpass Magneto for physical strength, endurance, speed and agility thanks to his ability to tap the Force.

So, chances are that Magneto is toast.

‘Tis the Season…for Hurt Feelings

I’ve seen a number of people on my Twitter timeline who are lamenting all the political talk and sometimes arguments online as we near the U.S. presidential election in November.

While I understand that they want Twitter to go back to being a fun place, with talk of bacon, sex and cute LOLcat videos, among other things…well, that’s not reasonable. This is a major election, with major problems still happening in the United States and worldwide, and tensions are understandably high.

So, you need to suck it up until probably February, when maybe post-inauguration people will calm down a little.

Sure, I say this in part because many of my tweets have been politically oriented. I’ve also balanced that with more general snark and humor, so I’m not exactly on a soap box all the time. But, frankly, what did you expect? This is social media. Twitter still tends to be more fun than Facebook, which seems to be getting increasingly infested with bitter, shallow people who just want to fight…but it’s still a place to talk.

And politics is a valid and important point of discussion. People are understandably concerned about a party on one side that doesn’t seem to have clear solutions to the problems we’re facing (or are working on the problems too slowly) and on the other side a party that’s given up on honor and just makes stuff up now and passes it off as facts then gets mad when fact-checkers dare to call them on it.

This isn’t a recipe for positive change. People are worried, and on both sides they feel this election is pivotal for America’s future.

Are relationships going to be ruined by this?


Are some fun times going to become awkward as humor is interrupted by policy talk?


But that happened over drinks with co-workers and dinner with the relatives long before social media existed.

Twitter and all the rest are not your havens from the real world. They are places to communicate.

If you don’t like what’s being said, move on to the next tweet. You’ll find the sex and bacon before long, I’m sure.