Going After Gluten: Tackling Fads & Annoying People

I like to call out bullshit on the Internet. One article of BS, I think, is the increasing trend of people to say they are “sensitive to gluten.” Although there’s been a lot of talk about this, and I have met a ton of people who said they are sensitive to gluten, where the science is concerned (so far), it appears that gluten sensitivity is mostly in your head. The evidence for this? A study by the scientist who originally concluded in a previous study that people were sensitive to gluten, which may have set off this whole thing.

I’ve heard people say that erasing gluten from their diet has led to all sorts of wondrous things, which always sets my sensors off. Whenever something gets blamed for a ton of problems, I get skeptical. Whenever a lot of people suddenly go crazy over something like this (i.e., not pop culture like a band or a TV show) I get skeptical. And in this case, I really do wonder if it might be harmful for everyone else in society. For instance, will people start demanding that government impose a gluten ban? If you had asked me that even a year ago, I would have said “Doubtful,” but seeing the craziness going on in society today, I’m not so sure. In most cases, there doesn’t seem to be a solid reasoning process going on, and that’s not a good thing.

The other thing that also puts me on alert is the defensiveness people get whenever I post something skeptical about gluten sensitivity, or when I bring up in conversation that I think it’s mostly bunk. Whenever I see someone getting defensive about things like this, my mind immediately starts thinking “ooh, cultish behavior.” Even if it’s not entirely fair (and it really isn’t fair in 90% of cases) my mind still does that. But sometimes it can really piss people off.

One article I posted on my Facebook wall was titled “Science Proves Gluten Sensitivity Isn’t Real, People Are Just Whiners“. Yeouch. That’s already taking a hard edge. I got into it with one guy about it (who got pretty defensive and upset about the article, and continued to be when I also posted the above PBS article) and then just let it be. Then someone else commented on it, asking why people had to attack those who claim they are sensitive to gluten (ok, my paraphrasing) as “whiners”, why reading “a few idiot articles online entitles people to look down on others’ health problems”, and “why does it hurt so much that there are some people avoiding gluten”. I wanted to write a response, but instead I thought about it, because I think she brings up good points.

There are some instances where mocking and calling people out forcefully are in demand. When you care about someone personally and they make self-destructive decisions, it might help. (Note I said might.) When someone wants to impose policies to the detriment of individuals using force, say, by replacing capitalism (the economic system of people being left alone to make their own decisions and persue their own self-interest, and which also led to the greatest rise in prosperity in human history) with socialism (the economic system of the central government owning the means of production and imposing its decisions on the people, and which also led to the one of the highest death tolls in human history), I think it’s fair to call such people “tyrants,” “wannabe mass murderers,” and other such names, because let’s face it, that’s the end result of their ideas. On religion, I’ve always held that we shouldn’t necessarily try to embarrass people in public, but in private, if someone says something that is either on its face absurd or deeply offensive, you should call them out on it and basically say “This is why you look like an idiot.” And no, you’re not being rude; they are, for demanding you believe something that is patently absurd and has no evidence. That is rude to any intellectual person.

But what about erasing gluten from your diet? I’ve thought about it…and it just doesn’t rise to anywhere near the same level. When the gluten sensitive start a campaign to ban gluten and use government to meddle more in our diets, call me. I’ll be there to denounce it. But for now, I can’t get that upset. I still find it personally annoying when there’s someone who claims they have this sensitivity and forces us to revolve all lunch plans around them (unless we order separately or it doesn’t affect our decision model much, and most people I know don’t make themselves the center of attention), but how annoyed can I really get? Calling people “whiners” for personal dietary choices is unfair and inappropriate. As long as they’re not harming you, you shouldn’t be using that kind of language. Maybe you think it’s silly – you can definitely say it in that way – but they’re not whiners. That’s just being unnecessarily mean. You don’t have to eat a gluten free diet, you can go off and choose what you want to eat. That’s the point of a free market society: individuals being allowed to make their own decisions. You make yours, they make theirs, you respect each others’ choices, we’re all good.

Usually, when people say they are hurt, I have the Stephen Fry response. Not here, however. In this case, I am being a jerk, somewhat, over a rather unimportant issue that doesn’t directly affect me. That’s just unnecessary and rude. I won’t actually apologize for posting the article, as I think it was actually fairly detailed and really informative. I do wish the authors had chosen a less hostile headline, though. I also hope I didn’t cause too much serious discomfort by posting it, and I will try to be more attentive in the future.

But for pete’s sakes, don’t get me started on those raw vegans. Holy crap…

Not Iraq. Not Gaza. Not Ukraine. This is #Ferguson, Missouri.

Featured image from Radley Balko’s Facebook page. I didn’t see any prohibitions on sharing, but I will take it down if requested.

The above scene is not from some third world country. It is from Ferguson, Missouri, where a young black man was gunned down by police.

Here’s another picture, from another friend’s Facebook wall:

Ferguson Police 2


These are not Army soldiers. This is a local municipal police department in a city of 21,000 people. Why on Earth would they need cops with full body armor, gas masks, and assault vehicles? Maybe this can be some explanation (taken from Twitter):

Meanwhile, the local government has completely shut reporters out of the city:

Journalists encountered a threatening response from police as they tried to cover the protests in Ferguson, the Missouri town that has been upended by the police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.

While there was a spate of looting on Sunday night, Monday’s demonstrations were peaceful. Protestors faced tear gas and rubber bullets from officers trying to break their ranks up. At the same time, police told local media to get out of the area.

This is not America. This is the purview of a third world tinpot dictatorship, not the leader of the free world and the greatest democracy in the world. Period. They do not need to be stomping people just laying on the ground, or engaging in illegal chokehold manuevers to kill a man who was only selling untaxed cigarettes. Or getting a warrant to conduct a horribly invasive anal probe eight times for “drugs” on the flimsiest of evidence. Or firing dozens of rounds through a van full of children. Or any other terrible acts by police.

Slowly, over the past several years, the police have been transformed from a law enforcement agency to a sort of Russian style “Internal Troops” division. Do we really want to import Putinism over here to the United States?

It is past time for Americans to wake up to this and demand action. Demand that police face the full consequences of their actions. Demand that “paid administrative leave” be ended. Demand the mindlessly stupid War on Drugs is declared over, and demand that out of control cops are reigned back in. Demand that cop cameras be used everywhere, and can’t be altered or lost by the cops they cover.

This madness needs to end. We are the nation that leads the free world. Time to act like it.


Me and the Angry Atheist: I’m On a Podcast

I am so terrible at selling myself. It’s almost embarrassing.

In any case, earlier this week I had the pleasure of joining the Angry Atheist on his podcast, the Angry Atheist Podcast. You can check it out here.

Looks like I’m moving up in the world. And yes, I do apologize to those Angry Atheist podcast listeners who have come here expecting something interesting…I’m kinda not.

Can we just stop making stuff up?

The title of a recent article at The New Republic reads:

The Period Is Pissed
When did our plainest punctuation mark become so aggressive?

The author then goes on to assume that adding a period at the end of your texts indicates you’re angry.

This is one of the plainest cases of someone just making shit up. Ok, so he cites a professor of linguistics and the editor of something called the Awl (presumably short for “The Awful,” judging by the editor’s comments.) But this guy is definitely smoking something.

Look, a period at the end of sentences is not indicating aggressiveness. It is proper grammar. Nothing more, nothing less. Yes, some people don’t do that and use line breaks because it’s more efficient to type that way on mobile phones. Not technically proper, but it’s a convenience to use such a wonderful device. I have no problem with that. But if you start assuming that using periods in a message indicates “anger,” well, then you’re going to have a lot of problems in your life. You’re probably going to end up hating a lot of people or feeling really bad about yourself. And then your life is going to get worse.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t assume. It makes an ass out of you and me.

EDIT: I am now very angry at my high school for making me think grammar is spelled with an “e”.

Why I’m Not A Fan of Apple

A couple of weeks ago I got into a debate on Facebook between Android and Apple. I have never really been a fan of Apple products, despite owning an iPod for two years and using an iMac and a Macbook Pro at work. There are many reasons why I prefer Android and/or Windows over Mac OS X and iOS. So let me go through them.



The number one reason why I don’t like Apple products is that they are ungodly expensive. Looking at their current website, a Macbook Pro 15″ (non-Retina, which I’ll get to later) costs $1,799. A similar specced out PC computer from Newegg.com costs $629. That’s an $1170 difference, and I ask you: what is it you get from that $1170 in a Macbook that you don’t get in that Windows 8 ASUS laptop? “Build quality”? Please. You don’t buy a laptop because it looks cool or it’s attractive, and if you are then you’re fundamentally misunderstanding the point of a laptop. You buy motorcycles or cars because they look sweet and cool.

Computers are appliances. Sure, if they look nice, that’s a plus. But that’s not the core requirements. What you need and want is a good performing computer, with a relatively fast processor, lots of RAM, hard drive space, and the ability to run the programs that you want, at a good price point.

And quite frankly, after seeing scuff marks and other wear and tear signs appear on a Macbook, I’m not really convinced that’s all a great decision.

But it basically comes down to cost. Macbooks are not economical compared to PC laptops and even Linux machines. Frankly, buying a Macbook is a stupid financial decision unless you’re a professional or semi-professional media creator (music producer, photo editor, videographer, etc.).

Similar things can be said about Apple’s mobile products. While there is less of a difference in the mobile realm thanks to carrier subsidies and other factors, if you still look at the iPhone and, say, the Galaxy S4, you realize you’re getting a much better bang for your buck with the Galaxy. You get a faster processor, bigger screen, more memory, and more talk and stand-by time. So then, like anything, it comes down to subjective desires and values. But when you choose an iPhone over an S4, what are those values you are choosing?


  Looks Over Performance

I mentioned this before in the Cost section, but it bears repeating: for Apple, you’re buying looks over performance. In a sense, you’re buying sex. And do you really want to spend money on a whore?

Okay, that’s harsh (but the line demanded to be written.) Yet when you look at it, it’s clear. Apple invests a lot into making their devices look nice. The smooth aluminum of the Macbook, the sleek dark looks of the iPhones and the iPods, you do have to admit they are good looking. But again, as I said above, that’s not why you get a computer. That’s not even why you get a phone. You get a phone to call people, and in this smartphone era, to also browse the Internet a bit, check social media, text folks, listen to music and maybe watch videos,  and perhaps schedule tasks and other productivity tasks. It’s the same thing with computers, except you’re A) doing more and B) usually you’re actually creating content instead of being limited to just browsing it.

True, Apple did just introduce the iPhone 5c, which I see as a belated recognition that they have to stop being the 1% providers and actually have to supply the masses if they want to continue. For almost the entirety of Apple’s mobile product history, it was the sleek iPhones for the upper-class.

Think about what that means when you buy into it. You really want to show off that you have the latest iPhone? (That’s what iPhone fanboys do, don’t deny it.) How shallow must you be that you have to say that you have the absolute latest new smartphone from Apple? It’s simultaneously pretentious and pathetic. I may ask people about their phones from time to time, but it is a quiet matter, usually when I’m in the market for a new one.

This is not to say you should go out and buy a completely ugly phone. But looks are really not that important, especially in an era when we cover all of our phones in cases. Performance is what matters: can it do what you need it to do? And no, you don’t need your phone to woo a date over for you. If you’re relying on that, then you’ve already lost.


  Severely Limited Consumer Choice

This one probably isn’t going to matter to most Apple customers out there, but it’s one that really annoys me: significantly reduced consumer choice. You are very much locked into Apple’s idea when you buy an Apple product. With Android and Windows, you get significant choice and can lose yourself for quite some time evaluating what you can get with your money. I could not even count the number of Windows hardware configurations in existence right now. Hypothetically, I might be able to with Android phones (restricting the list to only those phones being currently manufactured and distributed) but I won’t because that would still be quite an endeavor. But you have a lot of choices, from budget computers for old grandmas to high-powered gaming monsters for teenage nutjobs to workstations for professional content creation and scientific work; from small phones with a QWERTY slide out keyboard for basic functions with a 3.2″ screen to BIG DAMN SCREENS with 6.4″ portals to the cyberworld with quad core processors and huge space for data and room for a mammoth microSD card up to 128GB. The possibilities are not quite endless, but they go pretty far.

Even after you purchase your device, you can engage in a lot of customization and, if you’re into it, “hacking” to make it your own. On my own Windows 8 laptop, I got a program that gave me back my start menu and start button, bypassing Windows 8 Metro interface completely. On my Android phone, for a long time I used something called “Smart Launcher,” which radically transformed the way that the Android OS looked and even, to a small degree, operated. It’s very flexible and gives me loads of choices for optimizing my user experience.

Apple….not so much.

For ages, Apple remained stuck on the 3.5″ screen size, competitors (and customers) be damned. Perhaps that why iOS’s market share has tumbled down to about 13.2% this year while Android is over 70%. (Not the only reason, mind you, but one of them.) Even as variety blossomed in screen sizes, from 2007 to 2012 all iPhones had 3.5″ screens. It wasn’t until the introduction of the iPhone 5 did they give you another choice, that of the 4″ iPhone. Yet there still wasn’t much choice; you couldn’t get anything with similar capabilities at a 3.5″ size if you wanted, you were stuck with the iPhone 4.

Another thing is that when you buy the product, there’s not much you can do to optimize it. Sure, you can jailbreak it, but that would void your warranty and is probably not really a good idea to do unless you have some idea what you’re doing (i.e., you’re an Apple engineer, you write for Lifehacker or The Verge, or you just read slashdot incessantly.) Remaining within the lines, you’re basically stuck with the standard iOS material. Now that probably doesn’t bother most people, and that’s fine. But it’s why I wouldn’t purchase an Apple product (well, not until they come up with at least one with a 5″ screen) and I do believe it’s a reason why Apple products are inferior.

One of the greatest things about capitalism is that it’s an economic system based on choice. You are free to choose who you do business with, what you buy, how much you buy of it, and so on and so forth. Companies that give their customers choices do really great work and post great numbers and earn a lot of profit. They succeed where others fail. Not only do they do the traditional job of an entrepreneur, by providing a means to alleviate a problem the customer has, they do so by giving the customer a number of choices of how to alleviate that problem. Regrettably, in the past couple of decades as crony capitalism advances and solidifies, displacing true free market capitalism, and the collusion between big business and big government grows, that has been changing. Companies stifle competition and in turn just give customers one-size-fits-all products, then tell them to “deal with it.” Consumer choice is being reduced across the board.

Apple has always taken that route with its products. You get limited customization with it’s Macintosh computers, and since they control the software and the hardware, and exercise tight control over their supply chains, there aren’t really any alternatives. (A company called Psystar tried to make their own Mac OS X computers in 2008, but they quickly went bankrupt from a combination of incompetence, lack of credibility, and getting strategically carpet-nuke-bombed by Apple in court.) Apple also exerts much more tighter control over its App Store than Google does over its Play Store. On the one hand this does mean this gets less garbage apps (supposedly), but on the other good apps don’t get approved and in the end you have fewer choices you can make.

I like choices. I like freedom. And Apple’s policy of being very restrictive and selective in what it gives you, and forcing you to do things one way, does not strike me as a good bargain. And if you can’t really use the product in your way, then why did you spend money on it in the first place?


  The Cult of Mac

Finally, the biggest part…the Cult of Mac.

The first commandment was "Thou shalt not use Flash." At least we agree on that.
The first commandment was “Thou shalt not use Flash.” At least we agree on that.

Two out of three Macintosh users are, to put it bluntly, feverish fanatic fanboys who fap to fabulous fantasises. They constantly go on and on about the superiority of Mac and iOS products, usually going on endlessly about how Windows always gets infected by viruses and how Mac OS X systems are impervious to assault. Nevermind that at hacker conferences Max OS X always gets hacked first, and that in 2008 a leading security guru called Macintosh users who said this “ignorant,” and that despite Mac’s alleged superiority it has less than 8% market share. It is manna from heaven, and if you do not use Mac, you are a heathen.

I wish I was making this up, but I’m not. Back in 2004 a journalist wrote a book called The Cult of Mac detailing the religious-like qualities of the Apple fandom. Uncyclopedia, a parody of Wikipedia, has a joke article with the image caption being “It’s goofy pseudo-religious iconography like this that makes this article so easy to write.” Nearly every comment thread about Apple has these crazy fanboys jump in with a vigorous defense of their company, to the point where you wonder if they’re trying to be funny or if they actually had someone spike their Monster Energy Drinks with psychotropics. (Not that Android fanboys are innocent; the Android v Apple wars are like a light-hearted version of American politics, where there are virtually no stakes whatsoever.) And even though there are massive issues with iOS 7 and it appears to be, yet again, half-baked, they still go on to say that the iPhone 5S is literally the greatest phone ever made and they’re going to really explode and overtake everybody! We’re being super serial, you guys!

Of course, every product line and company has a fanbase. There are fan forums dedicated to Suzuki motorcycles, Keurig coffee machines, and even IKEA (which is it’s own form of nuttery in some cases.) This is understandable, if you like a product and want it to succeed, you’ll naturally want to evangelize this to others so they buy it and keep it going. (Unless you’re a hipster. But I digress…) However, the degree of intensity many Apple fans go to is just absurd. They’ll completely ignore facts and just smear other products indiscriminately, especially anything Windows. They’ll spout ludicrous lines about how Windows is constantly infected with viruses and everyone everywhere has major problems all the time, etc. If you’re not a Mac user, well, you don’t understand. Also, you’re a goddamn heathen.

I have never seen anything like it. No other commercial product has quite the fanbase as Apple’s Mac OS X and iOS. I’m struggling to think of one…and I just can’t. I’m pretty sure such a product really doesn’t exist. If you do know of one, leave it the comments, because I would be really interested to know.


Anyways, that’s why I personally do not use Apple products, and why I think Apple products are generally inferior and not worth the hype. Of course, other people are free to disagree and continue to enjoy their Apple products. Not every Apple fan is crazy, and there are some legitimate uses for Mac OS X. (Namely, professional media creation. For reasons that I do not know, it seems that OS X is better at professional video and photo editing, although you can easily do these functions on a PC too. Mac just seems to be preferred.) But for the average consumer, Macs are needlessly overpriced and I can’t see them giving you too many bennies. In this day of variety and choice, as well, iPhones are exorbitant luxuries that should make you think twice about how much you really care about poor people.

But hey, to each their own. Me, I’m going to save that money and buy a Suzuki GS500F and flip you off when I blast past you on the street.

.@pzmyers smears Michael Shermer, and I have a hunch why

It appears that PZ Myers, long a bomb-throwing, shit-stirring sort of atheist, has decided to just smear Michael Shermer with allegations that Mr. Shermer is a rapist. As the above video explains quite well (and within the first three minutes) the entire story just smacks of falsehood. And even if it is true, why is Myers publishing it on his blog and not going to the police?

The video implies that the reason is for more pagehits, which I cannot deny is some motivation. PZ has been losing credibility and steam in the world, and like any attention whore he needs new marks. But I don’t think that’s all of it.

Michael Shermer is one of the leading atheists in the world, Founding Publisher of Skeptics Magazine and Executive Director of the Skeptics Society. But Michael Shermer is also a libertarian. I don’t agree with him on everything–he took a decidedly leftist view on guns after the Newtown tragedy–but overall the man is libertarian.

PZ Myers, on the other hand, is most decidedly not libertarian. He is a progressive at best, a socialist at worse. (He calls himself a “godless liberal biologist” on his Twitter bio, but that’s because he doesn’t really know the meaning of liberal.) As I’ve noted before, PZ is behind the creation of “Atheismplus,” or “Atheism+,” which is sadly not some sort of atheist social networking site but is rather a sociopolitical movement designed to sneakily convert all of atheism over to left-wing progressives. Under PZ’s view, unless you take his positions on politics, society, and just about everything else, you can’t be an atheist. It was a handy way of trying to become the spokesman for atheism, however, that move backfired horrendously. As far as I am aware–which is actually limited, because unlike many atheists I do not spend a whole hell of a lot of time focusing on atheist bitchfests–Atheism+ sort of fizzled. Well, actually, it tore the atheist movement apart, created a lot of needless melodrama, and a whole lot of arguments, then fizzled. A lot of it had to do with McCarthy-esque witch hunts hunting down supposed misogynists, but it was really another attempt at using left-wing style politics to silence political opponents, this time in the (supposedly homogenous) atheist community.

I have no doubt that Myers’ baseless accusations, backed up by no evidence whatsoever, are caused by politics. Sure, he may be wanting to get more attention after A+ severely damaged his reputation, but this will not help him. It only makes him look more like a scumbag.

What I find most interesting about all of this is that there is a lot of disgust towards PZ Myers, the Atheism+ movement, and stuff like this happening. Reading about what happened to A+ makes me feel better about atheism in general. For a long time I thought atheism was overrun with socialists, progressives, and “statheists,” but apparently I was wrong. Thank goodness.

In more immediate details, Shermer has filed a cease and desist order against Myers. The post is still up, and PZ has sought legal assistance from Ken White at Popehat. That makes me a bit worried; I like Ken, and he offers pro bono legal help to bloggers facing libel and defamation suits. That’s a good thing, but he should steer clear of this one. This is just straight up, well, defamation, really, without any facts or evidence, calculated to cause reputational damage to someone, likely because of political differences. That’s not really something you can defend in court, but Ken is the lawyer, not me. Still, I would hate to see someone like Ken tarnished by being associated with this.

In short: PZ Myers is a turd. He will defame people, destroy them, if he disagrees with them, and wants to label any atheist he disagrees with him as “not-atheist.” He’s pretty low (and apparently also a misogynist himself.)

This is what happens when you go down that road of “progressivism.”

My Friend Suffered Because Police Are Out Of Control

I really need to pay attention to my Facebook feed more often.

A friend of mine, Crissy Brown, who I worked with last year, was arrested, thrown in jail, strip-searched, and detained for hours back in July–all because she didn’t pay a ticket for an expired license plate in a timely manner.

That is just messed up.

Crissy writes about her experience on Thoughts on Liberty. In her words:

While driving to work on Independence Day, I was pulled over by a Tuscaloosa cop for having expired tags. I had gotten a ticket for my expired license plate previously – and hadn’t taken care of it for the same reason my tags were expired: I’m a student waitress who barely gets by as it is.

The cop informed me there is a warrant out for my arrest (…”what?”), and without asking a single question, he handcuffed me and rummaged through my car.

I was three weeks late paying my prior ticket, and that is all it took to be given the total criminal treatment. He “helps” me into the back of the cop car, and this is when time stopped existing – stopped mattering at all.

I was taken to the police station, printed and photographed, then taken to jail to repeat the process. I asked so many questions, inquired (relatively) politely as to why some of the steps being taken were necessary, and I was told to “shut up” or just completely ignored at every turn.

As soon as I arrived at the police station, before I could make it through the metal detectors, I was pushed against a wall and made to stand there until a female officer could take the time to inappropriately touch – I mean frisk – me. As the woman ran her hands down my body and between my legs, three male officers stood behind me, watching the show.

From there, I was processed, which included stripping down in front of a female officer. While I stood before her naked, I asked the cop why it was necessary for me to be strip searched; she responded by calling me an asshole and deciding I needed to take a shower to, I suppose, wash the filth out of my mouth. I didn’t even get a towel to dry off with. She handed me a large, burlap-like orange set of scrubs, bedding, and a mattress. I was escorted down to population, made to walk along gray tape on the ground (it really pissed them off if you deviated from the “inmate line”), and then put in a holding cell that had more women than beds, two metal picnic tables, and an old fuzzy TV set.

I was in jail for a little over eight hours. For the last three, my family sat waiting for them to release me, wondering why it takes so long to process a bond. When they finally freed me, I thought to myself, “thank god this is over.”

Not even close.

That is beyond messed up.

Humans generally understand the concept of “proportionality,” and not going overboard with things. We understand that you don’t physically beat someone up if they just happen to bump into you when walking down the street, nor do you give the death penalty to someone who has stolen your bike. There are limits to punishment and response.

At least, everyone understands this aside from local police. Not just in Alabama, but everywhere.

We are inundated with horrific stories of police abuse all the time, from the police evicting a family from a house so they could plot out a raid on their neighbors in Nevada, shoot unarmed passengers minding their own business, and leading to all the incidents that make up journalist Radley Balko’s new book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.

While we’re trying to roll back the National Security Agency’s unreasonable domestic spying programs, try to end the droning of innocent people, and cut back spending, let’s not forget the plight of my friends like Crissy Brown. This is a real situation that everyone needs to get outraged about–because this time it was Crissy.

Next time, it will be you.

So We Have A New Doctor

Peter Capaldi Is The New Doctor, Beginning With 'Doctor Who' Season 8.

You know, I’m not all that terribly interested in the new Doctor Who. I don’t think a 30 minute simulcast show about the big reveal was really necessary.

It’s a good show, don’t get me wrong…but that good? Sounds like a bit of a stretch to me. Get over it, people, it’s a show, there’s thousands of them. And besides, you’re all crying your hearts out because Breaking Bad is ending anyways.

Textbook Example of “Thinking Too Much”

These sorts of things embarrass me. Can y’all stop overthinking this shit and just enjoy the movie, please?


The Pixar Theory: Every Character Lives in the Same Universe

Jon Negroni spent one year untangling the secret world hidden deep within Pixar films. This thesis (printed in full below) originally appeared on his personal blog and quickly became a viral sensation. Negroni continues to update his post based on interesting feedback from readers.

Several months ago, I watched a fun-filled video on Cracked.com that introduced the idea (at least to me) that all of the Pixar movies actually exist within the same universe.

Since then, I’ve obsessed over this concept, working to complete what I call “The Pixar Theory,” a working narrative that ties all of the Pixar movies into one cohesive timeline with a main theme.

This theory covers every Pixar production since Toy StoryA Bug’s LifeToy Story 2Monsters Inc.Finding NemoThe IncrediblesCarsRatatouilleWall-EUpToy Story 3Cars 2Brave and Monsters University.

Every movie is connected and implies major events that influence every single movie. Here we go.

Something I’ve learned from “The Heat”

In theaters now.
In theaters now.

Yesterday, I went and saw the new movie The Heat with friends. I hadn’t even heard of it before I went (sue me, I don’t watch TV commercials, or all that much of TV, honestly), but I had a free comp ticket so I decided to use it. (I got the comp ticket from the last time I went, when the movie projector about to show Star Trek: Into Dorkness blew a bulb. Should’ve been a sign right there…)

I was told, shortly before I went to see the movie, that The Heat is a chick flick, but it really isn’t. It’s just a hilarious buddy-cop film that happens to star women as both of the cops. I’m not going to spoil the movie for you, because it’s really quite a good film. I laughed so hard my ribs threatened to burst their way out of torso. What surprised me, however, was that I actually got a life lesson out of it. This happens quite rarely for me, mainly because I think most Hollywood writers are, frankly, idiots about life, or they just have such different experiences from me that their “lessons” are simply inapplicable to me. Or maybe they aren’t writing in any life lessons at all. Or maybe I’m just a dense, misanthropic jerk. I don’t know. But it just never happens.

Except this time.

Sandra Bullock’s character, FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn, is socially inept. (Somewhat like me.) She’s an extremely career focused individual (okay, that’s not me) who grinds on other people’s nerves because of this dearth of people skills. She’s also very interested in all sorts of learning (yep, me), and her head is full of data.

The crucial scene, in this case, is after Ashburn–together with her unofficial partner, Boston PD detective Shannon Mullins–basically gets kicked off the case by her boss, just took Mullins’ family and stashed them in safe house, and is now at a Denny’s having lunch with Mullins. Naturally, the two get into an argument, where Mullins says that Ashburn thinks she knows everything.

“I don’t,” Ashburn says. “I just know a lot of things, and then I tell people what I know!”*

That struck me pretty close. I have been accused, over the years, of speaking in a very “matter of fact” tone, which is offputting to a lot of people. I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m just explaining something or pointing out a fact, but people still take it the wrong way. I’m sure it has to do with my delivery; I’m a writer, not an orator. I would suck being a politician because I could never give speeches.

I’ve tried dealing with this before, in some ways, though it never seems to work. I think that this is basically who I am, a part of me, just as I am over six feet tall, white, and have a face that looked like it was chopped out of a slab of ham with a meat cleaver. Some people will deal with it, as I have. Others will be frustrated, but that’s their problem.

Yet hearing this in a feature presentation shocked me. Maybe this is a part of me, but I can still try to do better. Maybe just stop using facts and knowledge. Maybe stop explaining things to people. But then where would we be? Or I, for that matter?

So I’m not sure what the precise lesson for me is. But in general, I need to try harder when I talk to people, that they don’t see a reason to hate me or get pissed off at me.

Or, I just need to accept that some people are going to get pissed off no matter what.

Hmm. Maybe there wasn’t such a lesson here…

*Paraphrasing here.