Friday, July 27, 2012

Murder in Colorado

Senseless slaughter at the hands of a deranged madman turns a harmless fan event into a night of terror, mourning and loss.

I often don't write about current events in this post. The folks over at CNN, the Huffington Post, CNN, FOX News and MSNBC have all that on lock down. But I'm compelled to share my thoughts in light of this past week's tragic shooting of innocent movie-goers in Aurora, CO.

Every aspect of this horrifying tragedy is a stomach-churning study of an American society victimized by it's own underpinnings and yet, at every corner there are hopeful glimpses of humanity and fellowship that brings as many joyful tears as the sorrowful ones already shed.

Machinations of a madman

Whack job...
What we know (so far) is that suspected shooter, James Holmes, a disturbed 24-year old neuroscience student had entered a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises with the intent of hurting and/or killing as many people as possible on the evening of 07/19/2012. This pre-meditated attack was meticulously planned with automatic weapons, shotguns, SWAT team armor and tear gas.

When the shooting stopped and the innocents were victimized, 12 people lost their lives and scores of others were wounded in the town of Aurora, Colorado. Holmes, who was caught in the parking lot of the theater, warned police of a series of explosive traps in his apartment and as he took on the persona of "The Joker", the famed fictional antagonist of the The Batman.

The Joker? Really, dude?

Media frenzy

Almost as soon as the news of this horrible tragedy broke, the questions of gun control, the moral fabric of society and the ethics behind movies like the Batman series came under scrutiny by everyone closed-minded, misinformed, over-opinionated idiot… uh.. expert that the news outlets could muster.

Should we have better gun control laws? How can Hollywood continue to make such violent films that have obvious consequences? How can we develop ways to protect our citizens form such outbreaks in the future? If more private citizens had been carrying guns, would  this have even occurred? Should the Department of Homeland security get involved. Should we ban costumes off people attending moves and trade show?

Could we all slow down for a moment here, please?
Lack of security did not kill those people in Colorado, neither did the status of gun control legislation or even the eccentric use of costuming at a harmless fan event.  This was the deliberate, premeditated action of one mentally ill man who would have found a way to harm a large group of people one way or another. Whether it was a state fair, a Saturday at the mall or a church. It wouldn't have mattered. He was determined to hurt as many people as possible and that is the beginning, middle and end of the story. I condemn Holmes for his cowardice, I fear for this man's callous disregard for the lives of us all and I mourn for the unnecessary loss of innocent lives.

Humanity rises

Stories of waived hospital expenses for the shooting victims, the ultimate sacrifice of those who took bullets to shield loved ones and of even Warner Brothers and movie star Christian Bale stepping up to show support are heart-lifting. Mr. Bale went to visit some of the victims in Colorado hospitals. Relief funds have been set up for victims and their families and an outpouring  of sympathy and support (like this post) on behalf of all the lives this terrible act of cowardice has touched.

The wrap up

I've shared with my children that they should not be fearful of going out to the movies. We should not rely on the Department of Homeland Security to tell us what and where is safe and we should not blame comic culture for Holmes' actions. Blame a sleep-walking society who missed every cue (and there were many!) of this man's building psychosis. Blame the lack of fail-safes that were not in place to stop someone this disturbed from getting, not only tear gas, but automatic rifles and police-issue SWAT tactical armor! 

Just don't blame "The Joker" from the Batman comic books folks... he doesn't exist.

Farewell to all the souls lost and shattered lives in the wake of the shooting. You all had come out to support a fan-fiction event, one I hold near and dear to my heart. As fans, as fellow citizens and as human beings–we are all tied together and I am saddened by your lives ending when they should not have.

Godspeed to you all of you on your journey beyond this–I know there is more than just this life. My prayers and thoughts for the loved ones you have left behind. You are loved and you will be missed. 

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Friday, July 13, 2012


"Can you hear me now?!"
Modern technology helps tip me off to what my children are REALLY up to!

While I am not convinced that the end of days is coming (it is 2012 after all), I am convinced that our world has changed so drastically, so quickly, that we all are left reeling to try and keep up and to stay at least one step ahead of the perils of modern technology.

And now, my kids can say the same.

Three recent events have put my kids on high alert status–and seriously has them looking over their shoulders. Not for big brother, but for Big Poppa!

"I love it when you call me Big Poppa.."
No not the ghost of The Notorious B.I.G. (R.I.P.), no today's tech in the hands of plugged in, hyper connected, digitally aware hi-tech parent hasn't had kids this scared since the dreaded parent/teacher conference. Check out these three instances of on-line detective work from yours truly that has all four of kids copping plea bargains for getting caught in the act.

Busted Case Study #1: A revealing set of Hooters.
Recently during a school vacation week, my daughter Jessica and and one of her younger brothers, Antonio asked if they could go to the Phoenix (AZ) Art museum with some friends. Wednesday afternoons are free admission and it seemed like a good way to get them out of my house and suck up someone else's AC for a change. What they neglected to share was that they were also meeting a number of Jessica's (High School-aged) friends for a birthday party at Hooter's in Downtown Phoenix, followed by playing in the elevator banks of several downtown Phoenix office towers. How did Dad find out? Her friends posted the revealing set of pics on FaceBook and tagged her and her brother in the photos. Nailed!

Busted Case Study #2: Boxed in by XBOX. I have the family's XBOX 360 in my bedroom under lock and key, so that my children don't all out destroy it. Presently my family has lost a Wii, an (original, black) XBOX console and a PSP all in the span of a few months. Electronics cringe when one of my children are nearby.

Recently, while updating my iPhone XBOX App, I noticed that the APP had  shown that my 14-year-old son's identity was active online–while I was at work! I called him to ask why and he denied any wrong doing, but then suddenly, not only did his cell phone conveniently "die" at that very moment, but his status changed instantly from ONLINE to OFFLINE. He had later confessed that he and his siblings broke into my room and had been playing the game for months. Gotcha!

"Oh, hi Dad! This oh, uh... it's research–!"
Busted Case Study #3: Where's all my lotion? Internet access is quite limited at this single Dad's house since young, impressionable minds (and fingertips) are far too curious to be left to their own devices and (ahem) destinations. On those few occasions when I trusted my imperial progeny to 'do the right thing' I was treated to a tidal wave of sexy naughtiness and fornication service requests on my living room browser. When I checked the browser's history–you guessed it–I uncovered a veritable who's who of porn destinations. Since then, internet access has been severely restricted, though the number and frequency of daily showers per boy in my home has tripled.

Oh and I am well aware that they can erase said URL history but you can contact your ISP for a list of destinations recently visited by your computer's ID. Served!

I'm well aware that my children and other family members are reading this blog. And as I am always quick to point out, when you stuff wrong kids, you eventually caught.

So I ask you, is it worth it? Really?