best and the brightest

Hungry for The Hunger Games?

Not like I spend my life reviewing movies (and yes, this post is about the movie), but when is the last time I wrote a positive movie review? Don’t think I have yet… The Hunger Games has some interesting themes, but to me it’s ultimate claim to fame is just pitting children in a death match.  The author could have just as easily made the age-group 18 to 24, and I doubt the book or the movie would have been so popular.  By choosing to kill 12 to 18 year-olds, the author creates the shock value that drives the sensationalism surrounding this story. Should I be impressed with that? Well, I am not… and I am.

On the “not impressed” side, picking on children is easy. What’s next, 6 to 12 year-olds? Toddlers strapped with IEDs?  See…it is easy to create shock value.  On the “impressed” side, the entertainment industry is fickle… every story has to have a “one line” attention getter that is properly placed to reach a market segment… writing a young adult book about young adults fighting to the death in a market flooded with similar stories targeted towards grown-ups was just good marketing.

Now, with the hook out of the way, if someone’s going to write a young-adult death-match story, I’d prefer they have something of value to share beyond the shock value.  The film at least tried.  Maybe it even succeeded, but then, what would success truly look like?  The movie shines a light on several themes including oppression of the masses by an elite class (near and dear to my beliefs regarding “The Best and the Brightest”), it shows how our species creates self-destructive rules and then lives and dies by them (a topic I haven’t even had time to write about), it pokes fun at the sensationalism that is at the core of the movie’s own success, it puts the shallowness of style/materialism on blast, and even tries for some character development that hints at deeper virtues (maybe the book is more detailed, but the movie was clearly targeted toward action over drama).

I have always been a tough grader, so, my vote for this film is a solid “not bad.”  It is definetely deeper than a lot of mainstream movies, and gets the brain working a little.  The plot was fairly predictable, but for me… plot is typically a catalyst for theme, so it’s not super important to me if there is a twist.  Well, that is, until I go see Avengers.  That’s going to be all plot… hahaha.

America, Land of the TBD

Who’s blog is this? Mine. Who’s opinion do you see here more often then not? Yeah, nuff said.

America is a unique place, and I know how speaking in generalities gets people in trouble, but how else can big topics get discussed?  If I go to my friend and say, “You have credit card debt, so all America has a debt problem,” then that isn’t quite the correct use of a generalization.  However, if I go to my friend and say, “America has a debt problem, so odds are, you have credit card debt,” that statement represents a more correct application of generalization.  Yes, there is a chance my friend does NOT have credit card debt…but in general, we know there is a problem.

So it goes here. America has a problem. America has many problems.  Maybe not every single person exhibits every single symptom of every single problem, but my guess is a vast majority of us are feeling it every day.  Now, those who read my rantings will of course know, my favorite people to blame for America’s problems are “the best and brightest.” That is the name I have given to the financial terrorists that have wrecked our country for their own blind and pathetic personal gains.  See? That is a a generalization… I am condemning the elitists simply by virtue of their financial status.  I know not ALL of them are pure evil, there are some exceptions out there.  Heck, this world being the complex place that it is, I know that some of them think they are somehow doing us all a big favor by figuring out how to skim an increasing percentage off every single financial transaction that occurs.  Yay for them.

Now let’s bring the focus back to the problems. . . problems that don’t have easy answers, and that I am about as qualified to theorize on as a box of chocolates is qualified to manage your 401K. Have we established my qualifications? Good, I intend to rant onwards.

Problem #1: People are Animals

We all like to think because we have opposable thumbs, and some additional cranial matter that we are somehow a superior species. That is very quaint.  Superior in that we can build magnificent toys, superior in that we can dominate the natural world. Are those really the gauges of true superiority? Please.  I like to think of us as someday capable of being truly superior.  Superior in that we can live in alignment with our ecosystem, superior in that we can leverage our technology for the betterment of the entire planet’s population, superior in that we can align our causes free from the boundaries of personal power and monetary gain.  When we get there, then maybe I will believe us to have become superior. Until then we are animals.  The smartest, and most capable animals.  The brightest and most free animals.  Maybe some of us, all of us, most of us…whatever the metric, are happy with just having superiority be a measure of personal gain, of raw physical or political power, of dominion over one another.  I am not one of those. If you are, feel free to continue reading for your own amusement, but know that you have my pity.

Problem #2: The Best and the Brightest are Whores

Ahh, another generality. But look at it like this… what was it, in the early days of this fine country that made America great (in general, of course)? It was, IMHO, a spirit of ingenuity, our faith in God, our spirit of nationalism, our forged-from-scratch sense of American culture, our willingness to found our government on the premise of representation of its people, our industry, our integrity.  Were these things ever perfect or 100%? No they were not. These are generalities.  Am I basking in the incandescent glow of an orange memory –  sweetening a reality that never existed? I think not.  When I think of the America our founding fathers tried to create, for all their conflict, for all their flaws as animals, for all their limits in understanding what 200 years would do to their vision… I think these were the things that made America the Land of the Free.  And, unfortunately, these are things we have lost.

We are not the land of the free… the Best and the Brightest have assured us of that… we are owned by China and Japan.  Our industry has been farmed offshore. Our educational system ranks poorly compared to other countries. The businesses we, as customers, interact with every day have become faceless, have pushed more and more of the burden of customer service into self service.  Our media and entertainment engines have pushed controversy for decades until pretty much the only thing not allowed on regular TV is porn…and that, I’m sure is coming (no pun intended).  The increasing diversity we celebrate also becomes the fragmentation that undoes our unity as a country, aided by the constant hypocritical messages fed to us and our children (Talk about America as a country, but then we label the people as African Americans, Muslim Americans, Sudan Americans, Mexican Americans – our diversity is used to divide us? And what am I? Oh yeah…I’m uh White American. WTF?! How about making billions of dollars denouncing corporations that make billions of dollars? How about vampires, zombies and witchcraft are fashionable… but we should all practice our faith which in most cases [unless you truly practice witchcraft] denounces these things.  Ever go to the internet to do research? (that’s an oxymoron within itself as much as this is a parenthetical statement within a parenthetical statement) – there are so many unquantifiable opinions to chose from (you are reading one right now!) –  it is hard to find guidance much less a correct answer in anything).  Our government’s representatives have been purchased by lobbyists.  Our reality is so jacked up that the gaming industry is booming as people rush to escape their lives by becoming super-heroes in alternate virtual worlds. This has all been done in the name of profit margins, in the name of mega-corporations…in the name of the Best and the Brightest’s reign of terror which is nothing more than a primative tribal power struggle that warps what we are all capable of truly doing with our lives.

So, the Blender Underground calls the Best and The Brightest by the name “The Man.” While we all run around working our jobs for The Man, it is increasingly impossible to have one stay-at-home parent, so both parents must work.  Pensions are gone, so everyone must invest in their own 401K, law suits have ruined industry so now we must have insurance…for our cars, for our death, for our health, for our house, for the weather, a vast majority of the populace doesn’t know how to grow food or hunt, so we must shop, customer service has become a lost art so we must waste hours on hold, navigating faceless phone menus and websites trying to answer simple questions, and when all of that burns us out we pay The Man for a movie or a game or sit in front of the television or suckle the underbelly of the internet (aka Facebook). We get wrapped around the axel of who has the coolest toys, latest gadgets, coolest car, enrolling children in 2-3 activities, churning ourselves through one unhealthy pattern after the other…. for FUCKING WHAT?

Where is the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness in the current patterns we as Americans have locked ourselves into? It’s bullshit, all of it…fashioned for one purpose.  To use you.  I may have mentioned this before but the metaphor holds… we are all in The Matrix.  The Best and The Brightest just use us as their financial batteries.  And when we are old, we can retire and if we are lucky and the market hasn’t crashed or we have hedged adequately, we might get to enjoy those years…if we live to reach them.

Some of you are very clever – you’ve escaped some of this machina of madness, invested cleverly/luckily, have found little corners of society where you can have some of the right stuff even in today’s world… but the problem is still there and it isn’t getting smaller.  Does this all sound like the mark of superior species to you? If you are stuck in this problem, you know what I am saying. If you have found a safe haven… you still know what I am saying because your safe haven should be the norm, not the exception… whatever it is you have done right should be sharable and repeatable, yes? Across America at the minimum, and maybe if we are super awesome, across the globe later.

Problem #3: The Best and the Brightest Control Our Government

Do I need to say more?  When’s the last time someone said, “Awesome! I’ve been chosen for jury duty!”  We are all too busy to participate in our government.  But there are people who are NOT too busy…  and they’ve been all too happy to get their fingers into our government and warp it for their needs.  Noticed all the super-sized mergers going on? Where’s anti-trust protecting us from monopolies and looking out for small business? Who can compete with Wal-mart? Who is looking out for the taxpayers – last I checked, we’ve been used to build stadiums, used to fund bail-outs for companies that already treat us like shit every single day? Again, double-U tee eff??

Problem #4: The Best and the Brightest Ain’t so Bright

If they were… things wouldn’t be the way they ARE. Period. The Man is out for one person… The Man.  The battlefield is financial.  Financials control the military. Financials control religion. The Best and the Brightest are both partnered and at war with each other, and anyone with a net worth of say, less than 100M isn’t even a blip on that radar.  100M is a blip. A tiny blip that could be misinterpreted as a gnat fart. The true players are 10-digit players, 11-digit players, and up.  What are my qualifications to make such statements? None. But I’m just saying, if these people were truly part of a superior species, America wouldn’t be the gutted shell it feels like today. Would it?

That seems about enough problems for now. If I can come up with an answer for those four, I will feel pretty good.  Shouldn’t be too hard, right? After all, this is a blog… not scientific write-up.  People read this stuff and either nod their head or shake their head, some will leave comments, and that’s that… It’s opinion. Poorly justified, actionable but likely neglected, based on sweeping generalities, and heck, it is 3AM.  I still have time to get some sleep, put in my hours for The Man, and come up with a solution.  It can’t be all bad, then!

Toodles for now!

BofA Bank of Attitude (You thought I mean Bank of America?)

Bank of America asked me to fill out a survey.  They suck.  And my survey reflects that, but I was very careful to mark the representative who assisted me very highly because they did the best they could with the lame tools made available by Bank of America.  You see, I’ve been paying on time and the best he could offer was to reduce my interest rate from 26.4% to 24.9%.  That’s not his fault, it’s BofA’s fault… of course, they will blame the economy, but then, HOW MUCH of our tax money did they get as bail-out for their executive bonus programs?  Why is it that I have one creditor at 0%, one at 7.9% (M&I – they have been upholding their bargain better than I thought), and one at 9.9%?  Surely those creditors are part of the same economy, and two of them received NO bail-out money.  Hmmm. Fascinating.

I crammed this into their 1,000 character feedback box:

“I have been a strong source of recurring interest income for BofA and yet they continue to punish those that are still keeping them alive with outrageous interest rates and poor dispute resolution. I will be closing my bank account and when my card is paid off I will be closing that too.  From the day BofA took over MBNA they have ruined everything MBNA stood for…then again, MBNA sold out, so their vision was only as strong as the pathetically predictable elitists at their helm. Nothing against the employees who try their best to get the best and the brightest to pull their head out of their ass, but I vote with my wallet… it is the only true language the elite will understand.

Your Pal,


Gotta love ’em.