Why are the Oscars still a thing?

UBL Oscar

I hate the Oscars. The Academy Awards is everything that is wrong with american culture summed up in one evening. It’s a night where  celebrities feel the need to pat themselves on the back for the outstanding job that they’ve been doing being famous and giving each other lots of money to play a role in a film and not be high or drunk on set all the time; or at least not to seem like it in the final cut. It’s a bunch of people wearing clothing that costs more than the average Americans home (or all the homes in Detroit). Basically a black tie members only circle jerk and Americans love to watch.

It starts at the Red Carpet; the media fawns over the actresses and their dresses like they’ve never seen a grown women before. All year long the media acts all surprised and confused that such a high percentage of women have so many issues with their own bodies yet they don’t see the irony on Oscar night.  Is it any surprise given that we spend the entire week after the academy awards being forced to focus on how women looks after she’s spent 24 hours and a few thousand dollars in makeup and hair and then slips into a dress that normal people can’t afford but these millionaires are given for free because, why the fuck not? And I do mean forced because the whole thing only ended a few hours ago and already the major news outlets, my social media feeds and everything else is flooded with the typical “who wore it best” and all the other Oscar fashion clichés. Men aren’t subject to this stupidity as much because A) A tuxedo is a Tuxedo no matter how you spin it and B) For some reason we are all delusional enough that whether we are ripped with single digit Body fat percentage or fifty pounds overweight we will all look at ourselves in the mirror when getting dressed in the morning, shrug, and say “Eh, not bad” (or at least I’m assuming that’s what everyone else does). Anyone can look like a superstar if they have dedicated hair and makeup people as well as a wardrobe where everything costs more than a used car and is tailor made. The only time it was ever that easy for me to get ready in the morning was in the military but only for lack of options. (He’s wearing this seasons Body Armor!)

Things only gets more gag worthy once you get inside the only word that comes to (my) mind the last time I watched the academy awards was Masturbatory. They are all bursting with excitement over what a wonderful job they have done; To be fair every industry has their own awards and such so you could say that this is no different but I think it is; Celebrities have become role models in our society and they certainly do beat you over the head with it. There is no shortage of celebrities doing wonderful things for the world, and, more importantly, telling you about them; anyone remember George Clooney Circa 2006? It’s a little annoying to listen to someone tell me how I should try to do more for the world standing there in a tuxedo that could feed an African village for a week in an auditorium of people who’s combined income outpaces most 3rd world countries.

Movies these days require less acting skills and more the ability to not get bored spitting lines at a green screen at imaginary characters. The people who deserve the awards are the techies who can make some movie palatable with decent effects and CGI. Do those people get awards? Of course! But not at the main event, they have their own “ceremony” earlier in the week, because gd forbid the celebrities should be forced to sit in the same room as the people who make their movies watchable.

And then came best picture; or, more specifically, American Sniper’s nomination for best picture. We all knew it wasn’t going to win. I still held out hope but I knew that the academy couldn’t possibly bring themselves to recognize a movie about a decorated American soldier. It’s the typical pattern; no one cares if a soldier is heroic, only if he’s heroic on the big screen (played by a big ticket actor of course). Don’t believe me? Two words: Lone Survivor.

Liberal media and liberal personalities got all butt hurt not only that American Sniper didn’t fall in line with their views on the Iraq war (Bush lied people died), but that it did so well at the box office and was recieved so well and got nominated for their holy of holies: Best picture. The book (and I’m guessing the movie because I have yet to see it) is a reflection of the sacrafices that one man made for his country and the realities of modern warfare but all they could see was that he didn’t shed a tear for every man that he had to kill. In their perfect world Selma would have been the headline grabber that made millions and affirmed that Americans the type of ‘enlightened’ that they should be but it wasn’t even nominated.

Chris Kyle has been a hero of mine ever since I first read his book and American Sniper may not have won, but anyone who knows the Oscar’s at all knows  it’s political bullshit anyway. The people responsible for the movie will somehow have to handle only making boatloads of money. Hope they can manage. I can only hope that at least one of those idiots in the auditorium is one of those anti-vaxxers and everyone will be sick soon.  All I have to say about the winner of best picture is: Where is Kanye when you need him?

Our (Non-violent) Plan for Countering Violent Extremism By John Kerry and Ari Krauss

The following was taken from an Op-Ed written by John Kerry today in the Wall Street Journal. The following is a glimpse as to the average day in my head reading the news. To clarify: anything in Parentheses  is my addition.

Our (Non-violent) Plan for Countering Violent Extremism

Show the world the power of peaceful communities, and tackle bad governance that breeds frustration (except if they have Oil).

Written by John Kerry,

Sarcastic Commentary (In Parentheses) by Ari Krauss.

Throughout our history, we have faced threats from aggression, genocide, chaos and dictatorship. Today we are asked to wage a new war against a new enemy. The battlefield is different, and so are the weapons that we need to overcome that enemy and triumph. (None of which the administration is willing to undertake so let’s try and think of something else).

The rise of violent extremism represents the pre-eminent challenge of the young 21st century. Military force is a rational and often (Not always?) necessary response to the wanton slaughters of children (even though we don’t even do anything about that in our own country), mass kidnappings of schoolgirls (#BringBackOurGirls…..ok fine don’t), and beheading of innocents (Except when the Saudis do it). But military force alone won’t achieve victory. (Especially when you half ass it) In the long term, this war will be won only by deploying a broader, far more creative (Hashtag) arsenal.

A safer and more prosperous future requires us to recognize that violent extremism can’t be justified by resorting to religion (Researching possibility of a Fatwa on this topic). No legitimate religious interpretation teaches adherents to commit unspeakable atrocities (Except the big three), such as razing villages or turning children into suicide bombers. These are the heinous acts of individuals who (Successfully) distort religion to serve their criminal and barbaric cause.

A safer and more prosperous future also requires us not to be distracted by divisions grounded in hatred or bias (Thinking about them makes us sad on the inside). There is no room in this fight for sectarian division (Apparently someone forgot to tell the Sunni and Shia). There is no room for Islamophobia (Which is a fear of being defeated in an election for saying anything bad about Islam or Muslims) or anti-Semitism (Which is hating Jews any more than is absolutely necessary). Violent extremism has claimed lives in every corner of the globe, and Muslim lives most of all (Our bad). Each of us is threatened, regardless of ethnicity, faith or homeland (Especially if you’re a Ginger on Homeland). We must demonstrate to the terrorists that rather than divide us, their tactics unite us and strengthen our resolve (To blame the whole mess on Israeli settlements).

Toward that goal of unity, and of action, President Obama has been hosting a summit in Washington this week (Because you know what they say: Words speak louder than actions) that is bringing together leading figures from local and national governments, civil society, and the private sector around the world. This summit at the White House and State Department will expand the global conversation and, more important, adopt an action agenda that identifies, shares and utilizes best practices in preventing and countering violent extremism. And when world leaders gather at the United Nations General Assembly (Generally an effective body) next fall, a key topic of discussion will be the steps we’ve all taken to fight (Israeli) extremism based on (Everything but) the agenda we outline this week.

Put simply, we are building a global partnership against violent extremism. (Sponsored by Heinz)

Success requires showing the world (And Christians in Iraq and Syria) the power of peaceful communities instead of extremist violence. Success requires offering a vision that is positive and proactive: a world with more concrete alternatives to the nihilistic worldview of violent extremists (Jihad as a new fitness craze?). Success requires empowering leaders from Los Angeles to Sana’a Lagos, Paris to Peshawar (How DO you get the Taliban on board?), and Bogotá to Baghdad to take the reins in this effort (Prefarbly with the Iraqi army leading the charge)— because terrorists don’t exist in a vacuum. They require acquiescence from the broader population, if not outright support. They recruit among the disaffected and disenfranchised, but also among those of all backgrounds on a misguided quest for meaning and empowerment. They exploit anger, ignorance and grievance (Actually…not entirely).

Eliminating the terrorists of today with force will not guarantee protection from the terrorists of tomorrow (Forget for  a second that eliminating them today will protect us today). We have to transform the environments that give birth to these movements (Global warming as a counter terrorism policy?) . We have to devote ourselves not just to combating violent extremism, but to preventing it (Only YOU can prevent Gay people from being thrown off buildings). This means building alternatives that are credible and visible to the populations where terrorists seek to thrive (also don’t require Obama to go back on campaign promises to leave Iraq)

The most basic issue is good governance (And when we figure out what the looks like we will let you know). It may not sound exciting (but then again, my voice could put a meth head to sleep), but it is vital. People who feel that their government will provide for their needs (AKA Welfare queens), not just its own (Republicans), and give them a chance at a better life are far less likely to strap on an AK-47 or a suicide vest, or to aid those who do.

We must identify the zones of greatest vulnerability (except if they are in Mosques), the places that could descend into the chaos that breeds terrorism—or that could turn the corner and be the hotbed of growth or innovation (Just look at Gaza! The Singapore of the middle east!). And then we must tailor our efforts and target our resources to meet the specific needs of those places. It may be training young people so they can get jobs and envision a future of dignity and self-reliance (Do for Jihadis what the VA has done for Vets?). It may be working to eliminate corruption and promote the rule of law (Except in Saudi Arabia), so that marginalized communities can enjoy security and justice (Damn Israelis). It’s very likely both (Or None), and of course much more.

There are precedents that can lead us (Citation needed). We’ve combated violent extremism before (Citation needed). We know there are tools that work (Citation needed). We also know the power of the international community to make positive progress when we’ve come together to combat other challenges, such as when we combined our efforts most recently to fight Ebola (No more dead white people = Success). We need to funnel more resources, creative ideas and energy into the fight against extremism and work closely with effective local organizations and governments to make sure those resources are used properly.

This week’s summit won’t solve all these problems (Probably won’t solve any), but it can catalyze a global effort. But let me be clear: We are in this for the long haul (at least until 2016). We can send a clear signal to the next generation that its future will not be defined by the agenda of the terrorists and the violent ideology that sustains them; we will not cower, and we will prevail by working together (Lol). Indeed, there are roles for everyone, from religious and government leaders to academics (Provided they can take a second away from trying to boycott Israel), NGOs (If we can get the Human Rights Council to focus on anything  other than Israel) and the private sector (The Government Contractors sending all our veterans back overseas  for 10x  the pay). Our collective security depends on our collective response (we’re screwed)

The 20th century was defined by the struggle to overcome depression, slavery, fascism and totalitarianism (Also Carbs). Now it’s our turn (To be overcome??). The rise of violent extremism challenges every one of us, our communities, our nations and the global rule of law. But the extremist forces arrayed against us require that we charge forward in the name of decency, civility and reason (and my Nobel Peace Prize).

My Zen Guide to Flying (No Really)

People think that I don’t have patience; that’s not true, this is because I never get credit for all the times I want to punch someone in the face… but don’t; or all the times I want to say something mean (but true) or inappropriate (but true)…but don’t.

I do have Patience and I save almost all of it for when I fly. Flying can be a traumatic experience for a lot of people for a number of reasons: babies, bad neighbors, bad foods, small seats, nasty flight attendants, the list goes on and on. You’re in cramped conditions with mediocre food sitting next to complete strangers just praying to gd that they had the decency to shower and not bring an egg salad sandwich with them. People who know me would barely recognize me for the Zen state that I try to take on when I am on a plane. I can basically shrug off anything short of someone banging on the cockpit door yelling allahuh akbar. This is diametrically opposed to my usual state in which I am running on a fuel mix of sarcasm, disdain for like 80% of people, and coffee. Why? Maybe because I fly infrequently and therefore still have a different attitude for it or maybe it’s just because getting rowdy on a plane carries federal charges but probably because flying is a communal experience…in the same way that prison is a communal experience, cramped conditions, bad food, and a poor movie selection makes everyone a little restless.

My only real request from the universe when I fly is that I not sit next to someone who is fatter than they are tall and that we not plunge into the ocean. I’ve come to the sad realization that it as altogether too much to ask that a fluke booking mix has Bar Rafaeli bumped from First Class to the seat next to me. Beyond that I try to take deep cleansing breaths and let everything else slide off. Crying infants, someone knocking my seat, the guy by the window having to get out a million times. I try not to let that drive me crazy because, like I said, Federal charges and all.

Remember that photo that was going around about the parents who handed out ear plugs and candy in little bags to everyone on their flight to apologize in advance for their kids crying? What a bunch of losers; they should only have considered doing that had the kid been a teenager and the note should read “sorry we are terrible parents and now you have to pay the price”. But then if they did that they’d have to be giving out gift bags every single time the kid was a total waste of life and made the world worse for everyone around him.

One time flying from New York to Israel a women had an infant and to say that the kid was clearly not enjoying the flight would be an understatement. Aside from the infant she had another young child with her and seemed clearly overwhelmed; she apologized profusely every single time the kid cried but I told her it was fine, what do you expect from an infant? She seemed to appreciate that she wasn’t sitting next to a complete asshole (or at least she didn’t realize that she was sitting next to one).

As I write this I am on a flight to New York my neighbor is nice enough and the stewardesses having been feeding me wine the whole time in paper hot cups like a drunk at a PTA conference. If you’re reading this than I made it safely to my destination and so, short of Esti Ginzburg coming back here to ask if I wanted to keep her company because it’s lonely in first class, it’s the best flight I could possibly hope for.

Side Note: The moment the plane doors open I am back to my old self; the girl in front of me was reading a prayer book while pushing her bag which kept on getting stuck I cut in front of her; I don’t feel that I should be in the back of the line at customs just because she’s not smart enough to pull the bag and not read a book.