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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Glass Houses, or "The Assange Incarceration"

This is my first attempt at serious Political/Media discourse in a while, and as such I feel a bit rusty.  Forgive me if I'm not understanding the situation properly.  If I'm found to be completely off the mark, I'll gladly remove this post to avoid further embarrassment.

Julian Assange was arrested in the U.K. today after surrendering to British authorities.  According to MSN's latest report, he was rejected bail, faces possible extradition to Sweden due to charges involving "sex offenses", and to some this is all good news.  Why would one man earn such hatred, schadenfreude, and general ill will?  Simply put: he's blabbing everyone's secrets.  But those "secrets" may not even be secrets in some cases, and in other cases those "secrets" have cost people their lives and could compromise the way nations (particularly the U.S.) carry themselves diplomatically.  This naturally has hurt some people's feelings...some enough that they would want to do personal harm to Mr. Assange.

Though, to play Paranoid's Advocate, maybe his incarceration, his extradition, maybe even the charges leveled against him, are exactly what is being done to undermine his/their credibility.  Realistically, would you kill someone like Julian Assange if he posed a threat to you?  Of course you wouldn't!  World governments all around know that assassinations are messy, costly, and generally not looked upon favorably.  Throwing a man in jail, violating his credibility and convicting him of a heinous criminal offense is more cost effective, no one dies, and it works even better as a method of psychological warfare against your target.  It might sound like I've seen too many Bourne films, but this is EXACTLY what this is starting to sound like!  For God's sake, the man has an "insurance file" just waiting to be released upon his death that could potentially incriminate the U.S. and their efforts in the Afghan War.

Assange's entire story, as well as his organization, sound like something out of a cross between a classic Sci Fi dystopia and a Robert Ludlum blockbuster novel.  Mega powers of the world feel threatened by the "voice of truth", who works from the shadows, can never be physically found (because he/they are always on the move), and operate under a unified symbol.  All that's missing are pirated television broadcasts, a Guy Falkes mask, and Natalie Portman shaving her head; and we've achieved surreality.  Apparently in Wikileaks' case, they picked the wrong symbol and he's looking to be heading down the river for a little while.  Let's face it, if Assange gets the book thrown at him, Wikileaks will suffer until they choose a new figurehead.  And even then, they will still be give less benefit of the doubt when it comes to credibility, simply because they chose so poorly the first time.

What do I think of Wikileaks?   Personally, if these were/are documents of a less sensitive nature that would not harm anyone by their release, I would think nothing of it.  But if you are going to sit there and tell me that this is all in the name of "transparency", then I'm going to tell you that you are full of shit.  This isn't being done to encourage transparency, it's being done to scare the nations of the world into looking over their shoulders just a little more.  Whether Assange's intent is to directly do so, no one knows.  But directly or indirectly, that's exactly what's happening.

According to Wikipedia,  "he has been involved in the publication of material documenting extrajudicial killings in Kenya, a report of toxic waste dumping on the African coast, Church of Scientology manuals, Guantanamo Bay procedures, and material involving large banks such as Kaupthing and Julius Baer among other documents."  So he's taken on religion, vicious unstable governments, GitMo, and the banking world.  Even I'll admit, I can kinda get on board with that.  But forgive my hypocrisy when I say that his efforts with the U.S. do not even approach the "good natured" level that these other reports have exhibited.  Leaking the above is one thing, leaking war/state department intel that could cost soliders their lives and throw us into even more chaos and strife in the fields of combat and diplomacy are kind of a bigger deal.  To put it crudely: everything's fun and games until someone's compromised.

Though really, what business is it of ours?  If anything Wikileaks is the US Weekly for the "thinking person".  Instead of tuning in to see what's going on with Jessica Simpson or which Teen Mom was caught rolling a joint, we can see what the U.S. had to say about Putin's work habits, or what exactly is going on in Afghanistan.  Some might say we deserve to know what's going on since we're funding the war with our taxes, but I truly ask you, do we really have a right to know?  I'm not trying to protect the Government, they can do that themselves pretty easily.  What I'm trying to say is that perhaps leaking War Intel is not exactly the best idea while the god damned war is still going on.  You want to leak Bush and Cheney's efforts in the past?  Fine!  That could land those idiots in jail where they belong, but don't forget to screen it and make sure it won't compromise our current position in the region. 

Julian Assange may seem like a voice of truth to some, but personally I think he's a petulant child that's throwing bombs just for the sake of throwing bombs.  And if he's getting people killed while throwing his bombs, is he really that surprised that people are gunning for him?  Transparency is fine, but make sure that your glass house doesn't shatter and kill innocent lives when you throw the first stone.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Monday GAAAH! - 12/6/10

I know, I know...it's been too long since I've last posted.  As a matter of fact, October 18th was the last post I had up here.  Wow...has it really been that long since I've posted here?  I have good excuses, I swear.  Read below, and welcome Monday back with a GAAAH!

- Excuses for being absent:

     * Excuse #1: I was participating in National Novel Writing Month (which I WON!)
     * Excuse #2: A new Harry Potter movie came out, and thus I was wrapped up with catching my girlfriend up to speed so she could see it in IMAX with me.
     * Excuse #3: Colonel Mustard, in the dining room, with the rope.
     * Excuse #4: Zombie Apocalypse... (...which was narrowly averted by one blast of Bruce Boxleitner's commanding glare.)

- Speaking of Bruce Boxleitner, anyone else excited for Tron Legacy?  I'm ready to geek out over this thing like there's no tomorrow.  (Especially since I have free IMAX passes to see it in advanced.  If you get the chance, go to 3Dshave.com and sign up!  Best to do it around Midnight though, and show up early the day of your screening!  Your pass DOES NOT guarantee you entry.)

- Also, who else missed Daft Punk?  It's good to see the boys back again, doing what they do best.  Also, they're probably the two people, save Bridges and Boxleitner, who seem like they belong to the Tron world.

- So we're going to have a Republican House and a Democratic Congress, eh?  Well, the idealist in me says "Yay!  Maybe we can cooperate!"; while the pessimist in me says "Shit, we're gonna have a gridlock on our hands the size of Texas."  Either way, it's not end of the road kids.  It's happened before, and it'll happen again.  All we can do is hope SOMETHING gets done, and prepare ourselves for the 2012 election.  (Oh, and repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  Seriously, if the Dems could win on something in the public eye, it would be that.)

- Tangled managed to best Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part I this weekend at the box office.  Probably because everyone had already seen Harry Potter and needed something to watch.  (I'll be waiting on DVD for that one.)  Here's this weekend's Futile Box Office Predictions:

1: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I
(Odd prediction, I know, but if you think about it everyone probably saw Tangled on good word of mouth this weekend.  They also probably saw Potter on opening weekend, and as such it's time for the repeat viewings while we all cry ourselves to sleep knowing that the next one isn't out until July.)

2: Tangled
(Everyone got it out of their systems, and now they're ready to go back to Harry Potter.)

3: The Tourist
(Johnny Depp + Angelina Jolie = An odd enough pairing to draw a light crowd that's wondering, 'Just how the hell does THAT work?')

Lovable Loser: The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, because while I was bored by the first film and had no interest in the second (due to my narcoleptic habits during boring movies, and actually wanting to pay for films I stay awake for), the third one looks quite nice.  And it's probably going to do miserably, unless Fox still has some of that Avatar magic left in their bag.  If this fails, Fox will "learn the lesson" that retarded Chipmunks sell and British Literature (that isn't J.K. Rowling created) doesn't.  Plus, Liam Neeson = best Jesus Lion EVER!

Loathable Winner: Gulliver's Travels, because with the shitty 3D upconversion, updating the story to modern times, and Jack Black basically dumbing himself down to Nacho Libre levels, it's going to make enough money to convince Fox of the "lesson" I mentioned above.  (And yes, the film IS out on Christmas weekend, but it's not to early to hate.  That and Little Fockers is going to take it in the face that week anyway.  Priorities, people.)

- The Royal Wedding has once again provided us with enough tabloid fodder and televised fluff pieces to forget about the shit we should be worrying about in the world.  Honestly, I was done with this story the minute they announced it.  Congrats to two more over privileged children marrying into a marriage that will only serve the rumor rags and not do anything of consequence.

- MSN's Unfortunate Headline Coupling of the Week:
"Chicken salad recall | Pollution & gay birds"  (I thought I was reading MSN's front page, not Glenn Beck's personal blog.)

- Apologies to Glenn Beck...I'm treating you with more relevance than you're worth, and you're probably crying in a corner right now because of it.  I shall redistribute my attention elsewhere, lest you be without a reason to bitch.

This first Monday of December calls for a Holiday themed Opening Act.  And who better to kick things off than Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin with one of my Christmas favorites, "It's A Marshmallow World".

BONUS OPENING ACT: Happy 90th birthday to Mr. Dave Brubeck.  A Jazz impresario, the man gave me the best break up song ever.  Let me set the scene:

December 2000.  Vertical Limit was in theaters, and my girlfriend at the time and I were at the theater waiting for the film to start.  I knew she was going to dump me because I had a reliable source tip me off.  As we were waiting there, I wondered if she'd can me before or after the date was over.  Slight anxiety washing over me, the gods of the AMC Brick 10's sound system played a track from the Ken Burns' Jazz retrospective.  It started with light drums and a scintillating high hat, almost like a whisper that promised excitement.  A piano came in with a simple, recurring melodic pattern, signaling class and grace under pressure.  Then the sax slinked in with its airy charm, and it was at that moment I knew I was going to be alright.  It was as if the song said to me, "The world belongs to those who take it.  Take this moment and just chill, because it is yours." 

The date went on as planned, and at the end of the night she dumped me as she walked me to my door.  As she walked back to her father's car, I called out her name.


She turned, probably expecting some sort of plea for her not to leave.  Instead, she got a two word wake up call.

"I knew."

If you're a regular reader of the blog, you'll notice that this story is a retelling of part "Lesson 47", the story told in my review for Things I've Learned from Women Who've Dumped Me.  As I look back on that song, I don't see the break up anymore.  At least, it's not the primary thought.  The thoughts I predominantly have are ones of calm and power.  Should I ever encounter massive amounts of stress, this is the song I turn to.  This is my Scotch at the end of the night.  This is my ideal music to listen to as I sit in a reading chair, pouring over my current literary selection.  This is my victory song, and to Mr. Dave Brubeck and his Quartet I say "Thanks."  And to Mr. Brubeck I say, "Happy birthday, sir.  Here's to your lasting legacy of music, and forever may it reign."  Here is the Dave Brubeck Quartet with their seminal masterpiece, Take Five.  Take the world, everyone.  Make your claim.