How To Handle (And Beat) An Addiction

These steps to handle (and beat) an addiction are not perfect, but they work:
  1. Breathe in. Nice and slow. Count to three as you inhale.
  2. Breathe out. Again, nice and slow. Count one, two, three as you exhale.
  3. There. Six seconds. You just spent six seconds without it.
  4. Now again. Breathe in. Breathe out. Ten times. You've just spent a minute. It didn't control you for a full minute. 
  5. Try to string together a few minutes. It's going to be tough. You're going to think about it. You can't help but think about it. It's powerful. It's got you. But not right now. Right now, you've got you under control. Breathe. 
  6. Has it been an hour? Check the clock. It's been an hour. Sixty minutes have gone by, and you've stood strong. Sixty minutes now belong to you. 
  7. Can you do that 23 more times? 
  8. You need to talk it out. You need to hold it together. You need to call your most trusted friend(s); the one who knows you well enough not to tell you everything's going to be okay. You need to talk to someone who will listen to the lies you've already told yourself and believe, and tell you they are lies. You need that person who knows you better than you want to know yourself right now. 
  9. If you don't have a person like that in your life, you need to find a group. Any group. Even if your addiction isn't alcohol or narcotics, go to the group. Go somewhere, anywhere, where you cannot lie to yourself, and you cannot escape truth.
  10. You are alone now. It's night, or it's day, or it's a few days or weeks later. You're alone. You've beat it this long. Things are hard. You remember how it felt. You miss it. But you know it's no good for you... But if you can just get one fix, just one fix, you'll be alright. You've gone this long. You deserve a reward. You deserve it. 
  11. Did you see the lie? Did you call it out? You deserve a reward which is indulging in the thing you've kept from indulging in. It's a lie. It's like saying "if you can go x days without killing yourself, your reward is killing yourself." It's your ego. It's protecting you from the pain. It wants you to believe it's you. It wants you to believe it's got your best interest in mind. It doesn't, it just wants the pain to go away.
  12. What have you replaced the time with? What are you doing with your days and nights now that you're not in the stuff? What are you doing? Do you have a replacement? Find a replacement. Write. Draw. Bike. Run. Swim. Talk to your friend. Go to your group. Let the clock turn in your absence; earn more minutes and more hours and more days clean. You're in control.
  13. You've gotten past the pain. You've gotten past the cravings. You see an old friend from the scene, or hear a story from the old guard, or get a whiff of that smell; that familiar smell... LEAVE. NOW. They're not your friends. Addicts are addicts first, and whatever else they may be second. They are not your friends; they're fixers. Misery loves company. Don't know them. Don't want to know them. Leave. LEAVE.
  14. When was the last time you even thought about your addiction? Remember? You should. Keep track. Know that you're STILL susceptible. Even if it's not the old stuff, you've got an addict's blood. You've got a predisposition for escapism. You've won so many battles by earning those minutes and hours, days and weeks, months and years being in control. To win the war: You must build a life you do not want to escape from. 
  15. What have you done differently? What's new? Who are you now? Do you recognize yourself? Do you even know who that person that inhabited your body was? I hope not. And I hope you never forget who they were. 

If at any point you miss a step, close your eyes, take a breath. Nice and slow. Count to three as you inhale. Start back over at step 1.

(This post is a special request from a reader. I hope it helped.)


"Speak Your Mind, Even If Your Voice Shakes"

(Update 11.14.12: I've written a follow-up to this piece, as well as my other cosplay / geek girl pieces. Please check that out.)

As you can imagine, the past few days have been an eye-opening experience. 

If for some reason you missed it, I wrote this article, which cause much discussion and dissension. I issued this response, and in the course of the past 3 days, I've been on 4 podcasts/live streams to answer questions and accusations, 12 different websites' forums / comments to face criticism, in Reddit threads and on Twitter to respond to everyone who had some sort of reaction, response or retort. Half of it has been positive, the other half negative. But the negative half has been mostly due to misconstrued reviews, half-read points and people who read what they wanted, not what I wrote.

It's been exhausting. But whether you've been reading me for years or just found out who I was, one thing you now know about me: I won't hide. If you've got something to say, I want to hear it. And if you think you can say it without my responding, I'll chase you down and prove you wrong. I won't hide, and if I can help it, I won't let you, either.

The hardest part of this whole experience has been knowing that the people who are most angry, missed the point of my article. Everyone who has posted a scathing rebuttal of my original piece goes off on some sort of tangent, sometimes accusing me of saying things I didn't say, and other times isolating on one sentence or one paragraph while willfully ignoring (or, attempting to claim it was "padding") the rest of the piece.

The most notable exception are the FragDolls, who I owed a huge apology to for having a personal opinion that what they do is not geeky, thus they are not geeky just for doing it. I feel that gaming is just another entertainment endeavor, like movies, books and music. The types of games you choose might determine what kind of geek you are, but shooting people in Call of Duty or playing Madden? Those things are so universal, they're hardly geeky in and of themselves.

I was wrong about that opinion. Outside of anything they do in their personal lives to build out any kind of "geek cred" they are geeks just for being FragDolls. I fucked that up. I apologized.

Everything else? Well, some people used the FragDolls gaff to discredit the point. Some people attempted to turn what I said into a Men's Rights manifesto (which is just stupid). Some people attempted to accuse me of being some sort of self-appointed gatekeeper of the geek community.

I don't mind critique. I don't mind criticism. I don't mind hate. But I cannot stand being misunderstood and/or misrepresented.

There was a point yesterday where I called my editor and said "Do you think I should post an apology?"

"Are you sorry?" she asked.

"I'm sorry that there are people who have the wrong idea about what I said, and that some of them are hurt."

"There's a huge difference between being sorry you did something, and being sorry that it hurt someone."

Shortly after, a longtime hero of mine (who I will not name here, because I refuse to drag someone's name into this in an attempt to support myself) called me and told me how much respect he had for me. "Most people, when they write something like that, will retreat to their own caves or at least to friendly territory. You went to every blog and on live shows to face your critics and talk things out with them. That's not just guts, that's respect."

He's right. It is respect, because I respect myself and what I said enough to not only defend it, but to ensure that my critics got every chance afforded them to understand what it was I was trying to say before I decided to write them off.

I was so close to writing something that I didn't actually feel. I've never done that. And I am so glad I didn't. I was reminded of a quote by Maggie Kuhn, which I used as the title of this post: "Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes."

The truth: even if you don't see them; even if you don't believe they exist; even if you don't believe someone would spend the money and the time to do something like it: I am here to tell you that there are women who attend conventions dressed as sexy as they can be, pretending to be a member of the community, who not only know nothing about but don't actually WANT to know anything about it. They attend to build out their modeling portfolio. They attend to hand out cards for their adult modeling website. They attend to play on the base nature of males in the geek community to get attention for themselves.

Some people say "well so what?" They ask who am I to say that those girls might not see something geeky and actually become interested and want to join the crowd?

I'm me, that's who. I'm a guy who has spent too many years seeing the same hollow faces at the same cons, year after year, and there's nothing that changes. No geekiness interests are piqued. No changes come. Just more posing, more laughing behind geeks' backs. I am not okay with this. I can't stop it. I can't police it. I can't make anyone do anything they don't want to do. But I don't have to sit silent and just let it happen.

You know who else I don't think wants to join the geek community, who end up in proximity of it every year? The football jocks who, every single year, have to share a hotel with Dragon*Con attendees during the Chick-Fil-A College Football Kickoff Game. There are people I've seen two and three years in a row, being punks and pushing geeks around and calling them names. I know they've been doing this for years, because for years, I've been looking for them so I can stop them before they can do anything too extreme.

It doesn't help. Every year, there's a few kids who get their asses kicked by a few rednecks who hang out at the Marriott just to stare at the freaks. Should I show them the same deference you want me to show the poser wannabes? Who knows, maybe while punching a geek in the face, they'll skin their knuckle on a tooth and the blood from the two may mix, and the bully will inherit some of the geek's interest in Game of Thrones!

I am also not okay with the eBay scalpers buying up every item they can and making them scarce for collectors who truly want those toys, comics, and limited edition prints. I hate people who lie to artists like Adam Hughes about their kid having cancer, get a sketch from him, and eBay it for thousands of dollars. I am not okay with G4 putting models in place of knowledgeable presenters who are actually geeks in order to appeal to a broader audience, who make veiled jokes that actually condemn some of the geekier and nerdier of its audience.

I hate poachers and I hate posers. I am not afraid to say it. I don't care if there are other geeks out there who have credentials that "outweigh" mine who hate what I wrote, regardless of how off-base their understanding of my point was (even after I and several others pointed it out). I'm not looking to play gatekeeper to the geek world. I just have absolutely no ability to sit around, smell bullshit, and not say something. And what's happening at cons and in this culture I love is bullshit.

And you know what? I'm not alone. Thousands of people -- more than half of them women -- posted on the CNN comments, Twitter, blogs that covered the story and emailed me to say "It's about time someone said it." Women wrote me to tell me "If a woman said what you said, she'd be called out as a "bitch" and told she was just jealous."

And yet...

There's a massive backlash against my article. And it's no surprise to me that those most offended missed the point. And I won't mince words: I think the majority of those, missing the point is deliberate. I think the second you start any conversation about any gender, race or religion to which you do not belong, people perk up and if anything whatsoever is said that isn't exceedingly complimentary, you're seen as mysoginist, racist or otherwise intolerant against the group at large.

This is bullshit. Pure and simple. It's abusing a point to condemn an argument, and it's sad. There is no question in my mind that the most vocal opponents of my point are the ones who benefit most from it not being made, either through click traffic, readership, or some attempt to justify their own opinions about things they are outraged about, which gives them some sense of validity.

There's an aspect to this whole thing that has opened my eyes quite a lot -- the vast majority of people who are angry with my piece aren't just women, they're younger than I am. They're of a different generation. And I think the actual point of contention here is that there's a generation gap, and I'm on one side and they are on another.

Maybe in this new generation, the doors have swung open wide and more people are allowed in than ever -- but that comes with it an attitude of "who cares if a few uninitiated make it through the door with us." Unfortunately, that doesn't work for me -- no one should attempt to manipulate me by lying to me and stating they're interested in things that I am.

I'm not jealous. I don't want geekdom to be a boys club. I don't believe I'm the arbiter of who can and cannot be a geek. All of these "arguments" are nonsense, and I think deep down, anyone who actually read the article knows it. I'm aggravated and insulted that people think they can subvert my intelligence and play to the base nature of my gender and my social circle's innate attractions to females to sell me goods and services. It bothers me, and I said something.

Those who reacted only to the headline, or to other blogs' reactions of my article that repurposed its point to garner their own traffic, or decided to otherwise WANT to be offended: you're entitled to your opinion. You're allowed to think what you want to think and say what you want to say by the rights granted you by humanity and, for those in the United States, the Bill of Rights. And I care about your thoughts as much as you'd care about mine, if I got your points wrong and attempted to abuse you with them.

I'm not sorry I said something. I'm not afraid to say what I feel. I'm also not afraid to admit when I fuck up, and I'm not afraid to ask those who dislike, misunderstand or otherwise have an issue with something I wrote to talk to me about it. I will walk in the lion's den, no matter how scary, and face my accusers. I will write off those who refuse to actually discuss it as simply wanting to be outraged.

Update: And for anyone who wants to bash me for attacking the women who internalize sexism; who are merely victims of the patriarchal system that encourages women to use their bodies for attention; who defend booth babes as "just doing their job" and so on: "Don't hate the player; hate the game" is a fine argument when you can't accept personal responsibility. Just ask any drug dealer who blames their career choice on the conditions surrounding them and how the market demands their supply. Not their fault either, I guess.

That's the last I'll say about this entire matter.


My Favorite Star Wars Drawing Ever (Or, "Help A Ten Year Old Artist Get To Dragon*Con")

I got the coolest envelope containing the coolest art today. 

A Facebook friend of mine, Christopher LeBeau, has a son. He is a young artist named Jacob LeBeau. Jacob is 10 years old. He wants to go to his first Dragon*Con this year, and he wants to pay for it himself. 

He's seen his father listing art online for sale, and so he decided to do the same. So I decided to help him out. I bought one of his pieces. I like Star Wars, and Jacob drew the coolest montage of a biker scout and two Imperial Guard troops in front of the Death Star, which he offered as a color print: 

So, $4.00 and a week later, I received this envelope in the mail. I didn't expect all the hand-drawn art on the envelope! On the front was, of course, a Peacock:

And on the back, my favorite original drawing I've bought this year by far of Calvin and Hobbes:

And there it was, my own print of his fantastic Star Wars montage:

I think everyone should own a custom print by Jacob. At $4.00, they're a steal. And you'll be helping a young artist get to his first big convention. 

Some choice selections: 

Calvin and Hobbes Wagon Ride:

MC Chris

The Punisher:

The Tick: 

So, which one will you buy to help Jacob get to Dragon*Con?


The Response To The Response To My "Booth Babes" Piece On CNN

(Update 11.14.12: I've written a follow-up to this piece, as well as my other cosplay / geek girl pieces. Please check that out.)

Sooooo... Read anything interesting lately?

In case you missed it, I wrote a piece for CNN GeekOut titled "Booth Babes Need Not Apply." In it was a case built against "fake geeks" who are female, who are infiltrating comic conventions and geekdom in general because they enjoy the attention they garner being a female in the company of predominantly male geeks who are traditionally awkward around women.

This is a followup to that piece, intended to address some points made by people across the internet, and issue two apologies. CNN themselves did a roundup of opinions on the piece. Feel free to read that first. I would also like to point anyone who feels I'm a misogynist to my opinions on Daniel Tosh's rape joke, beauty magazine culture and misogyny itself.

First, the apologies

Before I even get started, I need to publicly apologize to the Frag Dolls. I included them in a category of "not real geeks." The reason I did this was not because I don't know who they are. I've been aware of the Frag Dolls since either 2005(ish), when they received tons of negative attention for the mere fact that they exist on Something Awful and Fark. At that time, my feelings were "Wow, that's fantastic -- girls who like games, gathering together so they can play without fear of being attacked by boys just for wanting to play." And very very quickly, they were gaining attention for being "pretty" from boys in the gaming community more than they were being set up as elite female gamers.

Their marketing reflected this. There are lots of portrait shots and focus on the "female" aspect of "female gamer" -- and that's fine.

My issue comes from the fact that gaming is hardly the domain of geeks these days. It's the highest grossing entertainment medium in the world. People line up around the block for every Call of Duty and Madden release. Frat Boys play HALO. Hunters, fishers and gym jocks play games. I wouldn't categorize the majority of them as geeks. They're just gamers. They're the same as moviegoers and book readers.

 To me, being a "girl gamer" is the same as being a "girl moviegoer" or a "girl reader" -- who cares? And their femininity and attractiveness are being used to position them for roles in the geek community merely for the fact that they play video games. Yes, they're extremely good at games. But being a hardcore gamer, to me, is not particularly geeky. For example, my wife will beat you in Tekken. I know this, because I will beat you in Tekken, and my wife beats me routinely -- and I'm fucking GOOD. She also likes Wii Bowling and Super Mario Wii. She is NOT a geek. Not even slightly.

To me, gaming is not geeky. Geeks play games, yes. But gaming itself? Not geeky.

I am clearly wrong on this. 

There was a MASSIVE backlash about my inclusion of the Frag Dolls in the non-geeky category. I had many, many conversations about this with many, many people, and the vast majority said that, while they saw my point on gaming being mass entertainment, there's absolutely a geek quotient to being a hardcore gamer in and of itself. They don't need to play RPGs, fantasy, sci-fi or other geeky categories of games.

It's the same as arguments I've had about Golf or NASCAR being a sport. Just because my subjective opinion and biases don't agree with the point doesn't mean it isn't a point. Gaming, in and of itself, may not be geeky, but the level of commitment it takes to be a hardcore or pro gamer -- even if it's a game that is popular with non-geeks.

For this, I absolutely apologize. It was my viewpoint on an activity, and that viewpoint disagrees with the vast majority of other peoples' opinions. Because of that, I diminished the geekiness of a group of truly geeky girls. And I apologize.

The second apology I will make is to everyone who didn't get that "Booth Babe" is a pejorative used at conventions to describe any guy or girl who doesn't actually care about the industry, the fiction, the fandom or the culture -- they're just there to get attention or a paycheck. I should have been clearer there.

Those two things, could I do the piece over again, would be changed and fixed. And with that said, those are the only apologies I am making.

A breakdown on opinions on the piece

In reading through Twitter, Google News alerts, the comments on CNN and forums and sites that carried the article, opinion seems to be nearly half and half for and against. In both categories, the feedback seems to be nearly 50% women and 50% men. It's fairly evenly split.

From the emails and Facebook opinions I received, these stats change drastically. I received only two negative emails out of 400+ emails from 67% females and 33% males. I think that email tend to be biased, though. Email is usually only sent by people who are either very happy or very angry with things I've written.

But it does tell an interesting tale that of the two emails I received with negative opinions on my article, both did say "I see where you're coming from" and neither were from women. In fact, EVERY SINGLE EMAIL I got from females responding to my article said, in some form or fashion, "Thank you for saying this." They go on to explain that, when women complain about the phenomenon of fake geek girls showing up to conventions for attention, they're accused of being "bitches" or "jealous" or "Ugly Bettys" and that it was refreshing to hear a male call it out.

I was very glad to see that very large number of female readers saw the point of the article: That these poachers and fake geek girls actually demean advancements in the geek culture where women are concerned. They actually hurt the legitimacy of females in geekdom because they're subjugating themselves. They play directly into the hands of the 13 year old male mentality of "OOOH BOOBS!" It's gross and sad. Personally, I look forward to the day that people don't even talk about the fact that a geek can be a girl, because it's long past relevant what gender you are when it comes to the things you like.

For the record: I feel the same way about men who poach women. My wife is a marathoner (and I've even run one myself, and OH MY GOD I'll never do that again). She participates in lots of female-specific events, like Iron Girl and the Nike Women's Marathon. There are men who attend the expos and conferences for these events specifically to hit on women. I feel the same way about them. They're gross.

Engaging in dialog

I tried my best on Twitter to respond to most people, especially those with dissenting or angry opinions. I don't believe in hiding behind my keyboard. I didn't write the piece just to take swipes at people and then slink away.

Last night, I was invited to join MrsViolence and LethalxPrincess on a live Q/A to discuss the article. They were angry and offended, and I wanted to engage in dialog to find out why. It was very uplifting to engage in such a respectful and thorough dialog. I wanted to find out what it was they took offense to, mostly because their critique didn't fall into "YOU JUST HATE WOMEN!" or "LOL U CAN'T GET LAID" types of dislike, and their feelings were in stark contrast to the support I was receiving from other women.

It was a fantastic experience, and I'm very thankful we had the chance to talk and give the topic due attention in front of hundreds of viewers. There was no name calling, there were no wars. We had points and opinions, and we articulated them respectfully. They made me aware of the fact that they were with me all the way up to a certain point in the article (for some, it was the "Booth Babes" overgeneralization and for others, it was calling out the Frag Dolls).

I ALWAYS want to find out what it is people disagree with, when in fact they're disagreeing and not just lobbing random internet insults or trolling. I care a tremendous amount about communicating what it is I'm trying to say. I don't expect (or even want) people to always agree with me, but when they disagree, I like to know why -- if for no other reason than I feel it's always a healthy exercise to discuss and converse. But when I can see that there's an issue with what I wrote being poorly communicated or flat out wrong, I want and need to know those things.

Some responses to paraphrased types of rebuttal I received yesterday

I'm going to lump together types of responses I received yesterday and respond to them in kind:

"I can't see why women would spend hundreds of dollars on costumes to wear to conventions just for attention." 

People spend hundreds of dollars on costumes every year for Halloween, Prom, cotillions, graduation and other events. Those that enter costume competitions can spend into the thousands. The same thing happens at comic, sci-fi, fantasy and gaming conventions, especially those with costume contests.

There's an argument to be made that people who pay that much attention to their costuming and cosplay are geeks simply for the passion they exude, and I can't argue. Being a costuming geek is being a geek.

And then, there's conventions like Dragon*Con, where the Mariott in Atlanta is packed to the gills with scantly-clad women standing around the convention for photo ops, who may not even be dressed as an actual character. Some of them don't even have badges for the convention -- they're just there for the freakshow. I've personally seen this at NYCC, C2E2, WonderCon, Otakon, and other conventions. You don't have to see why, and you don't have to believe it. It happens. I'm not making this up.

"Who are YOU to..."

I'm me.  I'm one of 300,000,000 people living in America, and one of ~7,000,000,000 people on this planet. You can feel free to pay my opinion all the due credit it deserves, which is one person's opinion. I'm no gatekeeper for geek culture. I have no test to administer to judge who is truly geeky. I only have my opinion on the whole thing. I voiced it. If you don't agree with it, you can nullify it by simply not caring.

"You're a mysognist / You hate women / You're a bully / You're a geek who can't get laid (so on and so forth)"

You didn't read the article. Or if you did, you took something out of context and chose to aggrandize it to the point of absurdity. Criticizing a certain type of woman on a certain type of behavior is not hating women, marginalizing women, "slut shaming" or otherwise holding the gender back. It's calling out a type of behavior exhibited by a type of person of a specific gender. I can't help that my being right about what's happening touches on something you're sensitive about.

"What if a pretty girl who isn't a geek wants to come to a convention to see what it's all about?"

GOOD. That's what conventions are for. Gender and subjective measures of attractiveness are irrelevant.

"The Six of Nine thing / ranking women's attractiveness is disgusting."

Eh. It was a Star Trek reference, specifically about Jeri Ryan who knew nothing at all about Star Trek before taking the role as 7 of 9 in Voyager. She's pretty, she took a very geeky role, and now is a geek celeb -- and she's not particularly interested in the culture.

We all judge people, ESPECIALLY on attractiveness. To pretend you're above it is disingenuous at best. We are all predisposed to do two things: find food and fuck. It's biological. The only possible exception to this is Morrissey, who claims to be asexual. You find people attractive. You find some people more attractive than others. If you are 100% honest with yourself, you'll admit that you've thought one person was more or less attractive than another.

Ranking on a scale is simply putting this into words. It was done on purpose. It is not misogynistic, any more than it's feminist when women do it. It is not debasing. It's definitely unpopular. But it was a fantastic play on a Star Trek reference.

Everything else was covered in my article. With the exception of the apology I owed the Frag Dolls and the fact that I wish I'd explained the pejorative "Booth Babe" a little more clearly, I stand by what I wrote.


Why I Surround Myself With Art

I surround myself with art because I get overwhelmed by other people. More than you could possibly know; more than you could possibly imagine.

The artists who make the work I love have already spoken. I've invited them in. I've seen what they wanted me to see and felt what they wanted me to feel, and I loved it. So I brought them to me. I've placed them around me. I've asked for the dialog I have every time I look at one of those magnificent works. They're not near me there because they want something. Their statements aren't intended to manipulate me into feeling something. I'm not being asked to give my time, my attention, my money or my love in return for something promised or something owed. I'm not being asked for anything.

Instead, I get to do the asking. And every time, I'm rewarded. I ask that these beautiful works inspire me, and every time, they do. I ask that the artists who make them understand me, and every time I see their message, they do. I ask that they not hurt me. They don't; they uplift me. They don't overwhelm me. They don't request things. They don't lie. They don't cheat. They don't use their statements to place themselves above me. They don't look down at me.

They are just there. They are just beautiful. They are. And in the moments I look at them with awe and admiration, I am; for I see the potential we all have in us to inspire, to create and to endeavor. And that makes me aware of my own life and my own time. It makes me understand the nature of undertaking tasks simply to achieve them, nothing more.

When I am lied to; when I am bullied and manipulated and ignored and cast away, I look to art. Because art, among all the pain and suffering and the darkest aspects of our human experience, brings a light that shines on the beauty and majesty of the best of our nature.

I love art, because someone else loved an idea enough to bring it to life. I love that we can do that. And so naturally, I love the manifestations of that process. I love that the art speaks to me. I love that it never stops speaking to me. I love that what it says is always something I need and want to hear.

I surround myself with art because, when I feel most ugly, art makes me realize I am beautiful. When the world feels most dirty, art reminds me that it is capable of fantastic and wonderful messages. When I feel the chaos of the world I live in, art brings order and sanity. When I feel locked down and in a rut, art speaks to the wild and free aspects of me which break me out of it.

Art never makes me feel ugly. Art never makes me feel useless. Art never ignores me, even when I go weeks or months not paying attention to it.

Art is the voice that sings within us all; whenever we choose to listen to it.

(Painting by Lenoid Afremov)


More Leg Room! Only $79 And The Tears Of A Child

I have found that it's well worth the $79 dollars to upgrade my seat to the "Economy Comfort" section of Delta. Being 6' 3" and over 300lbs, I'm a tight fit in most seats. The upgraded seats give me somewhere to put my legs, and I can often turn a little sideways to keep my arms and elbows from poking the people next to me. I also like being near the front of the plane so I can get the hell off as soon as possible.

It's not cheap, but in the broad scheme of things, the minimization of my frustration makes everyone else's life so much easier. So it's really a service I pay for to keep everyone else from having to deal with a frustrated, angry, bitter, cramped, pissed off Joe Peacock. It's worth it I believe.

For this flight, I was running late. I was among the last people to board. When I enter any airplane, I immediately start looking for my seat. I do the same thing when I enter a restaurant or movie theater. I suspect we all do this; we like to know where it is we're going to fit. When I got on this plane , there was a kid sitting in my seat. He was next to another kid, and they were both playing with their Nintendo DSs and laughing. I asked the flight attendant what I should do about my seat.

She took my boarding card and approached the seat. Immediately a woman stood up, and explained that she thought it wouldn't be a problem for the two boys to sit together; that he was a friend of the family and was accompanying them to Atlanta, and while they were all NonRev (comped -- either employees of the airline or buddy pass or somehow riding free), they had to pay for his seat and the only one available was many rows back.

When the kid realized what was being discussed, he immediately started turning red in the face and tearing up. It was obvious he wanted to sit next to his friend and have fun, but I think there may have been some separation anxiety mixed in there. I was a kid once; I remember what it was like feeling like I was going to have to be separated from my friend and isolated. To have that happen on a big airplane flying across the country? That's probably a terrifying thought.

I stood there like a gigantic tattooed lummox. I immediately realized what was happening -- I was about to be that gigantic bully who told a kid they couldn't sit next to his friend. It didn't matter that I paid for the upgrade, and that the seat itself is clearly marked with big blue embroidery "Economy Comfort Seat" -- indicating it was a special row. A little boy, probably no older than 12, was about to be told that adults are all dicks and he was going to have to be alone on a five hour flight.

I couldn't let that happen.

When the flight attendant turned to come back and tell me what was going on, I interrupted her. "I heard the story. It's totally fine, I'll move back there."

"Well, they're NonRev," she said, "And you're a paying passenger... You can take the seat if you like."

"No ma'am," I said. "As long as I can get the refund, I'm fine with the other seat."

"Are you sure?" she asked about fifteen times.

"Yes," I said sixteen times.

The family thanked me and the people around the rows who heard the situation all smiled as I passed. I have no idea if I'll get my $79 back. And I also know, having been 12 years old, that the kid has no idea what it means for a 35 year old hulking burly man to give up a paid seat upgrade to sit in a cramped seat farther back down the plane. Right now, he's just relieved that he's with his friend. He was a very polite boy; he said thank you and wasn't a jerk about anything. But the full weight of what it means to sacrifice won't hit him until he's much older.

And that's the point. When he's 35, I hope he remembers what  it means to be 12, and if something like this happens to him, I hope he doesn't start someone else's vacation with a friend's family off on the wrong foot. Not that I'm awesome or super special for taking a different seat on an airline -- I'm still going to get home, and in a few hours I won't remember this aside from knowing it happened. But I absolutely believe that we all owe it to each other in this society to not ruin each others' days.

Although, I do hope Delta gives me my $79 back.

** UPDATE 3:17PM EDT **

The very kind people with @DeltaAssist on Twitter saw my tweet and got me a refund for my upgrade, so that part's done :) Thanks for helping me out, Amber!


The Reason Stupid Middle-Class People Defend Millionaires

Have you ever wondered why middle class folks would stick up for multi-millionaires getting tax breaks, when these rich cats outright lie about needing those tax breaks to create jobs -- leaving you and me to cover what they don't pay? Even after it's been proven time and again that trickle-down economics don't actually work?

It's because they believe that one day, through a system of working their way up the corporate ladder, they themselves will be rich. They sleep with visions of yachts and champagne-filled flutes. They just know that, if they stick with it, God himself will deliver unto them wealth and fortune. And when they are, they don't want their hard earned money taken by the poor and disenfranchised. 

That's not to say they like paying taxes while they're middle class -- they hate it. What's funny is that they don't realize that they are middle class. Sure, they see it on paper when they get their paychecks, but in their heads and hearts, they're tomorrow's millionaires. They don't realize that they're getting slammed with more taxes than they'd have to pay if they wised up and realized that the rich should be responsible for their fair share of taxes. 

As much as I hate those Fight-Club-quoting holier-than-thou pricks who think they have the world figured out because they saw Brad Pitt play a nihilist in a mesh Hustler shirt and think pithy self destruction mottos make you intelligent, there's quote from that film that is absolutely true:
"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won't. "
I am a product of the American Dream TM, but I'm not deluded. I have worked very hard and now, I do pretty alright for myself. But I do not confuse having a comfortable life with thinking I'm wealthy. I drive a beat up white pickup truck and pay cash for what I own. I don't lease new cars or buy 3-series BMWs (or, as I like to call them, "The official vehicle of the $30,000 Millionaire") to keep up some bullshit status I don't actually have. I don't spend beyond my means (because I used to and I know exactly how much trouble that will get you into), and I don't own a home I can't afford. 

I fucking hate paying taxes. Everyone does. We all work hard; we all want to keep what we got. What the Millionaire-defending Middle Class doesn't get is that, by deferring the 1%'s taxes, the other 99% have to take up the slack -- and when it comes to wealth, that 99% doesn't have 99% of the wealth to spend. In fact, the top 1% own 36% of the wealth in America. And yet, they're advocating Mitt Romney, a candidate who paid 13% income tax on an estimated $230 million in wealth.

Why? Because in their heads, they're the next Mitt. Hey, it could happen. This is America, right? Work hard, pay your dues, and some day off in the future, you'll be rich too. Too bad it's a day that you can't actually envision because you have absolutely no plan to get there. But when they there -- not if, because this is AMERICA and you're guaranteed your DREAM -- you don't want to be stuck with a bigger bill than the plebs beneath you. You worked hard. You deserve a (tax) break.

Fucking bullshit. 

While I hate paying taxes and refuse to do so with a smile on my face, I don't advocate deferment from my tax bracket. I accept that I make a decent living, and should throw into the national kitty accordingly. I pay for the schools in my state, even though I don't have children. I fund medicare and medicaid, even though I'm not on those benefits. I pay to improve roads I'll never drive on. I fund the EMS and Fire departments that service neighborhoods I don't live in. Because that's part of having a working and functioning society. Even Jesus Christ knew that back when he was alive, saying "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's..." 

Next time you're arguing with a Middle Class Millionaire, take a minute to read between the lines. Is this person attempting to argue their current state, or the state of a position they long to be in? 

(An interesting corollary: it's no accident that the vast majority of Middle Class Millionaires I've run into are also self-professed Christians. Apparently, belief in a divine reward guaranteed you by promises based on pure belief transcends into finances as well. Sad that they choose this line of thinking instead of the one actually taught and professed by Jesus, which advocated tending to the sick and needy.)

From my Facebook pal Paul Cummings: Check out the Horatio Alger myth


Romney Got Screwed By The Corporations He Loves (Yep, I'm Defending Romney)

Ok, Republican friends: Here's a flat out open defense of the Romney campaign. You constantly demand that I give equal time to Republican agendas, because some of you think I'm an evil green Liberal. Well, here's where's my "Liberalism" (which is actually simply Constitutionality sprinkled with some common sense) actually benefits you.

You may have seen this commercial where Mitt sings America The Beautiful, played over scenes of empty factories with newspaper clippings reporting Romney shipping jobs overseas as Governor, having millions in offshore accounts, and otherwise gutting the American workforce:

It's one hell of an effective ad, and the creative minds behind it should be applauded (even if you hate them, because that shit is genius).

To rebut, Romney's folks came back at Obama by releasing an ad showing Barack singing Al Green's "Let Stay Together" (poorly) at a campaign stop:

OOPS. You can't watch it. Sorry about that. Why? Because BMG, the song's intellectual proprietor, issued a copyright claim to kill it.

As Boing Boing said:
Romney's campaign claims that this is bullshit, because their deployment of the Obama footage is fair use. You know what? They are damned right about that.
So why is this a defense of the Romney campaign? Because their rights are being trampled by big corporate American nonsense. It's definitely irony of the highest degree that the pro-corporation, pro-capitalist candidate is being unfairly censored by a corporation for capitalist reasons. But that doesn't make it okay.

Fair use as described by Wikipedia:
Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work under a four-factor balancing test.
 The balancing test:

17 U.S.C. § 107
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:
  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.[2]

The Romney campaign was well within its rights to use Obama singing Let's Stay Together as a commentary on Obama's performance of the song. The performance by Obama does not reasonably impact the potential market for the song. Sony BMG's takedown notice is yet another instance of corporations using their weight to step on the toes of anyone and everyone they feel like swatting at.

Personally, I feel that the whole notion of "innocent until proven guilty" has flown out the window where corporations dealing with the public are concerned. Of course, Google is well within it's rights per the Terms of Use on YouTube to take down whatever the hell it wants. It's not a court of law.

But it's not right.

At this point in our development as a nation and as a people, the internet has become not just a viable medium for communication, but the de facto source of information, entertainment, companionship and communication between friends for billions of people. Of course, under current copyright law (which is broken beyond belief in the modern era see thisthisthis, and if nothing else, please read this -- but nothing I linked to is written or stated by wackos, these are intelligent scholars making fantastic points), corporations who publish content need to respond to blatant copyright violations. But things have become so reactive that, when a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice is filed, corporations shoot first. They don't even bother to ask questions later -- it's up to YOU to go prove to them you didn't violate copyright... Even when you own the video and music, and Jay Leno airs it on his show, then files a DMCA notice against you and effectively steals it from you.

I'm not a fan of Romney, but I am absolutely aghast at how his ad has been nuked because Sony felt like it. The irony may be delicious for those who are anti-Romney -- but the injustice is still an injustice.


So I'm The Dick?

I've got a question for you all. It's kind of an existential question about dicks, and if I am one. I'd appreciate your input.

Today, I got an email from a guy I don't really know. We were both on a mailing list in the early / mid 2000's for a website that posted links to satire news stories. He was announcing his new project. I won't mention who or what the project was, because I'm not trying to call the wrong kind of attention to anyone.

His email was addressed to 25 people, all of who were listed in the TO: field -- he didn't put them in the BCC field, which I believe etiquette dictates should be done, because he just exposed my email address to the list of people he was communicating with. His message read:
I'm just sending one (and only one) email to let people know that [the new project] is done. It started out as audio only, and I still am going to release it as a podcast, but I thought it would work well in this format as well. Please take a gander and share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter if you like it. Have a great day! [ Link to project ]

I replied:

You're welcome for me not berating the absolute shit out of you for not only spamming, but also not putting everyone's email in a BCC. It's your fail they are getting this reply-all. Have a great day yourself!

 Within minutes, I got a few emails from 3 people saying I was a dick, and that I overreacted. I also got emails from 2 people saying his faux pas pissed them off as well. A good friend of mine called me on it, and said I was too harsh; that he was working his connections and that I shouldn't have shamed him in public.

My feelings:

He wasn't a "connection" -- I didn't know the guy at all, it just so happened I was on a list back in the day he was on. I feel he wasn't trying to share a link with a friend, he was trying to get someone with a voice to share his project. He wasn't concerned with my thoughts, he wanted shares on Facebook and Twitter. But that wouldn't have been so bad if that's all it was. But he put my email address in the TO field along with everyone else's, exposing my email address. It pissed me off, and I reacted.

The question: did I overreact?  Was I the dick? Or did he deserve a shaming?


Some Clarity And Updates To The Whole Tosh Thing

A few points of disambiguation from yesterday's post, Wouldn't It Be Funny If Daniel Tosh Got Raped By, Like, Five Guys Right Now?:

  • When I wrote about unfriending me and getting out of my life, I didn't mean "If you disagree with my opinion, unfriend me" -- that's unreasonable and frankly stupid. What I mean is "If you think it's okay that Tosh suggest a woman be gang raped for speaking during his performance, unfriend me." And I mean it. That shit is gross.
  • The woman was wrong to heckle. Heckling is impolite and stupid. No one paid to see the heckler, they paid to see the performer, and to heckle is to bring upon yourself the full attention of both the comedian and the audience. Hecklers deserve to be berated, made fun of, and put in their place. Saying that it would be funny to rape a woman who heckles? That's not putting anyone in their place. That's not showing them up. That's an incitement to a physical violation.
  • The heckler hasn't "won" because Tosh is being admonished. Tosh lost when he suggested she be gang-raped. It's a very important distinction. What she did was wrong. What Tosh did was worse, and he was the victim all the way up until he went too far. An allegory: In the very legendary Holyfield vs. Tyson fight, Holyfield was seen slipping headbutts to Tyson, which is cheating according to the rules. Tyson headbutted, elbowed and rabbit-punched his entire career. It's documented and much discussed. He found ways to slip blows in when he could. And that's actually common in every sport. So Holyfield was playing on the same playing field. When Tyson couldn't get the ref to stop Holyfield's headbutting, he bit the guy's ear off. If he'd returned a headbutt with a knockout, or some sly elbows and forearms to the face as was his manor in the day, that would have been "fair" -- but to bite the guy's ear off? That's extreme and wrong. Tyson was disqualified. Holyfield didn't win that fight, Tyson lost it.
  • I believe in "Total Warfare" -- if someone thinks they can take liberties with you, your loved ones, your possessions -- you leave them no doubt they cannot. You strike back in a severe, indisputable manner that will show not only them but anyone watching that they cannot get away with it. But even in that space, there's limits. If a person slaps you, you don't stab them in the temple with an icepick.
  • Sure, there are funny jokes by funny comedians involving the WORD "rape." The word itself being abstracted out or used in a funny manner? That's not the same thing as suggesting a woman be raped. The issue here isn't the word, it's the action. And suggesting a woman be raped is never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER funny. Ever.

Additionally, There are some updates to the situation as a whole:

Melissa McEwan posted the following on Shakesville, described as "A feminist blog and a feminist's blog".  I feel the research and information is valuable. I've left the reference links in tact:

Two things arrived in my inbox this morning giving yet more context to Daniel Tosh's fondness for rape humor:

1. Liberate Zealot forwarded this description of a video that aired in June of last year on Tosh.0,which depicted a penetrative rape. Please note the description describes the sexual assault. Liberate Zealot has a screen capture of the show on which it aired, showing Tosh grinning while watching the video of the assault, here.

2. Shaker QLH forwarded this piece of news about the pilot episode of Daniel Tosh's new animated series: 

RumorFix has learned exclusively that producers and editors are scrambling to take out any reference to rape in the pilot episode of Daniel Tosh's new animated series, Brickleberry.

Production sources tell RumorFix that Tosh has given them just over 24 hours to make the changes — because the series is scheduled to be shown at Comic-Con in San Diego Friday night.

"Everyone is freaking out, because most of the pilot is about rape," our source says.
Emphasis mine.

I will say again: Daniel Tosh is not merely a comic who asserts his right to tell rape jokes; he is an enforcer of the rape culture.

UPDATE: Rachel S tweeted me another segment that aired on Tosh.0 in which Daniel Tosh exhorted men to touch women without their consent. The video is here, which I have transcribed in its entirety:

Before we go, I'm excited to introduce to you a new segment called "Lightly Touching Women's Stomachs While They're Sitting Down." [laughter] Okay, it's not what you think—this is where you sneak up behind women who are sitting down and lightly put your hand on their stomach. [laughter] Make sure she's aware that you are in fact feeling a roll. [cut to video clip montage of Daniel Tosh sneaking up on three young, conventionally attractive women and feeling their stomachs before walking away, grinning; the first woman looks super uncomfortable; the second woman laughs uncomfortably; the third woman covers her belly and asks plaintively: "Why are you touching my tummy? Don't ever touch my tummy!"] Okay, guys—during our break, I need you to film yourself lighting touching women's stomachs while they're sitting down. But be careful! Because they like to pretend like they don't love it!
Rape culture is not just actual acts of sexual violence. It is a spectrum of hostility to consent, and it is a collection of narratives that normalize and encourage hostility to consent, like woman really mean yes even when they're saying no.


Wouldn't It Be Funny If Daniel Tosh Got Raped By, Like, Five Guys Right Now?

In case you haven't heard (or read the original story) about Daniel Tosh suggesting it would be funny if a woman got gang-raped because she spoke out during his act, let me brief you:

Girl goes out with friends to a Dane Cook / Daniel Tosh show. Girl doesn't know who Tosh is. Tosh says that rape jokes are always funny, repetitively. Girl speaks up from the crowd -- I'll even say heckles -- saying they're not. Tosh then says, "Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…" 

Now, I don't talk much about my professional career on this blog, but I have worked with comedians in video, commercials, skit comedy, writing and other professional engagements for over 10 years. I hate hecklers. I believe with all my heart that, when hecklers insert themselves into an act, they deserve what they get. It's bad behavior.

When this girl interrupted the act, she set herself up to be a target, yes. That doesn't make her wrong -- I happen to agree with her, and I will tell you point blank that I don't think she was wrong for speaking her mind. But she DID insert herself in the act; she did put herself in the path of retribution.

Had Tosh responded with literally anything other than a suggestion that she be gang-raped, it would have probably just been yet another heckler getting what they deserved. But he didn't. What Daniel Tosh did say? In case you didn't fully digest it the first time, the guy actually said, "Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…" That's not retribution, it was fucking disgusting. It's at that point that there is no defense.

I am reading things that people are saying about this incident:
"She's a professional victim."
"She paid to see Dane Cook and Daniel Tosh; she knew what she was getting into."
"She deserved it."
"She was asking for it."
Well that makes it all ok then, does it? Or, maybe it doesn't and you're a sick fuck for thinking that. You know what you sound like?
"She shouldn't have walked down that dark street at night."
"She led him on. She deserved it."
"She said 'No' but she really meant 'Yes.'"
"She was asking for it."
Let me be very, very clear on this point. If you think that she deserved to hear that she should be gang-raped in return for saying rape jokes aren't funny, I honestly, seriously, earnestly, from the bottom of my heart want you to GO FUCK YOURSELF. Get off my Twitter list. Unfriend me on Facebook. Stop reading my blog. Get the fuck out of my life. I'm not kidding.

Look: there are lines. Raping women? That's one of them. Michael Richards calling black people "nigger" as a retort? That's another one. Hitting someone in the face because they heckle you? There's another.

This shit is not okay. Never ever. There's an argument that Tosh was trying to prove how bad rape jokes are by being ironic; harping on how funny rape jokes are because he actually believes they aren't, and he was being hyperbolic. The problem is, the guy isn't gifted enough to play with nuance. He's a terrible comedian. He goes for low-hanging fruit. That look on his face after every joke; Like a 13 year old in front of a bunch of 16 year olds, trying way too hard to be funny by telling lame dick jokes, hoping they found him funny... He's just not a gifted comedian.

If you want to play the hyperbolic-excess-to-prove-how-bad-it-actually-is card, have the skills to do it. Tosh doesn't. As a comedian, you're supposed to be in control and in charge. You're supposed to be smarter and funnier than those in the audience. If you're so fucking funny and smart, win with wit and humor. See Galifianakis, Bill Hicks, George Carlin, Jerry Seinfield, and others. In fact, watch this to see how it's done:

Or, if you're a simpleton frat boy lowest-common-denominator mongoloid dick, use rape and racial epithets. Your contemporaries will love you.

It's simple: heckling sucks, and hecklers deserve punishment. But actual pros will tell you this: if you can't handle interruptions from the public, DON'T FUCKING WORK IN PUBLIC. If you behave like those who are supposedly so beneath you, suddenly you're eye level with them. You don't win, you actually lose.

Jokes about raping women just aren't funny. Actually suggesting that it'd be funny if one man, much less five men, raped a woman in retribution for anything whatsoever? That's disgusting.

End. Of. Fucking. Story.


Why The FUCK Are You Following @MiracleWhip On Twitter?!?

Seriously? 18,000+ of you follow @MiracleWhip on Twitter? You actually follow a condiment? On Twitter?


What the FUCK could they possibly say on Twitter that you don't already know by watching any given hour of television programming, where their commercials appear incessantly?

"We're so #Tangy!"

"#Spread us on your #meat!"

Come on. It's a goddamn condiment -- and not a very good one, either. The stuff tastes like whipped glue and salt. It's depressing enough to know that people eat that shit to begin with. But to think that they're so excited about the prospect of finding out what anyone affiliated with Miracle Whip has to say to the point of signing up for their alerts and feed? That scares me.

I mean, seriously -- it's a corporate shill account created to communicate the brand's identity to society at large vis a vis the dedicated brand-aware social networker whatever blah blah shut the fuck up. It's pseudo-mayo. It's yucky. And it's TALKING TO US ON TWITTER AND I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY ANYONE WOULD LISTEN.

I think that The Oatmeal sums up my thoughts on Miracle Whip quite nicely:

Fucking Miracle Whip... Seriously.


My Thoughts About The Twilight Fan Who Died At SDCC

The title of this post is a bit misleading.

It's not really my thoughts about the fan that died at SDCC, a 53 year old woman whose name was Gisela G. AKA @mad4hugh on Twitter where her bio describes her as "Lover of in no particular order: Twilight books, movies, etc., Hugh Jackman, Robert Pattinson, travelling, NYC, Australlia, cats...."; a real life person who spent two days waiting in line for a panel on the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2; she left her spot (most likely to get a bite to eat or a drink), saw that they were moving the line, and rushed to get back into the line before her spot -- and 2 days of waiting -- was lost; she couldn't stop in time to avoid a car, fell in front of it, was struck, bled from the head and died on the way to the hospital.

It's about the people who think it's funny to make fun of her death.

Let's perform an experiment, shall we? What if it was Joe Peacock, AKA @joethepeacock on Twitter, where his bio describes him as "That Art of Akira Guy"; a real life person who spent two days waiting in line for to get a spot on a panel about Akira, where Katsuhiro Otomo, his lifelong inspiration and hero, was finally going to appear in America and Joe would have the chance to finally meet him;  left his spot (most likely to potty), saw that they were moving the line, and rushed to get back into the line before his spot -- and 2 days of waiting -- was lost; he couldn't stop in time to avoid a car, fell in front of it, was struck, bled from the head and died on the way to the hospital.

Aside from the smartasses who are going to say "thank God!" as a nice jab at me (and I don't mind), think about it for a second. Take any reference about "Twilight" out of her story and it's a tragedy. Put it in, and it's a punchline. Make the story about someone you know and (hopefully) like, and things change a bit, don't they?

Personally, I hate Twilight, and think the fans are into something stupid. I make no bones about that. But that woman has a family and 53 years worth of relationships. She had a passion. She was living that passion and showing her dedication to something she loved. She died in a terrible accident. It could just as easily have been me if Otomo hadn't cancelled.

Make the jokes you see fit to make. Just think about what I stated when you do, and see if you can get past that yucky, dark, greasy feeling that just set in your stomach. It's your soul. A part of it just died and leaked into your gut, because you know you're wrong.

And if you think this is the same thing as me making jabs at Whitney Houston or Amy Winehouse, you're simply trying to justify your bullshit. You KNOW there's a difference between public figures making their living on the public, living in public, thriving on publicity, who misbehave and die in public from drug overdoses, and this woman who slipped and fell and died in a terrible accident.