Friday, December 9, 2011

Movie Night: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 I think is the best movie of them all, maybe it's because they've all come into their own, maybe it was the pacing, maybe the action. The special effects where top notch as well, really quite awesome even compared to the previous moves. But whatever it was, this was the best of the bunch. Seems the critics agree across the board as well, and it's rare I ever agree with the critics. 

Finally the kids are not kids anymore, and all the sub-plots come to an end, course since it's the last one they had too. All the kids are finally treated as adults, and they fight dirty and hard. If you haven't read the books there are surprises after surprises. They almost waited too long, and the actors all had gotten just a little too much older, but it by no way took away from the movie. 

This was by all mean a dark movie, and the series had moved away from being true "kids" stories books ago. It's ruff, it's gritty, most of the actors are dirty and injured somewhat during the whole movie. This movie had a great amount of attitude, and it made for an enjoyable experience.  I may even watch it again.

I do wonder how well it would come across to someone who hadn't seen the other movies or read the books. It doesn't spend any time with back story, but just jumps right into the current action. It assumes you already know the story. I think this movie would be 10x better if watched right after the other 7. The amazing thing about this series is that it's the only big budget, blockbuster movie series to feature 8 movies total, all comprising one long story. The closest Epic would be Starwars at 6, and they were made out of order, and the feel and quality from the first three to the last three were vastly different. However I can't say all the Harry Potter movies were perfect either, Part 1 of the Deathly Hollows really let me down, it was far too slow, it feels like 80% of the story and goodness was in part 2, but they had too much for a single movie. So Part 1 got 20% content, and 80% fluff.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bullying in the modern age....and why kids die.

Bullying is nothing new. As long as there have been kids bigger then other kids, and as long as there has been kids who needed to make others feel small to make themselves feel big, there has been bullying. I'm not really completely sure if bullying is getting worse, in fact I believe it maybe getting somewhat better then in the past, the difference is how the bullied react as apposed to the past.

Here are some Bullying Statistics you might find interesting. You can follow the link to get the full rundown, but here's a summary. 60%  of kids feel bullied, but only 16% of staff at schools feel kids are bullied. Right off the bat we see one of the big problems. Denial by the institutions we send our kids to. The thing is, most bullies have figured out how to do what they do where staff can't see. Out of sight, out of mind. Another problem is many school bullies are not the rough lugs they later become, but in school they are often well liked by the teachers, and are often involved in school sports and other programs. (However the statistics above show they often end up in jail, and even become life time criminals) The staff sees them as outstanding students, but once a teachers back is turned they become monsters.

And the more they get away with it, the more they do it, because they can. They don't pick on just the small, "nerdy" kids, they study the pack and figure out the ones the staff DOESN'T like, and are less likely to believe. Or the ones they can scare to the point they would never tell. The entire school system is prone to ignoring the pleas of "problem" students. When it comes down to the word of the "popular, well liked" student, and the "outcast", who is most often believed? I've seen bullying ENCOURAGED in school by certain staff if it was their star players or students picking on the non-popular kids. Bullies become teachers too, and let it go on under their noses sometimes, it's what they did when THEY were in school and think it's the right of the "upper crust" to keep the "under crust" in it's place.

25% of students felt staff did something when there was bullying, 71% of staff believed they did something. Once again it goes to show just how little the staff of our schools really know and understand what's going on around them. 66% of school shootings have had bullying as a factor. So why has bullying turned so deadly in the last 20-30 years or so??? It's always been there, but why are the bullied now bringing guns to school to settle the score??

The question is a complex one, but one of the main reasons I feel we are seeing an increase in retaliation against bullies and other kids in schools is because of pride and self worth. These aren't a bad thing in and of themselves, but can turn deadly when things are brushed under the rug because it's just "kids". Kids are growing up faster then ever, adults know if they attack other adults there's a chance someone is going to die. But with kids it's assumed it won't get to that point... but why is that??? What makes people think that just because they are kids that they won't try and react as an adult would? Kids are often taking care of themselves now at an early age, having to grow up and learn how to be responsible. Mom and Dad are often at work now, because people just can't live on single incomes anymore. Or even as often, it's a single parent trying to provide like a couple would. Long hours, late nights, and often kids are learning faster, and taking on more at an early age.

In the past, kids who were bullied might try and fight back, till one time they won. Or they might have just taken it, and grown up to be the timid and picked on adult. But the path of just giving in, and letting the bully win is becoming harder and harder for kids to swallow, they have more self worth than that now, and won't live like that. If they can't beat them back with their fist, and if they feel the school or the parents aren't doing anything, they will take care of it themselves. Somehow they will make it stop. However they can.  And the next thing you know you have dead bullies. And often others as well, sometimes it's also the kids who stood around and laughed, or just the one's who watched and did nothing who get the busy end of the gun pointed their way. Sometimes it's just random people, because NO ONE helped or did anything to stop the pain. So everyone must pay. Bullying doesn't cause just physical damage, but emotional damage as well. Deep un-healing wounds in some.

The biggest problem is the old school thinking that it's just "kids being kids". It's just simply not that simple anymore, beaten down kids no longer have to stay on the ground eating dirt. It may ruin their own lives, and others as well, but they know they don't HAVE to just take it, if no one else can or will, they can make it stop. They don't have to let someone else make them feel like nothing, make them a laughing stock. They will show them, show them ALL!! And the next thing you know kids are dead.

If schools would just change their thinking it could almost all be avoided. Zero tolerance schools are a good start, but everyone has to make stopping the bullying priority number one. Not even one singe kid should have to live in fear, or should have to be made to feel less then anyone else because of the others ability to "beat them up, or put them down". And if the schools react, and take care of the problems, then no one has to die. They have to be proactive, not every kid is going to report bullying, some will fear retaliation, humiliation, or not being believed. Schools are great about treating students in disrespectful ways, and ignoring what they don't want to deal with.

Parents also need to try and make sure their kids feel safe coming to them with these kinds of things. Parents don't get the chance like teachers do to see it happening, but if your kids are comfortable sharing with you, then they should let you know if this kind of stuff is going on. Sometimes it still may be to embarrassing for the child to admit. Then look for signs of wanting to avoid school, or certain people in school. Depression and sadness could also be hints. If your kid comes to you, or if you suspect, you MUST do something, drastic if need be. If the school won't do anything, pull your kid out of school and demand a review of the board, go to the papers, raise hell. Let your kid know YOU care, even if no one else does, and that it won't be tolerated!!!

And for the 33% of school shootings that AREN'T bullying related? In part you can blame the media, not directly, but indirectly. If a kid is thinking of taking their own life, what better way to be remembered for all time then by going down in a blaze of glory? And they may not have been bullied, but often they are outcast, tormented by other student in other ways then physical, sometimes just by exclusion. Then you add in a broken heart, hurt feelings, rejection, or other extreme emotional pain and there is no telling what crazy stuff a kid might do. Almost all either take their own life directly, or do "suicide by cop". Often after taking as many of their tormentors, or random victims, along as possible.

There isn't much you can do about the emotionally unstable. Almost all teenagers could be considered to fall into the category at one time or another. But you can try and pay as much attention to the triggers of these types of behaviors as possible. You can't stop hurt feelings, and you can't stop teenagers breaking each others hearts, but you can stop the bullying and tormenting. Zero tolerance, even from staff, and a policy of dismissal of any staff that doesn't act on knowledge of possible bullying or tormenting, is a great first step. The best way to make sure people are paying attention is to make sure that not paying attention has too high a cost to risk it. Because in the end it does, for everyone. Unforgivably the death of many kids hasn't been enough cost for the institutions yet, but maybe hitting their wallet would serve better?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

From the ashes sometimes Rises the Phoenix

So many people walk around blind to the truth and brainwashed beyond reason. And far too many walk around claiming to the world how they, and only they, walk in the light, while everything they do cast a shadow across all of mankind. In questions of good and evil, they believe they serve the forces of good, while their actions and all they do sows the seeds of evil.  

I walked on wild side from about 15-27. Aside from murder, theft from individuals, and violent crimes, I've pretty much done it. I was raised very middle class, Christian, and conservative. There is nothing wrong with any of these things, except that all too often it becomes a trap. People seem to start thinking it's the ONLY way, and any other way is wrong, sinful, or criminal. Not that there are not other classes, or views, that do exactly the same thing, but I can only speak to what I know.

My walk "outside" the norms I was raised into really opened my eyes to just how much more there is in the world other then the "truths" I knew and had always been taught. Even though that period of my life was a wild roller coaster ride, I've never regretted a moment of it, or the people I met or the experiences I had, even when they were unpleasant. I've seen the roughest, toughest, most tattoo'd man show the greatest kindnesses I've ever known. Or I've seen those with nothing, give all the have to help another. I've seen those who claim to hate God act more like Christ then any preacher I've ever known. And I've seen the reverse as well. 

In my adventures I never harmed another person, except maybe myself at times, is some peoples opinion at least. I never saw any of it as harm, but experiences to help me grow, and expanding of my limited viewpoint. I tried anything that was different, or outside the "norm". I never shied away from any...aids.... in expanding the reality I knew, and tried everything I could get my hands on at least once. If it was a boundary, I crossed it. If it was a wall I climbed it. If it was a door, I opened it. And would do it all again without reservations. All these experiences added up to the person I became, the man I am. And I like this person I am, I'm comfortable in my own skin, and I'm proud of my traveled soul. And I owe it all to throwing away preconceived notions and finding my OWN truths, not another's truths. And the only way to find, is to look EVERYWHERE, if you don't then you haven't looked at all. 

I did return more to the values and...calmness... of my early life. I settled down when Race was born, when I was 27. Now my wife says she married "boring" Justin...LOL. She sometimes wishes I still had some of that wild streak, but I'm pretty tame anymore. I sowed my wild oats, and loved every minute of it. But it took too much effort, and was far to hard to be stable while adventuring. Adventuring, and steady work, often conflict. You have to be free to live free, and things like work and money have to take a back seat to the thrill of new experiences, people, and situations. But when you have a family to provide for, the priorities change, at least for me. 

I'm still as open minded as ever, and I will always have my broadened horizons. There were nights (it always seemed to be nights) of my life where after the fires died down, I emerged forever a changed person, shaped and tempered by the flames. And maybe a little singed around the edges, but all for the better. Those things changed me forever, and I am now cooled down and molded, but of soft supple steel that can bend and give, not cast of brittle and unmovable iron. 

What I've learned in my travels is that there really is no good in black or white, but the world is really best when full of shades of gray. The best place to be is astride the line running down the Yin-Yang, because moving too far from the middle blinds and warps a mind and soul. Some of the greatest evils ever visited upon the earth were done in the name of "good", and some of the most evil intentions have resulted in great "goodness". But once you wander too much from the middle, nothing but pain and misery follow, if not of the one who wandered, then for others, often many others. Sometimes the whole world. All things are best in balance....all things!!!!

I'm not saying my methods would, or even should, work for everyone, or really anyone else. It was my path, and my path alone, even while I shared it awhile with others. Some of those others I've also seen changed and molded by our experiences, and mostly for the better. But it wasn't a path for the weak minded or weak souled, some people are consumed or warped by the flames. You see them sometimes, the broken, the "burned out", the corrupted. Some of the worst become the users, destroyers, the ones we think of as evil, those that have wondered far from the balance. The ones for whom violence is the only answer, or taking what should be others for themselves, the greedy, the lost. Those that climb to the top on the broken backs of others they used up and tossed aside. You see them from the back alleys of the meanest streets, to the offices of wall street, to capitol hill. The warped and lost are not by any means cast to the bottom of society, they also rise to the top..... I often wonder what that says about society as a whole???