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- Tales of Jack
You’re an 18-35 year old male. Your job is physical in nature. Maybe you work construction. You’ve got a wife. Kids. You work hard. You make okay money but the bills aren’t getting any cheaper and the wife and kids sometimes seem to spend it faster than you can make it.
The combination of trying to be a good Dad, trying to be a good husband, and trying to make ends meet is daunting in the best of circumstances. It only makes sense that you might have a drink or two at the end of your day. Maybe you smoke cigarettes or pot. Maybe on the weekend you try some harder drugs.
You tell yourself you deserve it. You tell yourself it’s just how you cope with day to day life. One day things do not go your way. Your boss is being an asshole. Some coworker fails to do his job which messes up your job. You go to the bar and have a few after work. You get home. Your wife is mad that you got drunk. She’s mad at the money you’re spending which reminds you how much money she’s spending. The argument gets loud. Maybe you hit her. Maybe you don’t. Either way, some neighbors call the police. In the state of Washington police responding to a domestic dispute arrest whoever they determine to be the aggressor. More often than not, it will be the male. So the next thing you know you’ve been arrested. The charge is Assault 4 Domestic Violence. If you managed to break anything in your house you’ll probably be charged with Malicious Mischief. Your bail is $1,000 no bond. That means you’ve got to come up with $1,000 cash to get out. You don’t have $1,000 laying around and neither do your friends. One day a prosecutor shows up to your cell and tells you that you can leave jail and not only will you be free, but the prosecutor says he won’t even seek any more jail time. All you have to do is plead guilty.
So you plead guilty. You figure that will be the end of it. You’ll get out. The prosecutor gets another conviction. Everyone’s happy. But then they tell you you’ll have to go for a Domestic Violence Evaluation. You don’t think much of it because it’s gotta be better than jail. You get out of jail. You might find that while you were in jail you discover that there is now a no contact order that does not allow you any contact with your wife. You literally can’t go home. You also can’t talk to, call, email, or text your wife. You can’t tell someone to tell her something. Any of that would be considering a violation of the no contact order which would result in more charges, possibly more jail time, and worst of all, it will establish a pattern which increases the chances of significant penalties for your actions. If you’re unlucky and sent a bunch of texts to her, an overzealous prosecutor may make each text a separate charge. If you want any of your stuff from the house, you’re going to have to have the police there with you.
With luck, maybe your wife wants to have the no contact order lowered or removed. If not, then you need to find a place of your own and that’s not going to be easy because when a prospective landlord does a background check on you they’re going to see an assault charge and probably have no idea that it might have simply been a loud argument. There’s also the part where if you spent any length of time in jail before getting out, you may or may not have a job to come back to making it even more difficult.
You get yourself squared away. Maybe your friend has a spare bedroom. Maybe your wife wants the No Contact Order lifted but it can’t happen until you get that Domestic Violence Evaluation.
So you go to the evaluation. You learn it’s not free and that you have to pay out of pocket for just about everything that happens at this agency. A counselor asks you what happened. You tell your story. You try to remain calm. You try to explain how everything you did was entirely reasonable given the circumstances. You tell the counselor how you are not a violent person. When you hear that the counselor is going to talk to your wife (who the counselor calls ‘the victim’), you aren’t sure what she might say and so you mention that she likes to make stuff up.
You find out that when this is done, you will at the very least end up with an 8-hour anger management class or at the very most a full year of attending domestic violence group therapy. There will be random drug tests. Each of these things is going to cost between $30-$60 depending on where you’re going and how much money you make.
You also find out that while you are in the program you are to remain alcohol and drug free. You learn that any random drug test that comes back positive will mean three additional months of the program. You learn that failure to show up to the required classes can result in unfavorable reports going to the court which may or may not result in you going back to jail. You may also learn that successful completion of the course is required before any lifting of the No Contact Order can be implemented no matter what you or your wife want.
If you are incredibly unlucky and have managed to lose your home and your job during the course of this, you may find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing to come up with money for your weekly classes simply to avoid going back to jail all while trying to find housing and a job with a background check that says you assault people.
I have been working for an agency that treats domestic violence perpetrators for eight months. I’m an anger management counselor. If you lack a pattern of criminal activity, did not have charges that were all that serious, or did something that was reasonable but illegal, you may find yourself in a class like I run. The scenario I described above is the most common sort of client I encounter. The details change, but the overall story often remains much the same. Knowing that I do my best to treat my clients with a level or respect and care that most of this system lacks. I do not do this because the clients deserve it. I do it because no one learns much from someone who does not respect them and I would like to help. But I also cannot pretend the system is not broken.
I tell clients that I got into this field to help people and that I will do the absolute best I can to help them get through this uncomfortable and sometimes outright horrifying stage of their life. I also tell them that if I fail to help I will at the very least make this portion of the process as painless as possible because treatment and training should never be punishment. My job is not to punish. It’s to help.
I can see how what I have written may be considered taking the attacker’s side. It’s not. I am showing the attacker’s perspective. Domestic violence is a serious, dangerous, and all too often life-endangering occurrence. Reporting domestic violence can literally be the difference between life and death. It is for this reason that I feel so strongly that we need to provide ongoing support and help for domestic violence victims and perpetrators. I feel we can do much better than what we do now. Hopefully I can be a small part of making those necessary changes.
– Jack Cameron
A few years ago a friend of mine invited me out to lunch to talk about a Kickstarter campaign he wanted to do. I did some research and gave him my thoughts on crowd funding in general and what I felt would make a compelling and successful Kickstarter campaign. He succeeded in raising over $100,000. Since then I have consulted on dozens of projects. These consultations have been everything from a quick once-over to fully controlling the entire campaign. In every case, the campaigns I worked on succeeded.
Initially this seemed like a promising thing. If my advice was helping these people succeed in making thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of dollars, maybe I could make a few bucks of my own consulting on Kickstarter campaigns. Unfortunately, the one problem with this is that most individuals who are launching Kickstarter campaigns do not have money to spare for a ‘Kickstarter Consultant’. Often when talking to potential clients they would be incredibly generous and passionate about the project and my working on it until I mentioned wanting to be paid for my work.
This led me to create Kickstart Your Kickstarter which is now available through Amazon.com. This simple e-book is much of my Kickstarter expertise distilled down into an easy e-book with just the necessary information one might want if they were going to start a Kickstarter campaign. And because I know that Kickstarter creators rarely have money, I’m selling this short little e-book for 99 cents.
I will not get rich selling this book, but you may very well get rich after reading it.
– Jack Cameron
As some of you know, I recently started driving in Tacoma for Uber. Many people want to know what my experience has been like and I figure this is the best way to tell everyone all at once. What I’m going to do here is tell you the process I went through. If you are interested in becoming an Uber driver yourself, there is a link at the bottom of the article. Click it. If you use that link and become an Uber driver you and I BOTH get at least $100 after your 40th ride. It’s a referral bonus.
I became interested in Uber for two reasons. One was that I needed a new car. The other was that I needed a job where I could make my own hours. Uber has such a need for drivers that they have a program called Xchange Leasing where you can lease a car that qualifies for Uber through a participating dealership. You can apply for the program through the link at the bottom of this article. Once you apply, they will tell you whether or not you’ve been approved in a day or two. Even if you have bad credit you’re likely to be approved. There’s a chance you will only be approved for a car that is already in the program. This will limit your options, but as long as you’re patient, you should be able to find a car that suits your needs. I’m currently driving a 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.
The way the lease works is that every week when you get paid, Uber automatically takes out the payment for your leased car. (Typically between $135-$175 a week.) If you make less than the payment amount any given week you can pay it directly or pay it the following week. You do not want to get more than a week or so behind on payments. There are a couple of things that make Uber’s lease different from most car leases. One is that there is no mileage cap. This is understandable as Uber would like you to drive as much as possible. The other is that after the first 30 days if you need or want to return the car, you can do so after giving a two week notice with no penalty beyond paying for the weeks you had the car. If you keep the car for the duration of the three year lease, at the end they will give you the option of buying the car. While the payments are fairly steep, the advantage of this lease over others if you’re driving for Uber make it a relatively easy choice.
The other advantage to Uber is that you can never be late to work or be unable to take a day off. There is no event in your life that you’re going to miss because you had to work. You can Uber any day, any time and you can stop any day, any time. If you want, you can never work on Monday again. You need time in the morning to get the kids off to school? You can take all the time you need. Want to take a four hour lunch? Go right ahead. Just looking to make some extra money around the schedule of your other job? Uber is great for that too.
These are the reasons I got involved with Uber. Now I’m going to explain what the process was like getting into a leased car and beginning to drive people around for money. I’m going to be talking about specifically what it was like for me in the Tacoma area but most of this can be applied anywhere.
Getting The Car
Once you are approved, Uber will send you a list of participating dealerships. These are dealerships that typically have cars available for leasing through Xchange Leasing. Most dealerships have a specific person who deals with Uber leases. You will want to find out the name of this person and keep in touch with them. This part of the process was easily the most time consuming. It took me roughly four weeks of calling and emailing to find a participating dealership that had a qualifying vehicle available. Their stock of these vehicles changes daily. Often I would call just after a vehicle was leased or sold to someone else.
When you go to the dealership, bring $250 in cash. They will want the down payment before they get the ball rolling on getting the lease in order. You will then want to talk to your insurance company. They will give you specific instructions on the type of insurance required for the lease. This is insurance provided by you. Uber does not pay for it. The dealership will not let you drive the vehicle off the lot without this insurance. There is Uber-provided insurance as well, but this does not take the place of your personal car insurance.
Getting Your Car Ready For Uber
Next up, you need to go down to your local Uber office with your new car. An Uber technician will inspect the car. If you got your car from a dealership, you probably will have no trouble whatsoever. Most Uber offices are fairly busy. Expect to wait a little while.
After passing the inspection, they will give you a piece of paper with links to two online courses. One is a general knowledge test of your area. This test is about forty questions long and fairly simple. The other is an online defensive driving course and it is not short. It’s a six-stage online driving course that goes over just about every aspect of driving. It’s like online driver’s ed and it takes a few hours to complete. I did it in two sittings.
Now that you’ve passed the car inspection, the general knowledge test, and the defensive driving course, you need to wait for Uber to process all of that and send you an Authorization Letter. When you have that letter, you can take it down to your local city government office and get a local business license. Most cities are very familiar with Uber driver’s doing this and will be very helpful. In Tacoma you can get the business license for $25 (or $99 if you think you’ll be making more than $12,000 through Uber).
Finally, once you have the business license, you can go back to the Uber office and they will get you set up in the system and get you an Uber sticker for your car. Once this is done, you’re officially an Uber driver and can start going out and earning money immediately.
The 10 Steps For Leasing A Car To Be An Uber Driver
- Use this link to apply. Wait to be approved. (Usually 24-48 hours)
- Find a participating dealership that has a car.
- Give the dealership $250 down payment.
- Get insurance for the car.
- Take the car to Uber to have it inspected.
- Take an online test of general regional knowledge (About 40 questions)
- Take an online defensive driving course (This is long. It takes 4-6 hours.)
- Wait for Uber to process everything and email you an approval letter.
- Take copy of approval letter and get city business license.
- Take business license to the Uber office. They will give you an Uber window sticker. They will get you into the system and you can turn your app on and start driving.
– Jack Cameron
It was recently announced that Jon Turturro will be reprising his role from The Big Lebowski as Jesus Quintana. Below is a script excerpt from QUINTANA.*
TITLE CARD: 1990
INT. JESUS QUINTANA’S APARTMENT – LIVING ROOM
WALTER SOBCHAK sits on the couch. JESUS QUINTANA walks into the room he’s carrying one bottle of beer. He uses a bottle opener on the wall to OPEN the beer. He then DRINKS THE ENTIRE BOTTLE. He looks at WALTER.
So. You want to roll with the Jesus?
You and I are the only ones who give a fuck about the game, man.
We need a third. Who you got, man?
How about the Dude?
The Dude does not roll like you and he does not roll like the Jesus. What about the little guy?
Forget it. Donny’s a surfer. He’s out of his element on the land.
Tell you what. Jesus is gonna think on it. You come back Saturday. We talk it out.
I can’t. Not Saturday.
You come see the Jesus on Sunday then.
Sounds good. With you on the team, how can we lose?
You know it, baby! Jesus never lose.
You’re not going to miss any games being all the way across town are you?
Shut the fuck up. You can count on Jesus. Jesus is planning to move to Venice soon.
WALTER gets up and heads for the door.
TITLE CARD: THE FOLLOWING SUNDAY
EXT. LA STREET DAY – WALTER SOBCHACK is walking down the sidewalk and encounters a LEMONADE STAND. There is an 8-YEAR-OLD boy behind the stand.
8 YEAR OLD
Hey. Hey, Mister. You want to buy some lemonade?
8 YEAR OLD
Do you want some lemonade?
Sure. I’ll have some lemonade
WALTER takes a paper cup of lemonade and drinks it.
That’s pretty fuckin’ good lemonade.
8 YEAR OLD
8 YEAR OLD
Are you hustling me?
8 YEAR OLD
You said it was fuckin good.
I can’t believe it. I’m being hustled by a fucking kid.
WALTER pulls out his wallet. He opens it. He has RECEIPTS and TWO ONE DOLLAR BILLS.
I can give you two dollars.
8 YEAR OLD
You owe me five.
You know what? Fuck it. Fine. My friend lives just down the street. Come with me. I’m sure he can front me five bucks for your little hustle.
8 YEAR OLD
Who’s going to watch my stand?
Do you want the money or not?
EXT. – OUTSIDE JESUS QUINTANA’S HOUSE – DAY
WALTER & 8 YEAR OLD walk up to the front porch of JESUS QUINTANA’S house. Walter KNOCKS on the door. He waits. KNOCKS AGAIN. No answer.
8 YEAR OLD
Nobody’s here. Where’s my money?
He’s here. He told me to meet him here.
WALTER tries the door. It’s unlocked. He steps inside. The 8 YEAR OLD steps in with him.
INT. JESUS QUINTANA’S HOUSE – DAY – MOMENTS LATER
8 YEAR OLD
Did we just break in here?
Shut the fuck up, kid. Jesus lives here.
8 YEAR OLD
What are you talking about? This ain’t no church.
The two of them walk through the house, down a hallway. They hear the sound of a SHOWER just as it turns off.
The bathroom door opens. JESUS QUINTANA walks out soaking wet and completely NUDE.
The 8 YEAR OLD SCREAMS and runs out of the house.
What the fuck, man? Get the fuck out of here!
We were going to talk about our bowling team! Remember!
Deos Mio, man. You break into my house with some fucking kid and want to be on my team. Fuck you, pendejo. Get. The. Fuck. Out. Jesus will never roll with you!
WALTER turns around and starts walking towards the open front door.
Stands around naked in front of a kid. Calls me names. Guy’s a pervert.
*Note: This is NOT really a script excerpt. It’s something I made up.
Most people who know me know that I’m an atheist. I try to be the sort of atheist who does not believe God exists but does not really care too much what your religious beliefs are as long as you don’t force them on other people (especially me). My girlfriend is a practicing Pagan. In the past I have been a Christian and a Quaker. If prompted I will tell someone that I feel we are all on a path of discovery when it comes to religious beliefs and that those paths are all different. I will say how it makes little sense to me to argue that you are wrong simply because you are on a different part of the path than me.
That sure sounds nice. And it is something I try to keep in mind. But there is a nagging thought in my head. A variation of this though is in the head of every atheist I have ever talked to. It’s the thought that gives atheist a bit of an asshole reputation. That thought is, “How can otherwise intelligent human beings who demonstrate the ability to think rationally, apply evidence, and use logic believe that there’s an old man in the sky who created everything in the universe but only cares about us and did this all in six days as recently as six thousand years ago?”
I have never found a satisfying answer to this question and so I have employed mental tricks to avoid the thought. The typical mental trick I try is that I pretend religious friends and family are playing different Live Action Role Playing (LARP) games. Each religion is a game with a set of rules and it’s all centered around an imaginary afterlife that you get when you die depending on how well you play the game while you’re alive. From a believer’s perspective I can understand how condescending an insulting such a concept is, but understand the idea here was to keep that annoying question out of my head in an effort to be nicer to those who believe and not bug them with that question.
Of course this too has a problem. If I manage to convince myself that it’s all a bunch of LARPers, then the lie I’m telling myself is that every believer knows deep down that God is not real and their religious convictions are illusions. And if I’m not careful I end up saying things to let them know I’m in on the joke. A joke that they aren’t actually telling.
Then something happened. I read a book. The books was called Sapiens: A Brief History of Human Kind by Yuval Noah Harari. There’s a lot in it but one of the more surprising things to come out of reading it was the concept of myth. Not just myths like Thor or Zeus but myths like nationality and money and days of the week. These are things that have no objective value but only exist because we decide that they do. Really there’s about as much evidence that today is Friday as there is that there is a God. Friday isn’t REAL. It’s an agreed upon myth. There is no scientific test that will prove it is Friday.
The problem for an atheist like myself then becomes what myths are acceptable and what myths aren’t? There’s no real way to live in society without accepting the myth that printed fabric paper has value as do digital numbers in a bank account. Not one strand of DNA in me can be definitively called ‘American’ because America is simply a place we’ve all agreed exists but is actually just a part of a land mass that we have all agreed to call North America. Why is it I would never have a problem with someone believing it’s Friday but I would have a problem with someone believing that a God created them? I wouldn’t think someone just isn’t very smart or at the very least they aren’t intellectual if they still believe in Friday.
I don’t have any answers here. This is just something I was thinking about and I figured I would share it.
(Please note: This article will have spoilers for all five Bourne movies.)
In 2002 The Bourne Identity was a breath of fresh air in the action movie genre. It started not with some unstoppable superhuman but a guy left for dead in the water with three bullets in his back. When a French fishing boat pulls him out of the water it’s unclear if he’s even alive. When he wakes up he has no idea who he is. He is as clueless as the audience as to why he’s been shot in the back. We learn about Jason Bourne as he learns about himself. And thanks to director Doug Liman’s documentary-style of filmmaking The Bourne Identity felt more realistic and intimate than most action movies.
At the time, it was not clear that Matt Damon could even pull off an action movie. He was as untested as Bourne himself was clueless. In the first real action scene, we see Bourne take down two cops in a park. He seems as surprised as we are at his skills thanks to his amnesia but this worked on another level in that we didn’t know Matt Damon was capable of that sort of action at all.
The moment when the movie really changed things was when Bourne is being hunted in the US Embassy. The building goes into lockdown. Bourne decides to go up rather than down. He escapes the view of the guys with guns. And then rather than just cutting to him being on the ground, they show exactly how he gets down to the ground. Whatever happened in this movie we knew that it was going to be practical and more realistic than what we had seen in the last James Bond movie. (To see the influence of the Bourne franchise, watch Die Another Day, the last James Bond movie to come out before Bourne Identity. Now watch Casino Royale. Daniel Craig’s Bond movies have more in common with Bourne than any of the other Bond movies.)
While it’s easy to give director Doug Liman and star Matt Damon the lion’s share of the credit for the success of The Bourne Identity, I believe that the reason the movie works as well as it does is the script by Tony Gilroy. His loose adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s novel updated it for present day audiences while leaving room for drama without sacrificing pace. Gilroy’s script is what holds the movie together.
Lastly, The Bourne Identity is aided by one of the best casts ever assembled for an action movie. In addition to Matt Damon, you have Fanke Potente, Julia Stiles, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, and Clive Owen. Eagle-eyed viewers might even notice Walton Goggins as a CIA analyst. The talent on display in The Bourne Identity is practically an embarrassment of riches. It just works.
The Bourne Identity worked so well that the sequel, The Bourne Supremacy came out only two years later. Supremacy retained the surviving cast of the first movie and Tony Gilroy as screenwriter but lost director Doug Liman. In his place was Paul Greengrass. Greengrass was selected because of his work on the movie Bloody Sunday. He also brought a documentary-style feel to his movies using handheld cameras in almost every shot. It also added Joan Allen as the smart, capable, but moral Pamela Landy.
At the end of Identity, Jason Bourne makes the following promise: “I swear to God, if I even feel somebody behind me, there is no measure to how fast and how hard I will bring this fight to your doorstep. I’m on my own side now.” The Bourne Supremacy is the fulfillment of that promise. In what was a complete surprise to audiences Fanke Potente’s character is killed by an assassin gunning for Bourne in a plot to frame Bourne for a hit in Berlin. His response is swift, methodical, and unrelenting. The Bourne Supremacy continued the trend of having a highly skilled, highly motivated hero we absolutely sympathize with.
If you just watch the first two films, you have a complete story. From a storytelling perspective there is no need for a third movie. Indeed, even the filmmakers themselves at the time thought it was going to be the final movie in the series. But Hollywood loves nothing more than to greenlight a sequel to a successful movie. And so it wasn’t too surprising when in 2007 The Bourne Ultimatum came out. What was surprising was just how good Ultimatum turned out. Everyone from the previous movie returned for this one including director Paul Greengrass. Tony Gilroy was less involved in the script because he was working on his own movie, Michael Clayton but his presence is felt. One of the more innovative things about The Bourne Ultimatum is that the majority of the movie takes place before the end of The Bourne Supremacy. This effectively means that the last time we see Bourne active is actually in 2004. Like the previous sequel, everyone who didn’t die is still in this movie. Also added to the CIA’s roster are David Straithairn and Scott Glenn. This gives the Bourne movies an almost episodic feel. It’s not just Bourne who is the same, but so are the people chasing him. And when new characters pop up they’re working with already established characters. You get a sense of continuity and realism with this approach. The Bourne Ultimatum ends as the first movie began: With Bourne in the water shot in the back. There’s a pleasant symmetry to this. And with Bourne having learned his real name and having his memories fully come back, this really does seem like the perfect end point for an incredibly well done action spy movie franchise.
Much like how the folks at the CIA could not leave Jason Bourne alone, Hollywood similarly felt that the Bourne movie franchise needed to continue. Unfortunately for them Matt Damon wasn’t interested if Paul Greengrass wasn’t interested and they could not find a script that they agreed on. So screenwriter Tony Gilroy wrote a Bourne movie without Jason Bourne in it. He also directed this one. Most critics and fans alike see The Bourne Legacy as a misstep in an otherwise unblemished franchise. I disagree.
The Bourne Identity was about a government assassin gone rogue. The Bourne Supremacy was about covering up a conspiracy and using Bourne as the scapegoat. The Bourne Ultimatum was about blowing the lid off of the clandestine operations that resulted in Bourne. The Bourne Legacy was about the people in charge of those clandestine operations doing damage control and covering their asses. Each of these plot turns was informed by the previous one.
It’s less obvious than Ultimatum, but Legacy is also a nested sequel. Much of what happens in the movie is happening during the events of Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum. Instead of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne we have Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross. He doesn’t have amnesia. He isn’t an everyman. And he isn’t all that likable. He’s more like the operatives who are sent after Bourne than like Bourne himself. Though most of the cast of the movie is new (including Edward Norton as a dogged CIA guy), we still see glimpses of the characters we have gotten used to from the CIA. The Bourne Legacy is easily the weakest of the first four Bourne movies. It definitely has its flaws. But it still feels like a movie that takes place in the Jason Bourne world. This is especially true if you watch it directly after watching the first three movies.
And now we come to Jason Bourne, the fifth movie in this franchise. The good news is that Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon are back. So is Julia Stiles who was notably absent in Bourne Legacy. But those three people are the only ones left. Edward Norton, Scott Glenn, Joan Allen, and David Straithairn though all established CIA people who did not die in the previous movies are nowhere to be found. They are not even mentioned. Also for the first time in the franchise, Tony Gilroy has no involvement in the script and it shows.
The movie starts with the one punch fight scene most of us saw in the Super Bowl ad earlier this year. Jason Bourne has apparently decided to spend his time in bareknuckle fighting in Greece for some reason. Meanwhile former CIA handler Nicky Parsons has hooked up with some German hacker. She’s in Iceland hacking her old employer in an effort to expose all of their clandestine programs. This leads the CIA to start tracking her down.
Nicky then goes to Greece where she meets up with Bourne. How she knew where he was is unclear, but it turns out she has information about Bourne’s father, a guy who has never been mentioned before. (Somehow the characters played by Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, and Albert Finney never thought that telling Bourne his Dad started the program he’s in was a good idea for some reason.) But the CIA is on their tail now and so they’ve got to run before much of anything can be explained. During the chase Nicky gets killed by an operative gunning for Bourne in what is an echo from Bourne Supremacy. Except this is not just any operative. This is a guy whose cover was blown thanks to Bourne’s antic years ago and as a result he was tortured for two years. It also turns out that this guy killed Bourne’s father. If these sound like weak motivations we’ve seen a hundred times in a hundred other movies and TV shows, they are.
Over the course of the movie we learn that Jason Bourne’s father initiated the Treadstone Program and that he was killed by The Asset (they never give the guy a name) when he wanted to expose it to stop his son from being a part of the program. Can you find the logic problem in this? If the first program was Treadstone (and they say that it is), where exactly did The Asset come from? Sure, the CIA had assassins before Treadstone, but they make it clear that The Asset is part of Blackbriar, a program that took place after Treadstone. And I suppose one could argue that this guy was recruited from whatever program he was in at the CIA into Blackbriar except that’s never mentioned and that does not seem to be how those programs have ever worked.
Tommy Lee Jones heads up the CIA folks after Bourne this time around. He plays the director of the CIA and we’re told he’s been in it since the beginning despite the fact that his character has never been mentioned. His protégé is a young woman played by Alicia Vikander, an excellent actress who did amazing work in last years Ex Machina. She’s the head of cyber security and inexplicably someone in her 20s with the credentials of someone twice her age. Like Julia Stiles and Joan Allen before her she does not want to kill Bourne. She wants to save him.
It’s worth noting here that Julia Stiles has been in three Bourne movies and in each of them her character’s connection to Bourne has grown. In fact in The Bourne Ultimatum there is a line where it sounds as though their relationship may have at one point been more than just professional. Nicky and Bourne have a connection and a past. She’s also someone who may have helped Bourne but could easily be seen as retaining loyalty to the CIA. In other words, Nicky Parsons as the protoge of Tommy Lee Jones’s character makes a lot more sense. There is something more than a little disturbing about a franchise killing off one female hacker character and then introducing another female hacker who happens to be seven years younger. Apparently Universal is under the impression that 35-year-old Julia Stiles has reached her last fuckable day while 46-year-old Matt Damon continues on. (Fun With Math: Matt Damon was 18 years old and had been in his first movie when Alicia Vikander was born.)
If the gigantic plot holes and obvious sexism is not enough to cement this movie as the worst of the franchise, the action sequences in Jason Bourne solidify it. Whether it’s ultra-shaky-cam or the most ridiculous car chase since A Good Day To Die Hard, whatever lessons had been learned in the previous movies are completely forgotten in this one. At the end of the climactic car chase in which 170 cars are destroyed, the final crash is so absurd that my girlfriend and I both laughed out loud in the theater.
I almost forgot to mention a subplot regarding some sort of social media app that is actually a CIA program to ‘spy on everyone’. (It’s almost like they’re unaware that the NSA already does this.) There’s a scene in this movie in which the head of a social media giant tells an audience how internet privacy is vitally important and no one will be spying on you using his system. This is followed by this very same character having lunch in public at a restaurant with the director of the CIA. If there were one photo of the CIA director talking with Mark Zuckerberg how fast do you think Facebook shares would tank? If you can figure this out, why can’t anyone who worked on this movie figure it out?
The more I think about Jason Bourne the more I want to pretend that it never happened. I mentioned A Good Day To Die Hard before and it’s appropriate. Both movies are the fifth entry into a franchise that should have ended years ago. Both are easily the worst of the bunch. Both seem to have forgotten what made the franchise good in the first place. And both are movies you would have to pay me to watch again.
– Jack Cameron
Back in high school I wrote this thing about racism. It was a bit of a disaster. Since then, as a white heterosexual male, I have decided to specifically NOT write about racism if at all possible because the last time I did, things went badly. But I kind of feel the need to break that rule.
His name was Alton Sterling. And if I tell you he was a black man who encountered a police officer you already know the rest of the story. You know the story because it’s the story of Dontre Hamilton. It’s the story of Eric Garner. It’s the story of John Crawford III. It’s the story of Michael Brown Jr. It’s the story of Ezell Ford. It’s the story of Tanisha Anderson. It’s the story of Akai Gurley. It’s the story of Tamir Rice. It’s the story of Rumain Brisbon. It’s the story of Jerame Reid. It’s the story of Tony Robinson. It’s the story of Phillip White. It’s the story of Freddie Gray. It’s the story of Sandra Bland. It’s the story of being black and unlucky in America.
We hear these stories of police shooting black men and women almost as often as we hear about white men committing mass shootings. And each time much like mass shootings we are outraged and paralyzed. Our outrage is understandable. How can these terrible atrocities happen in broad daylight on the streets of the greatest country in the world? Our being paralyzed takes a bit more explaining.
Part of it is the uncomfortable truth that racism is alive and well in America. We did not kill it with Civil Rights. We did not kill it by electing Obama. And if we did not kill it, then we have to admit it’s still out there. We have to admit that some of our friends, neighbors, relatives, and maybe even ourselves are racist or have racist tendencies. And that is really hard to do. It’s so hard to do that it would be much easier to simply deny it and pretend that racism is over. But it’s not. And what are we to do with that?
Another easy option is to simply vilify the police. This is unfair. The vast majority of police officers will go their entire career never firing a shot at anyone. And not every police officer is racist. But the terrible actions of a few make the police an easy target for blame. If we can blame it all on the police then maybe, we do not have to confront any racism closer to home. But this does not work because police officers come from the community. Despite their militarized appearance, these men and women are members of your community whether they act like it or not. They did not arrive at the police academy with no racist thoughts in their heads and suddenly become racist. They were racist before they were cops and the modern police environment nurtures that racism.
There are good reasons for this. Even a fully trained and ethical police officer will still sometimes have to physically put handcuffs on another human being and then put that human being in a cage. For most people, this requires a bit of a disconnect. I have gone on ride alongs with police officers and watched it happen. I have seen the moment when the person a cop is talking to stops being a person to him and starts being a thing. A good cop will tell you that you have the right to remain silent. What they are actually saying is, “Nothing you say will help you because you are no longer a person to me.” Unfortunately this depersonalization does not just make it easy to put someone in a cage. It also makes it easy to put them in a grave.
We’re paralyzed because even if we confront these truths we still don’t know what to do about them. I know that I have biases. I am aware of them and I do my best to combat them, but it is not always easy or obvious. And even being successful does not change what’s happening in this country.
I have given this a lot of thought. These are my suggestions based on what I know. I am interested in what you think of these suggestions. I am interested in other suggestions. I am interested in finding things we can actively do to stop this.
Keep Racists Afraid
One of the worst things about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is that racists think he has legitimized racism. When the Republican Presidential Nominee is saying things like “Look at my African American.” and calling Mexicans rapists bigots everywhere think that maybe it is okay to spout racist crap publicly. It is not. Fellow white people, any time we hear some blowhard saying racist crap whether it’s a stranger or your best friend, you need to call them on that shit. If we are going to ask our police departments to stop their systemic racism, we need to do the same.
America has a love affair with guns. As a result we lose 30,000 men, women, and children every year due to gun violence. That’s ten 9/11s every year. Of those 30,000 about 1,000 are police involved killings. It is important to note that not all of these killings were unjustified, unwarranted, or unnecessary. It is equally important to note that far too many of them involved white cops shooting unarmed black people. In a time when we have Tasers, beanbag rounds, and verified de-escalation techniques using lethal force should be the cop equivalent of the nuclear option. It should never be used unless it’s the only thing you can use.
One of the biggest problems with police involved shootings is that the prosecutor who brings charges against the police is usually the same prosecutor who spends every other day of his life working closely with that same police department. Imagine this. You are a local prosecutor investigating a police involved shooting. If you charge the cop with murder, right or wrong, you are going to upset the rest of the police force which is going to make your job on every other case very difficult. Such a prosecutor is not likely to get endorsed by the police union during the next election. There is a clear conflict of interest in these situations. The way around this is to make every single police involved shooting a federal case with federal investigators and a federal prosecutor. Until this step is taken, I do not expect we will ever see a significant number of these cases actually get any justice.
One of the worst things to happen to modern police forces in this country was the use of surplus military hardware on the streets of America. Giving military weapons and vehicles to a systemically racist police department that already dehumanizes much of the population of a city is a recipe for slaughter. And that is exactly what we have seen again and again. If you give men weapons of war, they’re more likely to fight one. It should be noted that the blame cannot be placed on the police department or the military alone. The blame also falls on city councils and voters who do not approve adequate funding for police departments almost giving them no choice but to accept military handouts because they’re better than nothing.
This is not how the police force always worked. There was a time when a uniformed police officer walked a beat. The police officer knew everyone on that beat and more importantly everyone knew the cop. If a cop had a problem on his beat more often than not he knew the perpetrator. It’s more difficult to use lethal force on someone when you know them. It’s also harder to vilify a police officer when they’re someone you actually know and who has demonstrated that they are simply there to keep the peace. This is what was known as community policing. It’s something that is lacking in most police departments. If you wonder if your neighborhood has community policing ask yourself if you know the cop that patrols your area.
One of the things you can do is raise your children to be tolerant. Raise them to celebrate diversity rather than be afraid of it. Tell them that we are strong because of our differences and that no human being is superior to another and all life is equally precious. Show them movies with leads who aren’t white. Have them read Between The World and Me when they’re a teenager. Do not tolerate hate speak from children. If we can all commit to this, we can ensure that in the future bigots are the only minority who are afraid.
These are the ideas I have. I do not know what else to do. While I was writing this a 32-year-old man named Philando Castile was shot and killed by police officers who pulled him over for a busted tail light in Minneapolis.
I am not okay with this being normal in the United States of America. I do not have all the answers. But I think it starts with talking. It starts by speaking up. It starts by giving a damn and saying, “Black Lives Matter.”
– Jack Cameron