Facebook Repost – Milwaukee Riot, August 14th, 2016

​I’m still disgusted and disappointed by the riots in MKE last night as I wake up – the loss of jobs and resources as a few businesses in the area affected burned, as well as a police officer injured from a brick thrown to his head, is never good to hear.

What makes this worse, however, is social media – how it was used to fan the internal flames of the people involved after an incident yesterday afternoon, and how people once again reacted AFTER this began last night.  It sickens me how many people commenting called the rioters animals and said they need to go to jail WITHOUT understanding the cause of such anger.  I suppose we were a little spoiled when riots were over sports teams winning – not an angry community.

I don’t know what caused this – I’ve not lived in that area or visited it often enough to know.  I know people don’t usually riot like that without cause, nor do they take to attacking authority without cause.   This wasn’t some team winning/losing – this was anger and frustration, voiced with words by the aldermen and with flames by the citizens.

I still feel strongly that “Blue Lives Matter” – that the police who were there last night weren’t necessarily the cause to, or the continuation of, the riots, that efforts were made by police, and noted by the media, to build trust and support between them and the community.  Considering what’s been going on with the rest of the country, whatever happened last night could have been much worse than it was.

That’s also why “Black Lives Matter” – said sparking incident was a shooting earlier in the afternoon between officer and citizen, in an area full of incidents over recent weeks, months and years.  That gas station that burned was where a clerk shot a gun into the air to scare off some teens, and where there was boycotting as a result.

And yes, “All Lives Matter” – but when are you really going to see it?  The people who rioted – THEY’RE HUMAN.  Skin color, age, gender, belief – none of that changes that simple fact.  The riots that happened last night weren’t started by something simple, and they weren’t sparked by “animals.”

Such words and phrases are a small but important part of the divisiveness problem in the U.S. today.  These problems are not going away by simply shooting them or treating them like animals.  It’s going to come by treating each other with respect, by seeing each other equally, and by working to rebuild trust.  How we see each other has a lot to do with where this community, and the rest of America, goes from this.

Let’s Be Honest, America 2016 pt. 3: The Telephone Game, a.k.a. When Blind Faith Fails

An apology to those of you who speak to God daily:  this has nothing to do with your religious beliefs.  While I know there is a God, I also know that everyone has their own journey for a reason, and sometimes the belief has to stem from that journey.  It’s not my place to say, “God’s right Here!” – but it’s also not my place to say anyone’s wrong in their beliefs, either.

While it’s not my place to help anyone find an afterlife, I have every reason to be concerned about the current life we live – unfortunately, that means arguing with people who’ve become as fanatical in their political beliefs as they are in their religion.  This becomes extremely important as the politicians are equally, if not more, crazy and fanatical.  Again, the access to knowledge at our fingertips and the amount of information produced every second, minute, hour and day makes it difficult to imagine and sift through what is real and what isn’t.  Unfortunately, it makes it easy for those who realize how to use this knowledge to sway and manipulate knowledge to sway and manipulate the public -to what could be a disastrous result.

Most of us should be familiar with the telephone game:The first person whispers something to the second person, the second person whispers it to the third person, the third person whispers it to the fourth person, etc.  By the time you get it, what the original message was is forgotten – and usually what’s left is entertaining to compare.

Imagine a few people, with the money and resources to pay a few groups of “First people” a buttload of money to spread information.  Those people, powered by the internet to search and publish, research and twist, spread it to a few other people – not just through web pages, but at gatherings and meetings, on the radio and television, in the movies.  They spread it to a few more resourceful people, who spread it in similar ways.

Now imagine that first group being paid two things:  first, to spread said information with little “truthstones” (some facts plus some manufactured stuff) to lend credence to the story, and second, to cover their link to the original employer and source.

It sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  You’d think someone would be getting unhappy about a part of this and upending this scheme on everyone, but there’s a few ways around this:  Employ people who don’t need the money, who can pass for ordinary people like us, and who are equally fanatical about how this country should be run.

Some of us can find hintings of this, and can believe that one group could do this – but could all of our politics?

On one side, look at the stuff they’ve published, usually funded by their supporters but hitting theaters in parts of America where only the most popular films hit when they do.  (The other side, sadly, doesn’t have the grip on the media the party would have you believe.)  They won a few important cases, allowing them to manufacture and twist the news, allowing for outside groups funded by the manipulators to fundraise and air ads and information attacking the opposing party, etc.  The first amendment never said anything about the information being spread to be accurate, and while minor laws might punish the ordinary citizen, they’re mere mosquitos to the manipulators of that side.

On the other side, they do the exact same thing – they just try doing it more stealthly.  People often have to fight to get the truth from them, often resorting to illegal methods to do it, in doing so making the any truth obtained as murky as the lies both sides spread.  The same films are made, the same things happen on TV and in the Newspaper – same game, different players.

It’s easy to spell out how evil Trump is, and how horrible he’d be for the country – just as easy as it is to spell out how crooked Hillary is and how she belongs in jail.  Some of it is created by themselves, as they both tend to say questionable things (not always intentionally) that raises the ire of others.

A lot of it, however, is sadly the grown up version of the “telephone” game.

The things I believe aren’t based on what the opposition says.  I don’t need Trump telling me how evil Hillary is or how many crimes his supporters believe she’s committed – I can observe her actions and speeches and see that there are things to question about her presidency.  Likewise, I don’t need Hillary supporters reminding me of Trump’s mistakes or what he says – he says and acts in such a way as to prove how dangerous his election would be.  I also see how their fans act, people like you and I – THOSE people I care about.

Benghazi?  Trump University?  Do you even question who started these talking points?  I’ll give you hint:  Most people running for a higher position don’t brag about the mistakes they’ve made.  (They may talk about it, but there’s a huge difference between talk and brag.)

Quit buying into the lies – quit sending money to these supergroups spreading them, quit feeding attention to the people sharing them.  If you can’t prove or disprove it on your own (ie without a neutral party), ignore it.  You can find more in the actions and words of people, and how they handle problems and threats, than you will by the lies and misinformation of others.

In the final chapter of this next week, I will dive into sources I’ve been relying on for information, and explain some of the specifics behind it.  I won’t lie that it’s biased – most people don’t get the luxury of starting from a neutral point, sadly.  (That’s what makes my argument today so important:  unlike the existence of an afterlife beyond the pages of a book, we can prove – and choose to believe – what information is created by humans.)  How we choose to process the information, however, is crucial to the decisions we make in November.

Let’s Be Honest, America 2016 pt. 2: The Power of 2

One of the sad truths of the internet is how easy anyone can write or publish content – and, as such, how hard it is to stand out as a voice among the crowd.  It’s easy to follow the currents, the ebbs and flows, to “pick a side,” if you will – but to say something outside of the normal, outside of the popular – with so many voices, it’s not easy to expect people to listen to me.

If I didn’t expect, and wasn’t hoping for, “better” from you, I might just remain silent – it’s easier to laugh and say, “told you so,” than to try to do what you feel is best or most important.

Silence, however, fixes nothing.

The importance of that last statement can’t be stressed enough.  This isn’t the first time in which there wasn’t a “like”-able candidate, and it certainly won’t be the last.  America is full of people whose self-importance dominates any really help for their fellow man, and while I believe those people are still a minority, much like the comments on the internet, the vocal few stand out in the crowd.

Our biggest problem isn’t the main two candidates – it’s the lack of knowledge and confidence in the other presidential candidates.  How many people have heard of Dr. Jill Stein or Gary Johnson?

Historically speaking, our country is predominantly a two-party system.  The Republicans have always been a party, while the Whig party was eventually replaced by the Democrats.  There have been independent candidates, as well as candidates from other parties, but most of our elected officials have consisted of the two major parties of that time.

More often than not, the third wheel would cause more harm than good – while most third-party nominees fail to get a state, they do make a tremendous impact on who eventually wins the oval office.  The best they’ve done to date was the 1992 Presidential election – Ross Perot scored 19 million popular votes (19% of the total), and 2nd place in Maine and Utah, but failed to capture any of the electoral college’s votes.  In this and the 2000 election, in which the votes were closer to even, it is believed that third-party candidates took votes away from the eventual loser.

You might be wondering:  if these people never get electoral college votes and they never make much more than a dent in the eventual outcome, why are they so important?  Why talk about them?

Let’s review our two main candidates again, hitting the major arguments of “how evil the other guy/gal is.”  Trump wants to build walls and ban incoming Muslims. his rallies often involve “Jerry Springer”-esque fighting (which he often blames on the Democrats,) and his message towards his non-supporters has been hateful.  Hillary’s involvement with Benghazi, her running to the millionaires and the rich for money for her campaigns, and her numerous lies and involvement with questionable, if not corrupt, people and groups means she should be in jail.  Trump’s the non-Clinton; Clinton is the non-Trump. Supporters against either one are evil.

What happens if you tell people of others, however?  Usually, if they know about any of the other groups, they’re either voting for one of them, or lack the confidence to break away from the main two.  Most of the time, they don’t know.  The media doesn’t help, either – if they’re lucky (or rich), they might share stage time in a debate.

This is where the real pickle of the problems lie:  In what to do.  We do have the option, and people like Dr. Jill Stein and Gary Johnson would be all-too-happy for your vote, especially with the unhappy campers who supported Bernie.  As the candidates know, however, while we as people split somewhere down the middle between Conservative and Liberal, the parties lean in particular directions of the main two – The Green Party being more liberal and the Libertarian Party being more conservative, for example.  If either party were to take away from their more famous brother, more likely than not the other major party will win – if the Green Party takes from the Democrats, as Stein (and, ironically, Trump) hopes, Trump will win.

We’re ultimately left with two choices:

  1.  We throw huge support behind the third-party candidate, knowing they will be outnumbered in Congress (unless, of course, we vote the local representatives of that party as well),
  2. We continue down the unforgiving path of the two major parties.

My call to you right now isn’t to pick an independent:  My call is to TAKE ACTION!!!  Investigate the candidates, make a choice, and be vocal about it!  Be open-minded to all of the choices, and if you’re supporting a third party, throw everything in!  Most of all, quit making it a two-party system in which the major parties – and the money behind them – wins.

Change isn’t easy, voicing an unpopular opinion isn’t easy – but complaining about the sacrifices you make by settling for the same isn’t working either, is it?  Nothing will happen unless we unite and take action – and we’re falling because we’re divided.

Let’s Be Honest, America 2016 pt. 1: The Hidden Racism and the Sexism to Come

Ok, America, let’s talk.

You select two of the worst candidates to represent the major parties – something I can’t fault you for, as only one of the eligible candidates seemed respectable enough (and not a complete nutjob by the end of the process) to be worth it.  (Sad to say, he didn’t make the final cut – but there’s plenty to say about him in another post, for another time.)  The two that you picked?

The first one started his campaign on the wrong foot, threatening walls and religion-based bans, though he means it more towards all people from that region.  He takes pot shots online, insulting more than a few on both the Republican and Democratic side, and as time has progressed, has proven he’s a rich, old manchild, and we should be amazed at how he’s managed to stay rich legally.  With all of the orange on him, calling him a clown might not necessarily be a stretch – after all, he was pretty entertaining and leadership-capable before he went off the deep end this campaign.

The other side’s no saint, however – many consider her the devil, tying her to plenty of scandals from back when her husband was getting some on the side in the Oval Office.  I’ll defend her in that many of the actions taken by the Republicans against her the past decade have shown them to be as untrustworthy as her at the same time – but the recent scandal with the primary elections that leaves the DNC without a chairperson is leaving many people rightfully questioning her role in the affairs.

One important keyword:  She.

What should be a non-issue has become a focal point.  Trump has used the gender slam against many women who’ve vocalized against him, Hillary included.  While the questions of her character are justified, the fact that it’s a woman has brought some of the worst in people.

This isn’t surprising, however – what should have been an unprecedented and historic 8 years and two terms for the first black president has shown a deeper, darker secret:  the fake acceptance of people and the hidden racism we’re not yet comfortable to admit.

Don’t get me wrong:  Every president does stuff people disagree with.  His handling of healthcare was shameful, and the current racial and cultural divide has his mishandling in it as well.  There’s plenty of things he’s legitimately done to argue over and hate.

However, before he even took office the Republican party, as well as many rich and angry people, were out to get him:  Trying to disprove him as a born U.S. citizen, tying him to the hate groups in the Middle East, claiming many falsehoods about his background, how he’s tied to the devil, etc.  The unusual part was in how much was manufactured – unlike previous presidents which had their fair share of political squabble between parties, people were going out of their way to find made-up garbage (which, sadly, many of you still believe) to pin on him.  Bill Clinton and Bush Jr., at least, had legitimate harassment, even if it was a little ridiculous.

Back when many people, myself included, first noticed this, we called you out on it.

You ignored us.

Now we face a historic moment:  The possibility that one of two presidential candidates who could win being female.  While I’ll discuss the third-party game in part 2, I’ll not mince words:  If Jill Stein or Hillary Clinton becomes the first female president, the one guarantee is that this hidden hatred won’t end.  In fact, it could be worse:  if Stein – the Green Party candidate – should win, we’ll see ugliness from both the Democrats and the Republicans, and both have shown how they’re not above using fiction to get someone.  (Clinton, for the most part, has her party’s back.)

Let’s cut the bullshit:  when women are getting attacked, harassed, and bullied for calling out rape, getting paid less, leading teams, and doing “guy things,” the sexism the President will face if it’s a woman will explode.  Do you like the story on Benghazi?  Good:  the Republicans will find 5 more ground fights to charge her as a war criminal for, and 3 won’t even involve her.  I’m sure we can tie her to Communism, and maybe even Hitler.  (Yes, we know you’re pissed at people linking Trump to him – though there’s more legitimacy in THAT argument!)

Yes, the sexism will get worse.

I could try to talk to you, try to stop you – but I’m not.  the way I see it, you were stupid enough to choose these clowns – why should I try to stop you, especially when you didn’t listen the last time?

Instead, I’m calling you out, challenging you like a real man.  Real men ignore bullshit, and go straight to the source.  They call out would-be bullies, telling them how it really is and what won’t be tolerated.  Yes, when whoever is elected president messes up, they will call him or her out on it – just as we should have done with Obama without the lies and fantasy.

That means, instead of listening to Trump and every PAC/SuperPAC/Conservative group throwing every sort of misinformation about Hillary or Jill your way, You stop focusing on the lies and focus instead on everyone’s actions.

That means you focus on the important things they do/fail to do, NOT on their looks, how they talk, or especially on the misinformation going on about them.

That means, if they are elected president, you treat them as a God-damned President – no more, no less.

Let’s be clear about this, as well:  There are enough people who are angry and hurt, and if you choose not to do this, they will be the people you answer to.  That’s not a battle I want a part of.

I’ll see you later in the week with part 2…

News of my World, and a New Podcast…

For those wondering why the long breaks in writing:

  • Currently enrolled at Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL – graduation date 2018, major in computer science, minor in business administration.
  • Girlfriend who lives in Milwaukee, WI.
  • Still at my Yearbook Job in Loves Park, IL.

The bad news is a lot of free time being spent driving – it’s a minimum of 2 hours between Dekalb and Milwaukee, and almost an hour between Dekalb and Loves Park.  The good news:  A new project that only requires me moving my mouth and talk.

I’m hoping, in a few weeks, to unleash Conversations with Wayne, a podcast being recorded directly onto my phone for later revision.  While the full plan isn’t known yet, I am trying software, as well as (technical) format, to do this.  Generally speaking, the topic is whatever is currently on my mind in the moment – I do a lot of thinking when alone and driving – and is random and unscripted.

There’s not a lot I can tell you at this point UNTIL it is unleashed, but expect something appearing around mid-April.

Two Stories to Illustrate why Both Sides of the Transgender Restroom Issue are Wrong – and What Needs to Be Done to fix this…

One of my pet peeves is watching two sides of an argument unfold without understanding or listening to each other.  Some problems are of equal weight and deserve consideration from both sides on how to make it right.  While there is more weight one one side of the two stories I am about to present , both sides refuse to listen to, or accept, legitimate arguments that equal themselves out.

Before you read this:  BOTH stories are pure fiction, designed not to be counter-argued to impossible, but to point out a simple, legitimate point:  if I can think it, so can anyone else.  Neither story require a genius-level of thought or a bend in reality (beyond, in one case, a removal of importantly argued laws,) both are set in the present (2016, if this lasts beyond a decade,) and both are easily quite possible. Both are very short, bringing you to the point of danger, and while it can be argued about how to get out of it, the point is about how to prevent both from being legally capable.  (Criminals and those with intent to harm WILL do either of these, regardless of what the laws say.)

Continue reading

The Redefinition of Racism in America 2016 – a quick overview

One of the ugly truths about President Obama’s presidency and the current election year is the role of race and racism today.  Throughout his presidency Obama has been questioned and attacked for things beyond his presidential actions – his place of birth, the fact that he might belong to other hated groups, etc.  Donald Trump, who opened his run for presidency by announcing that he’d build a wall to keep out the illegal immigrants, has violence going on at his rallies against people who don’t support the views he’s spouted.  The recent in Belgium had him and Ted Cruz, another Republican, calling out Muslims in general – with Cruz going so far as to call for patrols against them.

It’s become quite clear, when people are called racist and bigoted for voicing and supporting these sort of views, however, that people no longer understand what racism is.  They think that, because they have friends of other ethnicities and color that they’re okay, that because they can accept a person’s skin color that they don’t hate people or have a problem.  Some think, because they’re not white, they can’t possibly be racist.

How far we’ve fallen in the last couple of decades – from the growing acceptance of everyone’s differences to full-blown riots and violence because of many years of silent ignorance.  It’s time for a little clarity and an update to the issue.
Racism doesn’t end between black and white – there is a full color spectrum of people and cultures out there. Blaming an entire race for the fallacies of a few nutjobs is the kind of racism Hitler incited and became chancellor after his party’s win in Germany in 1933. (History, need I remind you, was not kind to the Jewish people, nor was it kind to those who scoffed and laughed at the idea of his leadership.) Racism isn’t exclusive to coming from white people, either – if you hate or blame any race, that’s racism.
The biggest problem we have with this isn’t direct racism anymore, however – it’s the ability to be honest with ourselves and each other on this and other issues. We can’t admit to ourselves that our hatred, dislike or discomfort in any group of people’s weird oddities and stereotypes – why we might be uncomfortable with a black kid dressed in thug clothes who might be on the bus on his way to class, or a white person in a wife beater on and a pickup truck with beer just relaxing. How do you know the person wearing a hijab mere feet away from you now isn’t going to be your doctor, pharmacist or technician later? Or that the Asian person across the street isn’t someone working a high-profile job?
Some people need to understand that calling people out to do the right thing and follow the rules isn’t racist – it’s an act of asking for common respect. Some people need to understand that discomfort IS okay AS LONG AS we’re honest about said discomfort and look to make ourselves more comfortable with it. Other people need to understand that calling out an entire race for the actions of a few IS racist and needs to end. Calling people out on it isn’t wrong, either – EVERYONE deserves to be treated with respect.
This doesn’t with race, either – we have problems with a person’s gender, a person’s religious beliefs, a person’s age, a person’s disabilities, even their body types.  How many of you criticize someone who looks completely normal exiting a vehicle that has a handicap license plate or sticker on it?  How many of you haven’t thought of telling the fat person to put down the pizza and get on the stair master, or to get out of a bikini because it exposes their jiggly parts?  We tell ourselves to “grow a thick skin,” when in reality the ones with the problems are the ones acting like primates.

Not understanding or being uncomfortable with someone or something is okay – I can fully admit to not understanding some cultures or some of the gender roles, mostly due to how exposed I am to them.  For example, as much as I support the transgender community and have a couple of friends who came out within the last few years, the frequency I see or interact with them somewhat limits my understanding of them beyond how I’ve known them in the past or beyond the science of people as I was last taught.  I also live in a dorm that consists of a lot more, and a lot younger, black people than I’ve been around in a given period – many of whom come from various parts of Chicago, Rockford, and other communities.  Hence, there is a “culture shock” of getting used to kids blasting their cell phones to what they call “music” and how they interact.

My lack of understanding these people, however, doesn’t make me want to build walls or blame an entire race for the few loud ones – nor does seeing anyone of middle-eastern “appearance” at school cause me to wonder which quick-mart they’ll be opening.  While I may want silence when I’m on the toilet, it has nothing to do with your music – I’d call out the behavior, even if it was Metallica or Queen, two bands whose music could easily be considered my favorite.

We need to be honest with ourselves, with our problems with each other, and how much the things we can’t admit to DO play a role in our world views – and we need to learn to accept them, regardless or who or why it’s called out.  We need to stop denying these problems, and we need to stop the people who are fanning those flames.  A few years back I wouldn’t have a problem calling Trump president – he’s a solid business leader who, in spite of four bankruptcies, has managed to stay successful, something we’ll need as America continues to rebuild.  I can’t support a person, however, whose views of Muslims and immigrants include violence and deportation – nor can I back others who support it.  Hatred and racism is a disease:  left unchecked, it grows into fighting, bloodshed and death.

How do we stop this?  We start with that honesty:  We start by admitting these faults exist, and that we may do them.  We continue by challenging these faults, by meeting people outside of our comfort zone, by talking to and understanding them – like some of us used to do.  We challenge others to do so, understanding that they may not be ready – but to be ready for them when they are.  We learn to judge and respect others by actions, not appearance, to offer assistance when asked, and not to push where uninvited.  We learn to respect each other again.

And when we’re called out, we pay attention – we learn to understand what is really said.

We can beat Racism – but we really need to understand what that is again.

Making a Murderer – opinions and thoughts

Note:  This is an opinion article – there may be followup with a fact-based article in the future, but for the time being, all thoughts are derived from what I currently know, based on “Making a Murderer”, its IMDB page, a few other “blog” pages, and the Wikipedia pages for the series, Steven Avery, and Teresa Halbach.  There is no affiliation with the producers of the documentary or with anyone associated with the case, and the only affiliation I have with Netflix is as one of its many customers.  There is also no intended disrespect for anyone involved.

If you’re like me, you’re one of the many people who feels Steven Avery deserves a new trial, if not should be freed.  Thank the documentary series “Making a Murderer” for that – the series does an excellent job of making the argument for Avery that, due to the many variables and complications involved with his trials as well as that of his nephew Brendan Dassey, the bare minimum deserved IS a new trial.  Questionable conduct on the part of individuals of the Manitowoc and Calumet Police Department, as well as questionable actions on the part of the lawyers and justice system of Wisconsin, all come under fire in this case, and the fact that no one, including governor (and former presidential candidate who now owes money) Scott Walker, will give the guy any help, leaves little hope for any real change or reform on these practices.  In essence, some very guilty parties are – pardon the language – “getting away with murder.”

Like a lot of people whose opinions have been expressed online and in the media, I’m shocked and outraged by the documentary, and have many opinions to express.  Unlike many of the things I’ve seen, however, I think more could be done to correct this – and see more than what the series intended to show.

I hope the parties involved do read this – and take into consideration what I have to say.  Like many of the thousands of people, my main introduction to the case was the documentary, so there’s a lot that I don’t know.  I can only base things on what I do know.

The Documentary Series

One thing I’m sick of reading from the people involved with the case – the responses from the police department and the prosecution – is how this is NOT a documentary.  They’re missing key evidence, according to former prosecutor Ken Kranz, and they’re not presenting all of the facts, and skewing the ones they do.  Hate to tell them this, but by their argument, many of the popular documentaries, such as “SuperSize Me”  and “Bowling for Columbine,” wouldn’t fit as documentaries – and they’re wrong.  Like an author writing a book based on an event that isn’t a textbook for school or a news book, the film makers are likely giving an opinion and making an argument or case – why else write or present it?  Disagreeing with that argument doesn’t change what it is.

I liked the series.  Like good fiction, it presents the heroes and villains – in this case, Avery and members of the police and prosecution – in ways that hit the right emotional cords and connections.  Unlike most other documentaries I’ve seen, it does this WITHOUT some narrator or on-screen presence of the people behind the camera – you only get what was said by the people involved.  I do wish more of what the people arguing against this was presented and dealt with, but I’m sure much of it was left out due to its importance in the argument it was making, as well as the time limits involved with stretching the case to 10 episodes.  (I could easily see how it could have been a longer series – covering more into the blood testing or covering areas not shown on the police side, for example.)

The one major flaw I feel the series makes is establishing real motive – while the series does an effective job in painting Avery as an innocent man, it doesn’t put any effort into the motive established for why he’s accused, nor into any motives other than why the Manitowoc Police Department was involved.  This will be discussed later.

The Presidential Argument

Before the series was finished I had already signed the petition to the president.  Like the many who’ve reported, I’ve known there’d be no way for the president to pardon Avery – current laws prevent him from taking direct action, and the politics involved means there’s no way he can buddy-buddy with Walker to convince him  to pardon Avery, either.  Unlike what most people realize, however, the president has resources at his avail to do the one thing he can do:  find the evidence necessary to force a new trial.  Obama’s background prior to being a state senator as well as a law professor should provide enough connections to not involve the federal government, meaning that he could avoid turning any actions into a complete mess.  (Given his recent move involving gun sales and registration, this would also be the route I’d advise him to take:  anything more than “go do this for me,” regardless of who he tells it to, will likely waste his time and energy where it’s unneeded, and may give others the necessary resources to work against said actions.)

Where to Investigate and Focus

Given the unwillingness of the current legal system, Avery is left with one option:  find the evidence needed for the new trial.  The plus side is that, thanks to the documentary, there are many new and unlikely resources at his avail, such as the hackers of Anonymous and the people more willing to come out with new information.  Unfortunately, in a day and age where information can be manufatured, said information and evidence needs to be carefully sought out and handled.  That means looking in the right places and the right people.

The following are thoughts I have on the people accused or involved with the case and what I think should be questioned and sought out.

Steven Avery – The reason I keep stressing “new trial” and not “pardon” is that there’s the possibility we have not considered: an accident.  We know he had no real reason TO KILL Teresa, and plenty of reason not to – but an interesting thought no one has entertained yet is the possibility of an accident:  what if she died due to head trauma on his property? We know he’s nowhere near as intelligent as he’d need to be to clean up, without bleach, the evidence of the crime he’s accused of – but we also know he’d  have good reason to fear such a death, and the same lack of intelligence, as well as the distrust of the police, to try to cover it up INSTEAD OF calling for help.  This is, of course, a least-likely scenario, and if this had happened, he’d have likely confessed this by now – but it is a  possibility  to consider.

Brendan Dassey – he needs to be pardoned, plain and simple.  Unlike his uncle, who could have learned things in jail, he’d have committed more errors had be been involved in any way, which would have been more non-circumstantial evidence.  You bullied a kid into a confession of a crime he was too dumb at the time to commit – congratulations Wisconsin!  This is easily the biggest mistake made in this case.

Officers Lenk and Colbern – The one thing you have to remember about police officers is that they’re human- they’re not machines, incapable of thought or emotion.  As such, of all of the people involved with the case, these two are the ones with the biggest reason to not only to frame Steven Avery but to also kill Teresa Halbach.  How is it these two were the first involved and the ones to find what others did not?  Especially  when they called the Calumet Police Department to keep Manitowoc out of it?  Especially when one of them was involved with the 1985 rape case Avery was later acquitted of?

Here are two guys who, due to their training, would know the kinds of things investigators would look for, and likely would also know how to get it there.  Because of the area, one or both may be hunters – meaning they might now how to kill her without leaving either a body or a mess.  (This goes double if they also have military experience – as was stated at the top, I’ve not investigated too far beyond the sources listed above.)  Unlike the Averies, they didn’t have reason to be near the property prior to Halbachs disappearance – all the more reason why they look suspicious to me.

While they have all of the reasons to kill Teresa – a good-looking, healthy woman who’d attract a lot of attention if gone as well as a sharp contrast to the man suing them for millions of dollars based on their wrongful actions – and all of the know-how, they’d also be the hardest to convict for anything more than perjury:  All of that knowledge in planting the evidence would also equate to the same knowledge needed to get rid of their evidence.  Any useful evidence that would have proved their guilt was likely washed away by time, if not destroyed along the way.

At minimum, these two will be the best sources of evidence to get Avery his new trial, and at minimum, these two should be put on trial for their actions in both cases:  These men are definitely guilty of something, and there should be no reason to plant evidence on a guilty man.  The best theory I have is that they’re the active part of a conspiracy with other players of the lawsuit brought against MPD and its former sheriff and prosecutor, and likely the only ones you’ll find said evidence.

Scott Tadych and Teresa’s roommate – I did read in one blog post a couple of days back of their possible roles in her death.  While an argument could be for either one of them in motive and questions/knowledge, I doubt you’ll find much evidence if they were involved based on the time invested in investigating either one during or since the case.  If they did it, the easiest way you’ll get it is to beat it physically out of them – not useful to free an innocent man.

Ken Kranz – I’m mentioning him because of the conspiracy theory I threw out there with the officers earlier.  Unfortunately, as much of an asshole as I think he is,  I don’t think he’s involved in any real way to any conspiracy:  He’s too loud and too convenient to be, unfortunately.  Yes, I think he took some risks and did some things that are worth questioning separately (along with the other investigators) – but like Avery, if he were guilty of anything involving a conspiracy to frame or murder, if  he were involved he’d have slipped up by admitting something by now.  (The case is too big for him to keep his mouth shut – as is evident by all of the negative press he’s been giving for the documentary series now, years after being kicked out of his prosecution job.)  You won’t find evidence or motive for killing Teresa or framing Avery, and the worst you might find him guilty of is prosecutorial misconduct.

The Happy Theory

One thought my girlfriend and I are split on is the possibility of the police murdering Teresa:  while we can agree on their involvement in framing Avery, she can’t allow herself to see them as killers.  One possibility we can agree upon, were the police involved beyond framing Avery, is that Teresa is alive.  The likelihood of this is slim to none due to the variables involved, but it goes back to the lack of blood Avery’s defense kept pointing out:  what if the reason there’s no blood found was because no one died in the first place?  How much would it cost to make someone disappear for the rest of their lives without killing them?  What if Teresa is still alive, either stuck someplace where she’s unable to contact anyone or paid off with enough to never contact her family again while Avery’s alive?  This would explain the lack of physical evidence and blood on anything but a few objects, and probably far cheaper than the $36 million Avery was seeking in his lawsuit.

Again, this is unlikely, BUT given what evidence was presented in the documentary, it’s possible.

To the Halbachs, and the police

One thing that won’t change even if Avery is found innocent is the pain the Halbachs are experiencing, not just with Teresa’s disappearance, but with everything in the legal system since.  While I wish my last theory was what happened, Teresa doesn’t strike me as the type of person who’d stay silent for this long, willing or otherwise.  I apologize for any pain this article may cause, but I also hope it leads people in directions that bring permanent closure to this issue to them.

Likewise, while I suspect a few members mentioned of illegal and questionable activity, I do not fully extend that to the people of the Manitowoc or Calumet police departments or legal officials of these said areas.  It’s easy to blame and attack the larger systems for a few questionable or completely rotten apples in the core – but most of these people either had nothing directly to do with this, or were manipulated by those involved into the result they came up with.   These people shouldn’t be attacked or held accountable for the manipulations of a few, especially if wrong-doing is involved.

Where to go next

One thing I would stress is that these are theories and thoughts – they’re not actions.

If you want to help – and you’re not Anonymous, part off any legal or investigative team, or any other group or individual already vocally involved – there’s two ways you can:

  1. go to one of the petitions such as on petitions.whitehouse.gov or change.org and sign your name – the more signatures and voices out there demanding an investigation or pardon, the more they will have to do something.
  2. find and/or donate to some sort of fund to help with Avery’s defense – since having a defense to help him fight will also help find professional investigators to dig further into the mess.

If you’re going to investigate – or attempt to – start with officers Lenk and Colbern.  They’re the ones most likely to have cleaned up the evidence, but they’re also the most likely to have any evidence.  There’s also the jurors to investigate – you don’t start with 7 jurors ready to say not guilty, replace one of those jurors, and get two guilty verdicts without something being wrong.  (The recent remarks by the filmmakers that a juror came forward fearing for their life lends to this.)  Steven Avery is still worth investigating – you’re not likely to find anything new to prove his innocence, but it’s still possible.  Save Kranz for last, if at all – big, loud barking dogs are used more for getting attention than for being trustworthy, and given his actions that led to leaving the prosecutorial team he probably is a dead end for anything worthwhile.

One last note:  stick to direct sources for the facts, if possible.  Most of the blogs I’ve seen arguing against Avery used some manufactured “evidence” to argue Avery’s guilt, which can be obvious to discredit.  Yes, we’re questioning the court case, but between that, the documentary and anything connected directly to the individuals involved, you shouldn’t need anything else for argument.  (That even includes my posting.)

Three Things New People Can Do To Improve Their Chances of Success

My job has been going through some major changes that has, for the first time in quite a few years, required hiring a lot of new people.  As such, we’ve been experiencing some growing pains, remembering what it was like when we were hired, trying to figure out how best to train these new people.

Being on the low end of the totem means not having to deal with the heavy training part – while I do have to assist with questions and train some for the department I am in, I am free to observe these new hires and the training going on, learning and thinking about the things going on round me.  It also points to some troubling thoughts and observations:  practices that, at best, will keep them out of full time employment and, at worst, will lead them out of the door.

So what advice would I give them?

1.  Practice and Play when Opportunity is Given

Our department is a computer-based department that uses a combination of custom-built tools and standard programs – mainly, Adobe Photoshop.  All of this stuff utilizes basic concepts and ideas that are fully transferable to other departments and businesses, even if the procedures are not.  How well these things transfer, however, depend greatly on your knowledge, understanding and use of the tools – and what you do with them during those periods of downtime, such as what many of these people experience daily as work builds up.

So why not play?  Why not learn the tools more, explore more of what you can do, try out new ideas?  Guitarists practice and play almost daily to keep their skills in check, machinists who move up in the world are constantly learning the new techniques and tools to stay ahead of the curve, and artists don’t become better without the continual practice and procedure.  Not many jobs give you the opportunity during downtime to understand the tools, but when you fail to take advantage of the ones that do, you’re only hurting yourself.

I’m not saying to do this during working time, however – your job should always come first.  However, if you have 5-10 minutes before work, downtime during work where there’s nothing to do, why sit like a bump on a log and talk?

2.  Speak, think, and listen bout your job

I know you want to talk about the next concert, what you did over the weekend, or ask about some burning desire, but if you’re new to a job or place of employment, all of that talk, while it helps us get to know you, keeps you away from reaching your fullest potential.  Ask questions about you do, take notes when we speak, observe with full thought when you’re there.

The notes thing can’t be stressed enough – just as in school, what notes you take and how you take and use them will be critical not just to the work you produce, but to how those of us who’ve been there a long time observe you.  It’s easier to take someone who’s willing to improve under our wings than it is to fight with someone who simply doesn’t care.


3.  Participate and volunteer for things when opportunity strikes

This is one of those “Do as I say, not as I do” moments, because now you learn one of the many failures that kept me as a seasonal.  There have been times when I’d be asked to go to different departments, to do different tasks or to be trained to do something else. Many times, I’d complain and bellyache, or be an ass about doing it – so it’d go to someone else, and eventually I’d be laid off.

Years later, as I observe these same behaviors – the dodging out and doing their own thing when other people are volunteering to learn a new skill or department – I understand what my bosses saw in me:  that noisy, unwilling-to-learn, lazy do-nothing bellyaching about not having work yet also complaining being sent home or not being given opportunities.  Who would I want to work with:  That person not jumping up to do a golden opportunity, or the person eager to listen, willing to work and learn something new?

I’m now in a position where I might not be physically able to:  years of laziness and physical damage have taken their toll, and some jobs – especially the physically demanding jobs that make up my company now – are too much of a risk on my heart.  I can’t blame my coworkers for that:  I brought all of it on myself, and I know I’ll never move up in this company again.  That’s 16 years of my life that I screwed up and can’t get back.  That’s 16 years of painful knowledge, however, I can hopefully pass on to someone else, in the hopes that they make their lives better.

I can’t guarantee success for everyone – in fact, I can’t guarantee doing all of these things will bring anyone success.  Technology and time is constantly evolving, and a skill you have today may no longer be necessary tomorrow.

I can promise you, however, that doing these things will greatly improve your chances and opportunities for success.  In this I can say I’ve witnessed it – I’ve seen a lot of good friends go on to a great many better things, especially the ones who do these things.  If you’re new to a job, to an industry or place, all of these things can help you move up in the world.

The Disgusting Truth About Modern Day Cowards (and the news this week…)

This past week, my first one without school, knowing that I will be walking down the aisle to get my Associates degree, was an interesting one for news, one of which has certainly left a disgusting taste in my mouth.  First you had a Japanese company cave in to the demands of a group of Terrorist Hackers calling themselves the “Guardians of Peace” and postponing the screening of a film called The Interview, which was about a tabloid news show going to North Korea and being asked to kill their leader.  Then you had a police shooting in NYC – two cops died at the hands of a coward who went and killed himself in the subway terminal nearby.  Also happening – in our town – this week:  Rockford awarding $1.1 Million to the family of a man killed by Police after being chased into a church/daycare in 2009.  I find it interesting that, as I finish a book I was hoping to have finished for my final exam in U.S. History – Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King Jr. – and continue on two more I was reading for a report I turned in on Henry Ford.

Continue reading

The 2014 Annual “Why, NFL, WHY?” Half Time Show Bitch Fest

Dear National Football League:

Katy Perry IS NOT FOOTBALL MUSIC. Remember when they tried changing the opening song in Cleveland with “Roar?” We get that you don’t understand what constitutes real football music, and that you’re afraid to take any chances after the FCC got all boob-headed when JT and Janet bared breast, but you could at least show some effort in thinking about who bores us to death while we get refills on snacks.

On second thought, food refills are good. Nevermind – keep forgetting we have a mute button for a reason.



So, in case you missed the news, Katy Perry is the halftime performer for the 2015 Super Bowl.  As you can read from my status that came immediately after the news, I am not happy about it.

Let’s get a few facts straight:  As someone whose appreciation for music has been growing again, recognizing talent and entertainment in even the people who make the music and works that drive you bat-shit crazy is something I can be honest about.  To that end, although I’ve never heard a single song of Katy Perry’s that I’ve got into, I can recognize why she’s a star, and from what little bit I have seen of her, think she’s cool.  She’s not my type of music, but I think she could do my type of music without a problem.

Is she NFL material, however?  There’s no denying that she, like many of the previous performers before her, could put an awesome, special effects, fireworks-blowing halftime extravaganza, but is her music “Football”- worthy?

That’s why I have the problem.

Football is an aggressive, hard-hitting, violent sport.  It is a battle of two armies in pads, using themselves to drive a ball down to a goal, or to prevent the opposite army (and possibly steal said ball) from reaching that goal.  Although there used to be dancing, most of the action going on is -and should be- brutal.

When I played in high school, we didn’t warm up to the latest pop, dance or country song.  We weren’t listening to family-friendly kid music.  The music, whether it was rock or rap, was aggressive and mean, and it was to get our heads into the game.  We weren’t thinking about making love to our opponents; we were thinking about burying them in the ground.


I get that the NFL doesn’t want a debacle:  not only are there going to be millions of kids and old folks watching, there will be situations where aggression is not the best idea.  (For example, many of the local bars and restaurants with TV’s, who will undoubtedly be tuned in to make whatever money they can from it.)  I get that they don’t want to stir things with the FCC, especially after the last major halftime clusterfuck which, coincidentally, also featured music that wasn’t right.  (Because nothing says aggressive like singing about bringing sexy back and baring a boob or two, right?)  They came close a couple of times, getting rock and hard rock bands onto the stage, but they tried staying as safe as possible.

Could they satisfy me by playing what I think is football music without sacrificing their target audience? That depends – considering the halftime still hits when most kids are up, using the “after 9/8 central” rule is hard, if not impossible to do.  (Ever notice at award shows they save the harder-edged risque music for near the last hour and a half?  Why some bands, if they showed up, performed near the end of the show, as opposed to the beginning?  It ain’t just because they’re superstars…)  Bands that will scare the crap out of the baby or grandpa on sight alone wouldn’t work, even if they did fit – so you’d immediately rule out costumed performers like Insane Clown Posse, SlipKnot and Gwar.

You’d also have to rule out any music where there’d be a ton of censoring – after all, the NFL wants to avoid pissing the FCC off.  (Of course, if the FCC would pull its head out of its ass, MAYBE there’d be a little more quality to the programs – Instead of worrying about who says fuck and how much bare skin is on TV, keeping the restrictions up during normal schoolkid hours, where the arguments of why it needs to be there can be justified.)

More likely than not, you’d be limited to those bands currently played already in stadiums – which I can agree with.While the negative is getting someone whose music is already played a million times over – we really don’t need a new version of Enter Sandman, thankyouverymuch – the positive is playing something close to and resembling sports music, while keeping it family friendly and safe.  (If it helps, hire the geniuses who did the Jock Jams and Jock Rocks collections for ESPN in the 90’s- they seem to have a better grasp of what works and is family-friendly!)

So, who would I suggest?

  • Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer (If you can get all four, great!)
  • KISS (a number of their older songs have been stadium staples for some time, so it only makes sense)
  • Linkin Park, Korn, Disturbed (They still have a surprising number of aggressive songs, along with their older stuff, that would work.)
  • Foo Fighters (while a large chunk of their music wouldn’t work as well, if you let Grohl choose the music – and not fucking insist on family-friendly fare – he’d be able to pull a solid show that fits.)
  • Eminem, Jay-Z (Both are experienced in pulling off shows for “family-friendly” settings, and both have hits that would fit that aggressive nature of Football)
  • Sadly, many of the choices played in stadiums are dead or no longer playing, while a few wouldn’t make sense at all. Bands like Queen, which might work for the ending (We are the Champions) would stir the Christian groups into a frenzy (not that my other choices wouldn’t), not to mention most of their popular catalog isn’t that aggressive.

Who do you NOT get?  You don’t get pop, rock, or country bands whose popular stuff involves making love and anything else non-aggressive.

In other words, you don’t fucking get Katy Perry.

Unfortunately, that is exactly the choice you did make, so I’m going to look on the bright side:  While she’s on stage performing, I can use the restroom, refill my food and drink, chat with friends, make fun of her on FB, and still have enough time to flip the bird to the screen as she walks off stage.  (No offense, Katy, but your employers are idiots – look at the number of domestic dispute debacles they’ve had to fight with this year!)

Adrift In Random Chaos: Status Too Big for Status

This was a posting so heavy, I needed to use my blog to share it.  If you don’t like my long posts and don’t have any intention of helping me, feel free to skip.  To everyone else, I’ll put everything in chronological order of importance, saving what has come to pass and is not relevant at the moment for last.

Continue reading

They’re Thieves, Not “Hackers:” My current take on the celebrity nude photo hack

This article’s long overdue – ever since someone “hacked” (more on this in a bit) into Apple’s iCloud accounts and posted a bunch of nude photos of famous celebs, I’ve been a vocal, unsympathetic activist on Facebook.  Unfortunately, the more time passes, the more things come out, and the real ugliness of this situation comes into focus.  The major takeaway:  People aren’t getting it.

Today Jennifer Lawrence claimed that she was “sexually assaulted” by the people who stole and posted these pictures – and the people who searched for and viewed them.  That’s harsh, even for me – while I understand that she’s the victim, lashing out at people who went to see the end result isn’t going to improve anything.

Let’s try to sort things out, shall we?

1.  WE NEED TO QUIT BLAMING THE VICTIMS.  Let’s suppose you had a storage unit that you paid rent for.  Among the things you decide to store there:  older, private documents you only need to keep around or share with a few people.  (Why they’re stored there and not at home?  Not important at the moment, and we’ll come back to it.)  One day you wake up and find all of those documents exposed all over the front page of a national newspaper such as the Wall Street Journal, along with hundreds of other people who also stored similar documents at the same place, which was once labelled “Most secure place in town.”  Who’s at fault for the break-in:  You, the storage company, or the thieves who stole the documents?

The fact that the sensitive documents, in this case, were naked photos doesn’t matter.  The fact that the storage firm was, in fact, Apple, doesn’t matter.  At the end of the day, a thief broke in, stole your stuff, and exposed it for the world to see.  You were the victim, regardless of whatever bad choices you made to contribute to this – and you’d feel just as violated and disrespected if you had this happen to you.

2.  This was a targeted attack.  Notice something odd about whose photos and accounts were stolen and exposed?  Notice what’s NOT being reported with this?  These thieves may have been targeting the storage company in an effort to ruin their reputation, but they were specific about what they took and exposed to the world.  I bring this up because it’s awfully funny how a friend of one of the victims would get her own moment of victimization when someone threatened to expose the exact same type of documents about her – other than storing at the same place and being the same type of people as the other victims, she became a victim herself by being threatened with the same problem.

These people were the victims.

3.  The criminals who did this were a number of things, but they weren’t “hackers.”  One of the things I am sick of, when it comes to online data theft, is the label that used to mean something good, something not so sinister and evil, that gets thrown around like a used condom at a sex party.  (Yes, I find it that nasty – that’s specifically why I chose that analogy there!)  “Hacking” has always involved information, but there’s been a good side usually:  The opportunity to improve upon or learn from stuff, or modify it for your personal needs.  Someone stealing data to post online, either for cost or for free, isn’t any more of a hacker than the thief that broke into those storage units and stole those personal documents:  The fact that they shared them with people that posted them in the newspaper also makes them bullies and jerks.  Let’s straighten the label out.

4.  We need to learn some things from this.   Clearly, there’s all sorts of things to be discussed here, and most people have one thing to learn:

  • If you don’t want to risk something important leaking out, the safest place is one closest to you.  I used the analogy of a storage unit instead of a home because in both cases, you’re insuring the safety and security of your property to someone else.  Just as people can steal and pass fake ID’s in the real world, people can do the same thing online – it doesn’t matter the firm you’re with or how much you invest into it.  While someone can easily break into a home to steal those documents, you’ll know sooner if it happens, and you can do more to protect and prevent the knowledge of their existence.  If it’s important, store it at home – not online.
  • The fact that someone is rich, famous, good-looking, female, or any other reason IS NOT a good reason to make anyone feel bad.  One of the disturbing things to learn about this was a possible why these women were targeted:  to bully them into being weak by a group of male idiots.  (If you’re dumb enough to believe that anyone should be above someone else, then “idiot” is an appropriate name for you.)  Apart from all of the comments suggesting the victims got what they deserved, there was a lot of ass-hattery surrounding the comments made about this.  At the end of the day, they’re just as human, just as fragile in mind, body and spirit as those of us “ordinary” folk are, and they deserve the same amount of respect we’d treat any other ordinary person.
  • We need to encourage the spread of proper criminal laws designed to treat these criminals as we would ordinary thieves –  and then we need to enforce them!  This is just the latest in a string of various hacks and information exposure designed either to scare, extort, or outright steal what is not theirs, and it’s about time we did something about it.  The international community needs to come together and come down hard on these acts, treating these people as if they’re thieves and bullies – because that’s exactly what they are!  It doesn’t matter if it’s someones credit card or their bare butt, if you wouldn’t go into a store and steal a loaf of bread you shouldn’t be taking what isn’t yours online.
  • Preach responsibility – don’t attack.  Even if you can’t find sympathy for the victims, it’s not hard to teach others how to avoid this (or any other avoidable mistake.)  You wouldn’t say some kid standing on the edge of a road watching a parade go by would deserve to be hit by a drunk driver swerving specifically to hit said kid, would you?  Yes, the parents should have kept a better eye on him, and possibly didn’t know how, but lack of knowledge and understanding doesn’t always mean they “deserve” it.  Let’s encourage others how to avoid this INSTEAD of attacking those victimized for not knowing better.
  • Finally – and this is a suggestion, not something to learn – the victims should OWN THIS.  The major reason I feel bad for these victims right now is the possible motives behind this, and I find the people who did this to be disgusting jerks who deserve shame, not reward.  There’s not a whole lot they can do to attack the villains here, beyond going on the news with their complaints and pestering law enforcement and politicians into doing something.  One thing they can do, especially given the circumstances, is to flip the script:  Turn the photos into art, give them away freely, sell them as a way to donate to charity, etc.  You can’t take back what’s already out there, but you can use those images to your own purposes and get one back at them, if you choose.

I hope something positive comes of it soon, because I’m really sick of the negative.  I hope they catch and punish harshly the criminals behind this, and I hope the victims get justice.

P.S.  I’m sure people are going to call me a hypocrite for what I’ve said, because I was harsher on them than I am now.  The thing is, new information comes in and changes people’s minds, and that’s what happened here.  I still feel strongly that you’re ultimately responsible for your safety and the safety of those things around you, but sometimes you have things that shouldn’t happen regardless of how irresponsible a person is. I’m not going to apologize for preaching responsibility, because that was (and is still) their mistake; I understand the extent of the circumstances involved, however, and can sympathize withe them for it.

A Next Level I Want to Jump to…

Earlier today Microsoft announced some new technology they’re developing.  The idea itself is simple:  combine projectors and Kinect Cameras in such away as to totally cover a room in computer images that you can interact with.  I first read about it and saw the video on Engadget’s website;  however, it was on Maximum PC that I interacted with others.

The first response was to a Microsoft basher who thought the VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift currently in development were better than Microsoft’s unoriginal idea:

“You’re right about those headsets: They’re better with reality right now, and given the cost of painting a room or buying the proper setups, probably a lot cheaper as well. Right now for immersive reality, they’re the best option.

Yet, step outside of what currently exists and ask yourself: What is missing in both cases, and which one has a better shot of pulling it off?

The answer: Touch, or feel.

Currently for a VR headset you still need a controller to interact beyond simple head movement. In this case, you’re limited by what is available, which most likely is a controller or prop, and by no means can you interact with it like an object in the living room. Try touching an object on that VR screen – feel anything real? What if that object were placed in a box with other, similar objects, and you had to find it?

You laugh because how ridiculous and silly this setup seems – this stuff has been possible for a while, but the cost of it, like the Surface touch-tables a few years back, made it impractical for most. I can’t blame you for comparing it to a VR Headset, which has been in development for quite a few years in comparison.

I’m looking at bigger picture, why VR has never taken off, why, for all of the good the Oculus Rift will do for total immersion gaming and Heads-Up Displays for consumers, it will ultimately fail in the long term consumer market – and at the end of the day it will come down to comfort, laziness and ease of use.

To immerse someone in a headset with touch interaction, how would you get them to “feel” the objects they interact with? Right now it’s with controllers, yet were you shot in a COD-style game, only your hands would feel the vibrations of being shot. To do it on a larger, full-body scale would require a suit and a lot of study – and then you’d have to figure out how to keep the user safe in the process, to not die when he is “dying” in the game. That’s not accounting for the perverts who (you know this will happen) will want to be the first ones to cyber this way – and the hope that, when they climax, they don’t short out the suit or fry themselves in the process.

Now let’s re-examine this room setup again. Sure, the texturing’s far from perfect, and there’s little that’s going to make you believe you’re anywhere outside of a projected room, but you accomplished one of the first tasks necessary for something like this to work: Interacting with objects projected onto other objects. If you’re somewhat like me, you can see a number of areas to improve on this: adding more realism to what you interact with, making objects appears as holograms, adding the technical bits of realism necessary, eventually working your way towards physical feedback with interaction. While you’d have to figure out how the body senses and differentiates feelings and how to “project them,” the risk of this route towards anything that can fry yourself is different and has more potential. The solutions to this route, still in its rough infancy, allow for the user to jump in and immerse themselves without needing to change cloths or do anything out of the ordinary to interact with the environment around them.

As I said, beyond playing a life-size “Duck Hunt” through one of the many Windows-based Nintendo Emulators, there’s not much to be impressed about here right now. This being a Microsoft project, I don’t need to explain the bright side (having the resources to see this to a cost point effective for consumers,) but to get to the grander picture I just mentioned, we have to get past the starting points – which is what this video is.”

The second was a general comment, covering two more thoughts associated with this:

Damn – after talking all of the good possibilities with this, I have to remind people of the huge negatives – all of which revolve around the classic story “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury.

First, the idea may be credited to “Star Trek” by reporters, but in the book, which came before the first “Star Trek” TV series, the room in which the main character’s wife Mildred is set up with “parlor walls,” Gigantic TV’s to interact with. Sound familiar?

Thankfully, we’re not burning books or creating only mind-numbing shows – but we may not need to, when you think about it. We already have an obesity problem in the U.S., part of which can be attributed to the total immersion in media we have today. We have so many ways and reasons to sit on our butts and watch screens that we can veg out wherever we like. While the media has improved, producing smarter shows and games in the process, we’re also repeating a lot of “Classics” that are adding little to no value to our culture. While something like this has infinite potential, it will also have a learning curve in which much of what we do will simply be the fireworks factor (“Oooh! Aaah!”) for the next few years. By the time we pull it to the level of current TV, we may be facing that almost-mindless, numbed-to-nothing state.

This mindless zombie state bothers me a little: if you remember the opening parts with Mildred, you’ll remember her trying to overdose – then forgetting about it. While a lot of people could point to the big brother aspects involved with all of this (which are equally disturbing,) the hardest change in life is that which is biological and psychological. The bright side is, should it ever make it to consumers, it should be simple enough to set up and use, and has the potential, as the Wii and Kinect had, of getting people moving. (That Whack-A-Mole Game looks particularly intriguing!) However, with the amount of mental instability and problems stemming both directly and indirectly from the way we use media, we might be creating the very problem we’re trying to prevent the government from having the capability to do.

On a completely separate note – in spite of the big negative I pointed out – I’d love to work on this project. One of my dreams growing up, ever since seeing it in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” is playing on a life size, working Holodeck – it’s one of those things I had kinda hoped would hold off while I finished school to work on. The potential uses and abilities such a device would bring in the right hands could teach the next set of students in a faster, easier, and more forgiving way; it could turn an entertaining experience into an impact-bearing point on life. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

Wonder if Microsoft would allow me to stay in Illinois…

Trust me when I say this:  Today’s announcement is probably one of the most impressive I’ve seen by MS in terms of technology development.  I’m not knocking the Oculus Rift or its competitors that are coming – in addition to perfecting interaction, there’ll still be uses for those devices beyond simple simulations and HUD’s well after such a room is completed – nor am I ignoring the potential harm that could result from it, especially in its current state.  Like most technological advancements, need and cost will determine how far all of these ideas come, but just being at this point, as simple as it sounds, is big enough to be excited about.  Some day – hopefully soon – we’ll be able to hug people from across the world without ever leaving our places.  I look forward to it.

P.S.  While what I described above might sound confusing and complicated, understand that many of these thoughts I’ve sat with since childhood.  Spotting these pieces are easy – trying to get them together?  That’s the real bitch.

P.P.S. I didn’t use links on either of my posts on Max PC, which is a damn shame – if you’ve never read “Farhenheit 451,” I highly recommend it.  Because it’s currently in print, the best I can do for you is point you to the Wikipedia and IMDB pages.  (Yes, they made it into a movie – however, this is one of those cases where, even if the book was worse, you’d still need to read it to get the full implications of things not dealt with or as well in the movie.  And yes, the movie is good.)

An Appreciation For Those Who “Share”

Sometimes you start out with something with no other intention than to complete it:  it’s an obstacle in your way of a larger goal, and there’s not a real way around it.  What you may see as a task to get done, however, is really a key to your personal Pandora’s box, and what you may gain from that experience is greater than what you expect. Continue reading

Abuse in the NFL and the Public: a few thoughts…

As I relax and get ready for a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, I’m going through Facebook and my news feeds, and finding myself thinking in a few different, yet equal, directions.  This seems to be true of the NFL today, albeit in a different, uncool manner:  some situations in the last couple of weeks which has become thoroughly disgusting, yet warrants a lot of discussion.  I’m not going to judge these players anymore than I already have – I think it’s more appropriate for the legal system, as well as their job, to decide that.  (For the record, you can safely say that I’m all for the firing of Roger Goodall, whose lack of caring about the players, their families, and the public perception of football and the NFL leaves him unfit to lead a mouse circus, let alone one of the largest sports industries in the world.)  Read on for my thoughts.

Continue reading

Voicing an Opinion without Misleading Opinions: My Opinion on Tony Dungy’s Remarks Hassle

Have you heard the latest trend in media reporting?  It seems you can’t not-hire someone who’s black, gay or a woman without it being BECAUSE they’re black, gay, or a woman.  You can’t even voice an opinion giving a clear reason why you’d not hire that person – it has to be about something you’re discriminating against, not about the problems that would be associated with that individual.

The thing making me think this way is the Tony Dungy comments regarding Micheal Sam the last two days.  For those not following the story:  In a comment made to the Tampa Bay Tribune about the recent NFL Draft published on Sunday, Tony Dungy said:

“I wouldn’t have taken him.  Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.”

I first read – and commented – on the issue on the CBSSports.com page – if you want to dig into the 6900 comments to try to find mine, be my guest.  (I should be somewhere between 3700-3900, allowing for responses to responses.)  I did also comment on my facebook page, however, stating:

Just read an article on Tony Dungy’s statements about how he’d not have picked Micheal Sam in the NFL draft, and I can respect his opinion. We’ve come a long way from segregated leagues and racism in Sports, but there’s still a lot of bigotry and bullying going on, as last year’s incident leading to the departure of Richie Incognito from the Miami Dolphins demonstrated. The problem when you break new ground and fight for equality and respect when you’re different than what some can accept is that, apart from the distraction surrounding the player, you have to contend with those who can not accept what you are – something that creates a headache/nightmare for those around you, such as your coach. Dungy already dealt with this once for himself, so I could understand his desire not to deal with it twice. Sometimes what we assume of as bigotry is simply honesty in admitting what you can/can not handle, and I think it’s equally as brave to admit that maybe you’re not the best person for a particular situation than to step up now only to back away later.

My opinion on the matter hasn’t changed – to me, it’s the media making a mountain out of a molehole, blowing something out of proportion.  Dungy gave a clear, simple, honest response about a situation that had no bias or hatred towards Micheal Sam or his sexuality.

Unfortunately, the media’s making something out of nothing – and people are making a big stink of it.

On the one side, you have his supporters, many of whom are either Christian or homophobic, commenting on these forums or as articles themselves.  Their support draws from these two areas, about how homosexuality is a sin against God and is unnatural, and are taking Dungy’s comments as such – not surprising, since Dungy is a Christian.  The worst was probably Rush Limbaugh’s opinion, which (sadly) was somewhat accurate in how the Rams are a social experiment this year but was full of his usual subtext.

Then there’s the other side, who feel that Dungy’s Christian views are getting in the way, or that he is a homophobe.  Much like how there are Democratic supporters who feel that the biggest reason Obama is having problems is because he’s black, there are people who feel that Dungy is bigoted in his views, and that no one can or should voice an opinion of descent against Micheal Sam.  The Fumble is among those voices, arguing against his support of Micheal Vick and Marvin Harrison – both of whose major problems came AFTER they were NFL players.

It’s become so bad, in fact, that yesterday Dungy had to release a press statement (which I read about through FOXSports.com) about his comments:

On Monday afternoon while on vacation with my family, I was quite surprised to read excerpts from an interview I gave several weeks ago related to this year’s NFL Draft, and I feel compelled to clarify those remarks.

I was asked whether I would have drafted Michael Sam and I answered that would not have drafted him. I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team. At the time of my interview, the Oprah Winfrey reality show that was going to chronicle Michael’s first season had been announced.

I was not asked whether or not Michael Sam deserves an opportunity to play in the NFL. He absolutely does.

I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process. It should not.

I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team. I would not.

I have been asked all of those questions several times in the last three months and have always answered them the same way by saying that playing in the NFL is, and should be, about merit.

What I was asked about was my philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years, which was to minimize distractions for my teams.

I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization.

I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction.  Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.

I wish Michael Sam nothing but the best in his quest to become a star in the NFL and I am confident he will get the opportunity to show what he can do on the field.

My sincere hope is that we will be able to focus on his play and not on his sexual orientation.

This statement wasn’t enough to quiet some sites and people – SBNation titled one of their articles, “Tony Dungy should stop talking about Michael Sam.”  Keith Obermann, meanwhile, has commented that Dungy is “The worst person in the world” right now.

Micheal Sam, for the most part, has kept it respectful, according to the Sporting News, while Jason Collins, another gay athlete in the NBA, commented about certain “Code words” in a recent Youtube video.

To me, however, all of this is stupid and wrong on so many levels it’s approaching ridiculousness.

First, just because he supported and mentored Micheal Vick when he was released from jail and returned to the NFL, and just because he supported Marvin Harrison then, how do you know he still would support them today?  Furthermore, how do you know he would/would not draft them where they up for the draft today, knowing what he knows now?  It’s easy to call someone a hypocrite without taking into account that those experiences may have changed his mind about them, or that, while he may/did help and support them as NFL players, he wouldn’t have done the same were they college players.  It’s easy to use the past against someone – it’s difficult to understand what they took away from those experiences, however.

Second, and I hate to break the news to you:  Correlating opposition to same-sex marriage as homophobia or hatred is ignorant and often inaccurate.  There are plenty of people I know who are Christians and have friends who are gay, yet feel that marriage is a unique union that solely exists between people of the opposite sex.  There’s no hatred involved, just a deeper respect in their interpretation of what the Holy Bible says.  Saying that Dungy’s support of an organization against Gay Marriage is proof of his inability to work with gay people isn’t always an accurate way to assess a situation.

Third, and I’ve mentioned this before:  Dungy didn’t say anything offensive.  By Sam choosing to announce he sexuality before the NFL Draft, he opened a can of worms that will create problems – mainly, unwanted attention.  Dungy’s not an idiot:  he knows how this attention will affect the team, both on and off the field, and he knows how he works.  When you’re dealing with proven elements that have shown resilience to such problems as we well as excellent performance in the game, it’s easier to stand by someone and support them – not as easy with someone who’s a relative unknown.  Dungy didn’t mention any hatred or malice:  He stated that he knew what Sam was bringing to the table, and knew he wouldn’t have wanted it.  That’s not bigoted at all.

Furthermore – and I have to ask this – what does his sexuality have to do with the game?  Sure, it might be something necessary and important for the management and doctors to know (if he gets injured or, as the press has shown involving Micheal Sam, the press pesters him about it), but does it affect how he runs, how he tackles, or how he plays the game?   What gay people like Micheal Sam fail to realize, as do the media that makes such a stink about these matters, is that, unlike age or gender which are mostly, if not completely, visible on the outside, THEY DON’T HAVE TO SAY ANYTHING UNLESS SOMETHING MAJOR HAPPENS.  We’ve matured as a society past the point of connecting gay people to AIDS, or have to worry about players like Earvin “Magic” Johnson risking injury to other players who might contract the disease through him.  If Sam were on the Chicago Bears (the team I root for) the only thing that would matter is how he played in the last game – and I’d only want to trade or fire him if his performance was consistently bad.  (I would say “if he sucked” – something I normally say about someone doing a bad job – but in this case the language really is important.)

The thing that concerns me the most, especially with my career and life goals and in regards to this incident, is the perception of what you say to the world versus how it is interpreted.   As a nobody I can say and do as I want, and the only worries I’ll need to consider with the consequences are from my current and future employers and clients.  Were I to be more famous, however, I’d have to be more careful and considerate, as Dungy had tried being here.  Interpretation is important, though, because I shouldn’t have to worry that my choice in firing or hiring someone is going to result in my job security or bank being compromised for it.  Furthermore, I shouldn’t have to worry that someone else is going to interpret my actions as being anything but those actions:  That, if I choose not to hire someone, it’s not because of something that they are, but because I found the best person for the job.  Likewise, if I fire someone, it has nothing to do with anything more than the job itself.  My views as a Christian, a white man, or how famous I am should not matter, nor should any comments I make to the such matter.

I still respect Dungy’s remarks, and feel he was right to say them.  This concept that we need to tiptoe/babystep around everything to avoid offending people and avoid being honest is getting to be annoying and idiotic.  No one should be shamed for voicing dissent on a situation that they know will be ugly, even if you’re a former head coach of the team that beat your team a few Superbowls back.

Song of the Day – The Prodigy, “Breathe”

Welcome back – today’s song is a bit of a different spin, a little electronica from The Prodigy.

The album this is from, “The Fat of the Land,” is one of the few electronica albums I can listen all of the way through, owing to having much of the same energy as a good rock album.  As far as singles released, it’s a favorite of the band – though I wish they’d have released “Mindfields,” which appeared on a couple of soundtrack to “The Matrix,” and “Narayan,” which has an awesome chant towards the end.

I needed something funky and with a beat, of which this song has plenty of.