Morning Update – November 16th, 2016

Good Morning! Waking up grumpy today, unfortunately – I have to wonder if nervous energy becomes a negative depressive energy when something you were hoping for doesn’t work out. (Either that, or having the sniffles sucks!) Sorry if my commentary is more negative today than usual.

Morning Update

  • TV Updates: Catching up on shows this week… (Previously commented on shows will be noted…)
    • Sunday:
      • Yes “The Walking Dead”
      • Yes “Talking Dead”
        • Happy 100th Episode!
    • Monday:
      • Yes “Supergirl”
      • Yes “Gotham”
        • This is beginning to feel like too much of a comic book series – not in a good way.
        • I was hoping they’d draw out the story further of The Executioner’s dive into madness before it was discovered.
        • Looking forward to where this takes Bruce, Selina and Ivy – since the preview showed the return of the Court of Owls.
      • Yes “Lucifer”
        • This one disappointed me – one of my favorite things of the show is the humor at the devil mixing in with mortals, having an infatuation with the detective, even a demon by his side. He’s a narcissistic smart-ass who just wants to have fun, and it’s entertaining watching him navigate the world.That’s why last night was a let down – it was as if the writer(s) who give him his sense of humor had a few days off, showing up near the end. The dramatics were interesting and it was an okay story, but that lack of humor hurt this episode.
      • Yes “Conviction”
        • Tonights episode, topically, would have been appropriate last week given the main case involved many of the hot topics that fueled this election.
        • Beth Greene… err, Brie Larvan/Bug-eyed Bandit… no, wait – Tess Larson is finally coming into her own on this show. Too bad we don’t get to enjoy her singing like we did on The Walking Dead.
      • Yes “Timeless”
        • This episode throws all of my theories about the possible ending out of the window while exposing the relationships between the team and the relation between Flynn and Wyatt. For the most part, drier than I was expecting for an episode set in the 70’s.
        • On the bright side, we DID get to see the Calculator (from “Arrow”) in the 70’s – as an important informant. “Follow the Money…”
    • Tuesday:
      • Yes “The Flash”
        • If Draco Malfoy isn’t Alchemy, I’m going to be extremely surprised…
        • Glad the group finally finally knows what Kaitlyn has gained – hope next week’s not a permanent transformation into Killer Frost.
        • Speedster God? WTF? (Sorry, time for me to cook…)
      • Yes “This Is Us”
        • When I first started watching this with Amanda, I understood a little bit why Amanda liked it: the relationship between Kate and Toby reminded her in some ways of her relationship with Mike. I think I grew interested because of the multiple relationships – between siblings Kate and Kevin, between Randall and William (his birth father, who let him be adopted at birth into this family – played by Bobby Fish from Marvel’s Luke Cage,) between Jack (played by Heroes Peter Petrelli) and Rebecca (The mother and father of this family, her being played by Mandy Moore), and between Kate and Toby. It sometimes makes me questions the relationships I have, and helps me understand other relationships close to me.
        • Tonight’s struggle between Kevin and Randall reminded me of the sibling rivalry My sister and I had growing up. It makes me wonder how much of what she did was her trying to get my interest – and later her trying to piss me off because I was an ass of a brother.
        • Pot Brownies and bad diets… enough said.
      • OH “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
        • Forgot that it was on hold until after Turkey Day…
    • Wednesday:
      • NA “Arrow”
      • NA “Survivor”
      • NA “Designated Survivor”
      • NA “American Horror Story”
    • Thursday:
      • NA “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”
      • OH “The Blacklist”
      • NA “Pitch”
    • Saturday:
      • OH “Doctor Who”
    • KEY:
      • No/Yes – (Not)Watched – notes below
      • NA – Not Aired
      • OH – On Hold – show has hit mid-season finale or is taking a break that week.
      • FS – Finished Season
    • Unlisted: Big Brother (Summer show), Sleepy Hollow (Returns January 4th)
  • Job Update: Yesterday’s interview with Dedicated Computing ended in disappointment as I found out I lost the job a few hours after leaving early. While I’m sad, I gained a couple of insights from this.First, I really went into this interview more unprepared than what I wanted to be.
    Part of this was ego, thinking I wouldn’t find out much about the company because they contract with the government, medicine and more industrial contracts. Part of it, however, was learning most of the important stuff about what the company expects an hour before the actual interview. (That’s probably the only real flaw with the way Educated Solutions Corp., the hiring agency that called me about the job, made) – I wonder, had some of the stuff (such as the interview questions) been emailed to me, if I would have been more prepared or less nervous.
    Second, I tend to get flustered and wordy when nervous, talking too much or giving too many details. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it had a couple of people (Amanda and Jenn, the person who I spoke with at ESC, but after each part of the interview yesterday I kept thinking, “Shut up Wayne, shut up Wayne!” Being prepared helps a little (as I learned in my classes,) but I’m also not typically nervous for an interview – or, if I am, I’ve never noticed until yesterday.
    While I’m disappointed in the outcome, I was equally impressed by both companies (which only adds to said disappointment) and feel like I could help. If you’re looking for work, have assembled PC’s, installed OSses, you may want to apply – it starts at $13 an hour, bumping up to $14.40 after 90 days.
  • Hot Topics
    • Waking up to political bashing is really getting old – some of you might find comparing Hillary Clinton to Monica Lewinsky (for those who don’t know, Bill Clinton’s Blow Job problem while as President – which should give you a hint as to the nature of this morning’s joke) funny, while some of you enjoy talking about Mr. Trump’s relation to the Oompa-Loompa’s and giant Cheeto’s for the hundredth time, but when you’re feed is 5:1 of any subject, you get burned out fast. Since some of you are complaining about what the other side says (also annoying,) maybe a tone-down while people cool down is in order. (On a bright note: THIS is the only political thin in today’s blog – a good sign things are normalizing.)
    • Yesterday I posted on “The Bear Tech” about a “Watch Dog 2” Gamer getting his PSN Account suspended for posting a picture that featured female genitalia. What I wanted to say – and didn’t – was how stupid this all is. First, the gamer didn’t do anything really wrong: it was an in-game shot, not an image he created. There was no response, even if he did share it, for sharing something the company that makes the game (Ubisoft), created.Second, other than the few wasted polygons generating said bits, what’s wrong with generating said parts in an adult video game? If this were Sonic or Mario, characters marketed towards kids and young adults, it would be understandable – what kind of perv would want to see Sonic’s Rocket? (Please leave that unanswered!) With adult games, however, we should be comfortable enough to handle an inadvertent flash or, if it makes sense to the game, some real, physical sexuality. I’m not saying we should waste the extra math figuring out how to do it all of the time, but maybe if we didn’t make such a big deal about it in the first place, it wouldn’t be a problem – and we’d be giving creators another level of control and freedom.Finally, to quote the article: “One thing’s for certain: We’ve come a long way from the days of Hot Coffee.” No, we didn’t – we learned how to strike up a few extra dollars by enticing people to every copy of the game available before the patch. Again, this is one of those “how much we pay attention” deals where, if we paid less attention to this, it wouldn’t be a problem – it’s almost like rewarding a kid repeatedly for bad behavior.

Time for a quick nap, and then a return to job hunting! See you tomorrow!

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Morning Update: November 15th, 2016

Good morning! Sorry for a lack of an update yesterday, but a combination of writer’s block, lack of sleep and a lot to do got in the way. It was started way early (Sunday night) and left me with little to feel happy about going into the morning… then afternoon… you get the idea. Anyway…

Morning Update:

  • What This Is About: Last week I was getting sick of repeatedly getting ignored when I posted stuff. I started thinking about some of the most common complaints – that I write too much and too often, not allowing the reader any chance to breathe – and realized that, in addition to my pages on FaceBook (The Bear Tech, which is supposed to be a depository of my computer/video game/tech interests,) I needed an outlet for some of my longer essays. Thus, back to my main blog for that.The idea’s simple: If I’m spending more than 2 paragraphs on something, people probably won’t want to read it. While I can add a “TL:DR” to the end of a comment that may be read BECAUSE it’s a comment, for something newly shared it’s a different matter: If they don’t read what you’re writing, they’re likely to ignore what I’m sharing as well. Likewise, if they’re not going to waste more than 2 paragraphs on something I share, they’re going to be less tolerant on a status update – of which have, in themselves, become mini-blogs.So, this is a depository for such thoughts: personal stuff that most might not care about, mini-blogs for things I shared/intended to share, etc. One stop, one write-up, 5 days a week. (More when needed.)

    It’s an experiment going through changes as I work with it, so any feedback related directly to this is welcome below. If it’s topic-specific, please include the topic somewhere.

  • TV Update:
    • Shows to catch up on: “Sleepy Hollow.” Worth noting: FINALLY have a watch-by date: January 4th, when the show returns for season 4.
    • Weekly Round-up (Tuesday/Friday): FINALLY caught up on last week. However, this is now the scorecard:
      • Sunday:
        • Yes “The Walking Dead”
          • I HATE Negan – but Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s an awesome bad guy!
        • No “Talking Dead”
      • Monday:
        • Yes “Supergirl”<
          • Don’t like how they handled the “Alex Danvers coming out” subplot – it really feels like a tacked-on “ooh, let’s make this character gay for no reason” storyline because of how they handled it. With all of the alien stories surrounding many of its human and alien characters in this show, this felt very unnecessary.
          • DO like the Guardian – though, like the “Alex Danvers coming out” subplot, this can easily become tacked on. (CW, here’s a hint: NOT EVERY MAIN OR SUPPORTING CHARACTER HAS TO BE A BADASS FIGHTER.)
        • No Gotham
        • No Lucifer
        • No Conviction
        • No Timeless
      • Tuesday:
        • NA The Flash
        • NA This Is Us
        • NA Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
      • Wednesday:
        • NA Arrow
        • NA Survivor
        • NA Designated Survivor
        • NA American Horror Story
          • Season Finale
          • KICK-ASS JOB THIS SEASON!
          • I love not only being right (called the “Hollywood-based behind the scenes” stuff back in the summer in a comment about the mysterious trailers) but how they played it out.
          • Also love how scary it is: by making it a documentary followed by a found-footage story, they brought back a huge scare factor missing the last two seasons.
          • Not so happy about how they had Lee (Adina Porter) possessed by the Witch of the Wood, though it explains her confession – as well as her reasoning.
          • Also not surprised that she was the only survivor – with everyone else either “playing a part” (The original cast and crew) or lacking the experience (Matt and Shelby), the only one with any real survival training would have been the ex-cop. (I was hoping military actor Dylan was going to be it once he showed up, after last week’s confession – his death didn’t seem to fit.)
          • I’m going to speculate that the final episode’s going to be like a mini-“Making a Murder”-documentary, as it would fit with the rest of the season and trends it followed this year.
      • Thursday:
        • NA DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
        • OH The Blacklist
          • While I’m glad we’re done with Alexander Kirk and everyone’s safe and sound, I’m really getting annoyed by the “Kidnap Elizabeth/baby” subplot they’ve been overworking the last couple of years, and the dancing around the “Is Red her father” bit they keep on insisting (since the first season) HE ISN’T.
          • Returns January 5th.
        • NA Pitch
      • Saturday:
        • OH Doctor Who
          • Returns for Christmas
      • KEY:
        • No/Yes – (Not)Watched – notes below
        • NA – Not Aired
        • OH – On Hold – show has hit mid-season finale or is taking a break that week.
        • FS – Finished Season
      • Unlisted: Big Brother (Summer show), Sleepy Hollow (Returns January 4th)
  • Coming this week:
    • Christmas Wish List – I HATE the question, and usually dread Thanksgiving and Christmas because of it. Unfortunately, while I feel bad for often not being able to give anything, I feel even worse that most of my “Wants” fall into the expensive category – and that I’m somewhat picky about what I want. Geeks might understand – I can’t simply ask for a processor, as someone who doesn’t know me well may get me a CPU by the wrong company, that’s incompatible with the motherboard I want/get, is soldered on/built into the motherboard, or – if they’re computer-illiterate – a food processor. Likewise, I feel like anything I could quickly run into a store and grab quickly cheapens the value of the gift – and I’m at a point of wanting gifts that have personal value. Expect on Saturday in a separate blog.
    • Writer’s LabI’ve been toying with a few ideas for a while, and some of these ideas – often based on feelings that lead to thought-out plans – are things best left to the realm of fiction. Unfortunately, while I have these plans, I don’t necessarily have an idea for a story – or, if I did, it’s flimsy and needs works. This being National Novel Writing Month, and it already being over halfway over, I have no plans to pursue a story this year. However, I have backbones for plots or topics for stories, and I’m going to take some time to fill in the details. Expect this on Saturday in a separate blog.
    • Podcast stuff: Earlier this year I talked of doing my own Podcast – thankfully I didn’t, as the things that would have made said idea changed, thus ending said original idea. I STILL want to do this, however, and I have a couple of ideas for a couple of podcasts. What I would like, however, are some cohosts – people interested in talking about current events, Tech, TV, Movies and Music on a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly basis. I’m testing ideas still, but for now we may either use Skype or other video/audio-messaging software – in other words, if you can’t make it to Milwaukee it’s fine; a regular consistent time is needed, however. If you’re interested in either being a regular or guest cohost, or have an idea that’d fit one of these topics, drop me an email, Facebook or Twitter message.
  • Job Update (Monday/Friday):
    • Interview today at 11 A.M. for a PC Builder. (Part of the reason I’m up – I’d REALLY like to get this job!)
    • Applying the rest of this week.
  • School Update (Monday):
    • Need to pay off fines to be able to transfer, and still need to apply to University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. (Both are on hold because of the Truck.)
    • Because I am nearing a third semester potentially out of school, student loan repayment is coming.
  • Football/Sports Update (Tuesday/Friday):
    • Having gone 0-9 this year for Applebee’s $10 gift certificate in the weekly Football contest, I went and picked the 5 teams most of my friends root for: Bears, Packers, Vikings, Broncos, Chiefs. Sadly, they went 2-3, with the NFC North big losers this week.
    • Having a considerable losing streak in the NASCAR picks as well, picking Kevin Harvik to win the last race. Last win in this was this summer.
    • Tuesdays are usually results, while Fridays are usually picks.
  • Hot Topics:
    • On Sunday, after seeing a meme claiming that Hillary Clinton lost both the electoral college and popular vote, I did some digging – and hit the first blog with more than one view in a while. (!!!!!) I also proved that a few sites you wouldn’t expect share the same numbers, and all 8 of the sites I checked using the “fuzzy” math these numbers used (based on adding in Michigan’s numbers) were wrong – by a wider-than-explainable margin. Sorry, Conservative sites, not this time.
    • Most people who are anti-Trump aren’t going to like me for saying this: It’s been a week since the election. In that time, Facebook has really shown itself to be a shitshow, with most of you becoming a huge problem. While Trump supporters and voters have continued in some of their nonsense (see above), there’s a few things most of you Anti-Trump posters fail to understand:
      • There are a number of conservatives who are twisting the actions you take against you. Part of this you bring onto yourself when you riot, burn the flag, or do some of the disgusting stuff I’ve seen on the internet – do we really need to see ANYONE take a shit in the middle of the street on a photo and smear it? Part of this, though, is them – and thanks to your actions, they’re having an easy time with it.
      • Your posting on Facebook and Twitter has pretty much added to the negativity and bullshit that is already posted, and THEY’RE trying to twist THOSE postings against you.
      • To make matters worse, your postings are driving people AWAY from supporting you – and that’s on ALL of you, liberal and conservative alike.
      • Finally, a lot of you are making the assumption that either they are or they don’t care about racism or bigotry, that the other side is full of fascist idiots. The sad truth of the matter is, they’re not – they’re no different from anyone else. They had seen all sides (if they bothered looking at the third party options), and chose the one they felt best about, or chose against the one they felt was bad – JUST AS MOST OF YOU DID. While you and I feel that they made the wrong choice, that doesn’t make them evil, that doesn’t mean they care any less about any of us, and that doesn’t mean they deserve our hate – save it for the real racists and bigots who DO deserve it.

      In case you haven’t picked up on my subtle hint, it’s time to reconsider strategies and quit protesting, either online or in public. The negativity needs to end, people need to cool down, and although the fight is far from over, it’s very unorganized and hurting others more than helping them.

      You’re entitled to feel how you feel, and I’ll understand if you dislike me for saying it – but I’d rather win the important battles than to make them more difficult. Here’s the important thing to consider: What if NONE of his promises happen? What if, in spite of Republican control through all parts of government, he CAN’T build the wall, he CAN’T stop immigration of Muslims, He CAN’T OR DOESN’T do anything about the PPACA? What if NONE of the worst of his promises come to pass?

      We need to be prepared if they do come to pass. We need to be vigilant against those who’d hurt our friends, neighbors, or family for being who or what they are. We need to show legitimacy and reason to back our causes, give reason to stand with us – not against. We lost the Election, and it wasn’t done by anything disturbingly different from previous elections – they came out, we didn’t.

      It’s been a week – let’s focus on the next important thing.

I have an interview to prepare for now – be back tomorrow!

Inaccurate Election Meme – Clinton DID win the Popular Vote!

A meme is floating around now by Trump supporters claiming that Trump won both the electoral college and the popular vote:

inaccurate-electoral-college-numbers

While the numbers aren’t far off from what most sites is reporting – 290 vs 228 for the electoral college – the popular vote of 62,972,226 for Trump to 62,277,250 for Clinton is a few million off. This meme, generated from numbers by Conservative Spirit (Source: http://conservativespirit.com/breaking-final-election-2016-numbers ,) includes the votes from Michigan and New Hamsphire, while taking a jab at other sites like Google.

Sadly, a review of a number of other sites, including Google, says otherwise.

Google.com:

Trump – 62,975,049
Clinton – 63,596,617

Politico.comhttp://www.politico.com/2016-election/results/map/president :

Trump – 62,697,370
Clinton – 63,083,525

USA Todayhttps://elections16.usatoday.com/results/president :

Trump – 62,953,011
Clinton – 63,582,452

Wall Street Journalhttp://graphics.wsj.com/elections/2016/results/ :

Trump – 62,975,049
Clinton – 63,596,617

CNNhttp://edition.cnn.com/election/results :

Trump – 62,975,049
Clinton – 63,596,617

Fox Newshttp://www.foxnews.com/politics/elections/2016/presidential-election-headquarters :

Trump – 62,975,049
Clinton – 63,596,617

uselectionatlas.org http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=2016&off=0&elect=0&f=0 :

Trump – 63,213,006
Clinton – 63,903,188

Formula: (Reported final results) + Michigan Results + New Hampshire results = final number reported.  (Same as what Conservative Spirit used.)

NONE of the final numbers reported on these sites came close to the number in said meme, and only by adding these two states did the results come close. Four of the sites – CNN, Wall Street Journals, Fox News and Google – likely used the same source, as Fox News and WSJ are owned by the same company. (Why CNN and Google also have those numbers is unclear.) Each of the rest of these site have different results, but all have the same end result: Clinton won the popular vote.

Sorry, Conservative Spirit, but trying to deceive people with inaccurate numbers where you list another conservative source (The Gateway Pundit, http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/11/trumps-landslide-by-the-numbers-he-crushed-hillary/ ) that’s inconsistent with every other source DOES NOT make this reliable.

Facebook Rant – November 10th, 2016

(Editorial notes:  Links were updated, spelling errors were fixed where they were needed, and I’m STILL tired.  And yes, I posted it in blog form – in case anyone else feels like I do.)

Good afternoon – was going to message earlier this morning when the cats were keeping me up, but I didn’t like any of the Donald Trump jokes I was coming up with. (If you have to ask “Why Donald Trump?” you REALLY wouldn’t get it!)

The last time I felt like yelling at some people being ridiculous and overdramatic, at not being complete unsympathetic douche bags, I wrote a blog that, unsurprisingly, was ignored by the majority of you and everyone else on the internet. (It seems my blog is now only visited by the SPAMBots who registered that someone visited, only to leave some stupid comment with a link to whatever garbage they’re peddling.) So, I’ll try to keep this simple:

GROW. UP.

Hillary Supporters and anti-Trump protestors: if you REALLY believe in the fight stop drowning Facebook, Twitter and all of your news feeds with stupid shit like “If you voted for Trump unfriend me.” Losing you as a friend now is a surefire way to continue this mess while sealing yourself off in a vacuum – no one benefits from this, you’re kept out of their loops, and no one comes to understand the fundamental wrongs on both sides. There were many more supporters who were only supporting their candidate because they were against the other person than there were supporters who fully believed in the person they voted for. (Here’s a site with a few polls that appear to be trackable if you want to look it up:http://www.politico.com/2016-election/polls/ ) That means there are plenty of issues on both sides ignored by this election that need to be discussed and understood, and discussion can’t take place when you refuse to hear the other side. Lose the Ignore statuses – they won’t help you.

Also, I’m fine with the protests – you have EVERY RIGHT to be upset, angry, and worried about the future. Trumps campaign mirrors Hitler’s rise to power in a few spots, and because he hasn’t been in politics before now, we have no track record to see how many of his promises he’ll commit to – so there’s DAMN GOOD REASON to feel as you do.

What I’m not fine with, however, is the fighting, the damage of property, the attempted bullying, and any of the other tactics where violence, bloodshed and damage can happen. Peaceful protests are meaningless when people witness this, and it often works against the side doing it, making it harder for the peaceful protesters to be heard. If you believe in your message, watch your actions.

(To save one argument: would you tolerate if your kid – if anyone you knew – used the argument “they were also doing it/did it too?” Of course not – you’d probably use the tired “lemmings” or “jump off of a cliff/bridge” argument in response. DON’T DO WHAT THEY DO!)

Trump Supporters: The one area you consistently fail at is empathy, for understanding and relating to the other side. Let those who are angry and upset vent it – don’t call them out on it, don’t rub their faces in it, QUIT BEING SORE WINNERS. They’re allowed to feel what they feel, there’s absolutely no reason to instigate shit or make it worse.

Also, there’s some interesting videos to be found of voter intimidation at the polls (some of which was used in news coverage the last two nights) and some disgustingly ugly tactics being used, such as the vandalism on busses and churches. Don’t act like your shit doesn’t stink because a few buttheads on the other side do it – there’s more than a few asshats among your ranks that need to be weeded out and have some sense knocked into. If it’s unacceptable for them to do, it’s equally unacceptable for you to do.

While we’re at it, this idea of unfriending or unfollowing people also needs to stop on this side as well – same reasons apply: You can’t have actual discussion or change without being able to have a discussion with someone from the other side. You might be surprised to learn that there’s more similar to each other than are different, that there are things to agree on, that not everyone fits the stereotype “liberal.”

It’s okay for everyone to feel what they need to feel – get it out of your system, let yourself cool down for a bit in this area. What’s done is done, and however this will play out in the political sphere (with talks of a possible investigation by the White House – https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/…/investigate-voter-fraud-… ,) crying, moaning, groaning, and acting like idiots won’t change it. If you’re serious about the cause, if you’re serious about what you believe, as soon as we mellow out we need to have serious discussions with each other on what we feel is wrong and how to go about fixing it. We need to protect those who may come under scrutiny and harassment now that Trump has won, and we need to focus on what we can do to make things work going forward. That doesn’t happen acting like children.

Sorry for the long rant.

TL:DR – If you’re against Trump, get the feelings out, protest if you need, but stop acting like idiots. If you were for Trump, stop being sore winners, show some sympathy, quit acting like there aren’t idiots on your side. For all: stop the “unfriend/unfollow” and stop acting like children on the playground. Let’s work together, not against each other.

Also, bad reference to attempted Donald Trump joke/cat frustration. It’s that kind of day.

Get Out Today and Make An INFORMED Vote!

Today is Election Day, and everyone is up in arms getting you out there to vote. After all, it’s your right! It’s your civic duty! You have an obligation, and no right to complain if you don’t! If you don’t vote, “the greater evil” wins, and America will descend into darkness and chaos! Fire and Brimstone! Cats and dogs, living together!

Oh, wait – wrong movie.

You have a ton of celebrities encouraging you to vote, in many cases, endorsing candidates in one form or another. Many have been very outspoken against Trump, while a few stepped up to his defense. Even when they don’t vocalize who to vote for, they’re certain on getting you out there to just vote.

For young people, first timers and such, this is a great thing: they see this country as failing them, so encouraging them to vote may drive their willingness to participate in the political structure of this country beyond that vote. We need willing participants who actually care about what’s going on to get these clowns that don’t out of office, not more offspring of said circus.

That being said, for many of us, this isn’t our first rodeo – we busted our electoral cherries at least once before. Many of us treat it as our first, however – we watch these people on TV, listen to their ads on the radio, and follow what our friends and families have to say. Social media inundates us with information, not all of which is unbiased or accurate.

We’re saturated in so much noise that we follow who we feel is right.

One of the best things I’ve read, oddly enough, came from a celebrity: Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs.” His advice, when asked to endorse someone or to get people out there to vote, is better than most. I’ll let him tell it here, as well as his follow-up here, but to summarize it: educate yourself before you vote.

Most of us only understand the issues near and dear to us: the importance of income coming in, of our education, of our rights, of our well-being. We forget that the roles of our elected officials and how what they do affects things, placing our smaller problems onto someone who is supposed to be a world leader. The president might be able to suggest and coerce ideas, but they only have the last say, in most cases – and although they can be overridden, they often aren’t. The president’s policies often have a bigger scope beyond our petty affairs. Likewise, the roles of our elected officials in the Senate and House of Representatives often get mixed up as to who can introduce what and how many there are.

Obviously, the book list Rowe suggests is way too big for today’s election – it’s a good starting point for the next one. Likewise, taking courses today won’t help much in this election either – but if there are any openings in the local schools, it’s a good idea to take if it’s been a while. (Also a good idea, while you’re at it: debate classes or groups, for the argumentative types who don’t want to sound like teenage Twittertwits and FaceSlammers.) There’s even the resources I supplied in a recent blog posting – how well they will hold up beyond the election is anyone’s guess, in some cases, but the documentaries will still exist, and the ideas will still be worth following.

What can you do if for some strange reason you’re still undecided? What if you’re so sure of who you’re voting for that you can’t possibly see them as human? Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Compare the candidates – here’s a couple of cheat sites:
  2. Examine their character – facts and stances, pros and cons of what they promise mean nothing if how they act and treat people argue against it. Anyone can put an act on in public, but once the makeup and spotlights come off, how are they? For that matter, how are they in the spotlight all dolled up? Youtube has plenty of clips, some edited into those advertisements we’re all sick of, and the news websites should also have video clips of their stops and debates. Even those podcasts I mentioned in my blog post earlier have soundbites, analysis and interviews with people who’ve been around them, who’ve dealt/worked with them. It’s easy for someone who’s an expert salesman like Trump or a career politician like Clinton to promise things they have no intention to keep – it’s harder to tell which one is even semi-believable.
  3. Review the rest of the candidates – this isn’t just the president we’re electing; many local, state and federal representatives and officials are also fighting for their jobs, or trying to fill an empty seat of a retiring spot. These people play key roles in how our government runs and acts, and are in many ways more important to American interests than the President. They’re worth scrutinizing a few minutes over, especially if you’re not familiar with them.

Most people will tell you the importance of voting, and they’re not wrong. What they’re neglecting, and what may come back to haunt us later, is the importance of that involvement – of not just picking someone without a little knowledge first. It might be too late, with what few hours we have left, to change that, but hopefully we can be prepared for the next election, and what I’ve said gets you thinking. After all, knowledge is power – and that power’s what we will need to really make lasting change.

P.S.  I’ve already voted – did it by mail last week.

Fifteen Years Later

Most of us born before September 11th, 2001 have a memory of what we were doing that day before tragedy struck – and we’ve let many people, friends and strangers alike, know these stories.  We’ve heard many stories of the brave and fearless, made movies of the men and women on the planes and entering into the burning towers, and heard stories of communities and people coming together in the wake of the aftermath.  We made changes, built memorials, and fought back against those accused of being responsible.

In the years that followed, however, we’ve gone down a dark and ugly hole that now threatens to tear our country apart.  A black man once celebrated as becoming the first black president has been harassed by people trying to tie him to the Muslims who were responsible for those attacks 15 years ago, and are looking to do the same to the female presidential candidate who might succeed him.  Because of the actions of a few hateful individuals on both sides of the line, police officers around the country – once respected in the wake of this tragedy – now face harassment, endangerment and death for doing their job.  We have a presidential candidates threatening to build a wall dividing us from our southern neighbor in Mexico, while keeping a group of people out whose only ties to the terrorist groups are the religions both claim to worship.  We have various groups – Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter – labeled as “hate groups,” and a strong divide between color and religion, race and class.

Fifteen years ago, in the minutes, hours, days, and eventually months that followed the first plane hitting, that first tower crashing, after witnessing death and destruction and hearing massive losses – we were united.  Yes, a few people were angry and hateful, but for a while we forgot about race, religion, and class.  We respected those who carried a badge, remembered the heroism and sacrifice many of them carried that day.  For a while, the only colors important to your skin was if you were lighter than normal (aka sick.)

Fifteen years ago today, men and women, young and old, were sacrificed.  They didn’t ask or choose to be sacrificed or injured – 19 assholes who were part of a larger hate group chose that for us.  Their sacrifice, however, meant discussion and unification – granted, it was around a common enemy, but it did bring us together.

For a while, at least…

Do we need another tragedy, another day of planes bombing buildings, of people shooting at each other, to remind each other not to hate each other?  Can we unite again, in the wake of the many shootings and riots that have followed in our country since then?  Can we start remembering what being American is supposed to mean?

I hope in the future we use this day to honor those who put on Police, Firefighter and Paramedic uniforms, as well as to unite us as one people under one skin.  I hope our hate that we have now eventually dissipates and disappears, that we can get back to seeing ourselves as equals again, regardless of what region or belief you came from or are going to.

I hope, in another 15 years, we haven’t forgotten what brought us together in the first place, that we haven’t forgotten how united we were.  If we do, then – to borrow an oft-used phrase – “the terrorists will truly have won.”

A Larger, Lengthier Discussion on Colin Kaepernick

The more I read about this incident, the more I feel he should be suspended – this seems much more like a kid throwing a tantrum than a serious protest attempt. I’m not against protests (hence why I’m not suggesting violating his right to peaceful protest and booting him from football), but if you’re going to do something at a game (which makes sense when you have millions of fans watching,) do something tasteful and show some class and respect for your fans – don’t pick something that could be considered a lazy afterthought or excuse. You make too much to do that!

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2016/08/27/kaepernick-refuses-to-show-pride-in-a-country-that-oppresses-black-people/?utm_network=facebook&utm_post=6215232&utm_source=FB%20-%20SNF%20on%20NBC&utm_tags=srm%5Bfootball%5D

  • Facebook, August 27, 2016

Colin’s followed up with more comments since this post was shared : http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2016/08/28/kaepernick-liberty-freedom-and-justice-are-not-happening-for-all/

The NFL and the 49er’s organization have also responded, along with several players, coaches, and fans – the last of which I wanted to address.

Although I’ve already posted my opinion, I think more elaboration is necessary – especially as I read into these matters.  On the one hand – the hand that’s angry, that thinks he’s disrespectful – his protest feels cheap, he disrespected the people who serve this country (not the leaders he claims to be angry with,) and he can use his celebrity to make a much deeper, more positive impact on this issue if he really wanted to.  The excuse when I initially read it felt more like a last-minute cover-up to him being lazy, and for that, he should apologize.

On the other hand, it’s a song written by a slave owner (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/wheres-debate-francis-scott-keys-slave-holding-legacy-180959550/?no-ist) and voted into law shortly before the Great Depression (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star-Spangled_Banner).  It contains a few lyrics about slaves (http://government.lawyers.com/national-anthem-faqs.html) , and since the debate started, has come with support to Kaeperning’s sit-in from Shaun King (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/king-stand-star-spangled-banner-article-1.2770075) and Upworthy (http://www.upworthy.com/a-players-quiet-protest-sparked-an-important-national-conversation).  While I feel his actions were cheap, they were also effective – it gained a lot more media attention than the game itself, sparking debate, discussion and even a little education – not bad for protesting a song.

I definitely feel, because of the fan disservice, he should pay a penalty – something the NFL and 49ers have currently declared not to do.

However, there are limits to the degree of punishment and the ridiculousness of ideas fans arguing this are putting out there.  A lot of people have been calling for his termination, and a few have called for his deportation.  Some of those with his jersey have been burning them – something financially ridiculous and too extreme for my tastes.

A few have been professing law, citing U.S. Title Code 36 § 301 (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/36/301), which states the rules for the national anthem, as the law.  Sadly, while these rules apply, they are not enforced as the law – they can’t be.

The 1990 Supreme Court case United States vs. Eichman (wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Eichman), otherwise known as the “Flag-burning case,” is possibly the closest answer you will find for this – most of the links I found arguing about the requirement of this bore down to the wording of the law above and the link to the flag rules.  For those unfamiliar with this ruling, a 5-4 verdict ruled that laws involved in two separate incidents in Washington D.C. and Seattle where demonstrators burned the flag during protests.  Those laws, which were designed to protect and respect the American Flag, were deemed unconstitutional as they violated our First Amendment rights to free speech, assembly, and protest.

So, as far as the law of the land, Kaepernick is doing nothing illegal.

The law of the land, however, does not protect him from  being penalized by his employers – even though it might give him an edge if he were.  Since the NFL is not a government organization, the League and its teams can decide on the players such as him – just like any other private sector job.  Even though both have voiced – for argument’s sake – “ignorance” towards this act, that may not last – he’s been rumored to ride the bench this season for more than his playing time.

This brings me back to my purpose, though – as an advocate for free speech and the right to protest, as much as I disagree with what he’s protesting, saying he deserves anything beyond a fine or suspension is wrong, and even those punishments are arguable.  While something could happen from the league, to say he don’t have the right, or to deport him, or to terminate him – those who say these things are in the wrong.  Until he commits a legitimate crime, He can protest this way all that he wants.

This doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t do anything – obviously voicing online and in blogs (like this) our dissent is another exercise of our First Amendment rights, even though he can ignore these comments and posts – just as he can laugh at the dumbasses burning jerseys, since he already has the money he will get from them.

What will hit much harder:  Viewership and pocketbooks.  Even though it’s rumored that Kaepernick may ride the bench this year, nothing is yet written in stone – he may still end up starting on opening day, should rumors be false or injuries plague the 49er’s the next game.  That money which he gets is based on what the team generates of sales of tickets, TV viewership, and merchandise – so less people tuning in when he plays, going to watch the games and buying his jersey will have as good of an impact as him playing like the 64th-best QB in the league.  (For those not getting the math:  That would be the average for somewhere near the bottom of second string or top of third string.)  Money is a harsher wound that words, in this case.

So save your death threats, your “termination” and jersey-burning – if you REALLY want to hit Kaepernick hard, hit him where it counts.  Better yet, do your homework – quit attacking people for protesting, and coming to understand what they protest.

The Resources I Follow for Political Information

My apologies if you were expecting another rant online – as much as I want to scream at you to start paying attention, the sad truth of the matter is that most of the people who are reading this already  are engaged, have made their choice and – stubborn as ever – will stick to it even in the face of being wrong.  While Facebook and Twitter will play heavily into this election, most of us simply aren’t going to listen to our friends and neighbors – unless we agree with them, of course.

One of the things I’ve been meaning to get, though, is something I was called out on in Facebook.  I received a message shortly after sharing information about the Trump/Obama BS involved with New Orleans – to quote the important part of his message:

I am tired of watching my fellow Americans be brainwashed by celebrities and biased media. I implore you to get the truth before you make judgements. I beg of you research information prior to making choices and decisions about our countries future.

I was very tempted to argue with him, right then and there, about the conservative brainwash machine he was trying to feed – but, to be fair, the article I was sharing was consistent with the information I had previously received, which in turn had multiple sources.  That does mean I could have spent more time verifying information before sharing it – something that, after the fact, STILL verified what was being shared.

I don’t appreciate being called a liar, especially during an election that I’ve spent more time following than I care to admit.  However, this is a normal response – people want to think they’re right, and they don’t want to hear other people’s opinions.  When they hear them, they want to know the source – some to fact check, many to discredit.

I’m not going to tell you my information is 100% correct – facts are constantly updated, as are the opinions they form from them.  I also won’t tell you they’re unbiased – “unbiased” doesn’t exist.

I will, however, give you a brief look into my biases – as well as the sources I use.  Hopefully, you can use the information to better form your opinions, get a fact or two you might not otherwise get, and understand more of where I’m coming from.

The Tri-Scholarly System

The biggest change since returning to school has been learning to write papers effectively – important, since two things can ruin your grades:  Plagiarism, and the ability to reference.  In most of the papers I had to do, I had to reference 3 or more sources for a paper – which was something I follow when writing or researching something.  (There are a few exceptions to this – but you normally don’t write research papers on how-to articles or language books for programming.)

For normal, everyday article posting, it comes to three simple rules:

  1. Can this be verified by three or more semi-biased sources on both sides?  If Obama says something, for example, I should be able to see it on CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and a third source (usually Fox or someone who will essentially skew it to their view.)  If I only see it via a skewed source – someone proven to be biased towards a party, such as The Blaze – without any counter, it’s ignored.
  2. If it is a quote from something, I want to hear or see it.  Anyone can say that person said or did something – it’s different if that’s actually able to be listened to or watched.  Because of the ability to edit and generate information, I pay particular attention to edits – while I realistically don’t expect to hear or see full speeches or the full context of everything, I do expect not to hear signs in the audience or background that point to words and actions being made to fit a particular “desired” quote.  If I feel like what I see/hear is garbage, I ignore it.
  3. Is there context, patterns and records to prove the possibility of this?  I won’t rush to research as much of the latest news if I had multiple sources verifying something leading up to an event – a quick scan of Google can tell me who the main sources are posting it.  An interesting thing note are the patterns in how something makes news – something may become popular on Facebook and Twitter, but may only have resources going back to the Republican Party and their supporters – hence, nothing on TV or that isn’t edited to be twisted in the sense some would like.  Something legit will be spread on both sides – you’ll see something from Fox, but also something from CNN and MSNBC.

The Importance of Major Media

The constant argument I’ve heard from typical devotees (people who follow a particular party) is how biased the media is – how anti-Democrat Fox is and how they like to make information up, or how anti-Republican CNN is.  While the ideal would be for all media outlets to be unbiased, the sad truth of the matter is that there are too many humans involved in it to NOT be biased – and even for those where biased can be controlled to not be attacked.

Let’s go back to September 11th, 2001 – how serious or important would that event had been had only Fox or CNN covered it?  How important or serious would we consider that tragedy if only one network or news organization followed it?  Yes, all outlets had some sort of skew, but the news of the tragedy was practically on almost every channel on TV and radio, in every newspaper, etc.  Yes, there are now “truthers” out there, people who believe it never happened, or that it was a government job – but the overwhelming evidence shows that it did happen.

Move forward a bit to Obama’s presidency – much like Bush’s, controversy surrounds it on both sides, with documentaries pointing to lies on both sides, news posts all over the internet, and people attempting to edit videos and audio pulled from previous recordings to twist and shape what is really said.  Plenty of articles going up online via sites full of bias – meanwhile, trying to get us away from major media, calling them paid liars.  The biases major media has is much sharper and clearer than has ever been.

This is exactly why they’re so important.

Yes, CNN is going to tel a more moderate or Democratic tale, and Fox is going to put a Conservative spin on things – however, you’ll see the BS, and believe it happened more if the event’s on both channels.  You don’t have to like the news, but trust me, it’s hard to validate anything not showing up on it.

Facebook

Like so many people, Facebook has become the norm for information, and has proven itself very useful in a way that most media outlets have not.  On the negative side, it exposes the most political among us, showing our side and opening us to attacks from it.  On the positive side, if you’re lucky enough to be friends with people who strongly support both sides, you get an equal opportunity to see where the truth and the lies fall – and  chance to know misinformation before you see it.

The information that came into question was Donald Trump’s Play-Doh passout in New Orleans, where he (and, in the case of that particular article, Trump-supporting celebrities like Kirstie Alley) verbally attacked Obama for his golfing while Flood victims needed help.  The person who tried calling me out on Facebook claimed to be from the region, and said that POTUS made it clear he wasn’t going to break from his vacation.   The problem:  Sources for said information.  While I could find many audio and video quotes for the Governor’s comments about Obama and to Trump, as well as the mishandling by Trump of his visit, The President’s alleged comments weren’t so easy to find outside of conservative sites.  I found plenty of his criticism on his golfing, however. (To be fair, part of how he was elected stemmed from his calling out of George W. Bush’s mishandling of Hurricane Katrina around the same area years ago – again, it’s like the pot calling the kettle black.)

Likewise, I can find almost daily updates from my friends on what evils Hillary, Obama and Trump have done – which isn’t much different from 2008, except from fewer friends posting more information to show support for their party.  It’s not balanced – the majority of my friends who do post are conservative, according to the sources of the links.  The comments that follow, however, give me a greater understanding of the opinions than many of the articles posting poll numbers.

Yes, Facebook is far from the most accurate source of information – but it can give you a more accurate idea of what people are thinking than any article or piece, as well as a starting point for news.  While it may not change any opinions, it’s definitely influential.

Podcasts

The biggest difference this time – started during my long commutes between Amanda and school – is in the podcasts I listen to, something I hadn’t done before for politics.  I made a choice to expand my knowledge by trying to find podcasts which would balance my information out.  I listen to three on a weekly basis, each contributing a different informative aspect to my knowledge.

NPR Politics Podcast

Updated weekly as well as around special events, this podcast covers much of the important news, including sound clips from the parties and the major players in the news, opinions and facts researched by the NPR news team.  While I’d advise more practice for Vocalness and more Star Wars-watching for the non-watching members, it’s an entertaining form of the news.

http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510310/npr-politics-podcast

Bloomberg Masters in Politics

These two ladies, experienced producers Betsy Fischer Martin and Tammy Haddad, interview various political people and groups, which gives an inside look into the lobbyists and political leaders making an impact on this election.

http://www.bloomberg.com/podcasts/masters_in_politics

The Nation Start Making Sense

Like Masters in Politics, this is another interview podcast where Jon Wiener interviews usually 2-3 people with political influence (usually authors and writers for The Nation.)

https://www.thenation.com/authors/start-making-sense/

Documentaries

Like the Podcast, the news, the internet and print media, documentaries have helped to fill in gaps on both sides of an argument, providing information not typically covered on TV news or in print/internet articles in a visual form.  Unlike most forms of media, however, all forms of documentaries are biased – the filmmaker is trying to present an argument to you, like a “mega-commercial” for why you want to see things their way.  As such, it is recommended to follow up these movies with some investigation – Not everything presented will be fact.

The one thing I would encourage everyone to do, especially if they’re going to reference documentaries, is to find something legitimate and representative of the opposite side you support – if you vote Democrat, look into Republican-view Documentaries; if you vote Republican, look into Democrat-view Documentaries.  If you can look past what you feel to be silly and ridiculous, you can come to a better understanding of those people you disagree with, and find common ground to agree on.

The other thing I would suggest is focusing on the topic in discussion – NOT the party or players involved.  It’s easy to paint someone as evil and dirty based on these films, but the important discussion isn’t always the people involved – it’s the viewpoint in question.  That’s more difficult than people realize – which makes it EXTREMELY important to mention.

A final note:  Although these are recent films, none of these are on either Hillary or Trump, and limited because of the intended focus of discussion.  I welcome a film discussion in the comments below – maybe by getting a decent list of g00d films to watch, we can better understand all sides of a problem.

Inequality for All

Robert Reich, current “Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley” and former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton’s presidency, gives an important lecture about the economic divide, the death of the middle class and the rise of the 1% since the early 1970’s.  Sadly, the numbers can be backed up, and play a much larger and more important role in economics today.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2215151/

https://www.amazon.com/Inequality-All-Robert-R…/…/B00HQAI8EW

America: Imagine the World Without Her

Remember what I was saying about viewing a film from the opposite party?  Here’s an example.  This film, made by Dinesh D’Souza, is very much right-wing propaganda – but there are common and agreeable points in there as well.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2785390/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LH30VJ4/ref=atv_piv_owned?_encoding=UTF8&imdbref_tt_wbr_pivt=0m0stag%3Dimdbtag_tt_wbr_piv-20

The Billionaires’ Tea Party

This is heavily focused on the Tea Party movement that has played significantly over the last decade of politics, but the plays made aren’t too different between parties.  The most significant thing to note is how this movement started and is operating – you may understand why I have such distrust for openly-biased media.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2551580/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

https://www.amazon.com/Billionaires-Tea-Party-David-Koch/dp/B00OU4MDN4

Classes, Social Involvement, and the importance of Discussions

The biggest thing influencing what I post now was my recent return to college – pursuing an Associate of Arts to get my Bachelors degree in Computer Science allowed me to take some necessary but forced classes in Sociology, Politics, Psychology, Biology, History, Philosophy, Religion, Speech, and other subjects which will educate, inform and prepare people for the real world.  You don’t need to return to school, however – there are plenty of resources, online and in the cities, that allow people to have discussions and educate themselves in political matters.

Discussion, really, is the most important aspect I can encourage.  You can find plenty of media to fulfill the information need – but some of your best sources are going to be the people that you speak with.  Even when you disagree, you can find more information on which to search for the next argument, find common ground that both sides agree on, most importantly, find the important points to take with you into November.  You may see more opportunities than Hillary and Donald, and find an understanding to why both the #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter movements are important.  Agreement isn’t important – education is.

Conclusion:  Educate yourself, Discuss with Others, Get Out There and Vote

Back to reality for a moment:  This isn’t the same level as someone with a political science degree, a lawyer, professor or politician speaking – at the end of the day, I never pretended to be an expert, and I hope none of you will, either.  I may dislike politics and politicians for what they do, but I won’t pretend for a moment that I can do better.  (I lack the patience for it…)

I am, however, a concerned citizen -worried about the rights we have and the lives we live, and the impact these larger figures play in our lives.  We don’t usually think about how their decisions impact us until we go to do something they change – then we get frustrated and angry, saddened, but ultimately accepting, of their decisions.  We need to stop that -and fast.  We’ve always had the power – but we’ve brainwashed to believe otherwise, and will remain so until we accept it.

I hope by sharing my sources and insights to my understanding you examine your own sources and choices.  While I would like everyone to avoid voting for Trump, I don’t care about that as much as you learning to seek the truth – and understand that the other side isn’t your enemy.  If, after doing your searches and reading, listening to, and watching your sources you find that Trump or Hillary are the best candidates, so be it – as long as you’re ignoring the ones that say that Hillary made a deal with the Devil or Trump’s a born-again Australian (or something equally ridiculous – wasn’t Obama an alien from another planet?) as well as the ones only designed to make you think in a particular bias, that’s what’s important.

I’ll probably post more political posts in the coming weeks.  If you have a particular documentary or podcast to recommend, feel free to comment it below.  (I’d suggest avoiding criticism of my sources, since the creators most likely won’t read them.)

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.

Finally,

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.

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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.

Signed,

Fans

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.

AGGRESSIVE, ANGRY, SOUL-CRUSHING MUSIC WITH A HEAVY RHYTHM:  THAT’S FOOTBALL MUSIC.

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!)