Social Media: Why I Quit It

I quit Facebook completely in the Spring, leaving the account but locking down my profile so that even my FB “friends” can’t see my information. After several years on the platform I realized there was a reason why I’ve lost touch with most of the people I’ve known over the years, and those friendships that have stood the test of time don’t need software like Facebook to maintain them. Many of my friends are liberals who naively assume everyone on their friend list of hundreds thinks exactly as they do and will “like” their post on global warming, gun control or Hillary Clinton. They were then shocked when they learned that others didn’t subscribe to their philosophy, and the ensuing arguments that erupted in the threads usually when one friend of the poster who didn’t know the other friend of the poster, a complete stranger in other words,  flamed him/her for daring to think differently, proving the medium is at best a near infinite number of virtual sandboxes with toddlers talking to themselves.

I’ve also shutdown my Twitter account. I never really liked the medium or really spent much time using it. I’ll admit I am old fashioned. One of the keys to good writing is thinking about what you are trying to say, then perfecting it in the editing process until it says what you intend clearly and concisely. Blogging challenged this methodology, but even here I am able to set a post aside and save as draft to come back to it, revise it after it’s been published or on rare occasions, pull it completely if I realize what I posted was a mistake.

Twitter is the antithesis of this process. It encourages people to share whatever thought crosses their mind no matter how half-baked, idiotic or rude. And let’s face it: there are few people out there whose thoughts are so important let alone interesting that they are worth reading. It seems that the best ones are when celebrities use Twitter to show how ignorant and clueless they are, such as when Playboy pinup Dani Mathers, who is famous for being blessed with a nice body, uses Twitter to show how ugly she is inside by mocking the body of an older woman. As a libertarian I’m also put off by a private company owning the medium and allowing it to be used by jihadis as a recruitment and communications tool, but banning conservative voices like Stacy McCain and Milo Yiannopoulos.

If you think you are not paying for the product, you are the product, and while I believe companies like Twitter and Facebook are free to do as they wish, I don’t want them to make money off of me. And for that reason I have completely avoided other social media sites like Snapchat, Photobucket or what have you. I collect photography as art and I have paid good money to own a photograph, so I don’t see why firms shouldn’t do the same. If a photo I take is in demand, then I should be compensated by something more than a “free” account. It’s the same reason I don’t fill out surveys at stores promising to enter me in a drawing to win a gift card. I value my time, and if a store wants my opinion on my “shopping experience” then they can pay for it with more than a contest entry.

The question comes up: Isn’t cutting oneself off from the social media stream isolating? There are few feelings as lonely as posting something on Facebook which is important to you that is completely ignored by everyone. It doesn’t matter whether your friendlist is in the double or triple digits, the “sandbox” nature of the media is revealed. You want to feel loved? Post a funny cat or baby video.

I got my first real PC in 1989. It came with a 2400 baud modem and I have been online ever since. I have found that being online is worthwhile, but it is not a substitute for human interaction. Skype, chats, emails – all of these help connect us to each other and are not bad. These interactions aren’t much different from a phone call. But Fb and Twitter aren’t meant to connect us to another person, they are meant to make money for their companies by pretending to give us an audience. And that’s how they differ from those older electronic mediums.

If you want an audience, become an actor. If you want human interaction, pick up the phone and call your best friend. But I’d recommend against wasting your time on social media.

The Council Has Spoken: July 22, 2016

Council Winners


Non-Council Winners


Council Submissions: July 19, 2016

Council Submissions


Honorable Mentions


Non-Council Submissions


Blue Lives Matter

Although nothing that I say about it, or you say about it is going to stop people gunning down cops. Dead cops doesn’t fix dead innocents killed at the hands of cops. But Black Lives Matter has now made Blue Lives Matter. It’s 1969 all over again, just with crappy music and no moon shots.

Update: 7/19/16 -  Another day another dead cop: “Kansas City, Kansas, police Captain Robert David Melton was killed in a shooting Tuesday afternoon.”

This is not the country I want.

Goth Inside

Taking just a short break from the depressing insanity that is passing for 2016…

Goth’s not dead (heh). As this WaPo article points out, the music-based Goth subculture continues to endure decades after its appearance in the early 1980s and heyday in the mid-90’s. “Goth seems to stay in people’s souls, even when they grow up and get jobs and have kids and stop dressing quite as outrageously as they once did. It is an outlook, a refuge, a dark corner made friendly by the presence of others.”

Music is a very personal thing. The song that moves you to tears is unlikely to have the same effect on others, and for those who missed the subculture in their youth it’s hard to understand how this song pretty much stops Time for any goth regardless of their age. For many, especially those of us on this side of the Atlantic, it was our first exposure to true Goth, and we were bitten.

Siouxie Sioux, the queen of goth, had a voice that could freeze the blood in your veins and then seconds later melt your gothic heart. Rest assured that when I visit Pompeii soon it will be difficult for me to keep her song “Cities in Dust” out of my mind.

Unless you’ve been exposed to the Cure it’s difficult to understand their enduring popularity. The Cure is touring this summer and continues selling out venues, pulling in young and old alike. Well, if the Mick Jagger can do it at 72, why can’t Robert Smith at 57?

As a goth I grew up with Top 40, album rock, and funk and while I still enjoy the occasional Rush song (or two), and can even appreciate early Michael Jackson and the groundbreaking Grandmaster Flash, the music that flickered like a candle in my darkest moments in my teens and twenties remains my go-to music decades later, when the world is darkest and everything seems pointless. After all Andrew Eldritch, Sisters of Mercy lead singer, understands.

Music captures a moment in a way photographs cannot. A photo may capture a scene, the light on a loved one’s face or a smile in her eyes, but music? Music can capture an entire 3 dimensional world complete with emotions, smells and tastes. To you the following is just some nice ambient sounds, to me it is the sunrise breaking through the fog in the mountains of Northern California after an overnight trip with my new love asleep in the seat beside me as we drive, the woman who walks beside me 25 years later.

The hair is gone, and if you met me in a local Tractor Supply you would think I was just another redneck buying chicken feed. But the music that comes out of my truck with NRA and Hillary For Prison stickers as I leave is more likely to be this than Kenny Chesney:

Yes, everyday is Halloween for some of us and even though we don’t look goth, rest assured that in our young hearts our jackets are black leather, our boots are Doc Martens, our hair is long, black and smells of clove cigarettes, and our faces are just a shade too pale.

The Council Has Spoken: July 15, 2016

Council Winners


Non-Council Winners


More Gun Violence In Europe

A truck plowed into a crowd of Bastille Day revellers, running over hundreds before coming to a halt. The driver and an accomplice emerged, shouted “Allahu Akbar!” and opened fire. 77 are reported dead and hundreds injured. Police shot the driver dead but the accomplice escaped. The truck was filled with grenades and automatic weapons – all of which are illegal to possess in France (and by civilians in the USA too).

This is the second large-scale terror attack in France in less than a year. France has some of the strictest gun control laws on the planet, yet terrorists seem to have no difficulty in finding guns and grenades to use in their attacks.

Should we be surprised?

Right now there’s a heroin epidemic in my community, replacing the painkiller epidemic when pill-mills and shady prescribers and pharmacies were raided and closed. People in rural America are still dying using a completely illegal drug from a plant that is grown, whose resin is then processed, packaged, shipped and distributed from central and south Asia to rural North Carolina on the other side of the planet.

Prohibition never works. It didn’t work with alcohol in the US, it doesn’t work for drugs and it doesn’t work for guns in Europe. Yet that doesn’t stop otherwise intelligent people from wanting to ban guns in the US.

No one is complaining about the gun laws in France tonight. There are no terror euphemisms like “gun violence” being using to describe tonight’s events in Nice. But it’s important to keep this in mind for the next terror attack in the US, when the “T” word is avoided and the “gun violence” term is bandied about, along with the assumption that San Bernardino and the Pulse Nightclub attacks would have been prevented with European style gun controls.

Gun control in Europe hasn’t worked to stop terror attacks, and it won’t work here either.

Council Submissions: July 13, 2016

Council Submissions


Non-Council Submissions


What If They Gave a Race War And Nobody Came?

The New York Times reports, almost disappointingly, that a Harvard study found no racial bias in police shootings. In fact in Houston blacks are less likely to be shot at then whites: “Using data from Houston, Texas where we have both officer-involved shootings and a randomly chosen set of potential interactions with police where lethal force may have been justified we find, in the raw data, that blacks are 23.8 percent less likely to be shot at by police relative to whites. Hispanics are 8.5% less likely,” (Fryer 2016, pg. 5).

Well that blows the narrative to hell, which is why I didn’t learn that fact until I read the study myself.

Groups like Black Lives Matter formed and have thrived in an environment that assumes cops are hunting down law-abiding black folk. This study, while showing blacks are more 24% more likely to have a gun pointed at them than whites, inadvertently proves police restraint towards black people. A cop is more likely to point his gun at a black person, but he is more likely to shoot a white person. Is it time to start White Lives Matter? No, because from my perspective as a gun owner I question the need for drawing a firearm in the first place.

It’s worth exploring whether the police shootings that have aggravated racial tensions and divided America into pro-BLM and pro-LEO camps are necessary. Comparing cop shootings in the US to those abroad and even when accounting for the higher incidence of violent crime here, the numbers are sobering. In the first 24 days of 2015 there were as many cop shootings in the USA as there were in 24 years in the UK. There is room to wonder if this reliance on firepower is truly necessary and whether a new perspective and training of Law Enforcement would protect cops and civilians. But these changes have nothing to do with racism.

The Left from President Obama and Attorney General Lynch on down abetted by the liberal media have perpetrated the myth of crazed white cops gunning down black men. This study has proven the myth to be a vicious lie that contributed to the deaths of 5 Dallas cops a week ago. Sleep well race-baiter in chief Obama.

The Clinton Contamination

Hillary willfully put herself above the rules — again — and a president, campaign and party are all left twisting themselves into pretzels defending her.


Obama aimed to have no shadows, but the Clintons operate in shadows.


...


Comey’s verdict that Hillary was “negligent” was met with sighs rather than shock. We know who Hillary and Bill are now. We’ve been held hostage to their predilections and braided intrigues for a long time.


...


The Clintons work hard but don’t play by the rules. Imagine them in the White House with the benefit of low expectations.


——————-


The above are quotes from an article by Rush Limbaugh? Bill O’Reilly? Sean Hannity?


Nope. New York Times top house liberal Maureen Dowd.


The Council Has Spoken: July 8, 2016

Council Winners


Non-Council Winners


Plain Facts

1. Too many black people are being gunned down by the police without justification. Black Lives Matter didn’t start for no reason. We have seen too many grainy videos of black men being shot in circumstances that don’t justify the death penalty. Broken taillight. Selling single cigarettes. In these cases unarmed civilians are shot by law enforcement. Under these circumstances the standard police tactic of overwhelming force – aggressive demands, guns drawn – failed. Such shock and awe tactics may work on the battlefield but they should be the last resort in a civil society. There is a place for SWAT tactics, but that place is not in America’s streets during traffic stops.The best tool a cop has is his or her brain, and they must be trained to use it. Currently cops rush in and their goal is to gain the upper hand and control a situation. This tactic minimizes the danger to law enforcement but strips civilians of all power and dignity, leaving them vulnerable to police misconduct. Such vulnerability can often boomerang and lead to more physical aggression by those detained. Instead cops must be trained in deescalation tactics and learn how to operate in an uncontrolled environment. American gun owners are often told how we could learn from gun-free societies such as the UK and Australia. Perhaps American cops can learn new tactics from law enforcement that don’t escalate into a fight/flight situation for everyone involved.

2. It is possible to be pro-cop AND pro-black. Trevor Noah is a liberal asshat in my view, but he’s right on this one topic: It’s possible to be pro-cop and pro-black. This is America in the 21st century. We shouldn’t have to choose between living in total anarchy or a police state. If we cannot come up with a solution that navigates between these two extremes than we do not deserve to live as a free people and our society is doomed.

 

3. Dead cops won’t fix dead black people. 5 dead cops in Dallas do not increase the sympathy for dead black men like Philando Castile. Neither does this fix the problem unless you believe the problem can only be solved by a full-on race war, and if that’s the case then pick up your shit and leave my country.

4. We have a problem and we have to fix it. As the parent of a teenager and one who is considering becoming a LEO I don’t want my kid to be gunned down for no reason, either for a broken taillight as a civilian or in revenge as a cop. Our leaders continue to fail us, so it us up to we Americans to step up and begin to fix this problem ourselves. The first thing that we can do is to recognize we have a problem. The second thing we can do is accept that we can be pro-cop and pro-black. We shouldn’t have to pick sides. The next thing we can do is reach out to others and search for solutions that don’t involve promises that lead to anarchy or a police state.

There will be more videos. There will be more dead civilians and likely dead cops. This is not the America we want and it is our responsibility to change it.

PS: Yes, white kids and Hispanics are being gunned down by cops too, but the fact remains that most of the incidents are white cops shooting black men. The solution, whatever it is, will be color blind.

Curious George Goes to Raqqa

Keeping with the new direction of the Curious George books, a sequel to It’s Ramadan, Curious George has been announced. The proposed book cover is shown below:

American Airport Security Still Broken

Dan Reed at Forbes.com points out that while lines at TSA checkpoints in airports are down, the system is still broken.

The real problem is that the entire approach to airport and airline security is all wrong – and has been since at least 9-11. It took Herculean efforts – and lots of managerial smoke and mirrors – to get the Fourth of July holiday crowds through airport security checkpoints in less than 30 minutes, on average. But it did not make any one of those passengers, or those airports, or the flights on which those passengers flew, one bit safer. Remember last year’s report from Homeland Security’s Inspector General that showed that airport screeners failed to find weapons and illegal materials smuggled through checkpoints by IG operatives a staggering 95 percent of the time? Nothing has changed over the last year to drop that to some acceptable failure rate – like zero. In fact, with bigger crowds at the airport than ever, and intense pressure to speed up the process, a reasonable person could surmise that the TSA’s failure rate just might have ticked up a point or two (though it can’t go much higher than it already is).

More than a decade ago Bruce Schneier, a cryptographer and expert on computer security and privacy, famously dubbed the entire airport/airline security process “security theater.” And that’s what it remains today, even with the “better” performance over the holiday weekend.

Los Angeles Nuked – Spear Phishing Attack Suspected

March 15, 2017 – Washington DC

The investigation behind the nuclear attack on Los Angeles continues. Sources reveal that a high-level American official may have been victim of identity theft while accessing her Goldman Sachs account. In an attack known as “spear phishing” a link to a fraudulent website is sent by scammers directing the victim to a fictitious website where personal details can be harvested. A screenshot of the suspected fraudulent website has been released by the hacker known to authorities only as Guccifer 3.0.