Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Neil Gorsuch is Donald Trump's Nominee for the Supreme Court

  Donald Trump selected Tenth Circuit court of appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch as his choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Trump honored a campaign promise to conservatives to nominate a jurist with a similar philosophy to Scalia. He kept his promise.
   Gorsuch has spoken highly of Scalia's jurisprudence. Like Scalia, Gorsuch is an originalist. His opinions are guided by the desire to find original intent as opposed to the idea of the constitution as a 'living, breathing document” that changes with the social more of the times. Gorsuch is a staunch defender of religious liberty and a foe of regulations. Gorsuch supports judicial restrain whenever reasonably possible.
     Gorsuch was confirmed unanimously for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006. As you may recall, the 2006 Senate featured Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden as members. Nevertheless, expect Democrats to suddenly discover major reasons to wage a huge battle against Gorsuch now. Protesters already had pre-made signs with Gorsuch's name on them so as not to miss a beat.
     Liberal opposition probably will not matter. There are 23 Democrats up for re-election in 2018. A sizable number are from red and swing states. Those Senators are likely to defy the further to the left party leadership in order to boost their re-election chances. Last year, Barack Obama tried to nominate Merrick Garland to fill Scalia's seat. The Republicans locked him. Democrats tried to make their obstruction of garland's nomination an issue. It failed to resonate with voters. Successfully blocking Gorsuch will not resonate, either. There is always the nuclear option of eliminating the filibuster and confirming Gorsuch. It is a trick Democrats taught us.

Crazy From the Heat Liberalism

      California appears to be going a little bonkers these days. Maybe it is the heat. Maybe it is the various the giants competing against each other in a Tony Stark emulation contest. But most likely the problem is the liberalism. What else can you say about a state whose most powerful Republican is a member of the US House of Representatives? Or a state which gave 62% of its presidential votes to Hillary Clinton?
      The state has been drifting leftward since 1992 when it supported Bill Clinton. The last Republican presidential candidate to carry California was George H. W. Bush in 1988. In spite of a few brief flirtations with statewide republicans, most of whom were liberal enough to be considered Democrats anywhere else, the golden state has been the exclusive domain of Democrats. It has been in many ways a living laboratory for progressive policy. Therein lies its problem—California has drifted to far to the left to play well with the rest of the country.
       The election of trump was the apparent tipping point. With a polite nod to the United Kingdom for earlier electing to depart the European Union by a referendum called the Brexit, various groups are collecting signatures to place California secession on the 2018 ballot. The Calexit, if you like.
      Does the Calexit have a chance at success? Virtually none. Socially, economically, and militarily, California needs the rest of the United States. Going into great detail is would be beyond the scope of this bog entry, but consider California's dependence on its neighbors for water. Neighboring states are only going to take American currency or gold for the good stuff. Only 32% of the copulation supports the Calexit, and the chances of the Assembly rubber stamping the secession even if the referendum passed are nil.
       You can mostly chalk the Calexit movement up to the same type of empty threats heard from celebrities every election cycle about leaving the country if so and so Republican is elected. It is no coincidence most of thee celebrities live in California. The left threatens to leave in the same manner as a child threatens to run away from home if he does not get his way. As noted above, the tipping point here was electing Trump president instead of Clinton.
   But that does not mean California does not have its near irreconcilable differences, both internally and internally. The northern and western parts of California are dragged into a clash of culture with its far left coastal regions. Farmers in the west do not quite see eye to eye with the rich, guilty celebrities, silicon Valley techies, and pot smoking hippies on the coast. The latter's contempt for the former is only slightly milder than its contempt for the unwashed yokels in flyover country.
    The fun never stops. The state government is considering adding a third gender option on official documents. I a picturing an 'it's complicated” choice like with a relationship status on Facebook. There are rumblings of becoming a sanctuary state for illegal migrants in defiance of the Trump Administration. So while nothing will come of the Calexit, California still is not going to play well with the rest of the country. I half expect the state to shave its head and beat an SUV with an umbrella any day now.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Yanking Yates

     Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a Barack Obama holdover appointee, issued an order for the Justice department not to defend Donald Trump's temporary travel ban from seven terrorist sponsoring nations. So Trump promptly fired her this evening for not fulfilling her duties. Yates should have expected her termination would happen. What else would one expect from a guy whose catchphrase is 'you're fired?'
       Of course Yates expected to be fire. I do not buy into the assertion from idealistic leftists claiming she wanted to be a martyr in the cause of resisting perceived racism against Muslims. It is far more likely she was going the Megyn Kelly route of making a name for herself going up against Trump to boost her job prospects. Look for Yates all over MSNBC before taking up her new job as counsel for a Wall Street firm. Bonus points awarded if it is Goldman Sachs.
     Yates firing was justified. She failed in her duty to defend a lawful order meant to defend the security of the United States. Im agine if a George W. Bush holdover attorney general had refused to allow the Justice department to defend Obama's 2011 travel ban on Iraqis? Liberal pundits would suffer fits. I guess the rules are different for liberals.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Can Trrmp Derangement Syndrome Keep Pace with Trump?

    I waxed nostalgic a bit yesterday about the halcyon days of yore when bush Derangement Syndrome was the hottest thing going for liberals. I was tempted to write I was in a nostalgic rage instead, but nixed the idea. Even I could not make a joke that bad. These days, Trump Derangement Syndrome makes its older cousin seem quaint in comparison. We have only enjoyed a mere week of the Trump Administration, but the political has already nearing maximum capacity for hysteria. Or are they just getting started? I dread the latter possibility.
   The root of Trump Derangement Syndrome is clear. The political left, confident in either the holiness of their cause, the ignorance of their base in believing said holiness, or both, massively expanded the power of government with the expectation of no one of an opposing ideology wielding is power. Now the power is wielded by Trump. He is doing to the political left what they wanted to do to the American people.
   It probably is not gong to get much better for the political left, either. If Trump's frenetic output continues at this pace, it will be clear he plans to conduct policy at the speed a business is run. We will all bear witness to the piercing shrieks of pain from the Ivy League wonks who once micromanaged every aspect of life for Washington but no longer do. Can their outrage keep up with Trump's moves? I am confident they will give it their best effort.          

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Frequent Facebook Fracas

       I joined Facebook in late 2007. Over the years, I have engaged in hundreds, maybe even thousands, of political discussions of various size and intensity. It should not come as a surprise. My friends list is full of pundits, political activists, and lawyers from both sides of the political spectrum. Our relationships are much like those of professional wrestlers. We will smack each other around in the ring, but it is all for the sake of a good show. At least that was true until Donald Trump was sworn in as president last week.
     My news feed has featured more heated tussles in the last seven days than in the last five years. Trump has managed to infuriate the political left to the point they are nostalgic for George W. Bush. I am nostalgic for the days of Bush Derangement Syndrome myself. At least then I could make flippant Facebook status updates poking fun at liberals without the need to gear up for verbal war.
     There were three cases of Trump Derangement Syndrome to note from my news feed all of which were inadvertently triggered by yours truly. The first was an assertion Trump was under no obligation to acknowledge the Women's March. Second, an declaration of support for the Dakota pipeline over hippy protesters. The final was a lament my spring break plans in Tehran were ruined by the Iranian ban on American traveler in response to Trump's temporary ban on Muslims from recognized terrorist nations. The first was a frank observation. The latter were clearly flippant comments meant to be funny and little else.
       All three prompted long discussion threads that me on the defensive – often against multiple detractors. In these comment threads, I needed to cite philosophical point, legislation, court cases, and—in the case of my Christianity being criticized—Scripture. Do not get me wrong. I enjoyed every minute of it. I am eager for more at any point. Comprehensive arguing for a position is stimulating, particularly when utilizing multiple academic disciplines. I am merely saying Trump's haters on the left need to pace themselves or they will suffer a collective nervous breakdown by Easter.

Friday, January 27, 2017

There Will Come Soft Rains

       Yesterday's post about the fake news of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists advancing the imaginary minute hand of the imaginary Doomsday Clock towards an imaginary apocalypse because of the imaginary threat Donald Trump allegedly poses to civilization brought to mind a favorite imaginary short story by Ray Bradbury.
      Describing the story o “There Will Come Soft Rains” would rob the impact of the linked video. Suffice to say, the story was written in in 1950 during the early days of the Cold War and the recent mention of the Doomsday Clock brought it to mind. I am sure you can fill in enough blanks to get the gist of the it. 
       The video above is an an animated produced in 1984 by the soviet animation studio Uzbekfilm. The animated short is not entirely faithful to Bradbury's original story, but it is still both impressive and moving. After watching, appreciate it was created by supposed godless commies from the Soviet Union.   

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thirty Seconds Closer to Midnight

"A symbolic clock is as nourishing to the intellect as photograph of oxygen to a drowning man." -Dr. Manhattan, Watchmen
     The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists advanced the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock thirty seconds closer to midnight. According to the tie, humanity is now two-and-a-half minutes away from its destruction. The time is now closer to midnight than at any point since the testing of the first hydrogen bomb in 1953. Our march towards Armageddon is due to one man—Donald Trump.
       Yes, folks. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is serious. When the Doomsday clock was established at the height of the Cold War, it was meant to raise awareness of existential threats. The development of the hydrogen bomb, as mentioned above as the last time the Doomsday clock was this close to midnight, clearly qualified as an existential threat. The election of a patriotic American president, however, does not.
       There was a time when the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was not quite so alarmist. The minute hand was moved farthest away fro midnight in 1991 when the collapse of the Soviet Union brought about the end of the Cold War. These days, the Atomic Bulletin of Scientists is mired in left wing politics and fear mongering. It was not too many years ago they moved the minute hand further away from midnight because of the Occupy movement. Remember those doofuses? They were not exactly the savior of humanity types.
       Citing Trump specifically as the reason for advancing the minute hand closer to midnight is reminiscent of awarding Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize simply because of his existence. The latter put Obama on notice from the international community he was not to act as his predecessor, George W. Bush had. The new time on the Doomsday Clock is a clarion call for action to stop Trump.
       It will not work, nor should it. No one takes the Doomsday Clock seriously these days outside a few meek European parliaments. I may not be giving them enough credit. They probably do not care, either. Regardless, it amuses me the left claims science should not be politicized, then participates in speculation on the destruction of civilization based on politics.  How about we crank up on appropriate song for the occasion and quietly weep? You may choose your own reason for tears. There is no shame.      

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

South Carolina State Senate Shenanigans

       I have been a serious observer of politics for 25 years or so. If you are feeling generous, I can be classified a student of politics since the beginning of my studies towards a BA in political science in 1995. I have seen many interesting and peculiar things in all that time. I dare say a majority of those interesting and peculiar things I witnessed because I have, for all but three three while exiled in Virginia, enjoyed a front row seat for the farce that is the sate government of South Carolina. The Senate happening's earlier today are a prime example.
       First, a little background: Gov. Nikki Haley, who unwisely hitched her wagon to Marco Rubio before sheepishly declaring support for Donald Trump days before the election, resigned her office in order to become Trump's ambassador to the United Nations. Her resignation allowed Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster to be sworn in as governor. So the Lt. Governor's office was left vacant. State law automatically elevates the Senate President Pro Tempore to the position.
       But wait...Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman does not want the job. He has far more power in the position he currently holds and is not interested in boosting his prospects for becoming governor. (Not that he has any in the first place, but I digress.) So what is a guy supposed to do? Why, hatch a plan worthy of Lucy and Ethel to hold on to his power, of course.
       Leatherman resigned his position as Senate President Pro Tempore. The Senate than elected Sen. Kevin Bryant to the position. Then, as Senate President Pro Tempore, Bryant was elevated to fill the vacant Lt. Governor position. The Senate then held an election for the now vacate Senate President Pro Tempore position. The new turned out to be the old. Leatherman was reelected Senate President Tempore. So both Leatherman and Bryant wound up with the jobs they ultimately wanted.
     You should draw your own conclusion as to whether this political game of bait and switch was brilliant maneuvering or a greedy power play. I lean more towards the latter, but I am amused enough by the entire scenario t does not bug me. Stuff like this is definitely a key reason most people hate politics.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Peach Fuzz

       Nearly a week after the barber mishap and i still look like a peach

with a bad dye job.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Aesthetics

     I switched link colors from the medium range red to a light blue. I suffered one of those moments when I see something for the hundredth time and finally realize t is incredibly unappealing. The color scheme finally struck me as gaudy. It had to go.
       The colors on my blog are a selfish choice. I have an easier time reading on black backgrounds because of my poor eyesight. It counts against my because people generally consider black text on a white background more serious. I also must choose brighter colors for links as they are easier to read on a black background as well. For whatever reason, I continually become dissatisfied with schemes. Every change eventually appears to be a bad idea, so I must play color roulette yet again.
       Pardon the inconsistency. Hopefully, the aesthetics does not suffer too badly.
       Fun fact: while using Google to confirm the spelling of “aesthetics,” I came across its Wikipedia entry. I meant to use the word in reference to the appeal of my blog's color scheme, but learned there is an entire branch of philosophy called aesthetics. It is think study of art, beauty, and taste. In a more scientific sense, it is the study of judgment and taste. It figures there would be a branch of philosophy whose purpose would be to endlessly debate the question “What is art?” Aesthetics is a subject perhaps wroth looking into further sometime down the road.      

Saturday, January 21, 2017

What is the Women's March About?

       What exactly is this Woman’s March all about? I have yet to see or hear a coherent message. Presumably, the marchers want to send a bold message. Sine women are the majority in the United States, they could have sent a far bolder message by voting Hillary Clinton into office. It should have been easy. Clinton had everything going for her. She looked inevitable right up until about nine o'clock election night. Alas, she lost. Now women must resort to marching in the streets wearing double ententes as caps while carrying vile signs.
     I took the opportunity this morning when a discussion about the march erupted in a Facebook comment thread. The original poster first asked why new President Donald Trump was ignoring the swarms of women protesting around the world. Does he not have some obligation to say anything? I commented he does not anymore so than the Clemson coach has an obligation to address upset Alabama fans. Yes, it was a simplified answer, but, you know...it was on a Facebook comment thread.
       I was called out on the bad analogy. Fair enough. But, as I explained in the opening paragraph, women had a chance to put their like-minded candidate in office, but those like minded ideas lost. Keep in mind with Clinton as the Democrat candidate, feminism was the main theme The message was clear—vote for the first woman president or you are a misogynist. If that sounds familiar, it is because the theme of vote for a black president or you are a racist was heavily promoted by the political left in the last two presidential cycles. But shrill feminism does not win elections. It will not make for an effective, mainstream political movement, either.
       The retort to y analogy is the march is sending notice women's right's will not be taken away without a fight. So I asked what women's rights are under threat of being taken away? No one gave me an answer. I will take a wild guess and say abortion rights, however. Pro-life speakers were not welcome at the march, presumably because the female gender is solely defined in the liberal mindset of whether or not to abort an unborn child. Women appear to live in perpetual fear someone is going to interfere with their reproductive rights while simultaneously fear ta dollars will stop funding contraceptives and abortions. Figure that one out.
       The only conclusion I can draw is the march is a product of the professional left who protest because there is good money in it, it feels enlightened, and they probably have nothing better to do. The whole shebang—no pun intended—will be forgotten by Monday when we all have to go back into the real world.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day

    Today is Inauguration Day. Shortly after noon, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. I have not missed a presidential inauguration since 1984, but there were few I was genuinely excited to see. Trump's inauguration is one, if for no other reason than curiosity over what could possibly cone next.
      I will be completely honest here. I voted for Trump, but I was motivated more to vote against Hillary Clinton than to support the Make America Great Again bandwagon. Clinton looked like a shoo in since she had practically everything going for her. There was even a time there when I considered voting for Gary Johnson. Trump was going to win South Carolina anyway and my views have been siding more towards the libertarian side for years now. But John son made a few embarrassing blunders, so I opted for Trump.
      I a glad I did. Anyone who knows me is aware of my glib, sarcastic demeanor when commenting on political and cultural events. It makes sense to them I would be amused a realty television star with no experience in elected office or in the military would be elected president, Especially since trump pretty much picked up politics as a hobby within the last eight years or so. Then he created a populist movement to be lead by a billionaire from New York City. If one is prone to pointing out the nihilistic aspects of American public life you cannot help bu have your sensibilities tickled by the election of Trump.
   But as the wisest man who ever lived wrote, there is nothing new under the sun, and neither is Trump. There really is not that much different fro Trump hosting The Apprentice while playing around with the D-list of celebrity than Ronald Reagan insisting Gonzo make it to bed on time. Even if you are a Never Trump who frets over his past support for liberal causes, remember Reagan was once a Democrat who ardently supported FDR. History may well repeat itself. I certainly hope it does.
       I am looking forward to seeing how the country changes under trump's leadership. For one thing, I assume he actually will lead. Eight years of Barack Obama's absentee presidency diminished the United States at home and abroad. Race relations are worse than they have been in decades. Allies were stabbed in the back repeatedly. Cultural rot exists everywhere Obama promised hope and change. He leaves us with only one hope—Trump—and a legacy of change for the worse.    

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

When You Tell the Barber "Short, Not Spiked" But He Hears "Short 'n Spiked."

      Bear witness to the results of inadequate enunciation and not facing the mirror while you are getting a haircut. I began to fret when the whole deal was taking just a little too long. The pile of hair on the floor looked as though the barber shaved a yeti.
       It does not look too bad, but it is far shorter than I normally like.  on the plus side, I probably will not need another haircut until the summer.  So there is that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Three Audiences for Contemporary Journalism

       I have been on a kick lately about the state of journalism. My interest has much to do with the current discussion about fake news, which I covered here., but has even more to do with sensory overload after a particularly brutal election season. The problem is the line between fact and opinion has not only been blurred to practically be non-existent, but news outlets are utilizing the indistinct to compete for attention in a hypermedia environment.
       The three groups are:
1. Social Conservatives
     This audience prioritizes one or more social issues. They are usually motivated by religious concerns, which most often compels them to take a black and white, us versus them worldview. Abortion is murder, guns are necessary because we may have to overthrow the government some day, and all Muslims are terrorists are the sort of resonating ideas with this audience.
2. The Post-Modern Relativists
       This is the audience of those too far too the left for Democrats. They went for Bernie Sanders because Hillary Clinton was a Republican as far as they were concerned. This audience is the uninformed young activists, celebrities with their causes, and the equality for all crowd that demonizes Christianity, corporations and white men.
3. The Business Class
       This is the oddest audience because it can lean to the right or left, but generally suffers an uneasy alliance with either the Social Conservatives or the Post-Modern Relativists. The Business Class cares for its economic interests and is often more willing to comprise on social issues to protect economic interests.
*****
       It presumably goes without saying the first two groups despise one another while Social Conservatives and Post-Modern Relativists often feel betrayed when the business Class chooses economics over idealism on a particular issue. So how do you get these three groups to accept facts over thee deeply held viewpoints? You do not, and that is a huge problem that is only going to get worse in the era of blogs and social media. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Save the Planet

       I will rarely, if ever, blog directly on environmentalism It is not that I do not believe the debate between environmentalists and skeptics is not important. It is simply a battle someone more interested in delving into the subject is better equipped to fight. Frankly, there is far too much politically charged zealotry involved for y taste But I will say this...any claims that we must save the planet are absurd.
       The Earth is approximately 4 billion years old. It will be around until the sun goes supernova in about five billion years. Humans have lived on it for as much as 200,000 years. Since 90% of all species ever to exist are already extinct, Earth will most certainly outlast us, too. The planet shows us who the bos is quite often—earthquakes, floods, etc—in case we get any other ideas.
       Now I would like to believe when people claim we need to save the planet, they are not saying that humans are literally destroying the Earth, although I fear many are not engaging in hyperbole. The Earth will be fine. It is people we must worry about.
       I believe we are steward of the Earth, which is why I am a conservationist rather than an environmentalist. The earth is designed to handle the human necessities of life as long as not abused. Where is the line between normal use and abuse? I do not know. Perhaps we could can the exaggerated claims of Earth's imminent doom and focus on that real question?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Steady As She Goes

       I weighed in today. The Lord's day seems like a blessed day to give it a shot, no? I am holding steady at 102 for the third month in a row. It would appear I have settled on my steady, non-feeding tube supplemented weight about a year and a half after removing the tube. There is no telling what took so long, but there you go. Not a bad number for a runt like me. I assume the steady stream of pizza and junk food has its impact.
       Though may be not entirely for the better. I have not mentioned it here, but for the last couple months, the top number of y blood pressure has consistently been over 140. It is not a high enough number to merit medication. In fact, the doctor reminded me it is all downhill once you turn forty, so I should not expect my usual 120 number.
        Or should I? Upon discovering my top number is now consistently 140+, I Googled some suggestions for lowering it. Exercise it the best thing for it. I was afraid of that. Sitting on your rear end eating Doritos and drinking Dr. Pepper does wonders for your weight gain, but does serious damage to your blood pressure. So lately I have emerged fro the Hermit Cave to stroll around a bit every day. It has worked. My blood pressure is back down to 120 something/0 something consistently.
       I have not made weight gain or better blood pressure a new year's resolution. I a skeptical of the idea each January 1st is a clean slate. There is always baggage. Nevertheless, I do what must be done, and things are looking up because of it.        

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Top Ten Albums with the Most Impact on Me

10. Half Nelson—Willie Nelson
       Before I was old enough to choose my own music, I was surrounded by the music of my parents and older sister. The country music of my parents stuck with e better than the early MTV music of my sister. Willie Nelson's album of duets with artists as varied as Ray Charles and Carlos Santana readily stick out as my introduction to country.
9. No Jacket Required—Phil Collins
       I am pretty sure Phil Collins was the first MTV era artist I enjoyed. My fondness for his music probably stems from it being featured on the so '80's, it is painful Miami Vice. Collins lead me to seek out similar sounds. The easy listening style has become my consistently favorite type of music.
8. The Big Chill soundtrack
       My parents alsoenjoyed the Motown sound of the early to mid-'60's popular in the summer vacation spot of myrtle beach, South Carolina. I am certain I hear a smattering of the most famous Motown songs over the years prior, but this was the first album in which they were all in one place. When someone says R & B, this is what comes to mind.
7. Permanent Vacation—Aerosmith
       My first taste of big hair, '80's glam rock. I heard Run DMC's cover of “Walk This Way,” but had no idea the band joining in with them recording the song originally years ago or they were making a comeback. All I knew is they could do hard rock and power ballads like I never heard before. Well, that and Steven Tyler looked like ten miles of bad road.
6. Storms of Life—Randy Travis
       Randy Travis was my first experience with back to basics country. Up until the point I first heard this album, country to me was the urban cowboy fad. Even half Nelson flirted with a lot of non-traditional country sound. Here is where I started forming my own taste in country.
5. The Best of Eva Cassidy—Eva Cassidy
       I am cheating a bit. I first heard Eva Cassidy's cover of Cytndi Lauper's “Time After Time” in 2003. At some point during the same year, I heard her cover of Sting's “Fields of Gold.” I liked the Irish-twinged vocals and Cassidy was a new artist who was destined for stardom. Then I looked her up and cried. A lot. Call me sappy, but I do not think she performed a song I have not found haunting. The masochist in e likes feeling haunted.
4. Ropin' the Wind—Garth Brooks
       Garth Brooks skyrocketed to popularity around about the time popular music was plunging into the abyss of dance, pop, and rap. Fans of my kind of music migrated over to country in the early '90's. Brooks' album lead the way.
3. The Best of Simon & Garfunkel—Simon & Garfunkel
       Another cheat. I am not certain which Simon & Garfunkel song I heard first. But I became big fan of the singer/songwriter duo, and wanted to hear it all. I like much of their solo work, too, though Simon holds a slight edge.
2. Hell Freezes Over—Eagles
       You could probably guess this one. Someone who enjoys solid songwriting with a California rock/country sound is bound to love the Eagles. I do. I have owned several greatest hits compilations, but this recording of a live reunion concert in 1994 stands out as my favorite. A few new songs prove the band still had the magic. Rest in peace, Glenn Frey.
1. Songs You Know By Heart—Jimmy Buffett
       I am a devout Parrot Head, though a bi of a late bloomer. I did not get this album until I was in college. It was the soundtrack of y college experience. Since those were some of the best years of my life, the album means the most to me.     

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday the 13th and Confirmation Bias

       Today is Friday the 13th. One of those infrequent times when the dark forces of calamity all unite to give you a hard time. Or harder than usual, at least. Are you thinking about staying in bed today with cookies and Netflix so as not to tempt fate? Perhaps you have good reason. Maybe some bad things have happened to you on past Fridays falling on the thirteen. My advice is not to sweat it. In reality you are not any more the unfortunate soul on Friday the 13th than any other day. Here are a couple reasons why.
       Let us get the first, most obvius one out of the way. There is nothing particularly special about Friday the 13th. Thurday the 12th and saturday the 14th happen just as frequently. Yet the fear of Friday the 13th as an unlucky day—paraskevidekatria—has persisted since the 19th century. I could go into the murky history of why Friday and the number 13 have often been associated with calamities in Christianity and norse mythology, I am going to leave that for an article linked at the end of the post. I will instead focus on rational explanations.
       The second and probably most important reason Friday the 13th is considered unlucky is confirmation bias. In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions, leading to statistical errors. Simply put, confirmation bias is the act of drawing a conclusion then searching for evidence to support it instead of drawing a conclusion from evidence gathered first.
       How about an example. You are sitting at your desk working on a random Friday. You may curse lightly, but you will probably simply pick up your pen and resume writing without attributing any significance to the incident. Now assume the same accident happens on Friday the 13th. You might be inclined to blame dropping your pen because of the unluckiness of Friday the 13th. 
       Accidentally dropping your pen is the same act regardless of the day on which it occurs. You only attribute it to the bad luck of Friday the 13th because of the preconceived notion bad things will happen to you on that day.  It is all in you minds, folks. Go out there and have a great day, and stay every bit as safe as you would any other day.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Eggs-asperating

        How about we continue our theme of scary confections?
      The video linked above is an advertisement for Kinder Surprise Eggs. The eggs, manufactured by an Italian company, contain a “surprise” toy embedded in chocolate. Humpty Dumpty there seems incredibly pleased to find the toy in his candy egg. So much so, the inevitable occurs. It is difficult to sympathize because of what a terrifying abomination this Humpty Dumpty is.
     Seriously.  Humpty Dumpty probably did more to promote childcare’s nightmares than sell candy.
       American children do not have anything to fear. Kinder Surprise Eggs are banned in the United States because of the embedded toy. All candies with embedded toys have been banned by the Federal Food and Drug Administration since since 1938 because of the choking hazard. But thanks to YouTube and me, the mental image is now scarred upon your brain forever.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I Scream. You Scream.

     
       We all scream and flee in terror from this disturbing ice cream man. A Philadelphia ice cream parlor thought this creepy imagery would make a great advertisement. They were wrong.
       So, so wrong.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ever Wonder What Your Neighbors Are Really Doing?

       Since I do not get invited to the cool parties, presumably I will never know. Something tells me if I befriended them and wound up invited to their shindigs, I would wound up sacrificed the the pagan priestess Samarra.
       Samarra was played by Lana Turner in The Prodigal. It is one of the worst biblical epics of the '50's, but still...Lana Turner.
        There are worse ways to depart this mortal coil.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Mind Over Matter

       I usually hold off on selfies until holidays, but this one needed to be thrown in now. As an avowed beach bum, I am no fan of cold weather. Even though we were spared snow this weekend, it is still freezing outside. So now I am engaging in mind over matter.
      In y previous selfie, I declared I was either bundling up for warmth or potting to steal the Mona Lisa. Spoiler alert: the old girl with the peculiar smile remains safely at home in Paris. I was never interested in anything other then staying warm. Besides, it would be next to impossible to unload the painting o the black market. The do not list James Bond villains in the phone book, you know.
       So I have ditched the sweatshirt and toboggan for a tee shirt and a Jimmy Buffett playlist. Yo see...think warm, and you will be warm. Wish me luck!     

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Snowzilla Fizzle

    Cancel the frozen apocalypse. The snow accumulation never materialize. Even though it snowed in Sumter, the temperature never dropped to freezing. We did not get so much as slush. The snowflakes died before they ever hit the ground. Not that I am disappointed. The last thing I wanted was a storm knocking out the power.
     If any one wonders, yes the cannibalism jokes I cracked in the post announcing the possible snow storm inspired me to watch The Green Inferno. I was definitely going to resume reviewing movies on Apocalypse Cinema , but was not sure which movie I was going to begin with when I started. I was surprised it turned out to be an Eli Roth horror film, but there you go.
       It is supposed to be extremely cold up until the end of the week when the temperatures may get back into the high 60's or even lows 70s. But there is no rain in sight for the near future. So I am going to bundle to stay warm for a while and suggest you follow my lead.     

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Fake News as Wishful Thinking

      An idea surfaced in recent days Former first lady, New York Senator, Secretary of State, and 2016 Democrat Party nominee for president Hillary Clinton ought to run for mayor of New York City. After all, she carried the city with 80% of the vote in the presidential election and the current Mayor Bill de Blasio, is embroiled in an illicit fund raising scandal amid a lackluster first term in office.
     Important, but anonymous democrats from the city are allegedly chatting away excitedly at their swanky cocktail parties over the prospect. Their excitement only increased with the rumor Clinton is seriously mulling over the idea. There is only one problem...no one is considering the idea. Especially not Clinton.
       The matter is indicative of the phenomena of speculative news. Someone, somewhere says someone else might be thinking of doing something. It might be true, but it probably is not. Nevertheless, media has blank pages or air time to fill, so why not write an article, anyway? Maybe news coverage will lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
      It is interesting to note the story appears to have originated in the conservative news site Newsmax before more legitimate news outlets like the New York Times and the New York Daily News ran with it. Maybe conservatives want Clinton to stay in the spotlight to kick around some more and liberals still possess glimmer of the Clinton infatuation they were eaten up with back in the '90's? Who knows, but wasting ink, pixels, and airtime on this sort of baseless speculation is not helping the media with its sagging credibility with the public.   

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Green Inferno and Uninformed Activism

       I returned to reviewing movies today at Apocalypse Cinema after a hiatus of over two years. I will let you fill in the blanks as to the cause of that two year hiatus. This post is an addendum the film I just reviewed. It is Eli Roth's controversial The Green Inferno. You will get the full effect if you go click the link and check out y review, but it is not necessary in order to get the main idea of this post. There is simply a large element to the film that fits better with the scope of Gods & Monsters than my film review blog.
       Are you interested in watching naive, uninformed Social Justice Warriors experience what the real world is all about? If so, and provided you can handle some gore with a twisted sense of humor, then you ought to check out The Green Inferno. If those young ones crying, wailing, and gnashing their teeth over Hillary Clinton's loss to Donald Trump was the worst calamity that could possibly befall them, they have not seen anything like what happens in The Green Inferno.
       The full details are in my review, but the gist of the plot is a group of naive college kids fly down to Peru in order to protest a logging operation threatening an indigenous tribe. Flying back after the protest successfully stops the loggers, their plane cashes. The survivors are captured by the indigenous tribe who turn out to be cannibals. To add insult to injury, the leader of the protest reveals he was paid by a rival logging company to impede the other logging company and he is a drug smuggler working out of Peru. Oops.
       I will leave it to you to deduce the group's fate. The "cannibal" description of the indigenous tribe is a big hint, but there is ore to it than that to hold your attention should you seek the film out.
       One would expect a film like The Green Inferno to face controversy for its excessive violence and gore, but there was an added bonus of backlash against the film's presentation of natives as vicious cannibals. The representation goes against the progressive view that natives untouched by society live in peaceful harmony with the earth rather than the brutal reality of of life in the savage jungle untouched by civilization.
      Critics felt the natives' portrayal reinforced stigmas about voluntarily isolated tribes and promoted colonialism. These critics believe this without the slighter hint of irony, as the film is directly mocking their point of view. To believe the portrayal of fictional tribe in fictional movie is going to encourage the economic exploitation of real tribes is n absurd notion. It doe not matter indigenous people live and act when forces destroying those peoples' way of life are motivated by whatever resources they can exploit. It happens everyday.
       Do not get me wrong. The Green Inferno does not take an anti-activism stance. But it does make fun of those activists whose sense of idealism substitute for an understanding of how the world works. I am as amused to see such a film come out of Hollywood in this day and age as I am to see how the critics missed a big chunk of the film's message.   

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Light Snow's Gonna Fall

      I live in the not quite central part of South Carolina. Weather forecasts predict we are due to get snow with light accumulation sometime between tomorrow night and Monday. In other states, such an event would cause a minor inconvenience. In South Carolina, it causes mass hysteria.
       Store shelves are already stripped clean of bread, milk, and batteries. We already drew straws to determine who we are going to eat first should circumstances warrant. I reminded everyone in spite of my weight gain, there is still less meat on me than a McNugget. I am not certain anyone caught the Red Dwarf reference, but it was brought to my attention I could be boiled into broth and McNuggets taste delicious when dipped in certain sauces. I need new friends, apparently.
       I am only half-joking about the Palmetto State's preparedness to handle Snowzilla-lite. There is always a possibility of a power outage. I spent the better part of three days in the dark in the hurricane aftermath a few months ago. While I am thankful I fared better than many others, it was still no fun. I hope to avoid the issue this time around, but if I fall off the grid, you will know why.
       Now I must prepare myself to fight off hungry citizens with a taste for McNuggets. Wish m luck. I doubt I wold survive long on The Walking Dead.     

The Elusive Objective Truth

      If we are going to drone on constantly about existentialism, it pays to examine the big question in relation to the subject—does objective truth exist? If it does, then existentialism is a moot point. All that must be done I accept the objective truth. If objective truth does not exist—or, more likely, we cannot find it—then existentialism is worthy of some thought.
       The issue is if objective truth exists, we cannot find it because we are all experiencing everything subjectively. But to say that all things are subjective is to establish an objective truth. In terms you are likely ore familiar with, to say that everything is relative is to state an absolute. The statement both confirms and contradicts itself simultaneously. We obviously reach the limit of thought there. For every truth established as either relative or absolute, an additional thought makes it the opposite. An argument about which is the correct view would be infinitely repetitive.
     The bottom line is objective truth must obviously exist, because even if it does not, it would be objective truth that objective truth does not exist. It is another pesky case of a concept being both true and false simultaneously. Everything we believe to be true could be wrong. We just have faith that we are not wrong. This is not to say objective truth does not exist. It state merely that we may have misidentified it.    

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Fake News is Nothing New

       Fake news is not a new phenomenon and I would argue has less of an impact on events than it has in the past. The election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton turned on far bigger issues than false reports passed around Facebook and Twitter. If anything, fake news is used as a scapegoat to avoid putting blame most appropriately on the losing candidate and her campaign staff.
      Fake news has been around as long as journalism, but it was not given a name until the 1890's when “yellow journalism” was coined to describe publications that used such tropes as large, sensational headlines for minor news, tantalizing photos and art, fictitious interviews, and facts from unqualified sources. These tactics should sound familiar to anyone who regularly peruses social media.
       But did yellow journalism have the impact on the 2016 election it has had on past events? I have doubts. Newspaper publishers William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer are generally considered to have sold the Spanish-American war to the public via yellow journalism. Propaganda has been a part of selling just about every war and major policy initiative since then. But barely any war or policy initiative appears to be blamed so much on misinformation as the Spanish-American War.
       I am not comparing the promotion of the Spanish-American War via yellow journalism to the promotion of presidential candidates in 2016. I am doing the exact opposite. What bit of information, which was proven false too late for you to change your mind, compelled you to choose either trump or Clinton? There just is not a major narrative or even a blown out of proportion story that swayed pubic opinion toward one candidate or the other. Considering the public’s mistrust in the media, it is difficult to even gauge how much legitimate news swayed public opinion towards one candidate or the other.
       Whatever the extent of the fake news problem is, the solution is simple. Sine anyone with a Wi Fi connection can spread misinformation, take anything you see on social media with a pinch of salt, especially if I is published not cited from established, legitimate sources. Discernment is the key factor in discovering any and all truth.       

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

That Rainy Day Feeling

       Maybe the last post was a bit much. Whether existentialism is positive can be a heady subject. How about Paul Williams, in costume as Virgil from Battle for the Planet of the Apes, singing “That Rainy Day Feeling.” See if you can find any meaning in this absurdity.     

Is Existentialism Positive?

       Continuing from last night's post on environment versus happiness, one is compelled to explore the most important question in existentialism—is existential inherently positive? Individuals have the power to assign meaning to our experiences. We decide whether to overcome and be happy or suffer under the circumstances. Is this freedom of choice a positive thing?
       It depends n who you ask. Simone de Beauvior thought the choice was empowering because you can do whatever you want. Jean Paul Sartre felt the freedom of choice I overwhelming. The conflict lies within the results of your choice. The outcome of making a choice is not guaranteed to make you happy. But how you react to it is still you choice. Choice is not inherently negative.
     I tend to lean more towards Sartre's point of view. What is the value of rational choice in an irrational world? I do not buy into the idea that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. There are inescapable circumstances in which suffering is inevitable and it can be nearly impossible to find meaning in those circumstances. You do not really have the power to master the entirety of your fate, so you cannot understand the meaning behind your fate, either. In many ways, it seems reasonable to embrace the absurdity rather than search for a reason. Of course, the decision to do so is still a choice. As we established earlier, choice is a positive thing.
      As I wrote last night, it is easier to examine these questions from a position of comfort. Most people do not explore the issue until their lives begin falling apart. Why would one question the meaning of hi own existence when things are going well? It is only a feeling of emptiness that demands to be filled.
       Well, I just made the issue clear as mud. To the existent you an choose your own fate is a good thing. The extent to which you can find meaning in your fate is alto a good thing. Circumstances can sometimes be so overwhelming, the only meaning you can assign is no meaning, and that is depressing. Then again, you did have the freedom to make that choice. I guess that can be considered a small consolation. In philosophy, they say the questions are more important that the answers. You can choose to believe that as well.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Right Tools for the Job

    I spent the last couple days of blogging efforts on a positive note. Accentuating the positives of what many considered to be on of the worst years ever. The year was a victim of pure hyperbole, by the way. I counted my many blessings in 2016 and looked forward to 2017. The upbeat outlook may make it appear I am a new person. In many ways, I am. But I am still a cynic at heart.
       At the heart of the matter is environment. There are two things that can happen between you and your living environment. Either you can control it or it can control you. Overcoming a hash environment is tough. Needless to say, a positive environment is easier to overcome. A sense of comfort to be content, optimistic, and moral. But human nature remains, and people are a hot meal and a good night's sleep away from from barbarism.
       I accept it has bee hit and miss n how I handled past circumstances. I would like to think I have performed better than average, but my cynicism coming so easily, my record is obviously not that good. So here I am...my same old self hoping I am something new while suspicious I am an artificial creation of an environment I do not have to battle.
       The question deals with intangible problems. I am a guy. I like tangible problems that can be solved with the glorious results in plain view before. Problems re not so easy to solve when they are spiritual, mental, and emotional. You cannot grab the right tool and simply fix it yourself. So the issues are tough to work on, but I am working on them. Perhaps I shall one day answer the question of who is in charge, my environment or me?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Selfie for the New Year

       Talk about overkill. It has only been a week since my last selfie. But the tradition of posting holiday selfies must be honored. While there is a mere week's worth of a breather between Christmas and New Year's, you will be spared a long six weeks before the Valentine's Day selfie. Savor the reprieve.
       I am either bundling up for the cold weather or plotting to steal the Mona Lisa. I have not decided yet.     

Looking Ahead

       The first day of a new year is the perfect time is establish plans for a long term project. The relevant long term project is gods & monsters, though if you are interested in television or movies, I plan to scratch my blogging itch at y other blogs as well. I have never been one to make specific resolutions on personal betterment. After all, should you not work towards bettering yourself all year long not just a couple weeks after resolving to do so and then forgetting? But I am still goal oriented. Instead of listing numbered goals, I am just going to muse on what I would like to see happen.
       If you have been with me for a while, you will know Gods & Monsters is my second personal blog. The first, Eye of Polyphemus, lasted from 2003-2013 when my life faced a tad bit of upheaval. I landed in a nursing home with pretty much nothing and was left to fend for myself. Within a few months, I acquired a laptop and internet connection. I wanted to blog again, as I was quite prolific, but my new life—such that it was—did not fit in with many of the goofier aspects of the old blog. The blog needed to be buried along with the other dead aspects of my previous life.
      I was facing a heavy emotional burden brought on by depression by the spring of 2014. As writing had always been therapeutic, I needed to start a new blog to focus on discussing my spiritual, mental, and emotional issues within the writings being cheapened by the partisan politics, celebrity shenanigans, and science fiction geekery that had been y bread and butter in previous posts. Blogging is a frivolous pastime, no doubt, but it an be dragged down further if one is flippant with producing content.
      So when I started this blog in April 2014, I wanted a more serious tone. There were serious issues I needed to work through. The need was there for me to tell my story and explore its effect on me. I dare say I did that consistently for two-and-half years before purging the bulk of what I needed to say. Is it all out yet? Probably not. Catharsis is an ongoing project. I have a tenancy to go off on some wild, long winded tangents, too. So, yes. The whim could strike me. But for the last six months or so, I have been looking to expand without taking away from what I hope is a smarter, more serious tone.
       I have not exactly set the woods on fire with that lately. Witness the heavy reliance on YouTube videos for content. Quite a few of those leaned into the celebrity culture I pledged to shun. As I said, I have been struggling with decent, interesting content over the last few months. With that in mind, I produced a loose outline over the lat few weeks o make regular posts for the first few weeks of 2017 with the intention o habit forming.
       The renewed focus has been interesting. I grew weary of covering day to day as far back a 2012. Yet I still feel the spark of political science from my college days. I used to to comment on legal issues frequently. Barely anything of legal importance has appeared on Gods & Monsters. But issues strangely cone up in my daily life. Plenty of time to think and read brought a deeper interest in religion, philosophy, and history with all the implications on the big picture. I have even much time immersed in creating fiction and even poetry.
     I have not found my voice yet. But the search certainly has not been hampered by a lack of enthusiasm. So 2017 will be a year of expiration through the written word. Those words will be written, for better or worse, by me. Prepare for much self-indulgent naval gazing. S noted, blogging is a frivolous exercise in narcissism. But every now and then, one hopes to write something worthwhile.    

Happy New Year

       The New Year has arrived. Now that we are firmly into 2017, maybe people will stop bellyaching about how bad 2016 allegedly was. Every year is full of good and bad. Whichever balance any given year maintains is a matter of personal experience. But I address my viewpoints on the issue in detail yesterday, so there is no pint in carrying on about them here. More of those dead leaves one should let drop.
    It is cold, rainy, and gloomy today, but the weather has not dampened my spirits. The new year is a time for renewal and optimism, not pessimism. My good mood is helped by the BBQ ribs and apple cobbler I ate for lunch. It is difficult to imagine a better start to 201.
       I have been writing a post with plans to post sometime today about plans for the future regarding the blog. Gods & Monsters has grown in popularity every year sine its humble beginnings in 2014. while I doubt it will ever reach the numbers of my previous blog since I have sworn off click bait celebrity photos which inflated my old states, I want Gods monsters to become a regular destination for a ore group of fans. For that, I will need focused content posted on a consistent basis. What better time to renew the effort than on the first day of a brand new year?
       But more on that later. There are a few other things to which I must attend. Until later, I hope every has had a good start to 2017. I have not heard of any celebrity deaths since the ball dropped and Donald Trump is still president-elect, so things appear to be looking up.           

A Periodic Reminder

     One may insist the spirit of this post runs contrary to the general advice to “let dead leaves fall,” but I did vow months ago to make a periodic reminder of the status of my personal belongings. While it is important to let go of the little things, it is also important to keep your word. I weighed the two concepts and decided keeping a vow is more important under the circumstances. What good is a person who fails to keep his promises?
      You may recall when I intervened in the Darlington County sheriff's race I had been abandoned to a nursing home by Team Chavis while they kept all of my personal belongings, surrogate for the campaign said all of my belongings were actually boxed up. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows this claim is false. No reason exist to keep any of y stuff if Team Chavis has no intention of ever contacting me again. But I called their bluff and will continue to do so. I have friends in Hartsville who are willing to retrieve my stuff. All they need is the go ahead fro Team Chavis. It is a go ahead that will, of course, never come.
      This is the character of your new sheriff, Darlington. He does not care about doing the right thing. He only cares about the sense of self-worth he derives from wearing a uniform. I will continue to serve as a source of truth for this matter.