Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Donald Trump takes obesity fight literally

Throughout his campaign, GOP front-runner Donald Trump has continually pushed the envelope of offensiveness to new heights, only to see his popularity among Republicans increase in the polls on each and every occasion. Not only that, but the 77 other Republican candidates have followed his lead after making such abhorrent remarks, declaring Trump isn't the only candidate who thinks such things, hoping to see their poll numbers improve as a result. Well, Donald Trump tested the offensive waters again at a Town Hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday. When 84-year-old Louise Wingy asked Trump how he planned to fight the obesity epidemic if he became president, Trump ran over to the 350-lb. Ms. Wingy, knocked her upside the head, grabbed the mic, and blurted out, "That's how you fight obesity, my friends!," before dropping the mic and receiving a standing ovation in the form of a slow-clap as a result.

The other Republican candidates stayed quiet over the weekend until they saw Trump's poll numbers rise yet again on Monday, which prompted them to finally talk to the media about the incident. Here's what a few of them had to say:

- "Call it a fact, a theory, a myth, whatever, but I think this Wingy lady probably supported Planned Parenthood once in her life and this was karma at its very finest!" - Rick Santorum

- "I'm usually not a proponent of violence, but let's do like Trump and fight the gays! It's what Jesus would want!" - Mike Huckabee

- "I gotta give Donald Trump some credit, but not as much as I give myself. He shut down the obesity of one old woman for a couple of minutes; I shut down the government for a couple of weeks!" - Ted Cruz

When we asked Louise Wingy about her experience, she said, "What a f**king loser! Round 2, my backyard, bring a bat; you're going to need it, rat-head!," adding, "When I knock you down, I'm going to grab the mic and yell out, 'That's how you fight stupidity, my friends!'"

Upon hearing about this, Fox News decided to post the following headline on their webpage: "Angry 84-year-old white woman challenges Donald Trump, the man who punched her, to a re-match; Black Lives Matter probably to blame."

Jimmy Kimmel vs. Gamers

Host of the late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Jimmy Kimmel, has gotten into it with gamers the past couple of days. Kimmel recently poked fun at people who watch others play video games online, posted this very clip on YouTube, and about 15,000 angry comments and 75,000 dislikes later (and counting), Kimmel has decided to have a little more fun with the gaming community.

During last night's episode, Kimmel read off some of the gamers' angry comments at his expense, including:

- "Go f**k a pigeon."

- "I dare you to start your car in the morning."

- "Go hang yourself with that fat string of bacon in the kitchen."

- "Get cancer."

- "I hope you get AIDS."

- "Jump off a cliff while your cat's in a blender and the blender is being used to brush your teeth. - sincerely, the entire gaming community"

I know, subtle, right? Granted, Kimmel may have egged on nasty comments by implying that playing video games, and especially watching them, was a waste of time. However, as the quotes above should suggest, many of the gamers went way too far. In the coming days, it'll be interesting to see just how far this fracas goes.

Some of the commentators decided to go this route:

- "Watching video games is like watching sports; it's the same thing."

While, after reading the nasty comments at Jimmy Kimmel's expense, I hesitate to argue with a gamer, I'm going to have to disagree on this.

Now, if we wanted to generally state, "People can watch and enjoy many different forms of entertainment, including video games and sports," it'd be difficult to argue with that. However, if someone wanted to state, "Watching someone play video games is the exact same thing as watching a live sporting event," I'd have to disagree.

It's true that like professional athletes, professional gamers involve themselves in competitive tournaments, earn money,  and people will fly to watch the events. However, when we look at the two forms of entertainment in more detail, that's where the argument falls apart.

For one to say that watching video games is identical to watching sports, what's that in essence saying? Video games are the same as sports. Since video games have several different genres, we'll stick with the sports genre and focus on football more specifically (You see? Specifics are already intervening on the gamer's argument). Similarly, both football and video-game football have different levels (high school, college, pro) and both require a great deal of practice to reach the next competitive level. However, we'd be doing quite the disservice to professional athletes if we said professional gamers underwent the same kinds of intense physical (and mental) training as they did. Gamers don't put on a helmet and pads in 100+ degree temperatures throughout the summer. They don't constantly feel physical pain from all the hits they take on the field before, during, and even after the season. They're not at risk of a concussion by dropping back in the pocket and seeing a 320-lb. man coming at their head full-steam ahead. There are no sprints or weight-lifting required to play a video game, risking a pulled hamstring or a torn bicep in the process. Not only that, but the 24-hour media isn't constantly hounding them for a good soundbite and potentially taking a quote of theirs out of context, only to seek damage control in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Also, while gaming definitely takes a certain amount of skill, strategy, and luck, like with sports, there's a stark difference between a person controlling fictional characters via controller on a television screen and an individual actually physically interacting with others in order to reach a goal. There's a difference between fantasy and reality. Sports may be of minimal importance in the grand scheme of things, but these are still real live humans working with and competing against each other, constantly putting their health and well-being on the line (both short- and long-term), in order to win a championship. It's far different for one gamer to control a football team of fictional characters based on real people and of eleven real people working together to achieve success.

I personally have nothing against video games or gamers. I don't play nearly as often as I used to, but do once in a while, and was hooked at times during my college years. However, I still see a vast difference between watching video games and watching sports, because of the simple fact that, while there are some similarities between the two, (sports) video games and sports are quite different. Would watching a gamer win the World Series with the Chicago Cubs be the same as watching the actual Cubs break their 107-year World Series-less drought? Would watching a buzzer-beater-6-overtime NBA Finals game in a gaming tournament be the same as watching the real thing? Would watching a gamer win gold medals for the U.S. in a competition be the same as watching Michael Phelps win several gold medals for this country at the actual Olympics? No, no, and no again. There's absolutely nothing wrong with gaming or even watching people play video games, but to say that watching video games is the same thing as watching sports would be like to say watching a gamer play numerous songs from The Rolling Stones on Rock Band is the same as seeing the Stones live in concert.

The Black Lives Matter movement, just like the police force, isn't perfect

Since its inception following the not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, I've been a firm supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. Yes, "all lives matter," but it seems that black lives often get tossed to the side like they're of little or no value, to the point where many decided to stand up and say, "Black lives matter (too)!" However, like with all movements, as well as the police force, Black Lives Matter is far from perfect.

I, for one, just from a nationwide perception standpoint, didn't think taking the mic away from Bernie Sanders at a rally was the wisest of moves. Did it create a buzz? Yes. Did it inspire some people to join the cause? Yes again. However, did it sway people who were on the fence about the movement? Unlikely.

Then this past weekend, during a march at the gates of the Minnesota State Fair, for approximately thirty seconds, some Black Lives Matter members were heard chanting, "Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon." Yes, this was just thirty seconds from a multiple-hour march, and no, the Black Lives Matter marchers shouldn't all be judged based on these few individuals. However, guess which story grabbed the headlines? The majority of peaceful marchers or the few who unloaded the violent anti-police chant? Yes, sadly, it was the latter. 

The BLM movement needs to be smarter about these things. Fox News is already jumping the guns to call Black Lives Matter a hate group, falsely claiming that there was a link between the movement and the recent tragic killing of Texas deputy sheriff Darren H. Goforth. Between Fox News and other conservative media outlets, they're waiting for any kind of minor BLM screw-up to tell viewers, "You see? This is what the group is all about!," falsely painting the entire movement on perhaps a few bad eggs (yes, every movement has them, Fox News more than most).

Black Lives Matter needs to strip Fox News' false narrative away from them and truly show the world what it's all about. Some leaders of the movement need to step up and hold fellow members accountable for crossing the line, just as we would police officers, and loudly declare that BLM isn't about violence against the police or violence against anybody; it's about bringing attention to the racial injustices suffered by African-Americans throughout this country's history, and bringing about change so we can finally end the seemingly never-ending cycle of racism and oppression at their expense; for as United States citizens, we're all brothers and sisters, regardless of the color of our skin, and should fight for one another as such.

In the NFL preseason thus far, I've learned that...

- ...(soon to be former) Washington Redskins quarterback RG III will likely alter his name to Bob Griffin to see if his play on the field and reputation on social media will change with it.

- ..., after having his best showing since he was a Philadelphia Eagle, Pittsburgh Steelers back-up quarterback Michael Vick called fellow Virginia Tech Hokie, now starting quarterback of the Buffalo Bills, Tyrod Taylor, and said these two words with regard to starting under head coach Rex Ryan: "Good luck!"

- ...the only people who dislike Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler more than his opponents are his teammates.

- ...ESPN will orgasm for 24 consecutive hours if Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Tim Tebow start in the same week over the course of the season.

- ...players from winning teams will continue to thank God for their wins, while players from losing teams will continue to leave God out of the conversation and say they need to suck less.

- ...New England Patriots starting quarterback Tom Brady will play with big balls.

- ...New York Giants starting quarterback Eli Manning will contemplate leaving football to star as the lead actor in a Forrest Gump remake.

- ...(now former) Oakland Raiders running back Trent Richardson is likely a virgin, for he can't even see a hole 10 feet wide.

- ...Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh will get placed on the FBI's Most Wanted List by season's end due to the high quantity of close calls he's had killing people on the field.

- ...the biggest preseason bet isn't who's going to win the Super Bowl; it's what's more likely, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin lights up a room with his smile or Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback Sam Bradford finishes a season healthy?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New PPP poll: GOPers are as crazy as ever!

It really amazes me how little conservative Republicans seemed to have learned over the course of the past 6.5 years with President Obama in office. Without seeing poll results to illustrate this, I sometimes give them the benefit of the doubt, as I think to myself, "There's no way they still believe those conspiracy theories from 6.5 years ago!" Well, according to the latest Public Policy Polling poll results, I shouldn't have assumed as much. Here are the craziest results from the poll:

- Just 29% of Republicans believe Barack Obama was born in the United States, while 44% do not (26% aren't sure)

- Only 14% of Republicans believe President Obama to be a Christian, while 54% believe him to be Muslim (32% aren't sure)

- 51% of GOPers said they would support altering the Constitution so that children of undocumented immigrants are not automatically citizens of this country, 31% oppose the measure (18% aren't sure)

- 47% of Republicans either support keeping the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour (26%) or eliminating the minimum wage altogether (21%), 49% support increasing the minimum wage to at least $10.00 an hour (33% for $10 p/hr, 12% for $12 p/hr, and 4% for $15 p/hr/3% aren't sure)

- Among supporters of the current GOP leader, Donald Trump, 66% believe President Obama is a Muslim, 61% don't believe he was born in the United States, and 63% want to alter the Constitution to end birthright citizenship

So, even though the Obama-is-a-Muslim and Obama-wasn't-born-in-this-country conspiracy theories were debunked countless times long ago, a majority of Republicans still believe them. They're also at odds with most of the country on a minimum wage increase (60%+ support it nationally). Not only that, but these self-described Constitution lovers want to amend the Constitution because they feel that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution is, well, unconstitutional. Like I said, they're as crazy as ever! Given the before-mentioned poll results, I wouldn't be surprised if a majority of Republicans also believed the following:

- Chain emails are more reliable than fact-checkers

- Hawaii is surrounded by water, therefore it can't be a state

- President Obama caused Hurricane Katrina via voodoo

- Guns can't kill because guns backward spells snug.

- The Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) has ironically resulted in fewer people receiving healthcare

- George W. Bush killed Osama bin Laden himself, well, alongside Chuck Norris and the voice of Ronald Reagan

- The Black Lives Matter movement is frightening because it's about the livelihoods of black cats during full moons

- From the time a baby is born, if he or she becomes a successful businessperson by the age of 32, he or she "built that," including their mother's breast milk

- You can't spell "Armageddon" without "Homosexuals legally being allowed to marry"

- The capital of the world is the United States

Thinking about making the Android-to-iPhone switch

I'm anything but a Smartphone expert, however, after 3-4 years with my Samsung Android, I think it may be time to make the switch from Android to iPhone.

It took me quite a while to make the switch from flip-phone to Smartphone since I wasn't much of a texter and used the Internet on the PC so much during the workday, the last thing I wanted to do was get online via a Smartphone while I was out and about in the world. While I'm still not much of a texter, I will say it's nice to be able to look up things on the Internet while out with friends and/or family, not to mention there are a few games which are quite addictive when waiting for a meal or getting ready for bed. Over the past 3-4 years, my Android phone has been getting progressively more frustrating to use, and in addition to finally making the switch to texting more than I had previously (I held off as long as I could), I think I'm ready to switch over to an iPhone. Here are the main reasons why:

1) Still loading: Even after having my phone charge all night, I'd say there's roughly a 50-50 chance when I attempt to check my mail first thing in the morning, it won't load properly, and I'll have to restart my phone at least once before giving up and deciding to check via the computer instead. This regularly happens when chatting with my friends on Facebook as well, which results in awkward pauses in the conversation, until I restart my phone and try explaining the silence. (Yes, perhaps Weird Al should parody the Simon & Garfunkel song, "The Sound of Silence," and make it about chatting via Android phones).

2) It's all about the game: More times than not when I find a game I'm interested in downloading and playing, I'm greeted with the message, "Not compatible with your phone," before I research the matter further and see that the game is only available for the iPhone. Since games are one of the biggest attractions to me when it comes to Smartphones, as Ron Burgundy might say, "It's kind of a big deal."

3) Can you hear me now?: I've found that, in a decent percentage of calls, the person on the other line sounds fuzzy, if I can hear them at all. Granted, the problem may partially be due to their phones. However, considering my phone is the common denominator here, I have a hunch it's at least partially at fault for these issues. "Can you hear me now?" No, can you try calling back? Thanks...

4) Viagra for phones: While I will tease my parents for still having flip-phones, their seemingly ancient phones have my Android beat by a mile when it comes to one thing - battery life. They'll tell me stories about how they haven't had to charge their phone for several days, meanwhile, if mine lasts a couple hours, I'm thrilled!

5) Vanishing cream: I've heard of other Android users telling me about similar experiences, so I know I'm not alone here. But one morning when I awoke a few months ago, I saw that every single one of my contacts vanished. Yes, like Verbal Kent says at the end of The Usual Suspects about Keyser Soze, "...and like that, they were gone." I googled how to retrieve them, but none of the suggestions worked, so I had to ask everyone for their numbers again, telling them about the situation, and wondering if I'd remember all of my contacts. Yes, fun stuff, I tell you!

I'm sure the iPhone is anything but perfect, but due to these before-mentioned issues and others, I think it's about time I give it a gander. While I'd probably give my Android phone an overall "C+" grade over the course of these past 3-4 years, I wouldn't think it'd be unreasonable to hope for a "B" grade from my phone. I know, seeking my Smartphone to have above average capability is crazy on my part!

Info on my Facebook business, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Here's the URL to my Facebook business page. I update it fairly regularly, but still haven't put forth a great deal of effort yet in researching matters and attempting to make the most out of it. In any case, it can be perused here:

Up next is my Twitter page. I'm still not 100% certain what I'm doing on there yet, but feel I'm gradually getting the hang of it and am up to 26,163 followers. I update it daily with many of my own tweets, but also by retweeting some others'. It can be found here:

Lastly, here's my Tumblr page, which I've neglected quite a bit recently, but if you're at all curious, you can find it at the following link:

Weekly update of my book information

For new readers (and regular ones, I suppose), here's some information pertaining to my books.

All twelve of my books can be purchased in paperback form at the following site (and others):

The ten books I've written and released in the past 4 years (yes, I've been on a roll) can be purchased for much cheaper in Kindle form at the following link:

Monday, August 31, 2015

Talking sports with Sarah Palin

Remember Sarah Palin? I know, I've been trying to forget her too, but every now and again she comes up with an unintentionally laugh-worthy quote which both makes me chuckle and thankful she was never Vice President.

After ESPN suspended Curt Schilling for his racist and historically inaccurate anti-Muslim tweet, Palin posted the following message on her Facebook page:


ESPN - what happened to you? Your intolerant PC police are running amok and making a joke out of you!

By picking and choosing who they'll tolerate and who they'll try to destroy, ESPN has zero credibility as a sound and reasonable media outlet. They suspended former major league great Curt Schilling because of his tweet:

'Only 5-10% of Muslims are extremists. In 1940, only 7% of Germans were Nazis. How'd that go?'

ESPN reacted about as fast as a Schilling pitch, wimpering, 'Curt's tweet was completely unacceptable, and in no way represents our company's perspective. We have removed him from his current assignment... pending further consideration.'

Two points - well, three, because Curt's a pretty conservative/independent guy.

One - there's been crude, rude bile spewing from the once-great sports network for years now. Trust me. I know. My name and reputation's been in it. One ESPN affiliate's on-air rant featuring their misogynist, animalistic 'analysts' grunting and giggling through an entire x-rated celebration of violence against women didn't even draw a chirp from ESPN's wussified leaders. Look it up; I don't want to have to recount it. ESPN radio affiliate in Las Vegas got its kicks out of convicted rapist Mike Tyson describing the next rape he'd want to see. (Warning, graphic language throughout that Sept. 20, 2011 broadcast.)

Two - Schilling's tweet - was he wrong? No! In fact his stats were too generous in estimating Muslims' attitudes. Reports show it's 88% of Egyptian Muslims favoring DEATH for anyone who leaves Islam. The majority of Muslims in many other places share the sentiment. In America, these views could be correctly described as 'extreme.'

The difference between Hitler's army and the genocidal maniacs of ISIS is that the jihadists don't have as much power... yet.

By denying the accuracy of Schilling's tweet, ESPN shows its weakness as it buys into the propaganda of ISIS and other terror organizations, helping mislead the public about the very real threat of terrorism. It shows once again that ESPN would rather concentrate on liberal global politics instead of report well on our beloved sports.

From those of us who used to LOVE the network (to the point of addiction, some would confess!), I say to ESPN, you are awful in this. Stick to sports.

- Sarah Palin"

Ms. Palin, first of all, Curt Schilling's tweet was not in fact accurate. Fact-checker PunditFact graded it as "Mostly False," adding this:

"Schilling tweeted that in 1940 only 7 percent of Germans were Nazis. That figure is too low. It might be close for the more limited fraction of Nazi supporters who formally joined the party, but it ignores the Nazis' electoral domination in 1932 and the popularity that came after the first military victories in 1939. The vote results and the assessment of the experts we reached point to a much larger figure in the range of 35 percent. That's five times larger than the figure in the tweet.

We rate this claim Mostly False."

Secondly, ESPN is a sports network first and foremost. I hear about as much on ISIS and other terrorist groups from my 2-year-old niece as I do on ESPN. ESPN's a sports network, and like anyone else, cares about their image and ratings. They want to anger as few people as possible, so when a personality of the network posts a tweet comparing Muslims to Nazis, expect the network to react swiftly. Also, the fact of the matter is Curt Schilling has a history of posting anti-Muslim memes on his social networking pages. Until this latest one, he had been able to get away with it. So let's not pretend that this was a one-time thing and ESPN overreacted to an aberration as opposed to a trend.

Lastly, I found the final line of Palin's message to be ironically hilarious. Curt Schilling, an ESPN baseball analyst, got suspended from announcing the Little League World Series due to a political tweet, and Sarah Palin closes her post by telling ESPN to "stick to sports"? Really? If Schilling had stuck to sports, he wouldn't have gotten suspended in the first place!

Curt Schilling: Posts a political tweet

ESPN suspends Schilling for the political tweet

Sarah Palin: "Stick to sports, ESPN!"

Stick to unintentionally making us laugh, Sarah! Thanks again!

In Ted Cruz's world, there would be no Civil Rights Act

I thought I'd finally reached a point where no right-wing "religious liberty" argument would surprise me enough to feel the need to write about it. Sadly, Texas Senator Ted Cruz proved me wrong.

In a recent interview with Newsmax's Ed Berliner, Cruz said the following on the matter:

"Imagine if this were inverted. Imagine if there weer a gay florist - now I know that's hard to imagine, a gay florist - but just go with the hypo[thetical] for a second. Imagine if two evangelical Christians came to a gay florist and they wanted to get married, and the florist said, 'You know what? I disagree with your faith. I have problems with your faith.' You have no entitlement to force that florist to provide flowers at the Christians' wedding. We are a pluralistic nation that tolerates diversity."

Actually, history would showcase otherwise, Mr. Cruz, for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says that, "All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin." So while, according to Mr. Cruz and his ilk, it should be perfectly legal for Christian business owners to turn away LGBT customers based on their sexual orientation and LGBT business owners should be able to turn away Christian customers due to their religious affiliation, the latter is not permissible under federal law as the former is. So, from both a historical and logical standpoint, Mr. Cruz's argument fails, and he may want to try finding another.

Even if Cruz's argument held up logically, that would still set quite the disturbing precedent for customer service in this country. There's a good reason certain demographics are protected under the Civil Rights Act - to prevent discriminatory views from clouding one's judgment at the workplace, to the point where equal service isn't provided to people of all stripes. In Ted Cruz's world, sexist men should be able to refuse service to women, racist whites should be able to refuse service to blacks, Jews should be able to refuse service to Muslims, and Christians should be able to refuse service to homosexuals.

There's an old saying that says the customer is always right. According to Ted Cruz, it seems that business owners are always right, and in the country Cruz paints as the freest in the world, customers should only be as free as business owners allow them. It's a wonder if the Civil Rights Act had never been passed and Ted Cruz was turned away by a business owner due to that fact, he'd sing a different tune on the matter.

Ted Cruz's theme song should be Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me"

Tell me if you've heard this one before: Texas Senator Ted Cruz threatens a federal government shutdown if he doesn't get his way about something but lays claim that if the government should shut down due to this, it won't be his fault.

That's right, almost two years after he decided to play a big part in shutting down the federal government for a couple weeks due to the Affordable Care Act not getting defunded, Ted Cruz has taken a similar stance regarding Planned Parenthood. However, according to him, just as the first shutdown wasn't his fault, this potential shutdown won't be his doing either.

In a conference call with pastors last week, Cruz said he'd try to defund Planned Parenthood by tying it to an appropriations bill funding the federal government, adding:

"We can expect President Obama and many of the congressional Democrats to cry loudly that if Congress uses its authority, Congress will be quote 'shutting down the government.' That, of course, is nonsense."

I find it ironically humorous that Cruz, a member of the party which likes to claim they represent personal responsibility, himself seems to have issues with taking personal responsibility. In 2013, Cruz threatened a government shutdown if Obamacare wasn't defunded. It didn't get defunded, the government shut down as a result, yet Cruz had the gall to pull a Shaggy and say, "It wasn't me." Yes, it kind of was. Similarly, Cruz is threatening another government shutdown if Planned Parenthood doesn't get defunded. If the government shuts down again, and for this very reason, Cruz has already said he'll deny responsibility, and again, would be wrong in doing so. With that kind of mentality, the following scenario would make sense (only to Ted Cruz):

Setting: In the kitchen at the Cruz homestead

Ted Cruz: "If dinner isn't ready by 7:05, I'm going to shoot your best friend!"

Mrs. Cruz: "Wait, what? That's in just 5 minutes! It's not going to be ready by then!"

Ted Cruz: "Fine then..." :: shoots her best friend ::

Judge Drinkonthejob: "Did I seriously just hear that story correctly?"

Ted Cruz: "It wasn't my fault, your honor. I told the wife if she didn't have dinner ready by 7:05, I'd shoot her best friend. So, really, it's her fault for not having dinner ready by when I said."

Judge Drinkonthejob: "You've got to be (bleeping) kidding me! What the hell is wrong with you? Guilty!"

Also, let's get something straight here - while everyone is entitled to their opinion regarding the issue of abortion, it would make absolutely no sense to defund Planned Parenthood over the matter. In its annual report, it's documented that Planned Parenthood offered a total of 10,590,433 services, 327,653 of which were abortion procedures (3.1%), and 3,577,348 of which were regarding contraception (33.8%). Contraception decreases unwanted pregnancies, and with that, abortions. So if Ted Cruz and other "pro-life" Republicans want to see abortions decrease, they should do the direct opposite of what they're proposing and increase Planned Parenthood funding. To decrease it would be to decrease contraception, increase unwanted pregnancies, and increase abortions.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Black Lives Matter movement - conservatives missing the bigger picture

Almost immediately after I stepped into a bar last night, I was approached by someone who wanted to tell me about a Fox News segment he recently saw regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. I didn't say much of anything because I could tell he was intoxicated, the two of us were on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and four days following the death of a friend, I was really in no mood to involve myself in a heated argument. So, as I often times do, I just listened, tried understanding his point of view, but in the end, felt he missed the bigger picture.

His major point, as I often times hear with conservatives, was, "Black lives matter? What about black-on-black crime? Blacks are killing other blacks, so why don't these blacks prove that black lives matter by not killing each other?"

He then cleverly looked at the opposing argument, saying, "I got into a heated debate with a black friend of mine, who pointed out white-on-white crime, but there's not a White Lives Matter movement now, is there? I'm not a racist. I have several black friends, but I'm sick and tired of black people pulling out the race card and using it as an excuse for something instead of taking responsibility."

When people make such comments, while they're factually accurate that most black homicide victims were killed by fellow blacks, they're mistaking the Black Lives Matter movement as fully centering around gun violence, police killing unarmed blacks in particular. Yes, the movement may have been prompted by the not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, but it's certainly evolved since then. Racism is ingrained at the deepest levels of our country, particularly against African-Americans. From unfair drug laws to mass incarceration to fewer opportunities academically and professionally to racial profiling and beyond, many African-Americans are caught in this virtual prison, regardless of whether or not they've actually been imprisoned. Blacks are more likely than whites to be imprisoned for nonviolent crimes, to receive harsher sentences for identical crimes, have more difficulty finding decent-paying jobs, be less likely to have high quality public education and be less likely to afford a college education, not to mention be more likely to be profiled and killed by police. With all this going against them, it makes things incredibly difficult for many African-American families to break the cycle. Yes, gun violence, gun violence by cops at the expense of unarmed blacks in particular, is incredibly important to the Black Lives Matter movement, but if one focuses solely on that, they miss the bigger picture.

In the Fox News segment my friend told me about (yes, I watched it), Sean Hannity spoke with two conservative African-Americans about the Black Lives Matter movement. They all spoke about a shooting in St. Louis where a black man shot and killed a little girl, and the three of them basically sang in unison, "Black lives matter? What about black-on-black crime? This isn't a race thing. The Black Lives Matter movement and the liberal media made it a race thing. But it's not a race thing; it's a human thing."

Once again, they missed the bigger picture of the Black Lives Matter movement. If they can't see that it is indeed a race (and human) thing, then they come across as rather clueless about the movement. Many conservatives seem to have cherry-picked the one component of the Black Lives Matter movement which they feel a strong counterargument can be made and decided to run with it, ignoring all the other components. However, ignorance and denial cannot equate as fact. Front and center on the Black Lives Matter homepage read these statistics:

- "28 ...hours. Every 28 hours a black man, woman, or child is murdered by police or vigilante law enforcement."

- "25.1 ...percent. An estimated 25.1 percent of black American women live in poverty. This is higher than any other ethnic group."

- "35 ...years. The average life expectancy for a black transgender woman is 35 years."

Those statistics are followed by these words:

"All #BlackLivesMatter.  This is Not a Moment, but a Movement

#BlackLivesMatter was created in 2012 after Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for his crime, and dead 17-year old Trayvon was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder. Rooted in the experiences of Black people in this country who actively resist our de-humanization, #BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society.Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes. 

It goes beyond the narrow nationalism that can be prevalent within Black communities, which merely call on Black people to love Black, live Black and buy Black, keeping straight cis Black men in the front of the movement while our sisters, queer and trans and disabled folk take up roles in the background or not at all.  Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.  It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements.  It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement.

When we say Black Lives Matter, we are broadening the conversation around state violence to include all of the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state.  We are talking about the ways in which Black lives are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity.  How Black poverty and genocide is state violence.  How 2.8 million Black people are locked in cages in this country is state violence.  How Black women bearing the burden of a relentless assault on our children and our families is state violence.  How Black queer and trans folks bear a unique burden from a hetero-patriarchal society that disposes of us like garbage and simultaneously fetishizes us and profits off of us, and that is state violence.  How 500,000 Black people in the US are undocumented immigrants and relegated to the shadows. How Black girls are used as negotiating chips during times of conflict and war.  How Black folks living with disabilities and different abilities bear the burden of state sponsored Darwinian experiments that attempt to squeeze us into boxes of normality defined by white supremacy, and that is state violence.

#BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.  We affirm our contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.  We have put our sweat equity and love for Black people into creating a political project–taking the hashtag off of social media and into the streets. The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation."

Like I said, many conservatives appear to be missing the bigger picture with this movement. Why isn't there a White Lives Matter movement? Because we haven't faced this kind of discrimination and oppression, we were the very architects of the deeply ingrained racism of our country, and we haven't felt like our race has been forgotten to the point where we feel the need to yell out "White lives matter!" Conservatives can focus all they'd like on black-on-black crime, but doing so while ignoring the systemic racism in this country at the expense of the African-American community will only continue the cycle. Ironically enough, the systemic racism of this country, originally constructed by whites and currently ignored by most conservatives, is what prompted the Black Lives Matter movement to form in the first place. Perhaps at the next Republican National Convention, conservative politicians and commentators will stand up to the podium and accurately declare, "The Black Lives Matter movement? We built that!"

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Was Glover Quin taken out of context? Yes. Do his comments still bother me? Yes.

What is it with the sports media's seeming obsession to take athletes' comments out of context recently? I already wrote about how this occurred with Washington Redskins starting quarterback Robert Griffin III last week, when a solid majority of the sports media focused on a small percentage of his quote, only drawing attention to the words, "RG III thinks he's the best quarterback in the league," and completely missing his intent and point with the full quote.

This week, it's Detroit Lions safety Glover Quin's turn. When being asked about Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson's season-ending injury, a majority of headlines from the sports media only quoted Quin as saying, "God meant for Jordy to get hurt."

His full quote is as follows:

"I hated Jordy got hurt, but in my beliefs, and the way I believe, it was - God meant for Jordy to get hurt. So if he wouldn't have got hurt today, if he wouldn't have played in that game, if he wouldn't have practiced anymore, and the next time he walked on the field would have been opening day, I feel like he would have got hurt opening day.

So in that sense, now they've got three weeks to make adjustments and prepare before opening day, as opposed to it happening opening day and now you're in the season and now Jordy gets hurt. It happening in the preseason, you hate that it happened, but that gives them time to make adjustments and try to find something."

After receiving backlash from the media about his comments, here's how Quin responded:

"I didn't wish bad on Jordy - I spent five minutes saying how I had sympathy for Jordy. I felt bad for Jordy. I feel bad for anybody that gets injured like this in the NFL. No way did I say anything bad about Jordy. I didn't say God hates Jordy. I didn't say any of that stuff. I do believe in my heart of hearts that what is meant to be will be - that's what I believe. That's the way I live my life.

Things happen to me, good or bad, and I say, 'OK, what does God want me to learn from this?'"

In other words, Glover Quin seems to believe that God has a plan for everybody, that everything happens for a reason, and all of that mumbo jumbo. So he had no ill intent with his statement, and most of the sports media decided to twist that intent into something it wasn't. So yes, even though the sports media will likely argue with me about this, they were guilty of quote mining, or contextomy, with regard to Quin's comments, just like they were with Robert Griffin's.

Getting that out of the way, though, I still take issue with Quin's comments, especially when looking at them in conjunction with another he made recently. In addition to the quote where Quin was taken out of context and his response to the media backlash, he also made the following statement:

"I don't just sit here and say God gives me a win, because the other team is praying for wins too. But I do ask God to keep me healthy, to keep me focused, to help me play to the best of my abilities.

If our team is better than the other team, and we all stay healthy, and all stay focused, and we all play to the best of our abilities, then our team will probably win. And if we don't, the other team will probably win."

It's not that Glover Quin had any ill intent when he made the comments regarding Jordy Nelson, it's just that his comments don't make a lick of sense. Let's again look at all three Quin quotes:

1) "I hated Jordy got hurt, but in my beliefs, and the way I believe, it was - God meant for Jordy to get hurt. So if he wouldn't have got hurt today, if he wouldn't have played in that game, if he wouldn't have practiced anymore, and the next time he walked on the field would have been opening day, I feel like he would have got hurt opening day.

So in that sense, now they've got three weeks to make adjustments and prepare before opening day, as opposed to it happening opening day and now you're in the season and now Jordy gets hurt. It happening in the preseason, you hate that it happened, but that gives them time to make adjustments and try to find something."

2) "I didn't wish bad on Jordy - I spent five minutes saying how I had sympathy for Jordy. I felt bad for Jordy. I feel bad for anybody that gets injured like this in the NFL. No way did I say anything bad about Jordy. I didn't say God hates Jordy. I didn't say any of that stuff. I do believe in my heart of hearts that what is meant to be will be - that's what I believe. That's the way I live my life.

Things happen to me, good or bad, and I say, 'OK, what does God want me to learn from this?'"

3) "I don't just sit here and say God gives me a win, because the other team is praying for wins too. But I do ask God to keep me healthy, to keep me focused, to help me play to the best of my abilities.

If our team is better than the other team, and we all stay healthy, and all stay focused, and we all play to the best of our abilities, then our team will probably win. And if we don't, the other team will probably win."

So, let me get this straight, according to Glover Quin and others with his mentality, while God has a plan for everyone, and due to that, our fates are inevitably in the hands of God, he doesn't decide the outcome of football games, doesn't determine players' focus, or players' abilities? So, he determines our fates, but doesn't? Um, okay... This isn't a personal attack on Glover Quin, for I've heard a lot of predeterminists spout such rhetoric before, but when they combine that with the concept of free will, I can't help but give them the are-you-crazy look. Yes, according to them, that look was likely predetermined by God, yet it was still my call. I know, it really doesn't make much sense to me either.

Also, while Quin may not have intended this, when looking at all his comments, he comes across as thinking, "God currently loves me more than Jordy Nelson, and due to that, love the Detroit Lions more than the Green Bay Packers."

In his third quote, he talked about praying to God to keep him healthy, keep him focused, help him play to the best of his abilities, and with that, help his team in those three areas as well. In his first two quotes, he talked about how God has a plan for everyone, everything happens for a reason, and due to that, Jordy Nelson's injury was in God's hands. So, Glover Quin prayed to God to keep him healthy, and to this point, that prayer has been answered, which is a testament to God's plans, yet Jordy Nelson hasn't received that same fate, once again, due to the hands of God. So does Glover Quin truly believe God favors him over Jordy Nelson or loves the Detroit Lions more than the Green Bay Packers? Really? When's the last time the Lions won a Super Bowl again? Okay then...

When all is said and done, yes, the sports media took Glover Quin's comments out of context, yet at the same time, I can't for the life of me understand Quin's comments to begin with. Well, I best be going now. I'm going to do something God has predetermined for me to do yet is my own choice. Wish me luck!

The Twittersphere

From the outset, I admit to having been quite leery about Twitter. An old friend of mine suggested I give it a gander 4 years ago, so I tentatively did, but once I created an account, I kind of shrugged my shoulders and thought, "Okay, now what?" I had just recovered from a 2 year health battle, had started getting into writing again, but had no real plan of what my next steps were going to be. So I simply tweeted random humorous thoughts of mine, kept in touch with friends and their seeming need to show me everything they ate and regularly update me on their sleep schedules. I finally reached a point where I thought there was really no point to tweeting and I'd be better off not condensing my thoughts and writings to 140 characters, and instead writing on a blog and Tumblr. Three years later, after appearing on a radio show to promote my written work, being mentioned on another, and writing like a madman who's been given a lifetime supply of speed and only one year to live, I gave Twitter another chance, but this time with a plan in mind - to expand my fan base/readers. This made it much easier for me to sit down, look into the eyes of the Twittersphere, and use it to work toward a goal. While I'm still not 100% cognizant of all that a person can do on Twitter to better reach their goals, the site has been quite beneficial to me in reaching new readers over the past couple of years. Hopefully that trend continues. For as much as I've grown to enjoy Twitter (for the most part), however, there are still some things about the experience which I find to be less than satisfying (yes, that's putting it nicely):

1) Poor spelling/grammar/punctuation: I realize there are times when a person has to condense their message to such a high degree, that it's inevitable their spelling, grammar, and punctuation will be less than perfect. However, there are times the posts are so awful on those fronts, I immediately look around to see if I can find a Twitter/text translator. Unfortunately, to this point, I've yet to find such a person.

2) Miss-direction: While I often times post my own crazy thoughts on Twitter, I also post a number of articles I find to be either interesting, informative, or humorous (or a combination of the three). When commenting on these articles I post, most people know how to direct their opinions to the actual author of the article. However, there are times when this doesn't occur and I get an angry response from someone who appears to be insinuating that I'm the author of the article. Their messages then come across as personal attacks against me for the content of an article I didn't write. These attacks may be unintentional, but for how they come across at first read, it's difficult to not take them somewhat personally, before asking yourself, "Wait, what are they talking about?" Yeah, I know, misunderstandings over the Internet - who knew?!?

3) S-A-T-I-R-E: On my Twitter bio, it states that I'm a writer who specializes in political satire. I commonly share links to books or blogs I've written; video clips to The Daily Show, The Nightly Show, Last Week Tonight, or Real Time; and even share writings from satirical websites, most notably, The Onion. In 95% of the cases when I make such posts, I include the hashtag #Satire, because no matter how ridiculous the article or video clip is, I don't want anyone to believe it's reporting 100% factually-accurate news. This is especially the case with The Onion, for while there's a decent mix of fact and humor in the four shows I mentioned, as well as in my books and blogs, The Onion typically takes an idea or news story and runs with it as far as their warped minds will allow them, often times creating for a hilarious article. Even if I weren't to include the hashtag #Satire for such articles, I'd like to believe most everyone would realize while reading them that they're fiction. Sadly, that's not the case. I'd say roughly 10-20% of the time I post an Onion article (with the #Satire hashtag), I get an angry response, giving the impression the person believes the article to be factual. I don't know how many times I've had to say, "Psst... This was an article by The Onion; it's satire." I'm not sure how much more clearly I can spell out that an article is s-a-t-i-r-e to some people, but I may have to try some different strategies, because the cycle does get to be a tad frustrating at times. Maybe if I include the hashtag #FoxNewsIsFairAndBalanced, along with #Satire, they'll all realize the article is not to be taken seriously. We'll see how that works...

4) Trolls, Trolls, Trolls:  I suppose this is to be expected anymore, for it seems wherever one goes on the Internet, trolls will follow. That still doesn't take away from the fact they're annoying, though. This almost always seems to happen when a post of yours gets retweeted multiple times, and a follower of a follower of a follower of yours decides to disrupt the conversation by letting it be known that the original post was stupid. Fortunately, while the trolls are numerous, it's also easy to block trolls when they get nasty, and yes, trolls tend to be nasty. On that note, I'm still waiting for Weird Al Yankovic to come out with a parody based on the Motley Crue song, "Girls, Girls, Girls," entitled, "Trolls, Trolls, Trolls." Get to work, Weird Al!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Further reflection

Yesterday I noted I lost a friend of mine to cancer late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, and as always during such times, it really made me pause to think about my life and life in general. Since he was only given 6 months to live initially and lasted 7 years, it was quite miraculous for him to have lived as long as he did, yet at the same time, it's difficult to believe that final chapter of his life has actually closed. It's somewhat reminiscent to my grandfather, who passed in February of this year. The guy had been in and out of the hospital for 5-10 consecutive years it seemed, yet regardless of the complications, he always seemed to battle through them and be around when I was back in town over the holidays. I guess no matter how hard we mentally and emotionally try to prepare for the loss of a loved one, it's never enough to fully brace ourselves for the deep impact we'll feel when they finally do pass. It's quite different to imagine life without a person, yet to open your eyes and still see them present, rather than to open your eyes and realize they're not around.

In situations like my friend's, as well as my before-mentioned grandfather's, thoughts and emotions can often times be quite mixed. Of course there's the overwhelming sorrow of their passing, yet at the same time, there can be an odd sense of relief that they're no longer suffering. Only my grandfather and my friend will ever fully know how much pain they endured over the past 5-10 years. Chances are not I, nor anyone outside of my friend's wife perhaps, could even come close to knowing the level of pain they consistently felt. It's quite commonplace for people in great agony to mask that when around others. Perhaps it's because they don't want others to feel sorry for them, they don't want to put a damper on the mood at all, or simply want to deny their pain and problems for an hour or two. Whatever the case, their pain and suffering is often masked through jokes, laughter, story-telling, pretty much anything which can divert attention away from their problems and toward enjoying the few moments in life they may have left. If others simply focus on their health issues, of what joy will that bring to anyone, including themselves? If others are smiling, laughing, and enjoying themselves, however, this allows them to kick back a little, temporarily deny their troubles, and enjoy the moment. I often times wonder if these suffering individuals are fighting more for those around them than for themselves. While it's extraordinarily painful for these people to endure such agony from a physical standpoint, I often times think they try to fight through this pain, not because they want to personally go on living, only to inevitably suffer more physical pain, but because they don't want to inflict any emotional pain and suffering on those they love most through their passing. If that is ever the case, it's difficult to think of a more selfless act. While it's always extraordinarily difficult for us to let go of loved ones who have been suffering for years upon years, I can guarantee it was more difficult for them to endure the seemingly constant and intense levels of pain for all those years.

During times like these, I often find myself conflicted between dwelling on the loss of someone close to me and appreciating the person they were and being grateful I had the chance to get to know them. It's typically a back-and-forth cycle. I initially mourn and sob for a while, before finally being able to collect my breath, think back, remember, and appreciate all of the person's great qualities and the good times we shared with one another. This brings about both tears and laughter (or a combination of the two), before the cycle starts all over again, only further down the road.

Life and death: While the former can be exhilarating and the latter heart-breaking, if often feels at the time of one's death is when we fully appreciate their life. Oddly enough, it seems that while our busy lives can often times drift us away from one another, death brings us back together. That begs the question, is this the inevitable cycle or can we make the proper adjustments to better appreciate our loved ones' lives before they pass? I suppose it may be difficult to fully appreciate a book before we've read the final chapter, yet that doesn't mean we can't appreciate components of it prior to that point. That in and of itself may be the most difficult thing about death - not knowing if it's truly the final chapter of a person's life or if we'll somehow see them again in another. Until that point, all we can do is be grateful for knowing these wonderful people who have crossed our paths, appreciate the good memories, feel their presence through their influence, and realize, while our loved one(s) may no longer be with us physically, those priceless moments, memories, and their imprint on us and others will forever remain.

Info on my Facebook business, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Here's the URL to my Facebook business page. I update it fairly regularly, but still haven't put forth a great deal of effort yet in researching matters and attempting to make the most out of it. In any case, it can be perused here:

Up next is my Twitter page. I'm still not 100% certain what I'm doing on there yet, but feel I'm gradually getting the hang of it and am up to 26,040 followers. I update it daily with many of my own tweets, but also by retweeting some others'. It can be found here:

Lastly, here's my Tumblr page, which I've neglected quite a bit recently, but if you're at all curious, you can find it at the following link:

Weekly update of my book information

For new readers (and regular ones, I suppose), here's some information pertaining to my books.

All twelve of my books can be purchased in paperback form at the following site (and others):

The ten books I've written and released in the past 4 years (yes, I've been on a roll) can be purchased for much cheaper in Kindle form at the following link:

Monday, August 24, 2015

RIP, my friend

It's very sad for me to report that I lost a friend over the weekend. As I'm sure is common amongst a majority of people, whenever someone I know passes on, I start reflecting on my own life and life in general.

My friend, Gary, led quite a life. Having fun seemed to be easy for him throughout most of his 64 years, but then when he was diagnosed with cancer 7 years ago and given 6 months to live, he proved time and time again he was the ultimate fighter too. Throughout it all, he continued to live life on his terms, much to the dismay of his doctors, for if he was going to die, he was going to die with a smile on his face. While I probably wouldn't advise people with a similar condition to do this, my friend wasn't about following rules; he was about simultaneously defying odds and enjoying himself as much as life would allow him. Through this, he inspired me and earned my utmost respect.

I think one reason I felt a special connection with Gary, who was 30 years older than myself, is because we'd both continually overcome health obstacles throughout our lives, and no matter what the doctors told us with regard to our odds or the seemingly endless negative possibilities, we refused to back down. When I was sick throughout 2009 and 2010, bounced around like a pinball between clinics in Columbus and Cleveland, I was told the mystery condition could be permanent, could be multiple sclerosis, could result in me needing my legs amputated. I was like a vegetable most days, where I couldn't drive, couldn't work, could hardly even walk, yet I refused to give up the fight, and one big reason for that was Gary. Even though his smile, laugh, words, and demeanor might have suggested otherwise, he was a fighter through and through, and greatly inspired me to not give up either. Now, whenever life throws another health obstacle my way, I simply look to Gary to provide me a sense of hope and encouragement. I only wish I could continue to return the favor for him. Gary was a very bright and creative man, never short on the laughs and never short on the fight. After a hard-fought 7 years, the world still took this man too soon. I just hope he never has to feel any pain again and realizes how many people, myself included, he inspired along the way. You'll be greatly missed, Gary. We love you. Rest in peace, my friend.