Three Mistakes Even Progressive People Make About Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is a true progressive with solid American values of peace and justice for all, not just the rich. Progressives who vote for anyone else in the 2016 Presidential race are plain and simply voting against their own best interests (SOURCE). Even true progressives tend to second guess themselves when they think about voting for Bernie Sanders in 2016.

Here are three common thinking errors some progressives make about Bernie Sanders.

1. Bernie Sanders can't win in the general election: Really? Against Trump? C'mon. As long as elections are fair and he has the votes, he wins. Boom. Remember, PACs and corporations can't vote...yet. Most of Bernie's donors are real individual people with voting rights, not amorphous financial entities. He has about as much money in the bank as Clinton and a million more individual donors than her, even more than Obama had in 2008.

2. Democratic Socialism doesn't work: Tell that to all of western Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, and a good portion of the industrialized world. The POTUSA (yes, it should be POTUSA) is not a dictator or a king. He or she is supposed to be a visionary leader who works with Congress to move the country toward his/her vision and goals. Americans have a hard time with the 3 branches system of government and the whole checks and balances thing. They are still psychologically tied to the idea of royalty, for whatever reason (as evidenced by worship of royal families like the Kardashians). Bernie knows he will have to compromise with Congress to get his ideas into law and he won't simply have his druthers. But he will have visionary leadership and something to strive for (i.e., making the middle class strong again). That's more than can be said for the rest of the candidates, who are largely reactionaries, not visionaries.

3. He's too old to be President: He is only six years older than Hillary Clinton. Granted, he would be the oldest POTUSA ever elected. But at 74, the guy is sharp as a tack. Reagan was 73 at his 1985 inauguration. Granted, Reagan was in the early stages of Alzheimers then. OK, this is not my strongest bullet point, I get that. But even so, it is still a mistake to say Bernie Sanders is too old to be President and this is usually just a proxy excuse for not voting for Bernie Sanders because of #1 and #2.

There are probably more thinking errors progressives make about Bernie Sanders, but my GF wants to go to Menards in a few minutes, so I have to stop. Bye now.

The Deed is Done

Today I walked THE MAN "Spanish down the hall." In the vernacular of our time, that means I gave HIM notice that HIS services will no longer be needed. In other words, I "fired" my boss, effective a fortnight hence, more or less.

Interestingly, both my bosses are women (yes, I have two bosses), not men, so when I refer to THE MAN, I am referring to Corporate America collectively, not singling these fine people out individually.

Actually, this is a somewhat bittersweet letting go of my employer. Past firings of my bosses have been fairly joyous experiences because said bosses were generally incompetent uberdouches. My bosses at this job were decent enough people whose struggles were largely shared with me, rather than delegated to me, although there was some unnecessary delegation at times (easily rebuffed). The issue with this particular job was its mindnumbing boringness. I was writing (which is cool) soul sucking IT compliance documentation (which is NOT cool at all) - really bland, dry stuff that didn't tap my skills or indulge my creativity satisfactorily. I leave on good terms before my will to live is crushed. More on this below.

Going forward, I am investing some recently acquired cash winnings in MYSELF as an author. I am going to write two books, supplementing my income with some freelance work, Uber driving, and whatever other cash teets I can find to suckle upon. I'd like to supplement as well with writing and performing live music and licensing some of my songs to film and TV, but that's extremely low paying relative to the investment of time and energy (low ROI), as I learned the hard way when I took a similar artistic self improvement sabbatical in 2009-2010. Music gigs tend to be infrequent for a variety of reasons and when they pay at all, it's next to nothing after factoring in all the band practices and other time that goes into producing a fantastic rock-n-roll show, such as the ones my bands GUPPY EFFECT or EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE put on, and travel too. Most people don't realize what goes into producing a killer music show. I think they assume musicians just have innate talent and get up on stage with nary a rehearsal to rock socks off. Sadly, it's 90% elbow grease and 10% talent, and the talent is totally optional, let me assure you.

Still, rocking is my primary passion in life, so I am compelled to do it. Writing is my secondary passion, almost as much fun but with more income generating potential (thank you crumbling American educational system!). Everyone needs good writers and I already have a lead on a freelance gig writing ad copy.

2016 is sure to be a fun and dynamic year of artistic growth and sucess, if I can mostly avoid charlatans, drama kings, and negativity (Debbie Downers), no easy task these days. I have a ridiculously supportive girlfriend who believes in me, supports my art, and promises to keep me honest with myself. Another good free agent artistic friend and I will keep each accountable by way of a Mastermind group we are starting after the New Year (Happy New Year btw!). So far it's just us, but we invite other ambitious artists and freelancers to join us.

Truth be told, though I did give notice to my current employer today, I offered to continue contracting with them up to eight hours per week (one day) until they backfill my position if they want. I am just a nice guy that way, but that's all I can offer them right now because I need to focus on my artistic pursuits.

I hope you, dear readers and friends, will be supportive and travel vicariously with me on my artistic journey in the coming year. That in itself should be amply entertaining and interesting for you, as I'll be posting updates here and on my JOE'S COFFEE FIX blog semi-regularly. Good reading material (I assume you are still reading), totally free and passively consumable at your leisure.

My two main projects this year are writing and publishing two books. The first is a science fiction novel in which musicians from an alternate universe come to our world and use their ridiculously bad pop music to brainwash humans, turning them into mindless zombies (reality is stranger than fiction!). The second book is more of a creative nonfiction on what I call "punk rock lifestyle coaching," with an intended audience of nonconformist misfits (like myself) who are trying to live and work in Corporate America (like myself...sometimes) without selling out their souls to THE MAN (it can be done...I'm doing it right now and have been for over 20 years...so I have the "field experience" to know what I am talking about).

Beyond that, my third project (because I obsessive-compulsively always try to do things in threes) is continuing to write, produce, and perform some glorious rock-n-roll music for all my like minded friends and fans, and maybe get something licensed to film and TV. Wouldn't that be something?

Pretty soon I am going to launch a subscription campaign for my art projects where people (like yourself) can invest a couple bucks a month in exchange for regular unlimited access to my music (videos, live streams, mp3s, house concerts, and live show dates), blog posts (on my super secret PUNK ROCK LIFESTYLINGS blog only for subscribers), and free copies of my books (ebooks) when they are done, some time near the end of 2016. I'll also give subscribers free hard copies of the books, but due to the nature of book publishing, the launch date for that is a bit ambiguous at the moment, so I have to let that float. But there's a very good chance of success and I hope you'll be a part of that success by supporting me in your own way, monetarily or otherwise. Just telling a few friends on social media about me would be fantastic and priceless as far as I'm concerned.

Alright, well I said a mouthful. Hey, leave a comment below if you have any thoughts you want to share with me. I pledge to reply personally to each and every person who contacts me. I love hearing other peoples' thoughts and perspectives on anything. I may not have any good answers but I will answer.

I rock. But so do you. Never doubt that. Hugs.

-Joe (aka Cactus Joe, Manwich, or Teddy depending on what rock-n-roll hat I am wearing at any given time...)

Dawgs


I recalled that some time in the middle of the night, both our dogs, Foster (mine) and Maddie (Deborah’s) had exploded into a fit of barking. Foster even ran downstairs to assess whatever perceived threat had stimulated his canine outrage. Maddie was in her kennel, as she was most nights due to her penchant for sneaking off to pee in the house in the middle of the night, so she was prevented from following Foster’s lead. The barking created a positive feedback loop. When either dog barked, the other would bark as well, and vice versa, so that kept the barking going for longer than it needed to. It had taken a while to quell them with shouts of “quiet down” from Deborah that added to the chaos. Eventually Foster came back up the stairs and returned to his dog bed to go back to sleep. I hadn’t slept well after that.

I looked over the edge of the bed and saw Foster still slumbering in his bed. I reached my right hand behind me and it made contact with Deborah. I rolled over and she was sitting up in bed, surfing social media on her phone.

“Whatcha doin’?” I asked, looking past her toward the clock radio, which read 6:54 AM.

“Checking my phone,” Deborah replied.

I got up and relieved myself before stepping on the bathroom scale. 223.1 pounds.

“I don’t know how it’s possible, but I am down a pound from yesterday,” I said. “I guess I did eat mostly salad, but it was still a lot of food.”

“Good, honey,” Deborah replied, still entranced by her phone.

I pulled on my t-shirt, shorts, and slippers, then knelt and tickled Foster’s belly. He rolled on his back, releasing a brachiocephalically induced gurgle of pleasure.

“Hey, Fost. You wanna go out?” I asked with mock encouragement. He didn’t. But as I walked away, he groggily rose from the bed and staggered toward the hallway. I opened the door to Maddie’s crate, but she remained inside, buried under doggie blankets and in no way interested in following me downstairs.

“Who wants a treat?” I asked as I left the room,trying to improve both dogs’ compulsion to get moving. It didn’t help. Maddie stayed put and Foster took the stairway with no greater enthusiam than before.

Once I got down to the kitchen and noisily grabbed the bag of treats off the top of the dog food bin, Maddie came barreling down the stairs. I put Foster’s glaucoma eye drops in his right eye (he no longer has a left), gave them both a treat, and then sent them outside to do whatever business they had to do in the back yard. I filled the dogs’ bowls with food while they were out there, then set about making my own breakfast after I let them back inside to eat.

The Value of Political Incorrectness

"1st amendment doesn't protect assholes from criticism. The right to act like an asshole and be called an asshole's the same fucking right."
-Twitter @shitmydadsays.


Donald Trump is popular (some say) because of his outspoken disdain for political correctness, a disdain shared by many on the right, because political correctness is, perhaps rightly so, associated with liberals. Disdain for political correctness is not a basis for electing a President (OK, great…you elected a PI President, America…now what? Think a little bit farther ahead...), but at some level I can relate to the popular revolt against political correctness.

My reasons for disliking political correctness, besides the awkwardness of the phrase itself, are not the same reasons Trump and his ilk dislike it. They dislike it because they can't freely express their vitriol and bigotry in a PC social environment. So Trump is waging a WAR ON PC.

But while Trump is monopolizing on anti-PC sentiment to vomit his toxic bigotry, lies, and narcissistic vitriol without any political consequences (seemingly), I am anti-PC because I want to know what people think and believe so I can avoid them if needed. If PC makes PI people clam up and keep a low profile, I can't know who the d-bags are and avoid them.

Political correctness has made many people in society afraid to speak their minds when they have an explicitly racist or sexist (to name the most obvious types) thought. But all this does is push the racists and sexists into hiding. It makes them invisible. It doesn’t erase the bad thoughts they are having, only the subsequent verbal diarrhea that would normally follow racist or sexist thoughts.

Goddammit, I want PI thoughts spoken aloud. That way I can know who the racists and sexists are and disenfranchise them from my life, as I try to do with Donald Trump (but my gosh...he is everywhere!). Trump is so dumb he doesn't realize that I fully embrace his PI speech. Please...firehose it out. Let everyone see what a creepy d-bag you are. That's why I am anti-PC. Show me PI whenever possible, so I can know which piles of dog sh!t to avoid.

All political correctness has done is simply turn off the neon light over the PI person's head that flashes on and off with an arrow pointing at them and the words “I’m a racist/sexist/dickbag.” So I am cast into darkness and forced to walk amongst these vermin with nothing to protect me. Goddammit, I might even be NICE to one. Ugh!

Political correctness was invented for a simple reason. It allows for PC people (who maybe are mostly white liberals, I don't know) to ignore the ugliness in society and basically avoid discomfort when they find themselves cast amid bigots. PC people want to live in a little comfort zone bubble and pretend the world is PC, so they have censored it out. But PC doesn’t do anything to repress actual bigotry in society and might even make it worse, if the current state of affairs (RE: Donald Trump) is any indicator. Bigots will still continue to have their PI thoughts, and in fact, the more you repress those thoughts by forcing PC on them, the more frustrated and angry the bigots become inside, until they rebel.

Then VOILA! You have Donald Trump as the front runner for King of the Assholes, unleashing the angry, frustrated bigot hordes upon us. Trump is their vicarious mouthpiece. (When questioned though, they will usually tell you the reason they like Trump is that “he speaks his mind.” That's code for "he says the horrible things I would love to be able to say, but I can't.")

It’s similar to when you repress sexuality in a society and then you get a bunch of sexually frustrated people rebelling against that repression with some really kinky a$$ed sh!t. Take the teenage girls' dirty panty sniffing Japanese, for example…they sell those things in vending machines over there. Oh, sorry, was that too politically incorrect for you, PC people? Did I disturb your comfort zone? See, that's my point. If you are too PC, you live in a bubble of comfortable ignorance. You need PI to help you navigate in this very effed up world we live in.

Thankfully, PC is not really the huge issue Trump would have you believe it is, as evidenced by the fact that when I am with a group of only men, I often hear some very misogynistic comments about women. Likewise, I have sometimes heard pretty racist comments when I find myself in a group of only white people, though this happens a lot less that the sexist comments, aforementioned. Mostly though, I just hear dumb comments. And these aren't PC nor PI. They are just dumb.

"Anyone who thinks they know what's best for 300 million people is a titanic asshole. So we're just voting for king of the assholes."
-Twitter @shitmydadsays

Copyright is a Touchy Thing

I get copyright dings from Youtube sometimes when I upload a live music video that has copyrighted house music playing between bands. This is kind of bogus because 1. the copyright holder is already getting royalties from the venue that is playing the music via jukebox or satellite fees and 2. it's not my fault there is house music...it was not my intent to capture it and no one is listening to my streams for the barely audible crappy sounding crudely recorded background house music. I ought to complain..

I Am An Ideas Man

I have great ideas. What I lack is the resources and desire to make them concrete. But if someone with the resources and desire wants to join forces, I am pretty sure we could rule the world.

Between Zero and Epsilon


I am a big proponent of mass media fasting for a lot of solid reasons I have described in depth in previous posts. This post is more about why there is no harm in mass media fasting.

There is a huge amount of knowledge in the world. In your entire lifetime, you are only going to know a small fraction of the total, even with the Internet brain at your disposal. Additionally, the knowledge you obtain from the mainstream mass media is an even smaller fraction of that. So one can fairly confidently say that the knowledge one acquires even from a fairly liberal consumption of mass media is somewhere between zero and epsilon.

Mathematically, the Greek symbol epsilon designates a quantity only slightly bigger than zero, so small as to be essentially zero. But it is still not zero.

So even the most extreme mass media fasting is only going to diminish your knowledge base by about epsilon, in the worst (and most unlikely) case. Probably less. In short, for all practical purposes, your knowledge of things is about the same, with or without mass media fasting.

When you think about that, you begin to realize that knowledge is not as important as critical thinking to your understanding of the world. Most of our worldviews and beliefs are drawn from a small number of facts and a large amount of critical thinking (for example, skepticism that drives fact checking), regardless of who you are. The corporate mainstream media does not foster critical thinking. It might have at one time. Today though corporate mass media tells you what you should believe, rather than to ask questions and be skeptical. It purports to do your critical thinking for you (aka guest "experts" and pundits). Don't be fooled. The credibility of the hired "critical thinkers" on mainstream mass media is just about as good as yours, in a relative sense (refer to zero vs epsilon above). True investigative journalism is dead (or ignored).

Organizations like Factcheck and Politifact specialize in critical thinking, but only at the most basic level. They verify statements made by politicians using available public information sources. They are probably more than epsilon better at this than you because they have people and tools that specialize in it. You seldom see pundits from Politifact as guests on mainstream media news.

Science is a form of critical thinking. The strength of science is not in its ability to PROVE things, but rather to DISPROVE things. Science sucks at proving things. Taken to the extreme one can say science can never fully prove anything. But it can disprove things amazingly well, to a statistical significance of 100% minus epsilon in some cases. 95% - 99% statistical significance is ample for most branches of science. Religious fundamentalists sometimes challenge science to prove God does not exist. Scientists should never accept this challenge, as it is based on a false premise (science's ability to prove things). Instead, scientists should counter that they will DISPROVE that God does exist to a greater than 99% confidence interval. This is actually quite easy to do. Establish a null hypothesis such as, "the chance of a natural disaster should be the same for a geographic area that has a higher proportion of Christians [insert favored religious ideology here] than the surrounding areas," for example. If there is a God who favors Christians, you should see less destruction in that area, DISPROVING the null hypothesis. Collect data over a period of time to get enough data points, then run the numbers. In fact, Christian areas are no more or less likely to suffer Nature's wrath. The scientist FAIL TO DISPROVE the null hypothesis that God does not exist, effectively proving it. The religious extremists get to point out that science failed ("we think?") and the scientists get to walk around with smug looks on their faces. Everyone wins.

In conclusion, mass media fasting does not significantly impact your core knowledge. It may make you better at critical thinking (since no one is spoon feeding you) and it will definitely improve your health and happiness (by reducing anxiety and irrational fear), as I have described previously.

The Good

Officer Dingledong had five minutes left on his shift, so he wheeled his cruiser into the parking lot of Spanky's Donuts to wait out the time, crossing his fingers as he did so.

Please, no calls, he thought. It was a Sunday afternoon, so almost no chance of trouble, but he knew better than to assume. He pulled into a vacant parking spot, put the cruiser in Park, and then leaned back in the driver's seat to gaze longingly at the glossy posters of various sucrose and sphingolipid saturated sweets in Spanky's display windows.

THE LARD LADYFINGERS

THE GLAZED GODDESS

THE SUGARY STRUMPET

THE CHERRY CHOMPER

THE JELLY JIZMASTER (ok, he made that one up...)

He decided on the CARAMEL CORONARY.

Yeah, that's perfect, he thought. Three minutes on the clock. He fingered the keys dangling from the ignition. "What the feck," he said softly to himself. "Close enough for rocknroll."

He started to turn the car off when the dispatch radio crackled.

"Attention patrols. This is Dispatch. We just got a report of an L10-11. I know it's almost the end of a shift. Can any cars take it?"

Feeeeeeeeck, Dingledong thought. I so want to ignore that.

Good officer that he was though, he let his fingers leave the keys and picked up the radio receiver.

He pressed the red transmit button and spoke. "Car 6 reporting," he said. "Dingledong on duty. Location?"

"520 Ray Road," the female Dispatcher replied. It sounded like Roberta, Dingledong thought.

"On my way," Dingledong said.

As he backed out of the parking spot and wheeled the cruiser around, he took a last look at the delectable delights displayed by Spanky's. His mouth watered.

L10-11 was a noise complaint. Of course it was. That was the most likely call for 4 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. The peace and quiet shattered by some d-bag.

He pulled up in front of the address and turned on his flashers. No observable signs of a disturbance. He put the car in park and got out. That's when he heard the music coming from the house he was parked in front of...a thumping bass drum mostly punching the air with a force as beefy as Dingledong's gut.

Yeah, that's a little conspicuous for a residential neighborhood on a Sunday, he thought. He stepped to the rear of his cruiser and popped the trunk. He rummaged for a few seconds amongst the gear inside and drew forth the Decibel Meter, then walked up the driveway of the house, a nondescript ranch on a corner lot.

The music grew louder as he got closer. Now he could discern more than just the sound of drums. As he climbed the two steps up to the front door, he could quite clearly hear guitar, bass, and singing at a decent enough volume to be clear to his ear. He still had donuts on his mind, but he paused before flicking on the dB Meter.

Damn, these guys are pretty good, he thought. He leaned his head down toward the small window in the front door of the house. The music was phenomenal. He didn't recognize the song. Original music most likely. He started tapping his toe to the beat and became quite entranced by the music. He glanced briefly at the needle on the display of the dB Meter. Yeah, it was well over the 65 dB limit, but feck it, this was some good shite being performed here. He thumbed off the dB Meter and listened for a couple more minutes before thoughts of donuts in his mouth inserted themselves into his mind.

He pulled out his ticket book and tore off a sheet. He flipped it over and wrote on the blank back side of it.

"Hey, you guys sound good. This is the City Police. You got a noise complaint but I am going to give you a pass for rocking so hard. Please email me to let me know when and where you are performing live." He wrote his email address.

He taped the note in the door and started walking back to his cruiser. Then he noticed the couple standing on the sidewalk in front of the house next door.

The complainants, no doubt, Dingledong thought. He sighed and approached them. They were a young couple, probably late 20s or early 30s and conservatively dressed.

"Did you call about the music?" he asked.

"I am not sure I would call that music," the woman said, frowning. "We were having a quiet Sunday after church until that cacophany started."

"Are you going to do something?" the man chimed in. "Maybe write them a citation."

Dingledong thought the man seemed overly eager for him to cite the music makers.

"No sir, I am not," Dingledong replied. "That music is pretty damn good and I think you ought to get a good listen to it. Whoever they are, they are definitely talented and it'd be a crime to punish something that awesome."

The couple stared at Dingledong in disbelief.

"Please don't call and bug the police anymore about this," he continued. "Music like that makes the world a better place and that means less real crimes for us to fight. You are actually making our jobs harder calling that in. A good day to you now."

He turned and went back to his cruiser, got in and drove back to Spanky's for his CARAMEL CORONARY.

The Unsolicited Douchebaggery

Biff pushed Ruby’s wheelchair into the coffee shoppe. The smell of coffee and pastries was thick in the air.

“Do you want me to find us a table and order for you?” Biff asked.

“Just wheel me up to the counter,” Ruby said.

Biff navigated the wheel chair around the small tables where mostly millennials sat at laptops or surfed on phones, saving the future of humanity with their social media accounts.

The Douche sat at one of the tables as Ruby rolled past.

Another gimp, the Douche thought to himself. Probably using food stamps to buy donuts. The Douche knew food stamps didn't work in coffee shoppes, but he thought it anyway.

About three people stood in line to order from the three baristas behind the counter who were busily making lattes and boxing pastries.

“I can take it from here,” Ruby said, pushing herself out of the chair. She stood with most of her weight off her injured right foot. “Just let me lean on you.”

Biff stepped forward and Ruby put her right hand on his left shoulder for support.

“Look at that welfare parasite pretending to be crippled,” the Douche said, just loud enough to be heard. “That’s rich. I ought to call the cops.”

Biff closed his eyes, took a deep breath and then wheeled around to face the Douche, holding Ruby’s bicep to keep her balanced.

“Say that again,” Biff said, glaring at the Douche.

“What?” the Douche said, throwing up his hands dismissively. “It looks like your girlfriend there can walk after all.”

“Are you retarded?” Biff asked, rhetorically. “She’s not paraplegic, you moron. Not everyone in a wheel chair can’t walk.”

“Well, what does she need the chair for then?” The Douche asked.

“I broke my foot, you idiot,” Ruby said before Biff could respond. Then to Biff she added, “Are the people in your world really this stupid?”


“Hey, whatever,” the Douche said, standing up and turning to walk away. “I just don’t think my tax dollars should be going to pay for you to get a free meal when you can obviously get around just fine.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Ruby asked, incredulously. “No one is taking your tax dollars. I broke my foot!”

“Tell that to the IRS,” the Douche yelled back over his shoulder as he walked to the door and left the coffee shoppe.

Biff and Ruby looked at each other in disbelief.

“That is literally the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me,” Biff said.

"What the fuck?" Ruby sighed, shaking her head.

Fabrications

42% of Americans polled believe in LITERAL Creationism (SOURCE). That is to say they believe God created the Earth and everything on it in its current form within the past 10,000 years and that evolution doesn't happen.

So is it any wonder many of them also believe Donald Trump and Ben Carson are America's saviors?

It's troubling that so many Americans prefer fabrications (religious or political) over reality. On the bright side though, reality does not give any f*cks what people believe. It's gonna keep on truckin' regardless of how hard Creationists and fearful bigots wish it to be otherwise.

By the same token, so much ignorance is dangerous to the future of America and the species as a whole. If you believe that God or Jesus or Donald Trump or Ben Carson will save us, you might be inclined to sit back and do nothing yourself. But that's not how it works. You have to be the change you want to see in the world. No one else is responsible for you but you. Voting for Trump or posting your rants on social media doesn't cut it.

However, if you are a fundamentalist religious bigot, better you keep your activities restricted to the relatively harmless sphere of social media than doing any damage out in the real world.

Media Fasting


A few years ago, I read Tim Ferriss’ “4 Hour Work Week,” which changed my life in a number of positive ways. It was a major motivator for me to “fire my boss” in 2009 (he was a douche) and take a self employment/self improvement sabbatical to pursue my artistic passions for over a year and a half. Best thing I ever did. Since then, I have lived my life as a free agent in the universe, taking “underwriting” from THE MAN to pay my bills as needed, but generally giving zero f*cks about Corporate America, where I have been conducting field research for many years collecting data for my Punk Rock Lifestyle book due out in 2016.

One of the more subtle recommendations in 4HWW was to regularly take a mass media fast. This is where you basically don’t consume any mass media (radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, commercials, advertisements, etc.) for a period of time, maybe a fortnight. The purpose of this was in part to eliminate distraction so you could focus on pursuing your art more efficiently and effectively (Tim, correct me if I am wrong…I know you are reading!). But after I started doing it, I realized that there is another massive benefit to media fasting. It actually makes you smarter. That may seem counterintuitive, but let me break down how it works.

Media fasting doesn’t actually make you more intelligent in an absolute sense, but it does make you use your rational thinking brain more in a relative sense. Your brain has a finite capacity for information and that capacity changes size relative to the amount of stress you encounter.

Mass media messaging can be very poisonous and stressful. We’ve been told the mass media is there to inform and educate us, but you only need to look around to see how uninformed and uneducated people are, especially cable news consumers (SOURCE). The true goal of mass media is actually to control your consumption of information and limit it to that which the media gatekeepers (essentially corporate media advertisers) want you to consume.

In reality, mass media is there not so much to inform you, but to make you FEEL. Let's face it, information is pretty boring by itself. It has to be coupled with feelings to make you connect with it viscerally, even if it is just a pretty anchor woman regurgitating the days news to you. No one wants to listen to boring facts. Put some drama and emotion to those facts and then you get peoples’ attention. People want to feel. Advertisers know this and they design ads that they think will make you feel good about their products so you buy them. That’s why they show happy people driving cars and eating breakfast cereals. They could just throw up safety figures about cars and nutrition facts about cereal, but…BORING! It’s all about the feelz.

The same goes for news media. They want to give you information, but they want to keep you connected and entertained too, so you keep watching (this ties into the money they get from their corporate advertisers who need viewers to see their products during commercial breaks). This is why they delay the top stories until near the end of the program, stringing you along with teasers (“Up next…the cat that saved a toddler from a rabid dog…but first…this!).

Taken to the extreme, this becomes INFOTAINMENT, but all news has an element of emotion in it to connect with you (except maybe PBS NewsHour, which actually has a black box warning on it: SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: This program will suck out your mortal soul.). News outlets do provide you with some information, but they really want you to feel something (anger, fear, frustration, happiness, etc.) so that you will react to the messaging and connect to it in a visceral way. Most news media create negative emotional messages (they don’t report on the thousands of airplanes that take off and land each day without incident, only the ones that crash, for example). They’ve learned by trial and error that messages that fire up fear and anger get the most viewers ("If it bleeds, it leads."). People love to fear and hate; it’s a fact. So you see sensational stories about terrorism and immigrants and welfare recipients that make you think the world is a horrible place.

The world is actually safer than it has ever been in history. And that’s what a mass media fast shows you, vividly. Fear and hate and anger are negative emotions that are toxic physically, mentally, and spiritually. They take your focus away from good things in life. They stress you out so you are softer when the mass media advertisers try to persuade you to buy their products (another driver of negatively charged mass media messaging). It’s been shown scientifically that when you are stressed out, you have less will power and succumb to temptation (SOURCE).

The thing is that you are much more susceptible to emotional messaging than informational messaging (you know that bag of potato chips is not good for your waste line, but my gosh it tastes so good!). So when you go on a media fast, you actually eliminate emotional messages and allow your brain to receive relatively more informational messaging. So you effectively become more INFORMED and less emotional, by definition.

In summary, ignorance is indeed bliss, when it comes to mainstream mass media. Almost nothing happening in the world is going to hurt you. You are more likely to be struck by lightning than be killed by a terrorist and the inside of a flying airplane is actually safer than the inside of your own house (yes, you are many times more likely to die in your own house than on a plane, statistically).

So I am a big advocate of mass media fasting. I avoid presidential debates and commercial television and talk shows. My brain works better and I am happier and smarter. I don’t fear and hate things (except douchebags…I punch them in the nut sac whenever I can).

Observations


Politifact found that Donald Trump and Ben Carson are the least truthful of all the candidates running for President in 2016 (SOURCE). These two are also the front runners in the Republican presidential race, leading me to conclude that republican voters have little interest in reality or knowledge. Not that reality gives a sh!t what anyone believes or thinks they know.

It’s an interesting phenomenon and hard to get one's head around. Whole segments of the population are abandoning reality for a fabrication they like better. I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime. It’s not unlike fundamentalist religion in many ways, where people escape or explain adversity in their lives by calling upon mythological higher powers. The objective observation is that people seem to prefer a happy fabrication to a brutal reality.

The corporate mainstream mass media are somewhat to blame for some of this irrational behavior and belief. With the exception of Politifact, most journalists don’t investigate skeptically or question the statements of politicians. They just regurgitate sound bites and let viewers draw their own conclusions. But viewers are often uninformed and not privy to all the facts that journalists have access to, so it’s an abdication of responsibility for journalists to do this.

Humans are behaviorally responsive to social cues they observe in other humans around them (SOURCE), in addition to core knowledge they possess through learning. In the absence of core knowledge, humans will behave as they see other humans around them behaving, since they have little else to go on. This derives from evolution: when you saw other humans running away from something in a panic and didn't know why, it was still best to run away with them. Your survival depended on it and the humans who didn't respond to this peer pressure didn't live long enough to produce many offspring. Natural selection at its finest. Peer pressure as we define it today is also a good example. A teenager ill informed (or skeptical) about the dangers of hard drugs is more likely to succumb to peer pressure to take hard drugs.

The mass media represent a significant portion of social cues many people get, along with advertising messages. Uninformed people are more responsive to this mass media messaging and persuasion, so they change their behavior and beliefs based on what they are told (SOURCE), substituting social cues for actual facts. All you have to look at is the billions of dollars advertisers spend each year to know that this is true. They wouldn’t spend that money if it didn’t yield a large return on investment.

Interestingly, studies show that consumers of National Public Radio are better informed than consumers of Fox News on domestic current events. But even more interesting is that consumers of no mainstream media news at all are better informed about international current events than viewers of any cable news outlet (SOURCE). Bizarre.

Reality TV also plays a role, because people convince themselves that reality TV is actually real. It’s not, and the producers of reality TV fully confess to this (SOURCE). It’s entertainment pure and simple. Much of it is staged and a great deal of it is edited out as not sensational enough for viewers (ratings needed!). As a result, viewers get a very distilled sensationalist perception from reality TV, and since these are strong social cues (in the absence of knowledge), people are led to believe reality TV is real.

One of the best books on this subject I have ever read is Robert Cialdini's "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion." Check it out.

They Never Learn


I am at a meeting at work that reduces my will to live to zero. I was invited to this meeting to facilitate updates to a compliance document, which is horrifying enough in and of itself. The meeting moderator has me pull up the document on the large screen at the front of the room for all to see. It’s the same drill every time. The people in the room look at the document and collectively determine that no one has looked at it ahead of time and there are too many people in the meeting to effectively revise it. Then they recommend everyone review the document on their own time before the next meeting. They don’t. Wash, rinse, repeat. I could be doing something useful right now, like writing a blog post.

Stick It To The Man

Biff sat with Chet at the bar after Alien Conquest had finished their set.

"Great show," Biff said. "But I'm biased."

"Thanks, Biff," Chet replied. "Always good to see you."

"I can't believe this poor turnout," Biff commented. The two of them gazed around the interior of the largely deserted sports bar. A few people sat at one of the central bar tables, fans of the second band, Shart Attack.

"It is a little demoralizing," Chet said. "Then again, it is a Sunday night."

"Why don't you guys play more Friday and Saturday night shows?" Biff asked.

"We try," Chet replied. "But most venues want cover bands, so unless we play the two venues in town that feature original bands like us, we are kind of limited. And we don't want to always play at the Frequency and the Crystal Corner. That gets old."

"There must be venues other places that hire original bands," Biff said.

"Bigger cities," Chet said. "Like Milwaukee. But that's a long haul and usually we don't make enough money to pay for the gas. Plus, we are largely unknown there and it's a hard sell getting our Madison crowd to make the trip. So we don't get many people coming to those."

Biff and Chet looked around the mostly empty bar again.

"Not that they come to our local shows either," Chet stated the obvious.

"Well, it is Sunday," Biff reiterated.

There was an uncomfortable silence.

"Be honest with me, Biff," Chet said. "Are we any good?"

"Fantastic," Biff replied without a moment's hesitation. "Best band around in my opinion. The turnout has nothing to do with your music. There's just a lot of things to do in this town, and people have to choose. In this case, they chose unwisely, or they wimped out on a school night. Frankly, people are kind of lame not coming out to a free show on a Sunday."

"I blame THE MAN for that," Chet said. "Making people get up early for work on a Monday morning is a travesty. The workweek should start at noon on Mondays and end with happy hour after work on Thursdays, with Fridays optional."

"Eff THE MAN," Biff said, reminding himself that he had to report to his MAN the next morning for more tests of the quantum communicator. The deadline for the launch was fast approaching.

History

It's like you people learn nothing from history. Or the educational system is so broken that you simply weren't able to.

In the 1930s, a guy named Adolf Hitler coupled economic hardship with fear and hate to persecute millions of Jews. After WW2, we were horrified at what the German people had collectively allowed and endorsed under Hitler's rule. The thing is, Hitler didn't pursue his persecution and murder of Jews in secret. He was very vocal about it. There were public ad campaigns against Jews (like the sign on the right). The Nazis even went so far as to commit acts of terrorism and then blame it on Jews. In 1933, they set fire to a building called the Reichstag and attributed it to Jewish terrorists. Hitler was not a powerful political figure in 1933, but after this act of terrorism he swept in and the rest is literally history. Imagine if Hitler had never come to power...

Today, if you replace Jews with Muslims, do you see any parallels?

I am not saying 911 was an inside job or that Donald Trump's people orchestrated the mass shooting in California by ISIL extremists last week. But he is certainly exploiting fear and hatred of Islam to gain power.

If you act out of fear, you are a pussy. If you act out of hate, you are a hater. If you act out of both, you are a pussy hater (aka, a coward) and the terrorists win.

So STAHP! Ya dicks!

Sad

It is sad what is happening in American politics today. The Republicans don't even try to hide their contempt for poor and middle class Americans anymore. Most recently, they cut health benefits to veterans who fought to protect American society and values. What were they fighting for? Surely not the Wall Street bankers whose graft and bribery compels politicians to abandon their principles and deride most of the population.

The Big Logout

I have to get better at logging out of social media, most notably Facebook. It's useful on rare occasions, but most of the time it is a procrastinatory time suck that is detrimental to my productivity. Since I will be self employed in 2016, I need to stay productive and motivated on my projects. There is no room for social media beyond promoting some of my writing and music, like blog posts and live music performances. Politics and drama I have willfully disenfranchised from my life, so I don't indulge these on social media. Sometimes I am tempted to post a political news piece or something I think is noteworthy, but if I give these temptations a bit of rational thought, I realize these things are quite trivial in the grand scheme of things and tend to do more harm than good (creating angst, acrimony, and drama that I despise). Everyone has their own politics and worldview. Nothing I post will ever change that.

I am deeply saddened by fascist loudmouth Donald Trump's rise to power in the US Presidential race. The terrorists have truly won and the decline of American educational infrastructure has clearly been far more detrimental than I thought. It doesn't take much to shatter an empire. You just need to punch it good and hard in the ball sack.

6 Word Novel

Why did his middle finger smell?

The Hurting of Butt, Part 2

I can’t lie to you. There is one thing I cannot stand and that’s a passive aggressive selfish easily butt hurt drama king. Such people are total Debbie Downers and I avoid them like the plague. I can never get back the part of my soul they suck away when I am in their presence. I ought to charge them a fee proportional to the amount of life force they suck out of me. I’d be a rich man.

There are other things I cannot stand too, like folk songs about adversity. Stop writing those. They suck. If I ever have significant adversity in my life, I guarantee you writing songs about it will be the farthest thing from my mind. Songs are supposed to make you feel good and have fun and forget adversity. Adversity makes me want to listen to funny cynical punk rock songs to relieve my anxiety, not subject myself to the 7 minute angst marathon of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Eff Gordon Lightfoot. Eff him to hell!

I also can’t stand traffic, and in particular the awful drivers who cause traffic, of which Madison WI has one of the highest concentrations in the world. I used to live quite some distance from my job and this meant driving on the Beltline Highway in Madison, a thoroughfare of pure hellish automobile evil. I was lucky that I had a flexible work schedule and this allowed me to travel this awful roadway during times when the concentration of douchebagging drivers was reduced (it is never zero). Now I live walking distance from work and it’s awesome. I never have to drive to work. Eff you, Madison WI drivers. I hope your souls get sucked out by a passive aggressive selfish easily butt hurt drama king.


The Hurting of Butt

Some people have thin skins. And that’s perfectly fine in most situations.

But one situation where it is not fine is ART. Artists and musicians need to have thick skins and be adaptable to change and new ideas. Adversity and criticism are both part of being an artist. Sometimes your best laid plans don’t pan out. That’s adversity. You keep trying, because you have a passion for your art. Sometimes people don’t like your art or even the fact that you do art. That’s criticism. But you do your art anyway, because you have to. I mean you don’t really have to. You can quit. You can give up. But that’s what thin skinned people do. They get butt hurt and they run away crying like little babies.

Thick skinned people can succeed at art. Thin skinned people, as a general rule, cannot.

Could Barack Obama Declare the NRA a Terrorist Group or Sympathizer?


As yet another mindless domestic mass shooting shocks the nation, a viral meme has surfaced on social media calling for President Barack Obama to use his executive authority to declare the National Rifle Association a domestic terrorist organization.

With domestic gun deaths annually in the thousands, the epidemic of domestic mass shootings is a far greater terror threat than Islamic terrorism has or will ever be, even as the latter seems to top news headlines. Domestic gun violence, often by mentally unstable religious (usually Christian) or political (usually right wing) extremists has become so common that the media and the public are numb to it. Or we don't like to admit that homegrown extremism is as big of a problem as it is. Reality sucks.

As many Americans have been shot and killed by other Americans in the past 43 years as have been killed in all the wars of the past 240 years. What the hell were we fighting for?

Will Barack Obama heed the social media sentiment and declare the NRA a domestic terror group? It seems unlikey, but it is within his executive power post 911, because the NRA lobbied for legislation passed by Congress that allows suspected terrorists to freely buy assault weapons.

That's sympathizing with terrorists, something the Patriot Act forbids, and it gives the President broad authority to freeze assets and disrupt communication networks of organizations deemed complicit in terrorism. The NRA's actions and messages speak for themselves.

Australia and Guns

About two decades ago, Australia implemented a mandatory gunbuyback program. They bought back 650,000 guns and murders and suicides plummeted. Coincidence?

Today, several Australian cities make the top 10 list for MOST LIVABLE CITIES in the world, by whoever decides those things (and…seriously…who decides that...and how can I get that job?).

That makes for some good circumstantial evidence that getting guns off the streets is good for society.

Could America do this? No way. Too many gun fanatics and right wingers and loonie toons.

But, we could have a national VOLUNTARY gun buyback program and it might reduce gun violence a little bit. Better than doing nothing and just waiting for the next shooting.

Will it be your church, school, or community center? Your kids?

Think on it.

Vitamins

Where is Market Samurai when I need it? Well, I know the answer, actually. It’s at home on my laptop. It’s just that I usually need it when I am away from my laptop.

I now have the illustrious distinction and title of Content Samurai Affiliate Marketer.

I don't have Content Samurai and I don't use it. Yet...

That's because I don't sell things. Yet...

But I can see it is a useful platform for selling things, using the newest and biggest search platform...VIDEO.

I prefer to make my own organic videos, but ContentSamurai simplifies the process and is designed to increase traffic and conversions.

The [insert meme here] Samurai people do good work.

I sell information, primarily about nutrition, health,and vitamins, because of my many years in R and D at a vitamin company.

I left the vitamin company because they refused to market and sell products to consumers, only to health care professionals who marked up the price substantially. I thought that was unfair.

So now I research and write about nutrition, diet,health, vitamins, and supplements on my CJ SCIENTIFIC COMMUNICATION blog.


It's nice, because although I do not have products of my own to sell, I can research and write about other peoples' products and get a nice little kickback via affiliate marketing.

Broken Scene

Most Sunday nights I go to Funks Pub for the three hour open jam there from 8-11 PM. It's a fun time and I get to play a live, albeit short, weekly gig, with full backline, sound, and lights provided free for minimal hassles. Plug and play. Plus, as a bass player, I get a backing band.

That said, this event has been going on for almost two years and it is still ridiculously poorly attended by musicians and spectators alike. I am quite amazed by this. Either the organizers of the jam are the worst promoters ever, or there must be another explanation why more people don't come.

Yes, it's a Sunday night, which is a bust for some of the middle aged working stiffs with day jobs who play in blues and cover bands. But that's a blessing in my opinion. I much prefer original or esoteric music, and I hate the blues. That said, the jam isn't really all that late for a school night. 8-11 is a lot better than 10-1, the times you'd expect to play between at most other sh!tty venues, even on a Sunday. Plus, there are tons of great, original, local bands in Madison and too few venues to support them all. They should be coming to this jam in droves.

There's not a pro sound guy at the jam, even though all the gear is there, including drums and backline. Lights too. The sound board is often run by the house band, sometimes sh!ttily, to be sure. They usually have the volume up too loud. The house jam band hasn't embraced the fact that most patrons of bars (as opposed to music venues) want background music they can talk over. Funks is much more bar than music venue. No one is there tripping ecstasy and grooving on the house band's every note (except maybe the band). They aren't Phish...

Over time, they have gotten better at running the sound there through trial and error, but the stage volumes are too loud still. One night, I went to the sound board and pulled the Master Fader all the way to zero just to see what would happen. The volume was completely unchanged, except for the vocals. All the amps on stage were cranked so loud that they weren't even in the house mix, but the stage volume then forced the house mix to be loud to compensate.

The owner of Funks won't supply a sound guy and is overdue on paying the jam organizer money owed for running the thing every week. That kind of stinginess has repercussions, psychologically, on people. It definitely rubs me the wrong way that he refuses to pay his dues to the Performing Rights Organizations (PROs - BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, etc.) that pay royalties to original music performers, since he isn't paying the performers anything to show up at the jam. One of the reasons he runs the jam on Sunday is because the PRO agents who scope out venues for violations typically don't work on Sundays.

Still, it's a good time, and the open stage format should be a no brainer for embryonic startup bands looking to get some exposure and field test songs in a live setting. There are literally almost no obstacles in their path other than getting in their cars with their instruments and driving to Funks Pub.

I come from Middleton every week. I also run a live stream of the jam so that anyone anywhere in the world can watch it. That is free promo for bands who attend. Still nothing. Still no idea why.

Maybe people think it's too good to be true? That's the only thing I can think of. I can't imagine some garage punk band comprising college kids would be boycotting Funks for not paying PRO dues.