Why I Decided to Change Career Fields

I am currently in graduate school to become a marriage and family therapist, after a long career as a tech writer in Corporate America. The other day, one of my lifestyle coaching clients asked me why I decided to quit my decently paying job in a respectable field of work to basically "start over."

The short answer is empathy. The world has changed and people are hurting emotionally and becoming less empathic and altruistic to others. This has pretty much always been the case in Corporate America where, with rare exceptions, sociopathy wins the day...a main reason why I never had aspirations to kiss my way up the corporate ladder of buttholes to middle management.

But after Donald Trump got elected, it became clear to me that Corporate America's asocial materialism had finally fully corrupted American society's soul. I was no fool, mind you; I knew this had been going on for some time, but I deluded myself into thinking other people were smart enough to rise above the sensationalistic fear and hate mongering of corporate politics and mainstream media. I suppressed for as long as I could my growing suspicion that strong emotions trump (pun intended) rational thinking a lot of the time, in part because people have an innate drive to trust others (trust is at the heart of empathy). People want to trust in the well meaning good of others and have faith that no one will try to knock down the house of cards that is American Democracy, which is based on a trust that everyone will try to follow the rules, even if they are non-binding (think Paris Accords). Now my blinders are fully off and I realize that sociopaths in media and government have exploited America's trust for their own personal gain, much the same way as a con man exploits the trust of an elderly couple to drain their bank account.

So I decided to change careers to something where I can help people restore their empathy in the face of a social order that now seeks to undermine it.

But I can't lie to you. Going back to grad school for marriage and family therapy was Plan B. My first gut reaction after the election of Donald Trump was to throw in the towel and move back to my country of origin, Australia, and just let America devour itself from the inside out. I am still kind of on board with this Plan A, which involves a considerably smaller outlay of liquid financial assets. However, I wasn't able to persuade my wife to move to Australia with me and she's my EVERYTHING, so I devised Plan B as the next best option.

So far I am loving school and learning a ton. If you want to learn more about empathy and its effects on individuals, families, and society, go to the library and check out a book called "Born for Love" by Maia Szalavitz and Bruce Perry. I had to read it in its entirety in one weekend to write a book review on it for one of my classes. It's a great read and incredibly educational.

Ciao!

The Cost of Human to Human Interaction is Now $5

Our society increasingly discourages human to human interpersonal contact in the interests of disaster capitalism. It's even state sponsored in some cases.

I'm that luddite who prefers to go into a bank, coffee shoppe, or drugstore and interact with a real person rather than use a faceless, unempathic drive thru, especially nowadays when the drive thru line is 10 cars long and there is no waiting inside...

Studies show that people lack empathy toward people they can't see and put a face to. That's the explanation for road rage, social media trolling, and long distance bombing of dark skinned (we think) people. It's the reason warmongering politicians don't like it when the mainstream media shows the faces and families of soldiers killed in American wars.

I was at the DMV today for a simple title transfer. I went in person, even though I had the option to mail it in (why wait days when you can wait hours?*). On the form for this operation, it said their was a $5 desk fee for in person processing. $5 just to talk to another human and look them in the eyes and pass a few polite words!

*Note: The wait was only a few minutes, about enough time for me to finish filling out the form. Also, the desk clerk was super nice and helpful. Had I sent the title transfer form by mail, I would have accidentally overpaid the state of Wisconsin about $75. In person is generally always a better option. QED.

SCIENCE: Erroneous Beliefs Highly Correlated With Rigid Boundaries Against Knowledge

Social scientists have discovered that there is a high correlation in human beings between holding erroneous beliefs and having rigid mental boundaries against learning new knowledge that might alter said beliefs. Furthermore, the study indicated that this relationship between false beliefs and willful ignorance exists in most humans, with the exception of a handful of social scientists.

BREAKING NEWS: Earth Still Not Reduced to Radioactive Slag Desert Notwithstanding Trump Presidency

Notwithstanding his unchecked power to launch nuclear weapons at anyone he wants at any time he wants, Donald Trump still has not reduced the planet Earth to a lifeless radioactive slag desert, stumping socio-political experts who predicted nuclear armageddon would happen weeks ago.

"Giving a narcissistic man-child nukes and a blank check to use them is the textbook definition of an existential crisis," said Biff Jones, a senior analyst at Rand Corporation. "The odds of anyone still being alive on the surface of the planet right now are astronomically slim, and frankly, we're stumped."

Critiques of the Doomsday predictions have pointed to the Anthropomorphic Principle as an explanation as to why Trump has not pressed the proverbial button, sparking global thermonuclear war.

"If a planet is incinerated and there is no one there to scream..." said Alex Rothschild, a quantum physicist at MIT, raising his eyebrows to imply everyone should understand what the hell he meant. In response to the utterly perplexed looks from his audience, he added, "The existence of the universe depends on the existence of sentient beings to observe it. No sentient beings...no universe."

The tenuous rationale for the ongoing existence of life on Earth was quickly rebuked. "That argument is anthropocentric, not anthropomorphic," said Jones. "It implies that sentient beings only exist on Earth and nowhere else in the Cosmos. Given the vastness of the universe, that is a ridiculous statement."

None the less, Jones was unable to give a stronger explanation for why the planet has not yet been blown to smithereens as a result of putting nuclear arms in the hands of a senseless egomaniac.

We are following this story closely and will update you as the situation devolves.

Judge Sentences Martin Shkreli to Public Ball Sac Punching

The judge overseeing the fraud trial of Martin Shkreli has sentenced the hedge fund douchebag to a public ball sac punching.

For 24 hours on a date TBD, Shkreli will be shackled in the town square and any member of the public who wishes to do so may punch Shkreli in the ball sac one time.

"Take your best shot," said Judge Al Ternatifaks. "My hope is that the combined ball sac pounding power of the public will permanently wipe that smirk off Shkreli's face, so make it count."

At press time, the Facebook event page for the public ball sac punching had over 5 million confirmed "Going" RSVP's, even though the exact date has not been set.

In an ironic twist, manufacturers of both ice packs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen and naproxen, have indicated they will jack prices on their products 5000% immediately following the public pummeling of Shkreli's miniscule nut hut.

What the Hell Happened to Good Peaches?

When I was a kid, peaches were juicy delicious good things to eat, not the dry mealy tasteless turds they are today. What the @#$% happened to peaches? I have not had a worthy peach in years. If you have any knowledge on this subject, please comment below.

A Case Study on Rideshare Auto Insurance: A Cautionary Tale

As a self-employed free agent in the Cosmos, I have been working in the so-called "gig economy" for some time now, providing goods and services, both skilled an unskilled, for people who need them. It's a great way to live a freelance lifestyle, not beholden to Corporate America, whilst I pursue graduate school. Much of this freelance business is conducted with the aid of the multitude of online marketplace apps that exist to support this growing segment of the economy. Due to having a pretty awesome life, my principle service occupation currently is professional lifestyle coaching while I pursue my Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Lifestyle coaching alone does not pay all of the, albeit fairly inexpensive, monthly bills I have (contrary to several ongoing reality TV shows, financial frugality and staying out of debt are "necessary, but not sufficient" key requirements for free agency and optimal lifestyle). So I have been supplementing my income with mutliple income streams, like performing music, walking or sitting peoples' dogs, and selling stuff online (fyi, it's a simple and easy way to monetize your spring cleaning...). Until recently, one of these income streams was driving rideshare for Uber and Lyft, services where you basically use your car to drive people around and get paid for it. It wasn't great money (after gas and expenses), but it "kept the wolf from the door," as my mother who grew up in the Depression era likes to say (Hi, Mom!).

I had been driving rideshare almost full time for over two years, largely without incident of the accident variety, though there were a few close calls. My wife says I am a great driver, and I am, but as a staunch realist, I knew that it was statistically probable that at some point I would be in an actual automobile accident, notwithstanding my prior excellent driving history and high rating as a rideshare driver (the top rated driver in Madison WI, in fact). It wasn't my driving I was worried about. Given the ridiculously high number of bad and aggressive drivers in this town, as well as the many death defying bicyclists and pedestrians crossing the road on the university campus, I'm surprised I went for as long as I did without an accident. Before I started driving rideshare, I had done all my homework on the ins and outs of rideshare insurance coverage, but none of it prepared me for the reality of it.

This is a cautionary tale for other rideshare drivers who might not be as educated on this subject as they should be. As you will see, my story is not unusual or exceptional. If you are a rideshare driver, this could happen to you. So educate yourself and be prepared. I am not advocating that you quit driving for rideshare, just that you know the risks. The rideshare companies do not want this information publicized for reasons that will become clear, so I am giving you the information that they won't. Everything I recount here is factual and documented as it happened. Any opinions I express are solely my own and you are free to agree or disagree.

On the morning of Wednesday May 10, 2017, I had my first fender bender while driving rideshare, for the service called Lyft in this case (Note: This case study does not apply to Uber per se, but many of the issues raised apply to other rideshare services as well).

Although the accident experience and aftermath mostly totally sucked, I decided to spin it into a positive by making it a proverbial "teachable moment" on the facts about rideshare auto insurance coverage, because my situation was pretty normal. There were actually some quite beneficial outcomes, retrospectively, that I will get to at the end of this piece.

I knew from my prior research there was a ton of misinformation out there about insurance coverage in the rideshare industry. Everyone I talked to on the subject had a different spin on the "facts." I did a lot of my own research on rideshare insurance coverage before I started driving for Uber and Lyft, and I understood it pretty well "on paper," but even so I was not entirely sure I understood it all in a real and practical way. As a result of this experience, I now have a better grasp of that and - *spoiler alert* - do not intend to have rideshare as part of my gig repertoire going forward. Hopefully, my experience will shed light on the reality of it for other rideshare drivers out there trying to make their way in the "gig economy." So here's what went down after my accident and what I learned.

The details of the actual accident are inconsequential. Suffice to say, it was a fairly minor fender bender involving two cars and no one was hurt, but the damage to my car was sufficient to warrant an insurance claim. It was one of those "the other car came out of nowhere" situations where it is hard to say who was at fault, but since this is my piece, I will say it was the other guy. As I said, I am a great driver with a clean record, and I did everything right in this case.

The first thing anyone should do when they are in an accident is to first check if everyone in the car is OK and then call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so, no matter how seemingly insignificant the accident is, because a police report is usually required for insurance claims. When the police arrive, give them as much information as possible, and be sure to get the police report along with the other driver's contact and insurance information. After my fender bender, I did all these things right and stayed as calm as possible. I confirmed that my one passenger was OK and then I pulled my car over to a safe location out of traffic, where I called 911 on my smartphone and reported my location to the dispatcher. The other driver got out of his car and approached my car while I was on the 911 call. NEVER DO THAT! Always wait until the police arrive before doing anything else and only leave your car if it is dangerous to stay in it. I stayed in my car and only rolled down my window to tell the other driver I was on the phone with 911. He went back to his car and we waited.

A policeman arrived shortly thereafter and got the ball rolling on our accounts of the accident. He gave me and the other driver forms on which to put our contact and insurance info, then we swapped forms. That pretty much concluded the actual incident. I was shaken up, but everything went as smoothly as could be hoped and the police officer was very helpful.

According to Lyft's driver portal online (at the time of the incident), the next step in the accident reporting process, after getting the police report, is to contact Lyft's Trust and Safety team so they can start processing a claim with Lyft's insurance carrier. At this point, I need to inject some personal opinion: Lyft does not make this process easy for their drivers. First, I had to navigate my way through several screens of the Lyft dashboard on my phone to find the accident reporting section. That stuff should be right up front, but it wasn't. When you get to the proper section, there is no phone number available to call Lyft's Trust and Safety team directly. Instead, you have to enter your own phone number on one of the screens and request that they call you. Primitive, cumbersome, and frustrating. No one wants to deal with hurdles in an already stressful situation. I requested a call from Lyft and my phone started ringing almost immediately. Timely. But when I answered the call, I found myself on hold for several minutes waiting to talk to a real person. When I got through to someone, they gathered all the pertinent information and said they would forward it to the claims department of Lyft's insurance provider - about which there is remarkably little information provided by Lyft to driver's - and someone would reach out to me. (Author's Note: It is not clear from Lyft's Certificate of Insurance, which I had both downloaded to my smart phone and printed off for ease of accessing it in my car, who their insurance provider is. There are literally at least three different companies involved in the state of Wisconsin: Marsh, Steadfast, and/or York. I mostly dealt with York, but the parent company appears to be Steadfast.).

Two days after the accident, I received an email from an insurance adjuster with York named Shelita Thomas. The email outlined York's insurance policies and procedures and what was required of me to process my claim.

Lyft's deductible for insurance claims is a catastrophically high $2500 per claim (FYI, Uber's deductible is only $1000 per claim). Probably by design, a deductible that high makes most minor accidents not even worth reporting to insurance. However, as a result of my prior research on rideshare insurance, I had fortuitously added a rideshare "rider" to my personal auto insurance policy (with Allstate). This rider is offered by some personal auto insurance providers now, because rideshare has become so popular. Allstate does not cover their customers when they are driving for rideshare services. The main purpose of the rider is to effectively lower the rideshare insurance deductible to equal the personal auto insurance  deductible. My deductible with Allstate was $1000 per claim at the time, so the rideshare gap coverage rider on my personal auto policy meant that Allstate would cover the difference between Lyft's deductible and Allstate's ($1500 in this case) if I made a claim while driving rideshare. As a result, it was worth it for me to file a claim with Lyft's insurance provider, since it was likely my repairs would exceed $2500, based on a ballpark estimate I got from a body shop on the day of the accident. If you are a rideshare driver, ask your personal insurance provider if they offer a rideshare rider. I strongly recommend it, or else you may be out a lot of money on repairs.

Shelita at York requested I get a repair estimate from a body shop and submit it to her along with some additional documentation about my personal auto insurance and the police report. I did all these things to the letter. Because Lyft's insurance coverage for drivers is national, they do not limit what auto repair service providers Lyft drivers can use for accident repairs, so I took my car to Ball Body Shop in Middleton WI, mainly because it is close to my house. This shop was not at all easy to work with and I will never use them in the future, though that is inconsequential to this case study. The reception staff there were so surly, rude, and unhelpful. That is the last thing people want when dealing with auto accident aftermath. I expect all service providers to treat potential customers like VIPs if they want my business; that seems like simple common sense business etiquette to me. This did not appear to be the philosophy of Ball Body Shop though. It's just lucky that I didn't go ballistic on the women at the reception desk, because I was near the end of my stress tether already after the accident. I held it together.

My repair technician was named Sean Allen and he wasn't very much help either. He arrived over 30 minutes late to work on the morning I was supposed to meet with him to get a formal estimate. Of course, the reception staff made no attempt to contact him or accommodate me while I waited, but preferred to willfully ignore me. When Sean looked at my car, he threw a lot of incomprehensible mumbo jumbo at me about the sketchy process for submitting an estimate to Lyft's insurance adjuster. It sounded way more complicated than it needed to be. It's possible the guy was simply lazy, incompetent, stoned, or some combination of those, but mainly he just appeared to be stalling for time for some reason.

It took Sean a few days to prep a written estimate, but he finally got around to submitting it via email to Shelita at York, the insurance adjuster assigned to my claim. It was now almost a week since the accident. Shelita had been totally uncooperative and uncommunicative with the body shop during that time, notwithstanding several requests that she work with Sean at the body shop directly. That was the first red flag that the process was going south. I was copied on the emailed estimate and was surprised to see that it exceeded the current market value of my car considerably, since Sean at the body shop had verbally quoted me at about half as much on the day of the accident. Maybe he saw an insurance claim payday in his future, but if so he significantly overplayed his hand, as I will explain shortly. It was up to Lyft's insurance adjuster Shelita to determine if my car was totaled or if they would pay for the repairs (minus deductible). That's why Sean's high repair estimate surprised me. If the car were totaled, Ball Auto Body would get nothing out of the deal, but as I said earlier, getting peoples' business does not seem to be a primary goal for this particular body shop.

Lyft's insurance adjuster told me my claim would be processed within 24-48 hours after she had received the body shop estimate. She had already received all the other required documentation. The body shop guy copied me on the estimate he submitted to Shelita via email, so I knew exactly when she had received it, about midday on Tuesday, May 16. So I should have had a response by May 18 at the latest. Needless to say, I didn't. In fact, as soon as the repair estimate was submitted, the insurance adjuster went completely radio silent on me for several days. I could not reach her by phone nor email and all my inquiries went unanswered. I was pissed. I thought maybe she had retired or taken a long vacation. I tried contacting her supervisor who also ignored my calls and emails. When I complained to the Lyft Trust and Safety team directly, they assured me someone would follow up. No one did. Days passed.
I was not sure what steps to take next, but I was now certain I was getting the runaround from Lyft's insurance provider and probably Lyft as well. Fortuitously, my wife's dad is a lawyer. He told me to take my issue to the Office of the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance, kind of like a Better Business Bureau specific to insurance providers, which I did on Tuesday May 23, now almost a full fortnight after the fender bender. This government body handles insurance complaints like mine and has a process for expediting them. When I called them and described my situation to the nice customer service lady, she told me to definitely file an official complaint against Lyft's insurance provider online, which I did, optimistic that they might actually be able to help me get my claim moved forward and processed. After I submitted my complaint with all the relevant documentation attached, I got a confirmation that they had received it and would assess it for followup. They said the insurance company would have 20 days to respond to the complaint. More waiting...

At the end of the third week after the accident, on Tuesday 5/30/17, I received an unsolicited email from a California appraisal company I had never heard of, TTA, which was associated with Lyft's insurance company, Steadfast (parent comapny to York, I guess). Attached to the email was a repair estimate for my car that was completely contradictory to and about four thousand dollars less than the estimate I had gotten from Ball Body Shop. What the hell was this? I probably should not have been as surprised as I was that this new, arbitrary estimate put the cost of repairing my car at almost exactly the amount of the deductible on Lyft's insurance. TTA had basically fudged some numbers to ensure they would not have to pay out any money to repair my car. I immediately added this documentation to my complaint with the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance. If TTA's estimate had had any legitimacy, that would have surprised me and destroyed any faith I had on the ethics and fairness of rideshare insurance companies. On TTA's estimate, they claimed they had inspected my car at my local auto body shop, which was false and would have been impossible since my car was in my garage at home when they claimed they inspected it. I only had my car at the body shop for about 30 minutes when they gave me the first repair estimate, before Lyft's adjuster had even received any information about it, then I drove home and I have not had my car out of the garage since. So TTA was clearly attempting something underhanded, possibly even illegal.

And the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance's officer assigned to my complaint must have thought so too. Almost as soon as I added this additional information to my complaint with OCI, I received a very apologetic email from previously radio silent Shelita Thomas at York telling me that my claim would be paid at the full value of my initial estimate from Ball Body Shop and a check was in tha mail.

The hassles didn't quite end there. When I talked to Sean at the body shop, he had now changed his tune. He said that Ball did not want to repair my car after all, afraid that they would find additional repairs once they got into it (making their initial estimate of repairs seem kind of useless, in my opinion) that they might not be able to complete if the cost exceeded the current value of my car. Sean told me their hands were tied by state laws, and that may be true, but I think he also saw the writing on the wall...with all the trouble I had had getting any money out of York, he probably thought it wasn't worth the effort to do any additional repairs that they might never get paid for. The dollar signs in his eyes had been extinguished by York's irresponsibility. In the end, this worked to my advantage. Long story short, York reversed its initial decision and decided my claim was a total loss, issuing me a substantial payment for the full current market value of my car (minus Lyft's deductible, but plus Allstate's gap coverage). This meant that I had to forfeit my car to a salvage company contracted by York, and now I am sans car and no longer using rideshare as an income stream. Even if I had a new car, the experience above provided a substantial deterrence for me ever driving rideshare again. Sorry, Uber. I know this was not your fault here and if you want to make a case to me for driving for you in the future, have at it. However, I shant drive for Lyft again.

Interestingly, of all the parties involved in helping me, my personal auto insurance provider, Allstate, was the most helpful, even though they didn't have much of a stake in the matter and are actually losing money on me, to date (the rideshare rider has only been in place a few months and costs about $80 extra per year on my personal policy). They are professionals though, and they recognize the value of customer service for getting future business, which none of the other parties involved in this seem to get. Because of the care and timeliness I received from agents Andrea and Kelly at Allstate, I am likely to stay with them as my insurer for years to come. They'll presumably get their money's worth out of me eventually.

Lyft's insurance provider York was about as useful as zero and provided nothing of value as far as I can tell. Her job seems to be stalling insurance claims by Lyft driver's, which probably works in Lyft's favor some of the time...like when the affected driver doesn't have a family lawyer or know they can go to the state Insurance Commissioner and complain. But I did and government bureaucracy worked in my favor.

As I alluded to earlier, this experience has had some silver linings. Suddenly finding myself car-less after this incident has had some major benefits to my life. First of all, I'm saving money, because I am not paying for a car loan, insurance, registration, gas, and general maintenance costs on a car. I don't know exactly  how much money I spent on my car every year, but it had to be a few thousand dollars all told, just off the top of my head. My Prius was a pretty reliable and efficient car, but it needed oil changes and gas and occasionally new tires, especially since driving rideshare put a lot of miles on it. Additionally, I've started to realize that driving rideshare isn't that lucrative once you subtract out these overhead costs. There were some perks, like a fuel card from Uber and being able to stop and start rideshare driving whenever I wanted to based on my own schedule, but these were mostly nominal, not monetary, advantages.

Second, I am riding my bike more and exploring public transit options in my town. This is good for my physical and mental fitness as well as for the local and global environment. I'm not pumping carbon into the atmosphere (yes, even Prius's produce smog, as well as "smug"). I have two solid bikes and the bus system in Madison WI is pretty good. My wife Deborah has a car and we now share it. This has not been too challenging logistically, certainly not challenging enough to warrant the expense and headaches of a whole new car for me. She works three days a week, only about a mile and a half from our house. Sometimes she bikes to work. Other times, I drive her there, if the weather is bad or I need the car for errands during the day, and then I pick her up. When I have shows to perform, her car has ample space for hauling my music gear and there has never been a time conflict with this, since many shows are late at night on the weekends. If Deborah doesn't come with me to the shows, it's usually because she is at home asleep. I also have options to car pool to shows with my band mates. Mostly, I just find having a car unnecessary and it's very liberating and anxiety-reducing having one less fairly major thing to worry about.

I hope that case study was helpful, fellow rideshare drivers. Thanks for reading and good luck.

At This Point I Don't Think Trump Even Can Be Removed From Office

It's pretty clear that Donald Trump and his cronies are up to some seriously dark and shady business, but at this point I don't think it would be possible to remove Donald Trump from office, even if/when explicit criminality is discovered.

That's because to do so, Americans would have to collectively admit that their Democracy is completely broken and feel immense shame that Trump was allowed to get as far as he has, due to an irresponsible corporate media, a defanged and ineffectual justice system, and a complacent and apathetic public. Americans just won't do that, even in the face of cold hard #reality.

Discuss in the comments below.

Dear Republicans...How Are You Sucking So Bad?

Dear Republicans,

You have the White House and both Houses of Congress.

How are you sucking so badly at doing anything?

Please leave your answers below in the Comments.

Note: Americans are glad your diabolical and malicious plans are failing, don't get me wrong. Keep it up!

Live Your Life as if Donald Trump Will Destroy the World

There is a bright side to Donald Trump's presidency, in fact the only one I can see at present. It has the potential to make you live your life more fully...because there might not be much time left to do so.

If, hypothetically, Donald Trump were to accidentally or willfully, say, start World War 3 tomorrow and end all life on Earth, what would you regret doing or not doing in your tragically truncated life?

There is no time like the present to go do the things you have always wanted to do, or quit doing that things you hate. Maybe it's your boring, soul-sucking day job that prevents you from traveling the world. Well, that window of opportunity might be closing because of Donald Trump's negligence and inadequacy to lead the free world. I recommend you fire your douchy boss and go travel! NOW!

Donald Trump's presidency is rapidly drawing to a close, if recent news reports on his alledged treasonous criminality prove true (though there is no absolute truth, only alternative facts, according to his handlers). Despite the apathy and inaction of Congress, law enforcement, the corporate mainstream media, and the American people (yes, you!) to do anything about it, the extent of the Trump crime family's alledged (and admitted!) high crimes and misdemeanors is simply too great to avoid eventual impeachment, or at least removal from office by the rules of the 24th Amendment to the Constitution. When the Trump reign of error (not a typo) ends, you can bet that Trump's narcissism will lead him to sabotage everything he can before he leaves office, most likely including the world.

So go have as much fun as you can before your quality of life plummets precipitously.

The Trump Presidency is Like a Cliche Monster Movie

In horror movies, everyone is trying to escape from or get rid of the monster. Even when you think the monster must surely be destroyed, it always seems to cling to life and bounce back.

That pretty much describes the Trump presidency. A monster that never seems to die no matter what is brought to bear upon it. As in many horror movies, this monster is also filled with self loathing and seems to want to destroy itself, but it can't. Not for lack of trying though.

Twitter Does Not Make it Easy for a Guy to Log the Eff Out

My Twitter usage is both minimal and automated. However, sometimes I need to login to Twitter for some dumb reason. If I don't log back out right away, I start getting all manner of distressing notifications (Hint: All Twitter notifications are distressing just by their very existence, because they impose on my valued attention bandwidth).

It's not easy to log out of Twitter. The option is buried two or three layers in. I ultimately always find it, because there is no viable alternative (being logged into Twitter is unbearable). But I get annoyed and then spend time blasting Twitter's attention seeking in a short blog post. It's time I could be spending on better things.

On the bright side, berating Twitter makes for good pre-writing free writing, which is what this is. So it serves a beneficial purpose.

Eff Twitter.

Today's the Day...

Comey tells all to Congress about Trump's obstruction of justice today.

Then Americans go right back to sleep and nothing happens.

Good day.

Positivity

It's hard sometimes to be positive these days. The corporate mainstream media seems to thrive on negativity and drama. If you watch the news, it's pretty demoralizing. But the media present a biased impression of the world by only showing us the sad and bad things. The world is actually still a pretty awesome place and if you are reading this, feel happy to be alive. Most people are good and well meaning, even though they do stupid things sometimes (good does not equal smart).

A lot of the information presented by the mainstream media is contextualized in a complex framework of cultural and religious norms (biases) that result in negative interpretations of things that happen in the world. For example, Donald Trump is largely perceived as a douchebag because he does things that non-douchebags don't do. That being said, thousands of airplanes took off and landed without incident today, and that's pretty f*cking positive news...that the mainstream media never tells us about.

I had begun to phase out corporate mainstream media from my life before I met my wife Deborah. She is a news junky and I think it takes a toll on her. She will turn on the TV to see what "breaking news" is breaking. It seems like the BREAKING NEWS banner is perpetually strewn across the bottom of every news program these days. If you don't see breaking news on TV, that's actually kind of newsworthy. Ironic. I usually leave the room when these shows are on. I can tolerate them for about a minute, longer if someone like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or Al Franken is one of the talking heads, but not much longer. Of late, Deborah has been following suit and trying to avoid the negative news shows, at least in the morning. She says this makes her feel more positive during the day. She still watches the nightly news, but by then the window of exposure to the anxiety-inducing negative information is much shorter, and is usually erased by the subsequent good night's sleep.

I like science news. It tends to be pretty positive overall. Say what you will about science, negativity and bias are not its hallmarks. It's usually objective and positive in nature, involving some cool new discovery. For example, a study recently came out that shows that oleic acid, the primary type of fat in olive oil, inhibits a biochemical pathway linked to brain tumor growth. Even though the study was conducted in test tubes and petri dishes, it is still pretty positive news. I consume a lot of olive oil and I have been brain tumor free for my whole life. Haha. But the olive oil-rich Mediterranean diet has been linked to longer life and lower risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. So even though this particular study isn't conclusive proof that olive oil prevents brain tumors in people, it is a potential part of the explanation for olive oil's healthy effects. It probably has a lot of other health benefits too. The point being that science news is positive on the whole.

Conversely, the science behind climate change and global warming is often viewed negatively, whether you are against it ("the science is bad") or for it ("the planet is f*cked"). That's not the fault of the science though, but rather that we are an anthrocentric (human centered) species and a vast majority of us like being alive and having a good quality of life for ourselves and other members of our species (especially our children), the opposite of what happens if we bugger up the planet's climate too much (the minority opinion that climate science is wrong is held by a handful of people who either have a vested interest in it being wrong or they are just douchebags). From a purely objective standpoint though, the science behind climate change is pretty strong, based on empirical observation using measuring devices and computer models, hypothesis testing, and math (it never lies). The science really doesn't give a sh*t what people think or feel about climate change.

Science isn't really a thing that you can choose to accept or reject...it's actually just a methodology for seeking truth (which is why politicians and corporate media advertisers HATE it). If you do science well, it is self-correcting and true observations are consistently repeatable, whereas false ones are not. Taking a higher cosmos-level view, the universe doesn't care if we torch ourselves out of existence on this planet. The Laws of Nature will still be true, planet Earth will still revolve around the sun, and after a bit of geological time, some other species may come to dominate the warmer, wetter planet as a result of evolution by natural selection (a true thing, if a couple hundred years of consistent scientific observations on the subject are to be believed). As a species we are not special. Sure, our genes survived 4.5 billion years of evolution by natural selection, no easy task to be sure, but that can also be said of every other species alive on the planet today. So all life on the planet right now is pretty awesome and ought to be respected at the very least, if not understood too.

Sinkhole

By now I am pretty sure there are not too many people who are ignorant about how social media is willfully designed by Silicon Valley to keep you hooked. In fact, you probably stumbled upon this post while scrolling mindlessly down your Facebook news feed, and for that I am thankful, even though you ultimately lose.

I am not even one of the paying social media advertisers who funnel money to Google and Snapchat and Instagram so that the software engineers there can research fun new ways to keep you addicted. These advertisers essentially pay the social media firms to hijack your eyeballs. You should charge a fee for the use of your retinas...

Even knowledge of social media's explicit brain hacking doesn't seem to deter many people from engaging with social media. That's because the addictive qualities of social media target the emotional brainstem, a far more potent part of the brain than the cerebrum (rational brain). Each time you get a like or a comment or a share on social media, your brain gets a tiny little dose of pleasurable dopamine reward. Not quite enough to bring you significant pleasure, but just enough to keep you searching your feed for the next microdose of pleasure.

More often than I'd like to admit, I find myself mindlessly scrolling down my Facebook feed looking for something interesting, even when I know full well there is nothing there ever. I have to consciously will myself to stop. I think that my daily morning meditations have been beneficial in helping me disconnect from social media. Every morning, I meditate for 15 minutes. The mental exercise is to focus my mind on my breathing and dispel extraneous thoughts that invariably creep in. When they do, it requires conscious mental effort to recognize that my mind has wandered and then push the thought(s) out of my mind. I usually do this by visualizing the extraneous thought as a drawing on a piece of paper, which I then mentally crumple up and throw away in the virtual trash can in my mind.

Escaping social media's clutches uses a similar strategy. I have to first make myself aware that I've been sucked into a social media sinkhole and then willfully stop, usually by logging out of the social media app I am in or turning off my device entirely.

Terrifying Travels in Trump Territory

Waukesha WI is well known as the right wing extremist and election fraud* capital of Wisconsin. It would be the white supremacy capital as well, except for the fact that dubious title is held by the city of West Bend WI.

Outside of the blue collar, progressive cities of Milwaukee and Madison, rural Wisconsin is largely a red and hateful state. Since Donald Trump got elected, this has only gotten worse.

I don't often leave the safe and progressive comfort zone of Madison WI, where I live with my wife Deborah among groovy, albeit aggressively nice, people. I won't lie to you...I don't like most right wing conservatives. They are usually either willfully ignorant or irrationally fearful and hateful for religious or other reasons. Sometimes both. I don't have time for people like that and, honestly, their mental state and self destructive behavior scares me a little.

That being said, my distaste for the undesirable people that aggregate in Wisconsin's "red zones" is not sufficient to dissuade me from pursuing fun things that happen in those places. This past weekend was a perfect example. My friend Sherry and I had signed up for a social bike ride on Sunday, called the Chimichanga Ride, with the Wisconsin Bicycling meetup group. It takes place on a stretch of the Glacial Drumlin recreational bike trail between Dousman and Waukesha WI and we have participated in it for the past three years. This year was the first time it has happened under an extremist right wing Republican dictatorship in America and I was curious to see how this political climate had affected the atmosphere of fear and hate outside Wisconsin's blue zones.

When we arrived at the start of the bike ride on the main drag of puny Dousman, Sherry went into a local diner to use the restroom.

"I got some really dirty looks," Sherry said when she returned. "I don't think they liked me using their bathroom."

"Did you buy anything?" I asked her. "Sometimes these provincial establishments have arbitrary rules that only paying customers can use the facilities. It makes no sense."

"No," Sherry replied. "I didn't need anything."

"I wouldn't mind a cup of coffee to warm myself up," I said and headed toward the door of the diner. It was a sunny but brisk spring morning.

When we entered the diner, a homely woman employee scowled at us but said nothing. A slightly less homely hostess behind the front counter gave me a dead eyed stare and asked, "Can I help you?"

At a visceral level, every ounce of my being was telling me to flee this hostile place immediately, but instead I asked, "Can I get a coffee to go?" I should have left it at that but I could not resist adding, "...with soy milk?" Even though these rural places devote thousand of acres of arable land to growing soybean monocultures, Wisconsin is still very much the dairy state and non-dairy beverages are considered sacreligious abominations.

"We don't have soy milk," the surly hostess snarled.

"What about two percen...?"

"We have half and half," the hostess barked, cutting me off.

"That'll work," I acquiesced. "Small coffee with half and half then...and a cookie. Are those macadamia nut cookies?" I enquired, pointing at some macadamia nut cookies in the plexiglass display on the counter.

"Yes they are," the hostess said.

"I'll have one of those."

"Just one?"

"Yes. And the coffee."

"So a cookie and a coffee to go?"

"Correct." She rang up my tab and I paid, leaving a hefty tip mainly to ensure the minimal amount human spittle in my coffee.

The hostess bagged one of the cookies for me and then disappeared into the back of the diner for a length of time I thought excessive for pouring a cup of coffee. When she returned, she said, "Creamer is on the tables. Just take some from there." I did so, and also unfurled one of the cheap paper napkins on the table so I could use the spoon within to stir my coffee.

"Is there somewhere I can put this?" I asked the first, more homely hostess, showing her the spent napkin and silverware in my hand. I didn't want to just leave it on an otherwise clean table.

The hostess sighed and said, "Just give it here." She took it and we high-tailed it out of there, back to the familiar group of cyclists gathering near the bike trail. Some other bikers tried to use the diner's facilities after us, but they reported they were explicitly refused entry for this purpose along.

The bike ride was enjoyable, involving a lunch stop at a Mexican restaurant at the halfway point. Although it was mostly on bike trail, we had to cross a few intersections with busy roads. This is where I observed a much higher proportion than usual of penis-enhancing automobiles, particularly pickup trucks with oversized wheels and jacked up suspensions. These have always been regular sights in rural areas, but there were definitely a lot more of them and their drivers were discourteous to the cyclists trying to cross the roads, notwithstanding signage mandating that they do so.

"They are doubling down on douchebaggery in Trump country," I commented to Sherry.

*Note: Waukesha has over 100% voter turnout in its elections, a fact which has yet to be explained mathematically and investigated. Election fraud is different than voter fraud in that it is perpetrated by corrupt election officials, not voters.

Learn to Love the Bomb

Yesterday Donald Trump realized there is one thing he can at least appear competent at (because it's easy and the media loves it)...BOMBING THINGS! Now that that beast has been unleashed, expect a bombing bonanza as Trump uses American military power to pump up his waning confidence in accomplishing the job of POTUS, while distracting the American public from real issues. Bombing things has immediate results and brings instant gratification and praise, perfect for satisfying the ego-less mind of America's childish, narcissist President.

The corporate mainstream media has, as expected, been glorifying the US dropping of "the biggest non-nuclear bomb ever dropped" on an alleged ISIS base in Afghanistan. It's almost erotic the way they masterbatorily stroke themselves gushing over the "awesome" power of America's gigantic ordinance.

"It's soooo big!"

Since Trump's id has no boundaries, I think it will be only a matter of time before he drops a nuke on someone, at which point everyone is fucked, because that genie cannot be put back in the bottle (visualize the final scene in the film "Dr. Strangelove").

So... "Re-accomodate" is a New Word in the Popular Lexicon

Fuck United Airlines and their by-laws. Just because something is (questionably) "legal" doesn't mean it is right. When are Americans gonna stop accepting brutality at the hands of the Corporate Police State?

By any reasonable standard of human decency, the following should happen:

1. The good doctor who was bullied and brutalized by the cops or airline security or whatever the fuck they were should sue United Airlines and the assailants into oblivion and win. I hope the ACLU prosecutes the case pro bono.

2. The United staff involved, the "cops," and the company's fuck up of a CEO Oscar Munoz should all be immediately "re-accommodated" out of their jobs, as well as fined, jailed, and sued to the full extent of the law.

3. No one should book flights on United going forward. I know I won't. It's not worth the risk of having my civil rights abused. I hope United goes bankrupt.

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Effin' Effers

It's a good indicator of how complacent we have collectively become about the American police state when an innocent passenger (a doctor, no less) on a United airlines flight can be randomly selected to be brutally bloodied for not voluntarily giving up his seat.

Think about it for 30 seconds. By random lottery, a guy who had bought and paid for a seat on the flight was selected to be booted off so that the airline could transport some flight crew. When he made the case that he was a doctor with patients to see and refused, he was forcibly dragged screaming from the flight and received a bloody nose from causes as yet unknown, but certainly physical violence at the hands of the police is suspected (one of the officers involved has been suspended for improper behavior, but that doesn't excuse the airline for its policies that led to the incident).

The good doctor did nothing at all to deserve this, and the argument that such treatment is permitted according to United airline's terms of service is not a valid rational for bodily harm and violence. Yet this is now the norm in militarized America.

I certainly cannot patronize United airlines anymore, because by any standard of human decency their policies are inhumane and unjust. But all the major airlines have similar policies, so it is just a matter of time until it happens on another airline. Eff those effing effers.

Social Media Addiction Exposed

There are people whose job it is to keep you glued to your social networks via your computer and handheld devices. That's kind of scary when you think about it.

The reason for this is directly tied to advertising revenue, and that makes sense. Advertisers want to be exposed to as many pairs of eyes as they can. However, the mechanism for this is more subliminal and comes from behavioral psychology, specifically operant conditioning, and even more specifically variable rewards.

Dog trainers know that the best way to reinforce and solidify a behavior in a canine is not to reward the behavior with a positive stimulus (like a bacon treat) every time the animal successfully does it. The behavior is really honed if the animal only gets a treat after doing the behavior a few times in a row, especially if the interval between rewards is variable. The dog knows a reward will arrive eventually, so they keep repeating the behavior even when rewards don't come, always looking forward to eventual gratification.

This is exactly how social media is designed to work. When you log onto social media, you are looking for some sort of reward, perhaps some useful information, entertainment, or Morgan Freeman's most recent tidbit of wisdom. But most of the time, there's nothing interesting, entertaining, or useful there. Every once in a while there is, but it's variable. And it's this expectation of rare rewards that keeps you scrolling and clicking in your browser or app for hours on end, as you wait for fulfillment, which comes just often enough to keep you hooked.

I don't know what proportion of social media information is useless junk, but it is pretty high. Just like natural systems, the equilibrium falls at the point where you get the maximum yield for the lowest energy expenditure. So social media is only going to reward the minimum amount that will keep the maximum number of people pressing the lever like a lab rat in hopes of success. This probably is not a linear function. Some people are going to stop engaging social media after very few unrewarded interactions. But others (you know who you are) will remain almost constantly connected to social media in hopes that Morgan Freeman will bless their otherwise mundane lives with profound wisdom.

I've deleted most social media apps from my devices and I've limited myself to one daily interaction with social media via web browser only. This is not in search of social media gratification, because I am aware that is elusive to non-existent. I am actually exploiting this loophole of human behavior to my own ends. Every morning, I meditate for 15 minutes, usually to a soundtrack I select from my large CD collection (part of a goal I have to cull the audio library down to just essential music). I then share a shortened Amazon URL link to my Facebook wall, sans thumbnail, with the annotation: Today's morning #meditation #soundtrack. I know that curiosity will get the better of the reward seeking social media hordes and they'll click the link to see what kind of music I deemed worthy of gracing my meditational head space. The link leads to the exact audio recording I was listening to, on Amazon. If someone clicks through and subsequently buys a product on Amazon, I get a kickback via my Amazon affiliate link. I have discovered that many people find the temptation to know useless information irresistable. So knowing what I meditate to must gratify some people some of the time. And that's all it needs to do.

Obamacare Withstands Republican Assault

Paul Ryan may not want his name associated with the failed Republican attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare with a shitty, weak sauce alternative that rewards the rich and healthy, but harms the poor and sick. However, Donald Trump has managed to keep his name OFF the so-called American Healthcare Act, even though he puts his name on just about everything else in America. So RyanCare seems to be the moniker that is sticking, and I think that will bear dividends in getting rid of that clown.

I have to admit, I was surprised that Ryan and his cronies failed so miserably to achieve their diabolical goal in the current right wing, populist political climate. But once again, populism doesn't follow party lines, and I guess most Americans actually do hold Judeo-Christian values about protecting the poor and sick among us. People still remember how douchy the private health insurance companies used to be. Maybe Donald Trump's narcissistic wickedness will actually make more people be nice to each other. Let's see more of this.

Common Sense

The "experts" would like you to believe that you can't rely on your common sense to get through life, which is why you need the "experts" to tell you how to think and behave most of the time. That's false. In reality, if you based all your decisions and actions purely on common sense, you'd do alright about 80% of the time. Now, that's not great. The other 20% of the time, you could be disastrously and maybe even fatally wrong in your decision. However, 80% is still better than how you'd fare listening to the "experts," who would tell you to go against your common sense 80% of the time, when common sense would do you just fine. If you listen to the anti-common sense experts 100% of the time, you'll be right, at best, 20% of the time (the rare times when common sense really is wrong). Going against common sense 80% of the time is why we have Donald Trump as President. So you really are better off going with your common sense 100% of the time, even if you are only right 80% of the time, because that is better than the 20% of the time or less you'll be right listening to the "experts." Does that make sense?

Wow, Trump Supporters...Take a Dick Up the Rear Much?

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has assessed Trump's health care bill and it's sooooo bad for the poor and the sick. 14 million will lose insurance by 2018 and 24 million will lose it by 2026. Almost everyone will pay more for health insurance and lose their current plans (and doctors), mostly the poor and sick.

Nothing Trump promised (everyone covered, lower costs, choose your doctor, etc.) is in the bill, and yet Trump still backs it. The White House just says the CBO is wrong, as if they don't even know what the CBO does. You really got butt raped, Trump supporters. Does it hurt?

Now Republicans are giving the tired line to the mainstream media that "we have to implement the new bill and let the American people decide if it works." Really? Ready to be health care guinea pigs, America? Surely, you see through this old circus carnie ruse. Once their plan is in place, ACA is dead and it's going to be almost impossible to get rid of the shitty Republican replacement. But hey, it's your life, America...do what you want. I'm just glad my wife to be is a nurse and I get to be on her employer's health plan.

Leave a comment here if you're a Trump supporter who is gonna take it up the rear under the new Trump health care plan. Mostly I want to know if you have buyer's remorse or if you are gonna stand by your man (Trump) no matter what he does. This is not a sportsball game...loyalty to a losing team isn't a virtue when it comes to peoples' lives. Consider the sick people you know and get ready to see them suffer.

Facebook Still a Turd Sandwich

I popped onto Facebook today, mostly to update some event pages that no one will likely ever see, but also to determine if FB is still the turd sandwich it was when I took an indefinite hiatus from it after the new year. I was surprised only to find that Facebook had supersized the turd sandwiches, the only fare it seems to offer now. The saddest part of exposing myself to the antisocial media is seeing all my so-called "friends" grinning as they gleefully devour the turds in the form of political rants, fake news, and meaningless memes. But I am no one's keeper. You can do what you want...it's your life (but you only live once and not forever).

I wish I never had to use antisocial media, but I am happy that I have restricted my use now to no more than once per week. Most days I am gleefully free of it and there are no down sides to this. In fact, my thinking is clearer and I actually literally feel cleaner mentally without Facebook, the only real purpose of which is to get people addicted to it for the advertising revenue.

Don't get me wrong, I own Facebook stock and it's going gangbusters. I am not beneath exploiting other peoples' addictions for my own financial gain. I own McDonalds and beer company stock for the same reason. Facebook knows how to hook people into their brand and they do it as well as the tobacco companies. Some people even claim that social media addiction is more destructive than drug addiction and since everyone has instant access via mobile devices, it's like having a morphine drip on demand. The same pleasure centers in the brain are stimulated when people go on social media. It's like when rats press a lever to get a food reward, which comes rarely, but just enough to maintain the repetetive behavior. The lever in this case is the mouse click. It's called "click bait" for good reason...and you know you can't resist clicking here to see how well or poorly those 80s teen actors aged...

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO SEE HOW WELL THESE 80s TEEN ACTORS AGED

(Please don't...)

The Giant Internet Brain Plans to Kill Humanity With Its Own Stupidity

Alternative facts, fake news, and antisocial media will kill humanity. The Giant Internet Brain knows this and is exploiting human stupidity to destroy us. In your heart, you know this to be true. We have Donald Trump.

Poll: Who is Creepier - The Burger King or the Gold Man Colonel Sanders?

Which fast food icon do you think is creepier, the Burger King or the Gold Man Colonel Sanders?

Leave your answer in the comments.


Why the Republican Butchering of Obamacare is Maybe Good

The short answer is single-payer health insurance.

When the Republicans gut Obamacare and the poor and middle class begin to suffer from it with unaffordable health costs (remember the old days when people went bankrupt and died from totally treatable pre-existing conditions?), there's going to be a huge push for a low cost, single-payer, government-run alternative to costly private insurance plans (basically opening up Medicare to all).

Don't let the Republicans weasel out when their replacement healthcare plan turns everything to shit. They only want to hurt and oppress people (except the rich). It doesn't even make sense for Republicans to roll back Obamacare...the program is a boon for the greedy health insurance industry, basically a government mandate that hands the industry millions of new customers and billions of dollars. The health insurance industry must not be paying enough protection money graft to their Republican Congressmen. The only reason Republicans want to repeal Obamacare is because it has communist, liberal, fascist, Muslim, Kenyan Obama's name on it and they can't stand always being reminded that a black man accomplished something they never could.

So let the Republicans hack away at Obamacare and expose their cruelty and ineptitude. Republican voters can be fooled easily when you appeal to their emotions with bigotry, fear, and hate...but it takes an extremely fearful and hateful person to ignore a hemorrhaging bank account in favor of their bigotry. It does happen though. Just think about those people who drive giant SUVs and pickup trucks that get like 18 miles per gallon, because driving a Prius is too liberal for them. They are literally willing to pay three or four times as much for gas in order to hate on the perceived liberal takeover of America. And if you just look at what has happened, their behaviors are totally being positively reinforced. Trump represents their win against the liberal establishment (which does suck, by the way) and so they think they must be doing something right. But that's all Trump represents. Otherwise he is a racist, sexist buffoon and puppet of the 1% who doesn't give a shit about most people.

Paul Ryan is Nuts

Nobody wants Obamacare gone. The Republicans who do are just racists who can't stand that a black guy did what they wanted to do but couldn't. ACA is a right wing Heritage Foundation designed law. It's the same thing Romney tried to do in MA. Think about it...the law mandates that people have to become customers of private health insurers. The insurance companies LOVE the mandate. Who wouldn't want millions of new customers obtained by force? If ACA goes away, big insurers lose BILLIONS literally. Maybe they didn't pay enough graft to the Republicans and now they are being punished. But Obamacare is good for everyone. Mostly the insurance companies, but a little bit for consumers. Definitely better than NOTHING, which is the Republican preference. Paul Ryan is working against his own best interests, letting hatred of Obama get in the way of his primary mandate, to promote corporate greed in the health insurance industry. Trying to get rid of ACA is going to ruin his political career. You heard it here first. Mark my words. I'll eat them if I'm wrong.

An "Unconfirmed Tornado" is Not Technically a Tornado

The corporate mainstream news media would improve its standing with news consumers if it stopped fabricating "almost news stories," as I like to call them.

This past week, some unusual storms barreled across the midwest, which spawned "unconfirmed reports" (the media's terminology) of tornadoes touching down in various places.

In no definition of ethical journalistic reporting is an unconfirmed report newsworthy. Get the goddam confirmation, then report it! The mainstream media apparently didn't think plain old vigorous storms were sensational enough, so they had to try to force unconfirmed tornadoes onto the confirmed reality.

I remember after 9/11, when terrorism* was all the hype in the mainstream news media, any explosion or unnatural disaster that happened anywhere in the USA was always spun into a terrorism plot. I literally heard an NPR news reporter say of one particular disastrous end result of human error that it "may or may not be linked to terrorism." Way to cover ALL the bases there news media.

Stop it.

*Note: Once again I find good reason to cite statistics that an American's probability of being killed by a brain eating parasite is far greater than their probability of being killed by a foreign Islamic terrorist, but less than the probability of being killed by a non-Muslim American citizen with a gun. Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-terrorism-statistics-every-american-needs-to-hear/5382818.

Why is BREAKING NEWS All News These Days?

Every time my fiancée Deborah turns on the TV to a news channel, I see the caption BREAKING NEWS on the bottom of the screen. Every time!

"Oh wow! Breaking news!" I exclaim excitedly. "Turn it up! Turn it up! Turn it up!"

Deborah turns up the volume only to find that the breaking news is just the news. Plain old regular news.

"Is breaking news the new news?" I ask, confused.

"Maybe it's to get more people to pay attention to the news," Deborah suggests.

"That could be," I say. "But pretty soon people are going to see through that ploy. It's like crying wolf..."

"Well...you are still falling for the ploy," Deborah notes, accurately.

"Dammit," I say. "Turn it off! Turn it off! Turn it off!"

Did You Know There is an Election in Wisconsin Today? Important One Too!

The establishment powers that be don't like to publicize school board elections, because having qualified people (like Tony Evers) running public schools means the next generation of kids might get enough critical thinking skills to see through their BS.

There is such an election today, and it's an important one. Two right wing anti public education candidates are trying to knock Tony Evers out of the running as Superintendant of Public Schools.

You can let that happen and dumb down the next generation of kids, or you can go vote today, February 21.

Ciao!

Well, Environment...It Was Nice Knowing You!

Where can a guy go now to escape toxic air, soil, and water?

If you answered the United States, you'd be wrong.

Thanks, Congress, for confirming EPA hating Scott Pruitt as Secretary of the EPA, and basically punching Mother Nature in the face.

Careful what you eat, drink, and breathe though. That sh!t can come back to bite you.

Performance Enhancing Drugs

How come it's OK for musicians to take performance enhancing drugs, but not athletes?

As a musician who does not "dope," I find that grossly unfair.

So there.

The Dishonest Media

The dishonest media is saying Donald Trump discussed classified information with uncleared people while he was at one of his private resorts.

But how can the dishonest media know this if they were not there? And if they were there, then how could it be a private party?

It would appear that people at the party were tweeting and posting Trump's comments on social media. But that's social media, not mainstream media and we all know that information on social media is fake news.

This line of reasoning is idiotic.

So there.

Been Keepin' the Alt Facts to a Minimum

I've been avoiding both social and mainstream media pretty successfully since the start of the new year. It's been pretty eye opening, especially seeing how misguided many people are due to fake news and so-called "alternative facts."

It's kind of sad that we now live in an age when you are smarter if you actually avoid most forms of media. I'm not suggesting you are smart, in an absolute sense, if you avoid media, just that mainstream and social media actually make you dumber than you would be without it. However, it is a smart decision to avoid mainstream and social media, if you can.

Facebook has literally become a corporate tool with the sole purpose of addicting people to social media for generating revenue. It has no other purpose. It makes you believe it has other purposes, like cat memes and feel good political movements, but that is by design. Those faux purposes are just the brain candy used to keep you fixated and thus continually exposed to monetized advertising messages.

Is Anything Useful or Important Happening on the Face?

I've been off Facebook for a while now, as part of what started as a New Year's Resolution to fast from social media for two weeks, and it's been great. I haven't missed it, my brain feels cleaner, and the amount of free time I have recouped is ridiculous. I feel as though I have literally doubled my effective living of life since I chose not to be a pawn in the diabolical online marketing scheme that is social media's principle reason for being (did you think it was really to convey Morgan Freeman's wisdom to the world?).

Is anything useful or important happening on social media? Last time I checked, the answer was unquestionably "NO." I have no strong compulsion to check again. It's not worth the cost, even if the exposure to alternative facts and fake news is brief. So I am asking my readers who are still wired into the social media matrix to please let me know if you encounter anything useful or important on social media. Just leave a comment below with a brief summary of your amazing find, with a link so I can check it out. I don't expect many comments, due to the overall uselessness of social media, but as a skeptic I look forward to being proven wrong.

Conversely, I'd love to hear from you about what is going on in your life, you actual, real-world life. In fact, I'd much rather know about that. So please do leave a comment about that.

The Affordable Care Act is the Same Thing as Obamacare

It seems ridiculous that I have to explain this, but it has come to my attention that there are a significant number of people who think Obamacare is a different thing from the Affordable Care Act.

They are the same exact thing.

People, you have the entire Giant Internet Brain (same thing as the Internet) at you fingertips. USE IT!

IDEA BOX: You Aren't Doing Enough to Get Rid of Trump

America, you are not doing enough to get rid of Donald Trump. The Democrats were, unbelievably, right about one thing...Donald Trump is not competent to hold the office of POTUS. That is not my opinion. Just look at the fustercluck caused by the dictatorial passage of the Muslim travel ban (yes, I am going to call bullshite on the claim that it's not a Muslim ban, and eff you if you don't like it...you shouldn't be reading this post anyway!).

In this free market, information driven age, protesting on the street - though it may give you warm tingly feelings - is insufficient, possibly even counterproductive (thanks to trolls and fake news). To make an impact on the Corporate Establishment, you have to kick them where it hurts...the FAMILY JEWELS.

Here is what I am going to do in protest against Trump until he is removed from office by whatever legal means necessary (unlike Trump...I work within the law). Trust me, when Corporate America feels a financial sting, they act.

I am boycotting EVERYTHING (bare essentials like food, shelter, clothing, energy excluded).

I'm not donating to anything.

I'm not subscribing to anything.

I'm not shopping at any stores other than what's absolutelynecessary.

I'm only buying gas at socially responsible Citgo gas stations (owned by Venezuela's nationalized oil company...all profits go to schools, hospitals, and social welfare in Venezuela, the least corrupt and violent of all the OPEC countries).

Alumni Associations? Eff you. Take a stand against Trump.

Progressive causes? Eff you. Work harder to get rid of Trump.

Amazon? Eff you. I'm supporting my public library henceforth.

Chain stores? Eff you. Mom and pop shops only.

To have an impact, this requires that we all do something similar. Make the Corporate Establishment feel pain and associate it with Trump.

I'll bet it's easier than you think to cut your discretionary spending IN HALF to thwart and end Trump's authoritarian dictatorship. If the liberal half of America cut their spending in half, that would hit the Corporate Establishment hard.

Plus, you'll be saving money for retirement...because reality check...Trump will most definitely ensure your IRA is transferred to the 1% long before you retire.

Even if the right wing nutjob half of the nation counterprotests with a mass spending spree, it's still good. It's like when a redneck rages past my Prius in a souped up, coal rolling pickup truck (btw, sorry about your penis, bruh!). It's hard to be annoyed when I know his bank account is hemorrhaging to pay for that gas guzzling penile enhancer.

So do what you want. But I hope you'll join me and share this, to force the actual powers that be (corporate monied interests) to persuade Trump to leave office, the easy way or the hard way (impeachment).

Trump is Alienating Everyone

I suppose there are a handful of people out there who still think Donald Trump is doing a great job, just as there will always be people who are into copraphagy (eating other peoples' poo). There is a fetish for everyone...

I don't envy most of the people who voted for Trump though. They are in a tight spot, between a rock and a hard place. There are basically only two ways to deal with the cognitive dissonance of voting for an incompetent buffoon. You can rationalize it by changing your thought process to embrace Trump's scorched earth approach to governing. This is the easiest thing to do and thus what most people will do, becoming a huge, rabid, hateful army of obedient Trump automatons. This is probably by design. A few might choose the harder path, admitting they totally effed up and trying to do something about it, to fix it. That's modifying their behavior to deal with their cognitive dissonance, a much more pragmatic approach and that used by most scientists.

Trump Just Took a Huge Shit in Your Tap Water

Drink up! I'm not even going to explain what Trump's Republican minions just did to the Clean Water Act, because you either already know or you don't give a shit (pun sort of intended).

President Obama Was Robbed of His Rightful Supreme Court Pick

The Constitutional crisis that solidified the downfall of American society was not the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency. It was when Republicans in Congress violated the Constitution by blocking President Barack Obama's constitutional duty to lawfully and rightfully select a Supreme Court justice to replace Antonin Scalia. That was a totally political and unconstitutional move by Republicans. That was the moment when Americans should have realized that the Constitution is a tenuous house of cards that can only remain standing if the PEOPLE stand up for it. By letting Republicans do this to Obama, the American people blew down the house of cards and in so doing deserve everything they get as a result. No matter what your politics, democracy and a stable republic are lost if the Constitution is discarded. Most Americans probably don't know that Russia's Constitution is very similar to that of the United States, but under authoritarian, autocratic rule in the 1950s, the Russian people allowed it to be trampled and you can see how that turned out. Americans need to decide if they are going to uphold the American social contract documented in the Constitution or succumb to petty racism and divisiveness and suffer the consequences. It may be too late.

Tasting Dictatorship

Good Morning, America.

We're almost a week into the Trump regime. How are you liking it?

The new President is really going gangbusters and revealing just how much of a house of cards the Constitution and the American socio-political contract really is. There is literally nothing anyone can do about the Executive branch's excessive use of its powers. These are totally legal (or at least unregulated) powers of the President because of the failure of Congress (Legislative branch) to do its job of checking and balancing the President over the past 30 years or so. 9/11 really put the final nail in Democracy's coffin, when George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld exploited the orchestrated terrorist attack to basically grab power for the Executive branch by way of the Patriot Act and bullying. If Congress ever objected, they were "with the enemy" or not "supporting the troops." Remember those memes? Good.

Now the media is under attack, the logical next step in establishing a strong autocratic dictatorship in America. You have to give Trump credit for being diabolically genius in how he set up the "dishonest media," to be damned if they do/don't report the truth. He has spun it so that the media is between a rock and a hard place. If the mainstream corporate media does its job of investigating and exposing Trump's unconstitutional behavior, then they walk right into Trump's trap. He can just say the dishonest media are out to get him and the media's credibility is shot with the conservative/right wing half of the population. If the media backs off and doesn't do its job of speaking truth to power, then the progressive/liberal half of the public thinks they are weak. The media can't win no matter what they do. It's by design that public education has been dismantled over the same time period, because now people can't think critically and we live in a fabricated reality with, LITERALLY, "alternative facts." What?

Donald Trump is a Republican wet dream. Trump is doing everything Republicans have always wanted to do, but were ashamed to do (or they feared the negative public perception). Trump is like honey badger. He don't give a @#$%. So the Republicans are happy to let him take all the blame for annihilating the Constitution and American values, while professing that their hands are clean.

"Nope. Sorry," they'll say. "We can't do anything as long as Trump is using his legally granted powers [subtext: that we idiotically granted the Executive branch after 9/11]." They suck.

Don't let the Republicans off the hook. Trump is dictating the law as he sees fit without regard for...well...the law. That's dictatorship by definition. If Republicans don't stand up for American values, they are complicit. Boom.

There is an ember of hope that Americans can collectively rebel and reverse the damage Trump and the Republicans have caused, but the right wingers all have their dicks out and they are about to piss on it. Fortunately, it's difficult to piss when you have a power boner. So "we the people" best get moving pronto before it is too late.

Governance by Executive Order Has a Name...

DICTATORSHIP.

Good day.

*Note: Before the trolls start in with specious red herring counterarguments like, "You didn't complain when Obama signed executive orders..." Yes, I did [SOURCE]. So eff you. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Guess Which Muslim Country WAS NOT Affected by Trump's Travel Ban

Trump's executive order banning travel from seven Muslim countries* excludes an interesting one.

Here's a hint...the 9/11 hijackers came from there. Yeah, SAUDI ARABIA.

Just something to think about.

Also, Pakistan was exempted as well, the country that harbored Al Quaeda leader Osama bin Laden for 10 years.

It should be noted that this is just an observation. I am not afraid of terrorism, since it kills so few Americans compared with other things, including domestic gun violence, lightning strikes, and even brain-eating parasites [SOURCE].

*Note: The affected countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.