Change My Mind

The rise of social media has had a detrimental effect on humanity – even more of an adverse effect than humanity itself has had. Anyone anywhere can post anything for the entire world to read. Could be real. Could be fake. Could be an opinion. Could be hate. It doesn’t matter. Social media sites rarely filter these streams of consciousness from misinformed, self-important people who share their sometimes ignorant opinions on, well, anything.

One thing I’ve been seeing more and more is someone posting an opinion and then ending their opinion piece with the simple sentence, “Change my mind.”

So this random guy posts a random opinion on Reddit about how he thinks the Iron Man suits looked less realistic the older the MCU has gotten. Great. He has an opinion. He has shared it. It’s not inflammatory. Then he ends his little post with “Change my mind.”

Maybe it’s my lack of sleep. Maybe I’m just having a bad day. Maybe I’ve just finally had enough. All I know is those three words irritated the hell out of me this morning.

What is the end goal here? Are you looking for an argument? Is this some weird flex in which you are trying to assert your mental prowess? Is your opinion right and anyone with a different opinion wrong? My dude, I don’t care that you have an opinion, so I definitely don’t care enough to try to change it.

Social media is a great place for sharing ideas, civil debate, and hilarious memes – when actually used for that purpose. What annoys the piss out of me is when comment threads devolve into flame wars. At that point, civil discourse disappears and the keyboard warriors come out and begin insulting each other’s mothers – just like Al Gore intended when he created the internet. Like watching two people without arms trying to slap each other, it accomplishes nothing and just isn’t entertaining.

Yes, I realize the tone of this post is ironic given its content, but I’m slightly annoyed. Let’s all stop being idiotic and asking for arguments over pointless shit, shall we? Have an opinion you’d like to share? Great! Do it without inviting more negativity into the world wide wastebin. There’s enough vitriol in the world, I don’t think we need to go looking for more.

2020 Vision

I remember the first time I watched Disney’s version of Alice in Wonderland and wondering when, if ever, Alice would reach the bottom of the rabbit hole. The agony of the unknown and the fear which accompanied it are pretty much how I’ve felt for most of this year.

Recovering from Cancer

My body has slowly been healing over these past few months. I underwent radiation therapy in April, and subsequent tests have shown that the surgery removed all but a couple small specks of thyroid tissue. Those two tiny pieces which remain should be neutralized by the radiation.

I’m beginning to feel like myself again, while the world around me is falling apart. Well, at a seemingly more exponential rate. A pandemic rages across the globe like wildfire while, at least in my part of the world, many deny its existence, or at the very least, do not consider it a threat.

Reopening School

My girlfriend and I were faced with a tough decision at the beginning of this school year: to let our children go back to school or have them attend school virtually. 

Virtual is the no-brainer option because these last few years, I’ve watched the flu make its way through our schools twice a season.  Virtual is the no-brainer option because children stick their fingers into their noses and mouths and spread their germs (and bodily fluids) like peanut butter all over bread. Virtual is the no-brainer option because I’ve been in the nurse’s office when a student enters, sent up due to flush cheeks and a fever, and says mommy told me not to see the nurse today. My girlfriend was that nurse.

Was…

Virtual is the no-brainer option, except that means someone would need to be there to supervise them.

We made the difficult decision for her to quit her job for a multitude of reasons. Being the school nurse meant she would almost assuredly be exposed to the virus. She has RA. Her daughter and my twins have asthma. We didn’t feel comfortable taking the risk. We also needed someone to stay with our children during the day as they attended school virtually.

It hurts because she loved that job and working with children.

Why schools are opening at all, boggles my mind. If there’s one thing at which children excel, it’s spreading germs. I’ve been a father for over 20 years. When my children have gotten sick, 99% of the time, they caught that illness from school.

I’ve heard the arguments. I agree that our children must be educated (although hearing Republicans go on and on about how crucial education is while they cut funding to schools is a post for another time). However, I don’t agree that education is more important than health. There’s still so much we don’t know about this pandemic. New studies are showing that there could be life-long health issues associated with contracting COVID-19, even if you survive. 

Pandemic

While I was finding out in January that I had thyroid cancer, the world was finding out about COVID-19. As I write this, the latest stats from the CDC state that 5,340,232 US citizens have contracted the virus and that 168,696 have died from it.

The worst part of this pandemic, sadly, is not the fact that we’re in a pandemic. The worst part is that the pandemic has become a political device, another tool with which the left and right can turn to manipulate public opinion. Meanwhile, the recommendations of infectious disease experts at the CDC are being criticized by the right and “debunked” by YouTube jockeys who claim to have done their own research on the virus. 

I’ve had multiple back-and-forth’s with random morons on Facebook (I shouldn’t have engaged, but the sheer stupidy of these people wouldn’t let me ignore them) where people tell me wearing a mask should be a choice even though the mask is meant to keep the wearer from spreading the disease. I’ve been told when quoting statistics from the CDC that my numbers are incorrect (where else would I get the numbers?). I’ve seen so many people claim that they won’t be wearing a mask because a mask mandate violates their rights, and they are not sheep. I’m not sure what freedom is being infringed by being forced to wear a mask, but MY right to live healthily is being violated by any asshole who may unknowingly have COVID not wearing a mask while out in public. Also, the sheep analogy really confuses me. The sheep who don’t follow the shepherd end up eaten by the wolf…

Death

Though it happened in 2019, I’ve still felt the passing of my mother throughout 2020. I’ll break down at random times during a song or when I see her picture. I struggled mightily on Mother’s Day, her birthday, and on the anniversary of her death. As if losing her wasn’t enough loss, my girlfriend’s aunt, to whom she was extremely close, passed away in June – another victim of cancer. 

Other Health Issues

At my regular check-up in June, I found out that my cholesterol is slightly above the acceptable range, so I had to start taking medication to reduce that. In the last month, I had to have an abscessed tooth removed, and then, a week later, I developed an infection in my saliva gland as a result of the procedure. I’ve been on pain meds and antibiotics for the past three weeks. I’ve had more health issues in the last year than the previous 42 years of my life.

Politics

I’m scared of this election cycle. Trump is as unstable as a thunderstorm, lies blowing from his mouth like destructive gusts of wind and idiotic remarks and childish insults striking from his Twitter account like lightning. Despite how radical he is even to his own party, they still refuse to condemn him. Worse, my hopes that the DNC would put forth a viable candidate died when they stifled Bernie’s campaign (again) and somehow rigged it so that Joe Biden would get the nod. Maybe they felt he has a better chance since he’s more centrist than Bernie, but my problem with Joe is that he’s got some of the same red flags as Trump. He’s been accused of sexually assaulting women. He’s prone to childish outbursts. He’s got no filter. He’s ancient.

Lastly, if Biden wins, it is likely Trump will not relinquish his hold on the oval office. When asked if he would do so if/when the time comes, the most encouraging answer he’s given so far is, “I don’t know.” That is horrifying.

Police Brutality

Multiple black people have been murdered without cause this year by police officers in numerous parts of the country and most of those officers have not been charged with any sort of crime. People protesting police brutality have been countered by armed militia supporting police. The irony, however, was when armed militias harassed police when they felt their rights were being violated by being made to wear masks. The similarities are….nonexistent. Police in multiple cities have often instigated violence at otherwise peaceful protests, too. I don’t know what there is to argue about. Police who abuse their power should be held accountable. No excuses.

2020 Vision

Usually, having 2020 vision is something about which to be happy. It means your visual acuity is excellent, and you can see things clearly. But I must say…I see 2020 right now, and I’m not happy about it at all. This year sucked even before it dropped its gigantic LED ball in Times Square. I do not wish to see anything that happened this year with any sort of clarity and I most certainly understand how addicts start down the path of addiction. If there were something I could take to numb me to this pain without ruining my life, I’d almost certainly be gulping it.

I Didn’t Want To Talk About This

I didn’t want to talk about this, but as you are all undoubtedly aware, another major terrorist attack rocked the world this Friday past. At last count I saw about 130 dead. Multiple people wounded. ISIS, last I saw, had claimed responsibility. To be honest, other than headlines I haven’t paid much attention to the story. My heart can only be broken so many times before it will lack the ability to properly heal. I can’t handle the perpetual onslaught of horrible news any longer.

I didn’t want to talk about this, but in the aftermath of this heinous attack I have seen opinions of every sort on the matter ranging from sad to anger to outright xenophobic. I have seen people offer prayers for those lost and affected by the attacks. I have seen sympathy. Mostly what I have seen has been hatred. Hatred for Muslims. Hatred for Islam. Gross generalizations about any person of Arabic decent being a terrorist, despite the fact that the race suffering the most from ISIS and its ilk are, yup, Muslims.

I didn’t want to talk about this, but when I was 12 years old I befriended a Muslim boy, and we were inseparable for the two years I lived down the road from him. I became close with his family, too, and they treated me as one of their own. I spent many nights in their home. They welcomed me with open arms. My friend’s father owned two restaurants in Jerusalem. He had two older sisters who behaved like typical teenage girls.

I didn’t want to talk about this, but my friend was not a terrorist. I know, I was shocked, too. He took karate, loved to play basketball (even though he sucked at it), and thought he looked like Vanilla Ice (he didn’t). We kicked the soccer ball around in his back yard. We played Super Mario Bros. 3 in his bedroom. We watched movies in the basement. We talked about girls. We talked about music. We talked about our families. Never once was the word infidel uttered. Never once did he or his family question my Catholic upbringing. They openly answered any questions I had regarding their faith. I believe them to be typical of most Muslims.

I didn’t want to talk about this, but I’ve seen many folks clamoring for this country to close up it’s borders. This great nation, founded on immigration – this great nation, whose diversity is its strength – this great nation, the land of opportunity – this great nation…should shut everybody out? Do we (the conservative collective (of which I am not a part) who want to barricade our borders) truly believe that if we halt all immigration that terrorist won’t find their way in? Isn’t this the same logic you guys use as a standard retort to anyone who suggests a gun ban?

I didn’t want to talk about this, but I’ve seen many people using this tragedy as a platform to defend gun rights. I’ve seen a blabbering dolt with a horrible toupee claim that if Paris wasn’t a gun-free zone this would never have happened. I’ve seen internet memes claiming the same. I’ve been disgusted by folks using the deaths of 130 innocent people to advance their own agenda. More guns. More bullets. More, more, more.

Oprah You Get a Gun

I didn’t want to talk about this, but I seen roughly half of our nation’s governors refuse to accept any Syrian refugees. Many of them are writing the White House to demand the federal government reject every single soul fleeing their war-torn country. They are, understandably, afraid, which is the very goal of terrorism. Reports have emerged that one of the terrorists in the Paris attack had gained access to the country by claiming to be a Syrian refugee. Therefore they view every Syrian refugee as a potential terrorist. You know what we’re doing by refusing refugees? Making ISIS stronger. If we alienate every Muslim because he/she might be a potential terrorist, the terrorists win. When ISIS recruits these refugees because, hey, they have nowhere else to go, the terrorists win.

Yoda-Quotes

I didn’t want to talk about this, but if you want to protect American citizens, perhaps you should start looking within our borders rather than without. A very real threat to American lives is already inside our nation, and it isn’t any Muslim. It isn’t any Islamic terrorist. It isn’t even, as the “Astray Toupee” would have you believe, the Mexicans. It’s us. It’s American citizens. It’s American citizens with guns. It’s American citizens who can obtain guns with little to no problem. It’s the lack of gun control. It’s the loose regulation of gun sales. We are our own worst enemy.

I didn’t want to talk about this, but there’s nothing wrong with changing my Facebook profile picture to one with the flag of France overlay. Contrarily, there’s nothing wrong with not changing your profile to the French flag. People like me changed our pictures to let the people of France know they are in our thoughts. It doesn’t mean that we are only grieving for the lost French lives and none other. It doesn’t mean we are not aware of countless other atrocities (such as Beirut or Kenya) happening on a daily basis. It just means we’re acknowledging this one; mainly because it’s the only option Facebook gave us. No matter which side of this fence you’re on, calm the fuck down. We all deal with these things in our own way. And that’s okay.

I didn’t want to talk about this either, but if your holidays are ruined because your holiday coffee cup is plain red you seriously need to reevaluate your priorities and your beliefs. Seriously, it’s a fucking cup. A cup you’ll throw in the garbage when you’ve consumed every last drop of that Arabian goodness.

starbucks

I didn’t want to talk about any of these things, but I can’t escape them. The headlines are assaulting me like a summer storm. Everyone is whipping their “righteous” opinions around and I’m over here wishing for an umbrella to shield me from the downpour of bullshit that has been raining on the internet lately.

So…there, I’ve responded to it all.

I feel better.

I’m going to go get a Pumpkin Spiced Latte in a satanic cup from Starbucks now.

A Neighbor’s Rant

One of the things I love most about Spring and Autumn is the temperature. It’s not too hot and not too cold. It’s juuuuust right. It means I don’t need to turn on the air conditioning or the heater. It means I can open up my windows and let a fresh breeze flow through the house.

Ah, serenity.

Unfortunately, open windows, at least where I live, come with a few downsides. I live literally a few hundred feet away from I-75, so the perpetual hum of interstate traffic is always buzzing in the background.

Occasionally, there are obnoxious children yelling and screaming outside. I can deal with that because, hey, that’s what children do.

There is one thing, however, that really rakes my nails across the chalkboard.
Have you ever gone to pick up a friend or relative (or coworker or someone else just in dire need of a ride)? I have. When I arrive I park my car, get out, and knock on the door of my eventual passenger to let them know I’m there to pick them up.

My neighbors don’t seem to have friends that considerate.

Too many times a car pulls up in front of one of the other townhouses on my block and just lays on the horn. Multiple times. It’s incredibly fucking annoying and mind-blowingly rude.

What if I were asleep? What if my child was taking a nap? What if I were watching my soaps and your incessant horn blaring sounded just as the couple I’ve wanted to get together FOREVER is finally confessing their love to one another?(What? I don’t watch soaps. What???) What if you weren’t an inconsiderate asshole, Mr. Horn Blaring Jackwagon?

Is it really so hard to get out of your car and walk up to the door and knock? Is it really going to ruin your day to get that miniscule amount of exercise? Are you planning to burn those calories another time? Or not at all?

Ever heard of a cell phone? For real, if you’re too lazy to get out of your fucking car and knock on a damned door then just text or call the person you’re there to pick up and stop shattering the neighborhood’s serenity with your annoying-ass horn.

Stop being assholes, people. Please, be considerate of others.

My Own Worst Enemy

I’ve never had the courage to do what’s right for me. When facing a decision, I always choose to make things easier for others even if it makes things harder for me. My current misfortune is a result of one of those choices.

It started with the best of intentions. It always does, though, doesn’t it?

I had a huge decision to make. I had just left the twins’ mother and I had to make a decision on the house we had bought together. Was I going to force her to sell or would I agree to let her stay there on the condition she refinance the house to remove my name from the loan?

When I thought about it I remembered all the times I moved as a child. I remembered all the new schools. The new faces. Never having friends because I never knew anyone. I remembered refusing to make new friends because I just knew we’d be moving. Again. I remembered all the pain. The anger. The tears.

And I knew. I knew I couldn’t do that to my children. I couldn’t make them change schools. I couldn’t make them move. So I agreed to let her remain in that house on the condition that she refinance the house.

It’s been all downhill ever since.

Not long after I left her, the twins’ mother decided to quit her full-time job to sell Mary Kay products. I cannot fathom what convinced her this was a good idea, but somehow she thought she was going to make a living doing this. Then she got in a car accident that fucked up her knee pretty good and completely sapped whatever income she may have been making. Consequently, the mortgage on “our” house didn’t get paid for almost an entire year. In turn, that fucked up both our credit reports and made it impossible for her to refinance the house.

I discovered “my” horrible credit when I attempted to buy a car. The salesman informed me that my request for financing had been denied because I had defaulted on my mortgage. I kindly informed him that I no longer lived there and that mortgage was no longer my responsibility, but the bank didn’t care about that and was telling all three credit reporting agencies that I was a dunce who didn’t pay my bills.

So I got a lawyer and took my ex back to court. Sadly, the only thing I got out of that was a court order saying that I was not legally obliged to pay any moneys on that loan. The option to force her to sell the home was not viable because she had trashed the house, and it was no longer worth what was owed on it. The judge was also not legally able to order the bank to remove my name from the loan.

So I was stuck.

About a year later, my new bride decided to declare Chapter 13 bankruptcy because she brought almost $25,000 worth of credit card debt into our marriage (yes, that was a red flag I shouldn’t have ignored). I decided to file with her to have the house removed from my credit. That was the only way I could conceive to have a chance to repair my credit.

During 2008, 2009, and 2010, we owed the state of Kentucky taxes at the end of each year because Superbitch’s employer refused to withhold Kentucky state taxes from her paychecks (she worked in Ohio at the time). After consulting with our bankruptcy lawyer, she told us that we could addend the case to add the money we owed the state. We simply needed to pay the court costs for doing so. We eventually forked over the $150 court fees for doing so.

Last night I came home to find a collection letter from the state of Kentucky chilling in my mailbox. In it, the letter says that our bankruptcy case has been closed and the stay lifted, and that now we have to not only pay back-taxes, but fees and interest, too. They want almost $2250 from my empty fucking wallet.

The stay lifted? What fucking stay?

I immediately emailed my bankruptcy lawyer and asked her, “What the fuck?” Her response was, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Sorry, can’t help ya. Work out a payment plan or something.”

What. The. Fuck. Thanks for nothing, bitch.

All of this, years of financial torment, because of one fucking decision. One that, knowing what I know now, I’m not sure I’d make again.

Frankly, right now I just want to run away. I just want to hide. I am so fucking tired of shit going wrong. I am tired, just so fucking tired. With all the thousands upon millions of people fighting their way into this country illegally, all I want to do is get out of it.

But I can’t run away. I won’t run away. My children are depending on me. They need me.

So I’ve got to man up and somehow find my way through this and ditch the urge to run.

They say that you should make lemonade when life hands you lemons, but what if the lemons that life hands you are rotten?


This has been a

Finish the Sentence Friday

Post, where writers come together

and post endings to the current sentence.

This week’s is “I’ve never had the courage to…”

But You Have Nice Things

A couple of my coworkers have a tradition of going to a certain restaurant for lunch every Wednesday because that particular restaurant hosts “free pie Wednesdays.” Basically, you get a free piece of pie with your meal. Good times.

Sometimes I go with them to enjoy the pie. Sometimes I don’t. Often times when I don’t go it’s because I always end up eating too much. Lately, though, I haven’t been going because money is tight.

When asked if I would be going to lunch this past Wednesday, I declined. There was then a sarcastic comment about me not enjoying their company. I explained that I didn’t have any money.

In truth, I probably could have afforded it, but if something comes up between now and payday I’ll regret spending that money today. However, one of my coworkers seemed incredulous upon hearing my announcement.

“No money? But you’ve been wearing all these nice hoodies and pullovers.”

The items in question are a Nike hoodie and Adidas pullover I’ve been wearing since the cooler weather has moved in. And, yes, they are nice. They are, I explained to him, not items I recently purchased. I bought the hoodie close to four years ago, when the University of Michigan changed from Nike apparel to Adidas. I bought the pullover two or three years ago. I also bought both items when I was married and could afford to do so.

TD
The offending hoodie.

I make enough money to support my children and I, but just barely. I shop at Aldi for groceries instead of a more reputable chain. When the kids need clothes I go to either Goodwill or The Gap outlet store, which has The Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic clothes for ridiculously low prices. Of course, you have to check the clothes for defects first. There’s a reason they are so unbelievably cheap.

I often pass up invites to go out because I just don’t have the money to enjoy myself. I have friends who barhop often. I don’t ever go because I just don’t have the money to do it, my decision to stop drinking notwithstanding. And being the lone sober person among a group full of drunks is the suck. I don’t really get to take the kids to do fun things either, other than playing outside or going to the park. We go to the movies occasionally, but only on Wednesdays because the local movie theater has discounted tickets on Wednesdays. I haven’t been able to put the twins in any sports since my ex and I split up because sports are insanely expensive. They are playing football this year only because they are on the high school team. There’s no way I could afford an organized league.

But I have nice things, so I must have money, right? I have some nice clothes, most of which were bought when I was married, or given to me for Christmas by my father. I have a nice, big-screen LCD TV, which I bought when I was married (see a theme here?). I have a nice computer, which was paid for by selling old shit I no longer wanted on eBay. I have a decent car, which because of horrible, horrible financial decisions involving both ex-wives, I just made my final payment on – almost nine years after it was purchased. I have a smartphone. It was free with my contract.

I’m not exactly rolling in the money here because my shirt has Nike’s patented swoosh on it.

My coworker’s comment bothered me, because people are always bitching about those on welfare having nice things, and until that moment it had never occurred to me to look at things from their point of view. You hear it all the time. They have iPhones. They have Nikes. They have a BMW. They have this. They have that. Are poor people supposed to dress in rags when they go out in public? Do they have to be unshaven, wear unclean clothes, and drive a hoopty to stop the criticism from those more well-off than them and prove that they are, in fact, actually poor and in need of financial assistance?

The fact is, you don’t know how that man or woman with food stamps got an iPhone – it was probably free with the contract. Those Nikes could be second-hand, or bought from Goodwill. That BMW could have been salvaged or bought through some program that helps those less fortunate than you. You just don’t fucking know.

I have no doubt there are people abusing the welfare system. Every system gets abused by nefarious people. But there are people out there struggling to survive and challenging their struggle simply because they have one or two nice things disregards their very real struggle. Until you know about, and understand, a person’s circumstances you have no right to judge their decisions or lifestyle.

Believe me, I don’t want money (or lack thereof) to be the reason I’m not going out to lunch. I’d much rather decline lunch because that pie is unhealthy for me. Or because your company sucks. But I don’t have that option. So I’ll sit at my desk while you guys go out, and enjoy this Hot Pocket. NOM.

 

Random Thoughts: 9-16-2014

You guys!! It’s time for another brain dump! Here are this week’s (I say that like this is a regularly scheduled feature or something) random thoughts on stories that caught my attention.

So, a chef at a restaurant called Mad Fresh (snarky comments will be saved for the rest of this story) has banned ketchup from his establishment. The mad chef (I like that name) contends that his food is so perfectly prepared and flavored that no ketchup is needed, and has even kicked people out for sneaking ketchup into the restaurant. Well, fuck you, mad chef! If I like ketchup on my food I’ll put it on my food no matter what you think of your flavors.

“I think ketchup is edible – on certain things. I’ll give it that much. But it’s just not part of my culinary agenda,” the mad chef claims. Ah, well. I guess what I, your paying customer wants, is immaterial. Ass.

Sigh. Another pastor who thinks gays should be put to death. That sounds EXACTLY like what Jesus used to preach, right? RIGHT? I say we start putting people who perpetuate hate to death (note to literalists out there – that was sarcasm).

So a woman was recently kicked out of a restaurant recently while breastfeeding. She’s making a huge stink about it on Facebook. What she’s failing to mention, though, is that she was drinking while breastfeeding, and that’s why the manager on duty asked her to leave. I’ve read the comments from people defending this mom, saying that as long as she doesn’t drink right before breastfeeding the alcohol won’t affect the baby. Others are saying whatever the mom ingests goes to the baby. Both sides linked to sites which support their claims. My problem is this: if you’re carrying an infant around I don’t think you should be doing shots and drinking beer. You’re eventually going to have to carry that child out of there. What if you drop the baby or fall over while carrying the baby because you’re drunk? What if your drunk ass accidentally knocks the baby off the changing table? What if, what if, what if? In my opinion, drinking while caring for an infant is irresponsible, whether you’re breastfeeding or not.

A funeral home in Saginaw, Michigan has opened a drive thru window. Scratching your head? I was, too. Evidently, the window will allow people to pay their respects without ever leaving their car. What. The. Fuck. Are there really people who’s lives are so terribly important that they can’t get out of their fucking cars to pay respect to the dead? Is this a thing?

Is it a prerequisite to say absolutely asinine shit to be a Republican? I’m just wondering, because it seems like at least once a month one of them makes headlines for uttering absurdly insensitive and stupid shit. This month it’s Russell Pearce, who said on his very own radio show, “You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get a woman Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations …”

Um, really, Russ? Can I call you Russ? I guess it’s too late to ask that since I already have. Russ, isn’t forced sterilization something the Nazi’s did? *checks Google* Yes, they did. You really want to take a page out of Adolf Hitler’s book?

Russ claims that the statement was written by someone else, who he conveniently failed to name. Whether or not someone else wrote that garbage, Russ, you read it on air and left the impression that you agreed with the statement. Tool.normal_stfu

Things continue to get muddier for the NFL. Last week’s Thursday Night Football game introduction was supposed to feature a song performed by Rihanna, but in the wake of the Ray Rice video tape being released they opted not to use her song since she had been a victim of domestic violence herself at the hands of Chris Brown back in 2009. CBS claims that they needed “appropriate tone and coverage” in the wake of the video tape going public, but as far as I’m concerned all they did was punish a victim for being a victim.

Rihanna was savagely beaten and tossed from a car. Then CBS says, hey, you’re too close to this so we’re not going to play your music for millions of potential fans to hear. They could have instead played her song and perhaps gotten her thoughts on domestic violence since, you know, she was once brutally assaulted by someone of Ray Rice’s stature. I guess that makes too much sense.

Speaking of the NFL, who here has heard of the Adrian Peterson charges? Everyone? Good. Let me just say, the Minnesota Vikings are run by a bunch of insensitive and hypocritical assholes. Peterson has never shied away from the fact that he whoops his children with switches. He’s openly admitted it. So how did the Vikings initially respond? They deactivated him last weekend. Then they got their asses handed to them by the Patriots on Sunday. Guess what the Vikings are saying now? If you answered, “We need to let the legal process play out,” then you’ve won a cookie.

Wait what??

Why does the legal process need to play out? He’s admitted it. Let’s be frank about what’s going on here. Peterson is the most talented athlete on that team and they had their asses handed to them without him in the line up. If they were really interested in letting the legal process play out Peterson wouldn’t have been deactivated last week. If they were as concerned about the children as they say they are, they wouldn’t wait for the legal process to play out since Peterson has admitted, quite proudly, that “All my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don’t play no games when it comes to acting right.” Peterson’s heart may be in the right place, but his methods are barbaric.

And, because I don’t want this post to be completely negative and upsetting, here are highlights from an insanely talented one-handed basketball player…

What say you? Do you have thoughts about my, um, thoughts?

 

The correct response is, “You’re welcome…”

[Editor’s Note: It’s Friday! I’d like to celebrate that fact by having a new guest grace this here weblog with her prose. Please welcome Sofia Leo, who has an opinion and isn’t afraid to share it.

After you’ve learned from Sofia’s wise words, please head on over to her blog, where she is blogging her way through the recovery of an abusive relationship. Please support her by clicking on the mystical follow button, and take this journey with her. She is an excellent writer, blogger, and person. Stop by and say hello, would you?]

Many thinks to Twindaddy for letting me blather on a bit about an annoying habit I see all too often these days on his totally unshitty blog. You rock, Twindaddy! [Editor’s Note: Sigh, I know. I just can’t help it.]

I don’t know how long it’s been going on, having been naval gazing for some years, but I am fed up with service workers responding to my “thank you” with “no problem.”

It goes like this: I order food, or buy something in a store, or make a transaction at the bank and when I thank them for their time and efforts (and I’m a good tipper!) instead of saying, “you’re welcome,” I get an airy, “no problem,” sometimes accompanied by a vague arm wave.

WTF is that supposed to mean? Of course it’s “no problem” – it’s Your Job! I am not troubling you for anything “extra,” not asking you to go above and beyond your job description, and certainly not causing a problem for you to wave off. Gaaaahhhhhhh!!!!

Imma gonna larn ya somthin’ here. I’ve worked in the service industry (I don’t at the moment, but we all know that could change in a heartbeat and I for one will stay in practice) and when a customer (or client if you prefer) thanks me for doing my job, I always reply, with a smile (no matter how douche-baggy they might have been acting) “you’re welcome!” If I thought they needed a smile or a kind word, I also add, “have a great day!”

Now, there is a proper place for “no problem,” and I’ll give you an example:

The Boss: Can you have this project wrapped up by lunch time?

Me: No problem.

See there? Easy, right? He’s asking if I can complete a task within a certain time frame and I am letting him know that I don’t anticipate any obstacles to completing the project on time.

Here’s where another response is appropriate:

Me: handing over ice cream cones, ringing up the order and making change for a customer.

Customer: This is delicious! Thank you.

Me: You’re welcome. Have a great day!

Was that so hard? I didn’t say “no problem” because it’s my fucking job to scoop ice cream, ring up the order and make change! It’s the whole reason I’m standing behind the counter in the first place. It’s the reason I collect a paycheck every Friday. It.is.my.job. It’s not a “problem.”

Maybe I’m just showing my age, but it really aggravates me to be treated so dismissively by young service workers in this way. Older ones, too, now that it has become so prevalent and we Old People are trying desperately to deny our age and be “hip.”

There’s a Big Town Hero sub shop next door to the office that I frequent a couple of times a week. A couple of about my age owns the shop and there are numerous young people who work there. Each and every one of the teenagers has been trained to say, “you’re welcome” and “enjoy the rest of your day” when they bring your order. They are unfailingly polite, well-groomed and pleasant. It makes me want to tip big and be kind. I never hear “no problem” in that shop and it is a refreshing change for the better.

It’s the little things, people! Pretend for just a moment that there are other people inhabiting this here planet and maybe they could use a little cheer as they go about their miserable lives. Put aside your own angst and do something kind. Be polite and proper. Be respectful. Show some pride in your work and your world.

And for the love of all that’s holy, wear a shirt that covers your boobs. The whole set. I don’t want to see your cleavage. I don’t want to see your cute bra. Ever. Really. Yeah, your boobs are great, but I’m not your target audience, ‘kay? (that never happens at the sub shop, but a little Ma & Pa convenience store down the street and it’s equally annoying as “no problem”))

STREAM OF CONCIOUSNESS

[Editor’s Note: Please welcome my beautiful friend HastyWords. Hasty, as you know from our poetic duets, is quite a talented poet. She makes me look much more talented than I actually am. 

Hasty needs to let a few things out and has sought refuge here where words like shit, fuck, damn, and cock are not only acceptable, but the norm. So this could shape up to be an excellent and foul poem. I like it already! Anyway, if you’re not already following Miss Hasty, get your ass over to her blog and click the ever-powerful follow button for beautiful poetry delivered straight to your inbox.]

I had to step into my alter ego for this post.  I couldn’t bring myself to cuss on my own blog.  It just didn’t feel right at all.  But….Twindaddy encouraged me to find my inner bitch.  Said I needed to take a stand and stop letting others push me around.  Well, I don’t know about any of that because I really love people and I am really forgiving and I really couldn’t stand it if I knew I hurt someone even if that person hurt me…but…for these few moments….I am not me….I am HER.

This is not about one person or one event…don’t even try to guess you know who they are about because it is a mixed-up bowl of fucked up feelings that will never get resolved about many people and events.  My stream of consciousness…

You know that time you wrote to me

Said I was special, that I made you smile

Well funny how those days disappeared

You waited just long enough to hear me say

The feeling was mutual, I loved you…ackkk

That you meant something to me …blah

Those words burn my tongue like acid now

You took the words and set fire to them

Ego inflated…next stop…next girl…goodbye

You know that time you looked at me

After years of knowing you…I finally saw you

It was scary the anger and hostility I saw

All aimed at me, daring me, taunting me

Later I realized that psychopathic stare

I read it right…I am angry I let things happen

That I didn’t understand the extent

Of the evil that hung in the air around you

People were hurt and forever injured

Because I didn’t do something about you

The mother fucking papers…I can’t stand them

The words leap out and cut wounds deeper

In public view they tell the world a story

A fiction that will never be true but is believed

It will live as truth and I find that quite obscene

There is this boy I knew, the boy who said

I will never ever leave no matter how bad things get

Well that is never a promise that can be kept

But I held on to it for so long, I began to believe

The lies it kept, I began to believe the truth of friendship

Then there are those moments spent with those you love

Moments that change things, can’t be forgotten

Moments that happen and turn things rotten

You hit me once, maybe more than that…accidents all

You choked me once…we both cried and said to hell with it all

I confided in my friends…horrible truths…laid myself on the line

The last I heard from you…so long ago…we love you…that is all

Time and again, I am not enough…will never be…enough

It isn’t pessimism that makes me fear being replaced

It is experience; it happens every time, with everyone

I am no angel…I am quite devilish at times…blobbity blah

I can be extremely selfish and full of broken weakness too

I cry…well I used to…back when I actually cared about you

I am a fucked up broken mess…one that spills onto other things

Into other people’s lives and the only thing I regret

Is that I care so fucking much about every single thing

So to end this rant…and this stupid tirade I will simply say

Shit fuck dick piss mother fucking screw bitch whore

Well maybe I will say it again a few more times

But then I will move on…and count these things part of another day

 

Surf Your Way Into Jail

[Editor’s Note:  Please welcome BrainRants.  Funny story.  A few weeks ago 1jaded1 asked me if I read BrainRants.  I thought she was confused and meant brainsnorts, and I said yes without further thought.  Then a day or two later I received a comment from BrainRants and then realized that I was the one who was confused.  Sorry, Jaded.  If it’s any consolation this just proves you’re smarter than me.  Take that for what it’s worth, which isn’t much.

In the short time I’ve been following BrainRants I’ve found him to be witty, intelligent, articulate, hilarious, and crude.  And that’s my kind of people.  I’m now a card-carrying member (huh huh) of the Rants Army™.

As always, folks, please ensure you visit our guest’s blog and click on the almighty follow button.  You’ll be sorry if you don’t.  Hell, you may even become a card-carrying member, like me.]

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” — Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

I wrote a glib piece about proposed Amendments to our (American) Constitution a while ago as a lark, not really paying attention to the news article I read that sparked the idea. I found several respondent notions about strengthening privacy rights but ignored them. Then I came across another series of articles
that made me think a lot more about the subject.

First, let me describe some interesting facts about the internet. I found an in-depth article (link at bottom), which I’ll summarize by posting the graphic used by The Atlantic to scrape the surface of the issue:

Click it and make it big
Click it and make it big

What this picture means is that you, the web surfer, are on the right, clicking away at kittens, boobs, and whatever other things entertain you, my blog included. On the far left of the graphic are people who want to make money by selling things. In between you and the seller are hundreds of companies – perhaps thousands – who relentlessly track your web use. They want to turn kittens and boobs into money out of your pocket and into theirs.The same article pointed out that web privacy tools are becoming increasingly popular, much like the Do Not Call initiative was to stop telemarketers. The web, however, is far more insidious. There is no apparent proof that all the myriad companies that cull your data can’t still collect on you if you disallow cookies, for example. Unlike Do Not Call, ‘Do Not Track’ software is very likely ineffective, because while you’d never take the initiative and phone a telemarketer back, you’re damn sure not going to stop looking at internet cats and porn.

So does this data collecting harm you? Possibly. Can this tracking network help you? Of course it can – Twitter will suggest people you might like to follow based on your current follow list just as Facebook can recommend like-minded people to friend. Much the same way, if you buy a lot of Star Trek memorabilia online, odds are very good that you will in turn get a lot of Star Trek memorabilia advertising without lifting a finger to click your mouse. Google will get better at finding that hard-to-find Andorian ale carafe reproduction vendor.

The insidious side is that those same companies might also know, based on aggregated data that you provide yourself, that in addition to being a Trekkie, you happen to love Cheetos, drink a lot of coffee and Monster drinks, collaborate online in virtual chat forums. They will also know you are white, between twenty and forty, and work at a job that has nothing to do with your college degree, for which you are buried in student loan debt. They will know where you live and have a profile of your favorite activities outside of the web. Also note here that the in-between companies on the chart aren’t trying to sell something to you. They’re only interested in having and selling data about you.

While there are some establishments that might find this useful for additional advertising, most of this information just resides out there on the web, slowly painting a more and more accurate picture of you. To a reasonable person who knows how to click ‘delete’ or the ‘X’ to close a window, this might not be completely frightening. It might even score you free Cheetos and Monsters now and then.

Enter a new data customer: the Federal Government. It will come armed with a new law called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA if you prefer acronyms. Under provisions of this new law working its way through Congress, companies can hand over vast reams of data such as we’ve described here to the government – particularly to the Justice Department – in order to help identify and counter cyberterrorists.

You’re probably wondering exactly why Twitter, Google or Facebook would just up and give out user information, right? Or the constellation of other data-mining interests either, you might wonder. What if this same proposed law allowed the government to provide information – data it already has on people – without penalty, in order to help companies identify cyber threats and counter them?

Ostensibly, then, the company would be under no obligation to reciprocate. All of this is strictly voluntary, because without a warrant issued on testimony of probable cause, the government can’t collect information on you. However, private interests, who are not subject to the Fourth Amendment, are free to amass whatever mountains of data they like without legal penalty. But think about this a bit more closely.

If you run a business like Facebook, you’re a cyber target. It’s in your interests to take measures to protect yourself. Along comes the Department of Justice with a friendly FBI agent, who offers access to petabytes of user data that might just be useful to you in protecting your company’s digital assets. It’s all free, by the way, and did you know that you can contribute any information you happen to have on problem children to the friendly FBI agent if you so desire?

Maybe you still don’t think Facebook will throw you under the bus that fast. Keep in mind that publicly-traded companies have an obligation to make profits for shareholders, and digital businesses are still struggling to establish viable business models where no clear product or service exists short of charging fees for membership. Maybe you just went public, only have your IPO drop half its market cap in months. Maybe your digital empire is struggling to wrangle up new advertising dollars in a competitive environment.

Maybe you see an opportunity here now. Keep in mind there are hundreds of companies that will buy Facebook information merely to have it. Facebook profits, and the intermediary interest does too, selling digits downstream in the direction of vendors. Maybe everyone wins when big digital companies shake hands with the friendly FBI guy. There is no free lunch in capitalist societies, and the friendly FBI man will want some kind of gesture of return. After all, he has cyberterrorists to apprehend.

The FBI man is very diligent, and after he culls all the data that he was freely given in the deal, he’s very likely going to decide that your love of Star Trek memorabilia is no threat to the cyber- or national security of the United States. But the DOJ still has your information. Where else on the web have you been? What have you been doing on the side with your computer science degree to ease the mountain of student loan debt you carry? Do you like music, but hate paying for it? Let your imagination wander but this is the best-case scenario outside of ‘nothing else happens.’

You might not be a cyberterrorist. You might not be a national security threat. But every other Federal Agency in addition to the DOJ now can use the information that Big Digital felt grateful enough to volunteer, and if you broke the law you’re subject to punishment. Notice there are no scenarios of black helicopters without tail numbers swooping in and your existence being erased for all time. Just the potential nit-picking erosion of your money, time and life by the Fed one Gorgon head at a time, inflicting a slow death by a thousand cuts.

When I read the original set of articles, I noted that the ACLU is also fighting against CISPA’s ultimate passage into law. My initial reaction predictably went something like, “Oh, a new ACLU crusade, how quaint.” But then I thought about it. Screaming about the death of the Fourth Amendment will earn you a piece of sidewalk next to the Global Warming wonk and the guy who still believes Tupac is being held by the Fed against his civil rights. On your other side, you’ll have the guy who believes Dubya directed those two airplanes to fly into the World Trade Center so he could have his little war.

I’m not shouting about the death of the Fourth Amendment, and I’m not about to join the ACLU. I’m advising caution and I’m saying that if you see the same potential here that I do you ought to be concerned. The death of freedom doesn’t sound like black helicopter blades. It sounds like a guy in a suit who assures you that certain measures are for your protection.

How can you argue with that?

BrainRants’ site

– – – – –

Article on how the web gets your information:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/02/im-being-followed-how-google-151-and-104-other-companies-151-are-tracking-me-on-the-web/253758/

Articles on the CISPA:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/04/governments-wont-need-to-issue-ids-data-brokers-will-identify-you-for-them/275431/

and

http://www.zdnet.com/cispa-passes-u-s-house-death-of-the-fourth-amendment-7000014205/