Alien Bugs? In Washington???

August 1, 2020 10:48pm
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Last night I started watching the CBS show BrainDead from a few years ago out of curiosity, and today I finished up its mere 13-episode run as the first show that I’ve truly binge-watched in a long time!

I stumbled across it purely by accident. Earlier in the week I found myself watching this hilariously fun table read of the Scott Pilgrim movie with the cast via Zoom and I realized that as great as she was in that movie, I didn’t really know much of anything else that Mary Elizabeth Winstead has starred in. Somehow I stumbled upon this weird sci-fi comedy about bugs taking over the brains of Congressmen, and what can I say?

OMG – It was soooooo addictive!!!

I think a big part of the appeal of this story is that it’s told from the perspective of someone who doesn’t like politics, so it’s not so much one party looking better than the other as it is both parties filled with stupid bickering and fighting for their own self-preservation instead of actually doing what’s best for the people.

Of course, it gets way worse as the bugs continue their infestation and more and more of Congress gets infected…

I literally ended up watching the first 6 or 7 episodes of this series last night after the kids went to bed, and if I didn’t have to worry about watching the kids the next morning because Sara worked overnight, I would’ve loved to just blow through the entire thing because they did an outstanding job with their cliffhangers and leaving you desperate to see what was going to unfold next.

It actually left me wondering how the series would’ve moved forward if it hadn’t seen its untimely demise and gotten cancelled after just the first season because I honestly felt like the ending was a little rushed. I think I read something on Wikipedia that the next seasons were going to follow the infection spreading to other sectors – Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood – so that could’ve been interesting, particularly if the Washington cast was still involved and they could’ve played with how the different systems intertwined.

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be, so instead we’re left with this fun, little 10-hour sprint of alien infestation that could’ve been more, but admittedly was still a whole lot of fun to watch for what it was. If you have any interest in the more satirical side of politics, and you can handle watching bugs crawl into people’s ears, I highly recommend it!

Last night the President of the United States hypothesized on live television to an audience of 10+ million people that the scientific community should explore injecting ultraviolet light into the body to combat Coronavirus. And also injecting disinfectant into the lungs.

Which … look … I don’t have a problem with the president spitballing random ideas that pop into his head for members of his cabinet to then research.

I mean, I’d rather he let the experts come to him with ideas that they’re researching using actual scientific methods and principals, but in the bigger scope of things, what bothers me when Trump goes off on his little brainstorming sessions like this is that believe it or not, lots of people in this country look up to him as a role model and actually follow through on the random things that come out of his mouth.

Like the elderly couple who poured themselves glasses of aquarium cleaner after hearing the President talk about how maybe hydroxychloroquine might be a wonder drug for COVID-19. One died and the other ended up in intensive care.

Note that a month later, one study of the drug was cut short after patients began exhibiting irregular heartbeats and nearly two dozen died.

Of course, in classic Trump form today he’s claiming that his off the cuff comments were made as a joke to dig at the liberal media in the room – because who doesn’t like a good joke when 50,000 Americans and counting have died from the disease that two months ago the leader of their country was denouncing as little more than a hoax and a political jab at his re-election.

So last night I rewatched Idiocracy – a movie that I honestly didn’t even really like when I first saw it – but I’ll be damned if it didn’t hit way too close to home! How did we get to this place where not only are people proud to deny science in favor of their own whims, but now they’re very much willing to risk their own lives by parading through the streets without masks in protest of their rights to act like the responsible adults that they’re not in the middle of a global pandemic?!

I read a few comments earlier in response to Michigan’s governor removing many restrictions as her citizens had demanded, but also in turn requiring people to wear masks when they’re out in public…

“They can’t make us wear them!” 

“As far as I know, this is still a free country!”

And my favorite – “My husband didn’t risk his life so that I could be told what to wear to the grocery store…”

I … don’t know how to talk to people with this kind of mentality anymore because if they’re this hellbent on doing things their way, they’re perpetually going to be a part of that percentage that’s part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Despite a public health risk not only to themselves, but more importantly to others in their community, these are the same people who refuse to get vaccinated, who go to work and send their kids to school even when they’re sick, and are basically just selfish assholes. And all we can do as their neighbors and friends is do our best to stay away from them in hopes that in the end they only hurt themselves and not the people around them.

It’s a sad perspective to have to take, but when the President tells somebody to jump off a bridge and they actually do it, what else is there for the rest of us to do except for to view that person at best as a cautionary tale?

Well, that and we also need to get ourselves a President who stops telling people to jump off of bridges.

I’ve been kind of geeking out on Pete & Pete nostalgia lately after learning that the actors that played the brothers – Danny Tamberelli and Mike Maronna – not only still hang out and in fact do a podcast together, but they also tour and are coming to Florida this spring and I have tickets to go see them!

Nonetheless, after watching this great series of retrospective videos that Nickelodeon did a couple of years ago with Danny and Mike, it naturally got me thinking about the rest of the cast and what they’re up to these days…

And for a brief moment, I got spooked.

Ellen was always one of my favorite characters on the show, particularly for her bond with Big Pete. What can I say? I was just reaching my teenage years when this show came out, so it was girls like Ellen and Clarissa and Melody and Z.Z. who served as my first crushes on my favorite TV shows that I watched during those years. And yet like much of the rest of the Pete & Pete cast, I couldn’t really recall seeing much Ellen represented in more recent shows, so I decided to google the name of the actress who played her…

…and I got a fairly convincing profile of someone who is apparently very into Donald Trump and conservatism and generally just being an awful human being.

Could that be the same crush from my own boyhood who was a girl, and Pete’s friend, but was she a girlfriend???

Well, thank god – no, she wasn’t!

I’m not going to post the name here because there’s no need to attract unwanted attention, but I will say that her picture was close enough that 25 years later you might say, “Sure, I suppose that could be her.” It wasn’t until listening to a couple of interviews – one with Ellen herself – that it came to light that she’s mostly stepped away from Hollywood and instead is a doctor now! And the other lady was apparently just being born at the time Pete & Pete was airing, so that’s a pretty good indicator that they were definitely different people, too. 😉

Relieved is the right word, that’s for sure. I remember how shocked I was to find that an old friend from high school had gone hardcore conservative, complete with gay bashing on Facebook and the whole nine yards. And I recall me and my friends absolutely loving Dennis Miller and his rants on HBO back in our teenage years, despite his bizarre political flip to the dark side that came a decade later. But not someone from the cast of Pete & Pete.

All of the Blue Tornado Bars in the world couldn’t produce a brain freeze capable of that level of mental shutdown… 😀

Do We Really Need Billionaires???

January 24, 2019 1:32am
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I thought this was an interesting article from the other day talking about comments made by new Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about income inequality and the hoarding of wealth at the top end of the scale…

As usual, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is right: There should be no billionaires

Just looking at billionaires in the US, there were roughly 540 people back in 2016 with a combined net worth of $2.4 TRILLION!!!

I’m sure you probably recognize the names in the top 5:

  1. Jeff Bezos – $112B
  2. Bill Gates – $90B
  3. Warren Buffett – $84B
  4. Mark Zuckerberg – $71B
  5. Charles Koch – $60B

It’s worth noting that three of the top five have made pledges to donate 99% of their wealth (Gates, Buffett, and Zuckerberg), but what about the other $2.15 trillion spread out among only 537 individuals in the United States? $2+ trillion is more than the GDP of Brazil. Or Canada. Or Russia. Or 180 other countries around the globe!

Put it another way, the average billionaire is worth about $4.1 billion.

The median net worth in America is about $11,000.

On top of that, there’s the old statistic that something like 70% of Americans don’t have $1,000 saved that they could tap in the event of an emergency.

Now I’m not saying the answer is just take it all from the wealthy and redistribute their wealth more evenly – at 350 million people, that would only end up being about seven grand per person!

That said, when do we get to a point where maybe we have to say, “You have way more than enough. Please share with the little guy…”???

A million dollars is something that all of us have fantasized about at one point or another. You can buy things that cost millions of dollars such as mansions and yachts and sports teams and other expensive things that people think about when they dream of being rich.

A billion dollars, on the other hand, in a way just seems silly. You can’t spend a billion dollars on any one thing, or even a whole bunch of things! I would challenge anyone to go to NYC or LA and try to spend a billion dollars without buying companies or whatnot – I don’t think you could do it, and for the people who do, they’re not even doing it themselves because investors always travel in packs. 😛

And sure, that’s the real counter argument – billionaires invest that money into whatever ventures interest them, and it creates jobs, and hopefully additional wealth … but all in the same, it just makes me wonder if all of that is worth it when A) profit is still their primary motive for those investments, and B) we’ve got all sorts of people around this country who are really struggling in one way or another, whether it’s the guy living under a bridge or the family in suburbia embarrassed to apply for food stamps because dad just got laid off from his job.

I don’t claim to know the answers, or even how to connect all of the dots here, but I do believe that if part of our income equality in America stems from CEOs skimping on wages because it’s better for corporate profits, they should be taxed to make up the difference because no one should work a full-time job and still live in poverty in America.

Looking at the math, if 540 people – or 0.000001% of the population – own 3% of the entire nation’s wealth, which expands to over 50% of the nation’s wealth if we widen the net to 5% of the population (17.5 million people) … something’s not right there.

So what do we do about it?

In the interest of encouraging more educated discussion regarding topics of public interest…

Persons will be prohibited from engaging in conversations on a given topic in the event that said person does not possess a level of education on the topic that meets or exceeds the general level of education of the other conversation member(s).

For example, an American with an 8th grade education concerning the subject of human biology shall be permitted to speak on this topic with individuals possessing a general education of 8th grade or lower.

For example, an American with a kindergarten-level education concerning economics shall not be permitted to speak on this topic with individuals possessing graduate or doctorate-level education.

This legislation shall apply to persons of all occupations, income levels, and government positions.

Classy Like John McCain…

August 26, 2018 5:11pm
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I always thought that this was a pretty classy moment during the 2008 campaign when John McCain stood up to his own supporters in defense of Barack Obama. It was something that I’ve NEVER seen another politician do.

And I think it says a lot about the Republican mentality of those whose first action upon news of McCain’s death was to cut him down as less of a soldier, or a veteran, or a politician. That party – and its supporters – could stand to learn a few things from a man like John McCain.

Wrong Way

July 27, 2018 4:30pm
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Earlier today while I was getting gas, I had an encounter that to me seemed like a pretty good analogy for our current political climate and what the Trump admin and the Republican party are doing to our country…

Although the car started out at the pump behind me, I almost hit them pulling away because they got impatient and decided to pull up between me and the car on the other side instead of just waiting their turn.

Circling the parking lot to get out, despite the large WRONG WAY signs posted at the driveway meant for incoming traffic, the driver chose to go out the wrong way anyways.

It didn’t matter that she was endangering her own kids in the car.

It didn’t matter that she was endangering anyone else who wanted to enter the parking lot the correct way.

She was just going to do what she was going to do regardless of the warning signs and the rules that were put in place for everyone’s safety.

And it’s for this reason that I’m done arguing with Trump supporters about politics.

They don’t care about the warnings, and they don’t care about the other people around them. As long as they get where they’re going, everyone else be damned.

It’s useless to try and argue with these people because we’ve seen plenty of terrible results over the last two years of Trump’s presidency, yet they continue to cheer his name – anything to be anti-Democrat, even if they’re endangering themselves with every horrible decision that their faithful leader makes.

The best we can do, just like the careless driver in the parking lot, is avoid them at all costs, and when the time comes – we vote them off the road and vow never to let this kind of mistake ever happen again.

Understanding the N-Word

July 18, 2018 1:42pm
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Reading through comments about the Papa Johns guy getting blow back for saying the n-word … it makes me sad that people still don’t understand the power of that word.

I really like this video of Ice Cube schooling Bill Maher when he said it last year because he spells out why it’s ok for black people to say it, but not white people…

I think it’s the least we can do as white people to remove this word from our lexicon out of respect for the history it bears.

And I’ll be the first to admit that, much like Bill Maher, I know that I’ve said it a couple of times myself in jokes. Looking back, I’m not proud of those moments or those jokes, I know it was wrong, and I’ve learned from it.

*It’s Unlimited, But There Are Some Limits…

May 10, 2018 11:35am
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I’ve written about this topic before, but it bears repeating because right now it’s something that I’m a little frustrated about.

Simply put, whether we’re talking cellular or fixed line, I think that Internet access should be sold as a utility, not a service.

In layman’s terms, either bill me for usage or bill me for speed, but don’t double dip and bill me for both.

This issue resurfaced in my mind because last night we got a notification from Verizon that we’re almost at our plan’s limit for data for the month, though there are still 12 days left in the billing cycle. Our plan is for 8 GB, which is usually more than enough, but we did a lot of traveling in the last month and tethering the kids’ iPad in the car always eats up a lot of data.

So I look at my options to see that they’ve eliminated the rest of the buckets of data above ours – the next step is just an Unlimited Plan, or rather two unlimited plans…

  • The first plan is an extra $50/month and adds unlimited data … but they reserve the right to throttle you down to 3G speeds due to “network congestion” (i.e. “Hi, net neutrality! Somebody else paid more, so they get to go first!!!”). Also, mobile video is limited to DVD quality (480p). Also, mobile hotspot connectivity is limited to 3G speeds as well.
  • The second plan is an extra $80/month and this time your unlimited data can only be throttled if you exceed 22 GB/line in a given month. Mobile video is limited to 720p. Mobile hotspot comes with a 15 GB allowance at LTE speeds, after which it will be throttled down to 3G.

Just so that we’re all on the same page here:

So where do we start?!

I have an iPhone 7, my wife has an iPhone 8 Plus – mine supports 720p, hers with the larger screen is 1080p, so both are getting sub-optimal video quality on the lower unlimited plan. We won’t even muddy the waters by talking about iPads here.

Throttling speeds are a HUGE difference here – Verizon cites their 3G threshold at 600 Kbps, whereas I’ve done speed tests showing anywhere from 20 – 50 Mbps for LTE. The latter will easily support streaming audio and video, whereas 600 Kbps should support streaming music over Pandora (which requires 25-50% of that) but I wouldn’t get my hopes up about video, and frankly, tethering my laptop to those speeds would be like a trip back to 2001.

And lastly, the biggest point of all – what is unlimited if it is, in fact, capped or throttled?!?!?!?!?!

I find it appalling that Verizon sold off its FiOS business a few years ago so that they could focus on “mobile as the future of broadband” if their idea of that future isn’t bright and shiny, incredible pipes but instead these hack and slash toll booths that all of the carriers swore they wouldn’t do with net neutrality, but what do you know … now they’re doing it and the current FCC chair couldn’t care less!

Maybe it’s an “undesirable business model,” but I just want access to data.

You sell me a pipe. Bill me either by how much data I use (like the electric or water company) or what capacity I have access to use (like my home broadband), and that’s it.

I shouldn’t have to consider the screen resolution of each of my devices or what tethering speeds I need to be able to do mobile work from my laptop – not when you’ve got an LTE network capable of speeds faster than the majority of residential broadband.

I spent about an hour looking into this last night and getting more and more riled up as I learned about the details, until I finally wondered if maybe I should finally consider switching to another provider, but they’re all pretty much doing the same thing!

This is exactly the kind of thing that the FCC is supposed to be protecting consumers against.

48 Hours Later…

February 18, 2018 10:28pm
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Where did this weekend even go???

Deplorable Discussions
As one might expect, I’ve had a lot of discussions about mass shootings the last couple of days. A couple of them have been insightful, but most … have not … which I think has only built upon my anger because it truly is deplorable to spend the time immediately after a mass shooting that took the lives of 14 students and 3 teachers debating the semantics of what makes a mass shooting” or this notion that “there’s no such thing as an assault rifle.”

If anything, it’s really driven home the fact that as much as even I’m willing to consider that many factors are at work with these terrible acts, at the end of the day it’s ALWAYS been about guns, and the right just doesn’t want to talk about that.

The T-Shirt Idea
So the other day – I think right after the shooting took place, I left a comment on a friend’s post in the vein of “Fuck Your Feelings” … no, Fuck Your Guns! in parody of those smug Trump supporters who wore shirts saying as much at rallies back in 2016. At the time I joked that it would make for a great t-shirt, but left it at that until Saturday morning came around and another barrage of tasteless comments got me just fired up enough to actually realize that I had all of the tools to put something together in fairly short order…

I don’t know if I honestly expected to sell any versus it just being a funny jab at Trump supporters, but it was admittedly exciting when an actual order popped up for one after a Facebook page that was seeing a lot of attention that night themselves was kind enough to share a link to their 1,000+ followers when I asked!

As I watched the pageviews shoot up faster in 45 minutes than they had all afternoon, that’s when I started to think that maybe this could be something bigger.

Social Media Frustrations
Like I mentioned the other day in an earlier post, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around how to make social media work for my creative projects. It always seems like you need followers to get visibility, but you also need visibility to get followers, and I’ve just never been able to figure out how to bridge that gap.

I was kind of hoping that maybe this idea would be a better social media fit because it’s punchy and controversial, as well as very timely now with so much discussion around gun control and how to move forward.

Pretty late into the night, I finally decided that if this idea did have potential, I needed a better presentation, so I started working on a single page website that features an essay of about 900 words to collect all of the thoughts that I’ve had around what we as a people need to do, also highlighting some of my biggest frustrations with the anti-gun control crowd.

That website can now be found at fuckyourguns.org.

You Can’t Beg People to Retweet You
I literally stayed up all night to finish the site – I think I finally went to bed somewhere around 7:30am, but for what it’s worth, I’m super proud of how it turned out.

My main goals were to A) focus on statistics, and B) make it personal, and I think I did both of those quite well.

I wanted the text to be a clear jab at the extreme gun advocates, but still convey that it doesn’t have to be that way … they just need to be willing to come to the table for an honest and open conversation, too.

After watching the success of the first share on Facebook, I figured that if I could get just one person with a mid-sized following to share a link to the site, I’d be golden! So I put together a list of people who I followed in other avenues – several comedians and a few other liberal activist types, and I sent them a simple tweet asking if they could help signal boost just like I had with the first guy on Facebook.

Mind you, I was super super nervous doing this because I know it’s not always smiled upon, but I hoped that I’d have just the right message to catch their attention in a positive way. Plus, I knew that they’d all been commenting about gun control over the weekend, so the request was on point. I was ready to wake up a few hours later and just have my mind blown when I pulled up the stats and sales!

SPOILER: Nothing happened.

Social Media Roller Coaster
All I could think about was how cool it would be to have a $50,000 check to hand over to a non-profit in support of gun control, or even $150,000! It really wouldn’t even require that many shirts sold, and damn if they wouldn’t make a powerful statement filling a protesting crowd with a sea of royal blue.

Though admittedly I’m not sure how the media would cover it without having to literally censor every single shirt!

This is actually a great example of why social media just drives me bonkers because just one taste – even a small one – and you know that the potential is there, if only you can figure out how to tap into it!

That said, there are a lot of nuances to remember … sharing and growth are meant to happen organically, not by you sending a tweet from a new account begging for a RT!, and sites like Reddit super frown on users posting their own links. I learned this the hard way once because I had some blog posts that I really wanted to share … got a ridiculous number of pageviews, but also my share of negative comments about not following the rules.

And that’s what makes it tough about social media – to know that there’s this giant firehose of users waiting to click links, but it takes a lot more effort than just passing by and wanting some in order to get any.

A Dwindling, New Hope
So I honestly don’t know what to expect and/or hope for anymore. I’d still love to see this take off and generate a bunch of money for charity because I really believe in the cause, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen and I really worry – both for this project and the cause in general – that a week from now gun control won’t even be a blip on the radar anymore because our shitty, short attention span news cycle will have moved on to a dozen other issues by then.

In the meantime, I did create a Twitter account specifically for the project and took some time this afternoon to follow a few dozen people talking about gun control, liking and retweeting and commenting on other tweets in between sharing a few quotes from my own piece. Still, I haven’t really seen any activity at all in return – not even so much as a single follow. 🙁

In retrospect, I do wonder if I might’ve inadvertently shot myself in the foot – pardon the expression – by using the word FUCK because I’m curious if Twitter’s ranking algorithm either filters content with “adult language” further down in one’s news feed or even just keeps it hidden altogether!

I was already reminded that Facebook doesn’t allow FUCK in its advertising because I tried to create a quick $10 campaign to try and drum up a little attention, only to have it quickly declined due to vulgar language.

Funny how Facebook seems to be a-ok with circulating political propaganda from Russian bots to sew discourse with American users prior to our election, yet the word FUCK is over the line. 😯

Fin
So that’s where we are as of late – I suppose the upsides are that while I haven’t sold a lot of my vulgar, gun control t-shirts, I have sold a few and it’s kind of neat to think about them being worn out in the public or at one of the upcoming protests!

I’ve also probably written more in the last four days than I have in the last two months, so there’s that.

Plus, I still have a couple of things I want to work on before I go to bed earlier than 7:30am tonight, so I suppose I should wrap this up. One is even a new humor piece for Just Laugh that I want to run tomorrow … I don’t even want to look at the last time I posted on that site!

I’ll give you one guess as to what the topic is going to be about… 😉

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