Category Archives: Philosophizing

Last Christmas – George Michael Dies Young

‪”I’d say love was a magical thing. I’d say love would keep us from pain. And I don’t live. And I don’t live.”‬

George Michael has one of those voices that get inside your heart with ease.  His beautiful voice ended much too early today on Christmas Day.

2016 really has been an annus horribulus with so many icons dying – and my wife’s father – and the truth of American politics and people revealed as shallow and reactionary. 

Careless Whisper and Last Christmas were my two favorite George Michael / Wham songs. Father Figure, Faith and Freedom were up there, too. As well his voice is distinctive and the highlight of Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” – perhaps the best charity record of all time. 

Don’t ever say it can’t get any worse because often you will be proved wrong. Greatness comes in overcoming troubles, pain and chaos. But all that still has to be endured. 

Carry on. 

Scandal Hookups Are Ridiculous

Every relationship on Scandal is ridiculous. Each is steeped in either forgiveness or expediency. The ideas of revenge or happiness or even what’s actually at stake are ignored. 

It makes the show too stupid for even a guilty pleasure. It all makes the show a farce because what fails is the idea of a love so strong to make all the anguish worthwhile. Instead it’s lust and that can be found and extinguished almost anywhere. 

So the first lady just hooked up with Andrew, the Vice President to be. I turned it off last episode when they were laughing together and clearly getting buzzed. I hoped it would be a one time drunken fling but now they’ve just been caught giving and receiving a blowjob by Millie’s daughter.

It’s called Scandal so obviously much of this should be expected. At some point, however, all this guided-by-the-loins crosses the line into soap opera territory. 

When that happens you stop caring about anyone. 

So Olivia and the president – stupid, too much at stake. They keep saying love but it’s just not. Even the Vermont house just screams showing off rather than a true desire for a future. 

Name any couple (ing). There should be more hate and loathing but instead there’s just passive acceptance.

I was moved to watch the show while listening to the West Wing Weekly podcast. It’s co-hosted by Joshua Molina who joined West Wing in Season 4. And he joined Scandal in Season 1 and struggles to maintain his white hat status throughout. 

The Experience of Listening to the SERIAL Podcast

SERIAL, the podcast is quite addictive. I came to it late in January 2016.

I’m trying to avoid, “The Making of a Murderer” because, well I would feel manipulated and that’s an investment of time where I can’t do much else but watch. By reading around, I also largely agree that the police screwed up a lot and likely enhanced the evidence. Beyond that, not idea but I can’t quite get into it, yet.

But Serial – I can listen while cleaning, while washing the dishes and doing other things. So, I plugged into Season 2, I think on Jan. 19 after the first four episodes were out: 01 – DUSTWUN; 02 – The Golden Chicken; 03 – Escaping; 04 – The Captors. I quickly buzzed through those 204 minutes / 3.3 hours and I really wanted to check in on the next installment. This is how old radio worked; oh wait, this is how current TV works, still. I’m not saying that’s a good or bad thing, it just takes a lot to get used to.

As evidence, of the point ending the last paragraph, I point to the X Files, the Resurrection or whatever it’s called. We watched the first, Carrie and I since it was after a football game – score 12 for marketing and scheduling. We then didn’t watch the one the next day and didn’t watch the next one. Even though I REALLY wanted to; I did remember the second episode but was too busy and completely forgot the third one on February 1.

Listening to Season Two
I paid attention to Soldier Bowe Bergdahl only a little last year when he was part of a prisoner trade with the Taliban. That didn’t seem like a great idea for a soldier who might have gone AWOL – and President Obama got a raft of shit for it. Usually my instinct when that happens is to push the raft away so it floats away. Beyond that I had no recollection or curiosity about the details.
Here’s part of the intro on the website page:

“In May 2014, a U.S. Special Operations team in a Black Hawk helicopter landed in the hills of Afghanistan. Waiting for them were more than a dozen Taliban fighters and a tall American, who looked pale and out of sorts: Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier, had been a prisoner of the Taliban for nearly five years, and now he was going home.

President Obama announced Bergdahl’s return in the Rose Garden, with the soldier’s parents at his side. Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, planned a big celebration to welcome him back. But then, within days—within hours of his rescue, in fact—public reaction to his return flipped. People started saying Bergdahl shouldn’t be celebrated. Some of the soldiers from his unit called him a deserter, a traitor. They said he had deliberately walked off their small outpost in eastern Afghanistan and into hostile territory.

Hailey canceled its celebration. The army launched an investigation….”

Sarah Koenig is narrating the series – both of them. And she’s doing a lot (most) of the digging into the details and what happened. The reporting. She quickly gives the impression of wanting to believe Bergdahl and, in the first season, Adnan Syed. That’s perhaps because I know these stretch out to many episodes; however I haven’t hit the end of either series, yet.

But Koenig asks good question and she has doubts, which she airs, often. There’s a true narrative and true story being displayed for the listeners to think on to; it’s not all handed to us, the listeners with conclusions and resolution.

I listened to Season 2, Episode 05 and now it’s going to be every two weeks because they are being inundated with a lot more information and details and context. I really want to find other programs like this. RadioLab is similar but a little all over the place; there is not one overall story arc.

!!! SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD !!!
Right now I’m listening to Season1, Episode 08 of Serial, titled “The Deal with Jay.” Jay has actually been a suspicion for me since the first episode and it really sounds like he’s a storyteller himself who was jealous of Adnan’s close friendship with his girlfriend; Jay sounds like he saw an opportunity and calculated this, pushing people’s doubts in the right direction. This is the story of a murder out of a high school in Baltimore. A girl was murdered. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, haw been convicted. He’s been in prison over 10 years already.

I didn’t think I’d be as interested as this story started; it’s more routine and covers smaller issues than a soldier leaving a post in Afghanistan and being a POW for 5 years. But this 1st season involves a lot of regular people trying to figure out this tragedy among them.

Until I just went to the Serial Podcast website I didn’t know proper spellings of people’s names or seen any visuals – such as a picture of Adnan.

“Rather than trying to get to the truth, you’re trying to build your case” it’s said at one point in Season 1. I think that’s the crux of so much of what goes on in the world. That’s inconsistent and hurts my confirmation bias.

The next episode comes out in two days, Thursday Feb. 4. Life is a continuum.

GMOs Are Bad. That’s Good?

People think of GMOs as either:

1) Nothing to worry about, it’s science-based.
2) Something people should have a choice whether to consume
3) A product of untrustworthy companies and their marketing techniques.

There’s the tricky tightrope of discussing Genetic Engineering and GMOs. The terms are somewhat fluid.

The two latest pro and con articles that try a reasonable approach are:

Slate’s William Saletan writing, “Unhealthy Fixation

A writer at Huffington Post counter-replies, “How to Cover Up the Pesticide Industry’s GMO Scheme and New 2,4 D ‘Agent Orange’ Crops

Other than Slatetan winning the comprehensible headline award, take a look at those two articles, read a decent amount of the comments, check a few more links and you’ll have the debate encapsulated.

I’m a mix of 2) and 3) … I find it hard to want to give companies the chance to keep on lying. Though I appreciate that people think others are too afraid of what GMOs might do, it is ALWAYS a good idea to keep an air of healthy skepticism. Now when that broadens out to public policy or action, then people get further divided.

ALSO: http://www.eater.com/2015/5/22/8640973/national-press-foundation-npf-monsanto-food-journalism-boot-camp

ALSO: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2015/pesticides-06-23-2015.html

Scott Walker and Harley Davidson HQ in Wisconsin

Scott Walker is not doing well in Republican presidential polls. That surprises me as he actually governs seriously – if nastily and without a soul. This Republican primary race seems mostly to be about who can speak the loudest and foulest rather than actual ideas.

Same as it ever was….

Democrats. Blowhards. Blow. Hard. … too in the primary but actual functioning ideas seem to take center stage. Practical ideas that seek to improve the country. 88% of them are over-promising pandering but at least it sounds like they care about, oh, citizens.

Walker, current Wisconsin governor become a GOP rockstar by fighting unions. not only fighting but closing them down, – BUSTIN’ ‘EM!!!! – and making them very ineffective in the state.

The 5-second elevator summary is that, labeling it as a cost-savings measure, Walker was able to pass rules eliminating collective bargaining for work conditions and benefits and also strip the union’s right for mandatory union fees for members. As a red meat bonus to GOPers, Walker and GOP assembly members did so over strenuous Democrat objections that included Democratic state senators leaving the state.

When the measure passed the Assembly (not the Senate chamber) it happened quickly. As the conservative site, The Blaze put it:

Debate had gone on for 60 hours and 15 Democrats were still waiting to speak when the vote started around 1 a.m. Friday. Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, opened the roll and closed it within seconds.

Democrats looked around, bewildered. Only 13 of the 38 Democratic members managed to vote in time.

It’s not just the state that’s cold, right?

So I’ve had this story about Walker and Harley-Davidson saved for awhile. Walker thinks Harley’s are a big deal; he owns one, he rides one and after cheese, it’s the state’s most famous export.

But as this Reuter’s article, “Harley and awkward ride for ‘union-busting’ Republican Walker” points out, Harley-Davidsons are proudly, union-made.

 

Walker, it turns out, is boring and can’t compete in the GOP circus. It seems Scott Walker can’t be president – he would never be for a more perfect union.

Cancer – Feeling Helpless

Cancer has an amazing capacity to destroy, deform and debilitate. Feeling helpless in helping friends and family who have it or have very close loved ones who have cancer brings those same qualities. You can fight cancer – and win – but it’s hard to fight feeling helpless.

One way to fight that feeling is to recognize that:

1) you are doing what you can

2) you are doing as much as the person will allow you to do. what that means is, some people aren’t comfortable at all with receiving help and it’s very hard for them. Traditionally this is viewed as a strength – he / she fought with dignity and did it their way. That is the easier route when it comes to cancer. Letting people in, letting you see their hurt, requires a strong bond and requires everyone seeing and dealing with atypical aspects of life and death, which alway seem to loom close even when death really hasn’t got a chance.

3) even the smallest thing being done, flowers, a hug, a short letter, matters as long as it’s sincere. There isn’t enough sincerity in the world. Any action along these lines is a positive in an ocean of problems created one drop at a time running off the person’s body. Cancer water torture.

Even doing something, you will still feel helpless to some extent. You won’t be a cure, but you can make a lot of the painful symptoms disappear.

Directly, I know six people who have cancer or who are dealing with a family member with cancer. Well, since one is my wife I would also have to include my children and my and her whole family. Cancer, even in remission is always more of a reality after it’s arrived than just the “theoretical” idea that people get cancer. That reality is a much bigger part of life that easily blocks out all other things a lot of the time. That’s a separate fight, shared by the family, friends and the person with cancer.

Leslie Gore – Forgotten Power

In the early 1960s, Lesley Gore released a song called, You Don’t Own Me. This song is hard to listen to often because even the title is just painful to think about.

It’s painful to think that this song, with this song had a place in society. It’s painful to think that more than 50 years later it still rings true int today’s society. She nails this plaintive plea (mp3 here, but not a straight link) that really gets across that people then and now really do live this life and struggle to push through the cocoon. It also becomes a confident voice where you can tell the voice in the song will eventually find the strength to turn her back and walk away.

In fact, if you look at the list of songs on that mp3 link above, you see a complex approach to society and relationships: Bobby’s GirlI Will Follow Him …. My Boyfriend’s BackThen He Kissed MeTo Know Him is To Love Him. And then in 2005 she announced she was gay. So, there’s that.

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to? Yeah, even that one had a counter-intuitive spin. Turns out though that’s the song she’s most famous for, it’s really one of her weakest songs, sung when she was 16. She came to embrace You Don’t Own Me more, as a personal mantra, though she also said she envisioned a guy singing it to his girl as easily as the other way around. She died yesterday, February 16th, aged 68.

You don’t own me, I’m not just one of your many toys
You don’t own me, don’t say I can’t go with other boys
And don’t tell me what to do
And don’t tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don’t put me on display, ’cause
You don’t own me, don’t try to change me in any way
You don’t own me, don’t tie me down ’cause I’d never stay
Oh, I don’t tell you what to say
I don’t tell you what to do
So just let me be myself
That’s all I ask of you
I’m young and I love to be young
I’m free and I love to be free
To live my life the way I want
To say and do whatever I please

A-a-a-nd don’t tell me what to do
Oh-h-h-h don’t tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don’t put me on display
I don’t tell you what to say
Oh-h-h-h don’t tell you what to do
So just let me be myself
That’s all I ask of you
I’m young and I love to be young
I’m free and I love to be free
To life my life the way I want

She wasn’t a success overnight, it took a week.

9: The Peacemaker

Enneagram Test

— your own interpretation goes … here —

Facebook, We Find Out

UPDATE 7/2 13:00 – And now comes the apology from lean in lady, Sheryl Sandberg … Truly, how does this quote from the article not make you gag and continue to not believe anything anyone at Facebook, says about caring about it’s users:

And we will continue to make sure users understand that we care about their privacy. We care about their experience, and we want to do everything we can to give them the best experience we can.”

We find out you can’t truly delete everything in your Facebook account.

We find out Facebook doesn’t care about your privacy until its caught.

We find out they don’t trust their own algorithms to add “dislike” buttons.

We find out they think deliberately changing the mood of their users toward more negative posts is no big deal.

Yes, that’s the latest. In 2012, Facebook and two university psychologists conducted an experiment where they grouped negative posts together in 689,000 users’ news feeds to see if that would result in more negative posts from their 689,000 subjects. There are questions about any value at all to the study, about differences between data and manipulating people to act. The Army and the “Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education” both contributed money to the study.

Here’s some articles on the subject. For once read the comments. I’m on a few of them making points, getting increasingly outraged that people don’t want to examine what’s going on. In order (to the bes tof my knowledge) of publication:

The actual study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal June 2 (before print), titled “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks” (I also downloaded the PDF separately if that link disappears.

June 17 15:26 ET … c|net’s “Facebook – see a happy post, write a happy post” Published before details of how the data was gathered.

June 28 05:00 ET (I think, it says 12:0 PM BST) … Telegraph’s “Facebook conducted secret psychology experiment on users’ emotions” (a lot of comments)

June 28 12:58 ET … Business Insider’s “Facebook Ran A Huge Psychological Experiment on Users And Manipulated The Emotions of more than 600,000 People” (assuming ET)

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-study-emotional-states-transfer-2014-6#ixzz363tjBzbe”

June 28 14:00 ET … Forbes’ “Facebook Manipulated 689,0003 Users’ Emotions for Science

June 28 14:51 ET … The Atlantic’s “Everything we Know about Facebook’s Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment” (a lot of comments)

June 28 15:45 … The Atlantic (via Business Insider) “Even the Editor of Facebook’s Mood Study Thought it Was Creepy

June 28 17:50 ET … Slate’s “Facebook’s Unethical Experiment” This is the first one I read. (A lot of comments)

June 28 18:11 ET … The Wire’s “The Many Reason’s to Dislike Facebook’s Mood Manipulation Experiment

June 28 18:28 ET … Venture Beat “Facebook secret experimented with the moods of 700,000 of its users” (Great Clockwork Orange image, there.

June 29 13:35 ET … PC Mag’s “Facebook Emotional Experiment Annoys Users

June 29 13:43 ET … c|net’s “How Facebook conducts experiments on your emotions

And people are calling me out online for raising questions. Seriously, if someone wants to just bleet “it’s free, shut up” go right ahead. Others want to think a little deeper. (Some just say it’s free, without the “shut up” part).

People excuse EVERYTHING Facebook does on the grounds that it’s free so you can’t complain. Or that you signed the terms of service agreement where it says they will do X or Y or Z so you already knew what you were signing up for. Except, with Facebook in particular, they rarely let people know of changes until after the fact; seemingly only when they are made to do so.

Bad Idea
This idea of “you signed up for and it’s free so quite complaining” comes up in several venues but it just does not make sense. Follow this.

If you start with a company in 2005, let’s say you signed off on something then. At one point do you expect that the company will ask certain outrageous things of you; in this case, that you will be a subject in a psychological experiment. Or that everything you wrote for a site, is suddenly transferred to 100% copyright ownership by that site and its owners. You wrote for free. Previously, the site owners had said they would never go this route, yet didn’t tell you of this change. But you clicked on that “OK” button when asked if you accepted new agreement of services because you were in a hurry to read something else.

Facebook has told us it keeps track of the status updates we never actually post. Like any other site, it will eventually be deeply hacked.

In 2011 after issuing an in-depth complaint against (PDF) the company, the FTC censured Facebook for a whole slew of deceptions:

The social networking service Facebook has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public. The proposed settlement requires Facebook to take several steps to make sure it lives up to its promises in the future, including giving consumers clear and prominent notice and obtaining consumers’ express consent before their information is shared beyond the privacy settings they have established.

There are questions. Ask them

Mom and Dad: No Parenting Schism

What bugs me about all the articles saying being a mom is the hardest job in the world is that they invariably don’t even try to mention, hey, being a dad is often just as hard. It’s happening already but if there’s going to be progress on dads doing their part at home, then there needs to be some acknowledgment that this work is being done. Not so much for the acknowledgement but because not to do so gives the strong impression that the dad’s role is being ignored, and to me at least, it seems like moms (in general) ARE always in need of this acknowledgement, which isn’t the case, either.

So, off this post at Jezebel about a job description for a mom/ mum comes the best comment I’ve read in a while along the same lines, especially point A). From Megan Cook:

I am a mom and it is definitely a lot of work. Different work than my 8-5 corporate gig, but certainly work. But this bugs me for a few reasons.

A.) My husband does all of the same parenting things that I do. 50 / 50. We have different work schedules so we both have the kids by ourselves on our two days a week that we have off. Some days he may do more. Some days I may do more. But it is overall about as close to straight down the middle as I think you can get. So really I am not doing anything more spectacular just because I have a vagina thus making me the mom person.

B.) I most definitely do not have a degree in medicine or culinary arts. Me being able to put a bandaid on a scrapped knee or dose out the right amount of children’s Tylenol does not equate to a medical degree which takes years and years and in the end you can save lives. That is why we have a pediatrician that we trust. Because half the time I don’t know if it is measles or a heat rash I am looking at. Me being able to cook a healthy meal for my kids also does not make me a chef. I know a lot of chefs. They work crazy hours, give up holidays, and in many cases are true artists. My Mac n cheese surprise with broccoli bits is not art. The same way that other moms knowing how to use coupons or keep a household budget is not the same as my financial degree that I worked my ass off for and continue to work my ass off for in my demanding as fuck job and continued education.

So pretty much – this is crap.

I have always thought that everyone should be an equal and tried to accomplish that. (Really, it more inbuilt, it’s not like I’m thinking every day, “try to do better”) tried to be an equal. Not just as a parent but as a partner. That doesn’t mean every day will be 50/50, it doesn’t mean I always succeed but it does mean that overall, there is and both people feel they are contributing to the relationship, to parenting.

Bradley Manning’s Statement After Sentencing

This is a statement from Pfc. Bradley Manning following his sentencing to 35 years in prison on several charges related to releasing state secrets. I do not know if he wrote it all, but to me it seems well thought out. I do wonder if there were other ways to go about it effectively. I think he is a modern-day hero:

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based intentions, it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Why Transformation Seems So Appealing

(I invited someone else here to write about what I always thought was a cool program. Say hello to Eliza Stone who was just really enthused about this show she’s followed for awhile and what it meant about “shedding your skin” and new starts.)

By Eliza Stone

If you were to watch Face Off, you’d notice a few minor format changes over the years. Judges have come and gone, and the grand prize vehicle has become progressively higher end, going from a Toyota Camry Hybrid at season two’s ending to a mouthwatering Fiat 500 at the close of season four.

One thing has remained constant: This show is like no other on television. Yes, it’s essentially a makeup/makeover show, but the freaky sci-fi and prosthetic special effects dynamic makes Face Off a transformation show of a whole other sort. Still, the seed of this show’s appeal is the fact it concerns transformations — otherworldly and bizarre and the better for their absurdity and originality.

The show’s host and judges are all industry experts with tons of collective experience in prostheses and freakish makeup. The contestants are also highly skilled, each with his/her own strengths and weaknesses.

Getting a ringside seat to the behind-the-scenes aspect of movie makeup and prostheses simultaneously demystifies the process while arousing more questions with each new layer peeled back or put on. This is abundantly clear when you watch Face Off online.

For the viewer, watching people and things transform so dramatically and so quickly is another part of the fascination. The theme of transformation, whether embryo to newborn, man to werewolf, ugly duckling to swan, or poor geek girl to rich hot actress, is a compelling theme woven into nearly every part of Western and Eastern culture.

Indeed, the popularity of transformation via surgery is on the rise. According to an infographic posted on the website of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, cosmetic procedures were up by 5% last year, totaling $14.6 million. Streamlined noses, Barbie silhouettes, and perfectly straight and white teeth are becoming the new (desired) norm.

But there are everyday transformations that are equally compelling: Each night we go to bed, surrendering to the transformational power of sleep. We go to the salon and to the mall, hoping to find new inspiration for the changes we’d like to manifest in our lives. We closely follow the various transformations of our favorite celebrities, marking their weight loss, their new haircuts, or their successful graduation from rehab.

R. Buckminster Fuller once said, “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” Fuller, an inventor, designer and theorist, was well aware of the mechanics and inner workings of objects, energy and concepts. The hope of betterment and transcendence a caterpillar represents might have seemed to Fuller a metaphor for all the unlocked potential hidden within each atom, indeed within us all.

Also, that the butterfly resembles no part of its previous incarnation suggests that evolution and material/spiritual rebirth have nothing to do with fancy beginnings. It is the undertaking of any transformation that unleashes individual agency into the world, the mark of authentic power and, ultimately, sublime beauty.

Perhaps this is why so many people are fascinated by transformation, both as an idea and as the premise for a reality show competition? To watch Face Off online allows us to witness how profound it is to create a wholly new outward, and inward, reality. Each week, contestants do more than merely create grotesque makeup effects, they are also inadvertently creating new professional avenues for themselves.

Just competing on the show gives contestants tons of exposure. Winning is more than the sweet $100 grand; it grants the winner entree into the world of pro makeup artists. The networking and financial opportunities are quite respectable. More than faces, contestants transform their lives and careers, making Face Off a riveting, quintessential example of transformation.

Helping Friends Move – Etiquette

I’ve moved a few times in my life – it’s usually the books and papers that make it really hard. I’ve had some help in Arizona. Down to Arizona; a van company that bilked us out of a few $1,000 before they would unload all my stuff. That was to Safford from Kent, Washington. I got there May 11th. All our stuff came later and they dumped it in the house. Then just four months later to Casa Grande. In October, when it was just as hot. Then to Eloy in ?? 2007?? To a house rented from Joe Meacham, fellow reporter. Then to 21st Avenue and Camelback. Then in 2010 to Scottsdale, 83rd Street & Chaparral. Then to our current location.

Mike Hamilton has helped with the chaos the last two times. So, he asked me – through Word With Friends chat – whether I could help him and his family move. I instantly said yes because of the help, before. the two flights of stairs almost made me regret the decision, but luckily we were NOT moving everything – just boxes. I got hot; the boxes were not heavy or huge as I have a tendency to make them. We cleared out the garage, as well. And unloading was much much easier and largely in the shade.

As always, the etiquette is to give back. To be there for friends. To pay back debts. It felt good to be able to give back.

Quadcopters, Juggle, Pong and Ping

Saw this link from friend Matt Clower — http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2013/02/26/juggling-drones-quadcopters-that-can-bounce-catch-and-balance/ and at first I didn’t know whether people were controlling them or they were responding themselves. That it’s on Model Airplane News should be a clue, of course – but turns out it’s not a clue at all. These machines quadcopters / quadrocopters ARE responding to the world around them.

That’s Me

I don’t get into your business – unless I think you’re about to fall, then I give a hand, my body, my soul – and don’t care if you hate me afterward as long as you’re safe.

The Nasty Future of the Web and Its Citizens

I’ve largely been against people willingly “commoditizing” themselves and willingly giving up their privacy just because it seems like a cool trend and, anyways, inevitable.

Here’s further insight into that realm of belief, with commentary from the Slash.dot community, here. So much of that commentary to me – at a quick glance through the first 30 comments or so – seems to be missing the big picture; instead happy to keep the blinkers on, happy to wallow in mediocrity.

 

Fight? Are We Allowed to Mention Our Rights?

“Some people like to be stepped on – some people like to remind others they have rights – whether that’s government or corporations that need to listen. Non-violent – that’s more than OK, it’s a founding principle of humanity.” — Temple Stark

Seems a lot of people are happily gleeful to shoot down the idea that Instagram / Facebook shouldn’t get access to re-purpose people’s photos to make a little money. Seems if you sign the terms of agreement once, any change, no matter the permutation, should just be sucked up. Or you know, you can cancel your presence there. Except there are conflicting reports on whether, even that works.

So, even if some are just jumping because they’re noticing a trend, or whether some have genuine concerns and are scared of losing control of their rights – and their property rights – making a reasoned fuss seems like a better move than to just accept every new violation.

This one isn’t about Instagram being able to sell my photos, it’s about losing control of the rights to my photos and, yes, wondering how widespread my kids’ photos will get and what they’ll be used to sell.

Just saying, “They would never do …” seems incredibly naive. Odd, coming from those calling others naive. I stopped using Instagram the day the Facebook purchase was announced. I view Facebook as a necessary evil at this point and do not trust them, but surely no one would agree it’s not without good reason. I don’t like their “Sponsored Ads” there either. If people had remained silent, Facebook – or any other company – would not have reason to reverse tack.

Sanctimonious sarcasm never works. Lashing out anger rarely ever works. But en masse works, because numbers matter. Even if you’re a minority and the majority is just people who don’t care, you have the right to fight for your rights. That includes mentioning to people who make bad decisions that you really don’t like that.

Many people I notice think that’s great when it comes to government, but think if you’re using a free service, if it’s a corporation, you shouldn’t speak up. Guess what, each change that takes something else, makes the service less free.

[ Further thoughts and facts from Plagiarism Today – The Real Fail Behind Instagram’s TOS … The Verge – No Instagram Can’t Sell Your Photos: What the New Terms of Service Really Mean … Instagram TOS (as of 12/18/2012) – Terms of Use ]

When Politics is So Extreme It’s Apolitical

I used to be interested in politics as a force for good. Now, I just tune in to see the crashes. I don’t have a lot more to say on the subject.

This paragraph of a larger piece written after last night’s first Romney-Obama debate, struck home:

It was probably at this point that my interest in following politics went from sincere interest to something far more craven and black-hearted. I think most politically engaged people have undergone a similarly soul-shriveling realization. You’re not following politics, not anymore; you’re learning the black art of subtly inflicted mnemonics. So you stop listening to what our politicians say and instead start calculating the moron-response factor: How will this play on Main Street? This is the polite, Candy Crowley way of admitting that citizens who can’t be bothered to figure out their own core convictions are now in the socially calamitous position of determining our great nation’s fate. These were the people Obama and Romney were mostly talking to the other night, despite the debate’s astronomically high wonk factor. If we’re measuring debate success by how intimately the Undecideds felt mentally caressed, Mitt Romney was the clear winner, having out-caressed President Obama by a magnitude best measured in fifty shades of gray.

My interest shriveled when cries of racism flew through the air if you didn’t like Obama. And at the same time, Hillary Clinton got actual nasty, rough treatment beyond “just politics” for being a woman – by Democrats. And she was called a racist, too, just for kicks, for her temerity in thinking she could do a better job.