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Social Media and Anonymity Breeds Bullies

Social Media and Anonymity Breeds Bullies

Social Media and Anonymity Breeds Bullies

If you’re reading this, you may have never known a time without social media. Or a time without bullies. For the rest of us, we’ve probably known at least one bully at some point in our life.

To be clear, Merriam-Webster, an online dictionary, defines a bully this way:

It used to be that a bully could just get in your face or call you on the phone or leave you notes in your mailbox or your school locker. Proximity was vital for the bully, so you could try to arrange not to get too close. Not anymore.

With the advent of the internet for almost anyone in the world and social media, anonymity is virtually guaranteed. The distance separating people also practically guarantees that it’s easier to be a bully without consequences.

Cable news shows, with their 24-hour news cycle to fill with content, often fill it with guest “panels” struggling to make their point, usually by making the loudest point. Cable news becomes an example for the rest of us.

So the fact that anyone can be a bully, especially on social media, leads me to offer an example if you need any.

My sister posted in this thread, so I went to check it out. It took place in October of 2012, during the presidential election. Nothing gets bullies more fired up than a presidential election. Instinctively, I saved the thread, not knowing what I would ever do with it, but now I know.

You’ll notice that it starts somewhat reasonably but watch what happens when I, a definite outsider, post a link to something they don’t like. The thread speaks for itself, but I pointed out some things to be sure they were clear.

Unfortunately, I got a little caught up in the fray in a couple of places, but the defensive instinct kicks in, and you realize that whatever you write, none of these people knows where you are, and there’s nothing they can do about whatever you say.

And That’s How Easy It Is to Become a Bully on Social Media.

One way to raise yourself is to put other people down. And if those people are seen as inferior already, always surrounding yourself with people like them, always makes you the biggest fish in a small pond. Don’t ever leave the pond, though. Reality can be daunting.

But this is America. We should be having an exchange of ideas, where the best ones are appreciated. In the acting profession or any other, working with the most talented people encourages a competition that makes the quality of the entire enterprise even better.

Another type of bully is the anonymous one. This one has all the traits of the first, but they’re afraid to be discovered because that’s just it — they’re afraid.

Maybe they’re afraid they’re wrong. Or if people know who they are, they could be punished. Note the extremists who lost their jobs and homes when we discovered who they were. Or maybe they’ve always found it easier to strike and run away before the going gets tough.

We’ve Always Been Told to Stand Up to Bullies.

I’m suggesting a corollary to that advice. Let’s not become them. If we do, we become a world of cowardly bullies, and we already have too many.

Think about it. I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with the names of some well-known bullies even if you’re not on Facebook, or Snapchat, or Twitter.

My Daddy, The Alien

My Daddy, The Alien

My Daddy, The Alien

Oh, boy. Tomorrow is Saturday, and that means Daddy and I are going to play the “Alien Monster” game just as soon as he gets off from work at lunchtime!

That may not mean much to you if you’re a grownup, but to a kid of 10 (going on 20, Mommy says), it’s my big chance to show him that I’m ready to be a man too.

Mommy always says I’m big for my age, and I think I have just the “trick” to bring him down this time. I’ll need to get Tony and Maria to help me, and they’re just little kids, but I’m pretty sure they’ll do it if I can come up with the right price.

So here’s how it’s going down. Daddy only works a half-day on Saturday, so he’ll be home around 12:30. Maria, she’s only 7, is going to meet him at the front door, all crying and everything. She’s really good at that.

Daddy’s going to be trying to find out what’s wrong, and he’ll be all kinds of sweet to her, but she’ll just cry and pretend like she can’t talk about it.

That’s when Tony and I get in place. (I’m George, by the way.) We’ll set up outside the back door. I’ll be on one side, and Tony will be on the other with the blanket, and we’ll both be hiding in the bushes on either side.

When we’re ready, I’ll give a little whistle. Maria is going to tell Daddy that Tony hit her and lead him outside the back door to show him where Tony is. And as soon as he gets outside past the bushes, we are on him! This alien may be big and strong, but let’s see him get away from a big 10-year-old, a big 8-year-old and a 7-year-old!

The Alien May Be On to Us Though.

Daddy has been acting strangely lately. He looks out the windows a lot. Sometimes he’ll even stop what we’re doing and shush us to be quiet so that he can listen to something outside. Mommy does this too. I think they do this to throw us off track, because all of a sudden, after looking for a few seconds, he’ll laugh and tell us he thought he heard “aliens” outside.

I can’t take all the credit for this game. My big brother, Carl, who’s a senior at Princeton University, made it up. He got us going before he left for college and told me the best way to beat the “Alien.” Surprise him. Daddy’s bigger and stronger, but that won’t work against the three of us if he’s under the blanket.

Okay, Daddy, let’s see how many aliens you see tomorrow from under a blanket!

Knock, knock. Knock, knock. Immigration! Open up!

What time is it? What’s going on downstairs? Sounds like a lot of people!

Tony and I are racing downstairs, and I win. When we get there, it looks like there’s an army surrounding Mommy and Daddy. Mommy is crying, and they’re putting handcuffs on Daddy. What is going on here? Three soldiers are holding Daddy, even though he can’t do anything in handcuffs. Maria is crying and holding on to Mommy around the legs, and Mommy can’t move.

Daddy sees us and yells out, “Jorge! Antonio! ¡Vuelve arriba! ¡Mami te lo explicará más tarde!”

I look at Tony, and he looks at me, and in one Spiderman move, we’re over the railing and all over the biggest soldier holding Daddy.

Mommy starts to scream, which sets Maria screaming. I think we’re winning because we manage to pull him away from Daddy, but the other two grab us from behind and pull us off him. Now Daddy’s yelling. I can’t tell if he’s still yelling at the soldiers or us, but it seems like he’s crying, too.

When the soldiers put us down, Mommy grabs us and drags Maria over too. When everything gets quiet, the soldiers walk Daddy out the door. He’s crying, I think, and Mommy’s watching him go and squeezing the air out of us.

The Man of the House Now

That’s me until Carl gets home. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, or when Daddy will be back, but I’m gonna do my best. I spoke to Carl on the phone, and he’s leaving school in New Jersey and will be here tomorrow. Mommy told him how we attacked the soldier, and Carl said he was proud of us.

It turns out that they weren’t soldiers, but their helmets and guns sure made ‘em look like soldiers. Carl said they were from something called ICE. Sure looked like soldiers to me.

Mommy says that Daddy didn’t do anything wrong, but it’s something that his mom and dad did a long time ago. That doesn’t make sense. If he didn’t do anything wrong, why did they take Daddy? Are they gonna make him pay for what his parents did? That’s stupid. Are they gonna take me for something that Mommy or Daddy did?

Spics Go Home!

We can’t go outside because there are people all over in front of the house carrying signs, and cameras, and microphones trying to get in. There are also police keeping them back in the street. One sign says, “Spics Go Home!” I don’t know what a Spic is, but I’m sure they don’t live here.

I don’t feel much like I’m ten going on 20 today ’cause I don’t get it. What happened? Maybe Carl can explain it better when he gets here tomorrow ’cause when Mommy isn’t on the phone, she’s crying. And, she’s crying on the phone, too. Maria won’t let go of Tony, and Tony just kind of stares at me with big, sad eyes. At one point, he asks me if Daddy will be back in time to play “Alien Monster” tomorrow.

I don’t know, but I don’t think so.

When Is the Last Time You Saw an AR-15 Walking Down the Hall?

When Is the Last Time You Saw an AR-15 Walking Down the Hall?

When Is the Last Time You Saw an AR-15 Walking Down the Hall?

Oh, really? “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”

Let’s make this simple. There are two parts of this statement and if we removed the word “don’t”, both parts would be correct. But the original statement as offered by Wayne LaPierre of the NRA is not only a misleading lie, it’s designed to abdicate responsibility for the people wielding those guns.

We could also say that it isn’t the gun; it’s the bullet. This becomes the corollary to one of my father’s favorite quotes, “It’s not the fall that kills you; it’s the sudden stop.”

But, let’s get back to the original question.

Guns (AR-15s in particular) don’t walk or slither or crawl. They are inanimate objects designed for one thing and one thing only. They are designed to rapidly and effectively kill anything in front of them. They don’t decide to let something in front of it live or die. If something is in the path of its trajectory, it is going to be maimed or die.

So who decides: life or death?

The Gun or The Holder of the Gun? If you answered anything other than The Holder of the Gun, you are probably not as bright as you think you are. The AR-15 is a tool, something to make a human’s job easier. The mass shooter (school, movie theater, concert, nightclub, etc.) may accomplish their goals without an assault rifle, but it would take longer and he/she stands a much greater chance of being killed or stopped before completing their task. It only makes sense to use a more efficient weapon for that task.

Note that I said in the previous paragraph that I called the weapon an assault rifle. There are many articles on the web dealing with the origins and history of the AR-15, but I think you will find this one of the most complete and unbiased around.

One of the common threads is that the AR does NOT stand for assault rifle. In fact, it is currently (and laughingly sold as a “Sporting Rifle”). While it was originally designed for the military, it was designed by a company called ArmaLite (hence, the Armalite Rifle), who then sold the designs to Colt Firearms. Due to a variety of conflicts, the AR-15 model was sold first to civilians before the decision was made by the Army to buy it and rename it the M-16.

And by all means, let’s arm everyone so that as good guys, we are the only ones that can stop a bad guy with a gun!

Can you see it now? You’re inside the gas station, along with a dozen other customers looking for goods when the robber pulls a gun on the cashier. Obviously, he has nothing to lose, so when all of your untrained new-found friends pull their weapons as he runs and fires at the first person available, the circular firing squad opens up. He may not be the first to die, but I’m pretty sure he won’t be the last.

An AR-15 was designed for War and killing people.

Sporting Rifle? What sport? Bullshit. Ban it. Ban it now. And follow the lead of other countries who have grown tired of watching mass murders, so they’ve made obtaining these weapons extremely difficult to get.

Finally, are we really arguing about:

  • whether it is better to ban a certain type of weapon that our lawmakers profit from,
  • or do nothing about making it easier for sick, demented people to kill our unprotected citizens again, and again, and again, and again, and again?

Call your federal lawmakers and make sure they hear how fired up you are! End the Insanity!

The Real Problem with America

The Real Problem with America

The Real Problem with America

Yeah, I know, you may have a different answer or answers, but to me, if we can fix this one, we’ll have brighter, more informed minds electing brighter, more dedicated public servants to truly represent them to solve the other issues.

I went to college with one goal in mind: to learn how to think. One can always look up facts and information. The goal is to learn how to process that information, to reason, how to find the right facts. With the ability to think, one can always deduce certain other bits of information. The thinking process gives us the ability to discern more information from what we already know and the tools to eliminate the wheat from the chaff. That’s what education should be doing.

Curiosity and education helped us to refine the fields of science and engineering to eliminate that which didn’t make sense and gave us more and better tools, which we use to further our body of knowledge.

Unless We Stimulate Our Minds and Encourage That Curiosity To Learn More,
We Are Doomed To The Status Quo

Imagine, if you will, the youth of the world will be told that their schooling will end after the 8th grade. Of course, some will be happy, but millions upon millions, seeing the accomplishments and failures of the previous generations, could find themselves lost and despairing. Curiosity, combined with the ability to reason (think), has made the world what it is today, for good or ill. And education is the institutionalized means to foster those traits. If we were not gifted with the heights of brilliance that so few of our species have attained, we can still learn to contribute and make this world a better place.

With all of that in mind, I’m going to confirm here something I’ve been observing for many years. The pattern I’ve seen across so much of our country is that Republican legislators, under the guise of fiscal responsibility (austerity), have sought to undermine our schools. They know that uninformed voters will buy into their sound bites without bothering to question their veracity. The easiest way to get elected is to lie to low-information voters. They will either not bother or be unable to discern fact from fiction.

All this research below is based on globally available information, so please prove it for yourself. The premise is basically this:

How Effective Is The Educational System in Red States
(Mostly Republican Voters)?

In each of the five following charts, our sample is for 60% of the states ranked lowest in the country. Of the 50 states, I’m going to look at the bottom-ranked 30. Note that these studies are not saying that people are stupid. They are showing where the state education system failed them.

The first one we will look at is College Readiness. (Click the links to see the data.) These statistics were published by the two testing organizations that colleges rely upon to determine student admissions, ACT, and SAT scores for 2017. So, for our sample, 80% of those students were unprepared for college, and they all came from Red (Republican) States. This begs the question either: what the hell were they doing for 12 years, or what minimal subjects were they being prepared for proficiency?

Next, the measurement is for High School Graduation. This means how many of the students who started in ninth grade graduated from high school? This one is a little bit better because, in our sample, 70% of the students from Red states did graduate from high school. Are we sure that’s a good thing if 70% graduated high school but they weren’t prepared for college?

The next two studies come from what the US Department of Education calls “The Nation’s Scorecard”. In Math and Reading, 77% of the lowest scores in our sample come from the Red States.

Finally, the statistics rank Spending per Pupil for each state. Again, 77% of the lowest scores in our sample come from the Red States. Surprise, surprise. What would you expect after looking at the other rankings?

And Yet, Most of These People Insist, Many Times with Rabid Ferocity,
That They Are Well-Informed

because all they listen to is the likes of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart.com, Alex Jones at InfoWars.com, and any other conspiracy theory that comes down the pike. This is undoubtedly due to the Dunning-Kruger effect. In short, the Dunning-Kruger effect is defined thusly in Wikipedia:

In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metacognitive inability of low-ability persons to recognize their own ineptitude; without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.

By the way, something else I’ve said for many years is the following:

How Do You Convince Someone To Vote Republican?
Promise To Lower Their Taxes Because That’s All They Really Care About

Think about that one for a while. Democrats are smeared with the “tax and spend” reputation by Republicans who cut taxes. Then, when Democrats regain power, they end up raising taxes to pay for everything the Republicans couldn’t pay for. It’s a vicious cycle.

So, here’s a thought. Why don’t we vote for governing representatives and leaders who value education and visions of the future that will enable the students of today to solve the problems of tomorrow? Especially since we created them.

I rest my case.

Landslides, Mandates, and other BS … period

Landslides, Mandates, and other BS … period

Landslides, Mandates, and other BS … period

I like facts. In fact, I love my facts real and raw, no seasoning to make them more palatable, no additions or subtractions to change the context because a fact is a fact, is a fact, but an alternative fact is simply a lie. For example, did you ever see or hear this quote: “… money is the root of all evil”? Of course, but if the preceding three dots (the ellipses) were replaced by the missing text, “ For the love of money is the root of all evil” (King James Bible) and gives us some context, it’s different, isn’t it? Money isn’t the problem. LOVE of money is the problem. You could even say that it was spun to meet a particular interpretation.

But we’re getting used to that, aren’t we? A definition of a “landslide” electoral college victory, according to PolitiFact.com, could be, “If your share of the electoral vote ranks behind Martin Van Buren’s, then you did not win in a landslide” and “Trump’s percentage doesn’t rank near the top. It actually ranks near the bottom, belonging somewhere between the lowest one-fourth and the lowest one-fifth of all Electoral College victories in history”.

And if we take the final popular vote into account (no, no, no, there was no massive voter fraud), Clinton beat Trump by 2.1% of the votes cast or 2,864,974 people.

So now Trump and Fox and Friends say they have a mandate to execute the will of the people.

“This election was not close. It was not a squeaker,” Mrs. Conway said on “Fox News Sunday.” “There is a mandate there, and there is a mandate for his 100-day agenda, as well.”

In fact, if the three swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania had gone the other way, Clinton would be President today. Think about it: if only 77,747 more people had voted for Clinton in those three states alone, this national nightmare would never have happened. And of the 136,629,046 people who cast votes overall, that is only 5.7 percent of one percent. Stated more simply, of every 10,000 people in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, if only 57 had switched from Trump to Clinton, the Electoral College would have gone to Clinton.

As it stands, I’m pretty sure the current outcome is neither a landslide nor a mandate.

Gerrymandering

Another reason the will of the people isn’t being heard is gerrymandering. Every ten years, after the census, state legislatures redraw their congressional districts. The party in power, however, always gets to redraw them to the disadvantage of the other party. Both parties do it, but the Republicans are absolute masters at it.

In 2012, Democratic House candidates won 1.7 million more votes than Republicans, but Republicans wound up with a 33-seat advantage-a clear result of gerrymandering.”

”The real challenge to democracy is that we live in a closely divided country controlled at nearly all levels by Republicans. In our 50/50 nation, Republicans control 69 of 99 legislative chambers, including veto-proof supermajorities in some states where they get fewer total votes.

Buyer’s Remorse

Americans Think Trump Will Be Worst President Since Nixon

The link above is a recent and telling poll from Public Policy Polling with lots of information, but the facts I probably find most interesting are these: (emphasis added by me)

Voters split evenly in their appraisals of his job performance with 44% approving and 44% disapproving of him. These are historically awful numbers for a newly elected President . When it comes to Trump’s favorability rating, only 44% of voters see him positively to 50% with a negative opinion.

For the most part Americans don’t buy claims about Trump having had the biggest crowds in history at his inauguration last weekend, although there’s still a substantial portion of his base that goes along with him :

-Only 18% of voters overall think Trump’s inauguration had the biggest crowd of any Presidential inauguration in history, to 62% who think it didn’t. 34% of Trump voters do still say they think he had the biggest crowd ever though , to 32% who say he didn’t, and 34% who aren’t sure.

-Only 21% of voters overall think that Trump had a bigger crowd for his inauguration than Barack Obama, to 61% who think Obama had bigger crowds. 43% of Trump voters do still think that he had a bigger crowd for his inauguration though, to 26% who grant that it was Obama, and 32% who say they aren’t sure.

-Only 29% of voters overall think that Trump’s inauguration had a bigger crowd than the women’s march, to 54% who think the women’s march had a bigger crowd. 59% of Trump voters insist though that his inauguration had a bigger crowd than the women’s march , to just 20% who say the march was bigger. Trump voters also have an explanation for why so many women turned out last weekend- 38% think the marchers were paid to do so by George Soros, to 33% who say they don’t think that was the case, and 29% who aren’t sure.

Buried slightly in this polling is this fact: If you support Trump, you apparently believe anything he says and none of what you read here. To quote Chico Marx (while impersonating Groucho in Duck Soup),

Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes ?

He has tapped into the hate and fear of his supporters who feel deprived of all they think is being taken away from them by the “establishment” and has given them an outlet for their frustration: Muslims, Mexicans, and other “foreigners.” And the “Establishment” has earned every bit of that frustration.

What to do, what to do?

From Chris Cillizza who writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for The Washington Post:

All White Houses leak. Sometimes the leaks are big, sometimes small. But there are always people willing to talk to reporters about the “real” story or about why the chief executive made a mistake in regard to some decision he made.

That said, I’ve never seen so much leaking so quickly — and with such disdain for the president — as I have in the first six days of Donald Trump’s presidency.”

From Eric Levitz at the New Yorker’s Daily Intelligencer:

Trump Aides Keep Leaking Embarrassing Stories About How He Can’t Handle Embarrassment.

Under the category of “Ya don’t say?”

According to USNews, John D. Gartner, a practicing psychotherapist who taught psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, minces as few words as the president in his professional assessment of Trump.

Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president,” says Gartner, author of “In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography.” Trump, Gartner says, has “malignant narcissism,” which is different from narcissistic personality disorder and which is incurable.

The “I” word is even coming up in polite conversation.

The Inevitability Of Impeachment

Donald Trump Impeachment Calls Continue

What Will the Republicans Do?

Really, they need him to sign their bills, but how long can sane, but big-money operators, continue to pretend that they either like, believe, or trust him? Or even think for one second that they can control him?

If you’re reading this and don’t support Trump, you probably know all or most of it because you, my brothers and sisters, are incensed and enraged at the danger our country is in because of this Con man. I’m just trying to communicate that rage, get it out, and do something positive with it.

If he were just a Con man, that would be one thing. But he’s bat-shit crazy, and when his lips move or his fingers tweet, he lies. Big time. He simply can’t help himself.

So here’s my prediction, for what it’s worth (yeah, yeah, not much). As soon as the polls dip precipitously low and show that Trump ain’t coming back (like all those coal jobs), Pence becomes the man. Either that or the Secret Service detail goes on an all-night bender (as they have been known to do). Donny is found in the lake the next morning at Camp David, because he’s an excellent ice skater, ya know, even at 3:00 am with his ice skates on backward and in his pajamas — in July.