Saturday, November 12, 2016
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
After several debates, and no matter the amount of pain it may cause me personally (yes, I do have a candidate I like, but I don't do endorsements in the primary elections), I'm going to give my take on the current field of Presidential Candidates. I will put their most recent polling numbers after their names. If I cause you pain, because I've picked on your favorite candidate, please rest assured, I've also picked on mine. Truth is far more important than defending one's personal choice at any cost. Every single candidiate has flaws, and life will go a lot easier if we recognize them, rather than blindly defending any and all actions, because when "He's my guy" or "She's my girl". So without further unnecessary bloviating (okay, maybe it's all unnecessary, but freedom of speech and all that jazz), here we go.
Donald Trump (38%) I have never seen him as a serious candidate, and I don't really care what his poll numbers say. I still believe that his stance on immigration is the only reason he has the numbers he has, and the only reason he has so many conservatives backing him, despite the fact that just a short 18 months ago, he wasn't really a conservative. He's going to build a wall, we get it. I'm all for the wall, I just don't think Mexico is going to pay for it, and I still question the feasibility of kicking out 16 million people. Outside of immigration? He looks like someone who has some serious knowledge gaps. He knows nothing about our nucleear arsenal and where it fits into national defense, he's talking about banning certain people from using the internet (who decides which people? And what right do they have to decide it?), his stance on eminent domain is terrible, and I'm really tired of hearing how rich he is. I liked the analogy I heard last night. He looks less presidential and more like he is trying to do an impression of Jim Carey circa Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
Ted Cruz (15%) I realize a lot of Christians like Ted Cruz, because, well, he's a Chrisitan. Announcing his candidacy at Liberty University was a political move, sure, but a genius political move. He knows where his bread is buttered. There's just been something about him. My husband and I have been trying to pinpoint it since the first debate, and what I saw of him last night, it's still lurking there, rubbing me the wrong way. He comes off like a politician, slick, and sometimes a little smarmy. My husband thinks he sounds like a televangelist. His foreign policy occasionally rubs me the wrong way. He seems almost semi-isolationist, trying to stay in the middle on issues like ISIS. (No boots on the ground, we can do it from the air.) He was for legalizing illegals (2013) before he was against it (2015). That was an outright lie he told last night in the debate. I get the feeling he's taking whatever positions he can to try to siphon off support from other candidates, and I'm starting to wonder what his real views are.
Marco Rubio (12%) Marco has a couple of problems. His immigration issues come up first, and they are big ones. He was a sponsor of a bill that offered a path to citizenship for a bunch of people who broke the law to come here. I think if you want to be a citizen, it starts with going through the proper channels to get here. I also question his stance on the NSA program. While I believe we need to do what we can to stop terrorist attacks, I don't believe that means we need to violate constituational protections to do it. People who are not citizens of the US are not necessarily subject to the same constitutional freedoms as those who are. You just can't have and retain the phone call records of an American citizen without a warrant. Patrick Henry said it best.... "Give me liberty, or give me death". I'm not giving up my freedom for safety. I don't want Marco's NSA spying on me anymore than I want Barack's NSA spying on me.
Ben Carson (12%) I just don't think Ben is ready to be President. I'm also not sure he has the ability to fight the way people have to fight to be President. He's soft spoken, maybe too laid-back. I know he stepped on the toes of the pro-lifers when he said that both sides of the abortion debate need to tone down their rhetoric, and I think that really had a negative impact on his poll numbers. He needs more energy. He tends to put people to sleep.
Jeb Bush (5%) No more Bushes. I'm almost positive we fought a war to get out from under the crown and the royalty, and between the Clintons and the Bushes, it seems like now we have dynasties and royalty. Two was enough. That whole family doesn't need to run for President to prove a point. On top of that, a candidate needs to have both a good foreign and domestic policy. Jeb Bush supports open borders, even if he won't admit it. Jeb Bush lobbies for Common Core, which is No Child Left Behind on Steroids. He's a big government Republican. Just no more.
Chris Christie (4%) I like Chris. Too many people can not get the picture out of their heads of him hugging the President a few short days before the 2012 election. The media destroyed him during Bridge-gate, and it doesn't matter that there is no evidence he had anything to do with it. Christie also doesn't play nice with the media, and while some of us really enjoy that, I'm not sure how negatively that reflects on him during a general election. I think he will have trouble in the south. It's very hard for northeastern politicians to make a big splash in the southern states.
John Kasich (2%) Most of the country still has no idea who this guy is. Who is John Kasich? He spends too much time at Republican Debates spouting Democrat talking points. Not a good way to win this primary. He's a major hawk on foreign policy, and a major progressive on domestic policy. Neither one of those is going to play well. Sorry dude, but when no one knows who you are, you should maybe slide off the stage.
Rand Paul (2%) Domestic policy rocks, foreign policy is so atrocious, it disqualifies him from being President. Donald Trump doesnt know much, but at least he pretends to want to make some changes in our policies over seas. Rand Paul wouldn't lead from behind, he wouldn't lead at all when it comes to foreign matters. I said about Jeb Bush that a candidate needs a good domestic and foreign policy. It's still true down here.
Carly Fiorina (1%) She made a splash in the beginning, but we are getting tired of hearing about breast cancer and her HP experience. It's not enough. She lacks the knowledge to hold this job. I like her, but liking someone only extends so far.
That's it. No one else even deserves a mention, because they don't even rate a full percentage point in the national polls. That's it. I'm not doing the Democrats, because they all believe the same things. Really. They do. Free stuff, higher taxes on the rich, open immigration policy. The only difference is in their gender and age, and unless something big happens, it's going to be Clinton.
There's my take. You don't have to like it, but at least do yourself the service of not blindly following or defending any candidate. Seek the real truth. I just realized I had nothing positive to say. My guess is we all know the positives, because we've staked our claim to a candidate already. Positives? Almost every candidate up there, with the excpetion of Rand Paul, recognizes our need for a strong defense, and most of them are willing to call our enemies by name. Most of them, with a few exceptions, believe we need to strengthen our border. Most of them realize that we need to cut spending, because we are broke. It's the negative that makes the decisions people.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
I love football. I am almost positive that I started another post like that a couple of years ago. I am also pretty sure that this will be the third post I have written about football. As many of my posts on this blog are political in nature, those of you who read this should have come to the conclusion that, well, I love football. Sixteen guaranteed games a year (a few more if your team is any good), and in this house, we pretty much count the days from the end of one season to the beginning of the next. After the Flyers and Sixers have disappointed us again, and after the first few months of baseball have us convinced that the Phillies are once again going to tank, we start actively counting down the days until mini-camp, training camp, pre-season, and then... FOOTBALL!!!! Three of the members of this household play fantasy football. Almost every game that is televised is broadcast in our house. We love football.
The very nature of the game of football is violent. It's useless to pretend otherwise. You can't possible sit down and watch four quarters of football and not see at least one player get hurt. It's usually more than one, although, thankfully, they aren't always taken of the field in a cart or an ambulance. But honestly, in the course of a game whose entire goal is to get the ball past the goal line, and the other team's goal is to make sure that not only does that not happen, but that they have to get you down on the field for the play to be called dead? Yes, violence IS the game of football. So far this year, in the many games I've watched, I've seen a broken collarbone, a shoulder injury, two torn ACL's and numerous likely concussions. All of this is so that I can set you up to understand that in a game, where the very rules demand a certain level of violence, there are bound to be injuries, and some of those injuries can and will be life changing. If you want to deny that fact, it's probably best if you stop reading this blog right now.
In rare instances, a player ends up paralzyed, or worse, but those are very rare occurances. It's slightly less rare that a player is taken out with what ends up being a career ending injury. Even still, with medical advances, those injuries occur less often than they used to. There are a fair share of season ending injuries, the kind the player can come back from, but sometimes he's never really the same. However, the vast majority of injuries are the four to eight week injuries. The minor broken bones, the strained muscles, the concussions. It's the last one that only takes a player out for a few weeks, and yet, might end up belonging in the first category. The life-changing, and in some cases, life-taking, injuries.
Just a few years back, the NFL was dragged through the mud in the media, and then hauled before a Congressional committee over the long term effects of head injuries, specifically concussions. The majority of the research was done by Boston University, but a neuropathologist in Pittsburgh, Dr. Bennett Omalu, was the first to diagnose Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in former NFL Player, Mike Webster. The researchers in Boston, over the space of several years, saw more cases. When research commissioned by the NFL was discovered to have come to some of the same conclusions, well, the NFL was in hot water. Commissioner Roger Goodell began to institute changes to the game, penalties us football lovers have become more than acquainted with: Helmet to Helmet, Hit on a Defenseless Receiver, Leading with the Head. All penalties that could have fines levied if the NFL thinks the hit was brutal enough. To many people it seemed like the NFL got into the act late in the game. Shocking deaths of NFL players like Junior Seau made it clear that there was a problem, and that problem was directly related to the violence of the sport. But....if you take out all the violence is it even football anymore? And honestly, while American Football is one of the most profitable sports, and the sport with the largest US television audience, is it the only sport that should have been hauled before Congress (don't they have better things to do????) and had the comissioner grilled about head injuries? What about hockey? Lacrosse? Rugby? Soccer? Gymanstics? How many lesser known sports have the same possibility?
Flyers Captain, Keith Primeau, had his hockey career ended by head injuries. The head trainer of the Flyers told him after his fourth concussion that they would never let him back on the ice. He is still dealing with the effects.
US Gold-Medal Soccer team player, Cindy Parlow, retired from soccer, also because of injuries she sustained during the game. Seems bouncing the ball off your head might not be the best idea.
Even though I haven't looked up the cases and players, I can guarantee you that Rugby and Lacrosse probably have more than a few of these cases, and gymanstics is a sport that is brutal on all parts of the body, and trust me, gymnasts fall on their heads. Even they will tell you that.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE, is a traumatic brain injury, and unitl recently was thought to be confined to the sport of boxing. It's caused by repeated Minor Traumatic Brain Injuries (MTBIs). Not sure how you can consider any brain injury minor, but it's the difference betweeen headaches and blurry vision, and in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and wires. When your head gets hit hard enough, it causes your brain to move around inside your skull, and it does that very quickly. Over time, these injuries cause breakages in the microtubules that run between different parts of the brain, allowing it to communicate. The worse the injuries, the more times they occur, tau proteins become defective and no longer stabilize the microtubules. Communication breaks down and you see things like memory loss, loss of focus, and behavioral instability.
Among the worst cases you see suicide, like Andre Waters (Eagles) and Junior Seau (Chargers). The last count I looked at, out of the 79 brains that Boston University's CTE study had looked at, 78 had the markers for CTE. That's pretty damning evidence of a problem.
Some of the NFL's problem is related to what appears to be their intention to not seriously investigate, and possibly cover up, the connections between head injuries sustained in football and CTE. Had they been more proactive, there is a real possibility they wouldn't have been skewered to the extent they were, and I believe rightly deserved. The truth is, if more mothers were aware of this, how many of them would sign that release form for high school football? If kids stop playing high school football, where would college talent come from? Without college talent, what happens to the NFL's ready made talent pool?
Now, as far as I know, almost all the, if not all of the brains sectioned and studied by BU came from players who died before their time, sometimes via suicide. My feeling is, until they start sectioning and studying the brains of players who have not suffered an unusual or early death, we are still in the dark as to how prevalent the problem is. An NFL Roster has 53 players (not including the practice squad which is an additional 10 players). Which means one NFL team during a single season contains 2/3 of the players whose brains have been examined over the last several years. Those aren't sufficient numbers to get any idea of the scope of the disease. It is possible that the majority of players don't end up suffering from CTE, and that opens a whole new can of worms as to why some people are susceptible to it, and others aren't. It will take more than a decade to compile the amount of information needed to figure out the prevalance and whether there is a genetic pre-dispositition. And I do believe the NFL has taken steps to protect the players as best as they can in a sport where punishing hits aren't just a part of the game, they are practically the rules of the game. I am in no way clamoring for football to cease. I think we would lose something that is as American as apple pie and baseball. I simply think we need to be aware of the dangers.
We need to be aware, because this year, all across the country, parents won't simply sign releases for high school football. They will also sign them for pee-wee and middle school football. And if you think that long-term damage in NFL players is tragic, imagine what can happen to children, taking and delivering the brutal hits of football, with brains that have not even fully developed. Imagine those child hockey players getting their heads shoved into the boards, or those child soccer players constantly pounding their heads into a ball. If you knew your child could suffer long term damage from the sport they play, damage that could lead them to commit suicide at the age of 17 or 21, would you be so willing to sign that release?
When a player chooses to enter college on a scholarship or the NFL draft, they are at an age where they are capable of understanding the risks of the sport they play. If they are willing to pay that price, that is entirely up to them. Eight year olds have no idea, and as parents, our goal is to protect our children. So before you sign the release, read this again, read more about it from other places, and make an informed decision. Football, soccer, hockey and many other sports carry an inherent risk. It's your job to decide if the risk is worth it.
Friday, June 26, 2015
Saturday, November 15, 2014
I saw this cartoon this morning on Facebook, and I thought "wow, what a bunch of fallacies." This cartoon embodies the majority of Democratic Talking Points since 2008 (with a notable absence of the "War on Women" theme... hmm... wonder why).
The thing with this cartoon is, many of these arguments can't be boiled down into signs. They aren't bumper sticker slogans. They are real issues, with much deeper thought processes. I'm going to take just a few.
1) We want dirtier air and water so CEO's can make more money.
This issue has to do with the Environment. It stems from things like the Kyoto Protocol, and various other internationally pushed treaties to help prevent Global Warming, er um... sorry, Climate Change. Recently our President made a deal with China, whereby we cut our Greenhouse Gas Emissions, while they commit to maybe, possibly, making changes 20 years down the road. The problem with all of these solutions is that they cost the American Taxpayer a lot of money, while the benefits are a lowering of Global Temperatures by less than half a degree.
NOBODY wants dirtier air and dirtier water, and contrary to popular opinion it has nothing to do with CEO's making more money. (For instance, are you aware that both the Federal Government and the State Governments make more money off a gallon of gas than the Oil Companies?) It has to do with Americans not wishing to be punished at the pump, or at their natural gas lines that heat their houses, for regulations that do little to combat the so-called pollution everyone is screaming about. If we are going to have to pay astronomically more money, we'd like a larger return on our investment, than say, the EPA declaring the puddle in my backyard a "wetland".
2)Send our jobs overseas.
Recently, there was a huge flap in the news when the Burger King Corporation bought out Canadian chain Tim Hortons, and proceeded to decide they were going to move their corporate headquarters to Canada. How un-patriotic of them. Of course, the un-patriotic part was that Burger King was taking their profits to a more friendly tax zone. Canada's corporate tax rate is 26.7%. The United States? 40%. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Also, jobs being sent overseas has a lot to do with onerous regulation in the United States. I think we need to elect people willing to give incentive for having businesses in the US, whoever those people are.
3)Stop giving us benefits from our tax money.
This is the most ridiculous of the signs up there. 90% of the taxes I pay don't equal a single benefit for me. Social Security and Medicare come out separate from the federal tax rate. The ACA? raised my rates, my deductible, and my willingness to seek medical treatment. 2 years ago? I didn't have any of those problems. I don't qualify for a single government benefit. So my tax money is paying for benefits for other people, not me. I'd rather keep my money. Not all of it mind you. I realize a need for some social safety net, and of course, I'd happily pay more if we raised the salaries of our military. But the surfer dude in California who doesn't want to get a job and lives off food stamps? No thanks.
4) Pave our farmlands.
What? You do realize that of industrialized nations, the US has quite a bit of open space? Like vast swaths of the middle of the country and the northern part of the country, and... There is the reason the East Coast is considered a population center. There is a reason that we jokingly refer to everything west of Pittsburgh and East of Los Angeles "Flyover Country". As a matter of fact, there are states where the Feds own more land than the rest of the residents combined. Please explain to me what politician has advocated paving over farm land? Is this even a serious argument?
5)Yes to costly healthcare.
I'm so over this one it's not even funny. The ACA was supposed to bend the cost curve down, which no one now even admits to saying it was going to do. Not only that, but my healthcare has become more expensive and needed medications have been tossed out. Yes, needed medications. My husband is not on his last legs. He works 3 jobs, plays softball, and still does all the work around the house. He's not dying anytime soon. He's a productive member of society. And his needed medication has been denied ever since the ACA took effect. They don't think he needs the medicine he's been taking for 4 years. But my daughter can get her birth control for free! As Mr. Gruber reminded us Healthy people have to pay more into the system so the sicker people don't. That's right. If you are healthy you are now paying for someone else's healthcare, and I'm doing it at the expense of my own. (See, my unwillingness to go see a Doctor since my $8K deductible ensures I have to pay for it.) And now, you can just pay the penalty for not having healthcare, wait until you get sick, and not only will you get coverage, but you won't have to pay a dime more than the person who's been paying for coverage for 20 years. What a plan. It didn't make healthcare cheaper, it really didn't insure that many uninsured people, and everyone else has sub-par healthcare.
That's just five of those signs. Other ones I can't even respond to, because at no point has it been an issue, raised by a single politician. Just because Tom Steyer thinks "Climate Change" is the number one issue, doesn't mean it is, as his last election track record shows. (His "dark money" track record... to the tune of 60 million dollars.)
What people who don't live here don't understand, and may NEVER understand, is that the United States was founded on one major principle. Freedom. That principle runs through every phrase in our constitution. Just because it's not your governing philosophy doesn't mean it's wrong, and honestly, if our philosophy is so bad, why do so many people risk their lives to come here? They raft across open water, crawl through ditches and tunnels, and risk getting shot at by unhappy property owners, just for the chance to be here. Freedom. This country, and it's ruling philosophy is unique, and I get that it leaves socialistic Europeans scratching their heads, but you don't live here. And it appears that your arguments against our ruling philosophy are boiled down to a cartoon with a bunch of signs that are meaningless in US political debate. Dude, they aren't even good arguments.
Friday, October 3, 2014
Wait, one more disclosure. I had someone recently tell me that the entirety of #GamerGate was about a bunch of misogynistic, racist, MRA pondscum, or something like that. I agreed to disagree with him, because frankly, he's a blogger who I generally like reading his things, and I didn't want to start a war in which I would wipe the floor with him. His entirety of the subject came from a few feminist-centric gaming journalism sites, and the real point of #GamerGate is a knife in gaming journalism. He's not about to get an unbiased opinion from them.
Towards the middle of August, I was reading my regular news sites, and I came across an article about Feminists bullying gamers and developers in the gaming industry. This was my introduction to #GamerGate, the politics of gaming and gaming journalism, and a person who I had never heard of before, Zoey Quinn. Zoey Quinn is an independent (indie) game developer who released a game on Steam known as Depression Quest. If you are not in the mood to turn on Radiohead's Creep and slit your wrists, Depression Quest is not for you. It's development is elementary, it's plotline is downright maudlin, and I'm pretty sure the entire thing was about Social Justice and less about actual, you know, gaming. It's essentially a novel walk through. Although widely panned, Steam allowed her to put her game up, and she had favorable reviews from some gaming sites, most notably, Kotaku.
It seems that Ms. Quinn's personal life blew up in a very public way. Her boyfriend posted a rather long blog detailing their relationship, and her proclivity to cheat on him with several well-placed names in both the gaming industry and gaming journalism. Let me add that this particular blog, complete with screen captures of text conversations between the two, was the smoking gun that many gamers needed to prove that there truly were unethical relationships between the industry and the professionals tasked with reviewing the industry.
Gamers had long suspected it, when the simple act of reviewing Gaming based corporations and their individual games was replaced by a rash of Social Justice OpEd's about how the game industry was full of misogyny. Not just the developers of games, but the actual people who played the games. Zoey Quinn was a loud voice in the Social Justice Warriors (SJW) movement in gaming. Another well known name was Anna Sarkeesian.
While Zoey's rather diverse sexual activities were on public display, it was not about the sexual activities, but more who they were with, and why, in some cases, she refused to make her relationship with her then boyfriend public. (As in, don't want to piss off the journalist I'm sleeping with and get bad press.)
Beyond that, it was suddenly becoming taboo to speak out about this new smoking gun on popular sites such as reddit and 4chan. Ms. Quinn claimed copyright infringement on a photo image used in a youtube video, an image available in public on the Steam site, to have a video removed that pointed out some of her more egregious actions. Whole threads and comments were removed.
But still, the main outrage is not connected to Zoey Quinn or her sex life. It's that her sexlife revealed an unethical connection between Game Developers, Game Publishers, and the journalists who were supposed to be reviewing them.
At first Game Sites simply ignored the entire episode. Then, in a move that would leave most normal people scratching their heads, twelve to fourteen articles appeared on gaming sites all over the net declaring that "Gamers were dead". Nothing like spitting on the very people who actually, you know, read your garbage. It was this move, this blatant refusal to cover a story that had wide reaching implications for an industry, along with essentially crapping all over the audience, that began #GamerGate.
There are so many youtube videos about this, I could not begin to point you to all of them. InternetAristocrat has some very good links in his descriptions. He does a good job of telling the story, although the language is vile in parts, so consider that before watching. There was also a series of articles out of Breitbart London written by
Milo Yiannopoulos, who is not a gamer. The basic gist is that in Gaming Journalism, we cannot and will not write about Zoey Quinn, or what those allegations could mean for the industry. Isn't happening. And in case you think it's just groupthink, Milo will introduce you to Gaming Journalism's Journolist, GameJournoPros.
GameJournoPros shows collusion, brow beating of journalists who won't tow the party line, and even people admitting to sleeping with Game Developers and PR People. There is outright collusion on the Zoey Quinn story, and even ideas on how they can reach out to her and let her know they are on her side. Zoey Quinn is not their colleague, she is the subject of their writing. And a subject they are sorely in when we discuss writing.
The public at large has had a deep mistrust, in recent years, for the fourth estate, Mainstream Journalism. That lack of trust shaped and formed the newly called fifth estate, or Internet Blogging/Journalism. And now a section of the fifth estate is under scrutiny from it's readers for unethical actions that would leave any good reporter in the Mainstream Media without a job. If you think that's incorrect, be reminded of David Weigel of the Washington Post who lost his job for things he said on Journolist.
I would suggest that instead of trying to defend the indefensible, Gaming Sites would best be suited to cleaning their house and decided to instill some standards that will allow their target audience, the not-so-dead Gamers, to establish some trust. Internet Gaming Journalism will die as long as there is no veil between them and the people they are tasked with covering.