Category Archives: Saturday Solutions

Re-Farmer’s Kitty Still Needs YOU!

I reblogged a post a couple of days ago about Re-farmer‘s cat Ginger who broke a leg and is in need of surgery.

Picture of Ginger, ruthlessly bootlegged from Re-Farmer’s blog.

The MINIMUM it’s going to cost is $1300 Canadian. She’s trying to raise money to help cover the bill via Ko-Fi donation site. Thus far, she’s only raised 43% of the minimum cost. Canadian dollars are lower than U.S. dollars too, so even a single Dollar or Euro donated goes farther then it would at home. Yes, you can donate that little also, and with no service charge

Re-Farmer and her husband are on a fixed income, so this is a case of legitimate need, NOT somebody who wastes cash and wants others to clean up their mess. If she didn’t need it, she would not have asked.

If every reader donated just that single dollar, Ginger would be well on his way to having his surgery. We bloggers are a community, so I’m asking all of you to pull together and help, even if it is just $1.

Where I’ve Been: Grappling with Changing Realities

So, I disappeared for a week. A few of you probably wondered what happened, LOL. I’ll try to recap as concisely as possible. My spinal decompression treatments have had one unexpected “side effect”, for want of a better word. It’s working, and for the first time in 27 years, I’m faced with the almost unreal possibility of being pain free and healthy.

How’s that a problem? 🤷‍♂️ Because I’m so used to starting to succeed and then getting knocked on my butt yet again, that I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around not having that pain there as a roadblock. It’s gone so far as even wondering how much of it was the pain and how much was just ME being a failure. The joys of having completely unsupportive, hyper-demanding parents. It’s a shame parents like that don’t realize the long term damage they do.

I didn’t understand “fear of success” for a long time, until I read that the fear is the success will lead to a bigger failure. It made sense after that. It makes even more sense now. When I failed before, it was the pain. It’s been insidious also because it was up and down. It would drop to about a 3 on a 1 to 10 scale at times, and stay there just long enough for me to think “I can do this”, whatever “this” was at the time. Real Estate to writing, it always boomeranged back severely and derailed my efforts.

The answer slowly formed over the last week. It started with feeling better, and focusing on how tired I was of living as a hermit, not being able to provide for myself or contribute meaningfully to the household, etc…

It further crystallized when I got even further proof that my chiropractor was just going through the motions, running a patient mill and depending upon the traction machine to do all… well 95% of the work. I got pissy about it since we dished out $4000 for treatment. After I refocused, I realized I have two choices: I could stay angry, give up and resolve that I was getting sub-par treatment that had a fair chance of not having lasting benefit, OR I can put everything I’ve learned over the years to use, go the extra mile, and take responsibility for my own recovery. With the progress I’ve made, I feel like I’m in a position to make that difference too.

The final breakthrough came when I went to Dave Ramsey’s recent livestream: “What Now: Your Money and COVID-19” on Thursday. Yep, I was in the audience. Separate post coming on that. Spoiler Alert on that livestream though: The takeaway was “treat it as a NEVER AGAIN moment”. The message was so on point I could easily see it applying to my back and neck therapy and life in general.

So, yes! I’m fired up now. I’m going to fight my way through this. You know the occasional movie where a character gets hit by a car or something and is never supposed to be able to do anything again, but spends hours a day beyond what the therapists work with them, and makes a full recovery. THAT is going to be me!

And I’m going to work my ass off just as hard at writing and whatever real work job I may have to take to pay the bills too. Chances are, you’re going to see more Cristian Mihai type posts here too. Maybe I can inspire a few of you along with myself.

Legitimate Free, Quality Alternatives to Adobe Products

Yes, Lightroom CAN be that bad…

I was reading a blog earlier today with yet another story of inexcusably horrific customer service from Adobe. Since Photoshop and their other products have a huge market share, Adobe tends to treat it’s customers with utter contempt. The post inspired me to go through multiple articles and links, and post the best alternatives to Adobe, their bad service and even worse prices. I worked on this post eight hours and found FREE alternatives to almost everything Adobe makes.

Almost everything I’m posting here is legitimately free, often open source coding based, and frequently just as good if not close to Adobe products in quality. Many of them are available in Linux, and Windows versions, sometimes Mac as well. I’ll note accordingly where I can. Many of them also have at least a few tutorials on YouTube and elsewhere also.

This will be a LONG post since Adobe has several products. Worth the read though if you’re paying $50 a month plus for access to the full Creative Cloud. Let’s get started.

PHOTOSHOP REPLACEMENT OPTIONS:

GIMP: Probably the most well known alternative to Photoshop. Early versions were pretty crude with clumsy interfaces / controls. Newer versions are very close to Photoshop in every regard. Very much worth a look, and it has several tutorial videos and sites out there, even at it’s home site. Just search GIMP Tutorials. GIMP also comes in versions for Windows, Linux, Mac, and Unix-like machines.

GIMP Home Page and Download Page Links

Photopea: Is a cloud based photo editor. While not as nice as GIMP, it does do a fair amount, and is good for people using less powerful PCs. It’s good for people using the ChromeOS (ChromeBooks, etc...)

Photopea Home Page Link

LIGHTROOM REPLACEMENT OPTIONS:

Lightroom is a simplified photo editing program that allows applying filters and other effects quickly with professional results. There are alternatives however.

Darktable: Consistently named the best free alternative to Lightroom. It does everything, or nearly everything, that Lightroom does. The only drawback is a slightly less polished interface. Available for Windows, Mac, and multiple versions of Linux have custom versions. A fair number of tutorials available as well.

Darktable Home Page and Download Page Links

RawTherapee: Another Lightroom replacement with very similar features to Darktable. There are also a decent amount of tutorials out for this program, so for Mac and Windows users, it’s largely a matter of style / interface appearance. Linux users can download an Applmage version.

RawTherapee Home Page and Download Page Links

ILLUSTRATOR REPLACEMENT OPTIONS:

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics program typically used for creating logos and other digital artwork.

Inkscape: Is a full featured vector graphics program with an impressive set of drawing tools and effects. It can do anything Illustrator can do. Some lists claim Inkscape’s interface is fairly dated, but it was recently overhauled a few months ago. Decide for yourselves. There are several tutorials out there but I’m not sure how well they carry over to the new release. Inkscape has Windows, Mac and Linux versions available.

Inkscape Home Page and Download Page Links

Vectr: A web based vector graphics “program” (site). It’s been described as sleek and responsive, with the ability to collaborate online on a project.

Vectr Home Page Link

Gravit Designer: A second impressive web based alternative to Illustrator and Inkscape. Said to be great for UI design.

Gravit Designer Home Page Link

PREMIERE PRO REPLACEMENT OPTIONS:

Adobe Premiere is their video editing software, used by everyone from movie professionals to YouTubers and vloggers.

DaVinci Resolve 16: Full featured video editor that’s capable of even editing 8K definition videos. Professional quality and more than enough for the average YouTuber or video blogger. There is a paid version if you really want to go Hollywood level. Numerous tutorials available, which attests to it’s popularity as a substitute for Premiere. Mac, Windows and Linux versions available for download.

DaVinci Resolve 16 Home Page Link. Button in middle of home page will open a download window.

OpenShot: A little more basic than DaVinci, but still with a wide array of features that include adding as many layers as you need for watermarks, background videos, audio tracks, and so on. Features like video effects, slow motion and time effects are available on this tool. The program has a simple, clean interface, and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Plenty of tutorials available also

OpenShot Home Page and Download Page Links

HitFilm Express: Another full service video editor that promises to combine the best of Premiere and After Effects into one package. Some features are only available as paid add-ons though. Available for Windows and Mac, but not Linux. A goodly number of tutorials available for it as well

HitFilm Express Home Page (download link there) and Add-On Store Page Link (so you can see what’s a paid extra)

AFTER EFFECTS REPLACEMENT OPTIONS:

After Effects is for adding visual effects and motion graphics editing. Probably more advanced than most readers will deal with. None the less, there are options out there. Perhaps it’s best to say ONE option that’s free and isn’t tied to a specific video editor.

Natron: Most sites I searched listed this as “having the same basic features as After Effects”, for what that’s worth. SO, it might not be ideal for somebody producing the next Star Wars movie, but I imagine it will be fine for most other folks. It’s site has several community created plug-ins available also. Available for Windows, Mac and Linux. As usual, plenty of tutorials are available via YouTube and elsewhere.

Natron Home Page Link (download available from home page)

AUDITION REPLACEMENT OPTIONS:

Audition is Adobe’s sound editing program. I found three potential replacements here of varying complexity & features

Ardour: The closest thing to a match in terms of features, and capable of supporting almost any audio editing need. As with almost every program I’ve listed today, it’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Only a modest amount of tutorials, so it’s probably not suited for a rank novice, but if you’re familiar with sound editing already, the controls are very standard.

Ardour Home Page and Download Page Links

Audacity: Has been around 20 years with it’s latest version released last month. It at least comes close to Ardour in features level. With more tutorials available on YouTube and elsewhere, it may be better suited for somebody with less experience recording and editing audio. Available for Windows, Mac, Linux and other platforms.

Audacity Home Page and Download Page Links

Sodaphonic: A more basic audio editor that’s web based, again making it ideal for people with older PCs or using Chromebooks. Availability of tutorials seems limited however. It should be capable of handling basic audio editing needs.

Sodaphonic Web Page

ANIMATE REPLACEMENT OPTIONS:

Animate, AKA Flash rebranded, is Adobe’s 2D animation software. Once again, I have options for you.

Synfig Studios: described by multiple sites as a great all around animator with powerful tools. It even allows some vector art editing as well. Synfig has it’s own wiki and several tutorials. That makes it an ideal option for beginners or experts. You’ll be asked for a VOLUNTARY donation at the download screen but it’s not required. Available for Windows and Linux, and I believe Mac also, but I was having trouble verifying that.

Synfig Studios Home Page and Download Page Links

Pencil2D: A more simple 2D animation tool with an an interface similar to Animate’s (or so I read). Described as fairly basic but easy to work with. A good option for complete beginners and users who just want to play around with 2D animation occasionally. There are a fair number of tutorials available also despite the program’s simplicity. Available for Windows, Mac and Linux

Pencil2D Home Page and Download Page Links

OpenToonz: A truly professional quality animation tool with numerous features, some provided via free plug-ins. Numerous tutorials available also. It looks like it would have a little bit steeper learning curve than the other two, but give you powerful creative options in the end. While it is supposed to be Windows and Mac compatible, one of it’s plug-ins is available for Windows only. No Linux version.

OpenToonz Home Page Link (downloads available from home page)

INDESIGN REPLACEMENT OPTIONS:

Adobe Indesign is the company’s desktop publishing app; similar to MS Publisher. It’s used primarily for creating posters, flyers, brochures, magazines, newspapers, books etc… I have two options here, depending upon intended use. One is my only paid recommend of this post, but it’s fairly inexpensive.

Scribus: If you’re doing any sort of simple desktop publishing for emails, flyers, magazines, etc… this looks like an absolutely amazing program with a ton of features, and it is free. It makes my copy of Microsoft Publisher look pretty pale by comparison. It’s Scrivener for desktop publishing. Tutorials abound, and it’s available for Windows, Mac, several flavors of Linux and a few other OS as well.

Scribus Home Page and Download Page Links

Scrivener: If you’re writing a book, even a short one, this is THE way to go. You’d need Microsoft Office’s most expensive edition to do everything that Scrivener does. You can even organize notes on characters, locations, etc… right in the program, all the way up to detailed storyboarding. The price has currently been bumped up to $50. Not as cheap as it used to be, but still worth the investment, and still less than half the price of MS Office Home and Student Edition. Available for Mac, Windows and iOS. Tutorials abound also.

Scrivener Home Page and Download Page Links

ACROBAT REPLACEMENT OPTIONS:

Here is the one program where replacement options are fairly limited. PDF readers are a dime a dozen, and even most browsers can open PDF files. If you’re trying to create a PDF file, Microsoft Word and similar programs will allow you to save your work in PDF format.

Actually EDITING a PDF file like the full version of Acrobat will do… that’s more limited.

There are a few free options though:

First, the previously mentioned Inkscape can be used to do a moderate degree of editing of PDFs.

Microsoft Word (2013 or newer) will also let you edit a PDF, *if* you convert it to a DocX format first. Convert, edit and save back as a PDF. To be honest, I’ve had mixed results with the program’s ability to do this properly.

LibreOffice’s “Draw” program will let you do some PDF editing as well.

Sedja Online PDF Editor: This is a mostly full service PDF editor that’s web based. There are a handful of limitations to keep your PDF work free however. PDFs have to be smaller than 200 pages, less than 50 megs in size, and you can only work on three PDFs per hour. Beyond that, it seems to be able to do most everything Acrobat can do. Uploading PDFs from other websites is not an issue either.

Sedja PDF Editor Website Link

PDFelement: I could describe this as the least bad option as opposed to a good option. PDFelement does everything Acrobat will, BUT unless you’re paying the annual subscription fee, the program watermarks every page of your document. Annoying, but that’s the trade off for the free version of the program that truly will keep up with Acrobat.

PDFelement Home Page (download links on home page)

Be the Change

That’s right, I’m going out on a MAJOR limb here and I’m going to talk about how to TRULY change the world, specifically with regards to race relations here in the U.S. as they currently stand.  You’re either going to be offended or love this.  It’s a long one, but worth it. 10 to 15 minutes of reading for the chance to understand other people and start to change the world.

First a “Why?”

Skip this if you just want the meat of the discussion.  Those of you following my blog know I swore off social issues just under a week ago.  I was tired of the venom, and how it all made me feel.  I hate failing and quitting though.  I’m also a firm believer that you’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.  Ergo, I had to take a hard look at the situation and ask myself how much of my failure was on my end.  Looking back at my previous posts, I think the tone was too negative.  You can be right as rain, but if you bludgeon people with it, you’re only going to alienate them.

Proverbs 15.1 – “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Notice there it does NOT make exceptions for how correct somebody THINKS they are.  So, I want to try this again, at least one more time…  See if I can reach people via speaking plainly but kindly, and no longer holding back some of my religious and spiritual beliefs for fear of alienating people.  Being genuine and authentic matter.  On with the show!

The Actual Post:

I’m going to primarily be tackling the subject of race in America, and what I think folks on both sides need to do to come together.  The general theme of “Be the Change You Want to See” is true for how to fix all the world’s problems though.

I’m likely going to offend a few white folks, and a few black folks.  My only goal though is to challenge you all to look at the problem through each other’s eyes and develop a greater understanding of things.

If you want to say I have no right to speak here, you’re wrong.  This country was founded on the idea that EVERYONE should have a voice.  That’s why the First Amendment exists, so that you and I both always have the ability to peacefully make our opinion known.

For what it’s worth, I’ve also lived all over.  Everywhere from “The Hood” to nicer middle-class areas.  I’ve had friends of all races and also seen firsthand the worst that all people have to offer.

I’m going to start with white folks.  We’re the largest ethnic group in the country and have the most ability to effect change.

What White Folks Should Know:

First, I get it.  If you’re like me, you’re probably a decent person who genuinely wants all people to be safe, happy and have the equal opportunity to work for success in this country.  You’re probably also sick of being lumped in with Klan members, told you have no right to speak, told you’re automatically a racist by virtue of your skin color, etc…  It’s frustrating and hurtful.

If you genuinely are a racist or Klan member, I’ll be unduly nice and simply say “repent”.  Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say hate people of other races.  Quite the contrary.  We’re ALL God’s children.  Enough said.

The rest of you, I’d simply ask that open your mind and try to understand the frustration on the other side.  Up till 1964, Black folks were still dealing with segregation.  That’s just 56 years ago, and almost 100 years after the end of slavery and The Civil War.  Millennial black people and their children still have parents and grandparents old enough to tell them what it was like to go into a diner and see a bucket full of axe handles and bats near the door or counter in case they “Needed to be put in their place”.  Things didn’t truly get better till the mid 1970s.

Yeah, I know…  YOU didn’t do that.  I understand that.  I believe most black folks understand it also.  What I am asking you to understand is that the wound runs deep.  There is a small percentage of us that are determined to keep that wound open also.  Black folks don’t know if you’re a good person when they first see you any more than you know if that young black man is really into hip hop culture and rap, or a thug.

The first part of bringing about change is realizing that we’re all human beings and just want to get by and be safe in our corner of the world.

When you hear somebody arguing that it’s “Black Lives Matter” instead of “All Lives Matter”, they still believe your life matters also, it’s just that they feel so incredibly threatened by what’s happening that they believe extra attention has to be put on the black lives being lost.

When you get upset over kneeling during the national anthem, understand that it has nothing to do with disrespecting the flag, etc… It’s about waiting 100 years even after freedom from slavery and still not feeling truly equal in society.  How far would YOU go to draw attention to the issue of your rights if the situation were reversed?

It’s easy to sit back and say that everybody has the same opportunity in America.  Yes, black folks do have more opportunity than some of them have been led to believe also.  HOWEVER, equal opportunity depends on an equal education for starters.  If schools have poor teachers and no equipment, how good an education is ANY child going to get? Financial education is also important if somebody is to stay out of poverty once they start to get ahead.

It’s also a different world when you live or work in a poor neighborhood.  There is a higher percentage of desperate people there, so the police ARE more inclined to view everybody with suspicion.  I’ve lived it.  I’ve almost had a cop draw on me during a traffic stop, and I got politely (which is more than many get) questioned by a cop when stopping at a 7 Eleven store at 2am also.  Some black folks live this every day of their life.  When people are distrustful of you, it’s natural to start wondering about their intentions as well.  YES, there ARE legitimately racist cops out there also.  It’s a small percentage, but they’re still out there, as this video shows:

That poor guy’s only “crime” was Jaywalking on a completely dead RESIDENTIAL street. Something everybody does. Despite the police claim that he “threw down his jacket and challenged them to fight”, the video only shows him taking it off and putting it down. Note that when the cop grabs him by the collar, his hands are still at his side too.

I was in Sacramento when that happened. There was NO hidden stuff you didn’t see, no ‘he looked like a suspect’ even. That’s why he ended up with a huge settlement from the city. I’ve seen similar situations elsewhere a few times. THIS is exactly why black people say they’re afraid of “walking while black”. So, I ask you to understand, if you’ve only had good experiences with cops, that’s not everybody’s luck. We have to do all we can to support good cops, but also make sure cops like this are fired and never allowed to carry a badge again.

That applies to the cops in the George Floyd case also. Yes, he resisted arrest prior to ending up on the ground. He may have had some hidden health issues also. NONE of that should be an excuse for pinning him for roughly three minutes instead of cuffing him. If proper procedure was followed, George Floyd wouldn’t have had those secondary issues kick in and / or died of asphyxiation.

The whole situation is more complex than most of us think.  What we as a people need to do is show genuine empathy and compassion.  Be willing to listen and try to understand where what you’re hearing is coming from.  Ask questions like “I truly want to understand where you’re coming from, so please tell me about what led to you believing that?” 

You’ll learn a lot more than you would assuming that the other person is only motivated by hate and / or laziness.

You may not be able to change the world on your own, but just by doing your own little part to be more understanding and consider the other side… just treating everybody the way you’d want to be treated, the world will take one step closer to being a better place. Enough people do it and we’ve brought an incredible amount of light into the world. I’ve used Bayside Church’s Christmas service candle lighting as a perfect example here:

This IS all it takes too. Laws (new or old) can’t change a person’s heart, and a person with a good heart doesn’t need a law to tell them what’s moral and just.

A Note For Both Sides Regarding the Media & Politicians:

I’ve ranted time and again here about the media (left and right) twisting the truth. There are plenty of posts with examples here. No need to repeat it all. I imagine some of them even think they’re doing good and forcing society in a ‘better’ direction. I honestly believe most are just exploiting all of you for the sake of better ratings. You’re being fed a constant stream of half truths to promote conflict. Anger, suffering and violence are good for ratings.

Politicans… They will LIE to your face and say ANYTHING to keep or gain power, and do NOTHING to effect real change. They’re ALL the same. Enough said.

My point being is that too many of us depend on these two groups for facts and to guide us to proper conclusions. Question everything, and actively seek the whole truth. It will likely be something you do NOT want to hear, BUT acknowledging the whole truth is the ONLY way to begin to make real change. I come from a law enforcement family. I hate acknowledging dirty cops exist. Purging them from the system is the only way to protect and honor the good cops though.

What Black Folks Should Know:

Yep, I had my run at white folks, now I’d like to talk to you. PLEASE read the first part for white folks also. It will help you understand where the average, decent white person who wants to support you is coming from.

First and foremost… Realize that the vast majority of white folks absolutely DO care about you, think your lives do matter, and want you to have the same opportunities as everyone else.

You know how it makes you so mad your skin crawls when some gang banger kills his baby mama, or does a drive by on a kid’s birthday party, and you hear some idiot say “See, they’re all like that?”…

Well, that’s how we feel when we’re told that we are all like that (racists), or that we have no right to talk about our relationships with you or other races.

It simply comes down to two wrongs not making anything right, ever. If you justify bad behavior by pointing at other bad behavior, all you’re REALLY doing is lowering yourself to the same level as those bad people.

I really do get that you have decades of frustration over everything. It sucks having to be the one to take the high ground when you’re the victim also. It takes strength to lead by example, the same strength that you’ve displayed by making it as far as you already have.

Something else to consider; there’s an old martial arts proverb that “action beats reaction”. So, in any situation the person doing the acting is more in control than the one who is reacting to what the first person or group is doing.

Now, as far as this whole silencing others thing goes… two quick counterpoints beyond what I said at the beginning of this post:

  1. Have you EVER listened to anyone that told you to shut up and do as your told? Outside of parents or a drill instructor, I bet not. 🙂 Nobody’s mind is changed by being lectured and brow beaten, no matter how much they deserve it.
  2. No matter how ignorant a person’s beliefs may be, you can never change them if you don’t understand what’s behind those beliefs, and develop some sort of rapport with the other person. If you try to relate to them they’ll try to relate to you. This is the same thing I was telling white folks that we need to do with you.

History is full of stories of wars and great generals, but who are the people that are truly remembered and honored? It’s the people like Jesus, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, and Dr. King and similar leaders that have had some of the greatest impact on the world, and without ever resorting to violence. Remember that when you get out there and protest. Protest you should too, but do it peacefully.

On that note, I know it’s usually somebody else that’s starting the looting. It’s usually Antifa and occasionally even a really bad cop setting things up. Just realize despite what the media is telling you, that white supremacists have very little if anything to do with it, neither does Russia, China and Iran. This is what I meant earlier by they’re playing ALL of us for the sake of ratings.

Run the looters out of your protests, call the cops on them or just avoid them if they’re too dangerous. Do NOT let them drag your righteous cause down with them. Antifa ain’t your friend either. All they care about is causing destruction.

I’ve got to touch on a couple of sensitive areas now. Please hang with me and hear me out.

One of the areas where you lose support from people of other races is when you support cases where it wasn’t the cops’ fault. A good example is the Stephon Clark case in Sacramento. Part of the problem with cases like this is the media reporting only half the story. Stephon was a victim of a broken system though, not the cops. He was seriously depressed, had relationship problems, and was on drugs the night he was shot. He ran from cops into a VERY dark location and they couldn’t see what he’d suddenly pulled out of his pocket. I was in Sacramento, so I heard more of the story than most of the nation. The shooting was a tragedy. That Stephon ended up in that situation was a CLEAR failure of the system to have some sort of a safety net where he could get help or counseling. A case can be made that better lights for the police might have helped too, among other things. The media outright reported this tragedy as an execution though, and exploited you simply for the sake of ratings from protests and grief.

Those times when it IS a case like that, be willing to admit it and work peacefully to improve police procedure and social services, or whatever may be needed to prevent future occurrences. It will improve your relationship with the cops if they feel you’re trying to understand their end also. Most cops are legitimately good people too.

OK, last point and it’s a TOUGH one. I’ve lived in the hood and seen it though. I went to a high school that was nicknamed “Blood Bank” because it was overrun with members of the Bloods too. There is a SMALL percentage of the black community that trashes kids who want to learn and get ahead as “trying to be white”, label people like Ben Carson or Herman Cain who do get ahead as an Uncle Tom or Coon, and that consider gang banging as “black culture”.

I reject all of that, and you should also. Education is the key to a better life. Saying learning is “acting white” is really saying black people can’t learn. That’s complete crap. Dr Ben Carson is one of the best brain surgeons in the world (if not THE best), came up from the hood, and is proof positive some of you are smarter than any dang white person. Anybody that tells you not to learn is trying to keep you ignorant so they can play you. It’s that simple. I believe most of you accept all of this already. It’s a small. loud minority of folks pushing that. Don’t let them. Black folks are every bit as smart as any other race.

Same goes with crime. I’m not going to say much here. We both know the vast majority of black folks are NOT gang bangers and thugs. Do your best to minimize those voices, for the benefit of your entire community.

Ladies, YOU have the power here also. The person a black man is most likely to respect and listen to is a strong black woman. I’ve seen young black women take control of their fellow students and settle a class down. I’ve heard stories of mothers pulling their sons out of gangs, etc… Its up to you to stand up, lead the way and help heal your community and the country.

Wrapping It Up:

I try to look fairly at every side of any given situation. What I see today is two groups of good people that are having an increasingly hard time talking to each other. We’re all victims of a past we had little to do with.

We both need to change some.

We both need to be willing to talk more and actually try to understand each other.

We ALL need to come together as a united and equal people and prevent a corrupt media and leadership from trying to get us to destroy each other while they screw all of us.

BitChute; An Alternative to YouTube

This one will be a quickie. As anyone who’s paying attention knows, censorship has gone off the deep end lately. The government and big tech are vanishing anything that disagrees with their official narrative. YouTube and it’s Google masters are leading the way there, even more so than social media.

https://www.bitchute.com/

BitChute is fast becoming the popular alternative to YouTube. The mainstream media hates it of course:

BitChute is a video hosting service founded in 2017. It was created to allow video uploaders to avoid content rules enforced on other platforms, such as YouTube. The platform accommodates far-right individuals and conspiracy theorists; with the Southern Poverty Law Center saying the site hosts “hate-fueled material”. Wikipedia

To be fair, I did see conspiracy theory videos there. Nothing from nazis and similar types during my brief visit though. What I also saw were former YouTubers who were screwed out of payments during the policy change a year or two back, and more moderate videos questioning things like why even talking about food shortages and the mass killing of livestock that can’t make it to market is now being banned.

BitChute Food Shortage Rant Video

As with ANY information source, go in with a skeptical, discerning mind. They’re worth a look though.

Analyzing A News Story for Bias:

Time for another Solutions Saturday. If we’re ever going to get to a point where we act like a civilized society again, we HAVE to start approaching the media (and public officials) with a discerning eye. With that in mind, I want to dissect a recent NBC Article about conspiracy theorists and the coronavirus.

First, I’d like to take a moment to quickly clarify a couple of my last posts. I am NOT among those who believe that the coronavirus is fake. I’ve said all along I believe it’s real. I do have SOME question as to how dangerous it truly is. At this point I also strongly disagree with some of the draconian, fascist measures being taken by SOME government officials in the name of protecting people. I think at this point we CAN begin to carefully open things back up in responsible ways. I also disdain the censorship and ridicule being spread by the media and government.

With that said, let’s get to the article from NBC. First, a link to the story.

‘What are we doing this for?’: Doctors are fed up with conspiracies ravaging ERs – NBC May 6th, 2020

The Headline:

We’re led into the story with a sensationalist, yellow journalism style headline. We’re led to believe that conspiracy theorists are somehow disrupting or clogging Emergency Rooms at hospitals. The trouble is, if you read the story, there’s absolutely NOTHING about that happening. The headline is a complete LIE.

If you read the story carefully, what you’ll find is that the first portion of it actually details the stories of a couple of doctors trying to reason with conspiracy theorists on social media, presumably on their off time. If they’re social network debating at work, as paragraph four suggests, you have wonder why they are doing so instead of helping patients.

The Lead In Picture:

Here’s another game of deception. If you don’t look closely at the small print description beneath the photo (in the story), you would assume that the protest being pictured is in front of a HOSPITAL. That’s what the headline said, right? Well, the picture is actually taken in front of the Connecticut governor’s house.

The paragraphs that follow are designed to subtly give the reader the impression that it IS in front of a hopsital though. Not only that, but the sign in the picture saying “Fake Crisis” is also used by the story to tie anyone disagreeing with lockdowns to conspiracy theories.

How do I reach that conclusion? First hand experience with the media during the Atlanta Olympic Games. Note the sign says. “Fake CRISIS”, NOT fake disease. That person may very well feel that the disease is real, but not quite as dangerous as it’s made out to be. I can certainly argue that point statistically myself. They likely also simply want to return to work. At NO point does the story interview this person to find out what they believe or want. We’re simply left with the implied assertion that they’re a rabid conspiracy nut.

Note the flag on the car participating in the drive-by portion of the protest too. This was included in the shot to connect patriotism to deranged thinking also.

CONTINUING THE STORY…

We read how painful this social media interaction is for these doctors. At NO point does anybody bring up the the nearly thirty year old maxim for avoiding this kind of crap. “DON’T FEED THE TROLLS”! If you don’t want the drama, walk away! Nobody is forcing these poor abused doctors to get into pissing contests with these trolls.

THEN we suddenly make the leap to other doctors sharing “similar” experiences of treating patients with COVID-19. The story cites ONE specific case of an idiot ending up in the ER after drinking bleach. The article doesn’t even specifically say it was in an effort to prevent or treat COVID-19, nor does it quote the patient as saying that was the reason, just that he did it.

The story THEN points out that this happened just DAYS after President Trump suggested injecting disinfectants to kill the disease. The story completely fails to mention that Trump was being sarcastic and trolling the media.

THAT said, I will admit that was another classic Trump foot in mouth moment. He should have realized that:

1) the media would run with it regardless.

2) There’s always some idiot that will do any stupid thing a politician suggests. Remember the guy who was arrested for shooting a shotgun into the air after Vice President Biden suggested that was all that was needed to chase off burglars?

We have to get our Trump bashing in the story somehow though, right? Speaking of which, the second picture is a perfect example of stereotyping Trump and anyone who supports him. As with the first picture, there was no attempt at objective journalism and asking the man pictured what his exact beliefs were, nor did they really show anyone else at the Reopen Oregon Rally.

The picture was about taking Trump supporters and people who want to return to work,and connecting them to conspiracy theories and deranged thinking. The media used to do the same thing with the TEA party also. Taxed Enough Already is what it stood for. All most members wanted was better accounting of government spending and reduction of waste.

Getting back to the story, the next paragraph goes:

“Folks delaying seeking care or, taking the most extreme case, somebody drinking bleach as a result of structural factors just underlines the fact that we have not protected the public from disinformation,” Maru said.

Yet there’s no specific cases mentioned, even in the case of the bleach drinker, where this DID happen. At best, it’s elementary school level sloppy writing. At worst, it’s complete BS. No doubt there are cases where this has happened, but the story doesn’t even come close to providing proof that it’s serious to the point of breaking ERs.

They don’t even let the doctor define “structural factors”. Note any time you see vague euphemisms like this, it’s because the speaker or author is trying to dance around exact wording to make a case that couldn’t otherwise be made. The NBC reporter DOES go on to define “structural factors” on their own as Social Media and YouTube.

The Remainder of the Story:

What follows is several more paragraphs highlighting some of the most outrageous conspiracy theories out there, rationalizing why people need to censored for the public good. We get precious little facts, just innuendo that anything disagreeing with the official line is bad. That includes emotional manipulation like this:

“It scares me more than anything that there are people who are basically controlled — and in the same way they feel they’re fighting against that control,” he said. “They go to YouTube, where they’re really being controlled, and they don’t realize it. That’s what’s scary.”

What you get from the remainder is a ton of rationalization for MORE censorship when social media and YouTube are already banning anything that even remotely disagrees with the WHO and it’s Chinese masters. The twitter video I had posted in a previous post that showed the WHO official hanging up on a reporter after being told that Taiwan was not China being a perfect example. It’s GONE now.

How was THAT any threat to anyone’s health at all? All it did was call attention to a corrupt bureaucrat whose loyalty laid more with China than his agency’s stated goals.

The Bill Gates conspiracy theory never explains why Gates & friends would patent an earlier version of the Coronavirus either. No, I don’t believe it was to make COVID-19. However, patenting a disease is sick first of all. Secondly, it blocks anybody else from researching it or engineering a cure or vaccine based on the disease’s genetic structure.

That’s a far cry from trying to kill off people with a new virus, but it is filthy greed and capitalism at it’s absolute worst.

Likewise, the Wuhan lab thing is quickly discounted as a wild hoax. Understandable right? China hasn’t lied to us about anything COVID-19, such as it not being able to affect anyone under 20, right? The lab may not be a weapons lab, but it’s a lab. If it doesn’t exist, as NBC claims, how do we explain these stories:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/14/state-department-cables-warned-safety-issues-wuhan-lab-studying-bat-coronaviruses/

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/06/asia/coronavirus-china-wuhan-lab-origins-explainer-intl-hnk/index.html

https://www.thedailybeast.com/leaked-cable-shows-us-officials-flagged-safety-issues-at-wuhan-lab-years-ago

Those from The Washington Post, CNN and the Daily Beast. None of whom are friendly to Trump. The lab story is all a hoax though.

Ironically, the story ends with one of the doctors swearing off social media, after two separate yet completely unsubstantiated claims of organized harassment of doctors. What it does mention is that the doctor was greeted by New York City’s nightly banging of pots and pans and other noise making as a salute to health care workers as the interview was wrapping up. Some attack on doctors, huh?

What’s Missing:

What wasn’t said in the story? Aside from any real evidence for the claim in the headline…

  1. That we have civil liberties in this country that are supposed to protect freedom of speech
  2. That there are already multiple variations on fraud laws for people touting fake cures for anything.
  3. That there’s any difference between people wanting to return to work and conspiracy theorists.
  4. That just because the WHO and China calls something a lie does NOT mean it’s so.
  5. That dissent and peaceful disagreement are SUPPOSED to be the hallmarks of a free society and healthy democracy
  6. That conspiracy theories arise because people instinctively know when they’re being bullshitted by their so-called leaders.
  7. Any sort of objective look at such a dissenting opinion.
  8. Some small percentage of idiots will believe anything no matter how much you try to convince them otherwise or limit their access to information. Limiting that access only proves them right in their minds.

In short, it’s largely just an effort to discredit the alternative media, and tie conservatives to whackadoo ideas. Journalism is supposed to be reporting facts documented with supporting evidence, NOT emotion based manipulation.

CONCLUSION:

So there you have it. Some of the manipulation is pretty subtle, like the messages NBC was trying to send with the two pictures included in the story. Some of it was as subtle as a freight train, like the story’s efforts to tie Trump to the conspiracy theorists.

Regardless there was nothing truly supporting the claim made in the headline. Just enough implied superficial connections to get somebody skimming the article to go blindly along with it.

If you really want to break free, you have to read in depth and analyze what’s both implied and outright said. Skimming is shutting down your brain and letting somebody else do the thinking for you. You’ll always be led around by the nose that way.

The Problem With Government

Time for round two, and that second big common factor I mentioned. No, it’s not exactly what the headline would suggest either. Unlike extreme libertarians and anarchists, I realize government has a role. The problem *I* see is an unrealistic level of expectation of government, and an unhealthy level of dependence on it.

This really became evident as I’ve watched the news the last few months. People seemed to have this insane expectation that the government was going to wave a magic wand and make it all better. Nobody would die or end up in the hospital from coronavirus. It’s like people have cast away religion and taken government bureaucracy as their god.

How’s that worked out for all of you?

It’s been FIFTEEN YEARS since hurricane Katrina all but destroyed New Orleans. Even after all this time, it’s still not fully rebuilt. All government did was squander the money sent to help rebuild, then blame everyone else for the lingering mess.

In California, we have either the highest or in the top three in the US (depending upon who you listen to) gasoline taxes. The only place I’ve been with worse roads in the entire country is Louisiana. They have the excuse of building on swamps, unlike California. Our freeways are falling apart, our bridges are reportedly unsafe, and they keep increasing the taxes. Nothing improves though.

California spends BILLIONS on mental health and the homeless, and yet our streets are overflowing with both homeless and mentally ill people who are outright violent.

Standard disclaimer as always: I realize the vast majority of “mentally ill” people are quite functional within society and not a danger to others at all. That however does NOT change the situation here.

Let’s Look At the Government’s Handling of the Pandemic:

First, there’s the fact that China’s government lied about the outbreak on multiple levels. Numbers, severity of the disease, who it can impact, etc…

Oh and let’s not forget making whistleblowers disappear altogether also:

There’s even the POSSIBLY that COVID-19 was even manufactured in a bio-weapons lab in Wuhan province. Is there what I consider conclusive proof on that last one? Not quite, but there’s enough to make you wonder.

Yeah, I’m doubtless banned in China now, LOL. Shame as it’s an amazing country and culture. I just don’t trust it’s government. THIS is what you get from a totalitarian regime though. Be careful what kind of government you’re wishing for people.

That’s China though. Can’t happen elsewhere, right? Well, how about the World Health Organization helping China with their coronavirus cover up?

Don’t like Fox, hit Google. LOTS of stories out there on this if you dig a little. The WHO is SUPPOSED to have the job of helping protect the world from diseases, not covering up one and helping it spread.

Want further proof? Check out this interview with a WHO official:

China hates that Taiwan considers itself a free and separate country. Mr Aylward shows himself to be a complete boot licker there too.

Here in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and others were basing reports on that same info (instead of fact checking) and were responsible for that bad info being passed on to the President, Congress and the Media early on.

Reliance on the government would also require said government to come together during a crisis. All Congress and some state and local governments have done is trash the President’s efforts. Trump put a travel ban in place with China on January 30th. He was called a racist, xenophobic, a hate monger, etc… for doing so.

New York’s governor has spent the last couple of months trashing Trump for not giving him ventilators and other equipment. He was warned back in 2015 by a state task force that the state needed thousands more ventilators in case of a pandemic. He blew them off, spent the money on pet projects and told them to figure out how to ration the 2000 the state did have in reserve. Yep, government is the answer.

All government is usually good for is blaming others when it screws up and then asking taxpayers to cover the cost of their ineptitude.

Don’t think flooding the market with new money will fix things either. At the rate Congress is going, we’re going to devalue our currency faster than post world war 1 Germany. The more there is of anything, the less it’s worth. Makes it easy to pay back all the money we owe China if the entire deficit total is now equal to the cost of a loaf of bread. Yes, that DID happen in Weimar Germany also.

It’s private industry that’s stepped up and is mass producing ventilators, masks and other protective gear, 5 minute test kits, a couple of possible vaccines, and the malaria drug that’s been around for decades that shows repeated signs of curing COVID-19.

Only 3M really failed to step up at first, and a boot in the ass by the President fixed that.

Where Else? Has government assistance done anything meaningful to lift people, especially black people out of poverty? No, they’re too busy splitting up families to make people qualify for benefits and then telling the people they’re “helping” that they can’t get ahead on their own.

The Proper Role of Government:

I’ll start with the classic Libertarian definition. Government exists to protect citizens from loss via force, fraud or negligence. Doesn’t matter if that loss comes from another country or a fellow citizen. That’s why we have a military, first responders and courts.

Beyond that, or more appropriately as a part of that, government should also act as a reasonable check on business. Anti-trust laws for example. In my opinion, those should be expanded to break up mega-corporations like Amazon and Disney that have WAY too much political influence and control over the marketplace.

As I’ve said in previous posts also, I think social programs belong as a part of government nowadays too. Private charities can’t do it all, and people no longer have relatives with farms that they can go live on if life in the city falls apart like in the 1930s.

What I would do however, is structure those programs to help people become more self sufficient than programs currently do. Better job training options, education where needed, etc… Give people a sense of self respect and purpose instead of devaluing them and keeping them trapped in a broken system.

BOTTOM LINE:

The current craze of expecting big government to solve everything is only going to lead to slavery and dictatorships. People need to realize that the proper role of government is to make sure you have every reasonable opportunity to do or earn for yourself, NOT provide it for you. EVERY thing that government gives you is something they’d deprived you of the ability to do for yourself. It always comes with strings too. Nothing in life is free. Period.

Those of you who still prefer giant government, consider this: Private business can be boycotted, competed against, etc… at least until the near monopoly level. Government, on the other hand, has the unique ability to use force to make you use it’s product and follow it’s will.

My First Solutions Saturday

Time to start delivering on my proposed once a week look at solutions to problems. No telling how long this will be able to run, but I’m going to give it some serious effort, and my best insight. So, let’s start with two BIG underlying problems that very few people want to address. They’re common to all the situations that we’re facing nowadays.

The BIG Common Denominator:

No games; let’s just say it. The one contributing factor to every problem out there is simply a lack of morals. There, I said it. Probably lost half my readers right there also. Morals are old fashioned. Morals are oppressive. Yadda yadda… I call BS! Read on if you want to see why.

First, let’s get one thing straight. I’m not talking about religion. I’m talking about the basic values that are common to almost every religion and spiritual belief system or philosophy though. Things like don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t murder, and treat others the way you want to be treated. Basic concepts that act as a glue to a civilized society.

Religion helps reinforce the idea of treating others kindly, BUT this SHOULD be such a common sense idea that it can stand on it’s own merit. Same is true with other “old fashioned” ideas like honesty and not stealing.

Too much of the world has developed a “I want what I want NOW and you have no right to tell me I can’t have it” or (more simply) win at all costs mentality. And if you can’t get what you want, have the government steal it for you. Who cares about the other person?

Speeding and zig-zagging in and out of traffic? Sure I caused an accident, and nearly caused four others, but *I* wasn’t in it and I got home one and a half minutes sooner! Same thing with cellphone use while driving. MY text or latest Facebook like is more important than your life! How dare you tell me to put the phone down and focus on driving!?!

Oh yeah, you can drive fine while texting. Tell that to my other half who is still having back pain after getting hit by some braindead twit. If we didn’t own a Subaru, the injuries would have been much worse. Twit didn’t care though. It was just one of those things.

Weeks back there was an 86 year old lady with dementia in Brooklyn who was shoved down over social distancing rules. She suffered internal injuries from the fall and DIED. Coronavirus be damned. Where’s the humanity for our fellow human beings? ME ME ME.

This “the ends justify the means” crap extends to the social justice and political realms too. Remember Jessie Smollet in January of 2019? He paid two Jamaican guys to beat him up and then went to the police filing a false report. He claimed it was white supremacists wearing clothes supporting Trump that beat him up. Oh and screaming that SOUTH CHICAGO(!!!) was MAGA country. And the DA was going to let him get away with it too!

It’s striking at racism, and more importantly TRUMP, so EVERYTHING is justified (right Doug?). More like it hurt the cause of equal rights for black people and damaged the credibility of the political Left.

If we’re going to survive as a species much longer, we HAVE TO get to a point where TRUTH is more important than petty ambition and vanity. Where treating others how we want to be treated is valued more than arrogance and greed.

We have to realize “the easy way” isn’t easier. It’s not gaming the system either. It’s faster, more seductive, but ultimately only hurts yourself, those around you and society in general. It also typically damages your self respect because you know you took shortcuts instead of accomplishing something honestly.

That last part is why you have people trying to tear down the whole concept of morals. It helps them justify the crappy things they do. It numbs their conscience. Even more so if they can start getting others to act the same way.

The whole trouble there is that what you have if everybody can do anything as long as they can get away with it is textbook ANARCHY. It’s might makes right. You’re either the big dog, or you’re ground down under their heel. Is that the kind of world any of you want, for yourself or your children?

Think about it. Everything from predatory capitalism, to communist dictators… from lying reporters to crooked politicians could be solved, at least in large part, if people simply valued basic, universal morals and treated others the way they wanted to be treated.

Can we get there?

I’m up and down on this like a yo-yo. There are days I’m convinced that the majority of humanity is lower than knuckle dragging neanderthals and savages. Then there are other days where I see people rising up to show the very best humanity has to offer. Construction workers and local residents digging people out of the Loma Prietta earthquake here in California decades ago. Relief efforts after Malasyia was ravaged by earthquakes. The way people have come together in the midst of this pandemic. Soooo… I just don’t know.

What does concern me is how the shrill voices out there are trying to turn even the most well intended act into an utter evil if it benefits them to do so. If we can shut them down, we MAY just have a prayer of accomplishing the rest of it and surviving as a species.

OH, and that second big issue… Next post. 😉

This one is long enough.

Focus on the Positive and What You CAN Do

My first actual “Solutions Saturday” post since reorganizing the blog a few weeks back. I’ve seen several really good blog posts recently with advice on what to do while stuck at home, and keeping a positive mindset.

Sheltering in place has admittedly been less of an issue for me than many people out there. I have a bad back and neck, and while our income allows us to live in modest comfort, it doesn’t allow for many splurges. That means I’ve spent quite a bit of time at home the last handful of years. I’ve adapted.

After reading over those blog posts, I think I can better put into words what’s helped me survive.

OVERALL ATTITUDE:

Your mindset is going to be the biggest factor in how you deal with sheltering in place. You can look at it as prison, OR an adventure, vacation and / or chance to do new things. The one thing nobody can take away from you without your consent is how you choose to react to things.

Focus on the positive. You hear it from self-improvement gurus all the time, and for good reason.

MAINTAIN YOUR PERSPECTIVE:

Keeping things in perspective helps. Remember that while this outbreak is serious, it’s not as bad as the news is making it out. In just a matter of a few weeks, we should be seeing it dying out also.

FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO, NOT WHAT’S OFF LIMITS:

As an example, I could have focused all this time on not eating out as much as we’d like. Instead, I took the opportunity to become an even better cook. My food blog posts are now one of the most popular parts of my blog. I can out-do most of the local restaurants also, and for less money. Think of the fun of being able to wow friends and family with your cooking. Work? Yes, but anything worth having requires it.

Getting away from my own situation, there are other alternatives. Much like finding writing inspiration, it just requires opening your eyes to the possibilities.

Read a book, or watch that movie that you never got to see in theaters

Spend more quality time with your kids. It’ll help all of you feel better about this mess. They WILL remember it down the road also.

Take up a new hobby like cooking or photography

Pick up a new skill also. There are several free online classes to learn how to code for example. Who knows? It could even lead to a career change or new opportunities

If you have a patio or back yard, spend some time there so you’re getting some sunshine. Work in your garden if you have one.

Take care of any DIY projects you’ve got around the house. Doing something productive IS important psychologically and will give you an emotional boost.

Much like the last option, there’s cleaning also. It’s not fun work BUT you have to admit, it feels good to be in a clean house.

Yes, it’s OK to take some down time to self care or recharge the batteries also, just don’t wallow in it. 🙂

CONTROL THE MESSAGE:

This is one I’ve been pushing in my blog for a long time now. I’m talking about what and where you take in relating to news of the world. The media is all gloom, doom and hysteria. It sells papers as the old cliche goes.

Unlike some people, I don’t advocate a complete shutting down here. I believe that just leads to an uninformed public. Consider the source though, and their motives. Not just the media itself but the people they interview.

Likewise, actively seek out the GOOD stories out there. All around us there are tales of selfless health care workers and first responders, people rising up to help strangers, city wide events to applaud health care workers and show the strength of the human spirit. outpourings of donations to charities, etc…

I freely admit that last one is something I need to do more of. I get so caught up in fighting the BS out there that I sometimes forget to look for the good as well. There IS plenty of it to see if we just look. 🙂

CONCLUSION:

There you have it. Those are just a few ideas also. Use your creativity to find others. Look for ways to entertain and improve yourself, find things to do with your kids like building a fort out of blankets and couch cushions (credit to Sarah Krewis for that specific idea). Focus on what you have and put the rest out of your mind.

Remember, this too shall pass. Sooner than you think also.