Tag Archives: Social Commentary

Reboot It, Renew It, Reshoot It!!

Yakko, Wacko and Dot were more on target with that song than I thought. Yet another CBS program has been rebooted, putting them in a tie with DC Comics for most reboots ever, LOL. Who is our unlucky victim this time? A cash cow that CBS decided could be milked further:

‘CSI: Vegas’ Gets Series Order at CBS

15 years wasn’t long enough, so here we go again. O_o 😀

The new series will feature a few of the “old guard” from the original series mentoring a new group of CSIs using cutting edge technology to help solve crimes.

I’ve got to admit, I liked the old show (not loved), but another reboot in the CBS line up? When is enough enough? Even half of Netflix’s shows are reboots anymore. I’m wondering when Zorro is going to be rebooted by Disney anymore…

Honolulu Car Rental Price Gouging

I got an email about this from my friend in Hawaii. It seems with the return of tourism to Oahu (which had been down 90% for almost the entire pandemic), that the demand for rental cars has gone through the roof compared to availability.

No doubt the car rental offices were selling off their fleets to help cover operating costs during the pandemic. Now that it’s ended, their short sighted move has caught them flat footed. In typical predatory capitalism fashion they’ve decided to charge over $700 a DAY for basic rentals and over $1000 if you want a convertible:

$1,000 a day to rent a car? Low supply, surging demand are pushing up prices in Hawaii (hawaiinewsnow.com)

Normally, I’m quite pro-capitalism. I understand that TO A DEGREE, supply and demand are going to factor into cost. Doing so covers the cost of increasing the supply to meet demand.

HOWEVER… Where do we draw the line in this kind of instance? Where does the law of supply and demand become predatory capitalism? I’m not sure I have an EXACT answer there, BUT, 10x the normal going rate would seem to be across that line. We rented a Mustang GT convertible a year and a half ago for our honeymoon and only paid $100 a day, which is still pricey compared to most other locations.

Wouldn’t an ethical business simply go out and buy some cars from local dealerships to increase their fleet size? At $100 a day rental rate, the car loan note can be paid for on 5 days of rental per month.

Just because you CAN do something doesn’t make it right. Look at the price hikes on insulin as another example. Somewhere along the lines the idea of business ethics got flushed and replaced with the SHORT SIGHTED idea that the only duty a business had was to provide as much short term profit as possible to it’s investors. If one has NO ability to ponder consequences, that sounds great also. In the long term though, it destroys a business’s reputation and customer loyalty. Look at Banks and Airlines as two other examples. They’re both hated.

Worse, these greedy businesses are only fueling the call for Socialism or outright Communism by people who don’t understand these are even worse alternatives.

How to Fix Social Media

A review of Parler on Renard’s website got me thinking about the mess that is social media

Image via SocialMediaExplorer.com

The bias, cliques and general toxic nature of it all has made me walk away from it entirely years ago. I’m still not sure a blog counts as social media, but this is it for me. 🙂

The reality though is that all social media platforms are EASY to fix. Easy in the sense that the solution is straight forward, but it does require work. What’s the answer? Simple:

Ages ago, back when the closest thing to social media was .vbb (virtual bulletin board – similar in form to reddit, although a little more primitive) discussion sites, I helped moderate one of the biggest ones out there. The code of conduct there was pretty straight forward. The biggest rule that we used to define Trolling and abusive behavior was:

You can debate the idea, but DO NOT attack the person making the post.

Examples (of somewhat obvious concepts):

Debate the Idea: “Tax cuts for the rich doesn’t result in them creating more jobs via reinvestment, they just horde wealth.” Controversial enough to be an example here.

Attack the Post Maker: “What kind of idiot believes that tax cuts actually help the economy?”

Do I even have to point out how one keeps the debate more focused and civil, while the other degenerates it into ad hominid personal attacks and childish name calling?

Why isn’t it done? Simple. None of the owners of these sites want to pay for moderators, and bots aren’t sophisticated enough to differentiate yet. They also avoid dealing with tantrums claiming bias if a human moderator shuts down a troll and their followers.

Yes, there’s political and (mostly) economic bias guiding these decisions also. They don’t want to take what will inevitably be a very large hit to their user bases via this rule. Personal experience has taught me that this is fairly short term though. People LOVE having the spotlight. Take it away from them, and they’ll rant and pout, but then come back and play within the rules MOST of the time because they want their stage and audience back.

The habitual rule breakers and one who will try to skirt the rules constantly… They’ll always be there, and will act even worse without that kind of rule in place.

Of course, there’s the other issue that has to be dealt with, and that takes a cultural shift: Back then, the common sense belief was that free speech and the ability to freely debate ideas was paramount.

Nowadays everybody wants to live in an echo chamber:

The biggest step to straightening out the internet and social media specifically is that the other side has a right to speak.

I’ll be blunt, if you have to resort to silencing dissenting voices via name calling, applying labels, trolling, attempting to get people banned or blocked, etc… In short, if your ideas can’t stand the light of open honest discussion, chances are you don’t understand them yourself.

Change that and implement the above rule along with a few other common sense ones (ie no advocating violence), and social media would change fairly quickly.

Economics: The Reality of the Minimum Wage

As much as I try, some news topics are really hard to avoid. The recent debate over the minimum wage is one of them. Shockingly, I see the same arguments every time the topic has come up since I started working back in the 80s.

I swore off of political discussion but this is a social and economic issue that has been turned political via class warfare politics. So, let’s talk the truth.

The biggest flawed argument is that raising the minimum wage doesn’t cause inflation. You can find all manner of jury-rigged charts and stats to support the lie also.

Reality is that any good or service has two main costs associated with it; parts and labor. If you raise the labor cost of labor one of three things is going to happen:

  1. The price of the final product has to be increased to cover it’s increased cost of production.
  2. You cut your labor pool and force more productivity out of each member
  3. You decrease the quality of the materials used to make the product.

If one or more of those things isn’t done, the company loses money and risks going out of business. Few people anymore seem to understand that a business has expense of it’s own that have to be paid for out of their gross profits.

Let’s use a restaurant for example. WAY WAY WAY back in the day when I worked at Burger King, the manager and I used to talk alot. He explained that the restaurant has to charge 3 times what the food costs the store to cover all their expenses. You MAY have heard Robert Irvine say the same thing on episodes of “Restaurant Impossible” when coaching the people he’s helping that episode.

What expenses you ask?

  1. Payroll to employees (Labor)
  2. Local State and Federal Payroll Taxes
  3. Mandatory Employer contribution to employee social security (ie more taxes)
  4. Unemployment Insurance (yes the money that you collect as unemployment is first paid to the government by your former employer)
  5. Employee Health Insurance (in some cases)
  6. Business License Fees
  7. Franchise Licensing Fees if part of a chain
  8. Property Taxes
  9. Mortgage on the building
  10. Upkeep on the Building
  11. Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Water and Sewer, Business Phone, Internet)
  12. The actual ingredients to make the food
  13. The utensils and cookware tom make the food
  14. Dishes, boxes, wrappers; however the food is served
  15. Cleaning supplies
  16. Employee uniforms

And doubtless some other things that I didn’t remember. All of that is why a hamburger that costs $1 in food costs has to be sold for $3. That amount allows the restaurant to cover expenses and make a modest amount of money. Remember the owner needs to pay himself also so he can pay his personal bills also.

The proof of inflation can actually be tracked via the that same hamburger restaurant idea. When I was first hired by right out of high school, the minimum wage was bumped from $2.85 an hour to $3.30 an hour.

What happened right after that? The price of a Burger King “Whopper” sandwich combo meal jumped slightly to $3.35. I cashiered, so the price stuck in my head, LOL.

The price of a combo meal at almost any fast food restaurant has stayed almost the exact same amount as the minimum wage also. The Federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. What does anything actually worth eating in terms of a combo meal cost? About $7.

Yes, you can get cheaper stuff, like the $5 specials that the low quality fast food places (McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell) run, but are any of those items worth eating? Typically, the ingredients are cheapened down to the point the food is barely edible. I joke about the typical fast food chicken nugget being made from ground up beaks and claws for example, LOL. Then they drown the junk in some cheap vinegary sauce and hope you don’t notice.

Reality is most fast food and quick serve places have cheapened all their menu item ingredients because they can’t get anyone to work for under $9 an hour but still have to keep prices down. So to balance profits they’re selling $5 meals for $7 and paying the employee $9 to make it.

It’s not just restaurants though. Everybody’s wages go up, so prices go up across the board. Net result, we have inflation and the little guy has no more buying or saving power despite the increase in income.

You can’t squeeze much more productivity out of the average worker either, so cutting labor and demanding more from those who remain isn’t a viable answer.

“Real” minimum wage in the above chart I’m assuming means the legal minimum wage adjusted for inflation / actual buying power as compared to the past. Note that it’s stayed moderately consistent while productivity has soared.

Some of that productivity is automation assisting jobs (which typically means fewer hands needed to do the same amount of work), and the rest is just employers demanding more from employees. Anybody recall being expected to fill multiple roles after the housing bubble burst, if you were lucky enough to keep a job?

The irony about all of this is that even Investopedia is full of double speak here and it’s typically a decent source of info for basic economic concepts:

With regard to inflation, so-called wage push inflation is the result from a general rise in wages. According to this hypothesis, in order to maintain corporate profits after an increase in wages, employers must increase the prices they charge for the goods and services they provide. The overall increased cost of goods and services has a circular effect on the wage increase; eventually, as goods and services in the market overall increase, higher wages will be needed to compensate for the increased prices of consumer goods.

So that’s what Ive been saying. But the next paragraph down in the article, they argue against that idea and that the only alternatives are cutting workers of quality of goods, BY SAYING THAT’S THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE!!!

According to economic analyst Ed Rensi, formerly an executive at McDonald’s, a higher minimum wage would not only kill existing jobs but also result in closing a substantial number of small businesses, from 15% to 20%. In theory, raising the minimum wage forces business owners to raise the prices of their goods or services, thereby spurring inflation. In actual practice, however, it is not so simple since wages are only one part of the cost of a product or service paid for by consumers. A higher minimum wage can be offset (ie inflation avoided) by heightened productivity by workers or trimming down a company’s manpower.

Are you getting the message yet, folks? You’re being scammed in an effort to buy votes when NOTHING will truly change.

Is There a Real Answer?

This one is harder to answer than it should be. The standard conservative answer is education. However, “everybody deserves a college degree” worked out as well as “everybody deserves a house”. There was so much graft, misrepresentation and sometimes lazy students, that we’re sitting on another economic time bomb with student debt. In an ideal world, education would be the answer. The more you know, the more you make. Flipping hamburgers could be left to kids in school or robots and everybody would go on to make a living wage at a “real job” as my mother used to call them.

Aside from the problem with needing to clean up the system, things are evolving so fast that training and education are often obsolete in 5 to 10 years, even some hard science advanced degrees. How does the average person keep up with that??

Then there’s the whole issue of jobs becoming increasingly replaced by automation as well. New York City has some fast food restaurants that are completely automated now (in response to their $15 per hour minimum wage no less). There’s even efforts to replace lawyers with robots. Good riddance there, LOL

People are becoming obsolete in general. The ultimate answer may be some form of universal income. That’s scary in how much power it gives the government over the lives of it’s citizens. I’m not even sure how it works as the idea goes completely against basic economics. Government doesn’t produce anything to create the wealth it wants to distribute in a universal income situation.

No, you can’t just infinitely print money either. It destroys the value of it. Think of it this way; If everybody had FIVE, (yes five) classic Mustangs like mine:

How much would ANYBODY be able to sell one for? ZERO. Even money itself operates under the law of supply and demand. The more there is of anything, the less it’s worth.

Answers? Wish I had some good ones. Right now, all I know is the dog and pony show in Washington is nothing but smoke and mirrors intended to buy votes. It’ll sadly work too.

Disgusted with Politics and Political People

The one good thing about having the memory in my PC go bad is that it gave me a couple of days to mull life over as I waited for replacement parts. I watched the DC drama and it’s aftermath, with complete and utter disgust for BOTH sides.

The last four years in general have been horrid, with name calling and toxic BS passing for political discourse. We’ve gotten to the point where neither side is even capable of objectively defending it’s own positions. Instead they both spew hateful rhetoric, lies and half truths about how the other side is nothing but hateful rhetoric, lies and half truths.

Really F’ing Productive. Call each other fascist and libcuck instead of talking out differences rationally.

Like it or not, both sides are human beings with legitimate concerns, even if they each have irrational ways of interpreting what an event may mean.

Bottom line, the problem is that politics has become much like all the new age interpretations of religions: It’s not about what’s right or wrong. It’s not about what’s best for society as a whole. It’s ONLY about padding the believer’s ego.

They’re wrong, we’re right. Spew hate. Advocate violence, censorship and imprisonment (yes, both the Left and Right have done it), tear down the ability of society to even communicate in a civilized manner, etc, etc… ALL in the name of justifying feelings of inadequacy and feeding fragile egos. Nowadays, it’s called spiritual materialism; the ego-driven need to flaunt one’s imagined superiority and enlightenment. It used to be called everything from virtue signaling & moral exhibitionism to just plain hypocrasy.

Trump and Pelosi are NOT the problem. They’re just the biggest visible manifestations of a morally bankrupt, narcissistic and sick society who would rather get on twitter and spew hate instead of talk.

News Flash: You politicos are making the world a much worse place with your hate. It doesn’t matter how self-righteous it is, or how you justify it. Hate is hate is wrong, period.

What I’ve seen the last few days has just been the icing on the cake for me. Nobody in Washington on either side can take a step back and reflect on how they contributed to the events of the last few days either. All they’ve done is double down on the attacks.

I’m completely over any further talking about politics at this point. Neither side is going to be happy until there’s an all out war.

From here on out, I’m focusing on my own growth and self-improvement. The only way to TRULY change anything in the world is to change yourself; grow as a person, tame an out of control ego, let go of hate, etc…

Be the Change instead of getting on twitter and spreading hate and misery.

The Insanity Continues

No, not the election, although the idiocy I’m seeing on both sides makes me wish I had my political blog up and running. I’ve got rants building up, LOL. NO, this time I’m revisiting our ultimate devourer of the universe; COVID-19

I’m seeing persecution and vilification of people not wearing masks, the media hyping “worst month ever” every month, and today I was in the shopping and saw the store was cleaned out of toilet paper AGAIN. MAYBE that has something to do with Biden’s 4 to 6 week lockdown talk, I don’t know. Either way it’s crazy.

You’ve been warned though; get a small stockpile yourself before it’s gone again.

“Worst month ever” I’ve seen every month for the last 4 months. You know what I’m NOT seeing though? The pictures of bodies piling up so high in New York City that they were being loaded on trucks using forklifts. That WAS happening back in March and April though. There was evidence of sick people back then. I’m not seeing even that in the last month or so. Yes, I’m saying I believe the media is lying, AND the CDC’s own stats would support that. April was still the worst month for deaths by far. I’m sure the disease is still out there doing it’s thing, just not quite at the level advertised.

That CDC web page says that in the U.S. there have been 225,683 deaths directly attributable to COVID. That’s one in every 1475 people roughly. A *typical* flu season kills around 50,000 people in the U.S. So yes, it’s roughly 5 times more dangerous than a garden variety flu. It’s also a little less contagious than measles per recent reports (which makes it pretty contagious).

We’re up to 1,309,703 deaths worldwide also, BUT the 1918 Spanish Flu killed 45 times that number of people. SO, as I keep saying; it’s dangerous and to be respected but it’s NOT the end of the universe.

Mask Derangement Syndrome: Before I get going here, let me state that I *do* believe they work and are a good preventative measure. This hysteria that anyone not wearing one is spreading COVID is insane though. First, there are legitimate medical reasons for not wearing them; primarily breathing issues.

I get touchy about masks around food myself. That’s an ideal situation for germs to travel. I don’t go out of my way to persecute people or assume they’re automatically infected though.

It also seems to be forgotten that COVID can spread via contact too. Door handles, toilet seats, table and chairs, etc… Using gloves or these silly hook tools that I see don’t do anything long term either since the germs will cover the gloves or tool and then jump to the person. They’re short term protection at best.

Those antibacterial wipes and sprays only create super germs also. “Kills 99.9% of germs” means that .1% becomes resistant and continues to multiply. So, not only are there no guarantees in life, sometimes the “cure” only adds to the problem.

Bottom line, if you want a fairy tale existence that guarantees you’re never going to run any risk of exposure, stay at home. Otherwise you’re going to have to accept the 1 in roughly 300 chance that you MIGHT come down with it, and mitigate the odds by wearing your own mask. There’s a 98 to 99 percent chance based on current and recovered cases, that if you get it, that it’s going to be relatively mild also.

Stay safe also, but in the name of humanity, the hysteria is worse than the actual virus.

Bad Neighbors and Fed Up with Life

Yes, a bit of drama and waxing (whining?) philosophical as well. 😯

I haven’t been writing much recently due to NOISY new upstairs neighbors. The joys of apartment living after moving. This isn’t the standard ‘plays music or the TV too loud’ situation either. These people have two fairly large dogs, and instead of walking and exercising them, they just throw a ball around the apartment and let them chase it and fight over it. We’re talking as late as 3am also.

The problem is it sounds something like this at about 60 MPH:

OR, maybe this:

Worse is that the police (we’ve had them out 5 times in two weeks) and apartment management won’t do anything about it. The police need to hear it themselves they claim and the apartment managers want recorded evidence.

Recorded evidence sounds reasonable enough on the surface, except that cell phones don’t record well at any kind of distance, AND do have limited background noise reduction as well. That last part reduces the bass of the ‘thumpity thump’ as they run around up there. Net result, we have to have the apartment dead silent and be on a step ladder with the phone up to the ceiling to get a good recording.

These sociopath upstairs neighbors have gotten more passive aggressive in their games too. After the first few times calling the police about LATE night dog noise, the neighbors started playing stop start games with the noise. They’d make all manner of racket for 10 minutes or so, stop for 30ish minutes and then start again, etc… Enough so that they think we’ll look like idiots when the police show up and hear nothing. They know exactly what they’re doing and don’t care, which is what infuriates me.

We haven’t been able to sleep, we can’t do anything in the house for fear the noise might interfere with a potential recording… It’s left me in a sleep deprived, FOUL mood which is why I haven’t written much here. Readers don’t need toxic poop. Never mind it’s killed my creativity also.

Soooo, since being civilized hasn’t worked, getting angry hasn’t worked and expecting the system to work hasn’t worked… We’re left with getting… creative.

Life would be so much simpler if I was truly evil. Key their car, slash their tires, use an ultrasonic tormentor to harass their dogs, etc…

Instead, I’m left with outmaneuvering them. That means ordering better sound recording equipment (including a shotgun microphone) and going total silent on reporting here so that they think they can get away with more. It’s worked too, they’re already falling back into old habits. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of evidence to break our lease and potentially sue.

In the mean time though, we’re left having to sleep with shooting range foam ear plugs in to get any kind of decent night’s sleep, and I have to TRY to write wearing gun mufflers to block the racket.

The LIFE Part; AKA I’m Always Angry

This problem just seems to be so symptomatic of life anymore, and my entire life on a personal level. I *should* be in a good place after escaping the constant late night criminal activity in our old neighborhood. Instead, I’m left with nearly as bad a situation because self-absorbed, selfish and lazy neighbors can’t be bothered with properly exercising their dogs, or having ANY consideration for their neighbors.

How much of life would be SO much better if people simply had a little (un)common courtesy and thought of others? Put the shopping cart in the cart corral, throw your trash IN the dumpster not all around it (yes, that’s an issue here also), actually park the damned car BETWEEN the lines, not straddling them and taking up two spaces, move over to a slower lane if somebody is approaching faster, cut the damned noise out after 9pm and think about your neighbors, etc…

I could go on and on. It’s a narcissism that reaches all the way up to how people discuss social and political issues. Me, me, me… I’m right, you’re wrong, in your face… Why do so many people hate Trump? It’s like looking in a mirror, only HE is a successful ass and they’re just asses.

As somebody who has always been one to TRY to do the right thing and think about how my actions impact others, AND always seeming to end up getting screwed because of it, I’m REALLY getting fed up with it too

Yes, that’s an apropos video too because these folks made me wish I could get away with some Hulk type responses:

That scene resonated with so many people because too many of us have had at least one smug ass in our lives that deserved what Loki got.

Reality though; if you’re a decent person, you know that accomplishes nothing in the long run. Same with the aforementioned keying a car, slashing tires, etc… All it does is add to the misery in the world. That coming from a HUGE believer in the right to self-defense as well.

So where’s my rant leading? I’m just wondering where the justice is in the world anymore. I’ve been thwarted at seemingly every turn in my life. Is the ability to even get a good night’s sleep so much to ask from life and the universe? Hell, I’d love the opportunity to get ahead in life too and not have to worry about being old and broke. No handouts; just the chance to honestly earn and achieve something myself without some immoral, self-centered prick sabotaging it.

For all you self-improvement types, I get the whole expectations thing too. From a psychological or metaphysical perspective, there’s a truth to we get what we expect. Like energies attract, your subconscious will lead you in the direction you expect, etc…

That doesn’t make it any easier to get ahead though when so many people out there expect it’s their God-given right to get ahead at your expense. It’s alot easier to destroy than create too.

Improvise, adapt and overcome? Been there, tried that. The more creative I try to get, the more life turns up the screws.

Yeah, the burnout is showing. That’s what happens when you’ve been up all night and it’s 4:30am. It’d just be really nice to start seeing the jerks of the world get what’s coming while the good people get or stay ahead (and I know there are successful good people out there too).

First world problems? Probably. It shouldn’t be that damned much to expect a decent night’s sleep on the edge of small town America though, nor should anyone have to deal with “too bad, you have 8 more months on that 6 month lease though” in response to it.

Celebrities, Labels and Other Nonsense

I just finished reading yet another article about another celebrity identifying as this label vs that label.  It’s a pair of pet peeves of mine also, sooooo time for a rant… or two mini rants.

Celebrities:

Is the public EVER going to face the cold, hard reality that being an actor, singer or model does NOT make one a rocket scientist? 

Quite the contrary in most cases.  Dedication to their craft means they haven’t spent much time at all studying physics, critical thinking, etc…  In fact, Brian May of Queen fame is the only legitimate rocket scientist (astrophysicist to be specific) that I know of in the category of celebrity performers.

In my observation, the less a celebrity knows, the more likely they are to loudly voice an opinion on everything too.  I’d say it comes from a deep-seated psychological insecurity from knowing they contribute little to society beyond an ability to amuse and entertain.  Broad generalization?  Absolutely!  I could cite several easy examples though, such as the entire gaggle of Kardashians, or Kyrie Irving (and Shaq).

Think for yourselves, folks.  You don’t need somebody in a gated Hollywood mansion or a multi-million dollar Manhattan penthouse who travels in closed circles, and has zero clue what the real world is like telling you what’s right for you, how to think and how to live YOUR life.

Labels:

On to the main rant.  Need I say that this is something that makes NO sense to me.  Labels are a way to categorize people and put them into a box.  Liberal, Conservative, Straight, Gay, Disabled, Black, White…

OK, I get it to a degree.  Our brains are designed to categorize things to make processing information easier.  Let’s face reality though; everybody is unique!  Racial identity, sexual orientation, religion, etc… should mean FAR less than the content of a person’s character.  Said judgment about THAT should also be made only after making an effort to truly understand the other person.

A huge part of the reason our political process is completely toxic now is because people blindly apply labels they can’t even properly define, and then make gross assumptions about the people thus labeled.  True on both sides, period.

Sometimes I REALLY wonder if people even think about the labels they mindlessly switch in order to feel “enlightened”.  Take handicapped as a perfect example.  George Carlin did a great couple of jokes about the way that term got substituted with several others such as “handicapable” and how it sounded like people were trying to BS themselves into believing the issue didn’t exist (in order to avoid facing it).

FINALLY, years back, the term “Disabled” was somehow settled upon as more enlightened and compassionate.  But is it really?  Handicapped, by definition, means that a person can do something but is at a disadvantage doing it.  Disabled…  That means it can’t be done at all.

So, which is really more compassionate and uplifting to people stuck with the condition and label?

Yes, sometimes labels are abused by unthinking members of the public.  “Retarded” being a great example.  By it’s proper definition, the term isn’t demeaning at all:

Occurring or developing later than desired or expected; delayed.

I’d argue that with many of these abused labels, it’s NOT the label that needs to be changed, it’s the people misusing them.  Forcing a change in labels is not going to change the condition NOR human nature.

I’m going to go WAY out on a limb here (at least as far as some will be concerned) and talk about labels in the LGBTQ community, as it seems to be a particularly contentious area regarding labels anymore.

In my opinion, the community has gotten FAR too obsessed with labels anymore.  One of the things I think the gay rights movement did right years ago is that they didn’t overtly stress over most labels.  In fact, if a label wasn’t completely derogatory (such as ‘fag’), they’d outright own it, and turn it around into a symbol of pride.  That’s what happened with ‘gay’ and ‘queer’, for example.  I believe that legitimately helped advance the cause also.

NOW, the community is not only more militant in going after others, but it’s turning in on itself too, as every little variation in sexual preference has to have a unique label.  Is it really that hard to just accept that bisexuality comes in a spectrum, as a major example?  Instead there’s more contention over that than I see on twitter over what qualifies somebody as a “real” writer.

The militant attitude in general there, AND displayed by other groups, isn’t helping anyone either.  You can’t beat somebody into accepting you, much less liking or embracing you.  That’s a process that involves mutual courtesy.  Also a rant for another time.

So yeah… Is “lesbian” or “queer” any more valid than the other?  I could point out that “lesbian” merely identifies a sexual orientation, where as “queer” means strange or abnormal.  The real answer should be “Who Cares?” though.  Again, it’s a person’s character and actions that should ultimately matter, not their gender, race, orientation, etc…

Just be a good PERSON, and the rest will fall into place.

Attacks on Religion are Getting Old

No, I’m not going to be advocating for any religion; this one is a rant about having respect for others’ beliefs.

It was prompted by a blog post I saw recently with a little parable about how spiritual people were superior to religious ones because spiritual people have never killed anyone in the name of their god (or gods).

I’ve seen faulty analysis like this for years, along with imagined intellectual superiority by atheists; mocking people for believing in any sort of higher power. The irony here is that I’d consider myself more spiritual than religious. HOWEVER, I do strongly believe in respecting others’ beliefs and opinions, at least in as much as they’re willing to show the same level of tolerance.

Before I really get going, let me first state that I know the people I’m going to complain about are NOT indicative or reflective of the entire groups they represent. They are, however, the most vocal minority within each of these groups.

The Faulty Logic:

Let’s start with the easiest point to dispute. I’ve heard everybody from atheists, to spiritual people, to western wannabe Buddhists and Neo-pagans / Wiccans talk about the evils of organized religion, and how they persecute and kill anyone who disagrees with them.

The most obvious point is one that seems to fly over the heads of everybody nowadays, be it political debate, social issues or this topic: Hypocrisy.

How does one blanket condemn entire groups of people for something and then presume to hold themself up as more enlightened and morally superior? At best, that’s the same sort of tribalism that’s being condemned. If one wants to prove the superiority of their path, the only TRUE way to do is by elevating their own thinking and actions, NOT by tearing down those of others. Yes, that goes for you religious folks too.

Reality is, NO group is perfect. Zero… NONE.

I’ve seen “spiritual” people lie, cheat, steal, use and abuse people, etc… Many of the global elites who have started more recent wars have described themselves as “spiritual” also. They do evil in the name of their own selfish, petty desires, which, ironically can be argued to be their gods in some cases.

Eastern religions are NOT pacifist either. Some of the most brutal, effective and battlefield tested martial arts come from their teachings. Shaolin monks were some of the greatest warriors in China and often conscripted by the Emperor as troops. That’s the past, and they’re evolving you say? True, but the same is true of all belief structures.

Atheists; well communists are the largest block of atheists. “Religion is the opiate of the masses” – Marx. Do I *REALLY* have to get into how many people that Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot massacred in the name of their better world?

I’ve seen “enlightened” Wiccans lecture others about karma and then freely throw literal curses over the slightest offense. Many of the loudest critics of how they’re perceived and treated by religious people, at least that I’ve met, have been pretty blindly prejudiced against religious folks themselves. They also forget the shoe used to be on the other foot with pagans enslaving, murdering and persecuting Christians, Jews and Muslims, and even each other.

It’s In The Past, and Sometimes Distorted:

It’s a bitter irony of modern times that nobody wants to be held accountable for their current actions, yet they’re quick to condemn others for actions in the far past.

Slavery and religious wars are two great examples of this on a macro level.

Politicians are quick to invoke God to try to lend themselves an aura of righteousness where none typically exists, but a true “holy war” probably hasn’t been fought since the crusades.

Speaking of the Crusades… This is a prime example of distorted history. The Crusades were not wars of aggression by Christians. They were wars to take back lands from invading Muslims, who had made it as far as Spain before being driven back to the Middle East.

No, I’m not condemning Muslims either. It was a different time, and I believe the wars were fought just as much over land and limited resources as they were ideology. The “different time” thing is the biggest factor here however. If you want to be judged by your own actions and NOT those of an ancestor, or somebody loosely connected to your past, then extend that same right to others.

Another historical distortion; the Salem Witch Trails. They went on for almost a year. Only 20 actually died directly from trials though. Another 5 died as an indirect result, and five more are questionable. The trials were about greedy people going after neighbor’s lands, other petty revenge schemes, and bratty girls looking for attention, more than they were about religion.

An Ugly Unspoken Truth:

Here’s another reality that just about everyone has seen if they’re willing to be honest:

Many, but not all, of the biggest critics of religion simply just want to be able to run amok as they see fit and not be told there are any consequences to their actions, nor any values they should adhere to.

These same people would freely complain about how corrupt capitalism has become (as an example) while fighting to remove any sort of moral or religious teachings from society.

How many of you know that for ages the Catholic church considered the charging of (financial) interest to be a serious sin for example? If that single idea were in place, would we have mega-corporations and evil giant banks controlling economies? Unfortunately, that idea went out the door about the time of the Protestant reformation.

My points here being that not all change is good, and that organized religion has had good and bad points or moments. ANY organization made up of humans does.

As a final point before wrapping up… Every religion and philosophy this side of satanism and pure hedonism has some form of a “code of conduct” along the lines of the 10 commandments. I really doubt anyone can make a rational argument how guidelines against lying, stealing, murdering, etc… make society worse. One can split hairs like The Pharisees all day about when bending the truth is OK, but as a general rule, any sane person is going to agree that lying is bad.

Likewise, just because people fail to live up to the ideal does NOT make the ideal wrong. It means we need to strive harder, and help each other along towards it, even if we all never fully achieve it. That’s what an ideal is all about.

Instead, we try to tear down each other’s ideals and step on our fellow human being in order to give ourselves an imagined boost up. That’s what inspired this rant in the first place.

Wrapping It Up:

None of the above is to say religion is perfect or has done everything right. As I said earlier, no system run by human beings is going to be. All of the above criticisms can be applied to a small but overly vocal minority of Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc… as well as spiritual people, atheists and such.

If you want people to change, you have to lead them by example though. Beating somebody down physically or verbally doesn’t make you correct, it just makes you a bully. Seek understanding and lead by example instead. Show them by example how your ideas are better instead of insulting and telling them they’re inferior.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. Do unto others as you would have them do to you.

If your ideas truly are better, they’ll naturally catch on without you having to beat down others to promote them.

Roomba for BBQ Grills!?! O_o

Yes, I kid you not. I was looking up some grilling info on YouTube earlier and I got THIS as a commercial before the video started:

On the surface, it’s a cool idea. But, really… how freaking lazy do you have to be that you can’t scrub off the grill racks? Even if you don’t full wash them, it only takes 30 seconds or so to scrub them with a wire brush.

THIS level of laziness is why Western society is in freefall.

On top of that, the thing just runs around on the surface of the grill, bouncing off the walls. Ergo those exposed bristles are going to end up damaging the interior paint. High heat powder coat paint is NOT cheap either.

If you had a bare stainless steel interior like some newer grills, I suppose you’d be OK there. Otherwise, I’ll pass.

Oh and did I mention it has lithium ion batteries BUT is safe up to 250 degrees per the commercial? Yeah. Lithium ion batteries LOVE heat, LOL.

Well, this reviewer liked it anyway:

Watching a few reviews, I don’t believe this thing cleans any better than I could do in a minute or two with a good wire grill cleaning brush though.