Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Informed Decisions

This morning in the waiting room of the doctor's office, I was eavesdropping on the people in front of me. Truthfully, I was trying to listen to the TV in front of them and they were loud so I couldn't help it. Anyway, I didn't really hear the context of their conversation but I did distinctly hear this "she don't know me so who cares what she thinks about me anyway?" This is a common theme with people. I understand where they're coming from - a total stranger has no investment in your life so why care about their opinion, right? I get it. I just don't agree.

I care very much what strangers think of me. I won't alter myself to fit the image they want necessarily, but I care. It's the people who know me well that I don't care as much about their opinion. I know it sounds crazy, but let me explain. There's a method to my madness.

If I just met you and you don't like me, I get upset. You don't know me yet. Get to know me and make an informed decision. A first impression, while important, is not enough to base a whole decision on. That's like saying, "we tried this new drug to cure cancer on a single lab rat and it didn't work. I guess it's a bust." You need more data points to come to an accurate conclusion.

Now if someone I've known for many years - like Dr. Jim - said, "dude, after 20 years of being your friend I've come to the conclusion that you're just a prick. I can't hang out with you anymore." I'd be hurt. Hell, I'd be devastated because he's one of my best friends in the world, but I'd understand. I can respect that you did your due diligence and put the time in. You know me as well as anyone can and you've decided that I'm not for you. After 20 years, you're sure about your decision because it comes from a very informed place. You've earned the right to decide you don't like me.

Like I mentioned, new people don't know me and likewise I don't know them. What that means to me is that I have no way of knowing how they'll play into my life in the future. Don't decide on me quickly because who knows what we have to offer each other down the line. Maybe your father's sister's neighbor is an executive somewhere that'll meet me and offer me a job. Maybe you'll need tech help or a photographer and I can help. You just never know.

After two decades, it's safe to say that Dr. Jim knows what I have to offer in life and has factored that into his decision. Things should be weighed and measured. Ask the question "why?" Consider two things - value added and felt effect. What is the value added to life by a person? If you know the answer and it's nothing, then walk. If it's a stranger, then there's no way you know yet and should find out. If the felt effect is positivity or negativity adjust accordingly. If you haven't felt an effect of someone, give it time.

Dr. Jim hasn't walked away from me. He was just a reference point because he knows me well enough to make that decision. Maybe he does think I'm a prick. I called him something similar yesterday - I think it was an impatient asshole - but he supported it and thinks he is one too. Actually I was just teasing him because as a doctor he's supposed to have patients... or patience - that was the joke. Besides, he needs me for tech advice. I need him for doctor advice so we're stuck with each other.

Anyway, I know it goes against the grain. I shouldn't care about strangers and I should care about those close to me. At least that's what societal norms tell me. I just don't see it. Maybe I overanalyze people the way I do situations and that's why I need to know someone well before deciding they are a jerk. I have no idea. I guess what it comes down to is that when I meet someone new I'm leery about making a decision because I'm not sure what I'm losing out on down the line. Simply, I hedge my bets, back my wins and cut my losses - but I gotta know the odds before I do any of it. Phrased in the way of a true gambler, right?

Maybe you agree, maybe you don't. Just think about it the next time you meet someone new and pull away. Think about all the ways this person may play into your life and if you don't know any of them yet, you may wanna hang tight until you do. You could be missing a great opportunity.

Overall, just be informed. It never hurts to know, read, understand, see or comprehend MORE.

Friday, May 20, 2011

People in glass houses with loose lips call the kettle black

I like proverbs, cliches and stereotypes. I know that's not politically correct to say, but I don't like political correctness. This is why my mouth has always gotten me in trouble. I believe in honesty, transparency and, most importantly, context. Words are not bad, in and of themselves. Not much really is. Until the mini-mustachioed Hitler held it up to a mirror, stuck it in an falcon's claw and emblazoned it on a flag; what we know today to be a swastika was actually a sign of good luck in Tibet. It's connotation that ruins things for everyone.

Stereotypes are often given a bad rap. Stereotypes are stereotypically bad. That sounds like a mighty fine level of hypocrisy to me. How can apply a blanket policy that bans blanket policy as a society. This plays in so many parts of life, but often takes up residence in racial settings. I'm in the military. We're a fairly diverse bunch. Being a northerner, or damn Yankee as I'm called down here, I have to learn to live with all kinds of people, over 99% of which are not even a little bit like me. I have no problem with it. It is because of that I take issue when I apply a stereotype and get yelled at.

What is a stereotype exactly? Oxford English dictionary tells me it is a "widely held, but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing." So would a saying like - all lemons are sour be a stereotype? That idea is widely held. It's fixed in people's minds and I'd say it's over simplified because the lemon eaters of the world will say there's more to a lemon than it's sourness. Does anyone come to the aid of the defenseless lemon? So I'm being a bit silly, but that's the definition. How do stereotypes come to be? The same things happen over and over again. Acts are perpetrated by a class or group of people with a unifying characteristic so often that it comes to be expected.

Let's look at the post-9/11 world. Do we say that all bearded people are terrorists? Nope. We do, often, say that Muslims are terrorists. This is not necessarily true. There are many Muslims that couldn't be further from terrorists. However, let's look at changing the qualifier. Can't say Asians, even though the part of the world that we are at odds with is really in Asia because people think of the far east. So what do you say? Dark complexioned people? I'm mostly Sicilian and I turn straight brown by August. I'm not a terrorist, nor are my ancestors. So we default to the religious aspect. For the sake of science, let's consider those alternatives. How many acts of terrorism have been carried out by Christians (post Crusades)? Jews? When's the last time a Buddhist monk set anything on fire besides himself? Looking at acts of terrorism in our current world, they are religiously charged and completed by Muslims. Granted, they are Muslims of the extremist variety and maybe that qualifier should be added when discussing it but at its core, that's the religion creating the drama. There's quite a bit more than a modicum of truth to the thought about Muslims and terrorists.

So I use stereotypes. I didn't make the X-number of people of a particular race/ethnicity/religion/geographical location/etc do something so many times that it becomes expected, but I'm sure as shit not going to dance around the fact that the association is made. Maybe that's an opportunity for the good eggs of the group to become advocates for their people to spur disassociation. Positive outreach, perhaps?

Understanding that stereotypes, like ANYTHING, have exceptions and are generalizations rather than rules, make the whole thing ok in my book. Unfortunately, the coddling that goes on requires us to be sensitive and not say it out loud. There's that "the whole truth" thing I spoke about a few days ago.

Proverbs or cliches (defined by the level of cheesiness, I believe) are something else that I'm a real big fan of - hence the title. Yes, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. People may look at your glass house and see you naked. Actually, I think it's because someone may throw a stone back and break your house, which incidentally is your own fault for living in a glass house. That's gotta be expensive to heat in the winter, too. I get it. Don't judge people. I hate being judged. It's one of the worst things in the world and I'm at odds with some people currently over it. There is a difference between fair and unfairly judging people I think. If I do something that applies to and affects only me, I shouldn't be judged by anyone. It's my business. When I overstep my freedoms and my bad choices affect other innocents, then it's no longer my business. You can also judge my actions, but not me as a person. You can judge my actions because some things are just wrong - by society, law, or morals. It's safe to say that punching a stranger in the nose is something that people can pass judgment on.

Loose lips sink ships. I think loose seals in the hull... or an iceberg... may sink ships, but loose lips? (by the way, please don't ever say lose. That means it's misplaced and you can't misplace your lips... they're attached to your head). Maybe if the captain of a ship is talking to a pretty girl too much instead of steering than loose lips can sink a ship. I guess the meaning there is that people who talk to much, let word get around that may or may not be true and it undermines the effectiveness of a team of people. Rumor mill type stuff. That's my guess.

The pot calling the kettle black. First of all, what if the pot is green and the kettle is black? Then why the hell would the pot NOT call the kettle black? Really people. What if the pot is a dark gray and it's not in a well lit area? It could appear to be black. What if the pot is color blind? Has anyone considered these scenarios? So let's say it's noon on a sunny day and they're both black. The pot shouldn't call the kettle black, even though it is and everyone can see it. I shouldn't say something bad about someone that does something wrong because I've done that too. Maybe I didn't mean to. Maybe I've atoned for it. Maybe the kettle is not penitent for his transgression. Frankly, the situation that surrounds the act may make it worse for one person than another. But then there's the glass house thing again. Geez, nobody can have an opinion anymore.

Here's the thing (and we'll use the Muslim terrorist reference again). I judge them. I talk about them. I'm negative, but I do it in context and as it applies to me. You think I care that Muslims don't like how I live my life? Nope. They can cover their wives and kneel on their flying carpets all day long and hate me because I don't. But when they choose to try to end my life over it, I'm gonna be pissed about it. I can throw stones at their houses, which is usually worthless since theirs are made of stone anyway. But if they lived in glass ones I could throw stones at it. I do my thing, in my country, on my own, as it applies to me. And I say, in deference to them, you do your thing and I'll do mine. As for the pot/kettle thing, I suppose I could take flack for being in the military and causing death and destruction since they do the same, but there's a big, Big, BIG difference. I help kill enemy combatants. They kill whoever is standing nearby, including themselves. I'm part of a military that's acting in response to their attacks. Self-defense and self-preservation. We were fine to ignore them until they showed up with a sucker punch (more than once - remember 1993?).

I guess the point is that... well I'm not really sure to be honest. Wait... I think I found it. Using judgmental cliches about why people are bad for judging others may sound silly, but it's the context that makes the difference. I was going to write a whole post on judging people and hypocrisy but I think this may have covered it actually.

If I listen to my TV loudly and you don't like it, don't judge me. If you listen to your TV so loudly that it wakes me up from another apartment, I'll judge you because your actions infringe on mine and that's wrong. That's rude. I can think you're rude over the whole thing. If what I'm doing affects only me then you have no place to tell me it's wrong because it's simply not your business.

And to think, the whole post could have been done in 5 sentences. Where's the fun in that though?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Who is surprised?

If you're reading this AND a friend on Facebook, you should have seen a status from earlier today that said, "So what you're saying is that a super rich movie star with political power that's known for being a womanizer has cheated on his wife. I don't know about you but I'm shocked." Let's retrace the governator's steps. He gets his start by being one of the most famous bodybuilders and Mr. Universe. It's no secret that many women like a well built man. He moves into movies and we're talking about tough guy, badass movies. He's an action hero. Girls want him and guys want to be him. Both combined he's got enough financial worth to give everyone in his home country $50,000,000 each. He married a Kennedy. His latest endeavor made him governor of California. That's the man we're dealing with.

So yesterday we find out he had a child out of wedlock. According to several websites, 41% of marriages have one or both parties admit to infidelity, 57% of men admit to it in any relationship they've had, and 74% of men claim they would have an affair if they knew they'd never get caught. These are normal people, not the folks from Hollyweird. Now think about how many celebrities you hear about having affairs. Now, just for giggles think about the men that share blood with Maria Shriver... yeah the Kennedy's were no angels. Ok, back to the point. Oh, I forgot a fact. Mrs. Terminator said publicly, today that she knew for years he was a womanizer.

So, I ask you... where's the surprise coming from? Do I condone what he did? Absolutely not. Do I understand why such a high profile person would ever do that give the amplified risks and so much more to lose? Not even a little. Does any of this surprise me one iota? Not a chance.

If he was a nobody, would this get press? No way because people do it all day long. What about a regular governor that wasn't a celebrity or household name outside of his or her state? It'd get mentioned. Constituents would be furious and then use it as a means to get "their guy" in office and then it would die. So why is it worse or even more newsworthy when it's Arnie? It's not. It's LESS newsworthy because his situation has the writing on the wall that it would happen long before it did happen. I think he's just lucky he's not dealing with the Kennedy family of the 1950s or he's be in a heap of trouble. I don't care how big Arnold is, Ol' Joe Kennedy would whoop his ass. He was tough for a Democrat.

And can the Communist News Network (you call it CNN), please drop the outrage that he lied to his voters? How many of his voters are a) California hippies that are busy eating granola in trees or trying to restore The Haight to the glory days of 1967 or b) busy cheating on their spouses in a cheap motel with no TV in the first place? Did you really think he was gonna come out and say anything before he had to?

Does the fact that he had naughty time with someone other than Maria mean he can't make sound decisions about budgets and laws? What's the real harm for the voters? Yes it's wrong and dishonest. Did you elect him because you liked the way he treated his wife or for his policies? His personal life is exactly that - personal.

Oh and partisan folks using party lines to blame this on the Republicans and use the conservative family values thing against him; I've got something for you too. Who cheated while holding a very special circular office? Clinton. Party? Democrat. Who else? Kennedy. Party? Democrat. I'm not getting on the case of the Dems. Just saying that party lines have nothing to do with this. The only lines Conan was interested in were panty lines.

So back to my original question - who is surprised?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Let's be friends

I'm not actually asking. More or less I'm making fun of most people. See, this is the new default policy due to social networking. It is as if the the entire world is some tween girl cheerleader. They meet someone and 3 seconds later it turns into "OMG. We SO have to be BFFs on Facebook." Grow up. I love Facebook, Twitter, and all social media. I truly do. The value is limitless in business and finding old friends or growing new relationships. However, you may notice that my Facebook friends list went from 650 to 413 and on Twitter I have 321 followers, but only follow 244 people.

The world today consists of "friending" everyone you've ever met, know of through someone else, heard of as a celebrity, or may have seen on the street and had the wherewithal to use your stalker ability, spidey-sense and Sherlock Holmes clue finding skills to track down and friend request in a total non-creepy way. And there has developed a subculture about accepting these friend requests. People feel awkward denying them and it's even harder to delete them once they've made it to the inner sanctum of your Facebook friends list that contains only the closest of confidants, right? I don't get it either, but it's happened.

Not to me, holmes. I'll deny a friend request faster than you can say "Mark Zuckerberg made me do it" and just because you've been accepted it doesn't mean you can't be voted off my virtual island. Admittedly, I'm quicker to deny someone than delete someone. Let's consult with our good friend Webster on the matter. This is a friend request. So how is friend defined - a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. Well I'll be damned. A person whom one knows - so that eliminates all the people that friend me because I'm in the military just like their sister's boyfriend's cousin's hairdresser's next door neighbor. That also eliminates the people who friend request me because they graduated from the same high school as me, except they did it in 1974. This also includes someone that I may have met once. I know who you are, but I don't know you.

The 2nd half deserves its own paragraph. Mutual affection. That means we have to like each other. There goes the ex-wife. There goes the group of people I suffer through each day at work and we're only in contact because the federal government says we have to be. That even excludes pretty much anyone I just met. Just because we laughed together once, doesn't mean there's a mutual affection there.

Now... I understand I said it's a good way to grow new relationships. That means I'm not going to blindly exclude everyone. I don't believe in blanket policies... unless the policy is about everyone giving me money. But let's not swing all the to other side of the spectrum and blindly accept every person we've ever laid eyes on either. 

I'm seeing this happen right now as a matter of fact with one individual who is friending every single person. So this person recently met a bunch of new people all at once. I suppose they all got along well enough for the time they spent. Then this person pretty much disappeared. Even the tether to the crowd that this individual had in the first place is more or less nonexistent lately. But... friend requests are popping up faster than zits on a adolescents face - and across all platforms. People have chatted about it, "Dude, another request from you know who on X network." 

1) If you're friends with someone in life and online, do you need to be friends with them EVERYWHERE? Most people I'm friends with on either Facebook OR Twitter and only very few I keep on both. Those are usually business people or those that put out unique content between the 2.
2) If you're barely friends with someone in life, what's the value of chasing them up and down the information superhighway?
3) If you're getting denied in some places, why the hell would you chase them to others? 

You don't have to be friends with everyone, everywhere, every moment of the day. Some people just don't like you. Sometimes, people don't get along. This is why the amazing invention of the Internet in its amazing iteration of Web 2.0 is bloated and stuffy with more nonsense than value. It's why the social web has jumped the shark and we need to rethink it again.

Maybe it's time we think of what it means to be a friend, what we're sharing online and if we really want all these people to see it constantly. And also consider the level of desperation shown when you feel the need to friend everyone within minutes of meeting them. I think it's creepy, frankly.

What's your motive?

So often I speak of life back home and a life once lived. I tell you tales of where I've been and what I've done and how I cam to be where I currently am. I talk of family and friends and area. What I tell you is just a small portion. There is such a sense of community and belonging in that area. It's geographical, it's cultural, and to a degree it's even religious. Italians and Catholics go hand in hand where I'm from. I don't see or feel that here. I'm not sure if it's a southern thing or a military thing or a little of both. I haven't been stationed north of the Mason-Dixon line nor had an opportunity to do my due diligence and narrow it down to a part of my subculture. It's quite possible that it's just me.

What I do know is that it's changed me. The quid pro quo in my life upsets me. I do, you do is the theme. Rarely, it seems, does someone go out of their way for another without expecting something in return. A few weeks ago, while I was laid up from surgery, my buddy Ty came over and cleaned my house because I simply was unable to. He didn't want anything in return. He then offered to invite me over to his house for dinner, again without looking for a thank you of equal value. I chose to buy the ingredients for dinner as a means to say thank you, but not because I was made to feel obligated to do so. Unfortunately, this is a rarity as of late.

Dr. Jim and I would often talk about the approaches to friendship in terms of money. He and I owe each other between $10 and $20 at any given moment. I buy beers, he buys beers. It doesn't always work out evenly. If we went out to eat, we'd split the check down the middle since there was two of us. Did we consume $25 each? Not always. The money works out over time between friends and if it doesn't, who cares? It's not like I'm buying Jim a $200 iPhone and he picks up a pack of smokes for me which creates a disparity of about $194. It's a few bucks between lifelong friends.

I don't expect everyone to think like I do on this matter. Plus we all come from different financial backgrounds. I may say "aw hell, what's 20 bucks?" and someone else may not readily part with that. I will say that I find it's easier when the natural ebb and flow of money between friends runs it course instead of nitpicking. The check at a restaurant seems to be the biggest. Smartphone calculators or apps for splitting to the penny sometimes come out. "You owe $19.37 and I only owe $17.55." That's petty squabbling in my opinion. In the end, I'm gonna drop a $20 bill and be done with it anyway. (Tip notwithstanding. I'm generalizing).

I don't care about the money. People with money rarely do. I look at people like my dad or Alan, who work their respective tails off to be successful. They aren't successful because they watch every penny. They have no problem spending money, but they take huge issue with wasting it. I'm the same way. Locally, to my insular society in the military, I feel fairly unique. As a result, I end up being withdrawn in my approach and buy my own beers at the bar and don't let people pick things up for me because I don't like  being made to feel like I'm beholden to someone over it. So I take care of myself and let them do the same.

Unfortunately, these behaviors affect me because I'm on love with sociology. I look at the "whys" of people's behavior. I think "why" is the most important question in life. So, everyone once in a while someone does something nice that is totally unexpected and for no reason at all and my first reaction is to wonder, "what's in it for them?" when in reality, they're just being thoughtful. This happened today.

Anyone who knows me is aware of my sweet tooth. I'm no big on chocolate or candy bars, but put cake or a cupcake in front of me and you better be sure to get those fingers away in time. I'll fight someone over cheesecake - try me. Here in Biloxi we have a place called Frostings. They are totally decadent cupcakes and instead of icing on top only, they have a big divot in the middle and the frosting goes inside. They are rich and sweet and more than one at a time is sure to put you in a diabetic coma. I stay far, far away because even looking at the building kicks the insulin production into overdrive. I think you get the point.

Because of my transparency online, everyone knows most of what I do. Some people don't understand why I share so much, but that's besides the point. Out of the blue today, someone told me they had something for me. My first reaction was to hope it was a) a gorgeous woman, b) a duffelbag full of cash, or c) a gorgeous woman holding a duffelbag full of cash. It was none of the above, but it was a cookies n' cream cupcake from Frostings and it appeared on my desk at work while I was teaching.

Here is why this is important. It was purchased by someone I've known since I first got here in Mississippi, however not someone I see often or really at all. We speak on Facebook or when we happen to be in the same company by happenstance. We've never really be particularly close, but always get along well enough. I work with her husband. She must have been up at or near Frostings and knows I'm a big fan of moist chocolate cake slathered in vanilla buttercream with crumbled Oreo pieces mixed in (honestly, who wouldn't be? Communists, I tell ya). It's not expensive - just a couple of bucks. And even though I'm sure this person was already standing at the counter for her own purposes and did very little to add my cupcake to her order, I feel she really went out of her way to think of me.

And there's the rub. In today's society and my particular section of it, when something so small and innocuous happens, my first thought is "what don't I know?" and that really sucks. Are we all so self absorbed that we don't think of anyone else, so when someone things of us we are mistrusting? Maybe there are some people left who do nice things for nice people for no real reason other than to just, simply, be nice. That is what happened today, for sure.

I guess I just hate that this such a rarity that a simple nice deed comes with cynicism. I hate that it's a big enough even to spawn a 1180 word blog post about it. At the same time, it's nice to be pleasantly surprised like this and have some faith in the thoughtfulness of people restored (before some bonehead chips away at it again).

Anyway, the cupcake was delicious and a wonderfully simple surprise that was very unexpected both in timing and by the individual. So... thanks Angela.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

That baby is ugly

Have you ever said that? I bet not. It doesn't matter what a baby looks like, you'll call it cute to its parents face. What about in metaphor? Ever sugar coat stuff or pull your punches instead of laying things out on the line? I bet you have. We all do. It is exhausting.

I can't quite figure out why we do it either. If someone asks our opinion, why don't we give it? Why do we give a false opinion to make them smile? If they knew we were full of shit, they probably wouldn't smile. It's a tough call. Some people claim they want to hear the truth but flip out when they do. Others lose their minds when they're lied to. I'm guilty of the same duality. I HATE being lied to, but the truth hurts. Even though both hurt, there's a difference. I can respect the person that tells the truth. Not the coward that lies and can't speak up.

I got to thinking about this because I know someone who has a baby that is NOT cute. I mean not at all. I avoid photos of this child like the plague. The parents, of course, think the baby is the most adorable thing. I'm a big fan of babies and generally love them and think they are adorable. This child, however... yikes. So what do I do? Do I open up like I say you should or do it fall victim to my own hypocrisy? I find a middle ground. I say nothing at all. I don't comment one way or the other. I want to, so badly, say what I think but why break a parent's heart. I'm nobody to them and would generally have to go out of my way to do it and that's just malicious. However, I will NOT lie. I understand that lying by omission is supposedly just as bad but I disagree. Withholding a hurtful truth is not as bad as telling a boldface lie. So that's my position.

I'm assuming the parents think the baby is cute as all parents do. It's subjective and blinded by love. I don't have a kid so I don't understand that unconditional love. I think if it was my baby I'd understand why tigers eat their young.

This child aside, do you ever call the baby ugly in life? I think we all should. Maybe we shouldn't call real babies ugly because of the detriment to the parents, but the metaphorical babies should. If a situation/action/behavior is fucked up we should say it. If one person does it, it'll leave that person alone and unpopular. If everyone does it, it'll become the norm and be ok.

Imagine that... friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors, etc all being... ready for it? HONEST with each other. When someone acts like a jackass, people tell them. Then that person will stop acting like a jackass. Revolutionary concept.

A good friend tells me when I'm being a maniac. Bad friends support me blindly. I have both in my life. Some will always tell me I'm right and foster more lunacy. Dr. Jim, for example, is the first to tell me I'm out of my mind and shut me down. Sometimes that's what we need.

Before we can work on the words we say - honest or lies - we have to work on opening our mouths and saying ANYTHING to begin with. We usually avoid topics that are right in front of our faces.

More about elephants in the room another time though.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The way the media misconstrues things

There is simply no truth in journalism anymore. Bloggers have ruined web news I think. Let's keep things straight however, when I say bloggers like that, I don't mean you and I who freewrite our feelings to the world. I'm talking about the journalist bloggers. The ones who are not journalists, but report stories. They have flooded the web with half truths. Legitimate journalists race to get stories out but are beaten to the punch by the web journalists. Fact finding is a joke. Sources are not credible and the one thing that should always be factual - quoting - is the most butchered part of the story. Web journalism has also given every writer the right to opine along with report. Once again, a personal blog that's based on opinion is one thing; slanted reporting of the news is quite another.

Today I was reading a column by the loony, lefty, liberals about an opinion toward the "Radical Right-Wing Agenda." They were picking Ron "Ross Perot Ears" Paul. According the tree huggers, Ron Paul does not support civil rights. Not what he said. They claim he wouldn't have voted for the civil rights bill in 1964. Only PART of what he said.

Here's the story... he admitted he would not have voted for the 1964 civil rights bill - AS IT WAS WRITTEN. He did not agree with the parts for property owners. He never said he doesn't support civil rights, hippies. Don't choke on your granola, or do. Whatever. All of the details are left out because the left-wingnuts are not big fans of logic and/or sense. They want to scream and yell and find things to get fired up over without thinking it through and providing a sound, rational conclusion. There is no discussing things with them. I even tried to ping some of the nature lovers about the topic and they just responded with "he doesn't support civil rights." I said, "did you hear the whole story?" and got back "I heard enough, he's anti-civil rights." That's closed minded and ridiculous.

It was said to him, "Honestly, Congressman, you were not for the '64 civil rights bill."
He responded, and here comes a quote, "Because of the property rights element, not because it got rid of the Jim Crow law."

See... he's for overruling Jim Crow, just as any sane person should be. Obviously, segregation is ridiculous and wrong. He's not arguing against that an iota. He had one problem with one part of the bill and wouldn't have voted for it under its exact verbiage. What a horrible man he is right? He wanted to make change to a bill, but all the flower-power nutballs hear is that this guy was for racism and segregation.

So what's this property stuff he disagreed with anyway? Private property owners should have the right to bar entry. And you know what? I agree. It's not a black/white thing. It's a person who is paying mortgage and insurance and everything else reserves the right to ban anyone inconsistent with his/her own views of the world. I have no problem with any particular race or religion. To each, their own right? However, should an owner of a Christian bookstore have the right to remove a Satanist form their store? Let's say the Satanist is open displaying his/her beliefs within the bookstore. I say yes. Who is paying those bills? The owner. And the owner should retain the right to do what's best for the business. End of story.

That doesn't mean an owner can say, "You're X race, get out." (where x is whatever race the owner doesn't like), but if an individual based on appearance, race, etc is detrimental to the PRIVATE business, then that's that.

I once fired a girl who worked for me in a video store. She was very.... natural. She didn't believe in the removal of hair from the female body. She would wear tank top shirts and skirts. She was also petite which meant there was a lot of reaching over her head to put movies back on the shelves. I was not a fan but I was also unaffected. I received several complaints from customers, some of whom were regulars and refused to return. I had a choice to make. She got fired for inappropriate/unprofessional appearance in the workplace. Did my customers overreact? I think so. However, they keep the lights on in the place with their money. She does not. I didn't own the place, but as a store manager I had to do what was right for the business. She was a good employee, did her job, was polite, etc. Politeness doesn't pay the bills, customers do. So, the customers won.

That's the point of all of this. I'm not a tremendous Ron Paul supporter, but I'm also not a fan of the media MISQUOTING to get a point across. Ron Paul had an opinion. The media told the world of it (in their own way that changed his entire opinion). I don't see how THAT is fair.

We need SOMEONE with some damn sense

I am, apparently, incapable of staying quiet. I said I was going to do it on here and on Vig The Geek and other places, but I can't. I'm a big mouth. I have opinions. And in a world riddled with stupidity, ignorance, and people who like to twist words, I feel that my analysis of situations is a shining beacon of truth. Is that too grandiose of a description? Oh well... I don't particularly care.

So here's how this works. I'm going to post on MY blog. You can read it and love it - which I hope you will. You can read it and hate it - which makes no sense to me because I stay away from things I hate. You can just not read it at all if you don't like it - sounds like what makes sense. You can comment and provide intellectual feedback (positive or negative). We can get into discussion or debate all day long. You can even use your motivation or irritation at me to create your own blog and share your thoughts with the world. What you absolutely CANNOT do is read my posts and in a cowardly fashion anonymously vilify me. That's just not going to happen. I will either a) not even allow your comment to post or b) spend twice as much time eviscerating your in a literary fashion.

This is why I liked Myspace... just because of the name. It was MY space, not your space. You had your own space and I had mine. The meaning was terrific. Didn't like it? I didn't care. It was mine, not yours. But after years of posting status updates on Myspace and subsequently Facebook and articles on the web for news agencies, blog posts here, videos on YouTube, countless comments on forums, etc - I let the trolls get to me.

In my absence from posting I had an epiphany. Not a super bright, life changing epiphany, but one I should have already known and had a while ago. I couldn't give a shit less what people think. I write these because of the catharsis. I'm not paid, I'm not obligated. If you read them and agree, then great. If not, oh well. I like to write. I like word play. This gives me an opportunity and, just maybe, someone learns something in the process. Overall, this is for me, though, not you.

Now, because I let all the negative Nancys get to me and I shut down, I ended up with thoughts (that should have turned into posts) piling up. This means I'm going to have a lot to say in the not too distant future so be prepared to enjoy them or ignore them. Also, be prepared to be ignored if you come back with some snide, nasty remark.

I'll talk to you soon.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Breadth of hiatus expanded

Yesterday I shut down operations on the Vig The Geek brand in all aspects. Vig The Geek was the technology advice and information part of JayVig Media. I stopped all research and production on new videos and canceled publishing on future written articles for my national gadgets and tech column with examiner.com. It was a simple economic decision measuring cost to value and ROI; neither of which proved fruitful.

I've been thinking a lot more about transparency. I've been living very transparently for the last couple of years online. My life is available on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others. You can buy digital shares of me like a stock on Empire Avenue. I measure my worth and reach on Klout. I'm in everybody's face in the technology sector and have made inroads and contacts in most of the major tech corporations around the globe as well as many, many startups. My Facebook page is not private and everything I do is on display. I firmly believed in having nothing to hide and increasing your social graph by sharing. The very nature of social networking and media requires sharing and less privacy. So I adopted that principle heavily. I figured I needed to if I expected those I consult with as businesses to follow suit. This mentality permeated and pervaded every part of my life.

Now that things aren't at their peak in my life, I need to make a change. To hell with the fact that blogging is cathartic and the wonderful comments I generally receive on my writing. The Tao of Vig is halting as well after today. I was raised to believe that honesty is the best policy; that we should be open and honest with how we feel and think. Bold face lies are no better or worse than misrepresenting oneself or lying by omission. The truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth, right? I didn't always subscribe to that policy while younger, like many teenagers I'm assuming. But now I do. I'm very open. People do not have to guess what I'm thinking or feeling - I'll tell them straight up every time. No sugar coating or punch pulling here. You ask a question, you get an answer. Unfortunately, that seems to create more distress in my life than anything else. I'm resistant to accepting that because I find it hard to believe that people want to be lied to just to have their egos stroked, but I guess that's human nature.

I'm not sure how I've become who I've become. Maybe I'm frustrated with myself for still working on a 4 year degree for 14 years. Maybe my paycheck makes me grumpy. Maybe I'm sick of being far away. Maybe I wanna strangle my ex-wife for her behavior - without her I never would have reenlisted and I wouldn't be stuck here totally fucking alone. All I know is that every time I open my mouth with an honest, unadulterated response, I'm met with shock and horror on the faces of people lately. I really think that America is so used to being placated that when someone doesn't automatically started holding hands and saying "it's all gonna be ok. you're super special" that people are taken aback.

I've made myself exposed and vulnerable via my blogs, articles, videos, and posts for years now. I've been jabbed at nearly every turn (excepting a few devout supporters). I'm tired of being judged for being me. You're you. I'm me. That's how it is.

Am I hiding? Sure, a little bit I am. Running away is not my style but I've overindulged in sharing for so long that now I'm overcorrecting for all of it until I can find a happy middle. Will I be back here? Of course. Maybe sooner rather than later. I suppose it's all dependent on the muse and then inspiration to write overcomes me.

In the meantime, I'm just going to live my life. If you're a part of it, you can continue to see it. For those that aren't, I'm not going on display.

The problem here is that I truly do believe in total transparency for people and businesses and it's against my nature to hide. Unfortunately, most other people don't share my passion for media and social involvement so whether I'm right or not in my views, in the meantime they won't work. Maybe in my absence society will catch up.

JayVigMedia.com - on hold
VigTheGeek.com - closed
The Tao of Vig - temporarily suspended.
Facebook - active, but decidedly more private

Just another wallflower, for now, living my life, doing my thing quietly and privately. See you after a while.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Proof is in the logic

So now that the fanfare has died down concerning the killing of Osama Bin Laden, everyone is using their Internet muscles to scream about wanting proof that it's him and not a doppleganger. Of course it's him. The government did DNA testing to verify that. Oh wait, you don't trust the government? Neither do it. You think they're idiots? Me too. However, let's assume that amongst all of them, even the simplest principles can be applied. Now let's weigh the pros and cons of lying and what his death really means.

As we know, Jihad is the struggle of Islam and in our case, refers to martyrdom for most of our enemies. So, the way I see it, there were a couple of ways for Osama Bin Laden to have died with a couple of results.

First, is that we found him in some subterranean shithole, dead, covered in his own shit with a low battery warning on his dialysis machine. Did he die for his cause? With pride? Is he a martyr? I'm gonna say the answer is a huge, resounding NO.

Second, we kill him. The infidel Americans take him out and he dies for his cause. He's a hero and a martyr and every Islamic nutball with an AK-47 and too much opium in his bloodstream wants to be just like him. He died for Jihad and is a hero to his people. This is what happened.

If we kill him, we reignite his cause. If he dies in a Pakistani cave, a lot of his cause dies with him. So... why lie? If anything, they should have killed him and said they found him, already dead.

Next, there are thousands and thousands of Americans with wide open wounds since 9/11, many of which will never heal entirely and some not at all. This is a little closure. Unless our government is not just inept, but purposeful about hurting citizens, why lie?

So if YOU were to see a body, could you determine it was him? If you saw a death certificate or the DNA results, YOU could verify them to be true? Our government makes mistakes at times (as does every individual person screaming for proof), but this is such a major event that means to much, I find it hard to believe that they'd lie or overlook simple details.

Will there be retaliation from Muslim extremists? I'd say so. Will someone take his place? I'd say so. Is the war over? Absolutely not. Some Americans, will lash out at Muslims because, let's face it, we've got some dummies. The war could escalate. Again, why lie?

He was not solely responsible for 9/11. He didn't even plan much of the operations of the event. He was the front man for Al Qaeda. He's a motivator to those people as well. He's the one that delivered messages of terror around the world. The bottom line is that he was the association to 9/11 and terrorism in the minds of many people. So is that why the government would fake his death? Well, then what's to stop him from appearing on TV, if he's still alive, which would strike more fear into the hearts of Americans.

If it's not true, why now? As someone very personally connected to 9/11 I can tell you that my joy last night was mitigated by the rush of negative emotions surrounding that day. Why bring up so much hurt and pain and awful memories at just about the midway point through the year, when we'll all go through it again on the anniversary this September? The 10th anniversary at that.

I suppose the bottom line is that nobody really knows and now the son of a bitch is at the bottom of the ocean, but is there really ANY sense whatsoever to lying or faking it? Can ANY good at all come of it? Use your heads and think it through. And by the way, just because the Internet allows it, it doesn't mean you have to speak every single thought to the world. Filter some of the nonsense. Realize that many Americana took much solace in the death of that man and all the conspiracy theories pulled just a little bit of joy away from the situation. Don't detract from it. Have your doubt, but don't spew it online. Many of us needed this.

So in reality, the only person causing heartache for Americans, is you. I think he's dead. I want to believe it. I have to believe it and logically speaking... I simply just believe it.

Case closed

There's no way that you're in front of the computer reading this and have not heard about the death of Osama Bin Laden by now. Tonight comes with such mixed emotions. Believe me when I tell you that sadness is not one of them. I'm happy. I'm relieved. I'm empowered. I have a level of closure. I'm also upset as a flood of memories, images, and hurt engulf me as a result of one man's actions.

We can talk about what this means in terms of retaliation and political maneuvering. We can talk about the president's speech. We can talk about the length of time it took to accomplish this. We can talk about what the future holds for our military. I don't want to talk about any of that. Not now. I'm busy basking in the glory of all of this. Our country needed this.

I'm a good person and I'm not a fan of death whenever possible. I don't wish death on our enemies (unless we're standing toe to toe and it's me or them). Look at how they live. They are uninformed. They are brainwashed. They are doing what they believe is right for their people. I wish we could all just do our own thing, but that's not a possibility. Most of them have families like our military folks. That man, however, is the one person on Earth that I have wished death upon for nearly ten years.

My viewpoint aside, the timing of this in my life is remarkable. As everyone of my readers knows by now, I spent my life growing up, working, and playing in and around New York City. It's my backyard. It's where I feel most comfortable. My recent blog posts spoke about working there and that pen that was given to me. I spoke of how it went missing. Then I recounted the tale of finding it.

For months it was missing. During the hunt, I stumbled on a newspaper of an article that was done on me as a 9/11 survivor currently serving in the military, with the pen in plain sight. Then it was found within 30 minutes. That was Thursday. It is now Sunday night and we got the news that Osama Bin Laden has been killed.

I could have found the pen the week after it went missing, but I didn't. Maybe I wasn't supposed to. The pen that represents my past, present and future - who I was, who I am, and who I will become again - just happened to be found this last week, after being spotted in a 9/11 related article and right before we killed the evil responsible for the twists and turns of my life.

Is it a message? It could be. It seems likely that is. Life, or God, or the universe, or fate wanted my story to be told to me again. I needed to be reminded of where I came from. The reminder steeled my resolve to return there. But there was something missing. The place I was going home to was the same place I left behind. The same hurt was there. The same memories haunted those streets. Tonight, that chapter has been closed.

I was given a highlight reel of the events surrounding this situation. It almost seems as if I wanted to go home but couldn't and now I can. All the memories needed to be at the forefront in one week long assault on my emotions. Every tear that I shed this week was bittersweet, including those from tonight. I'm happy at the news, but upset due to how it has impacted my life. I am no longer tormented by it. I no longer wait with bated breath for the end. I can finally say, "it's over." Justice has been served.

The timing is uncanny and, frankly, freaks me out a little bit. How can so many things, interlaced so tightly, wrap up at the same time? The damage and heartache have not been undone tonight. Some wounds will never fully heal. However, the victory that was achieved by our country is a major step in finding a much needed inner peace and the memory of who I was, the finding of my pen, and the death of my enemy all at once tell me that it's time to truly move on, if for the first time.

If nothing else, I feel just a tiny bit more intact than I have in nearly a decade.

**This is not well written. It's not witty, it's not truly profound. It does not have the usual flow or flair for the dramatic. My mind is all over and my emotions are far from being controlled. It is what it is.**