Sunday, July 31, 2011

We did what we had to do

The United States is losing its mind tonight talking about two things. One is the raising of the debt ceiling and the other is Shark Week. I'm actually here to talk about the debt ceiling. It's been looming for a while and plan after plan has been shot down. Just tonight, a plan was approved  that will supposedly reduce the deficit and avoid a default.

Naturally, all the uninformed took to the digital airways to complain about the bullshit nature of the government and how they can just raise the debt ceiling whenever they want. First of all, of course we can. It's an arbitrary number. Second, we are so far in debt that it doesn't really matter. Lastly, what the fuck else were we supposed to do about it? Default on our loans? Nothing against Chinese people, but I'm proud to be an American and a default means we're suddenly owned by China. I'm exaggerating, of course, but the point stands. We simply CANNOT default on our loans for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the credibility of our country (which has been better over the course of its history). Could we stop giving aid to countries? Nope. Believe it or not, many countries, especially some in Europe are in worse shape. Has anyone seen the word Greece in the headlines of the last year?

By the way, people raise their debt ceiling all the time. So for those of you who wish you could be just like the shady government, you can. I've known more than one person with credit card that has a $10,000 limit and about $7,000 full. They get a card (while their credit is still intact enough) with a limit of $15,000 and transfer the balance. Ceiling goes up, interest goes down for a while and then more gets charged. Some people make switching balances a full time job.

As for most of America that lives hand to mouth, well I'm sorry for you, but it's your own damn fault (most of the time). Anyone out there in debt that owns a big screen LCD/plasma/LED TV? Anyone use their smartphone to check their credit card debt (hundreds of dollars for the phone with an expensive plan). Has everyone that complains about not making enough money really, TRULY examined all routes to make more? You know there are scholarships for everything imaginable. The fourth generations sons of plumbers born on the southeast corner under a full moon can get 500 bucks a year. More education? More money. Not everyone is destined for that, I get it, but if money is the only thing stopping you, then you're missing out.

Let's look at the people who are bitching about the debt in the first place. Remember the 90's when Bill "what's the definition of is" Clinton was in the White House? He balanced the budget. He didn't reduce our debt to zero, but he balanced the budget. Just as much money coming in as was going out. It happened rather quickly, if you recall. Was it all good? If you say yes then you REALLY didn't pay any attention. We had lots of other things go haywire. People invest in our debt. Distressed assets are appealing to investors. Why? Only one way to go from the bottom. Hell, in 2008 we were laying off toxic debt to anyone that would take it. Of course it was for a small amount on the dollar and we sweetened the pot with other things as well. The point is that when the budget was balanced, things went screwy. The worth of bonds tanked because nobody was investing the bond market. Why? The government didn't need the money, the value fell, people stopped putting money and it fell further.

So a healthy level of debt is just that - healthy. Leveraging the dollar to the hilt is something altogether different. In any event, we can't just ignore the debt ceiling and default on our loans to other countries. At least not in the time of crisis.

Long term, we need a better solution though. Part of the problem is the aid we give to other countries and then borrow against it. So let's say we give country X $1million dollars. Now we need that same $1M so we borrow it from them. We are borrowing our own money from another country and guess what else? We are paying interest to another country on our own money that was aid for them. The solution? People say stop the aid. We don't have many friends and it's not good to isolate the few we've got. Plus that's just not our role in the world. We help everyone at our own expense. It is what it is.

So we need a better long term solution. For now, flipping off the world and letting our loans default was stupid. So we make a last minute decision. We made our bed and now we have to lie in it. No sense letting pride and ignorance make the whole damn thing worse.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Don't feed the trolls

A while back (around the 4th of July) I wrote a post about Paige Duke and the nonsense that went on when the people from Sprint or NASCAR or whoever found out that once in her life she was naked and in front of a camera lens at the same time. As it turns out, it was years ago when she was 18 and pressured into it by some jerk. Just when she thought that was all behind her, the pics surface. She loses her job at the Miss Sprint Cup Girl.

Now, since she is a known celebrity, she has a myriad of commenters online telling her everything from keep her chin up (me) to "Maybe you should have worn clothes in pics. Trashy." I'm sure the person that made that comment has NEVER EVER made a mistake. He's one of those judgmental assholes I talk about on here so frequently. So she made a mistake. She was young. Her judgment was flawed at the ripe, old age of 18. What a surprise.

So often I see huge fights break out on Facebook and other social networks. People say something, that is misconstrued (because that's very easy to do online) and someone makes a snarky comeback and before you know it, it's an all out war. The digital age has sent the "telephone tough guys"to the computer and they are on the attack. They scream at me every time I like an Apple product and/or dislike a Microsoft product. They stay quiet when I actually like a Microsoft product. They attack everyone over everyone. Twitter is even worse than Facebook. The relative anonymity of Twitter makes it easier to berate a target from behing the safety of a screen name.

It is easy to get sucked in. EVERYONE likes to have the last word. Nobody likes to sit and be attacked without defending themselves. You can fire off an angry email or social network based response without the fear of every having to face the person. There's also no risk of getting punched in the nose. Not to mention it feeds the impulsivity. There's an old saying, "Arguing on the Internet is like being in the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded." I know that's not politically correct on pretty much any level, but you get the point.

It's still just too damn easy to go back and forth. So, if you're a content creator/deliverer then you should have a mantra for if (and WHEN) you get attacked.

Don't feed the trolls. Don't feed the trolls. Don't feed the trolls.

Repeat that over and over.

It's like being in the schoolyard in the 2nd grade and someone steals your hat and they all begin to play that very mature game of "keep away." The more you chase it, the more they throw it. They idea is to get you to chase it. And it goes on forever. They have more fun taunting you and you get progressively more frustrated.

Imagine for a second that you had this response: "That's cool. Give it back when you're done" and then you go sit down and enjoy your PB&J. I know that's a little lofty a goal for an 8-year old, but imagine it. All of a sudden keeping something from someone that doesn't want it in the first place really loses its appeal.

So when they attack your character or content or just generally be nasty online just ignore it. In the case of the adult and the Internet, don't even say "doesn't bother me" because then it will become their mission to find what does. So just ignore it. Keep posting your content. Keep being you. Keep doing what you do. Keep ignoring them. Sooner or later, they'll move to someone that they can actually get a rise out of... because that's all they're really looking for in the first place.

Don't feed the trolls

Monday, July 25, 2011

They told me to feel bad, but I said no, no, no

I tried so hard to avoid this, but the news sucked me in. Unfortunately, I couldn't live by my own edict of "if you don't like it, don't watch it." I was stuck watching HLN on a common TV while I ate my dinner. They gave a short time slot to a story about a woman that escaped forced sex and marriage in a polygamist compound and chose to devote almost an hour to Amy Winehouse.

Let me preface by saying that I do not feel bad about her death. It goes without saying that I will tell you why. I was not particularly moved one way or the other until tonight.

Let's keep in perspective that unlike some celebrities, she was not a child star. She was an adult by all maturity and legal standards when she hit the limelight. It's safe to say that we all know, by that age, that drugs are bad (mmmkay?). She didn't care. She was so cavalier about her drug use that she wrote a song in defiance of rehab. Incidentally, that's the song the truly propelled her into proper stardom. So maybe addiction is a disease from which there is little escape. However, the first time you make the choice to take a drug, you are far from addicted and should know better.

I understand there is stress in stardom, but if you play the numbers and really look at the amount of celebrities running around (be it athletes, movie, music), the percentage that are on drugs is really very small. She said she was in a dark place. Really? With millions of dollars, extreme talent and adoring fans, not to mention a doting family? What does that mean for the poor schmucks that are broke and alone without a skill or education?

She has been inducted into the "27 club" with Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain (all died at that age). The dope on HLN attributed the reasons for her behavior to the same reasons of as the others. It was because of, what she was calling, too cool to be sober. They were vested in being cool. For Jimi, Jim, and Janis it wasn't their choice to be cool. For J-cubed it was a way of life when they were at their peaks. Everyone did drugs in the 60s. In the 40s they may not have been addicts. In the 90s they may not have been addicts. They weren't addicts necessarily because of a disease. It was everywhere; it was common; and the information, education, and negative publicity had not taken root in the mainstream. As for Kurt Cobain, being cool was never on his agenda. He was tormented by his popularity. He didn't want to be a superstar. Hell, he basically started the grunge movement which was all about being alternative to the mainstream. When he was overcome with the feeling of being trapped, he put a shotgun in his mouth. So doing it to be cool makes no sense. And the moron, Mackenzie Phillips, who was playing "I'm an addict so I can speak for all addicts" on the show, didn't do much to make more sense out of it.

The bottom line was that Amy Winehouse made a series of bad choices and, at no point, made a real attempt to overcome them. 4 rehabs and 5 arrests. Last year she was seen crawling on her knees at a resort, taking drinks off the tables of patrons while they were not looking. She was reportedly lucid and sensible during the day. I understand the power of addiction - as a 20 year smoker. But why put yourself in a situation if you want to quit. I don't want to quit, but then again, one too many cigarettes in a day won't kill me on the spot either.

I guess it's just not tragic. My high school friend who got Lukemia and died at age 19 is tragic. Repeatedly making the same bad choice, that you know is bad and has shown its bad side and feeling no remorse for it is not tragic. It's stupid. If I die of lung cancer next year it won't be tragic. It'll be my own stupidity. I recognize that. She should have recognized that in herself and all of you should recognize that in her as well.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Save the plants, eat the animals

I spent some time on the horn with Dr. Jim yesterday. It's good times because we wax intellectual about all the ridiculous things we can come up with. The evolution of our conversations make little to no sense to us, let alone an outsider. At some point yesterday we found ourselves talking about eating meat vs. vegetarianism and the merits of being kinder to our furry friends. I'm a carnivore, let's set that record straight. My vegetable intake is limited at best.

Recently I read a comment somewhere on the web that said, "Hey vegetarians, plants are living creatures too. They're just easier to catch." This spurred a deep ponderation between the Doc and I about whether we may all have it backwards. Maybe we should NOT eat vegetables at all. Maybe they are the highly evolved chosen creatures of whatever higher power/deity you give credit to.

In order for this theory to hold water, we have to consider whether plants have a soul. Many people would say no, but I ask you, "why?" Or more importantly, "why not?" People will tell you it's because they have no brain or cognizance. Ok, that's science. But since when did science and faith ever match up? More often than not, they work in opposition. You look to the sky and tell your version of the bearded man in the clouds that plants cannot have a soul because they have no brain. The weatherman will tell you there's a good chance of lightning strikes in your area. So let's say it's just as likely that they have a soul as we do.

Back to science. A tree can outlive a human by hundreds of years. That doesn't make us look chosen. People may tell you about the complexity of the human being and our bodies. Let's consider the concept of efficiency. A plant can sustain life with the few parts it has, yet it takes so much more to keep us going. Our bodies are far from efficient, given the comparison. Think about these simple organisms that keep going and reproduce without complication. That's pretty impressive.

Finally, think about our relationship with plants. They give off oxygen. Something we need to survive. We don't give off anything they need to survive. We rely on them to live, they could care less about us. And in terms of the oxygen they give off, it's a waste product for them. We simply cannot continue to exist without the shit of the plant world.

So vegetarians, your eating habits are waging war on our single most important source of life and vitality. Other than food, what has a cow done for you lately? Who wants to go out for a burger?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

True motivation

I frequently speak of moving home and the tone generally revolves around business, finance and an overall connection with the people and area. All of those things play a large part. It IS where I'll be most successful and looked at as less crazy by people around me. However, there is so much more to it.

I spent almost 12 days back home, as 99% of my readers know. I love my family so thoroughly that being apart from them is no longer a possibility. For so many years, my mother and I would argue about everything there was to argue about, and some things that didn't seem possible to argue about. We have reached a closeness that was unprecedented with us and now I'm not there. I've always had fun with my dad and he's been so great to be around as a friend, dad and mentor. My brother and I hit an age range where the 4 years between us dissipated, yet we have only been able to enjoy it in fleeting, beer soaked moments. Of the 4 grandparents I was born with only 1 remains. Thankfully she still has her wits about her but will that last another 12 years as she pushes 100? Will SHE even last that long?

All of those things are also important, but we are adults. We get it. We don't like it, but we understand budgets and responsibilities and careers and professional necessities. As much as we suffer through the distance, there is that underlying thought of "it is what it is and it's necessary." That doesn't make it fair, but the rationalization becomes legitimating justification. Friends play the same game.

There is a class of people that doesn't apply to, however. I have a friend - Brian - who knew me before I knew me (he is 18 months older). Our fathers went to high school together. We may as well be brothers instead of friends. We were together constantly as kids, and less so as we aged, but have held friendship for 30+ years. Brian is married (I missed his wedding). He now has a daughter, Sophia, who is a beautiful, wide eyed 9 month old angel. I met her for the first time this last week. I fell in love with this little baby girl. I told Brian that my distaste for diaper changing is the only reason he gets to keep her. Sophia, like many babies, doesn't go to many people and takes time to warm up. After a short stint of coming from her sleepy car ride induce haze I reached out and she was passed to me. She looked unsure, then cracked a tiny, gummy smile and laid her head on my shoulder. She loved me immediately.

I also have a friend, Dr. Jim, who I've known for about 20 years. He has a son, Sean, who is 27 months. Sean is a brilliant, mischievous boy who can nearly read and knows to stop at the corner and grab daddy's hand before crossing. He also knows Uncle Jason and recognizes my disappearing act and so far he is not a fan.

The kicker is that Brian and his wife showed up with baby Sophia on the same day as Jim, his wife and little Sean. I was surrounded by wet, sloppy kisses of the adorable children of two of my closest friends in life. While this was so much fun and filled my heart with joy, there was something nagging at me so deeply the entire time that even the clean baby smell wafting toward me couldn't shake it.

Sophia is 9 months and Sean is 27 months. The last time I saw that little monkey he was 9 months old. I looked at one baby who stared back at me mostly vacantly and smiled most often from gas and then to the other who was more a little person than a baby and could peer into my soul as I held back tears and say, "what's wrong Uncle Jason?" the cute squeaky voice was enough to stem the tide of the tears so I could smile and say "Nothing Sean" and mostly mean it while while I hugged him. Incidentally, I could get choked up all over again recalling the story to memory in order to write it here.

The disparity in how they interact is obviously a function of time, but... it so clearly painted a picture for me. The felt difference in interacting with them is the exact amount of growth I had missed in Sean's life and the exact amount I've yet to miss in Sophia's - almost to the day - until I move home.

Sean is old enough to know I've left and that hurts. Sophia is too young to have a clue, making me a stranger on my return, and that hurts more. What hurts the most is that there is not a word in the English language that will explain it to either of them.

So for 20 months more I will endure and then I'll spend every available day doting on the beautiful children of my beautiful friends - all of whom have suffered at the hands of my decision to leave an entire decade prior, yet blindly supported me in my journey.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Interplanetary travel

Men may be from Mars and women from Venus according to some author, but if you want to really feel like you're on a different planet; you have to look beyond gender differences. This has nothing to do with the final space shuttle launch or NASA's shutdown or whatever is happening there. This is about the last 12 days that I've spent back up in NY and NJ.

Two days ago I had my 8th Air Force anniversary, so visiting home is old hat. However, in recent years I have been making my way home only around the holidays and my visits have been short and chock full of yuletide visits, leaving very little time to soak in the area, mentality and subsequently reflect. Additionally, I've been absorbing all I can from the Air Force, as a person. I have used my career in camouflage for personal and professional growth, both of which have greatly increased since I first laced up combat boots. I've now hit the second skinny part of the bell curve and the law of diminishing return has kicked in. With each passing day, I take away less from the Air Force than I did previously and most certainly less than I put in. As many of you know, I've decided to separate and move home. I've served my country and now I'm ready to serve my bank account and I want to do it from within a close proximity to my family. Father time is not kind so waiting another 12 years (or more) is not something I'm willing to do. I'm a mere 20 months away from being promoted to the rank of Mr. and I'm mentality ready for it.

I know this and you see it in me. I've curbed my disdain for waiting and my impatience by relying on the intrinsic value of the Air Force and all the positive experience I've had, but the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel is nearly blinding and I'm ready. I feel it in my life every day, as alone as I am in Mississippi. As I've said before, I have friends, some more wonderful than others, but they are a part of my life rather than actually being my life. And they have lives of their own. I need a life that is one I can truly embrace.

This week it became even more evident than ever. I felt more like my old self than I have since I can remember. Every day brought about more melding of my person with my area. I was able to recharge my batteries. If you're in Mississippi and you're reading this, consider what is expensive for home ownership. Now realize that I'm looking at condos that have 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and are about 1,100 square feet in the neighborhood of $430,000. I don't bat an eye at that. It's a lot of money, but I'm far from surprised. How many people have ever been on the 44th floor of a building? Have you ever been in a city where the women outnumber the men and more are beautiful than not? Would you consider giving a gift of $100 to someone because you haven't seen them in a while or is that an astronomical amount to throw around? The culture in New York City and its outlying areas is different from any place else in the world. I always thought my life was normal and the rest of the country was weird. As it turns out, I'm in the minority (despite the 8 million people floating around Manhattan at any given moment). Most of the country cannot fathom what we do.

It took me years to realize that people don't pay what we pay for homes. People don't go to Broadway shows on a random Monday night. $173 for lunch in Trump Tower is not commonplace. The thing is though... it is for me. That's MY life. I own suits that cost what I take home in a paycheck now. Nearly everyone is college educated and physically fit. There are so many people that the essence of Darwin surrounds us. There is no room for the weak and lazy. The stupid get eaten alive. And if you like to rock the boat and cause disturbances, you'll end up on the street. It's a well oiled machine of hustle and bustle and it makes me feel alive.

To the contrary, I look at most of my confederates in Mississippi (pun intended) and I see backbiting, undermining, high school spats, improper English, general disregard for life and success. And then I vomit up a little bit of happiness and hope for our country. I got an email on Facebook from someone who deleted and blocked me for no reason then unblocked me and requested I help her ruin someone else's career. The intended target is someone who behaved in a way everyone expected yet the email initiator ignored the warnings. Another isolated themselves from everyone they know and then cries out miserably when the fun of others is witnessed, yet keeps some of the old group within purview. People are constantly attempting to drag others into their pools of despair because misery loves company is not just a cliche to them.

Then I look back here. Everyone owns a home by 30. One friend is enlarging his home for a price tag more than the average Mississippian makes in a year. They travel. They vacation. They read. They're in touch with the world and culture. Four of us discussed at length the reasons for the demise of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and the success of Goldman Sachs as well as the roles of Hank Paulson, Dick Fuld and Jamie Dimon.

Do you see where this is going? This is not the arrogant "I'm better than you speech" you're claiming it is in your head right now. This is the exposition and exploitation of inexplicable differences between here and there. And to think that in less than 2 days, I'll take a 3 hour plane ride and arrive in that world. A world of complacency. A world where people would rather drag competition to their low level instead of rising to the high level of the competition. A world where laziness gets you everywhere and hard work is shunned.

The duality of this trip is that is motivates and demotivates me simultaneously. I cannot wait to get back and it makes me happy to know that it will be soon. I'm excited and pumped to jumpstart my life in less than 2 years. At the same time, all of the wind leaves my sails and extreme disappointment sets in when I admit that I have to return to Dante's 7th circle on Tuesday.

There is *some* solace in my return there. There are people who will be genuinely glad to see me; and I them. They take the edge off the lousiness that is Mississippi. They make it all just this side of bearable. The aloe to my geographical sunburn. But that doesn't make that lifestyle fit my persona.

Obviously, this doesn't apply to everyone with a Mississippi address, but this is a general culture that is promoted down there. I will no longer be a party to any of it. My business launches in three weeks (hopefully, vacation has gotten in the way of checking with my two lifesavers who are planning all of this) and I have bigger fish to fry.

Anyway, over the last 12 days I've seen just how far apart my life is compared to where it started. I really truly feel like these two places cannot be collocated on the same spinning orb in the sky sometimes. The best view of Mississippi is in the rear view mirror.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Stewardesses

Oops. We don't say that anymore, do we? Guess what? I do. The politically correct movement has gone so far that we change terms even when they aren't politically incorrect in the first place. 

The mailman is a letter carrier. There aren't waiters or waitresses anymore; they are servers. Like the late, great George Carlin said, we will have a personhood cover in the street and children will be afraid of the boogeyperson. And he was right. It's going to be that my cats will soon be Feline-Americans.

I'm so confused I can't keep up with this anymore. Some of them make sense and some needed to happen. I can see why we went to black from Negro - it's not like they mean the exact same thing. In all seriousness, it wasn't based on definition. It was connotation and the ignorant parties that made it negative. 

I happen to be on a plane at the moment so maybe that's why this one is on my mind, but I've always been confused about the move from Stewardess to Flight Attendant.  It's not a gender thing because we always had the male variant - Steward - in the rare event you see a male doing the job. Frankly most males doing the job are more feminine than the women doing it in the first place. That aside, the term steward or stewardess means, as I understand it, someone who has people put in their care or charge. 

They are singularly responsible for the well being of those in their territory. Isn't there some honor in that? Doesn't having the word "attendant" in your title make you feel closer to handing out cologne and mints in a bathroom than to a caregiver? What drove this change? Anything or was it change for the sake of change? Has anyone given it thought or am I just that bored? Maybe it's the Canadian Club whiskey at high altitudes. 

Anyway, I'm done here. I'm calling the stewardess for another mini bottle. 


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 07, 2011

It's good to be me

Just thought everyone should know that. You may disagree with me, but in my world, it's good to be me. My life is good. I love my job (90% of the time), I'm surrounded by terrific friends, I have a family that simply can't be beat, and I'm very often right about things. Haha. So I'm mostly kidding about the last part.

It's generally good to be me because I'm so driven. I refuse to take life sitting down and use my vision and drive to make things happen for me. One such thing is the creation of my new company. As many know, I've tried my hand at business after business over the years. First it was the home networking company. Then came the expansion of that into training, web design and consultation, called Tech-City. Branched from there was ProWriting where I'd review and edit documentation such as Non-Disclosure Agreements, Non-Compete Statements, resumes, offer letters and act as a non-legal arbiter. Tech-City also birthed MobileMedia that put technology in cars, long before everything was small and easy to do. Installed things like mini PCs or touchscreens in vehicles. Then I started JayVig Photography where I sold the prints of my photo work. In late 2009 I began to act as a freelance tech news writer for a news agency, started Vig The Geek technology/consumer gadget reviews and opened my YouTube channel. In 2010, JayVigMedia.com launched providing free advice for building your brand in the social space.

Now in the middle of 2011, most of those efforts are combining into a relaunch of JayVigMedia with the official forming of JayVigMedia, LLC. I have business partners and we are all ready to change the world. So many good ideas and amazing content coming soon. We have something to offer all brands from small businesses to large corporations. We've also identified some breakout markets that need social integration and are preparing to help inject it.

The support of people has been amazing and truly fuels my fire. I've had some comments made to me about my plans that are just so unbelievable. I can't begin to be thankful enough. My friends have always been there for me.

There is one reason for my successes (those so far and those yet to happen) and it is my ability to read people. Lately, I've fallen off a little bit but throughout my life my precision is second to none. I can spot a phony a mile away. I know who to invest in and how to short sell the hell out of. I know people.

You know what else I know about people? What they're feeling even when they don't say it. Remember my last post about Casey Anthony? The post was really about the judicial system, but Casey was the example du jour. In my article I defended the judicial system. I spoke of using facts to convict or acquit. Everyone said I was crazy. I knew the jury felt she was guilty, but did the right thing by looking for proof. Guess what happened? The jurors are coming out one-by-one saying that they were sick to their stomachs to let her go. They WANTED to convict her, but just couldn't. Deliberation was emotional. Men and women were crying and looking for a way to convict her, but as we all know... innocent until proven guilty. While they felt she was guilty, they couldn't prove it. So she's free. Just like I knew would happen. And the people who set her free, felt exactly how I knew they felt. I read this entire thing to a tee. Everyone went apeshit and yelled at me. Oops.

See? I know people.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The system works

So after all this time, the Casey Anthony case is over. She was found not guilty (take this info with you when you go back under your rock). Naturally, almost everyone is up in arms about the whole thing. Twitter is all atwitter, Google Buzz is all abuzz and Facebook is some other adjective about activity about the lack of faith in our judicial system and how it failed this time and even how it is a failed system in the first place. Tongue-in-cheek comments are pairing Casey and OJ together while mourning for Nicole Simpson and Caylee Anthony. It's a travesty that she has literally gotten away with murder - is the general thought that adorns my Facebook wall.

Let me say now that I feel she's more than likely guilty. I would have like to see her actually found guilty and get the maximum punishment. I think what happened to that child is disgusting. I think something went horribly awry during the trial that she gets to walk on the murder charge and gets hit only with a few counts of misinformation or some such nonsense. The guilty party, whoever that may be, should be brought to justice. Those are all just feelings. That being said, my faith in the judicial system overall has not been shaken. Here's why...

When considering murder in the first degree, we have something called reasonable doubt. In this case, Casey was just squeezed through it. To keep innocent people out of jail or prevent juries from convicting based on emotion, reasonable doubt comes into play. Basically, it has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt that it was her. This means that a jury has to look at the situation and believe that there's no way this person is innocent. 100% certainty is required. If they can reasonably attribute the crime to another person then they cannot convict. First degree murder includes intent to kill and premeditation, which brings the stiffer punishments.

I've heard people sing the praises of the work done by the prosecution. I disagree. If it was that outstanding, they would have won. Maybe they left a hole in the case or maybe she's just innocent. So has the system failed? Absolutely not. Maybe the jury selection process needs to be revamped or maybe this particular jury was just terrible. It's hard to imagine 12 people all wrongly coming to the same conclusion, but I suppose it's possible. What is an alternative? The judge cannot impose judgment as he is an impartial arbiter and a servant of the process. He is not there to opine, plus as the one that levies the sentence it would be a conflict of interest for him to also decide guilt. Having a judge, as a singular entity, decide does not provide a system of checks and balances (something instituted throughout our government). Even at the level of the Supreme Court, there is more than a single position (9 to be exact). A jury consists of 12 members, very specifically. An even amount serves the purpose of allowing a tie and not having the fate of the accused held in the balance by a natural lean one way or the other. The point is that an odd amount means a decision will always be reached, right or wrong.

Did the system and framework not work as intended? I don't think so. I think it worked just perfectly. Further, I think the innocent verdict further validates our system. Despite all the evidence that she was guilty, they could not convict. There was no proof. It was not 100%. That means the jury weighed the facts and did not convict on emotion. I can only imagine that all 12 felt in their hearts that she was guilty but stuck to their integrity and went on FACTS only. While the evidence was overwhelmingly strong that she was guilty, it was not 100%.

So maybe the prosecution didn't seal it up. Maybe the defense was convincing to protect their client. Maybe she was just innocent. I can't imagine that she is. Regardless, there was no collapse in the judicial system today. Did OJ kill his wife? Maybe. The system found him innocent. People screamed from the rooftops about money buying freedom. Where is he today? In jail for other crimes. So, when there was evidence of a crime he was convicted. That just goes to show that the system works and comparing Casey Anthony to OJ doesn't hold water.

To further consider doubt, let's look at Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine. He attacked, nearly constantly, Jerry Falwell. He once said that Falwell molested a sheep and had sex with his mother. Falwell sued Flynt for libel - written defamation. The case was thrown out because of reasonable doubt. Nobody could reasonably believe that Falwell did those things and therefore it was considered satirical and not an actual accusation. What does this tell us in regards to Casey Anthony? It tells us that if you want to accuse someone of something and make it stick you have to make people truly believe it. You cannot leave room for the possibility that they did not do it. Not when lives hang in the balance.

The baby is dead and that is an awful and disgusting situation. Putting Casey to death or in prison forever while being unsure of her guilt is awful as well. I won't compare the levels of bad because they aren't parallel. I just mean that one wrong action doesn't beget another. Even if you live an eye for an eye, you have to make sure you're taking the eye of the perpetrator and not the person you believe did it.

I consider my point made here. I hope they find the killer if it is not Casey. Truly, I do. If it is her, then it's a shame the prosecution could not find the final piece of the puzzle to have her convicted. All I know is that I was not there. I didn't see the evidence. I didn't hear the testimony from the mindset of a juror. Truthfully, the only people that know what happened are the people present for the murder.

Oh, I also know that everyone reading this and even those that don't would be quick to scream if wrongfully accused (even casually). If anyone said "So-and-so told me that you cheated on your test/taxes/spouse" everyone would get pissed off and tell the deliverer of the message to mind their business/don't judge/you weren't there/etc. So, the institution of the courts and judicial system have spoken. She's been deemed innocent. For you to say she got away with murder implies you know something for a fact that the lawyers, judge and jurors should have known. If you do and haven't said anything, it's obstruction of justice and a crime in and of itself. How about that? If you don't then you're just deciding you know better having not been present for the event, the trial, or the deliberation. You can feel she's guilty (I do), but you can't decide she IS guilty. It's not our place.

One last note. 24 hours ago, the Internet was gushing with praise for the United States on our Independence Day. Support for our way of life, freedom, and our troops was a steady stream. Everyone was proud to be an American. Today, people are packing for Canada and have lost faith in the way we do things. Remember when I called you fickle not long ago? That's why.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The past is the past

This is going to surprise many people because as you all know, I'm FAR from a NASCAR fan. However, this isn't about NASCAR. This about passing judgment on someone and affecting them today for something they did long ago. If you're a NASCAR fan or just a red blooded American male and post-pubescent you know who Paige Duke is. For those of you don't know who she is, let me explain. She's the super hot, girl next door looking, Hooters girl turned NASCAR Sprint Cup hottie. But, sadly, that is no longer the case. Paige Duke has been relieved of duty.

Why you might ask. Ok, fine. I'll fill you in. Apparently, last week there were some photos of her that surfaced on a website. According to the news, they were graphic in nature. They were taken while she was a student of Clemson, getting her degree in Animal Science. So what we're saying is that a smart, educated, college graduate blessed with natural beauty who is paid by NASCAR with the purpose of being hot, was once young and slight inappropriate in front of a camera. Here is another case of prude Americans also being judgmental and allowing themselves to be engulfed in hypocrisy. Everyone was fine with staring at this beauty while she donned Sprint logos, but because she once, privately, doffed her clothes, she's no longer fit for NASCAR.

What confuses me is due to my lack of NASCAR knowledge. From that I know of it, cars turn left at unsafe speeds. Hillbillies gather around and drink too much while watching and cheering that the most violent accidents. They say it's the fastest growing sport in America, which makes me believe that they try to attract all demographics and all backgrounds. Surely, she can't be the only one that showcased the features God gave her for a lens. And she did it privately. Why don't we crucify the son of a bitch that leaked them to the press? What business is it of his to ruin her career (or at least part of it).

NASCAR, of course, places no responsibility on the pictures for the termination of her employment with them. Naturally, their statement is vague and generic - as to be expected then their general counsel and PR people get involved. She started with the Sprint Cup as Miss Sprint Cup at the start of the 2010 season. Of the 3 beauties that served that function, the other 2 are still active. She was terminated 4 days after the photos surfaced. So why do YOU think it happened?

Anyway, I guess what I'm driving at here is the fickle nature of us... once again. She's not a public servant. She's not an elected official. There are not children in her charge. Even if any of the above were true, these photos happened before any of it. So, she had a past. Just like me. Just like you. Just like the fat cat executives of NASCAR. I'm sure THEY'RE all squeaky clean. Mother Theresa and NASCAR execs all have a special place in heaven.

Nice job embarrassing the hell out of this poor girl. You should have, let it go, but if you couldn't see your way clear to do that, then you should have at least let her finish the season while the fanfare of the pics died down and then she simple doesn't come back next year. If it was about the pictures, that would have been more tactful. If it wasn't about the pictures, then it wouldn't have raised suspicion that it was.

Paige, we still love you. Who needs NASCAR? You're beautiful and smart. I'm sure your life will be just fine in whatever direction it takes next. Good luck. To the NASCAR/Sprint Cup execs - clearly you're a quart low. To America, where do you get off judging her?