casting a critical eye on all media as being part lie, part truth, part bias

Year after year, we get the benefit of a “free” social media site. I use Facebook to advertise my photography and filmmaking, but otherwise would be as far away from it as possible.

Facebook doesn’t have a constitution, nor promise first amendment rights. They have a TOS. A Terms of Service. They own the country and they set the rules.

They also burgle you of as much personal information and sell it to advertisers behind your back. So, yeah, you pay dearly for the site … with your LIFE!

The masses of misinformation on Facebook are clearly a cesspool of frightening ignorance.

During the pandemic, the crazies have filled the virtual streets with signs loaded with apocryphal taunts. Memes abound. Biases are confirmed en masse. People who never had a voice before, seemingly have one. Unlikely cults find and recruit members quickly and easily.

Today I saw a post from a friend on this meme :

The first response was from the guy who posted the meme’s father. It read:

Is he saying that the USA doesn’t help the poor or Christians don’t help the poor? I wonder what he bases that statement on?

My response – which seems to be getting legs – as my friends are screen capping it and sending it to others:

I think many of the faithful think they are benevolent based on their involvement in their churches. Or by proxy because their churches have outreach programs. 

Having spent many hours with my very conservative friends over the last year, I have seen first hand how much some believers LOATH the poor. They complain about them incessantly given the topic in conversation. Helping them means telling them they shouldn’t be in full view at their stop lights holding signs. They shouldn’t be visible, because it plagues their green pastures and blue skies. 

I agree with you and Mr. Colbert here. It appears that Jesus’ mission of helping and curing the poor and the sick is a willfully forgotten pastime. The only thing selfish people of faith care about is the “next life” where everything will be solved in harmonious cloud life. Here? That’s Satan’s land. There, that’s where all are healed. All are safe. All our happy. All are well fed in a magical economy of what would appear to be socialism to the max. 
🙂

I don’t necessarily enjoy being critical of believers. I don’t think all believers are bad or evil, per se. Nor do I think that they — in their minds — are doing something wrong. I believe many people have enough self awareness to see their own hypocrisies. Including myself.

I have two best friends in the south who LOVE their faith and love Donald Trump. One is a guy I grew up with and the other is my dad. Given this info, and I still love them dearly, might indicate my level of consideration, I would hope.

I think the world is a huge landscape to navigate. In theory, we’re all doing and living exactly the way we are in our minds, not remembering that others perceptions of us are usually negative as well as positive. Each one of us is a hypocrite. Each one of us fails and succeeds.

Each one of us mistakenly views our perspective as truth. Some more than others.

Sometimes it’s our inability to identify personal weaknesses and be thoughtful about them.

Yesterday, a friend of mine, a very lovely person I met here on this blog and also in REAL LIFE tagged me on Facebook hoping hear my thoughts on Facebook censoring certain ideas. This person, Julie Ferwerda, author and nurse, entered my purview after I read a post ±10 years ago that she wrote about “dating Jesus.” She wrote that she must make time to spend with her personal savior because it helps cultivate their intimacy. Make him cards! Record His answers. Make time for one another! Read my post here.

I’m sure I was critical of it, because a relationship with Jesus is one-directional. I found it laughable that anyone would “date” the so-called creator of the universe.

While some believe we have His Word to communicate to us. There’s no way to have a “real” conversation with someone who has no tangible voice. So we talk all we want through prayer, to a voice in our heads that many attribute to that of God himself.

At the time, she laughed it off. And I thought that she showed showed enough personal awareness of her foibles and idiosyncratic approach to relationships with invisible friends.

Since then, she wrote a book called Raising Hell, Christianity’s Most Controversial Doctrine Put Under Fire. The book is a verbose meandering of her decision to leave the fold of hell believers. At the time, we had become friends, and I had written a few times here on this blog that hell is the easiest Christian doctrine to research and dispel as fiction. I’d like to think it was the foundation for her book, but I love to think highly of myself. 🤣

She’s recently displaced her views of fervent evangelicalism to replace it with proselytizing the religion of vaccination awareness.

She didn’t write the following. But I did. Her view, in my opinion, is this:

Mark Zuckerberg totally admitted — out loud! — that Facebook tries to prevent anti-vaccine information. This is CENSORSHIP! How can they censor helpful information about the EVILS of vaccination. It’s all a sham scam, perpetuated by Bill Gates and Big Pharma!!!

So here’s this LONG ass thread discussing vaccinations with all her likeminded darlings. It’s not being taken down. There are links in the thread to Bill Gates. To the evils of vaccines. And it hasn’t been censored.

But they’re complaining about censorship.

Does anyone with a pulse not see the irony?

So she tags me and says, “Thoughts?”

I looked at the thread and rolled my eyes. After pointing out the irony that her controversial post was yet to be censored, I responded a few times. Given the opportunity and “welcome” into their house to give my “opinion”:

 I believe that it’s inappropriate to discuss controversial issues on Facebook. For instance, I don’t discuss my lack of belief, my political stance, my thoughts against people like you with views like yours … I am now, because it’s on topic. 

Why? Because it’s dumb as dirt. I don’t think we would have these arguments if we were in person. We’d be much more delicate — at least in theory. There are better things to talk about than vaccines. And there are better uses of my brain space than to try and convince against something you’re already convinced of. 

Just like you changing your mind about hell … these changes happen organically. I could care less about your stance otherwise. I do come from the camp that you’re very misinformed. As do you toward me. Surprise!!!

I believe you have moved your beliefs of hell to that of vaccines. You believe that you’re loving your fellow humans with the gospel of “don’t vaccinate.” So you go on proselytizing rants and raves for a giant conspiracy of censorship. That you’re being marginalized like Christians. Oh the martyrdom of promoting your beliefs!!! 

It’s like your brains need so badly to get the world to see the unseen that you latch on to crappy arguments like these and scream, “LISTEN TO ME!!!! I — and I alone — am speaking the truth.” 

Only this time it’s not hell and heaven and Jesus … it’s a damn scientific doubt founded on a bunch of hooey capluey.

The Anti-vaccination crew blab about their absent rights and their censored truths. They throw around how they all eschew mainstream media. While claiming that their peripheral media sources are solid, and grounded — no steeped — in research and amazing information! Read them and you, too, will open your eyes to the pit of evils instituted by Bill Gates.

When did Bill Gates get demonized? I can’t really figure it out, but it seems like it’s gained popularity in the last couple years. Check these articles here, here and here.

Bill Gates. He’s the formidable enemy of the anti-vax cult. With his pointy ears, horns, red skin and trident held high with hundreds of dead babies on each spear.

This guy:

Who publishes a summer reading list so thoughtfully curated and reviewed.

While his blog is a diverse gathering of educational material, the anti-vaxxers are posting endless memes about how evil he is. They’ve taken his words out of context to render him a monster of vaccinations at the peril of you, your loved ones and your fellow neighbors.

Mainstream Media — and all you un-woke people — have fallen into Gate’s hypnotic gaze.

I asked myself recently, “Who do I not like in the world?”

And I answered, “Well, I don’t like Donald Trump.”

Then I asked, “Do I not like him so much that I have demonized him, reveled in his awfulness both on and off the social media court.”

And I responded, “I spend a fair share of time, energy and mental real estate thinking about this guy. Yes.”

And then I asked, “Do you do it ALL the time?”

My response, “Not really. There are good thoughts I have of him. I remember a roast between him and Hillary Clinton before the election in which I saw this one glimmer of kindness toward Hillary in which he tried to pull her seat out for her as she was sitting down. She, in that moment, was a cunt. She was the one who acted the asshole.”

I’ve asked myself a hundred times if I adored Barack Obama as much as Trump supporters adore him. I don’t believe I do. But Trump’s cult of personality is different. Obama was a boring president in comparison. We all got earfuls of how awful he was. How he wasn’t a Christian. Sympathetic toward Muslims. But besides wearing a tan suit and “um-ing” more than the average bear, he was largely flying under a radar. Fox News tended to air their grievances daily. But I never owned a poster. I never thought he was worth adoring. He was just another president doing his best to do the job he was voted in to do.

I look back at my disdain toward George W Bush. I changed my mind about him even though I thought he was a war-mongering prick. But once I heard him talk to his daughters getting interviewed on Ellen. He was on the phone and the girls were in the studio. Hearing his humanity and kindness toward his daughters softened my heart and I totally saw him as a man.

There are plenty of things I wish Donald Trump did differently. But I don’t believe deep down that he’s trying to ruin the world. His views of the world are living out in his day to day life. And while they aren’t my ideals, apparently there are many who adore him.

Because I get more chances lately to spend time with those Donald Trump fans — including my best friends — when I’m in the south at my second home, I get to see first hand that they comprehend his foibles and they overlook them. They think highly of him.

And while it’s like they want me to like their favorite band or love their favorite TV shows … you can’t convince me that I should completely love them or him, too.

It’s like demonizing the devil. Everyone paints him as evil, but he was responsible for opening Adam and Eve’s minds to the so-called truth. He didn’t condemn people to eternal torment, God did. He’s kinda just a bystander with a huge pool of incessantly burning embers. He’s apparently easily defeat-able, but God lets him stick around causing havoc, casting doubt, tempting you with sex, lies and drugs. But God sent the flood as punishment. God kills. Satan seems to just sport cool tattoos and wait for his kingdom to be filled with people who commit the thought crime of not accepting Jesus as the savior of the World.

Bill Gates. That Satan-loving, child murderer and vaccine profiteer. I don’t love him. I could care less. But I do see a tendency for groups to scapegoat someone without merit. And the more I read about him, the more I’m not convinced that he’s going out of his way to benefit off of the world by having it vaccinated.

Like you perhaps, I’m trying to make sense of this vaccination crowd. I ask myself, “Why don’t I make the same connections as they do? I’ve read the same material. I’ve watched the same videos. What am I missing?” Am I sold-out? Am I stuck in a loop of ignorance?

I recently read that in the DSM-5, there’s a term apophenia – the tendency to perceive connections where none exist.

And maybe this is where the issue lies. Humans are pattern seekers. One cannot look into a cloudy sky without identifying forms as representations to a living being or inanimate object. Patterns are everywhere. We tend to connect two points of interest automatically, and if this pattern repeats, we latch and do not let go. I got a cold after I walked outside in a cold rain. Every time I wear this shirt, my team wins. When I put my car in the shop, ten more issues crop up … the mechanic must be sabotaging me. When I test for the coronavirus, more people test positive … so let’s not test.

Almost every group claims their sources of media are the right ones and everyone else’s is the wrong ones. I call bullshit.

When people finally cast a critical eye on all media as being part lie, part truth, part bias, then, and only then, will I listen to anyone preaching a message of “truth.”

Wear a fucking mask

It’s like Pascal’s wager … it seems to be better if you wear one … so just wear one.

From Distinguished Research Scientist, University of San Francisco:

There are numerous studies that suggest if 80% of people wear a mask in public, then COVID-19 transmission could be halted. Until a vaccine or a cure for COVID-19 is discovered, cloth face masks might be the most important tool we currently have to fight the pandemic.

Given all of the laboratory and epidemiological evidence, the low cost of wearing masks – which can be made at home with no tools – and the potential to slow COVID-19 transmission with widescale use, policymakers should ensure that everyone wears a mask in public.

Read the whole thing.

Real live old science: Experts Doubt the Sun Is Actually Burning Coal

Originally published in August of 1863

“If the sun were composed of coal, it would last at the present rate only 5,000 years. The sun, in all probability, is not a burning, but an incandescent, body. Its light is rather that of a glowing molten metal than that of a burning furnace. But it is impossible that the sun should constantly be giving out heat, without either losing heat or being supplied with new fuel. Assuming that the heat of the sun has been kept up by meteoric bodies falling into it, it is possible from the mass of the solar system to determine approximately the period during which the sun has shone. The limits lie between 100 millions and 400 millions of years.”

Scientific American, August 1863

The Buddha, two arrows, and you

An interestingbit from an article at Vox:

The Buddha taught that when we experience something painful — a physical illness, or the news that someone we love has died, or witnessing suffering all around us — it’s as if the world has shot an arrow into us. It hurts! That pain is totally normal, and it’s fine to acknowledge it. In fact, it’s good to acknowledge it, to let ourselves simply be with the experience of pain.

But often, what we then do is shoot a second arrow into ourselves. That second arrow is any thought we use to spin up a “story” around our pain, as a way of resisting simply being with the experience of pain. This can manifest in many different ways.

It can take the form of shame: “I’m such a weak person, to be crying out like this!” Or anger: “How dare the doctors not save my loved one’s life! They’re so incompetent!” Or ruminating: “If only I’d nudged my loved one to take this or that extra precaution, maybe they wouldn’t have died.” Or catastrophizing: “I’m going to die, too!” Or guilt: “I don’t deserve to live while other people are dying.”

We’ve all got our second arrow of choice. Whichever one you incline toward, the key thing to bear in mind is that it’s self-inflicted, which is to say, it’s optional. It might not seem that way, because it comes upon you so quickly that it seems automatic, but the Buddhist teaching insists this is a second arrow we shoot into ourselves. And doing so is what causes us suffering. As many Buddhist mindfulness teachers like to say: Suffering = Pain x Resistance.

Am I the only one enjoying the pandemic?

This pandemic, while incredibly stressful, has been a welcome relief from a busy several years. When the economy slowed down in 2008, we lost 50% of our income in one year.

But on the plus side, Tina and I got into a rhythm of working out four to five times a week, often during the middle of a work day. We lost weight, got relatively healthy and enjoyed life in a way that I’m guessing only retirees might.

But then something turned in our world. The economy boosted. In early 2010, we had depleted our savings to almost nothing. Which as a conservative business owner, I was shitting bricks. I try to keep a bit of a nest egg for times of crisis. Thankfully, by the end of that year, it had bolstered back up over 900%.

So for the past 10 years, we enjoyed a steady work life and a comfortable income, but we also suffered from a unpredictable work load that seemed unending. My creativity deteriorated as a result. I was in a rut. And for years, I couldn’t seem to find the same amount of time to work on what I wanted to work on. It was all commissions.

I don’t believe humans were meant to work their entire lives only to finally get some respite in our 60s when we retire. We’re meant to have balance. We’re meant to enjoy life.

Tina and I LOVE the weeks when we can spend two or three hours in the middle of the day away from our computers. Gosh, there were months in which we didn’t see any work and we did NOT care.

Then the other people in my life were complaining about “Obama’s shitty economy.” I was like, “Wut?” Our income steadily rose during his administration. If anything, the current administration started hurting us as we saw a decrease in some of our work in 2018, again in 2019 and 2020, I’m guessing we’re going to drop way more than 50% like the crash of 2007/08.

But you know what? Fuck it. While the “get back to work” protests rage with covidiots, I’m thankful for a break. My creativity muscle is getting a jolt of good joojoo. My relationship with my wife is flourishing. My fun muscles are jacked up on steroids and my penis couldn’t be happier.

I love seeing the creativity that has blossomed out of others. The memes right now are so funny my sides hurt from laughter.

My biggest beef with this is how stress is manifesting into a couple too many beers every day for myself. But also the stress that seems to be crushing others into 5G madness or couples deciding now’s the time to split up in a bankruptcy-causing messy divorce and custody battle.

We social distanced a fireside chat with friends earlier this week, and it turned into a couple, male and female, berating us about 5G conspiracies and Bill Gates vaccine nutter butters and 800-page books written by real, bonafide doctors … that they didn’t read … but that wasn’t the point. The point is that it’s their “truth”. And their truth is that this pandemic is caused by 5G. And a simplistic, remedial understanding of basic biology is completely bullshit, because EVERYBODY KNOWS that radio waves caused the Spanish Flu.

“Where’d the Bubonic Plague come from,” I asked.

“That’s bacterial!!!” they shouted.

“We need to let natural selection take its course,” they continued.

“What about the other side of Darwinian theory of mutation?” I asked.

“This is our TRUTH, Jeremy! You can believe whatever you want to believe!”

“Well, I’m not buying it. I call it BULLSHIT. I’m fucking leaving.” And up I stood and fled in a furious cloud of anger in what can only be seen as a three year old temper tantrum. I sprinted almost a full 1/4 mile to get home, only to have Tina call me and yell, “You have the car key!

I returned to find Tina and Talulah at the end of their driveway waiting for my dumbfuck ass to return. I ran up the driveway to the car, started it, floored the pedal and shot gravel all over the place as I lost traction.

After I got an earful for abandoning my wife and dog and after I apologized profusely, I started running up and down our driveway. When that got old, I started running up and down a neighbor street that was about 1/4 mile up and down hill. I did that for a full hour and fifteen minutes which probably translated to around 5 or 6 full miles. The entire time, I shouted into the darkness: “Natural selection? Natural selection? You want my mom and dad to die, because you think herd immunity is the cure and you want to believe this is all caused by 5G? And you don’t want to wear a mask because it’s a metaphor for shutting our collective mouths? And you don’t watch the news, but you KNOW radio waves are at fault, but you have the latest iPhone in your pocket pumping you so full of the same goddamn waves you’re claiming is causing this shit?!!”

What the ever living fuck.

Then I couldn’t sleep.

Then I couldn’t let it go.

Suddenly I was struck with Turrets Syndrome. While doing any task from cooking to house painting, I suddenly blurt out things like,

Natural selection!?

Herd immunity?

This is all caused by 5G!

What the fuck! 

Holy shit, these two are loony toons.

Don’t preach at me!

“That’s our truth, Jeremy!” 

I may finally be calming down. It’s been four days.

It hasn’t ruined my pandemic joy, though. It just jolted it with 5 gazillion watts of “Holy moly guacamole, some people are nutter butter bombs of all the nuts.

Good thing I’m perfectly normal and have no faults whatsoever with solid views and am never, ever EVER wrong.

Now get off my lawn! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

marriage is built on a foundation of innumerable failures

In my journal recently, I wrote this:
“Marriage is built on a foundation of many things, one of which is forgiveness for an innumerable number of failures.”
I feel fortunate that I entered into shelter in place with someone with whom I spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We’ve practiced enough conflict resolution, been to enough marriage therapy, sorted out lots of doubts or insecurities, seen each other through levels of stress and difficulties.
We approach marriage that divorce is an option, because you know what, I refuse to flash a badge of carte blanche to hide behind “til death do us part” or “for better and for worse.” Marriage is hard fucking work. And if I screw it up, and Tina wants to leave me, she should have that right. And vice versa.
But I know we’d go out in a ball of furious firey fighting to save it first. Splitting would be last resort after all efforts to reconcile were exhausted.
For me, it’s a beautiful institution chockfull of sticky, dirty, shitty, no-doubt awful times … mixed with a whole helluva lot of great, good, heavenly, mediocre and boring ones.
Tina comes from a divorced situation. I come from a thick-and-thin 51 years of marriage trials and tribulations. I’m adopted. So we share our fair number of abandonment wanderings and psychological baggage.
I sincerely hope my friends are balancing their approach to the stress of this damn pandemic with a bit of long-term clarity. This, too, will surely pass.
I hope.
I imagine it would be incredibly easy to hyper focus on the foibles of your spouses or partners: the unkept hair, the lack of clipped nose hair, the grays coming through, the unflushed toilet, the stench of a few too many days without a shower, the one, two or twenty drinks too many, the barked response to, “What are you making for dinner?”, the kids screaming and there’s not enough Calgon to take you away … all those idiosyncrasies that were tolerable before 24/7 stay at home orders.
I hope to the heavens we get through this. You get through this. We get through this. And if you don’t stick to staying together, that’s okay, too. Life is also founded on an endless number of failures.
Then comes the big dose of self-compassion.
Self, you are forgiven.