Dealing with Bullies

I hear a lot about bullies in today's schools, and I wish that we lived in a world where kids would never have to face a bully. But that being said, bullies are a sad reality, and I don't think that we'll ever find a way to fully prevent them from doing harm to others. Today's bullies are often hiding across the Internet and posting terrible things about their peers from the safety of their smartphones and PCs, but that wasn't an issue in my youth. When I was in grade school, I had to face my bullies every day.

When I was the sixth grade, there was some punk kid who tormented me every day, and I was tired of it. One day, this schmuck was walking over to me, but before he had a chance to say or do anything to me, I preemptively landed two blows to the stomach with my right and my left, and as he started to double over forward in pain, I landed a perfectly executed uppercut to his jaw that sent him reeling backwards into the dirt. As I stood over the out-of-breath mass of bleeding and blubbering shock that was lying on the ground, I told him emphatically, "Don't EVER mess with me again."

Several things happened that day:

First of all, this did wonders for my self-esteem. I learned that I could fight my own battles. I didn't need to be a victim, and I didn't need someone to fix my problems for me.

Next, NO ONE messed with me at school after that; this entire showdown had happened while everyone was out of class, so I had a huge audience watching as I obliterated my foe.

And last - the schmuck never bullied anyone again, and we eventually became friends. It may seem surprising, but boys are like that; they want to establish the pecking order, and once that's out of the way, they know who they are and they can move on.

This generation goes out of its way to shield children in bubble wrap from the rest of the planet, but fails to realize that it will NEVER stop bullying. Sometimes what a bully needs is a mouth full of fist to knock them into reality; trying to give bullies a lecture and "time out" will only teach them not to get caught. On the other hand, when bullies have the @#$% kicked out of them, that will teach them how to become better people.

The Final Arbiter of Truth Isn't Me

Most people who have known me for some time have realized at one time or other that I tend to point out fake news when I see it posted to social media, and I have made no apologies for doing so. Over the years I have simply decided that I cannot bear to sit idly by when someone posts an article that I know is either an outright hoax or a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth.

With an upcoming election just around the corner, I have seen more and more people posting articles that simply aren't true about both candidates. I know that people want 'their guy' to win, but you shouldn't have to stoop to dishonesty and deception to promote your candidate.

Welcome-to-the-Post-Truth-World

However, my corrective behavior has quite often made people somewhat angry at me. I realize that no one likes to be thought of as a fool, and when someone (like me) points out that someone else is posting garbage, a few of those people have their noses bent out of shape when their gullibility is revealed.

That being said, the argument that I have had presented to me is, "Who made YOU the final arbiter of truth???" That's a great question, and my answer is: no one. Because I am NOT the final arbiter of truth; TRUTH is the final arbiter for itself.

If I post an article that refutes something that someone else has posted, that means that I have taken the time to do the research that the original poster failed to do on their own, and I have found a reputable source that sets the record straight. If I cannot find a reputable source that refutes something, then I do not post a correction. It's really that simple, folks. If you post crap, and I can prove it's crap, then I'll post something that says it's crap.

So to anyone who feels uncomfortable with the notion that I might shine a spotlight of unpleasant truth on your false narratives, you have my permission to unfriend/unfollow me, that way you can continue to wallow in the empty darkness of your comfortable lies. Otherwise, fake news is fair game.

Unpleasant-Truths-or-Comforting-Lies

Taco Bell Isn't What It Used to Be - And They Don't Care

In recent years, Taco Bell has removed several tried-and-true items from their menu that I have ordered for decades, and they have replaced those menu items with - crap.

Taco-Hell

Believe it or not, I sent Taco Bell a letter asking if they bother checking with their customer base before making unilateral decisions that impact millions of loyal customers. And believe it or not, Taco Bell replied back - with the exact sort of dismissive, marketing rhetoric that one would expect. ("We test all of our menu items ... blah, blah, blah.")

In the end, I think Taco Bell has someone at the helm who is trying to shake things up and attract new customers, which is a good thing - but only so long as you don't piss off your original customer base. With that in mind, it's pretty obvious to most people who used to love Taco Bell that they suck now; but what's worse is - they really do not appear to care.

 

Sniff, sniff... I miss the Enchirito...

(... and Steak Baja Gorditas... and Volcano Burritos... and Double-Decker Tacos... and Pintos & Cheese... and Caramel Apple Empanadas... etc.)

Crying face

What's Really Important in Life

Someone once asked me a series of questions like the following:

Can you name who won the Best Actor Oscar for the past five years?

Or who won the Grammy for Best Female Vocalist?

Or who won the Baseball MVP?

On the other hand, can you name five teachers who made a difference in your life?

Can you name your five best friends from High School?

Simmer on those questions for a few moments...

In our present reality, the mainstream media is continuously tripping over itself to ask various "celebrities" what they think of this subject or that. But why should we care what they think? More often than people might realize, many of these "celebrities" are moral degenerates who contribute little more to society than to provide cheap entertainment, while expanding the drug trade and denigrating both females and minorities within their respective communities. With that in mind, I reiterate my earlier question: why should we care what they think?

Now, look back over those initial questions that I asked, and think about your answers for them. Which is more important? Is it some impersonal "artist?" Or is it the people who have genuinely mattered to you?

Once you think about life with the right frame of mind, it's pretty easy to see what's really important (and what isn't).

Christian Progressive Rock is a Small but Necessary Genre

I mean no disrespect to anyone - including my wife - but I personally find the majority of what is called "worship music" within the church to be insufferably boring when heard outside of a formal church service.

99% of the time that music is based around some arrangement of the I ii IV and V chords, with the occasional vi chord to mix things up.

I'd also say that 90% of the time that music has a time signature of 4/4, with another 7% of 3/4, and the remaining 3% being mostly of 6/8.

Adding insult to injury, most of the contemporary "worship" lyrics are utterly pedestrian and predictable. You could take a list of about 100 words from popular "worship songs" and write them on 3x5 cards, then toss them on a table and arrange them in some sort of random order and you'd pretty much have recreated the next Chris Tomlin "hit."

There was a time that I was working on an "Instant Worship" website as a joke, which would have used something akin to a "Mad Libs" type of algorithm to kick out random lyrics with bogus chord charts based on everything I have mentioned in the preceding paragraphs.

Suffice it to say, if it were not for prog I would have gone crazy years ago. I accepted Jesus in my late teens in 1984, and I spent years listening to a conglomeration (or conflagration?) of Christian music's "rock music" offerings. Bands like Petra were the powerhouses in that genre, and yet - I had been listening to Rush and Yes and Genesis and a host of prog bands before my salvation; Petra was nowhere near the level of musicianship or complex arranging as secular proggers.

I had heard of Phil Keaggy in the late 70s, but it wasn't until I heard King's X in the early 90s that I thought, "Wow - a Christian band with serious prog skills." (Yes, I know King's X seriously backslid in later years, but in their heyday they were awesome.)

Iona and some other Christian proggers came along later, and several pieces from Iona's catalog definitely hit the mark. Although I know several prog fans who grow quickly tired by their Celtic influence. (Irish music doesn't appeal to everyone. Although I'm of Irish heritage so it works for me.) But still - I often feel that there's an itch that I just can't scratch when I think about Christian music. (Which, by the way, is the only music I buy.)

These days I have been particularly impressed by several of the spin off projects and musicians that are operating with Neal Morse's realm of influence. See the following video for an example of what I mean, although that particular song is more a pop/rock piece than prog until you get to the bridge, but having seen them live, holy cow - amazing musicians.

Some of the projects involving Matt Smith of Theocracy are also great. See the following video for Project Aegis as an example.

With all of that being said, more often than not I find that I cannot kick back and enjoy most of what exists within the banal realms of what Christian music typically has to offer, but I can get totally lost in a great prog piece of music.


UPDATE:

Much of what was written above was extracted from a post that I had made in the Christian Progressive Rock Online Gathering (CPROG) group on Facebook. Someone challenged my statements about Iona, to which I replied:

"Pieces here and there from Iona's catalog definitely hit the mark; that's why I intentionally singled them out. Although I know several prog fans who grow quickly tired by their Celtic influence. (Irish music doesn't appeal to everyone. Although I'm Irish so it works for me.)

However, if you look at the brilliance behind albums like
Fragile from Yes, or Lamb Lies Down on Broadway from Genesis, or Brain Salad Surgery from ELP, or Permanent Waves from Rush, etc., I can think of no albums in their entirety from the Christian Prog genre that approach those masterpieces. Because if they did, they'd also be popular outside of the incredibly tiny genre that is Christian Prog. So to reiterate: Iona is some of the best that Christian Prog has to offer, but overall - the Christian Prog genre is seldom everything that it could (or should) be.

PS - I should add that I have everything that Iona produced, to include their live videos. As far as Iona is concerned, I am quite the fanboy, and one of my regrets is that I never had the chance to see them live."

And then, much to my horror, Dave Baindbridge - one of the musical visionaries behind Iona - posted the following:

Thats' great Robert. Have you heard my albums Celestial Fire, and Veil of Gossamer? Both are more 'progressive' than most of my work with Iona. https://www.musicglue.com/iona/shop/categories/dave-bainbridge

I had to quickly re-read all of my earlier statements to see if I'd insulted Iona in any way... which I probably did. Not by intention, of course, but still... crap.

Sad smile

Yup, there's nothing quite like inadvertently insulting one of your favorite musicians in a public forum to remind yourself that anyone can read what you say.

Optimism and Hope

Someone I know recently posted a question about the correlation between optimism and hope, which is a subject that I have spent a great deal of time thinking about. Between my years in the military and in corporate America, I have endured both good times and bad times, periods of prosperity and adversity, and seasons of rejoicing and mourning. All of these experiences have given me pause to reflect on what I cling to by way of personal philosophy. I posted a fairly lengthy response to the original question, which I would like to paraphrase here.

I firmly believe that there are differences between optimism and hope, although they are intertwined. For example, I believe that hope is often the source of optimism. At the risk of too much information (TMI), I realize that much of the following discussion will be semantics, but to expand on the original question a little bit, here is my take on several related concepts: optimism, pessimism, hope, faith, joy, depression, happiness, and unhappiness.

For me, optimism is the "glass is half full" approach to an immediate situation, whereas hope is the over-arching belief that everything in general will work out for the best; both in your immediate situation and for the future. Sometimes your immediate situation is terrible, and hope is what enables you to look forward with anticipation that things will improve. As I said earlier, I believe therefore that hope often leads to an optimistic viewpoint. In a like manner, optimism may produce happiness, but there have been plenty of times where I have been unhappy and yet still had an optimistic viewpoint; and this was usually caused by having hope.

On a related note, pessimism is often found when all hope is lost, but that is not always the case. I have known pessimists who have a miserable outlook in a given circumstance, and yet they are able to have hope for something better eventually. In a like manner, I have seen some people who are happy, yet still have a pessimistic viewpoint. (e.g. "Life is pretty good in general, but my current situation sucks.") I think a loss of hope can lead to both unhappiness and pessimism.

In my interpretation, faith and joy are somewhat interchangeable and both are related to hope; they are based on a worldview that there is a greater purpose for everything, or that God is in control, etc. So faith and joy are the underlying certainties that produce hope, which can lead to optimism. Conversely, a lack of faith or joy can cause you to lose hope, which may lead to pessimism.

I am generally a pretty optimistic guy; and at times my sense of optimism has been much to the chagrin of those around me when we are collectively suffering through a miserable situation. I possess a strong faith, and usually have both hope and joy to spare, which leads to both a sense of optimism and happiness. However, as I mentioned before, I have occasionally had what might seem to be mutually exclusive attitudes: I have been unhappy yet optimistic, or I have been pessimistic yet happy, etc. Once again, having a strong foundation of faith, hope, and joy are what enables me to keep a greater perspective during some pretty heinous circumstances.

All of this leads to a discussion of depression, which is not the same thing as unhappiness. However, there are scores of people - especially optimists - who believe that depression and unhappiness are the same thing, so they say encouraging things to people who are depressed like, "Why so glum? Buck up! Tomorrow's another day! Greet the day with a smile!" etc., etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. Those statements are pouring salt on a wound. That advice may work for someone who is unhappy, but depression is very different.

On the one hand, depression can be caused by clinical conditions. For example, I am a workaholic with really, really bad work/life boundaries. (Working from home for years has made that worse, for understandable reasons.) I have on more than one occasion overworked myself right into burnout, which can cause chemical imbalances. As a doctor explained to me after a recent struggle, I had burned the candle at both ends for so long that I was running day to day on pure adrenaline, which changes the brain chemistry in some weird ways, and eventually that can lead to clinical depression. This situation may need to be fixed by prescription medicine and a forced schedule to restore body and the brain to their correct chemical balances. (I've had to go through that on more than one occasion. Which reminds me - I've averaged about two hours of sleep per day for the past week. You'd think that I'd learned my lesson by now, but apparently I'm a slow learner.)

On the other hand, another type of depression hearkens back to several of the subjects I was discussing earlier: I have been depressed when I felt abandoned by God. In those situations, I may have been experiencing any mixture of happiness or unhappiness or optimism or pessimism at any given moment, but my overarching feeling was an emotionless state of numbness. I had no faith, no hope, no joy - therefore I had no foundation upon which to base my outlook of the world. Once again, no amount of "positivity" was going to fix that situation; I simply drifted from day to day in that continued state of numbness until my faith was restored, after which I was able to slowly rebuild the rest of my life.

In summary, all of this was a far greater answer than the original question had sought. And to be clear, everything that I have said here is just my opinion, which is based on my personal observations and experiences.

The Sin of Omission

Yesterday, the US and the Taliban signed a deal to bring an end the 18-year war in Afghanistan. That news was on the home page of the Associated Press (AP) website (https://bit.ly/2x0hg2n), the United Press International (UPI) website (https://bit.ly/2uKQXMU), and multiple links were on the home page of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) website (https://on.wsj.com/3ciD0qk, https://on.wsj.com/2I9wk00, https://on.wsj.com/2VxSKjj).

apnews-headline

But what about the websites for MSNBC? CNN? BBC? There was nothing on the home page for any of those websites. They all seemed content to prattle on about Joe Biden in dozens of largely redundant articles in the wake of the South Carolina primary. That's right, you read that correctly: instead of highlighting the cessation of hostilities in the longest war in US history, most of the "mainstream" news outlets would rather gush adoringly over the career of a compulsive liar, serial groper, and reigning champion of political plagiarism. Because giving Uncle Joe hundreds of hours of free political advertising is far more important than saving the lives of US servicemen.

Make no mistake: the omission of this incredibly important news story was intentional, and the omission of this incredibly important news story was morally wrong.

I posted something to that effect on Social Media yesterday, and several of the Drumpf-Haters that I know quickly came to the defense of these news outlets. These kind folks sent me links to articles that were buried a few links deep on each of the respective news websites. However, my assertion wasn't that those news outlets didn't have any articles at all. My point was to question what is most important, and why some news agencies are intentionally burying news stories that do not fit into their biased narrative.

Politics

As of now, CNN's home page still has nothing on Afghanistan, BBC's home page still has nothing on Afghanistan, and MSNBC's home page still has nothing on Afghanistan. Yet there's still wall-to-wall coverage of Uncle Joe, and that was the point that several people seemed to miss. Don't get me wrong, I was glad to learn that if someone was willing to search long enough, they would eventually find something about what's going on in the world on those websites. Of course, people would already have to know that there's something going on in the world, and then manually look for articles about it themselves... but that completely negates the need for using those news outlets to keep up with current events, doesn't it?

To be as blunt as possible, I'm sorry for those of you who cannot stand the Drumpf. But I promise you, his day will eventually come. In the meantime, the results of the South Carolina primary are not more important than the end of an 18-year war. I mean, seriously - it's South Carolina. Who honestly cares about South Carolina? Most Americans can't even point to South Carolina on a map.

Look, I get it - all of the "Never Trumpers" that I know cannot stand the Drumpf. And even though I have made it pretty clear time and again that I do not like him, either, I recognize the fact that Drumpf-Haters feel as though their lives have been in bondage to the Great Orange Combover for the past few years, and therefore any news that might give them hope of his imminent demise should (pardon the pun) trump anything else that is going on in the world. But the rest of country - and the rest of the world - does not see things that way. Regardless of its importance to the Drumpf-Haters, Biden's win in South Carolina is simply not more important - nor is it more time sensitive - than an end to nearly two decades of war.

Someone I know attempted to defend the indefensible by stating that peace in Afghanistan "was not breaking news anywhere anymore." That idea is - of course - ludicrous. Most of the non-left-leaning news agencies have prominent links to that story from their home page, while the left-leaning news agencies do not have any links.

And. That. Was. My. Whole. Point.

Let's take a look at the home page of the UPI website; they have information about Biden, and the Coronavirus, and yet they still have links about the peace deal.

upi-home-page

Now let's look at the WSJ website; they also have information about Biden, and the Coronavirus, and yet they still have links about the peace deal.

wsj-home-page

As I just illustrated, when you look at the websites for the AP, UPI, and WSJ, those news outlets are more concerned with reporting everything that's going in the world, rather than reinforcing a biased narrative to their political base like the CNN, MSNBC, and BBC websites are doing. Make no mistake, as a former journalism student, I get the fact that news moves quickly. And with that in mind, news stories will come and go from the home pages of websites rather quickly. However, I don't think that peace in Afghanistan was highlighted on any of the home pages for CNN, MSNBC, and BBC - because that story unimportant to them. And because they want that story to be unimportant for their readers, too. Yes, they have articles somewhere on their websites that readers can discover if they go looking for them; that way they're covered from a plausible deniability point of view.

But here's the thing, the reason why the Drumpf won the 2016 election was not because of the electoral college versus the popular vote, nor was it the fact that Hillary Clinton was the worst possible candidate to run on the Democratic ticket, nor was it because of Russian collusion, etc. The main reason why Clinton lost the last election was because many of these same news agencies who are currently hiding the real news from the world were telling the American public only what they wanted everyone to hear, and omitting everything else. That is dishonest. That is immoral. And that is bad journalism.

propagandademotivator

Based on their behaviors, I would label news agencies like CNN, MSNBC, and BBC as part of the Drumpf-Hating crowd. In the months leading up to the 2016 election, these news agencies produced a never-ending stream of biased drivel about Hillary's numbers in the polls, and how great Hillary was going to be as President, and how the planets were going to align, and how peace and prosperity would magically fall like fairy dust from the heavens, etc. But that's all it was - a fairy tale. Because if you don't report the actual news, then you're sitting in an echo chamber listening to others parrot back to you what you're saying and only what you want to hear.

So, to bring this full circle - the problem with CNN, MSNBC, and the BBC is not that they are not reporting the news at all; it's that they are predominantly only reporting what they want people to hear, and omitting everything else. The Drumpf-Haters that I know are not the least concerned by that, of course, because those news agencies are saying what the Drumpf-Haters want to hear, too. The news agencies of CNN, MSNBC, and BBC want the Drumpf to lose in November, and the Drumpf-Haters want the Drumpf to lose in November.

With that in mind, if you're a Drumpf-Hater, then sure - okay - fine - whatever. If you want to bang the drum louder for Biden or Bernie, then so be it. Go ahead and wax poetic about how Uncle Joe or Crazy Cousin Bernie or any of the other Democrats are going to beat the Drumpf. Follow the news on websites that make a habit of omitting what is actually going on the world. Be my guest. But when you do so at the expense of following everything else that is taking place, then don't be surprised if this November bites you on the ass. Again.


PS - On a related note, another debate for another time is the question about what is actually "news" these days, and what is entertainment that is masked as news in order to sell advertising.

Some Thoughts on Bernie and Socialism

I recently posted the following image to social media, knowing full well that it would launch a tirade of complaints. However, with all of the information that has been offered by the prospective Democratic Presidential candidates during their debates, I think that it is an honest observation.

socialism-101-the-welfare-of-humanity-is-the-alibi-of-tryants

My intention was not to start any arguments on social media, and thankfully no arguments took place. However, there was a friendly differing of opinions offered by several people on my friends list, and I thought that I would share a few of the things that I said during our debate.

First of all, one of my friends labeled a veiled accusation that those who agree with that image must feel that providing Americans with access to healthcare is tyrannical. That was, of course, drawing an entirely false conclusion from the quotation. If healthcare was the only thing that "The Bern" was trying to socialize, then we'd have something to debate. But the truth is, Bernie is espousing a completely unrealistic, multi-trillion-dollar seizure of nearly every asset within our borders in order to fund an everything-for-free fantasy world that will fail horribly and permanently devastate our economy. Bernie's plan is so ridiculous because he's not actually a socialist; he's just using socialism as a smokescreen to get into power. Bernie is a card-carrying communist who's never held a job, and he is so far out of touch with the common man in this country that I am astounded on a daily basis that anyone is even bothering to listen to his incoherent ramblings.

The trouble with providing everything for free is that "Free" just means "Someone else is paying for it," and I highly resent the fact that the "someone" in this equation might be me. And this is one of the problems that I have with the "participation trophy" generation; they expect to receive "free stuff" simply because they're here - without having to do anything to earn it. Whereas everyone in the preceding generations worked our butts off for that we have; during my time in the military I spent hundreds of loooong hours separated from my loved ones doing manual labor in crappy conditions. I did all that with little to no thanks, and yet I expected nothing in return - except that which I have earned. So when a delusional communist comes along and says that he wants to take away more than half of what my generation fought for our whole lives and give it to someone who hasn't done a thing, my reaction is - what a load of crap.

Now that being said, there are a few social programs in America: Social Security and Medicare are two such examples. However, those are opt-in/opt-out programs. What people resent and mistrust is a government that raises taxes to obscene levels in order to create programs that will steal from productive people to pay for the lifestyles of lethargic people. Therein lies the whole problem with Socialism, which we have seen played out through history around the world. While it is not necessarily the goal of Socialism per se, the net result of Socialism is to share or redistribute wealth across an entire population. There are many people who will remain content to do nothing so long as someone feeds them, while there are others who will remain productive because they desire to achieve more. However, eventually the productive people will grow tired of supporting the lifestyles of the lethargic people, which will often result in each productive person trying to find a way to cease having to pay the way for one or more unproductive people, and the economy/society will eventually devolve into a situation where the government will have to seize assets in order to make sure that those who want to be less productive are escalated to the level of those who want to be more productive.

Capitalism, despite its many flaws, has done more for the common man than any other system in history; it has elevated more of the poor to middle class, distributed vast swaths of cash around the world through philanthropy, and helped elevate the United States into one of the wealthiest countries in world history. Yes, there is corruption under Capitalism; but here's a big surprise for you Socialists out there: there's LOTS of corruption under Socialism. And as history has played out, there has generally been far more corruption under Socialism. Think about this: look at how awful our government is with managing - well, EVERYTHING. But it's especially awful at managing finances. Do we really want those clowns in charge of the redistribution of wealth? And that is precisely why most governments that enact wide-scale Socialism eventually fail and become state-run monstrosities where the only equality is that everyone suffers together - except for those in charge, who live comfortably in their taxpayer-funded palaces.

At the end of the day, whether we are discussing Socialism or Capitalism, the root cause of failures in either system is the same: they have people, and people have different needs, desires, ethics, etc. There is an old adage that says something to the effect of, "Only a fool would say that the only reason why Socialism has never worked is that the right people have never been in charge;" and therein lies the rub - it takes a special kind of hubris to look at a failure after failure after failure and think, "If only I was in charge, I'd get this right." And that's how dictatorships are formed. What we need is to reform some of our shortcomings, condense our bloated government, while ensuring that we have the appropriate level of oversight for areas that are prone to misuse (like the healthcare industry).

As I mentioned before, healthcare is a serious issue, and warrants a much greater conversation that I can fit into a blog post. But that being said, that is just one issue; the idea of abandoning a flawed but successful economic model (Capitalism) in favor of a economic system with a proven track record of catastrophic failure (Socialism) is ludicrous. And I reiterate, if Bernie was ONLY talking about socialized healthcare, then he'd have some serious debate fodder. But he's not; he is espousing a complete shift of economic models, despite the fact that Socialism has not - and will not - ever work. Yes, some individual programs are socialized overseas in tiny countries with small GDPs and much smaller populations. Conversely, the USA is a huge country with 50 states that each want to self-govern as much as possible. If one state, let's say Ohio, decided to socialize their healthcare, that's up to them. But what about Pennsylvania? West Virginia? Indiana? They might not want to socialize their healthcare. Now can you imagine trying to organize that at the Federal level? With our politicians? People in Congress like AOC can't do basic math; should we allow someone like that to decide who gets healthcare? I think every state would eventually take the Federal government to court over one point of implementation or another.

Having said all of that, let's tale a quick look at Bernie; here is a man who has consistently praised Communists like Castro for his social policies, while completely ignoring the hundreds of thousands who that same leader and those same policies put to death. This is why many people believe that it is by no coincidence that Bernie is such a strong advocate for gun control, because in every failed Socialist society, one of the first steps to domination has been to disarm the public. I am no conspiracy theorist, so I do not subscribe to alarmist conjecture. However, I am not blind to history, either. Bernie's proclamations - and those of his devotees - follow a very dangerous pattern, which is summarized in the initial meme that launched this discussion, which I will restate here with a little more context since I think Camus' second point is also apropos to this discussion: "The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience."

Circling back to the initial meme - that quote sums up Bernie's sales pitch perfectly; Bernie is acting like he has the best interests of Americans in mind, but his plan is impossible to implement, so it's just a power grab. We have seen this political behavior manifest itself in the past, and we will undoubtedly see it again.

Classic Rock versus Contemporary Rock

One of my kids recently asked me why I preferred "classic rock" over much of today's music, and I replied that "back in the day," artists had to actually have talent - not just look pretty for their photo shoots.

Today's biggest "artists" have the majority (if not all) of their songs written by teams of songwriters, and if these "artists" actually sing their own material, then their voices are auto-tuned and quantized into something that barely represents their original voices, and then they lip-synch their vocals when they perform so that they can nail their dance steps while their label pays every possible outlet to promote their over-produced "music..."

At the end of the day, today's "musicians" are little more than performing monkeys. See the following video for what I mean...

Whereas in the past, musicians had to have amazing talent to make a dent in the club scene where they cut their teeth; slogging away through club after club, hoping that one day they would be "discovered" by a record label's A&R department, then hopefully they might land a recording contract and perform the heck out of their material in order to gain a fan base...

Whether that meant nailing three and four part harmonies and complex rock arrangements like Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son..."

...or pulling off similarly complex multi-part pop arrangements like Journey's "Feeling That Way & Anytime."

The reason why I love classic rock is because that's the last time that music was genuine...


UPDATE:

I love videos from Rick Beato, and I noticed after I posted this blog that he had created a video a year ago, wherein he described an additional example of what is wrong with music these days: quantization. In the following two videos, Rick shows how modern-day producers and engineers ruin performances by forcing a drummer's groove into a fixed tempo, thereby destroying everything that makes a drummer great.

How Computers Ruined Rock Music
How Would John Bonham Sound Today? (Quantized)

I'll sign off with those thoughts for you to ponder.

Jordan Peterson versus Cathy Newman

A good friend of mine shared the following video on Facebook, wherein Cathy Newman, who is a journalist for Britain’s Channel 4 News, hosted a debate with Jordan Peterson, who is a liberal clinical psychologist from Toronto. But you can’t really call it a debate, because Newman was clearly out of her league. She obviously entered the studio that day in possession of several pre-conceived beliefs, and she held steadfastly to those beliefs despite the fact that all of her arguments disintegrated into a flaming pile of excrement as the ‘debate’ progressed. (Or digressed, as the case may be.)

Peterson easily defeated all of Newman’s false assumptions with a never-ending stream of well-researched and articulate facts. Nevertheless, Newman repeatedly assaulted her studio guest as though she were a pit bull from hell, to which Peterson continuously responded with a polite demeanor and a gracious disposition, which was an incredible accomplishment seeing as how Newman’s arguments had no basis in reality.

Here is the video of the debate in question:

All joking aside, this ‘debate’ should become required watching for all journalism students in the future, because it is the best example of how not to conduct an interview or debate. Not only did Newman arrive at this interview ill-prepared and bursting with incorrect, pre-conceived notions about what her guest believed, but she also failed to accurately listen to her guest. Throughout the debate, Newman maintained a constant state of combatant and accusatory maliciousness despite all of the well-researched evidence that was presented as contrary to her personal feelings. Newman continuously interrupted her guest, and she constantly misquoted Peterson by twisting his responses into almost the opposite opinion of what he actually said or believed, and all the while she prefaced her misquotations with a condescending introduction such as, “So, what you’re saying is...,” or “So, you think that...,” etc.

With all of that in mind, here is my recap of the general flow of information during the debate:

  • Cathy Newman: I have this pre-existing and baseless opinion about what you believe, and I disagree with everything that you have ever said in your life.
  • Jordan Peterson: Your pre-existing opinion of my beliefs has no basis in fact.
  • Newman: So what you're saying is, my pre-existing, baseless opinion is correct.
  • Peterson: No, I never said that. Your pre-existing opinion is easily defeated by these concrete facts.
  • Newman: I will completely ignore your facts, and I will restate my baseless opinion as your belief.
  • Peterson: No, I don't believe that. Here are some more facts, examples, and things that I have said in the past which disagree with your pre-existing opinion.
  • Newman: I will ignore everything that we have said so far, and I will restate my original pre-existing and baseless opinion as though we hadn't said anything.
  • Peterson: No, you are deliberately distorting reality; what I believe is this, which is backed up by years of empirical evidence.
  • Newman: In a futile attempt to reinforce my baseless opinion, I am going to quote an unresearched statistic and hurl it at you in an accusatory manner.
  • Peterson: I am going to easily refute your false statistic with an example that...
  • Newman: I would rather interrupt you in a rude an insulting manner than listen to your facts, and ask what gives you the right to believe that my baseless opinion is somehow incorrect?
  • Peterson: I am an expert in my field, and here is a bunch of reinforcing data that I have collected from first-hand experience throughout my vast career within this field, which is backed up by years of academic studies conducted by other experts in this field.
  • Newman: So what you're saying is, you believe that my original pre-existing, baseless opinion is correct.
  • Peterson: No, I don't believe that. You're doing very badly here, so I will attempt an offhanded compliment to spare you the embarrassment of looking like an intellectual buffoon on a public broadcast.
  • Newman: I will resoundingly deflect your unnecessary compliment, and I will suddenly steer this conversation into a nonsensical, unrelated direction and use this change of topic to state another pre-existing and baseless opinion.
  • Peterson: I have no idea why we are discussing this unrelated topic, but your other pre-existing opinion is also incorrect, and I can back this up with centuries of evolutionary evidence and study.
  • Newman: So let me get this straight, you also agree with my other pre-existing opinion.
  • Peterson: No, I never said that; I don't agree with either of your baseless opinions.
  • Newman: I am clearly out of my league here, so I'm just going to call you a big meanie like I am some sort of kindergartener.
  • Peterson: I'm not a big meanie.
  • Newman: Well, you're mean to people who disagree with you.
  • Peterson: I vehemently defend my beliefs with other academics, although I also have letters from thousands of people over the past few months who have thanked me for making their lives better.
  • Newman: This interview has gone down in flames, so I'm going to thank you curtly and basically throw you out of my studio.
  • Peterson: I will respond politely, as I have done for this entire debacle, which has been an amazing feat of patience for me since you clearly lack the intelligence to tie your own shoelaces.

I think that accurately sums up their discussion.


UPDATE: The same friend later posted the following image, which nicely sums up the overall accuracy of Ms. Newman’s responses to Peterson’s statements.

jordan-versus-newman