Secret Origins of the COVID19 Coronavirus

In case you were not aware, the Coronavirus was manufactured to destroy the United States. It's a sordid story, but please read through all of these details with an open mind:

  • George Soros hates America, and he was secretly channeling money through Jeffrey Epstein's financial empire to Charles Lieber, the Harvard Professor who was building the lab in Wuhan, China, where they created the COVID19 Coronavirus.
  • Charles Lieber was eventually arrested on espionage charges, (see https://bit.ly/3acJDsU), and - of course - Jeffrey Epstein was 'suicided' before his involvement could be discovered (see https://cnn.it/2U8XpqW). Epstein's and Lieber's respective demises have given George Soros plausible deniability about the origins of the Coronavirus.
  • But the story doesn't end there, because Charles Lieber's black box 'research project' for Harvard goes back several years to the Obama administration. Obama is a Communist with strong ties to the Chinese Communist Party, and he was backed by George Soros. Obama willingly participated in the conspiracy to create the Coronavirus and destroy the United States in exchange for millions of dollars from Soros, thereby making Obama one of the wealthiest men in America (see https://bit.ly/2xehV0e).
  • All of George Soros' financial dealings with Charles Lieber were communicated through Hillary Clinton's secret email server while she was Secretary of State for Obama, which is - of course - why she couldn't use official communication channels, and why she had to destroy all evidence when her email server and cell phones were subpoenaed (see https://bit.ly/2xjyiIM and https://cnn.it/2UrF5Z4).
  • The mainstream media is, of course, aware of these facts, but they are part of George Soros' plan to destroy the United States. The primary news outlets are continuously using their positions to promote news stories about the Coronavirus in order to create a general panic, destroy the US economy, force Donald Trump from office, and allow the Democratic Party (which is really just a front for Communism) to take over the government, seize everyone's guns, and cram Socialism down everyone's throats while imposing martial law in order to resolve the ongoing health 'crisis' (which they helped create).

Before I go any further, let me be very clear - I MADE ALL THAT UP.

One of the points that I have made in several blogs in the past has been that people are generally willing to accept anything that aligns with a narrative that they already believe. With that in mind, some people will think that the so-called facts I concocted sound convincing. What is worse, however, is that even when confronted with overwhelming truth to the contrary, many people will consciously choose to believe fabrications like those that I just listed, and they will consciously choose to perpetuate false narratives despite contradictory knowledge.

That being said, all rumors need to start somewhere. So if you must, feel free to use the story I just shared. But when you do, make sure that someone else's name is attached to it - because I don't want to wind up like Jeffrey Epstein.

Winking smile


UPDATE:

I should point out that a willingness to believe false narratives goes both ways. While there are many Conservatives who might think that the fabrication that listed in my original post sounds plausible, there are many Liberals who are so blinded by their hatred for Donald Trump that they will pounce on every news story and every opportunity that will make Trump look evil. ("Orange Man Bad!!! Not My President!!!") The fact that people are politicizing this time of crisis as heinously as possible is contemptible (see https://bit.ly/2wu1i0w).

This should be a time of unity; we will have plenty of time to dissect the actions of this administration after this crisis has passed. In fact, the hindsight that follows a crisis is the only real test of what worked and what didn't. For example, Obama's 'hands off' approach during the race riots that followed the shootings of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin during his Presidency was not the right way to handle those situations. In that time of crisis, Obama should have intervened and brought peace to a hurting population; but he did nothing, which is why he actually failed his test as a leader.

However, as I have also pointed out in other blogs, there are a great number of people who were so blinded by their hatred for Barack Obama that they would pounce on every news story and every opportunity that would make Obama look evil. For example, the rumors that persisted throughout Obama's tenure in office that his administration had ordered guillotines to be used for executions is completely preposterous, yet the rumors kept circulating.

Which brings me back to my original point: people tend to believe and promote something that aligns with their beliefs, even after they learn facts to the contrary. With that in mind, I will leave you with this thought from Harlan Ellison: "You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant."

Facebook Community Standards Suck

Wow - that was... interesting. The kind and warmhearted people at Facebook just pulled down a joke that I posted earlier today for violating their "Community Standards" (see the image below to see if you agree). Then they forced me to go through a full security check before they would let me log in again, and then they threatened to ban my account from Facebook if I posted another joke.

No More Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

And yet, when I reported a truly objectionable page to the kind and warmhearted people at Facebook that showed graphic photos of police officers being killed at point blank range, and photos of police officers lying dead in puddles of their own blood, these same kind and warmhearted people at Facebook said that graphic photos of dead police officers were not a violation of their "Community Standards" (see the following image).

Facebook Hates Police Officers

With all of that in mind, I have to admit: I really do not understand Facebook's "Community Standards." When a harmless joke at the expense of an 80s-era heavy metal song can get me banned, while domestic terrorists who advocate the public executions of police officers are acceptable, it appears that I may disappear from Facebook one of these days. If and when that occurs, it will probably happen because I said the weather was nice today, which somehow violated Facebook's "Community Standards."

Angry smile

 

It looks like I may need one of these in the near future…

Get Out of Facebook Jail Free

 


FYI - here's a screenshot of what Facebook actually said about the image I posted:

Facebook Thinks I Post Spam

I am sure that my post was flagged by some sort of Facebook "Artificial Intelligence Bot," which reminds me of a question that I heard a few years ago: "Why are we spending vast quantities of time and money researching Artificial Intelligence, when Artificial Stupidity would be far cheaper and far more realistic?"

Facebook Terminator

The Coronavirus Crisis, Conmen, and the Combover Crusader

Someone that I know just posted the following opinion piece from CNN, while simultaneously peddling this article as 'truth:'

In coronavirus crisis, Tom Hanks is more of a role model than Donald Trump

Wow. Just... wow.

I have seen some opportunistic articles try to spin and twist political gain from what is essentially a random act of nature, but this article?

Wow, again.

That has got to be the stupidest article that I have seen thus far. Seriously. CNN has apparently decided to absolve themselves completely from any vestige of responsible journalism and integrity.

If you've read my blogs before, you will see that I am no fan of our current President. In fact, I often refer to him by John Oliver's pet name of the "Drumpf." (I thought that nickname seemed fitting for Trump, even if it's a grade-school insult that was coined by someone who might otherwise have been mistaken for a grown adult.)

Nevertheless, I would agree with an ever-increasing number of people who feel that the Drumpf is a narcissistic twit. But if people at CNN (and their readers) are going to start pointing fingers, then let's look at some actual numbers from the CDC for COVID19 and the 2009 N1H1 outbreak:

  • As of today, the total number of COVID19 cases in the USA are 1,215, with 36 deaths. (CDC: https://bit.ly/2U4uRxg)
  • In comparison, a single year of the 2009 N1H1 outbreak yielded 60.8 million cases, with 12,469 deaths. (CDC: https://bit.ly/2U5Fb8k)

Where was the panic in 2009? Where was the righteous indignation about our then-President's inability to get out in front of that pandemic in a timely manner?

Our current President - despite being a narcissistic twit - has effectively shut down a great deal of the country in order to slow the spread of a disease that has affected only 0.002% of the population that was affected by H1N1. And yet people are crying for his head on a platter.

This 'crisis' is wholly manufactured by the press, for which I am sure they have an ulterior motive - though I do not know what possible purpose crashing the stock market and terrorizing the population will achieve. (Apart from receiving millions of dollars from advertising revenue that is generated from increased traffic to news websites as panicked lemmings search in vain for information during a time of misinformation.)

Nevertheless, articles like the one my friend posted are perfect evidence of modern media's nefarious intent. I'm generally not one for conspiracy theories, but the following meme is starting to look a little more like reality each day...

Coronavirus-Hype

Momentarily disregarding people's hatred for the Drumpf - who is THEIR PRESIDENT whether they accept it or not - many opportunistic lowlifes are attempting to sow division at a time when people should be unifying. They are wholly dismissive of the facts regarding how bad this disease is (or isn't), and how this administration is handling the situation. While at the same time they are giving their beloved President-of-Choice (the Drumpf's unprincipled predecessor) a free pass for his years of dishonesty and ineptitude during his tenure in office.

Regardless of how people feel about the facts that I have just shared - they're still the FACTS. And facts don't care about their feelings. Facts don't care about their hatred. Facts don't care about their bias. And THAT is the ACTUAL 'truth.'

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.

No One is Above the Law

There is an old adage that says, "If it weren't for double standards, some people wouldn't have any standards at all." I think the recent impeachment debacle in Washington DC is a perfect illustration of that concept. According to Nancy Pelosi and the House, "No one is above the law," and yet…

  • The Obama administration withheld national security aid to the Ukraine, unless they fired their prosecutor; regardless of whether that prosecutor was investigating Biden's son is immaterial - it was still an abuse of power. (The same abuse of power that House Democrats tried unsuccessfully to pin on Trump.)
  • The Obama administration conspired with foreign nationals to create a false narrative in order to illegally obtain FBI wiretaps against the Trump Campaign. (Oddly enough, this is the same crime that Democrats have held against the Nixon administration for years.)
  • The Obama administration deliberately misled the American Public about the details within Obamacare in order to push it through congress. (The writer of that legislation actually said that the only way that bill would succeed would be to rely on the economic stupidity of the American voter.)
  • The Obama administration conspired with DNC officials to steal the 2016 primaries from Bernie Sanders through manipulation of their "Super Delegates." (Oddly enough, Bernie was winning the Democratic popular vote, and the DNC played with the numbers to give the nomination to Hillary anyway, which casts a hypocritical light on the DNC's continued whining about Trump not winning the popular vote.)
  • The Obama administration conspired with DNC officials to provide the Hillary Campaign with the questions and answers for 2016 presidential debates. (The DNC chairperson was fired, but no one was prosecuted.)
  • The Obama administration conspired with the FBI and the Attorney General to sweep Hillary's guilt under the rug when the FBI had sufficient evidence to prosecute Hillary for crimes and obstruction of justice. (Those crimes would be running an illegal email server to avoid government oversight, the loss of a wealth of classified information to foreign intelligence services when her illegal email server was hacked, sending volumes of classified data from her illegal email server to unclassified devices, and the destruction of cell phones and her email server when they were subpoenaed.)
  • The Obama administration conspired with the Secretary of State (Hillary) to mislead the American public about their ineptitude regarding the destruction of an American Embassy in Benghazi and the death of an American Ambassador. (Despite a multitude of requests for additional security from the Embassy in Benghazi, the Secretary of State refused to provide reinforcements, resulting in several deaths. After their cataclysmic blunder was discovered, the Obama administration and the Secretary of State pinned the blame on an innocent filmmaker, whom they threw in jail, and intentionally lied to the American people to cover their guilt.)
  • The Obama administration conspired with the IRS to use IRS resources as a weapon against political rivals. (When this crime was discovered, hundreds of hard drives across the IRS were suddenly wiped clean, and amazingly enough - none of those computers had backups, despite being one of the largest agencies in our government with a huge IT staff. Note that all of the hard drives were destroyed before FBI agents were allowed to inspect them.)
  • The Obama administration illegally traded five known terrorists from Guantanamo for a known traitor, Bowe Bergdahl, without approval from Congress. (This was an illegal abuse of Executive power, for which no one was prosecuted.)

There are, of course, many other crimes committed and scandals that happened during the Obama administration; these are just the ones that I could think of right now. As I said earlier, if it weren't for double standards, some people wouldn't have any standards at all.

pelosi_justice

Presidents versus Terrorists

Let me say up front that I think Trump is the least-presidential president that we have had in many years. In fact, I have made it abundantly clear in other blog posts that quite often I think Trump acts like a world class buffoon. But that being said, I recently read a social media post wherein someone who simply hates Trump was spouting off about Trump attempting to act like the King of America and starting wars after a US drone airstrike killed Iran's General Qasem Soleimani. This person is one of a growing group of misguided malcontents who are so blinded by their rage against our current president that they are incapable of properly analyzing the situation.

With that in mind, here are a few facts that everyone should consider.

  • First of all, the President is Commander in Chief (CiC) of our Armed Forces; everyone in the military reports to him. For all intents and purposes, Trump outranks every general in the Pentagon. If the military has viable intelligence that they can take out a known terrorist and Trump gives them the go ahead, then that's well within the powers that are granted to his office.

  • Second, our military killed a known enemy militant who was actively engaged in planning additional acts of terrorism outside of his own country. Soleimani was an Iranian general and terrorist who was in Iraq in order to direct the actions of several groups of insurgents who were attempting to overthrow their democratically elected leaders. Soleimani was directly responsible for an indeterminate number of innocent deaths; and if left on his own, it is guaranteed that additional lives would have been lost.

  • Third, in contrast to the killing of an Iranian terrorist on Iraqi soil, when Obama gave his permission to kill Bin Laden, a group of heavily armed American forces crossed into a foreign nation (Pakistan) and killed someone who was hiding out with their permission. As Commander in Chief (CiC), Obama - like Trump - was operating within the powers that were granted to his office.

    • However, in the grander scheme of political diplomacy, Trump killed a positively-identified enemy combatant with a precise drone strike, whereas Obama ordered the slaughter of an entire household of civilians based on unconfirmed intelligence (that thankfully turned out to be true).

    • But make no mistake: when US forces went after Bin Laden, our military violated the borders of a sovereign nation. In no uncertain terms, we invaded Pakistan when we killed Bin Laden. Whereas in Soleimani's situation, our military was already stationed in Iraq as a peacekeeping force, and the Iranian general and his cohorts were the invaders.

    • Think about it this way: when a group of revolutionaries recently attempted to stage a coup in Turkey, they were doing so under the orders of a man who is currently residing in the USA, whom Turkey considers a traitor and terrorist. How would you feel if a heavily armed group from the Turkish military snuck over the borders into the United States and slaughtered every man, woman, and child in that guy's house? Most Americans - including you - would be highly offended; but that's exactly what we did with Pakistan, and no Americans care.

  • Fourth, when you compare the conditions of Obama's and Trump's operations, Obama ran the risk of open hostility with an ally, whereas Trump ran the risk of open hostility with a country that was already openly hostile to us. Remember, Iranian insurgents attempted to overthrow our embassy just a few days ago. With that in mind, let's examine presidential reactions to acts over terror over the past few decades:

    • When a crowd of Iranians overthrew one of our embassies during President Carter's administration, a large number of Americans were held prisoner and psychologically tortured for the next couple years.

    • When a group of terrorists from Libya bombed US forces in Germany, President Reagan ordered the bombing of Muammar Gaddafi's private palace - and we never heard from him again (until his own people overthrew and executed him in 2011).

    • When Sadam Hussein invaded one of our allies in the early 1990s, President Bush Sr. deployed our military in overwhelming force and routed the Iraqi invaders in a brilliantly-executed military campaign.

    • However, when terrorists working for Bin Laden bombed the Twin Towers in New York in 1993, President Clinton did nothing. In fact, President Clinton passed on every opportunity to kill Bin Laden that the military presented during his time in office. What is worse, whenever terrorists would bomb or kill US forces anywhere on the planet, Clinton would withdraw all US forces from the region, thereby giving the terrorists EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANTED ALL ALONG. In the end, the Clinton Presidency was the greatest terrorist training program in world history; President Clinton proved that terrorism works - the US will withdraw its forces, and no one who is responsible for terrorist acts will be punished.

    • When Bin Laden bombed the Twin Towers in New York in 2001, President Bush Jr. invaded both Afghanistan and Iraq, deposed their corrupt governments that sponsored global terrorism, and allowed their people to democratically elect their leaders for the first time in many, many years.

    • However, when a group of insurgents attempted to overthrow our embassy in Libya during President Obama's administration, both Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State (SoS) and Obama as Commander in Chief (CiC) ordered our military to stand down. As a direct result - our ambassador to Libya was killed (along with several other people), and our embassy compound was burned to the ground. (And don't even get me started on how Obama gave hundreds of millions of dollars to Iran, traded a host of known terrorists from Guantanamo prison without the required congressional approval in exchange for a known deserter and traitor, and he made it possible for Iran to create Nuclear weapons.)

    • On the other hand, when a group of insurgents attempted to overthrow one of our embassies under Trump's tenure, he sent in the military to reinforce the embassy and disperse the crowds of insurgents, and then he ordered their ringleader killed with a drone strike.

So, yeah - Trump is a doofus. But what Trump did was perfectly legal, as it was for Obama with Bin Laden. However, there is no comparison when it comes to results:

  • Carter (as CiC), both Clintons (Bill as CiC and Hillary as SoS), and Obama (as CiC) were all miserable failures with regard to foreign policy and terrorism.

  • On the other hand, Reagan (as CiC), Bush Sr. (as CiC), and Bush Jr. (as CiC) were demonstrably better at foreign policy.

The future will tell as to whether Trump will fare as well at foreign policy during his time as CiC. But that being said, just because you cannot stand Trump does not grant you the right to disparage what was well within the realm of his duties as Commander in Chief. In fact, at the moment it appears as though his decision to take out a known terrorist was incredibly well executed; with minimal loss of life to US, Iraqi, and even Iranian personnel.

As I said earlier, these are just some things to consider.


UPDATE: When this blog was originally published, it made no reference to the drone airstrike. As a result, the context was missing. That gaffe on my part was corrected later.

Ranger Up - A Sad Tale of Customer Service Failures

As a veteran, I love Ranger Up's products. Sometimes their products make me laugh, while at other times their products make me proud of my time in the service. In fact, I wear at least one of Ranger Up's t-shirts every week. But my love for that company was seriously damaged when they completely failed again and again to fulfill a very basic order. To better understand what I mean, here are the details:

I placed an order near the end of November for three products that I wanted to give as Christmas presents to my son-in-law, who is a fellow veteran. Two weeks later, I received only one of the products, even though Ranger Up's website and email notifications claimed that the order had been fulfilled. I understand that mistakes happen, especially around the holidays, and I wasn't concerned because there was still plenty of time to rectify the situation. To that end, I tried using the contact form on Ranger Up's website, then I tried using the web-based chat on their website, then I tried sending emails to their customer service address, and I left a couple voice mail messages at their customer service telephone number. I heard nothing from all of these attempts. Once again, I understand that the holiday season is busier than normal, but still - I heard not the slightest peep from Ranger Up.

After several days of hearing nothing, I followed a friend's suggestion and I reached out to Ranger Up's Facebook account. To my amazement, I heard back in a few hours, whereupon I was informed that I needed to allow 2-3 business days for follow ups from Ranger Up's staff due to the holiday volume. (I had already done that, of course.) But I was assured that someone named "Regina" would follow up with me that day to get everything squared away.

But I heard nothing more that day. Nor the next day.

As I mentioned before, the missing items were meant to be Christmas gifts, and by that time it was already a few days away from Christmas. With that in mind, I reached out to Ranger Up's Facebook account again, and I informed them that I had already waited longer than their requisite 2-3 business days, yet I still had not heard anything from them - despite assurances that I would hear from them on the same day that I had contacted them through Facebook. I pointed out that in order to receive the rest of my order in time for Christmas, Ranger Up would have have to ship my remaining items by 2-day mail. The following day I received an apology for my order "falling through the cracks," and I was assured that Ranger Up would ship the rest of my original order via FedEx, and Ranger Up would cover the additional shipping costs. (Just to be safe, I bought my son-in-law a couple extra gifts.)

A day passed, then two, then three... and eventually Christmas arrived - but still I had received nothing from Ranger Up. On the day after Christmas, I received an email that my order was finally on its way. By this point, I didn't hold my breath.

I'll spare you the additional details and cut to the chase - the remaining items from my order arrived today. FIVE. DAYS. AFTER. CHRISTMAS. More than a week after I was assured that my order would arrive in time for Christmas, more than two weeks after I first contacted Ranger Up to let them know that there was a problem, and more than a month after I placed the original order, which for any other company would have been plenty of time for the holidays.

At the end of the day, I'm a realist; I completely understand that things go wrong. And I'm patient; I do not call companies and scream at people who are trying to do their jobs. And in the grander scheme of life, missing a couple gifts for the holidays is a really small thing; I have my health, I have a wonderful wife, I have great kids, and I have cute grandkids.

But all that being said, Ranger Up failed. Big time. Again. And again. And again.

On Ranger Up's contact page, they proudly proclaim the following:

"From August 26th to 5 January 2016, Ranger Up used a third-party partner for customer service and fulfillment. During that period of time many orders did not get fulfilled and many customers were ignored. Those days are over. We will get back to you within 1-2 business days, and we will remedy all issues to your satisfaction. We learned the valuable lesson that no one cares about our customers as much as we do and we look forward to being us again in 2017."

From my perspective, it seems as if nothing has changed; my order was not fulfilled, I was clearly ignored, I did not hear from Ranger Up within 1-2 business days, and they certainly did not remedy any issues to my satisfaction.

Ranger Up's website also proudly proclaims the following: "Founded by veterans with an ethos forged by service." I'm not sure how things work in the military now, but in my day a soldier who demonstrated that level of failure again and again would have had his butt kicked over and over until he learned how to do his job.

Use the Self Checkout Line and Be Happy About It

A friend recently posted the following image to Facebook, which had the following caption appended to it: "Is this how you feel too? My how times have changed. Used to be there were tons of cashiers. Dressed in uniforms."

Use-the-Self-Checkout-Line

This type of toxic sentimentality that pines for "the good old days" is so far out of touch with reality that it boggles the mind. For example:

Let's assume that a particular supermarket has 10 checkout registers, and these days they only staff three of those. (Which has been my observation quite often.) To staff the remaining 7 registers, you would obviously need 7 more employees. At $15 per hour, that comes to around $31,000 per year per employee, and around $218,000 for the entire store. However, that doesn't include benefits per employee like health insurance and such, nor does that include additional overhead like uniforms, bathroom supplies, etc. So let's estimate an even $300,000 per store to staff those additional cashiers. (Which still doesn't include any employees that will bag your groceries for you, by the way.)

In any event, that $300K has to come from somewhere, and so - obviously - it will have to come from increased customer revenue. With that in mind, if the store was to hypothetically raise their prices across the board by an estimated %10, the additional profits earned at your expense means that you could have those additional 7 cashiers. Of course, your monthly food bill will have increased significantly just for you to have your peace of mind, but that might be a small price to pay for your nostalgia. (Both literally and figuratively.)

However, if this hypothetical supermarket chain hired additional cashiers across all of their 1,000 stores nationwide, that would mean they would need to come up with $300,000,000 in order to ensure similar staffing across the country. That would have major positive and negative ramifications across the country:

  • On the positive side, the chain of stores just created hundreds of new jobs.
  • On the negative side, they just increased the cost of living for every single customer, to include every one of their new hires. As a result, most of those cashiers will need raises simply to make ends meet - and guess where that money comes from? (Hint: customer revenue.)

I should also like to add that none of this discussion takes into account the fact that the Food Stamp, WIC, Welfare, and Social Security programs would need to be restructured to match the increased costs, which creates an additional burden on taxpayers.

Truth be told, in many countries across the world you are required to bring your own bags with you to the store and bag your own groceries as you are checking out; no one seems to have a problem with that in those locations. Of course, there are many other countries where shopping means walking to a local meat market where fresh kills are hanging in a vendor's makeshift stand, and in many other countries you actually have to grow your own food or track and kill your own game.

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Personally, I'd rather not have to put up with any of that. Nor would I prefer to endure having to interact with a cashier who clearly cannot stand their job and is questioning every life decision that led to their current station in life. Nor would I like to pay more than what I deem as necessary to buy my prepackaged, ready-to-eat sustenance.

With all of that in mind, it never bothers me when I get to skip the cashier line at a store, swipe my own groceries across a laser scanner, and ultimately pay a lot less for the privilege of living in the most-industrialized society in the history of humanity. I think self-checkout lines and everything that goes along with them are vital parts of a highly efficient system of commerce that our forefathers would have clamored to have had available to them. Waxing nostalgically about "better days gone by" is a useless exercise that fails to accurately appreciate the better days we have in the present.

The Downside of Kickstarter

Let me be honest right up front - I like Kickstarter. I think the whole concept of crowd-funding new inventions to bring them to market is a great idea, and I have personally funded a dozen or more projects - which have usually been related to emerging technologies. Participation on Kickstarter is simple: you pick a project you think looks appealing, and then you choose the level of your pledge to help bring that project to life. Depending on how much you give, you generally get something in return - which is typically the completed product before it is released to market. After a project has been funded, the company or team that is responsible for the project is obliged to keep its backers up-to-date through the Kickstarter website.

However, for those of you who are unfamiliar with crowd-funding a new product, this is not buying a completed product online; there are usually dozens of hurdles that the manufacturer needs to go through before the product is ready to ship. Quite often a project is barely past the design and prototype stages, so you have to realize that the expected ship date is very likely to change. With that in mind, I send in my pledge, and then I usually do my best to ignore how long the project is taking. (Some people are impatient, though, and they usually fill the comments sections of a project page with inane requests for their money back if it is taking too long.)

One of my favorite projects that I backed was created by the great folks at Plugable: the product was a docking station for my Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet that provided simultaneous charging with port replication, thereby allowing me to plug my tablet into my KVM and use my tablet as a desktop computer when I'm home, and as a conventional tablet everywhere else. The Plugable team did a great job with the finished product, their communication was great, and I can honestly say that I use this device almost every day. (In fact, Plugable did such a great job that they turned me into a loyal customer; I now use dozens of Plugable's devices and I have recommend their docking stations and other devices to my friends and coworkers.)

However, Kickstarter has a dirty little downside to their business plan: they assume zero accountability for all projects that are advertised through their website. The entire responsibility for delivering a product to backers rests with each respective company or team that is bringing a product to market, and Kickstarter abdicates any sense of legal obligation whatsoever. As of today, here is what Kickstarter's Terms of Use currently state on this subject:

"Kickstarter doesn’t offer refunds. Responsibility for finishing a project lies entirely with the project creator. Kickstarter doesn’t hold funds on creators’ behalf, cannot guarantee creators’ work, and does not offer refunds."

This means that - in theory - someone could claim to have invented something and accept money from backers, and never have any intention of delivering. In the meantime, Kickstarter has deflected any liability away from themselves, and they will therefore ignore any requests for assistance when a project appears to evaporate.

Which brings me to today: one of the projects that I backed in April of 2017, (called SuperScreen), just announced that they are ending product development, terminating all employees who were working on the project, and providing absolutely nothing to their backers while keeping all of their money; which was a little over 2.5 million dollars. (See Important Announcement- SuperScreen Project is Closed for the official announcement.)

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In case you thought that you read that financial figure incorrectly, your eyes did not deceive you; this company collected $2.5 million from 18,000 backers and delivered nothing, yet the entire escapade was perfectly legal. Don't get me wrong, this situation is unethical beyond comprehension, but it isn't against the law. Kickstarter introduces the possibility for scam artists to get away with large-scale confidence schemes, while providing themselves with a convenient "Get Out of Jail Free" solution to avoid becoming embroiled in any legal entanglements. According to their Terms of Use, Kickstarter charges companies a 5% fee, so for this particular project they may have profited around $125,000 for doing little more than hosting the webpage for this failed venture.

Throughout the life of this particular project there were numerous videos posted of the supposed "prototype" in action, (see http://youtu.be/_spHSw9C9AQ, http://bit.ly/2QL3cy7, http://youtu.be/aUZ8JZKMAZk, http://youtu.be/E2X3Qu9ENuY, http://youtu.be/GsiBqUNdAdk, etc.). There was a mockup posted of what the shipped product would look like, (see below), and even a video that was supposed to show the finished product in manufacturing, (although that appears to have actually been just a standard Android tablet - see http://youtu.be/V96I43UMMYg).

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Despite their periodic promises and posts, nothing ever materialized. The inventor for this particular project, Brent Morgan, dropped the first hint that something was catastrophically wrong when he arbitrarily changed the expected ship date from December 2017 (which was used during the Kickstarter campaign) to December 2018 (which was announced after he had collected everyone's money).

I used to be a project manager for a high tech company, and I realize that projects slip from time to time. However, it's one thing to have a project slip by a week or two, and it's another thing to completely rewrite your production schedule after you have secured funding.

As most backers now seem to realize, Mr. Morgan's company, (Transcendent Designs LLC), does not appear to have ever intended to ship an actual product. It would be great if an aspiring lawyer collected the names of all 18,000 backers and brought a class action lawsuit against Mr. Morgan and his company, but I'm not holding my breath for that to happen.

It is ironic that in one of Mr. Morgan's earliest updates to his backers he waxes poetic about what is great about Kickstarter, because in the end - his project illustrates everything that is wrong with Kickstarter:

"In just 30 days, over 18k people have joined together to raise more than $2.5M for a single vision. It is mind boggling, and it proves that this is real. … While there are plenty of things I would like to say, I will start by thanking those who choose to doubt. At some level, you are proving what is so great about Kickstarter."

There is an old adage - "Buyer Beware" - which extols the virtues of heightened awareness when doing business in a free market society. However, if you are considering whether to back projects on Kickstarter, I would like to suggest a more-modern version of that adage: "Backer Beware." But even more specifically - should prospective backers ever be tempted to invest in a project from either Brent Morgan or Transcendent Designs LLC, I highly advise them to heed King Arthur's counsel in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and "Run Away."

The Further We Move Away From Peace

A fellow Army veteran from Germany recently posted a photo of the following 1980s-era poster to Facebook:

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The text of that poster reads, "Je mehr wir uns für den Krieg rüsten - um so weiter entfernen wir uns vom Frieden. JETZT ABRÜSTEN!", which roughly translates as, "The more we prepare for the war, the further we move away from peace. DISARM NOW!" This poster was an advertisement for Germany's Green Party, which was advocating disarmament during the time of the Cold War.

I have waxed poetic about this subject before, during which I have illustrated that generations of imbeciles have contributed to their own destruction by promoting the naive belief that laying down their arms will somehow lead to universal peace. However, as an old saying elucidates, "Peace is a fleeting fantasy, embraced by fools, signifying nothing."

That idiom is obviously an allusion to Shakespeare's Macbeth, which states in Act 5, Scene 5: "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Personally, I think a link between the contemporary idiom and Shakespeare's prose is warranted, for both phrases capture the same sense of ultimate futility.

Please do not misunderstand me, I think that everyone should ardently desire peace instead of war; but as I have pointed out in other blogs, a lack of war does not constitute peace. The callow conviction that everyone longs for peace is rooted in a childlike world of fantasy, which unfortunately bears little resemblance to the actual affairs of humanity.

History is replete with epic and horrific tales of despots, dictators, and destroyers: Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Francisco Pizarro, Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, Napoleon Bonaparte, Josef Stalin, Cyrus The Great, Adolph Hitler, etc., etc. Countless populations were ravaged by these marauding conquerors, who were hell-bent on amassing empires and riches that were far greater than any one human should ever need or desire. And therein lies the great fallacy of those who seek peace at any cost: for every noble aspirer to peace, someone evil is waiting in the shadows to kill, maim, rape, and destroy everything and everyone that these pacifists hold dear.

While we should all strive for peace, we need also be acutely aware of the world we live in, and we should act accordingly. Our planet is inhabited by billions of people, many of whom would do harm to other people in order to take what they have, or simply to prevent others from expressing their worldviews. In short, we share an evil world that is populated by an untold number of evil people; and the only way to prevent destruction is to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

There is a Latin adage that states, "Si vis pacem, para bellum," which translates as, "If you want peace, prepare for war." I could not have summarized that sentiment any better.