Wednesday, July 17, 2013

America's Pandemic

File Under: Inconvenient Truths

Mamie Till: "Two months ago I had a nice apartment in Chicago. I had a good job. I had a son. When something happened to the Negroes in the South I said, 'That's their business, not mine.' Now I know how wrong I was. The murder of my son has shown me that what happens to any of us, anywhere in the world, had better be the business of us all." (Source)

Does anyone know what is the leading cause of death in the United States of America?  I'm sure you can guess by the picture that it is not cancer, car accidents, or comorbidities of obesity.  It isn't violent crime either.  The number one killer is something called Cognitive Dissonance.  Cognitive Dissonance Theory, devised by Leon Festinger in 1956, is a fancy way of saying whenever we as humans are presented with information or facts that do not fit with our expectations of reality we feel very uncomfortable.  We do not like feeling uncomfortable; therefore, in order to create equilibrium something must change. To reduce dissonance there are three things people usually do:
  1. Focus on more supportive beliefs that outweigh the dissonant belief or behavior.
  2. Reduce the importance of the conflicting belief.
  3. Change the conflicting belief so that it is consistent with other beliefs or behaviors.
We "accentuate the positive," devalue our beliefs, tell ourselves it is not important, tell ourselves we like the thing that conflicts with us, and find other people to co-sign our new beliefs.  It is this process of "dissonance reduction" that is the killer, because it makes us believe things that are not true, hold onto beliefs that are unreasonable, not take beneficial action when we should, and take detrimental action when we should not.

How do you know if you are suffering from Cognitive Dissonance? Here are some tell-tale signs:
  • Is it 2013 and you are still smoking cigarettes?
  • Do you believe McDonald's and Pepsico made you fat?
  • Do you believe you are big-boned and not obese?
  • Do you believe I can _____ (drink/text) and drive safely?
  • Do you believe in "clean" coal?
  • Do you believe coal-burning factories contribute more pollution than automobiles?
  • Do you believe global warming is a myth?
  • Do you believe the Second Iraq War and the U.S. War in Afghanistan were warranted?
  • Do you believe George W. Bush and Barack Obama are NOT war criminals?
  • Do you believe the death of one black male is more outrageous than the death of thousands of Arabs, Muslims and Middle Easterners?
  • Do you believe the shooting of one black man by a non-black man is more outrageous than the hundreds of shootings of black men by other black men?
  • Do you believe that the uncharged, unindicted, unconvicted "terrorists" who are being held as political prisoners in Guantanamo Bay should starve, right along with the guilty?
  • Do you believe the USA PATRIOT Act was necessary?
  • Do you believe the Affordable Care Act is Constitutional and well-thought out?
  • Do you believe the provision in the NDAA allowing for indefinite detentions will never be applied to U.S. citizens?
  • Do you believe that Danny Manning and Edward Snowden are traitors?
  • Do you believe that genetically modified organisms are nothing to be concerned about?
  • Do you believe the War on Drugs is money well-spent?
  • Do you believe the War on Terror is winnable?
  • Do you believe the key to making human beings less violent is the regulation of inanimate objects?
  • Do you believe in pro-life but tacitly approve the murder, torture, and dehumanization of millions?
  • Do you believe in pro-choice but deny the choices of unborn children and their fathers?
  • Do you believe that Democrats are the party of the people or that Republicans believe in small government?
  • Do you believe that what side of the isle you sit on in Congress makes a difference?
  • Do you believe that the President or even the Congress controls the fate of the country?
  • Do you believe we are not all in the same sinking boat and those who control the life boats will decide who lives and who drowns based upon what you look like rather than what you can do for them?
  • Do you believe that problems are so vast, so big, and so long-standing that you couldn't possibly do anything about them?
If you answered yes, to any of these questions then you are suffering from Cognitive Dissonance and you are killing America.  Cognitive Dissonance is the disease; cancer, diabetes, stroke, violent deaths, poverty, racism, partisanship, warmongering -- those are the symptoms.  No matter how severe your case of Cognitive Dissonance is, it does not have to be a terminal affliction.  The world has shown America the path to the cure.  If Germans can bring down the Wall, if Russians can dismantle Communism, and if the Arab world can depose dictators and resist religious extremism, then we in the United States of America, the progenitors of modern democracy,  certainly can overcome the pandemic that is devouring us from the inside.
"Anytime there is insufficient reward, there will be dissonance.  The general principal seems to be that people come to believe in and love the things they have to suffer for." ~Leon Festinger

"Da Art Of Storytellin' (Part 2)" by Outkast from Aquemini released 1998 on LaFace

Saturday, July 13, 2013

People's Exhibit Zero

File Under:  Clear and Present Danger

As the world waits for the jury to determine George Zimmerman's fate in the death of Trayvon Martin, we must realize what is actually on trial here.  With the mainstream media and the Department of Justice firmly entrenched in the camp of the prosecution, we know this is more than just a simple murder trial: this is a partisan battle with far-reaching political implications.  What we are really waiting on is not just the exoneration or condemnation of George Zimmerman, but also the decision that will play heavily into the fate of Stand Your Ground as a doctrine and the Second Amendment itself.

At this point, I do not believe any reasonable person would, no matter what George Zimmerman did or said, argue against the facts of the case:
  1. Trayvon Martin struck George Zimmerman first;
  2. A scuffle ensued in which George Zimmerman fell to the ground; and
  3. Shortly before being shot, Trayvon Martin was leaning over or straddling George Zimmerman.
We do not, with sufficient certainty, know anymore than that, but more than that is not necessary to know.  The jury must only decide did George Zimmerman have good reason to fear that he could be seriously injured or killed if he did not use force against his attacker.

Critics of George Zimmerman's defense site the age/weight disparity, the severity of Zimmerman's wounds, and the fact that Zimmerman was armed while Martin was not as evidence against Zimmerman plausibly believing he could be seriously harmed or killed.  If you can get beyond the arrogance of trying to assume what someone actually felt in a crisis situation, and examine the situation objectively you see those arguments make no sense.  Age, weight, gender, the intensity of a fight, even being armed are not reliable predictors of how severe injury or likely death could be in a real world close combat scenario.  I turn to the internet to prove the point.

Man vs. Child

Were that a sanctioned fight, a referee would have called it after the first punch.  Age disparity meant nothing.  The younger man proved himself more than a threat.

David vs. Goliath

Size disparity does not mean you are invulnerable, nor that you are able to use size to your advantage.  A smaller fighter is more than capable of causing a problem for a larger opponent.  Back-pedaling in the darkness and the rain, it is perfectly possible to lose your footing and your attacker is upon you in an instant, raining down blows.

Old vs Young

Wrestling is a young man's game, not an old man's game, right?  Wrong.  Someone you wouldn't expect to get the better of you can, if for no other reason that a mistake on your part and good fortune on their's.

Tony Doesn't Want Any Part of Mom

It looks like Tony had reason to fear he was in danger of serious bodily harm if he pressed this issue with this young man's mother.

No, This Is Over

NOTE: Sarcasm warning, proceed with caution.  When I began watching this I knew the burly, aggressive guy was going to win.  I bet you did too.

"Insignificant" External Injuries

The last two videos were included purely for their comedic value.  But this next one is serious.  Deadly serious.

Notice the man conversing, not bleeding at all, get up, and walk away, only to die moments later from apparently very significant injuries.  Still not convinced?  Well, if you still believe a man has nothing to fear from a boy attacking him, I leave you with this:

That was the family of 46 year-old Ricardo Portillo.  He is dead now.  The 17 year-old "boy" who killed him has been charged with homicide.  The "child" literally punched him to death.  The family sobbing in this video could have just as easily been George Zimmerman's.  I think George Zimmerman has a low-opinion of the kind of people he thought Trayvon Martin was.  He is book smart, but not very intelligent.  He is an over-zealous failure, who has to rely on the good graces of others to bail him out of problem situations. Though I would not have made the same choices he made, the choices he made were not illegal, reckless, malicious, or negligible.  I don't have any reason to dislike him beyond the fact that Trayvon Martin is no longer alive, able to learn and grow into a good man.  The investigation into his death was sluggish and bungled, yes, but ultimately Trayvon Martin is dead and gone and his death was no crime.   There is nothing we can do for Trayvon Martin or his family at this point.  But we can end the cycle of tragedy and bitterness.  We can find George Zimmerman not guilty.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Don't Believe The Hype

File Under:  Shenanigans!

"New Indiana Law Makes It A Felony For Same-Sex Couples To Apply For A Marriage License" ~ The New Civil Rights Movement, 2013

That is the headline of this article.  In a separate op-ed piece, another writer claims that the reason her and her felonious lover (who went 2,400 miles away to accept the only job she could find) cannot be together despite it being legal in their home state is because they are a gay minority couple and nothing to do with her partner's felonious past, the horrible job market in this pseudo-recovery, and her backing a political party that doesn't really care about the poor ...or gays.  This is why we cannot get anywhere.  No, I don't mean because gays are "ruining America."  What I am referring to is the premium we put on promoting our own views, having sensational headlines, and demonizing our opponents. Truth is irrelevant.  Google search keywords from this article and you will find several liberal bloggers and other journalists decrying Indiana for getting entrenched in their position against homosexual equality.  The impression you get is that Indiana has targeted the gay community for persecution by creating a new felony just for the audacity of filing an application for a marriage license.  Someone shared this link with the comment: "Nothing more important to worry about in Indiana?"  Well if you accept the article on face value, it would seem that lawmakers in Indiana got bored and decided to pick on gays. What do you see if you investigate further?

Indiana's marriage law allows for the unencumbered licensing and solemnization of a union between one male and one female age 18 or older, not more closely related than second cousin.  On the application for a marriage license there is a space for the name of the male and the name of the female.  Falsifying an application, registering ineligible individuals, or solemnizing the union of ineligible individuals has been a Class D felony since 1997.  The legislature did not change what was illegal or make something that was not previously a felony now a felony.  So what did they do?  What they did (without regard to gays, blacks, poor, immigrants or any other group) was to revamp the felony system.  Starting 7/1/14 felonies will be no longer "Classed" A-D, instead they will be Level 1-6.  Beginning in 2014 what was a Class D felony will now be a Level 6 felony, meaning those offenses were actually degraded in severity.  So everything that the author spoke about will remain a felony, the least severe felony in fact.

Moreover, nothing about this legislative action stops anyone from engaging in civil disobedience.  You and your partner can still go to the courthouse to apply for a marriage license and if you are eligible you will be granted one after paying the fee.  If you are ineligible you can demand equal accommodation under the law.  If somehow the clerk is having an off day and allows you to file your application, put your partner's name in the free space and claim he or she identifies as that gender.  It will make a fine protest.

Therefore, could we please stop with the lies and the shenanigans?  If you want relevance go out and earn it.  Stop trying to play the American people for fools.  In the meantime, your very fashionable Capri pants have burst into flames.

"Don't Believe The Hype" by Public Enemy from It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back released 1988 on Def Jam

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Knight Writer and Friends' 100 LIKEs Facebook Giveaway

File Under:  Giveaways

Happy Independence Day, America! In honor of you all, my faithful compatriots in The Revolution, and to say thanks for 100 LIKEs on Facebook, I am teaming up with my friends at LightShine Designs and Meisterkhan to bring you this awesome FREE giveaway.  Entering is easy!  Here is what you have to do:
  1. LIKE these pages: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, LightShine Designs, and Meisterkhan.
  2. LIKE and SHARE this picture.
  3. BOOM! You're entered!!!
The contest ends 08/04/2013 @ midnight.  Check out the giveaway below to see how you can earn extra entries EVERYDAY, and increase your chances to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
"Land of Confusion" by Disturbed from 10,000 Fists released 2005 on Reprise

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Martyrs and Pawns

File Under:  The Law Is Not Mocked

This is a spillover of two separate conversations.  In the first conversation, I erroneously stated Zimmerman was charged with first-degree murder.  In response to a photograph highlighting the testimony of the doctor during the trial, which noted Zimmerman's injuries on the night of Trayvon's death were "insignificant," I asked, "how significant George Zimmerman's wounds would have been if he had not shot Trayvon Martin?"  Here is the my two cents on George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial:

We know who killed Trayvon Martin, why he was killed, with what he was killed, and when his death occurred? What we do not know is how the altercation that lead to Trayvon's death was precipitated?  So who committed a crime first?  Zimmerman certainly committed the first mistake, but did he commit a crime? Following someone is not a crime, asking someone a question also is not a crime, and not listening to a 911 operator is not a crime. 911 operators are not authority figures, they cannot tell you what to do. If Zimmerman stopped Martin and prevented him from leaving or gave him the impression that he could not leave, that would be a crime: false imprisonment.  However, if Martin stopped of his own free will, then no crime was committed.  Approaching someone in a public place is not a crime either. The jury must decide who assaulted whom first.

If George Zimmerman had stayed in his car, Trayvon Martin probably would not have doubled-back to confront him and Trayvon would likely still be alive.  If Trayvon Martin had kept walking, he would definitely be alive today. If Trayvon Martin had called 911 instead of his girlfriend, he might still be dead but at least we would have a reliable record of what happened. As someone else pointed out: "they both did something stupid." The question is who committed a crime first.  Zimmerman is facing a minimum of 25 years.l even manslaughter is a minimum of nine and a quarter. Given the evidence, I think it would be a mistake to convict Zimmerman of murder. That would be a miscarriage of justice.

What is on trial here is not really George Zimmerman: Trayvon attacked Zimmerman - case closed. What is on trial is the handling of the investigation, the racial profiling of Martin by Zimmerman and the police, and the validity of stand your ground laws. If Martin had killed Zimmerman he would have went to jail that night and been held or no bond or a bond of ridiculous proportions. The shooter not the victim would have been subjected to a toxicology screening. If the media covered the story at all, the media would have spread images of Trayvon that portrayed him as the violence-loving, rebellious, drug-using wannabe thug that he was.  Trayvon has been made a false martyr and Zimmerman, should Zimmerman be convicted, will become the sacrificial pawn that helps someone else jockey for position to execute their political checkmate.

"Hurricane" by Bob Dylan from Desire released 1975 on Columbia

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Diagnosing America's Cancer

File Under:  It Is In Our Hands

V22.2, how many of you know what that is?  Can you guess?

To many of my compatriots in the health industry, you will recognize what that is immediately.  That is the ICD-9 diagnostic code for "Pregnant state, incidental."  In laymen's terms that is: a normal pregnancy, without complications.  This is what a doctor would put in your medical chart or on an insurance claim to denote that the patient is pregnant.  Why is this important? It is important because:

You only diagnose diseases.

If you look at pregnancy as a disease, it makes an ironic sort of sense: everyone who has ever been diagnosed with pregnancy has died.  Making children the most lethal disease to ever afflict humankind.  That might bring a chuckle to some of you with children, but therein is the problem with abortion, women's health rights, and the debate surrounding the two.  In the modern world children are considered, and thus treated like, a disease.  Children are suffered not cherished; they are something to be avoided, medicated, or destroyed.  We have already, however grudgingly, conceded that everyone has a right to suitable healthcare.  How dare someone dictate to someone else what is appropriate healthcare, or more precisely what they should do about a disease that is infecting their own body?

Conservatives have latched onto the very valid point that unborn children are not diseases without human rights, and they are using it as a cudgel to bludgeon Liberals.  Liberals, with their ideology threatened, have hidden behind the shield of women's health rights and freedom of choice and are firing back.  What has essentially happened is that the issue of sanctioned murder has metastasized itself onto women's health like a cancer, rendering it inoperable because Liberals will not sacrifice the cancer to save the host.  In this stalemate millions of unborn children continue to die, healthcare reform suffers, women suffer, and the country suffers from divisive politics and a lack of leadership.

If you have a defective heart valve, a chemical imbalance, a stroke, underdeveloped lungs, a calcium deficiency, a traumatic head injury, amenorrhea, or any number of other illnesses, these are all valid illnesses with definable root causes inside the body and mind.  Everyone deserves access to technologies which alleviate the suffering from these diseases.  However, to address unborn children, ovarian cysts, amenorrhea, and erectile dysfunction with one policy, so as to say that they are one-in-the-same is morally, ethically, scientifically, and spiritually bankrupt.

Some 40% of pregnancies are unplanned, and of those perhaps 50% are unwanted.  According to scientists, humanity was unplanned, and judging form all the species that once existed but now do not or all the species, in all the galaxies that never existed at all -- one could say the Universe probably doesn't want us.  And yet, here we remain -- unaborted.  Without question both men and women deserve access to comprehensive healthcare for all their bodily systems.  That care does not have to be sacrificed in order for us to redress this Nation's position on medically unnecessary abortions.  To do so, all we must do is put down our cudgels and shields, and divorce the issue of women's health from the cancer of abortion.

"Waiting Between Worlds" by Zack Hemsey from The Way released 2011 on Zack Hemsey Publishing