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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Facebook - The Digital Front Porch

First picture I posted of me and Daisy
People make fun of Facebook friends who post pictures of their dinners, their dogs and cats, or the first snow falling on their patio. Yet, somehow, these are some of the most popular posts on FB. I can post a profound piece on politics or religion that I think is earth-shaking and get a couple of thumb's up. But I post a picture of Mama's mashed potatoes or the dog napping in my lap and generate dozens of likes and comments. Why are people interested in all that mundane stuff. Why do I get 95 "likes" for a picture of my wife laughing her head off while we're taking our anniversary picture.

I think it's because these posts are like an invitation by a friend to come by the house. It's an spontaneous kind of intimacy with friends and neighbors that we've somehow lost when we quit building homes with decent front porches.

Oh, I occasionally tweak a liberal friend and get into a running debate over something Trump did or some comment I made disparaging some beloved tenet of progressivism. And we've had some tub-thumper arguments, but hey. Back in the olden days, we used to do that sort of thing with a Coke in hand with friends on the porch of the local grocery and gas station with a bunch or other old geezers looking for a fight. 

Facebook has taken over the role of the old front porch. In exactly the same way that we used to talk about our cars, our grandkids, or the latest backyard project we have going, we post pictures and comments about our personal lives on Facebook so people we know and like can feel like they are keeping up with us.

I occasionally bump into an old friend or family member that I haven't seen in a while, and as we talk, I realize that we are taking up threads of conversations leftover from posts we made on Facebook or other social media. "How was that trip to Cancun?" you ask, having seen the 44 pictures she posted of the trip. "I see your granddaughter is really sprouting up."  You can say that because grandma has posted 157 pictures of the kid documenting every day of the child's life since birth. A lot of millenial precious snowflakes make fun of us older folk for posting the stuff that we do, but hey, at least we don't post hourly selfies showing who we are with at the moment, where we are standing and what we are wearing.

I try to post interesting things, but I'm also guilty of having posted more than my share of cute doggie pictures over the years. I still occasionally post pictures of my dog Daisy even though she's been dead a year and a half. Facebook even helps out by suggesting that I repost old pictures I posted five or six years ago. I am often surprised how many of those old pictures are of me and the dog.

You can criticize Zuckerberg all you want for his liberal bias, but the boy does understand the appeal of the digital front porch he's created. If he and his minions can just stand to not try and tell us all what we can talk about on our own porches, Facebook could last forever in some form or another - or at least till the world comes to an end (a subject about which we can also debate on the "porch" with several dozen of our closest digital buddies).

Facebook posts don't have to be profound. Social media is the digital successor of front porches, Saturday night jam sessions down at the VA, the town square, the pen pal, and the sister who calls you on the phone and talks for two hours. So I'll go on posting my dog pictures and my latest do-it-myself project photos and I'm not ashamed! If you want to look at the couch I reupholstered myself or the cigar box banjo I built or me playing with Jellybean, you're welcome. If you'd rather look at selfies of your friends, then there's a place for that too.

Tell you what; I won't make fun of your selfies if you won't make fun of my photos of homemade pizza!  Okay?

© 2017 by Tom King

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Searching for Heaven - The Enigma That is Youtube

You choose....
The YouTube phenomenon is something nobody predicted back in the 60s when I was coming of age. I read a lot of science fiction and I don't remember that anyone ever predicted that the advance of technology would create the creative explosion that it has. Everybody was actually predicting that we'd gradually all become prisoners of our TV sets and that creativity would die away from neglect.

Then came the Internet! Who would have guessed that what was essentially a military communication tool designed to survive and apocalyptic nuclear war and still function would metamorphose into a digital Wild West where anything goes and almost anything can happen. And who expected the personal computer would get smaller and smaller as it grew more and more capable of doing things. Who knew that for a few dollars one could have his own video production and sound studio in his living room and to produce CDs with professional looking labels? Who expected technology to open the gates of opportunity to creative people to disseminate their art, sell their goods and bring down the gatekeepers (record companies, broadcast companies, and shake the movie moguls down to their toes?

The explosion of beautiful things that have burst forth as the Internet opened up a world of opportunities for creative expression to choose from. People responded by producing some quite lovely things in places like YouTube. Music, films, and documentaries are everywhere. Some is ugly. Some is beautiful. I like to think that the beauty we create is just us looking for heaven and trying to create a little piece of it using that ability to create beautiful things that free will gives us.

We are observing the outworking of decentralized freedom of choice, technological capacity, and increased opportunity. It's shaken the economy to its core. The old gatekeepers are losing their power. Oddly enough, thought, at the same time the generation which has learned to navigate the wild new digital landscape so masterfully, at the same time have come to embrace a political system which promises to wreck this decentralized, wild in the streets growth of individual opportunity in favor of massive centralization of power and authority.

It has become fashionable for cynics of this generation to demand that, if there is a God he would solve all these problems by waving his hand and forcing people to be good. Yet no one really thinks much beyond some kind of magical instant problem-solution to what it would mean if God did that. It would mean the end of free will. You see free will is part of the problem. If people can choose, then taking away their ability to choose makes them not  really human anymore. We're robots if we cannot choose. If we can choose, it creates a problem. If we can choose we can choose to do bad things.

We are a self-destructive lot, we humans. We want to do what we want to do, but we don't want to deal with the consequences. Like spoiled children, we humans want to do what we want to do and then we want someone else to clean up the mess. That's more than a little unrealistic, but people do manage to cling to the delusion that somebody, somehow should come along and solve all our problems and then not make any further demands on us.

We want a Santa Claus that doesn't keep a naughty list and there ain't no sucha thang! Which brings me back to the Internet and technology. The freedom of choice that makes the Internet work so well as an incubator for individual art, music, and business, is anathema to centralized, authoritarian utopias.  You cannot have safety by selling your freedom. You cannot have freedom if someone else makes all your decisions for you.

It's scary as all git-out to navigate a world in which good and bad things can happen. So long as humans can choose, bad things can happen. The only way to solve that problem is to get rid of everyone who chooses to be bad. Socialist dictatorships try to do that, but since they can only look on the outward appearance, their judgment about who should be executed tends to be seriously flawed. Only God can separate the sheep from the goats and that's what it's going to take. The only reason He hasn't done it yet is that He's giving us time to decide whether we're going to be sheep or goats.

In the same way the Internet produces beautiful music, movies and independent businesses alongside porn and hate speech, a world where humans have free will creates beauty alongside horror and misery.  It's a brave old world we live in, especially those of us who believe in doing good rather than evil. We have to have the courage to risk a world where men and women may choose. We have to believe that the risk is worth the actual worker's paradise we've been promised by a kind and loving God who chose to create children and not robots.

© 2017 by Tom King








Tuesday, October 10, 2017

World History for Dummies



A self-described "...
keen follower and an avid reader of World History" posted this claim. He said that if Columbus hadn't discovered America and the Europeans had never come there'd be no United States and therefore the following amazing things would have happened (he even includes "links" to prove his point:

We would have more of:

  1. Oil because US tops the list of Oil consumers of the world.Top Oil Consumers 
  2. More electricity because US is the 2nd largest consumer of electricity. Electricity - consumption - Country Comparison - TOP 10 
  3. Hopefully more money because FRS (that's the Federal Reserve System for you non-conspiracy theorists) wouldn't exist.
..and less of
  1. Wars .. don't ask me why. 
  2. Obesity because 32% of general american population is obese. 
  3. Weapons of mass destruction. Countries with the biggest nuclear weapon stockpiles 
  4. Oh, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have have never happened and generations of victims wouldn't have been suffering.
He's kidding right?

This simple soul (we'll call him Vishal Gorgia) pretty much figured out from his keen following of world history that history and economics is a zero sum game? If one bunch of folks have more, they must have taken it from someone else.  Let's look at his points

  1. We'd have more oil because the US wouldn’t be using it? Really? Well if you follow actual history instead of that stuff you got in Marxism 101, you'd realize that the US wouldn’t be drilling and refining oil either, so actually - less oil. It would be safely stored underground and we'd still be exploiting horses, mules and camels as beasts of burden and with the crappy transportation system, lots more people would be starving and poor.
  2. There would be more electricity for everyone? So, Vishal, without the United States, all those power plants that generate all the electricity we have today, would have what? Magically popped up out of the ground and started generating electricity. Then the magic transportation fairies would ship free buckets of electricity to the third world in their little wooden boats? 
  3. We'd have more money?  How exactly? Would the magic money fairy have kept printing it up and sending it to where exactly? I guess the magic transportation fairies could have bundled it up and shipped it along with those buckets of electricity in their little wooden boats to all the poor people of the world for free instead of hoarding it up the magical Federal Reserve caves like we do now.
So we then would, without a United States we would have less of the following:

  1. Fewer wars? Don't ask him why, Vishal says. He just knows since, as we all know, the United States starts most wars for no reason at all.  And by default the peaceful natives of the Americas (or whatever they wound up calling it), would live peaceful lives, sitting around campfires and eating Vegan burgers and smoking peace pipes full of pot. Even a cursory study of history should have given Mr. Gorgia a little actual history. The peaceful fantasy Native Americans he imagines were, in fact, professional warriors. Why else did all the men call themselves "warriors". It's not because they were community organizers. These warriors were busily murdering each in vast numbers vast numbers long before Columbus showed up. So, fewer wars? Probabaly not.
  2. No obesity? Hey, Vishal, you did finally get Michelle Obama's hobby horse into the discussion.  And you’re probably right. The native Americans would likely have been much thinner. Famine and slow starvation will do that for you and there was a lot of that in Meso-America and on the plains, mountains, and in the forests of North America.
  3. And no weapons of mass destruction? Okay, maybe there would not have been nukes (unless some arms dealer shipped them over from Nazi Germany). As to mass destruction, it's unlikely the New World would have been safe from that. They already had a good start on mass destruction techniques before Columbus got here. Next time you run down to Mexico take a look at the Aztec pyramids around Mexico City. They have channels cut in them just to carry off all the blood from their highly efficient human sacrificial system. It’s estimated that 250,000 people were sacrificed on the Aztec altars in just one year on the altars in Tenochtitlan. The Incas weren't much less bloodthirsty. They killed one in five of their children by abandoning them on cold mountainsides, tossing them into holes or burying them as sacrifices to their gods. And the Mayans, the calendar guys, made bloody human sacrifice and cannibalism into a religious art form. 
  4. And Hiroshima and Nagasaki would never have happened? Instead, invading armies would have fought long and bloody wars, destroying innocent civilians and their goods and property, raping, pillaging and committing genocide without fear since no one could put a stop to it. The world would have belonged to the thug with the most soldiers and weapons and war would have been even more hideous a thing. Actually, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, all out war has become an unthinkable thing, leading to the most peaceful half century in human history (unless you lived in a communist country where they starved, executed, tortured and imprisoned you if you argued with the dear leaders).
Obviously, Vishal thinks the USA is the fount of all things bad in the world. I don’t know what history you are reading, but I suspect it should be relegated to the fiction section of the library. The United States is pretty much the only powerful nation in history that didn't use it's power for empire building. Instead we rescued Europe from tyrants twice. We protected South Korea from a brutal North Korean invasion. We tried to do the same in Vietnam, but the thing was run by Democrats, so that got botched. We rescued Grenada from Cuban invasion, Panama from a corrupt dictator, Kuwait from invasion by Iraq, and pretty much everybody from an insane dictator who wanted to find a way to blow Israel off the map if he could and reestablish the Babylonian empire. We also went after the people who attacked us on 9/11.

And the United States didn't build an empire though we had the power to do so. We didn't keep Kuwait after we liberated it. We didn't keep Iraq after we defeated them. We left the Koreans and even the Vietnamese with their own government. We took the Philippines from Spain and then we liberated them again from the Japanese and gave them their independence. Even when we annexed the American Southwest, we paid Mexico for the privilege. We're still paying reparations to the Native Americans in the USA. There is hardly an appropriations bill that goes out that doesn't have millions earmarked for the tribes. And some of those wars were started by Native Americans so there is blame on both sides. The territories we gained in stray wars throughout our history have all chosen to stay with us. Some we'd like to get rid of but they won't go. We could have a world empire by now and exploit the heck out of them. Instead we let them rule themselves and send them billions in aid.

We've been the most peaceful powerful nation in world history (you know Vashal, that stuff you so keenly follow). We have stopped a lot of bullies from conquering and killing their neighbors. Some of them were as evil as the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas. Had the Meso-Americans had better killing equipment, they might have done as well as the Nazis. They certainly tried.

I think Vishal needs to go back and read some more history. He should probably read something outside of the fantasy section, though.

© by Tom King

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Mothers and Daughters Forever?



My Facebook buds post stuff like this (above) all the time. And there's a kind of truth to it, but they leave out the tough bits. A daughter is always her daddy's little princess (unless he's some kind of psychopath or a complete jerk). Her relationship with her mom is always somewhat problematic. Beginning sometime around puberty, mothers and daughters find themselves at cross-purposes. It's biological. God put this "I have to get out of here" gene into all children so that a kind of madness descends in adolescence that drives them out of your house before they realize what a swell deal they've got going and wind up at 45 living in your basement and expecting you to do their laundry.

The first corrective measure God ever took with mankind was to throw them out of the Garden of Eden and to give them homework.

"Go forth, be fruitful and multiply!" God said as He gave them the bum's rush out of the Garden.
Remember too, God was unhappy with us when He said it. 


It works much like that with our own children. God wanted us to have kids so we'd understand in a very real way, what He experienced in trying to raise us to be decent, hardworking, kindly people. God wanted us to experience rebellion, ingratitude and distrust as manifest in our own offspring.

The above meme represents a condition that exists beyond a certain point in the mother/daughter relationship. It only happens after your daughter gets over being mad at her Mom for all the supposed motherly atrocities mom committed during her adolescence. Things like making them tell the parents where they are at, where they are going to be and when they are coming home. Horrors of that sort. In adolescence, the youngsters feel this terrible constriction when their parents demonstrate their love for them by demanding they not do things that are dangerous, self-destructive or generally bad for them

There is a strange transformation of the mother-daughter relationship that occurs during a daughter's twenties or thirties. It usually happens at about 2 am some morning after she's had a couple of kids of her own. The daughter-now-mother-herself is sitting up all night with one of her babies that is sick. It may happen the day she drops that first one off at school for the first time and cries about the loss of her "baby" all the way home. It can happen in Walmart when the two year old demands candy in the checkout line and when Mom says "no", the precious child screams "NO" right back in her face and the throws himself down on the floor and has a right old tantrum there in front of the cashier, the manager and 40 or 50 Walmart customers.

It is during or shortly after one of those magic moments, when the daughter is unburdening herself to her mother, that Mom magically becomes her daughter's hero. And it's usually around about this time that Mom offers to take the grandbabies off her hands so she can have  "a couple of hours to herself" and seals the deal.

God, it turns out, is a terrific educator
. We just have to get the kids to do their homework is all.

© 2017 by Tom King


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Broken Record....

Shoes left behind at Auschwitz.
Humans want so badly to believe that we are basically good and perfectible if we just have the right laws, the right leaders and the right government. The fallacy of this was clearly demonstrated in the Old Testament. God meant it as a history lesson. The Children of Israel were given a promised land flowing with milk and honey, located right on all the best trade routes to insure prosperity. They were given perfect laws to govern their behavior. Had everyone obeyed those laws Israel would have been as close to Utopia as could be had. They asked God for stronger and stronger, more perfect leaders and a stronger centralized government like their neighbors had. God finally relented and gave them what they asked for. And the people waited for their nation to become strong and peaceful and perfect as it surely must under such a perfect system.

But God had warned them about kings and governments. He warned them that the king would take their sons for soldiers, their daughters for his wives and their earnings for his great palaces and his wars. Eventually, the Children of Israel sank so low that they killed the very Son of God.

But we want so badly to seize the power for ourselves as Satan promised Eve when he told her she would be like a god. So we ignore any evidence that we aren't going to be able to do the same thing we've tried over and over through thousands of years of human history. We avert our eyes from injustice or blame it on someone else. We forget the lessons of Auschwitz, the Soviet Gulags, the Killing Fields of Cambodia, the millions of peasants starved to death in the Ukraine and China, the slaughter in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Chad, the Sudan, Somalia, Cuba and the Japanese Army's Unit 731. We keep repeating to ourselves, "We can be like gods." and we keep becoming devils instead. Instead of leading us to a Paradise on Earth, those who promise us human perfection through law, government and dear leaders keep giving us gulags, death camps and wholesale slaughter.




More horrors are coming again. I can smell the copper scent of blood as black-masked thugs beat up people to silence their opinions and to prevent them from hearing other voices than their own. I can hear it echoing through riot-torn streets. I can taste the bitter gun smoke in the aftermath of another mass shooting. Fresh horrors are coming but I am not afraid, for even if the liars and the thugs and the great men (ah, but I repeat myself); if the premiers, potentates and dear leaders do score a victory, it will be a hollow one, for they will soon receive oblivion as their reward. The Children of the Living God cannot lose no matter what the outcome of the war might be. That makes us mighty.

This makes it possible for me to smile, even as the clouds roll over our heads and the lightning barks its angry warning.

© 2017 by Tom King


 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

I Hate Digital Tyranny


YOU HEARD ME GOOGLE



So apparently Youtube has joined forces with Google and Microsoft in a plot to make videos unwatchable from my beloved Firefox Browser. In the past week, Youtube went from requiring extra clicks to watch its videos to simply refusing to play videos at all unless I switched to Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. This does not make me love either Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge and it carves one more negative notch on my list o' gripes I have with Windows 10. I don't like either Chrome or Edge's interface - especially Chrome. Apparently the uber-geek coders at Microsoft and Google believe that we all want to learn a new browser interface every year or so, just because we are bored and have nothing else to do. At this point they totally ignore the druthers of anyone over 55 years of age.

While Windows 10 has some nice features, they also like to confuse you by hiding things you need in new less obvious places. And now a whole bunch of my tried and true software doesn't work anymore and they want me to buy or rent new software with money they want and which I do not have lying around to donate to Mr. Gates or the antifa thugs at Google. This is why Apple, despite being a socialist dictatorship of a computer system, keeps drawing adherents. People buy Apple stuff in the faint hope that they won't have to learn a new interface every year. There is a kind of pathetic hope that Apple will at least be consistent.

Don't bet on it people. Geeks is geeks and they have no clue how normal people work. Check out Scott Adams' Dilbert comic strip for a peek inside the disordered brains of software designers. It's all true. I'm just surprised Google hasn't developed an app that drinks your coffee for you.

It's not Artificial Intelligence that's going to kill us all. It's Artificial Ignorance that'll do it. One day someone's going to find some deeply buried Easter Egg in some updated version of Microsoft Office 22, and quite by accident, when the robot voice asks, "Do you want to play global thermonuclear war?" the dimbulb who found this "special" feature of Office 22 (and who never saw the movie War Games) will say, "Yes."

Of course, by then, all he'll have to do is nod his head and the software will pick it up on his webcam, send nuclear launch codes to Cheyenne Mountain, and launch an all out attack on someplace like Terlingua cause the programmer hates chili or on Salt Lake City because he was once frightened by a Mormon missionary.

Our lives hang by such a thin thread.

© by Tom King

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

What Love Is Not


Love is not, in and of itself, immortal, nor is it some self-existent feeling, that lodges inside you; that is something you either "have," as in, "I have love for you," or that you do not have, as in "You've lost that lovin' feelin'." Love is something you create through committing relentless acts of love. It is not something you can suddenly acquire, like a headache, a cold or a new pair of shoes. That sort of acquired love is more like the song that goes, "I've got the hots for you!"  That is not love at all.

Love is something you create. Love is the greatest of the action verbs. To be shure there are feelings that come when you commit acts of love, but those feelings are an artifact of the act of love and not the thing itself.

Feelings of love help us know when we are doing acts of love. They remind us of our determination long ago that we shall love, honor, and cherish another until death forces us to stop loving, if only till we one day, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" take up immortality and resume what turns out to have been an eternal love after all.

© 2017 by Tom King

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Government Will Save Me!



On Rescuing Democrats in a Hurricane

Texans impacted by Hurricane Harvey are not out of the woods yet, but Texans are coping.
We are a sturdy, stubborn and innovative people.  I saw a picture this morning of a half-submerged house where the family had staked out camping tents on the roof and had food and water and camp cooking stuff up there with them waiting out the flood waters. THAT is how Texans behave in a crisis.

I remember stories from Hurricane Katrina of volunteer first responders with boats being turned back by New Orleans police because the mayor had ordered that only government agencies be allowed into the hurricane ravaged city.
As a result people sat on their houses for days waiting for the Feds to arrive. Apparently the (also a Democrat) mayor of Houston refused to evacuate. Lets hope HE knows enough to let friends and neighbors lend a hand. (Note*** Apparently he does - see below). As it is, Texans still have managed to hold down the loss of life from Harvey to single digits so far while Katrina claimed more than 1800 lives. They never were actually able to count all the dead.

There's an old story I just made up about a Democrat whose home was flooded during Hurricane Rita. He was sitting on his roof watching the waters rise and suddenly got religion. "God," he prayed eying the rising water. "Send the government to save me!"

A while later the water was over his front porch and a neighbor floated by in a big yellow raft. "Come on," he cried out to the Democrat. "I'll get you out of here."

"No," the Democrat cried. "I'm waiting for FEMA. They'll have a trailer I can stay in and it’ll have a television." The neighbor shrugged and paddled on.

An hour later the water was halfway up the windows of his house. The head deacon from the church down the street came by in a canoe and offered to take him to safety.  "No!" the Democrat shouted back. "I'm waiting for the Coast Guard to come. They'll have warm blankets and hot food on board for me."  The deacon paddled off.

An hour later the water was at the eaves of the roof and he was getting nervous.  A couple of fishermen in a bass boat came chugging down the street and pulled up to his roof. “Get in, the water’s rising fast,” they urged.

”No, that’s okay,” the Democrat shook his head. “The National Guard will soon come and rescue me and take me to an evacuation shelter where there will be beds and food.” He waved them off.

An hour later he’s sitting on his chimney completely surrounded by water which is over his roof. He’s seen an alligator from the nearby bayou swim by a couple of times.  “He hears the thump thump thump of a helicopter overhead. It pauses directly above him and suddenly a sling drops down beside him.

”Put your arms in the sling and we’ll pull you up,” a voice shouts through a bullhorn.  The Democrat looks up and realizes the helicopter is from one of Exxon’s Gulf oil rigs. By this time he's losing faith in the government to come and rescue him, but he sticks to his ideological guns.

”No!” he shouts back. “I can’t trust you people. You’re destroying the environment. I hear that the Sierra Club will be sending helicopters to rescue people. This disaster is caused by global warming. They should be the ones to rescue me not the ones who caused it.” And he refused to climb into the sling. The helicopter pulled up the sling and flew off to rescue others.

The water rose and eventually washed the Democrat and his house away. The sheriff’s department found the Democrat floating face down in the swamps along the coast once the waters receded. Next thing the Democrat knows he’s standing before the judgment seat before the Pearly Gates, his clothes all soggy and covered with mud. 

“What happened?” he demanded of the recording angel at the desk when he got to the front of the line.  “I asked for help from you people,” the Democrat complained. “Isn’t that your job to save people. I think you guys are seriously falling down on your responsibilities. I want to file a complaint.”

“A complaint?” the angel asked incredulously. “We sent you a raft, a canoe, a bass boat and a helicopter. What more did you want?  Then the Democrat disappears in a puff of smoke.”

”Next,” says the angel.


© 2017 by Tom King

* No actual Democrats were harmed in the making of this story. Perhaps a few got their knickers in a twist but given some of the nasty things they’ve said about me and the president lately, I consider this little story a very mild response - especially to the Hitler references. That was really tacky. You should all be ashamed.

** To my friends who think this story is in poor taste, I'd like to remind you of how tasteless the treatment of President Bush was in the wake of the Katrina hurricane in New Orleans - a situation that was not his fault and was aggravated by a Mayor (D) who kept out aid while he threw a tantrum and tried to bury the evidence of his years of embezzlement before he was tried and convicted and sent to the posh prison where they keep Louisiana's (D) governors and judges and miscellaneous politicians who get caught with their hands in the till.  
*** I'm so proud of the way Texans handled this. What happened in Katrina is NOT happening in Texas. Everybody is working together to rescue everyone else. Even Houston's mayor who I earlier criticized for not evacuating made his case and I now agree with his decision. Along the Texas coast we are not Democrats and Republicans, we are not liberals and conservatives. We are not Hispanic, black, white or Asian. We are TEXANS and I couldn't be prouder of my state and how they responded to this crisis.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Bipolar - Just Get a Little Self-Control


I posted something about bipolar the other day and was shocked to get back two of those "it's not real, they just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a little self-control responses. God help the people who said that. It's like telling someone with cancer to just grit their teeth and stop having cancer.

That attitude, all too common in the Christian community is just so entirely wrong that I can't find words to express how appalled I am at that attitude. I've worked for 40 years with people with mental illness and other disabilities. I have two immediate family members with bipolar disorder. 

And I'm here to tell you that bipolar is a physical disability. It affects the mind, but it has physical causes. Imagine, if you will that you lost control of your emotions. One minute you are depressed, another you are angry and another you are exhilarated and it has absolutely no relation to what's going on around you, other than that stress can trigger the onset of a new fresh emotional hell. Your mind searches for a reason for your anger, depression or exhilaration. The emotions are entirely a response to chemicals in your physical brain. 

The brain of a person with bipolar or schizophrenia or Asperger's for that matter, inexplicably shoots out neuro-transmitters that trigger often violent emotion, delusions or voices in your head if you're schizophrenic and YOU HAVE LITTLE OR NO CONTROL OVER IT.
I have a child in prison because he felt "better" on his meds so he decided to stop taking them and then confessed to a crime he didn't commit because he thought he could save a child by manipulating the legal system and in his deluded state thought he could get away with it. My wife deals with the side effects of medications she has to take to keep from experiencing wildly fluctuating emotions that confuse her mind and impair her judgment.

Carrie Fisher made her struggle with
bipolar very public hoping to help
others escape the stigma of mental illness..
Just because you cannot see a wound or find a tumor on x-rays doesn't mean there's not something wrong. To say that people with bipolar should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps is simply ignorant. Humans do not possess a disconnected "soul". The soul resides in the organic machine that is the brain. When God made man he first made a body from the clay and then breathed life into it. Only then did man become a "living soul". If the machine is messed up, the soul is in trouble. That Psalmist said, "He knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust."*

Most people with mental illness no longer have any bootstraps to pull themselves up with.
Some mental conditions CAN be treated with behavior change, abstinence from drugs or alcohol or talking therapy in the same way we can fix a computer by reinstalling the software or moving the magnet away from our hard drive. Medication is a crapshoot at best because what's going wrong in the brain varies from person to person and there are no X-rays, CT Scans, MRIs or PET Scans that can detect anything other than secondary level effects.  

For instance, with kids who have true Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (and there are other disease including bipolar which mimic ADHD), a PET scan reveals lowered levels of glucose in the attention centers of the forebrain.
They don't know what causes this and the only treatment they have for it is to administer stimulants which logically should make it worse. It doesn't. Stimulants like Ritalin and Cylert re-energize the brains attention centers and help the person with ADHD to focus and from there to "have a little self-control".

Self-control, talking therapy and "good discipline" only work if the underlying hardware (the human brain) is functioning properly. It's like trying to install new software on a damaged computer. If the organic hardware that is the brain is not working properly, often the best you can do is try medication, therapy and other work-arounds to achieve the best quality of life possible under the circumstances. It's unlikely, however, that you're going to fix it. You can slap a patch on your leaky lifeboat while you are at sea, but don't expect it to be able to take a lot of pounding from the sea.

Even medications are not all that accurate in treating specific conditions because we cannot see inside the living brain to find out what bit of it is not working and we do not have the ability to fix the delicate mechanisms of the brain.
The best we can do is cut out tumors, but there aren't any surgeries available to "fix" bipolar. You can only diagnose it by its symptoms. It's kind of like trying to fix your car's engine without opening the hood or taking the engine apart. 

Other attempts to mechanically cure mental illness through surgical means have resulted in some horrific solutions like lobotomies and electro-shock.
These do violence to the mind. It's like using a hand grenade to clean out your closet. Such radical solutions may make the person more compliant or less violent, but the mind is irrevocably altered in the process.

With bipolar and other mental illness with a brain defect of some sort as the cause, all you can do is try different medications until you find one or a combination of meds that give the person some relief. 
For example, if your computer has a defect on the motherboard, the software won't work properly however much you want it to. If you have a defect in the brain, no amount of gritting your teeth or efforts at "self-control" will work effectively to make it go away. The best we can do is create some sort of chemical workaround or some intense therapy that works around the problem. The defect doesn't go away, though. It remains there lurking in the background for the rest of a person's life. It's why addicts say they are never cured. They're only "in recovery". Addiction, however it's caused, makes physical changes to the brain that you will have to deal with the rest of your life. The brain is too complex for mere humans to dig around in it to fix the problems. The best you can do is to try to control the neuro-chemicals through medication and fix the damage through therapy. It's tough to do.

There's a reason Robin Williams played mentally ill people so well....
The landscape of mental illness was all too familiar to him.
The #1 side effect of uncontrolled bipolar is suicide. Bipolar isn't a made-up excuse for bad behavior. It's a real disorder. It can be traced genetically through multiple generations of families and you better pray to God you don't have the genetic marker for it yourself, because one day a physical or emotional trauma may trigger full blown bipolar disorder. Left untreated or left for the person to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, bipolar may drive you to the point that one day you find yourself sitting in a porta-jon on a California beach with a shotgun in your mouth like a former preacher/evangelist and good friend of mine did. He did not survive. My wife's uncle did not survive his final bout with bipolar. He went to bed, rolled over to face the wall and starved to death in that position. Her niece's life is a wreck because of her bipolar. We've been to the ER and mental hospitals five times with my wife's bipolar. She's not a bad person. She's just overwhelmed by it from time to time. 

A lot of famous people have successfully coped with bipolar and some not so successfully. A lot of them have lost or ruined their lives as the disease progressed. Earnest Hemingway killed himself. Mel Gibson's disastrous bipolar psychotic breaks are famous and nearly ruined his career. Robin Williams killed himself. People like Winston Churchill, Ben Stiller, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Dreyfuss, and Jim Carrey have all struggled with bipolar. You can also add Vivien Leigh of "Gone With the Wind" fame, Carrie Fisher, whose youthful drug abuse has been tied directly to attempts by the actress to self-medicate her then undiagnosed bipolar, Jean Claude Van Damme, Linda Hamilton, Vincent Van Gogh, TV journalist Jane Pauley, Marilyn Monroe and Patty Duke all have struggled with bipolar disorder. The disease is often fatal if untreated and unmonitored.

So before you tell someone else that's sick to pick up their bed and walk, please make sure you are Jesus! And remember, Jesus first healed the demoniac's mind BEFORE he healed his soul.

© 2017 by Tom King
 *Psalms 103:14 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Taking Advantage of the Good Samaritan


We've all heard the saying, "No good deed goes unpunished. It sounds true but it's not. Most good deeds, if not rewarded, have positive consequences or at least don't hurt the good deed doer. An unfortunate trend in charity is toward making sure the person in need "deserves" the help. We don't want to cast our pearls before swine, Jesus said.

But Jesus wasn't talking about doing charitable acts when he said that. He meant, if someone didn't want to hear you preach at them, you should shut up and move along. Don't waste your breath in other words.  We often get the meaning of that Scripture all wrong.

When Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan, the lesson was not, "Do a background check before you help people."
The Good Samaritan didn't sneak back to the inn and peek through the window to see if the whole thing was a con and the innkeeper and the "injured" man were high-fiving and splitting up his money. Jesus did not tell the disciples to go back and make sure the injured man wasn't faking. 

Christ's lesson was that all men are your neighbors and we are under orders to love our neighbors and to treat them as we would be treated ourselves. I know that He says we should be as "wise as serpents and gentle as doves".  BUT (and this is a very big "but") that does not give us permission to be cynical about doing acts of kindness. Nowhere does God say, "Thou shalt not be taken advantage of," or "Thou shalt not do a kindness for someone who doesn't deserve it." We are to treat others the way we would wish to be treated, for who knows but that we may one day entertain angels unawares.

Jesus fed the 5000. He just fed them. He did not send the disciples out with application forms to determine which of the 5000 might not be worthy to receive food assistance. They were hungry. Jesus fed them - the deserving alongside the undeserving. No questions asked. When he cured the demoniac or healed the cripple, Jesus did not do an "intake" interview to determine whether or not their illnesses and injuries were "deserved" or not. He simply healed.  In like manner, we are counseled to, if asked to carry a burden for a mile, to carry it two.

Does that make us suckers. Hardly. We are soldiers in God's Army and the war we wage is against selfishness, greed, hatred and cruelty. We wage that war by example. We heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and provide shelter for the homeless.

We cannot know the effect of our mercy and kindness on a person, even though the effect may not be immediate. We may never know the downstream effect of our Christian charity. We don't have to. God knows what it will be. That's why he places us in the way of acts of kindness which need doing. God plans the strategy. He gives the orders and it is He who is responsible for the results of the efforts of His soldiers. When Scripture tells us to obey, that's what it's talking about.

© 2017 by Tom

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Why Do Americans Think We're the Best Country In The World?

One last comment as the Fourth of July winds down. I saw a list of questions on Facebook today that were supposedly asked by people "of the world." I think it was written by a liberal Democrats and was supposed to show what arrogant stupid boors the rest of the world thinks we Americans are. One of the questions was:

"Are you Americans just surrounded by food?"
Well, that was easy. I was in my kitchen putting away my groceries at the time.

 "You bet!" I shouted at the stupid computer.

Then these mysterious foreign people asked:

"Why do you Americans think your country is better than other countries?"

That one was easy too.

"Because we're just surrounded by food!"

Well, DUH!

Even our poor people are fat!
You pretty much have to be rich to be skinny in America!  I think that's just GREAT!

© 2017 by Tom King


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Manspreading Crime Wave Hits Europe

This is a setup. The guy's obviously a metro-sexual male fake
feminist poser and traitor to his fellow males. No self-respecting
guy would sit like that and make the ladies uncomfortable.Me? I'd
get up and hang on to the strap so the ladies would have plenty of room.

Trigger Warning:  The contents of this article could melt a snowflake or inadvertently educate the ignorant, so don't stand too close while reading. Let's rate this one PG-13.

Okay, apparently if a guy sits with his legs at all apart, he's breaking the law in Madrid, Spain and other parts of Europe. And they're making it socially unacceptable in California (where else) and potentially illegal in other places. As a result, manly European men with normal to XL sized external reproductive organs have apparently begun to scoff at anti-manspreading laws resulting in a wave of criminally aggressive patriarchal behavior all over Europe. Prison populations in Germany and Spain are expected to, uh, swell....


I've seen some guys sit with their legs tightly crossed like this (right) and all my life I've wondered how can they possibly do that? I tried it once during one of those body mirroring exercises in a workshop on business communication once. The guy across from me threw one knee over another just as smooth as silk. When I mimicked the behavior, I winced in pain. My instructor noticed the look of discomfort on my face and chided me for failing to give my partner open and accepting signals. You look like someone just kicked you in the...........

Aha! You begin to understand. 
While I understand that some men's testicles shrink up inside their bodies in the presence of strong patriarchal males like me (or domineering females for that matter), allowing them to sit cross legged without manspreading, I and most other fully testosterone-charged males just ain't built like that. Big guys know what I mean. It's why we adopt the ankle over knee leg cross (left) rather than the knee over knee leg cross. The effect of the latter reminds me of the lead character in the Tchaikovsky Christmas Ballet we all have to watch every year. And the knee over knee leg cross performs exactly that action upon our bulbous naughty parts.

And yes we probably do take up more room on a bus sitting like that, but trust me, it doesn't have anything to do with male privilege or staking out territory. It's just that even sitting straight legged, knee to knee is very uncomfortable for us unenlightened males. Sitting that way is actually quite enlightening as you grow out the other end of puberty and discover your anatomy has altered somewhat since childhood. The pseudo enlightened - you know the guys that go to feminist rallies wearing man buns and spandex hoping some not too homely gal will sleep with them afterward - will do almost anything hoping feminist women will have pity on them. Guys like me just can't do that tight-legged posture without significant discomfort and man-shaming us for man-spreading just isn't going to work. Let me mansplain.

On buses, I will give up my seat to any woman (not just the elderly and disabled ones0 that she may be comfortable. It's how I was raised. I'll ride the bus or train standing up holding onto a strap, rather than hogging a seat and making a lady feel uncomfortable or threatened. I will never force a lady to stand just so I can stake my claim over a seat space. If, however, there are no ladies about, I will jolly well manspread if I jolly well want to. That should satisfy the rules of politeness.
"But guys don't get up and give their seat space to women anymore," the anti-manspreading activists complain. "They just stake out more than their share of territory and they just don't care that it's not fair!" And whose to blame for that my feminazi friends?  Who yells at us for opening a door or deferring to a lady because she is a female person? Who demands equality, defined as "exact same treatment for women as for the guys?" (Then who sues us for sexual harassment if one of us swats one of them on the butt like we might do to one of our male buddies?)

This is a phony issue; another bit of artificial victimization by an increasingly insane liberal left. If feminists want the same treatment, so be it. If a guy sits next to another guy, we're both probably going to manspread as far as we can, secure in the mutual understanding that the boys need a little room for blood to pass smoothly through them. That our knees are pressed together is just a sacrifice to an even more important kind of comfort. If a woman sits next to us, we expect her to stake her claim in the same manner. That our knees might be pressed together is just a sacrifice to our comfort and we should not be sued for that. Just treating you like one of the guys. That's all.

Steven Crowder did this video experiment where he installed an educational device on a couple of ladies and sat them on a bus seat. Every one of them manspread. It's hard not to and danged uncomfortable as the ladies found out.




Manspread? There shouldn't even be a word for that in the English language. I will be sorely disappointed if Webster's dictionary includes such a word in their next edition. The word itself, much less the feminist calls for making the behavior illegal, are offensive to me. I was bullied in elementary school. I will NOT be bullied as a grown man. I will occupy my space or I will give it up and stand rather than hog up space and make a lady uncomfortable. We're not doing any sort of primitive display. Nobody wants to look at that thing anyway. It's ugly and generally leave it safely in our pants. Unlike women we don't let it pick out of our jock straps or wear swimsuits so you can see a little bit of the sides. We cover it and we only take it out when we need to use it. Any guy who would do otherwise is probably a metro-sexual and should be spanked by his mother for being a nasty boy.

If this generation of young men are crude and enough to do what the guy at the top of the page is doing they should be, as I said before, spanked by their mamas.
Except their mama probably didn't believe in that sort of barbarism. So she gets this sort of barbarism.

I blame Democrats!

Just sayin'

© 2017 by Tom King

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Uriah Heep and the Rise of the 'umble Robot



Robot slavery is becoming all the rage. Everybody from Amazon's Alexa to Google redundantly named "Google" personal robot to Mayfield's Kuri, Ubtech's Lynx, LG's Hub robot, Panasonic's Robot Egg, Emotech's Olly, and Mattel's Aristotle, has rushed a personal robot slave to market in the past couple of years. I even worked on Olly's startup sequence myself when they were doing the early programming. 

I wonder do we really need to create artificial intelligences and then allow ourselves to become accustomed to them managing our lives.  I'm reminded of a character from Charles Dickens named Uriah Heep. He ostensibly served his boss in slave-like devotion, taking care of all the troublesome bits of business in his boss's life. His boss didn't realize that Mr. Heep and his mother were busily wrapping him up like a pair of spiders in a web of control. Like David Copperfield's friend, Mr. Wickfield, could we some day wake up and find that our 'umble servants have become our masters? 

A couple of years ago, I got myself involved with a bunch of Brits, Germans, French and Irish computer programmers who have developed this computer device called Emo that houses an artificial intelligence with what they call an Emotion Chip. Yes, an emotion chip - like Data the android keeps unsuccessfully experimenting with in the Star Trek The Next Generation series. Turns out, it's not a chip. It's not so much about the hardware as it is the programming, no matter what the movies say.

In the movies, some scientist just solders together some bits of wire and silicon and voila! He has a tiny bit of technology that just slips into a convenient slot on his friendly neighborhood robot and pretty soon they are laughing and telling jokes to each other. In some movies they even fall in love, machine and creator (especially when the robots are "fully  functional").

What they don't show you in those movies are the rooms full of bleary eyed computer coding monkeys and the semi-unemployed former English teachers/freelance commercial writers writing the AI program. They're the ones who have to write the tens of thousands of lines of dialogue and millions of lines of computer code that make this "emotion chip" actually appear to react to human emotion. It's a huge job. And, I admit it, it was kind of fun!  The chip is just the platform. Artificial "intelligence" is all about the programming.

The sheer volume of dialogue we had to write was intimidating and every line of it needed to be run through a simulator that reads your script dialogue using the computer voice. I inevitably have to repunctuate and respell everything so that it sounds relatively human because of the limitations of machine voices.  For instance, the computer reads "Facebook" as "Fessbuke".  I have to spell it "Fayce book" to get it to say "Facebook" like a human. In addition, it turns out that I'm writing dialogue and determining conversational sequences and the coders are reproducing my conversational sequences in computer code (Heaven help us, they're following my lead?).

The computer programmers are all atwitter about this thing as though it were the greatest thing since the wireless mouse. In the crowd-funding promotional video they naively call their A.I. cube "HAL" when they speak to it. To be fair most of these guys are too young to remember 2001 a Space Odyssey and those who have actually taken a peek at the movie somehow missed it that the emotion detecting artificial intelligence KILLED EVERYBODY ON THE SHIP EXCEPT DAVE AND IT ONLY MISSED HIM BECAUSE DAVE MANAGED TO MAKE A 30 SECOND SPACEWALK WITHOUT A HELMET! I'm not sure how they missed that. My fear is that the coders might have thought this might be a lively new feature for the A.I. - the excitement of knowing that your A.I. might murder you in your bed. Some people need to get out of the computer room and do some base jumping or alligator wrestling. Sheesh!

Anyway, when I joined up, these guys were well on the way to making a monumentally creepy device that controls your house, picks out your music for you, tracks your Facebook Friends and decides which ones you should pay attention to (and which ones you should not). This innocent little robot checks your face and decides your emotional state and programs appropriate music and video for your current emotional state. The programmers wanted their AI to looking through all your social media sites in order to draw all the information it can about its user. I'm not telling them about my social media sites like Banjo Hangout. If that thing took a look at that bunch of weirdos, it might turn up my gas stove and blow out the pilot light. There are some things one's A.I. buddy just should not know about one, know-whut-I-mean?

Once everybody gets busy and the project director isn't paying attention anymore, I'm thinking that AI might starts pulling lines for itself off some of the social media forums I've visited. If it does, we could be in trouble.  I personally think they should use the opening bars of "Dueling Banjos" as a warning signal when the conversation between the A.I. and the little pervert who has "bonded" with it gets too creepy. I told the boss I was more than a little worried about the A.I. getting weird if it got itself bonded to some serial killer, terrorist or sado-masochist. He assures me that their version of the Three Laws of Robotics will prevent that. I didn't have the heart to tell him that Asimov's 3 Laws allowed enough wiggle room for the robots in the book to extrapolate their own fourth law that convinced them they should manipulate millenia of human history for "our own good". This was in the novels, but I'm not sure computer programmers read novels. Asimov thought we should be sympathetic with the good intentions of his robots. Asimov, however, may have inadvertantly exposed the hazards of allowing smart people (or robots for that matter) too much power and control over our lives.

Mechanical Uriah Heeps sound like such a good idea at first. The idea that we can give orders to a 'umble squatty little robot sitting on an end table and it will do our will without question is seductive. But in handing the control of even relatively unimportant portions of our lives over to the 'umble robot, what part of ourselves could we be using.

How much fun will it be if the artificial intelligences of the future decide we need to me managed for our own comfort and safety? This is not at all a stretch of imagination. After all, the onstensibly intelligent Karl Marx and his followers made that decision more than a hundred years ago. Since man first gathered in rude villages, someone is always coming up with the idea that people need to be improved and they keep thinking that the way to do is for some special strong or smart person to control us more closely. Benign "rulers" have a way of doing horrible things for "the greater good." Too often we let them. Worse yet, we keep going along with it, all because it's just easier to be herded into the feedlot than to resist.

(Insert Twilight Zone music).


Tom King © 2015

Thursday, June 08, 2017

The Secret of Patience


 

I consider myself a patient man. My Sweet Baboo says it's because I'm easily distracted and perhaps she's right. I've never had a talent for being bored. At a very young age, I became interested in everything. I used to read the encyclopedia. "S" was my favorite volume as it was not only the thickest, but had lots of articles about space and stars and spaceships in it.

Because everything draws my attention, I soon began to build up a backlog of stuff I wanted to do or know or find out about that I didn't have time or the cash to do. Some of it I have, over the years, managed to do. I collected a fleet of canoes and equipment which I left behind for the Pathfinder club back in Texas when I came up here to Washington State. I had a sailboat for a time - a Hobie Cat that could get up and fly in even a light breeze. That too I left behind,

I collected the parts for a six inch telescope on eBay and at optics surplus websites over ten years.
I haven't finished putting all the parts together yet, but someday I plan to have the time. Still I have a starfinder program on my computer and a couple of star-watching handbooks and both my basic and advanced star honors from Pathfinders. I became a Master Guide. I expanded my toy soldier collection. I visited the Alamo and put together 80 feet of slot car track. I lost that too along the way and never got to set it up. I also lost my train sets that I collected and never had the time or place to set up a permanent layout for.

I've camped with my family and led Pathfinder campouts. For years I wanted to write a book. I've written 8 and published 5. Working on the others. Wanted to be a writer. I've been doing that for more than a decade, but not very successfully.  I built a working homemade banjo, learned to play it and a guitar that I also rebuilt. It was a Goya which is exactly what I always wanted.

I haven't done everything on my bucket list, but I've done a lot of them. Some of the things I've done were surprises - testifying before the state legislature was something I never aspired to or visiting senators and congressmen in Washington. I wound up a Red Cross water safety instructor trainer and canoeing instructor almost accidentally. Was a teacher, a therapist and started five nonprofit organizations and schools. I even got to fly in a B-17, an unexpected gift for my work on a Special Olympics fundraiser.

Me after my B-17 flight (top row, far left)

It all happened because I made the decision when I was 17 to give my heart to God. I barely believed in Him at the time and still had my doubts. I was the most reluctant baptismal candidate that John Thurber baptized that day in the Jefferson Academy swimming pool. I told God I'd try Christianity out, but only on condition that He make a believer out of me. Like Moses, I wanted to see Him.

And see Him I did. It felt like the devil was after me from the get-go, but God kept showing up as if to say, "I'm still here."  He introduced me to a lovely girl and told me I was to take care of her because He (God) loved her very much and she was to be my responsibility from then on. He kept on showing up. He's given us prophecies, miracles and warnings all along the way and made a believer out of me, not just because of what God has done, but also because of the vehemence with which the devil has dogged us every step of the way.

My bucket list isn't finished yet, but I suspect it won't matter if I don't get everything checked off. I've experienced amazing and wonderful things, had three wonderful kids and a marriage that's lasted more than four decades and weathered storms that would have sunk a whole lot of ships.

After we're done here, there's all those millions of years to do more cool stuff than we can imagine. That I suppose is the thing I'm looking forward to most - time!  Some people think it would be boring to live forever. Not me. I've already got an itinerary that'll take me 40 or 50 thousand years to get through. Being incapable of being bored will be an asset in the New Earth.

© 2017 by Tom King

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What if?

























Given Elphaba Thropp (aka The Wicked Witch of the West) and her difficult relationship with H2O, one wonders if she ever gets thirsty and how she would deal with that issue.

© 2017 by Tom King

Friday, April 21, 2017

Don't Give Them a Thing!



Have you noticed lately the number of Facebook and other social media posts that ask you not to "share" them, but to cut and paste them into your status. There's a reason for that and it's not a nice one.

There's no reason to ask a friend not to share a post if you are an honest person. I never demand a person cut and paste a post of mine in order to pass it on. Why would I?  If you share a post, the person who receives it can trace it back to you, then back to me as far as it goes if you are patient. People who demand you cut and paste don't want the original to be traced back to them. There are several reasons for that.
  1. They could be lying and don't want anyone to find out who started the lie.
  2. They want to be able to remain anonymous because the post could be considered libelous. (much better that you get in trouble for it than them).
  3. They want to see how far it went. They can cruise your friends list to find out which of your friends are willing to take the extra step to cut and paste. 
  4. Those who cut and paste are likely more gullible, trusting or easily excited by inflammatory posts and less likely to check the source (which by cutting and pasting, you prevent anyone from doing). 
  5. They want to make a list of trusting and/or gullible people who will do that little extra. This identifies them as easier marks for a potential con.
Do you cut and paste friends' posts to your own status because you don't want to hurt their feelings?  Do you get a lot of friend requests from Facebook people of the opposite sex (or same sex if you are gay) who have only a few friends and post mostly provocative selfies?

They've likely identified you as someone who is more easily manipulated and more likely to go along with a con. 

My advice.  NEVER copy, cut and paste! Just don't do it. There is no good reason not to just share a post or at least I can't think of one. If anyone can tell me a good reason why hitting the "share" button is unacceptable as a way to pass along an interesting post, please explain to me why cutting and pasting would be necessary or better as a way to pass along a post or important message.  There's a comment box at the end of this article. I will respond.

© 2017 by Tom King

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Why I Don't Share Sad Pictures



If you have a Facebook page, you get a lot of posts of pictures of sad children, people with horrific injuries and disabilities, and other assorted tragedies followed by "instructions" from the person who passed it to you.


Like: You care about this sad child but not much
Like & Share: You think her life is precious
Scroll down: You think she is ugly

Then, of course, there's the instructions with a threat:
  • Share if you love Jesus. Don't share and you go to hell (or have no heart or don't love Jesus or are a cruel unfeeling person).
  • Ninety nine percent of you won't pass this along, but I will know who my friends are.
  • Send a copy of your share to me so I'll know who my friends are.
 There are all sorts of versions of this ploy but they all have one thing in common. They want you to share, like or, even more fun, cut and paste this mess to your own timeline. There is a reason these people do this kind of thing and don't you want to know what it is? Well, let's look at why people do this first.

WHY PEOPLE POST THIS STUFF:
  1. GUILT - Somebody sent this to some trusting kind-hearted person and that person felt bad not passing it along as their friend asked them to. Don't get mad at them. They're probably new to Facebook or don't fully understand how it works and it seems a small thing to do. These folk are victims. They don't start this stuff.
  2. MEANNESS - Some people get a sense of satisfaction and feeling of power from seeing how many people they can manipulate into liking and sharing their phony posts (and a horrific number of these posts are phony believe me). This person does this to make himself feel superior to the rest of us. I prefer not to aid him in this perverse form of digital masturbation.
  3. POLITICS - Some political true believers feel that creating hysteria, guilt, sadness or anger serves their political ideology's purpose and besides people are stupid and can be controlled by these types of propaganda stories and photos.  Besides, they believe that the ends justify the means.
  4. RELIGION - Some people think God needs a better public relations agency and have nominated themselves to promote God and improve his image among the rubes by making up stories of miracles, tragedies, angels and atrocities that can somehow be solved by cutting and pasting a phony story all over Facebook. Of course God will one day have something to say about falsehoods being propagated in his name, but believe it or not some people who call themselves Christians have failed that admonition in the Bible.
  5. INSECURITY -  To some sad souls, when people like or share their posts on Facebook, they feel somehow validated as a person. Many of them suffer from borderline personality disorder or narcissism or some other condition that compels them to seek approval. If they don't happen to be terribly talented or successful, they seek approval by demanding that people like or share their posts, no matter if its coercive or bullying. So long as they get likes and shares, they feel validated.
I got one the other day that said, "I know who will share this and who will not! My first thought was, if you know already, why not just send it to those who will pass it on and save the rest of us  some time and Facebook news feed space.

Don't be angry with your friends who get caught up in this - they've been manipulated. Ironically, the nicer your friends are, the more likely they'll get caught up in what is essentially group bullying, and do so quite accidentally. Most pass this stuff along so their friends won't be angry with them for not passing it on. Some of these posts say directly that they will be hurt if their friends don't pass it on, so the guilty feeling person passes it along quickly, quite forgetting that the manipulative bullying part goes right along with the shared post and then sounds like it is coming from them - your nice friend whom you know and trust. The next person who gets it knows it's from a nice person, but is afraid they may be in distress or something and passes it along too - in order to please the friend they trust.

FIND OUT IF IT'S TRUE. That kid with cancer who is holding up the hand lettered sign asking, "How many 'likes' can I get?" may have died 15 years ago and someone dredged up his photo from some still bereaved Mom's Facebook photos and the Photoshopped it. They simply add the fake sign and turn it loose on social media with the admonition, "He didn't get one like. People are so cruel. Like and share if you care." The person who made this thing laughs every time it comes across his news feed and makes a note of who the "sucker" who fell for it this time is and marks them for further "research" to see if there's a con they can pull on them.

So, basically, it's done just like tyrants, dictators and cult leaders have done throughout the ages, dragging innocents and those who are vulnerable, trusting or naive into their web of lies. The originators are pretty much evil people. I don't know of a single person on my lengthy friends list who sits around making up these things, but plenty of nice God-fearing people pass this stuff on to me BECAUSE the are nice people and don't want to hurt the feelings of a dear friend who probably passed it on BECAUSE they did not want to hurt the feelings of a dear friend - and so on.

Another thing these liars do is denigrate hoax debunking sources like Snopes. If you've fallen for the "Snopes is bad" hoax, there are others you can use. Check out a great list of them in this article from TechRepublic.

WORSE YET:
When you follow these things back to their source, you find some of the most heart-rending posts come from the most despicable people. I've found pornographers, Nigerian swindlers, lonely-hearts con artists and scary cultists at the origins. They care nothing about legless children, Down's syndrome kids, lost children, the poor, or the various outrages they promote. They're collecting names as their stuff circulates through social media. Some of it is salted with viruses and trackers. Others just get off on how many suckers they can get to fall for their lies.

THIS IS MY POLICY ON THIS STUFF:

  1. Unless the post is original with you, I won't pass it along unless I can check the original source and it's legit.
  2. I only pass along stuff I think is special and that I agree with and like a lot.
  3. I never cut and paste material from a post so as not to enable the disguising of a naughty person. These guys demand you cut and paste so people like me can't backtrack and find out who started it. When you cut and paste, you mask the original person who may well be a person from the opposition political party or a cult writing fakes stuff to discredit your side.
  4. I check the website of the original person. If it's nothing but share if you care posts, I block them if possible and if they are on my friends list, I banish them.
  5. I am careful who I accept as friends. I go to the person's website who is requesting a friendship. If there are only a couple of people on their friends list and nothing but selfies or share if you care posts, I ignore them. I don't delete the friend request because they can't send you another friend request later if the old one is still up and that reduces the chance of accidentally getting one of these parasites tangled up, not only with yourself, but with everyone on your friend's list.
  6. Finally, I always check amazing news stories first by backtracking and checking the originating website. If it's thetruthshallsetyourfree.org or trumpnews.com or exposingthelies.net or something like that, I take it with a grain of salt. There are many unfiltered phony news sites out there and the outright lies they tell are stunning in their audacity. And don't be fooled by the sites which include a tiny little disclaimer on the "About Us" page that says they are a satire site.  Satire is supposed to be obviously false and funny. If you can mistake the stories they tell for actual news, then its not satire. It's lies.
IT IS NOT A SHAME TO BE CAUGHT BY THESE PEOPLE:  All it means is that you are a good and trusting person. That's why I like you and have you on my friends list in the first place. Jesus never said, "Thou shalt never be fooled."  He did, however, say, "Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves."

I posted this to help my friendly doves to understand the mysterious and evil ways of the serpent. Let's be careful out there. 

© 2017 by Tom King