Saturday, December 31, 2016

Phrase of the Day: THOSE WE LOST

One of the most notable things about 2016 is the large number of notable deaths.  By some accounts, mostly people's memories, this is the worst year for notable deaths.  Other accounts say it is the worst in a decade.  Let's look back at all of the notable deaths, from the worlds of entertainment, literature, sports, politics, and more, in 2016.

Addendum: As if 2016 had not claimed enough famous individuals, at approximately 8:30 p.m. (Eastern Time, U.S.), with just 3 1/2 hours remaining in the year, it claimed William Christopher.  He was known around the world as the kind Fr. Mulcahy on the long-running TV series 'M*A*S*H'.


Saturday, December 24, 2016


Tonight is the beginning of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.  It is also Christmas Eve.  Both have lights as part of their observance -- candles and electric lights.  A recent article from the Washington Post by Petula Dvorak brings together the symbolism in response to the year (just about) gone by in a powerful way, and I'm sharing it with you today.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays!


Friday, December 16, 2016

Phrase of the Day: REDUCED TO RUBBLE

War is a catastrophe.  The war in Syria is no different and the city of Aleppo is the severest example of this.  The killing of its civilians and the sheer destruction of the city are hard to comprehend.  Let's look at the history and complicated nature of this war first.

In addition to the death and destruction, hospitals throughout the city of Aleppo have been destroyed.  Some reports say that all hospitals have been destroyed.  Other reports say that very few hospitals remain, but people are too scared to go to them out of fear of being killed.  It is a case of having no medical assistance if your sick or hurt or you are too afraid to go to the help you need.

Many residents of Aleppo are worried about genocide.  It appears that is what is happening.with cease fires not being honored and people being murdered in their homes.

Let's take a before-and-after look in these two videos:

We've seen images of two young children, Omran and Ayah (who was injured in the Syrian town of Homs) earlier this year.

Recently, a video with several Aleppo children who are now orphans has surfaced.

And this is what a cease fire ends up looking like...

It is now being reported that Aleppo has fallen.

The world has not responded to this crisis as it should have, and that includes the United States.  As the video above asks "What's next for Syria?", the fact is that what has already happened is nothing short of a human tragedy.  The world community needs to get involved to stop this immediately.  The lack of involvement from the world community is disgraceful.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Today, December 7, 2016, marks the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  "A date," as President Franklin Roosevelt called it, "which will live in infamy."  The attack resulted in the death of 2,400 persons, and the destruction of 300 aircraft and eighteen ships.  Today, we remember all those killed, including civilians, and all those who survived with physical and emotional scars.

The documentary below, titled 'Tora Tora Tora: The True Story of Pearl Harbor', is a production of the History Channel from 2000.  The 90-minute film gives a thorough account of the events leading up to the attack, the attack itself, and the aftermath.  


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Phrase of the Day: BLACK SNAKE STOPPED

It was announced today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not be granting an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline that would have allowed the pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe in southern North Dakota.    THE BLACK SNAKE HAS BEEN STOPPED!


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Name of the Day: SNOOPER'S CHARTER

(c) 2010, The Wor(l)d Has Changed

Yet another blow to your privacy, specifically the Internet privacy of British users, was dealt in the United Kingdom yesterday.  It is believed to be a precedent that will be followed by other countries.  It's been nicknamed the Snooper's Law or the Snooper's Charter and what it allows is terrifying.  Tim Berners-Lee has a lot to say about the topic.  If his name doesn't ring a bell, Tim Berners-Lee is the man who really did invent the Internet -- sorry, Al Gore -- and is currently head of the World Wide Consortium (W3C), is founder of the Web Foundation, and is co-founder of the Open Data Institute in London, England.  Berners-Lee calls the Investigatory Powers Bill, which is the British legislation's official title, a "security nightmare".  James Blessing, the Chairman of Internet Service Providers Association, called the bill "a zombie which has been [around] since 2007, [but now] it's alive".  Even whistleblower Edward Snowden referred to the bill as the West's most extreme surveillance program ever.

Why all the hub-bub?  Well, what the English Parliament did was to require all records from any Internet service provider (ISP) or any messaging service -- yes, that means smartphones, iPhones, etc. -- of sites visited or used by anyone in the United Kingdom to be kept for one year.  That's right, all records kept for one year.  A petition against the bill was started after the bill passed, but has garnered more than 100,000 signers.  That means it will be debated in Parliament, but will likely have no effect on the bill.

How did this happen?  A couple of factors played into the result.  For one, English politicians are not well-versed in technology, or even just the Internet itself, and therefore had nothing of their own foreknowledge with which to decide.  That ignorance also played into a second factor of those same politicians turning a deaf ear to pleas against the bill from the technology industry in general, privacy supporters, and Internet service providers.  It was along the lines of thinking I don't know that much, so why learn anything more? 

Clearly, those same politicians took no account of what the result of the bill passing would be.

In this upside-down year of 2016, one must also consider a likely third factor: living in a post-Brexit vote world.  So much going on can cloud one's (or even a collective's) perception.  Not to mention the Investigator Powers Bill being over 500 pages long certainly did not help.

The bill further loosens Internet security in the UK by allowing any entity at all, from the local police all the way up to any government body, to legally request any information whatsoever.  As the bill stands, no independent body can "mind the store", as it were, about who is requesting and what is requested.  Additionally, new legal punishments are included for "offenders".

In light of what happened yesterday in England, it would seem that the security and liberty destroyers' clarion call of If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear is still, as 100% logical as it sounds on the surface, an effective persuasion.  In a perfect world, that would be certainly true.  It may take a lot of terrible things to happen first, but people are slowly beginning to learn that that very persuasion is, in fact, a perversion of the truth.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Phrase of the Day: PROVE ME WRONG

The 2016 presidential election here in the U.S. is finally over and thank goodness it is!  What an aggravating, infuriating, and tiring process it has been!  Even though the candidate I thought would win did not win, this election has been nothing short of disgusting.  The whole process, from the primaries, to the conventions, to the election itself two days ago, has been a mockery of the American electoral process, nothing shy of a spit in the face of what it should be.  While having primaries, conventions, and elections are a part of a democracy, and even though this nation's forefathers knew, all too well, that democracy is messy, the depths of a garbage pit to which this year's election sank are not a pro-democratic process argument.

I have already heard on social media and TV calls for peace and unity.  After such a nationally-divisive and political party-destroying process, they are appropriate.  However, with emotions running high, there must be a venting and grieving period.  No, not a burn-it-all-down mentality -- I am not proposing mass anarchy here -- but those periods must be allowed.  Not everyone is satisfied with the election of any President -- that's part of the democracy -- but, let's be honest, the levels of division, hatred, and fear, mandate a venting and grieving period.

This year's presidential race had, at one point, a total of twenty-two candidates: seventeen Republican, three Democrat, and two major third-party. (There were many, many more candidates, as anyone can officially register to be a presidential candidates, but they never gain any national attention.)  Twenty-two candidates were whittled down to four (Republican, Democrat, and both major third-party), and most people were not satisfied with the nominees or were just worn out from the lengthy election season.  It was reported that sixty percent of eligible voters went ahead and voted this year.  While the popular vote is roughly split down the middle, which may make you think that the entire country was split down the middle, in actuality, the split is down the middle of sixty percent, not the entire country.  Half of sixty percent is thirty percent, so the largest block of eligible voters passed on voting (30%, 30%, 40%).  While Hillary Clinton, as of this writing, is ahead in the popular vote, none of them is, in fact, in the majority.

Donald Trump won the Presidency with roughly seventy percent of the country not voting for him.

The American political primary process is a joke, and that's putting it nicely.  First off, it is far, far, FAR too long.  Like our perpetual war modality, we are also in a perpetual election modality.  (I heard politicians and political pundits talking about the 2016 elections about a month after the 2012 elections were held ... before Obama was even sworn in for his second term!)  Canada's political primary process, for example, runs about a month.  (Its longest ever was two-and-a-half months, and that was ninety years ago.)  In Britain, elections are legally mandated to be no more than approximately three weeks.  Italy's elections run about less than two months, and elections in the Netherlands run about two-and-a-half months.  The American process truly does not need to be that long, not to mention the way it is now is far too expensive.  In his 2013 article for The Daily Beast, titled Too Soon for 2016! How to End Our Endless Presidential Election Season, Political Science professor and author Raymond A. Smith proposed the following:
        "The selection of a new U.S. President could be streamlined, yet not unduly
        rushed, by holding a single nationwide primary around Independence Day,
        party conventions in August, debates in October, and the general election in
        November.  Adopting this model would dramatically shorten the length and
        intensity of the negative campaigning that now turns off so many voters.  It
        could also reduce the exorbitant expense of our elections; the BBC has
        estimated that the 2012 U.S. presidential election costs about 120 times
        more than the 2010 U.K. parliamentary election, which works out to some
        23 times more per capita."        

I would include in the above discussion the political conventions in this country, which have become, over time, mostly bloated summertime TV miniseries.

The verbal bile about opponents that is spewed out on the campaign trail, in interviews, at debates, and during the post-convention race is also a disgrace.  I believe in freedom of speech, but the vernacular vomit during this campaign was disgusting.  Do they have the freedom to say those things, of course they do.  Freedom is not, however, equivocal with requirement, but freedom does include responsibility.  Politicians need to be responsible enough (as well as respectful of the process) to simply draw differences and avoid this terrible behavior.  Has this bashing, trashing, and mudslinging (although that last word seems quaint in light of modern political campaigns) been introduced in 2016?  Of course not.  It has, however, been getting worse election cycle after election cycle.  People are fed up with "negative campaigns" and politicians talk about not wanting to engage in them, but they continue and intensify over time.  One big reason that people have less and less respect for the political process is that those in the forefronts of the process have less and less respect for it.

The worst exception to all of this, however, has occurred during this election cycle.  While official positions and intended actions on a number of issues remain paramount to most voters, this year's Republican candidate, Donald Trump, was nominated and elected President after his open displays and comments of racism, xenophobia, bullying, condoned assault of women, and encouraged acts of violence came to light.  Not to mention his comments showing an ignorance to how the world and international relations work, which has many people in this country and both leaders and citizens of other countries shaking in their boots.  To that extent, he now has to deliver on the bill of goods he sold during his campaign or else all of those who voted for him will feel betrayed.  I wholeheartedly do not want to see him do everything he has promised, or even half of it, but if he doesn't follow through, it's a consequence of a political system that has sunk, and continues to sink, deeper and deeper into making the democratic process even more distasteful and divisive (i.e. campaign talk and once-elected talk are two radically different things).  I am not the only who is disgusted with that kind of disparity.

The injection of an entity this year, as in many election cycles past, which has no business in doing so, Christians/Conservative Christians/Evangelical Christians, did, and has continued to, disrespect and dismantle what our forefathers intended for this country.  (It also showed their hypocrisy.)  This country was not founded to be what those who came here were escaping; they wanted something different.  This country was founded to be a free nation with some influence of Christian beliefs, not a "Christian" nation with limited freedom of varying beliefs.  You want to meet as Christians to talk politics, go ahead.  You want to have a major influence (statewide or nationally) as a Christian and not strictly as an interested citizen, well, that is not in the spirit of the founding of this country.  Our forefathers never intended for religion to never be mentioned publicly, but they also did not want the new nation to be an as-the-King-goes-so-goes-the-kingdom enterprise, either.  We were never intended to be a theocracy or a theo-political demagoguery.

The injection of another entity which has no business in the election process, the FBI, into this election was yet another failure of the system.  FBI Director James Comey was under a lot of pressure to look into the thousands of E-mails Hillary Clinton had received and sent on a private server and to proceed with an investigation.  When Comey said there was nothing that warranted pursuing prosecution back in July, even though Republicans continued to harp on it, that should have been the end of it.  (Yes, sometimes inappropriate and sloppy behavior is not prosecutable behavior.)  Under even more pressure than before, Comey comes out eleven days before the election to announce ... nothing (i.e. there may be something there, there may not be).  Thus, the reintroduction of what was supposed to have been a dead issue less than two weeks away from the election is highly suspect and could have had some level of impact on voting.  (Even the U.S. Department of Justice did not want Comey to come forward with simply a maybe.)  Then, his sending a letter to Congress, just two days before the election that there was, after all, nothing new certainly looks equally suspect, as well as just plain ridiculous.  Sure, coming out after the election and saying there was something found, if Clinton had been elected, would have made him look partisan ... what he ended up doing still resulted in the same, as well as making himself look like a joke.

Regarding a rigged election, the one thing I equate Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders with Donald Trump is that the election process is rigged.  There were a couple of states in the Republican primaries where Trump had won, but another candidate received more delegates.  Bernie Sanders pointing out that several hundred delegates were allocated to Hillary Clinton before he even got into the race is not indicative of a free and open system.  In addition, the Democratic Party's practice of "superdelegates", which stemmed from the 1968 and 1972 Democratic conventions and respective presidential elections, and began being used at the 1984 Democratic convention, is another mockery of fair and open elections.  Superdelegates, in essence, have more power, ultimately, than standard convention delegates,  They are unbound delegates, unlike standard delegates, so they can vote for whomever they wish, but they do not pledge their votes until the national convention.  Major news outlets were asked to not include superdelegate totals throughout the primaries this year, but many of them did, creating a false sense of distance between Clinton delegates and Sanders delegates.  That, too, is not indicative of a fair and open election process.  Third-party candidates have complained about this for years.  (As a corollary, legislative elections in Romania will be held next month and there will be candidates from fifteen political parties on the ballot -- not just running, but on the ballot.)

I, too, think the entire U.S. election process, in both parties, is rigged, or slanted, or fudged, or skewed.

How someone so distrustful and boorish like Donald Trump can be elected President is not just about voter backlash, although that is a huge part of it.  It is also not the reason the system is a disgrace.  It is the result of a disgraceful process.  In a historical perspective, aside from measuring how the process has deteriorated over the years, look at where this country went from 2008 to 2016.  We went from electing and re-electing this country's first black President to electing someone as President who was openly endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups.  What a step forward!

Even though no President ever accomplishes everything they promise, all we have to go on is what that candidate has said.  I believe that Donald Trump is dangerous for this country, both domestically and internationally.  I think his proposed policies and actions are ruinous and will make us more unstable and divided domestically, more hated internationally, and far less safe as a whole, and I am worried about my country's future.  I am a big enough boy to eat my words and apologize if I'm wrong, but I voted in this election and that is how I sincerely feel in its aftermath.

As a citizen of this country, Mr. Trump, please prove me wrong.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Film of the Day: 9/11 EXPOSED - 2ND EDITION

Yesterday, this country marked the fifteenth anniversary of the terrorist attack on September 11th.  It was a sad day in this nation's history, to be sure, but here we are, a decade-and-a-half later.

On many pictures and memes on the Internet about that day, you often see wording about always remembering that terrible day.  Often times, the phrases "We will/shall never forget" or simply "Never forget", as in the picture at the top of this post, are most notable.  Some may argue that keeping this as a yearly reminder serves the elite to keep us afraid.  I believe there is some validity to that.  Some may argue that we should commemorate a national tragedy every year on its anniversary, with which I wholeheartedly agree.

What I would hope with respect to remembering, in addition to commemorating the anniversary, is to keep the public's interest in this tragedy and spark an even bigger flame of curiosity.  Curiosity so big as to inspire more and more inquiries into what really happened that day and what steps led up to it.  Some has already come out, and more has yet to be uncovered.

One year ago today, I posted a film looking into what happened on that fateful day, titled 'Anatomy of a Great Deception'.  Today, I offer another film on the same subject, '9/11 Exposed: 2nd Edition', which was released last year.  (The original documentary was also released last year, with the 2nd Edition being an update.)

As with 'Anatomy of a Great Deception', dismiss this as conspiracy ramblings or give it a serious watch.


Thursday, September 8, 2016


The debacle that is currently going on in North Dakota began in 2014 and is fully funded by corporate greed.  You don't know to what I am referring?  That's not surprising.  This story has received very little exposure on the national news.  That, too, is not surprising since corporate interests trumping people's rights to clean water and previously set-in-place treaties is what is going on there.

The Sioux Nation's Standing Rock Reservation is the site of the stand-off between Native American tribespeople and both the U.S. government and Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based oil company.  Land treaties have been in place for centuries, most notably the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux of 1851 and the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868.  Not that the treaties were honored up until now.  General George Custer -- yes, that General Custer -- led a gold expedition on Sioux land six years after the latter treaty, as well as U.S. troops at the battle of Little Bighorn River.  The following year, in 1877, the U.S. government confiscated the land, and the land has remained in dispute ever since.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is going to cross over sacred Native American lands and burial sites.  In response to a clearing out of a two-mile-long, 150-foot-wide patch of land last Saturday, former Sioux tribal historical preservation officer of the Standing Rock tribe, Tim Mentz, stated, "I surveyed this land, and we confirmed multiple graves and specific prayers sites.  Portions, and possibly complete sites, have been taken out entirely."  Tribal chairman David Archambault II also added, "These grounds are the resting places of our ancestors.  The ancient cairns and stone prayer rings there cannot be replaced.  In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground."

Crossing sacred lands, several rivers which are valuable drinking water supplies to native peoples, will be in the path of the pipeline.  Understandably, since this country's record of pipeline fractures does not instill faith, risking something vital to life itself, water, is beyond troubling.  It is a threat to life itself.

It turns out that the government oversight on the project only covered government-owned lands, but not Sioux nation lands.  The moving forward is based on supposition.  The Dakota Access Pipeline is only part of a larger network of pipelines designed to transfer tar sands oil, the dirtiest kind of oil, down to refineries in the gulf region of Texas.

While it is based in supposition, how is it funded?  I think you will find how it is funded simultaneously answers the questions of why it is being pushed and receiving little news coverage nationally.

All of the major recipients of revolving credit lines or loans are all under the Energy Transfer Partners umbrella.

The standoff has been steadfast on both sides.  Last Saturday, bulldozing of sacred lands commenced.  In addition, the protest by Native American tribespeople and other Americans alike became violent.  (Warning: some strong language)

© 2016 Democracy Now!

As of today, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has activated the state's National Guard to assist police onsite.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was successful in getting a temporary restraining order, halting progress on the bulldozing the land pending a judge's decision on a larger lawsuit, expected to come tomorrow.  In July, they filed for an injunction against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for giving the green light for the work to proceed.  It its filing, Standing Rock wrote the following:
        "In the afternoon of Friday, September 2, 2016, the SRST [Standing Rock Sioux
        Tribe] further submitted recently discovered evidence of an astonishing
        archaeological find.  The find concerned historically, culturally, and religiously
        important stone features and grave markings to the successors of the Great
        Sioux Nation, including graves of chiefs, warriors and Bear Medicine healers.
        These formations and grave sites are adjacent to and in the pipeline's proposed
        right-of-way approximately 1 to 2 miles away from the Lake Oahe crossing site.
        Less than 24 hours after SRST's filing, Dakota Access desecrated and destroyed
        the sites described in SRST;s declaration."

Dakota Access LLC has denied the tribe's claims.

There may be people who ask about the importance of burial lands in the first place.  We, in this industrialized and materialistic society in which we live, also consider burial grounds sacred.  If not sacred in a religious sense, at least in a civilly reverential sense.  With that in mind, I wonder if the tables were turned.  What if Standing Rock attempted that on non-tribal lands?  What if they attempted that on our most nationally sacred of burial sites....?? 

If you actually try to parse your answer, then maybe you see Native Americans as second-class citizens.  (Oh, maybe that has been the case long before the Dakota Access Pipeline.)  Maybe you think treaties are not just things that can be dishonored, and have been, but that they should be dishonored.  And what does that say about us?

Sacred lands are sacred lands.  Greed is greed.

If you are able to go to North Dakota to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, go.  Be careful, of course, but go.  If you cannot, but want to get involved another way, here are suggestions of things those onsite can use...

The Dakota Access Pipeline must be stopped!  Stand in solidarity with indigenous peoples of this land, in person or otherwise.  Pass the blog posting around social media.  It's up to social media and independent media, like 'Democracy Now!', to get the word out about this travesty!


UPDATE: September 9, 2016 -- A federal judge has denied the request of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed last weekend for a restraining order against to continuation of destroying its lands for the pipeline.  The judge stated that the tribe failed to prove "it will suffer injury that would be prevented by any injunction the Court could issue."  Hours later, the Obama administration halted work on the pipeline, following the judge's ruling and in response to the protests.

2ND UPDATE:  October 11, 2016 -- Yesterday, actress Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars, Divergent film series) was arrested during a peaceful protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Just the day before, a federal judge had denied a request to stop the pipeline.  Ms. Woodley was broadcasting a live stream on Facebook Live, recording the protest and speaking with some of the protesters.  She also recorded her being singled out, stopped, and arrested for criminal trespass
Morton County (ND) Police Department mugshot

3RD UPDATE:   November 29, 2016 -- A lot has happened since my last update.  The size of the camp for protesters and water protectors has grown to around 10,000 persons.  There have been hundreds of arrests of peaceful protesters, both Native American and non-Native American alike.  The presence of militarized police, eerily similar to the militarized police presence at the protests in Ferguson and Baltimore protests, and many of the Occupy protests, has increased and intensified.  Excessive crowd control measures that are supposed to be for violent, unruly crowds are being used, including LRAD's (Long Range Acoustic Devices) that were originally developed for the military and pepper spray.  (Videos below.)

Observers from the United Nations, at the request of tribal chief David Archambault II, have been onsite since late October and have reported multiple violations of international law.  The United Nations has formally joined calls to stop the pipeline, with one observers citing "inhuman and degrading conditions" with regard to how those arrested are being treated as well as how they are being treated at protest sites.  Amnesty International has been onsite as well and has reported on what they call "disproportionate militarization and use of force by police in violation of the human rights to peaceful protest".

The map below shows the original pipeline path (dotted line) and the currently-proposed pipeline path (solid line).  The original path was close to Bismarck, North Dakota's capital, a predominately white city.  When the residents of Bismarck complained about the pipeline, the route was changed to go through sacred indigenous lands, including lands protected (or supposed to be protected) by nineteenth century treaties).   

The following two videos show what has been happening at the stand-off at Standing Rock.

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has ordered people to vacate the area, and the local sheriff's department said that it will carry out that order by blocking access by people and supplies to the protest site beginning today.

Please E-mail
or Call the DOJ Federal Office at 202-305-2935
or Call the DOJ Regional office at 303-844-2973
and tell them to stop the eviction and phrase your comments as this is a religious and racial issue.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Film of the Day: FOUR HORSEMEN

[I want to thank you all for this blog passing 8,000 views.  I am truly grateful!]

It dawned on me the other day that I haven't posted a film here for quite a while.  (When I checked, it had been almost a year.)  I came across this documentary recently and it is an eye-opener.  It sheds light on how everything, worldwide, is connected and how things work  -- well, don't work -- globally and locally.  Casting its net in terms of empires, their rise and fall, the film features great thinkers and even those who were once involved in what is contributing to the problems of the world.

And by the way, the four horsemen in this film are not the ones that may come to mind.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Term of the Day: FADING REPUBLIC

What the hell is becoming of my country?! 

Shooting after shooting after shooting after shooting ...
news report after news report after news report ...
senseless killing after senseless killing after senseless killing ...
heinous killing of citizens by police after heinous killing of citizens by police ...
heinous killing of police by citizens after heinous killing of police by citizens ...

Seriously, what the hell are we doing??!!!!!

Does anybody know, or want to be bothered to know, about the event that tore apart this nation over 150 years ago?  That was the Civil War.  It was about states' rights AND slavery, not one or the other, and it ripped us apart by having us fight each other.  We were not fighting a foreign enemy ... we were fighting each other!  What are we doing now ... we are fighting each other again!

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Does that quote sound familiar?  It should; it's been around a while, although there are several variations of it throughout history.  Let's be honest though, something that happened over a century-and-a-half ago means nothing to most citizens in the first quarter of the twenty-first century.  Historical relevance has become irrelevant to the masses.  Things here-and-now and how they relate to here-and-now have become relevant, if not almost paramount.

I am consistently gobsmacked at how people do not want to learn from history. They want to learn how to work the latest gadget coming down the pike.  Gotta learn how to operate the latest smartphone, or iPad, or app, or else I'll be left behind, out of the loop.  Not learning from history and repeating behaviors, or ignoring those behaviors because you would rather be distracted, already puts you out of the loop. 

Is there anything inherently wrong with gadgetry itself?  Not that I can see.  Is enjoying technology to have some fun a bad thing?  With all of the negative things going on in the world, we all need something to take our minds away from them now and then.  The one big bad element to that is how it makes us less social creatures.

Why aren't there more people in this country who can see the distractions we create as facilitators for deceptions? 

Usually, the first argument I hear about technology as a distraction is that I must be anti-technology.  Absolutely not.  It is not just technology, though.  Sports and entertainment come under the distraction umbrella as well.  In and of itself, there is nothing wrong, nothing, with having those things as distractions.  You certainly can be a movie fanatic and a huge sports fan and still be aware of what is happening in your country.  However, when they become primary pursuits of information, the doors are left wide open for all kinds of turmoil to happen. 

Last, but not least, the news itself  -- yes, the news -- can be used as a distraction.  Here is one example: over the course of days while the murder of Alton Sterling in Louisiana, the murder of Philando Castille in Minnesota, and the ambush on police in Dallas were all happening, President Obama.okayed sending over 500 more troops to Iraq, bringing our total number of troops there to over 4,600.  (The numbers vary, depending on what source you use, with the military's public estimates being the lowest.)  You can look to
our history to any time we were engaged in a war and the phrase: "The first casualty of war is the truth".

Can anyone tell me when replacing our minds and voices (and maybe our fists, if things got that serious) with firearms was accepted as normal?!

The worst things I had to worry about in school, or even around the neighborhood, was a fist fight or someone insulting my mother.  That was it!  Now, kids are bringing weapons to school!  Schools have police patrolling hallways and metal detectors at their doors!  What's next, metal detectors at our front doors?!

Having an argument with somebody now automatically means you might be killed.  Aside from unsafe driving, road rage used to be expressed by shouting and flipping the bird ... now, you might get shot.  Going out-and-about in public is now a greater-than-before health risk, with mass shootings, high-speed car chases, and other activities being more frequent.  Being on your front porch isn't even safe.  You do not even have to be running around or out in the street to get shot by a drive-by shooting.  Even people sitting INSIDE THEIR OWN HOMES (i.e. in bed, on couch in living room) has become dicey.  All because some hooligans think violence is as necessary as breathing air and collateral damage is an unfortunate side effect.  (Sounds like the military.) 

If the media is supposed to be the "watchdog of our democracy", why do far too many of us ignore the fact that the watchdog has one blind eye?!

A lot of towns, larger sized towns and cities, had more than one newspaper.  Now, they're down to one, maybe two.  The major news companies in this country have been whittled down to two or three news conglomerates.  Television is no different...

Is this really what me mean by "civilized society"?

I am sick and tired beyond measure or description with all of these police shootings!  I am fed up!  I'm fed up with being fed up!  Let me add right off that, yes, the media is manipulative in what it reports -- "if it bleeds, it leads" -- but shooting after shooting after shooting, followed by no trial or conviction after no trial or conviction after no trial or conviction is nothing short of a disgrace!  Being held accountable and no one is above the law have been moved to the back of the class ... they are second-class citizens ... they are the "undesirables" that are shunned ... "liberty and justice for all" has exceptions. 

Civilized society is being redefined as a society that is just the opposite, which just happens to have buildings, jobs, infrastructures, etc.  It is far more than those things and its importance is not just being ignored; it is being discarded.

Does anyone see what's wrong with the following list?

So, let me get this straight ...
> People who have been on FBI watch lists can get a firearm.
> People who have any mental instability can get a firearm.
> If a background check just happens to not be completed in three days time, the default is that person can get the weapon anyway.
> Law enforcement officers can lawfully shoot whenever they damn well feel like it, even shooting to kill, instead of shooting to slow down or stop a suspect from getting away.
> Suppression of peaceful protests, and I do mean peaceful protests, is just fine sometimes.
> The U.S. Constitution is now "Void Where Prohibited".
> Shooting anyone unnecessarily (i.e. cop shooting a civilian, civilian shooting a cop) is "just another day in America".
> Someone who is walking away from you or is restrained, or even who happens to have a weapon in a pocket and not in their hand, is the same level of threat as if they had their gun in their and shooting at you.
> The right to own a firearm in this country supersedes anyone else's right to safety.
> The FBI, state and local police departments, the Department of Homeland Security -- all supposed to be involved in protecting us -- just don't seem like they want to communicate with each other.

In the twenty-first century, racism is still a huge issue .. and now it's being exploited!

Some say racism can be stopped; others say it cannot be fully eradicated.  I'm of the latter thought, and I see it as something that should be a far more minor issue than it is.  Now, it is being used to divide us even further.  White cops killing black people unnecessarily over and over again, with no repercussions for the officers doing the killing.  There are killings of white people by black cops.  There are killings of white people by white cops.  Why don't they get the same national attention?  Manipulation. 

Here's a video of Dylan Noble, a nineteen-year-old white California youth who was shot just over three weeks ago...

While you can argue Noble should have put both hands out of his truck window, and should not have walked toward the officers with one hand behind his back, and you would be correct to do so, what about the third and fourth shots fired?  Were those shots justified?  I cannot see how they were.  If, however, you say yes, then you must also think the police were justified in the murder of Alton Sterling ... with not one, but two big cops on top of him on the ground ... with the gun he had in his pocket ... with three shots at point-blank range into his chest, then told to get on the ground after he already was, and then shot three more times in the chest at point-blank range. 

The cops are white and Noble was white, so what's the racism argument all about?  It's about the prevalence of police killing black persons to chip away at the racial divide to make it wider and deeper.

Now, that chipped-away gap has retaliations against police on the cusp of becoming normal, too!  Just over a year-and-a-half ago, a man killed two Brooklyn officers as retaliation for the murder of Eric Garner.  In case you forgot, Eric Garner was committing a misdemeanor, selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island, N.Y., and was killed by police ... and the cops got off, even with the whole event being filmed!  (Yeah, body cams are a joke.)  Then, we have the murder of five officers in Dallas, even after a peaceful anti-police shooting protest!  Just yesterday, three officers were murdered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the same town where Alton Sterling was murdered, as retaliation.

Hey, let's all just shoot each other up!  The NRA's argument of the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun got shattered in Dallas -- dozens of good guys with guns, trained how to use them, didn't stop the sniper. 

The NRA is a sham and far too many cannot see that!

I have been hearing this argument in favor of getting rid of the NRA for years.  Get rid of the NRA? Are you kidding me?  The NRA, for all of its rhetoric and bluster about the right to firearms and gun safety, is nothing more than a lobbyist group, plain and simple.  An individual can't get rid of the NRA.  Local or state officials can't get rid of the NRA.  Local or state police can't get rid of the NRA.  In fact, not even federal law enforcement can get rid of the NRA.  You know who can?  Congress and the President can.  Do you seriously think that, when so many politicians are bought by the NRA, they have ANY interest in simply not agreeing with or supporting it, let alone get rid of it?  Of course not!  Good luck with that.

Now, "good cop" and "bad cop" have to be tweaked.

"Good cops" and "bad cops" are no longer as cut-and-dry of descriptives as they seem.  For the record, I am NOT a supporter of the "kill the police" movement, but I am part of the police-cannot-always-be-trusted movement.

A "good cop" may be an officer who never engaged in shady behavior or criminal activity under the guise of power, whereas a "bad cop" is an officer who has engaged in those activities.  Fair enough.  However, the idea of responsibility and collective culpability has become buried even deeper in the sand.  The idea of a "code" officers live by (don't drop the dime on your fellow officers) is improper.  It is a house built on sand.

When you enforce that upon your officers, you force good cops to bear some of the responsibility for illegal and improper behavior.  The improper or illegal actions of their fellow brothers and sisters in blue must be held in their confidence as well.  It is an abuse of power. It is forced complicity, and that never strengthens a collective; it makes that collective look suspicious.  It is no different that the Catholic Church child abuse epidemic.  It stains "good" cops and that is unacceptable.  That is no way to treat your people and no way to tell them to treat other people.  What, if someone kills another person, they should be prosecuted, but if the killer happens to be a police officer, there are no conditions where being reckless makes any difference whatsoever?  The phrase "to protect and to serve" means to protect and to serve the people, not to protect and to serve the police force.

We can't teach kids about the police anymore like we used to!

Growing up, we were taught to respect the police.  We were taught to feel safe around the police.  The police were all good.  If you had a problem, you could go to a policeman, and he would try to help.  That was a hard fact, BUT now, if your skin color is the "wrong" one, you might get killed?  No crime committed?  No real probable cause?  Are you kidding me?!  In addition, if you're the "wrong" color, you may have to see this kind of garbage going on and you might feel so compelled to shoot police officers?

All this amounts to is officers who never killed anyone unnecessarily are mistrusted from the get-go and skin color dictates whether or not you have a target on your back.  This is not to say these things only started happening recently, but they are happening far too frequently.

I'm not anti-police and I'm not black ... and I'm still saying all this!

I'm anti-abuse of power and I'm white, so shouldn't I just "move along" because "there's nothing to see here"?  Hell no!  Wrong is still wrong, unfair is still unfair, heinous is still heinous (no matter who shoots), and unfounded is still unfounded in my book!  After all that has been happening, I will not condone unlawful murder of citizens or of officers.  Period!

What the hell do you expect?!

We are in a downward spiral.  It is a cycle of unwarranted, illegal actions of some police officers and acts of retribution.  Do you mean to tell me that it is solely because of the police or citizens?  They're both part and parcel in this cycle.  Sir Isaac Newton's third law of physics states for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  While being equal can be argued, the opposite reaction is happening.  When you push a group of people, you are misguided to expect no push-back.  The problem is that those pushing and those pushing back are killing people.

So ... ???!!!!

I am reminded of two things in the midst of all this... One, what my parents always told me about what happens when you have a cold: It gets worse before it gets better.  Two, a passage from the book of Galatians in the Christian Bible (chapter 6, verse 7, to be specific) that has been reworded as: You reap what you sow.  Persecution and retribution are equally reprehensible.

My position is not wishing for all kinds of crap to come raining down on the country.  However, if some major shifts do not occur in this country (i.e. millions upon millions of citizens demanding better, simultaneous police ceasing unwarranted murder and retribution murder immediately), people will be holding their collective breath for something better at their own peril.

I will always want a better society and a better country, but my feeling is that things will get worse before they get better.  How worse?  I don't know.  Is another civil war likely?  Likely, no.  Is it possible?  Oh, yes.  Mine is not the only voice or the loudest voice in wanting peace, but I feel my calls, along with others' calls, are not enough and are not being heard or heeded.  

The republic is fading.  Hope for the best, but expect the worst.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Term of the Day: SUNDAY FUNNIES

It was four years ago today that I began this blog and I want to thank all of you, my dear readers, for coming along for the ride.  It is always amazing to see year after year how far it reaches around the world.  Thanks for reading and keep reading!

Since I usually deal with serious topics almost all the time, I thought it might be fun for this anniversary to have a little fun.  Today's posting will be the means of humor (and serious things, too) on the Internet, the meme.  Thanks again, dear readers, and enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Word of the Day: UNWILLING

Bullets and bullet casings.  Chalk lines drawn on the ground.  Bullet holes.  Shattered glass.  Fractured metal.  Splintered wood.  Flashing lights from police and first responder vehicles.  Bodies, injured and lifeless, and blood.  Always, always bodies and blood.

Screaming people.  Crying people.  Alarms.  Rushing feet on the floor.  Doors locked and doors knocked open.  Sirens.  Gunfire.  Always, always gunfire.  And then silence ... or what sounds like silence, save for whimpering, moaning, and gasping for air.

These are the sights and sounds at a mass shooting.

Some people may escape unharmed.  Some people are hurt slightly.  Some need recovery time and heal pretty well.  Some need recovery time and are permanently injured.  Some require long-term recovery.  Vigils.  Public outcry.  Some are buried.  Always, always there are burials.

These are the results of a mass shooting.

Pulse Nightclub.  Virginia Tech.  Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Luby's Cafeteria.  McDonald's restaurant (San Ysidro, California).  University of Texas.  Columbine High School.  Edmond Post Office (Oklahoma).  Inland Regional Center.  American Civic Association.  Fort Hood.  Washington Navy Yard.

These are the deadliest mass shootings in the past fifty years.

Interestingly, five out of the above-listed twelve incidents occurred in the twentieth century, over the course of thirty-three years.  The seven remaining, all occurring in this century, took place over the course of just nine years. 

Mass shootings are, indeed, more frequent and more deadly. 

Now, we have the mass shooting yesterday at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a gay nightclub, which was frequented by gay and straight people alike.  The night when the shooting took place was the club's Latin Night, which drew people from the gay and straight communities each year. 

The massacre at Pulse Nightclub is the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.  Fifty persons killed, including the shooter, as of this writing, and fifty-three persons injured ... a total of 103 persons hit.  The second-largest mass shooting (Virginia Tech) had less than half that total in injured and killed combined. 

It was estimated that there were approximately 300 patrons in the nightclub at the time of the shooting.  With the total count of persons shot at Pulse at 103, the shooter killed one-sixth of all patrons, hitting one-third of them in total.  Dozens are still in the hospital, many of them listed in critical condition.

The shooter pledged his allegiance to ISIS.  His father, who has openly supported the Taliban in Afghanistan, said his son had been seeing men kiss and it upset him greatly.  The shooter also legally bought an assault rifle (not used for hunting) and a semi-automatic handgun.  He bought them legally in spite of being investigated by the FBI twice and even being on a terror watch list, which a background check did not show.  (It is being reported that he may have attempted to buy body armor, but was refused.)  He was even licensed and worked as a private security guard.  I believe this was a hate crime against the gay community and an act of terrorism on U.S. soil.

Other FBI spokespersons have said that the Bureau is severely lacking in resources to be able to follow all those individuals who are under watch or suspicion.  In a news conference today, FBI Director James Comey said that he felt confident that the Bureau had done everything it could regarding the Pulse Nightclub shooter.  I strongly disagree with Comey.  In fact, I would suggest that, if the FBI did the best it could, then we foolishly believe in the Bureau's capability to protect us.

How does an individual, who has been investigated more than once, was once on a terror watch list, and whose father openly supports the Taliban, buy these weapons legally?  How does an entity do its best in protecting us by not really protecting us? 

I will tell you how.  Because politicians, those in power who can change things for the better, are unwilling to do so.  It is a disconnect; they have their own security details and security plans, unlike what the vast majority of Americans have.  Aside from a cognitive understanding of "people need to feel safe", which they openly espouse, where is their individual sense of responsibility to act upon that understanding?  Where is their corporate sense of responsibility?  It is nonexistent. 

To be clear, there are, indeed, several individual members of Congress who want to do, and try to do, the right thing.  However, the reality is that Congress is made up of far greater numbers than those who are willing to do the right thing.  The Executive branch of government totals one person, the President.  The Legislative branch of government (Congress) is made up of 535 persons (435 in the House of Representatives and 100 in the Senate).  The Judicial branch of government includes nine persons (currently eight).  That is a total of 545 persons.  You need, at the very least, the majority of all of those 545 persons to make the necessary changes (i.e. laws, enforcement, funding).  This is not even counting the governors and state legislatures, which also have a say in their respective states' practices, among the number of those in power.  Where is the corporate will?

Bottom line, the governing bodies in this country are unwilling to protect their citizens.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Phrase of the Day: 20 MINUTES OF ACTION [Part 3 of 3] [UPDATED]

As I noted yesterday in Part 1. Judge Aaron Persky, after Brock Turner was found guilty of three felony counts -- intent to commit rape, sexual penetration with a foreign object of an intoxicated person, and sexual penetration with a foreign object of an unconscious person -- passed a ridiculously short sentence of six months.  (As I also noted in Part 1, many legal experts are already saying that Turner will likely serve only about half that time, or three months.)

While many are outraged at such an inexplicably short sentence, Jusge Persky's reasoning for it is especially imbalanced and egregious.  He has stated that Brock Turner, due to being so intoxicated, had "less moral culpability" in the situation, as well as "no significant record of prior criminal offenses".  He said a long prison sentence would have a substantial impact on him, including his pending swimming career and possible entrance into Olympic competition.  (The governing body for swimming in the United States, USA Swimming, has already banned Turner for life.)  He also said that the six-month sentence, in light of all of the scrutiny Turner received from the media, might serve as an "antidote" to that scrutiny.  

Before I get into my comments regarding the judge's decision, let me address the threats to the judge and his family that have been flying around social media.  Calling for the judge's removal, which is in full swing, is an appropriate response, but wishing death to the judge and harm to his family is not justice.

Now, to the judge's decision.  First, the idea of "less moral culpability" because of being intoxicated is tantamount to saying being drunk gives anyone a pass on immoral and illegal behavior.  I strongly disagree.  Anyone in that state has less ability to control, but less moral culpability?  Sorry, not buying that.  Courtrooms deal with the law, not morality.  Sometimes, the two can run parallel to one another (i.e. murder is both immoral and illegal), but the law is dealt with in the courtroom.  Period.

No prior criminal record was partly based on Turner saying, in essence, he was a good boy. Not fully true, as pictures of Turner drinking and smoking from a hash pipe and bong, in addition to text messages showing him looking to acquire harder drugs, have since surfaced. In a letter he wrote to the judge, Turner said he "never really experienced celebrating or partying that involved alcohol".  The pictures and texts were all from prior to the incident.

Taking into account the damage done to Turner, the assailant, is not completely 100% out of line, but the amount of credence the judge gave to it was out of line.  Sure, jail time will have an huge effect on him; it has a huge effect on anyone.  However, weighing that so heavily as to cause you to give such a short sentence is inexcusable.  You are more worried about his well-being, and likely his (formerly) potential Olympic swimming career, than the victim's? That as one of your reasons for a lower sentence does exactly that.  No, a sentence of, say, twenty years doesn't make the victim feel all better, as though nothing happened.  A shortened sentence shows her, and other victims of rape and all sexual assault, that the assailant will get off light. What a great message: Hey, girls/ladies/women, the law is interested in taking it easy on some.  It should be equally harsh, or lenient, with all.  Period.

And the idea of his sentence being an antidote to the media scrutiny Turner received is contemptible.

It is not unusual for a parent to stick up for their child.  Most people say that is normal. Turner's father's comments have, however, added to the outrage in social media.  Like Brock, his father also wrote a letter to the judge asking for leniency.  One of his sentences in particular has garnered a lot of attention:
"That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life."

The arrogance and bone-dry well of morality are stunning.

Twenty minutes of action is the father's base line.  Look at that statement: twenty minutes of action.  (It's not exactly a widely kept a secret that "getting some action" can mean sex.) What is this?  A father pleading for his son or two frat brothers talking about another frat brother's escapades at a party?  Stunning.  Aside from the disgusting nature of the term "action" in his letter, let us play this out to its "logical" extremes.  If the act was longer -- say Brock got a couple hours of action -- then, and only then, should the sentence be longer? Let's not even make it the worst kind of sick, twisted sexual depravity, just Brock doing what he was doing for two hours.  I doubt the father would ask for a longer sentence.  Maybe he'd brag about his boy's virility.

On the flip side,  What if Brock shot the girl?  Would the father think that life imprisonment was an even steeper price to pay for seconds out of his son's twenty years of life?

Is anyone else wondering from where Brock's attitude and decision making may have begun?

The most obvious out of all this: Getting some action without the girl saying okey dokey is not that big of a deal.  Well, it is that big of a deal and only the morally bankrupt and professionally confused would say to the contrary.  That is what happened here.

Finally, Brock's blaming of the party culture at the university for his actions in his letter to the judge is a very thin veil, indeed.  The party culture exists at a LOT of colleges and universities.  The key is to be responsible.  If you can handle it, fine.  If you cannot, or if you are very unsure of yourself, then stay away.  Peer pressure?  Sure, but can YOU be smart enough and strong enough to be responsible?  The party does not possess your responsibility ... you do!

That would be like walking into the middle of a busy intersection, getting struck by a car, and being laid up in a hospital for months.  When someone asks you why did you do that, you would say that just the intersection's presence was more than you could handle and you couldn't help yourself from walking out into it.

Three heroes are part of this story.  First, the victim.  Her getting through this, as surely she is (and will be) continuing to do so, is a testament to that.  Her letter, shown in Parts 1 and 2 of this series, is a clarion call.  It shows the effect this kind of deplorable action and the rape-ignorance culture has on victims.  Her letter should be read to every son and daughter! Embed the right morality that this is wrong, so wrong, in the minds of the youth of this country.

The other two heroes are the two Swedish PhD students who happened to be cycling across the university's campus at the time the assault was taking place.  Their names are Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson.

                         Carl-Fredrik Arndt                                          Peter Jonsson

The pair came across the scene and once they realized that the girl was unconscious, they called out Turner.  Turner immediately ran.  Arndt tended to the victim, while Jonnson chased down Turner.  The two have since said they acted purely on instinct.  Instinct or not, they are heroes.

Just imagine, though, if two different individuals were in the area instead of Arndt and Jonsson.  Would they have acted in the same manner?

There are a lot of immoral things going on in this world.  No one argues with that.  That is the fact.  The key is what does one do him/herself?  Millions upon millions of people do not engage in those activities, even though those activities are going on.  Millions upon millions of people make the right choice day in and day out.

Brock Turner would have us look elsewhere as to why he could not make that same smart decision.  We are smart enough to not fall for it.


UPDATE -- September 2, 2016 -- Turner was released after serving only three months of his six-month sentence.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Phrase of the Day: 20 MINUTES OF ACTION [Part 2 of 3]

This is part two of Brock Turner's victim's impact statement.  In it, she address some specific comments made by Turner and his lawyer.

You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty-six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. Then I read your statement.

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. Assault is not an accident. This is not a story of another drunk college hookup with poor decision making. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused.

I will now take this opportunity to read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.

You said, Being drunk I just couldn't make the best decisions and neither could she.
Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.

You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.
I’m not mad because you didn't ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.

You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.
Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and own my sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.

You said, During the trial I didn't want to victimize her at all. That was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case.
Your attorney is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your attorney say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold. I have no words.

You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to "speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that."
Speak out against campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I've spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to high school kids about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.

Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexaul Assault. There’s your first powerpoint slide.

I have done enough explaining. You do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You do not get to not know why you ran. You have been convicted of violating me with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.

Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.
Ruin a life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.

See one thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning. I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All-American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, who waited a year to figure out if I was worth something.

My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self-deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you, the pain became so bad that I had to tell my boss I was leaving, I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be.

I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six o’clock in the morning.

I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.

You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened. I could no longer connect with friends, with everyone around me. I would scream at my boyfriend, my own family whenever they brought this up. You never let me forget what happened to me. At the of end of the hearing, the trial, I was too tired to speak. I would leave drained, silent. I would go home turn off my phone and for days I would not speak. You bought me a ticket to a planet where I lived by myself. Every time a new article come out, I lived with the paranoia that my entire hometown would find out and know me as the girl who got assaulted. I didn’t want anyone’s pity and am still learning to accept victim as part of my identity. You made my own hometown an uncomfortable place to be.

Someday, you can pay me back for my ambulance ride and therapy. But you cannot give me back my sleepless nights. The way I have broken down sobbing uncontrollably if I’m watching a movie and a woman is harmed, to say it lightly, this experience has expanded my empathy for other victims. I have lost weight from stress, when people would comment I told them I’ve been running a lot lately. There are times I did not want to be touched. I have to relearn that I am not fragile, I am capable, I am wholesome, not just livid and weak.

I want to say this. All the crying, the hurting you have imposed on me, I can take it. But when I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. That night I had called her to try and find her, but you found me first. Your attorney's closing statement began, "My sister said she was fine and who knows her better than her sister." You tried to use my own sister against me. Your points of attack were so weak, so low, it was almost embarrassing. You do not touch her.

If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering.

You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me. But here we are. The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.

Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story. The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. Right now your name is tainted, so I challenge you to make a new name for yourself, to do something so good for the world, it blows everyone away. You have a brain and a voice and a heart. Use them wisely. You possess immense love from your family. That alone can pull you out of anything. Mine has held me up through all of this. Yours will hold you and you will go on.

I believe, that one day, you will understand all of this better. I hope you will become a better more honest person who can properly use this story to prevent another story like this from ever happening again. I fully support your journey to healing, to rebuilding your life, because that is the only way you’ll begin to help others.

Now to address the sentencing. When I read the probation officer’s report, I was in disbelief, consumed by anger which eventually quieted down to profound sadness. My statements have been slimmed down to distortion and taken out of context. I fought hard during this trial and will not have the outcome minimized by a probation officer who attempted to evaluate my current state and my wishes in a fifteen minute conversation, the majority of which was spent answering questions I had about the legal system. The context is also important. Brock had yet to issue a statement, and I had not read his remarks.

My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured. Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public. He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice.

I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars. The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time-out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, and of the consequences of the 11 pain I have been forced to endure. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.

Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s statement, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of promiscuity. By definition rape is the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.

The probation officer factored in that the defendant is youthful and has no prior convictions. In my opinion, he is old enough to know what he did was wrong. When you are eighteen in this country you can go to war. When you are nineteen, you are old enough to pay the consequences for attempting to rape someone. He is young, but he is old enough to know better.

As this is a first offense I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative. The fact that Brock was a star athlete at a prestigious university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a strong cultural message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.

The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. If I had been sexually assaulted by an un-athletic guy from a community college, what would his sentence be? If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? How fast he swims does not lessen the impact of what happened to me.

The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.

He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.

A year has gone by and he has had lots of time on his hands. Has he been seeing a psychologist? What has he done in this past year to show he’s been progressing? If he says he wants to implement programs, what has he done to show for it?

Throughout incarceration I hope he is provided with appropriate therapy and resources to rebuild his life. I request that he educates himself about the issue of campus sexual assault. I hope he accepts proper punishment and pushes himself to reenter society as a better person.

To conclude, I want to say thank you. To everyone from the intern who made me oatmeal when I woke up at the hospital that morning, to the deputy who waited beside me, to the nurses who calmed me, to the detective who listened to me and never judged me, to my advocates who stood unwaveringly beside me, to my therapist who taught me to find courage in vulnerability, to my boss for being kind and understanding, to my incredible parents who teach me how to turn pain into strength, to my friends who remind me how to be happy, to my boyfriend who is patient and loving, to my unconquerable sister who is the other half of my heart, to Alaleh, my idol, who fought tirelessly and never doubted me. Thank you to everyone involved in the trial for their time and attention. Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me.

Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.

And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.

My commentary on the case