Our society would benefit greatly from the mutual agreement of some new social norms. These are things that we would all announce as common sense changes that we will adhere by, and through our combined will would create positive benefits for us all.
- Before we begin relaxing at the end of the day, we should contribute to some form of creative endeavor. Whether it’s making art or music, writing a story or carving some wood, a day becomes all the more complete when you’ve made its mark more permanent. This should be considered normal, though not mandatory every single day; just those where you have considerable time to relax.
- We should each only post on social media once a day, at most, unless something truly amazing is happening. We are drowning in a sea of information, and quality is more important than the quantity of things, which currently drown out many important messages. And knowing that we all are limiting ourselves makes us respect and listen to the messages of others with more intent and appreciation.
- If you have no kids in your life, none in your house, then you can keep your gun out and ready in an well-considered place, so that it can keep you feeling safe. Once kids are in your life and house, guns must always be locked up where they can’t possibly get them. The presence of easily attainable guns continues to lead to the deaths of far too many children; these should all be avoidable.
- If you want to steal art digitally, it is not morally wrong. Whether it’s movies, TV, music, or books. we live in a world where we can easily replicate art. This has the benefit that more people who would not normally be able to appreciate it are able to, and art should be appreciated, as it helps advance our collective social evolution. This is all fine, with one major caveat: if you are willing to steal art, you should also be willing to support the favorites that you discover. And so far, we’ve done well at this unwritten rule: file-sharers support the music industry more than those who don’t share them.
- We should be taking care of our health, for both our own sake and for our loved ones. And so it should be normal for everyone to figure out at least one way that they enjoy moving their bodies, some form of exercise, and we should all be doing our forms with vigilant regularity.
- Let’s acknowledge that sports in America today are inherently sexist, and seek to fix this. All four of our major sports are played 100% by men. We can’t force the individual teams to change that percentage, so let’s make sure our families also watch the sports that girls do play, such as tennis and soccer, so they get the support they need and eyes on their accomplishments. It seems that every night on major networks, all year round, our societal focus for physical accomplishments falls entirely on men, and girls need to see strong role models as well.
What do you think? Would you change anything, or add something to the list? Share this if you think it’s right on, or part of some serious discussions we should be having. Thanks!
How much research does the media really do when reporting the news, and how honest and informed are the experts? Let’s look at the case of Sandra Bland, who died recently in a Texas jail cell, and how the media has reported her use of marijuana.
“I don’t think it’s possible to rule out the possibility of use while in jail,” said University of Florida toxicology professor Bruce Goldberger, who reviewed the report for The Associated Press. Bland was impaired by marijuana at the time of her death, Goldberger said.
What is the evidence this “expert” has based his judgment on? Sandra’s test came back with 18 micograms per liter of THC, according to that article. Of course, according to an expert, it should have been 18 nanograms per milliliter, but the word nanogram sound really tiny and insignificant, which wouldn’t synch up with the story at hand, would it?
So is 18ng/ml really a large amount of pot to have in one’s system? According to the U.S. Military, a urine test would require at least 50ng/ml to come back as a positive, so she tested 3x under the limit for someone in the armed services; this number is also the industry standard for a cut-off as to whether a test comes back positive or not in general. And according to Wikipedia, “A responsible adult user of 5-10 grams per week will reach levels of over 500 ng/ml a couple days to weeks after use”. And Sandra tested 28 times lower than that number.
The only counter-argument I can imagine is that she was tested 3 days after she should have had access to any marijuana, and that these levels are elevated given how much time had passed. However, a regular user would test positive for up to a month or more after ceasing use, so her testing below the average threshold after only 3 days implies that she wasn’t a heavy user. And yes, this is the observation that should be made from her drug test results, yet it is the exact opposite of what the media will tell you.
And yet the mainstream media wants the average citizen to think that her tests were extremely high, and thus she must have been using drugs in jail, which must be why she killed herself! Because it’s either that, or our police and our government are going to look bad again. But why would the media report this story with such a one-sided, factually-ignorant bias?
Perhaps it’s because our government has paid them off to report it this way. They have the means, motivation, and the history of having done exactly this. At this point, is there any reason to trust the reports coming from police officers, when they are the ones most likely to lie under oath? And on that topic, let’s consider the lead investigator here: Glenn Smith, a man with a history of racist actions, who was dismissed by his own city council with a vote of “no confidence”.
Finally, there is the issue of her mugshot, which as some have pointed out, doesn’t look right. She is wearing her orange jumpsuit already, which is odd, because everyone else is wearing their street clothes in their mugshots from that county, and her hair is lying straight back, like she’s lying down. It’s almost as if she was already dead when she was picked up, and the police were covering up their own murder. In which case all the evidence they’ve presented must be taken as a load of B.S.
What our country needs are truly independent investigators and journalists, and instead we have police panels investing themselves, and every major media outlet owned by major corporations that benefit from the status quo.
To fight this, we need to call out the media for their B.S., with calmly stated and well-cited facts which we share with each other. We need to tear down the public’s belief that the news is a source of honestly-derived facts, by exposing the barrage of lies which emanates from both sides of the political spectrum. We do this until we have a nation of neither left nor rights, but independents, who learn to vote for the honest and genuine candidates, rather than for a single-issue that gets to their emotions, or blindly along party lines. Who don’t blindly cheer on their local police as a group of automatic heroes, but who admit that there are individuals who are often corrupted, and truly support those other individuals who expose this corruption.
After hearing another rant today against Muslims, and how they are going to take over the world, I think it’s important for our primarily-Christian nation to check its status. The willful ignorance that the United States has embraced regarding its long history of violence, lies, and hypocrisy has to be addressed any time our citizens consider taking actions against another country or people. So the next time you hear a friend or a relative talk about how terrible any other group of outsiders are, have them consider these points.
First: every group of outsiders has been initially rejected by the United States. From the Germans to the Italians to the Irish, racism has been dividing our country even before color was an issue. Some people propagate such issues for profit, or for power, or simply due to the ignorance and hate that was bred into them by their family and history. But it has always been wrong. Every group that has been given time to adapt to our country has succeeded. While Black Americans have been struggling for longer than other groups, consider how easy it is for an Irish family to blend in with the majority culture after one generation. And every group of immigrants, for centuries, has been blamed for “taking the jobs” from those who are already here, so that argument has no weight, and they have all added to our collective language with their own. If America isn’t willing to take in every culture, then we are not a melting pot, but simply a partially-done stew. Our country will have truly succeeded the day that every culture on Earth feels welcome within our borders, and on that day we will have proven ourselves as the greatest culture.
Then there comes the issue of violence. It’s easy to look at other countries and decry them for their history of violence, but much harder to examine our own history critically. Consider how villainized Iran has been in recent years by our media, then look at this:
And while it’s fair to criticize ISIS, and be afraid of the damage they could do, that doesn’t excuse any actions taken against Islamic people as a whole. Likewise, the actions of the radicalized elements of one religion do not define the beliefs of the whole group. And before Americans throw any stones against Muslim people, it’s important to remind ourselves that we were behind the overthrowing of a democratic government in Iran, and the imposition of a religious dictatorship there, simply because it suited our economic desires. And that is not a lone example; America’s history of violence and covert regime change in South America alone is appalling, and our motivation there has been based on greed more than anything else. How can America hold the rest of the world to such high moral standards without looking in the mirror and seeing hypocrisy? Ignorance. Yet the same “Christian” leaders who led these wars are the same ones whose holy book says that “You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). They are also the same ones who would have us forget the Crusades and the Inquisition as mere incidents in history, and certainly not evidence against Christianity being a religion of peace.
Finally, let’s consider just how ridiculously hypocritical certain cultures within Christianity have become – and while these people are no means reflective of our nation or Christianity as a whole, they are certainly not rare either.
Those Christians who condemn gay marriage but who have divorced, or have married a divorced person are all violating their own religious law (Mark 10:9 and Luke 16:18). They clearly need to marry their dead brother’s wife. And I’m sure when their daughters are raped, they are happy to have the rapist marry their daughter. Because that’s what the bible clearly instructs them to do.
Those Christians who demand their political leaders pray in front of them, or who demand that prayer be put into school – that is entirely against the teachings of the bible, which clearly mocks such practices as those done by “hypocrites“. (Matthew 6:5-6)
Those who mock Muslims for having their women veiled are forgetting the words of First Corinthians, 11:5-13.
And those laws against eating pork are just for the Jews, right? I mean, it’s in the bible, which is supposed to be infallible, but that part can get ignored because bacon tastes good, right?
Still, one could forgive any Christian who violates their faith, so long as they remember and follow the words of Matthew 7:1, which is better said in Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
My heart and my mind have been conflicted over a certain moral quandary for the last few months, as the Libertarian part of me is at odds with my Progressive side over the issue of civil rights.
At the core of the matter is a businesses right to refuse their service to anyone for any reason, versus the ability of a citizen to access public accommodations without being discriminated against. My Libertarian side believes that business owners should have the right to operate as they see fit, and society can reward of punish them accordingly for their prejudices. However, my Progressive side knows of the Jim Crow era, and how shameful our society acted when granted the unrestricted privilege of denying service.
One interesting caveat in this problem is that civil rights only extend to public accommodations, and there already exists an easy method for business owners to avoid legal repercussion for their discrimination; they simply need to organize their businesses as private clubs, or as religious institutions, both of which operate outside of this framework. And if the party being excluded can reasonably be determined to be disruptive or inherently dangerous, then legally they can be denied service.
But the arbitrary rejection of a class of people based solely on prejudice does not bring a net benefit to society, other than an increase of liberty amongst business owners. And since they do have legal alternatives that can allow them to discriminate, our society would seem better served to protect every citizens right to enjoy the services of public accommodations – not just those listed as protected classes of people, but everyone.
However, there is one final consideration to be made, and that is the practical one – for if a person does not want to offer you their service based on their prejudice, why would someone be so adamant to seek that they sue the other party? For the issue of a wedding service, I can understand wanting access to your ideal location; I know that I had an unreasonable desire to be married in one exact location, and I’m grateful that I was able to secure it. But who would want a psychologist that doesn’t agree with your lifestyle, or even a cake-maker or photographer – they might be the best, but if their heart isn’t in it, then why would you trust them to do the job right?
I can understand suing on moral principle, to protect your civil rights, but in these instances, the response seems to be extreme, as though it were more of a deterrent from future violations than a punishment designed to fit the crime itself. And yet, what would an appropriate punishment look like, for a business owner who refuses service to someone they know is a poor match for them due to their personal beliefs?
It’s at this stage that I believe our society must go all-in with our stance that protected classes are truly equal, but the answer isn’t huge fines or forced service. If you don’t want to serve a gay couple, or an interracial marriage, or a disabled person, then as a society we must do our best to change your mind. The best method for this would be community service, and the ideal person to decide where that service would take place would be the wronged party. That’s a punishment that would suit the crime, one that would allow an owner to avoid giving service they are uncomfortable with, and would give the wronged party a chance to convince them otherwise through direct experience afterwards. That’s how society can make these incidents into opportunities for positive growth.
Our local sports world is in panic mode, as the Boston Red Sox are having a terrible 2014 season, and have begun trading away players. The news that we traded Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes has terrified many, but it was an amazing trade on every single level, beyond an emotional one: here is why.
Jon Lester only has 2 months left on his contract with the Red Sox, who are no longer in serious contention for the post-season – this is a new development. 2 weeks ago, they still had a chance, but after losing 8 of the last 9 games to division rivals, the writing is on the wall. While Lester would have had greater trade value before the season started, or a few months ago, there was no sane reason to trade your best pitcher when he had so much value to this team – while they were still in contention. But since the post-season is no longer realistic, his value in Boston for the rest of the year is nothing. And while it would be an emotional relief to have signed him to a long-term deals months ago, not signing him allows him to be traded like this, and net a return as great as Cespedes. The only downside is that he will almost definitely be more expensive at the end of this year, but the Red Sox can afford him.
Trading Jon for the next 2 months changes nothing about his prospects for resigning with the Red Sox in 2015 and beyond, and that is what matters anyway. Trading him to the A’s, who can’t afford him in the future, is smart, because even if Jon loves it out there, he knows there is no point in settling down in that area – a long-term deal there is not going to happen. In short, the Red Sox are sacrificing nothing to gain something important. Jonny Gomes is in the same boat as Lester – his contract is up in 2 months, but unlike Lester, Boston does not need him going forward. Sorry Jonny!
Meanwhile, the Red Sox got back exactly what they need: a power-hitting right handed outfielder, with one of the best arms in the game. While it’s true that they only get him for one full season, many amazing players have come to Boston and fizzled out. One year and 2 months is enough time to determine whether Cespedes can actually play in Boston, and whether they should offer him a long-term contract – which the Red Sox will also be able to afford. There aren’t many players like Cespedes available on the market, and while quality pitching is the top priority, a slugger of his caliber definitely comes second. And this is the reigning home-run derby champion, 2 years running – put him in Fenway 81 games a year, and magic might happen. Every player is a risk, but Cespedes seems like a smart one to make.
So in a nutshell, the reason this is a great move is because it cost the Red Sox absolutely nothing of value, and in return, they filled one of their two greatest needs for 2015. The story isn’t over yet – they still need to resign Lester in the off-season to fill their top need, an ace pitcher. But these next two months in Oakland don’t change the odds of the Red Sox bringing Lester back, except in one way: when Jon looks at his options of places to play in 2015, he’ll be looking at an even better Red Sox team to play for, than the one that would have existed had he stayed in Boston for these next 2 months. So while it emotionally hurts to see Lester leave, even if briefly, this is just the beginning. The Red Sox are putting the pieces together to create their best realistic possibility to win it all next year and beyond, and that’s exactly what they should be doing. Bravo – and good luck to Jon & Jonny in Oakland this year – now let’s see how Yoenis plays with a Green Monster behind his back!
If you don’t live around New England, you might not appreciate what a great store Market Basket is. My family has been shopping there for years, and not only do they have the best prices on almost everything, but a great selection as well, and great customer service, all while offering their employees a fair wage and good benefits. We typically go there around 10am, and which time we are able to scoop up produce, pastries and bread at half-off, which means a fresh-baked loaf of Saloio bread goes for $0.95, and a bunch of bananas end up costing a quarter – amazing!
And if you don’t live around New England, you probably haven’t heard about the upheaval at Market Basket. Employees have staged a massive and prolonged protest for the last few weeks now, embittered by the firing of their CEO. Shelves have become empty, as warehouse workers refuse to deliver goods, and a lack of goods combined with visible protests have resulted in empty stores. Clearly the old CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas, was beloved, and if you’ve ever seen how packed their stores are, he’s done a great job of drawing in customers. It’s hard not to be on the side of the employees, as so many of them seem to care sincerely, and I absolutely do support their protest.
Today I visited their location in Burlington, MA, and was amazed by what I witnessed. There was a large congregation of well-organized protesters all along the outside of the store, who were spending a beautiful Saturday afternoon standing up for their boss. And not only were they extremely polite to everyone who passed by, but they were also kind to customers leaving the store – all they asked was if they would be willing to sign a petition – there were no apparent hard feelings. But most amazing were their ages; these were the youth, standing up for their elders, doing what they felt was right.
Now signing a petition is nice, but they are rarely effective. Protesting on social media or writing a blog post (like this one) will probably be just as useless. Boycotting the store, which most every local seems to be doing, could make a critical difference.
However, there may be less of a boycott and more of a practical avoidance going on – the produce and fresh bread departments were absolutely bare, and the deli was running very low. One family I spoke to while hiking in Woburn earlier today mentioned how they switched to shopping at Shaw’s temporarily for this reason. If Market Basket ends up firing its employees and replacing them, or just hiring temporary scabs to fill the gap, then customers may flow back in, and all this may be for naught.
So I believe the most valuable tool that non-employees have is their ability to screw over any attempts to punish existing employees. And the best way to accomplish this is to apply for a job at Market Basket. Then, once your first shift is scheduled, simply do not show up. Ensure that those warehouse jobs remain unfilled, until the demands of protesters are met.
If enough people do this, then the board of directors will have no choices left. It doesn’t matter if you have a job already – that works better, actually – simply create a new false resume, go online, to a store or to a warehouse, and be sure to let the employees there know your plan. If those employees all know to ask their friends to pitch in, then this plan has an ever greater chance of succeeding. And together we can send a strong message to corporate America: that employees are the heart of a business, and deserve to have a say in how the company is run.
There has recently been an out-pouring of negativity against the “Boston Strong” movement, some of which is understandable. Slogans can be dangerous; they are often repeated without much thought or critical analysis, they are ripe target for abuse by scammers, and they can take the level of discourse down to the lowest common denominator. And while all of these may be true at times, I believe this movement is in-of-itself a net positive for local culture, and should be left alone by the cynics in our society.
The two primary things to consider with this issue are the motivations of the major forces involved. To start, there are the terrorists, whose mission was to create an environment of fear. For them, success is watching a community slowly break down and crumble, as its citizens avoid participation in favor of safer, more insulated lives. So far, with a record number of volunteers ready to support the Boston Marathon in 2014, it would seem that the terrorists have completely failed to sway the nerves of Bostonians.
More so, imagine how frustrating it is for the masterminds of such acts to see Boston come together stronger than before. When an act designed to instill fear brings out the bravery instead, the terrorists have completely lost. So if for no other reason, “Boston Strong” is justified by the message it sends to those who would seek to destroy our way of life.
There is also the motivation of those who wear the shirts and support the One Fund. They seek to stabilize a community going through a rough period, and show each other that we aren’t going to let our freedoms be dictated by others, as Big Papi put it. I think our federal government could learn a thing or two from Boston about freedom, and what type of sacrifices need to made to keep it. Strip searches at the airport don’t make us any safer or freer, but Boston didn’t cave in and there were no cries for any local Patriot Acts.
You see, slogans are rallying cries, to remind us of important ideas. In this case, it’s to cherish and take advantage of our freedom. Bostonians didn’t begin hiding away, or start riots, or pass restrictive legislation – we moved on and forward with our established lives. We founded and supported honest charities, and kept good on our promises. This year, we’ll take some extra time to honor the dead and wounded, as is natural – but as time goes on, life will return to normal. Boston won’t forget, but it won’t let itself be changed for the worse either; our citizens are simply too smart and brave to cave in to cowards.
To donate to the One Fund Boston, click here – Thanks!
After a day of reading and writing poetry, I began to edit the poem of another – and found myself changing it drastically enough to call it my own. This poem goes out to everyone who has mined a cryptocurrency – enjoy!
Mining Crypto sounds fun, it’s true;
Maybe you’ll make a little cash!
You can start with one GPU,
And contribute your share to the hash.
Soon the addiction will set in,
And you’ll want to start a farm.
Mining’s a game and you must win!
So you buy more gear; what’s the harm?
A month will go by without a glitch
With glee you’ll watch your wallet soar
100,000 coins – you’re rich!
A power bill? Nuts, now you’re poor.
Cheers! ~ Rob
Launched on July 21st, 2013, Quark quickly became one of the most popular cryptocurrencies, peaking in value in December. Since then, it has lost roughly 5/6ths of its value relative to Bitcoin, and about 90% relative to US Dollars – a fairly gloomy picture. Yet I believe that Quark will have a tremendously successful 2014; here is why:
Quark may be down from its peak value, but it is still up huge from where it was 6 months ago and anytime before that. I believe that picking an arbitrary moment and judging a cryptocurrency on that one factor is absurd; what matters are the fundamentals. Bitcoin has clearly proven that the free-market desires a decentralized digital currency. The youth of today are adopting these cryptos, and it is increasingly likely that governments will accept them – which is exactly why Wall Street is jumping into the cryptocurrency market in 2014. So far, they’ve primarily targeted Bitcoin, since it is the only coin the public widely knows about.
Bitcoin is a marvelous name for a digital currency, but so far, no other competitor has come up with another appealing, highly-marketable name – except Quark. For merchants looking at adopting cryptocurrency payment, a name can matter a lot. Without calling out any crypto in particular, there are a lot of coins who can’t be taken seriously by the masses, and that is simply based on their names alone. Most names don’t make sense without the -coin at the end. While these concerns might seem trivial, having a marketable name is a prerequisite for long-term success, and Quark has a great one – and a beautiful logo as well.
What matters far more is a strong community, and Quark has a great one. With a couple of popular Facebook pages plus an active and populated SubReddit, the social network side is strong and growing. Recent upgrades on the development side include a new mobile wallet for Android, plus a wallet with in-built mining features for desktop computers. What’s far more exciting is the upcoming Thunderclap, set to go off on April 11th and reach an audience of millions – and hopefully become a trending topic for that news-cycle. This is exactly the sort of campaign that cryptos need to engage it to reach the masses, and it could begin a virtuous cycle of growth for the coin and community.
This here is the meat of a coin, and Quark delivers the goods. To start with, speed absolutely matters, and Quark blows all the other major cryptos out of the water. Confirmation times are routinely less than half a minute, whereas all other major coins are between 1-11 minutes – Bitcoin is at 5.71 minutes currently, and Litecoin at 3, for perspective. If you send Quarks from your wallet to an exchange, or vice versa, expect them to arrive, be fully confirmed and ready to use within 12 minutes; with Bitcoin, it takes about an hour, and I’m speaking from lots of experience. So whether you need to send a coin to a friend fast, or to an exchange, Quark is much faster, and represents the digital age well.
Quark also utilizes a wide range of hashes, which combined with its short block length means that it is very well future-proofed against certain types of hacking attacks. Without getting overly technical, there are still a couple of attack methods that users could use to double-spend coins, though both scenarios rely upon them having major control over the network through mining power, and would be quite an astonishing feat to pull off. The effort needed isn’t worth the reward as things stand now, and as the community and potential reward do grow, so will the difficulty of such a hack. And with an active development team, Quark can be forked to add new security features over time.
One major reason is that Quark is designed to mined only with CPUs, the regular processors that run on every computer. Personally, I think that this is the fairest way for mining to operate, and it is how Bitcoin was mined initially, until GPUs then ASICs took over. I think there are problems with every scenario; with CPU coins, there are bot-nets that can be used for concentrated mining power. Meanwhile, the other coins are both dominated by miners and their rigs, and require unnecessary investment to power the networks. Bitcoin has exponentially more hashing power than Quark right now – yet Bitcoin transactions still take much longer – because nobody needs thousands of confirmations to come in slowly. They need a few, and fast – and that’s what Quark delivers. Even if the network appears much smaller, it is still plenty sufficient.
What’s better, is that it is once again growing. Orphaned blocks have dropped dramatically since the wallet-miner came out recently, and that’s exactly what this CPU coin needed – a way for the average person to mine it easily. I think Quark would have greatly benefited from having this feature from day one, but that’s hindsight. Looking forward, Quark absolutely needs that easy-mining feature, as the mining reward has dropped extremely low. It was designed for minimal long-term inflation, though it did come as the cost of the coins rapidly entering the market initially. As there are no longer massive amounts diluting the coin count daily, Quark stands alone as a coin with a chance for stable value. It is not being sustained by the mercy of miners, but by the power of a community, and the strength of its code and purpose.
Quark can be mined by anyone, without any new investment needed.
Quark is far faster at confirming transactions than other major cryptos.
Quark is not rapidly diluting existing stakeholders, unlike every other major crypto.
Quark is designed to be secure and future-proofed against basic attacks.
Quark has a strong community and is highly marketable.
But best of all – Quark is on the verge of creating big news. I believe that this is the best week to start adding some to your portfolio, as anything could happen after the Thunderclap hits. Pick up some Quark on Bter or Cryptsy, Join the Thunderclap, and invite your friends to reinvent money!
EDIT: Since the IRS has suddenly decided that cryptos are property, not currency, the act of mining is now taxable at the value of the coin at the time. This will be a nightmare for miners; and yet another boon for Quark, which isn’t being mined for profit, but to support the network. The value that individual Quark miners receive will likely be below IRS reporting thresholds; even as the coin goes up in value, the amount of miners should increase proportionally – and this could be happening amidst a scene where other coins see stagnant to negative growth, out of taxation fear.
Quark Tips Accepted @ QUWTbz4giD4Vvnu1QEJJgpZ8hDvZFUjSJ4
Disclaimer: I own Quark and Bitcoin, plus small amounts of other cryptos.