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Category: Activism

What Is Real News? What Would You Do If You Saw It? #NSFW

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Living in a nation that sits in the crosshairs of entertainment news sometimes it can get tiring just being bickering over and over. Of course everyone should be allowed to experience their greatest struggles with consideration that they are their greatest struggles – but upon finding out that there are struggles much worse than your own can truly change your approach to your own.

Do you considered yourself someone who loves people all around the world? Do you try to know the struggles of other people, regardless of where they live? Are you saying yes, but also telling yourself that you just aren’t exposed to a lot about the world? Do you get tired of our infighting even bigotry in our political system? Well, assuming this that you are watching this from the United States (as over 90% of my readers reside) these news pieces will probably seem like something that could never happen to you, and for that you should be very thankful…

Warning: this is Not Safe For Work (NSFW), it is very violent, and profane at times, but Very real.

If you’d like to see the post show interview with the reporters don’t worry, it’s right here.

The “Nuclear Option”, and Some Common Sense Filibuster Reform

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Recently is was announced the Harry Reid and the Democrats in the United States Senate will be going the route of the “Nuclear Option” in regards to the filibuster. Republicans over the last few years have changed the market for the filibuster by doing to more than ever before, and by doing it on items that have never before been filibustered (Presidential Nominations). I personally am sad to see this happen, but I also understand a bit of why it is happening. The group No Lables, who I worked for a few years ago, has been pushing for bipartisan reforms for the last 3 years. I receive still receive their emails, and this is an excerpt from their most recent email about the “Nuclear Option”. If you are interested in learning more I suggest looking into who they are and what they are doing.

 

NO LABELS on the Fill:

GOING NUCLEAR: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this morning he plans to use the nuclear option to reform the nomination process to remove filibusters for most presidential nominees. This is an unprecedented move, one that when Reid was the minority leader said that the “nuclear fallout” would bring even more gridlock in a chamber that is already slow moving, according to Paul Kane. One solution to avoid this hyper-partisan move is our proposal to have presidential nominees be subject to an up-or-down vote within 90 days of the nomination: Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan for The Washington Post: The Senate is at Defcon-1 and about to change forever. Here’s what that means.

On their website here is how the filibuster reform is presented:

Up or Down Vote on Presidential Appointments

The Problem

When our Founders gave the Senate “Advice and Consent” power over presidential appointments, they hoped it would encourage the president to appoint qualified people and avoid conflicts of interest.

Today, it’s the senators themselves who seem to have conflicts of interest, with key presidential appointments routinely held up for trivial reasons or to serve the narrow interests of a single senator. In one notorious case from 2010, a senator held up over 70 presidential nominees at once to secure more federal spending for his state.

As of late 2011, more than 200 presidentially-appointed positions remained unfilled. In the last few years the directorship of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, key positions at the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve and numerous federal judgeships have been left unfilled for reasons that have little or nothing to do with the quality of the nominees.

– See more at: http://www.nolabels.org/work (#2)


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Randy Pausch ‘The Last Lecture’: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams (and #NoShaveNovember)

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In this month of November I’ve been doing something that I have not done in 8 years, and for good reason. I am growing my facial hair out, and I don’t usually do this because I look very silly with a beard, as my beard is merely a partial beard (and my grandpa loves to let me know that it’s not a real beard). I’ve been doing this however because I have joined with the American Cancer Society to raise money to fight cancer. This annual event has become rather well known, and you’ve likely heard about it, or at least noticed a lot of scruffy beards, or swanky mustaches recently. Well, if you have then the idea is working. There is hope that this gesture will raise both awareness and funds to fight cancer, in particular most of these funds go towards fighting testicular cancer.

With fighting cancer in mind I thought it might be an appropriate time to re-post one of my all time favorite lectures – it’s called “The Last Lecture”. Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon, and his expertise was in artificial intelligence. Randy discovered that he had pancreatic cancer, and he decided that he wanted to live out his childhood dreams. Between the time that he recorded this lecture and the time that he does Randy wrote a book about his life proceeding, and the experience of this lecture. I highly recommend the book, especially the audiobook as he reads it, but most definitely you should watch this lecture if you have not already. Whether you watch it or not, I would really appreciate it if you would take time to donate whatever you are willing to part with right now to help fight cancer, because if not you then who?

My friends call me Beardy. #NoShaveNovember

A post shared by Grady Carter (@gradycarter) on

Risk Pools: Why It’s Dangerous to Swim in the Shallow End

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With the government shutdown well underway, and the debt ceiling looming, seemingly many people are still very confused about the Affordable Care Act (Obama care), and it seems like a good time to address what the actual philosophical principles are that are being disagreed upon. Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize amongst such bitter fighting that there are ideas.

This fight has essentially been over the the government mandating that people buy private insurance, which is a law and has been ruled constitutional so long as it is considered a tax. This mandate as a philosophical idea is supposed to manipulate risk pools. You see, we seem to live in a world where it is becoming essential for us to have insurance for everything, and I personally don’t love that, but it’s apparent. The basic reason for this in regards to health is that as a society we aren’t willing to watch those who run into health bouts lose everything for having misfortunes. This is insurance at its most basic elemental, as insurance is a risk buffer. It’s like gambling, sometimes people will make a bet and then they will actually make a bet against that bet (like bonds and derivatives on Wall Street) so that they can minimize their probability of something bad happening.

One key component about risk pools is that the larger they are the more stable they are likely to be. Imagine the difference between throwing a rock into a lake rather than a bathtub, the lake is just affected less on the whole. Now this is oversimplified, but it paints a picture that I believe is somewhat helpful to those trying to understand why anyone would want this system, or even a single payer system.

The Affordable Care Act demands that we get private insurance, and as I wrote about recently they will be subsidizing some plans to make them “more afforadable” and thus those who currently don’t pay for healthcare will pay something, not to mention they will have insurance policies and receive better care that will prevent them from getting super sick and becoming an expensive part of the risk pool… The subsidized policies will also enlarge the risk pools and voilà, that should make for a more competitive pricing system (as we all know we could use considering the price of healthcare). As far as I can tell these 2 things should help with the reduction in the price of healthcare, other than one external factor, which is that doctor’s offices will get more crowded with people who were mostly getting care at the emergency room, and with a higher level of Scarcity doctors will be seeking higher paying clients / costumers. And thus healthcare will either become much more expensive all together, or some doctors will lower their prices to be more competitive.

Now the last factor that I find rather interesting about the cost debate of the Affordable Care Act is the outlawing of preexisting conditions for insurance coverage. This may seem like it would guarantee a larger risk pool, but one with larger (riskier/more expensive) waves. the only problem with this idea is that preexisting conditions cause 1 of 2 probable outcomes: we as a society pick up their tab as they receive specific preventative treatment for their specific ailment (which we already do), or they receive more expensive emergency care and live with a lower health and quality of life (which also already happens, and we also already pay for). We already pay for those who can’t pay by way of the emergency room care. We won’t essentially be changing who we’re paying for, we will be changing what we pay for.

The question of whether or not these changes will be for the better I’m not certain that we know for sure. However, we have the most expensive healthcare in the world, and we are not the healthiest, and we’re not even close. All that to say it must be noted that we also have the most profit driven system in the world. People come from around the world to receive catastrophic and major health treatment, and we have a health system based on haves and have nots, and it’s probably rather important to figure out whether or not your comfortable with that reality. One part of that reality is that there are even selfish advantages to more people having health insurance, primarily that with larger more stable risk pools we might see our overpriced system trim down a little bit, which might greatly boost our economy, as inflationary medicine has been an overall drag on our economy. But, the question really is simply whether or not we believe that as a society a group effort can make things better in regards to our health.

Ground Zero: Syria – VICE (WARNING: Very Graphic)

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Feel free to skip ahead and not read all of my thoughts if you don’t have that much time, the video is way more important. But WARNING, it is very graphic.

I generally get really excited when I start hearing people, and seeing people talk about current events. However, this time around in regards to Syria it has kind of broken my heart. It’s rather bizarre to see what it takes to get people interested, however they are now interested and it’s time to pay attention.

I hate war. I really hate war. Having believed in God pretty much my entire life I always try to see other people as an extension of myself, and I don’t want them to die, especially in the midst of hatred and violence. Part of that frame of mind has led me to not get so hung up on land borders, or social groups. One of the biggest talking points on whether or not we should go into Syria has been whether or not it’s in our nation’s best interest. I think that this standard misses the mark by quite a bit. The standard should be “is their oppression, and do we have evidence that we can help?”. In the past when we have tried to help it seems that we have often ended with an enraged population, at home and abroad, that then blames us for all of their problems.

I don’t want the United States to be the police of the world, we don’t need to be in charge of being everyone’s moral authority. However, being supportive of those who are oppressed and being brutally murdered is not simply being the police of the world. For all those who want us to be an isolationist country the only way that I can find that to be a real noble cause is if they somehow think that by example or through accumulated resources we will someday be able to help others in need. Maybe this would be comparable to securing your own oxygen mask before you get the mask for the child next you on the airplane, I’ve used this example before. If being isolationist is only for our own benefit, then I hope all with that belief system never find themselves at the end of the barrel of a gun of an oppressor with only themselves to lend a hand.

Syria is different from Iraq in multiple ways: chemical weapons were used in Iraq 15 years before our war started there, chemical weapons are being used now in Syria. Of course there’s still the debate of justice and punishing those who have hurt others in the past, but we need to have a conversation about eminent threats to mankind right now. I don’t want to go to war, but if there are actions that we can take to help the people in this video I think they need to be strongly considered. Forget about the politics, rhetoric, teamsmanship, tribalism, I don’t care about that. These are people… If you don’t care about them something is wrong with you. And if in this discussion your primary goal is to find out who is wrong in America you’re missing the mark. Before you come to an absolute decision on what is right and wrong in this situation please research all of the options. I know this is an unattainable quest, as we don’t have all the information, and we won’t have all of it. But please don’t make up your mind so flippantly, we’re talking about our brothers and sisters in humanity.

I’ll finish with this, I am no military mastermind but I don’t think that we should put troops on the ground. It seems as if we aren’t going to anyways. I also don’t think that we should arm either side, and of course the only side here that we would arm potentially is the rebels, or the “Free Syrian Army”. When we’ve armed groups in the past it is come back to bite us, and even if they are on the side of lesser evil the rebels still have extremists, just look at the video of the guy eating the Syrian soldiers heart. I think that if we are going to do some isolated strikes on military bases that are attacking their people I might be open to that, but boy does that make me uneasy… What will the repercussions be? In our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drone strikes have multiplied Terrorist responses against our troops by 10 times… This doesn’t seem to be helping anybody. I understand that I can’t know the military strategy as it would be silly to make it public, but for me to support any action I would need to know that it is founded in some sort of a logical approach that will not hurt civilians, as they will turn against us, and actually prevent Assad from hurting his people as soon as possible.

WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC

The Stanford Prison Experiment – A Must Watch Video of Human Experimentation

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During my tenure of college I ended up spending a semester in China as a teacher. After returning from my semester away I reconfirmed a theory in that I’d held for a few years. My theory was that people tend to act like the roles that they are told they should play. As a student I played the role of young student, but as a teacher I was much more certain and assertive in my role. And wouldn’t you know it, when I went back to school I played the role of student again… This has become a great reminder to me that it was incredibly important to treat others with with respect.

This also reminds me of a great quote by someone who a lot of people consider controversial, Joel Osteen. You don’t have to like Mr. Olsteen, but he once inspired me by saying:

“You are not the name that they call you, you are the name that you answer by.”

I wrote multiple papers in college that referenced this experiment. Well, I say experiment, but it was more so just an event… One way or another I think that people should watch this.

This Day 50 Years Ago: Race Relations in Crisis – Civil Rights Leaders Discussing The Assassination of Medgar Evers

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On this day 50 years ago (June 12, 1963), the nation, and this panel were faced with an ugly reality of racial indecencies as a leader in Mississippi’s NAACP was gunned down outside of his house with his wife and children inside. I personally love going back an listening to old debates and panels, especially that I might notice the semantical differences that point towards the very real social order of the time. It’s one of the reasons why I love watching Mad Men, I feel like I’m understanding the world better thanks to understanding our older generations better.

There is so much nuance and confusion that could be injected into these conversations, but there are certainly things about them that are simple (discrimination as it was in these times was simply wrong, and that is very clear to me). But to sum up our cultural and natural barriers in life I shall quote my good friend Luke, “Life is one crazy life my man.”. I couldn’t agree more. May in the craziness of our lives we not forget to look out for others.

Turkey’s Civil Revolt: Istanbul Rising – VICE

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I have a confession: I have never been in a fist fight in my whole life… There, I said it. I’m glad that I haven’t, and I’ve actually talked my way out of fights at bars on multiple occasions (and actually have hugged it out with guys who wanted to beat my face in just moments prior). I’ve always thought of myself as relatively tough however, but maybe I don’t necessarily want to test whether or not I am as tough as I think that I am…

When I see videos of people standing up to police lines, as many have done around the world in the last few years, I have a multitude of voices in my head. Party of me thinks that those people must be crazy and reckless, but then part of me asks why so many are so willing to risk their health and life. It is much like the most historically compelling case for belief in Jesus as the son of God – why would these people risk so much, and suffer so greatly if it weren’t as serious and as real to them as they are saying? Well, I don’t know that I’m a gigantic advocate for rioting, but I do know that bold stands like this compel me to listen.

 

America’s Second Revolutionary War – VICE/InfoWars

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So there are 2 videos that I felt like I should pair together for this post. The first is an interview with InfoWars.Com’s Alex Jones on the BBC about probably the top annual event for conspiracy theorist community, the Bilderberg conference. The second is a video about some of the people who feel as Alex does about government and conspiracies.

Ok, so… Well, when I was a teen I used to look up conspiracy theories all of the time and thouroughly freak myself out on a regular basis. I mean I would really freak myself out… I could found myself believing most anything that had a lengthy explanation. With that said I feel that I’ve grown out of this stage of my life, mostly. However I’m left with a very real sympathy for the informed paranoid citizens of the world, such as Alex Jones.

I think that Alex and his group Info Wars probably knows some things that are very real, and that I would like to know about. However, I also think he is theatrical and doing some of those for the money. I just don’t know what to make of it in full… I listen to these groups and tend to find that I just don’t agree with them on way too much, especially their tone and approach – and ultimately I find them to be too gullible.

It doesn’t offend me that Jones and people like him go after Bilderberg, although I don’t intend to waste too much time researching them (especially if they are actually mischievous and are keeping tabs on this conversation and everything else that I do…), but I must admit that I am curious.

I’m posting these videos because, well it’s complex… I feel that many of my friends aren’t aware of the degree of some of the outrage that exists in the world, in particular on the conservative side of the aisle. Now that doesn’t mean that all conservatives are this outraged, or believe all of the things that Alex believes, but this is who they are being associated with politically.

I try to post about things that are helpful to discuss and learn about, and I really debated posting this, but in the end I think that it’s good to know that this is out there, whether it speaks to you or not. It doesn’t really speak to me, but if it does speak to you that is ok with me. But please try to stay calm so we can talk about these things… And yes, I understand that if you think that The New World Order is ruling us all that it is hard to casually discuss it, but please do try.

“Brainwashed by Westboro Baptist Church” – VICE

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There are multiple reasons why Westboro Baptist Church is disturbs me, but most of all because of the way that Children are bullied. I would actually love to sit down with these guys and see what all they think about the world, because I’ve had some ideas before that might be considered a little crazy. I used to find myself in hour long conversations with the people who came to our campus in college to tell everyone that they were going to hell. Usually the conversations would be pretty fun, and would end on a good note where I would tell them that I thought there were better and more articulate ways to get their point across.

Well anyway, I think that this video is fascinating. I still do not understand how they feel warranted to speak so hatefully, but they do seem to really mean it, so as long as they are being honest I want to hear what they have to say – which is how I ended up getting Mormon missionaries stopping by my house every week in the summer of 2010.

 

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