Aside

The following is a response to a Twitter conversation of sorts and mostly hasn’t been edited at this point; just bear with it:

Your collective comments about NPR gave me pause, and I had to take awhile to figure out first what the reason for that was, and then how best to express the conclusion to which I’d come. So, this is that.

So, of course my first reaction was, “La-la-la, you’re wrooooonggg”, but after that initial seven seconds, I started to wonder why it was I felt that way. Honestly, I’ve got to say that I’m pretty sure the difference in our thinking is MPR. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Carl the Stick Guy prolly listens to MPR, and he wasn’t impressed.” Well, I’ve got news for you: Twitter isn’t real.

Just kidding! I thought about this, too, and found that when I consider NPR, I consider the whole of MPR (Minnesota Public Radio, for those of you just tuning in) programming, as well as my past experience with the NPR programming of other states. Conversely, I would dare to guess that when my good twitter friends consider NPR, they consider strictly the news portion, and they find it to be lacking in a certain respect. If such is their opinion, this is a point of view with which I am obliged to agree. It was only by considering what I had to presume were the differences my friends and myself held in terms of perspective, expectations, ultimate purpose, and what I like to call goal alignment.

Setting aside the fact that it is somewhat shocking to recognize we have reached the time in which Public Radio is quite rightly placed within the same circles of mainstream media as are containing broadcasting corporations the likes of CBS, NBC, CNN, and FOX, it should indeed be recognized that when it comes to journalism and reporting, there are other, more independent sources for news which are, for lack of a better word, ummm… better. Of course, there is the question of what any given listener personally values about their news sources, but in this context I think we can generally make the assumption that “better” journalism is meant to imply a focus which is global, big-picture, and more worldly. There are plenty of arguments against that general idea, not least persuasive the fact that no one organization – no matter how large – could give proper, in-depth coverage of and representation for every thing that truly matters on any particular day. Regardless, the given has been given.

If we take a minute to consider this as the Other’s possible perspective, I believe the argument has merit. There are independent journalists all over the world who do things that NPR just generally can’t provide. This could be broken down in terms of the expense of journalism as a concerted, organizational effort, but the reason behind the difference is just as perceptible in terms of incentive, motivation, personal circumstance, and communal responsibility. A journalist employed by NPR is ultimately an asset. The company has invested – in terms of salary, travel, skills and knowledge, etc – just as much in their journalists as the journalists have invested in the company, in regards to time, loyalty, product, etc. Let’s not get sidelined by specifics; that’s the general idea behind the fact that NPRs journalists aren’t nearly as close to the heart of a situation as a local resident with any ability to record a developing situation. NPR has insurance on their employees and maybe even likes them. If only in regards to legal liability, there is an entire suite of reasons not to allow a paid journalist to be subjected or subject themselves to imminent danger the ways in which independent journalists might so be compelled.

When our news content can be sourced by people who live in the immediate area and have an intimate understanding of the situation, the opportunity for empathetic understanding and potential resulting action by related viewers is far more powerful than the more general, gossip-like, recitationist regurgitation of all those three-second network news clips that make for such super-hilarious compilations on The Daily Show. They all really do say the same thing, all day. Regardless, the point is that organizational journalists, I’ll call them, must usually travel to an event upon hearing about it first through local news. Before the Internet, this made a lot of sense, and was the fastest way to disseminate verified (see also: corroborated) news to mass audiences. Today, we still need that verification, but there are so many outlets for news that the “official story” doesn’t exist the way it used to. In this way, I would agree with those who would say that NPR is not an outstanding source for news.

Once I came to the above conclusion, there was no way I could ignore asking myself the reason for my thorough enjoyment of KNOW radio. Quite simply, it’s the programming. I think that I am not looking at it as a news resource, only. Or, even the news that I do enjoy is delivered outside of the standard report context. Whether it’s discussions or trivia or interviews, I feel like it’s the variety and scheduling of MPR programming – rather than its top-of-the-hour news, for example – that makes me value the NPR brand as much as I do. I think that was the difference in our opinion.

And it’s not to say that MPR doesn’t do in-depth coverage, either. It really all depends on what you’re looking for, and I guess that’s pretty much the point of the entire post. I’d like to elaborate there, too, but it’s late and this is long. Let’s just agree to disagree as we seek to better understand the opinions of the Other :)

Eye Of The Tweeter

Maybe I Will. Maybe I’ll Write Things.

Hi. My name is Melissa, and I just realized that I have no idea who I am.

I didn’t always not have a plan. I thought I was interested in people. That I wanted to study Psychology. That I wanted to practice Psychiatry. I thought I wasn’t interested in computer programming and that I’d never be good at math. I thought I didn’t want to live in big cities. I knew I didn’t have it all figured out, but I guess I thought that all you had to do was get an education, get a job, and live your life.

And then it was 2010. I’d finally finished school after taking time off, switching my major halfway through, and having a child. Things were looking optimistic. Oh, except there weren’t any jobs. But somewhere between high school and college graduation, I’d discovered that I liked politics. So, what better way to gain insight into the politics of America’s military involvement in the Middle East than to go there, right? Plus, it would guarantee that I wouldn’t exit school and enter the unemployment line. Plus, people really respect vets, right? It would probably help me get a job later.

Well, I’ve been wrong before.

Long story short, I’ve been out of school for several years. I don’t use any of the things that I’d so enjoyed learning while I was there. I have learned new things – including some basic programming skills – and that’s been incredibly enjoyable. But I’m finding it hard to be happy. There are a lot of reasons for that. Too many to list here.

So, I’m going to write. And for the past three or four years, I’ve been wanting to write. But I couldn’t guarantee the consistency: What if I couldn’t stay on the beat? What if I deployed again? What if no one read it? What if everyone else already wrote it? And why would anyone care about what I have to say about anything? There’s an entire internet out there.

I still haven’t answered those questions. I still … I don’t know the answers. To anything, really. But I’ve decided that I’ll solve the problem by not writing about anything in particular, and by writing whenever I can, about whatever I want. And if no one reads it, then they probably made the right choice, because I think it’s going to be a lot of stuff about me.

I mean, I wouldn’t want to read that, and I am me.

But what else can I do? Because if I don’t find a way to organize my thoughts and regain my direction and express my goals, and the fears that I’ll never accomplish them, then I simply won’t. I’ll just while away my life in a semi-depressed state. Then I’ll die. And I really, really do not want to die.

But maybe that’s a different post.

The World Is Burning And You Brought Mittens

An endless humming. A drone.

An inescapable reality that twists you.

The realization that you can and never will Be.

Yet you’ve come so far.

There used to have been a plan. A way, a truth, a light.

Now … now, nothing seems possible, and everything is without meaning.

For once you’ve woken, you can never go back to sleep.

This is your life. What if you waste it? What if you never figure it out?

It has been supposed that you had been made to be prepared.

But the world is burning, and all you brought were mittens.

High-speed Rail, Yo

Where is it? Japan? That’s not America. I have tried to be understanding when it comes to hover boards, but this boarders on the line of ridiculousness. It is time to be serious.

Do you know how long, on average, it takes to drive between any two points of significance (as a measurement of population) in the Midwest? Four. Hours. Go ahead, run a few proofs; I’m probably right.

Sioux Falls to Minneapolis: appx. 4hrs; Minneapolis to Chicago: appx. 6hrs; Mankato to Brookings: appx. 3hrs; Rapid City to ANYWHERE: at least 5hrs.

And the people who talk about how wasteful that is in terms of money and gas are right. And the people who recognize the irony of a political interest group which supports subsidies for oil companies while slashing rights and budgets supporting even the earned benefits of the regular working poor are correct. But it’s the people who are willing to bet against this gross waste of potential productivity who will change the game.

This isn’t your regular measure of productivity, though. I don’t mean that we should bring wifi-enabled high speed rail into reality for the sake of wasting no minute by which anyone is beyond the tether of the work leash. Part of people being productive is actually rooted in their happiness, as well.

Think about it: What could you do if, for an extra, let’s say, two hours out of a regular day, you could get from Point A to Point B, but while also doing other things? You could read a book. Study for exams. Knit. Learn to code. Write on a novel in progress. Plan your week. Plan your meals. Sleep.

It doesn’t actually even matter on an individual level what it is that people decide to do. What matters is they’ll be neither pressured and stressed while doing it later, nor hating themselves for never having done it at all.

Furthermore, the Earth can’t hold this many cars, and the partial collapse of that entire industry should have hinted something to us, collectively; which is, what we are doing cannot go on. Economically, it does not make sense. Environmentally, it makes no sense. Insofar as the idea that a happy, healthy, positive-thinking person is more productive than an unhappy, depressed person, almost each and every operational method upon which we have organized our cities, our transportation systems, and our suburban lifestyle – in fact, our society – is in virtually every way both harmful and backward of any goal by which the human race might meet its full potential. It doesn’t. Make. Sense.

So, remember that one time we built the interstate highway system? Well, I don’t, but from what I understand, it was a pretty amazing deal. People back then had jobs; we here now have budget deficits and collapsing bridges. No, it’s cool, it’s … Really; it’s fine, I just..

I’m just saying, let’s do that again; only this time, let’s not put ourselves at the mercy of having to rely upon a massively outsourced nonrenewable resource as a means to power cheaply-made individual transportation pods that frequently need service, and which none of us actually know how to fix.

Just a thought. And maybe also hover boards, if anyone has time.

Video

#CampaignForIntegrity

I started this because, after the government shut down, I realized that all my options had been basically stolen: My Guard/Reserve paycheck was forfeited, the SBA is no longer available to offer assistance, and even my back-up plan to volunteer for a military deployment is just no longer even possible.

I sunk my savings into this, and I really find it audacious that the people who ask for campaign contributions based on their promise to “support the troops” and “help small business” are the same people who just cut off the figurative legs of a veteran who’s trying to start a small business.

Well, politics just got personal, because I’m issuing an open “letter”/public challenge – specifically to the House Republicans – to put their money where their mouth is.

*I* know they’re not going to do it, and that’s pretty much the point, but I’d love your support, regardless.

Is this what insanity feels like?

Well, I’ve gone and done it. “It” isn’t completely clear to me, yet, but I’m doing it. A few months ago, I quit my job and started writing a business plan for a cloth diaper & laundry service in Sioux Falls, which I’ve dubbed ‘Love❣ables’ (Love Ables). I’ve sunk my savings into this. My time; the last few months of my life have all been devoted to something I’m not entirely confident will pan out. But what else can I do?

For the last two years, I’ve been repeatedly told that I “don’t have the credentials” to work for anyone else when it comes to Social Media, Online Marketing, and the like. Imagine my surprise when I was able to do all of those things as part of a start-up campaign to bring the only operable cloth diaper laundry service to the entire state of South Dakota.

Obviously, I’m not relying solely on this fundraiser to help me get off of the ground. My next steps are to take my business plan to the bank and apply for a 7(a) Basic Loan through SBA and my local banks, as well as to explore any and all available help to veterans trying to start a small business. Still, with my savings whittling away and rent ever-due, I’m definitely nervous about my prospects of success.

But like I said, what else can I do?

If you’d like to help me out, please share the link or contribute (I’ll send you sweet, sweet swag!).

And, as always, thank-you ❤

 

ALL ABOARD THE RAPE TRAIN!

I’m a woman. I like to consider myself a feminist. I am no stranger to some of the ways men can make you feel self-conscious, and even fear for your safety. I know what it’s like to be made to feel like you don’t belong in some particular group simply because of your gender, or because people feel like you wouldn’t “get the jokes”. It feels terrible. It’s alienating, and it burns a small but scathing wound on a heart which at that moment feels as though it’s been relocated to the deepest, darkest recesses of your soul. It hurts to feel like you “don’t belong” just because you’re a woman, and a society which both allows and fosters the kind of climate needed to sustain these sorts of attitudes is not the sort of society I want to live in, or to raise my daughter in. Yes, I am a feminist.

But I’m not a feminazi. For the last few days, the Internet and media have been buzzing on about a situation involving one Ms. Caroline Criado-Perez and, what else but a shadowy online collective of meanies. That’s right, meanies. The true tragedy of the story is that Ms. Criado-Perez’s genuine and major feminist achievement of … I don’t know, keeping women on banknotes, apparently? It’s hard to find good information on what she was actually campaigning for, because it’s all buried in stories about Twitter abuse and this guy from Manchester being arrested for making threats. In any case, I think her campaign was successful, but that’s really not the point.

Alright, now I don’t want to seem threatening to anyone who might not understand where I’m about to take this, so we need to follow The Procedure and mention some credentials:

I’m not just speaking out of my ass. Ok, yes. The fact that I spent seven years getting a four-year degree is primarily due to the also-fact that I dropped the Pre-med goals and changed my major after I was more than halfway through; thereafter completing my schooling in modular, part-time succession after prematurely producing offspring out of wedlock with the guy I’d been dating for, like, three years because I’d lost my job and was too uneducated about women’s resources which would have allowed me to obtain free birth control. However comma it doesn’t change the also-also-fact that I spent those seven years drawing lines and connecting dots among the fields of Sociology, Economics and Psychology. From personality types to learned behavior to theories on interpersonal interaction, I’ve spent hours upon countless hours learning about people and why they do what they do, as well as whether they have any specific preference for method of doing what they do while they do it.

Verily, one might posit that “I know my shit”, as is so colloquially expressed nowadays, and the honest to goodness truth of the matter is that Ms. Criado-Perez, and “victims” like her, simply do not understand Internet Culture. I’m not saying that the Internet, or the tech industry in general, doesn’t still have some work to do when it comes to being more supportive of female involvement. Nor does the world in general not still have great strides to make when it comes to treating women equally — that’s what feminism is all about. Feminazism, on the other hand, is when someone barges in to a social construct and demands that it immediately change to their satisfaction, as dictated by their interpretation of what’s “right”. Caroline Criado-Perez is a feminazi, and before anyone gets their knickers in a twist over it, I’m gonna need you to go ahead and know the meaning of the word which so abhorrently offends.

This isn’t about being rape apologists, this isn’t about sustained, targeted, high-volume slander; this isn’t about the need for social media companies to protect people’s feelings. This is nothing more than a collective waste of time on something as simple as a cultural misunderstanding. The Internet has a history – yes, it is male dominated – but if you’re offended by it, what you really need to do is know your meme. For anyone who’s experienced the Internet on a level that’s even minutely deeper than performing a daily Google search about what banal tidbit of gossip has leaked its way from the dank, morally ill and defunct digital warehouse which keeps at a bearable volume the cacophony of soulless zombie voices that are TMZ.com, what happened to this woman was nothing more than a textbook play which arrived at its point of logical conclusion. Seriously, the formula has more or less written itself.

I can’t tell you all of the things, though, because the first Rule of the Internet is, ‘Shut the fuck up’. If you wanna understand the rape train, you’re gonna need to don a conductor’s hat and ready your body for what is, at the very least, sure to be an eye-opening experience. As with any other culture, though, if you take the journey and learn to shed yourself of the preconceived notions of your own past experience, you might eventually be accepted by the natives and invited to dance the dance of their people. But the Internet is offensive, and if you want to be on it, you need to accept it as a real and honorable Feminist, because feminism isn’t just about the other side understanding women. Feminism is also about understanding the other side and not holding those on it to your own ideal of what they “should be”, either. The Internet is about Free Speech and the fact that if you don’t like what someone is saying, they’ll still not be stripped of their right to say it. They may be blocked, tossed out of chat rooms, barred from comment, or even just generally ostracized by the community as a whole, but they will still be free to spit their venom and build up their own little shitstorm under the condition that they aren’t doing any real harm to anyone else in the process.

As I watched this entire Twitter battle play out in real time, it was easy to see what was happening: Caroline was giving in to trolls who started by sending offensive tweets in response to news on her successful campaign. The more she fought back, the more she fed the trolls, and it just kept going as per the norm. What changed the situation for her was that she started referring to obscure Internet references as actual threats of rape. It didn’t go over well. She continued to assert that she was being threatened with rape through verbal abuse, and the Internet lent itself to realizing that truth. When the Internet decides to hold up a mirror, they are relentless, but I’ve just got to say that if someone is truly – I mean, truly and honestly threatening you – from half a world away, then it must be serious. If there is somebody out there who is literally prepared to board a plane, take a twelve hour flight, and come to your home to sexually assault you, either that person is so mentally unstable that they’d never be able to get out of the country in the first place (let alone the basement of their mom’s house), or bitch you must have done something awful, because that is some serious business.

What’s despicable about this entire situation is that Ms. Criado-Perez is now putting pressure on Twitter to be more responsible for situations involving trolls by adding a “Report Abuse” button which will magically aid in criminal prosecution of people who, Under the Communications Act 2003, are guilty of sending “a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” by means of an electronic communications network.

I. Cannot. Even. Begin.

Don’t we have enough problems? Aren’t women in India getting gang-raped on buses? Don’t women in Indonesia get acid thrown on their faces for refusing marriage? Wasn’t there just recently a huge outcry against the sentencing of a Middle Eastern woman for having sex outside of marriage because she was raped? Didn’t at least 10 men cheer each other on in Texas as they made a video recording of the rape of a 13 year-old girl? Spoiler alert: Yes. The answer is yes, all of these things are true facts, but let’s put the world on pause because a woman who calls herself a feminist received predictably offensive messages on the Internet, shall we? Never mind the logistical nightmare of what she’s trying to push, here. What she’s actually proposing would only further clog the criminal prosecution system and consume more resources, thereby not only justifying but necessitating greater expenditure on law enforcement for a population of people who already feel that a Government capable of forcibly intercepting their phone records and storing the data on a massive scale might be just a little bit too large as it currently exists.

Quite succinctly, the entire thing would be complete garbage if it weren’t for the coincidence of the fact that Clark Stoeckley, the guy behind @WikileaksTruck, was barred from the entire Ft. Meade base in advance of the reading of the verdict in Bradley Manning’s whistleblower case because he relayed information about where Army prosecutor Major Ashden Fein’s hotel was located, which was in fact leaked by Major Ashden Fein, himself. Reason given by military police at the time of his removal from the courtroom was that Stoeckley had sent “threatening messages”.

The concept of Free Speech is where all of this ties together. The reason we have such a thing as even a need for protection of the freedom to say what we want is so that our words can’t be interpreted as cause for persecution. It may be terrible, offensive, disgusting and downright cause for mental health concern, but speech is not a crime. And frankly, I’m offended that Ms. Criado-Perez has insulted some of my Twitter acquaintances and drug their names through the mud by labeling them as misogynistic, rapish abusers when she hasn’t the slightest proof that they are anything of the sort. Making obscure puns and referencing culture-specific humor is not the same as threatening rape, and it isn’t the same as being a rapist. The fact that Ms. Criado-Perez does not have the proper historic reference for understanding what the Internet means when it calls you the conductor of a rape train should certainly and by no means legally prevent absolutely everyone on the Internet from saying the phrase ‘rape train’.

Try it. It’s fun.