SHUT THE FUCK UP! An Attack on Free Speech

Big Red

First a mea culpa:

Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned. I was once a partisan. I was even (and I mean this literally) a card carrying member of the Democratic party. I used to run around in some extremely liberal circles too. Please forgive me, for sin has brought knowledge. I am by no means a conservative either, not now or before, but I have since eschewed political labels of any kind. No political alignment is free of attacks upon free speech either, but one in particular represents its main enemy now: liberalism. 

Perhaps I should write that as “liberalism”? I looked upon the idea of liberalism as standing opposed to racist and sexist concepts, that people have the right to live their personal lives without the interference of state or private actors. It shouldn’t matter what color I am, my ethnic or national heritage, my sexual orientation, any of that. In other words, I viewed it as being meritocratic. How very wrong I was. 

Don’t misunderstand me, I still believe in merit. More than anywhere else, this notion was best instilled in me by the Army. I joined the combat arms as a 19K (armor crewman) and went through training (in my case, OSUT, or “One Station Unit Training”, a combo of Basic and AIT) at Fort Knox, KY (which is where armored units and cavalry trained at the time). I’m not sure what’s become of training there since armor training was moved to Fort Benning, but at the time (during some dark days, I might add, as I was in reception when 9/11 occurred) it was male only trainees. Once I went to my proper unit (the 126th, then an armored unit – yes, a National Guard unit), I still rarely dealt with women in uniform. You might think this would make me disinclined to have women in combat arms roles, but no. In an interview (the video since removed from the website) with WZZM 13 at my old battalion headquarters, I took the opposite view. I’d like to think that women making it through Ranger School backs up my position. More than this, throughout my enlistment, the Army actively opposed people associating with each other based on race (at Fort Knox, for example, I couldn’t help but notice when black trainees tried to associate only with each other, it was black drill sergeants most inclined to force desegregation, as we were “all green”). I would have thought adhering to such principles might put me in opposition with conservatives more than anything, and to an extent that’s sometimes true. I did not expect that I would have to fight for meritocratic ideals against liberals. (I could speak of other ironies too, such as the political persuasion of most military members versus the political structure of the military itself, but that’s another article for another time.)

If you’re still with me (I tend not to be terse), I’m groping towards a point, and my point-of-view helps inform it. There are many freedoms under attack by the political left now, especially in it’s ironic alliance with far right reactionary (militant) Islam, but the one I’m concerning myself with at the moment is that of free speech. 

If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. – George Washington

Perhaps you are aware of Salman Rushdie, or perhaps you aren’t. If you aren’t, you should familiarize yourself with his story. Despite his being a “Born Again Christian” (a point of scorn directed by the Left against the likes of George W. Bush), liberals tend to revere President Jimmy Carter (forgetting how awful his administration really was). Carter’s response was typical liberal double speak. He waxed on about the West needing to protect Rushdie’s life, and yes we have free speech (a defense he seems to offer so begrudgingly) , but the chief crime here was the offense, and that Rushdie should have seen it coming. When one looks at who reacted to the situation and how, one sees the seed of the war (both cultural and real) we now find ourselves in.

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. – George Orwell

George Orwell has been abused by obnoxious liberals, such as Michael Moore. One of my favorite quotes of his, in defiance of Nazism, is “Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, ‘he that is not with me is against me’.” One should refrain from taking that out of context as well, of course, but it carries weight against the liberal cause. Furthermore, George Orwell was militantly anti-Stalinist (from 1984 to Animal Farm) . In the fight against Islamic Fascism, stands against freedom of speech. 

More recent examples of the Left’s aiding and abetting Islamic Fascism come out of Europe. Theo van Gogh was brutally murdered in the streets of Amsterdam for the creation of the film Submission: Part 1 (there is no part 2). A note was stabbed in his chest naming Ayaan Hirsi Ali as being next (and speaking of her, if you have the time to read her book “Infidel” you should). 

Then there’s the “controversy” over Jyllands-Posten. The response of the Western media, and especially of the Left, was capitulation. The primary crime was blasphemy. Liberal god (and serial criminal and rapistBill Clinton firmly placed the blame on the victims. Middle Eastern publications reposted the cartoons, of course, while the Western media largely refused to (claiming “respect”, but really out of fear). The full response in the Middle East ranged from the idiocy of renaming the danish to rioting

Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently. – Rosa Luxemburg

Most likely, every reader here is already aware of Charlie Hebdo and the Jihadist response to its publication. What you may be less aware of is Garry Trudeau’s own reaction (excellently responded to here). This the way in which liberal’s cries have become pro-fascist. Perhaps you remember how he treated those troops who lost their lives in the Iraq War? Why, he co-opted their deaths. Apparently, he thinks he in some sense owns my brothers and sisters in arms, much like the equally vile Cindy Sheehan

Most readers here are likewise already familiar with SJWs and third wave feminists. I saw much of it rising in both my personal interactions and in places like Facebook. I found myself quickly banned from many pages, or otherwise prevented from commenting, if I ever dared disagree with a post. I wasn’t being an ass, and neither were many others. Our dissenting opinions were (for most of us at least) expressed respectfully, and in the spirit of open debate. When I think of how admins responded, this image comes to mind: 1685009-banhammer

It’s certainly how they see themselves, though I imagine some pussy little bitch thinking he (or she, as the case may be) has real power because they can (sort of) stifle other people’s speech. It’s rather pathetic, isn’t it? At the time, I was pursuing an MBA at a private, conservative university in a religious, conservative area. I felt the need to find people who had opposing views to these things. What I discovered is that liberals love an echo chamber. When one of my feminist (former) friends posted a man hating photo that strongly suggested women should always fear any male partner as a potential murderer (I’ve forgotten the wording used), I responded using statistics that rather undermined her point. I further mentioned the murder of Phil Hartman. Apparently, this was a “bad example” and “didn’t count” because of his murderer’s intoxication at the time. I guess every time a man gets drunk and beats his wife or girlfriend that’s okay, because he was drunk. Well, we know that wouldn’t fly because of feminist double standards (it seems obvious to me that both things are wrong, but whatever).

I started to see what many of you have seen. As an Atheist (of the Christopher Hitchens type), I had been active in various Atheist circles (circle jerks?) Then came “Atheism+” and “Elevatorgate“. Atheists, whose politics are broad (as are their beliefs outside of simple disbelief in religion), had only just started to come together, which is about as easy as herding cats (to use a cliché). Now Atheism was to be a third wave feminist SJW movement that tolerated no dissent. It wasn’t just absurd agendas like banning “fake jewelry“. Anyone who might have any kind of different opinion on anything ever, from websites Skepchick to FreeThoughtBlogs, had their comments removed and/or accounts banned. In a case of eating their own, Matt Dillahunty (who once threatened to block anyone who disagreed with him on Facebook) found himself on the wrong end of the ban hammer.

My own reasons for having nothing to do with CFI, for example, comes down to Melody Hensley. You know, this woman:
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If you’re unfamiliar with where this comes from, look no further. PTSD from fucking Twitter? Because people disagreed with you? And you’ll try to screw anyone in the military who simply finds your assertion absurd? Wow, go fuck yourself. She can say whatever she wants, as far as I’m concerned, but her actions beyond her words are, to use the feminist term, “problematic”.

Then there’s Anita Sarkeesian‘s little trip to the UN. Never mind that her videos are entirely specious. She can be as wrong as she wants, and if she makes money off of suckers all the worse for them. Trying to get free speech banned is a red line (you know, the kind President Obama instantly backs away from). Yeah, Pakistan tried to ban free speech at the UN too, yet Richard Dawkins is an evil misogynist that should be deplatformed for tweeting what’s an obvious truth

I don’t mean to imply that third wave feminists are the only leftists to attack freedom of speech (and surely you’ve seen plenty of other examples yourselves). There’s Black Lives Matter. BLM insists they mean “black lives matter too”, but their conduct shows them to believe that only black lives matter (or rather, only some matter, those “some” being those lives that can be race baited). I think TL;DR (Teal Deer) has some excellent video responses to them (here and here). Their college agenda is always ridiculous (and Oberlin was already masturbatory in its liberalism, that somehow being insufficient for BLM), and hostile to freedom of speech. Even when they’re not actively trying to ban it, their response has been childish to say the least. The desire for “safe spaces” is likewise an attack on freedom of speech, as is political correctness (otherwise known as “Newspeak”), wonderfully argued against by Gad Saad.

What’s the proper response to these assaults upon freedom of speech? I suppose one could simply be angry or cynical. There’s the Joel Murray approach in God Bless America, though I wouldn’t recommend that approach. Personally, I find it exhilarating. What better fight is there than to reaffirm the value of freedom of speech (and other values besides) against the fascists who would seek to eliminate or enslave us? It’s like my own contest with cancer. I’ve survived it before, and (as I write this) I’m having to fight it again (though, I have to say, the actual process is annoyingly passive, as best defined in this interview). It isn’t enjoyable. It comes with costs (I’m now missing various body parts). Yet, I feel far more defiant than ever. I refuse to not enjoy life, and for the same reason, I refuse to shut the fuck up. 

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Who is Hillary Clinton?

Screen-Shot-2015-03-06-at-5.12.07-PM.jpgCredit: youngcons.com

How do you define a person? Is it who they say they are? Is it by the words that come out of their mouths? To an extent, but who we are is defined primarily by our actions. So, let’s take some time to see who Hillary Clinton is when it comes to her actions and interactions with other people.

Who is Juanita Broaddrick?

She is one of the women Bill Clinton raped. If you want to find out more about her story:

http://www.mrctv.org/videos/full-dateline-nbc-juanita-broaddrick-bill-clinton-raping-her (Her original NBC interview)

http://dailycaller.com/2016/01/15/nbc-scrapped-story-about-bill-clinton-rape-accuser-because-she-didnt-have-anything-new-to-say/ (A more recent article with equally recent relevance.)

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/264988-bill-clinton-rape-accuser-hillary-tried-to-silence-me (Relevance to Hillary’s involvement)

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2014/10/23/the-war-on-women-juanita-broaddrick-and-bill-clinton/ (An article from 2014.)

If you want to get a better idea of Hillary’s involvement in this, read Juanita Broaddrick’s open letter:

AN OPEN LETTER TO HILLARY CLINTON
BY JUANITA BROADDRICK
‘DO YOU REMEMBER?’
SUNDAY OCT 15, 2000
DRUDGE REPORT EXCLUSIVE

As I watched Rick Lazio’s interview on Fox News this morning, I felt compelled to write this open letter to you, Mrs. Clinton. Brit Hume asked Mr. Lazio’s views regarding you as a person and how he perceived you as a candidate. Rick Lazio did not answer the question, but I know that I can. You know it, too.

I have no doubt that you are the same conniving, self-serving person you were twenty-two years ago when I had the misfortune to meet you. When I see you on television, campaigning for the New York senate race, I can see the same hypocrisy in your face that you displayed to me one evening in 1978. You have not changed.

I remember it as though it was yesterday. I only wish that it were yesterday and maybe there would still be time to do something about what your husband, Bill Clinton, did to me. There was a political rally for Mr. Clinton’s bid for governor of Arkansas. I had obligated myself to be at this rally prior to my being assaulted by your husband in April, 1978. I had made up my mind to make an appearance and then leave as soon as the two of you arrived. This was a big mistake, but I was still in a state of shock and denial. You had questioned the gentleman who drove you and Mr. Clinton from the airport. You asked him about me and if I would be at the gathering. Do you remember? You told the driver, “Bill has talked so much about Juanita”, and that you were so anxious to meet me. Well, you wasted no time. As soon as you entered the room, you came directly to me and grabbed my hand. Do you remember how you thanked me, saying “we want to thank you for everything that you do for Bill”. At that point, I was pretty shaken and started to walk off. Remember how you kept a tight grip on my hand and drew closer to me? You repeated your statement, but this time with a coldness and look that I have seen many times on television in the last eight years. You said, “Everything you do for Bill”. You then released your grip and I said nothing and left the gathering.

What did you mean, Hillary? Were you referring to my keeping quiet about the assault I had suffered at the hands of your husband only two weeks before? Were you warning me to continue to keep quiet? We both know the answer to that question.

Yes, I can answer Brit Hume’s question. You are the same Hillary that you were twenty years ago. You are cold, calculating and self-serving. You cannot tolerate the thought that you will soon be without the power you have wielded for the last eight years. Your effort to stay in power will be at the expense of the state of New York. I only hope the voters of New York will wake up in time and realize that Hillary Clinton is not an honorable or an honest person.

I will end by asking if you believe the statements I made on NBC Dateline when Lisa Myers asked if I had been assaulted and raped by your husband? Or perhaps, you are like Vice-President Gore and did not see the interview.

Juanita Broaddrick
Arkansas

Who is Thomas Alfred Taylor?

He is a man Hillary Clinton defended against a rape charge. I’m all for due process, something sorely lacking among Hillary supporters when it comes to rape charges in all other cases (as you may have noticed, this includes rape accusations that have since been prove to be lies even after they were exposed as lies). The problem is that she not only knew he was guilty, but in the way she both undermined the victim but then took to mocking her. Being a good lawyer isn’t necessarily the same thing as being a good person. They can be quite the opposite. Moreover, you can’t reasonably say she’s good with women’s rights when compared with her actions.

If you want to read more, and listen to the audio of an interview on the subject: http://thoughtcatalog.com/james-b-barnes/2014/06/hillary-clinton-knowingly-convicted-a-child-rapist-is-she-still-a-feminist/

Who is Henry Kissinger?

He’s a war criminal, complicit in assassination and genocide (among other crimes). If you want to read about all that for youself: https://www.worldcat.org/title/trial-of-henry-kissinger/oclc/46240330&referer=brief_results (E840.8.K58H58)

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with Henry Kissinger (by that or other sources), then never forget just how close Hillary Clinton is with him: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/09/05/hillary_clinton_henry_kissinger_pals.html

What is Whitewater?

It’s one of the many crimes that the Clintons managed to wiggle out. The people surrounding them tend to end up being charged and/or convicted of criminal charges, but the Clintons themselves slide by. http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/08/whitewater-scandal.asp

What are Cattle Futures?

An extremely unlikely and almost certainly illegal way (in her case) of turning $1,000 into several hundred thousand: http://www.tradingfutures.info/article/567584757/the-real-hillary-clinton-story-her-cattle-futures/ The chances of this being a legal outcome were calculated as being 1-in-250 million.

Who is Jorge Cabrera?

A convicted drug dealer who donated enough money to the Clintons to get special treatment: http://whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/CAB/clintoncabrera.html

What is Chinagate?

The Clintons love foreign political donors. It’s a criminal act to take foreign money for domestic political purposes, but never mind that: http://www.independentsentinel.com/lest-we-forget-hillarys-china-gate-scandal/ This is not just a problem during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Check out the name Norman Yung Yuen Hsu.


What is the Friends of Saudi Arabia?

A front of the brutal and oppressive (and hypocritical) Saudi Royal Family that’s given a lot of money to the Clinton Foundation, itself a sham charity: http://www.mrctv.org/blog/10-scandals-involving-hillary-clinton-you-may-have-forgotten#.dvsofjp:6iKY

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/419791/clinton-foundation-reeks-crooks-thieves-and-hoods-deroy-murdock

And a preview of the Saudi Royal Family: http://www.rawstory.com/2015/10/drug-smuggling-rape-and-torture-these-five-saudi-royals-did-things-that-would-get-them-executed-back-home/

What is Lootergate?

The Clintons attempted to steal White House property that belonged to the People, not them: http://articles.latimes.com/2001/feb/10/news/mn-23723

What of the Balkans?

Surely you remember Clinton’s pathological lying being exposed: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1582795/Hillary-Clintons-Bosnia-sniper-story-exposed.html But what else can we say about her with regards to the Balkans? Did you know that she opposed any intervention there? She not only felt it would be a distraction from her (failed) healthcare initiative, but she compared any intervention to “Vietnam”. So, if Hillary had had her way, the Balkans would have been ethnically cleansed: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2008/03/the_tall_tale_of_tuzla.html

Misc.

There’s more that can be said and shown, none of which is exhaustive. Here are links to further information:

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/01/08/opinion/essay-blizzard-of-lies.html

http://www.clintonmemoriallibrary.com/clintcrimefamily.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1jeJmeeMjs (Trey Gowdy Demands Answers On Benghazi)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE8PG2mpo58 (Christopher Hitchens — Speaking Honestly About Hillary Clinton)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kypl1MYuKDY (Hillary Clinton: A Career Criminal)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IOpbj8ajZs (Hillary Clinton Exposed, Movie She Banned From Theaters Full)

So, who is Hillary Clinton? A crook who should be behind bars.

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In Loco Pubis: The Despotic Ambitions of America’s College Students

ctyyypdxiaamd-wStudents at Mizzou engage in an ironic lack of self-awareness.

Is being a fanatic a bad thing? Not always. It’s been said (by Thomas Paine no less) that moderation in principle is always a vice. If you believe in something, it does no good to half-way believe in it. Should all people be equal under the law, regardless of their sex, ethnic background, religious preferences, etc.? Then it does no good to the promotion of that principle to compromise on it. Therein lies the danger. One must do what they can to ensure that their principles are just, and their methods honorable. Though they don’t see it this way, many of today’s college students are neither honorable nor principled. 

The creeping totalitarianism of the political left is best defined by its student populations. While the political right is by no means innocent of its own vices, it’s the left that is threatening our Constitutional rights, and any common sense notion of justice and freedom. Mizzou helped put the problem into the public consciousness, but it is by no means limited to that university. Melissa Click, a communications professor at Mizzou (who later resigned a  courtesy appointment in the school of journalism), led students in their (literal) attack of any media coverage, demanding “safe spaces“. Just from a protest point-of-view, their actions made no sense. Shouldn’t protestors want media coverage? It also lacks any grasp of understand with regards to the 1st Amendment. You cannot legally bar the media from covering stories on public property. More than this, they wanted to silence anyone who might disagree with them. In essence, “free speech for me but not for you.” Anyone who needs a lesson on the value of free speech would do well to listen to Christopher Hitchen’s argument in its favor.

What is it that the students are demanding? Perhaps a look at the recent Oberlin student’s “demands” are in order. Just notice their language:

Oberlin College and Conservatory is an unethical institution. From capitalizing on massive labor exploitation across campus, to the Conservatory of Music treating Black and other students of color as less than through its everyday running, Oberlin College unapologetically acts as unethical institution, antithetical to its historical vision. In the 1830s, this school claimed a legacy of supporting its Black students. However, that legacy has amounted to nothing more thana public relations campaign initiated to benefit the image of the institution and not the Africana people it was set out for. Along the same lines stated by UNC Chapel Hill students in their 2015document “A Collective Response to Anti-Blackness,” you include Black and other students of color in the institution and mark them with the words “equity, inclusion and diversity,” when in fact this institution functions on the premises of imperialism, white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, and a cissexist heteropatriarchy. Oberlin College and Conservatory uses the limited number of Black and Brown students to color in its brochures, but then erases us from studen tlife on this campus. You profit off of our accomplishments and invisible labor, yet You expect us to produce personal solutions to institutional incompetencies. We as a College-defined “high risk,” “low income,” “disadvantaged” community should not have to carry the burden of deconstructing the white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist system that we took no part in creating, yet is so deeply embedded in the soil upon which this institution was built. [Emphasis mine.]

The notion that Oberlin is any of that is ridiculous. Their language usage will require a bit of a digression. “Ableism” is defined as “discrimination in favor of able-bodied people”, which (for anyone who has spent any time on Tumblr, for example) is often taken to the point of absurdity. “Cissexist” is being sexist in favor of cisgendered people – if you’re confused on what “cisgendered” is, the word “cis” is Latin for “on this side of”, while the Latin word “trans” means “across”, so to be cisgendered is to be the opposite of transgendered (if you want a good laugh, check out otherkin). Also, safe spaces are where people can go to never be introduced to new ideas or opposing view points (i.e., an echo chamber) and trigger warnings are labels to help keep someone in their safe space. As for their list of demands (yes, demands):

We DEMAND a 4% annual increase in Black student enrollment from EACH of theAmericas, the Caribbean and continent of Africa starting in 2016 to accumulate to a 40%increase by 2022. This increase must occur in the College. Additionally, this deadlineshould NOT be taken as a reversal point back to the previous policy, and the standards ofincreased enrollment should be held as a minimum.

Oberlin isn’t discriminating against its student body. This is ethnic diversity for the sake of ethnic diversity, though one wonders just where they came up with their arbitrary percentages. Two things are holding back this agenda: you have to show educational worth on your application and you have to want to fucking apply their in the first place.

We DEMAND a concerted effort to increase the percentage of Black students and specifically Black female identifying instrumentalists in the Jazz department. We would like to reiterate the demand for a 4% annual increase in the enrollment of Black students in the Jazz Department starting in 2016 to accumulate to 40% increase by the year 2022.

Why the emphasis on the Jazz department? Is that “black music”, and anyone else is engaging in cultural appropriation?

We DEMAND more Black administrators in the following offices:
a. Office of Financial Aid
b. Office of Student Health
c. Office of Student Accounts
d. Office of the President
e. Office of Disabilities
f. Office of the Dean
g. Office of Residential Education

They still have to both want those jobs and be qualified for them. If you go with a less qualified black person solely because they’re black, you’re racist. (“but it’s impossible to be racist towards white people!”)

We DEMAND that all Black prospective students be interviewed by admissions officers that are trained in race consciousness practices for undergraduate admissions

But not students of any other race, either white (well, white people don’t count, apparently) or other minority groups? They act like all “white cisgender heterosexual males” are in a cabal, but they demand that power only allow in those that think and act exactly the same way they do. That’s totalitarianism at its core.

We DEMAND that all Black international students who are unable to return back to their home countries be provided with FREE housing during post-semester breaks such as but not limited to winter breaks.

Again, a special privilege only provided to black (international) students. There are a lot of international students that come here from Asia and the Middle East, and not all are monied, but fuck them, I guess. And free? The fuck outta here.

We DEMAND a more inclusive audition process in the Conservatory that does not privilege Western European theoretical knowledge over playing ability. We DEMAND the inclusion of teachers and educators with auditory and relative business skills pertaining to contemporary Black musical styles.

“Western European theoretical knowledge”, as you put it, is necessary for understanding the subject and teaching it. It certainly helps being able to read sheet music, doesn’t it? Also, there’s no such thing as “Black musical styles.” That implies an impossible type of ownership, not regional origins. 

We DEMAND proper and transparent communication from the various authorities regarding admissions and retention, beyond the bombardment of Oberlin College emails we receive daily.

They clearly mean something more much than the publicly available statistics (of which they apparently don’t like being told about too often). What do they expect, to be able to stand over the administration’s shoulder as it makes its decisions?

We DEMAND more transparency in the faculty recruitment process for the Jazz department. The selection of educators that will shape all of our future musical experiences without any legitimate effort to receive student feedback is ludicrous. A candidate should not be brought in to audition for a position while students are not on campus.

Fuck, are they obsessed with Jazz. You also don’t run the university, despite what you think. You have no say in whom the university hires or why. Fuck you.

We DEMAND an online database that outlines the deadline, dates, and forms critical for the successful academic journey of Black students.

If you’re really going to demand something like that, it should be on behalf of all students. Without looking into it, I’m unsure if you can find out the average grades of students as separated by various classes, but I’m sure you can find that out with regards to rates of retention and graduation. My own alma mater got into trouble (while I was working there) for not retaining enough students period, and lost federal funding for its work study program.

We DEMAND that Black students be able to supplement their primary academic advisor with an advisor outside of their department or major.

To what (racist) point and purpose? Is that pointlessness available to all non-black students?

We DEMAND financial aid workshops for Black students by Black financial aid officers so that students can fully understand the contents of their financial package and how it will change throughout their time at Oberlin College and Conservatory.

Fine, then I DEMAND financial aid workshops or White students by White financial aid officers, Japanese students by Japanese financial aid officers, etc. Yea, segregation!

We DEMAND funding to have an event for Black first-year students during orientation week, so that they may interact with community members that does not conflict with required events.

a. At this event, students will meet Black faculty and staff, the RAs of Afrikan Heritage House, the Black counselors, as well as other students to acquaint them with resources geared toward their successful tenure at Oberlin College andConservatory. This should start in 2016 during the next student orientation session.

Sounds like someone needs to check their privilege.

We DEMAND the allocation of resources geared towards shifting the institutional climate so that Black faculty, administration and staff can thrive and not have to engage in the invisible labor that we know is an important part of their work. We will gauge the success of this demand through a semesterly survey sent to Black faculty, administrators and staff deeming the success of this initiative.

a. We DEMAND direct oversight of this process.

Ha ha, no.

We DEMAND institutional and financial support for a Black Bridge Program between the Oberlin school system and Oberlin College and Conservatory. This program will help increase the successful graduation of students from Oberlin High School, provide a peer support system, and shape successful leaders for the future Oberlin College.

a. This program should start by the beginning of the next Academic year in 2016.

Wow, I didn’t realize that Black people are so stupid and poor, so unable to achieve anything on their own through studying and hard work, that they need special rights and benefits.

We DEMAND a change in the fundamental ways that we assess knowledge at this institution, starting with a student evaluation of the effectiveness of the grading system.We will have oversight over the results of that evaluation.

a. If the results state that the grading system is not reflective of this institution’s student body, we DEMAND an immediate change of that grading system.

In other words, you want to be handed a passing grade even if you don’t know your shit. You know how tests and writing assignments work? If you know what you’re talking about (using good grammar, proper citation, etc.) and answer questions correctly, you get a good grade. If you don’t, your poor grade is a reflection of that. You simply don’t want any personal responsibility. You aren’t adults, You’re children and have no business being in college.

We DEMAND a semesterly transparent report showing the progress and initiatives to make these demands a reality, to be shared with every Black leader on campus, namely the:

a. Co-Chairs of ABUSUA, ASA, and SOCA
b. RAs of African Heritage House
c. Black Scientists Guild
d. Oberlin College Black Musicians Guild
e. Chair of the Africana Studies Department
f. Dean of Students Office

A demand on your demands? You write that almost as if you’re holding the administration at gun point. You overestimate your power, as well as your rights. Furthermore, I don’t think that even if Oberlin tried it could ever meet these demands as you see them. “Terrorism, then, is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.” – Christopher Hitchens

We DEMAND direct involvement and transparency in the process of hiring the new Oberlin College president.

No. You write from a place of such whiny privilege that there’s no way any of you know what real discrimination is like. You think that not only should you have any say over who is the college president, but that you can and should bully your way to this position of power? You all need a swift kick in the ass.

They have more demands!:

We DEMAND the renaming of these specific academic buildings:

● The Kohl Jazz Building to the Wendell Logan Building–a Black man who created the Jazz Department and gave his life to this institution.

● Hall Auditorium to the Avery Brooks Auditorium–a world renown edactor  [sic] and alumnus of this very institution, Class of 1970.

● Lord/Saunders dorm to Saaka/Peek dorm after Professor Yakubu Saaka and Professor Emeritus Booker Peek with a specific section dedicated toMaggie Terry all of whom dedicated their lives to the academic, social,and emotional well being of the Africana people on this campus.

● The Art Building to the Edmonia Lewis Building after world renowned sculptor Edmonia lewis as an acknowledgement of the debt owed to her for the violence that she experienced at this institution. We cannot claim her work and reputation without acknowledging her trauma.

1. No.

2. I like Avery Brooks. He played my favorite Star Trek captain, but no. Also, he’s kind of a nut job in real life.

3. No.

4. [citation needed]

We DEMAND a $10,000 book fund for the Afrikana House Library. It is important for students of our community to stay educated and well versed in the issues plaguing their communities, and books are one of the many tools to do so.

I work at a college library. I think they all could do with more funding. If you only want increased funding for your preferred library, then it isn’t education you’re interested in.

We DEMAND a yearly report of Black students from The Americas, Caribbean and Africa showing the recruitment breakdown, graduation rate, and number of students who have taken a leave. This report should include raw numbers that include departmental & class breakdowns. This is so that we can constantly improve and evaluate the retention of Black students through health and wellness initiatives that complement their success.

Whatever you say, special snowflake.

We DEMAND a written form that assures us of the institution’s commitment to increase the number of black psychologists within the Counseling Center. Furthermore, we DEMAND that Black students be able to sit in on the interviews of these HIGHLY QUALIFIED candidates in order to ensure that these professionals cater to the needs of the Black students.

a. We also DEMAND the hiring of Black healers/ non western health practitioners because not everyone finds comfort and healing solely from a psychologist.

I had to slam my lap top closed at reading this, go somewhere else, and get back to writing. Perhaps it’s because of my MBA in Human Resources Management, but I’m all too aware of just how unqualified all of you are to have any say on the hiring process at all. Your demand under “a” is to demand someone who’s trained in bullshit. If they aren’t a psychologist/psychiatrist, they have no training in which they are qualified to do what you’re suggesting. You’re the kind of people that think there’s such a thing as “Western medicine”. There isn’t. If it works, it’s medicine, if it doesn’t, it’s not. If you want to talk to a priest (or as is more likely in your case, a Voodoo practitioner), that’s your right (however ill advised for any real problem). You have no businesses demanding the university fund bullshit.

We DEMAND a 6% annual increase in grant offers versus loan offers for Black students for the next 5 years leading to a 30% increase by 2021. This deadline should NOT be taken as a reversal point back to the previous policy and should be maintained as a minimum. Historically, Black bodies have experienced institutionally acquired debt through higher interest rates from insurance companies, mortgage companies, auto finance, healthcare, etc. Therefore piling on student loan debt goes against one of the core founding principles of Oberlin College & Conservatory, which is to promote the successful prosperity of Black people within the academic sphere and beyond.

Student loans blow, but you shouldn’t get a better deal because of your race. As for anything else, the ONLY reason you’d get a worse deal is if you’re a greater risk.

We DEMAND that all grants issued by the school for financial assistance purposes be awarded as cheques prior to the time of need instead of a reimbursement. This includes and is not limited to Career Center grants, Ignition Fund, Xarts Fund etc.

So you can more easily cheat the system? That’s a demand in favor of corruption.

We DEMAND an adequate increase in funding for internships and career opportunities for all Black students that is awarded appropriately. For instance, a $3500 internship fund for a low income student with a 3 month internship in New York City does not make any sustainable sense considering the high cost of living. We further DEMAND that we have direct input in the structuring of the rubric used to grant these funds.

No to all of that. You’ll suffer through the internship program the same way everyone else does, and you’ll like it.

We DEMAND, that Black Students should be able to access these funds irrespective of the source of their opportunity; Oberlin opportunity vs External opportunity.

They don’t have to fund internships at all. That is a privilege, not a right, and they can dictate the nature of that privilege.

We DEMAND that spaces throughout the Oberlin College campus be designated as a safe space for Africana identifying students. Afrikan Heritage House should not be the only space allotted for the promotion and acknowledgement of our community specific needs.

a. We DEMAND that no less than one full room or space be given to this need in:

i. Wilder Hall
ii. The Science Center
iii. Mudd Library

No safe spaces. Not for you or anyone else. Just how do any of you expect to be able to deal with the real world with that fucked up mentality? Also, you said “Africana identifying students.” Does that include people like the one lady who “identified” as black despite being white? What about Africans who aren’t black? You do realize not all Africans are black, and that’s even if you don’t include the descendants of European colonialists. 

We DEMAND that Afrikan Heritage House be given significant repairs and upgrades in the following areas:

a. We DEMAND that the AV system in Lord Lounge be maintained regularly–it is in desperate need of repairs and system upgrades.
b. We DEMAND that the pianos in both Lord and Saunders lounge be given routine tunings, just as other pianos around campus–particularly those in white spaces.
c. We DEMAND that a room be given to the Black Scientists Wing that include sample and relevant equipment and supplies for the success of Black students in the sciences.

You aren’t receiving less attention than your “white space” counterparts, so stop pretending that you are.

We DEMAND that the Edmonia Lewis Center and House be given significant repairs and upgrades in the following areas:

a. The entire building on 76 S Professor.
b. The entire building on 78 S Professor.

Given your attitude, I think Oberlin should never provide repairs and upgrades there ever. I want to know, if these buildings are really in such bad condition, why is that? Why is it that I think it might just be because you don’t understand the concept of respect, and that you expect other people to clean up after your messes?

We DEMAND that the Edmonia Lewis Center receive the Lewis Center as a community center run solely by students and community members and not by professional staff and be used for programming of our own initiatives.

It’s university property. If you want it entirely for yourselves, work for and save up the money for buying it for yourselves. You know, maybe they should actually give into this demand, if only to prove how incompetent you all are. There’s not a doubt in my mind that you’d run it into the ground…but without any financial assistance, of course

We DEMAND an immediate review and restructure of the Office of Residential Service policies regarding access to housing and meal options. The current policies are financially inaccessible and unsustainable to Black students.

[Citation needed]

And more demands still:

We DEMAND these professors be granted tenure IMMEDIATELY:
● Adenike Sharpley, Artist in Residence Africana Studies Department
● Bernard Matambo, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing
● Charles Peterson, Assistant Professor in Africana Studies

Tenure is earned. Have they not worked there long enough for tenure? If they haven’t, then fuck them, they have to put in the time first.

We DEMAND these professors be placed on a tenure track:

● Fredara Hadley, Visiting Assistant Professor in Ethnomusicology

● Willis Okech Oyugi, Visiting Assistant Professor of History

● Tina Botts, Visiting Assistant Professor in Philosophy

● Afia Ofori-Mensa, Visiting Professor in Comparative American Studies

● Rashelle Peck, Faculty in Residence Africana Studies Department

● Shane McCrae, Assistant Professor in Creative Writing

Exactly what makes you think a “Visiting Assistant Professor” should be put on a tenure track? Is it because they’re black? Perhaps if they weren’t visiting assistants, they would be on the tenure track. If I were to teach at my college as an adjunct, which I could do if I wanted to (and if they had a position available for me to take), I wouldn’t expect tenure track or the privileges that come with it.

We DEMAND a guaranteed tenure upon review for these professors whom are on tenuretrack:

● Joy Karega, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric & Composition

● Justin Emeka, Assistant Professor of Theater & Africana Studies

● Darko Opoku, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies

● Yveline Alexis, Assistant Professor in Africana Studies

● Tameka Nunley, Assistant Professor of History

● Leslie Kwakye, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

● Gunnar Kwakye, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

● Danielle Terrazas Williams, Assistant Professor of History

If they perform all of their obligations, they’ll get tenure. If they don’t, they won’t. You just want them to get tenure regardless of whether they’ve earned it or not. So much for personal responsibility. Despite your rhetoric, you have an awful lot of contempt for black people.

We DEMAND a full time Black professor for African American Music History.

● Professor Fredara Hadley has been doing an exceptional job for the past 2 years, and would be able to make a greater impact on a greater amount of students if given more time & resources.

So you’re saying no one other than a black person can study and teach in African American Music History? Is it that there’s no full time person for this at all? Does this position actually warrant being full time? Colleges can be stingy sometimes on full time positions, but the only color that’s a factor in that decision is green.

We DEMAND that a Black woman be hired as the head of the Jazz Vocal Department.

● This search should be extensive, and should not be limited to individuals from the immediate Cleveland area, but should encompass the globe. It should also be well advertised and students of the Jazz department and the greater conservatory should be updated regularly.

There’s that obsession with Jazz again. Why can’t a man be head of this department? Why specifically a black woman? If she’s the most qualified, she’ll get it. You still are not privy to the hiring decisions, and the process there involved, of the university.

We DEMAND that Black student leaders be provided a $8.20/hr stipend for their continuous organizing efforts around the well being of Black people on Oberlin’s campus, city and beyond.

You want to be paid for protesting? Go fuck yourselves.

We DEMAND a minimum wage of $15 dollars for all employed staff members at this institution.

Holy shit, a proposal (excuse me, a “demand”) that’s actually all inclusive. Tell me, exactly how does that demand benefit any of you? I’m getting the impression here, from this and other demands, that you’re being manipulated by black staff members.

We DEMAND that the work load given to employees be reflective of their abilities. If workers are disabled, elderly, or pregnant they should not be given a workload that they cannot handle.

This already has the force of law, so what are you really demanding?

We DEMAND all employees be given healthcare & insurance through the college as part of their work benefits.

Full time employees already get this. Part of the distinction between full time and part time employees is that part timers tend not to get benefits, otherwise everyone would be full time. Do you not realize that you might get a lot of (potentially black) people fired if this demand were enacted?

We DEMAND that each worker, temporary or permanent working for College Dining Hall Services be given a meal every work shift.

Be given? I’m sorry, but you have to pay for your meals. If you want free meals, either join the military or go to prison. I guarantee you won’t like the conditions for the free meals.

We DEMAND the development of a Bridge program for recently released prisoners from Grafton to enroll as undergraduate students at Oberlin College. Seeing as how we know that the Prison Industrial Complex sends disproportionate numbers of Black men to prison, this Bridge program will reflect this college’s commitment to social justice initiatives for Africana peoples.

And when theft, rape, and violent crimes increase on campus, you’ll have no one to blame but yourselves.

We DEMAND the immediate firing of:

●Marjorie Burton, Head of Safety Security for the mishandling of Black students’ safety needs.

●David Alvarez, Sergeant David Bender for their complicity and role in the violent mishandling of Zakiya Acey.

●Gerri Johnson, Accounts Payable Supervisor for their rude behavior towards Black Students and inefficient running of the office delaying the printing and releasing of checks and funds.

●Ellen Sayles, Associate Dean of Studies due to her mishandling of students mental emotional needs.

●Kathryn Stuart, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives due to her GRAVE mishandling of the mental emotional needs of students of color, as well as her history with the mishandling of documents that would have allowed students of color to graduate on time.

●John Harshbarger, Director of Student Health and Counseling Services forhis inability to act when students of color have urgent needs and need tochange their housing arrangements due to mental health concerns.

●Allen Cadwallader, Professor of Music Theory in the Conservatory, due to the racist undertones of his course as well as the ways in which he treats Black jazz students who take his course, which is rooted in white supremacy.

Excuse me? First you bitch about wanting more criminals on campus, and then you bitch about not being secure enough? There’s also a whole of citation needed in there. You mention white supremacy, but everything you’re pushing for is black supremacy. I could not find a photo of most of the people listed, but for those I could they were all white. I presume the rest are as well. Just admit you hate all white people and be done with it.

We DEMAND the promotion of:

● Andres Fernandez, Assistant Dean of Studies to Class Dean for his constant dedication and care for the academic success and social well being for Black students.

● Dean Kimberly Jackson Davidson to be promoted to Dean of Studies for her passion, dedication and ability to cater to the academic success and social well being of Black Students on this campus. She has gone out of her way to ensure that Black Students graduate and that they have everything that they need. She has been a consistent source of support to many Black Students on campus outside the bounds of her job and there is no doubt in our minds that she will be able to transfer the same to this position.

They’re already pretty high up on the food chain. Other than feeling you get more hand outs from them actually qualifies them for being promoted even further? Based on your ethos, I have the sense that perhaps these people should be fired instead. If they’re so great to you, that’s all I need to know about them.

We DEMAND that Oberlin College stop functioning as a gentrifying institution by:

● The immediate rehiring of community members who worked at the Oberlin Inn before its renovation, accompanied with a Professional Development Day to train them on the updated work skills needed to successfully navigate their job responsibilities.

● The immediate discontinuation of the No Trespass List, because it disproportionately and discriminatorily targets Black people from the town of Oberlin.

● The immediate implementation of a free bussing system for Oberlin Elementary, Middle & High School students, paid for by the College.

● The immediate divestment from Israel, who has exploited many African descendant peoples seeking refuge. Furthermore, because the oppressive and violent acts towards Palestinians mirrors the anti-Blackness currently in the United States.

● The implementation of a program allowing willing community members to take one course per semester at Oberlin College for FREE.

● The immediate establishment of a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program by the College that is approved by the City of Oberlin.

Gentrifying? Really? As far as the “No Trespass List” goes, if it “disproportionately and discriminatorily targets Black people”, then that means more black people are thugs in your particular region. I thought you wanted to be safe, and that the security apparatus wasn’t doing enough for you? Yet on the other hand you really want the criminal element to have a presence on campus. Why do I also get the feeling that your views on Israel are less about its conduct and more about anti-semitism? I mean, you certainly are awfully quick to forgive the Palestinians for their crimes. The free class thing? Just who do you think is going to pay for that? I know you want more hand outs, so I guess it goes to tax payers who are not any of you. You also (given your endorsement of the PILOT program) want tax payers who are not a part of your community to fund your community. 

These are demands and not suggestions. If these demands are not taken seriously, immediate action from the Africana community will follow.

Why should Oberlin take your “demands” seriously? They’d be better off without any of you. Worthy students could take your place. Oberlin would do well not to allow itself to be bullied by such nonsense. Furthermore, with all of you gone, there will be plenty of bad employees without anyone to exploit and will actually have to actually work or otherwise find themselves out of a job.

These list of demands are for the inmates to run the asylum. They want to control every aspect of the university in favor of their own identity politics. Those that aren’t black and support this are under the mistaken assumption that they’re being “progressive” rather than its antithesis. The black people who do not support this (e.g., those who have self respect and a strong work ethic) are somehow traitors or not “black enough”. They claim to be the victims of a racist system (actually, an imperialist white supremacist capitalist and ableist cissexist heteropatriarchy), yet they’re not only deeply and hatefully racist themselves, but they whine like little bitches who have far more privileges than anyone should ever have.

Stryker – Psychological Questionnaire

Continuing on the theme of psychological questionnaires, I received another one from Stryker (via OnStaff USA). It’s not nearly as bad as the first, but still equally pointless (as they all are). The one I completed today was, unfortunately, not done on my computer but was about as dumb as the Younkers one. As I write this, I’m going to have yet another one over the phone (I had one over the phone this morning too), so I’m impressed with the faith people have in these things. There really isn’t a ton of research out there that goes into such things, but one would think the people who use these might actually stop to question their validity. These are laypeople. They aren’t trained psychologists or psychiatrists. Even if they were, they aren’t going to get a good idea of someone’s personality from a psychological questionnaire (in print or over the phone). It’s only something you’re going to get to truly understand after spending a lot of time interacting with that person, well, in person. For business purposes, at least the purposes they claim to care about, only a trained professional’s opinion would be worth a damn even then. It’s basically an exercise in pop psychological by people who really don’t know what they’re doing, but they certainly think they know what they’re doing, and that’s a bad thing.

For this questionnaire, I’m going to give the answer I think they’re looking for, and then follow that up with commentary. It always helps to get a better idea of how to “play the game” as they say. For context, this is for a nondescript call center job.

Part 1

1. I usually do something I enjoy rather than try something different.

False. It looks like to me that they are trying to assess the openness to new experiences of the candidate, and I imagine they will want someone who is open because they’ll be more adaptive to new things.

 

2. I do extra work to make sure things are done right.

True. Answering false will make you look lazy, or at least a person who’s willing to only do the bare minimum.

 

3. I keep and use a list of things I have to do.

True. Personally, I almost never do this in my personal life. It’s not something I actually need to do for any reason. Of course, they want to see if you’re organized, so tell them that you are.

 

4. I don’t usually like others giving me suggestions on how I should do something.

False. You always want to be open to advice from others, or at least appear to be.

 

5. I follow through on things no matter what it takes.

True. If you don’t have follow through, they will think you won’t be able to complete any tasks they give you.

 

6. I have found that group decisions are often better than individual decisions.

True. The whole “two heads are better than one” routine. They aren’t looking for individuals. They never are, not unless you’re going for an executive position.

 

7. I worry a lot about what could happen when things are changing.

False. You don’t want to come across as a person who stresses over change. It’s that whole “be adaptable” thing again.

 

8. I check to make sure that others have done what they said they would do.

True. I’m not entirely certain they want people to answer “true”. They could view you as a pest and a bully for that, but if you answer false they might view you as unable to keep team members in line.

 

9. I seek out new activities and responsibilities.

True. Businesses like people who take the initiative, at least to a certain extent.

 

10. I get a job done, even when it’s much harder than I first thought.

True. Don’t ever say you don’t complete a job, no matter how hard. You don’t want to be viewed as a quitter.

 

11. I’m usually most comfortable when things are predictable.

False. This seems like a silly trick question to me, where answering “false” might be viewed as a lie. However, answering “true”  might make you seem like you’re not willing to seek out those new activities and responsibilities.

 

12. I don’t usually think about what I need to do until it’s almost time to do it.

False. If you put stuff off until the last minute, they’ll be hesitant to hire you.

 

13. I explain to others why we need to work together.

True. Be the glue of the team, if you can. They like hearing that.

 

14. I don’t let go of something until I understand it.

True. While they might view an affirmative answer as being obsessive, a negative answer risks labeling you as a quitter.

 

15. I won’t settle for just doing the minimum on anything, no matter what it is.

True. They always want you to answer that you’ll go “above and beyond the call of duty”, because they’ll still be paying you just as much (or little, really), so it’s better for them.

 

16. I am uncomfortable when I have to handle several things at once.

False. You can multitask with the best of them, even if you can’t.

 

17. It really bugs me to see a problem that nobody is trying to solve.

True. Because you’ll take the initiative to solve it, right?

 

18. I set definite goals, then keep working at them until I’ve achieved them.

True.  You’re a good planner and a hard worker.

 

19. I like working in teams.

True. Sir, yes sir.

 

20. I can’t quite thinking about something until I’m sure I’ve done it very well.

True. I think? Once again, there’s a risk of seeming obsessive, but you want to seem like a person who finishes your tasks too, and that you desire to do so to a high quality.

 

21. It can take me a long time to get used to a major change in my life.

False. Again, be adaptive.

 

22. As soon as I finish one task, I look for another one to do.

True. I am definitely this way, and if you want to be hired you’ll say you are too.

 

23. If I can’t catch on to something quickly, I sometimes just drop it.

False. No quitters allowed.

 

24. I prefer to learn with other people.

True. *Sigh*, yes, again, be a team player.

 

25. I usually do my work with great care only if someone will be checking up on me.

False. You’re a moral and ethical person without Big Brother watching over you.

 

26. I prefer to let others take the lead in getting something done.

False. You’re a go-getter!

 

27. I won’t let go of a problem until I’ve solved it.

True. Never give up, never surrender.

 

28. I adapt quickly to new situations.

True. Oh, yes. Faster than anyone else no less.

 

29. I’ll frequently hold on to my opinion rather than compromise with the group.

False. I think they’re going for “false” because, aside from wanting team players, they also don’t want people who are antagonistic. My opinions are not swayed by merely what the group says. “Don’t take refuge in the false security of consensus” – Christopher Hitchens. My opinions are only swayed by logic and reasoned arguments (so, you know, evidence and all of that). I’m not going to answer that way, however, because they aren’t going to necessarily understand (by a simple true/false response) why I take the position I do. You might risk coming off as susceptible to group think, but that’s better than being what they’d brand as a contrarian.

 

30. I don’t worry about the little details as long as I’ve done the main things okay.

False. From basic training while being “smoked” (punished): “attention to detail, teamworks’ the key!”

 

31. Outside circumstances can often hinder me from coming to work as scheduled.

False. Nothing stops you from getting to work on time, soldier.

 

32. I do not hesitate to tell the truth even if it might be embarrassing.

True. I think? I think they mean embarrassing to the person taking the questionnaire, not embarrassing to others.

 

33. I only trust those who have proven themselves to me.

False. Do you risk seeming naïve? Sure, but answering “true” means they’ll probably view you as being necessarily distrustful of those who haven’t proven themselves to you. Don’t expect the reviewer to appreciate nuance.

 

34. Problems in getting to work on time are due to factors outside of my control.

False. If you get to work late for that reason, then duh, but you never get to work late, right? So it’s not an issue.

 

35. How things turn out pretty much depend upon my own choices.

True. Reality is much more balanced than this question implies, but they want employees with an internal locus of control. Now, people who have an internal locus of control and are in a bad place might actually feel worse, because they will blame themselves (even if they deserve no such blame), but I doubt the employer wants someone who always blames other people for their troubles. They view it as a matter of taking responsibility.

 

36. I plan ahead to make sure that I am at work before the shift starts.

True. You always plan ahead. Always.

 

37. Work will go fine even if I am not there.

False. Why would they need you if it will go fine without you? Risk sounding conceited.

 

38. I am interested in the feelings of others.

True. Because you’re not a heartless prick.

 

39. I have had to cover up for someone else.

False. You’re not a rule breaker troublemaker.

 

40. I tend to have up and down moods.

False. Funny how this question pops up everywhere. You’re human, so you will have up and down moods, yes. They might view you as a liar for answering “false”, but they might view you as unstable if you answer “true”. It’s also kind of a stupid question to ask on their part. That could be construed as asking if someone is bi-polar or not, and they can’t legally discriminate against someone for having a preexisting medical condition (so long as it doesn’t interfere with performing the job).

 

41. It is important that I am at work, because no one else can take my place.

True. Rephrased questions are also common…are they trying to catch people in a lie?

 

42. At times, I can be unkind to others. 

False. You wouldn’t swat a fly, would you Mrs. Bates?

 

43. I am late sometimes for appointments.

False. You weren’t even late that one time a nasty car accident brought the entire highway to a halt for several hours. You just changed into your superhero outfit and flew into work (changing back in the bathroom stall you cleverly sneaked into, of course).

 

44. People don’t understand how difficult things are for me.

False. Don’t be a “boo hoo, people don’t get me” whiner. They might actually not get you, and that might piss you off, but never admit that.

 

45. I find that there are times when I have to change the story depending on the situation.

False. I think they’re trying to ask if you’ll lie when you feel it’s called for, even if that’s not quite what the question is asking. I sense a trap.

 

46. At times, there are too many other things that are more important than going to work.

False. Work is your life. You don’t even have a family, because work is the only thing that will ever matter to you.

 

47. Some people are not worth the extra effort.

False. Of course, some people really aren’t worth the extra effort, and we all know people like that. That having been said, it’s another trap of theirs. They want to see if you’re bitter, cynical, and jaded, that you’ll not go the extra mile because you don’t like your coworker.

 

48. Even the most difficult things can have the greatest benefit to me.

True. Of course. Isn’t that life’s most essential axiom?

 

49. As long as I am in the work facility before starting time, I am okay.

False. How much before starting time, hmmm? Perhaps not enough time to get prepared? They’re trying to get you to say something you might not mean to say, and then use it against you as an excuse to screen you out (remember, they’ll be dealing with lots of applicants).

 

50. I do not exaggerate things even if it benefits me and makes me look better.

True. Don’t be a braggart. They’ll hate that.

 

51. My commitment to work is as important as my employer’s commitment to me.

True. Oddly, answering “true” is the worst thing you can do if you think through the question (which I really don’t think they did). If I gave me employer as much commitment as it showed me, I’d be giving it as little commitment as possible, and only while it’s convenient for me.

 

52. Regardless of what I am facing at the moment, people deserve the best from me.

True. Nothing interferes with how awesome you are.

 

53. If I was treated better, I would be happier and work harder.

False. Your mood isn’t dependent on how others treat you. I mean, in reality, they at least somewhat are, but you don’t let shit get you done, right, trooper?

 

54. I am usually working on my assignments before the shift starts.

True. If you’re starting on time you’re starting late.

 

55. I will report an over-payment error on my pay check even if it costs me.

True. They’d probably find it before you did, taking the money out of your next pay check (or directly out of your bank account, if you use direct deposit), but you don’t want to be viewed as a potential thief…no “bank errors in your favor”, got it?

 

56. Even if I don’t agree with someone, I still am able to work with them.

True. You never let arguments get in the way of your ability to work together. If you actually aren’t so good at this, learn it anyway. It really is an essential skill.

 

57. I make decisions on what is best rather than on feelings and circumstances.

True. Logic and reason, yo.

 

58. I come to work because I have to, not because I really want to.

False. Well, that’s how I’d feel about a great many jobs, yeah. I could do well with being super rich and just traveling the world without any kind of real concern whatsoever (I’d still want to do something constructive with my life, though, so I’d volunteer somewhere, or take up my photography as a real profession). I’d much prefer to have a job that I go to for the job’s own sake, not because I need money and they’ll have me. I imagine most people feel this way. In any event, remember, you want to work for them, and be happy about it, no matter how much it might suck.

 

59. I do not arrive late for work.

True. Jesus tap dancing Christ, no, no, a million times, no.  I don’t arrive late for work. Ever. Even if I ever have, I never have. No one has, because nothing gets in our way, not even blizzards that make driving an impossible task.

 

60. There are times when I have worked slower than I could have.

False. There were a couple of shitty customers, back in my Hungry Howie’s days, who not only didn’t tip me, but were always very obnoxious and rude. If I didn’t have anyone else’s orders to worry about, yeah, I gave them the bare minimum I could get away with.  I also dealt with the worst kind of white trash that makes one think that, yeah, maybe some people really shouldn’t be allowed to breed. I’m not going to tell them that, now am I? Well, except that I just did, but I don’t think their HR department is scouring the internet for the writings of little old me.

 

Part 2

1. Do you typically do more work than others do? If yes, please tell us about a specific time when you did so.

Yes, you do…and make something up if you have to.

 

2. Do you prefer a fast, medium, or slow paced environment?

Fast. They have a fast paced environment. Choose whatever the environment is of wherever you’re applying to.

 

3. Have you ever done anything over and over many times to get really good at it? If yes, please give an example.

Yes, because you’re a perfectionist. You mastered the violin even.

 

4. How important is it to get along with your co-workers? Why?

Very important, because I conflict is bad, mmmkay?

 

5. Would you rather have deep knowledge in one area or general knowledge in many areas? Why?

I’m not sure what they’d prefer, or even if they’d actually care. I prefer both, but lean towards a broader education. I like knowing as much as I can about as many things as possible. I find life is more interesting that way.

 

6. Is there something you are an expert in? If yes, give a specific example.

Yes, that violin you play.

 

7. Are you generous with praise? If yes, give an example about a time in the last month when you gave someone praise.

Yes, you do, and you praised X person for Y awesomeness.

 

8. Are you a team player of an individual achiever?

Team player. Never answer anything else.

 

9. Are you known for going the extra mile? If yes, give a specific example.

Yes. You’re not lazy because you did this or that heroic deed.

 

10. How do you feel when you leave work and something you are responsible for is not done?

Not well. Terrible, in fact.

 

11. What does the word “TEAM” mean to you?

A number of persons associate together in work or activity. Okay, that’s part of a dictionary definition, but it works as well as anything else.

 

12. Tell us about the last time something went wrong at work. How did the situation get resolved?

A customer came in, screaming at you all super loud and angry, and they left happy because you did exactly what they wanted, even if they were completely full of it.

 

13. Are you the person others come to if something needs to get done? If so, why?

Yep. You’re like a god that way.

 

14. In your past jobs, what experience have you enjoyed the most?

Working for little pay for long, shitty hours with terrible, abusive customers. I don’t know, just pick some minor thing from a past job that seems true enough for you.

 

15. Are you a person who insists that things are done right?

Yes. You don’t slack off.

 

16. Excluding vacation days and time between jobs, how many days of work have you missed in the last year?

Zero. Always zero.

 

17. Have you ever interviewed for a position at Stryker before, either through OnStaff USA or Stryker?

What, you mean you don’t already know? Shesh, you guys aren’t exactly on the ball, are ya? Not really an important question. Just answer whatever the truth is.

And thus concludes another episode of masterpiece questionnaire. They have no idea when you’re telling the truth or telling them what they want to hear. So, they gain nothing from it. Perhaps you do, by learning how to play the game. As long as they insist on playing it, you might as well know how.

Bon-Ton (Younkers) – Psychological Questionnaire

My final research project in graduate school dealt with how businesses (try) to understand the personalities of their applicants (and sometimes of their current employees). Psychological questionnaires are one way they go about it, despite having marginal reliability (a measure of consistency) at best, and entirely questionable validity…and that’s when they bother to actually try well. Some of the questionnaires are pretty damn terrible, as anyone who has encountered them will no doubt notice. I copied and sent one to a former professor of mine, with colorful commentary added, which completely made his day. The point of my commentary was purely to ridicule from a humorous point-of-view. Below I’m going to summarize everything that’s wrong with it a bit more seriously, and with less profanity.

This is a 32 question (written as statements in the first part) questionnaire, with questions 1 through 20 having a five-point scale of “Strongly Disagree; Slightly Disagree; Not sure/in between; Slightly Agree; and, Strongly Agree”, and questions 21 through 32  having a five-point scale of “0; 1; 2-3; 4-5; and, More than 5”, as provided by Bon-Ton (Younkers):

1. If I saw a friend steal something from the place where I worked, I would probably tell my supervisor.

The answer they are going for is “Strongly Agree”, of course. You’d have to be an idiot to answer anything else. Anyone dumb enough to answer otherwise wouldn’t have gotten as far as the questionnaire. It doesn’t exactly encourage honest answers, does it?

2. Most people have taken something from their employers.

I don’t know, have they? I wouldn’t know, but I do know what answer they’re going for, because if it wasn’t obvious the first time….

3. I have never lost my temper.

Never? Is there a single human in all of the history of our species that can say he or she has never lost his or her temper?

4. Sometimes it seems like I am the only one I know not stealing something.

They’re certainly obsessed over stealing, huh? For context, the position was for a part-time stock job. I don’t know if they have a different set of stupidity for other jobs.

5. As long as they are doing their jobs, employees who use illegal drugs should be left alone.

Well, I know the answer they’re going for, as do you. So why bother asking if “Strongly Disagree” is going to be answered no matter what? Now I can say, and this is true, what an employee does on their own free time is completely irrelevant if they come to the job sober and ready to go. It doesn’t matter if they smoke pot, engage in orgies, or even check out library books you find subversive. So long as they aren’t harming others, and so long as they are sober at work, it’s entirely none of their business.

6. Most employees think about stealing from their employers even if they never do it.

I’m not a mind reader. Next.

7. If I had to steal to support my family, I would definitely do it.

Had to steal? They just answered their own question.

8. I have never thought about doing something I shouldn’t.

They must be space aliens completely unfamiliar with that notorious species Homo Sapiens.

9. I have never been in a fight with another person.

Do define “fight” please. All people have had verbal fights at a bare minimum, and most have been in a physical altercation at some point whether they wanted to be or not.

10. People at school/work know not to “mess” with me.

I don’t go out of my way to project the obnoxious “bad ass” persona, no, but I’d like to think people would be smart enough to realize that, yeah, a combat arms vet might be able to hold his own if physically attacked. Perhaps they mean something else? They’re trying to see if the applicant has a certain antagonistic attitude, but unless the job being applied to is “personal body guard” I don’t think anyone’s going to reply in the affirmative here.

11. People who steal from their employers are likely to do it again.

Probably, I suppose. I don’t think many people only commit such a crime once and then never again. That’s not exactly human nature, but

12. Most people have placed an illegal wager or bet.

Um…I don’t know, but I presume that friends playing Texas Hold ‘em for small amounts of cash aren’t being counted here. If I answer that they have, am I to be viewed as being sympathetic to criminal behavior? If I answer that they haven’t, am I to be viewed as naïve and not good enough to watch over their pile of stuff?

13. Everybody has done something illegal at least once in their lives.

They do persist in asking what people other than the applicant do, don’t they? Are they counting traffic violations? Maybe a parking ticket?

14. People stealing food to eat should receive a lighter penalty than someone stealing for the thrill of it.

Of course, but if I answer in the affirmative I get the feeling I’ll be judged negatively for it. Maybe they took the side of Jafar in Disney’s Aladdin?

15. I believe that most people are completely honest all of the time.

Define “completely honest”. Are white lies being discounted? Am I going to be boxed into either a cynical of naïve mentality?

16. When growing up, I never told my parents a lie.

AHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, they’re serious? No, of course not, never ever did I lie to my parents. What child has ever told a lie to his or her parents?

17. Most people are completely honest.

See #15.

18. Everyone wants to take revenge on their enemies.

Define “revenge”. I can refer them to Richard Dawkins book The Selfish Gene in which he discusses, among other things, Evolutionary Stable Strategies. He does this in part by using the Prisoner’s Dilemma as an example. The Prisoner’s Dilemma actually changes, according to the rules of game theory, when the game is played an indefinite amount of times (meaning, the consequences of the previous game carry forward). Thus, it becomes advantageous to cooperate. Anyone trying to cheat is punished by the other person…unless that person is too forgiving, in which case the other player will abuse that tendency for their own gain. The sucker will be weeded out by natural selection. So, yes, game theory dictates that people not only want to take revenge, if you want to define it as “revenge”, but they are likely to act on it out of both their own good and the greater social good. However, I get the feeling they’re not looking for a scientifically accurate answer, but more the “I’m going to be a complete dick over any and all slights, real or perceived”. They’re also probably looking for me to think that everyone else isn’t a complete dick either. So, the point in asking the question when I already know what answer they’re looking for is…? (can I stress that last point enough on here?)

19. Most people have purchased stolen property.

They mean on purpose, and not out of (for example) naïvety? The only people who would know are the former, and I have no idea how I’m supposed to know the answer when limited to even just them.

20. Buying stolen property is not as bad as stealing it in the first place.

Knowingly? Then it’s just as bad. Has the company stolen something, perhaps from its employees, and it’s wondering how I might judge its actions? No, no, they want me to say that it’s just as bad because, if I answer otherwise, I might be more likely to steal from them, or not care if someone else does.

21. In the past 24 months, how many times have you borrowed something and not returned it?

I never do this. Are they going to believe me? Should they believe me?

22. In the past 24 months, how many times have you let someone else take the blame for something you did?

See my answer to #21

23. In the past 24 month, how many times have you told a white lie?

Twenty-four months is the key for all understanding, is it? I recall reading somewhere that people tell more than five in a single day, whether consciously or unconsciously. This is one of those questions that makes me (and probably you) think whoever wrote it is a completely clueless buffoon.

24. In the past 24 months, how many times have you been convicted of traffic violations?

“Convicted? No, no, never convicted.” (for those of you who like the movie Stripes). Not at all, but again, why should they believe me? In this case, they probably wouldn’t, even though it’s true. They aren’t getting a handle on anyone’s personality, but I’m certainly getting a handle on the intellect of some of the people they seem to have working for them already.

25. In the past 24 months, how many times have you falsified a receipt to get reimbursed for more money than you spent on business expenses?

N/A, but I wouldn’t do that anyway. Is anyone who’s ripped off his or her employer really going to admit that they did?

26. In the past 24 months, how many times have you exaggerated your qualifications to get a job?

Exactly the square root of 1 times.

27. In the past 24 months, how many times have you done something you believed was wrong?

Uh…I don’t know? What grade of wrong are we talking about here? I’m not that type of person, but I’m sure there was something trivial I did along those lines. Jaywalking perhaps?

28. In the past 24 months, how many times have you dragged out work in order to get overtime?

The exact same number of times I’ve been given the opportunity to work overtime…zero. If I say “zero”, maybe they’ll think I’m the kind of guy who’s always in a rush to leave, and I won’t do a proper job, rather than the apparent “good worker” view?

29. In the past 24 months, how many times have you cheated on a test or exam?

Why would anyone admit any such thing to them? How stupid are they? If I tell them that I never have, which I haven’t, they have no reason to take my word for it.

30. In the past 24 months, how many times have you done something you weren’t supposed to do?

Well, there was that time where I had sex with (the significant other of whomever wrote this questionnaire)…does that count?

31. In the past 24 months, how many times have you publicly embarrassed someone at work?

I mentioned the answer to #30 in front of said person’s coworkers. That was a riot.

32. In the past 24 months, how many times have you skipped out on a check at a restaurant?

Finally, the last one. I’ve never done this…but for someone so obsessed with stealing and such, how many times has the author of this obnoxious questionnaire dined and dashed? I mean, the whole thing is so silly, and so paranoid, that one has to immediately suspect the motives of the person who wrote it.

Bon-Ton (Younkers), you’ve wasted time and money on something that isn’t telling you anything worthwhile. You put someone in charge of a project who reeks of incompetence. I hold you responsible insofar as those in charge must always take ultimate responsibility. You probably weren’t even aware that such a poor job was done on your dime. All businesses hire people that don’t work out as they imagine they will, who turn out to be nothing more than a waste. For that I don’t blame you, because it happens to all. Nobody’s perfect, right? I recommend you get some new people into your HR department (I am available, but that’s not why I’m writing this). It will only be a matter of time before your hiring practices improve, and you get the employees you really want.

Free Speech and the Moderated Forum

It’s been awhile since I’ve been on here on WordPress. Between moving, job hunting, and various other things I’ve been up to (my photography, for instance), I just haven’t gotten around to it. I also don’t have the same constant broadband connection to the internet that I previously had, so that limits me a bit as well. No matter.

This writing is a long time coming, through years of experience on the internet. Today’s events are a catalyst, of course, but hardly the only reason why I feel the need to write about the subject. There’s nothing more important, in my mind, than freedom of speech. Here I would like to separate “freedom of speech” from its purely legal, 1st Amendment/American meaning. I am referring to “freedom of speech” as a moral truth, upon which the 1st Amendment is built. To best define it as I mean it, I shall defer to the late Christopher Hitchens (who also speaks of its importance): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyoOfRog1EM

Politically, I’ve generally identified more with liberal points-of-view than conservative ones. I no longer keep for myself the label of “liberal”, however, as I’ve encountered far too many who justify the neocon label of “libtard”. This is, I imagine, probably because the left leaning crowd tends to suffer from the disease of post modernism, that great anti-intellectual gobbledygook. Because of my political beliefs, I’ve tended to frequent politically liberal pages on Facebook (and conservative ones not at all, because I get quite enough of that just by living where I live). Typically one might think that a forum of some sort moderated by a conservative would be rather suppressing of free speech, and you’d be right often enough. The thing is, liberals are every bit as capable of engaging in groupthink, in the silencing of even the most reasonable and polite dissent, and engaging in al kinds of douchebaggery of that sort. In fact, I dare say, conservatives might be better on this point. A conservative might prefer to get in nothing more than a pissing match, shouting loudly and failing to at all consider the words of the opponent, or otherwise engage in anything resembling critical thinking…but they’ll let you have your say to, because they don’t want to risk their own freedom of speech. Disagree with a liberal on, say, religion, and he or she might try to label what you’ve said as “hate speech” (like if you mention that Mohammed was a pedophile…because he was one, but never mind all that) or otherwise engage in all kinds of ad hominem attacks in an attempt to delegitimize you as a person. The failing, as I see it, isn’t so much a political reality as it is an inherent problem with basic human behavior.

The one thing I have noted across all moderated fora is their tendency to quickly degrade into pointless, trivial non-conversation. Once someone has control over the conversation, that person tends to bend it to their own whims. They might have the willpower to resist this tendency, but many don’t. Sometimes what rules exist, if they’re even all that well published, are only enforced in a bias way. Sometimes the rules are deliberately vague, just to give the moderates a pretext for going after certain people, or being dicks whenever they feel like it. One of my first such encounters, on a fan site dedicated to one of my favorites movies, involved a lot of people (moderators and website owner included) sharing all kinds of hard core porn links. Whatever, it’s the internet, I’m not even remotely shocked or offended by that. However, I make one joke involving a dildo, and boom…comment removed and a warning from one of the moderators that I’ll be banned if I do it again. I point out the hypocrisy, and then not so politely tell him to fuck off. Now, being banned for my response I get, in so far as I didn’t want to be part of the site at that point anyway (and I’d already noticed poor treatment of other members, as well as other rather childish antics), but it was fun getting a special message of being banned from the site owner. Until that time, I had given the website some of my money. Most of this was buying their products (it’s mostly devoted to prop building, and they sell some of the harder to find items for this, as well as other custom made stuff), but I’d also tried to help the site stick around for this purpose and had bought (at a small cost, but still something) a paid membership to do just that. That’s a mistake I won’t be making ever again.

Another example of that kind of nonsense happened on a photography website. No paying membership there, of course. I’ve since ignored the fora, and use it only for its intended professional purpose, but I was annoyed by the way things were moderated. Disagree with doctrine, and they disappear anything you say. That doesn’t happen only over religion either, as I’ve seen my fair share of other people get reasoned comments deleted for heresy. What I find most curious is that, while the people who tend to behave this way embrace post modernist beliefs more often than not, it is these same people who act like they must squash anything that doesn’t conform to their scripture (because it’s okay to have an opinion, so long as it doesn’t disagree with anyone or anything). Some websites don’t have a moderator problem per se, but are almost worse because of it. Awhile back, I used to frequent WWMT’s website. Their old comment system allowed for anonymous accounts, and not too surprisingly the comment section was very active and outspoken. Their system had no official moderator, but because you still still report people’s comments and accounts, it was a kind of moderation by consensus. I had to create several different accounts, as did some other people, just to keep commenting on there. What I couldn’t help but notice is that the most vitriolic hatred never resulted in those people getting their accounts banned. Even the most supposedly moderate/liberal minded people would, over the issue of religion, say terrible things to no consequence. When a story about a billboard came up (I have the bumper sticker that went with the billboard campaign on my car (http://www.centerforinquiry.net/uploads/attachments/LWR_Image.JPG), mentioning that I supported this (I was already out as an Atheist) meant that, even among the moderate and liberal crowd, projecting such nonsense that, they think, my life must be meaningless as an Atheist, so why not kill myself? Or that I should be killed. The typical nonsense. Yet, I was the one who’d have to periodically make a new account. At least I managed to make a real life friend from the site (a pretty cool guy, I might add). In any event, WWMT screwed the pooch (and for the first time, all commenters agreed on something) when they switched from the system they had to having Facebook comments on their articles only (so, no more anonymous stuff). Now pretty much no one comments on there.

With regards to Facebook, individuals group pages are moderated by their creators and whomever they bring on (unless they choose to not be involved as such, of course). So many liberal pages have kicked me off, it’s hilarious. Some have banned me outright, some of pseudo banned me (which is to say, their content was still visible to me and it showed up as me “liking” it, but I could not “like” or “comment” on anything the page had). On rarer occasions, I’ve voluntarily left after seeing various kinds of douchebaggery. You can’t try to be fair to history, or even science sometimes, if it goes against the preferred doctrine. Despite how criminal and corrupt the Clintons were and are, there’s a bit of a love fest for them by liberals. Some would like to white wash Hillary’s voting in favor of the Iraq War (she was only against it once it became politically advantageous for her to do so…her and her husband are blatant opportunists, so that doesn’t shock me in the slightest). In one example, I pointed out that Bill Clinton is a (accused, more on that in a second) rapist. I must be referring to Monica Lewinsky, right? Well, no. That was consensual, if an abuse of power, although he did use the office of the presidency to harass and slander an innocent woman (committing perjury, which is what led to his impeachment, not the blow job itself…but yes, the Republican’s reasons for going after Clinton as such were entirely hypocritical). No, he raped a woman by the name of Juanita Broaddrick (and possibly others). She never pressed charges, like most rape victims, and was pressured into signing a statement saying she wasn’t raped…but based on what she had to say about the incident right after it occurred, I’m inclined to believe her (and her testimony, and that which was verified by several other people, has lead to the account being listed as very credible indeed). I suggest you read more on that yourself, if you’re so inclined. But…you can’t bring up that, or White Water, or NAFTA, or anything they’ve ever said or done that shows the Clintons to be the horrible people that they are without earning lots of ire. I generally only point out such things when a little too much hero worship goes on, but I don’t try to mention it as any kind of personal attack. As with my Gandhi article (I plan on writing more later, as I’ve downloaded pretty much everything he ever wrote that’s been published not long ago), liberals really hate having it pointed out that he was a terrible monster of a man. It conflicts with the beliefs they wish were true, and much the same with Mother Teresa, which shows the lie of many liberals supposed standards of right and wrong. I was kicked off one page for Gandhi comments alone. I guess liberals are okay with misogyny, pedophilia, etc. when it’s done by someone who’s labeled as a “holy man”?

Most recently, I was pseudo banned (as I phrase it) from a liberal website over the Iraq War. I didn’t even point out that Hillary voted in its favor, but I did mention that the Clinton Administration did label a conflict with Saddam as inevitable. It was phrased in such a way saying that, if McCain had cared as much about the lead up to the Iraq War and investigating that as he seems to care about Benghazi, there may not have been an Iraq War. So, my first crime was to mention what the Clinton Administration had to say about that eventuality. I said that the Bush Administration’s reasons for going to war were largely fictitious, that some of it was driven by corporate greed, that the execution of the war was entirely incompetent (as someone who was in the Army at the time, I think I get to have some say on that), and that Bush and his cronies do need to be held accountable for the crimes they’ve committed (especially concerning the torture issue, in my opinion). My next crime was to say that, despite all that, Iraq is better today for being a secular nation not under the control of the Hussein crime family, who monopolized its resources for their personal gain, and terrorized its people. No response from the page owner, just an erasing of my comment and a preventing of all future comments. I’m reminded of the Americans, liberals of course, who went over to Iraq to act as “human shields”. So, hating all the bullshit that Bush did means…loving Saddam, a far worse figure? The left criticizes the right for being in bed with dictators, yet the left acts in the exact same damn way.

Specific griping aside, the running theme I keep seeing is that no one is allowed to disagree with the group. Sometimes a small amount will be tolerated, but not often. Even people who could be considered in-group members to a highly established and respected extent can find themselves ejected by the group, if they dare utter an unwelcome thought. You can sometimes beg and plead your way back in, as Matt Dillahunty (“Dillacunty” as far as I’m concerned, given his own conduct) with the Atheism+ crowd. Funny thing about him, he once had a post that said that anyone who disagreed with him would get banned from his page (one of the cases of my voluntarily leaving). How ironic. Usually, the damage is done. Holding to your convictions in a polite, reasonable way only makes it worse (as with username Thunderf00t), not that anyone should want to associate with people who’d treat them that way. Freethoughtblogs is a prime example of this kind of behavior (the group from which Thunderf00t was ejected for daring to disagree with orthodoxy). I’ve never associated with them in any way, nor would I ever want to. They demonstrate that even people who claim to be about free thought, about skepticism, about critical thinking (and Atheism specifically), and all of that, they need not be truly rational people who embrace freedom of speech as a concept. They regularly patrol the comments, removing anything that isn’t groupthink. It’s unfortunate. As Christopher Hitchens pointed out, in the end such people do themselves a severe discredit.

I don’t have a real solution to offer, unfortunately. Going to the Yahoo comments section on any news article shows how terrible a true free-for-all can be. Such comment sections leave me feeling that humanity is doomed, and that a big asteroid hitting the planet might not be such a bad thing (I don’t actually think that, of course, but if you’ve ever been to those comment threads the emotional reaction is understandable). The only thing I can really do is ask for people to have restraint when it comes to moderating fora, that if you’re going to remove something, it’s only something very blatantly there only for trolling or spam (err on the side of caution). The moment thoughts are banished because you simply don’t like them, because they don’t conform to the group (or what you prefer the group to be), there’s no longer any intellectually based point in being there. All it’ll do is to serve to make you feel better about all the stuff you already all believe in together. You won’t gain a damn thing about it worth gaining, but you will weaken yourself for the day you encounter anyone who disagrees with you that you can’t shut up.

The Sparrows Coffee Tea & Newsstand

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If I am going to live up to my screen name, the one thing I must do is spend my time writing about coffee shops. Often, I will write while I am at them, but so far I have only reviewed Tim Hortons, which is more of a corporate entity. Today I shall introduce you to my new favorite location, The Sparrows.

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Located at 1035 Wealthy Street SE in uptown Grand Rapids, MI, The Sparrows is a cozy little corner in which to relax and enjoy life at a proper pace. The first time I visited I  had no knowledge of the area at all, and simply came here to meet up with a friend. I ordered the café au lait, also the first time I had ordered that particular beverage. I have no basis of comparison, but it was fine as far as taste goes. Fast forward a year and, in my attempt to become better acquainted with areas beyond the center of downtown or the businesses along 28th street, I happened past The Sparrows. I had entirely forgotten it existed, and in the spirit of exploration I decided to stop in and spend awhile here all by myself.

The first thing I noticed was the parking. There’s nothing but parallel parking along both sides of the road, and this can be quite annoying at times, but it has the distinct advantage of being entirely free. I also stepped through the door right when they opened, so I wasn’t exactly hurting for a parking space when I arrived. Now, I could choose from a variety of coffee or tea items on the menu, but I simply haven’t. I’m in no position to say anything at all about their tea or most of their coffee drinks. It takes awhile to make anything not pure coffee, so they at the very least seem to care about their product. No, when I come here it is for one big reason: their bottomless coffee. For $4 I can drink as much damn coffee as I want the entire day, which a choice between medium roast and dark roast (the exact blend varies by the day). I stayed here awhile that first day and managed to get quite the caffeine buzz. The first time around I stuck with the dark roast, but since then I have mixed it up a bit, leaning perhaps more towards the medium roast. Again, I like my coffee black, and when I have theirs black it is delicious and goes down well. Perhaps I’m just that used to coffee, but it doesn’t seem bitter to me at all. It tastes only of high quality, and while I could chug this coffee too, I’d rather savor every precious sip.

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Their food selection is quite limited, but that’s not unheard of for an independent place like this. For the purposes of a fairer review, I decided to buy a blueberry muffin. Well, it wasn’t what I’d call a “muffin” so much as a bar. It was fluffy and good, but not at all in the traditional muffin shape (not that that matters). I’ve been spoiled on the blueberry muffin front (my mother makes hers with fresh blueberries, and a bit too many of them per muffin), so the flavor wasn’t blueberry enough for me, but it was decent enough. Maybe not worth the couple of bucks I spent on it, but it was a pleasing experience chewing on the fluffy goodness of it.

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Aside from the coffee, the atmosphere is the best part of The Sparrows. It has an old homey feel to it, aided in part by the wooden floors that aren’t exactly level in all spots. Due to the space limitations, the tables are packed in a little tight. I need to go up and get more coffee, but I want to try to not disturb the man sitting next to me, or more awkwardly, the guy that just took the table in front of me. When filled, these tables do not allow the free flow of people without unwanted physical contact involved on some level. Of course, if you wish to sit next to a window this is less of a problem. Unsurprisingly, they have free wi-fi, but anyone who wishes to be plugged into an outlet will often be disappointed. Outlets are incredibly few, and they only have a single power strip in one of them which slightly alleviates the problem (and only with more bumping into people). If you want to run on battery power, for however long that lasts, you’re certainly more than welcome to. It’s entirely my own fault for sitting in a corner, though. In my defense, I didn’t want the seat where the outlet would have been right behind my ass.

If you’re willing to ignore the inconveniences with regards to seating and power outlets, this is definitely the place to go. The coffee is good, the atmosphere is relaxed, and you can get as much reading or writing done as you need to. It’s exactly the kind of indie coffee shop hip television protagonists would visit.

(They are on WordPress as well. Visit http://thesparrowsgr.com for more info).

Tim Hortons

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Back in the summer of 2012, I spent a lot of time in front of my laptop doing nothing but writing. Such is the nature of a research project. I was, after all, finishing my MBA program. It was a great temptation never to go outside. As a single male living by myself in an apartment, there are certain freedoms in that environment that do not generally exist outside of it. Mainly the ability to go sans pants. I have my desktop hooked up to my big flat screen TV, so this gave me the opportunity to waste all kinds of time on Netflix. For me, having another media source available makes it easier to do anything relating to homework or writing. It’s like the distraction helps recharge my brain. I don’t know, maybe I’m ADD or something. Despite the perquisites of being able to stay in one’s own apartment for hours on end, it does have its down side. I can best define it as being a kind of undead existence. So, naturally, I’d do things like go outside and ride my bike for about 15 miles. That helped with the whole never getting outside thing, but it did nothing for the writing I really needed to get done.

One place I would go to is a joint called Bar Louie. It’s a part of the Woodland mall in Grand Rapids, MI. It’s my favorite bar to go to during the summer because I can drink beer outside. The buzz of a good beer helped my writing a bit. The food was alright for what you can find at a typical bar. However, that is fairly far away down 28th street from where I live. Not that I don’t go that way ever, I certainly do, but I’ve come to appreciate all the Wyoming, MI community has to offer. So, instead of driving farther and having beer perhaps too often, I mostly stayed local. Thus began my relationship with Tim Hortons.

I am absolutely amazed at how Tim Hortons has all of a sudden spread like wildfire throughout the U.S., or at least my little section of it. A place like Michigan is a natural place to expand, given that the company is Canadian and Michigan is located conveniently adjacent to some of its more populated regions. The one that I went to, and that I am actually sitting in at this very moment (and in the same spot I wrote most of my research project, I might add) is one of those super awesome ones that has a Cold Stone Creamery attached. That’s a pretty dangerous combo, I know, especially for one’s waistline. It wasn’t long before the staff started recognizing me. It became like a second home. These days, I get surprised when someone doesn’t know who I am. The only other business I have that kind of relationship with is Old Chicago on 28th Street and Beltline Ave.

How would I describe the business itself? I would say it’s somewhere between a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Panera Bread, but leaning more towards Dunkin’ Donuts. Their pastries decent. They are on par with some of the pastries you would find at a Panera Bread, but I’d give the edge to Panera on that (Panera has a much wider selection, for one, and they also have more resources devoted to that specific part of their business). Tim Horton’s donuts are OK. I’ve been spoiled by having spent so much time in Kalamazoo. Any chain simply cannot compete with the superb quality of the donuts you’ll find at Sweetwater Donut Mill. Tim Horton’s donuts will compete, at least in my opinion, with the likes of Krispy Kreme. Dunkin’ Donuts comes out on top, as I’ve tended to like their style a bit better. Overall, it’s worth what you get at Tim Horton’s donut wise. I must admit an addiction to their apple fritters. I’ve cut back on them…it kind of became necessary. I haven’t had much in the way off their regular food menu, so I cannot comment on that to any great extent. Their chicken panini has everything I like in a panini, and as much as I love chicken (and everything else that’s gone into making that bit of deliciousness) I’ve never bothered to expand out from it. I can get set in my ways when it comes to food.

For me, what Tim Hortons comes down to is its coffee. I don’t think I am knowledgable enough about coffee in general to consider myself a snob on those lines, but quality coffee is of significant importance to me. If I want high quality I’ll go to Madcap Coffee in downtown Grand Rapids or to The Sparrows in uptown Grand Rapids ($4 refills all day at that place, I might add). I’ve come along way from my Army days and the crap they brew. They got me hooked but I’ve switched dealers, as it were. If I am going to be super duper picky, no, Tim Hortons is not the best coffee I have ever had. However, for only a couple of bucks I can get a ginormous cup of it (iced, normally). That might not be a selling point if their coffee was terrible, but it isn’t. It’s very smooth. I drink my coffee black (at least 99% of the time). When drank black, I don’t get any sense of bitterness from it at all. I could chug the stuff if I really wanted to. I enjoy the flavor, it goes down well, and it’s cheap for the large amount you can get. That’s really what it comes down to for me…for what you get, everything is reasonably priced. Of course you could get better, but at some places you could pay a lot more. They also have the kind of selection brought together that a bloke like me can appreciate. Of course, their is the traditional free wi-fi service as well.

I really like it here, and so far as I know the corporation has done nothing that pisses me off. I give Tim Hortons my Coffee Addict seal of approval, four out of four stars.

Mythological History – Mohandas K. Gandhi

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One thing I find curious is that way that certain historical figures are mythologized. Is it an attempt to see just the good in people? Is it an attempt to whitewash history? I don’t know. Spend a decent amount of time on Facebook and you’re likely to come across a quote of his. Yet another photo of him comes up with the quote “be the change you wish to see in the world.” I’m not sure the quote is exactly how he phrased himself, but the point is made. It’s advice to be proactive. Of course, there’s no context provided for the kind of change he himself wanted. I consider myself a progressive, and feel that I tend to identify most with more liberal minded people. What surprises me most is how so many liberal minded people embrace Gandhi. They view him as some sort of super spiritual über liberal ultra pacifist. When you point out that he isn’t, that the man’s beliefs, if anything, align with the far right (by today’s standards), boy do liberals get really pissed. I find this an ironic attitude. People on the left constantly belittle people on the right for behaving the exact same way, for denying facts in favor of a myth they merely wish existed. People are people, I guess.

We all know the myth, but what about the man? Was he really as great as a lot of people think he was? The above quote seemed pretty inspired. Perhaps another one? “As a Christian, I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.” So we have here a quote that seems to say that a Christian, following his or her faith, has a duty to uphold truth and justice. Seems pretty good, right? Gandhi’s contemporary Adolf Hitler said that. This isn’t a Godwin’s law violation, as Hitler will become quite relevant in a moment, but the broader point is that quote mine anyone. Let’s go onto specific areas that Gandhi needs to be examined.

World War II: I recall once my own mother saying that even Gadhi people like Hitler should be fought. I suppose if you do some mental gymnastics that could be twisted into a true statement of sorts, but the literal meaning in which it was meant was wrong. At the time, being a child as I was, I merely took her word for it. I suppose most might even think such a thing to be true. While there is some hypocrisy on his part as concerns violent resistance, which I shall come to later, his advice was of such an ultra pacifist nature that it cannot be deemed anything but grotesquely immoral by any rational thinker. For example, told that British (and presumably this advice goes to all in Hitler’s path) to let the Nazis, “take possession of your beautiful island, with your many beautiful buildings. You will give all these but neither your souls, nor your minds. If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself man, woman and child, to be slaughtered .” (Hitchens, 2011). Does this really seem like sound advice to anyone? Civil disobedience of any kind simply doesn’t work against a fascist regime such as Hitler’s. That much should be clear. Consider the further implications of what a failure to resist people like the Nazis means. Think of what a life under such a regime would be like. Is that really the moral alternative? The above advice was not given exclusively to the British, but much the same was given the Jewish people of Europe as well. They were likewise expected to not resist Hitler, but what he said after the fact is particularly disturbing. What would you think of someone in the here and now saying, “The Jews died anyway, didn’t they?” What would your response be to someone on today’s news if they had said, “But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife” (Nandi, 2011). This is not the thinking of a morally correct human being.

Women & Sex: Sex is natural and healthy. I think any normally adjusted adult can agree with that. It’s also quite necessary for our species, for any species, to continue. That much is obvious. Gandhi’s view of sex was not normal to say the least. The man did not think married couples should have sex ever, that they should even sleep in separate beds. Nothing but chastity for everyone at all times. In one instance he said, “It is the duty of every thoughtful Indian not to marry. In case he is helpless in regard to marriage, he should abstain from sexual intercourse with his wife.” (The Independent, 2010) Kind of ridiculous, isn’t it? If anyone now said such a thing, anyone without a mythology built up behind them of being some sort of saint said any such thing…would anyone ever listen to this person on any subject ever again? Maybe a few screwed up folks, but no one with a normally functioning brain. No doubt, many wives really appreciated that bit of advice too. Of course, the rules don’t apply to him. He certainly cut off his own wife from sex, but his attitude towards others were a bit suspect. One thing Gandhi is known for, if not well enough in the mainstream, is that he rather enjoyed his little naked cuddle sessions with teenage girls, including his own niece (Vilensky, 2011). Of course, that was merely to “test” his own chastity, right? Sure. Tell me, if you were to read about that in the news, some old guy having naked cuddle sessions with his niece, just what would you suspect? Even if it was or could ever be a truly sexless thing, it’s still pretty sick.

While his attitudes towards sex were not exactly pro-female, they aren’t the only examples of his misogyny. He viewed menstruation as a “distortion of a woman’s soul”, according to Rita Banerji, because it is a manifestation of her sexuality. Much like the honor killings we read about in the news today, he viewed raped women as being worthless, that their fathers would and should execute them for the sake of societal honor. Women, after all, bear responsibility for their being sexually assaulted, according to him (Connellan, 2010). Monsters who talk like this are (rightfully) subjected to mockery, ridicule, and derision. Why is it that so many liberals hail this man as a hero when the man whose views on sex and women are equal to or to the right of the worst kind of ultra right wing bigots our world has to offer?

Race: While my entry is far from exhaustive, I want to close with a note on racism. No doubt we all know the story of him being kicked off the train in South Africa. He wanted to be in first class, but because he wasn’t white he got kicked off the train for refusing to sit in a lower class seating assignment. That was no doubt a racist act, and anyone reading it should be outraged at the stupidity of such hate. The problem comes in that Gandhi wasn’t made at racism existing, he was mad at it being directed at him. “We were marched off to a prison intended for Kaffirs. We could understand not being classed with whites, but to be placed on the same level as the Natives seemed too much to put up with. Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized.” (Vilensky, 2011). When he was busy with his protests against the racism inflicted towards Indians by the British in South Africa, he complained about being treated the same as the “Kaffirs” (the word is the equivalent of calling someone a “nigger”). Right, it’s only racism when it’s directed against “civilized” people…those damn savage black people, fuck them. Shesh. I’m sure the British viewed the Indian people as likewise uncivilized, so by Gandhi’s own standards such behavior should be acceptable. Such an attitude is both immoral and hypocritical.

Gandhi the myth was a saint, a damn near perfect example of everything a human should be or at least aspire to. Gandhi the man was a monster, a person of incredible hate, ignorance, and stupidity.

References

Connellan, M. (2010, January 27). Women suffer from Gandhi’s legacy. Retrieved December 18, 2012 from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/27/mohandas-gandhi-women-india

Hitchens, C. (2011, July/August). The Real Mahatma Gandhi. Retrieved December 18, 2012 from: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/07/the-real-mahatma-gandhi/308550/?single_page=true

Nandi, P. (2011, January). Alex, Thapar discuss Mahatma at festival. Retrieved December 18, 2012 from: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-01-25/jaipur/28362463_1_mahatma-gandhi-karan-thapar-jews

The Independent. (2010, April 07). Thrill of the chaste: The truth about Gandhi’s sex life. Retrieved December 18, 2012 from: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/thrill-of-the-chaste-the-truth-about-gandhis-sex-life-1937411.html

Vilensky, M. (2011, March 26). Gandhi: Bi-sexual Self-Promoter? Retrieved December 18, 2012 from: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2011/03/gandhi.html

The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey

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Leading up to the premier of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I read a number of reviews from people who do this kind of thing for a living. Mostly all I read were complaints, but occasionally a positive review would shine through. From these reviews I had the distinct feeling that, perhaps, most of the reviewers were not aware enough of the source material, and that others just had an axe to grind. Overall, I’m dissatisfied with everything I’ve read no matter the opinion. So, here’s mine:

Peter Jackson is a man who doesn’t really grasp Tolkien at all, and whose opinions on what goes on within the books are not exactly factually based. His interpretations strike me as that of a person who skimmed through the text once, and was maybe a little high when he did it. Now, I did enjoy his Lord of the Rings films. Really. I’m ashamed to say that I saw them first and then read the books. That may have been a good thing in retrospect, insofar as my opinions of the films may not be as harsh as they could have otherwise been. When I did read the books, and they are quite enjoyable, little details did begin to bother me. Peter Jackson tends to introduce all kinds of unnecessary changes because…who knows. I do believe that’s part of the reason why Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien’s son, hates Peter Jackson so hard. While some minor changes are understandable (the books are full of so much information that some edits are very necessary), many others are not. Aragorn had every intention of becoming king. That was kind of the whole point to everything he did. So…why does Jackson’s Aragorn feel the opposite? No clue. It’s a stupid change, one so stupid it required Elrond showing up all of a sudden bearing Andúril (traveling a very large distance, apparently by himself, despite the huge possibility for all kinds of lethal danger that would head his way). Elves showing up at Helm’s Deep? Also unnecessary. It added nothing to the plot. Moreover, in the book it’s quite clear that the Elves were more than busy fighting the war on their own front. Of course, there’s everyone’s favorite complaint about the Army of the Dead (I think Jackson could have stayed truer to the book, and his decision certainly ruined an otherwise epic battle). The dumbest change, in my opinion, boils down to the way to depict Sauron. He’s a floating eyeball? No, that’s not at all right. It’s quite clear from the book that he most certainly did have a physical form.

When it comes to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson pulls the same crap. Some have complained about throwing in some of the goings on not written in The Hobbit but described elsewhere. I don’t mind that part, personally. However, some of that is pointlessly screwed up. They talk about the Witch-King of Angmar (the head Ring Wraith/Nazgûl shown in LOTR) as if he had been a living man in recent memory, and that he and the others were all trapped in tombs. Um, what? I’m guessing that’s a kind of reference to the Barrow Wights, but it makes no sense even in Jackson’s own version of the story. The White Council was not surprised by there being darkness at Dol Guldur, they just thought the Necromancer was one of the Nazgûl at first, not Sauron returned. It’s mentioned within the movie that Gandalf got the key and map from Thráin II at Dol Guldur while on his way to discover the identity of the Necromancer (it was during this imprisonment that Thráin II had the last dwarven ring of power taken from him by Sauron). That was a very unnecessary change, and like all of Jackson’s unnecessary changes, it does absolutely nothing to advance the plot. It only serves to piss off the hardcore fans. Then there’s the whole thing with Azog. He was killed outside the eastern gate of Khazad-dûm (Moria) by Dain. I think this was an attempt on Jackson’s part to add another antagonist, though it was wholly unnecessary (as usual). Perhaps the dumbest change was to take the whole stone giant mention, which is rather brief in the book, and turn it into a ridiculous “rock ’em sock ’em” esque fight (as one reviewer described it). I have to agree with that view. There were many other silly changes aside from the ones I’ve mentioned, although most weren’t really too terrible, I suppose.

The thing is, none of that is unusual for Peter Jackson. He makes stupid and pointless changes, and he carries odd views of Tolkien “scripture”. If you can deal with it in LOTR, you can deal with it here. Eventually, Peter Jackson will probably end up like George Lucas…not just filthy rich and the head of a pop culture icon, but with his head so far up his own ass all he can do is make his alienate his own fan base at every opportunity…but that’s not quite today. All my complaints are ones of purity, of deviations from the text. I doubt the casual fan will care at all. I compare it to my complaints with military movies. As an Army veteran I’ve become hyper aware of all those things that don’t make sense that escape the notice of most anyone who hasn’t been in the military. Those things irk me, but they don’t actually affect whether or not I otherwise enjoy the movie or TV show (unless, of course, there’s simply too many of them). So, yes, I did enjoy the film in spite of Peter Jackson being Peter Jackson.

One of the major complaints I’ve read from several different sources leading up to my own viewing was how much they hated the change to 48 frames per second. I went full on IMAX 3D because I wanted the full visual experience. I have no idea what those other folks were complaining about. There was even one reviewer who insisted that, even though he liked the change, it took him a few minutes to adjust. That wasn’t true for me at all. I lunged head on into that experience. It was so crisp and real and like you were actually there…people talking of how it looked like a cheap home video or whatever else, I beg to differ on that assessment. It was so visually impressive to me that I was left wondering why we haven’t been shooting movies in 48 fps all along. I have to wonder if there were similar complaints in times past. When the first “talkie” film was released, were their complaints about it not “feeling like a movie”? What of when sepia tone gave way to black and white? What about color? The Wizard of Oz was, at least when they were actually in Oz, dramatically colorful. It was incredibly visually impressive far beyond anything seen up to that point, and color wouldn’t become prominent for quite some time thereafter. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is as much of a visual jump, and I liked it for that.

The technological changes over the past decade were obvious in how much more real it seemed versus LOTR, but that says nothing of the plot. There is some truth to the story having an “uneven plot”, but I didn’t find it too terrible. I liked how it started out. It didn’t feel slow at all. Try reading Fellowship of the Ring. That was slow. Took them a bazillion pages just to get out of the Shire. Sections were expanded more than they needed to be, but in the context of a trilogy the pacing really was about where it should be. There’s still plenty of action to go around. I did find the point at which the story paused to feel rather artificial, but if it’s going to be a trilogy I don’t think there was any better point to stop, really.

The adaptation of The Hobbit could have been done well enough in one movie, with the three sections of the story split up into an hour each, and it would still have been great. After all, The Hobbit is smaller than any of the three books with make up LOTR. Perhaps it was pure greed that lead to the creation of a trilogy? Probably, because I’ll still go see each installment and own them as soon as they come out on Blu-ray. I can bitch over fan boy issues, I can moan about poor editing choices (and there’s a lot I didn’t bring up), but when it comes right down to it I still enjoyed the film. In a purely objective sense, I give the movie 2 1/2 stars out of four, but the experience is much more fun than that rating would suggest.