Soldier’s Little Girl Wants Her Daddy Back

Precious Paige wants her daddy home.

Precious Paige wants her daddy home. Image by: Abby Bennethum

NBC Philadelphia reports on the little girl who didn’t want to let her father go back to war.

“A family photo that shows a little girl beside her father and his fellow soldiers in uniform as they prepare to go to war has resonated well beyond the tight knit Bennethum clan.

Four-year-old Paige Bennethum really, really didn’t want her daddy to go to Iraq. So much so, that when Army Reservist Staff Sgt. Brett Bennethum lined up in formation at his deployment this July, she couldn’t let go.

No one had the heart to pull her away”

This little girl is not alone, and yet her story has put an iconic image to the painful goodbyes that are one of the costs of the continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This truly is a heartbreaking story.  I think we can all feel a sense of solidarity with young Paige Bennethum, no matter our views on the war. I hope her father does make it back safely, and I hope for the safety of the fathers of little girls just like Paige in Iraq and Afghanistan. The insanity of war, will continue to make victims of the most innocent of us, until we stop participating in it’s madness.

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Michael Moore’s Capitalism Movie Hopes You Don’t Know Any Better

Capitalism: a love story michael moore reviewI’ve been a fan of Michael Moore’s work for several years, and so I was excited about the new movie. I applauded with the audience, at the end, and I found it an entertaining film,  but I do have to note some rather glaring inconsistencies in the message.

Before I get started on that, I want to note that I was a bit distracted during the movie. I had to duck out to the bathroom as images of Alan Greenspan flashed on the screen. Not to vomit mind you, but to urinate despite my best efforts to ignore the need. Adding to this distraction, was the appearance of the unibomber who came into the theater about 15 minutes in and sat down a few seats from me. I won’t go into a whole lot of detail on it, but let’s just say this was a very creepy guy with a hood, who really resembled a troubled outcast about to go on a shooting spree.  Thankfully, after making weird noises, twitching, and kicking chairs for 20 minutes, he got up and walked out.  After checking under his seat for a pipebomb, I was able to relax a bit.

So, distractions aside, I did enjoy the movie, however I found myself in disagreement with very much of it.  The premise of the film can sufficiently be summed up with the tagline  “Capitalism is evil”. In fact, that over-simplification is essentially drilled into viewers again and again with examples that, at times, serve only to discredit Moore’s perspective. There is a unabashed promotion of both Obama and socialism in this movie. There are also several instances of outright deception from Moore, the most glaring being the omission of Obama’s support for the “banker bailout” that Moore is heavily critical of.

While Obama is not explicitly depicted as a messiah in the movie, viewers are treated to the spectacle of several shots of African Americans yelling, bouncing up and down, hooting and hollering for the first half-black president, in the context of “the people overcoming”.  But don’t get the impression it’s all about race, there’s the not-so-subtle closeups of the only 2 (token) white people (both women) amongst the 30-40 black celebrants chosen for the scenes. Why use scenes that only serve to further the notion that Obama’s election was primarily a victory for “black America”? Were African Americans and a couple of women, really the only ones enthused over the election results? Were the scenes used to show support for Obama’s election at all indicative of the general demographical makeup of satisfied voters? If not, why this skewed presentation?

Viewers are paradoxically told that the government has been usurped by Goldman Sachs and other elite finance oligarchs, while reassured that Obama is a threat to their power structure rather than a direct participant in it, and then asked for help to essentially “take the power back” at the end.  But, I thought we were safe now? What happened to the Obama-mania and the statement that the rich elite are nervous over his election?  Michael Moore tells viewers he wants them to “join him”…  Maybe he’ll explain how you can serve him better in some other forum, but the movie gives no indication of his intentions.

Much of the film comes across rather disjointed.  We’re treated to scenes of evictions, and given the impression that people not paying their mortgages really had nothing to do with it…  These were just “victims of circumstance” with no accountability for their financial situation.  The cult of the victim thrives in Moore’s film, as we are told that housing is a “right” and illegal squatting tactics are promoted. I guess the Mexicanization of America, squatters and all, is an essential part of Moore’s plan for the future of the country. In fact, Mexico’s system seems to be supported pretty thoroughly by Moore, in particular their socialist government, socialized medicine, and disregard for private property. I remember when it was Canada that Moore seemed to hold-up as illustrative of his personal views. That Moore is now favoring the land south of the border over the one to the north, is another example of his increasing radicalization.

We’re told that the “rights” (such as the government confiscating your business on a whim), that a conquered and occupied Germany and Japan were “given” in their new constitutions, are “rights” which Americans got gypped out of by the death of a visionary president. Just ignore the fact that these “rights” and “freedoms” were literally forced upon battered, occupied nations, and don’t evaluate whose interest these new constitutions were actually serving. One just needs to look at present-day Germany, still occupied (for their own good, supposedly), to see how “free” it truly is.  This is a nation where people have literally died in prison because of statements they’ve made or books they’ve written.  To say there is a lack of free speech or freedom of association in a increasingly fascist Germany, is an understatement. Moore wants you to “demand” the “same rights” that the German’s got from losing a war, just as he earlier has exhorted you to demand the same medical treatment that prisoners of war have received while being tortured in American custody.  Am I sensing a sort of trend here?

Perhaps the most amusing deception in Moore’s film comes in the form of reaffirming the left/right paradigm, where we are told that the rich elite are literally fearful of the masses “equal voting power”, since they are so obviously outnumbered. Yes…  They must truly be disturbed by the very possibility that voters will exercise their will to elect the lone national political party whose campaigns they do not finance.  Oh, wait…  There isn’t one. Insert gloss-over of Obama’s funding by these same corporations, and then cue scenes of jubilation as Democrats come back in, and Republicans go back out.  The game of musical chairs continues, with Michael Moore sacrificing consistency and logic in the pursuit of shilling for Democrats. I guess we’re supposed to forget that these same banking elite types have excelled under both Democrat and Republic governments. Rather than coming to the conclusion that voting is only serving to create an illusion of support from the people, and propping up a broken system, Moore encourages participation in the two party system, offering no alternative to the exact structure he decries.

Moore plays upon the emotions of viewers to demonstrate that the entire capitalist system is based on greed and exploitation.  He is blunt with his radical views on the current system and his radical views on improving it.  We are told that the government (the same one he says has been co-opted by the banking elite) should have the ability to confiscate private property, and that people have the “right” to a secure job.  Where people will be working exactly, Moore doesn’t say. Moore claims a financial coup de’etat took place with the “bailout” , explicitly implies the government is run by corporate interests, and then ironically claims further government control is the answer. Confused?  You should be.

Overall, it’s definitely a movie worth seeing, and it does indeed highlight some absolutely unethical and offensive profiteering and exploitation.  The problem is, however, it’s a movie built upon generalization, over-simplification, and for a movie that hints at revolution, as is trendy these days, it sure tows the party line. Of course, expecting a movie about the evils of capitalism produced, in part, by Paramount, to be free of distortion would be a bit naive.

Capitalism may not be a flawless system, but when Michael Moore starts telling people to demand the same “rights” imposed upon nations that lose wars, it’s not unreasonable to question the motives of Moore himself. Fighting government and corporate greed by merging government and the corporate entity, and ensuring “secure jobs” by mandating citizens into government employment, is not the type of “solution” America needs. This is very much like advising someone who is concerned over the influence of the media on society, to have a lobotomy so they will have no mind left to manipulate.

Have you seen Capitalism: A Love Story? What did you think?

Public Washrooms: More Than You Ever Wanted To Know

Public washrooms need a makeover. Badly. I can’t be the only one who thinks this! Yes, what follows is kind of a rant, but it’s one I think some people will understand.

Now, I can only speak of these from a male perspective, but it’s perhaps male bathrooms that provide the biggest endorsement for change. Society has changed. It’s bathrooms have not kept pace.

There’s some pretty obvious problems. We’re more modest, as a culture these days.

Do that many guys really want to stand next to one another and urinate onto a wall?

I gladly take the extra 30 seconds to urinate into a toilet, when it means I can avoid:

1. Weird guys sidling up to you with their equipment in-hand.
2. Having urine spray back or mist down on you or your shoes (and not necessarily your own urine, either).
3. People trying to make awkward smalltalk with you while you are nearly shoulder-to-shoulder with your pants undone.

Then there’s the other thing. I’m pretty sure not everyone is liking the current setup only because it’s a time saver. I think you know what I’m talking about here. And before anyone starts thinking I’m homophobic, I hasten to point out that the very reason washrooms were divided by gender in the first place, was in recognition that it wouldn’t be “appropriate” for (heterosexual) men and women to share a bathroom. This was at a time where “everyone” was (assumed to be) heterosexual. Well, we know that’s not the case anymore, and there’s nothing like a trip to the public restroom to remind you of it, in case you’ve forgotten.

And that leads me to my next issue. Apparently women need to defecate twice as often as men, because men’s washrooms have half the amount of toilets.  Despite what you might think, defecating into a urinal is generally not standard practice…  Of course, that’s an easy mistake to make judging by some of the things you’ll see in one.

More often than not, there will be just a single stall, or 2 in a smaller public restroom. Many times those stalls are not available and when they are there is homosexual graffiti all over the walls inside of them…

There is either a whole lot of homosexual male vandals out there or a small group of them who are so obsessively vulgar they bring a black marker with them every time they leave the house. Now, maybe that’s not fair…  Maybe these people aren’t homosexual…  But, if they were writing about how great Obama is, I’d assume they are Democrats.

This only reaffirms my discomfort with using a urinal. I have a problem with having someone’s sexuality thrust upon me in the most invasive and vulgar ways.  I wonder how many mothers would send their sons into the washroom unsupervised if they saw the type of messages and depictions they’d be subjected to, to say nothing of the pedophiles who see urinals as an invitation for a little show and tell.

I’ve asked a lot of women if there is crude references to homosexual sex and drawings of genitalia all over their washrooms, and strangely none of them have reported that is the case.

Sure, some facilities are better managed than others, but these aren’t isolated issues.

Women’s bathrooms have their problems, too, I am sure… But how many men do you know could get away with walking into one, just because they don’t feel like waiting?

Yes, apparently there are thousands of women out there who think it is perfectly acceptable to walk into a men’s washroom if they don’t have the patience to wait for other women to be finished in theirs.

It’s not less offensive or less inappropriate, in fact, it’s worse, because there is even less privacy. Somehow women have gotten the false impression that no guy would possibly complain about having a woman grace them with her presence while they are urinating. Get over yourselves. And fyi, the bathroom being empty at the time does not mean one of you can go in and then one of you can stand guard outside the door and obstruct people from entering.

My suggestion: Do away with the gender segregation altogether, especially since gender is so nebulous now that it’s become voluntary. Build one bathroom instead of two, and make the stalls within it more private. I think given all the extra “complications” we’re facing with gender and sexuality as a society, we can learn to get along and be mature sharing a washroom, if the stalls within it have a proper level of privacy. I also think rather than feeling less safe, a lot of people would probably be more comfortable, especially parents.

Does anyone have any public restroom horror stories to share, or their own suggestions on how things can be fixed?

Anyone out there who thinks things are fine as they are?

And, for the female readers, what are some of the issues you face?

Note: This is a repost of my article Public Washrooms: More Than You Ever Wanted To Know at Open Salon. You can check there for more comments.

Google “News” New Features: Profanity In headlines, more

Google news includes profanity, paradoy, bigotry

Google News now includes profanity, parody, bigotry.

Something happened to me last week that I am not proud of. I was momentarily fooled by an Onion News story headline. In my defense, though, it was appearing on the front page of Google News under it’s “Spotlight” section, along with the “real” news.   At the time I thought including parody on the page was some sort of oversight.  Since then, I’ve been seeing more and more changes taking place with Google News.  It seems the requirements on having content that is actually “news”, are being lifted, and every online hack who can mash some keys is now rushing to take advantage of it.

Just minutes previous to this article first being posted, the above screen shot was taken showing the headline “I will not read your fucking script” on the main page. It demonstrates a notable slackening in Google’s vetting process, as the article from the Village Voice, an ego-driven rant by an obscure self-proclaimed “professional” is being featured.

The Village Voice, which is not “news” by any reasonable definition to begin with, is now providing Google News’ front page with profanity laced headlines.  Is it possible some high school dropouts over at the Voice are having some sort of competition with college dropouts at the “Daily Mail”? I imagine it’s for readers of Google News to judge which of the two use the most juvenile-shock tactics in their headlines. To the Daily Mail’s credit, it only implies profanity (within the context of quotes) in it’s headlines, rather than stating expletives itself for no other purpose than to attract attention.

Lately, I’ve been perplexed as to why private blogs and opinion pieces, or amateur trash-tabloid like “Glosslip”, keeps being endorsed by Google as “news”. I’m now finding myself wondering if these are oversights, or a deliberate attempt at keeping “current”, in a society exercising less and less discretion over, and adopting lower and lower standards of, information sources. At least we can find some solace that these “merchants of chaos”, make little attempt to mask their motives and tactics, but does Google really benefit from giving them a platform to do it?

It’s not the profanity I necessarily take issue with, though I don’t think it belongs in a headline, and find it ironic considering Google’s attempt to remain family friendly through filters.  The profanity is just the latest inappropriate content to be heralded by Google News’ front page as “news”. I suspect if this trend continues, many people will begin to look elsewhere for news aggregation.

Click here for original screen shot (without commentary).

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Update: Google appears to have removed the link to the Village Voice article from it’s news page around 9:00 pm EST.  As of this time, Google has not responded to a request for comment, upon being made aware of this issue.

Update: As of 11:02 pm EST today, the article is back on Google News. It appears as though it was initially pulled and then a decision was made to reinsert it. Click here for an archived version of the entire front page in zip format (uses MegaUpload). In addition to it’s return, it is now being listed as one of the most popular news articles by Google. Apparently, the attention-grabbing use of profanity in a headline is paying off for the Village Voice, as more and more people click the article out of curiosity, or to voice their disdain in it’s comment section.

Update: Google News eventually removed the headline.  It’s also notable that it appears Google also removed this article from the index of their search engine.  I can confirm it was indeed indexed, and appearing in searches.  There is now no direct link to the article from Google.  I’m not sure how much more underhanded they could possibly get.

Google News-profanity-returns

Spotlight - Google News

I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script - New York News - Runnin_ Scared

Question for readers: Is this just smart marketing on behalf of the unskilled writers over at the Village Voice, or will a reader backlash lead to better judgment in the future on their part? Do you believe Google News should be putting headlines with profanity on the front page?

See Should Google News Be Swearing At You? for more comments.

Update 09/13/09: Google refused to acknowledge requests for comment, though it’s clear they received them.  This article was banned from Google’s search index a few days after it was posted. I can confirm it was originally appearing in search results.  There is no no direct link to this article. A Google employee responded to a user complaint of this issue by saying “Thanks for bringing this inappropriate content to our attention. We’ll contact the Village Voice following your alert.” This is a laughable deflection of responsibility. Village Voice did not make a mistake with their headline. Google made the mistake, by featuring it, and ignoring complaints about the inappropriate content, then trying to cover-up the story by removing articles about it from their search engine.  Give me a break, Google.  “Do no evil”, alright.

The Cult Of Wikipedia

From the internet debut of the anti-Scientology group “Anonymous”, Wikipedia became one of several “cyber battlegrounds”, and perhaps the most significant. With the unprecedented announcement by Wikipedia that IP addresses used by The Church of Scientology would be banned, “Anonymous” has found itself virtually uncontested in it’s campaign of internet vandalism. It wasted little time in filling all Scientology-related articles with the same handful of spurious claims, in many cases not even bothering to falsify citations as usual.

Wikipedia is perhaps one of the most insidious creations to come about online, due to the perception among many of it’s users that it is a legitimate encyclopedic source, and relies on “user submitted content”. The reality is, as any college or university student can attest to, Wikipedia is not recognized as a valid information source academically. Unfortunately, those that most rely upon Wikipedia for “facts”, have little experience with formal education, and subsequently do not seem to be aware of this.

Wikipedia is not run on user submitted content. It’s a closed and controlled forum, where information is designed to have an appearance of openness, solely for the purpose of creating the illusion that it is not micro-managed by administrators. Wikipedia itself has shed any last vestige of impartiality or neutrality, with it’s ban on Scientology staff members. There is little doubt that Wikipedia does on a larger scale, what private micro-managed web forums due on a smaller scale, it manipulates public opinion by creating an appearance of a consensus. To that end, users and information that clash with the agendas of it’s controllers, are eliminated.

Though there are numerous examples of Wikipedia’s clear bias and lack of credibility, the Scientology issue has brought greater attention and scrutiny to the shell game that is being played. Just a cursory overview of Scientology articles, demonstrates a clear and malicious intent on Wikipedia to allow libelous false claims to receive publicity and protection.  Though Wikipedia seems to believe third party content protections may void it from responsibility for the fabrications it hosts, it’s ban of the Church of Scientology may complicate that defense, should legal action eventually be taken.

That Wikipedia itself fits many of the “warning signs” of a cult listed by Anti-Scientologist and convicted felon Rick Ross, whose personal web site appears regularly as a valid source in Wikipedia entries, is perhaps ironic. Upon reading the article by Paulo Correa, M.Sc., Ph.D., et al, titled Wikipedia: A Techno-Cult of Ignorance, I’m wondering if “fitting” is a better term.

If you’d like to see just one example of Wikipedia’s hatchet job on Scientology, and decide for yourself if it lives up to Wikipedia’s supposed standards, take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology:_A_History_of_Man. You’ll quickly find yourself wondering what sort of entry supposedly focused on the book it is named after, managed to not cite that book once the entire way through. If that wasn’t enough, the speculation on supposed aliens and uncited (fake) quotations, as well as external links pointing to anti-Scientology websites and books, completely unrelated to “A History of Man”, show what type of content Wikipedia wants to “protect” from Scientologist editors.

No matter your opinion on The Church of Scientology, Wikipedia’s “arbitration committee” working hand in hand with those with a clear anti-Scientology bias to ensure that users of it’s site receive distorted, inaccurate, and patently false data about Scientology, sends a message. That message is certainly not characterized by any notion of “preserving integrity”. While some who, lacking even a basic education, have simply accepted and regurgitated the ridiculous claims made against Scientologists by “Anonymous”, Wikipedia has now handed them a platform to spread their venom uncontested under the pretense of encyclopedic knowledge.

This is just the latest reason that Wikipedia deserves the scorn it receives from the real academic community, whom it plays at being an extension of, or complimentary to. And this is a scorn that is only building with time, as even media has been caught up in Wikipedia’s circus of lies. Several lazy  journalists, relying on Wikipedia to provide content for the articles they were paid to write, ended up in the crossfire, when that information proved false. Even Wikipedia itself has been forced to address the mounting criticisms against it, in what is a surprisingly thorough impeachment of itself.

Also see Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism

And while we’re on the subject of “digital maoism”, how could I resist posting this (not exactly related) video from YouTube?

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more about “On the Occasion of the First Annivers…“, posted with vodpod

Juror Physically Attacked, Threatened For Position On Merck Trial

NYDailyNews.com reports that holdout juror, Theresa Ciccone, was intimidated, threatened with violence and had a chair thrown at her, in an attempt to force her into a change of position on the case. Upon recounting the illegal tactics used by jurors set upon finding the pharmaceutical giant innocent of the charges brought against it by Shirley Boles, the judge declared a mistrial. Ms. Boles, a retired deputy sheriff, brought the suit after alleging her experience with Fosamax led to her jaw deteriorating.

Ciccone, who has a degree in science, claims jurors had their minds made up from the beginning of the trial, and refused to evaluate the evidence provided. In one case a juror went so far as to literally sit on documents to obstruct others from having access to them during deliberation.

This irrational and criminal behavior further illustrates society’s rabid acceptance of, and dependency on, pharmaceutical drugs, despite their potential harmful effects. Merck certainly seems to have gotten a trial by it’s “peers”, if the criminally violent, pro-drug rabble who found their way into the jury are any indication.  Once again we see that a jury is only as good as it’s worst member, and in this case that dubious distinction is difficult to reward.

Having earlier lost a bid to suppress more such cases from going to court, Merck is facing a growing torrent of lawsuits over the dangers of it’s “osteoporosis treatment” drug.

For more information on pharmaceutical abuses see The Citizens Commission On Human Rights (CCHR).

Did Psychiatry “Treat” Phillip Garrido, Alleged Kidnapper/Rapist?

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Phillip Garrido, who is still making headline news over the alleged kidnapping and rape of an 11 year old girl who remained confined in his backyard for 18 years, may have been on prescription medications and under the care of a psychiatrist the entire time.

Mainstream media has bent over backwards to ignore this stunning revelation that appears in documents released by the FBI.  The documents are a part of what the media is referring to as the “manifesto“, and is titled “Origin of Schizophrenia Revealed”.

In what Garrido has called his “book”, he reveals his ability to explain and reproduce sounds telepathically, gives an overview of his Christian beliefs, and claims his kidnapping and sexual abuse of a child eventually led him to heightened spirituality and a more intimate relationship with his wife, upon repenting of his sins. Mainstream media quickly milked the documents for all they were worth, with a single exception.

Garrido Spiritual Manifesto

Aside from a brief, incomplete and rather spun mention by CBS, no news organization has revealed what is perhaps one of the strangest elements of the case.  Phillip Garrido appears to have been under psychiatric care during the entire 18 years of Jaycee Dugard’s horrific ordeal. The document released to media upon request by the FBI, states “Concerning Phillip Garrido’s state of mind: Mr. Garrido has been under the care of a psychiatrist for the past 18 years for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). If a reference is needed I will supply a release form upon request and you may contact him yourself.” The name of the psychiatrist has either been redacted by the FBI or was not in the document to begin with, though credentials are listed therein.

While many bloggers and journalists are hung up on the apparent religious angle of the story, speaking of Garrido’s founding of “God’s Desire Church”, the unsettling possibility that Garrido is the latest Frankenstein to come from a psychiatrist’s “treatment” of “mental illness”, is being ignored or downplayed. It will be interesting to see what else we learn, since it appears that Garrido is more than eager to share his thoughts, and his history.  As you can see from the above video, Garrido is certainly no stranger to psychiatry, or drug use, and it leaves one speculating on just what role those may have played in his actions, if any.

If nothing else, it certainly does give one pause to find out that Garrido’s kidnapping of young Jaycee may have coincided with a prescription for stimulants.

For more information on Psychiatric abuses see The Citizens Commission On Human Rights (CCHR).

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