Making Social Media Fun Again…for Me!

I hesitate to do this, but I must. It’s time to lay down the law for you people. You need a set of rules for your use of social media. I’m not so much concerned about how you interact with each other. My concern is more personal. It’s about how you can better interact with me. After all, that’s what important here.

A few years ago, I prepared a simple users guide for newcomers to Facebook. I must say that you failed miserably in following my advice. I am undaunted. My enjoyment of social is important to all of us and certainly worth preserving. Let’s get started.

TIMELINE CLUTTER

If I follow you or we’re friends on social media, your posts appear on my timeline. Think about that. I see what you post. You may not have thought that through. Your memes, photos, status updates and sundry ravings all pass before me. Let’s try to keep it entertaining.

What do I like? A lot of things. Babies are cute. Most small kids are, too. Jokes are good, too, as long as they’re funny. I like a clever pun. Pictures of you are okay, too, but try to make them interesting. Your selfies get tedious, unless you’re really attractive. It’s best not to risk it. Let’s keep it PG-13, too. There are other places to go on the Internet for more “mature” material.

There are many things I don’t need to see. Abused children and animals top that list. If there is a person who must see photos to know these things are bad, that person is either  stupid or insane. As far as you know, I am neither of those. Oh, and no one needs to see dead people. People who want to see pictures of dead people are dangerously disturbed. Don’t indulge them.

I know what you’re thinking: I’m unsure of what to do. What if my posts aren’t entertaining? There are three categories which never fail to entertain me:

Baby Pandas

Post a picture of a baby panda or multiple baby pandas. I’ll like it. I might even comment on it. Here’s one:

babypandas

 

I’m smiling. Don’t confuse Giant Pandas (the adorable ones) with Red Pandas. According to my research, the Red Panda is a weasel-like beast, a kind of tricked-out raccoon. I’m not saying that they don’t have their merits, but they aren’t cute enough to entertain me.

Monkeys Riding Dogs

Several years ago, a friend of mine posted a video of a monkey riding a dog recorded by him at a minor league baseball game. I laughed. I LOL’d, as it were. Here’s a picture of monkey riding a dog:

monkeyrodeo_wide-307fc1e70816bf01cb93296037a053f1e2977234-s6-c30_jpeg

I just laughed again.

I realize not everyone likes monkeys riding dogs. Here in Lexington, Kentucky, our local minor league baseball team actually cancelled a dog-riding monkey show because people complained. I guess it’s not good for the monkeys or maybe the dogs. I disagree. I’ve watched those videos. The monkeys are clearly having a blast. As for the dogs, they seem fine. Dogs are pretty affable, you know. It’s not like they’re riding Maltese or Chihuahuas. If it were apes, there might be a point. Apes are big and can be dangerous. Besides, we humans ride horses. We even race them, and I’m not 100% sure the horses even know they are in a race. We are in no position to judge monkeys–or dogs, for that matter.

Cars Hitting Buildings

I’ll admit that this is a little odd. What can I say? I’m a fan. I live in Lexington, Kentucky, a city which has an usual number of car-on-building accidents (if that’s what they really are). I’ll just say it–I am the one who first identified this phenomenon. It happens all the time here. Here’s a typical post:

carskid

I don’t know why this happens, but it entertains me, and that’s the point. One rule–don’t post about one if someone gets killed or seriously injured. The humor is in the property damage. Some folks are so kind as to post these and tag me so that I don’t miss out. Those people get it, and I like them for it.

POLITICS

As much as I dislike the topic, I must mention politics, specifically your politics. I’ll be blunt: No one cares about your political views. By “no one” I mean me. I once mentioned this in a Facebook post. One “friend” commented that I was wrong and that all his friends were very interested in his views. This same guy later called me a bigot for saying that the presidential election wasn’t the end of the world. It seems unlikely that he actually has any friends. I certainly can’t be counted among them.

I want to be clear about something. I’m not saying that you can’t post about politics. Of course, you can. That’s what the blocking and unfollow functions handle. I don’t have to see them. Prattle on if you must. Where we need to be careful is on commenting on my posts. I rarely say anything political. If I do, it’s fair game. Comment all you want. What you musn’t–nay, can’t–do is make a political comment on a decidedly non-political post. Here’s an example. Let’s say I post this status:

Wow. I can’t believe this warm weather we’re having.

This banal post doesn’t even merit a comment, unless you want to point out that where you are is actually quite cold or some other such equally uninteresting comment. Here are examples that won’t fly with me:

If Trump has his way, global warming will make every day like this.

What I can’t believe how great it is to have Trump as president. I don’t even care about the weather anymore.

The rule is simple: If my post is not political on its face, your comment cannot be.

RELIGION

Unlike politics, I have no problem with religion. I like all kinds of religions. Like Thomas Jefferson, I don’t care if you worship 20 gods or none. Good for you, I say. It’s important, though, to keep it to yourself most of the time.

As with politics, I’m not too concerned about your posts. I can’t force you to be entertaining. The same rules about political comments apply here as well. If I post about a recent sporting event, I don’t need to be reminded that God doesn’t care about it. I also don’t need a bunch of Bible passages cited or quoted. Believe it or not, I know a lot about that stuff–probably as much as you do. You’re not really teaching me anything.

A lot of people ask for prayers on social media. I’m cool with that. Pray for me, too, if you want. One caveat: I can’t participate in “unspoken” prayer requests. You know the ones:

I have an unspoken prayer request. God knows about it.

I don’t know what you’re asking for here. Maybe you’re calling down a curse on me or praying for something like the eruption of a super-volcano. God knows I can’t have that on my conscience.

As much as I am uninterested in your religion, your views on the religion of others is even less compelling. Resist the urge to deride anyone’s religion on my pages or walls or what have you. This is particularly applicable to my atheists friends–and I have quite a few. You folks tend to be very proud of your non-beliefs. Hey, I would be too if I were confident that all the many religions are wrong. Nevertheless, you must resist the urge to continually remind us of your superiority. Careful now, don’t do it in response to this, either.

I’ve not covered everything–sports, for example. It’s annoying when your favorite team wins and you act like you actually contributed to the win. I do the same thing, so I’m not exactly on the high road with this one. Likewise, we carry on about what fabulous, sainted parents we have, forgetting that we know people whose parents were little more than monsters which could procreate for some reason.

You’re probably wondering or perhaps even saying aloud: Why should I care what his clown thinks about what I do on social media? That is, indeed, a valid and thought-provoking question. I suggest, however, you consider that if you can make one person happy every day, you have not lived your life in vain. If that one person is me, we both win.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2017

AUSTRALIA: CAULDRON OF EVIL

Everyone knows I love being an American. As I write this, Donald J. Trump has just wrapped up two weeks as President of the United States. Weird, right? In that time, he has threatened such diverse enemies as Mexico and Chicago, Illinois with intervention by “troops” and “feds.” Since the President makes most of his announcements via Twitter, we’re not sure what any of that means, but we know he’s serious. Hell, he seems serious about everything. He doesn’t seem to be a fellow who enjoys a good joke.

In years past, I have beseeched our leaders to crush our international threats, primarily Canada and the allegedly “Great” Britain. I even went so far as to draw up complex nation-building plans. My warnings went unheeded, and today we remain at the mercy of our Anglo overlords. Many have no doubt wondered why I haven’t addressed the third side of the Triangle (or “Tri-Anglo,” as I call it) of Terror, the demon state Down Under.

The so-called “Commonwealth” of Australia is an island nation located somewhere way far away from civilization, unless you call Papau New Guinea and New Zealand civilized. Maybe it’s not island, just a small continent. In any event, Mr. Trump had a heated phone call with the Prime Minister of Australia–whose name escapes me–about an agreement for America to accept refugees from Australia. According to Presidential tweets, this agreement is “dumb” and he’s not having any of it. If  I know Mr. Trump–and if I don’t, who does?–he won’t stop there. I’m still uncertain if he knows who our friends are, but he knows our enemies. In fact, no President in recent memory could make enemies faster.

With President Trump in office, I have new hope. Australia is as good a place as any to start. I say accept every refugee we can hold from Australia, as long as they aren’t actual Australians.

I know what you’re thinking: Hey, those Aussies are like Americans. A lot of them are blonde. They speak English. If you’d bother to even lightly scratch the surface, you’d see this for what it is–a subterfuge hiding threats to our very way life.

A common and deadly conceit lulls most Americans into inaction when it comes to foreign lands. We believe that foreign people must look and speak differently in order to be threats. While these are certainly telling signs, they tell only part of the story.

Any  similarities between Americans and Australians are mere historical accidents. Like the United States, Australia was founded when England sent its undesirables to another continent. In the case of Australia, they were really undesirable–mostly a bunch of convicts. The Brits probably thought they were sending them to Austria where they would fit in. Regardless, they ended up being shipped off just about as far away as possible. Shouldn’t that be a clue, people? On the other hand, our country was settled by a bunch of buttoned-up, glum religious nuts. That alone makes us superior and them a dangerous criminal element.

Here is Australia:

australia_political_map

Major cities include Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane. It speaks to the intellectual paucity of the inhabitants that they soon exhausted real names and simply made up names for other cities and towns. Thus, the land is littered with names such as Wollongong, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Bong Bong, Cock Wash and Mount Buggery.

What I know of Australia comes from movies and Wikipedia. It should come as no surprise that I’ve never been to Australia nor do I intend to go. Let me explain.

As we examine Australia, let us consider the three characteristics which make any country worth its salt:  1) Its language; 2) Its sports; and 3) Its people.

LANGUAGE

Australia has no official language. Think about that. What kind of savages can’t even settle on a language? Most Australians speak English, which will come as quite a surprise to you if you’ve ever heard any of them speak.

To be precise, they speak “Australian English,” which combines normal English with an accent that can only be attributed to the country’s well-known love of alcohol. They sort of sound British but not really. Where the Brits sound haughty and intelligent, Aussies come across as menacing and quite possibly insane.  “G’day, mate!” is an acceptable form of address as is vomiting on the ground when staggering out of one of their many road houses. Here is a typical Australian exchange:

Bloke No. 1: G’day, mate. I’m stoked to hit the turps, but I’d need a mate’s rate for a slab.

Bloke No. 2: Fair dinkum. I’ll drink with the flies. You gotta make a quid.

Bloke No. 1: Everything’s costing big bikkies. It’ll come good once I give it a burl.

Bloke No. 2: Good on ya.

Here’s a pointer when trying to interpret their speech: Just assume they’re talking about drinking.

I will admit that Australia gave us Mad Max, and that’s no bull dust as they might say. When the original Mad Max was released in the United States, the dialogue was re-dubbed into English. That’s right. English was dubbed into English. That’s all you need to know about this “language.”

SPORTS

Three popular sports in Australia are cricket, Australian Rules Football and something called net ball. The irredeemable nature of the culture of this nation is best explained by a brief description of each.

Cricket combines croquet with the more boring aspects of baseball. The pitcher is called a bowler. They throw the ball and one-hop it to the batter. The batter hits it with something akin to a flat-sided baseball bat. Players run back and forth and scores (runs) are made at some point. After several hours, the game or match or whatever the hell they call it mercifully ends.

In the nascent days of ESPN, the Worldwide Leader didn’t have rights to baseball, basketball, football or any other sport followed by the modern world. As a result, it broadcast Australian Rules Football. Like cricket, it combines several perfectly sane sports into one. American football and soccer with a touch of rugby (okay, that one’s not sane) are rolled together in face-paced game which appears to have no rules whatsoever. The only redeeming feature is that it is often violent. I have no proof that the players are all drunk, but they should be.

Net ball is a game where a metal hoop is secured to pole, and players try to throw a ball through the hoop. The hoop has a net attached for the ball to pass through. Sound familiar? You might call it basketball, if didn’t look like this:

net-ball

Seriously? I watched it on TV once. Once. No dribbling. Awkward passing. White people. That’s right. It’s 1930s basketball played in the 21st century.

THE PEOPLE

I’ll admit the we have common ground with the Aussies. We, too, weren’t welcome in England and had a God-given right to terrorize and subjugate the native dwellers in our new land. That’s where the similarity ends.

Coming from the questionable gene pool of convicts, the degradation of the Australian people is etched into their leathery, sunburned faces. True, they gave us Mel Gibson, a handsome man by any standards.  Despite our best efforts, they haven’t had the common decency to take him back.

The native Australians are the Aborigines or Aboriginal Australians. They were there first. They’re now relegated to what they call the “Outback.” Outback is another word for “barren wasteland.” It’s kind of like a gigantic American Indian reservation. One place they live is called Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara. Okay. I guess they came up with that on one of their famed benders.

Their idea of a good time is to drink beer until nauseous. They eat things called quandog, muntries, goanna and witchetty grubs. Are these plants, animals or something else? I don’t know, and I’m not interested in finding out. They love vegemite, a goop they spread on toast. Vegemite is made of leftover brewer’s yeast combined with vegetable and spice additives. It is described as salty, slightly bitter and malty. Yum. Politics aside, President Obama summed up this delicacy with this reaction:

“So, it’s like a quasi-vegetable by-product paste that you smear on your toast for breakfast – sounds good, doesn’t it?”

I know little of their undoubtedly bizarre religious practices. I recall reading somewhere that they have a high percentage of atheists. What does that say about a land so vile that it destroys one’s belief in the Almighty? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

I know nothing of the literature or art of Australia. That’s just as well.

As noted above, Australian cinema gave us the Mad Max films. That’s good. If you want to know what Australia is like, just watch one of those films. They could be documentaries as far as I’m concerned. The latest one didn’t even star an Australian. Brit Tom Hardy and South African Charlize Theron were the stars. They didn’t have much dialogue but at least I understood it.

What about their music? AC/DC, I’ll give them that one. Angus and Malcolm Young grew up in Sydney, but they were Scots. What about Men At Work, the band with the popular 1980s song “Down Under?” True, they were an Australian band, but lead singer Colin Hay was also Scottish. Seems Australian music is more properly Scottish music.

Back in the 1980s, they sent us their most famed comedian–Yahoo Serious. Yes, that was his name. He was just about that funny, too. We sent him back. Here’s an Australian joke:

What’s the difference between an Australian wedding and an Australian funeral?

One less drunk at the funeral.

They have all manner of odd animals. The emu is a bird that can’t fly. The koala is a bear that’s really a marsupial. It’s like a raccoon or some other varmint. Of course, the place is lousy with kangaroos and crocodiles. I know that doesn’t have anything to do with the Australian people, but it’s worth nothing for some reason.

Queen Elizabeth II is the not only the Queen of England, she is also the Queen of Australia. Why? Who knows. Her reign there makes as much sense as it does in England.

WHAT NOW?

You may be surprised that I do not advocate immediate military intervention in Australia, as I have with Canada and Great Britain. The Brits took care of this problem for us by sending these misanthropes way the hell to the other side of the world. I’ve looked at a globe, and I’m not even sure you can get to Australia from here.

We don’t have to do anything. Iran recently tested a missile, and the President put them “on notice.” Let’s do the same with the Aussies. You’re on notice, you Foster’s chugging, vegemite-eating bunch of convicts. So, there.

Step out of line, and we’ll build a gigantic sea wall trapping you on your island Hell.  Oh, and guess who’s paying for it? You’ll all be living out in Woop Woop then, mates. Until then, hooroo!

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2017

BREXIT EXPLAINED IN 10 QUESTIONS (AND ANSWERS!)

As I write this, it’s been almost two weeks since Brexit. I initially called in the Brexit but was quickly rebuked for doing so. Brexit occurred on June 23, 2016. On the off-chance that future generations have electrical power to access this blog, they will doubtless be horrified by my rudimentary understanding of this cataclysmic event which will have been taught in all schools, if they are any schools in the future. By the time you read this, Europe will have descended into total chaos, cannibalism will be commonplace and the United Kingdom will have been discarded in the ash bin of history. I write this for my contemporaries in the hope that I can explain what happened and what is to come.

  1. WHAT IS BREXIT? 

It is the BRitish EXIT from the European Union. Get it? BR-EXIT? It’s a clever portmanteau borrowed from the earlier Grexit, which was the GREEK withdrawal from the EU which didn’t happen. Brexit is actually just a vote which took place in the United Kingdom on June 23, 2016 to approve the UK’s leaving the European Union. By the way, the United Kingdom is made up of a bunch of countries besides Britain or Great Britain or England or whatever the hell they want to be called. This should be called Ukexit, but that sounds too much like a Baltic country. Plus, that has the added disadvantage of being pretty much unpronounceable.

2.  WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN UNION?

That’s a damn good question. The European Union (EU) is a politico-economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,324,782 km (1,669,808 sq mi), and an estimated population of over 508 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development. Is that clear enough? HAHAHAHA! I copied that from Wikipedia. I have no idea what any of that means.

3.  WHERE IS EUROPE?

All the way across the Atlantic Ocean but before you get to Russia. England is actually an island, and I’m not sure it’s really part of Europe (with or without Brexit). Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, probably Switzerland and Portugal and a lot of other countries are over there.

4. IS AMERICA PART OF THE EU?

Another excellent question. The simple answer is “no.” If you Google it, you’ll see that America isn’t in Europe. Oddly enough, some members of the EU aren’t in Europe, either. Americans aren’t going to be part of any such foolishness as this. Remember, too, that we made our own exit from Europe in 1776. Nevertheless, we should go ahead vote to exit the EU right now, just to make clear that we’re not going to be part of these shenanigans. Before we get too high and mighty, bear in mind that we are about to elect either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton president. Maybe we should vote to exit our own country.

5.  NOW THAT BRITAIN IS GONE FROM THE EU, WHAT HAPPENS?

Whoa, whoa. No one has left the EU. The UK only voted to leave. Oh, and the vote isn’t binding. It’s more like a strong suggestion. It’s like telling your wife you want a divorce. Well, hell, so do a lot of people, but you have to take some action. Now, they have to work out the details. Or not. They can always decide not to do it. That’s right. They can stay in or leave. Pretty much the same position they were in before the vote.

6. OKAY. ASSUMING BRITAIN EXITS THE EU, WHAT HAPPENS?

Hard to say. People who fear an apocalyptic one-world new order say it’s all good. Those who embrace a world economy say it’s bad. Young people hate it. Old people like it. Scotland hates it (for the most part). A bunch of things will happen. The British pound (that’s their goofy money) will suffer or not. The UK will break up or stay together. Germany will probably try to take over the world. (That’s not really part of Brexit. It’s just something the Germans like to try every now and then). People will buy gold, because that’s what people do when things happen.

7.  WILL OTHER COUNTRIES VOTE TO EXIT, TOO?

That seems doubtful mostly because there’s no cool names to use. France would Frexit. That’s okay, I guess. Germany would Gerexit. No good–sounds too much like Jurassic and they don’t want litigation with Steven Spielberg. Spain with the Spexit? Nah. The names for the other countries are equally uninspiring. They’ll all have to stay put.

8. HOW DOES THIS AFFECT AMERICA?

Ah, this is perhaps the most important question. The immediate effect was twofold: 1) the stock market dropped sharply; and 2) millions of Americans went on-line to find out what Brexit means. I was told by three people that the stock market would drop at least 20% in the next week and that it would take years to recover. It dropped a few percentage points and recovered in a week. So, I guess you never know about Brexit. I’ve been told that it’s a sad time for Anglophiles (who, by the way, are not people with sexual interest in geometry). The dollar is now worth more in England, which would be great if they sold anything I like. It might be a good time to hire a butler or a chambermaid on the cheap.

9. WHAT HAPPENS TO THE EURO?

The Euro, of course, is the EU’s weird-ass money. I guess Euros are kind of like dollars but with pictures of foreigners on them. Get this–England doesn’t even use the Euro. Why are they bitching? They still use pounds and shillings and farthings and quid and other dubious forms of currency. Regardless, the Euro will most certainly be affected, more or less, to some not inconsiderable extent. It definitely bears watching.

10. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

The future is a frightening place, full of great possibilities and even greater dangers. Your greatest failures always lie there. I am a male in my 50s. With rare exception, people my age view the future through a prism of despair. The world is falling apart, young people are useless and the future is bleak. In another, they have become their parents.

Things will happen. People will claim to have predicted these things. Blame will be assigned and credit taken. As the old song goes, “There’ll always be an England.”

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2016

 

MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE: Five Changes You Must Make

When I was a young lawyer, one of my aged partners suggested that our firm should be like the “Athenian youth” and strive to leave the world a better place for our having been here. That is certainly a laudable goal. Who among us doesn’t want to make a difference? Too often, we while away our time on personal, even selfish, pursuits. I hold to the belief that each of us in our own small way can make a positive difference in the world.

You make think it unrealistic to expect to impact the world as whole. You may be right about that. After all, many of us have limited skills and even more limited work ethics. If our efforts require much in the way of ability or effort we likely will fall short. Do not despair. There ways–simple ways, in fact– each of us can make the world a better place. If we can have a positive impact on just one person, we will have made a difference.

The person with whom we should start is me. That’s right. I deserve a better life as much as anyone, maybe more. If you can do even one thing to make my life easier, you will not have lived in vain. You will have helped me. I can think of nothing more commendable.

Here are five things you can do, starting today, to improve my lot in life. Let’s get started

  1. DON’T DRIVE A CAR

The environmental damage from automobiles is well-known. Even electric cars require all manner of minerals for their construction, the mining of which is always controversial. If, like me, this doesn’t persuade you in the slightest to give up your car, consider the effect of your car on me.

Maybe you’re one of those people who always drive 10-15 mph below the speed limit. You’re annoying me. When you look in your rear view mirror and see the line of traffic, just assume I’m in that line. Why inconvenience me? I have to be somewhere–and soon. Besides, the way your drive, you’re close to walking anyway. Just go ahead and hit the pavement.

Even if you drive at normal speeds, you still need to park that car. Traffic stresses me out. I have places to go, things to do. Put bluntly, you’re in my way. Public transportation is perfect for you. Better yet, stay at home. What is so horrible in your home that you are compelled to leave it? Stay there and address your disturbing domestic problems.

Speaking of parking, if you drive you will eventually park somewhere. I need that parking spot.

Of course, some of you drive for your livelihood. By all means, continue to do so. You may be delivering something I need. Plus, someone must provide transportation to those who no longer drive. It certainly won’t be me. I’m busy trying to get somewhere.

2. DON’T PLAY THE LOTTERY

All over our great country, there are outlets available to buy lottery tickets.  PowerBalls, MegaMillions  and other variations beckon. The dizzying selection of scratch off games sit spooled like toilet paper waiting to be ripped loose by cholera-ravaged unfortunates. Riches await. Our nation’s vast network of convenience stores are the prime culprits in separating you from your money.

We all know that the odds winning big in the lottery are astronomical, on par with getting a chance to walk on the moon. Every day, untold thousands of people waste their hard-earned money on these games of chance which amount to nothing so much as a regressive taxation system. (Honestly, I have no problem with a regressive tax. The progressive tax system has never done me any favors. That rant will have to wait for another day.)

These are compelling reasons to avoid the lottery. The most important reason, though, may be less obvious. The next time you are purchasing your tickets turn at look behind you. That is me standing in line. I have patronized this convenience store for–you guessed it–the convenience of it. I know that prices are higher than at the grocery store, often considerably so. I have selected this store for the speed and, again, the convenience of it.

You, guided only by your avarice, have robbed me of the one commodity I value at that moment–convenience (are you sensing the pattern yet?). In fact, there is nothing more inconvenient than to stand in line with a cup of coffee while you negotiate a transaction only slightly less complex than currency arbitrage.

The odds of your winning the lottery are remote, at best. The odds of royally ticking me off, though, are virtually certain. Please, move along.

3. SPREAD THE WORD–SOMEWHERE ELSE

I have no problem with your religion, unless you use it do great harm to others. Even then, my problem is likely to be with how you practice it, not the faith itself. Regardless, I don’t want to hear about it. This comes from someone who has always been fascinated by religion. I’ve studied religion from various perspectives, both the faithful and skeptical. If I’m curious, I’ll get the information.

When you want to tell me about your religion, I’m very likely to be somewhere between disinterested and down right hostile. This is true even if I agree with your views. Why am I so obtuse? Religion (or spirituality, if you prefer) is a matter of faith, not argument or persuasion. Nagging or yammering at someone won’t bring him around to your views. When that someone is me, it may cause the person to adopt contrary beliefs simply to frustrate your efforts.

You might assume that I am directing this solely at Christians. You’re wrong. If, like me, you are an American, you probably live in America where most people claim to be Christian. Naturally, most of our contact is with Christians. Regardless, I implore people of all religions to follow this lead. For example, if you are Hindu do not concern me with your views of Vishnu or Shiva. I know a Buddhist, and I sincerely hope that he does not tell me of the proper path to the Middle Way. I’m comfortable with where I am, leaning much more toward indulgence than asceticism.

Nor are you atheists excluded. As a matter of fact, you’re especially not excluded. I  know you’re proud to be an atheist. Consider me to be on a “need to know” basis. I have no need to know. Here’s idea: Find a vegetarian and you two can “one up” each other on the solid, empirical grounding of your views.

At this point, some readers are preparing comments to enlighten me on why they will not be silent. You’re really missing the point, which is simply to make things easier for me. Your comments won’t do that. Plus, I’m not asking you to be silent. Just be silent around me, and assume that I am always around.

4. VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE–QUIETLY

Everything I abhor about hearing about your religious views applies with even more force to your politics. Unlike religion which is driven (mostly) by genuine belief, political drivel is often impelled by the desire to be in the know and perhaps a bit smarter than others. These are repellent characteristics. More importantly, they annoy me and can diminish my enjoyment of such important pursuits as surfing the Internet and mindlessly watching television.

I’m well aware that there is only so much I can expect here. Politicians and talking heads are inescapable. But, ask yourself: “With all this political discourse, what could I possibly add to the conversation, given my obvious limitations?” I’m sure you’ll agree that you run a much greater risk of annoying me than contributing anything meaningful.

If you are truly committed to improving my life, you will take this to heart. That door you knock on with a fist full of campaign literature could be mine. It could be me who reads one of your wrong-headed screeds on social media. It’s not that I don’t respect your views (which I may not, of course). It’s just that I don’t care. Isn’t it unfair and more than a tad selfish to inundate me with tripe that only you and others care about it? You’re better than that–or at least you should be.

You’re angry about the state of the world. I get it. If I were you, I’d be angry, too. But I’m not you. I’m me. It does no good to have two of us angry.

5. RAISE YOUR OWN FOOD

Modern agriculture has changed the world. We feed far more people than was thought possible even a generation ago. Our grocery stores brim with foods of all kinds. Sadly, the price we pay is high one.

Additives, preservatives, chemicals and the like endanger our food supply. Our farm animals are fed steroids. Genetic modifications have made many foodstuffs risky. Most important in our daily struggle is the cold, hard fact that I frequently go to the grocery store to buy this stuff.

I like my food chock full of preservatives. I want it preserved as long as possible. Chemicals don’t bother me. I like huge, mutated chickens pumped full of steroids. I want my beef dyed red. I want my fruits and vegetables sprayed down with insecticides. I don’t want to eat bugs. In short, the modern grocery store is exactly what I want. You, on the other hand, need to make changes. Why?

You’re the person with 11 items when the sign plainly limits the checkout lane to TEN FREAKING ITEMS! You position your cart in the aisle where I can’t get by on either side. You pay with checks, like some troglodyte who just emerged from his subterranean lair. Why not see if they’ll take pelts? You use coupons. Think about this: If you need to use all those coupons, isn’t it just possible that you can’t really afford to buy food in a store?

Grow your own food. Raise chickens. Buy a cow. Even a modest quarter acre lot will accommodate at least a couple of cows. Get a hog. Grow something. Your ancestors foraged for their food. Get off your high horse (you can eat those, too, by the way) and quit acting like you’re better than your kinfolk.

Since you won’t be driving a car, raising your own food makes perfect sense. It will be convenient for you and, critically, ME. The world will be a better place–at least for me. 

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2016

Twenty Signs You Are A Liberal…Or Not

Are you a liberal?  If so, there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s just that the world is confusing these days; thus, you could be misjudging yourself.  Some people say I’m liberal.  Liberals don’t say that.  They say I’m a reactionary capitalist.  It confuses me.  I’ve always been the type that had difficulty figuring myself out.  If you ask:   “How are you?”  I might respond:  “I don’t know.  You tell me.”

John F. Kennedy was considered a liberal, but I think he’d be a conservative today.  Ronald Reagan is king of the conservatives, but he might be a liberal now.  Who knows?  I do know that there are definite signs of liberalism, but even those are confusing.

So, I’ve tried to identify the tell-tale signs of liberalism–those traits which expose a closeted liberal to the harsh light of day.  These same traits could mean something entirely different, too.  It’s all still confusing, but this won’t stop me from making broad and reckless generalizations.

With all this in mind, any of the following characteristics could make you a liberal–then again, maybe not:

  1. You have a beard (ladies included, of course).  If you have a beard because you live in an underground bunker, you’re probably not.
  2. You compost your bodily wastes.  See bunker comment above.
  3. You don’t bathe regularly.  If it’s because you are in prison for insider trading, you’re probably not.
  4. You draw a check for doing nothing.  If your check comes from a trust fund, you’re probably not.
  5. You have a ponytail.  If it is on an actual pony you bought your daughter, you’re probably not.
  6. You refuse to shop at Wal-Mart.  Okay, this cuts both ways.
  7. Your car is covered in bumper stickers.  If any of those sticker say OBUMMER, you’re not.
  8. You support higher taxes.  If you support higher taxes only on people who don’t pay taxes, you’re probably not.
  9. You believe in big government.  If you don’t consider the military part of the government, you’re probably not.
  10. You’re anti-war.  If your anti-war stance applies only to you personally not being in a war, you probably aren’t.
  11. You’re a socialist.  If you don’t know what a socialist is, you’re probably not.
  12. You’re a communist.  No counter-point here.  All communists are liberals and vice versa usually.
  13. You hate Ted Nugent.  If you only hate him because he plays that blasted Rock and Roll music, you’re probably not.
  14. You are smarter than everyone else.  If you really are smarter than everyone else, well…you’re smart enough to  know the answer.
  15. You hate all religions.  If you hate all religions except your own, you aren’t.
  16. You own a cat.  If the cat is food for your hyena, you aren’t.
  17. You support universal healthcare.  If your support is limited by your belief that Earth is not part of the universe, you aren’t.
  18. You belong to a minority group.  If that minority group is the Mega Billionaire Club, you probably aren’t.
  19. You hate Ann Coulter.  If it’s because she won’t respond to your letters, you’re not.
  20. You don’t own a gun.  If you don’t own one because of some mental health issue, you’re probably aren’t.  Then again, you might be.  It’s hard to say, really.

Under my proprietary and quite arbitrary scoring system, here are your test results based upon the number of signs which apply to you:

5 or less:  You are not liberal.  If you think you are, you have been living a lie.

6-10:  You have definite liberal leanings.  Keep them to yourself around your conservative friends.

11-15:  You are a dangerous, free-thinking leftist.

16-20:  Total Fidel Castro-loving, Marxist pinko.  Or not.

See? It’s pretty simple.  Or not.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2014

Help A Drowning Man

phil

I am awash in a sea of bad information. How did this happen? I’ve spent too much time in the ocean of social media where information is plentiful, but accuracy is sacrificed for speed and volume. How does this happen? The easy answer, of course, is that people are idiots. This knee jerk response is just as flawed as the flotsam vomited out on social media even as you read this. People love outrage. More precisely, they love to be outraged. This is especially true when politics and religion are involved. This causes otherwise intelligent and thoughtful folks to randomly post thoughts, memes and links which are related to reality only by the thin thread of having originated from someone’s mind.

Another answer might be that I spend too much time on social media and should do something else like a read book.  No thank you, Egg Head.  That ain’t happening.  We need to work together.

Phil Robertson is now the millstone around my neck.  If you don’t know who Phil is, then good for you.  You aren’t into social media and perhaps spend your time writing poetry.  If so, you’re probably not reading this anyway. Phil is a “reality TV” star.  His show, Duck Dynasty, is entertaining.  It certainly seems scripted to me, but what do I know?  Perhaps Phil and his family became multi-millionaires while bumbling about like…well…reality TV stars.

I won’t rehash what Phil did.  There’s no point in doing so.  He said things that pissed people off or made people happy.  Outrage ensued.  Many folks–again, otherwise intelligent–have risen to his defense by citing his right to “free speech.”  One poster on Facebook said “What the hell happened to free speech in this country?” The answer is nothing, because Phil’s opinions have nothing to do with free speech.  “But, but, but…he got FIRED!!”  You are correct.  He did get fired.  Free speech, unfortunately, doesn’t prevent that.  “YES, IT DOES!” you screamLet’s read the First Amendment of the United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

[Note how I helpfully highlighted the part about “Congress.”]   Congress has made no law regarding speech which affects Phil at all.  In fact, no government official has done anything to Phil.  Maybe you love what he said about gay people and African-Americans.  If so, you have found some common ground with radical Islam.  Maybe you’re a Libertarian sort who supports everyone’s right to speak his or her mind. I really don’t care.   But, let’s all agree to never invoke the First Amendment again on this issue.  We’ll all feel better.  I know I do.  Thanks.

It’s not only the plain language of our Constitution which cause confusion.  Easily verified claims also drive us to hysteria.  Here’s a favorite example. Occasionally, a meme makes the rounds about Presidential and Congressional pensions. It reads:

WAGES

Salary of retired US Presidents……………………….$450,000 FOR LIFE

Salary of House/Senate members……………………$174,000 FOR LIFE

Salary of Speaker of the House……………………….$223,500 FOR LIFE

Salary of Majority/Minority Leaders………………….$194,400 FOR LIFE

Average salary of a soldier DEPLOYED IN AFGHANISTAN ……$38,000

Average income for Seniors on Social Security …………………$12,000

I think we found where the cuts should be made! If you agree, pass it on!

Aren’t you outraged?  This is patently insane.  Why would these people get paid for life!?!?!  What kind of country do we live in?  That’s a valid question but not because of this.  The above information–while outrageous–is incorrect in almost every way. None of these people–not even the President–gets full salary for life. It simply is not true. Does this stop folks from being outraged about it? Of course not. Variations of this meme have been posted many times on social media.  The comments are fairly frothing with their condemnation.   Here’s my suggestion:  When you see something that is so inane as to make you want to immediately post it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, stop and think.  Since you’re probably on the Internet at the time, do a simple search.  Check the facts.  You’ll be amazed how easy it is to confirm or counter such things.  Again, we’ll all be better for it, and you won’t look like an uninformed ass.

Then there are the half-truths, those items of interest based in reality but twisted into something sort of whole truth.  Here’s a meme making the rounds:

veterans

The House of Representatives passed a budget bill cutting pensions for veterans.  (Not “Veteran’s”).   That much is true.  The reduction is actually a reduction of the cost of living increase for certain pensions.  It’s what I call a “Government Cut.”  A “private cut” is where you make less money next year than you made this year.  It only applies to certain veterans–ones deemed young enough to re-enter the work force.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  This seems like a bad idea.  We’ve worn out our military with endless wars.  The least we could do is leave their pensions alone.  On the other hand, don’t worry about veterans actually getting a cut in their pensions.  The private sector, where there are no pensions anymore, is the only place that happens.

This is a prime example of excellent propaganda. Take a grain of truth, twist into something outrageous and scare everyone. Remember that Hitler got elected by scaring the hell out of people. There’s a reason he had a Ministry of Propaganda.  It works.

Finally, there are those debates that rage over opinions.  Most of these involve politics or religion–two topics which civilized people never discuss.  Bear this in mind:  There are two sides or more to each such debate:

  • Obamacare:  POINT–The program is already failing and far too expensive for the country to afford.  Socialized medicine will lead to reduced services for everyone.  COUNTERPOINT–It’s the law.  Give it time, and the kinks will get worked out.  If socialized medicine is so horrible, why do we provide it to our military veterans.  Wouldn’t they be better off buying their healthcare in the market?
  • Phil Robertson:  POINT–He’s free to speak his mind and express his faith.  Leave him alone.  COUNTERPOINT–People are also free to be offended by his comments.  We don’t have to leave him alone.
  • NSA: POINT–The Government is only gathering data. They have no way to do anything with it. COUNTERPOINT: Yet. There is nothing more un-American than spying on your citizenry.
  • TAXES: POINT–Let’s raise taxes on the highest earners. This would quickly fix all our fiscal problems. COUNTERPOINT–Our government has a history of spending every penny it brings in–and more. Until we fix that, more revenue won’t help.

These few examples show how it works. There are two sides to all theses issues. It just depends on your political prism.

Of course, acknowledging differing opinions isn’t our way. God forbid that we be asked to actually respect another’s views.  We prefer to be right.  In fact, we demand it, even when we are wrong.  I am fortunate to have friends from all walks of life.  Their politics range from Left-leaning Communists to budding Neo-Nazis.  The Right’s take on current events is a combination of moral outrage, moral superiority (always Christian), the U.S. Constitution  (if you don’t like something, it’s unconstitutional) and some nostalgia (such things as whipping children are fondly recalled).  The support Republicans and like all Ayn Rand quotes.  The Left approaches these issues from a different angle, of course.  They are intellectual titans ready to make fun of religion (always Christianity.  They don’t say anything about Islam, Judaism, et al.), cite obscure authors, and engage in relentless name-calling often involving obscene language.  They support Democrats and love to quote Barack Obama, Mahatma Ghandi and hate all Ayn Rand quotes, even though most of them are atheists like Rand.

Here is a typical social media exchange regarding Mr. Robertson, who has eclipsed war, world hunger and random violence as the issue of the day:

  • Original Post:  I stand with Phil!  The Bible says that we will be persecuted for Him! Christians have freedom of speech, too!  Our country is being destroyed!  I will never watch TV again!

[See how our friend has concisely encompassed the significant elements of right-wing rage.  The Bible, persecution, morality, patriotism and broad and incorrect legal principles.]

A response from the Left naturally flows:

  • Comment:  You can stand with that bigoted, homophobic, racist if you like.  I have never seen his show.  In fact, I do not own a television having traded mine for a Navajo Dream Catcher.  Freedom of speech is not an issue here–offensive, racist, homophobic rhetoric is.  The Bible supports all manner of prejudice.  I suggest you read the collected works of Bertrand Russell instead.

[Our Leftist chum has countered with his own salvo.  He engages in name calling that far exceeds anything Mr. Robinson has done but does so from a perch of intellectual superiority. He is above mere TV watching.  He concludes his concise commentary by inferring that atheist mathematician/philosopher Bertrand Russell is a better source for moral guidance than the Holy Bible. Well done.]

This exchange will continue with many additional posts by these and other commentators.  The Right will contend they are right because, well, they are right…or Right.  The Left will froth and name-call, even resorting to the use of vulgarities to make their points.  Ultimately, no one makes any sense and everyone is angry.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I have engaged in this foolishness on occasion, especially when legal principles are misstated.  I forget my advantages in this regard:  1) I have actually read the Constitution; and 2) I graduated from law school.  I, too, have been called names.  One Lefty even called me a racist for correctly noting that the ubiquitous George Zimmerman is Hispanic.  I countered with own my stream of obscenities.  It’s easy to fall into this trap.  I do not judge.

Let’s all commit to work as one to make all this easier for me.  After all, wouldn’t the world be a better place if things suited me?  Don’t be a racist, homophobic, liberal, conservative, Communistic Neo-Nazi, Bible-thumping Atheist.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

Government Shutdown FAQ Page

As a public service, I shall now address the most frequently asked questions about the Government shutdown.

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT?

In this case, it’s the federal government, as opposed to your state, city or county government.  I live in an area with a merged city-county government.  It is sort of like Christian Rock combining the worst of elements of two conflicting disciplines.  The federal government is described in the United States Constitution.

The federal government has three branches:  1) Executive (the President and all his minions); 2) Legislative (Congress); and 3) Judicial (Courts).  The Shutdown involves primarily the Legislative Branch.

WHAT IS CONGRESS?

Our Congress has two parts.  The Senate consists of like 50 or 100 senators or possibly more.  The House of Representatives contains God knows how many people, maybe 1,000.  They make the laws, sort of.  Mostly, they just disagree about what the laws should be.  This is because the Republicans control the House and the Democrats control the Senate.  John Boehner, a leathery-faced chain smoker from Ohio, is the Speaker of the House.  Harry Reid, a feckless milquetoast from Nevada, leads the Senate.  They do not get along with each other.  Although Reid used to be a boxer, my money is on Boehner in an actual fight.

Congress has an approval rating of less than 10%, putting it just ahead of syphilitic dementia and just behind root canals in popularity.

WHAT IS A SHUTDOWN?

It’s where the government doesn’t have enough money to operate and shuts down a bunch of stuff.  They won’t shutdown everything.  We’ll still have air traffic controllers, prison guards and, of course, Congress.

WHY DO THEY CALL IT A SHUTDOWN?

Not everyone calls it that.  Fox News calls it a “slim down,” which sounds like a really positive thing. It might be a real positive, unless you’re one of the million or so people not getting paid during it.

Others call it a slow down, as though the government could actually move any slower than it already does.

HOW DID IT GET SHUTDOWN?

The House controls spending and won’t agree to fund anything unless part of Obamacare is delayed for a year AND members of Congress are required to participate in it.  The President and, hence, the Senate refuse to agree to this, saying that the law is law.  So, both sides would rather have much of the government grind to all a halt than compromise.

WHO SHUT IT DOWN?

That’s hard to say.  There are three schools of thought:

The Right:  Folks on the right (the “Conservatives”) say that the President did it.  Why?  First, they hate the President, so he has to be blamed.  Second, the President is a Democrat, and the Conservatives are not Democrats.  They blame the President for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a/k/a Obamacare.  They don’t like Obamacare and don’t want it implemented, even though it is now the law.  So, the House won’t agree to fund any of the government unless there are changes made.

The Left:  Those on the left (the “Liberals”) blame the Conservatives, more particularly the Republicans.  They don’t want to negotiate with the Republicans.  So they don’t.  They hate the Republicans.  As a result, they don’t really want to talk to them at all.  Their hate of the Republicans is probably the reason they made Obamacare a law to begin with.

Everyone Else:  The remaining Americans (the “Victims”) don’t know who the f**k to blame and don’t give a rat’s ass.

WHAT IS OBAMACARE?

I’ve written extensively about that before.  No one really knows, but it exists.

WHO IS MY CONGRESSMAN?

I have no idea.  Just pick one.  They’re all about the same.

WHY WOULD ANYONE VOTE FOR THESE PEOPLE IN CONGRESS?

You got me on that one.  No clue.

SO, IS THERE NO GOVERNMENT NOW?

It’s not really shut down completely.  Let’s say you worked in factory, and it got shut down.  There would still be security guards and some maintenance people working.  It’s kind of like that, but completely different.

Mostly, they’ve just furloughed a lot of employees.  That means they’ve told them not to come to work. Of course, they also don’t get paid. For example, of the 1500 employees of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only three are working.  Those three are complying statistics on how many people in the Bureau of Labor Statistics aren’t working.

If you are a “non-essential” employee, you’re not working.  “Non-essential” means they don’t really need you, which begs the question of why they’re paying you to begin with.

I’M A NON-ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEE.  WHY DO I HAVE TO WORK?

That’s likely because you don’t work for the government.  Private sector non-essential employees should still report to work and pretend to be busy like usual.

HOW MANY FEDERAL EMPLOYEES ARE THERE?

Something like 3,000,000, and that doesn’t include the military, CIA, NSA and a bunch of others.  That’s more than Walmart, IBM and McDonalds combined.  The Department of Homeland Security has 230,000 employees itself.  That’s hell of a lot but only one for every 1300 people in the country.  They can’t really protect all of us, can they?

IS CONGRESS GETTING PAID?

What kind of idiot are you?  Of course, they’re getting paid.  The Congressional barber shop, gym and shoe shine service are closed, though.  So, they are suffering but not as much as Congressional Barbers, Shoe Shiners and Gym Attendants.  Besides, if Congress doesn’t get paid, the Washington D.C. prostitution industry will collapse.

I’M IN A TENT AT A NATIONAL PARK.  WHAT’S THE DEAL?

You have 48 hours to get the Hell out.  If you don’t, the NSA will turn bears loose on your campground.

DOES THIS AFFECT THE NFL?

Luckily, no.

CAN I GET FREE HEALTH INSURANCE?

Probably not, unless you’re really poor or a member of Congress.

ARE THE PEOPLE WHO LISTEN TO MY PHONE CALLS FURLOUGHED?

No, we’re not.

DOES ANY OF THIS AFFECT MY OBAMACARE BRAIN IMPLANT?

Yes.  For the time being, the microchip implant has been deactivated.  You’ll know when it restarts, because you’ll piss your pants a couple of times.

ARE THE DEATH PANELS STILL WORKING?

Yes, they are.  Much like jury duty, you may be called to serve at any time.

SO, I GUESS THERE ARE NO COPS? (ASKING FOR A FRIEND)

You’re wrong about that.  Most cops are state employees anyway.  Plus, I know an FBI agent, and he’s still working, although it’s questionable about whether he’s being paid.  Imagine how surly he’d be if he had to bust your ass for free.

DO I STILL GET MY MAIL?

Yes.  The Postal Service isn’t affected, because it generates income from postage.  Somehow a business that loses billions of dollars can still deliver a letter for you 3000 miles away for 46 cents.  Go figure.

I’M DRUNK AND DON’T UNDERSTAND ANY OF THIS

First, that’s not a question. Second, your drunkenness does not explain your lack of understanding.  Many teetotalers, including the few sober members of Congress, don’t understand any better than you.

WHY ARE THEY TAKING OUR GUNS?

That’s a Frequently Asked Question About The United Nations.  I can’t answer it.

WHY CAN’T A GOOD GUY WITH A GUN STOP THIS?

Mr. LaPierre, I told you to quit posting questions.

WHAT’S THE PRESIDENT DOING?

How should I know?  Golf?  Vacationing?  Fighting evil?  Doing evil?  Just the usual stuff that Presidents do, I guess.

DO YOU THINK YOU’RE THE BOSS OF ME?

Yes.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  THE FOREGOING REPRESENTS THE OPINIONS, SPECULATION AND ASSUMPTIONS OF THE AUTHOR.  ALTHOUGH I AM A LICENSED ATTORNEY, NONE OF THE ABOVE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED OR RELIED UPON AS LEGAL ADVICE.  IN FACT, MUCH OF IT IS INACCURATE AND/OR FALSE.  IF IT WERE ACTUAL LEGAL ADVICE, I WOULD SEND YOU AN EXORBITANT, YET REASONABLE, BILL FOR MY SERVICES.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress 2013