Thursday, October 28, 2010

Power from Clint McCance

I'm going to assume that everyone knows the story of Clint McCance by now, so I won't waste time discussing the particulars of the Facebook posting or the recent rash of bullying in general. I'm going to discuss what happened as information became available.

Tuesday--The Advocate posts a screenshot and a story about McCance's post in an online article. By the time the article becomes widely known, McCance's facebook has been privatized rendering it impossible for the public to read his post and decide whether or not the post was real or not.

Many people begin demanding his immediate dismissal, whether through firing or resignation. What's most telling about people's response is that at this point, he was only alleged to have made these comments. Few suggested resignation in the instance that the comments proved true. At this point, people had formed an opinion and did not wish to listen to an alternative explanation.

Wednesday--Facebook lights up with people posting status updates indicating how angry they are at McCance. The internet is littered with commentary and blog-articles discussing the issue; however, at this point, all articles eventually link back to, paraphrase, and copy the Advocate article. No new information has been gathered; just what was mentioned in the Advocate article. Still, the only proof that anything happened exists in the Advocate article. If the Advocate had misreported then much ado had been made about nothing.

Many facebook users urge mass phone calling, emailing, and demonstrations at Midland School District. Emails to the Superintendent are encouraged. Emails to the other School Board members are encouraged.

But here's the part that scares me: Personal information relating to McCance are published online. Not just his work phone and business listing. In a few instances, I noticed that home address, home phone, and wife & children's names were published. My question: what purpose would the publication of this information serve? The only answer is that people who are not fans of McCance wanted to encourage harassment of McCance on his private property and time.

This is inappropriate in any context regardless of what crime or malfeasance a person has committed.

As disappointed as I was to hear that a human being actually vocalized their hatred toward a particular segment of the population, I was equally disappointed in people's response to this hatred.

I realize that Jesus was a fan of righteous anger, but I think that in today's modern era, anger is an inappropriate response to someone else's action.

I try, in all things that I do, to react out of calmness, rationality and love...not out of hatred or fear. I hope that my friends and people that are not fans of McCance come to this realization and forgive themselves for allowing to be caught up in a hysteria.

When you allow yourself to be affected by someone else's words, you have just given that person power over you. The last person I would want to give someone power to is someone like Clint McCance

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Truth and OpiNION

I'm sure others have done more scholarly pursuits on the realms of "What is Truth?" but today I'm simply going to draw distinctions between a series of variations on Facts and Opinions.

Fact: In its simplest incarnation, a Fact (capital 'F') is an observance of something real. I always like to use the example, "George Washington was White." It's pretty dead-on accurate. You can get into a tizzy about whether or not White and Black accurately describe someone's ethnicity, or into demagoguery by espousing the point of view that race should not be observable and that you're only propagating bigotry by reducing someone to the color of their skin, but let's be honest. GW was White.

In more complicated incarnations, a fact can be a little more difficult to ascertain. A more modern, relevant example of this would be the statement, "Cigarette smoke is not detrimental to your health." Is this a fact? Yes. What kind of fact? A False Fact. False Facts are observable statements that are typically relevant to a time-period. Fifty years ago, it was thought that cigarette smoke was not detrimental to someone's health. Our ability to observe it as such was not possible. A thousand years ago, the "Earth is Flat" was a Fact. Over time, our ability to observe real instances improves, so some Facts become false. They still remain, however, Facts, in an abstract sense because they are easily provable (or disprovable).

Opinion: Opinions, in essence, are a subjective interpretation of a Fact or set of Facts that can neither be proved or disproved. Personal values, experiences and future goals are huge factors in the formation of opinions. True Opinions cannot really be 'wrong', though sometimes anecdotal evidence can severely skew someone's perception of a Fact(s).

If True Opinions cannot be 'wrong' can an opinion ever be 'not right'? Yes. If an opinion is based upon False Facts, then it is not really an Opinion. It is a False Opinion. "George Washington was the greatest astronaut ever," besides being non-sequitur has no basis in reality. It's not a real Opinion. "I bet GW would have been a great astronaut," however, is a completely valid Opinion because one would assume that the statement would be based upon Facts relating to GW's ability to command a crew, leadership abilities, love of country, etc.

So, let's look at a very recent political issue and see if it passes Fact/Opinion rationality:

e.g.: The recent Healthcare Reform Bill passed by Congress is bad for America.

The keyword that demonstrates this as 'opinion' is the word 'bad,' which by nature is a subjective interpretation. To determine the validity of this statement as an Opinion or a False-Opinion, one would need to delve into what elements someone chose to form that opinion. Some Facts that would make this a True Opinion:
1) The US Gov has never attempted a social program of this magnitude before.
2) The US Gov has never had an individual mandate of any private product before.
3) Subsidizing Doctor's educations would increase supply of Doctors; thus, driving down the cost of medical services.
4) Healthcare is not expressly mentioned in the Constitution.

The above four Facts, which are observable (though, since the third is an extension of an economic argument, there is the potential of it later being proved a false fact) would lead someone to a valid Opinion that "Healthcare is bad for America."

If this opinion was based on facts such as the following:
1) The Healthcare Reform Bill is going to raise individual income taxes by 3,000%.
2) The HRB is going to round up Seniors in front of a Death Panel and euthanise them.
3) The HRB was signed into law by a President who was born in Kenya; thus, it is invalid.
4) The majority of Americans don't want healthcare legislated by the government.

If the above opinion was based upon any of the previous four 'facts' then it is a False Opinion and should be discounted.

Thesis: While Opinions can never truly be 'wrong', it is possible for an opinion to never have existed in the first place, if it never had a Fact to grow on.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Well, one month and no posts. Has a lot happened? Yes, and No. Mostly more of the same. Presented in an lecture format.

What's the same
  1. Family--Went to my Great Aunt's for Thanksgiving this year, which was where the rest of my family showed up, as well. They are all the same.
  2. Useless--Is still a hambone.
  3. Blog Project mentioned in previous post--Still in a developmental phase.
What's Different
  1. Work--The holidays are upon us, and I am working my ass off to accomodate grooming everybody and their mother's dog. This is also the time of year that you see the worst-kept dogs that are in abysmally bad shape. The joke around the salon is that when Christmas roles around, people open up their closets to set up the decorations only to find that they own a dog and think, "Maybe I should feed him and get him fixed up." After family leaves for the holiday, the dog goes back into the closet for another lonely year of non-existence.
  2. Finances--I have gotten used to extraordinarily large paychecks because of the overtime being granted to us at work and the incredible number of dogs coming in to be groomed. I haz cash. Maybe I should pay a bill or two.
  3. Personal life--It's an age-old tale, told by our past generations: Boy goes to get dog groomed. Boy meets groomer. Groomer adds boy on facebook. Boy accepts friend add. Boy and groomer begin talking. Boy and groomer begin dating. After a night of partying, boy and groomer go to Visions (a female strip club) and become Official. To rephrase in a less storybook manner: I now have a boyfriend.
In summation
  1. Life is good.
  2. Life is really good.
  3. I'm doing fantastic, and my lack of blogging is more of a function of less happening with me than stuff happening and me not wanting to blog about it.
Have a great day and see you next class!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


So, I ditched my attempt at NaNoWriMo once again. I think I got to about 12,000 words before I backed out entirely. That's twice as well as I did two years ago. I figure another 16 years or so, and I might just be able to finish. This is the busy season at work, and by the time I get home, I just don't feel like doing anything creative. C'est la vie.

However, I am working on developing a project that will begin next year. I'm planning on starting a different blog that relates entirely to the Little Rock Planning Department, and issues related to zoning, planning, and land usage in and around Little Rock. The plan (partially) is to include overviews of proposed zoning changes, effects of increased land usage, observations on trends with building permits and such, and every so often a more scholarly look at zoning, hopefully with primary source interviews.

I'm drafting out the architecture on paper. And I have to do some research related to finding out when Planning Commission meetings take place and procedural and parliamentary rules, specifically for Little Rock. I may even attend a meeting or two or three. I've been to them in the past, and you'd be amazed at how riled up people get in relation to zoning.

So, there you have it. I'm planning on starting this at the beginning of next year, since Little Rock's fiscal year starts in January. Makes for an even-footing in relation to reporting.

Ideas are welcome on how I can make this very didactic topic more accessible for the mainstream public.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dick Morris is Bad for America

I'm linking this to a blog under the purview of Dick Morris. While I would appreciate his website not getting footprints, I thought it prudent to include Primary Sources (since Morris obviously doesn't). You can trust that I will reproduce the pertinent parts of his blog entry here in complete form with appropriate commentary.

The general outline of the article is that the attacks at Ft. Hood were a terrorist attack. From there, he goes on to denigrate President Obama for not calling the act a terrorist act. He warns that ignoring terrorist attacks such as these will lead to a future 9/11, the same way that Clinton ignoring attacks on the World Trade Center led to 9/11.

Firstly, while I do not wish to belittle the tragic loss of life that occurred at Ft. Hood, I take issue with calling it a 'terrorist act.' As Morris stated, "In fact, the Ft. Hood shooting is the first terror attack on American soil since 9-11." Terrorism, by definition, implies a criminal act of sufficient magnitude to inspire fear in a sizable percentage of the population. And I will not take issue with saying that a decent percentage of Americans felt some form of over-generalized, irrational fear because of this act.

However, calling it a terrorist act implies that Hasan had larger aims than simply killing Americans. From the reports I've read relating to the attack, it seems that something in Hasan's head just snapped. I don't think he's in his right mind. I don't think he knows what he did that day. But it's useless to speculate because he's comatose, and we've found no direct evidence to indicate his motives. So speculation is useless on my part, and on Dick Morris'.

Morris' entire basis for a motive exhists in the phrase Hasan uttered before opening fire, "Alla-hu Akbar." Translated, it means something equivalent to "Allah is the Greatest." This certainly clarifies Hasan as a Muslim and that perhaps this act was done in the name of Allah, but in this article, he doesn't make a distinction between a Muslim killing in the name of God and a Christian killing in the name of God.

He is, however, making a distinction between this attack and other attacks that have injured numerous people. "[Obama] is doing everything he can to make it look like an adult version of the Columbine school shootings," Morris states because Obama referred to the attack as act “of violence.” Morris goes on to say, "This attack did not take place in a shopping mall or a school, where security procedures are, understandably, relaxed," implying that attacks on shopping malls, homes, offices and bars are not terroristic in nature. Maybe Morris just forgets that Puerto Rico is a part of US soil. Republicans usually do.

And Morris obviously doesn't consider the case of Linh Voong, who killed 14 people a terrorist act. After all, I'm sure Morris would point out that Voong wasn't a Muslim. Obama also called that attack an act of "senseless violence."

Herein lies part of Morris' problem, he is quick to label this attack as 'terrorist' without further knowledge, and thus, perpetuates the idea that this is terrorism, thereby causing more terror.

The real shame comes later in his article: "There may be no groups behind Major Hasan’s attack, but the fact that he was an officer in the Army, with full access to a military base and its arsenal of weapons, while holding the views he did, is the first indication of a laxity in security under President Obama [emphasis mine]."

Firstly, Hasan did not use military weapons, so this should not be an issue. Secondly, as a habit, men in uniform don't walk around base with weapons. After all, it's their home. Only Military Police have active weapons, just like cops on the street do. Thirdly, had Hasan desired access to military weapons, he would have to go to the armory to get them issued; he didn't because he knew the Armorers wouldn't just hand over a gun to him. Fourthly, 'full access' is most likely not granted to a Major that is a psychiatrist. They have less needs for guns. Lastly, Hasan DIDN'T USE A MILITARY-ISSUED WEAPON!!!! He used a gun (with cop-killer bullets) that he purchased legally at a Texas gun shop. If there's any laxity here, it's in our nation's gun laws.

The latter part of Morris' statement is along the lines of something said on "Fox and Friends" the day after the shooting. Gretchen Carlson suggested that "political correctness" was the reason behind the attacks because the military did not investigate Hasan because he was a Muslim, implying that the military should investigate Muslims serving in order to guarantee that they don't have radical views. They do have these investigations: I believe it happens during Army entrance exams and regular performance reviews to determine if you have the mental fortitude to handle being in the military.

I think, however, that Morris wants to go a step further: From the tone of his article, he wants to investigate all Muslims serving in the military through invasion of privacy and rescinding the proviso that, in America, you are innocent until proven guilty.

Morris: "That the military failed to spot the possibility of an attack and had no measures in place to prevent it must be laid at the feet of the commander-in-chief of that military: President Barack Obama." This ignores the fact that Obama has made no changes to military security procedures in his tenure, since largely that's left up to the military bureacracy. Obama doesn't really have much of a say in the bureacratic methods of the military....just the engagement of troops.

However, we cannot enact "measures" that invade the privacy of individuals, even within the military in the name of prevention of terrorism. The only thing worse than a military with a few tortured souls in it, is a military afraid to have opinions and individual thought for fear of retribution by the anti-terrorist wing of America.

This attack was NOT terrorism. It was the equivalent of a deranged employee going to work and massacering his co-workers. Sad? Yes. Regretable? Yes. Terrorism? No.

EDIT: I make one caveat to my claim that this attack was "not terrorism." It is possible that future information may be made available that indicates that this was an act of terrorism. However, as of today, with no political motive made apparent, it is useless for Morris or me to conjecture. However, even if this was an act of terrorism, it would not be a decree to invade civil liberties involving freedom of thought for military personnel. I don't know how Morris could honestly think this could have been prevented without violating the civil liberties of Hasan. This lends me to think that this is merely another rhetorical strategy he is employing to denigrate Obama.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mother? May I NaNoWriMo?

I'm in a writing mood, and it's a good thing, too, because about two and a half hours ago, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time since a failed and dismal attempt three years ago. While my previous story was basically going to be an allegory for the journey through Core I in the UCA Honors College (I was a PA at the time, so it seemed appropriate), this one is a little bit more realistic fiction. No fantasy shit going on.

Actually, after today, I really have no idea where this story is going to go. I had a really good run tonight: Got all the way to 1675 words, which is respectably above the 1667 words I need to write daily to make it to the 50,000 word requirement by the end of November.

My problem as it stands: I'm apparently writing a very serialized version of a story. For instance, the segment I wrote tonight begins and ends. It ends on a question mark, but it still ends. The 1,667 words I have so far can stand by themselves. I'm fairly certain that tomorrow when I pick up writing some more, I'll end up writing another compartmentalized story that can stand by itself. And so forth and so on ad thirty dayseum. Maybe these stories will intersect. I hope so. Maybe these stories will only have passing references to each other. I don't know. I'll let you know twenty-nine days from now.

Charles Dickens, eat your JJ Abrams heart out.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Football and Friends, or as I prefer, Pigs and People

This week, I had the exciting pleasure of reliving old days, both from high school and college.

Friday night, my manager graciously allowed me to leave work a few hours early to attend a high school football game as played by my alma mater against Pulaski-Robinson. One of the advantages of living away from Magnolia is you are closer for the away games. It's quite a different experience watching the football games from somewhere other than the band. For one thing, I noticed that some parents were very vocal about certain 'bad' calls by the referees. I noticed at one point that my high school principal walked over to one of the overly (and obnoxious) parents to remind him that it's a high school game and that lives weren't dependent on the outcome. After all, they're just kids.

My cousin is also in the high school band this year (I think he was last year too). I didn't tell him that I would be there, which gave him a little shock when he saw me sitting in the stands at 3rd quater. I told him to go play with his friends and get some food. I'm sure the last thing he wanted was to talk to some old guy. That and I don't really have much in common with that side of the family. For one, they're infinitely more active in their Christianity than I ever was when I professed to be Christian. I don't know what they'd think of me being a Buddhist. Probably better to not let them find out. I don't think they read my blog. To many Bible verses to study. Obviously, I'm joking (in case they are reading :D).

Saturday, again, my manager was kind enough to let me work half a shift in order to attend a wedding, after which I headed to UCA to be a part of the tailgating experience (which is vastly different than from when I was a student), the game, and post-game activities.

For one, I'm an alumni of the UCA Band, which was a lot different five years ago than it is now (I'm not five years out of college, but I am five years out of band). For one, the band was a lot more laid back. They're very uptight now. It's too high strung for me. I never would've made it in the BMB (Bear Marching Band, as it is called now). For a fleeting instance, however, I considered playing in the Alumni Band, which always accompanies the standing band in time of Homecoming (military allusions FTW). I chose not to, however, preferring to bond with people I hadn't seen in nearly five years. I think it's awesome that I have friendships with people in which I can pick up conversations we never finished as if we were only talking just yesterday.

The other component of the evening was the Homecoming ceremonies with Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma, the band fraternities, of which I was once a member of Kappa Kappa Psi. I enjoyed the time that I was in the Fraternity. I don't miss it like some. I'm not nostalgic for 'the old days' of cameraderie and servile works. I do appreciate, though, the direction the UCA chapter has taken away from the "Frat boy" mentality and more towards a focus on the band and the social experience surrounding band and band members. The chapter wasn't really all that focused on band when I was active (at least not as much as I thought it should be), but it does seem so now. It's a privilege merely to be associated with an organization like what it is today.

But referencing earlier in the post about seeing old friends....there's also a kind of dichotomy to these meetings: On the one hand, you talk to them as if nothing has changed. On the other hand, you catch up on what's new and interesting in each others' lives. This is one thing I appreciate about everyone I consider my friends: They don't treat me any differently as the years pass, and neither do they expect different treatment. Marriages and kids and jobs and money don't change my friends. I guess I'm good at picking them. :)