Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Horse is a Horse, Of Course--The Concept of a 'Local Vendor Cartel'

We've all heard the variations on the old phrase, "If it looks like a [often expletive noun], smells like [same identifier], and sounds like [again], then it's probably [one more time, with gusto!]."

Well, here in Bowling Green, KY--my hometown, where I've lived my entire life--I've finally come to the 'scarlet conclusion' [scarlet to denote it's importance] that our gas prices deserve their very own euphemism--or, more aptly, their own term.

The term? I'm calling this local 'price fixing phenomenon' the vendor cartel.

For years, our gas prices in Bowling Green have been substantially and consistently higher than the surrounding region's rates; often greater than the national average, and very commonly higher than large urban areas in the United States.  Sometimes they even overtake areas routinely known as tourist traps.

Local citizens of Bowling Green have been writing their opinions to the local paper for years--dozens have been printed (usually more than 30 per year), and I'm sure hundreds have been received by the newspaper.

I'm no expert in the method of problem solving, per se, but I've finally come to realize that, in order to solve our problem, we first have to properly identify it.

It's really so very simple--what we have here is a 'vendor cartel'.

Of course, anyone my age or older would know I've stolen part of my little 'term' from the phrase 'oil cartel', which we were forcibly familiarized with in the 1970s to identify why gas prices began soaring way back then, and why they were also probably not coming back down.

Here's the wikipedia entry, for noobs.  Basically, it really was a bunch of rich, greedy Arabs who got tired of the U.S. helping out their avowed enemy (but also their neighbor), Israel.  These wealthy punks banded together and successfully conspired to create a shortage of their product everywhere we [the United States] had friends.  When pressured, the major oil cartels (primarily one called OPEC) will throw out some fake explanation for their greedy deceit--everything from 'war is hell (and expensive, isn't it) to outright defiance toward us.  Everyone growing up more recently knows that they just don't feel the need to give reasons any more--they've grown far too wealthy off our fat, made powerful, dangerous terrorist alliances, and don't give a fat burp about being accountable for their greedy ways.

Which leads me to my comparison of how this applies locally.  In reading dozens of complaints from our local citizens in the local Daily News, I noticed a distinctly repeated pattern of a small group of local online users (i.e. trolls) who routinely take point against anyone daring to voice their 1st-amendment-protected rights to complain about local gas prices.  These trolls are always the same people, always use aliases, and are 'out there' apparently to 'take down' anyone daring enough to say anything against the obscenely-high gas prices around here.  Like mercenaries, I've seen them make online comments that go far beyond the pale--actually tantamount to hate crimes--about little old ladies, even, who are basically saying they're quickly becoming shut-ins in Bowling Green because they simply cannot afford the extremes in gas prices here anymore.  When I rushed in to defend these people being attacked, online, I've been called everything from crazy, to outright psychotic, and in one case, even a pedophile (of course, you can look me up--I'm NOT!!!).

These local trolls seem really desperate to squelch any complainers locally, and they're more prolific (and often, obscene) than Stephen King about it.  They live up to their troll status by making their hate-filled, false, comments, in every single story online; the Daily News, WBKO TV station, even social media sites (Topix).  The things they say get uglier than most Black Friday scenes--heck, even where wedding dresses are involved (obvious snark--'sorry').

I've often jumped in and called these trolls what they're begging to be called ['trolls']; sometimes I've even speculated openly in my online responses to them, that I wonder if they're being paid by local gas vendors to make their hate-filled rants.

Whatever their pay-offs may be, they obviously get something from attempting to slander, defame, and demoralize innocent locals who just want some final, real, official responses from the KY Attorney General, or some other public officials (many of the opinion letters have been open letters to these public figures).

Many letter-writers (and most online commenters) have been openly speculating for more than a decade that 'the government' (whether local, regional, state, or even federal) was directly--or indirectly--involved in some kind of price-fixing scheme, but a)no one's been caught, b)it sounds a little bit more than paranoid, assuredly, and c)frankly, we don't have the local investigative media resources to do any more than just that--speculate.

So, I thought, this morning, if I'm going to speculate...which I will...if we're all given to speculate.

Hmm...let me just put it this way: While we're speculating, why not at least try and correctly identify the real problem, by giving it a name that might even correlate with what's been said to be going on in Bowling Green in so many of those letters through the years?

That's when I came up with it--our very own 'vendor cartel', a local group that will do basically anything to support its own greedy ends.  A 'group' like a cartel might even be a number of organizations that--by sheer number alone, much less the inherent resources of each sub-group in the larger one--could even hire their very own 'Pavlov dogs', trained to attack anyone questioning what is going on here, especially if they're getting close to the scent of the real answers, themselves.

In the 1970s, the Arab oil cartel successfully created such a shortage of actual gas here in the U.S. that we were basically shut down economically.  Anyone who lived through it should also see a very direct effect the embargo then had on the economy.  The very same year OPEC 'cancelled' our gas shipments, this tactic also led to one of the biggest stock market crashes in the history of the market itself.

So, I don't take my little 'term' lightly--it's what we have in Bowling Green--a 'vendor cartel', and I'm just happy to give it a name.

One of the most intelligent characters in the Frank Herbert book/movie series Dune was Thufir Hawat; he was identified in the series as a 'master assassin' hired by the royal family depicted in the series as the personal private instructor to Paul Atreides (heir to the Duke's throne); in this office, he made some very apt, intelligent, and remarkable statements, often directly to Paul himself.  One of my favorites--and certainly one of the more memorable--quotes in the movie adaptation of Dune, came from Thufir, shortly after he accompanied 'House Atreides' to the planet Arrakis (a.k.a. 'Dune') as part of their attempt to escape the evil schemes of the 'Emperor of the Known Universe' (I know, he sounds like a guy you'd want to escape from, right?)

The quote comes from when Thufir was putting in overtime for the Atriedes', looking around to see the 'Emperor' had 'installed' any type of 'welcoming party' to kill them off.

"The first step in avoiding a trap is knowing of its existence".

How this applies to our local problem?  We can speculate endlessly about why our gas prices here are so 'inexplicably high', but a better start might be finding out if looking at the concept of a local 'vendor cartel' might help explain things more exactly, more correctly, and even lend some insight into rooting out those responsible, by looking at the behaviors associated with cartels.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


After battling against the unfair monopolization of our local ISP market by Insight Communications for nearly two decades (they changed their name--but not ownership--once during that time), now our local, regional, and state government has again left us unprotected, and essentially allowed us to be given over, to a much more massive, corporate communications conglomerate (impressive double-alliteration, right!?).

Time Warner Communications (aka 'Road Runner', regionally, as far as their ISP is concerned), is frikking HUGE.

(read their wikipedia citation here)

Perhaps they really do fully intend to bulk out the Insight market with all their streaming offerings (apps, online services--read this part of that same wikipedia link).

However, as consumers, we stand to at their multinational conglomerate corporate 'mercy' (ha!--good luck!) because we've never had any hi-speed broadband (over the fastest connection--coax/fiber) for Insight before.

It already concerns me that the pre-existing monopoly situation wasn't ever even addressed--much less resolved--by any government oversight--before Insight was acquired by TWC.

This is mostly due to the structure of the way the laws regarding this particular industry--the FCC and FTC both can't really do anything about monopolies, and honestly, neither could do so much as force Insight to even respond to concerns over their longstanding, TWC could run amok here, financially, and just exploit us, rather than do what's right, and be an even better ISP for the region.

I'm hoping they don't, but there are signs they're going to be worse than an absentee, corporate landlord.

Assuming TWC knows they've bought a monopoly (HA! you bet--they're not the world's biggest com-company by being oppresively ignorant), we could be in for quite a ride, here...actually, I'm sure that term will do nicely for what we're in for--it'll be almost the same experience (services, billing, customer support) as Insight, with a few more digital online services.

Actually, I won't be surprised the first time I see TW making Kentuckians pay for services they offer for free in other regions, because we'll have to...because they're our only choice.



The fact that TWC is forcing Insight customers out of their email addresses is a BIG, negative indicator that this means we'll NOW be at the mercy [pure snark: there will be NONE] of not only a local monopoly, but a huge, indestructable CORPORATE one...the 'transition process' is a joke already--even the site pages 'shepherding' customers through the process are written so poorly, with almost NO vital info on what new email address you're getting, AND all 'registration confirmation' emails to old Insight addresses GOING STRAIGHT INTO JUNK MAIL BOXES (unbelievable--doing this for a local PC repair client, I had to do it again using his gmail account in order to even SEE the damn thing--AT ALL!)...all this amounts to one HUGE mess, and I'M ABSOLUTELY SURE price gouging GOING HAYWIRE by TWC...

Just WAIT 'til it finally 'hits home' to this corporate Tyrannosaur the unchecked hoards of unprotected, helpless vassals they have here in KY--they'll be exploiting it mercilessly in a matter of weeks--as soon as the interoffice memos will allow.


They're already throwing us into their corporate, national, dogfighting pits with promotions and marketing, as well--Wednesday afternoon I received a phone call from a '513' area code, and idiotically answered--it was a COLD call from TWC's promotional center in CA, but as she ID'd herself as a TWC rep, I thought they were calling people to help them 'transition' such luck--QUITE THE OPPOSITE--this TWC rep hung me on the phone for 30 minutes trying to get all my info, asking questions like "Are you satisfied with the current internet speed you've been having?", and most deceitfully, this one: "We're just checking to make sure things are going well during this transitional phase you've been going through in your area".

When I heard THAT, I was fooled into thinking that TWC really WAS helping people already, and that maybe--just mayyyy-be--there was the slightest chance that their sheer size would allow them to allocate more CS (and--'gasp'--tech support!) resources to our 'newly-acquired region'.

No, this was a damn promotional cold call; she put me on hold at least THREE times, checking, 'double-checking', seemingly SO conscientious about the whole process, then mid-way through, she started trying to sell me more packages...

Ahhh, but that's not the worst came that frikkin' RUB.

At the 30 min. 'mark', I had indeed committed to one of the smaller TV / NET packages she was pushing...and was really disappointed when she abruptly told me she was 'going to have to put you on hold one more time'...I sighed 'yes'...FOUR minutes later, she gets back on to tell me this:
"Sir, I'm sorry, but I checked with my supervisor here, and you will have to call Insight local technical support to get the combination of packages you want--I'm sorry--I thought you could get that, but apparently, right now, it's a case of 'two sides of the same coin' [whut?]', and more cheesy, contrived, on-the-spot, embarrassing and hurried misnomers that meant this, PURELY:
TWC is now sending out mass Insight customer phone number lists to its corporate sales centers out in CA, pushing them to cold-call Insight customers, who they cannot even provide ANY packages to at this time.

Their promotional team has not been prepped to offer us the CHOICES even INSIGHT was 'allowing' us--so I'm already as disjointed and disillusioned as I could be about this, and, 'God help me', I'm forced to think about our hapless, ridiculous, crappy satellite alternatives here, as well.

And--believe me--in this region (Central, Western, SC KY), the satellite 'net market SUCKs beyond compare, and I shudder at the notion. It's a death-sentence for any type of web use--weather-dependent, highly-restrictive, undependable, etcetera, etcetera...they suck. More than 80% of my local HUMAN customers who've 'tried' satellite internet here, have PAID OVER $200 TO BUY OUT OF THEIR CONTRACTS...especially HughesNET--my God they're awful.

Oh well--we're probably just royally, officially, screwed--BG has the worst selection of ISP's already--now, it's going to get worse, and also, I can hear one massive toilet flushing sound, from the legal team TWC already has together once they figure out how well they can maintain their monopoly if they can just keep owning the actual coax and fiber lines that keep us in 'subjecture'.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Justice is as Justice Does

An 18-year-old Florida woman is currently going to trial for raping her 14-year-old 'girlfriend'--for having sex with a 14-year-old girl, and the media is on this story like hot glue.
CNN Reports her attorney as having this to say:
In a statement saying that Hunt was rejecting the plea deal, her attorney, Julia Graves, wrote:
"This is a situation of two teenagers who happen to be of the same sex involved in a relationship. If this case involved a boy and girl, there would be no media attention to this case.
"Our client is a model citizen. She has been placed in an environment of school with her classmates where they go to school together, have lunch together, and play on the same team and are allowed to have communication and contact without barriers. Then when something develops between the two as a result of this environment created by the state, it leads to criminal prosecution."
"If this incident occurred 108 days earlier when she was 17, we wouldn't even be here," the attorney wrote.
How ironic that must sound to all the males currently being housed for raping their teenage 'girlfriends', in our penal system.
Listen--two wrongs don't make a right.  Nor do a million--and you can't split hairs on this matter.
What a 'liberal', 'progressive', comment by her [female] attorney, indicating no one would even pay attention to this if it were 'between a male and female'.
That's quite true--on the other hand, a male defendant's chance at any kind of trial, much less a 'fair' one, would be minimal, at best...'court-appointed' attorney, a speedy trial, a decade's sentence in the state know--'all that hub-bub'.
This is simple pandering to the liberal media, and I hope it backfires on her (the attorney, not to mention the self-serving little 'pre-vert' who got caught).
Yes, I'd make no judge over this case; this much is true--I'd have to recuse myself over her cutesy-little 'rich-girl' name alone...
Kaitlin the child rapist...yah, I'd be tossed from the seat on this one.
If justice is served, this'll be one case. If it isn't, then this will be one case that should shine light on some profoundly inherent prejudices that still taint our entire legal and justice system.
Worst of all, it sounds like the 18-year-old's family actually makes it quite clear they're on her side in denying their daughter was wrong to have sex with a 14-year-old.
Typical modern stuff; would like to see the Southern Poverty Legal group, the NAACP, and [might as well] Al Sharpton weigh in on the injustice on this one.
Remember the 3 18-year-old black men in Georgia who were tried as adults by an openly racist, good-ole-boy, white judge, for merely getting consensual fellatio from their 15-year-old white girlfriends in a motel? National media attention to that case was immediately swept right under the rug just in time for these lads to be neglected by the media due to the 'tragic death' of Anna Nicole Smith, and lest we forget, 'Judge' Larry Seidlin's crocodile tears. Seidlin even made news headlines for recusing himself from the Smith case, and even more, for trying to parlay his moment of fame into his own TV series (within weeks).
Furthermore, those 18-year-olds were openly railroaded, when a 'media-hog' attorney named 'BJ Bernstein' made herself 'available' to them. How whorish--and this, in their most dire moment, facing the most ridiculous, backwater, white, monster-of-a-judge in GA, who openly admitted his racism, even during their trial.
Hope some 'real winners' rush to 'help' our young friend, here--guys [males] with names like 'Chester M. Olester', sounds about as suitable and appropriate as 'BJ' was for those Georgia kids. Or maybe something more indicative of what happened (I can't--I'm already sick at typing this rant).
Now, maybe it's time for some real honesty--our little 'darling', and likely mommy's li'l angel, Kaitlin, deserves no more or less a justice system--trial, jury, judge, attorney, and all the media she gets--than those 3 Georgia boys who went a little too far just once, and were sold into a hell worse than slavery.
I know I'll be watching...I'll try not to leer, but it doesn't mean she's not guilty.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Insight Communications Basically Sucks



Here in Bowling Green, KY, our local ISP 'provider' (term used loosely--worst CS in any I've dealt with, anywhere), was just bought out by TW, and as a result, we're now officially screwed out of using our 360 ESPN app.

I called TW 'CS', which PUT ME DIRECTLY THROUGH TO Insight as soon as I gave their automated system my tel. # (associated with Insight), and a CS 'rep' there interrupted me rudely 4 times (loudly) in under a minute to tell me this (basically, a direct quote):
"You're still an Insight customer, even though TW owns Insight, so, the way to get that content on the internet is [sales pitch coming] to go to our website, click on ESPN3 [knew it], and go from there. I don't know about the XBox, but as far as phones, and the internet, you're going to have to do it that way".

As Adam Sandler said in 'The Waterboy', "It's time to open a can of whoop-ass!" 

Today's 'discovery' is yet another in a long string of disappointments I've had as an Insight customer, but there are no choices otherwise in the entire region for this type of ISP.

Every time they can, Insight has screwed their customers out of content, raised prices, and contracted their internal customer service to people often doing it right out of their own homes. 

These have been the rudest people in the world, and Insight has even shut down local accounts that have been attacked and temporarily accessed (in my GF's case, with no evidence at all), by online scammers.

Case in point--my girlfriend, who's always paid her bills EARLY, and never done anything wrong (esp. on 'net), when we got home from vacation a few years back to find that Insight had suspended her account without contacting her as to 'why' leaving her with no 'net access except big, rude, home pages like the one below (except the older version had a 1-800 to call).

To me, these looked like hacked pages themselves, and I thought some hackers were targeting Insight to 'bring it down', while we were still paying!

I called the number, and got a CS rep who seemed to be working from a script, to the point speaking to a human being was actually not even necessary (as he wasn't supposed to be listening).

This kid was apparently also 'too young' to have good phone presence OR manners, and kept interrupting us (I informed him I was putting him on speakerphone because I had some questions, but my girlfriend, the account holder, was listening in to try and understand why her account had been closed).

He was very curt, and rude, saying 'you must have done something', then 'we have the info here', and it took a few minutes of prodding on my part to get him to even 'divulge' what the hell he was talking about...when he finally spit it out, it was something we never even knew about--somebody had 'supposedly' (INSIGHT's servers showed it--not our email accounts) used her ACTUAL account (not her wifi--her email account) to send out a lot of online pharmaceutical spam, and we'd never been aware.

Didn't matter, as far as these idiots were concerned--we'd 'used up' one of our 'four strikes' (forever, even--how American is it to not even know how many there are in the sport?) and Insight would 'graciously' re-open her access, but only because they were so very, incredibly, generous.

Make you sick? Did me.

I work on PCs, and don't have time to support any other illegal activities, online or not, so I lectured the little turd for a couple of minutes, telling him that currently even CNN had all sorts of reports going around saying how people were hacking others' accounts, and it certainly had been done here, and 'how can we not even see these supposed emails in any of our 'sent' folders (made him sit and listen while I accessed over four of them right then).

The kid had nothing to say, so he gave me some rude, idiotic platitude about 'well, that's the situation', and I left him with a hint that perhaps Insight should start looking at someone in their very own tech hierarchy abusing their skill/access/'power' to do stuff like this (hacking, using their access to random customer accounts), and even if this wasn't happening, they should quit falsely accusing their very best customers (no exaggeration here--my GF is likely in their 'top 5%' as far as bill-payers, actual 'rule-oriented' account holders, etc.) and start hiring some techs who, a)knew what the hell they were talking about, and b)would find the real culprits and quit accusing/abusing their best clients, especially while all the Insight ads (back in 2009) were depicting their 'then-CEO' Michael Willner going from home-to-home (Insight customers, of course) 'getting foppishly roped' into doing the customer's random housework (from walking the dog to cooking supper), with his severely-dopey, and calculatingly off-putting personality leading him into all sorts of [TOTAL and COMPLETE BULLSHIT] like this:
When Irony is Sweet

Ironically, Willner's very own 'blog' (actually, if he ever left content on this blog, it was basically what you'd see if you Googled something like 'ISP-sponsored hype', I'll bet) currently has only two comments on it--both unreadable, but one, looking exactly like what they were shutting down accounts over (in our case, described above).
What a jerk!
And--and in the case of his [then] company--'idiots'.  Pretty ruthless ones, at that.

See Michael Willner's 'still-open', mile-long, hype-filled drivel-of-a-blog, here.

The REAL issue here is that we are still being monopolized here in Bowling Green.

Our only choice for cable broadband internet was originally owned by Rick Williams--now one of our city commissioners--who may have even used his sellout money to help him afford his local campaign money. Pure speculation much does a local commissioner campaign cost, anyway?  I really don't know, and I'm sure it 'depends' on all sorts of factors, including how 'much you want to win'.

Rick Williams
Former Storer Cable Manager
Williams denied any such thing to me in person when I asked him about it during his 'first' run for that office, in 2010, when he showed up on my girlfriend's front porch hanging his campaign door-signs.

I shook his hand, smiled, said I remembered him as being a previous owner of our local cable company, and then said I had a few questions for him with regards to local internet providers in Bowling Green.

First I asked him if he still had any 'private' holdings from that sale--any stock in the company that currently owned it (Insight), which he readily denied.

Then I asked him if he was aware that some local residents didn't like 'the new owners', and letters to the local newspaper indicated that many felt we were 'forced' to subscribe to them, and people often expressed worries, concerns, and were 'wondering' if we'd ever see any competition for Insight in our area.  If the sweat beads didn't form, he was visibly shaken that somebody was 'holding him up' with such intense questions on a front porch where he wasn't ready for this stuff.

At first, he didn't really have an answer, but basically acted like he 'empathized', since, like I'd said, 'we're all in the same basket in town'.

I really did want an answer to that one, though, especially since he was literally campaigning for a local public office that could effect a rule on this locally, and promote some competition to come in for Insight.  So I did a little filibustering, meandering around how 'American' the free market is, and how good it was for local prices, and would benefit everybody...'heck, even him' (since he'd said he hadn't retained any of his personal stock in the company he'd sold, which he managed for many years, and had, at least partially owned, for quite awhile)...

That was enough for him to start looking nervously around for his 'ride'--who turned out to be his wife, rolling around the corner in the mini-van to 'save him'.

As he busily said his 'goodbye', I asked him if he had any intention of doing anything about it 'if he was elected'.

He made sure to avoid that topic entirely, claiming 'that's not really the kind of thing we can do locally'.

Really.  Then why do we bother voting for any elected officials hired to oversee the local city economy, then?

As he left, I reminded him how close our local situation is like a 'local' version of the situation that led to the infamous 'AT&T Breakup'; when Congress declared them a monopoly, and forced them to lease their (literal) existing phone cables (already installed in every home in the U.S.) to open up trade for competition, freeing that market up substantially.

I'll say this--if that hadn't happened, we'd all be paying AT&T over $100 a month for basic land-line phone service, and we certainly wouldn't have seen many of the biggest innovations in smartphones driven by that market, once genuine competition was introduced there.  It stands as one of the most important decisions made by our Supreme Court since it's beginning, especially those that affected the American economy.  Now, THAT's American.

Not what we see here, with our local ISP 'situation'--this is just open corruption, here--it's advanced to that point, after years of seeing the idea come up on the local newspaper by citizens from every walk of life, not just those who even know much about the economy, or the internet.  We have a monopoly here that may be getting 'covered up' by any local politician(s) with investments in the Insight company (and wouldn't they have invested in Time Warner before the recent buyout, since this would make their stock portfolios quite healthy-looking to other companies they were interested in investing in?).

Back in 2009, after talking with Williams, I reported back to my girlfriend I wouldn't be voting for him, and I recommended she not, either, and told her why.  I felt I didn't want to see him sitting on what is basically our city's 'Board of Directors', knowing he could use that position to become even less accessible in the future.  I felt his answers expressed his general apathy toward his constituents, and that he would miss every opportunity to serve in that way.  Sadly, I just felt this about his character--his dismissive attitude in his every answer had said a lot to me.

Despite my own growing apathy toward my city's economic situation, and my feeling that some corruption exists here, I still think we need to make these issues consistently heard by our officials.

This blog won't do it.  I certainly can't 'do' anything by myself.

I'm just one person, just like everybody else living here.

Media corporations are so big that they see their customers more as 'stats' every day.

Their attitude toward their subscribers can be anything they want, because they're setting their prices based on having no other competition to keep their prices reasonable.

Our local internet prices have climbed astronomically over the past few years because these companies lack any 'real' and 'true' competitors.  Most 'letter-writers' to the local newspaper (and many online comments) indicate what I also feel--that our treatment by these companies also suffers at the hand of this situation.

We need to take these issues to our state elected officials before prices get even further out of hand.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gun Control for Pinheads...from Pinheads

The latest series of overtly-political, high-profile, public appearances by ex-congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her sheepish hubby Mark Kelly, throw new light on the inherent dangers involved when politicians try and hurry up to pass any new legislation to avoid a larger issue.

We should all step back and gain some perspective right now on what is being said, starting with how darkly sinister it all sounds, from a historical perspective, in the very least.

Grouping the 'mentally ill' in with felons, in current language being tossed madly about, is just one of the main problems with their faulty, hasty, public reasoning. Honestly, it's starting to sound like an ad campaign for Nazi-era eugenics.

Felons are far more likely to try and get around any of the current waiting periods to get guns anyway--they've NOT been declared insane, and so should be the target of any new, tougher laws involved in the background check process.

There's a strong argument that anybody 'insane' enough to be considered too dangerous to own a gun, should already be in a mental institutions, where they'd hopefully be separated from guns in the first place.

Which type of 'crazy' will render you unable to protect yourself as provided for in the 2nd Amendment? 

Psycho? Schizo? What about 'clinically depressed'? This makes any psychiatrist's diagnosis so very much more weighty and potentially dangerous than ever before. What happens if a shrink decides some clinically depressed soul is too 'dangerous to themselves' to own a weapon, then that person gets their head blown off, and their family murdered (and worse), the next time some 'normal' person (who may have fooled the avg. psychiatrist) kicks down their front door in a home invasion to fund their drug habit?

Too many questions are raised by the Gifford/Kelly 'team's multiplicity of recent public appearances, replete with every kind of gun-crime victim, to be normal, much less base any new law on.

Many of the gun-crime victims are also deceased, making using their stories at least questionable, not to mention that half of them would probably be against any laws resulting from use of their images to curry favor and momentum towards any new bill.

Politicians rushing to guarantee re-election are making this push by creating a rally based on some of the faultiest reasoning ever laid out in public, much of it overwhelmingly biased, bigoted, and prejudiced.

Gifford and her annoying husband Mark Kelly are openly acting as foils for the NRA and major gun lobbies, hitting the media with so many public appearances that it's likely devastating for her health, and stands only as a future platform for his political ambitions.

The language he has clearly been using in his many, many late-night talk show and other public appearances indicates they are preparing to void the rights of millions of Americans who will now face harsh federal prison sentences for trying to go out and buy a gun.

I'm not saying we should prep all psychos for the X-revolution, here.

I'm saying that there are millions of people affected by mental illness who deserve their right to own and carry a gun for self-protection, hunting, and sport protected, as any other striation of society.

As for felons...'No'. They have sincerely voided their right to own a gun long after knowing the consequences of the actions that made them convicted felons.  However, I do want to add that there are probably more 'genuine' different classes of felons than even recognized in all the lexicon of psychiatric diagnoses; so, far from being 'another topic' for 'another day', let me address that here, too (while I'm neither mentally ill nor a felon).

It's pretty easy, generally--felons convicted of violent gun crimes should certainly not be allowed permits, and many classes of felon activity normally classed differently should be grouped according to their affiliation or similarity to gun crimes, for the purpose of preventing violent criminals from accessing a gun that will enable them to either commit a crime themselves, or facilitate one.

For example, any gang-related crimes should just quickly get you a ticket into the penal system, and permanently bar you from legally owning a handgun, with the strictest consequences, should you try.  And by this, I do mean walking into the hunting section of your local Walmart and trying to buy one. In fact, if a convict is tricky enough to do this, with all the current hub-bub, he's almost definitely going to commit a violent crime if he gets a gun, so actually, an immediate background check should be available to all stores carrying guns, so he can get picked up by police in the parking lot before he tries another store. 

Now let's revisit the poor sap who got so depressed on Valentine's Day in 1978 that he tried to pull the trigger on a gun in his mouth, yet by divine intervention it jammed.

Now, definitely any psychiatrist he visited would have practiced some sort of psychotropic compassion on him, likely for years.  The resulting treatment might just be prescribed until his natural death, especially if his doctor did his job 'right'. This guy's 'treatment' is also obviously not in my scope--it's his doctor's, with an eye toward the 'poor sap's' lasting well-being, socialization, etc.

I'm not questioning anyone's psychiatric diagnosis here either, but for the sake of this argument, it would be an oversight (in the classic sense of the word) to overlook the simple fact that treating them for mental illness should not deem them unfit to protect themselves. Many people are diagnosed with severe chronic depression as young adults, and live for decades after having to begin taking anti-depressants. In fact, we are a nation heading down the road of having millions of citizens doing so, for 50 years apiece or more.

Would this early diagnosis deprive them of the right to 'bear arms'?

Again, I'm certainly not leaping into any debate on the overall validity of their psychiatric diagnosis, especially since it may have actually saved their lives, enabling them to be happy, care-free, yet responsible, productive people for their remaining years on the earth.

I am questioning whether many of them would be able to enjoy the same freedoms as other, undiagnosed, Americans, including the rights guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Many people diagnosed with mental illness are misdiagnosed anyway (just ask their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th psychiatrists--rimshot!).  I'm not even going to tread into that mess--almost every aspect of a person's individual psychiatric diagnosis carries so much weight that there may not even be a group of psychiatrists or psychologists who could hope to quality any statements regarding their patients' obligatory right to own a firearm.  There may be some doctors who delve into the area themselves--some who may have their own diagnoses, and who also happen to be as gun-proud (and protective) as any NRA President could ever hope to be.

Many underlying issues make this whole subject difficult to even 'hit on the head': the type of diagnosis, the length of its effectiveness, the severity, and multiple issues right down to the appropriateness of the individuals physician's stance on gun control, would have to be addressed, making this whole issue one big proverbial hot mess, as the tabloids say.

This is my blog, so I'll just put it out there: we should not 'throw' the issue of the mentally ill owning guns in with the issue of felons owning guns. Instead of laying the ceremoniously scapegoating hand on the 'mentally ill', we should just focus on the problem, which is not necessarily the mentally ill, or felons in general.  Many people living under both these classifications are in places already that keep them away from guns.  The NRA is right when they say it's not necessarily guns, either.  It's a problematically difficult, complicated mess of problems; a whole complex mess of issues that need to be understood by every single one of us in the United States before we let a decision of any kind be made, make the decision, or even ignore it and blindly hope it goes away.

Current trends in increasing, often random, gun violence shows it is not going away, but here are some of my stronger points in naming scapegoating the mentally ill as an issue and a contingency in considering any changes in the current gun laws as we have them now:

Throwing the Baby into the Bathwater

The baby, here, should be considered a euphemism--until babies begin wreaking havoc in shopping malls for anything less than severe cuteness and temporal gas-related crabbiness (even then, they're still cute!)

The baby, here, is the 'mentally ill'.  'Throwing them into the bathwater' is doing what I just did in that last sentence--calling a group living, breathing human beings a potentially denigrating, socially-restrictive, vague,  chronically misunderstood, and often politically charged term that has made its way into common language as a benign way to classify misunderstood and often inexplicable behavior, placing them all literally, or euphemistically, in the same basket, for lack of an even worse term.

Most often this is done by everyone except the type of persons whose profession coined the term in the first place. It used to be called 'pop psychology' (see also 'armchair quarterback', 'back-seat driver', and, for those with a religious bent, 'hypocrite').

If your doctor speaks to your blob, you may want a 2nd opinion.
Throwing those who've experienced living under the grouping 'mentally ill' may not be very appropriate, as we can all guess by the terribly overt means undertaken by psychotropic medicine companies to 'clear up' any 'misapprehensions' in their often cartoony, subtly surreal ads.
Throwing them in with felons by naming them as part of any new law that would imprison them for trying to buy a gun for protection, might not be exactly what the doctor ordered, and I think we need to start hearing about this in Congress before we even continue allowing such political gerrymandering to continue on such a serious issue.

A felon would be far more likely to abuse any background check system than anyone previously diagnosed with anything less than a psychotic diagnosis who had already committed a violent crime.

Eugenics--the Faster, Easier, Cheaper Way...

Than thinking of a real solution, anyway.  It's worked for far too many civilizations to dismiss it, throw it into the scrap-heap, right?  I'm thinking of the wonderfully modern, autocratically utopian society built by the Nazis, mostly, but also entertained by by Soviet Russia under some 'Stalin' guy, and well..there's just a whole big list of guys mostly who enjoyed powerful political careers and what we now call 'dictatorships' by splitting their own countries based on their inhabitants' mental characteristics.

What's a dictatorship without a dictator? Worthless, that's all!

All these guys learned that nobody would listen to them (the crazies!) unless they were deemed 'unfit' to own a weapon. As a matter of fact, they all began their terroristic regimes by calling people crazy, then yes, taking away their means to protect themselves.

The potential brings whole new (and markedly darker) meaning to Neil Young's line 'We got a kindler, gentler, machine gun hand', in "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World'.

So, there's that. Get out the craniometer...Dr. Drew says your head's far too small to contain a normal brain.

Too bad Dr. Oz is already taking point that your head's too big, and likely needs some sort of brain-drain to get out all the psycho thoughts.  I'm sure they'll all just learn to get along, just like they did about apple juice.

Ass-tronaut Politics

Sadly, but fixing the space station potty may not make you the world's greatest sitting authority on any political issue, even if your wife miraculously survived the craziest public political shooting rampage in history.

God Bless 'em Both, they really try...

BUT 'Gabby Giffords' and her annoying, sheepish, suddenly-overqualified hubby Mark Kelly are not suddenly and magically capable of making any real rational, lastingly-effective, or (especially) fair comments that will make me accept them as anything more than a very interesting, and possibly even inspirational, couple...or whatever they are, since they are about as culpable a couple as Kermit and Piggy, and far less like-minded (and I am talking about her politics before the shooting incident, so you can lose the indignant attitude you just copped!)

I can't help but wonder that the bullets that tragically injured Gabrielle Gifford, rendered her incapable of expressing a coherent, capable, and objective view on this subject, on two different levels--both physically, and politically (and, in watching several of her public speeches prior to the shooting, I agree with her otherwise, politically, on at least a dozen different specific issues).

Personally, a White Supremacist could make an insanely, openly, convincing argument that Giffords herself didn't even settle in to politics until she picked her theology to be Judaism from one of her parents.  I wouldn't doubt many a good, honest, Jew has made similar comments around the Canasta table (or whatever table they prefer).  No matter who says it, and how they were 'received' in making their little 'observation', it makes a personally convincing argument (however privately) that her politics could be as goache as her principles, if she ever allowed them to be curried like she did her own religion.  In fact, she only began identifying herself as Jewish in 2001, the very same year she won her first office in Arizona.[wiki link]

I'll bet her parent was so proud.

The Doofy Timeline:
from "I'll have what SHE'S having...okay?"
... "I had her instead...seeya!"
in 'no-time'
Kelly is, at once, the best example of a supportive (yet far-too accepting) husband, and the worst example of a tag-along, droning, squib; regardless, his public comments indicate he has no business offering insights on the Constitution (or relationships).  He's pretty doofy-acting, which is pretty disconcerting considering how 'Doofy' himself turned out.

Back to the space-plumber thing, though...Kelly is doing better than Joe the Plumber has since becoming political.

Plus, Kelly really did fix the toilet in the universal Space Station, so maybe he's good at preventing a lot of crap from flying around, which could come in handy with any number of things, including political mud-slinging, when-the-shit-hits-the-fan, actual monkey-doo fights, or--who knows--maybe even a real fight?

All I know, is that when I see actual, non-CGI footage of a monkey bringing a gun to a poo fight, I'll start listening to what Mark Kelly has to say about anything, much less gun control, especially while he's okay with being 'Mr. Gabby Giffords'.

Together, Giffords and Kelly are merely a topically-current lobbying team with highly questionable authority and objectivity, if you're considering changing the document that states clearly the founding principles that have worked to make the United States the best country in the world...heck, anybody who wants to change the Constitution will have eons of weighty judgement-based criteria to weigh in on before I'd consider letting them change the Constitution.
Thank you for helping me go #2, Pretty Lady!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 'Community Members'

Wow--my very first discussion, and already I made enough enemies there to feel like just closing down my frikking account...

My God, what a bunch of jackasses!

User-names aside, for the sake of my point, I'll would like to preface this...'Piece', 'Rant', or 'Whatever', by stating first how much I love the reviews--and so, the actual '' crew (the guys who make this site).

MOVING ON, though--the Community there has got to be worse than the worst of Youtube commenters.

If you have a heart, and/or soul, just enjoy the reviews, and keep away from the 'members'--it's worse than if the staff of the 1970s New Yorker magazine got cybernetically-crossed with the Kardashians, Paris Hilton (and Perez, for that matter), and throw in some 'reality' TV while you're at it--and, and the trolls--the ever-encroaching, far-reaching, ever-knowing, online, internet trolls.  The 'Troll Community', so to speak.

My adulation for the guys who make this site won't be hampered any at all by the trolls who constantly circle like a massive school of Great Whites, to jump on some 'poor, idiotic noob' swimming through, who upsets anyone's group sensibility enough to make 'em all go absolutely, freaking, rabid.

As quickly as if I'd stumbled across a pack of rabid, wild dogs, my throat was torn out in a mere hour's time, after a group of guys decided I 'didn't even know' what I was posting about (even though I they'd all jumped right in, because my post was the first about a new movie that simply looked good to me.  I mean, I might go see it; I never indicated at all that I was any kind of 'personal devotee' of the producer, or the director, or knew the history of remakes of the film...I just started by saying 'it looked good'.

Within an hour...I was reeling from the bloodbath that had become my naive little post.

Was it worth tearing my throat out over your sensibilities?  Hope not.

Maybe some 'missed thread observations'? Some 'misunderstood' social observations? At best, some freakin' well-made movie comments made by me, that were jumped on by said 'hounds' the nanosecond one of them decided you just didn't feel like Googling to understand my references...for a bunch of erudite little professionals, I'd already spent half that first hour unraveling around five negative, carping, all-too-personal comments directed at me, fending you off by even-more-naively by posting even more in-depth references, more comparisons, etc.

At around the 45-minute mark, things had gotten really ugly--not one personal comment at all, made by me, yet every single resulting comment--around 15 of a total of 20--were directly aimed at me personally...again, by random strangers, all who shared one randomly-picked, agreed-upon, goal--to tear me asunder.
If I'd have known I'd be that lucky, I'd have bought a lottery ticket.

Again, what a bunch of rabid dogs, feeding off people who've barely started using the site.
No 'friendlies' here--just a small group of sociopathic mad-men, all slaking their own thirsty egos on my open throat.  Just a quickie--I was done in an hour, luckily able to close the discussion-turned-open wound, before things got any worse.

In 60 minutes, my inbox had been peppered with some of the most personal, taunting, hate mail I'd ever received--from any source on the internet, ever (even--shudder--Youtube).

The closest thing I'm familiar with, to what I experienced tonight, is watching TV shows depicting gang initiations.  One misspoken movie reference...ONE, single, solitary missed historical reference, or just maybe that I didn't know your 'fave' genre as well as you think you did, and they hijacked my post and turned it into my own personal blood-bath, as relentless as a bunch of sitting-at-home, living-off-mom-and-dad, hopelessly, terminally, unemployed, egotistical, megalomaniacal, socipathic droogies, all bent on trying to get 'this guy, whoever he is' to take what we say personally enough that maybe we can get him to commit suicide.

I've seen what guys routinely do in their constant critiques of the crew themselves, and I gotta hand it to 'em for putting up with this shit as much as they do, without just cutting heads in the manner I would.
I routinely check in for the reviews, here, because they're done in the most professional, well-produced, humorous, 'buddy-style', stylistically-and-artfully-rendered manner I've ever seen...I do NOT, however, 'check in' for a bunch of stark-raving lunatics to jump down my throat and take turns beating me down verbally because--again--they couldn't figure out 'what the hell I was talking about'.

I'm using my blog page on to post this now, so I can personally ensure nothing more is said of my character by 'some random, inane, self-important, jerk-off' with the internet skills to...well, click, point, and piss some random stranger off to no end.
Ever thought--maybe it's me?  I can say that, because I do...lots of times...the difference between me, and 'who happened upon me tonight' being, I use that thought to make sure I don't do what was done tonight--as in, verbally assaulting some person online who I have no idea who they even are, or what they do, or know, or anything.

Sign of the Times

It's sad, but the internet has become such a haven for such behavior because of many things I'm not being paid to go into here, but among them are some things with some pretty negative connotations, like the group mentality (and so, group-think), the gang mentality (or, a bullying mentality), narcissism, sociopathic behavior, and so on.

I'd like to make a larger observation here about the nagging criticism that's out there--with some basic, ironic, constants:

  • people who criticize others on the 'net do so over the most baseless, worthless things
  • they act this way most often because they have can do so with anonymity
  • they will likely never even meet personally--and look the person in the eye, who they've treated so malignantly online
  • apathy--public apathy about anti-social behavior is at an all-time high, with no remorse about it whatsoever
  • after all is said and done, nothing is ever done about it
  • many times, it's a 'pearls before swine' thing--the offenders take the info they want, then begin mistreating the very person who brought it to them
  • nobody learns anything--the unprincipled, undisciplined, anarchic tendencies of these people allow this to go on, and most often, they're right back at it within minutes--or even seconds
  • they could be anybody--often, some of the worst offenders are local, even regional, or national--public, 'respected' figures, with jobs that involve some degree of trust and respect from their constituents, or even communities--they're doing this as a 'release'; venting hatred on randomly-chosen 'others' feeds their egos, even allowing them some respite from the day's worries; making this problem highly cyclical and repetitive
I learned a oodles from my very first post on tonight--some pretty negative things, actually. Foremost, that the 'community' is populated by some ridiculously hateful people...and even more of the kind who just say benignly 'unhelpful', uncaring things in passing (ridiculously, because they go out of their way to type these things).  Frankly, the nature of this type of person is potentially harmful enough that they should wear signs saying stuff like 'I'm hateful', or 'I'm narcissistic', or 'I'm a basically shallow, resentful person'--each sign with the subtitle "And I'm Here to Make Sure You See That, Too".  Just really, really unnecessary stuff, all said.

I'm probably not going to post on again--like any ranting manifesto, the more I think about it, the angrier I get, because it was just so unnecessarily rude, obnoxious, and hateful.

'Unfortunately', I practice enough self-restraint, and am considerate enough of others, that I won't be able to repay these jerks for acting the way they did--so, I'm left with the mere technical constraints the site itself offers to every community member, to keep this from ever happening again.

I'm starting by using my '' blog to post my 'little rant'.  The blog page seems to have the only settings that will keep idiots from 'starting on me', and 'not jumping off'...ever.

So, I really hope this won't happen to me, ever again.

The world really may be going straight to hell, guys, but there really isn't any reason to make it any worse.

If you can't say anything nice, just don't say anything at all, means about 1000% more when taken in the context of the availability of digital, and now, social, media, and our 'access' to each other. We're sure as hell not acting really 'nice' these days.
It would be wonderful if my experience tonight was just an unnaturally, unfortunate, and outrageous one, where I just happened to meet 'the worst of the worst' members of the ' community', in my very first post...but I'm amazed at how quickly my topic was turned into something so extremely ugly and personal against really was, I don't know what to think, yet.
The 'members' who ran me up the flagpole so disrespectfully tonight, did so as a group, progressively.  First, came one negative comment; then, within a minute, another, then another, and so on, until I'd received over 20 of them, all forwarded to my actual regular email inbox, too.

When I posted back nearly apologizing for 'wronging this guy', I made a big mistake--I took way too submissive an attitude toward a group of mindless, rude, jerks, who were already chomping at the bit.  The others jumped in, and within a quick hour, things had 'transgressed' to the point I was feeling like a kid who makes CNN for getting beat-down by an older school kid.
What Good is Your 'Film Knowledge' When You're a Jerk?

So you may know more about film than the next guy--so what? Is this site run by a 'film society' that will hunt 'all noobs' down who make comments you deem dumb?  If this is the case, maybe those 'members' who believe this need to remind their infinitely-busy-brains to re-view 'The Lord of the Flies' for the ninetieth time...this week.

Sadly, it might not even help this bunch.
You may not like the way somebody talks, or how you perceive their demeanor, or even their character--but then again, you may be so wrong that you have absolutely no idea, and regardless, you have no right to disassemble another human being's personal character publicly because you're so small you feel the need to build yourself off their ruin.

To say unkind things about someone, with absolutely no cause, for no reason, and to no end--especially over the medium of the internet--just goes beyond the pale.  Beyond that, since you've likely not only not walked a mile in that other guy's shoes, but as in so many cases these days, would not even be willing to do so, or even learn what those miles involved, you just have no right to say what you're saying, ever.
So, if you're a film giant (mentally), good...enjoy that. But there's no really no place for a naive opener that quickly turns into a carping, group, gang-style beat-down of someone who might even have enough heart and soul  to have potentially become a friend, had conditions been more suitable (and you not behaved like you did), with such a level of immediacy!
If this sounds is.  It felt really bad, too.

I don't expect any more from other members from now on--I'm a real, live, human being, and I've never said anything intentionally, or carelessly, mean or disrespectful toward anyone else using, so I hope to keep my account open to do what I enjoy doing here--watching their awesomely fun animated video film reviews.

We basically need to quit carping, trolling, angering--basically, hating--each other, online, regardless of where it starts happening, because it's too easy to let this stuff get out of control due to the ease, availability, and immediacy of the new digital medium that's enabling this type of thing to happen.

As for me, I tried defusing the stuff in my post, but when three of you had heaped on me, I had enough, and closed, then later, deleted it.
I don't have a fraction of the commitment, the talent, the resources, or even the resilience it takes to keep doing the reviews the ' Crew' keeps putting out, with all the negative feedback I see their own members giving them.  It's just relentless!

Anyone who fails to recognize the value of for the vanguard internet media resource it's becoming--truly groundbreaking fun, insightful, entertaining, and valuable stuff, just doesn't even need to be here, anyway.

I don't visit the site enough even if I'm here an hour each day, but I keep seeing all these people making such pointedly-negative comments about each video movie review!  It gets worse all the time!

I wonder how many of these 'self-appointed' world-wide critics have ever even tried making a simple flip-book, much less a masterfully-scriptedstory-boardedfully-animated, [smoothly-and-professionally]-produced, editedpublishedcensored [just seeing who's reading this], and syndicated production of any type, of the caliber these little gems are made.

Probably 'nobody'.

Yet they're lining up, flooding every review page with snarky, snide, 'pseudo-professional' critiques, of these guys' work, using the very same, FREE, accounts, to say the most negative, petty stuff I've ever seen on any site--as if they're 'friends' of the team.  Wow--with 'friends like these', you know...

Ridiculous criticisms like, 'you guys coulda done this', or 'I could've done that better', to 'that's just not funny, I woulda done this', and my personal fave 'you guys are slipping...this isn't your best work'', and 'I thought that last guy's comment on this review was better than the actual review'.  Yeah, right.

I read those, and snicker at the pure hubris, but never saw it coming to me, until my single, first post, tonight.

Of course, this post isn't to the crew themselves. No...this is to the jerks who went after me so relentlessly and ardently tonight, over nothing.

Hope you didn't hurt your fingers while personally degrading me--my carpal didn't flare up, so I typed you this little   'critique' of my very own.
Please start showing more respect to anyone you meet--online, or not (there's an outside, too, complete with real-live little old ladies who you could start this 'new mindset' by how you treat them, then work your way down to people maybe one second older than you, who might just be so damn tired we're fighting just to care anymore. 
Like I said, I'll try and make sure I use the website's settings to avoid the living hell out of the guys who piled on me toinght--but inevitably, as Yoda himself said...
"There is another".
Yup, or there will be, anyway--I'm sure has dozens (likely, hundreds or even thousands) of new members, every week, who eventually start logging on as a way to find out what movies they might be able to justify plunking down anything from full-price, to the .99 video rental, to see.

After a month, they'll begin commenting on other peoples' comments on the site, and then, eventually, one will trickle into the turnstile of those who might even make 'Baby's 1st Post' [A-HEM!].
Try not to take their heads off when they make that first typo, or asinine comment, or dumb, or unintelligent, or sappy, or infantile, or murky, or unintelligibleovertly religious, or socially-unconscionable, or politically-incorrect statement, or whatever it is that gets you mad enough to just start railing on themhumiliating them, even infuriating them, pummeling this total stranger with one personal, reckless, insult after another, because you're so cool, and so, everybody else surely must deserve such treatment, since they don't match your impeccably-high, personal standards of 'net-etiquette (and standards of personal & professional conduct, I'm sure).
Because...why? Because somebody else did it to you? Forgive me, I just don't understand.
I'm writing this, so when 'we' see 'this guy' doing the same admittedly idiotic stuff I did tonight (under some personal stress you have no idea of knowing, BTW), maybe somebody else will jump in and stop the b.s. before it gets as bad--or, God-forbid, as personally-degrading--as it did tonight. (BTW, it takes a lot more character to be 'this guy', rather than the 'group-mentalitied', mean-spirited type I endured tonight).
Whenever you want to be that guy, hope and pray there's not 'another you' (what you were tonight, anyway) who will take the bait, and jump right into a fray where the hapless prey didn't even know what hit him, basically making big growling noises and ripping somebody apart for reasons unknown, or maybe just to prove yourself to be something more than you were/are, or maybe, could ever be.
Just keep it fun, friendly, and interesting--I'll be watching myself much more carefully in the future, to keep my offenses down--I hated the hell out of this, tonight--it ruined my entire night, and certainly my first experience posting anything for discussion on