Daily Opinion: I Hope Nepal Isn’t the New Haiti

Haiti shack

If you didn’t already know, Nepal experienced a significant earthquake that claimed 3600-3800 lives on Saturday, 4/25/2015. It may be even more at this point. As beautiful as life is, it can be pretty brutal sometimes too. This morning, I noticed there were several sites showing how to donate to the relief effort. You know what I thought of? Haiti.

Have you seen Haiti lately? It’s not like it’s a hell of a lot better than it was back in 2010 and $1.4 billion was donated by the US that year alone. I believe about $13 billion was eventually raised. So what happened? How could so many people raise that amount of money to help the needy yet the needy haven’t been helped nearly as much as you would have thought once it was no longer a hot news story?

There have been successes for sure. People were fed and given temporary housing. But then other actually lost their new housing to make way for new government buildings. Around 85000 people are in displacement camps with sanitary issues while many others have just opted to building sheds on whatever land they can get a hold of. More affluent areas that had no earthquake victims had new property built for some reason. Hell, $18 million was spent on a rec center and soccer field while people live in squalor nearby.

Vice recently interviewed this dude Jake Johnston who investigated what was going on with Haiti and he found most non-government donated money gets used for emergency relief while government donated money… well that’s a whole other story.

So this one blew my mind: the US embassy actually paid for houses to be built in Haiti… for their own employees. Meanwhile, they never came anywhere near close to completing their projected housing goals while also going way over the intended cost. On top of all this, the companies hired for this work redacts the hell out of their documents so visibility is practically at zero.

I REALLY hope Nepal isn’t the new Haiti, but there’s no way to really know. Experiences like Haiti can potentially sour others on the power of charity. It doesn’t take much to make someone jaded, especially when they try to go out of their way to do some good in this world. Rather than let that happen, let’s put some pressure on our respective governments to be open about where relief money goes. I understand that  we don’t have to give anything at all, but that’s not the mindset I think we should have here. Charity is good. Helping others is good. Ulterior motives while helping others? Misrepresenting where money is going? That’s bad.

Obviously.

I’m not certain how to go about demanding more information about relief efforts, but I do know there’s power in numbers. If you happen to feel the way I do or are involved in something that pertains to this topic, let me know! I’m going to keep reading and whatnot so I can hopefully learn more. Then perhaps I can make an impact, hopefully along with some good people out there.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Daily Opinion: Making a Case for Bronies

Daily Opinion: Making a Case for Bronies

Brony rainbow wig

A friend of mine told me about this show called King of the Nerds, a stupid competition reality show where “nerds” play different games to earn the title of King of Nerds. It’s hosted by two stars from Revenge of the Nerds.

This is America, folks.

And being a good American, I watched an episode of the show fully knowing I’d be a shade stupider going forward. But I’m a good American so I fulfill my duty. I’m basically a patriot/hero.

A patrero?

*cough*

Boy, was I in for a treat. I can’t say all of these people were nerds. I classify nerds as smart and not all of them fit that criterion. The show should have been called King of the Nerds, Dorks, Geeks, and Socially Inept. There was one guy in particular that had my attention. He classified himself as a Brony.

KotN_Brony

Holy s**t, they caught one out in the wild.

If you don’t know what Bronies are, they’re guys who are way (too?) into the cartoon, My Little Pony.

Brony

Way (TOO?!?!?) into it.

Anytime I have even the mildest of momentary interest in something, I fully indulge. First I checked Wikipedia. Then I randomly checked different Brony sites I found. Then I watched a documentary about Bronies called (duh) Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony. I was simply captivated by this, mostly because I grew up in the 80’s where kids would question your sexuality in a not so nice way if you even hinted at liking something that wasn’t explicitly for guys. These guys love My Little Pony and they don’t give a G-rated holy heck what you think about it.

So okay, everything gets popular for a reason. Instead of writing off the show, I watched an episode to see what it was all about.

So here’s the thing…

It’s a cartoon. But it’s one that seems to want to boost the confidence of its audience. There are some really positive messages, but not things like beware of drugs or brush your teeth. They were all about peace and love and being happy with who you are. These are some pretty awesome messages.

You know what else? Watching all this stuff, I’ve never seen an asshole Brony. Maybe this is all Brony propaganda and I’m playing right into their cartoon pony loving hands/hooves, but I like to take people at face value. These guys are harmless.

But would it be so bad if more people in the world were like that? You know… HARMLESS. Harmless means harm is not happening. Get my drift here?

I’m not saying we need more Bronies. I’m saying we could use more harmless people.

Though I personally couldn’t watch the show past this moment of curiosity, I tip my hat to you, Bronies. Rock on. Be who you want to be. Not enough people in this world actually do that.

But some of you still go too far…

full (2)

Previously: Life Is Awesome if You Have a Deadline

Daily Opinion: Life Is Awesome if You Have a Deadline

Photo Credit: Erik Fitzpatrick

Photo Credit: Erik Fitzpatrick

What would you do if you only had five years left to live?

Yesterday I found out this guy named Monty Oum died a couple weeks ago. You probably don’t know him and he certainly didn’t know I knew of him. He made an animated video a number of years ago called Haloid where the protagonists from the videogames Metroid and Halo fought each other. The fight choreography was nothing short of sublime so I became an instant fan.

I followed Monty as he created increasingly impressive independent projects. After he moved on from that I continued to keep tabs on him as he dove into animation gigs for video games. He finally ended up at a company called Rooster Tooth where he brought his style to an already popular video series called Red vs. Blue.

I randomly searched for him yesterday because… who knows? Sometimes I get a thought and I just roll with it. I found out Monty got to develop his own original series with Rooster Tooth called RWBY. I also found out he died of an allergic reaction to a standard medical procedure.

Bam, dead at 33.

Still, to me it seemed like Oum led a pretty kick ass life. From what I remember of the guy, he was obsessed with anime, fight choreography, and dance, things that inspired him to the eventual creation of his passion project. Even if he only got to enjoy it until the no so ripe old age of 33, the dude still lived his dream.

What would you do if you only had five years left to live? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d be doing the exact same thing I’m doing right now. I have a bad case of tunnel vision, y’all. I have my eyes set on the life I want to live and no one can stop me. It’s not like I want much; I just want a happy, chill life with my wife-to-be, away from all the stress I used to have. Oh yeah, and the dog too. If I knew I had only five years left to live, the only difference would be I’d walk around knowing when my time is up.

Most of us live as if tomorrow probably isn’t our last day. But if you knew it would be your last day, I bet you’d be living life differently to some degree. Maybe you’d travel somewhere. Maybe you’d spend time with loved ones. Maybe you’d just spend some time reflecting. My point is why would anyone want to live otherwise? Is being unaware of when we’re going to die an invitation to only kind of live the life you want? Yes, yes, I know; not everyone has the opportunity to do what they want. But if you do, do it. Because who knows? You may only have five years left to live.

Previously: Ain’t Nobody Got Time for Vegan Cheese

Daily Opinion: Ain’t Nobody Got Time for Vegan Cheese

daiya cheese

I may have to become a vegan. I don’t want to be vegan. I went vegan maybe four or five years ago and I only lasted maybe seven months. Do you know why I stopped?

Cheese is effing delicious.

I went vegetarian sometime last year and I haven’t missed meat at all. Truthfully, when I went vegan back in the day, it was simply for health reasons, but my recent vegetarianism was sparked by something else.

You may not agree with me, but I have a theory about living things. Basically, evolution shows that creatures that develop attributes that are beneficial to survival are the ones that survive. Essentially, life does what it can to keep living. But sometimes I wonder how much resistance comes into play. Is there a scale to how much life “wants” to live? I know that sounds dumb, but why is the level of resistance for a cow so much more than, say, a head of cabbage? If I were to start chopping up either of them, one would scream and struggle while the other would be seemingly indifferent.

So I stopped eating meat. That combined with just how horrible the food industry can be to animals, particularly in the US. I have no problem with anyone else making the decision to eat meat; I just personally don’t want to play a part in all that. I want to leave as positive of an impact on the world as possible.

But then my fiancé had to go mess all that up for me. We were speaking on Skype last night and she says, “I may have to become vegan.” After laughing my ass off at the very notion of vegan cheese (ugh), I realized she was serious. She asked me one simple question: How many years are cows pumped for milk? See, in the pre-internet days, I would have thought it was the majority of their lives.

Nope.

We milk those suckers for about four years and we throw them into the beef market.

Goddamn it…

Well this messed up the game for me. I don’t want to give up dairy products, but knowing this makes me want to become vegan. But I don’t actually want to be vegan. Catching a theme here?

So can I have my cheese and eat it too? Maybe. I’m going to damn well try anyway. So here it goes: my fiancé and I have been back and forth on whether or not we’re going to travel for a while or find somewhere to settle down. I personally feel like we may end up settling down. If we do, I want to be as self-sufficient as possible. I’d want a garden/greenhouse, solar paneling or some form of green energy, and a 3D printer. Can a brother own a cow in order to avoid becoming vegan?

This is how much I don’t want to be vegan… I’m thinking about owning a cow. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I’d ever write that. But is it so crazy? Those suckers produce 2-3 gallons per day. Maybe I could share a cow with other people who really don’t want to become vegans for the same reasons as me. Anyone want to share a cow for milking purposes? Hit me up.

Argh… this is ridiculous. I mean, I know I don’t have to become vegan, but my logical side is conflicted with my desire for delicious food. How can I get past this? My fiancé is already thinking about this too. If she becomes vegan then it’s likely I’d end up following suit. We can’t let that happen, people!  Andre can’t survive on vegan cheese!

Okay, take a breath. Being vegan isn’t the worst thing in the world, right? Life could always be worse. Still, I’m reaching out to all of you to help me figure this out. Is there anywhere in this world that doesn’t send cows to slaughter after milking them dry? Are there any companies from which I can buy dairy products while guaranteeing the cows won’t become burgers in a few years? If I can only get milk, how the hell do I make cheese?

#priorities

If I can’t figure these questions out, I’ll be forced to become vegan. Well, not “forced,” but you know what I mean. I’m going to definitely cut back on the amount of dairy I consume, but in the meantime, you better bet your ass I’ll be searching for a solution to this dilemma. Because, you know, CHEESE IS EFFING DELICIOUS.

Previously: Why So Serious?

Daily Opinion: Why So Serious?

tumblr_inline_ndqc17q6TM1sqqavy

You know what I love? Sitting at home with my fiancé and watching movies while partaking in Cheez-Its and wine.

Classy, right?

You know what I don’t love? Hopping onto the internet and reading about a guy in Copenhagen who was murdered at a free speech seminar.

I never used to read the news. EVER. I was blissfully ignorant of all the silly nonsense going on in the world. I didn’t know anything about global conflicts, politics, or world economics. I didn’t care. But now I’m older and I know how awesome it is to be at peace. I know how awesome it is to just chill back with some Cheez-Its and wine

Awesome and delicious.

Then I asked myself, “If life could be so awesome, why can’t everyone else figure it out?” I started watch the news and documentaries. I started reading. I observed. And you know what I discovered?

People are f**king crazy. Of the bat s**t variety, no less.

Who cares if someone makes fun of the precious Prophet Muhammad? Who cares if a guy wants to stick his penis up another man’s butt? Who cares about the level of melanin in a person’s skin? Who cares if a person wants to smoke marijuana to relax instead of tobacco that’s laced with chemicals? Who cares if a woman wants to sleep with as many people as she wants? Why does anyone care about any of this stuff enough to hate, argue, murder, and discriminate?

Everyone just chill the f**k out and have some Cheez-Its and wine.

The end.

Previously: Science Will/May Always Be Incomplete

Daily Opinion: Science Will/May Always Be Incomplete

csagan

I already know I may catch some crap for this one, but trust me, I’m using nothing but reasoning here.

I LOVE science. It’s the reason why I loved Nova when I was younger and it’s the reason why I love Brain Games now. I was just watching an episode about the paranormal and it got me thinking .

So what, so what, so what’s the scenario?

In this episode, the focus du jour was the paranormal. In one of the experiments, people were checking out a $1.5 million house that was on sale for about $650,000. Quite the steal, right? Well, eventually the people were told someone was murdered in the bedroom. Without fail, people were like, “Oh hell nah!”

I would be too.

What was more interesting was the scientific explanation  for this response. Per the show, even if you aren’t superstitious, your brain applies the idea of transitive properties to many things. It can start with something as simple as “fire is hot, therefore if I touch it, I will get hot.” Our brains apply this transitive feeling to events, which is what caused most people to freak out.

Oh science, you so smart.

But here’s the thing: are we actually smarter for knowing what the brain is doing, or is there a valid reason the brain acts this way, but we’re just unaware of what it is.

Everything we know of is based on our awareness. EVERYTHING. Even science. Why? Because science isn’t as unbiased as we’d like to think. This is totally science from a human perspective. If you really want me to break it down, science is nothing more than the understanding of the things of which we are aware. From that understanding, we can create advancements and progress as a species, but we will always have a limit, which is our awareness.

When we are unaware of something, but we have an educated idea, we have a theory. People much smarter than me debate, discuss, and maybe even agree. Some theories even get proven right because we figure out ways to use technology to expand our awareness. Suddenly humanity is jerking itself off at how awesome we are at science. But what about the things of which we are aware, but they don’t fit any logical explanation. Is that just phenomena? Where things get tricky are things people become aware of that can’t possibly be confirmed by anyone else.

Now, I’m not going to take that next leap in logic because I want to make sure I stay focused. I notice humanity has an odd association with things that have been staples in the majority of our collective culture. For example, people look at money as being valuable instead of something that just represents value. Language is thought of as the be all, end all of communication (even for your inner “voice”). Math is seen as this concept of numbers instead of a means of translating ideas and concepts. The same thing happens with science.

For ages, people smarter than the rest of humanity have been making sense of this world. They observe, calculate, invent, and do all their sciencey duties in order to create a truth. Science is boundless by nature, but rules are placed. Some ideas are accepted while others are accepted. But for the rest of us, we depend on the people smarter than us. Someone created science so it has to be right… right?

Who created the word twerk? It exists as a word only because many of us acknowledge it. These rules apply to science as well; consensus equals truth. But there is so much we may NEVER be aware of simply because we don’t have the ability. Or there are things only one person can be aware of. One is a product of a lack of ability while the other is a personal experience. But one sounds more credible than the other, doesn’t it?

Hmmmm…

I don’t know… I’m not writing this because I want to prove a point. I just want to present an idea. Math, language and science are awesome tools, but much like religion, we place a lot of faith in them as if what we have right now is infallible. Some things may honestly be pretty rock solid, but humans have been discovering for god knows how long. And we’ve been wrong… a lot. All I’m saying is, let’s not totally write off possibilities. You never know what we may become aware of in the future.

Previously: Are Modular Jobs a Possibility?

Daily Opinion: Are Modular Jobs a Possibility?

Photo Credit: Cabinet Office

Photo Credit: Cabinet Office

So I’ve been doing some thinking.

Don’t worry, I didn’t hurt myself.

I’ve been mulling about the knowledge that I have and the jobs I’ve done throughout my life. I’ve also been thinking about the knowledge I have that doesn’t get applied at all during work. Now I have a proposal in mind.

Like to hear it? Here it go.

At my last and current job, I have a wide number of applications I need to be able to support. I also must possess knowledge about a number of platforms and apply said knowledge to my job. Then I get paid for applying some of that knowledge. Here’s the thing: I can’t be an expert at everything. Even if I become well versed in many areas, there will always be obscure tasks and information that I won’t know as well. Hell, I just encountered something yesterday that I haven’t dealt with in five months. It happens to the best of us.

What if I was paid per responsibility? What if we all were? I have a few goals with this proposal:

  1. ALL people must have a minimum income.
  2. ALL people must have a job.
  3. Businesses must distribute money more evenly.

Okay, let’s take the United States, for example. Minimum wage sucks so let’s throw that out the window. How about everyone in the US earns a salary of $30K a year regardless of the job they have? Sound better? Great. Now, everyone’s base job should be VERY specific. For example, instead of me supporting eight different applications, I’d be responsible for answering client-facing questions about Exchange or writing advanced SQL queries.That’s it. Additional responsibilities would stack on to and increment one’s salary by some pre-determined amount. So if each additional responsibility adds, say $2500, just four brings me to $40K a year.

But Andre, I’m a Debbie Downer and I’m determined to prove this can’t work. Humph!

Go ahead! I’m not saying I have all the answers, but couldn’t an idea like this be refined? Maybe even with teamwork rather than naysaying?

Regardless, here are some closing thoughts:

  • Like I said, this system isn’t working if a baseline isn’t established for EVERYONE. This minimum salary must cover basic needs with some wiggle room for regular spending or saving. Otherwise, y’know, people end up supporting our economy with money that doesn’t actually exist. *cough*credit*cough*
  • Oh yeah, I forgot. FREE EDUCATION.
  • Responsibilities should be trained and people acquire certifications for each responsibility. Subject matter experts are paid to keep all documentation and knowledge current and up to date so certifications need updating as years pass.
  • Obviously some jobs require more skill than others. Some jobs are also much higher in demand. There should be a salary “bonus” as a motivator for people who work these types of jobs. Several factors should be taken into account to calculate this bonus: the number of required positions versus the current positions filled, the population of available candidate, average number of assumed responsibilities, etc. Additionally, all current people who already fill that role are eligible for the bonus, but all people should understand the bonus fluctuates as demand drops for certain skills/responsibilities.
  • In addition to certifications for skills, all workers are evaluated regularly for performance and aptitude. This way, if they are not a fit for the job/responsibility, they can be pushed in a different direction that better suits them rather than simple termination.

Maybe this is dreamland. Or maybe it isn’t. I think if we actually came together and discussed this, a system like this could work. The aspects I care about most is the ability to ensure all people meet some standard of living and a more even playing field. If everyone is so infatuated with money, how about we create a system where things are a but more fair.

No? Doesn’t sound worth it? Then please openly admit you’re fine with starvation and poverty. I mean, I know that sounds harsh, but capitalism (the way we use it) does nothing to solve those issues.

Anywho, I’m totally open to suggestions, alternate solutions, or just plain debate. Let me know what you think! This isn’t a perfect solution, but I think it’s one that is a viable alternative to just throwing this whole stupid system in the garbage where it belongs. With some tweaking and actual analysis, who knows what this could become? We’ll never know if we don’t talk about it.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: ISIS Brings Humanity to a Crossroads

Daily Opinion: ISIS Brings Humanity to a Crossroads

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As you’re probably aware, France experienced a sobering tragedy when Islamist extremists killed 12 people at Charlie Heebo, a satirical magazine that’s had confrontations with Islamists in the pasts for their depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. Obviously this is a major deal in and of itself, but what I think is more significant is how humanity moves going forward. Given our collective pasts, I’m not so sure this will end in a positive place. At least not immediately.

Wherever there is a belief or an opinion, you will find extremists. They are the ones with the loudest voices and take the strongest actions. Hence the term “extremist.”

Duh.

The problem is people routinely apply the actions of a few to the whole because it’s easier than judging individuals, which is weird because we all want to be seen as individuals, but some don’t always reciprocate that desire. Right now, we’re at a place where Muslims may be viewed negatively based on this recent event. It’s the same way Americans are often viewed as jerks based on the actions of our government and military. The difference in this instance is we’re not talking about people with a powerhouse of a nation behind them; we’re dealing with a religious belief, which is polarizing in and of itself.

So what’s the next move, humanity? Are we going to start acting like all Islamists are gun-toting avengers? Are we going to fight back? Are we going to cower in fear, never embracing satire again? I personally don’t know, but I do know this: the majority of us are not extremists. Most of us are regular folks just trying to live our lives. This segment of the population, as large as it is, isn’t the one that will take action and stand up against BS like this. We’ll be the ones reading about it in the papers and internet. Unfortunately, that approach is what works in favor of those willing to go the extra mile.

How about the majority of us just say, “enough of this crap” regardless of belief system, race, nationality, gender, sexuality, etc.? Haven’t we had enough?

Haven’t YOU had enough?

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Florida Is the Worst State Ever

Daily Opinion: Florida Is the Worst State Ever

Florida gun tattoo

Florida, what’s going on?  I just read some dude called a deputy to supervise while he spanked his daughter. That alone is weird, but apparently this isn’t even uncommon. One sheriff said he participated in this wackiness twelve times.

Twelve.

Times.

Oh, that isn’t the worst of it, Florida. A few of your counties ended courthouse weddings because they weren’t cool with performing ceremonies for homosexual couples. You cited a priest for feeding homeless people. The mayor of Gainesville is a drunk driver. The former mayor of Hampton (apparently the most corrupt town in your state) was arrested for selling drugs. Houses and people fall into sinkholes. THE FORMER F**KING PRESIDENT OF MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING WAS ARRESTED FOR A DUI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And oh yeah, hurricanes, crazy crimes, Flo Rida, and Carrot-Top.

Dude… I think it’s time we either have an intervention or castrate your admittedly phallic-looking state from the rest of the country. I’m perfectly fine with 49 states if one of them can’t get their act together. I mean, there are quite literally too many reasons as to why you suck for me to list. I’m not even joking. I did research for this post and somehow discovered a new emotion that is equal parts disgusted and depressed.

I call this emotion “Miami.”

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Social Media Is Silly for Hating on Madonna

Daily Opinion: Social Media Is Silly for Hating on Madonna

madonna hairy

Wait, Madonna caused controversy? Are we in the 1980’s?

#throwbackthursday

So if you didn’t know, the interwebz got their collective panties in a bunch when Madonna altered images of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Bob Marley to match he upcoming album. Each of the pictures were updated to have a black cord wrapped around the faces of each of these icons. Of course, America is known for over-correction and people became upset. Reactions ranged from people crying “racism” to others saying it’s wrong to use their images to sell albums.

But…

She did the same thing with Marilyn Monroe, Frida Khalo, and even Jesus. For some reason, not a peep was heard from social media.

Smell that? It’s a double standard.

As a guy who many people identify as Black (though I think I’m going to stop using colors to refer to people as it’s pretty antiquated, don’t you think?), I really don’t see why some pictures are a problem and others aren’t. I get it; some of us are riding that politically correct bus until the wheels fall off. Good for them. But even the best intentions can be misguided. I mean, it’s Madonna. Pretentious as she may be, I don’t think there was any malice or evil villain-style hand wringing prior to the release of these photos.

You know, incidents like this have brought me to a couple conclusions:

  1. Collectively, people are not naturally good at processing a possible other point of view. Sure, I’m basing this on limited information, but I’m waiting to be proven wrong. This is a skill that needs to be developed and some folks are more adept at it than others. The downside is, actions often get painted as right or wrong in a person’s mind, but things are rarely that simple. Perhaps this is just cultural.
  2. The righteousness of social media is dubious at best. Social media always seems to have an ample number of opinions, but how many of them actually hold any weight? I have opinions too, but do they even matter as long as I’m not hurting anyone? What really matters are the actions we take. Therefore, social media’s opinions are nothing to me. If anyone’s opinions only motivate them to post something about it online from the safety of their home, I’m taking it with a grain of salt. I’m also fully aware of how this sounds in a post titled “Daily Opinion.” The thing is, I know my opinion is meaningless.

Whatever. I’m going to go out on a limb here and just say everyone needs to relax and pick their battles. There are much bigger and more powerful people who are doing more bigoted and self-serving things. Madonna is just an easier and more accessible target. I guess some people will settle for shooting fish in a barrel instead of going out to capture that white whale.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: It’s Okay to Let Friendships Run Their Course