Thoughts on the George Floyd Riots
I was planning on writing about the unbelievable amount of misinformation in the scientific community surrounding a bunch of issues that are affecting us in the present day including the COVID-19 virus and global warming. But recent events have unfolded that will cause me to delay this blog for another day.
As everyone knows, riots (I am sorry mainstream media, but these are more than protests) are breaking out all over the country in at least 20 cities so far. I ended up in the middle of one on Friday evening. While picking up my daughter from her Uncle’s house where she was babysitting her cousin, there were around 300-400 protestors in Rancho Cucamonga appealing for justice. I got stuck in the middle of the protests and was confronted by a protestor about my “thoughts” on what happened in Minnesota. For people who know me, this response should not be a surprise. I told the young man, “The police have it coming. This behavior has been going on my entire life.” He shook my hand and let me pass through the chaos. You can read about these protests here. Apparently last night, there was a second night of protests in the same area that turned violent. Read about that here. In various suburban cities throughout the Los Angeles area as well as the city itself, there has been widespread violence, looting and protesting. For anyone who seems ‘surprised’ but what is happening, you have not been paying attention. I feel that if the military gets involved to tamper down these riots in the near future, we are going to be looking at a dangerous and violent situation that resembles many similar situations we see in other countries. If the military starts killing rioters or protestors, then I can no longer defend my own government. It will be revolution.
In terms of the police, I am one of those individuals who never jumped on the “military and police” hero worship that has infected our country since 9/11. The police and firemen who were involved in 9/11 were heroes. Many of them due to the toxins and pollution caused by the towers collapsing have succumbed to cancer and other medical conditions over the past decade. Despite this, the post-9/11 climate created by this event was manipulated by our government to create a police state on this nation. Many of my friends know that I protested, blogged, and generally opposed the actions of the Bush administration during the buildup of lies that led to the Iraq War and our tech surveillance culture. Obama, like Clinton before him, did nothing to change this status quo and got us involved in other countries like Libya and Syria that had nothing to do with the American interest. Even if you take race out of the equation (Which is impossible since the poor are generally affected more by police brutality and the poor are usually minorities), the police have been turned into a seventh branch of the military and have been trained to become more desensitized to our populace. If you want to know how we got to this point, we have to reflect on ourselves and what we have allowed to happen over the past four decades. Anyway, here is a brief summary of things that we have allowed to happen that only a small minority of our population (Including myself) ever seemed to show any interest in preventing:
Out of Control Military Budget where money often just appears out of nowhere to pay for whatever the Pentagon wants.
5% of the world’s population, 25% of the prison inmates. Many of these people are in prison for non-violent crimes. We also have too many regulatory laws on personal behavior. There is something wrong with a country when a speed limit drops from 40 to 25 in a “speed trap” and the cops are there to give you a 40 MPH in a 25 MPH speeding ticket that will cost you 400 dollars. Plus, the system is set up to punish the people who can not pay for their own freedom meaning that the majority of the individuals incarcerated are poor.
Allowing corporations that are excluded in the Constitution to create the surveillance tools that our government uses for its own benefit.
Local police that are increasingly using military tactics and weaponry to deal with the American citizenry. To not account for this factor is to overlook one of the key changes in our culture over the past 20 years.
Finally, there are the violent wars. According to the Trump administration, there are seven right now. In 2019, we had bases active in 80 nations around the world involved in some sort of training or operation.
So, knowing all this information, are you surprised that these protests have turned violent against a police force that has been engaging in this type of behavior since way before my birth?
As a final comment, I am personally opposed to looting. Any time a riot evolves into personal property damage (Except against the agitators of the riot where you can legitimize it), the protest loses its purpose. Watching many looters break into banks, cell phone stores, and grocery stores takes the attention away from the powerful message being portrayed and puts it onto the people that are taking advantage of the situation for personal gain. I will never accept this logic. Please be careful out there. Times are a changing. Let us hope that this leads to some positive changes.
Before moving to more light-hearted topics in the near future, I want to show you a perfect example of how “local news” works in this country. Watch this video. This is EXACTLY how propaganda in the United States works. From a guy who used to work in local television news, I will add a little insight to this video.
First, good to see my least favorite television station, KMIR-NBC in Palm Springs, being used as one of the examples. During my short time living in Palm Springs, KMIR was always the station that had the worst local news program and worst audio and video quality especially during live sporting events. It is absolutely not a surprise that they would air this corporate propaganda without even informing you of the story’s origins.
Second, in terms of the similarity involved in every story, each station probably got this news “package” from Amazon itself. But instead of running the story and letting the public know that it is “Sponsored Content” or an “Advertisement”, they run the story objectively without telling you where the information came from. This also happens in print journalism ALL THE TIME. This is also why we need “Media Literacy” classes in this country for high school and college aged students. If you want to know one of the reasons why everyone is confused and the truth is so difficult to ascertain, there is no better example than this video.
ARIZONA VS. CALIFORNIA: A CONTRAST
Sorry for the one-week delay on this post. I disappeared from the ‘civilized’ (Online) world to celebrate my niece’s 2020 virtual high school graduation from Williams Field High School in Gilbert, AZ. Or, maybe I was away continuing my master’s degree at Arizona State Online to become a teacher and help guide children towards the ‘Russian’ point of view. Since I don’t want to influence anyone, I encourage everyone to pick the best answer that suits them. 😉
What I want to talk about is my five-day experience in Arizona. I found the trip which occurred between May 18-23 quite refreshing.
You may ask yourself, “Why the hell would you find 90-100-degree weather at the end of May refreshing?”
The answer has nothing to do with Phoenix’s ungodly and hellish summer heat. It has everything else to do with the people who live in this massive, sprawling city and their personal points of view. As everyone in the world knows, we have all lived under some form of a lockdown since mid-March due to COVID-19. Since I live presently in Temecula, CA, the governor of my state as well as county and school officials have had us under one of the ‘strictest’ stay-at-home orders in the nation with some aspects starting to lift slowly as we head back to a ‘normal’ society. As an example, my daughter’s university has already pushed her Summer and Fall 2020 classes online. My son’s school was moved online until June 5th when summer break hits, and he goes back for 4th Grade on August 12th. I absolutely have no faith that this starting date will not be adjusted or modified in the near future. Non-essential businesses are still mostly closed. Despite this, that independent California spirit has come back, and many people are just ignoring the government’s orders. Recently, Riverside County officials struck down the mandatory mask rule (Enforced till June 15th) and the police are openly defying the law to ticket people who do not wear masks. People have been gathering in parks and stores again while ‘mostly’ honoring the social distancing rules and you mostly only see masks on people in stores that require them to enter. Despite this, California still has a long way to go before it returns to normal. The aura of fear is still quite prevalent here which makes any debate about the efficiency of these lockdowns and the tragic loss of 38 million jobs to our economy impossible to discuss.
Arizona still has many of these same rules even though more businesses are opening up and many social and church gatherings are getting back to normal. The one thing that Arizonans have over Californians is a “lack of fear.” Despite the mainstream media ‘fearmongering’ us every day with stories that are exceptions to the rule while doing the bidding of our state or federal government officials (And the Arizona media is just as guilty as any other state by engaging in this), people in Arizona do not seem afraid of this virus anymore. Everywhere I went (Since restaurants and bars are open again with a limited 50% capacity), people were not wearing masks and celebrating the fact that life is going back to normal. This attitude was so refreshing in contrast to the terrified Californians I deal with on a daily basis. Going to AZ Wilderness Brewing and Nando’s Mexican Cafe while sitting with family and enjoying craft beer could not have been a more pleasurable experience. People were friendly. Everyone seemed excited to be social and active outside their homes once again. People even flocked to the local lakes and rivers in record numbers. It was a pleasure to be able to live my life to its fullest once again.
One of my purposes with this website is not to create feelings of apathy due to the complexity that revolves around the topics of discussion. I am not going to change anyone’s particular point of view on anything that is personally important to them. I am just an ethnic second generation Eastern European Caucasian American male with a bachelor’s degree and lots of ‘expertise’ revolving around these topics of discussion. As my family knows, I am an avid reader of books, magazines and online articles and media. I spend around 1.5 – 2 hours a day reading whatever topic interests me at the moment. Mix this in with an old job where local, cable, and international news were constantly bombarding me with information during my eleven years in the industry. I have seen every type of media disinformation. To say that watching networks like CCTV (Chinese State Television), Al Arabiya, CNN, personalities like Sean Hannity, Rachel Maddow along with many other examples over this long timeframe has not damaged me mentally is a discussion we can have in another blog.
(Why Crispin Went Insane and Threw His Television Through His Front Door...Coming in 2023!!!)
As I begin this topic, I want to evaluate these different types of media disinformation. At Oxford University in the U.K., they have an Oxford Internet Institute that tracks global propaganda through the “Computational Propaganda Research Project.” The link to their 2019 report is here.
Here are a couple of highlights.
In terms of social media manipulation:
“Evidence of organized social media manipulation campaigns which have taken place in 70 countries, up from 48 countries in 2018 and 28 countries in 2017. In each country, there is at least one political party or government agency using social media to shape public attitudes domestically.”
Surprisingly, the platform of ‘choice’ for manipulation belongs to Facebook.
“Despite there being more social networking platforms than ever, Facebook remains the platform of choice for social media manipulation. In 56 countries, we found evidence of formally organized computational propaganda campaigns on Facebook.”
Since I am a United States citizen, the facts surrounding the manipulation of “our” public stood out to me in this report.
Table 1 says that the United States is one of the worst countries in the world for government agency and private contractor media manipulation with political parties and politicians coming in with an “above average” rating. The United States uses Twitter and Facebook as its primary social media manipulation tools. Other more authoritarian countries are much more active with other platforms.
According to Table 2, the United States uses human, bot, and cyborgs (Skynet?) to create fake accounts.
But the worst of all these facts was Table 3. The United States is one of four countries (Bosnia & Hercegovina, Brazil and Hungary are the others) that uses all five types of disinformation: pro-government propaganda, suppression of information, attacking the opposition, creating divisions in society, and distracting the public with information non-relevant to the topic.
As a person who has experienced this firsthand and has become very aware of these tactics, I absolutely agree with this report’s conclusions. I distrust any information that comes from a government agency, a large multinational corporation or an organization that has deep ties to any government. When it comes to this information, you need to analyze and validate the truth more than any other type of news that you receive. Even if it comes from the United States government. Social media tends to focus on “alternative media” and the lies of a few rogue journalistic organizations. These are dangerous and can be very influential. But I will argue that the lies coming from our governmental agencies and corporations are much more damaging to our society.
To Be Continued Next Week…With Examples…As I Go Back into my COVID-19 Bunker. Please leave comments and suggestions. I wish you all the best. Enjoy this wonderful short film from Kevin James which is hilarious and timely.
ADDENDUM TO MY INTRODUCTION
I want to clarify two things on my post. First, it may come across as shocking that I was an ‘anarchist.’ This is not true. From around 2007-2010, I became increasingly fascinated with political philosophies and their origins and histories. The idea of anarchism is remarkably similar to ideals around ‘enlightenment’ in Buddhism and ‘Heaven’ in Catholicism. In a perfect world, people would be enlightened to the point where government would be unnecessary. But in my own lifetime, this ideal will never be realized. It is a utopian belief that at some point in our human history, we can evolve to understand the inherent dangers of these type of entities (Large Corporations also fall into this category). There are also many types of anarchists with different philosophies about how culture works. There are anarcho-capitalists, anarcho-communists, mutualists, etc. This research was the basis for my interest.
Second, I want to clarify something about having six careers (Potentially seven). With my choice of college degrees, I was put into a position of constantly having to re-adjust. Like many people, I had low paying customer service and retail jobs during my teens and early 20s. I would do jobs revolving around the film industry on a contract basis for close to four years. I finally did get a job doing live productions at hotels and other conferences in Beverly Hills for a year. The 9/11 attacks resulted in only one of two layoffs in my professional career. Then, the opportunity opened up to work in Master Control at television networks. I worked at PBS stations, then got a job with ABC and eventually ended up monitoring every channel in the country at DISH Network. Once my wife got her job in San Diego, I could not find a job in television that would pay me a decent wage in that area. I did get hired for one year as a contractor with AT&T upgrading their infrastructure before they decided to terminate every one of us once the job was complete (My only other layoff). Going through the first bout of unemployment in my life, I learned Linux which led to my job at Verimatrix. Because of my research skills and writing, I eventually upgraded to my current contract position. It all sounds crazy. But this has been my life. It has not been a rich life. More like a working class to upper middle-class life depending on the wages and job I had at the time. When I started in television, I was using BETA decks and manual commercial platforms to run the station. I was working the night Hurricane Katrina hit and knocked out dozens of cities. I worked for years helping stations convert from analog to digital HD (720 at the time) during the nationwide crossover. I helped AT&T upgrade its infrastructure from copper to fiber during my year with the company. I experienced history while doing these jobs. This does not even go into the hundreds of celebrities I met during the late 1990s working in live show production. That is a post for another day😊
WELCOME TO THE ‘EXPERT OF SOME’
I would like to welcome family, friends, acquaintances, old flames, curiosity seekers, individuals with the same interests as me and anyone else I am forgetting (Including terrifying clowns that stalk me in my dreams) to my personal website. You maybe asking yourself, “Crispin, why the hell are you doing this?” “What is the reason you named your website this?” “Why, why, why?” Well, let me give you a few answers while outlining an overall purpose.
Second, this website will be evolving. I have been doing a ton of writing and research due to my current job and master’s degree program. My ultimate quest is to become a teacher. Not just the apple on their desk type of teacher that gives little children hope for the future. I am looking at teaching junior college, online home schoolers and do some tutoring in my quest to make this my seventh and hopefully final career. I may start a podcast. I eventually will write a book when my major is complete, and the world opens up again. I intend to blog on this website weekly until these goals are accomplished.
One last thing: My posts will likely not be this long except on rare occasions. Please enjoy!
EXPERT OF SOME