UPDATED: Deleted Spreely and added Parler instead as option #1 below. Spreely's community was almost non-existent. Parler is much more active and has been making the media rounds as a solid Facebook alternative. Also hyperlinked my Parler and Liberty Society profiles.
As I have begun the process of taking hours of advertising classes and watching self-promotion videos in my quest to grow my website without the help of Google, Microsoft, Facebook or any app based out of China or Russia, I have come across a couple of social media alternatives. Many of you are likely aware of these social media networks. For me, this has all been a recent revelation. Over the next few months, I will be promoting www.expertofsome.com on four or five additional social media networks. Some of these choices maybe controversial. But I am going to do whatever I can to make this website work without feeding the belly of those three monopolistic beasts. Here they are.
2) MEWE – The current number two of social media websites that are similar in scope to Facebook, MeWe's mission is a focus on data privacy and personal choice without the insidious advertising algorithm that makes Facebook billions. MeWe is my personal favorite social media website and if you are looking for an alternative to the Zuckerberg empire, this is it. I also just started using this website and my first impression is very positive. If you want to join me, here is my profile.
3) LIBERTY SOCIETY – This is a social media news site and discussion platform for old school conservatives and liberals as well as anarchists and libertarians. The focus of the website revolves around creating a community of like-minded individuals to help protect and bring back the freedoms this country used to honor. I am in the process of using this website. It is a little rustic and needs updating. Here is my current profile.
4) GAB – I was a user of Gab when it first came to notoriety. Called a Twitter clone but without the censorship that Dorsey’s platform is increasingly known, Gab has been adopted by followers of Donald Trump as well as many other radical right-wing minded individuals. Because of this, I cancelled my account a couple of years back. I am thinking about diving back in and giving the platform another shot. If I decide to move forward, I will post my profile here.
5) MINDS – Another social media site that recently came to my attention is MINDS. The founder is tied into the internet freedom community and is an avid blogger about the dangers of government and technology merging into an authoritarian entity. The platform is based on open source technology. I will start an account shortly and give a review on my website. I also want to compare this to Mastodon, an open source website that I used sparingly in the past.
I hope to see some of you on these websites. Feel free to let me know your thoughts and I will incorporate that into my review.
Next month, professional sports will begin its comeback from this COVID-19 lockdown. Here is the information you need to know regarding the return of each professional league. As a quick note, this blog will be focusing on American sports only. Let us begin!
PGA – GOLF
Golf is the first sport to return. All tournaments will be spectator free until the virus dissipates. At the current moment, the PGA tour is beginning its third tournament (The Travelers Championship) since the restart.
ATP & WTA – TENNIS
The Women’s Tour (WTA) has announced its resumption with a tournament in Palermo, Italy on August 3rd. The Men’s Tour (ATP) has not announced a comeback. Per their website, the ATP is still under suspension till July 31st. Pay attention to www.atptour.com for more details.
NLL – LACROSSE
Many people probably do not know that Lacrosse has its own professional league. It has been around longer than the MLS in the United States and mostly focuses on the Northeast/New England section of our country. Locally, we have the San Diego Seals who were added to the league in 2017. COVID-19 caused the NLL to cancel the remainder of their season, the only team sport that succumbed to this viral outbreak.
MLS – AMERICAN SOCCER
One of the most intriguing resumption plans belongs to the MLS. They are coming back with a shortened season that resembles a World Cup like tournament. All 26 teams are broken down into six groups with round robin play inside of the groups. Once complete, the top 16 teams will advance to the Knock Out Round with the championship being played on August 11th.
NHL – HOCKEY
The NHL regular season has ended and play will resume with a 24 team playoff. The postseason is broken into two aspects. There will be a qualifying round where the 5 through 12 seeds will play Best of Five matchups to qualify for the regular postseason knockout rounds. The top four seeds in each conference will play a three-game round robin that will determine the number 1 through 4 seeds when the postseason is officially set. Once the playoffs are set, it will default to the normal 16 team, seven game series knockout system. There will be a few “hub” cities where every game will be played. No word on the exact date for resumption but it appears to be at the end of July as they go through their "Phased" re-opening.
NBA – BASKETBALL
The NBA will resume play on July 31st. Every team within playoff contention will be allowed to participate (22 teams in total). Regular season records will be respected. Eight games will be played which will determine the playoff seeding (Teams will end up playing between 71 to 75 games). The top 7 seeds will advance to the playoffs. The eighth seed will only qualify if they are four games or more up on the ninth seed in each conference. If this is not the case, there will be a possible two game play-in. The eighth seed only needs to win one game to advance to the playoffs. For the ninth seed to qualify, they will need to beat the eighth seed twice to become the last playoff participant. Once the playoffs begin, they will default to the normal 16 team, seven game series knockout tournament system. All games will be played in empty stadiums around the Orlando, Florida area.
MLB – BASEBALL
Baseball has decided to start with a shortened 60 game season. Each team will get home and home series versus division foes and 20 games against the opposite league’s corresponding regional divisions. Play will resume on either July 23rd or 24th. Once this shortened season ends, baseball will have its normal postseason (Five teams in each league, one game wild card game). There were discussions of an expansion to 16 teams for the playoffs, but this was voted down by the players.
NFL – AMERICAN FOOTBALL
There are no changes planned for the NFL season other than social distancing measures and the possibility of games being played in empty stadiums. The NFL will start on time with a Thursday night matchup on September 10th.
The hardest aspect of this lockdown for me has been the suspension of professional sports. Being forced to work remote and live under one roof with my family is something I have always wanted. It is too bad that we needed a deadly virus to sweep across the world before this dream could be realized. Now that things are slowly starting to return to normal, it is time to embrace our long-standing cultural customs again.
It gets tiring writing about the ongoing chaos in this country whether related to COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter protestors, the CHOP in Seattle, or any other bizarre thing that has made 2020 unforgettable. Lately, I have been going down the music rabbit hole. I became fascinated with the lifespans of musicians. According to this study done by THE TELEGRAPH in the U.K., musicians average lifespan is 20 – 25 years less than an average citizen. Thinking about the history of rock n’ roll, it is not difficult to see why. Every generation has had its share of rock stars dying way too young whether it was the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens plane crash “The Day the Music Died” in 1959, the unnatural deaths of Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin (And many others in the 1970s) to the recent deaths of various Generation X musicians (More on this later), the touring, hard living, and fame that music brings seems to lead to an extremely shortened lifespan.
I am going to list the Top 10 deaths of Generation X musicians (Hard core rap, grunge, and alternative) that has affected me during my lifetime. To qualify, the artist had to have been born between 1964-1980 (Qualifying him as Gen X) and been famous enough to be remembered by mass culture (Whitney Houston being born in 1963 does not qualify). Even though deaths of individuals like David Bowie, John Lennon and Mark Hollis may have affected me more than some of these musicians, their birthdates disqualify them for this list. Even limiting myself to these birth years, the number of musicians that have died is truly astonishing. Let me begin the list.
There actually are more than 10. So, I will list a few that did not make my list but are nonetheless just as tragic.
LISA “LEFT EYE” LOPES from the R & B band TLC: 1971 – 2002 (Died in a plane crash)
SHANNON HOON, lead singer of the band BLIND MELON: 1967 - 1995 (Overdosed on cocaine)
JAM MASTER JAY AKA JASON MIZELL of the rap group RUN DMC: 1965 – 2002 (Murdered)
DOLORES O’RIORDAN of the band THE CRANBERRIES: 1971 – 2018 (Drowned due to alcohol intoxication)
Now, we will get to my list of 11 (Two names are blended together because their deaths have been linked by circumstances and history). With my rankings, this is based on how these deaths impacted me personally. Your personal list maybe completely different. Let me know how you would rank this or include anyone that I have forgotten. Here we go!
10) CHRIS CORNELL of the bands SOUNDGARDEN and AUDIOSLAVE: 1964 – 2017 (Suicide) – Of the long list of alternative and grunge bands that have lost lead singers, Chris Cornell was probably the best lead singer in terms of his range and vocal talents. Both bands that he fronted were not personal favorites of mine and this includes his collaboration with Eddie Vedder with TEMPLE OF THE DOG. Like so many people of my generation, he battled depression and it eventually overwhelmed him.
9) OL’ DIRTY BASTARD AKA RUSSELL JONES of the rap group WU TANG CLAN: 1968 – 2004 (Overdose on Multiple Drugs) – ODB as he was nicknamed innovated rap for me. He had such a unique style and also was one of the founding members of the rap collective WU TANG CLAN. Russell had problems with drugs and the law throughout his life and unfortunately, he was not able to defeat his personal demons. I recommend buying all the albums he did with the WU TANG CLAN and his solo work. All of it is amazing (All three of his solo albums got nominated for Best Rap Album at the Grammys).
8) TUPAC SHAKUR 1971 – 1996 & NOTORIOUS B.I.G. 1972 – 1997 (Both Murdered) – Unfortunately, both these men are tied together in history due to the ill-fated East Coast/West Coast hip hop rivalry. Before their deaths, I was more interested in the NOTORIOUS B.I.G. due to his casual rap style and interesting rhythms in his songs. Because I was busy doing my film major, I knew Tupac more from his acting in films than his rap songs. In fact, I still believe to this day that Tupac would have been an Academy Award winning actor if he had survived this era. Every film I saw him in, he just had the presence of a star. Only later after his death did I come around to the importance of his music. Whatever occurred that caused both of these men to die early, it is a true historical tragedy.
7) BRADLEY NOWELL lead singer of the ska band SUBLIME 1968 – 1996 (Overdosed on Heroin) – Bradley is an interesting story because before his death, the band was not that well known. They had a radio hit on KROQ with ‘Date Rape’ in 1991. I happened to see them live twice and Bradley and the band were not particularly good. Whether they were high or not interested, the two concerts I attended with SUBLIME were mediocre. Musically, the band was not innovative. But, the lyrics in songs like ‘Doin’ Time’, ‘Bad Fish’, April 29, 1992’, ‘Wrong Way’ and ‘Santeria’ is the reason he will be remembered (A theme we will be returning too with our next death). Unfortunately for him, he did not live to see his music become iconic as it can be heard on almost any rock n roll radio station if you listen for about an hour.
6) CHESTER BENNINGTON lead singer of the rap rock band LINKIN PARK 1976 – 2017 (Suicide) – This was another individual who grew on me over time. Again, from a musical perspective, the band never stood out to me. But what made LINKIN PARK memorable were Chester’s lyrics. With every song, you can feel how personal this music was for him. After his death, I went on a LINKIN PARK binge and knowing that he had died, the music really hit me much harder than it should have. Like so many people of my generation, he could not defeat his personal demons.
5) SCOTT WEILAND lead singer of the rock group STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, VELVET REVOLVER and THE WILDABOUTS 1967 – 2015 (Overdosed on multiple drugs) – Like Chris Cornell, no matter how much I often criticized bands that Scott participated in (VELVET REVOLVER especially), you can not deny this man’s talent. “Big Empty”, “Wicked Garden”, “Creep”, “Sex Type Thing” and one of my favorite songs of all time “Sour Girl” were stone cold classics. His style of singing and passion for his music can be clearly heard in these songs. I only saw STONE TEMPLE PILOTS one time and they were decent. They were unfortunately overwhelmed by the headliners of that evening, THE RED-HOT CHILI PEPPERS. Even though my opinion on Scott and his bands may have been different during that time due to the tremendous amount of great music that was out, I have evolved to appreciate the amazing talent that he was.
4) EAZY E AKA ERIC WRIGHT solo rapper and member of the rap group N.W.A 1964 – 1995 (Complications of AIDS) – My friends all know it. My children know it. I want the world to know it. I adored Eazy-E. He was my favorite rapper in NWA. His one album, Eazy-Duz-It is one of my favorite rap albums of all time. He had such a unique voice and style. Unfortunately, his much-promoted promiscuity caught up to him and ended his life sooner than it should. He is one of my favorite “What If” stories. I think he could have been more of a legend than he is now.
3) LAYNE STALEY lead singer of the band ALICE IN CHAINS 1967 – 2002 (Overdoes on a Speedball) – Without a doubt, the most powerful and distinctive voice that came out of the grunge era. ALICE IN CHAINS became one of my favorite bands after the release of their EP Jar of Flies which is one of my favorite albums of all time. Their music continues to affect me in emotional ways twenty-five years on. The only reason they are a little lower is that I saw them at Lollapalooza 1993. They were fantastic. But Primus came out after them and they completely blew me away. I never got another opportunity to see them live again. But like all these other people previously mentioned, his voice will live on for all eternity.
2) KURT COBAIN lead singer of the band NIRVANA 1967 – 1994 (Suicide) – If I am honest, if I do this list in another ten years, Kurt maybe further down. But he remains at Number 2 due to my memory of his death which is still clear to me 26 years later. I fell hard for Nirvana. Even though I find myself listening to them less than I did in the 1990s and 2000s, I have come around to appreciate some of the band’s deeper cuts like “Something in the Way”, “On a Plain” and “Serve the Servants.” Their performance on MTV Unplugged is still the best one of all time especially since they decided to do six covers in their fourteen-song set. Kurt’s cultural impact may have dissipated a little bit, but he deserves his spot among the rock n roll gods right next to Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley.
1) ADAM YAUCH rapper and musician of the band THE BEASTIE BOYS 1964 – 2012 (Cancer) – Of all the deaths listed here, Adam Yauch is the only one to have died of natural causes. When he died, this death hit me hard (Like David Bowie’s would four years later). I own all THE BEASTIE BOYS video collections, EPs, LPs, anthologies, etc. No band had more of an impact on my childhood than they did. I recently completed the novel written by his two surviving bandmates, Mike D (Michael Diamond) and AdRock (Adam Horowitz) which was a loving tribute to the foundational emotional rock he was for the other two members. He was dedicated to Tibetan Buddhism (With lots of charity work) and was the most talented musician of the trio. Losing THE BEASTIE BOYS (Especially after they put out a wonderful final album called “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two” which blended so well with their eclectic punk rock EPS and instrumental album “The Mix-Up”) emotionally devastated me. RIP Adam! You are greatly missed.
THE POLITICIZATION OF SCIENCE
In the 21st Century, our world seems to be moving away from faith and deeper into scientific discovery. This is a positive development. For our society to move forward, we need the continual evolution of technology, science, and culture. But before we embrace our scientific future, we need to be honest about the fact that present day science is probably more divisive than religion politically. If you want an example, just look at the news sources and articles surrounding this COVID-19 virus. Is the virus man-made? Did it evolve in a lab? Did it evolve in nature? Everyone seems to have an opinion. But facts are unfortunately hard to come by. This article will evaluate three hot button topics of our present day: COVID-19, Global Warming, and Vaccines. There is a mainstream opinion that our corporations and government would like us to respect. Unfortunately, this opinion is often flawed, and many individuals often risk their career to question these mainstream “facts.” If you want to know why people are so confused about finding the “truth”, science has done nothing to guide us forward when so many researchers have conflicting opinions.
Before I begin, I want to make it clear that my personal opinion on these issues is “not defined.” There are too many contradictions for me to take any one opinion seriously. This article has been written to show all these contradictions. I am not supporting one point of view over another. I just want to make everyone aware that any organization, individual or government that tells you what the answer is supposed to be, likely has a financial or political incentive to do so.
Let’s start with COVID-19. There are two main disputes in the media regarding this virus. One involves the origin of this virus. It falls into three specific categories.
According to these scientific publications, the virus evolved naturally and was released in a “wet” market.
Back in February, Indian doctors evaluated COVID-19 and found HIV inserts that seem to have been added into the virus. According to them, there is no way this could have evolved naturally. Over the next two weeks, this study was disputed. But as time has gone by, the Indian doctor theory on this virus has come back into the mainstream as chronic symptoms are being seen with the infected.
Along with this, the virus “escaped” from a lab (Likely accidentally) is slowly becoming the mainstream narrative due to government and independent scientific investigations which disputes the earlier information regarding the natural occurrence of this virus.
Then, there is the whole fiasco around medicine and which medication is effective against COVID-19.
Remdesivir works. Wait a minute, it doesn’t. Actually, we think it works and the government will fund it. Yet, it still probably does not work.
It is even worse with hydroxychloroquine. Since this drug has been around going back to the 1950s to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, the drug has entered its “generic” phase meaning that is widely available and “cheap.” As we know, you can’t make billions of dollars and own a gigantic yacht on “generics.” So, the information around this drug is even muddier.
First, it became a political issue when Trump endorsed and later admitted that he was taking it. A few doctors agreed with Trump at the beginning of the outbreak. Then, our own government and medical doctors rejected it based on a Lancet study. Of course, this study was recently retracted due to the method of analysis and we are back to square one. Thankfully, some cities are taking the lives of their citizens into their own hands and suing the government to use this drug.
All this news has occurred over the past three months since the COVID-19 lockdown. If you analyzed all this information from an outsiders’ perspective, you would think that the world has lost its collective mind. This may very well be true.
Now, let’s move onto the global warming front. This is a little less controversial. The controversy mainly derives from two main issues: the cause of the global warming and the political motivations behind pushing this narrative. Again, your personal beliefs on the seriousness of this issue seem to fall down neo-liberal and conservative lines. Neo-liberals are insistent that global warming is human caused and we need to create a “green economy” managed by our governments and global corporations for our own benefit. I have personal issues with this belief from the aspect that even if we have a global warming problem, was the global climate change treaty really going to change anything especially when you look at the pollution coming out of Asia?
As everyone knows, there are dozens of studies on human caused global warming. But there are also studies on solar activity and whether this is the primary cause. Throughout the earth’s billion year history, there has been warming trends (See the Eocene era) and ice ages. Recently, there have even been studies on global cooling? Plus since this lockdown happened, air pollution has been reduced significantly. So, what and who are we supposed to believe?
Finally, there is the vaccine controversy. Again, this can be broken down along partisan political lines. Neo-liberals, the government and corporations are heavy supporters of mandatory vaccinations. Strongly religious families as well as many members of the right have cast their doubts. If you research this issue online, you will again get pulled into various spider-like directions.
The controversy started when it was discovered that thimerosal (A form of mercury) was present in vaccines in the late 90s which led the CDC to issue a warning. Not too long after, the United States had an epidemic of autistic children being born throughout the United States. No one could figure out why. Vaccines soon became a legitimate target. Europeans have warned about Gardasil for years and do not use it. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Under assault from his own family and the multi-national pharmaceutical corporations) has become the voice of the anti-vaccination movement. His basic philosophy revolves around the idea of recognizing the damage that these vaccines cause to thousands of children around the world and see if there is a more effective way to build immunity including safer vaccines. Since this is a threat to a multi-billion dollar industry and the fact that some vaccines do work, the truth will likely never be known. Most people support widespread vaccination even though that number has declined by 10% over the past twenty years. Like all these political issues, the truth is difficult to ascertain. But if you continue to believe that only your side of the argument has the valid opinion, then you are also part of this problem.
Since we live in a time when every voice can be heard online, we have entered an era where there is no longer “truth”. This change has also affected the scientific community where practitioners no longer agree on the best way to treat any problem. The only solution to this problem is a healthy cultural and intellectual debate. Censoring oppositional opinions will not resolve this issue and only reinforce the narrative of the entities promoting their theories (See the 10% reduction in the need for vaccinations above). Censoring information has been the default behavior of the online tech companies and the government. This behavior will continue to create an oppositional backlash. As we evolve to understand technology and our present-day culture better, let’s hope that we become intelligent enough to resolve these issues. If this continues, I may very well throw my PC and television into the Pacific Ocean and go live on a remote island.
EXPERT OF SOME