Before I begin the next part on my evaluation of higher education (Also related to the fact that I am temporarily locked out of my Arizona State University account), I want to answer a question forwarded to me.
“Hey Expert, are you really an expert in anything?”
Unfortunately, I can not give a definitive answer to this question. In my life, I have discovered that on quite a few topics (Let’s say 50), I can hold a basic conversation as long as the details remain at a basic level. For instance, if we are talking about cars, I know they run on four wheels and move forward when I switch the transmission to D. There are car brands like Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Toyota…ummm…Mazda, Nissin which I think also owns a ramen company, and something called Hun-Day. I know that a flux capacitor is necessary for the battery to operate, or the car won’t move. There are also the pointy metal “thingys” that show up after you remove a tire and circular metal device from the tire. As you can see, I know quite a bit about cars to have a decent conversation about them over a beer. I have learned a few things about guns. Mostly from the safety perspective (Thank you California). I know more about the paperwork required to transfer gun ownership than I do about bullet calibers. Because when it comes to defending yourself, it is important to know where my signature is needed on a piece of paper when my daughter inherits my weapons after I get shot and killed trying to figure out the state’s laws. On about 20 topics, my knowledge is at a higher level than the average person. I can write or blog about these topics when researched. Two new additions to this category are travel and energy (More on this later). I will not pose as an expert on these topics but can dive into complex details and even take risks if it relates to an issue like investing. Because as the financial overlords always say, metal never goes down (Except it has consistently over the past ten years), real estate never goes down (Except in 2008), and stocks always trend up (Except when they don’t). So how could I be any worse than these supposed “experts” who paid a 100,000 dollars for a Finance Master’s Degree where they are always right? Except when they are not!
When I got my Master’s Degree last year, I undertook testing at Arizona State University on a diverse range of topics. If I passed a specific topic (And got my proper six to twelve months of being a teacher’s assistant) and qualified, I could create a curriculum and teach these subjects to students. So here is my delayed answer to this question. I am an actual EXPERT on a few things. I am the EXPERT OF SOME. Again, here is the list.
ARTS AND MEDIA ENGINEERING
COMMUNICATION PHILOSOPHY AND TECHNOLOGY
CREATIVE NON-FICTION WRITING
CULTURAL STUDIES AND TECHNOLOGY
DEMOCRATIC AND POLITICAL THEORY
MEDIA AND NEW MEDIA STUDIES
WAR AND SOCIETY
That is right. My knowledge on these thirteen topics is at a level that God forbid, I can teach these subjects to people.
What is missing here? Music for one. I thought my overall deep knowledge of this topic would qualify me as an old clarinetist and saxophonist during my high school and college years. Apparently, I arpeggio’ed where I should have staccato’ed and did not qualify to teach it. I never believed I was more than an average musician. This test proved my theory once and for all. So why do I bring all this up?
I like to send emails to my friends, acquaintances, ex-lovers, co-workers, the man who lives under the bridge near me, etc. I will read or observe something that I feel needs to be forwarded along. Do I expect you to watch, read, or listen to it? Absolutely not. But if I decide to send it to you, the main reason is because intellectually, I believe it is something that would interest you or maybe even expand your mind. I sometimes will focus on these topics listed as my “expertises” above because I do have strong opinions on all these topics and spend many hours a week reading and researching them. So even if you don’t agree with my point of view, these forwarded topics are coming to you with a great deal of knowledge attached to them. Sometimes, I am not even sure if a topic is true. But the article is so fascinating, I think it is worth opining over or having a bizarre discussion about. I feel my clarity on this needs to be emphasized again. Because there are individuals who mistakenly believe that if a topic is sent to them, then the words inside the article stand for my beliefs. This is not true. l sometimes write with strong emotions and passion. But it will be prefaced with words like, “If this is true”, or “Let’s hope this does not happen.” I will give strong opinions on people like Dick Cheney. Because I think he has a secret cave somewhere in Wyoming with imprisoned children that he likely eats once a month to keep his heart beating for another 30 days. My tone maybe confusing but as a person with strong journalistic instincts, my only motivation is to inform. You can make your own judgments on what I send and that is fine. I am just trying to share my own intellectual curiosity with as many people as possible. So let’s do a test.
The last two days, Tucker Carlson has opened his show with a monologue on the "coming" energy crisis. There are divergent opinions on whether there actually is a crisis. This is not my point for sending it. The information he provides in both these monologues is fascinating. As a person who is beginning to rebel against the green energy transition (I am a person that understands the electric grid on a pretty complex level and would like for these "climate change" activists to answer a few basic questions about this), I am having my doubts on whether these initiatives will ever work. Don't let my cynicism make you think there is no problem. We have energy problems that need to be resolved. Personally, I think our concern should be on pollution, not 'climate change.' Let me know what you think. Just want you to think outside the box.
On Monday, August 15th, 2022, the final episode of BETTER CALL SAUL aired on AMC. Over two series and twelve seasons (Six seasons each), BREAKING BAD aired 62 episodes and BETTER CALL SAUL aired 63 totaling 125. The 63rd episode of BREAKING BAD was a movie called EL CAMINO airing on Netflix that completed the Jesse Pinkman character arc from BREAKING BAD which was unresolved when that series ended. The first episode of BREAKING BAD aired on AMC on January 20, 2008. The show ran six seasons until 2013 and the prequel series, BETTER CALL SAUL, started in February of 2015 and wrapped up just last week (This show stretched its seasons out due to scheduling conflicts and the COVID-19 pandemic). Both these shows observed as a singular piece of entertainment were incredible achievements. For me, there are three aspects of these shows that I would like to discuss before this universe takes its final bow and retires as one of the greatest television experiences of all-time. The first is the cinematography, which as a film major, was probably my favorite aspect of the show. The second is the writing. Anyone can have an idea and create the initial groundwork for a television show. But being able to evolve your writing to recognize the talent at your disposal is a skill that is underappreciated. Finally, I am hoping that these two series and the one movie finish this universe completely. The law of diminishing returns kicks in when there are too many stories focused inside one universe. Ask any STAR WARS, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, or MARVEL fan about this. When you have reached SHE HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW or the BOOK of BOBA FETT levels of storytelling, you may have to recognize that your best ideas are behind you.
My favorite aspect of BETTER CALL SAUL has always been the cinematography. BETTER CALL SAUL which was made later has a more distinct visual style than BREAKING BAD. While the former show had a more profound Western influence, BETTER CALL SAUL takes inspiration from multiple genres and different types of cinematography. A few examples are the distant, wide shots inherent in gangster movies during acts of violence like seen in THE GODFATHER or MILLER’S CROSSING. Not to mention the beautiful environmental wide shots that evoke some of the most famous southwestern landscapes and desert scenery often seen in classic westerns from the 1960s to 1970s that give the environment its own defining character in support of the story. Finally, there is the noir aspect. The usage of bright lights, darkness, and spacing that was popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Watching BETTER CALL SAUL is like embracing a historical film studies class that covers a majority of the cinematography techniques of the 20th Century. The obvious influence of film on the camera work in this television show has set it apart from many of its contemporary brethren. Another AMC show that also had a wonderful cinematic feel with its bright colors, period costumes, and framing was MAD MEN. A show that embraced classic cinema techniques, the often over saturated lights and steady cams helped illuminate the beauty of the talent and their emotional performances. With SAUL, the diverse range of shots helps set the mood inside of each scene and allows each moment to stand on its own outside of the story telling. The creators also decided to play with color as all the scenes that take place in BETTER CALL SAUL after the events of BREAKING BAD take place in a haunting black and white. With the color defining the timeframe in which this part of the story occurs, the show ends on a wide two shot of Kim and Jimmy, one of them behind bars, saying goodbye for the last time. The lack of color is a perfect summation for the wreckage that remains in each of their lives.
Another fantastic creative aspect of these shows is the writing. When evaluating the story from a dialogue perspective, it may come across as ordinary. But what sets these shows’ writing apart is the understanding of the characters and how their actions are believable from a human perspective. The ability to adapt and change the character and story when they don’t make sense. Not to mention that actors like Aaron Paul who played Jesse Pinkman and Rhea Seehorn who played Kim Wexler were not originally meant to be major characters in their respective shows. But because of their incredible performances, the writing adapted to making them centerpieces of each one. Understanding the talent you have and adapting the writing to account for this is an incredible feat in a creative genre that is often criticized for its rigidity. Plus, the ability of the writers to reveal new information without digging themselves into a plot hole that has no escape is a testament to note taking and open discussion. Sometimes, a collaborative writers’ room that attacks a story with an open mind can lead to entertainment nirvana.
Finally, the last section of this article involves my pure opinion on the potential “future” of the BREAKING BAD universe. With two shows and a film that came as close to perfection as they have and stayed consistent for such a long period of time, I would prefer if this world were never returned to in the future. Each character’s story is complete. Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould both feel the same way as they move onto their next creative projects. It is time to appreciate the magic that these gentlemen created over a 110-to-120-hour timeframe. These shows were television in its most perfect state. There is no reason to drain more juice from that orange when it has already nourished us completely. BREAKING BAD and BETTER CALL SAUL are done. Isn’t that spectacular?
On this Happy August 16th also known as “No More Cheneys in Congress” Day, I want to make a few points about some changes in my life and the reason for my slower output on my website and the snail-like release related to my book. First of all, there a few political families that can truly be blamed for the rapid decline of the United States. Names ending in Bush and Clinton played a huge role. But the Cheney family represented by Father Dick and Daughter Liz may actually be two of the worst politicians in history. Promoting nothing but empire and endless war since 2001, they have added no benefit to anyone’s lives unless you are a military contractor. Harriet Hageman will beat Liz Cheney by approximately 35 points in the Wyoming primary today. Whether Ms. Hageman will be a good politician is anyone’s guess (I am leaning towards NO). But at least we can finally shovel the final pieces of dirt onto the Cheney family’s political career. Second, I pulled my son out of the public school system last week. This was a long time coming. There are three primary reasons why this occurred.
First, the threat of masking continues to exist within these school districts. Even though it has been relaxed for now, I can no longer trust these public school administrators. Whatever “science” they are getting their information from, it has been proven over and over and over that masks don’t work while causing childhood development problems. I can no longer risk my son’s future at a school district that feels like it has declared war on my son.
Second, watching his education online from March of 2020 to June of 2022 has been a painful experience. The repetition of the classroom had my son repeating information dozens of times over. His academic decline started quickly after the lockdowns. When my wife and I realized this problem, he was already a grade behind. So, I started teaching homeschooling an hour a day on the side outside his normal remote school hours. This one hour created a tremendous improvement in his cognitive and academic skills (This was also proven through testing on campus later in the year). Since my son showed great improvement with extra attention from his parents, this gave us another reason to pull him out of public school.
Finally, the education that he is learning is a complete joke. Once I began to study his curriculum, I was horrified by its abject simplicity. Last year, this became a huge political issue. Since people of the left-wing liberal persuasion have tremendous influence over the education system in this country, many of them thought that the education they were giving our children was an improvement over the average education from 20 years ago. They are absolutely wrong. In the 6th grade, my son does not even understand many of the basics of writing including what a prepositional phrase is or a conjunction. Almost everyone of his classmates has this problem. The teaching of American history and Civics is a joke. There is no teaching of the dialogue inside the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution except for small snippets which the educators decided were the most important. Ask any child today what the five freedoms of the people are in the 1st Amendment (For the record, they are Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of the Press, Freedom to Assemble, and the Ability of any Citizen to Petition the Government for Grievances) and you will find that most Harvard graduates cannot recite all five freedoms. History is now taught with no context. It always starts with the Revolution against the British. Only specific events are discussed. After moving on from this period, all of modern-day history becomes about identity. While American history is dark and racist, liberal academics focus our children on this racism. No perspective is given. History jumps from one oppressed person to another. Nothing positive is really discussed. If you want to know why the millennial and Z Generation are all social justice warriors thinking that they live inside the most racist nation on Earth, look no further than the public education system. When I was younger, I felt history was too nationalistic. We swept over terrible moments like the Trail of Tears or the Chinese Exclusion Act to focus on the greatness of our country. We put too much emphasis on the historical wars that we have fought. I believe most liberals wanted to give a more balanced perspective when they took over the public schools. Unfortunately, the teaching of these topics has swung so far back into the other direction, that they resemble a Babylon Bee article more than a proper way to learn knowledge. Don’t get me started on what passes for science today or this blog is going to go another page.
So my son is now getting a proper education. He is entering the 6th grade. I ordered three 5th grade classes (Math, Science, and History) and one 4th grade class (English) because that is where he currently resides academically. Two years were lost to COVID-19 despite the fact that children are rarely impacted by this virus. The education system will burn in hell for what they have done over the past two years. It may have taken my wife and I too long to figure these problems out. But we will never be fooled again!
How many of my readers feel like there is something amiss? A crack in the matrix, so to speak. For me, it feels like the world switched over to a different multiverse (With apologies to MARVEL) when the two planes hit the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. I have never been able to place one of my increasingly fat fingers on the cause of this dissonance. Why did the 1980s and 1990s feel so significantly different from the 2000s and 2010s when it came to political or economic discussions? Well, there are a few brave individuals who have been trying to figure this out themselves. In this short blog, I will provide three examples of journalists and researchers who have begun to focus on United States and global propaganda. When we think of propaganda, it is always easy to point it out when a dictator like Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, or Pol Pot embraces its usage. What is difficult is to recognize propaganda when it is “quiet” and subtle. Here are a couple of examples.
One of the leading professors in the world who teaches classes on propaganda, Dr. Mark Crispin Miller, had an incredible 40-minute speech on present-day propaganda at the AMERICAN FREEDOM ALLIANCE. Reflecting my own knowledge on this topic as a member of the media, television broadcast technician and engineer over a 13-year timeframe, and owner of a Master’s Degree in Film and Media Studies, I agree with 99% of the points he discusses in this video. The video can be watched here (Since it was banned on YouTube). During the second half of his speech, he informs his audience how propaganda has evolved over the past two years in three different ways:
1. Propaganda is global which is new to the human experience. The universal reaction of countries around the world during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in using the same lockdown tactics and medical treatments is something that has never occurred. And this type of propaganda was overwhelming and persistent. Other than a few outlier nations (Like Sweden and portions of Africa), every nation engaged in similar propagandistic tactics that only differentiated based on cultural differences. Never have I been witness to such a huge wave of propaganda.
2.Propaganda has been endless since 2020. This is absolutely true. Propaganda has been around for a very long time. But propaganda was only noticeable during specific historical episodes like its usage by nation states in wars or by dictatorships to keep control of their populations. But since COVID-19, the government has not stopped for one day to give us a break. Unfortunately, this is likely to continue into the near future.
3.The “Left” as it defines itself now are the leading proponents and leaders behind our present-day propaganda. While you can find authoritarians of different political leanings practicing propaganda throughout history in many different nations, the modern-day experience of propaganda seen especially during the presidencies of Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes always originated from the ‘right.’ This is no longer the case. This change has obliterated the old party alliances. Instead of being seen as a left-wing liberal or a right-wing conservative, new alignments are forming around people who believe in liberal and freedom-loving ideals and the rest of the population that seems comfortable living under governmental edicts, mandates or are engaged in contributing to this control mechanism through their own sociopathic tendencies. My libertarian leanings have found many allies on the left over the past two years including politicians like Tulsi Gabbard, professors like Dr. Mark Crispin Miller, and a whole host of journalists like Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, and Robert Kennedy Jr. The re-alignment will continue as long as the Democratic Party continues down its path of destruction and insanity.
The second article is written by a so-called “anarcho-communist” named Caitlin Johnstone. While I do not agree with her on many topics, her analysis on our culture and the media is unique and important to understand. Her article titled, “WESTERNERS THINK THEY ARE FREE THINKERS INDIVIDUALISTS AND ITS EFFING ADORABLE” is an important read. Most Americans when they make personal decisions involving politics, social issues, or which sandwich to buy have no consciousness to understand the manipulation that the government and corporations have engaged in to mold your opinion. So even though you may believe that posting a Ukrainian flag on your Twitter feed is rebellious and individualistic, you also are doing exactly what your government and social media companies want you to do. Or having your once anarchist and rebellious lyrics as the band RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE change to reflect what the political establishment wants you to support. Tom Morello is now “RAGING WITH THE MACHINE.” As she mentions so eloquently involving this idea,
“As a whole we are marching in perfect accordance with the will of our masters: voting how they like, thinking how they like, speaking how they like, working how they like, shopping how they like, and living how they like.”
Finally, there is a book that I recommend. Most famous for inventing the definition of the term MASS FORMATION PSYCHOSIS, the book is an update on Hannah Arendt’s classic THE ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM. The book is THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TOTALITARIANISM by Mattias Desmet. This book analyzes the psychological conditions that lead to the rise of a totalitarian state inside a society. While Arendt’s book dived into this topic from a cultural and political angle, Desmet looks into the mind for the reason why people abandon their free will and accept totalitarianism. An in-depth review will be coming in a couple of months on this book. If you are concerned that most American people are in a psychological state ready and willing to accept a totalitarian nation, your fears will definitely be confirmed when reading this novel.
Until next week! I intend to finally release the long-awaited part 6 of my series on the destruction of the education system. Enjoy!
Due to summer vacations, public corporate events, and family visits, my blog has been laid low like the poor Washington Nationals over the past month. Life gets very complicated and chaotic in ways that are unpredictable. During this time, I decided to finish a book on my increasingly growing Amazon watchlist, OVER THE ELECTRIC GRAPEVINE: INSIGHT INTO PRIMUS AND THE WORLD OF LES CLAYPOOL. To understand why I would read a novel about a band whose heyday existed in the early 90s, it is important to go back to the beginning of when the Expert of Some first discovered Primus.
Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, California, 1993, the eve of Lollapalooza 1993.The lineup consisted of seven bands: RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, TOOL, FRONT 242, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, FISHBONE, ALICE IN CHAINS and PRIMUS. The tour earlier had BABES IN TOYLAND and DINOSAUR JR. who did not play during this last segment of the concert. My friends and I got a hotel for the evening in nearby Arcadia, a quick walk from Santa Anita Horse Track. Because of a wandering friend who disappeared on his skateboard that night (Which made us even more nervous after we went to ask about his whereabouts at Santa Anita and were greeted by some people acting very bizarrely), none of us got any sleep. Our “friend” re-appeared at our hotel early in the morning right before we had to leave for the concert. Among all of us, I got the most sleep with an impressive three total hours. On August 8th, 1993, just days before my 19th birthday, I went to the best rock concert of my life. After FISHBONE came out and blew the crowd away, we watched a subdued but impressive performance by ALICE IN CHAINS. And then came PRIMUS to headline. Only being familiar with a couple of their songs up to this point (Which were impressively played rock numbers) like TOMMY THE CAT, JERRY WAS A RACE CAR DRIVER, and TOYS GO WINDING DOWN, I had no idea what to expect. After an almost three-hour performance, I was completely blown away. I had just witnessed my favorite rock performance of all time. Nevertheless, I have seen Primus six times since then and they remain my favorite concert band of all-time.
Approaching 30 years of fandom with a band whose incredibly talented lead singer and bassist looked like he was spawned by a mad scientist out of the DNA of Geddy Lee from RUSH, Les Claypool has always gotten the benefit of the doubt from me regarding his diverse musical output. Even if some of his other music is not as interesting as PRIMUS was. I also do not read novels about bands. Because most of them usually end up telling the same story (Band becomes popular, bandmates have lots of sex, drugs become a problem, personalities begin to clash and this leads to the inevitable breakup which in most cases, eventually leads to a reunion with members that are wiser, more satisfied with their legacy, and sober). The BEASTIE BOYS book released a few years back was more of a history book than a novel about three Jewish boys from New York who became world famous rappers. SCAR TISSUE, Anthony Kiedis’s autobiography about his experience with the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, fell more into the atypical rocker story involving a man with a severe drug and personality problem who succeeded despite his best efforts to fail. OVER THE ELECTRIC GRAPEVINE does not fall into any of these categories. The most interesting part of the book is the first few chapters which lays out the history of the main character in PRIMUS (Les Claypool) and how he arrived at creating one of the most interesting bands of the 1990s. This historical section is the true highlight of the book. Les is truly an interesting man, and many famous rockers and personalities seem to have an opinion about him. The problem I had with the book was more on a fundamental level. Unlike the BEASTIE BOYS who turned over chapters of their books to specific personalities, much of this book was written by the members of PRIMUS and other individuals and rockers that surrounded them during their 1990s heyday. You find out some interesting details. For instance, Tim Alexander and Les Claypool seem to have a particular chemistry problem regarding their personalities. This issue is mentioned but often dismissed by overtly polite writing where they discuss how much they admire each other before diving into the seedier details. This occurs throughout the book and quickly becomes uninteresting. Multiple individuals talk about Les’s aggressiveness towards drummers or his perfectionist personality. But no one every dives into this topic for exploration. Everyone seems like they are protecting their reputations and seem afraid to show the darker sides of their personalities. When I read a book like this, I want to understand these people, the good and the bad. I still lack the understanding of various parts of the PRIMUS timeline. The last three chapters of the book are completely pointless. It is just a summary of the greatness of PRIMUS and how talented and unique each member of the band is written by various other musicians. If I had not already read this over 20 of the previous 27 chapters in one form or another, maybe this would have been interesting. Les is great, unique and has an interesting personality that comes through in his music. So please tell me something else that I do not know. Despite these complaints, the book is fascinating. Les’s open-mindedness towards different experiences has led him to be a part of as many bands as Mike Patton. Kirk Hammett and Matt Stone from SOUTH PARK are two of Les’s best friends. Like myself, Les was one of the only people in his friend base to have children which caused him to distance himself from many of them due to a changing of priorities. All these things were quite interesting, and I wish there would have been more discussion about these topics. How did he balance being a father and a rock star? But despite all of this, Primus remains a fascinating band. You will not find the same problems that have struck down many famous rock bands over the decades. If anything, Les’s divergent interests and his rocky relationship with Tim Alexander were probably the only things that led to any real issues within the band. They were a disciplined trio that just loved to make unique music together and got famous along the way. I recommend this book mostly for people who do not know anything about PRIMUS. Read it and buy their albums or watch a few of their videos on YouTube. Your life will never be the same.
If you want to dive in, watch these videos, listen to their best album, or watch the satirical movie made by Les Claypool.
SAILING THE SEAS OF CHEESE – MY FAVORITE PRIMUS ALBUM
ELECTRIC APRICOT – A SATIRICAL AND QUITE FUNNY MOVIE DIRECTED BY LES CLAYPOOL
EXPERT OF SOME