Mo’ Meta Blues

Facebook, or the company formerly known as Facebook and would like you to forget it ever was Facebook, has tried to go the Prince route. Like his Royal Badness, they still have a bunch of asses like we have always seen. And the ride…and the ride…ain’t so smooth. If you haven’t been paying attention, Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been under fire on several … Continue reading Mo’ Meta Blues

Aliens unto Aliens

Graphic from The History Channel

Since 2010, “Ancient Aliens” has proven to be a solid ratings winner for both The History Channel and the A&E Network. This is despite the show’s reliance on unique and often unproven theories; in fact, one of the show’s biggest criticisms is how the show presents these theories as if they were indeed factual in nature (the low-end production values didn’t help, as noted in this review published in the McGill Tribune.)

I admit I’ve watched a few episodes of “Ancient Aliens” with a sense of bemusement on random late nights. But as my interest in history grew in my later years, I realized there was a deeper undercurrent of something more disturbing within shows like “Ancient Aliens” – the whole concept that ancient peoples (especially those of indigenous or non-Caucasian societies) couldn’t have possibly built all the fantastical structures themselves.

This concept is hardly a new one – despite their own encounters with savagery, disease, and superstitious beliefs, European societies developed a sense of superiority which led to a cultural imperialism – in the four centuries between 1500 and 1900, European powers had conquered 84 percent of the globe.

In reality, what was presented to them in lands outside their borders was merely different. The judgment of inferiority was strictly their own creation, and it led to laughable, dire, and sometimes fatal consequences for the eventual colonists.

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Jojo’s Playground: Massachusetts

“I’m in love with modern moonlight128 when it’s dark outsideI’m in love with MassachusettsI’m in love with the radio onIt helps me from being alone late at nightHelps me from being lonely late at night” “Roadrunner” – Jonathan (Jojo) Richman & The Modern Lovers In terms of raw numbers, Massachusetts outdid all the states we traveled through in terms of overall activities. With that said, … Continue reading Jojo’s Playground: Massachusetts

Alook at Atrio of States (CT/NH/RI)

“Three forms the soul to a positive sumDance to this fix and flex every muscleSpace can be filled if you rise like my lumberAdvance to the tune but don’t do the hustleShake, rattle, roll to my Magic NumberNow you may try to subtract itBut it just won’t go awayThree times one?(What is it? – One, two, three!)And that’s a Magic Number” “The Magic Number” – … Continue reading Alook at Atrio of States (CT/NH/RI)

Gettin’ Our Feels in The Catskills

“In my car sweating like a dogBeers and chairs no frontiersOn my way from the ‘Frisco BayDixieland, soda-pop man High five! More dead than aliveRocking the plastic like a man from the CatskillsHigh five! More dead than aliveRocking the plastic like a man from the Catskills” “High 5 (Rock the Catskills)” – Beck Traveling east on I-90 from Ohio, the Empire State, New York, is … Continue reading Gettin’ Our Feels in The Catskills

The Maine Event

“Yeah, here’s to allTo all this culture’s rules and your pretty thingsHow dirty, wild, blurry, juvenileWe ain’t got no time for what tomorrow bringsAnd the choir sings To all the lows and every highThe hellos and the goodbyesIn this moment, I could die with you” “Don’t Come Down” – The Maine We really explored only two places in depth in the nation’s 23rd state (the … Continue reading The Maine Event

An Old Routine in New England

We’ve been slowly but cautiously breaking out from underneath the COVID bubble in our travels, but we were both a little wary when it came to anything that wasn’t beyond a short little day trip. Our trip to Minnesota in 2020 was more of a working vacation (helping a friend move out into a new house) so we didn’t jam and cram all that we … Continue reading An Old Routine in New England

California – A (Pseudo)-Revamped Menu

The ancestors of those involved with the effort to recall current California Governor Gavin Newsom have experience telling people to “go back to China.” (Photo from the Los Angeles Times.

I do pay attention my former state of residence more in passing these days, but I can attest to the political wackiness that often accompanies California politics. The mechanics that recalled Governor Gray Davis and brought Arnold Schwarzenegger to the head role in state government in 2003 are plainly in motion with a similar effort to recall Gavin Newsom in 2021.

The perception to many people nowadays is that California is “Woke” Central and always has been that way, at least in recent memory. The reality is a lot more complex – despite the reputation, the state has seen successful passage of such things as Proposition 187 (which barred almost all state services for non-citizens/legal permanent residents in the state) and Propositions 8 & 22 (which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.)

In reality, this is in line with what California and all of the West Coast states have historically done in the past in regards to treatment of POC and other minority groups. As a matter of fact, the Constitution of the State of Oregon had specific anti-African-American language written into it, which was not fully repealed until 1926.

One section of the Oregon State Constitution prohibiting any “free negro or mulatto” from moving to the state

As the state’s recent reputation went toward the more “woke”, the state’s more racist elements simply went more under wraps – I personally knew they were there, but you hardly ever saw signs of them. But as ongoing demonstrations by White supremacy groups like the Proud Boys in Southern California have proven, the past few years of the Trump presidency have seen those forces emboldened.

The COVID pandemic has in many ways awakened the Asian-American populace of this country. Growing up, I heard about and bought into the whole “model minority” label without fully understanding how insidious it actually was. One, it was an acknowledgment that Asian-Americans were acceptably quiet when it came to protesting society’s wrongs and wrongs against Asian immigrants, with rare exception.

Moreover, it was meant as a denigration of other minority groups (namely, African-Americans) which gave people of a certain ilk an argument of “well, geez, why can’t you be like Asians?” (Of course, the answer is impossible to answer in a short retort, not to mention a fuller understanding of the African-American experience in America.)

However, the hatred directed towards Asian-Americans during the pandemic (a report from Voice of America reports attacks on Asian-Americans had spiked 164% in the first quarter of 2021) has awoken the community as a whole to reality. In truth, Asian-Americans are only the “model minority” when convenient – this country’s history has shown that there has almost always been been a derided group of Asian immigrants of the moment (Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, etc.) and all Asians are, by default, associated with that derided group.

One such incident in this long history was an eye-popping bit I learned during my adult years: the Tacoma Expulsion of 1885 saw the town’s White residents forcefully expel Chinese residents from this Washington state town. As I learned, this became a blueprint for similar expulsions throughout Western U.S. towns for the next several years.

Perhaps it was due to lack of media sources, or lack of population in the country’s western region beyond California, but that template could easily have been named after the expulsion which happened in Antioch, California nearly a decade earlier.

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Science Still Can Be Fun

Back in the day, science was a fun endeavor with folks like Don Herbert (aka Mr. Wizard) around

One of science’s greatest strengths is also, ironically enough, one of its weaknesses.

Science essentially is humanity’s way to seek out the how and why of the world at large. Of course, when humans don’t know much about a certain process, theories (essentially a “best guess”) are given as to why it happens. Typically, further research is conducted and more information is gathered, which either strengthens, refines, validates or debunks those theories.

But life is complicated, and there are a plethora of things which still sport a ton of uncertainty on the how and the why. That uncertainty leaves the door open to a number of theories, some sporting more credibility than others.

The ongoing pandemic has been a prime example of this, and has probably led to a lot of science fatigue for many. Theories and policies related to how COVID spreads, its virulence, and appropriate prevention measures have been modified based more and better information, or as the virus itself has mutated (at this point, there’s a contingent of Greek-letter-based virus variants spread throughout the world.)

However, a loud minority has taken these changes as distrust, or even lies. Like the snake oil salesmen of yore, people have been touting cures from the iffy (hydroxychloroquine, silver-based solutions and Ivermectin) to the natural (such as Vitamin C, D and Zinc, in various combinations) to the plain bizarre (the rather scary cure of bleach.) Some have even ventured off into conspiracy land, claiming that experts are in concert with Big Pharma and what not to ruin the fabric of America over something no worse than a cold (never mind the fact that a lengthy stay in the hospital, a fate of quite a number of the world’s residents, will line the pockets of Big Pharma similarly nicely as well.)

Doubts about science theory have been prevalent throughout history. Perhaps one of the more famous ones resided in the generally accepted notion that the Earth was the center of the universe. The Heliocentric Theory (where the Earth rotated around the Sun), brought forward by such scientists as Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei, brought them into direct conflict with the Catholic Church, who were firmly in the then prevailing theory camp. It wasn’t until decades later when further work by scientists like Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton were able to convince both the Church and many others that the Sun was the center of our universe.

But befitting science’s nature, even generally accepted/proven theories like Heliocentrism have their detractors. In this case, this lies mainly in those who still believe in the Flat Earth theory. This theory essentially argues that all celestial bodies are rotating “above” the flat disc that is the earth, the Arctic Ocean is the center of this disc and that Antarctica acts as a wall to prevent people from falling off said disc.

Despite some seemingly obvious problems with the idea (for example, how do you get Antarctica and the Arctic region to stay dark for several months at a time during the year with everything floating “above” the disc), a stubborn minority still holds this view. Some have even cited things like religion (via the Bible) to support their belief; interestingly, there are folks in the religious sector (such as the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) who discount this line of thinking altogether.

Perhaps that’s one thing science cannot account for – the lens of the human brain. That lens can be as imperfect as anything, bending truth, half-truths, and plain old wrong information to cater to an individual’s personal preferences, biases and faults.

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