Friday, August 4, 2023

Blog Break - My Father Died Today

My father, Richard Wayne Stancliff, grudgingly passed away today. He was 95 years old and fought to the end.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he went out on the Great Lakes at 15-years old as a coal tender and was a Marine during WWII.

My grief is deep, and it'll take me awhile to stop mourning my hero. My Dad.

Right now, I'm taking it day-by-day.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Speculation Journalism is a Waste of Your Time

The health of good journalism in this country has been declining for years. 

The process has been sped up since Trump's emergence into politics.

Americans are at a place where they don't know what's true and what's not in the news. Credibility is strained when publications like the New York Post report lies and lurid stories speculating on conspiracies.

The stories I find the most offensive offer speculations based on lies and misinformation. "Is Big Foot bathing in your pool at night while you're sleeping?"

Speculative or opinion?

"The thrice-indicted, twice-impeached, once defeated, politically toxic Republican standard-bearer has a real shot at the presidency," according to Rich Lowry for Politico magazine.


The writer came up with all of these terrible scenarios for what? What was the purpose? To scare readers? Titillate them perhaps? To take advantage of peoples fear that Trump will return to The White House?

Speculation journalism is a low form of communicating in my opinion. The only research being done by this type of writing is being conducted in an alternative universe with dubious sources.

Considered by some as a narrative technique, speculation journalism is said to help audiences think about the future in more concrete terms. But critics question if integrating fiction into journalism is responsible.

Caution. There is a difference between speculation and opinion. The line between them can be thin.

From Quality Journalism to Speculative Journalism - by Josep Lluis Gomez Mompart

The author explains, "Even though the new generations of journalists are better trained and more prepared by studying specifically at universities, they are finding fewer and fewer veterans in newspaper offices.

Veterans can guide the newcomers in critical, rigorous and important journalism, showing themselves to be a model of conduct, with high professional standards and independent, not servile, attitudes towards the public and private powers."

Without the guidance of veterans, our quality of journalism has been withering away. It's only one critical component in the deterioration of the profession, but a vital one. 

The serious newspapers have been dumbing down to produce a sort of journalism that trivializes reality. The result? Tabloidism and sensationalism have become the cancer of the modern press.

As it stands, the spread of the digital press via Internet doubles down on speculation, rumors, and misinformation. Viewer beware.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Playing Solitaire in a Tempest

The game of solitaire originated in the late 1700s and was also called Patience.

I like that... Patience. A game of patience. I would also submit that playing solitaire is a calming activity.

As a matter of fact, solitaire can be so riveting that you ignore the tempest being waged outside (or in some cases inside) your home.

The political storms waged daily have a numbing effect on your mojo. Playing a game of Klondike (the most popular solitaire variation today) challenges your mind while passing the time.

To keep your interest solitaire offers a variety of games to play. There's Mahjong solitaire, Peg solitaire, Klondike, Spider, Yukon and FreeCell.

It doesn't stop there.

Decks Solitaire offers up hundreds of variations of the game.

Let's go back to the original name of the game... Patience. It takes patience to play any of the variations. You have to be diligent and creative to win.

Read, Much More Than a Diversion: The Mathematics of Solitaire via BBVA OpenMind.

More advantages to playing.

For one, there's never any arguments (unless of course you have multiple personalities).

It keeps you away from social media and the lies and misinformation that spew into the national discourse like toxic chemicals through the suburbs and rural America.

You can listen to music as you cruise along in a game of OpenCell or Klondike.

As it stands, playing solitaire is only a diversion and it won't solve your problems, but it's a nice break from reality now and then.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

What's the Worst Thing That Could Happen?

There are countless challenges that people face every day. 

It's not a perfect life and this isn't heaven.

What we worry about:

A nuclear world war breaking out.

Running out of toilet paper.

Trump being re-elected president.


Fascism overturning our democracy.

The climate crisis facing the planet.

Looking foolish.

Daily mass shootings.

Getting mugged or carjacked.

The price of gas.

The economy in general.

Interest rates going up.


Lies and toxic misinformation being spread on social media platforms.

Health insurance.

Losing our freedom.

Bad weather.

Our favorite sports team losing.

Efforts to ban books in our schools and public libraries.

The list is endless.

You know what I think? The worst thing that could happen to us is to lose hope.

As it stands, "When you have lost hope, you have lost everything. And when you think all is lost, when all is dire and bleak, there is always hope." - Pittacus Lore 

Monday, July 31, 2023

Defending Libraries Against Conservatives is a No-Brainer

Back in the day when I was in elementary school, I liked libraries. 

Especially public libraries because I could go there to get cooled off during summer vacation while reading current magazines.

I remember liking the school library (we had library time every day) and checking out books that had nothing to do with any assignments. Just for the joy of it, like reading the Dr. Doolittle series.

That's why it makes me sad to see conservatives waging war on school and public libraries. It's the most fascist movement I've ever seen take root in American public schools and city libraries.

Banning books is just one of the assaults public and school libraries are facing these days. 

Meanwhile extreme right-wing activists (white nationalists) are trying to seize school curriculums and re-write history to be more palatable to their snowflake beliefs and denial of reality.

Nowhere is that war on libraries more apparent than in Florida and Texas. Gov. DeSantis has been waging war on the Sunshine State's school and public libraries since slithering into office. So has Gov. Abbott of the Lonestar State.

Speaking of Texas. The largest school system in the state, The Houston Independent School District, is converting their libraries into... wait for it... disciplinary centers.

Say what? This is real. It sounds like a chapter from George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984. This shameful move began after the Texas government took the school district over during the spring.

A petition has since been started to prevent the transformation of libraries into disciplinary centers.

Libraries have always played an essential role in promoting literacy and critical thinking going back to ancient times. They are the gateway to world history and events. They are a gift to future generations.

To have this extreme conservative backlash to our places of learning is stunning and sickening. Who are these bitter minorities against education? 

Don't they have children? The ones that do are exposing their kids to right-wing propaganda because they belong to the MAGA cult that breeds lies like flies and live in an alternate universe.

As it stands, to think that in our democracy we are now forced to defend libraries defies the imagination. 

Sunday, July 30, 2023

What Happens When MAGA Minions Turn Against One Another?

I've been speculating for some time what would happen when MAGA Republicans lose their unity - because it was inevitable - and turn on each other like ravenous jackals.

That time is here. As Congress goes on its six-week vacation the House is still shaking from the split among the crazies. Some of them have split from the Freedom Caucus and formed a new little right-wing radical group called The Twenty.

When the two groups return from playtime the real fun is going to start as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gets torn apart trying to please both sides and his boss Trump.

And speaking of our twice-impeached convicted sexual abuser, two separate groups of pro-Trump protestors ended up trying to attack one another but were held back by intervening police the other day.

Here's how the LA Times reported the protest piece of the story.

"Tension flared...with pro-Trump protestors denouncing the move (to change the delegate-selection process), police getting called and two factions nearly came to fisticuffs," the report said.

It went on. 

"Protestors wearing red 'Make America Great Again' caps and carrying American, Trump and 'Don't Tread on Me' Gadsen flags gathered outside of the community meeting, chanting Trump's name and 'America First!' Afterwards they tried to enter the meeting and were blocked by security guards until the Irving Police showed up to cool emotions."

I have to admit I was amused watching the video as the two factions were screaming at each other, with one accusing the other of being white nationalists and the other responding that their foes supported open borders.

I love it. You can't make this stuff up.

The most confusing part of this story is why Trump supporters were angry about the change the committee was making when it was what Trump wanted.

Apparently, the protest was driven in part by fury and confusion sowed on social media, where far-right activists argued that Millan Patterson and Kevin McCarthy (who effectively controls the California state party), were trying to derail Trump's candidacy.

How crazy is that? McCarthy is a first-class Trump bootlicker willing to send democracy to hell to please his master.

I'm going to say it. These MAGA supporters don't have any Mensa members in their group. They tend to be uneducated and live in rural areas. That's just a fact that I've seen repeatedly in national polls for years.

MAGA minions turning on one another shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Anytime you have a group of rabid honey badgers in the same place there's going to be tensions.

What will the results be you ask?

Simple. Further chaos in government.

As it stands, it's up to the Democrats to salvage the damage that Trump supporters have inflicted on our country by winning next year's presidential/general elections.

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...