Saturday, January 9, 2016

Exploring the Fine Line Between Propaganda and Public Relations

Good Day World!

Public relations and propaganda are not that far apart. Sometimes the two are so intertwined it's impossible to know where one starts and the other leaves off.


Propaganda: information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

Public Relationsis the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public.
(source Wikipedia)


After the Nazi Seizure of Power in 1933, Joseph Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry quickly gained and exerted controlling supervision over the news media, arts, and information in Germany.

What resulted was pure propaganda.

Today America is the home of more lobbying firms than any other country on the earth. Even more troubling;

U.S. lobbying, PR firms give human rights abusers a friendly face

Center for Public Integrity review of records disclosed to the Justice Department reveals that the 50 countries with the worst human rights violation records have spent $168 million on American lobbyists and public relations specialists since 2010.

The result? Propaganda, or Public Relations? It seems pretty clear cut to me, but apparently these companies get away with mixing the two for big money.

What’s more, the number of active contracts for representing countries with poor human rights records has climbed by 40 percent from 2013 to 2015.

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Friday, January 8, 2016

Army Food Cookbook? Things sure have changed since I served 47 years ago...

Good Day World! 

Back when I was in the Army the last thing it was known for was good food. 
Army food was a bad joke.
(Photo: Rian Castillo/Flickr)

From my basic training at Ft. Ord, California (1969), to my tour of duty in Vietnam (1970), the food was crap. No other way to put it.

It seemed like our government didn't think "good food" was a priority back then. I certainly wasn't a fan of our MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat).

Interestingly enough, I did like some of the WWII rations that still made the rounds like Beans & Franks. Put some McILHENNY's Tabasco sauce on them, and I was a happy guy.

Back to the present.

The US Army Institute of Environmental Medicine is currently investigating how military food rations affect gut health. That's got to be a first!

The Institute is actively recruiting volunteers for a 21-day study to determine if there's enough good gut bacteria in the military diet.

And get this, Army dietitians have even devised a cookbook that utilizes MRE foods! Hard to believe. Forgive my skepticism, but until I try these new MREs (which frankly isn't likely) I'll reserve judgement on how good they taste.

Time for me to walk on down the road...  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Good News & the Bad News About What's Happening in the World

Good Day World!

A balanced look at things happening in the world around us can help us keep a healthy perspective on life.

Three quick examples:

The Good News is it looks like North Korea doesn't have a hydrogen bomb.
The Bad News is the North Koreans are still testing nukes in violation of international law.

The Good News is President Obama can (and will) veto this latest effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, continuing health protection for 19 million people.
The Bad News: This is the 62nd attempt to derail the current health care system and the GOP still haven't given up after five years of futility.

The Good News is the first scientific risk assessment of the much-debated class of pesticides called neonicotinoids and how they affect bees on a chronic long-term basis has come out in a recent study. 
The Bad News is don't expect any future action on this pesticide to solve the dwindling bee problem because it's not just this pesticide alone, but a complicated puzzle that includes lack of food for bees, parasites, disease and the way different pesticides and fungicides interact, said bee expert May Berenbaum at the University of Illinois.

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Social Media vs the Real World: The Disconnect Should Come With Disclaimers

Good Day World!

Conversation overheard:

"It's sickening the way they're always showing pictures of themselves eating at fancy restaurants on Facebook."

"I know. How many people can afford to do that? Everytime I see a post by them I cringe. They must eat out five days a week!"

Sound familiar?

How many people do you know that actually get upset when they go on Facebook, or some other social media, but can't seem to stop themselves from returning daily?

How about the comment sections after a news article? If you've been brave enough to enter one of those social cess pools you know what I mean.

People say things to each other that they normally would never dare say face-to-face. Some are just trolls. We all know about that sorry segment of humanity that lurks in the nether regions of social media outlets.

What I see happening is a growing disconnect from the world online/TV and the real world. Many people have no real social lives so they create online lives to fill that void.

Like anything, moderation is needed to lead a balanced life. One in tune with humanity, but able to deal with technology. 

It gets even more confusing when watching so-called Reality Shows. The bottom line: entertain the audience with so-called real life stories. You know the ones I mean. 

The problem is most people - especially older Ameicans - are not that tech savy. The 21st century offers outlets for communication never dreamed of before.

Maybe there should be manuals for folks over a certain age on how to deal with these all of these social media outlets without going crazy.

Just a thought.

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Bird Sanctuary Held Hostage By a Band of Rogue Loony Birds

"Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we'll soon be in trouble." - Roger Tory Peterson

Good Day World!

A rogue band of Loony Birds (Genus: Lunaticis) has been holding the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Center in Oregon hostage since January 2nd.
(Illustration Wikipedia Commons)

It's unclear how many, and what types of birds have been affected by the Loony invasion.
Here's what we know:

According to the Center's website

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was established on August 18, 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt as the Lake Malheur Reservation. Roosevelt set aside unclaimed government lands encompassed by Malheur, Mud and Harney Lakes “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds.” 

You can find over 300 types of birds there. Here's just a sampling:

Avocets, stilts, willets, killdeers, coots, phalaropes, rails, tule wrens, yellow-headed black birds, black terns, Forster’s terns, Caspian terns, pintail, mallard, cinnamon teal, canvasback, redhead and ruddy ducks. Canada geese, night herons, great blue herons, Farallon cormorants, great white pelicans, great glossy ibises, California gulls, eared grebes, and Western grebes.

You won't find Loony Birds on the list. Crazy Loons just aren't welcome. That's because they don't belong there.

Thus far, authorities are letting the Loonys strut around the building in hopes they'll get bored and fly off to the lower regions of Florida, where they can hang out with more like-minded species such as the Mangrove Cuckoo  population.

Birds of a feather and all.

related stories:

Feds monitor armed group in Oregon, but keep their distance

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Monday, January 4, 2016

The 'In's' and the 'Out's' of Political Correctness in America

Good Day World!

I'm going to talk about political correctness today because it's a subject we all have to deal with at one time or another in today's society.

Let's start off with the definition of the term:

 noun - "Avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against." via Wikipedia

With that established we can move on to the controversial part.

Example by Jeff Deist via The Mises Institute - 

"Political Correctness" Is About Control, Not Etiquette

A different view from The Economist:

Here's an extreme view of political correctness:

From 'Decline Of Ideas' part of 'A Study Of Our Decline' 

by P Atkinson (26/11/2015)

A more positive take on Political Correctness comes from The Atlantic in this article:

My opinion on the subject is simple, yet starightforward:

Use common sense and,"... do unto others as you would have them do to you." (King James, Bible)

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Voters aren’t so much trying to elect someone as block somebody else from winning

Good Day World!

We face a growing cultural divide in America that seems to get nastier every day. I call it buying the brand.

Politically, we have two camps that dominate politics, and who are polar opposites - the Democrats and the Republicans. One camp is going too far to the left, and the other is going too far to the right.

The result: increasing racial and religious differences between Democrats and Republicans that make it easier for voters to see their opponents as threatening, as "others."

Non-whites now account for 45 percent of Democratic voters on the national level, but only 11 percent of Republicans.

Along with increasing awareness of party differences, increasing negativism toward the opposing party has contributed significantly to the rise of party loyalty and straight ticket voting in recent years.

Liberal and conservatives have separated into completely different camps. Once you could find them in both. The differences between the parties have become so marked and clear that even Americans who seldom follow politics can tell them apart.

So they pick a side, and stick with it.

There's also evidence that voters are sticking with one party not because they're excited about it, but because they dislike, even fear, the other side.

That's what research by Emory University political scientists Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster indicates, in any case.

Their conclusion: The trend is driven by what they call "negative partisanship."

In other words, fear and antipathy. Voters aren't so much trying to elect someone as block someone else from winning. 

Time for me to walk on down ther road...

Saturday, January 2, 2016

It's No Fun Having a Belly Brewery!

Good Day World!

Did the headline get your attention?

Whenever I find out about rare conditions experienced by people I like to share them. Got a good one for you today.

Have you ever heard of "auto-brewery syndrome?"

The term conjours up some odd images and even odder stories.

Like this one about a woman who was arrested for drunken driving with over four times the legal limit for blood-alcohol level - but had the charges dismissed in court.

Why? She had a rare condition that turned ordinary food in her digestive system into alcohol. However, and here's where it really gets weird, she wasn't drunk. She didn't even feel high.

It gets weirder. Some people do feel drunk and act like it with this condition. The good news; it's treatable with a special diet. 

Time for me to walk on down the road...  

Friday, January 1, 2016

A New Way To Live Day By Day?

Good Day World!

Alexander Pope, in his An Essay on Man reminds us that..."Hope springs eternal in the human breast."

Every year we like to believe that we're starting over. Erasing last year's mistakes. Getting a clean slate. Wiping away bad memories. Starting over.

We make resolutions that we may, or may not, keep.

What would we do if we didn't have our Gregorian 
 calendar to tell us this was the first day of every new year?

Would we wander around without hope of change in our lives because the days never turned into years? 

Would we have to stop having birthdays and anniversaries?

Would we defy Father Time and stay at one age? Forever frozen in a fantasy called life? 

Just what would it mean to stop marking time?

Would holidays fade away into tribal memories? 

Would our sense of time slow down? Would we count our days like pearls, valuing the here and now?

Just fleeting thoughts in an old man's mind on New Year's Day.

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Thursday, December 31, 2015

9 Things I'd Like to See in 2016 - I Bet You Would Too!

Good Day World!

The New Year is lurking around the corner like an eager toddler. 

The following is a list of nine things I'd like to see happen in 2016. 

1) Donald Trump drops out of the presidential race when his wife Melanie runs off with Jeb Bush to Mexico.

(2) Warning devices on cell phones that alert users they are about to walk off a cliff, step in front of a car, or walk into an electric fence! Enough said!

(3) So-called "Affluence Teen" gets 10 years in Texas prison cell with Bubba (who really likes blond bad boys) when his case moves to adult court and he violates probation set down there. You know he will.

(4) Steven Colbert is appointed Special Ambassador to Russia. Putin laughs so hard at one of his KGB jokes that he has a stroke and Russia gets a new president.

(5) A complete overhaul of Congress in November, starting with a traditional tar-and-feathering ceremony for the outgoing clowns.

(6) Phone booths (sorta) make a comeback. They are re-named "Personal Spaces" and rent out for $5 an hour. You provide your own phone.

7) Headline: Trophy-collecting Gorilla (Bongo) bags two human hunters packing AR-15s in the Congo!

(8) Experts agree there is no curing stupidity and offer "safe houses" for Donald Trump's disenfranchised followers.  

(9) Bill Cosby does his famous Spanish Fly routine to a packed Pennsylvania court during his indecent assault trial.

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What if the so-called 'affluenza' teen was an African-American?

There's no doubt about it.
The American justice system treats rich whites differently than poor blacks.
(Ethan Couch photo taken after his capture. He dyed his hair black to avoid detection.)
The case of Ethan Couch, who was sentenced to parole after a drunk driving incident that killed four people, symbolizes the extent to which class and race play a role in our justice system.

During Couch's trial, a psychologist dubbed his condition “affluenza” – a term he later regretted using – suggesting that the teen’s wealthy parents were partly responsible for an upbringing where he never faced real consequences for his actions.

The term struck a chord with Americans, with the case coming to symbolize the extent to which the justice system treats rich whites differently than poor blacks.

After breaking his probation and fleeing to Mexico with his mother, Couch was recently nabbed by Mexican officials who turned him over to Texan authorities.

What is the likelihood if this was an African-American, inner-city kid that grew up in a violent neighborhood to a single mother who is addicted to crack and he was caught two or three times ... what is the likelihood that the judge would excuse his behavior and let him off because of how he was raised?" Dr. Suniya Luthar, a psychologist who specializes in the costs of affluence in suburban communities, told The Associated Press in 2013.

While his mother may do some jail time, Ethan only stands to do some soft time until next April when he'll be set free.

A growing list of such disparities have affected how Americans think about how punishment is meted out in the United States. 

The Pew Research Center recently reported that only 32 percent of Americans think the country has made enough changes to its justice system, down from 49 percent in 2014.

Likewise, the percentage of Americans who say that more change is needed rose from 46 to 59 percent in the same span.

Such biases are notoriously difficult to weed out of a system that has tolerated them for so long. That doesn't mean the system can't be improved on.

We can start by treating all Americans equally. This will happen when enough people are educated about racial equalities and voters start electing officials (including judges) who are color-blind.

Time for me to walk on down the road... 

GOP Is In The Process of Cannibalizing Itself

Did you know that cannibalism is common in the animal kingdom?   It's also common in politics today as the Republican party turns inwar...