The Dysfunctional Conspiracy: An Update

The Dysfunctional Conspiracy: An Update

Back in 2017 I did a review for a memoir called The Dysfunctional Conspiracy. It was critical, and I had issues with several aspects of the story, especially as it conflicted with my own knowledge of how criminal cases can proceed.

But that isn’t the point of this new piece. The review stands as originally posted, I have not made, and will not make, any changes. That’s also not the point of this, just putting it out there.

The author, Christopher Veltmann, was kind enough to respond to the original post, and raise some good points. That comment is also on the post. Mr. Veltmann also left, almost a month ago now, a followup I wanted to post about. I’d have gotten there sooner, but you might be aware March was a bit insane – and not in a basketball vein.

Seems that the book is being optioned as a mini-series, and will cover more ground than the book does. That feels odd, as most books cover far more than a producer is willing to pay for – even short stories get chopped up in production. But, stranger things have happened.

I looked for more, but can’t find any. Nothing on IMDB, no hits on Google, nada. Now, if this is in early stages of production, or is from a new company, that makes more sense. Very early stages. The project doesn’t seem to be announced publicly yet.

I’ll keep checking from time to time, and see if or when the project is announced. It will be interesting to see a property I have been part of, even just on the fringe of the edge of the outermost frontier of the periphery of, for three years come to video.

Blog Update – COVID-19

Blog Update – COVID-19

No, we aren’t shutting down.

We…lol. Anyway, I am not posting one of those inane ‘COVID-19’ messages where we reassure you that a purely online service takes your health seriously, and is going to make sure to clean more often/thoroughly. That’s just nuts. Clean a store, sure. Clean a hosting provider? Really?

And can I add that it’s really distressing to have all the food service places imply that they aren’t as clean as they could be? Seriously.

So, this will continue to be as infrequent and random as it has been. I won’t be cleaning more often, because why. Immunity isn’t developed in sterile fields! And also because I don’t work on food service, so if I did clean more often, you wouldn’t be impacted in the least. So deal.

I have started a daily log of what’s happening here during the forced isolation of the pandemic. Interestingly, I don’t see a lot of other blogs focused on COVID-19 out there. Go figure. Maybe this thing can finally be monetized! Gimme that filthy bloggy lucre already. Or, you know, not. Whatever.

Keep safe, and remember, this isn’t going to be forever.

Blog Update – COVID-19

Body Positivity Is Nice, But…

…the simple reality is that fat does equal unhealthy.

As someone who is fat – and that is the right term, not ‘plus sized’, ‘big-boned’, or whatever other euphemism you want to use – this is a hard pill to swallow. It is, however, the truth.

So, let’s establish my credentials here. I am 350+ pounds, about 6’1″, and have been fat almost my whole life. I am down nearly 70 pounds from my worst weight, and still at least 100 pounds overweight. So, yeah, I get to have an opinion. And despite that, my blood pressure is pretty good (high end of normal, but still in the normal range), I am mobile and can walk miles without stopping. I have, and should get back to, been going to the gym and watching my intakes. My cholesterol is low. About 116 at last read. That is not the lowest it’s been, that was when I was likely 50 pound heavier, and then it was under 100.

By most metrics, I am pretty damn healthy. The type 2 diabetes aside. And the extra 100 pounds I carry.

Those are the very things that make me unhealthy. But what is it about being fat makes me inherently unhealthy?

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Why Christmas?  Why Isn’t Easter The Main Christian Holiday

Why Christmas? Why Isn’t Easter The Main Christian Holiday

This is more about Christmas the religious holiday than the secular one…but the second grew from the first, so it’s about that too.

From the most basic perspective, Christianity, Inc. has its holidays flipped. As a religion, Christmas – the birth of Christ – is given the bulk of the attention. From Advent to decoration, to services, pageants, celebrations, all of it – it is all about Christmas. Easter, the holiday that should have the most importance, is a distant second. It is important to note here that I am referring to the protestant church, which I have seen all my life, and have seen Christmas and Easter celebrations in several flavors. I am not, and never have been Catholic. So my experience of how they approach it is much less clear. I suspect it’s similar, but cannot prove that.

Why Is Easter More Important?

Stripped of the religious trappings, Christmas is a birthday, Easter is…impossible to do without some level of religion. Easter is the moment when a smallish band of reformers formed something new. It’s the moment when reform became religion.

In that sense, there is no Christian holiday with more importance. Easter is the birth of the church. The moment the tomb opened was the beginning of Christianity. Easter should have all the attention, but it doesn’t.

Why Christmas, Then?

Humans are weird. We are, possibly uniquely, able to hold two conflicting thoughts in place at once. And then proceed to act on them both. Anyone who has studied their beliefs, as a Christian, knows that Easter is more important. And yet, we still place tons of emphasis on Christmas over Easter. Why?

It is, I think, because we get Christmas. We really don’t get Easter.

What do I mean? Well, like I said above, Christmas is, at the core, a birthday. And no, I won’t be getting into the date being off, the pre-existing pagan stuff plastered over everything, and all the changes and compromises of the early church that made Christmas into what it is today. Nope. Those things are not the point – even though they matter.

No, the point is that every person in history understands the idea of a birthday. We all get one. Having a birthday is the single most common element of being human. We were all born. Jesus is no exception. He was born. We all share that. And because we all share that commonality, we can place our own desires and needs on top of the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

And if you think about it, Christmas is, in a lot of ways, a second birthday party for everyone who celebrates. We celebrate His birthday by having another one for ourselves.

So, in a very deep manner, we all understand Christmas as a birthday. Religion aside, we deeply understand this idea of celebrating birth.

But Easter…That’s Not Common

Easter, on the other hand, is not a shared experience. Our tradition tells us precisely two people would understand Easter in the same way we all understand Christmas – Lazarus and Jesus. And they are not around to explain it.

Easter is the resurrection – the moment that the early converts to Jesus message of reform became the foundation of a new faith. He came back…which no one else did. Judaism doesn’t have this story. Islam doesn’t have this story. No other monotheistic faith has this story. Just Christianity.

I have come to think that the lack of common experience makes Easter less approachable to the average person. There is a supernatural component in there that can’t be really processed. It is just far enough outside the realm of human experience that we can’t process it fully.

So…What’s The Point Of This?

Good question! I don’t know, exactly. This isn’t some neo-Puritan anti-Christmas thing. It’s mostly just something I wanted to get out there, a thought about why we have this huge commercial celebration that kind of shouldn’t be there. We have people proclaiming a ‘war on Christmas’. And based on the nonsense seen on social media, being jerks about it. We have stress over the huge significance attached to this holiday, which only exists because of the inflated importance of Christmas.

If there is a point, other than to be a think piece about why this over that, the point would be to relax. The commercial holiday became what it is because it was pasted onto a misunderstood religious holiday. Don’t stress it. If you are feeling anxious because of the trappings of what you see as a major Christian holiday, don’t. Yes, it is the birth of Christ. But you know what…you were born too. At that moment, you shared the experience of birth with Him. Christmas is celebrating that. Birth.

From a place of faith, it’s not a big achievement – we all did that.

If faith has you stressed, remember that this isn’t the big moment, and the events of Easter are far more important. Our ancestors just got it backwards.

S.311 – Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act

S.311 – Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act

The idea that 44 sitting US Senators voted to not protect babies who survive attempted abortions is abhorrent. Much like the Democrats march towards open advocacy of infanticide, this is the kind of thing that turns the stomach.

But it didn’t fucking happen.

I made that big, so read it again. It. Didn’t. Fucking. Happen.

What did happen is that 44 US Senators voted to oppose cloture on the bill. In short, they voted against ending debate and forcing a vote. Yes, there is a real chance they meant that as a way to kill the bill, and that is speculation on my part given the current climate of litmus tests and hyperpartisan politics.

As with any legislation, it is worth taking the time to read the actual document. It can be found at https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/s311/BILLS-116s311pcs.pdf. It is pretty plain language – if an abortion fails and results in a live birth, that baby is to be accorded all the same required efforts and services as any other (intentional) live birth. That is, transport to hospital, neonatal care, etc. It also specifically states that if said baby is killed postpartum, then it is murder (fucking duh).

What is interesting is § 1532 (c) – the bar to prosecution. Since abortion is legal, the mother is shielded from prosecution for any crimes related to the abortion. This is important because in the result of a live birth, the attempted abortion could be construed as attempted murder. This bill prevents that. Strongly. It reads:

“(c) Bar To Prosecution.—The mother of a child born alive described under subsection (a) may not be prosecuted for a violation of this section, an attempt to violate this section, a conspiracy to violate this section, or an offense under section 3 or 4 of this title based on such a violation.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/311/text

It also specifically allows the mother to seek legal relief for the botched procedure (that’s fancy talk for sue them). While it limits statutory damages to three times the cost of the abortion, it allows punitive damages and “objectively verifiable money damage for all injuries, psychological and physical, occasioned by the violation of subsection (a);”.

I get that abortion is one of those tricky things that makes everyone slightly uncomfortable, at various points and levels. It was forced into legality in the worst way possible, and has been a subject of argument since then.

But that was 46 years ago.

It isn’t going anywhere, and I wish my fellow conservatives would understand that. Oppose it on moral grounds, yes. It is morally repulsive when it is used as ex post facto birth control. But we need to be honest, and abortion needs to remain safe, accessable, and legal. At least until no one is ever raped. Which isn’t going to happen in any future that we get to live in.

Back to the vote. 44 Senators, all Democratic (and Bernie) votes to oppose cloture (3 Republicans didn’t vote). As cloture needs a 3/5 majority (or 60 votes), that blocked cloture. As I opined above, this is likely meant to preview votes on the bill itself, but is not, in fact, a vote on the bill. While organizations like Planned Parenthood chose to lie about the bill, stating that it limited abortion, the simple reality is in the bill as introduced.

So, here are the Senators who, it seems, object to protection for babies born after attempted abortions:

Baldwin (D-WI)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Booker (D-NJ)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Coons (D-DE)
Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Duckworth (D-IL)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Harris (D-CA)

Hassan (D-NH)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Hirono (D-HI)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Leahy (D-VT)
Markey (D-MA)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Peters (D-MI)
Reed (D-RI)
Rosen (D-NV)

Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Sinema (D-AZ)
Smith (D-MN)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-NM)
Van Hollen (D-MD)
Warner (D-VA)
Warren (D-MA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

It will be interesting to see what happens next. The bill may still make a floor vote, and at that time, we will see who votes to not protect newborns.

More On Jussie Smollett

More On Jussie Smollett

Quick note – spell check knows his last name. That says something.

Anyway, breaking this morning is that Mr. Smollett not only paid friends to stage an attack, but also sent the ‘suspicious letter’ the week before. The letter is going to be the main problem, as it is not only potentially violations of various federal Postal laws (and they do not play around), but by adding crushed Tylenol into the envelope, it becomes a potential federal charge of false information and hoaxes and mailing threatening communication. Or has in the past, in similar cases. Those charges alone could result in 5 years in prison.

I would argue that the charges should include a first and second count of, as phrased in 720 ILCS 5/12-7.1, Hate Crime. By making each event a separate offense, there is a stronger message sent to the kinds of scum who perpetrate these fake crimes. Per 720 ILCS 5/12-7.1, the penalty for one offence is a Class 3 felony (2-5 years), and the second is a Class 2 felony (3-7 years).

Look, the point of severe punishment is to deter criminals. If we continue to treat people who fake these crimes as minor criminals, we will continue to get more of them. After all, if it works, they stand to gain substantial benefit from the lie. Look at Mr. Smollett, his role on Empire was reinforced as vital, he was put in front of more positive media than he could have ever expected otherwise, and more people than ever knew who he was. The media (CNN, NBC, etc) jumped to his defense, celebrity media defended him as a near-martyr, Democrat presidential candidates fell all over themselves to compare this event to a lynching, and demand the CPD find the monsters who did this horrid event.

Well, they did. To the surprise of no one who pays attention to not only human nature, but the trend of fake hate crimes, it was Mr. Smollett himself.

The motivation was money. Reports are that the estimated $65,000 per episode ($1,170,000 over an 18 episode season) wasn’t enough. For clarity, I make less than $65,000 per year. Not going to find any sympathy there.

Because faking this kind of thing makes the next actual victim’s story less believable, I want to again call for the laws to be changed, so that a false report of a crime carries no less than the same penalty as the crime reported. Preferably the punishment for the reported crime, plus the maximum punishment for the false report itself. Report a rape that never happened, be sentenced under the rape guidelines. Or worse. There needs to be a change in how we address these things, and punishing them accordingly is a place to start.

It won’t happen, of course. Defenders of Mr. Smollett are already lining up to say that while he lied, he told a bigger truth – that this happens on a daily basis and is ignored. I call bullshit on that – if it were such a frequent crime, someone somewhere would be sounding an alarm, and the ‘news media’ would have picked up on it, if only to blame Trump somehow. But there isn’t such a cry, so we can infer this isn’t common.

Mr. Smollett needs to be the example – his lie was national news, unlike the others who lie about this – and the message needs to be sent – no more.