The Only Legal Monopoly

I like having options. I like going to the store and price shopping to find items that I want at the lowest possible price point. For instance, last year I bought a pair of light blue Beats Luxe for about $70 brand new. Just the other day, managed to replace my guilty pleasure Ugg boots for under $100, though apparently it is impossible to find them in the dark brown I loved so much in my monster foot size. The point is that I like to save money and options are the only thing that can help you with that.

We live in America, a country that boasts not only opportunity but brags about the wonders of capitalism. I personally feel as though options are a part of that and you would think that the government would agree thanks to monopoly laws. It’s a sham. Why do I think it’s a sham? Think about your options for watching television and I mean your real options. You have a cable company or a satellite company. Those are your options. Your city has a contract with a single cable company, which means that this is the only option for that type of service in the area unless you want to deal with the hassle of services from satellite companies. Now the textbook definition of a monopoly is “The exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service”. Microsoft got in trouble for a monopoly in a very famous case which shows that this is certainly something that is frowned upon by the government. By why are cable companies exempt from giving us options?

The only reason I haven’t switched to a service like Hulu’s live television offering is because they lack channels that the children enjoy, like Nick. But the fact that I pay nearly $200 for sub-par quality internet and cable that breaks up all of the time is actually disgusting to me. I have no options and that is a problem that everyone is having right now. This need is going to be resolved through services like this Hulu offering and people are eventually just going to start a revolution over this. We have to if we want to stop this madness and we know our city politicians are loving the money that they get in exchange for holding their constituents hostage to a terrible cable company.

Viacom, go to Hulu live instead of bothering with this madness with Charter. In fact, all of the channels should stand up for their viewers and make the switch. Let us have options because that is what the whole point of capitalism is. We should be allowed to make these decisions for ourselves because then cable companies will actually have to compete. They will have to provide quality services and amazing customer service. They will have to keep their prices as low as possible to compete and stay in business. Let capitalism do its job and we will all benefit from it. Until then, I’m rooting for Viacom to leave Charter.

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Just Dress in More Modest Clothes and You’ll be Fine

Today’s post was originally a light-hearted commentary on things to improve jury duty. It joined the “in case you’re needed” area and was replaced with something more relevant and important: victim shaming. This is a response to the story about Donna Karan saying that women “ask for it”. “The way that they dress, they are asking for trouble.”

The minute I hear those words, my skin crawls. I can’t imagine someone wakes up and says “I think I’ll wear this and I really hope I get sexually harassed or assaulted for it. Boy, that would be fan-freaking-tastic, wouldn’t it?” That is exactly the implication you are making by comments like that. It’s not just insulting; it’s downright vile. Especially coming from a woman who has probably experienced it in her lifetime. If you look at the statistics, somewhere around 81% of women have experienced it as have around 20% of men.

She used the go-to excuse of “words being taken out of context”, a.k.a. what every celebrity says when they realized that their actual opinions could potentially destroy their livelihood. Next will be the very public mea culpa that tends to follow these events. Then people will forget that she ever said it and life goes on without ever addressing the greater problem again.

There is a reason why people stay quiet. This is the reason. I don’t want to call these people (both men and women can experience this) victims. They are not victims. They are survivors of whatever happened. They moved forward. They suffered in silence, which can even be worse than the harassment or especially any unwanted touches/assault. The minute people can start holding the person who did the act accountable rather than blaming the one who experienced this power play, that is when things change.

At the end of the day, sexual harassment and assaults are about the power a person can have over another with very little to actually do about sex. People become more powerful by taking the power away from another. As long as silence is the only solution for those who suffer, this is going going to get worse. We need to start blaming the right people in these matters than the people who have to feel shame or embarrassment. It doesn’t matter what a person wears. It doesn’t matter if they said something flirtatious. It doesn’t matter what the other person did. They do not deserve it. We have to make sure that this is no longer acceptable behavior. We have to stop looking at the innocent party in this to see what they could have done to cause it. Rather, we need to look at the guilty party to see what is broken in them that makes this all okay.

The People’s Curiosity 

Every time there is a tragedy, whether it is one personal to you or one where the masses are affected, we cannot help but to ask why it happened. “Why did my friend beat cancer to only die of a stroke?” “Why did that person shoot down all of those people?” We are curious by nature. That is why religion exists. Because people are curious and want answers and sometimes religion is needed to give those answers.

But what happens when there are no answers? It’s hard to believe that any God would wish that type of slaughter of the masses, so is there really an answer to be found in your belief? What happens if there are never answers? Will it be something that we will obsess over? The unfortunate reality is that sometimes there are no answers and we have to be okay with that. We have to accept that sometimes people just snap and kill people without any reason or without any one definitive answer.

Right now, we are obsessed with Las Vegas. But soon we’ll forget about it as we have with every other tragedy. Nothing will change. People won’t change. People need to change. Everything needs to change.

This isn’t about gun control. Another unfortunate reality is that there is nothing that we can do, and I say that as a person who thinks the idea that anyone can buy a gun without anyone looking into them is a crazy idea. People are still going to find guns illegally. People are going to find ways to cause whatever mayhem and destruction that they want to. It’s a terrible reality that we cover up by thinking reforming gun laws is going to help. We like to lie to ourselves to make ourselves feel a little bit better about things.

I’m afraid to send my kids to school, even my youngest at elementary school. I don’t admit it to them. I worry when my oldest walks to Burger King. I worry when he takes his scooter out or goes to a place where there are a lot of people. I worry whenever I go to a convention, looking around for the closest exits wherever I am. When I’m at home, I have something hidden in every room that I could potentially use as a weapon just in case. I worry but I suck it up and just hope that today is not going to be the day. We think that because we live in the greatest country in the world that nothing is going to happen and that we are safe. We’re not. The worst part is that it is not the terrorists from other countries that we have to worry about; it’s ourselves.

Now that I’ve already said that sometimes there’s never going to be an answer, that gun control laws are not going to help matters, and that I live in fear, you may be thinking “but what can we do then?” I don’t know. I’m a writer. I write thoughts and feelings with the hope that someone gets inspired about my words or sit back and go “I know exactly what you mean”. Maybe if we taught our kids to wake up and make someone smile every day. When my youngest goes to school, he hugs anyone that will let him to say “hello”. He smiles at other kids and they seem to be infected by the smile, and a chain reactions of hugs and smiles happens. We could learn a lot from kids. At jury duty yesterday, as miserable as I was to be there (massive sinus headache and general illness in addition to the “ugh, why do I have to be here every 3 years”) I smiled at everyone I saw and politely conversed with them despite my better nature to ignore everyone and just stay to myself. I wanted to see what happened. As it turns out, everyone smiled back and engaged me. They seemed better and it started a chain of kindness.

The whole point here is that maybe we can change. I keep emphasizing that our children are a blank canvas that we can mold into better people than their previous generations, but we can be better. Start off by doing one kind thing every day. It could be a simple smile at another person or it could be a larger act like donating those clothes that you’re never going to wear again or donating time at a soup kitchen. We have more power than we think we do. That is how I think we can change the world.

But Boy, Am I Tired

I’m tired. I am tired that we live in the world we live in right now. My latest release, a short story, was supposed to make me feel better about the social climate of the world right now. “How Not to Be a Bully: The Guide to Being Kind That We Shouldn’t Need” was inspired by this hatred we seem to have towards each other. It needs to stop. It has to stop. Our future generations are depending on this to stop now. They are going to be poisoned and the future will be full of people who think that a reasonable conversation is one where people hurl insults because the other doesn’t agree. What happened to that time when people could sit down across from each other and say “Well I believe this and this is why” and the other would say “Well, I don’t and this is why”? Is that really so hard?

Over the weekend, my family (I include my husband’s family as my own) took the annual trip up to this gorgeous orchard in the mountainside for apple picking. After having a great time enjoying the Pats game on my phone while picking apples, we went to the car to drop off the apples to sit around the stunning view and enjoy ourselves. (Even living in Massachusetts, the views here never get old.) As we were walking back, we heard screaming then saw a truck angrily pull over and everyone started piling out of the vehicle. I didn’t know what was going on until I noticed the signature red hat that we are all familiar with. That’s right, two grown men got in a fight about politics in a place where families are trying to enjoy their Sunday afternoon. Apparently the anti-Trump person said something to the Trump truck group and the Trump truck group felt the need to pull over, pile out of the truck, and get aggressive back. I told them to please not swear in front of my child and the Trump person turned on me. “It’s that f_ing snowflake’s fault. He disrespected me.” “When you got out of the car instead of ignoring it, you became just as guilty. Grow the hell up.” The very kind woman at the orchard apologized and asked the group to get back in their truck and to leave. The other guy, just as guilty in this for starting it and continuing it, should have also left for being a nuisance. He said it started over the other guy insulting his wife. My opinion: Ignoring people is a lot better for everyone. I again ask “Is being kind really so hard?”

Instead, we live in a world where people are constantly putting each other down. It is easier, I suppose, to lump everyone in with hateful words rather than being open-minded. We all are entitled to having a specific set of beliefs. I really like to hope that people can sit down with each other and have a reasonable conversation without the terms “racist Republicans”, “snowflakes”, or “libtard” ever being mentioned. It’s a foolish dream, but one that I have no less.

The thing is… this is not something that we can’t achieve. It can happen if people learn to put their pride aside, stop thinking that they are smarter or better than anyone out there, and just listen to another perspective. As the expression goes: “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.”

I can start by making this very simple for you. No, not all Republicans are racist, uneducated, misogynistic white men. There are some but that does not mean all of them are. Not all Democrats are “snowflakes”, whiny liberals who are offended by everything. There are many people who are offended by everything, on both sides of the aisle and many “whiny” liberals but not all Democrats are any of those things. Independents are not wishy-washy people that can’t choose a side. These are people who realize that both sides have their flaws and would rather vote on political stances rather than a political party. I am a proud Independent and I know exactly how I feel on every political topic and that is what decides my vote. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all Catholics are pedophiles. Not all Puerto Ricans and minorities want to live off of welfare rather than work. Not all cops are corrupt murderers. However, all politicians lie. That is a fact that we can agree with. (Just kidding… there may be one or two out there that don’t.)

The point is that this is getting out of hand. We’re Americans, dammit. We have the right to an opinion without getting insulted for it. If someone is telling you something, you can fact check them. However, that doesn’t mean a person is insulting rather they are just trying to point out that you may be missing some information that can be helpful for making an informed decision on any topic. If you don’t want to listen, that’s your right but in neither case should anyone spend any effort insulting each other. What does that even prove? That the other person is right about their preconceived notion of who you are? We’re better than that. We have to be better than that. (Shameless promotion incoming) This is the whole point of my short story, which is now available in eBook format on Amazon.

Taking the Knee

This may be a controversial stance to take, but this taking a knee thing has gone too far. With healthcare being a mess, a broken government body in place, and a risk of potential nuclear war facing us, we are arguing about how people can peacefully protest. Part of me even fears (the conspiracy theorist in me) that this is the goal to distract us. To divide us. I’m actually just bored with the entire thing. Maybe even a little fearful. But football is the one thing I look forward to and I just want to watch it without people telling me how I’m supposed to feel about it.

I think it’s a dangerous slope to be on when we start telling people how to peacefully protest. Would you rather people riot in the streets, destroying property and potentially lives or some guys kneeling in protest? Personally, I say let them. I don’t agree with kneeling for the anthem but I’m not in the business of telling people how people should use their constitutional right to protest if they are doing so peacefully. This does not determine how I feel about them. They are just football players that are voicing their opinion. I won’t be told how to be felt by anyone, celebrity or otherwise. What they are doing just does not register on “things to care about” list. I know there is racial injustice. I know racism is alive and well. I also know that there is more to it than that right now and if this is how they want to address it, it is their constitutional right. You know, that thing people throw in your face to prove their point but ignore it when it doesn’t suit them.

In fact, before this madness started I even stated that Trump was going to inflame the situation. He did. Now the entire league seems in solidarity just because the guy that is supposed to lead us to greatness and uphold the constitution can’t filter his mouth or Tweets. He’s not leading us to greatness; he is trying to divide and conquer us. Spoiler alert: I was right and it’s working.

Did I have issues with Kaepernick doing it? Sure did. I don’t like the idea of celebrities dabbling in politics and I think that the nation anthem is a moment to silently respect and honor our country. That’s not why I think he shouldn’t be in the NFL. Even before all of this started, I thought he was an overrated quarterback that was way overpaid. Do I think that’s why he’s still unemployed? Absolutely, you can’t want the big millions and not be worth it. Plus, your girlfriend posting pictures that imply racism about a team that was potentially about to sign you to get a contract deal ripped up on you probably doesn’t help matters. If that story is 100% accurate, good luck on that NFL contract. Twitter seems to be the place to upset the masses and ruin careers. In other news, if you are a Patriots fan, feel free to protest their games. I have never been and I would really love to afford a seat for me and my family preferably without having an anxiety attack for being so high up at the stadium.

Then there is the whole Golden State Warrior thing. Brady didn’t go to the White House when Obama was in office. But Obama also didn’t say “well screw all of you then. I’ll just party by myself?” Can you imagine the outrage that would have occurred? There would be a riot. “That was so childish.” They would say. “Dictator Obama is squelching the masses and their freedom of speech. Impeach him!” If you are denying that would be the case, you are really too far off the logic meter to even reason with.

I digress. The point is matters are only going to get worse unless someone can finally get the president managed. People look to him as an example of how we should be. He is (should be) the biggest representative of our country, leading us to even more greatness with grace. Instead, all of this transpired in a single weekend of tweeting and not being able to keep his mouth closed. For all you people who argue that Obama caused this, I ask “But what has Trump done to fix it? What has he done to repair our country and help us come together?” Well, aside from potentially joining everyone together in distaste of his actions.

The constitution doesn’t say “You have the right to a peaceful protest, with the exception of the following: kneeling at the national anthem, protesting at science/women rallies, tweeting opinions about the president, in any peaceful way that really doesn’t hurt anyone, or in any way the president disapproves of.” I’m pretty sure it does say “You have the right to peacefully assemble and protest.” America was built on the right to stand up to oppression and stand for your rights and beliefs. The minute we deny these things, the minute we lose those principles that make America so great.

Celebrities and Politics: What You Need to Know

You know what’s great about America: freedom of speech. We have it. Our politicians have it. Our celebrities have it. We should appreciate this more than we do. We are lucky to have this, especially as so many people across the globe do not have this luxury.

I’m going to let you in on a secret that you may not know: You also have the freedom to ignore another person’s freedom of speech. They say something that you don’t like? Guess what? You can smile, not, and ignore it. Don’t like what celebrities have to say? Ignore it. I record award shows so I have the ability to just fast forward through things. Don’t like how MSNBC leans their commentary? Find one that leans to your particular bias or interest. We have the ability to choose. Isn’t it great?

Do I think that maybe the celebrities at the Emmy’s laid it on a bit too thick? Absolutely. Am I complaining about it? No, because they have the freedom to do that. I just fast forwarded when it got annoying to me and moved on with my life. I will watch every other awards show for as long as they have them and do the same thing. I enjoy watching shows get recognized. I like the debate of why a specific show should have won. (Though I am quite happy “Big Little Lies” won so much. I loved that show and I need to read that book.)

You do not have to agree with a person’s beliefs. I know, this can be SOOO hard to understand, especially in today’s political and social climate. I don’t particularly care for pretty much anything I have ever seen Tweeted out by James Woods; in fact, the most recent tirades are a bit off-putting. Is “The Virgin Suicides” still one of my favorite movies? Absolutely yes. I thought he was excellent in it and the movie was an overall fantastic piece of work. I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it already. (I did read the book, and the book was really also fantastic.)

The point is, suck it up buttercup. The celebrities chose to use their platform to say what they felt. If you had that same platform, you can get up there and say how you feel. I would hope that you would give them the same exact respect that you expected from them. Though, spoiler alert: You will probably get the same exact horrid response that you gave them. As long as you aren’t using slurs, hate speech, or bullying behavior, you can really do whatever you want and I really don’t care. However, I am all for the “Punch a Nazi” movement. It’s as American as you can get. Also bonus points for Spicey, who really seemed to have a sense of humor about everything.

Insert Controversial Political Title Here

I’m tired of hearing about the election. It ended. It’s done. Hilary lost, unfortunately that ended up meaning Trump won, and that’s the end of it. (Before I get “liberal snowflake” commentary, I welcome you to read my posts about the election where I was against both of the major party candidates. I did vote 3rd party and I’m not ashamed of that.) Do I want to hear about it being rehashed all of the time? Nope. There are certainly more important things that should be addressed in the media.

Instead, we have to listen to election stuff. Stuff that happened a year ago. Now, I’m not even going to touch the Russia thing here. If something illegal did happen, then I would hope that justice would take place. My issue is listening to news articles every day about “How Hilary Lost?”/”Why Did Hilary Lose?” I really don’t want to hear her rehash everything with excuses of why she lost. “I should have been more aggressive with Trump.” “Russia did it and I should have been president.”

The fact is that Hilary only got as many votes as she did because she was the Democratic candidate. That is a reality. I don’t think it had to do with women voting. It was a party line that people didn’t want to cross, especially not for Trump. “She was the qualified one.” Qualified means nothing when it comes down to making the American people decide. Just look at all of the past winners on reality television shows. Most of the time the most talented one doesn’t even win.

I can tell you exactly why she lost, as someone who has pretty much voted for every political party at one point or another. It had nothing to do with the fact that she was a woman. There may have been a bit of sexism but not enough to make her lose by that much. She lost because she ended up being a less likable candidate than a reality star that turns different shades of Cheeto. She lost because she seemed to act like she was entitled to the White House. She lost because she definitely did shady things with her emails and perhaps even shady dealings with her foundation. She lost because she thought the celebrities she had on her side were going to be enough to carry her to the win. She lost because she didn’t appeal to the everyperson. She lost for so many different reasons that you can’t even pinpoint exactly one that did it.

Do I think that Russia interfered with the election? I don’t know. I don’t know all of the facts and unlike some people, I refuse to make a judgement without knowing everything. They probably did, but they probably did 10000 times before and not just in America. Does it make it right? Absolutely not. The bigger question is “Did Russia interfere enough in the election to make her lose?” Maybe instead of getting mad at Russia for revealing the shady behind the scenes disaster that was the DNC, maybe you shouldn’t have rigged the election to put a losing candidate on the ticket. Maybe they thought the Clinton name would make the election a sure thing. Maybe they thought they would win because “Look at us, we’re the progressive party that put a woman on the ticket”. The 3rd parties have been doing that for a while, you’re not the special for doing it. Would the election have gone a different way if Bernie had one? I think so, but I’m just a writer spewing opinions rather than a political pundit that lives and breathes political theory.

So instead of complaining about the million reasons that you lost the election, do something else to create change. Volunteer at soup kitchens. Do backpack drives for kids who need school supplies. Support the arts in schools. Raise awareness of genocides, the need for vaccines and medical treatments across the globe. Do something instead of whining about what you could have done differently. Prove all of the doubters, including myself, that you would have been the better choice. (Though to be fair, I did think both major party candidates were awful choices.)