WTF Is The FDA Smoking?

So… the FDA is “protecting” Americans by throwing the hammer down on e-cigarettes, but never mind the fact that cigarettes are still killing around 480,000 people a year in the US. They want to know exactly what goes in to the vaporizers and e-liquid, but does anyone have a clue what goes in to cigarettes?

Proponents of the new regulations say that this is all about protecting our youth and keeping “tobacco products” out of the hands of minors. I understand and support that. If the regulations stated simply that and they were going to work with the current vaping industry to build guidelines, I would be on board. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and I am disgusted with the draconian way that they have tried to crush the start up industry.

The FDA says it will take $1-2 million for research and testing on EACH product for government approval. So for a company that sells 10 different e-liquids, it could cost them $10-20 million to continue business. AREYOUFUCKINGKIDDINGME?! Let us not forget that our friends over at BIG TOBACCO have gotten in to the vaping market, and are pretty much the only ones who could afford this ludicrous cost. Tell me you see a pattern here. (I’ll give you a hint: the pattern is the FDA is getting money from big tobacco.)

Keeping this stuff out of the hands of minors should have been the biggest concern. Requiring ID checks is a must, but ultimately, we know that people still manage to buy alcohol and cigarettes underage. There are ways to put age verification on websites, and e-cigarette sites are beginning to incorporate them. I absolutely think the checks and balances should be there for this requirement, but to try and shut down an entire industry by bludgeoning it with outrageous regulations is a big steaming pile of bullshit.

Speaking of bullshit, let’s get past the myth that people don’t know what is in e-cigarettes. If you want to talk about a self-policing industry, look to vaping. The e-liquid isn’t some mystery concoction. Websites that sell it list the ingredients. There are more companies that list the ingredients on their bottles than ones that don’t. The liquids have the nicotine content on the bottle. If that wasn’t enough for you, I make my own liquid, so I know what goes in to the flavoring as well. The doors and windows are wide open in this industry because they WANT to be accepted. You go ask a cigarette company to list their ingredients on the boxes, and see what they say. The industry is willing to work with the FDA to get approval, but no small vape company can afford the cost the FDA is charging.

Look, if you are of legal age to purchase “tobacco” products, no matter what your pleasure, then I say that is your choice. I’m not going to tell you that you’re a better person for vaping, or you suck at life for smoking cigarettes. If you’re a non-smoker, that’s your choice too. All I am saying is that the FDA is stomping all over the vaping community to “protect Americans from the dangers of tobacco and nicotine, especially our youth”(Sylvia Burwell, HHS Secretary). Don’t worry about those kids still buying cigarettes underage. Let’s not worry about those annual 480,000 people who might like to have known what cigarette companies were putting in their products. Never mind that research is beginning to show that e-cigarettes are a less unhealthy alternative to smoking cigarettes. (Yes, they aren’t as good as not smoking at all. I’m not going in to that argument.) I could go on, and on, but I digress…

I hope that the bills going through Congress and the Senate right now will curb the FDA’s lunacy on these regulations. I hope that people do come to their senses. I don’t mind that vaping isn’t allowed in the same places that smoking is banned. I’m OK with the fact that vaping gets its fair share of shit for being the new douche bag trend. It is what it is, but what I am not OK with is people being contrary and hypocritical. Don’t feed us a big pile of bullshit and tell us it’s all for the kid’s sake. We know you’re so full of shit it’s coming out of your eyes. Why don’t you guys go do something worthwhile like figure out how to regulate and legalize marijuana so that the draconian agenda surrounding that can go away? Oh right… the kids.

Thanks for reading folks. If you’re a vaper, we have 2 years, folks. Hopefully people come to their senses before then. And, yes… I used draconian twice. Look it up. It has a fun history.

The Painful War Between LGBT Pride and Religious Prejudice

Writer’s Note: this post is my opinion. You may or may not agree with me, and that’s fine. I wanted to share some thoughts and personal views, and here they are. I’m not sorry if I offend you, and I’m happy if I maybe shined a little light for those who’s struggles deserve to be recognized. Every little bit counts in bringing true equality to America. 

So let’s begin.

In case you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, the political firestorm surrounding the battle for LGBT rights has been one of the more divisive topics in our country’s history. Echoes of the struggles that minorities and women had to face to earn their rights are reverberating through this movement, but there is a different opponent fighting back: the religious community. Now, as a person without a dog in this fight, I do have an outsider’s viewpoint. I am neither religious nor am I a part of the LGBT community. I have friends and family members that are a part of both, so I do feel a personal connection to this difficult and troubling contest of wills. Let it be known that I am not attacking anyone. I firmly believe that religion has no place in our government, and they have no right in making decisions on the rights of others in this country. I also believe that people should have the freedom to follow whatever religion they want, and be able to practice the tenets of those beliefs as long as they are not at the expense of others or to do harm to others. So now that I have that out of the way, let me get to the details of the way I feel. 

This country is founded on the idea of freedom, and while the people who wrote those words were quite flawed themselves, their words and ideals were meant to grant those that followed a chance to pursue their freedoms as Americans. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”. Within that amendment, you find that the government should not put one religion above another, and also they are not to infringe on an American citizen’s right to follow their personal beliefs. This also includes the right for any American to choose to not follow any religion, or to believe whatever parts of religions they choose to. Thomas Jefferson spoke about the fact that the governments should be separated from religion, but unfortunately through the years since the country was founded, Christian religions have gained a foothold in American politics. This slant towards a sect of religions began to influence politics and allowed for favorable laws to be passed. Despite the First Amendment still being in effect, certain religious communities have faced persecution while others have been raised above the others. We all know that this isn’t fair. This is one of the many things in this country that is depressingly unequal, and a community that is built on such uneven ground as religion cannot be toppled as easily as others. The Christian religions dominate this country, and they benefit most from the leeway granted by the government’s favoritism. Until recently, the federal government’s viewpoint on marriage was based on a religious aspect of a union between only a man and a woman. Many Christian dates are national holidays in America, while no Jewish or Islamic holidays are nationally celebrated. We were not founded as a Christian nation, but over time, the First Amendment was ignored and we have become a de-facto Christian nation. 

Now that I have railed against Christianity for a bit, I will give a peace offering. Christianity, in its many forms, is not inherently evil or power hungry. I don’t think any religion is. I do believe there is a higher power that gave us life. I think that we can live a good life and treat others well, and when it is all said and done, we will be judged on that, and not what religion we followed. I don’t think that any religion has the right answer so I chose to not follow any of them. I think people have the right to believe what they want. I think that they have a right to be a part of this country, and they have the right to share their beliefs and practice them freely. No religion truly condones the awful violence and hatred carried out in their name, so condemning an entire religion for the horrible things done by the few psychopaths that claim the religion should not be representative of the whole. Every religion has the right to freely practice in this country, even the people who pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The point here is that no group should be above another in this country in any facet of life. No group in this country should be able to determine the rights and freedoms of another group either. In the same vein, the granted freedom and rights of one group should not infringe on the already present rights and freedoms of another group. LGBT Americans should have the same rights as everyone else. They should be as accepted as anyone else. If you have something against the LGBT community for no reason other than you are a hateful bigot, you have the right granted by the First Amendment to voice your opinion, but you are still a fucking asshole. If your religion precludes you from supporting the LGBT lifestyle, then that is your First Amendment right as well. Here comes the tricky part of this whole debate. What gives people the right to deny service, and why is it directly aimed at the LGBT community? The federal government woke up and did everything they could to open doors for this community, but some states are siding with religion and allowing discrimination based on being a part of the LGBT community. You want to talk about a double-edged sword? Here is the perfect example: approving these bills allows the continued persecution and discrimination based on unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment which a religion is held above another, and denying this bill will be an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment in which the government is not allowing its people to freely practice their religion. Yes, either way you go, you are violating the First Amendment because this whole battle is unconstitutional. No religion should been granted so much power to have sway over the government, and no group should have to fight for the rights they should already have as Americans. 

My personal experiences with the battle for LGBT rights have come from watching the struggles of those around me. I have watched the past few years tear this country apart along so many dividing lines. Violence, hatred, racism, sexism, bigotry, and every other thing that could possibly plague a country as diverse as ours has reared its head. The ugliest thing is how hard people in this country fight against each other instead of for each other. As a member of the military, I have the privilege of serving this country and all who call it home. I didn’t join to serve in defense of one group or another, but for all. Men and women from every corner of this nation, and even people seeking citizenship joined up to do the same thing. It didn’t matter where you came from; all that mattered was that you were sacrificing for the country. Until recently, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was the military’s way of dealing with homosexuality without really addressing it. The myth was if you made it public knowledge, you would be discharged, but you were fine if you kept it to yourself. While there are people in the military who are homophobic, there are vast majorities who don’t have a problem with it. I knew several people in the military who were openly gay before DADT was repealed, and there was never a threat of being discharged. DADT was officially repealed in late 2011, which was monumental, but what they didn’t tell you, was that they still wouldn’t be able to receive the same rights as straight military members in reference to marriage and benefits. Those things did not change until 2013 when the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down and the federal government recognized same sex marriages as legal. It took another two years for the Supreme Court to block states from denying marriage benefits to military members because certain states did not recognize same sex marriage. While the military world is not perfect, they have found a way to help the communities coexist better. The fight for women’s rights is still ongoing, but progress is being made. My time in the military isn’t going to last forever, and I have a feeling that it will come to a close sooner than later due to my back problems, but I can say I am proud to be a part of a military generation that is working towards equality across the board. 

I’m no fool. I know that this battle is something that will go on for a long time. Despite the progressive attitude that is starting to take hold in this country, we are still rooted deep in our past of being separated by our differences. I think the best thing that could happen from this is for people to push for the rights of everyone to be treated equally. I think we shouldn’t hold any religion over the other. I don’t think they should be involved in the lawmaking of this country or the states. I think the citizens of this country should be able to freely practice their religions, and I think any corporation or privately owned business that has a PUBLIC religious affiliation should be able to choose who they offer their business to. In that same line of thinking, those businesses and corporations should no longer receive tax breaks for their affiliations, and no religions should receive tax breaks or exemptions. No favoritism should be shown, and everyone should pay his or her dues. In reference to me saying that companies and businesses can choose whom they offer their business to, that is a slippery slope in and of itself. I think that most people would agree that you should be open and understanding with any customers/employees that you may have, and if you do have any codes of conduct, dress codes, or customer/employee requirements, they must be clearly stated and based in equality. People also have to learn to be respectful and treat people equally across all walks of life. We are all humans after all, and America is supposed to be the land of the free. I believe we can have religious freedom and equality along with LGBT freedom and equality. I think we can all be free and equal in this land, and all it takes is for us to realize that no matter what you believe, we have to work together to bring this country together again. 

 

If you have any thoughts on this post or the subject in general, I would love to hear it. This is just my opinion, and I am only so informed. I love hearing from other people, and educated discussion is always encouraged. Conversely, if you think I’m a fucking idiot but are just being hateful and close-minded, don’t bother adding your input. Thanks. 

Guest Writers Wanted

I haven’t been using my blog as much as I’ve wanted to lately. As a writer, I’ve gone through cycles of productivity, and this has been a lengthy down period. During this time I’ve considered the idea of having guest writers on my blog, and I think it’s time to broach the subject on here.

Seeing as I call this a tribune, I would love for my blog to become a place with several contributors. I think that it would add an interesting dynamic to the site and perhaps spark more creativity and bring more readers around.

Anyways, here are my requirements if anyone is interested in being a guest writer:

  1. I will not accept anything that goes against my moral code. I have no problem with things that I may generally disagree with, but anything that is hateful or abusive will not be published.
  2. No agendas. I don’t need anyone pushing any propaganda or hocking products on here. If you want to do reviews or things like that, that’s fine, but this site isn’t here to sell stuff. If there are any special causes or things that you want to bring attention to, speak to me about it first and we will discuss it, but that is a very limited basis.
  3. You must present something that has substance and will not require heavy editing. I want pieces that are more than a Facebook post.
  4. I do not require specific topics or ideas, but I do want the subject to be something you are passionate about. This blog has never held to a theme. I love sharing my passions and I want you to do the same.
  5. No plagiarizing. If you quote or reference something, please include where you got it from.

I’m sure I will come up with more requirements as time goes along, but that is it for now. I want this to be a platform for people to share with the world. Some people don’t want to start a blog, but they do want to write from time to time. I would love to be able to give them a space to do so. I hope to have people come in and add some great new facets to Town’s End Tribune.

If you are interested, contact me via Facebook or email me at townsend3284@gmail.com. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from some interested writers!

NFL Free Agency Lies and Greed

I have some thoughts on my mind in relation to the start of free agency in the NFL yesterday. Any athlete of any sport who changes teams for more money and then says they loved playing for their old team but they had to “take care of their family” is full of shit. You are getting paid millions. Taking care of your family is no longer a problem. Now you’re just being vain and greedy.

Be honest and say you are out to make as much money as possible. Don’t lie to us and say you are taking care of your family. Justify it to yourself however you like, but don’t try and lie to the fans who make substantially less than you. Saying that you can’t take care of your family for less than… let’s say… $18 million a year is really fucking arrogant to throw in people’s faces. Most of the fanbase of major sports makes less than $100,000, so saying that $18 million is your bottom limit is comical. It’s not only comical, but it is also shameful and a damn lie.

Now, if you know me, you know I am a Denver Broncos fan. I’m sure if you looked, you could determine the culprit of the aggravating statement. Yes, I believe that mainstream entertainers and athletes are incredibly overpaid. I could go in to a huge philosophical rant about it, but that isn’t the point here. I love football, and I have been a Broncos fan since I was 10. Here’s proof:

IMG_3575 I root for guys that play a kid’s game and get paid ridiculous amounts. I got kinda choked up watching Peyton Manning’s retirement speech. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Denver prove everyone wrong and win the Super Bowl. Most of these guys are completely comfortable in their greed and avarice, and that’s good for them. That’s the miracle of capitalism for you. I would rather see unabashed admittance of the fact rather than some lame ass attempt at a justification. If you are the best player at your position, then it is justified that you be paid as such, no matter how outrageous the sum. There isn’t any reason to hide your money grubbing ways. I’m not going to stop being a fan of professional football just because the league is filled with more money than they know what to do with. In relation to the previously mentioned player with sub $18 million family care problems, the team he joined had to give him such a big contract… so they wouldn’t get fined for not spending enough money! Did you catch that? The NFL would have fined this team if they did not spend enough money on players. I love it.

Anyways, in conjunction with that player leaving, another player, who only started in 7 games over 4 years, went and got himself a big fat contract from another team. Unlike the pervious player, he was not ashamed at all of being completely greedy. He made no excuses and he told no lies. He was all about getting all the money he could in a market that he exploited due to lack of other viable player options. On one hand, good for him. On the other hand, go fuck yourself for being a douche and walking away from the Broncos. Sorry, I’m bitter and petty. It happens.

Update: so the $18 million family man made the comment that the Broncos could have signed him, the greedy one, and another player for less than nothing. Besides the obvious stupidity of that statement, let’s check the facts here: the three contracts for the upcoming season alone total out to about $40 million and the lifetime total altogether is around $200 million. The Broncos have roughly $17 million to spend on players not under contract for next season. So you are telling me that these three guys who just signed the biggest contracts of their lives would have taken less than half of what they signed for? YEAH RIGHT! More lies and bullshit. Just say it with me… Show me the money!

So here’s to another free agency period of players lying to the fans and teams they are leaving behind and chasing those millions of dollars they need to feed their starving families. Either that or they are  just chasing those millions to be greeeeeeeeedy! I will leave you with my fondest memory of this past season. Enjoy!

IMG_3541

Get Your Priorities Straight America Pt. 1

Disclaimer: This post contains topics that may offend those with tender sensibilities. This is just fair warning. I am not responsible for hurt feelings, crying, or anything of that nature. I’m aiming to get people worked up and possibly pissed off. Continue if you dare.


 

Let’s talk priorities folks. This country seems to have a significant lack of any clue about what should or shouldn’t be our main concerns. I’m not talking about the government, because it is in my best interest to have no opinion on the state of affairs of our current government since I am a service member. (I will get to the upstanding individuals who are running for president in a later post.) I am talking about the general population of the United States as a whole, who apparently lacks any sense when it comes to knowing what should be at the top of the To Do list. As to not make this a massively long post, I am going to break this up in to several entries. I have much to say on this subject, and I will invite any guest authors, if they wish to pitch in their two cents. I am willing to publish any posts by a guest author who presents either a rational addition or opposition to this series.

Episode I: Morality

First, we will address the topics that have people up in arms for no reason at all. Seriously, if you have a problem with any of these, you should just keep it to yourself. You being a jackass about it doesn’t do any good. Some people believe they exist on some moral high ground that makes them capable of judging others. You are not better, so stop it. Ignorance isn’t an excuse anymore so don’t even try. So here we go with some of the moral issues that so frequently make me wonder what the hell is wrong with society these days.

Breastfeeding in public: I am starting of with this one for a number of reasons, but the main one is that a kid has to eat. I’m not going to go hide in a booth somewhere every time I want to eat, so why should we force women to hide when they have to feed their kid? If she is comfortable enough to pop her boob out in public, then she is probably comfortable enough to cuss you out for that dirty look you are giving her for nourishing her child. Of all the things she could be doing, sustaining the life force of her offspring shouldn’t bear the brunt of your condescension. In addition, if you have a problem with a woman discreetly having her breast out to feed her child, but aren’t going to bitch about how women are generally objectified, you are a fucking hypocrite. Leave the lady in peace, and mind your own business.

Gay marriage: I know that there are the homophobes and religious types who are against this, but this country was founded with two principles that I would be remiss to not point out. The first of these is the freedom of religion, as a part of the First Amendment. This allows people to freely practice any religion they wish, or abstain from practicing one at all. What does this mean exactly? It means your religious opinion doesn’t matter. It’s yours, not theirs. As George Carlin said, “Keep thy religion to thy self”. This brings us to the second principle, which is the separation of Church and State. I know the lines on this are blurred and hotly debated, but the truth of the matter is that the church has no place in the governing of a country supposedly founded on religious freedom. So, with both points in mind, there are no reasons why gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed by the federal or state governments based on these guidelines. If you think the institution of marriage is sullied by the fact that two men or two women can get married, but not by the fact that you can get married by Elvis or in a drive thru, YOU ARE A HYPOCRITE. On a related topic, I think same sex couples should be able to adopt too.

There are so many more issues that are like the two listed above. I ask that if anyone has any inputs on subjects, please let me know. I will either add them, or I will post anything you write.

***

The last section below is a little bit different. This is something that pisses me off. The sheer stupidity of the following section aggravates me to no end.

Reality TV: What is wrong with humanity? Are we so morally bankrupt that we have to waste our lives watching spoiled, vapid, soulless people waste their lives doing pointless things and making ridiculous amounts of money for doing it? Do you understand how much money the Kardashians make? I simply cannot wrap my mind around the craze of follow the empty lives of these people and perpetuating the cycle of feeding their greed, while our educators and innovators starve and try to exist on next to nothing. The people we should be paying attention to are not these fake manufactured creatures. They aren’t even humans anymore. Their whole lives are scripted for TV and for the “entertainment” of sheep. How fucked up do you have to be as a person to have your mother not only involved in the making of your “personal sex tape”, but then she makes you go back and do it over because it wasn’t good enough? These are the people we idolize? Then the father…. oh where do I begin… first off, good for her. (I’m not sure I can say her, honestly. She says she identifies as a woman, but she is still technically a man. He still has the man parts… whatever… not my battle to fight.) I will admit that it takes courage to make that kind of decision, but I do not, and I repeat DO NOT think it merits being awarded the Courage Award at the ESPYs. I think there were far more deserving people than Caitlyn Jenner, but clearly that is my opinion. It’s a media circus, and while some of the intentions on her part are good, they are still self-serving. The whole reality TV trend is disturbing, and it is reaching a level of moral depravity because of society’s obsession with fame. It goes to show that my previous section’s points on our moral “standing” aren’t really that firm. Let’s say hello to our old friend hypocrisy.

***

So, to wrap up this first edition of my look into the messed up priorities of America, I want to leave you with a few last thoughts. I think that most Americans are generally good people. I don’t think they are morally devoid, soulless hell beasts that are going to destroy the world. This is an overall look at how I perceive America’s general priorities. I also want to help those in my life who I feel are being treated disrespectfully because of their decisions or lifestyle. This is just my take. I am open to replies, additions, and differing viewpoints. I will gladly post these on my blog, but I do reserve the right to refrain from doing so if I feel it is inappropriate. I hope this post has made you think a little bit, and I hope the rest of this series does as well. Thanks for reading.

 

 

Thoughts For Today: Tuesday January 12, 2016

Does anyone think it is too off base to consider that maybe we, as Americans, should focus on our troubles here at home, instead of spending so much time being involved in foreign affairs? I get that we have to keep some sort of global presence, but we can’t go around fixing everyone else’s problems when we are rotting from the inside. Every day, we see local stories of the awful things Americans do to each other. We see the squalor that some Americans live in, and the countless homeless that roam our streets. (Side note: I will refrain from saying more than this about the awful state of affairs that exist with our homeless veterans. Any man or woman who serves this country honorably should never find himself without a home or help. I will rant further about this another day.) Our whole economy is based off of customer services. We aren’t even making anything of value anymore. We’ve outsourced ourselves in to a corner folks. I don’t want to even get started on the messes that our education and health care systems are.

We are a society in need of leaders who want to really get to work on taking care of home. You can argue the Democrat/Republican bullshit until you are blue in the face, but in the end it doesn’t matter what party it is. If you have a strong president who is willing to really work with the Congress and Senate instead of picking fights with them and vice versa, then things can get done. We need a united government who is really about changing the failing systems we have in place, and not just using them as a garbage campaign slogan. We need to start looking at our leaders as the right leaders, not the popular or progressive ones. We have to stop making things a damn popularity contest. This isn’t Miss USA. This is about the leaders of our fucking country. Stop listening to people who have no clue what they are talking about (actors/musicians/athletes) and figure it out for yourself. The debates are nothing but pageants without swimsuits (THANK GOD). If you really want to know about a candidate, then do your research. Don’t just watch TV, listen to the radio, or nonsense like that. Dig in to their political history, and find out. Does this country need a career politician, a lawyer, or a businessman? That is for you to figure out. What is said at debates is all garbage. The talking heads on TV support who ever their company supports. Think for yourself. If anyone wants to argue with me that the presidency isn’t a popularity contest, I will simply use the example of McCain’s reply to facing Obama: Sarah Palin. I rest my case. Moving on.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that things are a monumental dumpster fire right now (or couch fire for some of y’all). We have got to start waking up. We have a lot of things to fix in this country, and we will never get them done if we let things keep going like they are. I love being an American. I’m proud to serve this country as a U.S. Navy Sailor. I want to be able to look at my country and see a strong nation, united as one. I think we have the power to make that happen, but we need to start making ourselves heard. We have to be willing to stand together. We have to stop allowing ourselves to be divided by all the bullshit and rhetoric. We need to be strong, and our leaders, whomever they may be in the near future, need to be strong too. They need to be the right leaders to bring us together and make us better. We need to heal this country. If you want a place in doing that, then I say you need to do something about it. Start making a change, instead of waiting for one.

Also, being in the military, I will refrain from speaking too much on military affairs. There are some subjects I will broach at a later point in time, but not tonight. Thanks for reading.

That’s all I have for today. I hope that this stirred a little thinking in you. Comment if you want to share.

Don’t Believe Everything You See In The Media

I, like most of the Netflix bingers, was riveted by the documentary “Making a Murderer”. From the very beginning, it pissed me off. The reason it did, was because the guy got a bad hand dealt to him from the start, and he was always behind the 8-ball. What is truly horrifying to me is how badly things were handled throughout the entire process of all of his legal proceedings in both cases. Here’s this guy, who was a mostly stand up guy, that is just getting railroaded by people who are using their power incorrectly. But was that what was really happening? Or were there things going on that they didn’t show us?  This is just a microcosm of what a viewpoint can do to skew your outlook on a situation. Now, I will go in to detail about the documentary series. If you haven’t watched it, don’t read any further. Go watch it!

I am not one of those people who think that Steven Avery is a blessed angel from above that is innocent of everything. I understand that the documentary comes from a biased point of view that depicted things to make viewers be more invested in Avery’s innocence. I get that, and I don’t wholly disagree with it. Most people who watch these understand that these films/series have to fall on one side or the other, and you can usually tell by who is interviewed and who declines to be included. I’ve done further research in to the trials and found that a lot of things were left out. The district attorney from the murder case (who, of course, doesn’t have a leg to stand on anymore, morally speaking) is running his own smear campaign against the documentary, but no one is really listening. This does bring the point home that there are two sides to every tale. What went on in Manitowoc, WI is beyond tragic, and there is no doubt about that. It disturbs me that so many awful mistakes and obvious oversights could be made, not to mention the deliberate illegal acts committed by the lawyers, investigators and other law enforcement officials involved in the cases. Again, I am not saying that Steven Avery is innocent. He may have killed that woman. The problem is we will never really know. Things were so badly handled from start to finish that there may be irreparable damage done to his case for innocence. I hope that some day, maybe soon, a court will be willing to hear his case again. I hope that some lawyer, and hopefully the four men who helped him so much before, will help him fight again. The biggest problem is the case is radioactive. No judge wants to touch it. It is easier to say no, then to say that not only is there is a possibility that two law enforcement officials, along with several others framed Steven Avery, but that they may have killed Teresa Halbach (theoretically).

The biggest issue with this documentary is that it doesn’t really explore Steven Avery beyond him as a victim of the system. It makes light mention of him doing some minor things before his first jail term, but nothing substantial. It doesn’t bring to light any negative viewpoints on him at all, besides some substantiating thrown in comments. If you didn’t know any better, you would think this guy has the worst luck ever. You would think his family is upstanding, hard working, and close knit. You would view the town and the officials as being callous, vengeful, and disdainful of their simple nature. The fact is that none of that is really true. The way that media works does not allow for a truthful observance of events. The person creating the piece skews every viewpoint. Whether it is written, filmed, or recorded, the aspect of the media is to express the view and opinion of the presenter. It shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did when it came to how many people jumped to Steven Avery’s defense. Everywhere, people were petitioning for a retrial, demanding President Obama overturn his conviction, etc. I am not talking small amounts of people. Hundreds of thousands of people were demanding these things based on the documentary. I agree that there needs to be a new trial, but I cannot agree that he is innocent.  This is what people are seeing from the documentary. They are not seeing that there is a doubt, but that he is completely innocent, and ignoring the fact that the documentary is skewed to fit the viewpoint of an innocent Steven Avery.

People take things at face value, and that is a dangerous way to live. If we have learned anything from the past year, it should be this: do your research. Do not be content to see something once and accept it as is. We saw so many things that were beyond the scope of tragic and the repercussions that followed were ten times worse because all that was seen was the face value of the event. People focus on either the broad picture or they focus on one defining detail and miss all the rest. I understand that we all have our quick fire reaction to a situation, but we need to start thinking before acting. Every day we are presented with opportunities to act in a responsible manner, and analyze a situation before we jump to a conclusion. It is time we start doing that, and stop failing prey to the slanted viewpoints of media that is presented with an agenda. While I applaud the work that many of these people do, getting the stories out there, they don’t do the correct justice sometimes. While highlighting a highly unfair situation, and shining a light on something that does need to be seen, they do it with a filtered light. We see only what they want us to see. What is in the shadows are the things that could potentially make us think twice. I know why they do it, and it makes sense. It falls on us, the consumer, to look beyond what is presented.

In this day of instant gratification, social media, Internet everything, and millisecond attention spans, we have to realize that there is more to what we see at first glance. Don’t let the viewpoint of another person be your guiding light. Be your own person, and seek out your own truth. I love digging in to the truth of things, and it is gratifying to go beyond the simplistic view and see things from the unbiased side. Don’t be apathetic, and spout biased viewpoints. Every story is deep and the average media viewpoints won’t give you more than a shallow skim across that. Be courageous and look for yourself. You might find some really interesting things. It might make you change your mind about a few things. It might make this world a little bit more knowledgeable and a little bit wiser. Couldn’t hurt right?

 

My View On Star Wars Episode VII

The Force Awakens (or possibly, now that it is domestically the highest grossing movie in history after on 21 days, Disney’s Golden Vaults Awaken) has finally brought Star Wars back. FINALLY. For every kid who grew up on it as I did, this was a wondrous moment. Love Disney or not, but they granted our wishes. No matter which decade you were a part of, we had our brush with the galaxy far, far away. This is my take on the newest addition to Star Wars. This isn’t just a casual take, either. This is a life long fan’s look at the redemption of a franchise that could have been left to die slowly if not for the Mouse.

As I said, I have a life long history with Star Wars. I was raised on the original trilogy, being a child of 1984. I watched those movies on VHS so many times that we had to buy them multiple times due to the tapes wearing out. To fill the gaps, I would read the books that told the many stories of the extended Star Wars Universe (SWU). As many kids did, I thought that the trilogy was the end for the movies. I thought the mythos of Star Wars would always continue on in books or later in video games. Then came the the remastering of the trilogy. I was in awe of being able to experience the movies in the theater. This, of course, came with the news that George Lucas was going to make the prequels. So we all waited, like kids outside a candy store for them to arrive. When they did, we were in awe. We took them in, and for most of us, we enjoyed them because we were young enough to appreciate them for being of the Star Wars legend. We didn’t pay much mind to the glaring flaws or frighteningly bad acting. We were just enthralled with the fact that Star Wars was again in theaters. As that trilogy ended, the bad aftertaste settled in. We realized that the prequels did not sate our hunger for Star Wars. For some people, it soured them completely. For as grand as Mr. Lucas’s effects were, it did little to hide the truth of his inability to properly manage a storyline. It was widely considered that the two best Star Wars movies were Episodes V and VI, which he did not direct. His love of spectacle and grand sweeping visual effects seemed to sap his attention from the importance of the plot and acting, which is terrible to think about, considering the actors and actresses he had to work with. So those of us who still loved Star Wars, soldiered on, accepting these new additions grudgingly. I continued reading the books, playing the games, and even watched the Clone Wars cartoons. Again, things looked bleak for the return to theaters for the maligned SWU. In rides Disney, fresh off saving Marvel! Mr. Lucas finally relents and sells the rights to the franchise, and the ball begins rolling that leads us to today. Here we are folks. $760 million plus domestically in 21 days and still rolling. So let’s talk about the movie, now that I’ve talked your face off about all the back nonsense.

The Force Awakens was a good movie. I would rank it easily in the top 3, after only seeing it once, and not really being able to truly analyze it with a substantial number of viewings as I have the other six. I went in to the movie knowing more than I wanted to about the storyline because people can’t keep their mouths shut, which really disappoints me. That being said, I will be posting no spoilers here. I tried to avoid everything I could about any major plot lines or spoilers, but people have to ruin things for everyone else. Anyways, I still went in and appreciated the movie for what it was. It was the first time in uncharted territory for a director and having to really work from scratch, besides having a storyline 30 years old to work with. I give major amounts of praise to J.J. Abrams for having the courage to do this, and for being able to pull it off. He could have taken the easy route, or let another director handle it. He chose to do it in a very classic sense with more practical effects, and he did the most with what he could. He had a double edged sword of having to stuff 30 years of storyline in to 2 hours and 19 minutes, and having to try and make is somewhat sensible. He wasn’t going to please everyone. I’ve read some rather scathing reviews, which I find unfair on a ridiculous number of levels. Then again, I will point to the money that this movie has made, and say that far outweighs anything negative that has been said.

Ok, I would like to share some of my personal pros and cons for this movie. This is me just being nitpicky. As a whole, the movie was great, but there are a few things I would like to point out as a little sketchy, and some things I would like to applaud.

I will start with the cons. They could have spent just a little more time telling some back story. While they did get a good amount of back fill in, there are still major MAJOR gaps. I am assuming that those will be filled in as the next Episodes and the one offs come along, but I still feel like people without a decent knowledge of the original six movies would be really lost during this movie. I spent a lot of time explaining things in the SWU to my wife while she got caught up on the movies and the things surrounding the stories. I shudder to think how someone would feel without any prior knowledge would be going in to that movie. The screenwriters also borrowed HEAVILY from from the original trilogy. In an odd sort of way, it was like seeing a weird, shifted remake. I get the need to lean on previous ideas because of Disney’s decision to not use any of the existing stories out in the SWU (now the alternate SWU?), but it was pretty blatant at times, and almost off putting. I also think that J.J. Abrams brought a little goofball humor into the movie, which prior to this, wasn’t really done in such an overt way. It really wasn’t a detraction, but it was unexpected and it felt out of place. Oh and Finn is a little bit Jar Jar to me. I am truly sorry if this ruins your view point of him, but he just has this awkwardness about him that screamed JAR JAR BINKS at me. My last complaint is that because the extreme amount of things that had to be packed in to this movie, so many things had to be truncated. I feel like there were points that didn’t get wrapped up or explained very well within the scope of the movie. I hope that they do an extended version of the movie so that maybe they can rectify that.

So I want to finish up on the good points. I am so happy that they picked a woman to be a true central character in this movie. Let us not get things confused with the six other movies. Leia and Padme played major roles, but they were always second behind the males. This is the first time where I feel like a female is a true lead character, and Daisy Ridley’s Rey is awesome. Yes, they screwed the pooch on the whole Monopoly game mess, but that was just bad planning. I really look forward to seeing how her character grows in the upcoming movies. As I stated before, Disney chose to not use the existing stories already out in the SWU, but I did notice that they did pull some general ideas, which I thought was incredibly smart. I hope that they don’t ignore the existing Young Han Solo Trilogy books if they pursue making any movies based off of a young Han Solo. If Disney has learned anything from their partnership with Marvel, it should be to use the resources that are readily available (Captain America: Civil War for one). The last good point I wish to highlight is the fact that this movie does a fantastic job highlighting the new characters. It does not rely too heavily on the original cast, but uses them to enhance and support the new characters. Some directors and screen writers would have used the old cast to carry the movie because it would have been easier, but the Force Awakens team did a wonderful job taking Star Wars in a new direction which I truly applaud.

All in all, I think The Force Awakens was a great way to bring the Star Wars Thematic Universe back to life. It wasn’t going to please everyone, but it was going to please a hell of a lot more people than it didn’t. For what they had to work with, and the huge time gap, they did a pretty good job giving us a true Star Wars movie. People will grumble, question, rip and tear this movie apart because everyone with an internet connection and social media believes that their opinion is the right one. George Lucas took his own shot at it as well, which I think was a little low brow. Based on the consensus viewpoints of his films, I’d say that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I liked the movie, and overall I think that most people will too. Judging by the fact that it surpassed $760 million in 21 days, when it took the one other movie (Avatar) two releases and seven months to do so, means that people are more than happy with what they have brought to us. Be a prick and disparage the movie if you like, but you would miss the biggest point that the movie intended to make: Star Wars is back, and Disney is going to ride this X-wing for all it’s worth. I’m going along for that ride. Are you?