Friday, August 20, 2021

My Rantings About Tik Tok

I've been critical of several social media platforms in the past and I'm up for a new round today. Over the last year I've noticed a lot of trends with Tik Tok. I don't have the app but I am always flooded with Tik Toks that are being promoted on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. Today I'd like to share my analysis of this trending platform.

I first remember seeing a bunch of teenagers doing dance moves in unison and that was my first exposure to it. I then started seeing some funny comedy skits on Tik Tok. There are some DIY projects and occasional life hack tips. I have to admit there have been some funny and creative things, but it is usually cringe! Lately the trend seems to be a bunch of women trying to prove how confident and happy they are and how much better they are since they got divorced or started their new online business. "I think she doth protest too much."

This platform was made for people who want to dance around to music and point a finger as their short message appears while nodding their head in approval. There are like 10 songs that they always use over and over as they either do a short comedy skit, brag about how successful they are, or twerk and show off their body. I can't get that stupid "Oh no, oh no, oh no no no no no" song out of my head.

I'm going to make a parody video mocking these Tik Toks and will post it here later.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Getting Tired of Covid

 I am losing my patience in dealing with the Covid pandemic. Yesterday my wife and I went on some errands to replace a modem and buy some data, and I came home very frustrated.

We mask up when we go out in public as requested by Ghana's government and as required by the larger businesses in the area. When we arrived we did our usual hand washing routine outside the store before an employee pointed his thermometer gun at our heads to get our temperature, and then he squeezed two big pumps of sticky hand sanitizer on our recently cleaned hands. We then walked a few paces into the store and were met by another woman who informed me that I was not social distancing, since I was standing next to my wife. She had us separate and stand on some floor stickers further away from each other. She then said we had to sanitize our hands. We explained that we did so 15 seconds ago by another employee and pointed to her coworker standing near the door, but she insisted we add more sanitizer. My wife did so but, before I could, I was told only one of us could come in the store, so I sat in a waiting area outside the store. 

I know these precautions are an attempt  to slow the spread and protect people. I also respect private businesses to enforce whatever rules they decide. It is their business; "no shirt, no shoes, no service comes" to mind. Even though I see where they are coming from, I am getting sick of this. In that moment I had some empathy for the people I've seen on the Internet complaining about the loss of freedom and making a scene in public places. 

Here is my problem: If this disease had a high mortality rate and there were dead bodies stacked in the streets, I would be the first to wear a full hazmat suit, if I even dared to leave my home at all. Ghana has over 30 million people and over the last year there have been 565 deaths from Covid. In contrast, they experience about 2,000 deaths from traffic accidents a year. I am much more likely to die driving my car here than I am from Covid.

I understand the mortality rate changes significantly when comparing different countries, age groups, and those with existing health problems, but I just don't feel it is the threat that we are told it is. I think the way this pandemic has been handled has been more detrimental than the actual disease. Isolation, inactivity, uncertainty, loss of livelihoods, and damage to the economy has caused an increase of stress, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, domestic violence, and suicide for many people. We can't be blind to all the collateral damage that has occurred.

I'm also frustrated by the many conflicting messages from the "experts". At first we were told we don't need masks, then you were a grandma killer if you don't want to wear one. Within the last week, "experts" suggested we wear two masks! Whenever scientists, virologists, or doctors share opposing views and data, or question the efficacy of masking for this particular virus, they are often crucified by the mainstream media as being quacks or conspiracy theorists. 

I just wish there was more "science science" and less "political science" when it comes to Covid. For some reason, the disease is no longer a threat once you walk in a restaurant and sit down to eat. A group of maskless friends can sit next to each other for hours eating and laughing with no problem, but if I'm driving with my immediate family in my car with the windows up and come to a police check point on the road, they want to know why we are not wearing our masks. 

I have seen many arbitrary and illogical rules as well as a good share of hypocrisy and abuse of power from leaders and experts around the world when it comes to Covid precautions. That makes it all the harder to jump on board and do whatever we are told for the greater good. 

Luckily there is a vaccine available now. I am not an anti-vaxxer but I am not excited about injecting myself with an experimental vaccine that has been tested for less than a year, with no long term studies. I would actually jump at receiving it if it solved the problem and I could return to the normal life of pre-2020 but, after receiving the vaccination, I am told you still have to social distance, wear a mask, and you can still get Covid!

When I went to the mall last week I noticed the sign above. This has been up since last March when the Pandemic hit. This is what "science" is saying here. I guess I will stay away from our goats and will make sure to cook my eggs very well to protect me from the virus. 

I believe this virus is real and can be deadly to a certain segment of the population. We should all take common sense steps to protect ourselves and we should do more specifically for those high risk individuals who are the most vulnerable. Whatever we do, let's handle it with actual science and truth, not just fear or good intentions. We've experienced a year of contention, judging, name calling, fear mongering, and virtue signaling and I'm sick of it. Protecting lives doesn't have to be done at the exclusion of our livelihoods, standard of living, or freedom. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Conspiracy Theories

You may have noticed that over the past several years the concept of conspiracy theories has become more popular with some individuals while at the same time being immediately dismissed by others. Recently the label of conspiracy theorist is being used as an insult.

The definition of conspiracy is "a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful." A conspiracy theory is defined as "a theory that rejects the standard explanation for an event and instead credits a covert organization with carrying out a secret plot."

Since the world began there have been countless conspiracies and you would have to be a fool to think that they don't exist. Anytime people work together in an attempt to cover up a crime it is a conspiracy. The problem is when some people attribute almost everything they see on the news or in the government as a conspiracy. 

There are some really good movies address this topic. Films like Close Encounters, 3 Days of the Condor, The Manchurian Candidate, The X-Files, Capricorn One, The Divinci Code, Jack Reacher, and many others have all featured a person who had a hunch or inside information that something about an event was not right. They are immediately labeled as being paranoid or crazy. They then have an uphill battle with superiors and the public as they try to prove there was some kind of cover up by the higher powers. This concept makes for great movies but isn't usually applauded in real life.

There are some people who say conspiracy theories don't exist and refer to those who believe in them as tin foil hat wearing, delusional people. These are the people who quickly dismiss any theory and are quick to label those who disagree with them or question government as conspiracy theorists. They frequently say things like "the government is here to protect us, it would never do that" or "how could that many people be in on the secret together without someone finding out?"

On the other extreme there are some people who attribute almost everything that happens to conspiracies. Some people don't believe we landed on the moon. When there is a mass shooting they insist that it is a false flag and that the victims are government actors. These paranoid people don't trust anyone and are suspicious of everything and of all authority.

Neither of these two extremes give their cause much credibility. I find myself more in the middle. I don't consider myself a conspiracy theorist but I'm troubled by unanswered questions about 911. I believe in vaccines, but I 'm disturbed with certain aspects of the industry. I believe in government and law and order but I also have concerns about government overreach. I just don't care for the current trend of calling someone a conspiracy theorist as an attempt to silence them or make them look crazy.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is let's not be so fast to attribute every thing that happens to a behind the scenes secret organization that is out to enslave us. At the same time, let's not dismiss people's concerns they have about ulterior motives or consequences of things they see happening around us. If you wonder why people don't always trust their governments, just look at the history books and see what horrible things those in power have done to others through the ages.

Solving this issue once again comes back to being able to determine real truth, not just what most people or a biased media outlet may tell you. That is the ironic challenge of our day when there is more information available than ever before but we are not sure which sources to trust. 

On a lighter note, my boys have a Youtube channel where they do short comedy skits making fun of movie tropes. I wrote the following sketch for them about this subject.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

People I've Misjudged

As I look back over my life there have been times when I was quick to judge others. It really is easy to judge a book by it's cover. Often when we make judgement calls, we do so out of laziness or bias without sufficient information to make an informed decision. 

For this post I am not referring to anyone I really despised but rather just didn't care for, I made a quick decision that I was not a fan of them and it stuck for a while until I learned more about them. Here are some people I decided I didn't really like after an initial brief encounter but some time later realized I had made a mistake.

Fred Willard- I first remember seeing him as one of the hosts of a the TV show Real People back in the late 70's. He just didn't appeal to me and never came across as being very funny in the things I saw him in. That was until I saw his performances as a clueless dog show commentator in Best in Show or as a bumbling singing group manager in A Mighty Wind. His awkward, inappropriate style and hilarious improvisation skills are great.

Led Zeppelin- My initial experience with this famous band was not from listening to their music but just hearing people mention their name when they talked about hard rock/heavy metal bands like Deep Purple or Black Sabbath. I was not a fan of that kind of music and decided I wasn't into Led Zeppelin. It wasn't until I was in my 30's listening to a block party on the radio that I began to appreciate their music. With more exposure over time I was impressed with their talent and versatility and now understand why Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham are considered one of the greatest rock bands of all time. (I had a similar experience with Pink Floyd too.)

Norm McDonald- Norm was the news anchor on SNL during a time when I chose to watch little TV so that was about all I saw him aside from some small roles in Adam Sandler movies that didn't impress me much. It wasn't until I came across interviews with him that I realized how intelligent and funny he was. There are certain things that only he can do, like the clip below from a Bob Saget Roast. These programs are known for having the participants cut loose with foul language and savagely roast the participants, so when they gave him the go ahead and told him to not hold back, he told a bunch of lame jokes from a 40's joke book. The audience didn't know how to handle it and it was over their head, much like I didn't get his style when I first encountered him. It is one of the most awkward and funny things I've ever seen and is classic Norm.

Roy Clark- As a kid I always hated Saturdays and one reason was because of the lame TV shows that came on in the evening. First there was Hee Haw and that was followed by Lawrence Welk. I hated both of these music genres and used to make fun of Buck Owens and Roy Clark pickin' and grinnin' in their overalls. I'm still not a country music fan today but I can totally appreciate Roy Clark's talent. Here is a short clip from an episode from The Odd Couple where he made a guest appearance. Over time I googled his performances and I had no idea he played so many instruments and styles of music. With more exposure, my mind was blown by this talented performer and my opinion of him changed. 

These are just a few people who I did not care for after my first introduction to them. In some cases, it took me decades to change my opinion and finally appreciate their talent and contributions. Unfortunately 3 of them have passed away by now. One thing that helps me really appreciate people is learning more about them. When you know their backstory and where they came from it can make all the difference in helping you appreciate someone. Hopefully I can learn from these experiences and won't be so quick to judge or write people off in the future before I get to know more about them.