Apr 07

Who Needs a Donation When You Can Like, Share and Pray?

Because I have brain cancer nobody wants to pray for me

I spotted this on a Facebook “wall” and found it nauseating. It made me angry. The post is exploitative and cynical on such a scale that it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t purposefully, carefully, engineered to be as misanthropic as possible.

I did a little searching to see if I could uncover the story behind this particular image. – So many posts like this are old and / or have aren’t even remotely accurate (in terms of what is actually depicted or their source).

I didn’t happen across the backstory (it appears to be a new meme). But I did come across this excellent article.

The essay makes several points:

When it comes to posts like this, one share does NOT equal one prayer. One like does NOT mean you think the baby with a physical disability or difference is “still cute.” One comment does NOT mean the sick child or abused puppy “will be saved.”

Here’s what you’re actually doing when you type Amen or share the photo on your wall:

  1. You’re exploiting what is most likely a stolen image of a child whose family has no idea it is being used.
  2. You’re making the owners of the page that posted it or the twisted people who stole the photo and created the post a whole lot of money.

Don’t get me wrong: I think there is value in sharing articles and raising awareness on issues. But the vast majority of these memes are bogus (and/or painfully out of date.) Even if this case of Bella with brain cancer is real, sharing it isn’t akin to raising awareness of a cause that gets little attention. “News flash: Cancer = Bad”.

And in what alternate world is a child with a brain tumor not receiving prayers? (The efficacy of prayer aside.) “Sorry kid. You know how it is. A brain tumor is a sign that god has marked you for damnation. I just can’t be seen praying for you. It wouldn’t go over well with the big guy.” Come on people! Do you really think a kid with cancer had to mock-up a graphic for facebook to get somebody to pray for them?! YOU ARE BEING PLAYED FOR FREE ADVERTISEMENT!

I’m confident that those who click, “Like” or share are people of goodwill, but besides the dubious source and quality of these memes, there is something of a cynical escape clause in every click.

It’s easy to hit the little thumb icon and feel good about oneself, but if you want to help a cause, REALLY help – consider a donation of your time and your money. – Don’t “Like” don’t share – you’re just chumming the waters for the cynical sharks of fake news and lining the pockets of the unscrupulous.

Care to help somebody suffering from cancer? Want to share something? Start here.

Apr 07

March 2017 – Quote of the Month

“Besides, as the vilest Writer has his Readers, so the greatest Liar has his Believers; and it often happens, that if a Lie be believ’d only for an Hour, it has done its Work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv’d, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect…”

~ Jonathan Swift

Mar 31

Google Home-Freshner

I noticed this sitting window sill at the office.

Air Freshener on WIndow Sill

Google Home


Don’t let anyone kid you. The Google Home isn’t nearly as good as the Amazon Echo.

I must have asked it 20 questions and it didn’t answer me once. I do have to give it credit though: the office never smelled fresher.

Mar 09

High Security

As posted via the Twitter feed of Deadville and spotted on a locker in a public gym.

Combination lock with security code sticker still on the back


Mar 09

February 2017 – Quote of the Month

“A good deal of tyranny goes by the name of protection.”

~ Crystal Eastman

Feb 12

Explorers Club of Pittsburgh Podcast

For lovers of Pittsburgh and / or lovers of adventure sports, I highly recommend giving a recent Fitness Lab Pittsburgh podcast a listen. And hats off to the ECP president Ron Edwards on a great interview that really provides perspective to those who might not have the experience but want to learn more about mountaineering and climbing.

Ron Edwards has a long history with the Explorers Club of Pittsburgh (ECP); he has served as the club’s President since 2015.  He is also an instructor in the ECP’s Mountaineering School, Rock Climbing School, and Backpacking School.


Feb 07

Dive Right In

The fact that signs like this are deemed necessary is exactly why I avoid public swimming pools.


Report all conditions involving vomitus, fecal contamination or unsafe conditions to the management immediately,

Report all conditions involving vomitus, fecal contamination or unsafe conditions to the management immediately,

Do you think someone chose the term, ‘vomitus’ because it sounded more, classical, more Roman perhaps than just straight, ‘vomit’?

Be sure that it’s fecal contamination and not just plain-old feces that might be just laying around the pool.

How about urine? Is blood okay for swimming? I guess only scoopable body excrement is worth a special sign shout-out.

Come to think of it, doesn’t this sign apply just about everywhere?

Feb 05

January 2017 – Quote of the Month

Jan 29

Mother of Exiles No More

Trump has made cowards of us all.

No immigrants from any of the seven countries on the list — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia — have killed Americans in terrorist attacks in the US. Not one. What immigrants and refugees from most of those countries are doing, however, is fleeing repression, violence, and war — in the case of Iraq and Yemen, wars started or supported by the US itself.

~ Vox.com

CNN Headline: Trump, "We don't want them here"

Comrade Trump, “We don’t want them here.”

A Syrian refugee child plays at Al Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan near the border with Syria, December 3, 2016. Photo by Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

A Syrian refugee child plays at Al Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan near the border with Syria, December 3, 2016. Photo by Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

Trump grabs Liberty by the pussy.

I would say, ‘Welcome to Trump’s America’, but apparently that is no longer allowed and honestly, you’re chances of doing better elsewhere have just improved – relatively speaking.

Statue of Liberty Crying

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

~ Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus

Jan 20

Mourning in America

Inverted American Flag - Sign of Distress

“A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.”

~ Henry A. Wallace

Jan 20

Farewell President Obama

I didn’t always agree with him, but I believe him to be a man of great integrity, intelligence and heart. Easily the best president in my lifetime. He will be sorely missed.

President Obama bends to 5-year-old Jacob Philadelphia, whose arm raised to touch the president’s hair — to see if it feels like his.

President Obama bends to 5-year-old Jacob Philadelphia, whose arm raised to touch the president’s hair — to see if it feels like his.


Jan 12

December 2016 – Quote of the Month

“The split in America, rather than simply economic, is between those who embrace reason, who function in the real world of cause and effect, and those who, numbed by isolation and despair, now seek meaning in a mythical world of intuition, a world that is no longer reality-based, a world of magic.”

~ Chris Hedges

Dec 30

Mac Rumors

I’ve been using Apple Macs since I started on a IIfx more years ago then I care to recount.

My current Macs (a 17″ laptop and a Mac Mini) are from 2010. They’re starting to show their age and I’d like to upgrade them.

Alas, with the recent exception of the newly released MacBook Pro, Apple has been neglecting their Macs. MacRumors Buyer’s Guide shows the majority of Macs in the “Do Not Buy” category.

MacRumors Buyer's Guide - Macs

Maybe that wouldn’t be too bad if refreshes were happening regularly, except for the fact that most of these Macs are years old and still selling for their original price.

As of this writing, the iMac has gone 444 days without an update. The Macbook Air, 662 days. The Mac Mini, 806 days and the Mac Pro 1108 days.

Many are worried that Apple is abandoning the Mac – with desktops being woefully neglected. Some say that Apple should stop building Macs (even though they make 22 billion dollars selling them). But I argue that’s a big mistake.

I use a PeeCee at work. They get the job done but even to this day they are rough around the user experience interface. Apple provides a walled garden. That’s sometimes bad, but more often it has been a positive experience for me: making my system’s more secure and more plug and play. I can spend less time futzing with the machine and more time producing my own work.

And for me, the foundation of that garden wall, the beginning of my participation in the Apple ecosystem is the Mac. – Specifically, the desktop (Mac Mini.) It is the server of all my media. It is wear I sit when I’m editing photos or writing posts. (My laptop sits in on a coffee table in front of the couch, where I do more casual work.)

Laptops are great and have their place; iPads are good (although no substitute for the way I work) and I’m constantly on my iPhone but none of them are a substitute for a good desktop.

I still very much want a desktop because I want a large screen. (All the pixels in the world shoved into a small screen would still be a very limited experience [which is also why they should bring back the MacBook Pro 17″]).

I could of course, get a second monitor for my laptop. But I still have a slew of peripherals (about 6 active external drives, 2 USB hubs, an external blu-ray burner) that make plugging and unplugging a laptop a very bad experience. That’s why I prefer the ‘headless’ Mac Mini: a machine I should be able to upgrade at a relatively low price point and without the waste of getting a whole additional monitor that is part and parcel in the iMac.

Tim Cook has said that Apple is, ‘very committed’ to the Mac. They have a funny way of showing it. Apple is the world’s largest company. Perhaps, instead of focusing on building a huge spaceship office, they should have a few more of their 66,000 US employees concentrate on the horse that got them there.

I imagine the day will come when desktops are wholly replaced by a different computer user experience, but we’re still a long ways away from that. And in the meantime, if Apple abandons or neglects it too long, this long term advocate will have no choice but to look elsewhere for a solution to my needs. And once I’ve left the walled garden, then my ties to Apple will start to unravel.

Dec 01

November 2016 – Quote of the Month

“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”

~ Wendell Berry

Nov 10

Beware of a Deplorable Trump Comb Over

Chump Trump Change

I’m sickened and aghast that Trump won .

I won’t claim that the election was rigged. Trump is the president elect. (Not that he’d have said the same if he’d lost.)

But that doesn’t mean that I have to support him.

I appreciate and advocate that Obama is continuing the legacy of a peaceful transfer of power, but I can”t get behind his statements that, ‘we are all rooting for his (Trump’s) success in uniting and leading the country.’

No, President Obama. No, I’m not rooting for him. I do not want his ideas, his racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, credulous, isolationist, criminal, warmongering, fascist, mendacious ideas to be remotely successful or that he should unite us, as a country, in the pursuit of the worst of human nature.

I’d thought that Trump was going to lose. I’d thought that the neo-cons / alt-right misinformation campaigns through mass market, corporate controlled media was a snake that was about to eat its own tail. But I underestimated the effects of a generational long intellectual poisoning.

And indeed, it is this generational effect that has me feeling grave beyond the damage that Trump and Pence will do in four years. With the Republican senate instituting a constitutional crisis by failing to even hold hearings on Obama’s respected, centrist nominee to the Supreme Court, we’re now in line for one and likely more Trump / Pence ultra-conservative judges. These judges will almost certainly be in place well after Trump’s other cronies are swept into the dustbin of infamy.

There isn’t much hope for the foreseeable future. Even if Trump dies or scandalously crashes and burns (and that is doubtful since he seems to be made of poisonous asbestos), we’ll still be stuck with far right wacko Mike Pence.


Hillary Clinton famously said that, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.‘ (A phrase that she later recanted.)

What is far less reported is that she want on to say:

‘But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different.’

For my part, I think that broadly calling a group of people by a label is errant.  But Ideas, and individuals, and philosophies, they can be deplorable. Discrimination, racism and those who willfully hold to these concepts are worthy of reproach. But beyond that, who would argue that the KKK or ISIS aren’t deplorable as a group who hold a shared philosophy? And they are a ‘group’ because they share an ideology – a hateful ideology that civilization must rebuke. But to be clear: I think that the vast majority of Trump’s followers do not hold to these ideas.

But Trump himself? He is a promoter of dark, malignant lies and fear mongering hatred and is to be berated every time he pukes out his venom.

Some Animals

And I hold little hope that he’s capable of meaningful, positive change. I won’t be fooled by his attempts to whitewash and comb-over his false statements.

Ever read George Orwell’s Animal Farm? Recall how at night, when the other animals weren’t looking, that the pigs repainted the seven commandments of Animalism? “All animals are equal” became, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

Well, the attempt to white wash Trump’s history is well underway:

Muslim ban statement ‘removed’ from Donald Trump’s website.

The Trump team appears to have removed the statement, in which Mr Trump said on December 7, 2015:

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.

According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine,” the statement continued.

Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”

Trump Combs Over the Truth

The only thing wrong with this cartoon is: Trump doesn’t actually say he’s sorry. He just changes the subject to his next obscenity.

My memory isn’t so short. I won’t soon forget what Trump has said and done and I’ll resist his, and his advocates’ efforts to further poison the country: to make America Hate Again.

† (Footnote: And lest we forget, for the record: Trump won the electoral college but like G.W. Bush’s first election, Trump lost the popular vote.)










Nov 08

October 2016 – Quote of the Month

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist; a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.”

~ Ursula K. Le Guin, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

Oct 25

Trumpster Fire

Dump Trump

We’re on the cusp of the election and it looks like Donald Trump is going down in flames.

Donald Trump Dumpster Fire aka Trumpster Fire

Donald Trump Dumpster Fire aka, “Trumpster Fire”

Beyond all of his lies, beyond the misogyny, xenophobia and calls for violence , Trump’s latest trick is to attempt undermining the foundation of our democracy: the expectation of a fair and honest election.

There is no doubt, that we need to keep a weary eye on the fair and legal proceedings of our elections, but making unsubstantiated claims that are elections are rigged is antithetical to a democracy.

George to John and Beyond

I’d once heard it said, that the most important election in a fledgling democracy isn’t the first one – it’s the second. The fact that George Washington peacefully ceded power to John Adams was more critical to our democracy than the election of Washington himself.

But the Donald is prepared to burn the country down with false allegations in order to protect his ego since, he knows, in his dark heart, that he’s going to lose hard. And what’s worse: to a woman!

Oct 12

September 2016 – Quote of the Month

“Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.”

~ Albert Schweitzer

Sep 29

Guernica and the E Street Band

Friends from work were aware that I had the privilege of seeing Bruce Springsteen from ‘the pit’ (now a great term BTW) a couple of weeks ago. During our lunch conversation, one of my friends said he wasn’t interested. He doesn’t like how Springsteen gets involved in politics; that he thinks artists and the ilk should keep their mouths shut about such things. And to be clear, my friend’s argument wasn’t with Springsteen’s views (although I don’t think it is a coincidence that he doesn’t agree with them), his argument was: actors, musicians and the like should keep their mouths shut.

Springsteen opened with a beautiful rendition of ‘New York Serenade‘ for his September 11th show in Pittsburgh. With no commentary he then proceeded to play a number of songs from his album, ‘The Rising’. – Songs influenced by the events from 9/11.

Bruce Springsteen - Pittsburgh - 9/11 photo by Jenny MacBethFor those ignorant of the matter, they should understand that Springsteen is famous for telling stories and anecdotes during his show: many humors, some touching, others telling but few explicitly political. Still, during the nights performance he did have two choice words for Donald Trump.

But beyond that, he let the work speak for itself and I’m left to marvel how anyone should think that an artist shouldn’t be involved in politics. I wonder how limited that would make all forms of art. By direct way of example, a significant portion of Springsteen’s best work is political in nature.

That isn’t to say that an artist is right because they are an artist, or famous, or both, nor does all art (or artist) need to be political but throughout history artists and philosophers are often the people who have helped highlight and elevate political discourse the most.

“Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact. ”

~ William S. Burroughs

Picasso's Guernica is regarded by many art critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history.

Picasso’s Guernica is regarded by many art critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history.

I wish more of our society worked to be both informed and passionate about governance and if that means that Ted Nugent has a voice in the discussion: good. – I’ll take my chances that, over time, the best ideas win out.

Sep 01

August 2016 – Quote of the Month

“The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.”

~George Orwell

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