Good for the Goose…

When he who will not be named sat in the Oval Office, it became the national sport to tally the lies, insults, and misogynistic hubris emanating from the maws of the source.  And I spent a great deal of time and effort writing about it, criticizing it, and arguing with the blind sheep who ignored it because “he was draining the swamp.”

Since we now live in a society where everyone must be labeled, I have been characterized as a “leftist” (despite the fact I am right-handed), a “socialist” (although many will tell you I am anything but social), or a communist (despite my proclivity toward solitary activity such as writing and avoiding “collectives” and crowds.)

Such is the world we live in. Despite these stereotypical misnomers, I continue to point out whatever I see to be incompetent, arrogant, or unlawful behavior with political figures.  Which brings me to the Governor Andrew Cuomo saga.

And in the interest of equanimity, I have a bone of contention to pick with the Governor.

Now I have already written a piece that concerns itself with trial by innuendo regarding the allegations of sexual harassment. (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2021/03/01/alls-fair-in/)

The article does does not defend Cuomo or his actions, but merely points out the danger of drawing conclusions based almost exclusively on media reports or granting blanket grants of credibility to allegations of sexual harassment.

But this piece is about something more concrete. Something the Governor acknowledges he and others in his administration did.

Resign Governor Cuomo. It is what honorable people do when they lie.

Joe Broadmeadow

They lied about the death toll in New York nursing homes for purely political reasons.  Intentionally underreporting the numbers of dead from Covid-19 because they feared he who will not be named would use it as political ammunition.

Cuomo was correct. He who will not be named undoubtedly would have. He who will not be named spent the entire pandemic twisting facts, downplaying the severity, and lying about the number of deaths.

Cuomo was also wrong, dead wrong, to resort to exactly the same tactics as He who will not be named in trying to protect his political position by lying. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/cuomo-advisers-altered-report-on-covid-19-nursing-home-deaths-11614910855)

Misleading the people for political purposes is the most horrendous act an elected official can take. There is only one course for the Governor to follow if for no other reason than to set a standard for future acts by political figures.

Under the circumstances of a clear admission of lying to the public for political purposes, the Governor should resign. And Americans should place the truthfulness, or lack thereof, of political figures above any political agreement they may have with the particular policies of the individual.

No one deserves to stay in office if they lie no matter how well-intentioned their actions may be. No one is indispensable.

There is never any justification to lie to the American people about anything. Not death tolls from pandemics or wars. Not the severity of economic hardships. Not the results of elections. Not anything.  The American people need to know the truth in all its ugliness.

Resign Governor Cuomo. It is what honorable people do when they make a mistake.

************************************************************************

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

Separation of Church and State: Why Ecclesiastical Tenets Have No Place in the Public Square

On March 2, 2021, the Catholic Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota, issued the following unsigned statement:

“The recently approved (FDA 2-27-2021) vaccine produced by Janssen/Johnson & Johnson used abortion-derived cell lines in the design, development, production, and lab testing. This Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine is morally compromised and therefore unacceptable for any Catholic physician or health care worker to dispense and for any Catholic to receive due to its direct connection to the intrinsically evil act of abortion. No one should use or receive this vaccine, but there is no justification for any Catholic to do so. Two morally acceptable vaccines are available and may be used. As always, no one is bound to receive this vaccine, but it remains an individual and informed decision.” (https://bismarckdiocese.com/news/vaccine-announcement-update)

Catholic Diocese of Bismarck North Dakota

Such a pronouncement, lacking any valid medical reason for such cautions, is based purely on Church doctrine opposing abortion. This stems from Johnson & Johnson’s use of fetal cell lines derived from lawful abortions in the 1970s and 80s in their development process.

As a doctrinal pronouncement made from the pulpit during Mass, I would have no issue. But when the Diocese sees fit to publish such a statement—and contends that “No one should use or receive this vaccine“—it must withstand the rigors of public discourse.

The Diocesan statement follows the Church doctrine issued on February 22, 1987, entitled Donum Vitae (Respect for Human Life.) Within this document is the bedrock contention that life begins at conception and is entitled to all other human rights and protections.

This is not based on any scientific standards for a “human” life and conflicts with the fact that abortions under certain conditions are lawful with the US and other countries. This conflict threatens secular necessities for protecting the health of living humans.

The concept of when life begins is the subject of great debate. This article is not the place for such a discussion. But Church doctrine is diametrically different from secular law. We can discuss what I perceive as the danger of ecclesiastical interference in matters of society’s health and welfare, particularly when threatened by a pandemic that has killed millions of once live humans.

Those who defend the Church’s position and see no harm in such pronouncements made in the public square try to smokescreen their position by arguing that mRNA—a fairly recent development in vaccine production, although the technology has been around since 2011—has potential yet unidentified long-term risks.

That mRNA research has been ongoing for almost 10 years with few long-term risks identified argues in favor of the efficacy of the technique. While every vaccine or medical procedure comes with risks, the ones often associated with mRNA (and other vaccines) are more disinformation than reality.

Social media is inundated with false or unsubstantiated claims that mRNA vaccines can alter the recipient’s DNA, cause infertility in women, are full of toxins, or can cause autism. These can be disproven with readily available research studies yet people looking for confirmation of preconceived fears embrace them enthusiastically.

Some benefits of mRNA research are not only encouraging but life altering.

“Examples of mRNA vaccines include CureVac’s rabies vaccine, which has announced positive data from an interim analysis of safety and immunogenicity in its Phase I study; Moderna’s mRNA-1647, which has positive interim results from a Phase II study for cytomegalovirus infections; Moderna’s mRNA-4157 for solid tumors, which is in Phase II for metastatic melanoma; and BioNTech’s BNT-112, which is in Phase II for prostate cancer.

Potential risks from mRNA vaccines include local and systemic inflammatory responses, which could lead to autoimmune conditions, and the toxic effects of any synthetic nucleosides or vaccine delivery components. However, modifications made to the nucleosides have been found to drastically reduce the immune system’s response to the synthetic nucleosides.”(https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/comment/covid-19-mrna-vaccines-disinformation/)

Thus the Church, and those who would defend such intrusions into secular matters, do a great disservice in the single-minded pursuit of supporting doctrinal, rather than sound medical, policies. The Church would contend, should a vaccine be developed with stem cell lines derived from abortions that can treat metastatic melanoma, it’s “moral indefensibility” makes it unacceptable for the faithful. In their interpretation, God made it so and it is a moral imperative we accept this rather than use such a medical treatment.

Better to preserve the Church’s concept of morality than extend one’s life, or prevent the risk to others.

And yet, the Church also offers what we can describe only as a flexible morality. The Vatican offers a compromise that if the only vaccines available are those it categorizes as “morally indefensible” than the faithful can choose to receive the vaccine. It would seem the Church recognizes, even if it refuses to acknowledge it, a difference between someone who is conscious and alive and one who was never born.

The other risk of non-scientific rationalizations for refusing to get vaccines using mRNA derived from fetal lines is the amplification of the anti-vaxxers position that vaccine cause autism. Such scientifically bereft positions have led to a rise in once eradicated, and still sometimes fatal, diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox.

The Church can say what it wants from the pulpit without our criticism, but from the public square they are fair game.

Joe broadmeadow

This from an article in Christianity Today.

“For certain Christians, the decision of whether to vaccinate comes down to the origins of the vaccines themselves. Some pro-life parents cite a moral disgust and a deep lament over the use of 58-year-old aborted fetal cell lines in development for several recommended immunizations, including MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and chickenpox.
“The use of fetal cells in vaccine study and creation is one of the primary reasons we do not vaccinate,” said Mandy Reynvaan, a mother of five in Oregon, where a measles outbreak has flared over the past few months. “The methods used to obtain these cells are horrifying.”
“Across the country, there have been over 600 cases in 22 states, spurring several state proposals that, in an effort to protect against the spread of disease, would restrict parental rights and religious freedoms for families who skip immunizations due to their faith convictions. Measles has seen a 30 percent increase globally, something the World Health Organization (WHO) attributes to vaccine hesitancy in countries that had practically eliminated the disease.” (https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/april-web-only/why-christians-refuse-measles-vaccinations-moral-grounds.html)

If the Church wishes to interject itself into the public square, it must face the same rigorous review as any scientifically supported recommendations for medical decisions.

Some will also argue the Church’s position, absent an alternative, recognizes the seriousness of the pandemic and offers a solution. But this is disingenuous since they transfer the risk onto the conscience of the adherents. The implication is it is still morally indefensible, but the choice is up to you. This could lead to a sizable number of congregants accepting the risk of contracting COVID-19—and the risk to others of spreading the virus—instead of risking their souls.

The Church would also offer the power of prayer as a solution. Yet every single study that tested the efficacy of prayer found little benefit. It was more placebo than actual alteration of a medical condition or improvement of recovery..

The best way to place prayer, and the lack of efficacy for medical procedures, is to use the words of Neuroscientist Sam Harris.

“Get a billion Christians to pray for a single amputee. Get them to pray that God regrow that missing limb. This happens to salamanders every day, presumably without prayer; this is within the capacity of God. I find it interesting that people of faith only tend to pray for conditions that are self-limiting.”

In all the centuries of anecdotal evidence of the miraculous power of prayer to cure the incurable. To astound doctors into silence. To extend life to those on the doorsteps of death. Not one has ever regrown a limb.

I have no issue with people turning to prayer. What they believe as to its efficacy and power is purely an unreproachable matter of choice. But when a powerful religious organization like the Catholic Church interjects itself into matters that will directly affect not only those who adhere to that faith but to those who hold the thousands of other faiths, or no faith, it is incumbent on society to enforce the wall of separation for the good of the whole.

The Church can say what it wants from the pulpit without our criticism, but from the public square they are fair game.

All’s Fair in…

At the risk of stirring up a hornet’s nest of indignation, the recent allegations against New York Governor Cuomo, while troubling in their detail and evident documentation beyond a mere claim, do create an issue of fairness. That many others knew of these various incidents raise the question is one person’s perception of sexual harassment enough to warrant an investigation?

In the details that are available, several women did complain about the governor’s words and actions. Taken in isolation, these are troubling sophomoric behavior from someone who should know better. Taken together, they raise serious concerns. But the majority of these actions and comments took place in the presence of other, senior staff members both male and female.

Did any of them raise an alarm, or seek out the targeted women to see if there was an issue?  Did anyone warn the Governor he may have crossed the line?

It begs the question of when does an incident perceived by one to be harassment and by others as innocent if crude joking deserve to be tried in the press with no formal judicial or investigative substantiation?

We are still a country where the presumption of innocence supersedes even the most scurrilous of charges and we need not forget that.  Absent any corroborating evidence of complicity (such as secret payments from, say, a campaign account handled by a personal attorney) such allegations need be treated accordingly, an allegation not proof.

Sexual harassment is a serious and dangerous element of human interaction. It is difficult to separate the hormones from the humans involved but maturity brings skills to control one’s behavior. One can know where the line falls between humor and boorish behavior and there should be a crystal-clear demarcation to what constitutes harassment.

There also need be an environment where anyone who feels threatened can freely express these concerns without fear. Yet, we also need recognize that delay is detrimental to the veracity or believability. Particularly when dealing with public figures, the variety of avenues to address such concerns first internally and then, if circumstances dictate, publicly are limitless.

With no intent to demean or discount the complaints made, it is a natural concern to take any delay reporting such issues into consideration when evaluating them.  As horrific as some of these incidents are, false allegations for vindictive, political, or personal reasons are equally abhorrent.

Accusations, regardless of the allegation, come with an obligation of truthfulness and legitimate motivation. While all such complaints need be taken seriously, they also need be vetted for veracity.

In the 1990s, there was a hysteria over “repressed” memories wherein many psychologists and psychiatrists legitimized recovered memories as a sound basis for bringing charges of sexual assault. The overwhelming majority of these were based on bad medical science and poor investigations.  The intention was well-meaning, but the result was a travesty of justice.

Bringing these issues to the forefront and opening them for discussion is important. But just as a fearful environment that once trapped sexual harassment victims in a dilemma of whether to speak up, we must be vigilant against overreacting and creating an equally fearful environment of accepting claims without ensuring we safeguard the innocent.   

************************************************************************

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

I Don’t Believe In…

Recently, as I sometimes do on the now rare occasions when I drive somewhere, I listened to a radio talk show on Sirius XM.   The show is of no consequence, they all follow the same pattern, but I often find them amusing.  What caught my interest was a statement made by an older gentleman about his feelings about COVID-19, social restrictions, and the vaccine.

This caller said he was seventy-two years old, lived in Florida, took minerals and vitamins to supplement his fitness routine, and said he was healthy with no serious issues. He said he never wore a mask, did not practice social distancing, and would not get vaccinated. He claimed to have been in contact with some family members who tested positive from COVID-19, yet he remained free of any symptoms. He had no plans to be tested or change habits.

When the host pressed him on why he would not get vaccinated he hemmed and hawed then said this, “Well, I don’t believe in it.”

Think about this for a moment. “I don’t believe in it.”

On what rational basis is this decision made?

Doubt CBS Promos - Television Promos

None I can see.

This politicizing of the pandemic—where masks became some denial of constitutional rights—coupled with America’s growing anti-intellectualism and disregard for experts, creates the perfect storm of irrationalism masquerading as science (albeit junk science) and offering people an “excuse” to avoid their civic responsibilities.

Even if one wants to argue people should be allowed to choose whether or not to be vaccinated, the discussion should be based on actual science, risk assessment, and cost-benefit analysis. “I believe” falls woefully short and undercuts any substantive examination.

All this is the culmination of the anti-vaccine zealots who promulgate unreliable, untestable, yet authoritative (which they selectively embrace) sounding “evidence” that vaccines are inherently dangerous.

Much of this results from the failing level of basic science and math comprehension in America. Where we once led the world in technology, math, and science we now languish near the middle or bottom when compared to other modern industrialized nations.

We are a nation of conspiracy theorists paralyzed by fear of a boogie man constructed from irrational fears.  And no one can actually point to one shred of evidence or reason the government, or Bill Gates, or China, or any other lightning rod of the day would create such a pandemic for their own benefit.

And yet, it persists and festers.

“An important element in much of junk thought is innumeracy—a lack of understanding of basic mathematical and statistical concepts. Innumeracy is deeply implicated in the media’s and the public’s overreaction to many studies involving medical risks. News stories frequently report that a particular drug or consumption of a particular type of food increases or decreases the risk of one disease or another by a large percentage. The critical issue, though, is not the magnitude of the increase but the incidence of risk in the first place. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that a drug doubles the chance of contracting a fatal disease at age twenty. If there was only one chance in a million of developing the disease in the first place, an increase to two in a million is meaningless from a public health standpoint. But if two people in ten were already at risk for the hypothetical condition, an increase to four in ten would justify immediate removal of the drug from the market.”

Jacoby, Susan. The Age of American Unreason (p. 277). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The other, more sinister, reality is those who choose not to be vaccinated still benefit from the majority of those who will get vaccinated. Those anti-vaxxer get the benefit of the proliferation of those who develop anti-bodies and reach the threshold of herd immunity. 

The irony is if those opposed to being vaccinated were to succeed with their junk science and thought, they would place themselves in greater jeopardy.

To say one does not “believe” in vaccines is as irrational as saying one does not “believe” the earth is round. All the evidence points to the contrary.  Science works, not because anyone “believes” in it but because it is not based on faith or belief. It often dispels common beliefs. Science thrives on errors and corrections, pseudoscience does everything to avoid such scrutiny.

“Pseudoscience differs from erroneous science. Science thrives on errors, cutting them away one by one. False conclusions are drawn all the time, but they are drawn tentatively. Hypotheses are framed so they are capable of being disproved. A succession of alternative hypotheses is confronted by experiment and observation. Science gropes and staggers toward improved understanding. Proprietary feelings are of course offended when a scientific hypothesis is disproved, but such disproofs are recognized as central to the scientific enterprise. Pseudoscience is just the opposite. Hypotheses are often framed precisely so they are invulnerable to any experiment that offers a prospect of disproof, so even in principle they cannot be invalidated. Practitioners are defensive and wary. Skeptical scrutiny is opposed. When the pseudoscientific hypothesis fails to catch fire with scientists, conspiracies to suppress it are deduced.”

Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. 

I may not believe in many things, but basing health decisions on beliefs or lack thereof, I am certain, is a dangerous path fraught with serious, and sometimes fatal, risks.

Don’t believe it? Time will tell.

********************************************************************************************************

REMINDER!!! Today at 3:00 PM

Topic: Ask the Publisher
Time: Feb 24, 2021 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/93374086496

Meeting ID: 933 7408 6496

Look into my Eyes

Eyes are the windows to the soul.

While I am not religious, more a secular humanist, the Bible is one of the sources for the origin of this truism and does contain some wise, if often ignored, quotes.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
(Author Note: in the original Greek the word translated as healthy in this version originally meant generous and the word unhealthy meant stingy. It’s one of those complications of texts (in the original sense) translated from Aramaic to Greek to Old Latin to New Latin to German to Old English to New English)

Matthew 6:22-23 

In these times of masks, we are forced to discern a person’s reaction to us through their eyes.  Beneath the mask, there may be a smile, or a frown, hidden by the necessities of the times. Yet the eyes tell a story.

We now “see” how eyes “light up” when one smiles. Or how they grow narrow and “darken” when there is anger or uncertainty.

We are like a person who suddenly loses one of their senses, forced to rely more heavily on the others to make up the information deficit.

The fact of the matter is, depending on which study you read, somewhere between 55-90% of communication is non-verbal.  Obviously, seeing a smile or frown or clenched lips would play a major part in such communication.  Lacking that, we are forced to rely on the next most obvious, the eyes.

While body language—gestures, stance, distance, actions—all play a part, it is in the eyes one has the best chance of recognizing someone else’s attitude toward you.

There is a definite change in the eyes when one smiles, and it is apparent if one takes the time to look for it.  Given that all the considerate people in the world are wearing masks, learning to read eyes is an invaluable skill.

Encountering someone in public not wearing a mask, even if they are smiling, engenders its own meaning. But there is still a message in the eyes.  In most cases it will be one of confrontational embarrassment for their lack of public responsibility.

But no matter.  Soon, perhaps not soon enough, we will be in the time of the great unmasking. When smiles once again emerge into our menu of communication skills. It would do us well to hang onto the skills of reading eyes.

For if the eyes are indeed the window to the soul, even a smile cannot serve as an opaque enough curtain to hide the truth.

************************************************************************

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

Join us online for a Zoom meeting and Ask the Publisher about the many ways you can get your book published. See the meeting information below,

Joe Broadmeadow is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Ask the Publisher
Time: Feb 24, 2021 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/93374086496

Meeting ID: 933 7408 6496

Free Speech: From the Horse’s Mouth (and it depends on which horse)

Here’s a simple explanation against the argument that the impeachment hearing violates the former President’s First Amendment rights.

If a police officer says, in a speech, that he only arrests black people because they commit the most crimes, he may have a first amendment right to say it, but it would clearly violate his duties as a sworn officer.

If a doctor says, in a speech, that he won’t treat Jews because they killed Jesus Christ he may have a first amendment right to say it, but it would clearly violate his Hippocratic oath and licensure as a doctor.

If I say, in a speech, all women should obey the men in their lives because men know better (I would, of course, say this silently in the presence of my wife and daughter) I may have a first amendment right to say it, but it would clearly violate common sense.

Each example may be constitutionally protected and, more important, few people would pay attention to the point of the pronouncements, but they would be rightfully concerned about the context and position of the person making them. (Except mine, of course, my wife and daughter would just ignore me.)

The difference is a police officer, doctor, or any other person can hold and express anything they like when acting as private citizens if they act within the law. If they translate these protected speech statements into actions in their employment or position, there are legal consequences.

The President of the United States is never a private citizen while he holds the office. Everything he says, he says as the President and it implies infinitely more significance than statements from ordinary American citizens.

If the President enjoyed unfettered First Amendment rights, then he could announce an intention to fire nuclear weapons against the county of East Japeepee with no concern for the reaction of the East Japeepeeians.

If they launched a pre-emptive strike against us, it would be because they hate our freedom and our First Amendment rights.

Which leads us to the Impeachment trial. Getting past the raw emotions of what happened that day (as a former police officer I felt only rage for the attack on those officers and, frankly, I am in awe of their restraint. Some officers I know might have opened fire at such a threat) we need examine the President’s speech in the context of not just that moment but with the understanding of what led the crowd there in the first place.

A Lie

A bold faced fabrication intended to subvert the Constitution.

And more critically, a lie spread by the President of the United States that the election was stolen from him. And if one wants to argue the President of the United States can lie to the American public because he has a First Amendment right to do so, one risks the consequences.

Consequences that played out in the halls of Congress.

Or if one argues that it is not a lie if the President believed it to be true, somehow delusional does not seem a good characteristic for the President of the United States.

The speech by the President on January 6th wasn’t the reason the mob attacked the Capitol; it was merely the starter’s gun signaling the beginning. Mr. Trump lit the fuse on the artillery he had primed, loaded, and aimed at our country.

One last point, and this is telling, from the moment the mob stormed the Capitol until the President made any effort to dissuade the mob, he did nothing for hours. Hours while US Capitol Police officers were being attacked, assaulted, and murdered by a mob he unleashed.

Even if one accepts the premise that the President never intended his speech to spark an attack, he did nothing to mitigate it once it began. Actions, or in this case inactions, speak volumes. If he never intended them to attack Congress, why did he do nothing?

One can draw a reasonable inference from the President’s failure to take swift and bold action.

Can you imagine what would have happened had not the US Capitol Police and the Secret Service acted as quickly as they did to protect the Vice President and the members of Congress? There is no doubt in my mind that the frenzied crowd—driven by weeks of the President’s own exhortations that the Vice President could change the results of the election, had they seized Mr. Pence (after the Secret Service ran out of ammunition killing who knows how many)—would have executed the Vice President and anyone else the President sent them after.

Now there’s a legacy of Making America Great Again one could point to with pride.

As part optimist, I believe there is a chance that enough Senators will do what’s right as opposed to what is politically expedient. As part realist, I have little reason to believe it will happen.

************************************************************************

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

Discrimination Takes Many Forms (layoff my SPAM)

With the dawn of new age, when we seek a brighter and more embracing community, I am appealing to President Biden to address by Executive Order (of which he seems to have an unending supply) an unappreciated vestige of discrimination.

Now I realize there are much more pressing issues to address when it comes to discrimination, but this shouldn’t be an excuse to allow the endemic and prolific mistreatment of a whole class of otherwise worthwhile humans.

I am, of course, talking about the ostracism, condescension, and outright belittling of those of us with refined enough palettes to appreciate the sophisticated flavors and savory nirvana that is SPAM   

Introduced by Hormel in 1937, one might argue that since an army travels on its stomach, SPAM, just as much as B-17s, the M-1 Garand, and the atomic bomb, helped win the war. SPAM gained popularity worldwide after its use during World War II; winners always draw others to themselves. By 2003, Spam was sold in 41 countries on six continents and trademarked in over 100 countries.

And yet, there are those with little minds, unrefined taste buds, and a pretentious haughtiness about them who denigrate and demean those of us who love SPAM.

Think about the versatility, let alone its usefulness doing times of struggle.

SPAM in a can, if left unopened, is good for at least 4 years, when it would be considered “young spam” or if treasured for several centuries then opened, like fine wine, it would be aged appropriately (although it might be advisable not to let it breathe.)

Yet I bet you could still eat it. Recalling my days hiking the Appalachian Trail (have I mentioned I hiked the Appalachian trail? All 2185 miles of it), I know if one were at a trailhead and ran into an AT thru-hiker, and all one had was a can of vintage 1941 SPAM to offer, there is no doubt in my mind the hiker would devour it with pleasure. They might even open the can first, but there are no guarantees of this depending on how long they’d been away from civilization.

I also have no doubt that some weekend hikers, wearing clothes that were clean that morning and carrying all sorts of unnecessary equipment to make them look like experienced hikers (their aroma of cleanliness gives them away), would turn up their noses at the SPAM devouring hiker.

And thus it is with all of us SPAMmers; we suffer grievously the slings and arrows of outrageous condescension. This leads me to another example of blatant discrimination: spam folders, spamming, and spammers as a description of unwanted things.

Who decided that folders containing unsolicited emails from some Nigerian Royalty or his solicitor should be called SPAM?

This is an insult to SPAM lovers everywhere. And we are everywhere. Even those who may claim otherwise secretly fry up SPAM in the confines of their kitchens when no one can see them. You may deny it, but every family has one of us.

It’s time for all SPAMMERS to come out of the shadows and proclaim to the world, I LOVE SPAM!

And they should be able to do this without being subjected to heaps of abuse, vomiting memes, expressions of disgust, or any other mistreatment.

Thus we need an Executive Order from the President of the United States. The S.P.A.M. Act, Spam People Are Maligned Act. And this should take precedent before any other matters, including stimulus checks or other issues of concern.

Just this very day I was the object of scorn for posting a picture of my breakfast preparation that included SPAM. It cuts me to the quick. This must end!

It is time to SAVE THE SPAM and prevent discrimination against those of us who love our SPAM.  Mark my words, you will have to pry my SPAM out of my cold, dead hands before I ever give up my right to enjoy this wonder of the world!

************************************************************************

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

Listen(ing) to the Quiet

We live in a noisy world.

For those who live in urban-suburban environments, cars, trucks, and sirens are the white noise of our lives. To those in the country, animals, birds, or the hammering of a woodpecker fills the same place.

When one switches environments, urban to country or vice versa, those background noises become almost unbearable just because they are unfamiliar.

We inflict noise on ourselves, filling our lives with TVs or music or game apps to satiate our limited attention spans. We are bombarded by constant communication with texts, phones, and social media alerts.

So it is a rare moment when we can actually listen to the quiet.

In the 1960s and 70s, I became familiar with a poet/songwriter/performer named Rod McKuen. I was introduced to him through my Uncle, Mike Campbell. Mike is no longer with us, but he had a great deal of influence in my life, and my fondness for Rod McKuen (who I will bet few of you have ever heard sing or read any of his books, although I know there are a few) has persisted all these years.

In the title of McKuen’s book, Listen to the Warm, there is a summoning to Listen to that which we would typically not hear. On warm summer days, I often try to Listen to the Warm, hoping to hold onto such moments a bit longer before they flitter away.

But in the dead of winter, especially in places like New Hampshire where I often find myself, one has a real opportunity to Listen to something so rare in our world.

Quiet.

The stillness of silence, if one pays attention, is camouflage. For within the quiet are the secrets of life. It is cathartic.

And there is no better moment to Listen to the quiet than with a walk in a snowstorm.

Everyone who has ever lived in a cold winter climate has mixed feelings about snow. We anticipate it, grow weary of it, marvel at it, curse it, shovel it, slide in it, fall in it, build snowmen, break bones, conquer slopes, unbury our car, and bundle up against its chill.

Yet, just taking a moment’s pause to walk in a snowstorm, in a New Hampshire wood or anywhere away from the noisy cacophony of the world, one can actually hear the quiet. It may be hard to imagine, in a city or even a small town surrounded by modern society’s mechanism, that one can hear snow fall in a quiet forest.

But you can…and it will be magical.

To hear snow falling, it has to be quiet. And to the hear quiet, one must listen for it.

Shhhh…Listen to the quiet

************************************************************************

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

Serendipity: How a Blizzard Set My Career Path

Forty-three years ago tomorrow, February 6, 1978, I was scheduled for my first interview with the Rhode Island State Police. It was a career choice not always on the top of my list, at least not consciously, but through circumstances or perhaps inevitability it had moved to the top.

My father had been a trooper, I would follow in the footsteps.

Then, serendipity struck. A snowstorm turned from just another winter event into the storm of a lifetime. It snowed for thirty-three hours straight, sometimes coming down at four inches an hour.

Early on the morning of the 6th, I received a call from State Police Headquarters; they were postponing the interview.

I was disappointed but, at the moment, thought it would be just a week or two before they rescheduled.

Since I was a member of the RI National Guard at the time, I dove into doing my part with digging the state out of the deluge. Woonsocket, RI set the state record with fifty-four inches of snow.

It was a big storm.

Several days after it stopped snowing, equipment and personnel from outside the state arrived to help. I recall a crusty old highway employee from Buffalo, New York, if I remember correctly, stepping off a plane, looking around, and saying,

“Blizzard, this ain’t no freakin’ blizzard. This is Saturday night in Buffalo.”

I guess perspective matters.

Once things returned to normal, I awaited the call for a new interview. It never came. The state imposed a hiring freeze, cancelling the scheduled class of new troopers.

Now what?

One of my best friends, Ralph Ezovski, had joined the ranks of the East Providence Police Department. They were hiring. He told me to apply. I didn’t even know, in typical Rhode Island fashion, where East Providence was let alone city hall or the police department.

I declined. The State Police would call, eventually.

Undaunted, Ralph arrived with a copy of the application and convinced me to fill it out. He may have plied me with alcohol, if so it was effortless. I filled out the application, but either intentionally or subconsciously didn’t send it in.

No worries, Ralph took it and stuck it under the door of the Personnel Office the day the applications closed. I forgot about it and resumed my wait for the state police.

Several weeks later, I received a notice for the written exam for EPPD. “What the heck,” I thought, “can’t hurt.”

Cutting to the gist of the story, I passed the test, passed the agility, and passed (imagine!) the psychological test. All that remained was an interview with then Police Chief George Rocha.

“What the heck, it will be good practice,” I thought.

After the usual preliminaries, Chief Rocha said something that changed everything. Looking me in the eye, a bit of a suspicious grin on his face, he asked, “So, are you gonna run out the door as soon as the State Police hire again?”

Everyone, including myself, thought I would go to the state police. This consensus started a long time ago even if I wasn’t part of it. Somewhere I have a copy of my yearbook from Ashton School (The Scotty!) in Cumberland, RI. In it, my second grade teacher wrote, “Best of Luck to a future Rhode Island State Police Detective.” It would seem destiny had a plan for me. Not because of any talent or ability or calling, but because my father had been a trooper.

It was at that moment it all changed.

“No sir,” I said. “I applied to be an East Providence Police Officer and, if I get hired, that is what I will be.” The rest is history.

In 1979, I received a new appointment for an interview with the State Police. I turned it down. East Providence PD was, and remains to this day, one of the finest police departments in the country, and I am proud to have spent twenty years as a member of that agency.

I’m not sure if Chief Rocha believed me at the moment he asked that question about leaving. Later, when I was in a unit that reported directly to him, he asked me why I hadn’t gone to the State Police.

I smiled and said, “Because that’s what everybody expected me to do and I wanted to blaze my own trails.”

“You should have done it, kid,” the Chief said, “they make better money.”

A long time ago, notice the typewriter!

Perhaps, but I bet I never would never have done the things I did with EPPD, worked alongside outstanding EPPD officers, or created the memories I cherish, and I do not regret one moment. While I have the utmost respect for the RI State Police and had the opportunity to work many cases with some outstanding troopers and detectives, I’m glad things turned out the way they did.

I like to think there was something inside of me directing my choices, even if I have uncertainties about such things. I like to think I somehow heard those messages sending me down an unexpected path. I don’t know if I will ever know why I chose one path over the other when I came to “two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” Yet, I will be forever grateful to a changing weather pattern that put a blizzard in the path of one road, sending me down the other, less traveled.

It may not have been much of a blizzard to that guy from Buffalo, but it was a life altering experience for me. I’m not a big believer in mystical messages, kismet, karma, or any other such things. I tend toward the more rational. It’s likely I would have ignored any subtle intuitive notions. Because of this, it took a blizzard to get my attention.

************************************************************************

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

Vaccines and Conspiracy Theory: Science vs. Belief

It would seem in America people have misconstrued their First Amendment right to free speech—where the government cannot intervene, prevent, stifle, or censor the exercise thereof—to mean anything they say is of equal value to any other pronouncement and thus immune from criticism or challenge.

This “equality without evaluation” is a product of postmodernism, characterized by skepticism, subjectivism, and relativism., It is defined by a rejection of science and authority (in the expert sense) and general suspicion of reason.

In a post modernist world, anything you say, opinion you express, or contention you make is equal to any other and immune from challenge. This is about as far from reality as one can venture. In the real world, you may have the right to claim something but not the right to insist on its veracity merely because you believe it to be true.

Every man has the right to an opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. Nor, above all, to persist in errors as to facts.

Bernard Baruch

This sheltering under Free Speech is disingenuous. One cannot prevent someone from making a point, just like one cannot deny others the opportunity to refute it.

In our fantasy-infused society—where many people believe the Bible to be factually accurate, the Earth is flat, angels routinely intervene in people’s lives, and people channel omnipotent beings to heal incurable diseases (but, curiously enough, never regrow limbs)—facts have become malleable to opinion. It presents a clear and present danger to our survival.

One must keep in mind the folly of biblical literalism: what some see as the obvious meaning—in a passage translated from ancient Hebrew to ancient Greek to Old Latin to New Latin to Middle English to Modern English—others will not.

Here’s an example, albeit a bit unscientific. Using Google Translate which has no vested interest in the purpose of the translation and I believe would be at least as reliable as monks with papyrus and a stylus in a cold, candle lit room.

I started with “In the beginning…

Greek “Στην αρχή” to Hebrew: בהתחלה to Latin: initio back to English: initially.

After two thousand years of translation by humans, is the Bible in its current iteration something to believe is inerrant fact? Or to rely on for medical advice?

And yet, there is this from a 2017 Gallup poll…

Chart: data points are described in article

And from the same poll…

Still, while biblical literalism has waned, the vast majority of Americans — 71% — continue to view the Bible as a holy document, believing it is at least God-inspired if not God’s own words.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/210704/record-few-americans-believe-bible-literal-word-god.aspx

Coupling the perception that Free Speech means unchallengeable with the right to hold any faith without serious analysis or questioning of its basis or origin, imbues a perception of invincibility to any derived positions. Therein lies the danger. Yet, perhaps there is some advice we can embrace from the Bible, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” Mark 12:17 could be interpreted keep religion and secular matters separate.

Why does this matter?

America is one of the most religious of developed nations. It may be a diverse spectrum of religions, predominantly Christian, with a smaller helping of Judaism and an even smaller portion of Islam, but we are no doubt a religious nation. Just imagine the outrage if a President didn’t end every speech with God bless America.

Although the number of adherents is decreasing in terms of traditional faiths, i.e., Catholicism or mainstream Protestants, others are growing. The Evangelicals (a kinder and gentler term for Fundamentalists) and Charismatics (a marketing term coined to put a kinder imprimatur on Biblical inerrancy, speaking in tongues, and direct messaging with God and Jesus) are increasing in numbers.

Prosperity Preachers (who knew there was such a thing, must have been a different version of the Bible than the one I read) draw tens of thousands to their full-blown production services, more Hollywood than Holy. One such preacher, Joel Osteen, is worth about fifty million dollars. Kenneth Copeland, the granddaddy of the phenomenon whose fortune is between 300 and 700 million dollars, has his own airport. Life is good when God is your business agent.

Apparently they never read Mark 10:21 (“Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”)

This religiosity sets us apart from Europe, Australia, Japan, and other educated nations, putting us in line with theocracies and countries with state religions. We may have a restriction against government-sponsored religion, but we support it through forgoing taxes on church property and income. We do this, it would seem, willingly with the Judeo-Christian faith and more reluctantly with Islam, but it is a fact.

Why does this matter? Because when one blurs the line between beliefs and fact it fosters misinformation. Religion has its place as a guide to behavior. Still, when it crosses the line into the rational, secular decision-making process, it becomes indistinguishable from conspiracy theories, dark age mythology, and pseudoscience.

“The likelihood of supporting conspiracy theories is strongly predicted,” they concluded, by two key pieces of our national character that derive from our particular Christian culture: “a propensity to attribute the source of unexplained or extraordinary events to unseen, intentional forces” and a weakness for “melodramatic narratives as explanations for prominent events, particularly those that interpret history relative to universal struggles between good and evil.” (from a study entitled “Conspiracy Theories and the Paranoid Style(s) of Mass Opinion,”)

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire by Kurt Andersen

No better example of the danger of making choices based on beliefs instead of medical science exists than the myths surrounding vaccines

___________________________________________________________

The Great Vaccine Scare: How a Fabricated and Falsified “Study” Became “Fact”

In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a paper linking thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative and stabilizer then used in vaccines) to autism in children. The implication was childhood vaccinations were more dangerous than the diseases they prevented.

It was a fraud, but every con has its willing victims. Celebrities such as the wife of the late shock jock Don Imus, Deirdre Imus, embraced it and portrayed Dr. Wakefield as a martyr sacrificed by the drug companies for the sake of profit. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02989-9

You may have the right to claim something but not the right to insist on its veracity merely because you believe it to be true.

Joe Broadmeadow

The British medical society investigated Dr. Wakefield and the circumstances and methodology of his “study.” The results were startling and largely ignored by the anti-vaxx community because it didn’t comport with their belief.

“In 2010, the General Medical Counsel declared that the paper was not only based on bad science but was deliberate fraud and falsifications by the head researcher, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, and revoked his medical license. Investigators learned that a lawyer looking for a link between the vaccine and autism had paid Wakefield more than £435,000 (equal to more than a half-million dollars). https://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/do-vaccines-cause-autism

In 2004, two studies performed in the United Kingdom examined whether thimerosal in vaccines caused neurodevelopmental or psychological problems; neither found evidence that early exposure to thimerosal was harmful. The study by Thompson and coworkers in this issue of the Journal (pages 1281–1292), the third and most comprehensive to date, also found no evidence of neurologic problems in children exposed to mercury-containing vaccines or immune globulins.

Although the precautionary principle assumes no harm in exercising caution, the alarm caused by the removal of thimerosal from vaccines has been quite harmful. For instance, after the July 1999 announcement by the CDC and AAP, about 10 percent of hospitals suspended use of the hepatitis B vaccine for all newborns, regardless of their level of risk. One 3-month-old child born to a Michigan mother infected with hepatitis B virus died of overwhelming infection.” (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmp078187)

And now, amid the deadliest pandemic since the 1918 Spanish Flu, the specter of doubt about vaccines raises its ugly head once again, causing people to refuse vaccinations. Vaccines that no longer contain thimerosal or any other ingredient with even the most tenuous link to autism.

A vaccination site at Dodger Stadium in LA had to be temporarily closed because of a protest by anti-vaxxers. A bizarre and dangerous example of pitting beliefs and faith-based myths against medical science. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-01-30/dodger-stadiums-covid-19-vaccination-site-shutdown-after-dozens-of-protesters-gather-at-entrance

Photo LA Times

Not sure how receiving a vaccine places one’s soul at risk. Still, there you have it—religion blurring the lines between rationality and doctrine.

They base this vaccination fear on a lie. The conspiratorial proclivities of a significant number of Americans (and it is predominantly an American phenomenon) crashing against rationality spawning a dangerous situation.

Nothing in this world is 100% effective. Not one vaccine, not one medical procedure, not one medication comes without some side-effects or risk. But focusing on the minimal risk blinds people to the overwhelming benefit. These risks are amplified by lies, manipulations, conspiracy nonsense, and outright fraud.

If you want a risk free life, you’re living on the wrong planet, at the wrong time, as the wrong species. Life has risks. Yet, with proper medical procedures, dying is deferrable if not avoidable. There was a time when heart disease always carried a prognosis of a shortened life. Now, open heart patients are walking out of the hospital within days. Some incur complications and die, the overwhelming majority survive.

If one wants certainties, you’re unlikely to find them.

In this case, faith isn’t solely to blame. People may choose to rely on prayer—which has no evidence of efficacy—over vaccines or other treatments—which have mountains of evidence of effectiveness—because they doubt the word of scientists or the government. These beliefs lack any meaningful evidence but are proliferated by conspiratorial nonsense like Q-Anon or anecdotal examples of isolated incidents of government incompetence.

Somehow, they overlook the proof of fraud because it contradicts their beliefs or mistrust of authority.

The duplicitousness of this stance eludes them. With thimerosal, the only study that linked it to autism was fraudulent. Yet, the lie persists. The consequences are frightening. Cases of measles, rubella, whooping cough, and polio are again rising—conditions which, sometimes, can be fatal.

Now, with the increasing numbers of vaccines available to bring the COVID pandemic under control, irrational fear of vaccines based on fraud, lies, misrepresentations, and unadulterated hogwash infects society.

Here’s a great example of the nonsense circulating on social media. This from a Facebook post, but similar idiocy proliferates across multiple platforms.

Does a vaccine give you immunity…. no

Does the vaccine illuminate the virus…. no

Does the vaccine prevent death….no

Does the vaccine guarantee you won’t get it …..no

Does the vaccine prevent you from spreading it….. no

Ignoring for the moment the misused words—the least of the problems with these pronouncements—some accept this is as a rational reason to forego the COVID vaccination. The limits of our own self-inflicted stupidity know no bounds.

Yet, social media is not the problem. Once, many perceived the invention of the printing press as a danger to society. The printing of the Bible in the vernacular rather than traditional Latin opened the words to millions outside the clergy’s once exclusive confines. Both religious and secular powers feared the unleashing of knowledge would be a death knell to society.

It wasn’t, but it may have been the beginning of the end for the religious hegemony over government and society.

The same concerns hover over social media. But the newness of the phenomenon ignores people’s ability to learn how to embrace new technology. It is a new aspect to free speech, but the same strictures apply; fact trumps fiction given the proper intellectual tools.

If we focus on education—giving people the analytical skills to differentiate fact from myth—people will learn to be discerning in the material they embrace online. There will always be a tendency toward confirmation bias, but truth and rationality will rule given an opportunity.

But we need to confront those who use Free Speech as a shield for spreading lies and myths. We need to subject those who offer opinions masquerading as facts to answer the challenge, prove it. Conspiracy theories based on lies, innuendo, false logic, and ignorance led to an insurrection. If we let similar actions derail our efforts to control this and any future pandemics—something we know is inevitable—we face a bleak future.

Religion and faith have their place. They can be useful guides in our daily interaction with our fellow man. But they can also be dangerous wedges used to segregate and divide. No rational person would just pray for their child’s broken arm to heal and not treat it medically. Why would we tolerate those who spread false information about vaccines that put society at risk without challenging them?

If we don’t, our dearth of basic understanding of science and our declining ability to segregate opinion and nonsense from facts and reality will kill us all. Rationality and reason are the sine qua non to our survival.

If you choose not to receive a vaccination, it is your right. But society has the right to make decisions which are for the overall good. If you find yourself banned from travel, or your children banned from school, or your job at risk, it is not a violation of your rights, it is a consequence of your choice. The exercise of rights is not a guarantee of a lack of repercussions when those individual rights cause harm to others,

Or, at the risk of being a bit crass and flippant, you could refuse to be vaccinated and, in the words of Ebenezer Scrooge, “die and decrease the surplus population.” You have the right to choose but remember, Choices: You Make ’em You Own ’em…(the title of a good book by the way click here)

************************************************************************

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.