5621 Days in the Life and Times of a Dog

On March 22, 2021, after 5621 days of a well-led life, Ralph, our well-loved, spoiled, and enormously entertaining Yorkie, passed away.

His was a full life filled with adventure and love. But it almost didn’t happen. He started life as a reject. The pet store where we found him said he had been returned by the original buyer. Ralph turned that rejection into one fabulous life,

He is survived by his loyal and well-trained servants, Kelsey, Charles, Susan, Joe, and his fellow canine companion of somewhat suspicious origin, Seamus. While he will be sorely missed, this is not meant to be a sad elegy but a celebration of his life and times on this planet.

He was predeceased by his fellow Yorkie, Max, who, while not enjoying the same longevity as Ralph (leaving us at the tender age of nine), managed to jam much living into their time together.

Both Ralph and Max had their dark side. They hated squirrels and would hunt them like Velociraptors whenever one dared enter their yard. They both went through a brief flirtation with crime when, unable to capture and terminate with extreme prejudice a squirrel, they turned their sights on our chickens.

Yes, Ralph and Max had a period when they were a Fowl Hit Squad, dispatching chickens with remarkable efficiency. Throwing themselves on the mercy of the court, they secured a light sentence, served their time, and resumed their place in the home hierarchy…at the top.

Ralph lived in five states and visited many others.  He ran on the beach in Kiawah, climbed mountains in New Hampshire, and explored the woods of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. He had more experiences and frequent flyer miles than many humans. Once, after Max died and Kelsey and Ralph flew to Florida to meet Susan and I, we put Ralph in a stroller and snuck him into Disney.  Ralph went everywhere in those 5621 days of his life.

In his later years, Ralph enjoyed carrying a toy around the house, expecting you to follow him until he dismissed you. Not too fast, not too slow, just do what he wanted, and everyone would be happy.

When age began to take its toll, he found a way to cope.

Losing his hearing, he compensated by relying on Seamus as his guide, taking cues from Seamus as to when to bark, or get excited, or run randomly around the house for no apparent reason. While he may not have been able to hear as well, it mattered little. He always considered commands and directives as more suggestions than mandatory expectations.

“Get off the couch!” meant “if you are well rested, perhaps you’d enjoy returning to your own bed if it is your desire.”

Back in January, Ralph gave us a bit of foreshadowing of the inevitable. Injuring himself on one of his walks in the woods, his behavior had us concerned his time had come. But he recovered, and life resumed some sense of normalcy. Still, the shadows of our shared mortality grew silently longer and darker. I wrote about those moments and the joy of the delay in the inevitable. (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2021/01/11/a-life-perspective-a-one-well-lived/)

While most of the world struggled over the past year with the pandemic restrictions, Ralph enjoyed each moment since he considered everyone being at home all the time at his beck and call normal, if not Nirvana. If there is a silver lining in the cloud of these times, it was that.

Over the past few days, the change was evident. For Ralph to turn down food, something he expected every two hours, promptly and without delay, was an unequivocal statement that it was time. While we tried to look for some hopeful signs of another reprieve, it was not to be.

I firmly believe Ralph hung on through March 21st to celebrate Kelsey’s Baby shower, the imminent arrival of a new life, and enjoy his last full day of life with those who shared his.

His was a life worth living, and if the price of sharing it with him is a few days of sadness, it is a price we pay gladly. While his passing has left a hole in our hearts, time and memories will soon work their magic and fill them in.

If there is such a thing as the Rainbow Bridge, Ralph took very deliberate steps as he walked over it, stopping every few seconds to examine, reexamine, rereexamine each spot, turned this way, then that, took aim and peed on every color.

He would have it no other way, nor would I.

Go find a place in the sun, my friend, you’ve earned it.

Drug Smugglers & Love: Advice Forged from Experience

And now for something entirely different from JEBWizard Publishing.  Who better to tell the story of the ups and downs of relationships than someone who spent their time trying to enjoy life, make some money, find meaning in the universe, and stay out of prison, both foreign and domestic?

Come along for an outrageously funny and touching memoir of youthful indiscretion, dabbling with mind-altering substances, and discovering that true love is found in the most unexpected of places…

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There are not a lot of options for a college dropout in the hollers of Appalachia.

Let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of options for a college graduate in the hollers of Appalachia either.

But this is America, and the Dream is always possible. If you’re bold enough, and brave enough, to take life by the short and curlies, you can make it in America.

That’s what Jack has always been taught. At least that’s what his drug-addled mind tells him he’s been taught. And by his estimation, he has a solid partner, a solid plan, and a solid alibi. Nothing can stop him; not the Cops, not the Federales, not his prodigious drug habit, nothing. He is making his own way in this world: today a drug mule, tomorrow a drug kingpin.

The sky is the limit.

This is, of course, one of the many lies we tell ourselves when we’re smuggling narcotics across international borders. Unless we forgot to take our valium. In that case, the drug dogs at the checkpoint are really freaking us out. And we can’t help but ask, in these types of situations, the age-old questions faced by many a desperado: Which is worse – Mexican or American jail? And why haven’t I found a girlfriend?

Join Jack as he searches for answers to these questions and lies about himself and the American dream. Come along on this hilarious adventure and exposition of demons, drugs, and debauchery that may very well shape the course of his life forever. This may be the closest you can come to being a drug smuggler without risking prison, American or Mexican.

Based entirely on true lies that were told to me in the utmost of confidence.

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Pre-order your copy today https://www.amazon.com/Drug-Smugglers-Guide-Dating-Stevens-ebook/dp/B08YMR7YSF

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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.

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UnMade: Honor, Loyalty, Redemption The Movie

“The story casts a light onto the ebb and flow of a dark side of American society, a look at the forces that play havoc with the lives that go adrift on the streets of all our cities.”

Joe Broadmeadow, UnMade: Honor, loyalty, redemption

In May, 2019, a remarkable book hit bookstores across the country. It told a story unlike anything anyone could ever imagine. A story of a life marred by tragedy, violence, rage, and, ultimately, redemption. A life entangled with loneliness, prison, and the dangerous world of organized crime.

And now this incredible story is being made into a movie and documentary to tell the remarkable story of survival, not just against the odds but against all odds.

(Link to Video)

This is a glimpse at what this story revealed.

Imagine you are six years old, trembling beneath your bed, desperately looking for the one reassuring presence who can save you from your rampaging father. Your aunts and uncles will rescue you again. They will come, standing between you and the raging man who seeks to destroy your innocence.

And you will know them not by their faces, or their voices…but by their ankles. The saviors arrive and the reassuring sight of their ankles bring you hope…

Imagine you are twelve years old on Christmas Eve. Inside, all around you, families wait in quiet anticipation for the celebrations of Christmas. Trees adorned with decorations stand watch over wrapped presents waiting silently for the laughs and giggles of children, young and old.

But for you, there are no presents, no decorations, no Christmas feast. On this Christmas Eve you are alone, cold, and abandoned. Tossed from your home by your father with no one to turn to. Wandering the streets of Providence, wearing pajamas, sneakers, and a thin jacket, looking for a way to survive.

You will spend a silent night in a dark, dank basement in the Providence projects sleeping in an abandoned cardboard box.

Imagine you are sixteen years old, sentenced to adult prison. Your reputation for brutal violence draws attention from Organized Crime who lure you in and groom you to be one of them, becoming the “family” you so desperately seek. Years of working as an enforcer for the mob follow, more prison time, and narrow escapes from serious convictions.

Imagine you are being targeted, pursued, and shot by a would-be assassin. Running until you can run no more, you collapse against a car. No longer able to move, or escape. Your blood pours out as the pain bores in.

Imagine the gunman places the barrel of the gun against your forehead, smiles, and pulls the trigger. Click, the gun does not fire. Click, again. And you realize it is not your time to die. Summoning the strength you thought had abandoned you, you lunge at the gunman, chasing him away.

Imagine you survive the horrific damage to your body by that 9mm bullet. You know what you must do and how you will do it, in your own way. All the while knowing no one leaves a mob crew except by disappearing into prison, the Witness Protection program, or giving up breathing.

Imagine confronting the man who now heads Organized Crime in New England, a man unaccustomed to being told anything he did not want to hear, and telling him that letting you leave the life was best for all concerned.

And he agrees.

For Robert “Bobby” Walason, this was not imagination, this was his life, and this is his story. A story of abandonment, desperation, rebirth, and redemption.

“The story casts a light onto the ebb and flow of a dark side of American society, a look at the forces that play havoc with the lives that go adrift on the streets of all our cities.”

Joe Broadmeadow, UnMade: Honor, Loyalty, Redemption

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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.

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The Lost Art of Irony

In Melba, Idaho, a group of parents have organized a prom for the local high school because the “official” prom was cancelled due to the pandemic. While I empathize with the loss of such events like the prom and graduation exercises, the public health concerns behind the cancellations still exist. (Link to story)

While there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we aren’t there yet.

Here’s the flyer for the event.

The apparently lost irony of this private event is in the name selected to compliment the “Great Gatsby” theme.

“A Little Party Never Killed Nobody”

The theme is a line from a song by Fergie used in the movie version of the Great Gatsby but not from the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The irony of the double negative is apparently lost on the parents. They might heed an actual quote from Fitzgerald that reflects on the past, loss, and regret.

Fitzgerald wrote,

“Suddenly, she realized that what she was regretting was not the lost past but the lost future, not what had not been but what would never be.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, “A Nice Quiet Place,” The Saturday Evening Post (31 May, 1930)

Parents have a responsibility to temper youthful wants with reality. They need to instill a sense of perspective that measures the risk against the loss. These are difficult times. More Americans have died during the pandemic than in the wars of the 20th century when America bore its burden proudly and with determination. That burden lasted years, we’ve barely made it one.

A whole bunch of them never got proms either.

If the parents want to give their children a lasting memory, make it one that has lasting meaning. A prom for most is something that will fade into the past, the memories overwritten by life. It is hardly a higher purpose worth risking lives.

The reality may be they could hold this prom and nothing would happen. It is the most probable outcome. Or, they could steal the opportunity for a long life from a young person for the sake of one memory. The words “a little party never killed nobody” may have melded well in the song, and may have fit the theme of the movie, but it is a poor justification for risking someone’s future.

The parents might be better served to take a quote from Oscar Wilde to heart before they go through with their plans.

“Experience is merely the name men give to their mistakes.”

Oscar Wilde, The Portrait of Dorian Gray

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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.

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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.

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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.   

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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