Monday, July 25, 2016

Cola Wars Dedux

By the time I post this, the Republican National Convention (Republic-Con) will be over and the Democratic National Convention (Demo-Con) will have started, and I have a few things to say about these two pretenders to the throne.

I was a teenager in the 1980’s and as such I was subjected to a nightly barrage of “cola war” commercials.

Most young people today won’t remember the cola wars, so I’ll tell you what they were.  Toward the end of the 1970’s and on into the ‘80’s, Pepsi Cola started an ad campaign that they called “The Pepsi Challenge.”  It involved a blind taste test, where participants drank from two cups of cola, one filled with Pepsi and the other with Coke.  They were then asked which tasted better.  In the commercials, of course, they always showed that the participants chose Pepsi.

The point of this is, that the idea of the Pepsi Challenge, that there are only two choices, is flawed.  The Cola War assumed that Coke and Pepsi were the only two cola-like soft drinks.  They banked on the assumption that you, the American consumer, were unaware that there were and are other options.
Shasta, makes a pretty good cola, and it will cost you about a dollar less per bottle.  RC Cola, bottled by the Dr. Pepper company, (also a very fine choice, by the way), has a very unique flavor that I almost prefer to Coke or Pepsi.  Although not truly a cola, per se, Moxie is probably one of the oldest cola-like soft drinks out there and has a flavor that is probably more different than anything you have ever tried.

Some of these other cola brands may be a little hard to find.  You may need to do some research, look around, walk into specialty stores rather than your local mega-mart, be informed, but once you find one of these smaller brands, the experience and rewards will be so worth the effort.

I hope that you are understanding my analogy here.  If not, let me be very blunt.

Last week, while listening to my local NPR station, they were interviewing some Republican hack from the floor of Republic-Con and he kept saying that the American People have two choices.  That they can vote for, either, Donald or Hillary.



To my way of thinking, the American People have at least four choices (although it’s probably closer to six).
Americans can choose between Donald and Hillary, of course.
But they also have Gary Johnson from the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein from the Green Party.

That’s way more than just 2 choices!  But do the American voters know that?  No!
Why?  Because the two major parties don’t want you to know about the other candidates.  That’s why.

It’s the Cola Wars Redux… American politics style.

What if the political taste test (We’ll call it the Demo-Challenge) comes up with a “neither” answer.

Unbiased poll taker: “Which do you prefer cup ‘A’ or cup ‘B’?”
Average American Voter: “Well, they both are pretty nauseating, but ‘A’ totally made me toss my cookies, so I’ll choose ‘B’.”
Unbiased poll taker: “Did you know that there are two other choices? Why don’t you try cups ‘C’ and ‘D’?”
Average American Voter: “Wow! ‘D’ is very tasty! But ‘D’ has no chance of winning, so I’ll stick with ‘B’, the one that can win, and didn’t quite make me throw up.”

Where is the logic in that?

Republic-Con, just ended, and the hall was filled with people who like Trump & people who don’t like Trump, but who will vote for him because he’s not Hillary. There were also a few people there, the Utah delegation comes to mind, who do not like Trump, and because of that, they got death threats.  I’m not even joking about that.

Donald Trump’s acceptance speech was dark, designed to make us afraid.  Now, I’m not one to sit here and tell you that the country is all full of wine and roses.  We have a lot of problems, but Trump didn’t offer a single policy idea that would change things, all he said (in a nutshell) is that America is circling the bowl and the people who flushed it are the immigrants, Muslims, and the Democrats.

Donald is banking on your fear, and so will Hillary.  I guarantee it.

It is time for Americans to wake up to the dog and pony shows that are Republic-Con and Demo-Con.  It is time for a 3rd and 4th party.  It is time to force the major media to cover the campaigns of down-ticket candidates, and inform American voters of the other choices for president.
It is time for Americans to take back their country and to reject the two major parties.

Vote 3rd party!  Your satisfaction guaranteed or return for a full refund.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Time for a Third Party?

I’ve found that there are quite a few Americans out there who feel trapped by the political process and have no idea which of the two underwhelming candidates to vote for this November.  If they vote for the Republican, they will be voting for a blow hard bigot and if they vote for the Democrat, they will be voting for an untrustworthy uber-politician.
There are many Americans who just can’t stomach either one.
I could be one of those undecided voters who just don’t know who to vote for and may just stay home this November.

For years we’ve been saying that it’s time for America to have a third party but the rules and policy changes that would allow a third party are constantly being blocked by the two major parties.

If a third party were ever to get a foothold, the two other parties would lose power and influence, and that would be like a nightmare to them and something that they just can’t allow to happen.  So, they create laws and policies to keep other parties from getting on the ballot, the major news outlets, in thrall to the two parties, create policies to keep the smaller parties from getting into the debates and give only minimal coverage to their campaigns, thus giving them no exposure, and no chance that they will make any kind of a difference to the country.  When they do cover any of the 3rd parties, the stories have a condescending “oh how cute” feel to them.

Recently, I received an email from one of the third party candidates informing me that they were trying to get on the ballot in Georgia and that in order to do so, they needed $30,000, the reason was that Georgia doesn’t recognize 3rd party candidates, so, in order for the candidate to be on the ballot in Georgia, the party needed to collect 15,000+ signatures, and then the state had to verify the signatures and would be charging the campaign $2 per signature to verify.
That is beyond ridiculous!  Who set up those rules?  State elected officials who are more beholden to the party they belong to than the country they are supposed to serve.

In a country that says that it honors free and open elections, any legitimate political party should be able to get their chosen candidate on the ballot.  To do otherwise is a disservice to the laws and traditions that made this country great.

Until the two major parties get punched in the nose by the American people, nothing will change.

For years, I have touted the idea of never voting for an incumbent with the idea of firing the career politicians.  I’ve modified my ideas on the subject.

NEVER vote for a republican or a democrat, ever, unless there are no other choices.  Let’s not just fire the career politicians, let’s fire the oppressive parties that back those do-nothing politicians.

Those who remember back to when Ross Perot ran for president back in 1992 as a third party candidate will recall that he ended up splitting the conservative vote, and putting President Bill Clinton in the White House.  Since then, voters worry about doing that again, and so, instead of finding a candidate (from any party) that best reflects their ideas, they plug their noses and vote against the candidate that least reflects their ideas.  They vote for the lesser of two evils.

Well, voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.
Those of you who plan to vote for Trump because you can’t stomach Secretary Clinton, or vice versa, are voting for evil.  Plain and simple, you are perpetuating the problem.  So you have a choice:
  1. Vote for evil and perpetuate the problem
  2. Stay home and not vote at all.
  3. Find a 3rd party candidate who best represents you and your ideals.

This year there are two perfectly viable candidates for president who are not Republican or Democrat, and who, represent conservatives and liberals better than the two major parties.

Gary Johnson is from the Libertarian Party.  He’s a former Republican Governor of New Mexico.  I really don’t know much more about him other than he seems to hold up the traditional conservative values without being a lunatic (I’m looking at Trump when I say that.)
You can find out about him at

Jill Stein is the candidate for the Green Party.  If you were a Bernie Sanders supporter, like I was, Stein should make you all kinds of happy because she stands for just about everything that he did.  I like Jill Stein, and I plan to vote for her this November.
You can find out about her at

By throwing my hat in with Jill Stein, am I throwing away my vote on someone who cannot win? Many will say that.  The way I look at it is this.  I am voting my conscience. I am voting the way our founders envisioned our elections.  They didn’t design this system to be a sporting event, all of us sitting in front of the televisions with beer and pizza watching the states fall to blue or red, cheering our side.

Every year I watch Utah turn red with 0% of the returns counted, because Utah is a traditionally Red State.  This year, Mormons just can’t stomach Trump, but without another candidate, they may just stay home, leaving the conservative wack-jobs to vote for Trump.  If my fellow Mormons would just get out and vote for Stein or Johnson, the news outlets wouldn’t know what to do!

Wouldn’t it be great if on election night, the news people called Utah Red, and then later that night had to back off their prediction?  Oh my gosh that would be so awesome!  I would love to see Utah go Green, or whatever color they decide to make the Libertarians.  If it’s going to happen, this is the year to do it.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Enough of the Rah-Rah

The 4th of July is Tomorrow, and this is the one holiday of the year that I do not look forward to in any way.  In fact, for anyone who is not proud to be an American, the 4th of July is downright painful.
And the fact that I’m a Mormon makes it just that much worse.
In the LDS church (in the US, at least) the sunday closest to the 4th is dedicated to talks about the wonderfulness of the USA, patriotic hymns, and the divine origins of the US Constitution.
And while the rest of the congregation seems to be feeling the spirit testify the truthfulness of such statements, I feel nothing.  Nothing at all.  In fact, all I really feel is sadness for the direction that our country has taken.
240 years ago, I’m sure that the men who signed the Declaration of Independence felt a nervous optimism about where this new country would be going in the future.  I’m sure that they never anticipated the corruption that they were actually releasing on the world.
I’m sure that they hoped that there would be no career politicians.  No rich old men and women who would spend most of their lives in Washington selling their votes to the highest bidder; or evil oligarchs (ie Congress) who would care more for the power of their political party than the needs of their constituents.
I’m sure that they would have never expected that the people of this country would play along with Washington corruption, content to wave the flag and support their political party and demonize the opposing party as long as they have a job and food on the table.
Last night, my family stopped at the Riverton City Park to watch the fireworks.  It was a fun time, but all night I sat feeling only contempt for my countrymen cheering the national anthem like it was their team’s fight song.  Cheering the USA as the greatest country on the planet, all evidence to the contrary.
The thing that makes me the most sad, is that, if we as Americans keep cheering our country as the greatest in the world, nothing will ever change for the better.
So on this 4th of July, I’m going to tell my countrymen a few things that I’m sure they do not want to hear.
  1. The USA is a fallen empire.
  2. There is only one thing that the US is the greatest at: Incarceration.
  3. We used to vote people into office who cared about the people more than their own personal power.  That hasn’t happened in a long time.
  4. We are selling our children’s future to the highest bidder by not balancing the national books.
  5. Come this January we are going to have one of two people on the White House.  Who will you be voting for?
    1. The narcissistic criminal
    2. The narcissistic nazi
    3. Does it matter which one we get?
  6. Your freedoms are being taken away, but like the frog in a slowly warming pot of water, you fail to notice.
  7. You no longer live in a democratic republic.  As long as you continue to vote for the incumbents, you will continue to be ruled by an oligarchy.
  8. We have turned our backs on God, and as long as we continue to do so, we will never again be the shining light on the hill to the rest of the world.  Without God, we will only continue to fall into chaos and tyranny.
  9. We all need to wake up and realize that the USA is not the greatest country in the world, but that it could be again, if we just change our thinking.  Stop cheering our side, roll up our sleeves, and get to work changing things.
  10. Nothing will ever change until all primary elections are free and open.  Political parties should never be able to tell citizens who can and cannot vote in their primaries.  It’s just this kind of closed elections that gave us the two presidential candidates that we have.

That’s all I have to say.
Have a safe and happy 4th.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Why I Will Not Say the Pledge of Allegiance

Memorial day is over and it has left me with some things on my mind. Much like the 4th of July, memorial day is filled with nationalistic ideas and patriotic feelings consisting almost entirely about the USA being the greatest country on the planet, but, there are never any actual facts presented to back up the cheers. It's like we're cheering on our favorable baseball team as being the best in the league, despite the fact that their starting pitcher only has a 78mph fastball, no curveball, and the team hasn’t won the world series since 1922.  But they’re still the best, as is, so the analogy goes, the United States.

Now look, I am grateful for the freedoms I have in this country and for the men and women who fought and died for those freedoms, but those freedoms and that history is not unique to the US. There are many countries throughout the world that I could move to and have virtually the same freedoms that I enjoy here, but I digress. I am grateful that in the past, the US has been a shining light on a hill, that because of the example of the USA, many people throughout the world have virtually the same freedoms that we have, but lately, that light, that shining beacon on a hill, has been greatly dimming and now, in my opinion, what is left of that shining beacon is but a flickering candle.  That small flickering light only serves as a warning to other western countries about what can happen to a nation whose political ideologies divide the people and drive a wedge so deep that compromise and bipartisanship become literally impossible.

Forget economy or educational standing or poverty or prison population or crumbling infrastructure, forget all of that. Our inability to work together is what has turned us into a second rate country, and I think that I’m being generous with rating us in 2nd.  There are days that I’d say we are lucky to get 4th rate status.
This is one of the reasons that I refuse to say the pledge of allegiance, refuse to salute the flag and consider myself an expat, even though I still live in this country.  I may be an American on paper, but I consider myself nationless.
Here's an example of what I’m talking about.
Just before the primary elections here in Utah,  I wrote something about my wish, my desire, for open primary elections. An election where all citizens, regardless of party, could cast their vote for the best candidate in any party. What could be more American than that? Right?
Well, I had the temerity to post that desire on Facebook.
Do you know that I actually got flak from several conservative “friends,” including my little brother. They had the audacity to tell me that primary elections should never be free and open.  They basically told me that if I didn’t want to register with a major party then I should just sit down and shut up.  That I could vote for whoever THEY told me that I could vote for.
That is seriously frakked up!  That, is really un-American, in my opinion.
So why do I refuse to say the pledge? Let me explain by analyzing the text, the real message in the pledge of allegiance.
“I pledge…”
What is a pledge? A pledge is a solemn oath. A sacred promise that you make before God and you will be judged accordingly if that oath is broken.
What are you promising when you say those two opening words?
Absolute fidelity. To God? No. Then to who?
“to the flag of the United States of America...”
To the fabric? To the symbol printed on it? To the land? To the geographical boundaries? To the people? No, no, no… none of that. You are not pledging allegiance to any of those things, not to God, country, apple pie, or Mother. So who or what are you pledging allegiance to?
“and to the republic, for which it [the flag] stands…”
a Republic is a form of government, period. A republic is not the country, it’s not the flowing waves of grain, or the purple mountains. A Republic is a form of government, and nothing more. By reciting the pledge you are pledging your allegiance, before God, that you will have complete fidelity, loyalty, and obedience to the Government of the United States. By reciting the pledge of allegiance, you are making a sacred oath of absolute loyalty to that screwed up, corrupt, mob of oligarchs in Washington D.C.  And that is all, now how does that make you feel?
Over the winter, a group of right wing wack-jobs took over a wildlife sanctuary in Oregon stating that they were fighting government overreach all while pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States Government, the symbol (read: Logo) of that which they were fighting against. If the occupy movement were waking up every morning and pledging allegiance to the logo of JP Morgan Chase we’d all think that they had lost their marbles. But pledging allegiance to the government that you are fighting against, that makes you a patriot.
Does that make any sense at all?
“One nation, indivisible…”
Unable to be divided? I have news for you, we are divided.  
Democrats vs. Republicans
White vs. Black
Rich vs. Poor
European ancestry vs. All other ancestries
Religious vs. Non-religious
Gay vs. Straight
Flag wavers vs. Non-flag wavers
Trump supporters vs. Hillary supporters vs. Bernie supporters vs. The other guy supporters
Coke vs. Pepsi
Ford vs. Chevy
Jocks vs. Geeks
Fill in your own division here.
I don’t think that there has ever been a time since the civil war that we have been this divided.
You’ll notice that I may have forgotten “..under God...” well the truth is, that we might as well take that part out of the pledge, because Americans are turning their backs on God.
According to the PEW Research Center, only 37% of Americans go to church weekly and that number is dropping year to year.  So the answer is no, I didn’t forget “under God,” but America has.
“with liberty and justice for all.”
Where do I go with this one?
I’ll start with the “for all” because that’s the biggest lie in the pledge.  The word “All” means: encompassing the entirety, without exception, without the loss of a single part, everything and everyone.  All.
But we don’t believe in liberty and justice for ALL, now do we.  We believe in us, and them.  We belong here in this place because our grandparents came here, that makes us, US. But them, they are the other, they don’t belong here, they aren't like us because their grandparents didn’t come here, they stayed there, so they don’t belong here with us, they need to stay there with them, in their place.  It doesn’t matter to us that they are living in war torn lands, or are facing starvation and death.  Their grandparents should have thought about that then, now there is no place for them with us.
Follow me?
We don’t believe in liberty and justice for all, we believe in liberty and justice for us.
Look at the words before you swear an oath, just as you should read the fine print before signing a contract.

Think about it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Now... Which Restroom Do I Use?

For the most part, this is such a ridiculous topic.  And why we’re discussing it in 2016, is beyond me.
But, the topic just keeps getting breached everywhere I go, at work, at church, on social media, while riding on the bus.  We’re talking everywhere.
A couple of weeks ago, it was being discussed on the radio and my wife asked me what my thoughts were on the topic.  I really didn’t have an answer for her because I really hadn’t given it any thought.
So all last week, I did give it some thought and at the end of my contemplation, I decided that both sides are wrong.
Let me explain.
Right now North Carolina is in a court battle over the use of restroom, changing, and shower facilities, requiring patrons to use the room that corresponds to the gender appearing on their birth certificate.  The law stinks, and I’ll tell you why.  It has the distinct odor of Jim Crow.  “You can’t use this room, you have to go to your separate but equal room.  And, are there going to be black trench-coated guards at the restroom doors checking your birth certificate before you can enter to relieve yourself?  “Paper’s Please.” And if you’re transgender, “It would appear that your papers are not in order, you must come with us.”
Is this where we’re headed?
There is something decidedly unamerican about such an idea, and yet North Carolina is doing it anyway.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a pretty private person and when I walk into a men’s room and find that there are no dividers between the urinals, I just hold it, or I walk into a stall and use that. I’m just not comfortable with peeing in public, no matter what gender the person standing next to me proclaims themselves to be.
The same goes for showers.  I have to have a shower curtain or some other kind of divider.  Those single pole, “prison” style showers are horrific to me and I will find any reason to not use one or will wait until the place is empty before taking a very quick shower, lest anyone happen to wander in.
This is the basis for my idea that the Pro-Trans Restroom people are wrong as well.  Yes, they have the law behind them in equal rights legislation and they don’t seem to understand where the resistance is coming from.
Look, what the pro people are fighting against is not (necessarily) bigotry or other form of hate, it is the fact that they are fighting against basic norms and mores (possibly taboos, which are far more immovable) in American society.  And so, when people hear that there may be a person who is biologically the opposite gender sitting in the stall next to them or could be showering at the same pole, they get weirded out.  It’s not bigotry, it’s societal training.  You pro people are pushing against social mores and those mores are going to push back.

So here’s my prescription for the debate.  Patience.  Both sides need to take a step back and breath.
Conservatives and anti folk, you all need to wake up to the fact that this is happening.  Equal protection under the law is a tenant of the constitution that you profess to love, and it applies to everyone, regardless of gender identity and this is a fight that you will not win.
As for you LGBT, and pro people, have patience.  Social norms and mores are hard to break but the good news, for you, is that they can be changed, it just takes time.  You can’t push it until it breaks, or people who hold those mores will flip out.  It’s not bigotry, it’s society.

There you go, my opinion on the topic.  Take it for what it’s worth.  I know that it sounds like I’m on the pro side, but as I said before, I’m not on either side.  I may have to choose a side eventually, but probably not.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Do you mind if I don’t talk politics for a minute?
You don’t mind?  Nice…

Since FanX 2016 just got over a week or so ago, I thought that I’d post a bit about my thoughts on Salt Lake Comic Con.

In 2013, Salt Lake City got its very own Comic Con.  Two aging nerds, Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, got together, got funding, and made a plan. It seemed to be an instant hit with around 72,000 attendees. I skipped that year, mostly due to money, time, and lack of interest (I didn’t want to be just another sheep in the nerdy crowd.  I know, don’t judge).  I admit, as much as I dump on Hollywood and the fakery that goes on there, I’m a total fanboy for actors I like who have appeared in movies that I watch over and over.
That first year, they were able to cobble together some greying, C-List guests.  They did get Shatner though, and that was pretty impressive.
The following year, they started off the year with something they called “FanX.” I really think that the organizers just wanted to keep the momentum going and figured that they could do that by offering another convention 6 months after their successful debut.
Well, FanX took off as well, and has become a pretty popular event, mostly because they tend to listen to the fans, take poles to find out who the fans would like to see, and they limit the tickets so that it is a smaller event.  I like that.
The one thing that I don’t like about SLCC’s set up, and I must be honest here, is that they have a tiered ticketing system that I have not seen on other convention’s web sites.
At SLCC you can buy passes per day, or a single pass for all 3 days.  But if you really want to shell out the dough, you can purchase a “Gold” pass that allows you to get into the expo hall an hour before the proles in general admission.  The “Gold” people aren't so bad, but the people who really opened up their wallets are the “VIP” pass people.  Some are cool and don’t cause any problems, but I’ve found that a vast majority of them are ass-hats.  They’ve paid a ton of money for their purple wrist band so that they can stand in special (shorter) lines and they are going to take it out on all of the volunteers, the vendors, and on any of the little people who piss them off.  Whenever I see a complaint in the comments section of the SLCC website or on social media, it’s always a “VIP” pass holder who thinks that they paid too much and didn’t get enough from it.
I really do think that SLCC should do away with the VIP and Gold passes, but I also realize that they make a lot of money from these people.
Rumors have been flying around the interwebs that Salt Lake Comic Con (SLCC) is moving their FanX expo out of Utah, and out of the United States.  Infact, that they are taking it to Asia.
I usually don’t pay much attention to rumors being floated on social media, but this one had the ring of truth.  Some time ago FanX and Funco Pop partnered up to take FanX on the road, and do a couple of conventions in Thailand, China, and somewhere else in Asia.  But there has never been an announcement about doing away with FanX in Utah.
So where did the rumor start?
I’m not sure, but I have an idea.
Ever since SLCC started, they have been very giving to the geek community in Utah.  The 501st, Rebel Legion, Droid Builders, Ghostbusters,  Utah Browncoats, Umbrella Corp, I’m sure that I’m forgetting others, have all been invited as special guests and given generous booth space to set up jail cells, photo backdrops, cantinas, all sorts of stuff.  On top of that, each group was offered times and rooms to do small panels so that they could build membership, which would then build interest in SLCC.  It was a mutual win-win.
This year’s FanX was a little different.  Booth space was very stingy and as much as I looked on the schedule, I could not find panels for each of the groups.  One of the Mandalorian Mercs told me that they only had a single panel for Star Wars fandom in general.
So I really think that the idea that FanX was leaving Utah, originated with members of the fan groups who kind of felt slighted and were trying to figure out what had changed at SLCC.
Now, if FanX left Salt Lake, and we were left with only SLCC every September, I wouldn’t be too upset.  The fact is, it’s hard for my family to do two conventions every year.  They’re expensive.
But there are several people who were really upset about the rumor, and who started blaming everyone under the sun (as we normally do, here in Utah), including the LDS church, Republicans, LGBT’s, Grandmothers, Elves, Gnomes, and Klingons for the change.
But, it seems that the rumor mill is wrong, once again.
Just this morning, Bryan Brandenburg posted on his facebook wall:
So, there you go.
No FanX, per se, but something really awesome in the works.

Better start saving my pennies… again.

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