As if there weren’t enough political fireworks occurring in Washington, you can bet that Apple will find itself involved, somehow. It all started with what I’ve been calling Throttlegate, the faux scandal that erupted when it was discovered that older iPhones, with failing batteries, were running a lot slower.
It was easy to attach a conspiratorial angle to this development, the theory that Apple deliberately reduced performance on older iPhones to trick you into buying a new one. But it was also discovered that the mere act of replacing the battery fixed the problem.
Apple admitted that it was doing this to regulate power utilization, and thus prevent a possible sudden shut down problem. Supposedly this was done to allow for smoother performance, though it’s obvious that customers should have been alerted as to what was really going on. It’s also curious why iOS doesn’t present an interface to check battery health.
The follow-up message was more detailed, with references to support documents that explained battery technology and its limitations in a consumer-friendly way. Apple dropped the price of replacement batteries from $79 to $29 until the end of 2018, but that evidently wasn’t good enough for some. There are a number of pending class action lawsuits against Apple.
I don’t think that Apple should be giving away free batteries with normal wear and tear. That should only be done for defective product, though I can still see where Apple wanted to be generous with customers to compensate for not fully explaining what it was doing and why.
On the other hand, anyone who replaced the battery in the month or two ahead of the announcement ought to get a rebate. If someone can demonstrate that they went ahead and bought a new iPhone because they wrongly believed the old one was broken, perhaps they should get a refund. But I can’t see how that could be proven. Perhaps just allow people a few extra weeks to return their devices for a refund.
But you know that the powers that be in Washington, D.C. are poised to make political hay of the situation.
So there’s a published report that Senator John Thune of South Dakota, who is chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, wrote a letter to Apple demanding an explanation.
In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Senator Thune stated, “…even if Apple’s actions were indeed only intended to avoid unexpected shutdowns on older phones, the large volume of consumer criticism leveled against the company in light of its admission suggests that there should have been better transparency with respect to these practices.”
All right, they are being attacked for not properly communicating with customers. Apple isn’t the first tech company to be guilty of not providing adequate support information about a maintenance update. The letter also asks that Apple explain whether models previous to the iPhone 6, or the newest models, will be similarly throttled. And why not give the battery away free?
To me, this is little more than political posturing. Apple has already apologized for failing to provide sufficient information, and has promised to do better. There will reportedly be an iOS update this year that will allow you to check battery health on your iPhone and iPad, so you’ll know when it needs to be replaced.
But I understand where one might try to gain brownie points, or believe they might, by putting Apple on the carpet. All Senator Thune is doing, however, is just repeating what’s already been written on the subject, including Apple’s promises to do better.
Maybe he should be writing to Microsoft and asking why they released a patch for the CPU bug, fixing the Spectre flaw, which bricked some older PCs with AMD chips in them. We’re talking there about computers that were rendered inoperable. Whatever you say about what Apple did, all the affected iPhones continued to work. What about Samsung’s handling of the battery flaws that resulted in overheated and smoking batteries in the now-discontinued Galaxy Note 7? They were recalled twice before the company pulled the plug. Is it because Samsung is a foreign company? Well, its hardware still had to receive FCC certification to be sold in the U.S.
Again, I understand why customers who bought batteries at full price from Apple, or a third-party reseller, should get a partial rebate. But it makes no sense to give them away free unless they are defective and the unit is under warranty, and that’s not what is being claimed. Besides, if there were batches of defective batteries that failed even after the original warranty expired, Apple would no doubt make some accommodation to be certain they were replaced at no charge.
I suppose one can suggest that Apple needs to be punished for allegedly misleading customers, although the real “crime” was failing to explain the workaround to deal with the problem of sudden iPhone shutdowns. But it’s not as if the U.S. Congress expects to force a company to give away free smartphone batteries. Maybe call on the Federal Trade Commission next and squander the public’s money on a probe?
In any case, I suspect that Cook will probably write to the Senator, make appropriate assurances of good behavior, there will be some headlines and that, as they say, will be that.
“Just because you’re not using N word, harboring Ill will toward black doesn’t mean you’re not racist.” –Oprah Winfrey
If you remember right, it was one month ago that I had stated on my radio program, “You can mark my words. They will attempt to put Oprah Winfrey in the people's’ White House in some capacity.”
And now, we are here.
Before we begin, I need to make one quick point before going into detail. From coast to coast, from city to city, from state to state, and from first-hand experience, I do not see what the CIA-controlled media is continuously spewing out when it comes to racial issues which, for the most part, are a thing of the past.
This is an issue that is water under the bridge and does not belong to the up and comings of the last 6 decades. Yet, there is an all-out attempt to use people of a revengeful nature, who have never experienced what they decry, in an attempt to bring about more division.
They found this is one such person, Oprah Winfrey.
First, I would like to make you aware of what President Roosevelt said back in the 1930’s.
“In Politics, nothing happens by accident, if it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”
He is also known for saying:
“Presidents are selected, not elected.” (Jeremiah 11:9)
Let me show you how this works. Do you not remember when Oprah Winfrey did a show with Donald Trump while planting the seeds back in 1988 concerning the possibility of a run for the presidency?
Apparently, the favor had been returned when Donald Trump was asked by Larry King, "Do you have a vice presidential candidate in mind?"
"Oprah, I love Oprah,” Trump replied. “Oprah would always be my first choice."
People need to understand that Oprah has been groomed over the past decades and has been placed in this position for reasons that are now unfolding before your very eyes (Matthew 4:9).
Let me ask you, how do you know who Oprah Winfrey is? Did you come to know her via the aisle at the grocery store, where her magazines are placed right before your eyes, or was it the 25 years of exposure on her television program, which aired from September 8, 1986 to May 25, 2011? Or is it Oprah’s new position as a correspondent for 60 Minutes?
If television was not the source that she was exposed to you on, maybe it was the movies?
The Hundred Foot Journey (Movie) 2014
Selma (Movie) 2014
The Great Debaters (Movie) 2007
Oprah Winfrey Presents: Their Eyes Were Watching God (TV Show)
Their Eyes Were Watching God (TV Show) Beloved (Movie) 1998
Somehow, Oprah is now dominating the Golden Globes. Where she is being pushed as a candidate for the 2020 presidential run.
Everyone, for the most part, knows who Oprah Winfrey is. The CIA-controlled media would have you know who she is. After all, they have labeled Oprah as the “most influential woman in the world!”
Do not forget that these are the same people that have given her the exposure needed, as well as the opportunities that have been taken advantage of by getting her into the position that she now enjoys (Mark 8:36).
Do you see where this is going? Good, let’s now talk of her possible run for the people’s White House.
Do an internet search on her run for the presidency and you will find the major networks are reporting in a supportive and favorable manner for a run in 2020.
NBC honors Oprah Winfrey as “our future president.”
When looking to Oprah Winfrey, that is when she is not paling around with Harvey Weinstein or George Soros, one must consider her overwhelming support for the most corrupt administration in the history of America, criminal and “race baiting” Barack Hussein Obama (Proverbs 26:8).
Remember, “Birds of a feather, flock together.”
Also, we can see that the apple does not fall too far from the tree when they all have the same divisive talking points: Oprah Winfrey, Barack Hussein Obama, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Colin Kaepernick. What is the difference?
Pay close attention to what Oprah has been spewing out over the years leading up to the present?
The Washington Examiner reported:
A correspondent for the BBC asked her if she felt that racism was the reason some Americans opposed Obama and his policies. Oprah, the one person responsible, more than any other, for Obama being president, of course said yes.
But she said much more than that. Specifically, she said this when asked if the problem of racism in America had been solved:
“Of course the problem [of racism] is not solved. ... As long as there are people who still— there’s a whole generation — I say this, you know, I said this, you know, for apartheid, South Africa, I said this for my own, you know, for my own community in the South — there are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die.”
In one quick, thoughtless breath, Oprah added another tenant to Libthink: Not only are all racists white, but they also need to “just die,” every last one of them.
It is of interest to note that the media promotes Oprah as the “voice for the people.”
Apparently, she means to be the voice for the people of color as she attempts to drive the wedge of division among all people (Acts 17:26; Matthew 12:25).
These revengeful people are in a struggle for power, what they fail to realize is, black power is just as dangerous as white power. BEWARE Americans.
Finally, let me be clear that there is nothing wrong with success. Oprah Winfrey’s net worth of $3.2 billion, I’m sure, was hard-earned. I understand that one does not get to the top of the mountain by falling there, but the fact of the matter is that you have anti-American forces in place that support her every move and position, and those forces are aimed at “fundamentally transforming” this country (Isaiah 5:20).
I don’t normally write a sports column, but a few words would seem appropriate after Alabama’s startling victory this past Monday night in the College Football Championship game. Simply put, love him or hate him, Alabama head coach Nick Saban is the best college coach in football today, and maybe the best college coach ever.
Now, many LSU football fans don’t want to hear this and seem to be consumed by an abhorrence of the former Tiger coach who took LSU to a national championship back in 2003. Saban left the Bayou State for what he considered greener pastures in the NFL, then returned to the Southeast Conference to take the head coaching job at Alabama. Many LSU fans consider Saban a traitor for taking on the post coaching the Tiger’s archrival.
But the proof is in the pudding, and Saban has now won six national titles, tying former Alabama coach Bear Bryant’s all time record. So what’s the reason for Saban’s success? Simply put, he is unquenchable in his approach and commitment to coaching. And losing, in Saban’s mind, is never an option. In fact, one can argue that he hates losing more than he loves winning.
His entire focus is preparation for the next game or next season. I know one of his assistant coaches here in Baton Rouge who told me he felt embarrassed taking off Christmas Day or any other holiday, knowing full well that Coach Saban would be in the football office that day at LSU. His only hobby is coaching football.
A story I heard from a close friend of Saban is an example of his insatiable commitment to coaching. Both Saban and his friend were out to dinner on a Saturday evening with their wives. About 10:30 pm, Saban’s cell phone rang. The coach excused himself from the table and stepped outside the restaurant, staying on the phone for almost 30 minutes.
Later, as they were leaving the restaurant, Saban’s friend asked him was there any problem because of long phone call. No, Saban responded. It was just one of his recruits who was calling to talk about a personal problem. Saban said he gave all his recruits his private cell number and told them he was always available to talk about football or any personal matter. Now how many coaches at major college programs will give out their personal cell phone number to a high school recruit? Simple. A coach like Nick Saban who wants to be number one.
In 2012, Alabama played LSU for the College National Championship at the Superdome in New Orleans. Our family had booked early rooms at the Hilton hotel, which was also the team hotel for LSU. Many of the players were on our same floor, and the night before the game, they were hanging out with girlfriends and cruising throughout the hotel. Nothing rambunctious, but just “hanging out” before the game. One of the players told me they had no team meetings scheduled the night before kick off.
Coach Saban had bused the Alabama team to a movie theater outside of town that was owned by my father-in-law. Saban’s office had called to arrange for a private showing of the World War II movie, “Red Tails,” about a black flying squadron who faced long odds fighting German air attacks. After the movie, Coach Saban went up on the stage and repeated word for word the movie’s rallying cry.
“From the last plane, to the last bullet, to the last minute, to the last man, we fight!”
Last Monday night, Coach Saban’s Alabama team was behind the entire game until the last second of the overtime. They fought and fought as Saban’s intense energy and coaching momentum urged his players on. In Nick Saban’s words, “to the last minute, to the last man, we fight!”
His team did just that, and Alabama continues its reign as America’s premier college football program. These are the reasons why Coach Saban is simply the best college coach today, and perhaps the best there ever was.
“I always ask myself the question, do you like to win or do you hate to lose?" -- Nick Saban
Peace and Justice
The holidays flew by us way too quickly and left the wind chill in its wake. Unfortunately with all the hustle and bustle this time of year, we tend to forget how dangerous the weather can be. It would make sense to stay indoors, and for the most part we do….except for New Years. All rules go out the door with this party. The most exciting night of the year can sometimes be the coldest night of the year. And the party ends up outside. And do we don a ski mask, goggles, gloves, galoshes, thermal underwear, winter coat and earmuffs? No. That would make the most unsexy New Year’s outfit.
Throw some alcohol into the mix and this can be a deadly combination. The CDC estimates that 1300 deaths occur each year due to hypothermia. So what is hypothermia?
Hypothermia is a dangerous drop in body temperature and can occur in minutes. Human body temperature averages around 98.6 degrees F. But hypothermia starts setting in at 95 degrees F with shivering, increase respiratory and heart rate, and even confusion. We forget that glucose stores get used up quickly so hypoglycemia can ensue as well, making matters worse, especially in someone who is intoxicated. Frostbite can occur as blood flow decreases to the tips of the ears, fingers, nose and toes. As hypothermia progresses, the shivering and muscle contractions strengthen, skin and lips become pale, and confusion worsens. This can lead to severe hypothermia, eventually causing heart failure and/or respiratory failure, leading to a coma and if not reversed, death.
Someone who is hypothermic may slur their speech, stammer around and appear uncoordinated. This sounds identical to your drunk buddy on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, this can be deadly as many hypothermic partiers get written off as being drunk.
So if you suspect hypothermia, call for medical assistance. Anyone you think is eliciting signs of hypothermia should be brought indoors, put in dry clothes, covered in warm blankets, and then wait for paramedics to arrive. It’s important to try to warm the central parts of the body such as head, neck, chest, and groin, but avoid direct electric blanket contact with the skin and active rubbing if the skin is showing signs of frostbite.
Hot water will be too caustic and can cause burns. Remember, the body is shunting blood away from the ears, fingers, toes, hands and feet to warm the heart, brain and other vital organs. The skin will be in a vulnerable state during hypothermia and frostbite and will burn the under perfused skin.
We’re outside in the cold, not bundling up, dancing, sweating, becoming dehydrated. Add alcohol to the mix, and its deadly. Here’s the scoop on alcohol toxicity.
When it comes to hypothermia, the best thing you can do is prevention. It’s the biggest party of the year so prepare yourself by doing the following:
Wear multiple layers of clothing
Bring an extra pair of dry socks
Avoid getting wet (i.e. falling off a boat, getting splashed with champagne)
Change your clothes if you worked up a sweat dancing
Check with your medical provider if some of your medical conditions (i.e. hypothyroid) or medications (i.e. narcotics, and sedatives) put you at risk for hypothermia
Avoid alcohol intoxication
Keep an eye on your more vulnerable buddies who include children, older individuals, and those with intellectual disabilities.
A Happy New Year should also be a Healthy New Year. So be warm, dry, safe and have fun!!
Anytime there’s a scandal, it becomes a “gate,” reminiscent of Watergate, the hotel/condominium complex in Washington, D.C. where the 1972 break-in of Democratic headquarters led to a President’s resignation. My most important memory of the period was spending the night there once, in my uncle’s home, about a week before the dastardly deed was done.
Apple has had a few scandals, though whether or not they were serious is debatable. I don’t recall having any problems with the iPhone 4, although it did lose reception if you held it in a way that covered the external antenna system. Still, “Antenngate” brought enough bad publicity to force Apple to give away free iPhone bumper cases for a while; that move overcame the problem.
The bending issue with the iPhone 6 Plus evidently was first spotted when the unit was placed in the rear pocket of someone’s tight pair of jeans. Call it “Bendgate,” and while Apple and others, even Consumer Reports magazine, claimed that the product was acceptably resistant against such damage, Apple shored up the structure for the iPhone 6s Plus.
Now we have what I call “Throttlegate,” the practice if capping performance on recent iPhones when the battery is determined to have seriously deteriorated. Apple defends the move as preventing a potential shutdown when these units are under heavy load, but maybe they should have been more proactive to explain to customers what was going on. So far, at least three class action lawsuits have been filed, and while claims that Apple throttles performance to fool you into buying a new model don’t pass muster, the failure to provide at least a warning message may be enough to force Apple to settle these cases.
Typical of such legal filings, lawyers will earn millions. Complainants will end up getting discount coupons for their next Apple purchase.
Now on this week’s episode of The Tech Night Owl LIVE, we featured outspoken commentator/podcaster Kirk McElhearn. Front and center was the ruckus over reports that Apple was deliberately throttling performance of older iPhones. Kirk gave you his unvarnished opinion of the practice; does Apple deserve to lose those cases? The discussion also focused on Apple in 2017, and the costly iMac Pro all-in-one computer, which is now shipping.
You also heard from tech publisher/editor Bryan Chaffin, co-founder and co-publisher of The Mac Observer, who also offered his opinion on Apple’s actions over what Gene calls “Throttlegate.” Gene and Bryan also talked about the value of Apple TV. In offering a brief report on the VIZIO M-Series TV he’s reviewing (see the next article), which comes with Google Chromecast built in, Gene wondered about the future prospects for Apple’s streamer. In pop culture mode, the duo talked about Apple’s reported billion dollar move into TV production, which includes a new sci-fi show produced by Ronald D. Moore, of Battlestar Galactica fame. And does Tom Cruise really do most or all of those death-defying stunts in his movies?
On this week’s episode of our other radio show, The Paracast: Gene and Chris present Rosemary Ellen Guiley & Michael Brein, co-authors of The Road to Strange: Travel Tales of the Paranormal and Beyond. This collection of 44 true stories tells of travelers around the world who are suddenly faced with ghosts, paranormal phenomena, unusual synchronicities, time slips, magic, visions, past-life connections, premonitions, mystical experiences, mysterious figures, and more. Rosemary, a perennial favorite guest, needs no introduction. Michael is a seasoned traveler and travel writer who has written over a dozen travel guides for those heading out around the world to exotic locals and also has published the Travel Tales Monthly since 2012.
FIRST LOOK: 2017 VIZIO SMARTCAST M-SERIES DISPLAY
I’ve been previewing this column for a while, ever since I worked out a deal where VIZIO provided the set in exchange for my agreeing to review it. But they put no restrictions on how I should rate the product, so I’m free to do what I’ve done for the past 25 years, which is to give my unvarnished opinion about a tech gadget.
This time I ran into a couple of obstacles. Since it was just months after I sustained some back injuries in an accident that took out my car, I asked a neighbor to help me do the heavy lifting, removing my 2012 55-inch VIZIO E-Series and replacing it with the comparably sized 2017 SmartCast M-Series Display.
Not that these sets are heavy. The new VIZIO weighs around 36 pounds with the metal feet installed. The other set weighs maybe 10 pounds more. Carrying either wouldn’t normally present a problem, but lifting it onto the stand required some help.
The old set has a single base in its center. The new set has two legs at the edges of the unit. But my existing TV stand measures just 41 inches wide, while the new VIZIO’s feet are 43 inches apart. I had hoped to use it with a ZVOX Audio Z-Base 580 soundbase, but it’s just 36 inches wide.
Both had to go. Fortunately, I was able to acquire a suitable TV stand, an AVF measuring just shy of 50 inches wide, at a huge discount from a store that was just two days from shutting down for good. VIZIO recommended their highly-rated SB3621n-E8 36″ 2.1 Channel Soundbar, which comes with a wireless subwoofer. Despite selling for $149 or less, this product has received five stars from CNET for delivering surprisingly robust audio quality. The TV lists for $699, but you can probably find a discount if you look real hard.
For a 4K set with HDR, that’s fairly cheap, but VIZIO doesn’t cheap out on performance. The specs specify 32 local dimming zones, built-in Google Chromecast, 4 HDMI ports, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and an eight-core CPU to process the picture.
So where does VIZIO scrimp to keep the price reasonably affordable?
Well, there’s no built-in tuner; that’s why it’s referred to as a “display” and not a TV set. I suppose VIZIO theorizes that most people are going to use a cable or satellite connection if they aren’t relying on the unit’s smart features, or an external streamer, such as an Apple TV 4K or a Roku. If you need to receive over-the-air stations, you can find a suitable tuner at Amazon for $30 or so. No big loss.
Unlike the 2016 models, VIZIO isn’t providing an Android tablet. Instead, you can use your own iOS or Android device and set up the TV with VIZIO’s SmartCast app.
Instead, I opted to use the supplied remote and install the app later. Other than streaming content, I ran the TV with a Cox cable remote, which can be configured to call up the essential functions of the TV and the soundbar.
Typical of VIZIO gear, the mounting of the ports require you to insert the plugs vertically, rather than horizontally. For the most part, I got it to work without much trouble, except for some difficulty in connecting the optical cable from the soundbar, which required a little trial and error.
Once you turn on the unit for the first time, you’re taken through a setup assistant that allows you to configure basic settings, and connect to your Wi-Fi network. Here I ran into a glitch, where one character in my password would always echo back as the upper case equivalent rather than the correct lower case. I managed to induce it to work by essentially backspacing and reentering the character. After that, the connection was pretty quick.
The onscreen menus are fairly simple to understand and navigate, though you might want to download the full user manual if you plan to manage more than the basic settings; the unit comes with a printed “quick start” guide. The assistant also has several legal proclamations that you are asked to accept. The one that you can refuse is the statement that VIZIO will collect your viewing data. This is something other TV makers do, but VIZIO got attacked for the practice several years ago. Since you’re entering Google’s ecosystem if you plan to use the Chromecast features, it’s something you should expect.
After the setup process was done, I had to wait another 10 minutes or so for the unit to update the firmware and software.
There are several picture presets. At first, I opted to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation to use Calibrated, which “allows your Display to deliver the most accurate picture quality for most environments.” Later on, I also turned on the Auto Brightness feature, to accommodate the fact that we watch TV in our master bedroom with lights on and lights off. When the lights are off, the only lighting comes from the foyer and the bathroom, so it’s fairly dim. The automatic setting, which has three brightness options, is meant to accommodate such situations.
For a brief time I experimented with another setting recommended by some reviewers, Calibrated Dark. But as the label indicates, it’s useful if you mostly watch your TV in dark surroundings, so even with a higher backlight setting, with Auto Brightness enabled, I ultimately returned to Calibrated.
I have no doubt that professional calibration will improve the already excellent picture even further, but most people who buy TVs make do with the existing settings. Most never change the defaults. So I wanted to focus this review on how regular people will use a TV such as this, which means sticking with the presets.
I’ll be spending the next few weeks putting the set through its paces with a variety of program material. During the first few days, I concentrated on cable fare, and some 4K content from Amazon and Netflix, such as “The Man in the High Castle” and “Stranger Things.”
While TV makers are selling loads of 4K gear, there’s a dearth of compatible content. Cable and satellite companies have made few moves to change that state of affairs, so most of the programming you’ll watch will be scaled up from lower resolutions, and here’s where some TVs fall down on the job. Fortunately, the VIZIO does a creditable job in upscaling, as regular HD shows were clearly sharper, with richer colors. Genuine 4K fare, especially with HDR support, was even sharper and the colors popped.
To really see 4K in all its glory, you need a set with a large enough picture, unless you sit real close. Since our master bedroom is relatively small, a 55-inch display is quite enough to see the resolution advantage.
Even with HD shows, the M-Series is a revelation. On the old set, blacks were usually dark gray. Here even the labels on the set-top box’s TV guide were deep black. The wider contrast ratio was obvious. Indeed, the deep blacks reminded me of my old Panasonic plasma; well, except for the fact that any LCD LED set, such as the VIZIO, will present a more limited viewing angle.
But what about the audio?
Well, it’s passable. You don’t expect much in a TV at this price range. Audio was clean enough, but there wasn’t a whole lot of bass, which is to be expected. Here the SB3621n-E8 made a huge difference.
Setting up the soundbar was mostly plug-and-play, but the subwoofer needed some extra adjustment. Since the walls in this apartment are notorious for producing sympathetic vibrations when bass is cranked up too high, and I didn’t want to annoy the neighbors, I placed the subwoofer next to the front of the stand. At its default setting, there was plenty of thump with content that provided a decent amount of bass; maybe too much thump. In another room, I could hear and feel the thumping through the wall, similar to the effect of being near a car where the subwoofers are running in overdrive.
A properly adjusted subwoofer should enhance the sound, not overwhelm it, so I had to back off on its level with the supplied remote until I reached the sweet spot. Typical of two-channel soundbars, there’s a faux surround sound feature, in this case DTS TruSurround, which expands the width of the soundstage beyond the unit’s 36 inches. It’s not the real thing, but a decent simulation. A crisp midrange means that dialogue is especially clean. I noticed that I could play it at a lower volume than the ZVOX, which will no doubt please the neighbors.
In this household, the family’s TV is a constant presence, so I’ll know soon enough how well the VIZIO works with a variety of program material. As it stands, I’m extremely pleased that I took on this review, despite having to replace the TV stand and audio system. When it comes to a TV’s picture, I’m obsessive about quality, and this system, so far at least, deserves my highest recommendation.
I’ll have more to say about it in these columns, and on my radio show, in the coming days. In the meantime, another neighbor has offered to take my old set, the stand and the soundbase off my hands for a small sum. I gladly accepted the offer.
“Regardless of what branch of government, office or party affiliation, the law applies to each and every one of us!”
Yesterday, while I was drudging through the Christmas season of waiting for it all to be over with so I can get back to work, and while on hold, I turned on the conservative radio only to hear the “same old, same old” when it comes to warmongering to prepare the American people for another war.
I heard a former adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney grilling the American people on what they need to do concerning the monster that has been cast into the minds of the American people by the media in North Korea named Kim Jong-Un.
His talking points were far too familiar. Kim Jong’s “weapons of mass destruction” were mentioned and how they will be used against us if we do not respond immediately to the threat from the dictator across the water.
Ever since I can remember, there has been war after war, administration after administration, decade after decade, and generation after generation. Enough of war, I say.
Don’t get me wrong. I will be the first to stand with the righteous if there is a justifiable war (2 Chronicles 19:2-3), though I hate violence.
The adviser’s talking points seemed well rehearsed. He seemed skilled in coercing the people into another war (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Furthermore, his talking points sounded like someone pushed the replay button for the war against Iraq (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Then again, he knows that his former boss’ Halliburton made $ 39.5 billion on the Iraq War and he also knows how to speak the language of creating a new war with the same old war tactics.
General Douglas MacArthur said of the United States government back in 1957:
“Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear – kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor – with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it. …”
You would think that this is what America was told by the president on Sept. 11, 2001. It was.
This may help many understand as to why Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are also considered war criminals in other countries.
Getting back to North Korea, according to CBS News:
North Korea's envoy in charge of U.S. affairs at the United Nations demanded Washington provide evidence to back up its claim that Pyongyang was behind the WannaCry ransomware attack, an allegation he said was a "baseless provocation" being used to generate tensions.
Pak Song Il told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from New York late Monday that Pyongyang sees the allegation as an effort to create an "extremely confrontational atmosphere." "If they are so sure, show us the evidence," he said.
I agree. Let this be a live conversation between the two countries in conflict in an open televised forum. This will leave it to the people as to what is actually taking place.
How many times has the American government been exposed for self-inflicting attacks and in generating wars, creating political opposition, winning public opinion with approval to attack the opposition that they created?
Let’s go to Vietnam, for an example:
The Gulf of Tonkin incident (Vietnamese: Sự kiện Vịnh Bắc Bộ), also known as the USS Maddox incident, was an international confrontation that led to the United States engaging more directly in the Vietnam War. It involved either one or two separate confrontations involving North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but eventually became very controversial with widespread claims that either one or both incidents were false, and possibly deliberately so.
On August 2, 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox, while performing signals intelligence patrol as part of DESOTO operations, was pursued by three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats of the 135th Torpedo Squadron. Maddox fired three warning shots and the North Vietnamese boats then attacked with torpedoes and machine gun fire. Maddox expended over 280 3-inch and 5-inch shells in a sea battle. One U.S. aircraft was damaged, three North Vietnamese torpedo boats were damaged, and four North Vietnamese sailors were killed, with six more wounded. There were no U.S. casualties. Maddox "was unscathed except for a single bullet hole from a Vietnamese machine gun round".
It was originally claimed by the National Security Agency that a Second Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred on August 4, 1964, as another sea battle, but instead evidence was found of "Tonkin ghosts" (false radar images) and not actual North Vietnamese torpedo boats. In the 2003 documentary The Fog of War, the former United States Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara admitted that the August 2 USS Maddox attack happened with no Defense Department response, but the August 4 Gulf of Tonkin attack never happened. In 1995, McNamara met with former Vietnam People's Army General Võ Nguyên Giáp to ask what happened on August 4, 1964 in the second Gulf of Tonkin Incident. "Absolutely nothing", Giáp replied. Giáp claimed that the attack had been imaginary.
Ninety-four percent of the American people do not believe the CIA-Controlled media, who has a long history of lying, defaming, contriving, fabricating and creating war, and putting innocent people into a false light.
In the video below, take a look beginning at the 1:14 mark where a CNN operative is creating a false narrative inside a green room, acting out that the war in Saudi Arabia is inevitable.
Consider that Congress, who as of November 8, 2017 only has the support of 13% of the American people. These are the same people who work hand in glove with the CIA-controlled media against our Republic.
How is it that these two corrupt institutions, who have a history of lying to you, are now telling you the truth when it comes to the crimes of other countries and their leaders?
Remember, liars have a history of lying and in every war the first casualty is always the truth (John 8:44).
The American government and its role in this country have become as foreign to Americans, in many cases, as foreign countries are to us.
Yet, the push for war is relentless. American military brass in this country have now declared war with Korea as inevitable.
Americans, I want to tell you that our Forefathers left us an example when it comes to war. If a war was worth fighting, they were the first ones to lead the way.
"First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."
These famous words about George Washington come from a eulogy written by Henry Lee.
In the present, the corrupt media, along with corrupt politicians are working together for those who profit from war to convince you to send your granddaddies, daddies, uncles, cousins, brothers, and neighbors to do their fighting for them.
“Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” –American diplomat and Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
Little did the people take the time to know that:
“Our boys were sent off to die with beautiful ideals painted in front of them. No one told them that dollars and cents were the real reason they were marching off to kill and to die.” Two-time Medal of Honor recipient Major General Smedley Butler
You have been warned America (Ezekiel 33).
On January 17, 1961, President Eisenhower warned the American people about the Military Industrial Complex.
It would be an understatement to say that this past year has been controversial on the political scene. Three major stories dominated the news from my perspective. Obviously at the top of the list was the continuing saga of Donald Trump. Then there was the Alabama Senate race that became the nation’s number one soap opera. And we learned that the government spends millions of dollars running down rumors of UFOs.
And here’s the kicker. 2018 is potentially shaping up to be the most tumultuous political year in our lifetime. The control of congress, more unpredictable antics from our President, the possible reckless actions from that crazy guy in North Korea, America’s deteriorating role of leadership on the world stage, gridlock in Washington and in legislatures across the nation: Hey, what more could a political junkie ask for?
So far, President Trump has not followed in the paths of Reagan, Roosevelt and Kennedy in being forceful leaders who reached out to build working coalitions. Great leaders, in order to govern effectively, extended their tribal base by appealing to people’s hopes rather than their fears. There is a long history of presidents using their office as a bully pulpit to rally support. But do we now have a bully in the pulpit?
Whether you are a Trump supporter or not, he is viewed across the board as an aggressive, abusive, no holds barred president. In the years to come, historians will look back to see if the presidency has changed Donald Trump, or if Donald Trump has changed the presidency.
The president is making a major effort to restructure the federal judiciary and has forwarded some three dozen nominations to the U.S. Senate for confirmation. Only six have been confirmed so far, and for good reason. In a number of cases, Trump has selected grey mice. That’s the name given by court watchers to nominees who lack the scholarship, the temperament, and the learning to be federal judges.
We witnessed first hand several nominees who were over their heads and obviously unqualified for the federal bench in Senate judiciary committee confirmation hearings just a few weeks ago. Louisiana Senator John Kennedy has commendably hammered away at several nominees as to their knowledge of basic judicial terminology. Concepts any candidate for a judgeship should know.
As the Baton Rouge advocate reported: “The questions highlighted (nominee) Matthew Peterson’s lack of courtroom experience. Pressed by Sen. Kennedy, Peterson acknowledged having never made arguments in a courtroom nor having tried a case– and then struggled to define a series of legal terms, several of which legal expert described as fairly basic.” As Kennedy appropriately observed: “Just because you’ve seen ‘My cousin Vinny’ doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge.”
So to help out future nominees, I’m offering a few questions and answers that should be memorized before appearing at a Senate confirmation hearing. Any future nominee should give me a call because, hey I’m a lawyer, and I’m admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. So with the aid of Professor Garrett Epps at Baltimore University, I offer these suggested responses.
A Lawsuit: That’s what you wear in court.
Recusal: When the judge takes a brief judicial nap.
Sidebar: That’s of course the liquor kept near the courtroom.
Erie doctrine: The rule that testimony by ghosts is inadmissible.
Bench trial: Shopping for a new chair for the judge.
Judicial review: The number of “likes” on the judge’s twitter feed.
Res judicata: The judges once a year have a race around the courthouse.
Marbury v. Madison: The first matchup for the NCAA national football championship.
For all you judicial wannabes, gray mice or otherwise, I hope this helps in your quest to ascend to the federal bench. For all the rest of us, get ready for a knock down-drag out 2018. Happy New Year!
Peace and Justice
“Regardless of what branch of government, office or party affiliation, the law applies to each and every one of us!”
Last week, I wrote that there must be consequences when it comes to false accusers, and this week I want to show you that there must be consequences when it comes to those who are guilty.
We all must keep in scope that the purpose of government is to “restrain men from sin” (breaking the law), enforce God’s standard of “right and wrong” and to “maintain order.” Knowing this, how does one accept what is happening in American Government in the present?
Recently, Al Franken (D-MN) simply chose to resign after being accused of inappropriately touching multiple women before and after he was a senator and photos are easily accessible. An Ethics Committee investigation was already underway.
Facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) simply chose to resign as Congresses longest-serving member Tuesday, becoming the first lawmaker to step down as Capitol Hill grapples with allegations of inappropriate behavior by lawmakers.
Conyers, who represented the Detroit area for 52 years, yielded to mounting pressure from representatives to step aside as a growing number of female former aides accused him of unwanted advances and mistreatment. He has denied wrongdoing.
Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks announced in a statement Thursday night that he will simply resign from Congress at the end of January, after the House Ethics Committee said it would investigate allegations against him of sexual harassment.
Wow, they are uncovered (Luke 12:2) for their offences toward our laws and when found out, they simply choose to resign without fear of the consequences (Proverbs 29:15).
A mere slap on the hand is a signal of encouragement to the next violator of law in line to do the same in their criminal endeavors (Luke 22:48).
The last to resign amid a scandal was Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), in 2011, who quit during an investigation by the Ethics Committee into his affair with a former campaign staffer who was married to a Senate staffer.
Before that, Sen. Robert Packwood (R-OR) resigned after being recommended for expulsion amid accusations of sexual abuse in 1995.
Going even further back, Sen. Harrison Williams D-NJ) resigned in 1982 after being recommended for expulsion after a bribery conviction. This list of criminals is only the tip of the iceberg.
Where have the American people accepted the notion that public servants, who have been placed into public trust and have transgressed American laws, must simply resign after their criminal violations rather than face justice as to the laws they broke, as if to suggest that this will somehow appease the crime? It only encourages more crime.
There is a higher trust placed in the individual that serves “We the People.”
Therefore, if they violate that trust by breaking the law, then there is a higher consequence that they must pay for their transgressions.
The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. – Article 2, Section 4 US Constitution
Asking them to resign is like hiring a banker that turns out to be a bank robber, and then after their crimes are discovered, you ask the bank robber to simply return the money and go find another job. He will merely go to another bank and then repeat the crime all over again.
You do not ask for a resignation. You fire him and call the police and have them prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for the crimes committed. We should be deterring the crime, not encouraging it (Proverbs 16:6).
Americans need to understand that where justice is left off, it will create repeat offenders and so it has and will continue to do so unless the remedy is applied (Isaiah 26:9).
If this is not done, it will destroy this country, regardless of wh0 the guilty party is, for Justice guards American liberties (Isaiah 51:4).
The work holiday party is one of the most anticipated events of the year. Free food, free drink and for 4-6 hours you can be in the same room as your boss without any risk of being told “you’re fired”. But…..many of us make mistakes, HUGE mistakes, while tipsy and letting our guard down could be the biggest career buster ever. Plus, there are some missed opportunities the office Holiday party offers to make your overall work life better. So let’s get right down to it.
Your superior in any office setting should be the last one you try to cuddle up to. Good management knows there is ALWAYS someone watching and, these days, recording on their phone, so they do not want to be seen in an uncomfortable situation, appearing to be flirting with you. You can complement them, sure, but hands off!
This gets us all into trouble. Yes the alcohol is usually free and a flow’n but this will lead to your downfall. Your guard is down, you become flirty, you blurt out secrets, those that the whole team knows but would be never caught dead saying……and sometimes the clothes come off on the dance floor. Please drink in moderation.
Never, never, never plan on driving that night if you plan to drink. Car Service, Uber, Taxi, designated drivers are a must.
The next morning will be full of regret as it is, no need to cement it in infamy.
Holiday season is swarming with good parties. And chances are there are two other parties calling your name that same night. Make sure you hit the office party FIRST. You can get too distracted or drunk at the other parties such that you never make it across town, safely. Again, don’t drive if you plan to drink.
This is where I take a fall (as you can see above). A microphone is sitting up on the stage, waiting, just waiting for someone to grab it and spout out some one liners. I fear getting close to it until the head boss makes opening remarks. Then I feel the need to interrupt him and “take over from here”. Let your boss have the mic. He/She’s the head honcho, let them have their glory. They’re paying for the party……
Never, never use this opportunity to gossip. That’s what the staff lounge is for. It’s a positive night. Don’t bring negativity.
You may feel protected with all your work peeps surrounding you but one day he/she will get you alone and ….payback. Instead wishing them some holiday cheer…..may bring out the good in the jerk.
Everyone is watching you so your hopes of secretly hooking up is already circulating social media. If you want to begin a relationship that’s fine, but hoping it's on the down low will never happen. People at parties pretend to be distracted, but someone is always watching.
Never, never, never discuss work at the office Holiday party. And please don’t ask for a raise!!! Will never happen. Even if your boss is drunk, he will forget about it by the New Year.
Being antisocial is not the way to go either. Mix, mingle and look like you’re having a good time. Even if you’re not. If you have to leave early due to boredom, blame it on diarrhea. This may be the only party you EVER get invited to.
Even though they may roll their eyes at you as you compliment them (since anyone volunteering for a planning committee in the first place probably isn’t your best bud at work), they secretly enjoy the complement.
This is the only time your boss and team will see your other talents. Sans beer bonging, show off your talents….dance moves, pipes, even fashion sense…. if you’re good.
Don’t kiss up, but as you thank him, let him know you love your job. This will be a take home message that can go a long way.
This is a no brainer.
It’s the holidays! Let’s celebrate!! Truly the most wonderful time of the year!!!
This week I heard a surprising announcement from a regular guest on The Tech Night Owl LIVE. So we presented tech commentator Rob Pegoraro, who writes for USA Today, Yahoo Finance, Consumer Reports, Wirecutter and other publications. During this episode, Rob put the FCC’s decision to abandon net neutrality into perspective, and I’ll have more to say about that shortly. The main question, of course, is whether ISPs will begin to prioritize net traffic, or will the possibility of negative publicity and potential lawsuits postpone — or prevent — any changes for the near future? Rob also discussed the end of AIM, and how this pioneer instant messaging app influenced an entire industry? And do we really need lots of messaging apps to stay in touch with our contacts? Gene laughingly referred to Rob as a turncoat as he explained why he, a long time Mac user, recently purchased a PC notebook to replace his aging MacBook Air.
So why did Rob switch?
Well, his response was reasonable. He didn’t want to spend more money for a MacBook Pro, and the recent pathetic upgrade to the MacBook Air didn’t appeal to him. He chose, instead, an HP 2-in-1 notebook. And since, for the most part, he could use the same apps and services on both the macOS and Windows, it wasn’t so big a deal, at least so far. But will he feel the same a few months from now? He laughingly suggested turning it into a Hackintosh, by following the online instructions to induce it to run macOS. But that process may not work on an off-the-shelf PC notebook. Usually, it requires picking and choosing parts tested and found to be compatible, and outfitting a custom-built PC with them.
You also heard from tech journalist Jeff Gamet, Managing Editor for The Mac Observer. As the segment began, Jeff complained that his copy of Skype 7 for the Mac was upgraded to Skype 8 without his approval, and he doesn’t like the all-new interface. In an extended discussion of net neutrality, Gene pointed out that more and more cable companies are embedding Netflix into their set-top boxes, perhaps as a move to help reduce cord cutting. As the pair moved into pop culture mode, Gene mentioned the latest reported move by Apple to add original TV content, with a direct-to-series order for a new sci-fi series from producer Ronald D. Moore, whose previous shows include Battlestar Galactica. Jeff explained in great detail why the fabled Star Wars lightsaber would be impossible to use in a real world setting. Gene suggested that the DC Comics super heroes on TV are better than their movie counterparts. And what about having different actors portray such characters as the Flash and Superman?
On this week’s episode of our other radio show, The Paracast: Gene and Chris present Alejandro Rojas of OpenMinds.tv for a 2017 retrospective and a preview of the 2018 International UFO Congress and Film Festival. Alejandro is the host for Open Minds UFO Radio show, and emcee for IUFOC. He is also a blogger for the Huffington Post. As a UFO/Paranormal researcher and journalist, Alejandro has spent many hours in the field investigating anomalous phenomena up close and personal. Gene and Chris will also talk shop with a focus on UFOs. There will also be a pop culture-related discussion about what both regard as the sad state of pop music.
GETTING IT WRONG ABOUT NET NEUTRALITY
Part and parcel of our polarized society is the feeling that, if we accept the other side’s approach, it may be the end of the world as we know it. They wish us ill, and are doing foolish and/or evil things to take us all down.
Now I’m not going to dwell on my political viewpoints about the crazy things that are going on in Washington, D.C. except for one thing, and that’s the promise — or threat — that net neutrality is ending soon.
As is often true, the facts are more nuanced, and whatever does happen can be overturned by a future FCC, and we start all over again.
So this past week, the Republican majority of the FCC decided to undo a move by its predecessor that, among the things, prevented ISPs from prioritizing Internet traffic. What this meant is that these companies could not demand that a high-traffic service pay extra to enter a fast lane.
Those who opposed net neutrality, including FCC chairman Ajit Pai, claimed that putting restrictions on ISPs would somehow prevent them from improving and expanding their services. Being forced to allow online traffic to flow freely was somehow an impediment to growth.
I’m not sure I see how, or any evidence that this could happen. But it’s unfortunate that the cable TV talking heads who interviewed Pai — or at least the ones I’ve seen — simply allowed him to repeat his unproven talking points without questioning the logic. There was no request for evidence that what he said was true.
Supporters of net neutrality also maintain that it’s not just about getting miserable performance from Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, with constant buffering even on a fast connection. What about the streaming startup, a company that wanted to someday compete with Netflix? If they had to pay extra to achieve good performance, it’s likely that they wouldn’t be able to attract venture capital to cover their costs.
This, too, may be an overwrought conclusion if we assume things will return to the way they were before the concept of net neutrality ever arose.
A key reason for government regulation is not that regulators just need something to do. It’s often in response to a need, to address abuses by private industry. That explains why there are rigid controls covering the approval of a new drug by the FDA in the U.S. It means that pharmaceutical companies have to subject new drugs to a rigid set of tests to make sure they actually perform as advertised without seriously endangering one’s life in the process. Or at least disclose the dire side effects so you know what you’re in for.
Net neutrality was a response to something the ISPs did, which was to slow down such services as Netflix, largely because they sucked up huge quantities of data.
As of now, Netflix consumes nearly 37% of all Internet traffic, and when you add all the streaming services it’s 70%. That also includes such services as YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Dish Network’s Sling TV and DirecTV NOW.
That leaves 30% for the rest of online traffic.
From a business point of view, I suppose it made sense to focus on the worst abusers and see if there’s a way to manage the load without inconveniencing other customers. Back in 2014, there were reports that such ISPs as Comcast and Verizon were putting the brakes on Netflix. In turn, Netflix reportedly paid extra in order to deal with the situation, with reports of mixed success.
During that period, you may have experienced constant buffering from Netflix. Loads of complaints from customers and tech companies helped influence the previous FCC to reclassify an ISP as a Title II communications service, thus preserving net neutrality. Prior attempts were blocked in the courts.
Despite the new regulations, there were recent reports that Verizon, particularly through its high-speed FiOS service, was once again throttling Netflix and even YouTube. So it seems peculiar that the FCC would believe that ending net neutrality was a good idea.
But what’s also happening is even more interesting. It appears that Netflix is taking a “can’t beat them so join them” approach, which is to strike deals with some ISPs, so their app appears as just another premium channel on a cable set-top box, similar to HBO and Showtime. What this means is that the ISP would, in exchange for offering Netflix without speed restrictions, get a piece of the action. By being part of their regular cable service, the load on broadband bandwidth would be sharply reduced.
By including Netflix — and I suppose Hulu and other services can be offered in the same fashion — customers are being offered more attractive cable packages that might help stem the tide of cord cutting.
While an experiment with Netflix and DirecTV appears to have ended, you can get it on at least some cable boxes from Comcast, Cox, Verizon and other services. You’ll have to check with your cable company to see which hardware it’s offered on, and how much it costs.
Now when I checked with the cable company I use, Cox, it appears Netflix is available on their Contour 2 box, but is limited to HD. If you have a 4K TV, you’ll have to still depend on a smart TV or a streamer, such as an Apple TV 4K, and certain models from Roku and other companies. As it stands, the cable and satellite companies are only testing the 4K waters. Higher resolution means there is less space for other channels, so it may be a juggling act until capacity is boosted.
In any event, despite the FCC’s vote, net neutrality isn’t going away tomorrow. There’s a comment period, and the attorneys general of a number of states are planning to file lawsuits. So this matter may not be resolved for months or years, depending on court rulings and potential appeals. I suppose it’s possible that the U.S. Supreme Court will get involved.
After all is said and done, I doubt the ISPs are going to act hastily, knowing the political winds may likely change with the next administration. In the meantime, if more cable and possibly the satellite companies strike deals with Netflix and other services to offer them premium channels, that might sharply reduce the load on their systems.
So they wouldn’t have any motive to throttle anyone’s traffic, and it would also provide an additional revenue stream. Assuming Netflix’s 4K service comes to your cable box, would that influence your decision about cord cutting?
So it’s possible that the ISPs and streaming companies could work out reasonable solutions without harming anyone, assuming the price you pay doesn’t change too much. That said, net neutrality offered more than a few ounces of protection against the worst offenders. The suggestion that it may have stifled innovation is absurd. The move to embed Netflix on cable boxes clearly disproves that claim.