Jon Cazares

Jon Cazares

I am no gymnastics expert, but I certainly know a thing or two about a thing or two. In fact, back in the prehistoric age of the 90’s, I watched as Kim Zmeskal and Shannon Miller dominated American gymnastics and headed with high hopes into the 92 Barcelona Olympics. Alas, things didn’t work out for that team.

It wasn’t until the 96 games that the Magnificent Seven - Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, Dominique Dawes,  Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Jaycie Phelps and Kerri Strug became the first US team to win the gold medal, as well as winning individuals medals for Miller, Dawes and Chow. Of course that team is probably best known for Kerri Strug winning the team gold medal while landing her 2nd vault performance on an injured ankle. Sadly, Zmeskal, missed the 96 games with a torn ACL.

But I haven’t really paid much attention to gymnastics since the end of the 90’s. So, imagine my surprise when even my non-gymnastic following ears perked up at the name Katelyn Ohashi.

“Wait,” Said I, “I’ve heard that name before. Hasn’t she had, like, a few perfect 10’s in modern competitions?”

Turns out, she has.

Twice on balance beam in 2017, three times for floor exercise in 2018 and now, the ultra famous floor exercise that is currently skyrocketing across the internet. That’s five perfect Collegiate level 10’s in the last year and half. And Ohashi does it with the most charming dancing/playset I’ve seen/heard in gymnastics - maybe, ever. Which, as Rebecca Schuman describes in her delightful Slate piece, Ohashi’s exact set (meet?) could only happen at the Collegiate level. From Schuman’s “Why Isn’t All Gymnastics This Fun?” story:  

“You see, in the NCAA world, there are rules more befitting the humans of Earth … On floor, this means exactly three tumbling passes and a maximum start-value of 10. And because of this emphasis on execution rather than difficulty, NCAA gymnasts have the time and incentive to train in dance. Simultaneously, because elite gymnasts don’t really dance anymore as NCAA choreography has become more dynamic, with few notable exceptions (such as Dutch wood sprite Eythora Thorsdottir), elite choreography has become … belabored, which is the official gymnastics term for eeeeeeeeeech. The days of Bolshoi-trained masters of the avant-garde such as Svetlana Boginskaya or Olga Strazheva are as forgotten as a Yakov Smirnoff set.”

Wow! Schuman just name dropped Yakov Smirnoff! I forgot all about him. (No, seriously, I did). =)

Anyway, twenty one year old Katelyn Ohashi is at the top of her game right now and her delightful new floor routine shows it. I hope she continues strong and we can all cheer her on in the 2020 Olympic games.

I’ve only watched the video about a, ohhh, say - a dozen times, but I think her playlist from her recent 10 is as follows:

Proud Mary by Tina Turner

September by Earth, Wind and Fire

Maybe another song here but I can’t tell what or who because of the cheering

I Want You Back by The Jackson 5

Rhythm Nation by Janet Jackson

Remember the Time by Michael Jackson

The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson

Thriller by Michael Jackson

%AM, %16 %071 %2019 %00:%Jan

Gillette's New Ad is Equally Loved/Hated

Wow. Gillette sure hit the viral jackpot with their new We Believe: The Best Men Can Be, commercial (this is the same video link that is on the front page). And by viral, I don’t only mean “good” because there seems to be about twice as much pushback and rage than positivity. I mean, Piers Morgan really hated it (which, probably means it can't be all bad, right?)

That being said it’s generally drawing overwhelming critical praise from social media, lots of news sites and … well, critics. But that was day one. By day two, pushback began and now it appears to be drawing a lot of negative feedback from a- (I’m going to take a shot in the dark here and say … ) predominantly male crowd of internet folks.

You should take two minutes to watch the video.

So, what’s the big deal?

Well, for starters, Gillette’s short film, “We Believe...,” focuses heavily on three hot button topics - toxic masculinity, sexual harassment and the #metoo movement. Of course, they probably shouldn’t be hot button topics but, they are. More on that in a bit.

Anyway, like millions of other folks, I watched the video. And it’s fine. I don’t think it’s great, but it’s a fine commercial with a fine message about life. It’s a bit heavy handed. Okay, it’s a lot heavy handed as it shows overwhelmingly negative situations as men stand by ignoring or actively participating in - confronting bullying (or not), stepping in when women are harassed (or not), actively reinforcing sexist stereotypes and actually noticing that women are not objects.

These are all fair and fine points. In general.   

I mean, the video basically has a "controversial" view that asks men to notice more and behave better-in some situations. I literally, can’t think of anything controversial about that.

BUT - before you rage clench and say, “This article is a Libtard Safe Zone Hit Piece against men, ain’t it? I am so OUT of here!”

Hold up! Slow down!

I am not saying the commercial is - genuine! Far from it! I am saying it’s a fine commercial that, in a slightly heavy handed way, does a nice job of communicating a message about life. And, perhaps, there are some men who could learn a thing or two within said message.

That being said.

Gillette is a company. A huge company. And it wants to make money. And, as someone who worked freelance film, TV and video, on and off, for twenty years, I can guarantee you that this is how said video was produced:

First. Gillette hired a marketing company. Then, said marketing company did test research on how best to market the Gillette brand and explored controversial and non-controversial topics.

Then: Multiple scripts were written. Some about gender equality. Some about ZZ Top using Gillette’s to shave their beards on TV. Some comedy. Some drama. Some with monkeys. Some with dogs. Etc, etc.  

Then: Gillette narrowed the scripts down to a handful but “needed more research.” And so their marketing company took all the approved scripts and produced them, shot them, cut them together and ... showed them to test groups!

And test groups freaked out over the gender equality commercials - “Too political!” (They said).

And test groups loved the commercials with the dogs. And the monkeys! “Dogs and monkeys are cute!” (They said).

And test groups were indifferent to a whole bunch of other commercials. "Meh!" (They said). 

Then: The marketing company went back to Gillette and said, “Look, people love the dogs and the monkeys (who doesn’t). BUT … controversy equals huge hits. And huge hits on the internet always, always, always turn into dollar signs. And the most controversial commercial we have for you is this, kind of, #metoo commercial about toxic masculinity.

Then: Gillette, decides to go with the “controversial” commercial. Not because they necessarily believe in the message (although, they might) but because it gives them the most chance to generate the most hits, the most viral awareness, the most likes and the most internet rage (which turns into more hits). Which is all an artificial way a marketing company can force a Trend Up and manipulate folks into watching a video therefore giving it a high percentage chance of going viral.

Which brings fist fulls of $$ to their client, in this case - Gillette.

And so far it’s worked.  

Now, to be honest - what I’ve just described is nothing new. It’s, generally, the same principle of how ad men worked in the 50’s, the 60’s, the 70’s and so on and so forth. It’s advertising. As quoted in Fight Club:

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off. ”

Except, too many people have not learned "that fact." Too many people believe that altruism begins at the top of the company and works its way down, thus producing the “We Believe…” short film for the common good of all humankind!

But it doesn’t work that way. It’s all about the $$.  

Finally, as the general principle of the video goes, I agree with it all. Maybe you don’t. That’s fine. But I believe that many men should be more aware of a lot of things they are doing and saying. It doesn’t matter if you think “not all men need such a lesson!”

Yes, it’s obviously true that not all men need all lessons about all things in relation to gender equality & toxic masculinity. We all know that. Stop saying something as statistically obvious as #notallmen. You know why? Because too many of them - do need these very lessons.

So, despite the growing internet rage, Gillette's "We Believe…” commercial is a very effective, very poignant short film about (potentially) valuable life lessons.

And, sure, maybe it’s all a marketing scam, maybe we shouldn’t trust every single thing we agree with on the internet. Maybe, by the way, I’m wrong and maybe the top brass at Gillette is 100% behind this campaign for only socially aware and altruistic reasons.

Well … maybe.

But, I doubt it.

 

 

We’re living in the future, for sure.

Why do I say that, you ask? Well, a few scientists have recently discovered that, in a galaxy, far, far away...something is sending radio waves our direction. Now, before you get excited at the thought of visitors from benevolent galaxies, or terrified that green tentacled horrors are invading, be aware that the “something,” I just mentioned - is probably "nothing." In fact, GCN's very own paranormal phenomenon radio program, "The Paracast," (host: Gene Steinberg) brings all this up in the opening of their most recent program, which you can find here.  

And now, I would like to mention that when I wrote “nothing," up above, I did not mean “absolutely nothing,” just - probably, not aliens. The most likely theory being tossed around is that the radio signals are created by, “astrological phenomenon.” Editor's note: Which, thanks, by the way, Scientist Folks - because "astrological phenomenon"  tells us absolutely nothing at all! The phrase could literally mean "anything happening out in space!" (But, in this case, probably means something like - a black hole).  

Anyway, this is not the first time radio waves have been discovered heading our direction. In the way back time of 2007 (before there was even an iPad!) an astrophysicist at Australia's Parkes Observatory was analyzing data from 2001 and discovered radio bursts. Movie pun not intended. That’s actually when it happened. Of course, astronomers of the day were skeptical and most thought it was just "interference;" but he published his findings and has since been proven accurate. And now we have multiple “fast radio bursts” on record but the 2007 case, and now a brand new one uncovered a few days-have something unique in common - a repeating signal.

Now, to my understanding (which, is limited to some very recent Googling, lots of wiki reading and some science journal perusing) the 2001 burst had a “single repeating fast radio burst.” The Jan. 9th, 2019 discovery has - six repeat bursts. Which as far as I understand, is extremely unusual to find that many repeating bursts occurring naturally; and while it certainly does not prove the existence of our beloved masters and eventual overlords … errr, I mean, aliens … it is still cool.

From the Jan. 9th, 2019 study reported in Journal:  

The discovery of a repeating fast radio burst (FRB) source. 1,2, FRB 121102, eliminated models involving cataclysmic events for this source. No other repeating FRB has hitherto been detected despite many recent discoveries and follow-ups. 3–5, suggesting that repeaters may be rare in the FRB population. Here we report the detection of six repeat bursts from FRB 180814.J0422+73, one of the 13 FRBs detected. 6 by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) FRB project7 during its pre-commissioning phase in July and August 2018. These repeat bursts are consistent with originating from a single position on the sky, with the same dispersion measure, about 189 pc cm−3. This traces approximately twice the expected Milky Way column density, and implies an upper limit on the source redshift of 0.1, at least a factor of about 2 closer than FRB 1211028. In some of the repeat bursts, we observe sub-pulse frequency structure, drifting, and spectral variation reminiscent of that seen in FRB 1211029,10, suggesting similar emission mechanisms and/or propagation effects. This second repeater, found among the first few CHIME/FRB discoveries, suggests that there exists—and that CHIME/FRB and other wide-field, sensitive radio telescopes will find—a substantial population of repeating FRBs.”

The 116th Congress opened today with second time speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) as Speaker of the House. Despite the pointless “Never Nancy” posturing of several freshman (and a few veteran) Congress Folk - Nancy Pelosi is the first and second woman to hold the role of Speaker. She’s also the first congressperson to win the role a second time since 1955.

 

That being said, in order to appease some of the vocal “Never Nancy” folks, Pelosi made some behind closed doors deals with them (which, is all they wanted in the first place) and  agreed to step down as Speaker after a four year term.

 

Pelosi won with 220 votes (of the 218 she needed to win), defeating Republican nominee Kevin McCarthy who now takes the role as Minority Speaker. Here are all the leaders for the 116th Congress (from the House.gov site).

 

As for the “why” of the “Never Nancy” folks? Well, it doesn’t matter much now (the “pointless “Never Nancy” link above explains some of it), but a lot of them were merely “out with the old, in the with new” types. Which is totally fair. But Nancy Pelosi has become the most powerful female politician the US has ever seen. For a reason. And so all the, “out with the old, in with the new,” folk, as fine an idea as it is, might want to apply some common sense and reason in respect to our current political climate. Experience might be what we actually need to move forward.

 

Or not. Maybe the “Never Nancy” folks are correct. I guess we’re all about to find out. As for the dissenters - I often find great interest in what dissenters against popular opinion have to say and I am keeping my eye on them. They may have lost this battle but as they say - the war is not over, yet.

 

Here are the congress people who voted for someone other than/against Pelosi:

Freshmen: Anthony Brindisi (New York), Jim Cooper (Tennessee), Jason Crow (Colorado), Joe Cunningham (South Carolina), Ron Kind (Wisconsin), Conor Lamb (Pennsylvania) Ben McAdams (Utah), Max Rose (New York), Kathleen Rice (New York), Mikie Sherrill (New Jersey), Kurt Schrader (Oregon), Elissa Slotkin (Michigan), Abigail Spanberger (Virginia), Jeff Van Drew (New Jersey) and Jared Golden (Maine).

If you’re a gamer you are already well versed in Twitch and know the name Ninja like the back of your hand, but for most folks, mentioning either will make them say, “What, who?” and “Ninja’s are cool.”

Well, I mean - obviously that’s what they’d say because ninjas are cool (and by cool I mean, totally sweet!). And also, because - Ninja’s have real ultimate power!

But I digress.

So, what is exactly is Twitch and how does one make $10 million dollars on it? 

Well, according to Wikipedia: 

“Twitch is a live streaming video platform owned by Twitch Interactive, a subsidiary of Amazon. Introduced in June 2011 as a spin-off of the general-interest streaming platform, Justin.tv, the site primarily focuses on video game live streaming, including broadcasts of eSports competitions, in addition to music broadcasts, creative content, and more recently, "in real life" streams. Content on the site can be viewed either live or via video on demand.”

Um, okay. But where exactly did this Twitch thing come from? 

 Well, Justin.tv used to be a site where anyone could broadcast a video about … well, whatever they wanted. They idea was supposed to be - broadcast about life. And people did. And Justintv kept adding new content, eventually expanding and including all the good and bad content you can expect when you allow anyone to broadcast anything they want. Then, in 2011 Justintv added a “broadcast about your gaming experience” section, called - Twitch.

And Twitch was popular. I mean, hugely, mind bendingly popular. Far more popular than anything else on Justintv. Suddenly, Justintv exploded upwards of 45 million unique monthly viewers. The company saw opportunity and rebranded as Twitch Interactive and most of (if not all of) the content outside gaming - was shut down.

And then, megacorporation Amazon snapped up Twitch Interactive for a measly $970 million. Now, Twitch has about 27 thousand partner channels, approx. 2.5 million broadcasters, approx. 15 million daily users with about 100 million monthly viewers. 

Which means it was probably a $1 billion dollars well spent.

Okay. But how does it work?

 Well, you or me, or anyone - create an account on Twitch and then you play games and stream them online. And Twitch broadcasts the game. Live. And folks can watch. And then folks can choose to give you money - so you play more games. Online. So that folk can watch. And give you more money. So you can play more games. Online. On Twitch. So folks can watch. And give you more money. So you can play more games. Online - you know what? I think you see where this is going. 

Basically, Twitch provides the platform for you to stream games online. And if you’re good enough, or entertaining enough, or cute enough - you can build an audience. And your audiences pays you. Or not.

And you become a success.  Or not. 

But that’s how you make money (or not). And Ninja (Tyler Blevins) just happens to be the number one earner on Twitch. At one point Ninja had almost 250 thousand subscribers to his Twitch account. Most of which paid him $5. To watch him play games. Some quick math tells me  - that’s $1,250,000. After Amazon and Twitch took their fee Ninja still cleared over $800,000.

Per month.

He’s so popular- he has advertisers. Lots of them. He has merchandise. Lots of it. And he’s sponsored by Red Bull. He’s Red Bull’s official gamer. 

Now, Ninja is an extreme example. Not everyone is as popular, or makes as much money as Ninja. But still. There is actually a thing now, that’s out there where you, or me, or your kid - can make $$ - by playing video games. And, I kind of love that. 

And that's not ALL because of Twitch. But it mostly is. 

From their website:

“Welcome to Twitch. We are a global community of millions who come together each day to create their own entertainment: unique, live, unpredictable, never-to-be repeated experiences created by the magical interactions of the many. With chat built into every stream, you don’t just watch on Twitch, you’re a part of the show.”

So, apparently package theft is even MORE of a problem than I expected. I mean, I know it happens. It’s never happened to me yet, thankfully. But I only order online a couple times a year. It sounds like, for those that order online a lot, you can expect that your packages will just - occasionally, vanish.

According to a 2017 holiday survey by Shorr.com (a packaging company) of more than 1,000 people, if you receive 1-2 packages a month - almost 40% of responders said they had things stolen off their porch. As Mark Rober explains in the video, the police don’t really have the resources to look into a package theft so such crimes largely go unsolved, and in most cases, unreported. Because if it’s happened to you before, and you’ve called the police and they say, “Sorry, there is nothing we can do,” then you will probably not even bother reporting it if it happens to you again.

Well, crazy madman genius NASA engineer Mark Rober has something to say about this. In fact, he has a fart-bomb-glitter-spewing-over-engineered-fake-package-masterpiece to say about this. I’ll let the video speak for itself (it’s the same one on our front page).  

My first thought, because I’m a cynic is - “Yeah, this is fun - but are the “thieves” in the video just actor friends of Mark’s?” After some minor Google sleuthing it turns out the answer is - probably not.

It doesn’t matter which source you look into, it sounds as if about one third of Americans report package theft. In the US alone, it appears as if both UPS and FedEx deliver approx. 7 million packages a day and the Post Office handles approx. 1.5 million packages a day (not counting mail). That sum adds up to billions of packages a year.  In the US alone! And about one third of Americans report package theft of some kind.

That, my friend, is big package business for thieves. So, I do believe that Mark built his package glitter bomb and when it came time to test it out, sadly, it just wasn’t hard to find actual thieves to came up and steal his fake box. His video does not say one way or another if these people were caught and / or the information used from Mark’s fake package will be used to prosecute the thieves. So if you are looking for some justice, well - we can only hope.

So, who is this guy making said video? Well, Mark Rober is a former NASA engineer who has become an internet sensation because of this (and many other videos). His YouTube channel can be found here. His, attached video, Glitter Bomb vs. Package Thieves has garnered the most attention with more than 25 million views and counting.

Mark’s video certainly will not end package theft but it’s a nice reminder, as many have said, that “Not all superheroes wear capes.” The video is as great as you’d expect it to be.

Finally, here are five things you can do to help keep your package safe:

  1. Install security cameras. If you can afford it, a camera is the best tool you can get to assist in catching the actual thief. Of course, cameras can be expensive. If cameras are not in the budget ...
  2. Require a signature for all packages.
  3. Have the package delivered to you at work, where there are usually tons of people to help get it to you.
  4. If you are out of town - make sure you have a mail hold.
  5. Ask a trusted neighbor to look out for the package and take it inside their home for safekeeping until they can get it to you upon your return from … wherever.

Movie Pass, a subscription based movie theater service exploded early last year when they offered a “$10 per month to see one movie per day” deal. Many thought it was too good to be true. And many NON subscribers to Movie Pass got high and mighty and wrote smug article, after smug article about how Movie Pass was going to crash and burn.

Well, they were all wrong. Movie Pass has actually been around for several years and it’s still here. Will it be here in five years? I don’t know. But I’m here to tell you that it’s currently still a good deal. It’s certainly not the sweetheart deal it once was, but it’s still good. And now, starting in January 2019, it’s going to get better. Again, not the sweetheart deal it used to be, but much better than the current, “Decent but kind of a pain in the ass” deal it is right now.

Movie Pass, currently, offers a subscriber three 2D movies per month for a $10 monthly fee. Which is a fine deal; however, Movie Pass chooses which movies you are allowed to see each day. And each day they offer a completely different selection. Which means you have to dig through their calendar and find the movie that you want to see. Then you note, “Oh, the movie I want to see is only being offered through Movie Pass at 4:20pm on Wed at a theater that’s 30 minutes away from  me. Well, I guess that’s when / where I’ll go see it then!”

So, you will (probably) still get to see the movie you want to see. But you have to put some legwork into it. This is a far cry from their initial “You can see one movie per day for $10 per month.” So, I can understand why customers were reasonably pissed off with terms of service change after change.

 

But most writers are clearly not subscribers to Movie Pass. So they’re smugly writing snotty hit pieces so if Movie Pass fails they can say, “I told you so! I knew it was going to fail! That’s why I never signed up!”

 

Um. Okay. You go ahead and do that then. I’ll be over here saving lots of $$$ by using my Movie Pass three times a month. Here are their new terms of service starting in January.

 

The Select Plan ($9.99 per month): Three movies a month but your choices are restricted to selections by Movie Pass that changes each day. This is exactly what Movie Pass has been offering since August.

 

The All Access Plan ($14.99 per month): Three movies a month and you can see any standard 2D screening of any movie in your area. This looks to be the best deal.

 

The Red Carpet Plan ($19.99 per month): Any three standard 2D movies per month plus one Imax or 3D screening per month. I don’t give a damn about 3-D movies. Perhaps you do and this is the plan for you but I’ll be sticking with the All Access. (Here’s how I feel about 3-D films).

 

This is exactly what they should have been doing since day one. Three plans. I don’t see why it took them so long to figure this out. Now, just as Movie Pass offered last year, the best deal out of a subscription will be if you pay for the entire year up front. For example: if you sign up for the one year All Access Plan you only pay $120.00. Which is a significant discount. But, obviously, that means you have to pay the full $120 up front. Which I’m fine with but some folks might not be. You won’t be able to sign up for the plan until January but Movie Pass has them displayed at their site here for you to check out.

 

Finally, does this mean Movie Pass will succeed brilliantly? I don’t know. But the bottom line is this - they are currently offering a really great deal (again). Even at $15 a month, as long as you see three movies per, you are saving a ton of cash. I paid about $120 for my yearly subscription to Movie Pass and I watched about 30 movies in 2018 with an average ticket price of $12 per. That’s about $360 worth of movies for $120.

 

So, if Movie Pass lost $240 on me alone, how does Movie Pass make money, or stay in business? Well - that’s not my problem. =)

 

But to give you a general example of how they (potentially can) make money: they are investing in feature films, they are looking into building theater chains, they are advertising specific movies to the customers, they are data marketing and mining. Here is a good piece about how they (potentially can) make money if you want to spend more time reading into it.

Again, I don’t claim to know how long Movie Pass will be around. But for now, Movie Pass is still a good deal. And the pain in the ass “we change what movies you can see every day” will go away if I upgrade my subscription for an extra $5 monthly fee.

 

Which I will totally do as soon as I am able.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s previous attorney, has been sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple allegations stemming from Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mueller, as we all know by now, is special prosecutor looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election. President Trump isn’t too happy about the entire ordeal, claiming hundreds of times, that the investigation is a “witch hunt.”

Now, the term “witch hunt” amuses me. Especially, when applied to this particular investigation. The exact meaning of the phrase “witch hunt” comes from the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts between Feb 1692 and May 1693. Nineteen people, mostly women, were found guilty of “witchcraft” and executed by hanging. Obviously, none of them were witches - because witches don’t exist. But the religious lunatics in 1600 believed in them and hunted them, tortured them and murdered them. So in the 1600’s “witch hunt” we have to go hunt down some witches!

BUT NOW - hundreds of years later, we know that witches don’t exist. So the phrase “witch hunt” has evolved to mean that you are hunting for something that does not exist. So, when President Trump screams “witch hunt” all over Twitter, he is saying that there is no collusion evidence to be found, because he is innocent and that the entire Mueller investigation is hunting for something that does not exist. Hence, it’s a “witch hunt.”  

Which would be a fine argument - if it was remotely true.

To date, because of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian meddling and the conspiracy to protect the Russians, here are the people that have already pled guilty to a huge variety of federal crimes relating to the conspiracy /  lying to the FBI about the conspiracy / federal fraud about the and / or election financing charges in related to the conspiracy: 

  • George Papadopoulos: Member of Trump’s Presidential Election Campaign pled guilty to "willfully and knowingly "making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI in relation to the conspiracy.
  • Michael Flynn: Director of Trump’s Defense Intelligence Agency pled guilty to "willfully and knowingly "making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI in relation to the conspiracy.
  • Paul Manafort: Chairman of Trump’s Presidential Election Campaign found guilty on 8 counts of conspiracy in relation to the Russian conspiracy.  
  • Rick Gates: Top official in Trump’s Presidential Election Campaign pled guilty to "willfully and knowingly "making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI in relation to the conspiracy.
  • Richard Pinedo: The man who ran an online service called Auction Essistance, a company that would open bank accounts in his name and sell them online to specific purchasers. He sold accounts to Russians and helped them illegally move money around and do things like buy Facebook ads (for the Russians) to manipulation the election. He pled guilty to identity fraud in relation to the conspiracy.
  • Alex van der Zwaan: A Dutch attorney that had meetings with Rick Gates about the conspiracy - pled guilty to "willfully and knowingly "making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI in relation to the conspiracy.
  • Michael Cohen: President Trump’s former attorney. Pled guilty to multiple allegations about the conspiracy.   

And that’s just the people that have pled guilty! We’re not even yet counting the dozens of people who have been charged but have not yet had their time in court and / or pled out (yet). We’re also not talking about the other hundred (or more) people that are still under investigation!

So, President Trump is factually inaccurate when he calls the Russian meddling conspiracy a “witch hunt” because there is clearly a huge amount of evidence to suggest conspiracy. Up to and including the folks that have already pled guilty to the conspiracy. AND - the investigation is not over (far from it)!

Remember, a “witch hunt” - hunts for something that does not exist. Robert Mueller’s investigation has already produced enormous amounts of evidence that the Russians meddled in the 2016 Presidential Election. So, the Mueller investigation is clearly NOT a witch hunt. In fact, his investigation is pretty much the opposite of a witch hunt.

Mueller’s investigation is more like, ummm, how can I say it? Oh, I know! It’s more like an investigation into the fact that a hostile foreign government illegally interfered in the 2016 Presidential Election handing the election to Donald Trump and that the Trump family, the Trump campaign, Trump top aides, Trump top advisors and several other individuals all willing and knowingly went along with it and now are all lying to the FBI and trying to cover it up.

Which, is the exact definition of conspiracy.

Finally, I wasn’t a huge fan of Hillary Clinton but I voted for her, against Trump. I will say that Donald Trump sure was right about this one thing: He warned the American people, countless times on the campaign trail that if the people voted for Hillary they would end up with a President who was under federal indictment from day one.

Turns out - he was right! I voted for Hillary Clinton and I ended up with a President under federal indictment from day one!

 

But something about her emails, though. Right? *sigh*

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late Friday on Nov, 30th, President George W. Bush (43) announced that his father had passed away at the age of 94. The Bush Presidential Center delivered this tweet:

 

“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years our dear dad has died. George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens. -  George W. Bush”

 

Back in April, George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, lost his wife of 73 years. And, you know what they say after you lose the love of your life. You’ll probably not be far behind.

 

President Bush (41), as you probably already know, had a long career in public service and politics. He was a war veteran from WWII, a Congressman, a diplomat, the CIA chief, Vice President and President.

 

Honestly, I don’t know much about other than very widely known public knowledge.  I was a teenager when he was President and, as you all know, teenagers usually don’t give much a damn about politics. And I always feel like, the moment someone dies they are vilified or sainted unfairly in either direction. So, I won’t elaborate much on his life one way or another, but I did just find out that after Bush Sr. lost re-election in 1992 to an upstart Arkansas Governor, Bush Sr. wrote this letter to incoming President Bill Clinton:

 

Dear Bill,

When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.

I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.

There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I'm not a very good one to give advice; but just don't let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.

Your success now is our country's success. I am rooting hard for you.

Good luck—

George

Can you imagine our current Republican President writing anything as classy? Maybe you can, but I certainly can not. In fact, the editorial board over at the NY Times put together a nice piece about this very idea and on 41’s life. Their lead:  

 

“Historians will measure the presidency of George H.W. Bush in familiar ways — by how well or poorly he managed the major domestic and international challenges of his time, his leadership qualities, the moral and social legacies he left for future generations.

 

Yet, at the moment of his passing, it is difficult not to take note of the profound differences between the 41st president of the United States and the current occupant of the White House, Donald Trump. Beyond a desire to be president — Mr. Bush was more competitive and ambitious than his self-effacing personality sometimes suggested — there is almost nothing in common: the one gracious and modest, the other rude and vain; the one prudent, the other brash; the one steady, the other unmoored.”

 

The full NY Times story: “George H.W. Bush, Public Servant.”

 

This morning, a 7.0 earthquake hit Alaska. I haven’t seen any reports of serious injuries or fatalities but it sounds like Anchorage and the surrounding communities got pummeled with some major infrastructure damage, some TV stations going off air and the airport temporarily shutting down.

Alaska hasn’t had an earthquake since that awful M9.2 quake / tsunami hit the Prince William Sound region back in 1964. Which is exactly why a tsunami warning was issued this time in case aftershocks were powerful enough to form a tidal wave. Thankfully, while there were several aftershocks reported, none of them produced the feared tsunami and the warning was cancelled.

The Anchorage Police Department issued this statement.

The Anchorage Police Department is operational after this morning’s massive earthquake.

 

Our Dispatch center is fully staffed and answering your calls as quickly as they can. Please only call 911 if it’s an emergency.

 

Our officers have been dispatched throughout the area and are handling multiple situations. We are working with our public safety partners to keep you safe. For parents, we are working with our partners at the Anchorage School District to check on your children and make sure they are safe.

 

There is major infrastructure damage across Anchorage. Many homes and buildings are damaged. Many roads and bridges are closed. Stay off the roads if you don’t need to drive. Seek a safe shelter. Check on your surroundings and loved ones.

 

We will keep you updated via Nixle throughout the day.

 

Again, stay safe and off the roads. Call 911 only if it’s an emergency.”

 

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker tweeted that he issued a Disaster Declaration. Now, just so you know - there are two types of Disaster Declarations. First: Major Disaster Declaration, which means the disaster has exceeded the response capabilities of the state and local government and long term recovery is probably needed. The second: Emergency Declaration, which is requested when the state and local government needs help responding to an emergency or disaster; however, no long term recovery assistance is needed.

 

I have not seen one way or another which type of Declaration Governor Walker has requested but I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “Major Disaster Declaration.” It was a 7.0 earthquake, after all.

 

This is a developing story and will be updated as further information is available.

 

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