Jon Cazares

Jon Cazares

The largest cave in the world is Hang Son Doong (translated from Vietnamese: Mountain river cave.) Son Doong cave is located in Quang Binh province, Vietnam. Even though the province is off the coast of the East Vietnamese Sea, the Son Doong cave is located almost as far west in the province as one can get, which means it’s much closer to central Vietnam than it is to the actual sea.

The cave was first discovered in 1991 when a local explorer named Ho Khanh accidentally stumbled across it but, upon his return home, was no able to pinpoint exactly where the cave entrance had been. It took him almost 20 years to find it again but by then, and just about at the same time - the cave had been discovered by British cavers in 2009.

The cave itself, according to experts, is approximately 3.5 million years old - created by “... river water eroding away the limestone underneath the mountain where the limestone was weak - then having the ceiling collapse creating huge skylights. At over 5 km long, with sections reaching up to 200m tall and 150m wide, Hang Son Doong is large enough to house an entire New York City block, complete with 40 story skyscrapers. With a total measured volume of 38.5 million cubic meters, this comfortably surpasses Deer Cave in Malaysia, which was considered to be the previous record holder. Stalagmites up to 80m high have also been surveyed, the tallest ever encountered.”

And just last month, British divers (the same divers who aided in the rescue effort of the trapped soccer team in Thailand) uncovered something about Son Doong that had gone previously unnoticed - an underwater tunnel. This tunnel, it seems, connects Son Doong to another huge cave called, Hang Thung, adding an additional 1.6 million cubic meters in volume to Son Dong’s already colossal 38.5 million cubic meters.

More about the expedition can be found here at the official website for the British explorers. (Editor’s note: The movie on their website is the same five minute movie linked on our front page but you should check out the page anyway, for the photos!)

Weird, but cool. The reigning champion Korean baseball team, the SK Wyverns, unleashed an augmented reality (AR) image of their team name on audiences for opening day of Korean Baseball.

Fans began the performance by mass pressing the “cheer” button on the App and then the AR wyvern flew through the stadium and caused a bit of AR havoc. Audiences could watch the wyvern on the huge LED baseball screen or through their smartphone app.  

The AR wyvern event was masterminded by SK Telecom, a South Korean wireless telecommunications operator; which is part of the SK Group, one of the country's largest of South Korea’s family-owned business conglomerates.

An SK source said, "Media content service has grown more important recently, and we've come up with a service for baseball games," adding, "SK Telecom thus planned this event to provide a unique experience to spectators using AR and VR technologies."

Beginning this year, SK will bring their AR shows out of just South Korea and tour to larger audiences as well as big stadium events and concert halls in other parts of the world.

“Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?” - Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  

“Mueller? Mueller? Mueller?” Just when I thought Robert Mueller had earned his day off. Anyway, a few weeks ago when his report was released, I almost thought we wouldn’t hear from Mueller again. But now Congress wants unredacted report and wants Mueller to testify because Mueller sent a letter claiming that Barr misrepresented his report. President Trump said, “It should be up to the AG if Mueller testifies,” but then AG Barr said to Congress, “I don’t care if Mueller testifies, ” but then Barr didn’t show up for his second day of testimony, and now Congress wants to hold AG Barr in contempt. But then, the President changed his mind saying Mueller shouldn’t testify. So, now, of course, Mueller will testify before Congress. But then … President Trump invoked Executive Privilege to prevent Congress from seeing the unredacted Mueller report, which will probably delay Mueller's testifying.

How naïve of me to assume this was over and done.

Anyway, I tried to read the entire Mueller report. But I’m only one guy, and it clocks in at 450 pages, and I have other work to get done. I got through about a third of it and mostly skimmed the rest, stopping to fully read a page or two that seemed important or to focus on some of the redacted bits to see if I could figure out what it was redacted (usually - no). Now, I know that “skimming” is not an exact science, but I suspect I’ve read much more of the full report than the vast majority of folks. And so, I tackle the following issues with a reasonable amount of knowledge.

A couple things I noticed. It’s very clear that Mueller found large amounts of evidence outlining Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. Like, a jaw dropping amount of evidence! The other thing I noticed is that there is also, a jaw dropping amount of evidence - linking Trump staffers, advisors and family members to meetings and information swaps with the Russians.

BUT, as clearly stated in the opening statement summarizing the report, Mueller says, “... the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” And the reason Mueller states this is because there was no long term agreement between the Russians and the Trump campaign. That’s it. There was no “long term” agreement. Not, “The Russians and the Trump campaign never met up.” Because the report says they did. Only that there was no, “long term agreement,” to fit the legal definition of collusion.  

Did the Russians sabotage the election in favor of Trump? The report says “yes.” Did the Trump Campaign meet with the Russians to get said stolen information? The report says “yes.” It’s just that there was no “long term coordination,” for it to be legally considered collusion. The Russians, realizing that a Trump White House would be much more sympathetic to their cause, committed cyber terrorism against the US, then stole a bunch of documents from the DNC,  then gave the stolen information to the Trump Campaign in hopes to help Trump win, and then went on to commit huge amounts of additional interference from outright misinformation campaigns on social media to fraud. The Mueller report literally says there is huge amounts of evidence supporting all those claims, it’s just that there was no long term agreement between the two parties for it to legally constitute collusion.

Wow. That, um - forgive me for saying this but … that does NOT sound like “total exoneration.”  

The next thing I noticed is that - not much of the report is redacted. The redacted parts come sometimes in giant black chunks, and sometimes in lots of little snippets. All in all, I would say, of the 450 pages there are about 20 total redacted pages. And certainly not in a row, they are scattered all over. Of course, our two political parties see those 20 pages in a completely different light.

Republicans, “We see the majority of the report and we understand the spirit of what is being said, and so no one has to read the redacted twenty pages - because it won’t change anything. Also, the report clearly says “No collusion. Total exoneration,” so any additional investigation is a waste of time.”

Democrats, “We see the majority of the report and we understand the spirit of what is being said but too much information can be hidden behind twenty redacted pages that might shed more light into an investigation that clearly states Russia sabotaged the 16’ Presidential Election. Also, the report does not say, “total exoneration,” in fact it says the opposite of “no exoneration,” so we would like more information.”   

Hrmmmm. Well, they can’t both be right! You know? One side is clearly in the wrong here. Alas, we all know the day and age we live in. Our side is always right. No common ground attempted. The other side is always wrong. Ad nauseam.

Republicans like to think they are one hundred percent altruistic, perfectly just and always correct, while simultaneously believing that Democrats are devil worshiping, lying, “libtards,” who are one hundred percent wrong, one hundred percent of the time.

Democrats like to think they are one hundred percent altruistic, perfectly just and always correct, while simultaneously believing that Republicans are faux-Christian, lying, “deplorables,” who are one hundred percent wrong, one hundred percent of the time.

*long sigh*

Common sense and reason appears to have gone the way of the dodo.

Well, allow me to apply some common sense and reason to this new Mueller … happening. Let Congress read the unredacted report and allow Mueller to testify, because there is no reasonable explanation for blocking Congress from the full report. Members of Congress have security clearance on all matters of national security up to and including investigations that look into - if a hostile foreign power sabotaged a Presidential Election - which the report universally found Russia to have done! That sounds like National Security to me. Which Congress has clearance for. Therefor, common sense and reason suggest Congress should receive the full report.

And now Trump is invoking Executive Privilege to prevent Congress from receiving the full report. Which, if you are not exactly familiar with Executive Privilege, from Wikipedia:  

Executive privilege is the power of the President of the United States and other members of the executive branch of the United States Government to resist certain subpoenas and other interventions by the legislative and judicial branches of government in pursuit of information or personnel relating to the executive.”  

Fair enough. That is the right of the President (and members of the executive branch) and it’s an important protection. In fact, many modern day Presidents have invoked Executive Privilege, some have done it much more than once, including - Nixon (a few times), Reagan, Bush, Clinton (several times), Bush Jr. (several times), Obama and now Trump.

Of course, it should also be noted that Congress can breach EP but must sue in federal court. It’s happened before, and in two notable cases, Nixon and Clinton, the President lost. Nixon invoked EP to avoid Watergate, Clinton invoked EP to avoid the Lewinsky scandal. Congress sued and won in court. The rest, as they say - is history.

So, this is really nothing new. The cover ups. The investigation. The lying. The testifying. The “I don’t recalls.” The invoking of Executive Privilege. The lawsuit. So people should really stop their fake outrage because we’ve seen this happen over and over.

These new shenanigans are nothing new but will add to the cost of the investigation and the amount of time we have to hear about it. Apparently, the overall cost of the Mueller investigation, so far, is a bit more than $16 million. Maybe that sounds like a lot to you, maybe it doesn’t. For context, the 9/11 Commission was funded with a $15 million budget. I’m sure you folks remember the 9/11 Commission. If not, it was an investigation into how and why the largest terrorist attack on the US occurred, and what can be done to prevent future attacks. Which, is the exact definition of “a matter of National Security.” (I just scanned over the 9/11 report and did not notice a single redacted item, which, I know, is NOT exactly the same thing we have going on today with Mueller report, but was still something I thought was interesting).

Now we have a new report, that is literally looking into a matter of National Security, investigating if a hostile foreign power sabotaged the 16’ Presidential Election. One would think, when applying common sense and reason to this dilemma - the Mueller Report is an important investigation into the National Security of the country.

And if you feel annoyed that the Mueller report cost more than the 9/11 Commission, allow me to remind you that the Clinton Impeachment cost taxpayers more than both investigations combined. To break it down:

Clinton Impeachment - “Did the President lie to Congress while under oath, about weather or not he cheated on his wife?” Cost to taxpayers: $70 million dollars (adjusted for inflation that’s $105 million today).

9/11 Commission: “An investigation into the largest terrorist attack on US soil and, as a matter of National Security, a report on how we can be better equipped to thwart future terrorist attacks.” Cost to taxpayers: $15 million dollars (adjusted for inflation that’s $22.5 million, today)

Mueller Report: “As a matter of National Security, an investigation into if a hostile foreign power sabotaged the 16’ Presidential Election?” Cost to taxpayers: $16 million dollars (but could go up).

If you honestly can’t see which of the above is not like the others, well - then you can’t. But common sense and reason should tell you that two of them are matters of National Security, and one of them is total BS that wasted a lot of taxpayer money.

Republicans used to be the security party, the military party. Even President Obama had a Republican Secretary of Defense. Speaking of Obama, we all know the truth of this next statement, if a two year Special Prosecutor investigation uncovered Russian interference in 2012’s Obama vs. Romney election that involved stolen information from the RNC in a way that handed Obama the win - Republican heads would have exploded from rage induced aneurysms!

I bet then, with that ridiculous Russian/Obama scenario, Republicans would have been very interested in security and in preserving election integrity.

Now … meh, not so much.

Last month in the United Kingdom, more than 5,000 people stood in line in the rain - for hours, to see if they were a potential stem cell match for a young boy battling cancer. You see, back in December 2018, 5 year old Oscar Saxelby-Lee had been diagnosed with “acute lymphoblastic leukaemia” when the family took him to Birmingham Children’s Hospital over Christmas. Oscar was just feeling, “unwell.” The family was certainly not expecting to hear that Oscar had leukemia.   

But he did. And it was a particularly rare and aggressive kind of cancer, too. Only a few hundred people, in the UK (where all of this took place) per year are afflicted.  Oscar underwent four weeks of successful chemotherapy but then the doctors said he would need a stem cell transplant within a few months. 

Oscar's community and school reached out via social media and told the UK about Oscar and his cause. Tens of thousands of people reached out to help including the aforementioned 5,000 that stood in the rain. Usually in these circumstances, a family member would donate stem cells but neither of the parents were a close match. Thankfully, three people, out of several thousand - were found to be a perfect match for Oscar. 

From the Hand in Hand for Oscar Facebook page: 

"We have the best news to share! Oscar has a match!!!! Absolutely thrilled to announce Oscar has finally got a stem cell match, not just one but three and will be undergoing transplant very soon!! What an emotional rollercoaster it's literally been a journey of heartache and dread continuously, but...WOW!!!  What a feeling of relief and positivity to help Oscar kick cancer's butt!! It's been so so traumatic but we are over the moon with being given a chance to tackle the next step in treatment. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts to all of you out there who have registered, supported and continued to spread the word for our beautiful boy and those in need of wonderous bone marrow cells. We could never have done this without you all!!”

Before the transplant could happen, Oscar needed four days of radiotherapy, which he received, and last week - Oscar was found to be free of leukaemia blast cells. The stem cell transplant is the only thing left. 

I’ll update more on Oscar as soon as I hear.

Earlier this week, news erupted about the Boy Scout’s “Perversion Files.” The Perversion Files (which the Scouts call, “ineligible volunteer files,”) detail as many as 12,000 boys that, while participating in scout programs - were sexually abused by Scout leaders.

Now, portions of the Perversion Files have leaked before, so the general information is nothing new. What has recently come forward is that the number of abused boys and abusers is much, much higher than previously reported.

The way I understand it is that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) hired someone to do a five year internal investigation and that investigation concluded the number leaders who sexually assaulted boys in the program is not the 3,000 as had been previously reported, but is actually closer to 8000.

Let that sink in for a moment. That’s eight thousand men - volunteer leaders in the BSA, that have been accused of molesting more than 12,000 boys. So the “Ineligible Volunteer Files” is a detailed list of all the men who have “had their registration with the Boy Scouts revoked - because of reasonable allegations of child sex abuse.”

This all came to light when attorney Jeff Anderson released sworn testimony from Janet Warren, a psychiatry professor at the University of Virginia. Warren had been hired by the Boy Scouts to conduct the above mentioned study of the sex abuse files. Warren found that the evidence in the files was actually much worse than what the BSA imagined. She found the number of abused boys and abusers was thousands more than initially thought. Warren also made it clear that she found no evidence of a cover up by the BSA to hide this information and that she will present a more detailed report sometime during the summer.  

Unlike the Catholic church, who just shuffles abusers around to new parishes and/or different cities - at least the Boy Scouts fired the abuser and didn’t allow them to work with youth ever again. I mean, it’s not much, but at least it’s that.

With something like two and a half million children participating in the Boy Scouts, if there are thousands of victims who come forward (and hundreds and hundreds of them are coming forward - some as young as 15, and one as old as 75) - this could be a financial disaster the BSA. As a non profit organization, they would not be able to financially handle thousands of lawsuits and would probably declare bankruptcy, which would shield them from lawsuits but allow them to continue operations.

Michael Surbaugh, the Chief Executive of the Boy Scouts said this at a lengthy press conference:

"I want to reiterate our steadfast support for victims of abuse. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children …  We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in scouting. We believe victims, and we pay for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward. At no time have we ever knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth, and we mandate that all leaders, volunteers and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegations to law enforcement. Throughout our history, we have enacted strong youth protection policies to prevent future abuse, including mandatory youth protection trainings and a formal leader-selection process that includes criminal background checks. Since the 1920's, we have maintained a Volunteer Screening Database to prevent individuals accused of abuse or inappropriate conduct from joining or re-entering our programs, a practice recommended in 2007 by the Centers for Disease Control for all youth-serving organizations."

Okay. Well, I do believe him. I doubt BSA leadership “knowingly allowed” predators to work with youth.  Again, the Perversion Files clearly state that abusers were fired after “reasonable evidence.” Which suggests that the BSA knew about the allegations, believed the victim and fired the alleged abuser. But, and here’s the sticky point - didn’t contact authorities. Which might have been a problem.   

Interestingly enough, I just read that the Boy Scouts filed suit against several of their insurers for “refusing to cover its sex abuse legal liabilities.” But, like insurance companies everywhere, said insurance agents found a way not to pay a cent of coverage for the BSA by claiming, “the Boy Scouts neglected to take meaningful precautionary action.”

Hrmmm. Okay. Maybe. The Boy Scouts claim they have a screening process and a “protection system” in place. Which makes sense. Clearly, their process doesn’t work as well as they thought, but it certainly suggests they are “taking meaningful precautionary action,” so I don’t know what the F those insurance companies are talking about.  I even found a part of their screening process / protection system listed in a CNN story:

  • Youth protection training is mandatory for all registered leaders.
  • … a youth is never alone with an adult leader during scouting activities and that no youth is permitted to sleep in a ten with other adults other than the parent or guardian.
  • ...prohibited one-on-one texts and social media communication between adult and youth members.  

Sounds like meaningful precautionary action to me. Anyway, - the courts will work all that out. Until then, more and more victims continue to come forward.

A man in an Easter Bunny costume jumped to the defense of a woman involved in a bar brawl. It’s not clear how the fight began but, Sunday evening (on Easter) outside Orlando’s Underground Public House the unidentified man and woman started hitting each other. To me, they both look clearly drunk and so it was more of a lame drunk slap fest than an actual brawl. Which, is probably why no one was actually hurt.

Anyway, the man and woman were fighting and, typical of soulless a-holes everywhere these days - no one bothered to help her or break up the fight - instead everyone just took out their phones and recorded it!

That is - until the Easter Bunny stepped in. As you can clearly see in the linked video (on the front page) a man in an Easter Bunny costume hopped in and started throwing punches at the man involved in the brawl. Much to the delight of the crowd, who stood by and recorded the event.

The brawl doesn’t last long and within a minute a bike cop on patrol shows up and breaks everything up. No arrests were made and according to a witness or two, the cop shook the Easter Bunny’s hand and thanked him for helping.

Everyone went home.

Turns out - the man in the costume is Antoine McDonald - wanted felon. McDonald has a record a mile long (as they say) and an outstanding warrant in New Jersey.  His rap sheet is littered with armed robbery, car burglary, harassment and identity theft. After the bar he told various social media outlets that he was the person in the costume and that he, typically wasn’t a violent person.

According to cops in his former home state, McDonald fled New Jersey after the arrest warrant was issued and so never appeared in court. New Jersey police even, “thought he fled to Florida.”

Turns out - they were right! McDonald was in Florida. In an Easter Bunny costume. Breaking up brawls. As of Wednesday, his whereabouts are unknown. But it does go to show that people are complex. Someone can be a felon wanted for burglary, and armed robbery and still make good decisions to help people.

And other people, who are probably generally good - can stand around and record people helping other people while they themselves, do nothing to assist.

Weird news.

On Sunday morning, coordinated suicide bombers struck several Christian churches and luxury hotels in the cities of Batticaloa, Colombo and Negombo. At least 290 people were killed and hundreds more injured. And sadly, it sounds like the Sri Lanka government had been warned that an attack like this might occur on Easter. Intelligence agencies from the U.S. and India warned the Sri Lankan government weeks ago. Through a series of government missteps the Sri Lankan government didn’t do enough, or perhaps anything at all, to investigate the threat. I actually just read multiple accounts that the Sri Lankan government has issued an apology for not taking the threat seriously enough. Of course, after the fact - that really does sound like empty words to me.

Anyway. An obscure Muslim military group called the National Thowfeek Jamaath (NTJ) is being blamed for the Easter morning terrorist attacks. But Sri Lanka Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said that official investigation turned up evidence that the NTJ did not act alone, telling reporters: "We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country … There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded."

Sri Lanka is actually, mostly a Buddhist country, with something like 70% of the population identifying as Buddhist. According to the US State Department, the remaining 30% of the population identifies as approx. 12% Hindu, 10% Muslim, 7% Christian with the remaining few percentage points coming in as “other/none.”  Even though the Muslim population is comparatively small, tension between the Muslim/Buddhist communities have flared up after a series of back and forth aggressive actions that began, supposedly, a few years ago when a young Buddhist man was attacked and killed by a group of young Muslim men.

Sri Lanka has seen the face of violence many times since 1948, when the country gained independence from Britain. Mostly the violence was from the almost three decade civil war that went from the early 80’s all the way to 2009. A civil war that ripped the country apart and left an estimated 150,000 casualties in its wake. But since the end of the civil war, the country has been relatively free from large scale violence for a decade, which is why Sunday’s coordinated bombing attacks was so shocking.

As of today, 24 suspects linked to the attack have been arrested. Here is a partial list of some of the victims with information about their lives. If you want to help, here is a link to the Sri Lanka Red Cross.

Last year I wrote “Opinion: The Turpin parents are guilty. Lock them up forever.”  Well, on Friday - I got my wish. David and Louise Turpin, the parents who abused, starved and held all of their children captive, received a sentence of “25 years to life in prison.” Both of them pleaded guilty to torture, child endangerment, false imprisonment and cruelty to dependent adults.

If you do not remember the Turpin parents I’ll offer a quick recap. Last January one of their 17 year old children escaped the torture house the Turpins kept their children shackled up in. When 911 responders arrived they assumed the 17 year old was a child as young as 10 because she was so "emaciated," from starvation. The girl told authorities that her brothers and sisters were inside their house, “chained to the walls and beds.”

When authorities entered the house, sure enough - all the children from age 2 to 29 were living in miserable conditions and that yes, some of them were chained to furniture, beds, walls. Most of them were as thin as their 17 year old sister, due to malnutrition, and all of the adult children were as tiny as the younger ones, again due to the forced starvation they were all rail thin and underdeveloped.

After an investigation, authorities uncovered that the children lived a life of abuse, neglect and torture. The children were even punished for insane reasons up to and including things like this: one of the children would wash his/her hands and the Turpin parents would yank them away from the sink, choke or beat them, and then chain them to a wall for - “playing with water.” The children were only allowed to shower once a year and were only allowed one meal a day. The list of abuse goes on and on. I don't really need to say much more about it. 

Well, it’s been more than a year since the children have been free from the torture house. There was no single foster home that was able to house all of them, and so they were split into three separate homes living near each other. It sounds as if they communicate often vis Skype and are all doing as well as can be possibly expected.

Some of the children even confronted their parents in court. A few of the children even said they forgive their parents and still love them. Which, I find particularly heartbreaking to hear; however, I was warmed to hear about Raider, the 3 year old Labrador comfort dog who sat by the kids as they testified. Raider has been in their lives for a while, actually. Raider is a trained dog with the Corona Police Department and has been meeting with the siblings for almost the a year. The siblings love the dog so much they asked if Raider would be allowed to sit by them while they testified. A 2017 California law allows trained therapy dogs to accompany witnesses while testifying so Raider was they judge allowed the comfort do to join them.

And that's that. The Turpin court case is over, the parents are going to jail and the thirteen survivor children who endured a life of torture get to grow up, be happy and live life. I wish them all the best.

Stranger Things, one of Netflix’s biggest hits is, allegedly - plagiarized from another source. At least that’s the claim by Charlie Kessler, a long time Netflix digital/technical operation crew member. And - I kind of buy it. After reading more about it, the lawsuit appears to have some merit. Let me break it down for you:

Netflix released Stranger Things in July of 2016; it was an instant hit. If you have not seen it, the show is about weird, macabre happenings around the small town of Hawkins, Indiana during the early 80’s, and how several twelve year olds become unlikely heroes. The main protagonist(s) of the show come from the nearby underground Military base. A Military base that performs horrible cross dimension experiments on children!

The show dripped with Spielberg, King, Gygax nostalgic lore and was both a critic darling and fan favorite.

Now, keep in mind that if a show is released in July 2016 that means it was in pre-production probably early 2015, shot principle photography mid to late 2015 and did post production visual effects, sound editing/mixing, original score recording late 2015 to early 2016. Key point there being - we know the production of Stranger Things began at least - early 2015.

BUT - you can’t go into production unless you have a completed concept. So the Duffers had to have pitched to Netflix before they went into pre-production (obviously), then Netflix had to greenlight the show, and then get money to the producers of Stranger Things (Also, at the time the show title was “The Montauk Experiment.” This is important later)

This kind of stuff doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, as someone who bounced around the industry, I know it takes quite a bit of time. I’m going to say that all of the pitching/accepting had to begin near the end of 2014.  I think that’s a reasonable estimate. 

Which, brings us to Charlie Kessler. According to Kessler’s IMDB page, he worked on Netflix productions since 2015’s Jessica Jones, before that he had some crew success on other networks and video games going back to 2005. He’s been around the biz and knows the industry. And, here’s the kicker - Kessler claims that he (and his agents, maybe) met the Duffer brothers at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival and pitched them the idea for a Montauk military base / conspiracy sci-fi series based on his (Kessler’s) short film “Montauk.” Kessler claims the meeting lasted “ten to fifteen minutes.”

Well, I just looked up the  2014 Tribeca Film Festival and see that it took place from April 16th to april 27th. That’s mid 2014. So the timeline for Kessler’s case works out. If he’s telling the truth, then:

  • Kessler pitches his series idea to the Duffer brothers mid 2014. The pitch is based on Kessler’s 2011 short “Montauk,” (which I have been unable to find other than a 45 second trailer clip of the movie but the description of the plot is similar to Stranger Things, but more on “similar” later).
  • By the end of 2014, the Duffer brothers pitch to Netflix a series about the Montauk Base and the conspiracy theories around it. The Duffer show is currently titled, “The Montauk Experiment.”
  • Sometime late to early 2015 the show is greenlit, and goes into production.
  • For some reason, the story setting is changed from Montauk to Indiana. The show title also changes to Stranger Things.
  • Production of Stranger Things takes place mid 2015 to (probably) early 2016.
  • Stranger Things is released on Netflix in July 2016.
  • Charlie Kessler watches Stranger Things and thinks, “Um … that’s my idea that I totally pitched to those guys!”
  • Lawsuit begins.

Now, as you may (or may not) know the underground Montauk Air Force Base in Long Island, NY - swirls with conspiracy theories, most of which revolve around the US military conducting experiments on teleportation, thought & behavior control, black hole research, parallel universe theory and, of course - time travel. Often, these experiments were said to be using children as test subjects. Oh, and here’s a good one - even though the base shut down decades ago, no one remembers what they worked on at Montauk Air Force Base because - they’re minds were all wiped clean! =)

And if you’re thinking, “Wow, those conspiracies actually do sound just like Stranger Things” season one. Well - that’s the whole point, ain’t it? But, as you no doubt probably see - stories about Montauk Air Force Base and conspiracies surrounding it, are nothing new. And they are all similar.  So, it is totally believable that, in general - two different people can have similar ideas about famous events. I buy that.

BUT - now we have a series of coincidences - there’s the timing of it all, the former show title and subsequent change, and the fact that all of this was pitched to them a few months before the Duffer brothers pitched the idea to Netflix. Again, it’s reasonable to assume that they all had similar ideas. But - it does seem suspicious. And by the way, sorting this all out is exactly what the court system is for. Right?

Now, on the flip side - the Duffer brothers say that they never, ever met Charlie Kessler and never heard any kind of pitch from him.  At all. And, that he’s lying. Fair enough. Hence the lawsuit. Which has just moved forward because an L.A. judge denied summary judgement to the Duffer brothers.

What summary judgement would have meant is that, the judge could have decided the outcome of the case without a trial. Summary judgements are more likely to be held under lock and key so, for example - you and I would not have heard what the verdict and/or payout to the alleged damaged party would have been. A trial and verdict is more likely to go public. Which is something the unusually secretive Netflix didn’t want.

The Duffer brothers have been saying since day one that they came up with the idea of Stranger Things years ago. As in - back in 2010, which would have been four years before they had the alleged meeting with Kessler. TMZ even reported, “We have the emails that prove the Duffer brothers talked via email in 2010 about ideas for Stranger Things.” TMZ didn’t publish the emails but claim there are 2 from 2010 and one from 2013 where the Duffer brothers discuss the Montauk show premise between themselves. Which might suggest they didn’t steal the entire show idea.

And I will take it back to the - but two people can have similar ideas about famous world events. For example, it’s very possible that before the Duffer brothers and Kessler ever met, they all had similar ideas about Montauk. BUT, during the Kessler pitch to the Duffer brothers, it’s possible he (Kessler) pitched specific things to the Duffer’s that - ended up on Stranger Things.

That would be a problem.  

The Duffer brothers, and Netflix, all say this is a meritless lawsuit and that there is definitive proof the Duffer’s didn’t steal ideas, but the judge clearly thought otherwise ruling that the Duffer’s “lack verifying evidence of the originality of their idea.”

To be perfectly honest, I suspect it’s a bit of both. I’m willing to bet that, independently of each other, both parties came up with similar ideas. Then, a pitch meeting happened between Kessler and the Duffers, coincidentally, about their similar ideas. Then, the Duffers - probably on accident - took some ideas from said pitch meeting and placed the ideas in Stranger Things. Which led Kessler to believe, “The Duffer must have taken their entire idea for Stranger Things - from my pitch meeting!”

Anyway. The case goes to trial in May.

Stranger Things season three will be released on Netflix in July, 2019.

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Opinion: The Mueller Report

By now you all know that the full (but redacted) Mueller report has been made available to the public. I am slogging through it now. It’s long. Four hundred and eighty eight pages long. And I’m only one guy. It’s gonna take me awhile to get through it all.

But I have read a decent amount of it. It’s broke down into two volumes.

Volume I details Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and "if the Trump Team conspired with the Russians."  

Volume II deals with the president's “actions towards the FBI investigation” and if any of said actions are "obstruction of justice."

So far - I have some thoughts.  

So, what does the Mueller report actually say about Russian interference and collusion?

A lot. Like, way more than I ever expected it to. From Mueller’s introduction to Volume I of the report:

“The Russian Government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. Evidence of Russian government operations began to surface in mid-2016. In June, the DNC and its cyber response team publicly announced that Russian hackers had compromised its computer network. Release of hacked materials -hacks that public reporting soon attributed to the Russian government-began that same month …. Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos … (said) that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The information prompted the FBI on July 31st, 2016, to open an investigation into weather individuals associated with the Trump Campaign were coordinating with the Russian government in its interference activities.

That fall, two federal agencies jointly announced that the Russian government “directed recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including US political organizations,” and, “these thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.”

So, this all makes it very, very clear that Russia, a hostile foreign power, endlessly interfered in the US presidential election. That’s not even in debate.

The next part of the introduction talks about how Mueller was assigned, came on board in May of 2017 as Special Counsel and was authorized to investigate “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election,” including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign.

Okay. We all know this. And then the report clearly says this:

“As set forth in detail in this report, the Special Counsel’s investigation established that Russia interfered …. principally through two operations. First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and then released stolen documents. The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign. Although the investigation established that the Russian perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Hrmmm. The words “numerous links,” and “did not establish” don’t seem to fit together. Let me unpackage it all:

  1. The report says the Russians interfered. Like - a lot. Like - a huge amount. The Russians …
    1. committed cyber terrorism by stealing documents and materials from our government. Then, using that information, ran social media campaigns against Clinton. And because of the large amount of Trump / Russian business connections, the Russians -
    2. knew a Trump White House would be more sympathetic to the Russian cause and so they …
    3. contacted the Trump Campaign and said “We have a bunch of stolen information that will help you (Trump) win the election. Do you want it?”
  2. The Trump campaign went, “What?!? Heck yes we’ll take all your stolen goods in order to win the election!”
  3. And so the Trump Campaign met with Russian personnel in order to exchange stolen goods and documents.  
  4. But since there was no long term agreement between the two parties to interfere in the election, that means …

Mueller felt that the while the Russians instigated cyber terrorism and the Trump team accepted the stolen material there was technically “no collusion,” because both groups acted independently towards the same mutually beneficial goal.   

Okay. I understand. That’s fair. The Trump team never called up the Russians and said, “Can you steal a bunch of stuff in order to help us win the election?” In which case, for it to be collusion, then the Russians would have to respond with, “Of course! We’ll break into the US Government and steal a bunch of information that will help you win!” Because that specific agreement - tacit or express - did not seem to happen - then there was “no collusion.”

Which … is not exactly how Barr’s four page summary spun it. But, whatever. 

Also, I’m only about fifty pages into the report so far. 

More to come.  

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