True Crime documentaries are nothing new. A few of the better ones have even freed innocent victims from jail for crimes they did not commit. The Thin Blue Line (1988) is a documentary film directed by Errol Morris that covers the story of Randall Dale Adams, who was convicted and sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. One year after the release of Thin Blue Line Adam’s was exonerated and released from prison.

The Paradise Lost Trilogy covers the infamous West Memphis Three case where three teenage boys were convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murders they did not commit. After 19 years in prison and two Paradise Lost sequels, new DNA evidence was found that linked a known serial rapist to the killings and the West Memphis Three were released from prison.

Netflix has a variety of crime docu-series available to stream. The most popular being last years ten part Making a Murderer, directed by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos. Season 1 was a huge hit for Netflix and season 2 is expected on Netflix by the end of 2018.

And now Netflix has again struck true crime gold with The Staircase, a 13 part series directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade that covers the 2001 accidental death, or murder, of Kathleen Peterson . Kathleen was found covered in blood at the bottom of the stairs at her and husband Michael Peterson's home. Michael says she was drunk and slipped down the stairs. The police and the DA say that Michael Peterson bludgeoned her to death. 16 years of legal proceedings followed.

While the director and producers have very carefully claimed The Staircase is an unbiased look at the American justice system it becomes pretty clear that the docu-series is extremely pro Michael Peterson.

And that’s fine because, after watching the entire 13 part series I’m on the fence as to his guilt or innocence. Which, I suppose - makes for fine viewing.  I found the series to be more satisfying, than Making a Murderer which is equally on the side of the white male man accused of murder.  What I mean by “more satisfying” is that, agree with the conclusion of The Staircase or not - it has an ending. Making a Murderer for all it’s pros and cons - is just going to go on and on.

 

So what exactly is “The Staircase” about? (A spoiler free breakdown)

 

Fair question. As mentioned above - it’s mainly about the legal proceedings of Michael Peterson who is accused of murdering his wife. It covers Michael's life in great detail including the lives of his children and his charismatic lawyer, David Rudolph.

People are fascinating. Late great film critic Gene Siskel always said that an actor’s face is far more interesting than an explosion. And that carries over to documentaries and real life. People are interesting and flawed and ridiculous and they lie when they should tell the truth and they tell the truth when they should probably lie. And that’s what’s great about The Staircase. It's about people. I liked Michael Peterson, I liked David Rudolph, I like Michaels daughters and one of his sons.

I found one of the other sons a little shady, only to find out that said son had a weird, extensive criminal history - none of which was presented in the docu-series. In fact, there was considerable amount of “strangeness” cut out of the series. Accused murderer Michael Peterson had a fifteen year love affair with The Staircase editor even though the director and producers all claim that fact didn’t affect her judgement as she cut together the series.

Um - maybe that’s true. But probably not.

There is a hugely popular theory of how Kathleen actually accidentally died that is oddly absent from the series. There theory is equally absurd as it is plausible. If you want to continue a spoiler free review do not click this link here (which discusses the theory in detail).  

But the main thing I found odd about The Staircase is the lack of empathy towards Kathleen Peterson - the victim. The woman who either tragically died or was murdered. We know virtually nothing about her other than - she's the victim. Maggie Serota writes a really nice piece for Spin.com called Netflix’s The Staircase Doesn’t Seem Particularly Concerned With Kathleen Peterson.

 

From her piece:

“Like a supporting female character in a mafia movie, the Kathleen presented in the crime doc had no interior life of her own and existed only to know other people, namely her husband and likely killer Michael…”

Serota’s observation is spot on. For a 13 hour series covering the death (possible murder?) of Kathleen Peterson - we are presented very little information as to … well, anything about her. Which means the show produces very little empathy for the victim, other than a few harrowing photographs of the crime scene. And worse than that, doesn't even try to produce empathy for her. According to The Staircase, Kathleen Peterson is basically just - "the dead woman."

And that seems like a professional choice by the director, the producers and the editor in an effort to slant the viewer towards the idea that Michael Peterson is innocent.

And maybe he is. But Kathleen Peterson is dead under mysterious circumstances. And her in debt husband needed money. And Kathleen had a huge life insurance policy. By the way, if you are suddenly thinking, “You said this was spoiler free!”  I assure you that information was spoiler free. You know why? Because the 13 part series doesn’t even bother to mention the fact that there was a money problem and a huge life insurance payout. (Motive, anyone?)

Michael Peterson received one third of the life insurance policy, which he spent on legal fees. The other two thirds of the money went to Kathleen’s first husband and her daughter from that previous marriage.

All that being said, I found The Staircase to be fascinating and in places, quite shocking. There are story twists in the series that, if you viewed them in a feature film you would say to yourself, “No way is this even remotely plausible!” But as they say, “Life is stranger than fiction.” And the events surrounding the death / possible murder of Kathleen Peterson are certainly that - strange.


All thirteen one hour episodes of The Staircase are currently streaming on Netflix.

 

There’s no secret as to which companies sponsor which drivers in NASCAR. It’s advertised all over the cars and drivers. NASCAR drivers aren’t bashful when it comes to endorsing their sponsors either, and race fans can easily see the companies that support them. Politicians should be no different. In fact, they should be just as eager to do so at the podium as NASCAR drivers are on victory lane. They should wear the logos of their campaign contributors with pride, stitched into their thousand-dollar suits, and they should proudly thank every one of them in their victory and concession speeches. Like NASCAR drivers, politicians wouldn’t be where they are without their campaign contributors. That’s why I’m proposing the Non-individual And Super-PAC Contributions Advertising Requirement, or N.A.S.C.A.R. Act, to end all that secrecy, and force politicians to reveal who paid for their campaign.


This was originally published at Grandstand Central.


Much has been made of the need for transparency with regards to campaign contributions in American elections, but not much has been done. Sure, there are organizations and journalists reporting from where the “dark money” comes, but few media outlets are reporting those stories and even fewer voters are reading or watching them when they are reported. The result is a record-number of Americans — 36 percent, according to an October 2017 poll by the General Social Survey — being ashamed of the way democracy works in America.

Even if you wanted to know who gave what to whom, the research is time-consuming, relatively un-revealing and you have to trust the number-crunchers and fact-checkers did their jobs. But you still couldn’t determine the amount a super PAC spent on a television advertisement in support of a politician’s specific agenda item like abortion. We’re lucky to have projects like OpenSecrets to reveal campaign contributors to the Americans who discover and believe their research to be accurate, but the American people shouldn’t have to search for that information because major campaign contributors shouldn’t be secrets.

Americans need to see who (and it is “who” since corporations are people by law) is most responsible for electing their elected officials, and the N.A.S.C.A.R. Act would require elected officials to display all non-individual campaign contributions on their person when in view of the public — whether that’s on television, in-person or even on vacation.

Since elected officials are public figures and celebrities of sorts, they are always representative of their office, regardless of whether they’re on the clock or not. When a politician commits sexual assault, he or she doesn’t get a pass because it happened outside the office or during off-duty hours. This form of public shaming would make elected officials think twice about taking money from just anyone or any one organization, and it would make corporations consider the consequences of supporting specific candidates, solving some of America’s campaign finance fiasco.

A majority of Americans support campaign finance reform, according to an August 2017 Ipsos Poll on behalf of the Center for Public Integrity, and almost half of those polled opposed the Citizens United decision that made corporations people and money free speech. “Given the chance to change the campaign finance system, a majority of Americans (57%) would place limits on the amount of money super PACs can raise and spend.” But there already are limits on the amount of money PACs can raise and spend, and super PACs are simply a means for wealthy individuals to give candidates more than the $2,700 limit per election without violating federal law.

PAC stands for Political Action Committee, and it’s how corporations and nonprofit organizations, including churches, funnel millions of dollars into elections without directly contributing to candidates’ campaigns, which would violate federal law. While super PACs cannot contribute directly to a politician’s campaign, they can produce commercials and advertising in support of a particular politician’s platform or agenda, or more commonly, against the platform or agenda of a particular politician’s opponent.

PACs, on the other hand, can contribute directly to politicians’ campaigns, and while that amount is limited, it’s still a means for corporations to buy elections. More than 39 percent of House Democrats’ 2018 election funding came from PACs, 43 percent of House Republicans’ funding came from PACs and more than 32 percent of Senate Republicans’ funding came from PACs.

Toyota, a Japanese company, used its PAC to spend nearly half a million dollars supporting 36 Senate candidates and 155 House representatives in the 2018 federal elections. So are those 191 elected officials inclined to represent the interests of the constituents who made individual donations, or the constituents who voted for them, or do their jobs quite literally depend on them doing as Toyota and their other corporate donors demand?

While the total of individual campaign contributions was more than the total of PAC contributions in the 2018 federal elections, the majority of those individual campaign contributions were made by businessmen and businesswomen on behalf of their respective businesses.

Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge fund manager, was the biggest campaign contributor in 2018, supporting Democrats with nearly $30 million. Second in campaign contributions was Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, of U-Line, Inc. They supported Republicans with nearly $27 million. The only actual individual on the list who’s not a representative of a business is Deborah Simon, who is described as a “philanthropist” and made nearly $4.5 million in contributions to Democrats.

The premise of the N.A.S.C.A.R. Act is simple: any campaign contribution to a candidate through a PAC, or any super PAC contribution from which the candidate clearly benefits must be revealed by the candidate, with the largest contributions being most visible on their person when in view of the public.

Instead of Robert Mercer being able to hide his hedge fund firm behind his super PAC supporting Donald Trump, Trump would be required to wear a Renaissance Technologies logo on his chest or higher (so television cameras pick it up) in a size proportional to the $13.5 million in contributions he received from Mercer when compared to the candidate’s total campaign contributions. Whether that would keep Mercer from contributing in the future depends on what he thinks Trump’s actions will cost him and his company by “sponsoring” the candidate. So both the sponsor and the “driver” have to consider the risk their political-business relationship could have on the politician’s ability to keep his job and the sponsor’s ability to sell its product or service.

The same goes for Sheldon and Miriam Adelson of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, who contributed $10 million to Trump’s campaign. Linda McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment contributed $6 million. Co-founder and former CEO of Home Depot, Bernard Marcus, contributed $7 million, and even though he’s retired, Home Depot would still be advertised on Trump’s person given Marcus’s 3.8-percent ownership stake in the company.

Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, who apologized for comparing NFL players to inmates when discussing the anthem protests with owners and then only regretted the apology because he wasn’t referring to players but NFL office executives, gave $2 million to a pro-Trump super PAC. So the Texans logo would be affixed to Trump’s suit jackets under the N.A.S.C.A.R. Act. He wasn’t the only NFL owner who contributed to Trump either. He and seven other owners donated $7.25 million to Trump’s inauguration fund, but those donations aren’t campaign contributions and wouldn’t apply under the N.A.S.C.A.R. Act.

I have shared this bill, the full text of which you can find below, with multiple Congresspeople and have received no responses. But Harvard Law Professor and author of Republic, Lost, Lawrence Lessig, was most gracious and thanked me for my work “for a functioning republic.”

“I’m afraid I don’t think this brilliant hack would be upheld under the 1st amendment, but maybe,” he told Grandstand Central via email on Wednesday. “But more fundamentally, I think our energy has got to be focused on changing the system, not shaming people who live under the current system. There’s no clean private money way to run for Congress or other lower offices. That means we need to change the money.”

So while it’s unlikely the N.A.S.C.A.R. Act reaches the floor of the Senate or the House of Representatives, and even more unlikely it be passed and signed into law, it’s a solution politicians should consider exploiting. Even without the law in place, politicians can commit to the N.A.S.C.A.R. Act as a means of expressing their campaign contribution cleanliness.

Politicians shouldn’t need the N.A.S.C.A.R. Act to become law in order to abide by it. If politicians have their constituents’ interests in mind, they would reveal their non-individual, super PAC and PAC contributors without being required to do so by law.

I am a firm believer, along with Lessig, that very little can change in America until campaign finance changes. The N.A.S.C.A.R. Act doesn’t stop corporations and billionaires from buying elections, but it would reveal to the American public who bought the elections. It’s not victory lane, but it’s at least a fast start from the pole position. America just needs one driver to put on that suit jacket littered with logos and lead the rest of the honest drivers who are proud of their sponsors but know it’s all about the fans in the stands.


The Non-individual And Super-PAC Contributions Advertising Requirement, or N.A.S.C.A.R. Act
A politician’s non-individual, PAC, and super PAC campaign contributions must be visible on his or her person while in view of the public.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE CONGRESS HERE ASSEMBLED THAT:

SECTION 1. Every elected official in service of the United States of America make every non-individual campaign contribution from which they benefited in the previous election or stand to benefit since, visible on his or her person at all times while in view of the public, and proportional in size to indicate the percentage of total campaign contributions for the election cycle. Violators will subject themselves to recall elections if so petitioned by their constituents.

SECTION 2. A non-individual, campaign contribution is either a contribution not from an individual or contributions by an individual in an amount exceeding the $2,700 individual limit per election. This includes donations from political action committees (PACs) and super PACs.

SECTION 3. Campaign contributions made by PACs formed by heads of corporations, LLCs, or nonprofit organizations will be represented on the politician’s person by the logo of the corporation, LLC, or nonprofit organization responsible for the formation of the PAC. The PAC founder need not be an employee of the corporation, LLC, or nonprofit organization, but must simply stand to benefit from the corporation’s, LLC’s, or nonprofit organization’s success resulting from poltical influence.

SECTION 4. The Federal Election Commission will oversee the enforcement of the bill along with the specific enforcement mechanism.

SECTION 5. This law will take effect two weeks after its passage to allow politicians ample time to properly display their non-individual, campaign contributors.

SECTION 6. All laws in conflict with this legislation are hereby declared null and void.

Introduced for Congressional Debate by ______.

"Philosophy is common sense with big words." President James Madison 

 

In this age, there have risen up in America, men who speak perverse things. There are many that trouble us with their philosophies and novel interpretations, by which they deny the doctrines they profess to teach and undermine the faith and purpose they are pledged to maintain.

It is well that some of us, who know what we believe and have no secret meanings for our words, should just put our foot down and maintain our standing, holding forth the word of life, and plainly declare the foundational truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (Philippians 2:16-18).

Let me give you a parable given by Charles Spurgeon.

In the days of Nero, there was great shortness of food in the city of Rome, although there was an abundance of corn to be purchased at Alexandria. A certain man who owned a vessel went down to the seacoast, and there he noticed many hungry people straining their eyes toward the sea, watching for the vessels that were to come from Egypt with corn. When these vessels came to the shore, one by one, the poor people wrung their hands in bitter disappointment, for on board the galleys there was nothing but sand which the tyrant emperor had compelled them to bring for use in the arena. It was infamous cruelty when men were dying of hunger to command trading vessels to go to and fro, and bring nothing else but sand for gladiatorial shows, when wheat was so greatly needed. Then the merchant whose vessel was moored by the quay said to his shipmaster, "Take thou good heed that thou bring nothing back with thee from Alexandria but corn; and whereas, aforetime thou hast brought in the vessel a measure or two of sand, bring thou not so much as would lie upon a penny this time. Bring thou nothing else, I say, but wheat: for these people are dying, and now we must keep our vessels for this one business of bringing food for them." Alas! I have seen certain mighty galleys of late loaded with nothing but mere sand of philosophy and speculation, and I have said within myself, "Nay, but I will bear nothing in my ship but the revealed truth of God, the bread of life so greatly needed by the people."

Bringing it to the present, I have noticed in recent years that we have some men on the scene who claim to give the answers to America’s godless issues without making reference to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that brings about the resolve to the issues (Deuteronomy 4).  That is like asking the fallen sinner (without Grace) to instruct and educate the people in righteousness. How that works I don't know.  Yet, as long as the American people have teachers to tickle their itching ears, I guess that the resolve to the lawless issues matters not to many in our country (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  How foolish. Let me describe a few...

In America today we have a very popular Jewish man who loves to debate and play the answer man to college students across the country.  He is a man championed by the conservatives (yesterday’s liberals) of the day with a mouth that spills out vulgarities (James 1:26; Ephesians 4:29).  I ask, what is the lesson that he wants listeners to learn? This guy does a great job of tearing down misconceptions and propaganda in one part while propping up immorality in another (Galatians 5:9).

This guy wears a Kippah (skull cap) while "educating" Americans on conservatism, and all the while denying the deity of Christ. This is like the scientist discovering God's Creation, and then denying the Creator and taking praise unto one’s self as a teacher that need educate the creation.

CONSERVATIVE, adjective, Preservative; having power to preserve in a safe or entire state, or from loss, waste or injury.

Jesus said, "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men" (Matthew 5:13).

Salt is a preservative to stop putrification.

The meaning of Christ's words is that the salt represents those of great worth and reliability in the honoring of God's Word without compromise.

It seems almost inevitable, as a law of nature, that a man who is not sound in his life cannot be sound in his judgment. Yet, the people in America put this "conservative" speaker as so. Wisdom will not long hold a seat in the head of that man who has yielded up his heart to folly. A pure theology and a loose morality will never blend.

Then, we have another man who wears sunglasses and dressed up like he is from the 1990s. During his question and answer session to college students, he acts out as if he is some sort of pop culture star when, in fact, he is a full-fledged sodomite (even defending pedophilia) with a whore’s forehead claiming to speak on the behalf of those who call themselves conservatives. He advocates that which God condemns and yet, people act out as if it is wisdom on our part to follow the blind and rebellious. I say that if the ditch is the place where you want to end up, then keep listening, keep following the blind.

The list goes on…

We have a couple more that claim to be preachers who use innuendo and filth every step of the way. It's not a good position to put themselves in (Exodus 20:7) What Bible are these reprobates reading?
Ezekiel 22:26

Today's Tea Party favorites across the country claim to be some sort of standard among Americans and behind closed doors I have seen are godless, adultery committing drinking hypocrites (1 Corinthians 6:9).

Or how about them favorites on the radio or television that have sold their souls to the golden calves of the day (sponsor's) who are just UNWILLING to say and do what needs to be said and done. Matthew 23:3. This is why Americans are losing ground year after year, and why it is their backs are up against the wall. Shameful.

These are also the same people giving you the same talking points given to them by the CIA controlled media. Dividing Americans one against another, the left vs the right, the Democrats vs the Republicans, socialists vs the conservatives etc.. Mark 3:25

Remember, Jesus said "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch (Matthew 15:14).

When know that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 So as Americans we need get back to the Book (the Bible) that will point the way to victory that God promises, yet on His term, not on ours. 2 Corinthians 3:17

Many of these men are, without a doubt, very intellectual and at the same time very carnal.  Let me remind you that God speaks to the heart and not the head.  Furthermore, it is simplicity that is in Christ.  A child is the model of Heaven (Matthew 18:2-4), not some intellectual philosopher, which by the way in many instances is nothing more than a man giving forth big words with common sense meaning.

How many times these sort of men are found to be without understanding.  How could they when it goes no further than their heads and through their mouths? Titus 1:16  Why? Because they cannot quite explain what they do not understand from the heart.

Without the Spirit of God and the Sword of the Spirit (Hebrews 4:12), they are ministering from their own wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), like fighting with a wooden blunt sword. If they preach not the Word of God in the power of the Holy Ghost, I am here to tell you that they are fools for their pains in the effort (2 Corinthians 3:6).

Don’t forget, friends, that you will never go beyond those who you allow to teach you. Know who you follow, know who you listen to and pay attention to those you allow to influence you. Ask yourself, what do those you follow stand for, and mark this, you will not go beyond those you allow to teach you. Christ is the Bread of Life (John 6:35), which feeds men’s souls, as well as sets men free.  That is, of course, if you follow Him and Him alone (John 8:36; John 14:6).

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Bradlee Dean is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own and do not reflect the views and opinions of the Genesis Communication Network. Bradlee's radio program, The Sons of Liberty broadcasts live M - Sat here at GCN. This op-ed was originally published by Sons of Liberty Media at www.sonsoflibertyradio.com. Reprinted with permission. 

 

 

Since I’ve been largely in cheapskate mode in recent years, I seek ways to save money. I no longer pay $99 to join the Apple Developer Program. At most I miss one or two early previews after the annual WWDC. Otherwise, a public beta release is usually released no more than a day after the developer version, unless there’s something really bad that has to be fixed first.

 

With the release of the iOS 12 public beta, I went ahead and downloaded it for installation on a late model iPhone. It is possible to restore your device if something goes wrong by downloading a previous version (not to worry, it’s searchable). So I took the plunge.

 

The first step requires installing Apple’s device profile on your iOS device, so it will be able to alert you, download and install the new releases.

 

Since this week’s release is the first for regular folk, don’t expect miracles. The final or near-final version won’t be out for two months. That said, my initial experience, after about a day, hasn’t been so bad. The symptoms are largely about flakiness. So sometimes, when I try to delete an email, the Trash icon isn’t there, and backing up through the menus and returning brings it back.

 

A handful of web pages stay white and never render or refresh, but it’s not consistent. So far, at least, there have been no crashes.

 

One of the tentpole features of iOS 12 is not something you can see. It’s the promise of faster app launches, faster keyboard display, and speedier swiping to the camera, ranging from “up to” 50-100%. The highest boost is promised for an iPhone 6.

 

I read an early review of the first iOS 12 release for developers, in which the promised performance leaps were tested. It was a mixed bag, with some of the touted functions coming close to matching Apple’s claims, and some not-so-different. To be fair, early betas aren’t optimized for performance. Better to test this with a final or near-final release.

 

So I didn’t bother to actually check speeds. My subjective impressions were positive. It seems to boot faster, and most things appear to be snappier. Both Lyft and Uber, which used to take maybe six seconds to load, took roughly three seconds to launch with the iOS 12 public beta. The zooming effect appears faster and smoother, with no overt evidence of stuttering. Most interesting is the fact that, even though I’m at a motel with three megabit Wi-Fi connection, my iPhone didn’t didn’t feel that slow at online access.

 

Assuming faster performance is all or mostly across the board, it means that the same hardware that worked with iOS 12 will of a sudden run faster. This is very much against the grain, where the oldest supported hardware usually becomes unbearably sluggish with a new iOS release.

Indeed, it’s very likely some people buy new gear not because what they have doesn’t work so well, but because performance has deteriorated so much — and not just because the battery is spent and the CPU is being throttled. Thus, Apple might possibly sell fewer iPhones. But I expect Tim Cook and his team expect people, will be more satisfied that their gear is not exhibiting many overt signs of aging and will be just as inclined to upgrade, or more will stick with iPhones.

 

I am not considering how well an Android device ages since many of them never receive a new OS release.

 

I am interested in the FaceTime Group feature as a possible substitute for Skype, at least for audio-only use, but that means that guests for my shows will need to use Apple gear. I’ll keep it in mind.

 

The added security and privacy features, including a proper password manager and default blocking of social network interactions, are welcome. But they aren’t things people will necessary notice until they began to seriously look around.

 

I’m also intrigued by yet another promise of a better Siri — last year’s promise wasn’t fully realized — and I’ll give it a chance and see if I can reliably take it beyond simple alarms.

For the most part, you should be able to install an IOS public beta without seeing much in the way of front-facing changes, at least at the start. Although I’ve seen over 200 new or changed features listed, they are largely  more subtle than usual. This may be in keeping with the rumor that Apple is focusing more on performance and reliability than adding cool stuff, that some key features are being held off to 2019.

 

It’s not that Apple plans to say that a new OS release is less than originally planned. But it’s also true that some features may be delayed or omitted because they aren’t perfected. But customers shouldn’t have to wait for months for AirPlay 2 and other promised features either. On the other hand, it may also be possible that this will be the norm, that some things will be rolled out through the year as they are ready. It’s not that Apple has to worry about readying an OS for retail sale.

 

But even though my initial experiences with iOS 12 are positive, I urge you to be careful about installing a beta OS unless you have a ready backup routine.

 

I will hold off installing a macOS Mojave beta until it’s closer to release. I no longer have a backup computer, since the next OS won’t run on my 2010 MacBook Pro.

 

Peace,

 

Gene

 

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Gene Steinberg is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own. Gene hosts The Tech Night Owl LIVE - broadcast on Saturday from 9:00 pm - Midnight (CST), and The Paracast - broadcast on Sunday from 3:00am - 6:00am (CST). Both shows nationally syndicated through GCNlive. Gene’s Tech Night Owl Newsletter is a weekly information service of Making The Impossible, Inc. -- Copyright © 1999-2018. Click here to subscribe to Tech Night Owl Newsletter. This article was originally published at Technightowl.com -- reprinted with permission.

 

For centuries man has tried to translate the “Ruffs”, “Yowls” and “Gruffs” of man’s best friend to no avail. But researchers at the University of Salford have been able to define 19 of the 47 dog gestures studied in footage by their owners.

“I wanted to better understand dogs and what they wanted from us … dogs are doing something similar to great apes, but they’re doing it across species. ” says study leader Hannah Worsley, a graduate student at the University of Salford in Manchester, England.

Dogs are using referential signals, which is a type of gesture conveying a message without using words. The study concluded that the following 19 referential dog signals mean:

 

  • Head under – “Get me my toy”
  • Roll over -- "Tickle my tummy"
  • Head forward – “Scratch me”
  • Hind leg stand – “Play with me”
  • Head turn – “Get me that”
  • Shuffle – “Scratch me”
  • Back leg up – “Scratch me”
  • Paw hover – “Get me my toy”
  • Crawl under – “Get me my toy”
  • Flick toy – “I’m hungry”
  • Jump – “I’m hungry”
  • Paw reach – “Give me that”
  • Nose – “Scratch me”
  • Lick – “Scratch me”
  • Front paws on – “Open it”
  • Paw rest – “Get me my toy”
  • Head rub – “Get me my toy”
  • Chomp – “Play with me”
  • Paw – “Get me my toy”

As you can see, Fido may be redundant, and possibly dangle his participle.  But many of us dog owners agree that these gestures hit the mark as we get positive reinforcement by our pets when we oblige, another sign they possess fine communication skills.

UZ

So when a dog puts both paws on the door, he wants it open. When he wiggles his body and tushee underneath the chair or your foot, he wants to be played with.  When he lies back and lifts his leg, or presses his nose against you, he wants to be scratched.  And when he stands on his hind legs, he wants food.

Now this is all fine and dandy but I’ll be impressed with researchers when they teach us how to translate to dogs the following:

  • Let me sleep
  • Keep Grandma from coming inside the house
  • Quit pooping on my carpet……..

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

At Foul Play-by-Play we provide play-by-play and color commentary of foul play in sports on and off the field, pitch, court and ice. Here are the headlines, cheats of the week and a trip back in time when foul play was fair game to John McGraw.

Headlines

NFLPA Files Grievance Against NFL Owners’ New National Anthem Policy

The NFL Players’ Association filed a non-injury grievance challenging the NFL’s new national anthem policy, Tuesday. According to our comrade Al Neal of PeoplesWorld.org, “[w]ith the league changing the policy without first negotiating with the union, it will need to rely on the broad powers given to the commissioner, Roger Goodell, through the personal conduct policy.”

What I took from the piece at People’s World is the players’ chances sort of depend on the definition of detrimental conduct and whether a majority of four, mutually-selected neutral arbitrators would consider kneeling during the national anthem to be conduct detrimental to the NFL. It seems the conduct has been detrimental to the league if you consider television ratings. A survey released in February found that 50 percent of U.S. consumers who watched less football in 2017 did so because of the anthem protests. But in-game advertising revenue actually increased, so what qualifies as evidence of detriment? Is loss of fans enough or does it have to be quantified in dollars?

And what kind of precedent would this be setting if the NFL’s national anthem policy remains unchanged? Neal mentioned prayer being challenged in his piece, but Tim Tebow proved taking a knee for Jesus is profitable for the NFL, but probably not during the anthem. And apparently taking a knee for a minority murdered by police who go free is detrimental to the league, which is just another example of American racism that didn’t go away because we had a black President; it intensified instead. I think eliminating prayer would be the last thing on the NFL’s wish list. I’m sure the old, white, can’t-dance owners, of which there are 30, would prefer to implement penalties as stiff as their hips for the hip-thrusting dancers we all love like Antonio Brown. I just don't think there's any way the NFL wins this because of the means by which they adopted the policy outside the collective bargaining agreement and without considering the players' association. But they could get an anthem win elsewhere...

NFL Seeks Early End to Kaepernick Collusion Case

In more NFL legal news, the NFL is asking arbitrator Stephen Burbank to issue a summary judgement in Colin Kaepernick’s collusion lawsuit against the league, which would bring an end to the saga and give NFL owners another win on the anthem front. Burbank’s refusal to issue a summary judgement would allow the grievance to move forward and allow Kaepernick an opportunity to collect.

The NFL, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, hopes to force Kaepernick to ‘put his cards on the table’ and prove they have enough evidence of collusion to continue the lawsuit. So even if the NFL doesn’t get the summary judgement, they’ll know the trial plan of Kaepernick’s team of lawyers. But law requires all facts to be viewed “in the most favorable light” towards Kaepernick, meaning it shouldn’t take much to force the continuation of the case. 

I’m assuming Kaepernick doesn’t have a recording of a phone call with an NFL owner saying “I can’t hire you because the other owners said I can't,” so what could Kaepernick possibly have to prove collusion besides the statistics of his last season being better than most backup quarterbacks who played, and why can't that be enough? The only chance I think Kaepernick has is if NFL owners unanimously agreed that the backlash from Donald Trump's tweets would be more damaging to their bottom line than blackballing Kaepernick.

DOJ Provisionally Approves Disney Bid for 21st Century Fox, except RSNs

Disney’s $71.3-billion offer for the movie and television assets of 21st Century Fox has been granted provisional approval by the Department of Justice as long as Disney sells the 22 regional sports networks it would acquire in the acquisition. While Comcast could still outbid Disney for Fox’s assets, they too would likely be required to sell the regional sports networks (RSNs) in order to receive DOJ approval.

With Disney’s assets already including ESPN and ABC programming – the homes of Monday Night Football, the NBA Playoffs and NBA Finals – the company that rode the coattails of a cartoon mouse to mountains of money has found plenty of new ways to invade your home. But Disney’s potential acquisition of Fox’s assets opens doors at the box office as well, uniting the Marvel Cinematic Universe to include the X-men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool along with Disney’s Avengers and Black Panther.

The condition of divesting Fox’s RSNs demanded by the DOJ is intended to preserve competition and protect consumers from monopolistic price gouging, but will it? Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing expects Comcast, holder of the second-most RSNs behind Fox with seven, Charter, owner of five RSNs, and AT&T, owner of three RSNs and a minority shareholder of Seattle’s Root Sports, to be frontrunners for the 22 RSNs Disney will be forced to sell.

Sports teams could also acquire their respective RSNs. YES Network, formerly owned by the Yankees, could once again become an asset for the pinstripers. Eight professional sports teams are featured on Fox Sports Southwest, so it’s possible that a few RSNs end up owned by teams, but taking the best offer might not be the best deal for Disney.

Selling the 22 RSNs individually might result in the most money made from the sale of those networks, but packaging all or most of the RSNs together in a deal allows the buyer to set a higher price for access because of a lack of competition that would remain, which would allow Disney to, in turn, hike the price of its offerings to match that of the acquiring party, resulting in more revenue long-term despite the lower purchase price. 

Colombian Striker Falcao Accuses American Referee of Favoring England

Colombia striker Radamel Falcao accused American referee Mark Geiger of favoring England in Colombia’s World Cup loss to England in the round of 16, last Tuesday. Colombia was the recipient of six of the game’s eight yellow cards and were whistled for 23 of the 36 fouls.

Geiger was also responsible for England’s only goal during open play, resulting from a penalty he called on Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez. Falcao thought scheduling a referee who only spoke English for a game involving England allowed for bias and that “through small calls,” Geiger was pushing Colombia toward its own goal.

We talked a bit last week about the attitude of soccer players in our discussion of the Swedish coach complaining about the German team celebrating its win in stoppage time in front of the Swedes’ bench. And while players and coaches find a way to complain about officiating in every sport, FIFA’s history of corruption has to be considered before Falcao is labeled a crybaby. I didn’t watch the match, so I can’t comment on the calls Geiger made, but I don’t need to watch the game to make a decision in this case.

If it can be avoided, I don’t think a native English speaker, and certainly not a speaker of only English, should officiate any international contest in which native English speakers are involved. I understand that coaches and captains, not necessarily every player, should be able to communicate with officials, but FIFA is known to have its favorites, and Colombia has never been one of those. England, meanwhile, has exceeded everyone’s expectations at the World Cup. Even if the scheduling of Geiger for this game wasn’t an intentional attempt at foul play, FIFA didn’t do much to silence sceptics like Falcao and Foul Play-by-Play.

Seattle Seahawks Safety Kam Chancellor Retires, Sort Of

Kam Chancellor has announced his retirement after eight seasons as safety for the late Legion of Boom. His announcement doesn’t qualify as an official retirement, though, because he isn’t medically cleared to play and is retiring as a result.

That means the Seahawks will be required to pay Chancellor the $6.8 million he’s owed this season because he was on the roster after Feb. 10. Chancellor is also due the $5.2 million guaranteed next season, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport explains.

I think this is money Chancellor has already earned simply by sacrificing his body to play previous seasons, but some people might be up in arms over the fact Chancellor is being paid not to work, even if they qualify for workers’ compensation when they’re injured on the job. 

One-game Suspension Likely for Eagles Starting Linebacker Nigel Bradham

The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will likely be without starting linebacker Nigel Bradham for their opening game of the 2018 NFL season against the Atlanta Falcons. Bradham, 28, just signed a five-year, $40 million extension with the Eagles.

A one-game suspension could be coming for Bradham as a result of a 2016 alleged assault at a hotel in south Florida. Bradham turned himself in and was charged with aggravated battery, but he avoided jail time. Ray Rice was only suspended two games for his third-degree aggravated assault, so do you think the NFL gave Bradham a break because of how he handled the allegation or because we don’t have a video of the alleged assault, which Bradham said has been resolved legally?

Cheats of the Week

Our dishonorable mention this week is New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, who told Newsday he wasn’t happy about being fined “thousands of dollars” for taking too long to get into the batter’s box. Gardner complained about pitchers throwing to bases to waste time while he takes “three seconds too long to get in the box.” Gardner isn’t the first or only player fined for pace of play violations. Adam Jones told MLB Network Radio he was fined $50,000 last year for violating the rules. I don’t think Gardner has good argument here because throw-overs are necessary, legal in-game action, while Gardner tightening his batting gloves or adjusting his nut cup is simply inaction.

Bronze Balls: Speaking of nuts, owner of the bronzest balls this week is New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman for appealing his four-game, performance-enhancing drug suspension and losing.  

Silver Syringe: Winner of the silver syringe this week is Indianapolis Colts running back Robert Turbin, who is facing a four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drug use, which he confirmed on Twitter.

Two-bit Cheat of the Week: And our two-bit cheat of the week is my boy, Grayson Allen, who got tangled up with the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young in the final Summer League game for the Utah Jazz. A more apt description of the incident might be that Allen tied up Young, with his arms draped over Young’s shoulders in what was at least an intentional foul (VIDEO). Allen received a personal foul and then technicals were given to both players for the foul play after Allen’s foul play.I like this attitude of Allen’s showing up early in his NBA career because he can make up for some of his defensive inability by flirting with the boundaries of foul play. It’s also fun to watch given his history. 

Historically Foul Play

On July 8th, 1902, player/manager John McGraw earned his release from the Baltimore Orioles after being suspended indefinitely on June 29th because he and his players incessantly argued with umpires even after McGraw told Johnson he’d put an end to it. McGraw proceeded to protest calls by umpire Jack Sheridan by sitting down in the batter’s box until he was expelled, and continued to encourage his players to berate umpires.

Upon his release, McGraw organized the purchase of 201 shares of Orioles stock with John Brush and Andrew Freedman from Orioles president John J. Mahon for majority ownership of the franchise so they could ship players to the Cincinnati Reds or New York Giants franchises Brush and Freedman also owned. Knowing that Johnson intended to move the Orioles to New York and the American League after the season, McGraw secured the rights of four players to play for the Giants, and Brush claimed three more for the Reds, leaving the Orioles with just five players.

The Orioles had to forfeit a game to the St. Louis Browns on July 17 and borrowed players from other teams to complete their schedule. Johnson announced the intended move of the Orioles to New York and the American League, and Brush purchased the Giants from Freedman. And in the second year of its existence, the World Series was cancelled because McGraw refused to play the American League due to his feud with Johnson. He agreed to play the following season, winning the 1905 World Series. John McGraw went on to win two more World Series for the Giants in 1921 and 1922. These McGraw-inspired antics are what I miss most in this era of replay.

In a Tokyo detention house, Friday morning (7/6/18) Japan executed seven members of the notorious Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, the group responsible for the 1995 sarin gas subway attacks that killed thirteen and injured thousands.

Cult leader, Shoko Asahara, along with six followers were executed by hanging. They will not be missed.

Amnesty International said the executions “do not deliver justice.” In general, I understand their policy of clemency but in this particular case, I am 100% on the side of - these people didn’t deserve to live.

The cult members of Aum are not martyrs or heroes. They were murdering, lunatic, fanatic cultists molded from a time of the dark ages.

And I’m glad they’re dead.

 

What was the Aum Shinrikyo Doomsday Cult?

 

Well, it all started out innocuous enough. Shoko Asahara started a yoga and meditation class in his apartment. It steadily grew. By 1989 they gained official status as a religious organization and had attracted quite a few college graduates and alums from Japan’s elite universities, and gained the “religion for the elite” moniker.  

Their religion blended ancient Indian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism, as well as Hinduism, taking Shiva (the God of Destruction) as their main deity and finally incorporating doomsday ideas from Revelations and Nostradamus.

 

Its founding member changed his name from Chizuo Matsumoto to Shoko Asahara and then, as these things often do, he declared himself  a messiah and claimed all sorts of supernatural healing powers up to and including - that he would be able to protect and save all members of the from the upcoming apocalypse. This “survival protection,” somehow convinced really, really smart people - doctors, scientists, engineers, lawyers - to join the cult. And somehow, at one point they had ten thousand members in Japan and thirty thousand members in Russia!

 

Oh, and “what apocalypse?” - you ask?

 

Basically, their doomsday cult involved the “original” idea that in 1997 (remember this was in the early 90’s) a nuclear holocaust would wipe out humanity and the attack would originate from the U.S..  They also, “originally,” decided that Jews, the British Royal Family, the Freemasons and all rival religions had labyrinthine plots working against Aum’s holy doctrine. 

 

And for some reason they hated the Dutch.

 

Like I said, these folks were lunatics. And if that wasn’t apparent, yet - check this out - Aum Shinrikyo followers believed that the entire world was to be cursed with bad karma and upon death all souls would end up in some hellish limbo (or something like that).

 

BUT …

 

THANKFULLY ….

 

Aum cult members knew how to save us all!

 

They would bring about the end of the world and therefor save everyone from their inevitable sins! You see, we were all going to bad karma hell but if we were killed by members of Aum - well, that act of generous murder by their holy hands would prevent our souls from accumulating bad karma and - save our eternal souls in the afterlife!

 

So, we are all going to hell unless we are murdered by cult members in Aum. So they have to end the world. And kill us all. To save us.

 

I have to admit that’s kind of a genius level super villain plot. It’s also, obviously - totally, batshit insane.

 

To make a long story short, over several years they kidnapped and murdered and prevented people from leaving the cult by torture, fear and … well, more murder. They assassinated rival religious figures and targeted politicians working against them. No one really knows how many people they killed. But it was a lot.

 

Then on March 20th, 1995 Aum released sarin gas on the subway in Tokyo, the cult’s most infamous attack. In the months after they had several more failed terrorist attacks. Eventually, authorities zeroed in on their compounds and rounded them up. A few fugitives escaped and remained at large for years after, but they too soon ended up in jail.

 

While cult members have not actively confessed to everything or accepted responsibility for their crimes there was plenty of evidence to convict and all top Aum cult members, ended up on death row.

 

And, get this, when authorities breached Aum’s main compound they found not just more sarin gas but they also found Ebola and anthrax cultures, thousands of automatic weapons, and a stolen Russian military helicopter!

 

This was a legitimate doomsday cult. These fools were not playing around. They wanted us all dead.  You know, in order to save us.

 

How these lunatics remained at large for so long is beyond me. And you would think that that was the end of their cult.  Right? But, no. They just changed their name and become Aleph. And then Aleph split into two factions with one keeping said name and the second branching off to be called Hikari no Wa.

 

But don’t worry, they’ve made it clear that the remaining members, approx. 1500 people - are just fine now. They even dropped the most of the “controversial texts” from their reading doctrine.

 

Thankfully, the Japanese government monitors the group now and will probably do so forever.

 

Interestingly, Japanese authorities do not notify any of an upcoming execution. And so, without fanfare, Aum’s leader and six of his cultist followers were hanged to death on the morning of June 6th, 2018. Seven more members of the cult remain on death row.

 

A study finds patients don’t mind their ER doc’s body art.

Researchers from St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania surveyed emergency room patients who rated the providers on a five point Likert scale on their perception of competence, professionalism, caring, approachability, trustworthiness, and reliability in their doctor.  Their findings found patients had “no perceived difference” in the above metrics, “and assigned top box performance in all domains >75% of the time, regardless of physician appearance.”

So Can Medical Students Break out the Nose Ring?

 

No, not so fast.  Although body art is beautiful, and accessorizing with piercings can make our dreary scrubs pop, the average physician is fighting more and more these days to capture the faith of the patient who keeps turning to the web for medical advice.

The above study surveyed patients in emergency rooms….a setting in which patients are desperate to receive care in an emergency and are grateful, on most occasions. What about the oncologist who needs to give somber news about a patient’s cancer?  Would patients appreciate the skull and crossbones tattoo on his neck? Probably not.

 

 

 

Skull-and-Crossbones-Tattoo-Designs-Poison-Pirate.jpg

 

Piercings and tattoos make a statement, tell a story, or add character to the body on which they adorn.   And the attention they command is why I’m such a fan. So I agree that it has no bearing on one’s “competence, professionalism, caring, approachability, trustworthiness, and reliability.”  However, in many medical scenarios the patient needs to feel he is the main focus. Patients want to believe we providers wake up, eat, exercise to maintain our health, dress, and wash our hands for them.  And they’re right…we do. So our personal style, statements and stories are kept to a minimum at work.

It’s unfortunate because I was really hoping to get the following Lord of the Rings tattoo of Aragorn when hubby wasn’t looking….

 

artist--kristian-kimonides--aragorn-tattoo_18179093247.jpg

 

For more on the study see here.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

 

“If you want to change the future you are going to have to trouble the present.”-William Booth

Before I begin, I need to make clear that the best leaders are the best followers, and that of the Christ (John 14:6). With that said, isn't it funny how things work in this world, it seems like when you do the wrong thing before God and man, somehow people seem to give it a pass.  Yet, when you begin to do the right things and obey God and love man according to the Word of God, all of a sudden, the world acts like you're doing something wrong.

After I got saved, as they say (John 3:3), I remember my mother calling me up and saying, “The family wants to know what is wrong with you.”

"What’s wrong with me?" I laughingly replied.  I said, "Mom, when I was in the rock n roll world doing the things that I was doing, nobody said anything, and no one had a problem with what I was doing, that is until I started to emulate (obey) Jesus Christ" (1 John 2:6).

This reminds me of when I gave a prayer at the state capital in Minnesota. After the prayer was over, I had a minister come up to me and tell me that I could not be dropping the “J” (Jesus) word in the capital. I said that the reason I dropped the “J” word was because you haven’t in 40 years (Romans 1:16).

What of public high schools across the country that we have been going into in order to educate the youth as to who we are, and not what the revisionists and propagandists would have them believe that we are. We have shown the young people that abortion is murder and that 58 million babies have been murdered since 1973 under the guise of woman’s choice (Proverbs 6:17).

We got kicked out of a public school for reinforcing America’s value’s by teaching the US Constitution.

We have taught that homosexuality is an abomination, and how it is a felony in every state in our union (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Jude 1:7).

How true Scripture is when it declares:

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"

No wonder why the reprobates and hypocrites thought that the Christians who were following the living Christ were turning the world upside down in the book of Acts.  They were, in fact, turning the world right side up (Acts 17:6).

Identifying the genuine from the counterfeit

Last week, I had a woman come up to me at my last meeting in Amery, Wisconsin. She said that she did her research on me and said that the media really attacked me. I responded with, "Of course they did, and of course they still do."  They are being exposed for who they are and they do not like it. (John 15:22).

I told her that there are too many counterfeits, self-proclaimed leaders, out there who care more about saving face, than they do the souls of men (Luke 19:10), as well as saving their country. Apparently they have a reputation to keep up. Philippians 2:7-9 

These are those that sit behind the status of some sort of church or political leader of the pack.  Yet, you do not see any warfare or opposition around them and why? because they have simply forsaken the cross. There is no absolutes with these people. They are people pleasers and nothing more. After all you can always tell what a man stands for by the enemies that he has.

They hide behind a microphone day after day.  Yet, they fail to confront the issues that needed to be confronted. The reason they don't is because they are guilty of what they fail to confront!

They are paper tigers.  They can write all big and bad but when it comes to what someone else should do.  However, when it is time for them to put boots on the ground, they are simply missing in action (MIA). These are willing to live in the freest country in the world as long as it is not them that have to sacrifice to maintain it.

There is also a group of people out there that have to be friends with everyone (and have to apologize to any that they may have told the truth lest they should convict them unto godly repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10) as they congregate week after week deceiving themselves into believing that they are demanding a lawful change just as long as it does not offend anyone (Matthew 5:10).

As a matter of fact, these counterfeits will be the first ones to get angry with and denounce and attack the ones that are sent by the Spirit of God (Galatians 4:29).

Maybe this group of people should ask their enemies for instructions as to how change is brought about, and in a righteous sense reverse the lawlessness-taking place in this country (Matthew 24:12).

These groups of people are simply enemies of the cross of Christ and know not the power of God unto salvation (Philippians 3:18).

Furthermore, I said to this woman that this is how you can tell who the genuine Christians are that are in the fight and those who are counterfeits.

When the church and the world can jog comfortably along together, you can be sure something is wrong. The world has not compromised—its spirit is exactly the same as it ever was. If Christians were equally as faithful to the Lord, separated from the world (2 Corinthians 6:17), and living so that their lives were a reproof to all ungodliness, the world would hate them as much as it ever did. (John 7:7) It is the church that has compromised, not the world. – Catherine Booth

The way to gauge those who are actually taking ground for the kingdom is to see who is in the midst of a continuous warfare (always in trouble, slandered, lied about, defamed etc) fighting the good fight of faith because they trust in the living God (Matthew 11:12; 1 Timothy 6:12).

John Calvin said, “Whomsoever the Lord has adopted and deemed worthy of His fellowship ought to prepare themselves for a hard, toilsome and unquiet life, crammed with very many and various kinds of evil.” And of course to the counterfeit's this is foreign.

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Bradlee Dean is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own and do not reflect the views and opinions of the Genesis Communication Network. Bradlee's radio program, The Sons of Liberty broadcasts live M - Sat here at GCN. This op-ed was originally published by Sons of Liberty Media at www.sonsoflibertyradio.com. Reprinted with permission. 

 

 

Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller might be the greatest gamer thing ever. Certainly so for gamers with disabilities. As you may or may not know - gaming controllers are a beast to handle. They have two small joysticks, one D pad, four top buttons, two trigger buttons and two bumper buttons. “I’m not really good with a controller” is a common complaint from able bodied gamers. I’ve been gaming for decades and I still find myself going, “Whoops! That was the wrong button - and now my character is dead.”

 

But the point is clear - you pretty much need both hands to finely manipulate the controller and the stamina to handle it for many, many hours. Which puts disabled folks at a colossal disadvantage just to play a console game. What if said person only has one hand? Or can’t use either hand. Or doesn’t have the strength to push the buttons or pull the triggers. Or doesn’t have the motor functions to properly  handle the control. Or what if they are quadriplegic?

 

Their options are limited and usually expensive. There are some third party companies that manufacture controller accessories that help those with physical disabilities, but no company as large as Microsoft has tackled this effort. Until, obviously - now. And they spared no expense.

 

So what is the Adaptive Controller?

 

From Phil Spencer’s (the Head of Xbox) May 15th press release:

 

“By taking an inclusive design approach and considerations of gamers who might not be able to reach all the bumpers and triggers or hold a controller for an extended period of time, for example, we were able to design a controller that provides a way for more fans to enjoy gaming. On our journey of inclusive design, we have taken a wider view of our fans and a more inclusive approach to designing for them.

For gamers with limited mobility, finding controller solutions to fit their individual needs has been challenging. The solutions that exist today are often expensive, hard to find, or require significant technical skill to create. A number of individuals and organizations are creating custom solutions, but it has been often difficult for them to scale when most rigs need to be so personalized.

Joining the Xbox family of controllers and devices, the Xbox Adaptive Controller was created to address these challenges and remove barriers to gaming by being adaptable to more gamers’ needs.  It was developed in partnership with organizations around the world, including The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital, SpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged. We worked closely with them and directly with gamers who have limited mobility to assist in our development.  Our goal was to make the device as adaptable as possible, so gamers can create a setup that works for them in a way that is plug-and-play, extensible, and affordable.  In addition to working with common adaptive switches that gamers with limited mobility may already own, it has two large buttons built in. These buttons can also be reprogrammed to act as any of the standard controller’s button inputs via the Xbox Accessories app.”

The Adaptive Controller releases in September and will retail at a very reasonable $100. There is already a whole array of accessories available on the Xbox site. The nice thing about the controller is that it has nineteen 3.5mm ports and two USB 2.0 ports of external inputs. A lot of those third party accessories that disabled gamers use to “hack” the regular Xbox gear will be fully compatible with the Adaptive Controller. So one wouldn’t have to buy all new expensive accessories as your old ones will allow you to just plug into the Adaptive Controller. For example, foot controllers or even mouth controllers will be able to plug directly into the Adaptive Controller, etc., etc.

According to worldbank.org, fifteen percent of the world’s population (approx. 1 billion) has some form of disability and between 110 and 190  million people experience some kind of significant disability.

I am certainly not going to suggest that the Adaptive Controller is about to save the world by allowing much, much easier access to Mass Effect or Tomb Raider via Xbox One. But - this is certainly a step in the right direction.

As an avid gamer I often want to share this AWESOME experience I just had with game X! It never even occurred to me that this simple pleasure of game experience was extremely difficult for such a large number of folks. I mean, if you’re able bodied and you just don’t want to game - that’s all good. But if you’re physically impaired and you really, really want to game - but you are unable to do so because of your disability - that fucking sucks.

And Microsoft is doing something about that.

Well played, Microsoft. Well played, indeed.