Martin Luther King day

I just went with my family on a walk to honor Martin Luther King, here I am with my dad. It was really powerful to recognize the power of Dr King and how he combated hate with love and non-violence.

After the walk, there were a few really good speakers and as we were walking back, I thanked one of them for his speech and told him how when I was a kid, I was different and picked on and read about Martin Luther King and Civil Rights and it resonated with me because I could understand what it was like to be singled out and treated differently and the story of Martin Luther King gave me the hope that you didn’t have react to those who hate you, you could love them instead.

I even wrote a book report about him when I was about 8 or 9, I’ll never forgot that. I was so emotional relaying this story to him because I realized that is why I am so outspoken against discrimination and bigotry, it hurts my heart to the core but thanks to Martin Luther King, the world is much kinder place than it used to be, there’s more unity and love and Martin Luther King will always be my hero. 💙

 

 

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King, Jr. H erbs ealth appiness'

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History repeats itself

I am a history buff and its amazing how history repeats itself. I look at Germany in the 1920’s and how there was a depression and most people were out of work. People were struggling financially and felt defeated as a nation, they were once proud but now felt shamed after World War I. So the Nazis rose up and had a charismatic leader in Hitler, who promised to make “Germany” great again by bringing back jobs to “Germans” ( which really meant people that weren’t Jewish or Polish, Communist or disabled) and build up it’s military and show the world it’s strength. Never again was Germany going to be humiliated. Hitler also convinced the people that all the good jobs were taken by foreigners and Jews and that there was a worldwide conspiracy by Jewish and foreign powers to oppress hard working Aryan Germans, Hitler used the fears of a hurt people and manipulated all of Germany in order to gain power. He said whatever he could to gain the crowd’s favor, he gave inflammatory speeches full of racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and whipped the crowd into a frenzy, they bought ever word, hook line, and sinker. Hitler once said that if you tell a lie over and over again, it eventually becomes the truth. And the people who supported Hitler were not monsters or demons, they were everyday citizens who just wanted jobs and a better life but they were duped by an evil monster. Some of this stuff seems really familiar, doesn’t it? Try reading a history book, you might just learn something.

 

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Don’t drink the Kool Aid

If you have lived in the US for the past 10 years or so; you probably have heard the term “Don’t drink the Kool Aid” It basically means don’t just do what everyone else is telling you; don’t follow the crowd; it mostly applies to the politics and media. For example if someone said they supported Obama’s policies; they’d be drinking the Kool- Aid because they were accepting them at face value without thinking for themselves.

A lot of people use the term and don’t realize the origins of the phrase or they use the term and simply don’t care. Well let me school you for those not in the know. The term comes from the People Temple; a religious cult in the late 1970s that originated out of the Bay area. A Pastor by the name of Jim Jones indoctrinated his congregation who were made of mostly Blacks families and the elderly through mental, emotional and sexual abuse ( the abuse also involved children).

Knowing that the law was after them; Pastor Jim Jones eventually convinced most of his followers to pack up everything and move from their base in San Fransisco to the jungles of Georgetown ,Guyana in a communal camp ( away from the eyes of the prying American government) There church members were forced to work for 12 or more hours a day; with little food; uncomfortable living conditions with no air in the hot sun; and the camp was surrounded by men patrolling the grounds with guns; ready to shoot anyone who escaped. There was also a loudspeaker of tapes of Jim Jone’s sermons ( who was also an amphetamine addict who would stay up for days at a time). The abuse continued throughout the camp; worsened because they could no longer be watched by the government; it was a dire situation. Eventually concerned families back home contacted congressman Leo Ryan; stating that their families were being held against their will and suspected abuses on the part of Jim Jones and demanded an investigation. Congressmen Ryan; along with all major media outlets; converged on the camp in Guyana to see the “People’s temple” for himself. He was given a big welcome with a show and lots of singing and happy campers. Leo Ryan said ‘ People really seem happy here” But shortly after that he was handed a note by one of the church members; saying that he and some others were requesting that they go back home with Congressmen Ryan; Jim Jones said everyone was free to leave . But as soon as the congressmen and those wanting to leave Jonestown tried to board the airplane in the small airfield; a truckload of some of Jone’s followers opened fire; killing the congressman and most of those journalists that had accompanied him.

In a recorded audio cassette tape found after the massacre; Jones quickly gathered all of his followers and declared “The congressman is dead and they’ll be after us” ‘The women, the children, the babies; they won’t let us survive” He said that the only option was what he termed “revolutionary suicide” because if they couldn’t live in peace; they’d die in peace and this was followed by the sound of cheering Jonestown followers and eerily the sound of crying babies in the background. Some protested this and calling Jim Jones “father, isn’t there another way” But the protests were soon shouted down by angry followers; anyone who questioned “Father” was a traitor and should be killed themselves. Just to make a note; the tape is a very disturbing listen but you ever hear it; you can also note the sound of a bleeding tape with a previously recording of a choir singing; it gives an even more chilling tone” Anyways Jim Jones says that they are all to drink cyanide; the poison will go down smoothly since it will be mixed with a fruit mixture ( or kool-aid as some call it). Towards the end of the tape; you can hear that they are already administering the poison to the babies ( in synergies; a drop or two into the babies mouth) It is one of the most haunting things I have ever heard and it is very difficult to listen to. The next day over 900 followers including women, children and elderly; lay dead in front of the camp. Now some call it suicide but I call it murder; these people didn’t want to die; they were given no choice; poison or a shot in the head; that is murder. Just an unspeakable tragedy that no one should ever make light of.

A little backstory when I was a kid; I saw this tv movie that started with a Pastor who had an integrated church in the 1950s and was fighting racism in Indiana ( The Jim Jones story) I remember finding it interesting until the middle of the movie when the Pastor started yelling at the congregation and claiming he was God; and he got crazier and crazier. Once they got to the camp; it was really upsetting to watch. At the time I thought it was fiction; I had no idea it was a true story and I just remember feeling shocked because it was so surreal; all those people abused and then killed by a Pastor. I also found it to be an fascinating story and researched it and there is so much to this story; so much about mind control and using religion to manipulate people and abuse of power; just so much. Even the fact that Jim Jones never even took the poison; he shot himself ( or had someone shoot him since he was such a coward)

The reason I wrote this today is because someone used that term with me online and I immediately blocked them and they don’t even know me or my story. But I find the term offensive for a number of reasons; people use that term flippantly; not caring that they are not only making light of suicide but murder; the murder of babies by a madman. I know what they are trying to say when they use that term but it’s uncalled for. There’s nothing funny about what happened at Jonestown; whether you consider it suicide or murder; 900 innocent people died. Have we become so cold that death is something we laugh about? How would you feel if someone you were close to took their lives and someone made a joke about or used it to make point; you’d be angry too. People just don’t think before they speak; they don’t care about the lives affected by suicide or the families of the victims of Jonestown. Maybe they’re ignorant and they don’t know their history ( I assume that is most likely the case) and you can say I’m preaching or pointing the finger but you know what; maybe calling people out is the only way they’ll every learn to be more sensitive towards others. I think we should retire the word “Drink the Kool Aid” out of vocabulary forever. With that I am done. I hope this post has made you think in a different but I doubt that it changed your mind. But if you can see it from a different perspective let me know in the comments.

Thanks

Dave

 

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The movie I saw as a kid

 

 

 

Why is America such a violent place?

 

I am at a point where I have stopped watching the news aside from skimming the headlines, because it is simply too depressing and I already struggle with my mental health. Everyday there seems to be another murder or assault. Almost every few months another mass shooting, or threats of a shooting or bombing; the violence never seems to end in this country.  There is so much anger and hate in our society that I struggle to understand where it all comes from.  Sometimes it’s an angry gun nut from the hills, other times a passing motorist in the city gets out his car and shoots someone for no apparent reason, or it’s the daily interactions in my personal life; that angry coworker who can’t stop slamming things or staring me down and I’ve yet to figure out what causes this rage.

The question is how did we get this way? I realize that anger is not exclusive to the United States but it seems ( At least in the West) that America seems to be such a hostile country.  A country that seems to hate anyone who is different; immigrants, gays, minorities, any group that doesn’t fit their “Ideal” America.  Anytime someone advocates with change in this country they are met with furious anger and threats. Just look at the history every person who called for peace and equality they were gunned down.  In an 18 year period, you had the murder of a President in broad daylight in front of hundreds of people ( including children) , the murder of countless civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Medgar Evers,  the murder of 3 student civil rights workers in Mississippi; then in 1968 the murder of JFK’s brother, Robert, as he was running for President, the murder of John Lennon (  A musician and someone who spoke out for peace) and the attempted assassination of President Reagan   So the violence isn’t new, we have a long history of it.

I look at other Western nations; particularly Europe;and I ask myself how they manage to pass and enforce strict gun control and also have hate speech laws making racists accountable for their ugly statements against minorities.   I am not saying Europe or any other nation is perfect and they have their share of violence, but I am saying is that in America the violence seems to go unabided.  The President will get on television say he is with the family and we are mourning, but takes no action to address the fact that guns are too easily accessible or to question the violent nature of our country. Congress refuses to enact any legislation that will take guns away from ordinary citizens even when school children are being gunned down in massive numbers.

I am not saying we should get rid of guns because I know that would never happen, I am saying that no one needs an AR-15 for protection. I am saying that parents and children shouldn’t have to live in fear when they send their children off to school in the morning.  I was doing training at work and one of the modules was about an active shoot situation and I thought to myself, only in this country. We are so violent that we are learned to accept this as a part of life, I wonder if they have these modules in Europe or Canada. I am just so sick of all this damn violence and I feel hopeless and I just don’t know what to do. I mean, there are so many of us pleading for the government to do something and they remain silent, while children are dying; literally. And what is their answer to the gun violence? It’s mental health issue and maybe we should arm teachers. Great idea. That’s like saying we have a drug problem in our community and the only way to solve this is to add more drugs; complete madness, devoid of logic.   I agree that mental health plays a role in these mass shootings but it takes a gun to kill people ( in fact the only purpose of a gun is to kill).  Without the gun, the mentally ill person can’t shoot anyone.  I don’t have anything left to say but living in this country feels hopeless and the only solution to escape the violence is to leave; I wish I could. I wish I had the money and resources so I could leave forever, there is no reason to stay here. I certainly wouldn’t want to raise a child in such a hateful and violent country, where I’d have an anxiety attack every time my child would leave the house.   Lastly I know a lot of people will disagree with my statements but if you can refrain from violent threats and trolling that would be much appreciated. I know you disagree with me but there is no call to be hateful about it.

Peace, love and harmony,

Dave

 

Number Stations

Have you ever flipped onto a TV show that is so strange and unnerving that you can’t look away even if you want to; sort of like a car crash.  Or you find an album online and you think to yourself how did I find this? Where did something like this come from? Something so unique and strange, you can’t understand why you are so interested in it. And if even if you tried you couldn’t explain to someone; you couldn’t’ without them losing interest halfway through your explanation.  That is how I feel about number stations. What are number stations, you ask. Well that is hard to explain because there is so much mystery surrounding it, that is what makes it so intriguing.  And there is no one who loves mysteries more than me. I will explain it the best way I can.  A long time ago people owned what was called shortwave radios. Shortwave radios had a strong signal that could pick up stations from all over the world. Most of these stations were news orientated or maybe music from a far off country you didn’t know anything about.  It was far from commercial FM radio of today and like most analog technology was full of static and could be at times barely audible.  The story goes that during the cold war years ( 1945-1991) many shortwave radio enthusiasts would be moving the dial and all of a sudden come across these strange stations ( much like flipping the TV) with no explanation or purpose. The station would have a strange musical interval accompanied by a robotic voice spouting out numbers in succession.  The broadcasts never had a fixed time and sometimes played once or twice a day sometimes there would be a reprieve and there could be weeks or even years between broadcasts. Before long people starting taping these strange broadcasts and a community of number station’s enthusiasts began.  They started to realize that a lot these number stations came out of the Eastern bloc ( The bloc of communist countries within the Soviet sphere)  Some began to think that was somehow connected to the Cold War but none of these countries ever admitted to operating Number stations ( and they never have). The theory is that these number stations were used to communicate with spies that were living abroad.  The numbers were part of a code with instructions for the spies. The spies used what is called a one time pad which encrypts the message through the numbers; then the spy would decode the message and destroy the contents of the message immediately; impossible to trace.   But here’s where it gets strange,  the number stations are still being broadcast 27 years after the end of the cold war. They are broadcast in many languages such as Spanish, German, Polish, Chinese and even English.  So it must mean that number stations also operate out of the United States or the UK ( even though they will never admit it)  I just find this to be a fascinating mystery and the fact that I’m a history buff makes it even more interesting. The question I have since the end of the cold war why do we still need number stations. Do you really have spies like in an the old days?. I imagine this James Bond character is some seedy motel, smoke a cigarette with a bourbon in his hand, decoding his next message from his superiors; I love it.   It is also important to note why these stations were broadcast on shortwave radio. My theory is shortwave radios are cheap and accessible, you can use it wherever you are in the world and they are very difficult to intercept; so for a spy; it’s perfect. In 1995 a CD was released entitled ” The conet project”  There are over 50 recordings of various number stations from all the over world in incredible quality and it is under public domain ( meaning they are not owned by anyone and free to download.)  There is plenty of information regarding this phenomenon  online. So if you have a an hour or so to kill, I highly recommend you take a look at numbers stations because it is a fascinating mystery that has intrigued many for years.    End transmission.

 

Pop music today is the disco of yesterday

I have to preface with the fact that I didn’t not grow up in the 1970s but take a strong interest in that period of that time and only speaking as someone who loves history.

In a way musically we are living in a disco era. The pop music of today both in sound, marketing and image are not that different to the disco music of the late 1970’s. Like disco of yesterday, today’s pop music lacks depth and the only subject matter explored runs the lines of sex, money, heartbreak and that’s about it. Its not music to be digested and analyzed because it has nothing to say. It is not meant to be listened to but as background noise or dancing on a Friday night. Sound familiar?.

Another similarity seems to be how artists are chosen more for their looks and dancing skills then their actual talent; it’s a package. If an artist doesn’t have sex appeal or a stage presence that can guarantee tickets then that artist is not signed. It’s style over substance; the music is secondary. A large majority pop artists today don’t even write their own songs.  Calling them artists seems to be ironic The problem is less about the music and more about how it’s marketed. In the 70’s disco was everywhere: movies, TV shows, radio, shopping centers, swingers clubs, elevators. Next thing you know all rock radio stations were shutting down to make room for hip disco stations.  It was forced down people’s throats until eventually disco died a quick death on one night in Cominsky Park in Chicago in 1979.   Sadly. that may be the only thing that sets the disco era apart from today’s music. I don’t see any pop music demolitions anytime soon.

As I became a teenager and I was finally able to explore music. rock took a permanent nose dive when in 1994 Kurt Cobain died and brought rock music with him. Since then rock has been taken over by Manufactured pop bands whose only job is too look pretty and dance for the screaming masses of teenage girls. Just like in the past, you can’t escape pop music. You can’t walk into a grocery store without hearing the latest pop song. You can turn on a morning show without a mention of Beyonce or Taylor Swift.  Magazines filled with he ongoings of the latest pop act while rock music quietly in the back mumbling to itself about what went wrong. All that is pretty on par with the disco era except one thing. Disco died after only a few years and pretty quickly at that. This pop comeback has been around for 20 years now and seems to be here to stay. As someone who loves and grew up on rock I can’t help but be saddened by this. I write this is hopes I am not the only one who feels this way.