Eighteen years later (the Columbine school shooting and its aftermath)

Reflecting back on an event from April 20th, 1999:

Sue Klebold, mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two shooters who committed the Columbine High School massacre, years later granted an interview with 20/20:

The other shooter’s name was Eric Harris. Son of a retired U.S. Air Force pilot father and a homemaking mother.

Both families appeared middle-class and stable, not what one might expect to generate hooligans of that magnitude.

A couple of their friends agreed to an interview in 2000:

Sue Klebold speaking out about suicidal tendencies and living in the aftermath of her son’s crime on TEDMED (Feb. 2017):

Can’t say that I share her faith in psychiatric drugs to remedy this malady considering how often it’s born out of a sense of nihilism and existential reckoning. Altering brain chemistry alone can’t infuse someone’s life with meaning or erase our personal problems. And occasionally the main problem is bigger than that, as with psychopathy. Furthermore, drugs prescribed to treat depression can actually worsen it. As in inducing a condition called Tardive Dysphoria where prolonged antidepressant use leads to chronic depression. Or the drugs themselves may simply stop proving effective over time. Not to mention all the other unwanted side effects. Then there’s the problem with increased aggressiveness and suicidality in youths prescribed these drugs, despite many years of active targeting and marketing of these drugs toward young age groups, which is inevitably ushering in new class action lawsuits against Big Pharma companies. Also read somewhere about how antidepressant drugs marketed today have no better clinical success rate than placebos for many, if not most, people.

Stuff to keep in mind and to research more in-depth for oneself. It’s become too easy of an answer to keep pushing drugs and “mental health services” on youths experiencing social and interpersonal problems as well as depressing symptoms and anxiety, and how much good is it really doing? Why should it even be necessary for so many people in general nowadays to be labeled according to psychiatric standards and prescribed a drug? Why is modern life proving that difficult to cope with for this many people across the West? Sounds like an existential issue at bottom, not one that can be medicated away.

Anyway… Continuing on with Kacey Johnson, survivor of the Columbine shooting, speaking up now as a mother herself:

Colin Flaherty is too often misunderstood

I am a fan of the man’s channel. On break from watching it much lately, focusing attention on other matters. But his content is a showcase of what’s happening out in society. He’s not making this stuff up — he’s documenting it very publicly. For doing this, some folks accuse him of racist motives and dismiss his material presented. Swept away and ignored. Out of sight, out of mind. People say it about him so it must be true, right? Wrong.

First off, it doesn’t matter what his motives might be — his content stands on its own merits. He’s opted to turn his focus to black crimes news because a disproportionate and significant amount of crime in this country is currently being committed by black people. It’s a relevant topic. Very much so. This is impacting all of society. Stating facts isn’t racist. Can telling the verified truth be racist?

Colin Flaherty doesn’t offer up speculation on why there’s a higher crime rate within the American black community. In fact, he resists doing so even when asked by interviewers. Because to him that isn’t what’s most relevant. What is is that VIOLENT CRIMES ARE BEING COMMITTED AND IMPACTING ALL OF SOCIETY.

Many have been asking why for years. Politicians responded by orchestrating the funneling of evermore financial aid to poor (also disproportionately black) citizens and inner-city schools, as well as implementing anti-discrimination legislation and affirmative action programs in workplaces and universities. Measures have been taken, yet black crime remains on the rise. Why? Who knows?

Dr. Thomas Sowell answered that the very problem lies in these social welfare programs and altered racial standards. But who listens to him anyway? People claim to want answers but won’t accept any that are provided. Won’t even take time to consider the proffered answer if it doesn’t fit the narrative one wishes to believe. So then we bog down arguing over which cause(s) are most likely the culprit…and the problem worsens while we’re all sitting around bickering and accusing people of racism.

Meanwhile Colin Flaherty is offering up abundant evidence of what is actually going on, year after year and with no signs of relenting, regardless of what theories are being tossed around to explain it.

Can we deal with the facts as they are here on the ground? Is it now racist to point out reality?

The truth’s not always pleasant, but we still have to deal with it. This is the current situation. And if you pay attention to some of the people involved in the crimes he documents, they’ll give you clues as to why they do what they do. Some show clear signs of feeling entitled to do so and are themselves racist toward members of other races and indifferent toward the lives of members of their own. Or at least that’s how their words and actions come across to me. You can form your own judgments.

The videos and news stories shared by Colin Flaherty form a collection of data to support his assertion not only that black-on-everybody-else crime is persistent and increasing but also the quality of violence is remarkable. That’s worth taking serious note of. (Might provide a couple more clues as to why this keeps happening.)

Plenty of black people themselves state that there is severe dysfunction within the black community (despite often resulting in them being bombarded by their fellow blacks with accusations of being “race traitors,” “coons” and “uncle toms” — further proving how swiftly and surely hostility arises when anyone dares to make the black kids angry). And that spills out and affects everybody else in society, hence why it is our business and we’re curious to learn information about it. Colin’s channel is one that offers that. It’s not racist to want to be honestly informed.

This is where deflections like to enter the conversation, redirecting our attention back to select cases of white crime and claims of “white supremacy” and “racism” (a worn-out accusation if there ever was one). How does “white supremacy” make you a criminal in this day and age? Especially considering how much social and financial aid this tragically “racist” society doles out to black Americans and actively panders to their political causes. Yet that’s not enough — it’s even viewed by some vocal folks out here as not amounting to squat. There’s something wrong with all the rest of us apparently. We’re the culprits. We’re all to blame. Apparently because we deserve mistreatment. Is that not the message being sent?

Anyway, Colin doesn’t get too wrapped up in the ins and outs, preferring to keep his own message straight-forward in identifying the crimes taking place. That’s what he’s about. And I, for one, am glad that he’s willing to do so. It’s not too comfortable showing people what they do not wish to see or hear about. But it’s not his fault if others can’t handle the truth. There’s a problem here that must be addressed. People, including many black people as well, are dying as a result of all this lawless behavior, and that’s not fair or tolerable. Where’s the call for racial tolerance running the other way? Where’s the appreciation for non-black people’s lives and safety mattering too?

People get angry at Colin Flaherty because his channel content, especially when viewed in large volume over time, snaps at us to pay attention and to consider where this is all heading. (Will the crime rate continue to rise?) It also asks of us how police ought to respond. (Can cops do their jobs without being accused of racism and sparking street protests?) This is societal problem, so people other than black people can’t help but take notice and call for some sort of action. There are people out who don’t like that, but it’s not racist to believe our own eyes and to want to talk about it. Better to talk than respond with violence, especially where innocent people wind up concerned.

Which leads me to my last thought on this. Because of the recent events in Charlottesville and the decision of members of various factions of the Political Right to show up at a rally beside people sporting nazi insignia, ending with a woman being run over and killed by a car, we are forced to acknowledge where ramping up violence can lead us and have an imagination for how it might escalate going forward. Colin Flaherty isn’t advocating for that. But he too may well wind up tarred and feathered because some actual racists do watch his channel and put their $.02 in. Because he’s busy he doesn’t tend to monitor his comment section, and outright mean-spirited comments remain up. (Or he might choose not to censor his comment section, as is my policy on my own channel much of the time). But people notice that connection and assume Colin’s producing this material to appeal to those kind of people. He’s not. He’s showcasing it for all of us out here, not only the racists who look for anything to confirm their bias.

I’d liken it to how Donald Trump winds up being accused of being a racist bigot and supporter of the resurrected KKK and neo-nazis and whatever else because some of those people voted for him. That’s not all who voted for him, but of course they’re a group who attract a lot of attention thanks to the shitty things they spew about members of other races. There around, so that’s a fact we have to accept as well. Colin has repeated over and over again that his motive is not racism, that he was a journalist who could no longer ignore the disproportionate amount of crime being committed by black people in this country and how it’s not receiving adequate or honestly straight-forward coverage. That is a disparity begging to be called into question, as to be expected in an open and democratic society such as ours. Whether blatant racists and wanna-be nazis applaud his efforts is irrelevant — none of us can help who all takes interest in us. We can clearly state our own position, but others obviously aren’t under our control. And I doubt what those jackasses choose to entertain themselves with is of much concern to Colin. Those types also happen to like to watch and ridicule videos on WorldStarHipHop — is that the fault or responsibility of that site? I’d argue it’s not.

So, in closing, people do project too much onto Colin Flaherty. The man’s a retired journalist-turned-youtuber. This is what he does. He’s following a story of great interest, which is black crime on the rise both in sheer number of crimes being committed and the quality of the violence involved. That’s undeniably something people deserve to learn about, if for no other reason than to take precautions in order to protect ourselves. If you don’t like this reality, then work on changing it. But it certainly won’t be solved by simply demanding that people cease paying attention.

“The tragedy at Charlottesville” and other videos by Vee

Learned of that guy’s channel in the past but hadn’t looked much into his content until last night.

Don’t know the dude but agree with him in these videos. This shit is cancer on both extremes.

Ten Jewish authors I appreciate

Since I keep hearing and reading online so much negativity blaming Jewish folks for everything under the sun, I figure now would be a good time to post up something positive and share a few of the notable Jewish authors in my book collection. In no particular order:

1.) Erich Fromm — Might as well begin with the most obvious since I’ve mentioned his works time and time again on here and my YT channel. Thus far I’ve read 12 books by this man (excerpts are linked where available):Escape_From_Freedom_Fromm

Not all are personal favorites, but as a collection unto themselves they’ve certainly served as interesting food for thought over time.

2.) Richard L. Rubenstein — His book The Cunning of History: The Holocaust and the American Future provided a lot to seriously consider when I first came across it about 8-9 years ago. Shared copies with friends, though I can’t say for sure if any of them actually read him.

choose-yourself_Altucher3.) James Altucher — His audiobook Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Makes Millions, Live the Dream actually proved useful during a very depressing spell a couple years back. His promotion of what he refers to as the “Four Daily Practices” (basically caring for our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health) are what I needed to hear at the time and helped improve my mindset and outlook. Happen to be re-listening to it this week for kicks and giggles — he’s a pretty funny guy. Originally came across him accidentally by way of his blog, as so many people do. He encourages people to routinely itemize ideas in lists of 10 or more (on any subject we fancy) so as to flex and expand our “idea muscle.” Good idea, James.  wink

4.) Steven Pinker — Earlier this year I completed the audio version (after initially receiving a print copy as a gift) of his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, which I did quibble over quite a bit and still am not sold on the data and arguments presented therein. But its content was worth considering. Still chewing it over. Perhaps it deserves to be mentioned that several years back I received a copy of his book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature as a gift as well, though I have yet to read that one (planning to listen to the audio version eventually instead, having recently loaned out my print copy).

5.) Yuval Noah Harari — Came across this author by random chance earlier this year and listened to his audiobook Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

6.) Richard P. Feynman — Originally I received as a gift a few years back a copy of his book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, following that with listening to The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman and What Do You Care What Other People Think?: Further Adventures of a Curious Character. He offered up some very thought-provoking essays (along with quirky personal stories).

What_Is_Life_Margulis_Sagan7.) Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan — After first learning of their book What Is Life? on Dr. Corey Anton’s YT channel, I ordered a used copy online. Loved it and share it with others (especially young people — makes a great gift). Followed that with the audio version of their book Dazzle Gradually: Reflections on the Nature of Nature, which contains a couple stories that particularly stick in my mind and inform my imagination. So far I’m very impressed with what I’ve come across from this mother/son authoring duo.

8.) Dan Ariely — A family member first introduced me to his book Predictably Irrational. Later, I picked up a copy of The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves. Both are worth reading.

9.) Leonard Mlodinow — His audiobook Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior remains among my favorites. Following that, I purchased a print copy of his and Deepak Chopra’s book War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality, which I happened to find fascinating. Wasn’t a fan of Deepak Chopra prior to reading that book but came to see their viewpoints as not necessarily diametrically opposed to one another, despite initial outward appearances (even after watching footage of them debating). Can’t make a clear case for why I see it that way — it’s just how their written back-and-forth arguments resonated with me. I personally found both books valuable.

Deathbird-Stories-Ellison10.) Harlan Ellison — Can’t recall how I first came across his books, not being a regular reader of fiction, but somehow his collections of short stories crossed my radar. The two books I have read by him thus far are Strange Wine and Deathbird Stories. His writing skills are undeniably impressive, and it’s a pleasure to occasionally take time out to retreat into the products of his imagination.

Surely I could locate several more Jewish authors within my book collection (Elie Wiesel, Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank, Karl Polanyi, Karl Popper, Viktor Frankl, Isaac Asimov, Michael Pollan, Stanley Milgram, Jonathan Haidt, Robert Heilbroner, Steven Levitt, Ayn Rand, Thomas Szasz, Jared Diamond, etc. — come to find out enough to populate another list or two), but my goal today was simply to list the first ten that came to mind.

And perhaps presenting this list will serve as a deterrent to those online who might otherwise feel the desire to ask me, as someone did just yesterday, if I’ve considered “the Jewish question.”  ??  To which I flippantly responded about my appreciation for several Jewish authors (hence what motivated me to create this list in the first place) and for Mel Brooks’ films, on top of being an enthusiastic lifelong fan of Weird Al Yankovich who just so happened to marry a Jewish woman. So…there’s your answer, in a nutshell. And if being anti-Semitic is expected or required of those who align themselves with the so-called Alt-Right, well then, that’s just one more movement/political camp I need not concern myself too much with. Not a fan of movements of any kind anyway. Nor of categorically demonizing and scapegoating whole groups/classes/races of people based on arbitrary criteria so as to suit ideological ends. That’s not my bag.

“LIVE with Bret Weinstein: Evergreen State College Racism Controversy”

From The Rubin Report:

“Unrest at Evergreen State | Glenn Loury & Bret Weinstein”

Now watching:

“Eric Weinstein LIVE: Trump, Mathematics, and the ‘Thinkuisition'”

From The Rubin Report:

Hadn’t heard of Eric Weinstein (or his brother, Bret Weinstein) before today and only clicked on this video initially to learn what a “Thinkuisition” was about. Very good talk there. Interesting to now listen to self-described liberals and progressives describe feeling abandoned by the Political Left (reminiscent of self-styled conservatives expressing similar disdain with the Republican Party in years past, resulting in them being pushed more toward libertarian positions instead — though, it deserves to be noted that a number of liberals appear to be heading that direction now too). There’s no home for many of us in either of the polarized political camps since they’ve come to very much demand conformity from their adherents and nowadays actively censure all who even slightly step out of line. That trend being most pronounced currently among the Political Left, particularly where it involves racial/social justice agendas.

Sad state of affairs we have going on at present. But then again, perhaps we have to go through this and get to the other side of it in order to appreciate which values matter more as a society. Assuming we make it to the other side and don’t wind up dissolved in the process. Nada es imposible.

Eric Weinstein’s BigThink presentation on “artificial out-telligence”: http://bigthink.com/videos/eric-weinstein-how-even-dumb-ai-could-outsmart-humans

“Reza Aslan Cannot Be Trusted”

“Reza Aslan Cannot Be Trusted” by David Pakman:

“Reza Aslan’s Lies and Media Bias (David Pakman Interview)” on The Rubin Report:

Sam Harris vs. Reza Aslan on BookTV (C-Span2; Jan. 25, 2007):

Saudi Arabia is no “ally” worth having

Saudi Arabia, as a country and as a culture, unnerves me. But, that being half of my bloodline (so says my mother), I’m drawn back time and again to learn about it. Unfortunately so much of what I’ve seen and heard over time (including what I was told by a Saudi man who had befriended my former husband many years back) isn’t pretty. The VAST majority of it isn’t actually. Not to mention their royal family appears sadistically nuts, yet still is claimed as an ally by the U.S. and European nations.

Before I begin posting up links tonight, it deserves to be stated that I did attempt a positive information hunt on Saudi Arabia and the Middle East in general that went on for a few years, particularly during my time volunteering within the pro-peace/anti-war movement. Back then I really strove to give peace a chance and to open up my mind, hoping I’d come across information that could contradict what all I’d managed to learn about that nation and its people up until then. But no such luck. Even the liberal peace community couldn’t sweep its human rights abuses under the rug despite sometimes trying. That culture’s atrocious human rights record is undeniable, plentiful, and completely unapologetic.

Tonight I’ll showcase a few examples, beginning with a graphic LiveLeak video of a male servant being whipped, hit, and spit on by his purportedly Saudi (Arab of some sort either way) “sponsor”: https://www.liveleak.com/view?i=850_1382853964

Saudi Arabia requires a “sponsorship” program for its immigrant workers whereby a “sponsor” is granted a great deal of control over the worker, including his or her right to leave the country. This was reported in the Human Rights Watch 2012 report on Saudi Arabia:

ScreenHunter_16 Jul. 26 01.07That was a screen-captured excerpt from the HRW link above. And, as you saw in the LiveLeak video linked above, the abuse isn’t confined to female migrant workers only.

Came across this article from the World Tribune (Sept. 22, 2013) titled “Opposition: Saudi king’s son promotes ‘racist policy’ against nation’s blacks“:

ScreenHunter_17 Jul. 26 01.12Hence why I was mistaken in my most recent video where I assumed there were little to no black people even living in Saudi Arabia these days. Come to find out they’re just being kept off the television and treated like second-class citizens (lower even than the migrant workers apparently in some cases) in what amounts to an apartheid setup. Not that that’s any better…

Here’s an article from The Guardian (Oct. 19, 2010) titled “Saudi prince guilty of servant’s murder“:

ScreenHunter_18 Jul. 26 01.19The House of Saud is showing itself to be the House of Sade (Marquis de Sade, that is). Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. It goes on and on and on with these folks…

Here’s an example from just last week, “Saudi royal arrested over videos purportedly showing abuse” (CBS News; July 20, 2017):

ScreenHunter_19 Jul. 26 01.31A “prison for wayward royals”? They necessitate their own prison?? How many frickin’ royals does that country have? Don’t know much about the new king, but I won’t be holding my breath and expecting any real change to occur. Takes time to evolve, and that goes for people and whole cultures. Won’t happen over the course of a few years, most certainly.

I’ll let Abby Martin of the Empire Files tell us a little more:

Appointed to the human rights panel at the UN. Yep, you heard that right. AND Saudi Arabia’s term on that panel won’t expire until 2019 (assuming they aren’t reappointed). Yet some continue to wonder why the United Nations is (increasingly) viewed as a sick, sad, twisted joke.

Am I uncomfortable with that half of my bloodline? No, not really. Though I am grateful to have not been born there and to not have been directly exposed to that disturbing culture/religion while growing up (spoken as someone raised in Mississippi  tongue_out  Imagine that seeming WAYYY better by comparison. Ha!). Guess it’s a good thing that my biological father wasn’t in my life. Might’ve turned out way worse. I’m willing to bet it probably would have, sad as that may sound to an outsider. Sure, that’s really unfortunate to have to acknowledge and accept, but the truth isn’t always a rose garden. I honestly would rather never know my biological father if he is much like many of the Arab men I’ve either encountered or learned about. Chances are great that he too was/is a Muslim (my mother hasn’t offered much information to shed light on who he was). Did he support Sharia Law? Would he have raised me in accordance with that religion had he known of my existence? If so, that warrants a write-off in my book.

That being of their own doing. Apostasy is a crazy concept. Remaining forever grateful to not have been raised up within a society that kowtows to Sharia Law. Color me biased, that’s fine. (Though, by the same token, I’m also very grateful to not have been raised by Christian Fundamentalists.)

So, what does this do to my own self-perception? Not as much damage as one might expect. Fills me with a sense of gratitude to be born an American and raised within an American family. Truth be told (biased as I can’t help but be). Also grateful to know I can’t be deported no matter what I do or so. Heh  Seriously though (and Guantanamo aside). Not even going to take chances with visiting a country like that since someone like me would probably be stoned while exiting the plane.  not_amused  Or kept there in some weirdo’s bathroom and tortured for my heathen Western ways… (Or lashed by the authorities for what I’ve blogged about.)  Oy.

Happen to like my skin tone. Wonder sometimes if possessing that genetic background is why I can be such an emotional hothead. Otherwise, I tend to find the whole situation a bit funny, ironically so. Am proud to be a “sand honky,” since I’m the only one I’ve ever known (meaning specifically a Southerner/Arab blend). And I feel it gives me all the more license to tell it like I see it when it comes to the Arab world. Not self-hating since my problem is with that CULTURE (along with its peculiar religion, or at least the extremes it tends to be taken to).

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A couple more links I’m perusing and wish to save for future reference. From the Pew Research Center (May 26, 2017): http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/26/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/

From Amnesty International (Saudi Arabia 2016/2017 Annual Report): https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/saudi-arabia/report-saudi-arabia/

“The Vanishing American Adult”

From the Hoover Institution, Nebraska Senator Benjamin Sasse joins Peter Robinson to discuss his book The Vanishing American Adult and the growing crisis in America of “prolonged adolescence,” the necessity of productivity despite now transitioning into a consumption-focused economy, the lagging of virtues in what has become a preeminent first-world society, and the passivity commonly shown by millennials in the face of this unfolding reality and what can be done to instill better habit formation so as to build a work ethic as well as to learn to appreciate the values our nation was founded on.

I can dig much of what Senator Sasse is putting forth here, old-school and traditional as it can’t help but be. Not that all or even most traditions are wholly useless or obsolete to where they deserve to be discarded in the dustbin of history. In fact, we’d better learn more about those traditions and what all they encompass and why they came into being before jumping to the conclusion that they no longer serve a useful purpose or matter. This is me saying this, of all people. Some things can’t be brought back once they’re gone, and we humans have a bad habit, nowadays especially, of assuming we know more than we do. Thinking we have the right answers when we don’t. Getting caught up in modern life and not taking the time to explore in depth what we’ve historically and evolutionarily come up through.

Life is a massive puzzle that we’ll never be able to completely figure out. But now we do tend to act (at all age levels) as though if we can dream it, we can then somehow bring it into fruition and that will necessarily be good. We’re naive in that assessment, IMO. It’s a grand assumption, very often wishful thinking rooted in nothing but hopes and ideals. If we can’t or won’t seriously grapple with who and what we are—as individuals, groups/tribes, cultures, nations, and overall as a species—then how valuable and realistically applicable can we expect our dreams to be?

An untold number of generations have come before us struggling through entire lifetimes while striving to comprehend life and living, to survive and gain wisdom and insights to pass forward so as to give each subsequent generation a little bit more to work with. Yet we like to act nowadays as if all that’s come before is dwindling in relevancy, archaic, impractical in this day and age. I used to feel the same way when I was a younger. Admittedly still do to an extent, especially when faced with religious fundamentalism and the dogmatic extremes exhibited therein. And yet also I more and more feel drawn toward lessons already out there and articulated, wanting to learn from them instead of stubbornly refusing and attempting to reinvent the wheel. I need to focus more of my own time investigating and familiarizing myself with what has come before. Hard not to feel tremendously ignorant and humbled when confronted with so much information and ideas and observations generated and recorded in the past, just waiting for us in the 21st century to conscientiously engage with it and see what springs forth.

Aristotle sounds like a good place to start.