A Wildlife Photography Day Trip to Bombay Hook NWR

I took a day trip in May 2022 to visit the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Smyrna, Delaware, USA, for wildlife photography purposes. I have no idea where you reside and whether or not you are familiar with the Mid-Atlantic region here in the United States, but there are a large number of wildlife refuges that one can visit. Not only here in this region, but up and down the East Coast, as well as throughout the entirety of the United States.

Snowy Egret, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, May 2022
Snowy Egret, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, May 2022

My wife and I visited Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge back around 2005 or so, but never went back. At that time I was heavy into macro photography and not much into wildlife, and there were (and still are) just not a wide variety of bugs to photograph because there are hardly any flowering plants and trees. But we had to check it out. There are dragonflies here and there, but because the place is so big and access is pretty much limited to the main road and a few paths, there are not a lot of macro opportunities. It’s not like a small pond or an arboretum where you can get closeup to the bugs. It’s a place mainly to observe and photograph wildlife from a distance, most notably birds.

Anyway, fast forward 17 years later to this year, May 2022, and now that I own a zoom lens for the first time in my life, and am back enjoying my other passion in wildlife photography, I have begun to visit local wildlife refuges again. Since I have a familial responsibility now, I need a place I can visit in a day. Wildlife photography is mostly a weekend hobby for me, just like fishing or hunting might be for someone else. So as I was researching local refuges near me, one of the results that were returned in Google Maps was Bombay Hook NWR, which I had completely forgotten about. So I decided that it would be my next location to try and photograph a variety of wildlife as I continue to get more accustomed to my new camera equipment (which at the time of this writing includes both the Sony A7 IV and 200-600mm lens).

Shorebirds aplenty at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, May 2022
Shorebirds aplenty at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, May 2022

Safety Preparations & My First Tick Bite (from another location)

So I made the trip to Bombay Hook armed with light colored clothing that was sprayed with permethrin in order try and avoid getting any ticks (it was applied to all outer areas of my hiking boots, socks, lower pants, shirt collar & cuffs, and hat). It may be overkill, but better safe than sorry. Actually, a couple weeks prior to the trip to Bombay Hook, I was at an Pennsylvania arboretum / state park where I wore my jeans normally (loosely hanging over my hiking boots) and picked up a tick and got my very first tick bite in 51 years of my life! The tick actually embedded itself in my upper thigh, but fortunately I found it the same day and under 4 hours, removed it entirely with tweezers, and never had any symptoms whatsoever. I was very lucky! That was a wake up call and reminder to make sure I wear light clothing, pants tucked into my socks, etc., from here on out whenever I go visiting a place where I might be walking among and brushing up against tall grass, weeds, etc.

Bombay Hook is no different when it comes to ticks, but that’s pretty much how it is around the Mid-Atlantic region wherever you go outdoors, even in your own backyard! Where there are squirrels, rabbits, and deer, there most likely are ticks. I got a tick on me one time just weeding the bushes around our house! Unless you live in the city or urban area, you have to be a little cautious now and then, especially if you frequent the outdoors. And in addition to ticks, because Bombay Hook is a wetland area with lots of marsh, swamps, and mud, there are plenty of flies and gnats, including biting flies, too. So I also purchased some picaridin insect repellent lotion, and a bug net to go over my head to avoid the flying bugs. The picaridin lotion on the backs of my hands and around my face, ears and neck worked so well at keeping bugs away from me that I didn’t need to wear the bug net. And with the permethrin applied to my clothing, at the end of the day, I didn’t have any problems with bugs! Although I did practice some safety measures by trying to avoid brushing up against tall grass, which there is plenty of!

Which reminds me: I’ll never forget during our very first trip to Bombay Hook, getting back into the car after trying to photograph a snake in the tall grass, and finding a couple of ticks on my outer pants! This time I came back from my day trip without a single tick on me, and not even one mosquito bite or welt from a biting fly. Of course, it could very well have been the time of day or the type of conditions at Bombay Hook where the flies and mosquitoes were not in great numbers, who knows, I’m no expert. I’m just glad to have been able to get some photographs and return home unscathed!

Snowy Egret (left) and Great Egret (right), Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, May 2022
Snowy Egret (left) and Great Egret (right), Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, May 2022

About Bombay Hook itself:

It’s a great place to visit if you are into looking at birds through a scope or pair of binoculars, or if you are into wildlife photography yourself! Sure, there might be some other wildlife like beavers, otters, deer, and foxes, but because I’m not local to the area and don’t plan on making the trip every weekend, I don’t know how common it is to see the land critters that I mentioned. I didn’t see any on this particular trip. I believe when my wife and I first visited almost 2 decades ago we saw an otter or a beaver (or maybe I just think we did after watching so many nature documentaries). However, you will find it to be a birder’s or perhaps even photographer’s paradise! There’s everything from small songbirds to Turkey Vultures and Bald Eagles and everything in between: ducks, geese, egrets, shorebirds, etc. Actually, lots of eagles! I never saw so many Bald Eagles in my life in one location. I don’t know how many years it’s taken for the eagle numbers to increase at Bombay Hook, but after seeing 6 of them or so during this trip, it almost seems common place.

A Bald Eagle feeding while another looks on, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, May 2022
A Bald Eagle feeding while another looks on, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, May 2022

There is a main road that loops throughout the refuge that you drive or ride your bike on. I believe it’s 15 miles either one way or roundtrip, I forget which. The main road takes you through the refuge and the wetland areas so you don’t even have to get out of your car if you don’t want to! Which could be a good idea depending upon the weather, or how bad the mosquitoes and flies are biting, but again, in the 2 times I visited the biting bugs were not that bad. Of course, it’s not the dead of summer just yet either, so maybe it’s worse then.

The great thing about the drive is that you can pull your car over to the side of the road to get out to take a look around, look at the birds through your scope or binoculars, take some photos, or even walk down a path. One thing to be careful of is the tall grass along the sides of the road. This is where ticks love to hang out, no pun intended, as they reach out with their front legs waiting to hitch a ride on a passerby, be it human or other animal. Which is why it is wise to check one’s pants frequently, even if not bushing up against tall grass. Actually, no matter where you go outdoors it’s a good habit to get into because one can easily pick up a tick walking on leaf litter, or even having a picnic at a park where animals are known to frequent.

Canadian Geese and juveniles, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, May 2022
Canadian Geese and their young, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, May 2022

There are a good number of small paths which vary in length. Some just a quarter or half mile round trip, others might be a couple miles in length, but nothing too long or too strenuous. These allow you to walk through the wooded areas among the wetlands, or get up close to some of the marshes and waterways that flow throughout the refuge. There are also a few observation towers scattered throughout which are accessed via some fairly short paths off the main road as well. Climbing up the metal steps gives one a birds eye view of the wetlands.

The area is completely flat and not much of a strenuous adventure at all which is great for anyone that might have a disability or trouble walking.

There is a $4 admission fee per day for each car, with the prices varying depending upon type of vehicle, or if one is just walking or biking through. It appears to be on an honor system. The money is placed into an envelope where one pencil’s in their license plate along with the day of the visit, state and zip code. There is another perforated tab where one write’s the date of their visit. Then the envelope gets sealed and deposited into a slotted metal deposit box, while the tab gets torn off and gets placed on top of the vehicle dashboard where it can be proudly displayed. I have no problem paying it. I haven’t visited a wildlife refuge yet that requires a fee, and I’m not sure if Bombay Hook strictly enforces it, but I have no problem supporting them financially, especially since I don’t visit on a daily or even weekly basis.

There is a main visitor center open during weekdays which I believe has restrooms nearby. There are also portable toilets scattered throughout as well.

And one last thing worth mentioning is that if you ever plan on visiting, the types of birds you will see can be dependent upon the season. Certain birds, especially migrating birds, might only be seen during the spring or winter, and other birds (non-migratory) might be more prevalent in the summer. So I plan to make the trip again once each season to see if I spot anything I haven’t seen before or on previous visits.

Wildlife Photography and Bombay Hook NWR:

Bombay Hook is a great place for wildlife photography. However, as I mentioned earlier, most of the birds in the wetlands are at quite a distance, so it’s not easy to get close-up shots of them. This is especially so for the smaller shorebirds. That’s why it would be a good idea to invest in either a scope or pair of a binoculars, or a long lens like a 100-400 maybe combined with a teleconverter for extra reach. The wooded paths that you can walk through will enable you to see some smaller birds, so that could be a good opportunity to see those particular birds up close. Because I am fortunate to own a 200-600mm lens, I was able to photograph a variety of species and am able to crop the photos small enough to maintain detail which basically allows me to zoom in on the wildlife.

So that’s it! Again, I don’t know where you reside, but if you ever take a trip to the Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware, or Maryland region, you might consider making a day or half-day trip to Bombay Hook NWR and maybe you’ll see some birds or other wildlife you’ve never seen before, whether you are into wildlife photography or not!

Mute Swans, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, May 2022
Mute Swans, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, May 2022

Links:

Bombay Hook on Google Maps: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Bombay+Hook+National+Wildlife+Refuge/@39.2583667,-75.4550812,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x314379e15fd4ecb9?sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj9oP22_PX3AhWGjYkEHawCC7YQ_BJ6BQiOARAF

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/bombay-hook

Visit Delaware.com: https://www.visitdelaware.com/listings/bombay-hook-national-wildlife-refuge/4119

Friends of Bombay Hook: https://www.friendsofbombayhook.org/

My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ephemeral.rift/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ephemeralrift1

Why the Right to Vote is a Fucking Joke

Here in the United States, we the sheeple have this super power called “the right to vote”. Ooooooo… pretty fucking amazing, riiiiiiight?????

Well think again! When you get down to it, voting is nothing more than deciding who the next overpaid, lazy, egomaniacal, unhinged, sociopathic, corrupt, elitist jailor will be. And no, I’m not exaggerating.

How anyone can be proud of, or even celebrate this “right to vote” in this kind of system is baffling to my meager intellect.

Want more proof? Check this out: in the magical land known as Texas, some evil human beings drafted up and passed legislature that makes abortions illegal.

And guess what? NO CITIZEN IN THE UNITED STATES, LET ALONE IN TEXAS, HAD THE RIGHT TO VOTE ON WHETHER OR NOT THAT LAW SHOULD PASS!

As the title states: Fucking. Joke.

I’ve said this for years, especially in some of my podcast episodes (I don’t remember which ones specifically), regarding how we do not have any say when it comes to the laws that get passed. Actually, now that I think of it, it was one of the episodes of my former, now defunct EphemRadio podcast where I said this exact same thing around the time (well maybe a year or so later, I can’t remember exactly) when same-sex marriage was banned. Guess what? Here we are again!

This is not how any society or form of government should work. Every citizen should be informed on, and have the right to vote on, every single law that is proposed for legislature. That, my dear readers, is true democracy. With that in mind, this is how the Texas abortion legislature should have gone down: “Hey folks, we want to ban abortions. What do you say?” Then everyone eligible to vote in the U.S. gets to cast their vote and the people would have truly spoken. (And no, this article of mine is not a knee jerk reaction to anything, especially the Texas abortion ban. And speaking of abortion, a woman can decide what to do with her body, including the fetus. That’s just basic freedom inherent with being an organism.)

The reason we don’t get to vote on the legislature is then we would actually have real power. And if we had that kind of real power, guess what? We don’t need politicians. Sooooooo… put 2 and 2 together and you get this closed system where the people in power, the politicians, get to keep their comfy overpaid jobs while maintaining complete control over our lives and can pass any kind of legislation they want without our input. Not to mention all the corruption involved when it comes to shady deals made behind doors with companies and corporations, or even other governments.

The citizens in the U.S., and actually anywhere across the globe where some form of organized body of government exists, have absolutely zero agency, autonomy, self-reliance or independence whatsoever, unlike our primitive ancestors once had when they were free to hunt, gather and roam the lands, setting up shop wherever they wanted without ever having to pay rent or taxes. You know: extortion.

Want to go fishing or hunting? Extortion! Need to buy a license! And then the government has further laws on what kind of fish you can actually keep. Of course, if you live in the big city, the only fishing or hunting you’re most likely going to do is at the nearest restaurant or market where the murder is already done for you. This goes for the suburbanites too, but they usually have easier and better access to hunting and fishing than most folks living in the inner cities.

What to build a hut in a forest? Sorry, you can’t do that! It’s “sacred” land that is now owned by the state government, which was once “owned” by the Native Americans before the colonials massacred them, committed genocide against them, kicked them off the land that was theirs to begin with, and pushed them onto reservations and then gave them alcohol, gambling and poverty as parting gifts.

What to build a house on land that is not owned by the state? Well you’ll have to buy it from someone because no free land exists anymore to begin with, except maybe somewhere in the remote Alaskan forests. Any land in a prime area worth living is owned by someone, mostly likely a bank or realtor.

And these are just the examples that cover the basic necessities of human existence!

In other words: you can’t live freely anywhere in the United States, whether that means obtaining food freely like our ancestors once did, or living in a home freely, without paying rent or taxes. Again: extortion.

You have to pay to play. Pay both the government and the banks.

And what’s worse is that every single politician that has ever been and will ever be in office supports this system. As if this is somehow an acceptable norm.

Tell me again how it is acceptable that every other organism on this planet lives in true freedom, yet we modern apes with our supposed big brains continue to enslave one another and then have the gall to label it democracy?

I know, I know, “it would be much worse!” living under a fascist dictatorship. Sure, it was worse for the Jews under the Nazi regime. I get it. No one wants that. It was also bad for folks under certain Communist regimes. Hell, you can go all throughout the history of the human race wherever society existed and find nightmare situations such as human sacrifice performed by certain ancient societies.

No matter the degree of rule, whether democratic or fascist, organized governing bodies will always be a problem no matter where you go.

But here in the U.S., this so-called democratic government is not that far off from being a fascist dictatorship. These few wealthy, sociopathic, egomaniacal, lazy elites called politicians got into office by way of financial funding from various companies. They were bought and elected under the guise of democratic voting.

Politicians do absolutely zero work. The actual work in society is done by the citizens: the underpaid and overworked cashiers, the overworked nurses, the construction workers, etc. while the political parasites live a very easy, lazy, comfortable, priveleged life while putting on a big show and parade about how much they are going to work for us!

Work for us? Politicians work!? What kind of ridiculous rhetoric is that? Politicians are no different than actors: they’re both great liars.

So the only power us citizens actually have, as I stated above, is voting on who the next zookeeper will be while not having any say in the laws that these zookeepers will pass.

How the fuck is that democratic at all?!?

“Okay, Mr. Ephemeral Rift, if you’re so smart, what do you think we should do? How should voting really work?” Well I’m glad you asked because it’s quite simple! With today’s technology, whenever any politician is proposing legislature, the final draft is made publicly available online and every citizen who is eligible to vote gets a text or email with access to the legislation which they can cast their vote on, no matter how small or big the legislation is, and no matter which county or state.

“What!? That’s ridiculous! People have to work! I don’t know how to read laws! They’re complex! Who has time for all that? You’re nuts!” Well you may be right about that last part, I mean look at me! I’m writing this article and making sense as I bring to light a major flaw in the system that hardly anyone ever talks about.

Do you want a truly democratic system or not?

Well?? Do you?????

Do you want a system where politicians truly answer to the people, where laws like abortion bans, same-sex marriage bans, or who knows what else can never see the light of day? Then guess what! This is the kind of open system that you’re going to need, as well as the responsibility that comes with it!

Sorry, we don’t get to have our cake and eat it too! If we don’t want the ability and responsibility to vote on the laws that are proposed for legislature, then we have to live with being a slave to the system and susceptible to all kinds of laws being passed, and for corrupt politicians to get into office, and things will never, ever truly change.

Just imagine if every citizen in the U.S. had the ability to vote by phone or the internet on the Texas abortion ban. It mostly likely wouldn’t have seen the light of day.

This is just one of the myriad reasons why I don’t vote even though I probably maaaaybe should. It’s the only way I can boycott a system that’s flawed, corrupt and needs to go away just like organized religion. It’s not because I want to engage in illegal behavior. Quite the contrary! Fuck, it’s not even about me! It’s about true freedom. About getting rid of government and going back to how we should live like our ancestors once did. In theory it works, but in all practicality, unfortunately and sadly enough, I think we’re too far gone for that to ever be a reality.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and be safe,
– Paul

Using a mouse all the time? This is what you get to look forward to when you get older!

Ah, modern society and its technology. I’ll spare you the rant regarding how we’re slaves to it and the various troubles and pain it causes. For now.

I’ve been behind a computer and using a mouse since about the mid-90’s. So for about 30 years I’ve been gripping a mouse with my right hand without much support in terms of recent technology such as mouse & keyboard wrist pads (which don’t prevent CPS anyway). So that’s around 8 hours during the day at various jobs, then anywhere from 3 to 6 hours at night playing video games on the computer. I continue to use a mouse to this very day because I’m a one-man production company and I produce/edit my own youtube videos and podcast.

I started having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome-like pain in my right arm, from the elbow up the arm to the wrist, since around 2015 while still working behind a computer for various companies. However it wasn’t that bad and didn’t seeing a doctor. It was just an aggravating burning, inflammatory type of situation. So I forced myself to learn how to use the mouse with my left hand. It’s funny because my left hand is my dominant hand. I write with my left hand. But when it comes to the mouse, I use my right hand. So becoming ambidextrous with the mouse provided my right hand and arm a great deal of relief and helped reduce the pain to where it practically went away.

In addition to that, I also stopped playing video games at a computer and moved to the console, which provided even more relief. However, fast forward to this year, 2021, and over the course of September and October, for whatever reason, the CPS-like symptoms flared up again. And because video production & audio engineer work requires a lot of tedious and accurate mouse work, I really couldn’t switch to using my left hand like I could at previous jobs because while I can use the mouse with my left hand, I’m not as accurate with it as when using my right hand. I did try using a vertical mouse but it wasn’t as precise.

So about a week prior to this entry, I looked into getting a wrist brace. I found one that received decent reviews, and it has been a life saver! It was uncomfortable at first, but once I broke it in, and after about a week of wearing it while both behind the computer and while sleeping, it has practically alleviated all CPS-like symptoms! While the symptoms have been pretty much alleviated, I plan to continue to use the brace while sleeping and while at the computer because of how much wear and tear I’ve put on my arm. CPS doesn’t go away either. I don’t want to or plan to wear the brace for the rest of my life but for now it will have to do until the CPS-like symptoms have resided to the point where I maybe no longer use the brace at night. I probably will continue to still use it while behind the keyboard though.

So if you’re younger, whether in your teens or even your 30’s, and you’re using the mouse a lot due to job requirements, when gaming at home, or streaming all day long, you should do yourself a favor and consider using the mouse with your other hand whenever possible. Because eventually you’re going to end up like me and so many others that have to wear a brace to relieve CPS symptoms. The worst case scenario if you don’t take care of your arm is getting surgery, cutting tendons, and who knows what else they do, and you always want to avoid surgery whenever possible.

Dear Bluepoint Games: Your Demon’s Souls Remake is Perfection! Please Remake Dark Souls 1 ASAP! Thanks!!

Title.

I mean, really, do I need to go any further?

Bluepoint’s remake of Demon’s Souls is a near-perfect visual & audio work of art (aside from any lingering imperfections that they could not overcome such as anything related to the original code). While looks are not everything, the core game of Demon’s Souls that made it a pioneering and revolutionary masterpiece now has matching graphics and sounds. And the sounds! The music and effects are impeccable. The ambience, the “foley” effects such as the footsteps, all of it. I simply love taking a break from the punishing combat to slowly walk through the environments just to enjoy the audio atmosphere and sound effects.

I, as well as many other fans, hope that Bluepoint can work the same kind of magic with Dark Souls, so that all gamers, whether PS, PC or Xbox, whether old or new to the franchise, can enjoy the 2nd masterpiece in the Soulsborne franchise.

I’ll be waiting with bated breath.
– E.R.

The Cretaceous–Paleogene Extinction Event Meteor – A Blessing or a Curse?

It’s most likely that the only reason we modern apes, the rest of our primate cousins, and all other “new” species of life exist today is because of the meteor that crashed into earth approximately 66 millions years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs, causing what’s known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction Event.

Thank Meteor! Destroys Giant Lizards, Enables Human Evolution

Think about it: if that meteor never hits earth and the dinosaurs never get wiped out, then there is no space for us to evolve, including many other forms of modern life.

And if you want to ponder it even further: imagine if the dinosaurs never went extinct, whether or not it was because of the meteor. We, and perhaps many other forms of modern life, still would most likely not have evolved.

This is something I briefly touched upon during Episode 10 of the Ephemeral Rift Podcast. Imagine early humans trying to survive in a world full of gigantic, carnivorous lizards (aka the dinosaurs). Imagine trying to build a hut or any kind of wall, modern house, bridge, or skyscraper with tyrannosauruses stomping around everywhere. Yeah, I don’t think so.

In this scenario, dinosaurs would still be around today as the earth’s reigning alpha predator. Of course, one could argue (as my son did with me) that the process of natural selection could have caused humans to evolve into giants in order to survive. Although one could further argue, like I did in response to my son’s argument, that it is possible humans never evolve, or evolve into giants, for two reasons. One, natural physiological and/or biological constraints would simply have prevented our ape ancestors from evolving into anything big enough to handle living with dinosaurs. Two, the dinosaurs eating our distant ape ancestors at probably every opportunity means that there would never have even been a chance for human evolution, with the possibility of apes going extinct before ever evolving into humans.

But if the meteor never hit, the dinosaurs don’t go extinct, and humans never evolve, would that necessarily be a bad thing?

Let’s ponder it some more: if the meteor doesn’t hit, the dinosaurs don’t go extinct, and humans never evolve, that means no internet, no entertainment of any kind (video games, TV, movies, anime, etc.), no sports, no podcasts, no Netflix, no YouTube, no technology, no industry, no government, no politics, no slavery, no war, no economies, no poverty, no pollution, no factories, no factory farming, no deforestation…. Wait a minute. Could it possibly be that the extinction event was indeed a very bad thing after all???

Thank Meteor? Enables Human Evolution, Humans Destroy Planet

That random space rock of a meteor crashed into the earth and pretty much destroyed most of life on the planet 66 million years ago. But eventually the planet was able to recover and thrive and prosper full of life once again.

However, fast forward 66 million years later to when we modern humans show up on the evolutionary timeline. Thanks to our ingenuity and creativity, especially in industry and technology, we have been destroying the planet once again, albeit slowly over time. Although one could argue what humans are doing in terms of pollution, deforestation, global warming, etc., pales in comparison to what our distant meteor friend did to the earth. So maybe it was a bad thing after all that the meteor hit, not because of what happened back then, but because of what transpired afterwards: our evolution and apparent slow destruction of the planet.

Sure, pollution, war, deforestation, factories, etc., are bad in terms of overall health of life on the planet. It appears that we are finally realizing this and trying to work towards a healthier future. Whether or not we’ll reach that utopia, or if we can undue our destruction, remains to be seen. But in the end, what does it matter anyway? When our sun exhausts its hydrogen core in 5 billion years, it will grow into a red giant and scorch the earth into a lifeless rock. So debating all of this is rather pointless.

But instead of the pessimistic doom and gloom aspect, let’s look at it all of this optimistically and say that it perhaps overall it was a good thing that the meteor hit and wiped out the dinosaurs. Well, good from our perspective, right? Not so good from the dinosaurs’ and other animals’ views.

So the next time, instead of saying “thank god”, or tweeting “#blessed, or whatever other catchphrase one might utter when experiencing a moment of good luck, what we should really be saying is:

“Thank you, oh great ancient space rock, for randomly slamming into the earth so many eons ago and murdering the majority of life on the planet, most specifically those overgrown giant lizards. You created a space for us and many other life forms to evolve in. Without you, we wouldn’t be here today to sit on our asses playing video games, surf the internets, drive our fancy cars, wage war with one another, pollute the air and water, deforest the rainforests, and more importantly: to offer you our prayers and sincerest gratitude, oh great ancient space rock of a time long, long ago.”

I Called It: Why COVID-19 Won’t Be Going Away Any Time Soon..

Back around March 13 2020, when the Governor of Pennsylvania first declared shutting down schools for 2 weeks when COVID-19 cases first began to show up in our home state in low numbers, I told my wife that 2 weeks is a joke and that they might as well keep schools closed, and that this thing isn’t going away until it is totally eradicated from the face of the earth.

So here we are, late May 2020, with schools permanently closed, along with non-essential businesses, just as I called it.

And even when everything opens back up and schools and businesses are back to normal, COVID-19 will once again rear its ugly head and we will be right back where we started with more cases.

So what do you do? You can’t keep everything shut down forever. Can you vaccinate the entire human race? No. But that’s what you’ll need to do for life to really go back to normal.

I don’t have an answer. I don’t see anything changing anytime soon. For as long as there is at least 1 person with it, it will never go away and will continue to circulate. Vaccinations will limit exposure. Well, perhaps. We don’t even know if they will work, so that’s more “wait and see”.

It will be interesting to see how this all pans out over the next few years..

Stay safe and stay well my friends.

What is ASMR? Why am I whispering?

ASMR is an acronym for the non-scientific term “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response” which was coined by a layperson to describe a unique sensation experienced by certain people in response to certain stimuli. It’s like goosebumps, but instead of a very brief and uncomfortable moment of the shivers or chills, ASMR is a pleasant feeling that usually lasts a little bit longer, and is somewhat like the shivers but more of an electric feeling often described as a tingling sensation or the “tingles”.

There are many stimuli or triggers that can cause a person to experience ASMR. It could be receiving personal attention or being in a one-on-one situation, such as a getting a haircut, on the phone with customer service, or with a receptionist at the doctor’s office, just to name a few examples. Watching someone perform a detailed task, such as painting or sorting, is also a trigger. And of course hearing certain sounds, such as someone typing on a keyboard, crinkling plastic, and whispering are also ASMR triggers. The list goes on and on..

That is why I whisper in the majority of my ASMR videos: to try and trigger ASMR in the viewer and to create a relaxing experience for them as well, and in many cases help them sleep, which is another benefit of ASMR even if people don’t experience it. ASMR, relaxation and sleep pretty much go hand in hand. Of course, being the creative type that I am, my ASMR videos tend to be on the artistic side of things.

I have experienced ASMR all throughout my life up until my late 40’s. It slowly started to fade away along with my becoming less of an emotional person. As the date of this writing, I no longer experience ASMR and it’s been that way for a few years now. I have also become ever more stoic, calm, less-anxious and less emotional, which I believe is directly related to why I no longer experience ASMR.

I still plan on creating ASMR videos for as long as I physically and mentally can, because it is my passion and my artistic calling so to speak (in addition to my humanist passions of being a husband and father).

Make no mistake: I did not show up on the ASMR scene like a parasite looking to profit.

I started my YouTube channel in September 2011 as a means for a creative outlet. I have always wanted to be a self-made, independent artist in some way, I just never knew what I wanted to do with my life in that regard. I dabbled in music, photography, digital art, writing, t-shirts, but none of it ever panned out, nor was I any good at any of it to say the least.

But then I stumbled upon ASMR in the early Spring of 2012. I found out about the videos, realized that ASMR was “the thing” I’ve experienced all my life and thought I would give it (making ASMR videos) a try, and the rest is history…

Open Letter to Those Battling Against Being Raised Religious

If you are mentally agonizing, struggling, and battling on an almost daily basis over the teachings of whatever religion you were forced to learn, especially if it’s Catholicism, then this is meant for you. If you are someone that is religious, this is not meant for you, so if you continue to read and get triggered, that’s on you.

First, a little background about who I am, just so you know where I come from and that I speak from experience.

I grew up in the 1970’s and was raised Roman Catholic. I went to catholic school for 13 years (elementary for 9 (including kindergarten; there was no middle school in my case) and then high school for the final 4). I’m no expert on religion, but it’s probably one of the most strict religions out there. You have to follow ten “commandments” to the letter if you want to go to heaven, and if you deviate from them you’ll suffer in hell for all eternity unless you confess your sins and say a bunch of prayers.

I was baptized, had my first communion, and was confirmed. I think that’s all of the major milestones one must go through to become an official cult member of the catholic church. I can’t remember. It’s been over 30 years and I’ve been working hard on forgetting all of that horrible stuff.

At some point during my youth, and I like to think it was around 5th grade when I was about 10 years old, I started to think for myself and was in the infant stages of becoming the critical thinker I am today. Eventually I started to hate (strong word, but it’s true) my religion and all of its teachings. While I still attended catholic school, I mentally checked out of the religious curriculum, doing just enough studying and cheating to pass. Actually to be honest, I mentally checked out of most of the subjects I had no interest in, like history and geography. Who cares what the capital of Utah is, the roman aqueducts, or who the 23rd president of the U.S. was!? None of that is relevant and therefore shouldn’t be something taught in school or even tested. But I digress.

Even though I hated my religion, I still attended church every Sunday like clockwork for ~18 torturous years. But I mentally checked out of that as well. I showed up and went through the motions, like mouthing and mumbling the words when it came to having to pray or sing. And yes, I did receive the eucharist, but that was just because I had to, the same reason why I went to confession. I was brainwashed and forced to play the part. I was the good soldier.

At 18 years of age I finally gained my independence as a young adult, but most importantly: my religious freedom. This was a very tumultuous point in my life which ultimately led to my leaving home and a not-so-ephemeral-rift with my parents. Eventually though about 10 years later in my 30’s, I became close again with my mother and father who finally warmed up to my being a nonbeliever. And for the record: they did not force me to leave home. They never hated me or abused me. Aside from being strongly disciplined a few times, the worse thing they did was send me to catholic school. I held it against them for a long time, maybe a decade. But as I stated above, with love, kindness, patience, some understanding, and time, my anger against them lessened, and they also became open to my being a nonbeliever. Eventually it was water under the bridge.

But even though I was close with my parents again, that didn’t help with the mental anguish I was still enduring courtesy of the catholic church and its teachings. All through my life, even up to my early/mid-forties, the teachings of the catholic church continued to be a mental thorn in my side. It has been a lifelong battle in overcoming being brainwashed by the catholic church.

Finally, as I write this and slowly creep to becoming 50 years old in a few years, I can honestly say that my catholic upbringing no longer has a negative impact on my daily life as it once did. My thoughts are no longer constantly consumed by it. I no longer have any anger about it. I no longer have strong feelings of guilt, shame and regret. Sure, I still wish that organized religion would go away and that people would stop indoctrinating their children into it. I still get angry whenever I hear about priests and nuns abusing children. And I’m here writing this. But ~98% of the time religion is not on my mind at all.

I don’t believe in god, but I’m not arrogant enough to think a god does not exist. I just don’t know. I didn’t create the universe. None of us did. Maybe a god did, maybe not. I really don’t care! I don’t wake up and face the day with thoughts about god or religion. I simply live.

You and I, dear reader, do not know each other. I may not know your exact situation that you are dealing with, but the mental battle is not that entirely different. It’s real. And you, I, and so many others, can relate.

Be patient with yourself. Endure. Overcome. Rise above.

Don’t take the anger and frustrations you feel out on anyone else, most especially yourself! Do something constructive with that energy instead. Exorcise those demons by exercising, or writing about your anger in a personal journal, vlogging, painting, drawing, sculpting or any number of positive and constructive ways that will get you through those moments of mental torment and anguish. And if your family cuts ties with you, so be it! It’s their loss! Be steadfast, headstrong and resilient when it comes to being whoever you want to be in this life, especially when it comes to the topic at hand: not believing in god, and leaving your religion to crumble in the dust of your past.

I am free. And you can be too.

Does it mean I’m completely free from the clutches of my religious upbringing? No. You don’t spend 13 years of your impressionable youth having religion ingrained into every fiber of your being and then wake up one day at 20, 30 or 45 years of age and have completely forgotten about it all. I can sit here and recite the Hail Mary prayer in its entirety as if I were 10 years old all over again. I am sure it still has some kind of subconscious role in my life that I may not be aware of. But consciously I am not thinking of religion throughout the day nor making conscious decisions and life choices based on my religious upbringing.

I live the life I choose to live defined by my own personal beliefs or lack thereof, my own philosophy, my own morals, and my own mindset. All of which I am free to add, delete, modify and evolve whenever I so please and however it best benefits myself and those I love first and foremost.

All my best,
Paul aka Ephemeral Rift

Below are photos of some elementary school projects for religion class that I did just to show you the ridiculous stuff they brainwashed us kids with.

Thoughts on Making a Murderer Season 2 Netflix Series

As of the time of this writing, I’ve completed watching Season 2 of the Netflix series Making a Murderer, and I still felt just as much anger, disgust, helplessness, confusion, empathy, compassion and sadness over all of the parties involved (including government officials) and what took place just like with Season 1. I’m going to try my best not to repeat what I’ve already said about Season 1, especially in regards to what appears to be corruption that occurred on the government side of things.

As I sit here and question why I felt so compelled to write about this series, it is not because I am a blind fanboy of Netflix or of the series itself. It’s not just solely because of the strong feelings of empathy and compassion I have for the potentially wrongfully convicted. It’s because of the additional and continued revelations about how corrupt, unjust, unfair, irresponsible, inactive, inept, and ineffective the U.S. government truly is (and all governments across the globe for that matter).

The fact that the U.S. government has failed these two human beings (Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey) who are just as much victims as Theresa Halbach, whom the government may also have failed if her killer is still at large. The fact that the U.S. government has failed, and continues to fail, many other humans sitting in prison right now who are also wrongfully convicted (not to mention the fact that here in the U.S. the majority of prisoners are African American, at least the last time I checked). That this is a government with a history of ongoing corruption. The fact that prison is just a band-aid and is not the answer to resolving the true underlying problems of life in modern society.

And most importantly, that our government is run by animals.

“We the people” are imperfect, fallible animals capable of all sorts of beautiful and ugly things. That’s our human / animal nature! Therefore, our political systems are just as imperfect, fallible and prone to corruption as the humans that operate them! Just because someone wears a suit or a fancy robe and “swears under god” (a god that for all intents and purposes, and from my perspective, does not exist) doesn’t make them perfect or better than any other human. Yes, they are supposedly more educated and held up to a higher standard, but they are still flawed, imperfect humans that do things in the privacy of their homes that we will never know about. They experience emotion which easily clouds one’s judgement. There will always be potential for corruption and mistakes, and grave mistakes involving innocent people, whether wrongfully convicted or a casualty of war. Which is why I feel we need to either: a) figure out a better way for our governments to work more fair and just while minimizing the amount of corruption (which is nearly impossible because of the human element), or b) dismantle government once and for all. I am for whatever option that will best benefit everyone, not just the majority.

Who killed Theresa Halbach?

Who knows! With all of the revelations in both Season 1 and Season 2, it is very possible that Theresa Halbach’s true killer is still at large. It looks like there are quite a few potential suspects besides Steven Avery that were not fully investigated. It also appears that the Manitowoc law enforcement stopped pursuing other leads and tried to focus on Steven Avery. One could even say that the Manitowoc police were solely interested in apprehending Steven Avery as he was in the process of a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Manitowoc County.

Based on what the series revealed, someone on the government side of things should be taking proactive steps by acting in a mature and responsible manner to reopen the investigation into Theresa Halbach’s murder and find out who the real killer was. It shouldn’t have to come down to a lawyer having to do all the legwork. The U.S. government is a complete failure when it comes to fairly and justly providing the convicted with the proper means to defend themselves or prove their innocence.

Was Steven Avery Framed?

It’s possible that if someone else killed Theresa Halbach that they very well could have framed Steven Avery. I hate to start thinking like this, because this is how you end up going down the path of typical conspiracy theory line of thinking. Anything is possible when it comes to people. They could have framed Steven Avery, they could have worked with law enforcement to frame him, who knows what really happened, and we may never know.

Based on all of the revelations in Season 1 and 2, it is possible that someone or multiple people, either Manitowoc law enforcement or the true killer(s), framed Steven Avery. Or both the killer(s) and the Manitowoc law enforcement were both involved in setting him up, not necessarily from a conspiracy theory perspective, but more in a happenstance sort of way. The killer did their deed, the Rav 4 was reported to police who got involved and saw the perfect opportunity to lay it on Steven Avery.

It is possible that the Manitowoc law enforcement framed Steven Avery knowing that they were about to be sued by him for his prior wrongful conviction of 18 years of which he was exonerated. This could be motive. The only problem with this theory is that someone (Theresa Halbach in this case) just so happened to get murdered at this time. It is quite coincidental, although coincidence doesn’t rule out the possibility. He was freed of his wrongful conviction in 2003 and the murder of Theresa Halbach did not occur until 2005. That’s 2 years that Steven Avery most likely did not commit a crime. Then as he is about to sue Manitowoc County, there just so happens to be a murder that he ends up being convicted of? It sounds suspicious.

It is possible that the true killer framed Steven Avery. Why they would do this, I have no idea, but lack of knowing the killer’s motive doesn’t preclude the possbility of them framing Steven Avery for whatever reason they had. It seems very plausible that they got Steven Avery’s blood from his trailer and planted it in Theresa Halbach’s vehicle. After all, no fingerprints of Steven Avery were found anywhere in or on the vehicle from what I understand, nor was his blood found on the steering wheel, gear shift, etc. It’s all far too suspicious.

Steven Avery’s Defense Lawyers

While Jerry Buting and Dean Strang may have failed Steven Avery, I still believe they did their best to represent him. I can’t explain why they did or did not do certain things during the trial. I am not them, none of us are, not to mention the fact that I’m not a lawyer. Then there is the fact that the State always has more ammunition on their side in the forms of almost a limitless amount of resources and experts they can use to prosecute someone. The defense was facing an uphill battle, but I believe that’s the way it is for the defense all across the U.S. That is just another reason to add to the pile in terms of how the entirety of the U.S. judicial process is a complete failure. I don’t hold them too accountable, especially after the fact, when hindsight is always 20/20 and it’s easy when we have the time on our hands to sit back and say “this and that should have been done better or in a different way”.

Thoughts on Brendan Dassey

Again, it’s a shame, and an embarrassment, that as taxpaying citizens our government failed Brendan Dassey. It failed him in the fact that not only have some judges ruled that his confession was indeed coerced, but that the U.S. Supreme Court, the so-called “holiest” temple on high, the so-called “highest” judicial authority in our nation, won’t even hear his case! This is exactly what is wrong with our government. Who do these humans think they are!? They are not gods! They are fallible animals, just like the rest of us. The sole fact that some judges did find his confession to be coerced is reason enough to free him or retry him, and not to rely on some outdated, archaic “majority rules” mentality.

While the U.S. Supreme Court had the audacity and gall to not even hear his case, I do believe his lawyers can continue to appeal but through the lower courts. If the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear his case results in his conviction ultimately being final, then Brendan Dassey stands as a glaring example of how the U.S. Government is a shameful disgrace and an embarrassment, and has failed him as well as all prisoners and U.S. taxpayers.

The U.S. Supreme Court & the Appeals Process

The U.S. government works for, and is paid by, its citizens, not the other way around.

What probably astounds me the most is that, based on all of the revelations in the series, no government body whatsoever is reopening the cases of these two potentially wrongfully convicted individuals! Where is the proactive behavior, the accountability, the maturity, and the responsibility of the government? A government to which most U.S. citizens pay taxes in order to operate in a fair and just manner!

For the U.S. Supreme Court to have the gall and audacity not to even hear Brendan Dassey’s case is appalling! The fact that one judge overturned Brendan Dassey’s conviction and found his confession to have been coerced, should be all the reason necessary for someone, anyone in the government to say “We have a problem here. Let’s reopen and investigate”, or simply exonerate him.

Think of it this way: if someone has brought to your attention the fact that something is broken in your home, do you just remain obstinate about it and refuse to fix it, possibly ignoring it? No! Do you hold court with all the family members and say “Okay Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Uncle Larry, Cousin Sue, Son, Daughter, all in favor of fixing the pipe raise your hand!”? No! You act in a proactive, responsible and mature manner and do whatever it takes to fix the problem! Our U.S. Supreme Court, and most levels of the U.S. judicial system, are a complete failure to its taxpaying citizens and to those who are wrongfully convicted when it refuses to hear cases, or outright ignores its own glaring problems! It’s time to replace the pipes or possibly the foundation!

Here’s another way to look at it: Let’s say a child is thought to have disobeyed their parents. Dad sends the child to their room. Mom has a talk with the child and finds out its possible they did not disobey them after all. Mom talks with Dad and explains the child’s case, but Dad remains obstinate and refuses to allow the child to leave their room. Of course you can swap Dad and Mom, but the point still remains: the child remains grounded even when they may not have done anything. It’s that primal nature or desire in certain people, or in all of us perhaps, to punish, coupled with the fact that most people never want to admit they are wrong or admit their mistakes, which is the underlying issue.

As for the appeals process here in the U.S., it’s appalling that someone who may be innocent, or any other reason for an appeal, has to jump through so many hoops (the appeals process), spend so much money, and so many years in prison (in the case of the wrongfully convicted) just to have their case even heard, let alone retried, for whatever the reason may be. The process needs to be faster, even if that involves more people involved. Perhaps this is a glaring problem inherent in this system of hierarchy.

Thoughts on Certain Manitowoc State Officials

I’m not going to name names, but the audacity and gall certain people have that were involved on the State side of these cases who are out to save their own skins or maintain their tarnished reputations is despicable. They continue to point fingers at Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey when almost the entire world knows there is a great possibility that they are innocent.

Not to mention the fact how no current State official has exercised the maturity, accountability and responsibility to say “Something’s not right here, we need to re-investigate to find out who the real murder(s) is/are, and retry the convicted or set them free”. Again, it’s just a glaring example of the ineptness, lack of accountability, and lack of taking the correct proactive measures to insure fairness and justice. Manitowoc officials should especially be embarrassed and ashamed of both their actions and inaction.

Thoughts on Kathleen Zellner

If someone ever happens to end up in Steven Avery’s position, hire Kathleen Zellner. Her ferocity, attention to detail, and courage are what is needed in society.  Furthermore, she is the type of person we need throughout our judicial system. I hope that she will find Steven Avery innocent so that Brendan Dassey in turn can also be set free, unless his lawyers are able to do that beforehand.

Why do I Empathize for Prisoners?

In the first article I wrote about this series, I stated that we should abolish prisons. So without getting into great detail, let me delve into one aspect as to why I think that way.

I have a lot of empathy for prisoners because not one single person is born a criminal, but every single person has the potential to commit crime.

I’m not a psychologist, I never even went to college. You don’t have to in order to come to these conclusions. I’m not going to delve into great detail as to all of the various reasons which may lead someone to commit a crime. Childhood upbringing could have a major role in it. We know that parents abuse their kids, they choose spending time with friends or drugs over their kids, many work too much (which isn’t necessarily their fault), and a host of other reasons that might cause a child to commit a crime.

Some people make mistakes, some cause harm deliberately, whether it’s an act of passion or due to a mental health issue. Whatever the reason is, we need to move away from this archaic “punishment” mentality. It doesn’t work and it is not a deterrent. Instead of arresting people and placing them in prison, we should be taking them to some sort of rehabilitation facility, where they are treated by professionals. At this facility they might be kept away from society so that no one else is harmed, but they are not kept in rooms or cells like a sanitarium or prison. They would basically receive the same quality of life as if they were still free. I’m just writing this off the top of my head. However we go about it, the point is that people need compassion and help, not to be shunned from society and locked away causing irreparable mental health issues.

It’s easy to sit here and write all of this, and may it sound good on paper, but dealing with human nature and man-made morals in modern society is a complicated issue. (This is probably yet another article I will write about.)

I don’t want to abolish prisons and shut them down immediately. I don’t want rapists and serial killers set free. We need to shut the prisons down, but at the same time develop a new system of rehabilitation to take its place so that these people might be able to return to society.

No child ever thinks “I can’t wait to grow up and get married and have kids to find out my spouse cheated on me so I can commit a murder suicide by killing my spouse, my kids and myself”, or “I can’t wait to grow up and find out how horrible the real world truly is so that I can shoplift and sell drugs to end up in prison time and time again”. We need to figure out how to prevent these things from occurring. And that’s the kind of society, community, school classes, intervention, and rehabilitation that needs to exist.

The Court System

This is just one reason I am anti-government. I do like certain aspects of government, even though I am somewhat anti-government from a philosophy standpoint and support Anarchism (I’ve been happily paying taxes since the 80’s when I first started working). I don’t want to get into all of the pros and cons of government here.

The court system is a major point of frustration for me and for a lot of people as well I’m sure. The fact that fallible human beings have the gall to play god with someone else’s life is most appalling. We have an archaic “eye for an eye” revenge-seeking mentality which just shows that we haven’t really matured as a species.

What I really want to mention is that we need to get rid of this system of hierarchy where 1 judge resides over a case or cases. We should have multiple judges per case! The reason for this is because people are fallible, emotional, imperfect and prone to corruption. Besides: the more, the merrier! More judges, more jobs! More judges presiding over a case means more perspective and more insight, and less being prone to corruption and narrow-mindedness. More judges presiding over a case means a swifter judicial process! Make every court act as a mini Supreme Court! And when those mini Supreme Courts come to a ruling, and when the jury comes to its decision, there is ample time to insure that logic and justice have prevailed, and that no stone was left unturned when it comes to the prosecution and defense in terms of evidence and investigations.

But the court system has far more issues than just the lack of judges residing over cases. I’m no expert, but the court systems are bogged down with too many cases, there’s recidivism (repeat offenders, which just proves that prison is not a deterrent and people are not getting the help they need), and many people can’t afford good attorneys, just to name a few examples.

Again, the system either needs a complete overhaul so that it operates differently, efficiently, justly, is less prone to corruption, is organic and open to new ideas, or it needs to be dismantled and shut down altogether.

Lawyers vs the Ineptness of Government

Why is it that when our government finds someone potentially guilty of a crime, that the same government does not offer its citizens the same resources to defend themselves as it does to prosecute them? How is that even humane, logical and rational!? It doesn’t make any sense! Of course, neither does government.

If the U.S. government proudly exclaims “Innocent before proven guilty!”, “United we stand!”, and “for Liberty and Justice for all!”, then why is it not holding itself up to these same self-proclaimed standards? Why is it that the government is so eager and willing to arrest and convict someone, but doesn’t offer that same swift righteousness to help you prove your innocence, or to help you hire a good lawyer? And why does a citizen have to even hire an outside attorney to begin with!? The government should have equally qualified defense attorneys as it does prosecution attorneys! That is what is called fairness! That is what is called justice!

This is probably the biggest, most glaring problem with government in regards to the judicial side of things. That someone who is proclaimed a prisoner by their government has to rely on whether or not they have enough money to hire an outside lawyer! It’s despicable! It’s a sophomoric way of running any kind of organized body or institution, let alone one that is ultimately in charge of peoples’ freedom.

Conclusion

I hope the following happens as a result of what this documentary revealed:

  1. Changes are made within the U.S. judicial system which improves the process, speed, improves fairness and justice, conducts ongoing oversight and review, and prevents corruption and ultimate finality. The buck should not stop at the U.S. Supreme Court.
  2. Something needs to change to prevent anyone from ever being arrested or convicted of a crime they did not commit.
  3. That someone, somewhere, has the courage to stand up for what’s right and reopens the investigation into Theresa Halbach’s murder.
  4. That Brendan Dassey and Steven Avery are set free.
  5. That the true killers are brought to justice.
  6. That we either improve or abolish our prison system and replace it with some form of rehabilitation
  7. That we either improve or abolish government and its judicial system
  8. That there is a Season 3 of this series as theses stories are far from being over.

Thoughts on Making a Murderer Season 1 Netflix Series

Innocent until proven guilty.

First off, there are some spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t yet watched the Netflix series Making a Murderer. Here is the Wikipedia link to the series.

This is probably the first time I’ve ever felt so consumed about the subject of a TV show or film that I felt so strongly to write about it. I feel strongly compelled to voice my thoughts concerning the unjust manner in which Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey’s trials and investigations were handled, even if there is the chance, no matter how slim or great, that they are indeed guilty of their crimes. Remember: everyone deserves a fair trial, and that’s what this article is really about: these two people, as fallible and as human as the rest of us, did not get a fair and just trial. Because if there ever should come the day when we find ourselves in their position, and we are truly innocent, then we will be the ones wishing for a fair trial.

I just want to add my voice to the multitude out there in regards to how these supposedly “perfect” systems are anything but, and how seriously flawed they are, often prone to corruption and abuse of power. Something needs to be fixed or addressed, or perhaps we need to have a serious discussion about abolishing these systems and reverting back to a simpler life. But I’ll get more into that further down below.

I do not recall ever hearing about Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey until a week prior to the date of this writing when my wife and I first began to watch the Netflix series Making a Murderer (Season 1). As of this writing, we have yet to watch Season 2, but will undoubtedly do so not much longer after this article (and I’ll be writing another article after that).

So there we were one night, doing what many modern humans do at the end of their day: absolutely nothing. Mentally tired, we resorted to surfing the variety of programming available on Netflix. This particular title caught my eye as we scrolled through the list of documentaries, which we have been interested in more as of late, opposed to your typical movie or show. My wife, who basically is my only news source since I rarely pay attention to the news at all, asked if I heard about the story behind Making a Murderer because it was a real event. I responded that I don’t believe I ever heard about it or him (Steven Avery), so we gave it a shot. I’m beginning to wonder if that was a smart decision!

Here I am, having watched the complete first season and I don’t even know where to begin to describe the amount of disgust, anger, frustration and feelings of being powerless that I felt at all of the government officials involved at various times throughout the series. Not to mention the sadness I feel for Brendan Dassey, especially since both my wife and I have a child. Hopefully we, the viewers of the Netflix series who empathize and sympathize for the convicted haven’t been played, and our feelings are just and have merit. This is also a testament to the filmmakers for doing a fantastic job and for creating such a powerful piece. I feel the documentary was fair. If it were too biased or tried to make Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey look innocent when they were apparently guilty, then I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have lawyers trying to take this to the Supreme Court in order to have them freed or retried. And I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be here writing this article. I feel like I am thirty years old again, back to the same ways I felt about government and capitalism which led me to delve into Anarchism. Besides, when you trust your intuition and gut, you can usually tell when someone or something feels right or wrong. And everything about the trials of these two individuals just reeks with wrongdoing.

I will try my best to convey my various thoughts on so many things related to what was revealed during the first season. Before I do however, I have to let you know that for awhile now, I have kept my head buried in the sand when it comes to politics and world events. I’ve seen and read enough over the past couple of decades, and nothing appears to ever get better. I’ve become somewhat of a part time misanthrope, but I do not hate people. Also, I feel as though we are not progressing in terms of being more just and fair. So, for long periods of time, I have simply “given up” and have escaped into all manners of entertainment in order to cope with all of the nonsensical actions that our fellow human beings partake in, most notably those that hold seats of power. However, over the course of October and the end of September, prior to watching MaM, I have slowly stopped “escaping” and have been living less in fantasy and more in reality. Again, maybe that’s something I ought to regret!

As you will hear me say from time to time here on my website, and just to let you know where I’m coming from, I was raised a typical white kid in the middle-class suburbs of Pennsylvania (west of Philadelphia) back in the 70’s. I grew up thinking the world was a perfect place run by perfect adults. That politicians, priests, nuns, teachers and parents were honest and could do no wrong. Boy, was I wrong! I hit my twenties and thirties and my third eye opened completely. My worldview began to expand as everything I was led to believe as a child was torn apart. I constantly found myself being amazed by the unethical behavior, corruption and abuse by those who are supposed to hold the highest seats of respect and power in our society: law enforcement, attorneys, judges, politicians and of course our presidents. So as I write this today, I am a cynical yet optimistic human being. I am well aware of all the horrible things that people are capable of, yet I also know all of the good that we are capable of as well. I may be a doubting Thomas, but I will also give people the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully, it’s the good that people are capable of that will reign triumphant for Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey before too long, and they will be set free.

After all, if we have police abusing their power, governments engaged in senseless wars, corrupt politicians, CEO’s engaged in illegal activities, then how do we have the arrogance and audacity to put anyone in prison, especially when so many others who are just as bad, if not worse, continue to live out their unethical lives in complete freedom!?

Are Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey truly guilty?

I don’t know, and no one will ever know besides Steven Avery, Brendan Dassey, those close to them, those involved in the investigation and the truly guilty parties. I’m not really here to discuss their moral innocence or guilt and play couch psychologist.

Based on all of the revelations in Season 1, they should not be in prison simply because of the lack of solid evidence and the way in which their cases and investigations were mishandled. They were not given fair trials. If you cannot give someone a fair trial, if you cannot 100% prove they are guilty without reasonable doubt, then you cannot convict them, even if they did it. That’s how it works!

Now, as far as how I personally feel about their moral innocence or guilt, I 99% believe that they are innocent. It would be irrational of me and almost hypocritical to sit here and say that they are 100% morally innocent because I was not there! I am not them! I do not know the real truth! None of us do! All we can do is speculate based on the information provided to us. No one will ever know what truly happened, besides those involved. So there is always going to be that small shadow of a doubt, that 1% chance that they had involvement in some way and that I could be wrong.

Morals, human nature, what people are capable of, are too much of an unknown and a grey area. We cannot and should not convict anyone because we think there is the possibility that someone might be guilty. We must rely on evidence. And as far as that is concerned, along with the coerced confessions, the possibility of the evidence being planted by someone, Manitowoc County being involved when it shouldn’t have been, how Manitowoc County was about to be sued by Steven Avery, leads me to believe that they are 100% innocent of the charges and should not be in prison. While there is reasonable doubt to their innocence, there is just as much reasonable doubt to their guilt, and that is why they should be freed. Case closed.

Thoughts on Steven Avery

I do not know Steven Avery. I didn’t even know he existed until a week ago (mid-October 2018)! I have never spent a second in his shoes. But based on season 1, I can’t help but to come away with thinking how he was possibly framed, either by the state or by the true perpetrators involved, even if Steven Avery himself were an accomplice in some manner. The officials involved seemed more concerned with proving he was guilty rather than his possible innocence. They did not appear to sufficiently pursue other possible leads. New evidence kept popping up that Manitowoc law enforcement coincidentally seemed to find, even after they were supposedly not to be involved in the investigations!

It seemed like a classic witch hunt. Like the State and others were trying to railroad him. Everyone vs. Steven Avery (except for those that truly love and support him).

I have my own suspicions and doubts when it comes to the slight possibility that Steven Avery might be guilty. I don’t want to start sounding like a conspiracy theorist, for one. But mostly because it doesn’t matter what I think about what may have happened regarding his guilt. Again: I was not there. I do not know the truth. I also have my own thoughts about his innocence, mostly based on what took place in the documentary. All that matters is whether or not he should be in jail, and based on everything that has taken place, it appears that he should be set free.

I am not going to comment on Steven Avery’s personal life simply because who are any of us to judge another human being? That’s what gets us into trouble in the first place. There are no saints among us! Just look up the controversy regarding Mother Theresa. Now, just because we are all prone to making mistakes doesn’t mean every single human being has committed a heinous crime. But it does mean that every human being has done something, and is capable of doing something that should prevent them from pointing fingers at others. That’s all. And that’s another thing we need to stop doing: pointing fingers and placing blame, when we rarely turn the finger inward to point at ourselves.

Thoughts on Brendan Dassey

What can I say? A then 16 year old who was known for having some cognitive and learning issues was apparently and obviously coerced into confessing to something he didn’t do because he was promised by the Manitowoc police investigators he wouldn’t be in trouble if he told “the truth”. Of course there is the possibility that he is guilty, but there must be sufficient evidence to prove it. And there appears to be even less evidence in Brendan Dassey’s case than in Steven Avery’s. All they have is an apparent false confession! No DNA whatsoever! No solid evidence! If I’m not mistaken. It’s ridiculous.

Aside from all that, how can you be so heartless to put a young kid, not to mention one like Brendan Dassey, behind bars for life!? Where is the humanity!? Is there not one empathetic person among us? Is that what we are? A mob? We want blood that badly? We want to see heads roll? Is that what matters most?

This was a young kid we are talking about. It’s just outright despicable. One of the more emotional moments was when he was being investigated by officers and he asked if he would be back to school by 1:29 as he had a project due for one of his classes. What kind of guilty criminal would even say that!?

If Brendan Dassey is truly innocent, which I 100% believe that he is from a judicial standpoint, and probably 99% from a moral perspective just like Steven Avery, then it is a tragedy and an outright shame how our judicial system failed him.

If he is truly innocent, he lost his life. He lost a chance to have a good life. Words cannot begin to express my disgust. And if he is truly guilty, to the possible extent of which I do not know, but based on his age at the time, he has served enough time and should be set free. But again, based on the lack of solid evidence, and the way his case and investigation were handled, Brendan Dassey should be free and financially compensated, in my opinion.

Thoughts on Theresa Halbach

As with almost any life that we lose, it is truly a shame and a tragedy what happened to her. No one ever deserves to be abused or murdered. I can understand a matter of someone losing their life during a moment of warranted self-defense, but senseless abuse and violence is always unwarranted. My deepest and sincerest heartfelt sympathies to the Halbach family. I hope that they will find some sympathy and empathy in their hearts to consider the possibility that Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey may be innocent, and if that’s true, that Theresa Halbach’s murderer may still be at large.

The Jury

This is one of the frustrating, irrational, nonsensical and illogical aspects of our society’s justice system. To think that someone’s life can come down to what 12 randoms off the street think as to whether or not you are innocent or guilty. 12 randoms that are often less knowledgeable about the judicial system than the attorneys and judges involved! 12 random people who are as fallible as the person being convicted!  These jurors are no different than you and I. They weren’t there! They don’t know the truth! They can only base their decisions on what was presented to them. Why even bother with attorneys and judges? Just involve the randoms from the get-go and let them make a decision. Hell, let’s just go back to rounding up the apparently guilty for a public hanging!

In regards to how the jurors found both Stephen Avery and Brendan Dassey guilty, I believe there were a couple jurors who were “bullying” the others and swayed everyone into handing over guilty verdicts.

We either need to find a better way to sentence an individual than relying on the verdict of 12 randoms, or we need to get rid of this antiquated system of someone’s life being dependent upon what 12 randoms think. It’s preposterous! In this day and age, we might as well get everyone in the world involved over the internet! I have felt that we needed to do away with jurors, and the entire judicial system, for decades, so this is nothing new for me. What took place in this documentary just reaffirms these convictions of mine.

This is just one reason that we need to end the prison system.

Prison Abolition

As I stated above, I believe we should abolish prisons, especially For-Profit prisons. That’s right, say it with me: for-profit prisons! I’m sitting here shaking my head at the complete absurdity and hypocrisy of such a thing existing in our society. The reason we need to abolish prisons is because humans are fallible animals and you cannot cure human nature. Human nature is what drives people to do what they do at any given moment and prisons are not preventing people from committing crimes. I’m not being emotional or irrational saying I want to abolish the prison system just because of this documentary. I’ve felt this way for a long time, dating back to the early 2000’s. And I’m not the only one.

You cannot cure human nature!

Prisons are a band-aid. What people need is empowerment. They need their lives back. They need education. They need community. They need to become self-sufficient and self-governing again and not have to rely on whether or not they can afford food or shelter. They need to be taught life skills. They need to live healthy, constructive, meaningful lives. And most importantly, those that murder and rape, those with serious mental health issues, need help, not prison.

Corruption & Wrongful Convictions
How Good Legal Representation is Available, if You Can Afford it

Once of the other frustrating aspects raised during this series is how in many cases the poor and uneducated often never get a fair or just trial, because they cannot afford good quality attorneys! That is outrageous. I am not saying that attorneys should work for free. This is just one of the problems I have with government and capitalism going hand-in-hand. One should get quality representation no matter whether you can or cannot afford it.

Thoughts on the Media’s Involvement

While I believe in freedom of the press, I strongly dislike what has become of the media over the last few decades. It’s all about the members of the media keeping their jobs, rising up in the ranks, making more money, generating ratings, looking like models, and creating sensationalism, than it is about doing what the press and media should be doing: reporting and performing honest journalism. There was a glaring example of the lack of this honesty by the media during a particular episode in MaM Season 1 where a reporter was talking about how they are competing for ratings. There you have it!

I raise this subject because the media should practice some kind of responsibility and should have some kind of integrity in not reporting to the general public things that are not proven, such as the most likely false, grim details behind the murder of Theresa Halbach. Maybe the media is different now, I don’t know. But if you do not have 100% proof of anything, if a verdict has not even been reached in a trial, you should probably err on the side of caution and not report things as fact. Especially knowing how it can influence a jury pool.

How Powerless We Truly Are

Watching this series awoken feelings of powerlessness in me that have been lying dormant for awhile. The last time I felt this way was back in my early thirties when I was frustrated with the world. That’s around the time when I started delving into Anarchism. I’m glad I found out about that philosophy, because it brings me great solace knowing such a philosophy and people that believe in it, exist in this world. It gives me hope. That’s not to say that people who don’t believe in Anarchism do not give me hope. There are plenty of good people in the world. But Anarchism resonates with me.

Like one of Steven Avery’s attorneys said: we can say we will probably never commit a crime, but we can never say we won’t be accused of one, and if we are ever accused, good luck! Meaning, good luck in maintaining or proving your innocence when the judicial system is as broken and corrupt as it is.

We need to get our power back. Our lives should not ever lay in the hands of anyone else but ourselves.

The Human Element & How Our Systems Will always Be Flawed

As I stated above, humans are fallible animals. We are imperfect. And therefore, our systems will always be as imperfect and as fallible as we are, and prone to being unfair, unjust and corrupt just as much as we are prone to being unfair, unjust and corrupt.

How do we fix this? Very simply, if you ask me: we abolish them. We go back to living a more natural lifestyle like our hunter-gatherer ancestors once did. Or at the very least we find a way to regain dominion over our lives and return to where we are a self-governing society. Or some other alternative that is less prone to all of the injustices that were exposed in this documentary.

Passing Judgement

We are judgmental creatures, that is a fact. It is part of our inherent animal nature to judge. It is a trait passed down throughout the generations dating far back to when we lived in caves. We judge in order to determine what is safe and what is not. But it has grown out of control to where we are constantly passing judgments, placing blame and pointing fingers at almost everyone but ourselves. We need to start putting more emphasis on thinking, being open minded, being accepting and being understanding before casting judgment.

This is one reason I believe we need to abolish prisons, government and any economic system, and return to an autonomous, self-sufficient, self-governing lifestyle. But I feel we’ve come to far, and that we are far beyond the tipping point to ever go back to living a healthier, more natural lifestyle.

There mostly likely are no gods. Humans most especially are not gods, but merely evolved, possibly devolved, animals. While we may not be on the same level as a cow or lion, we are still part of the Animal Kingdom. And because we are animals, we are fallible, imperfect and flawed. Also, there is no such thing as perfection. Therefore, we should not be playing god with anyone’s life.

What goes on in the lives of others is not our business. That’s all well and good of course, until it comes down to a personal act of crime, be it theft or murder. That’s when things become challenging to address. Do you exact revenge, seek “an eye for an eye”? I suppose you could. Do you put the perpetrator in a cell for the rest of their life? I suppose you could. Do you exercise forgiveness, hoping the perpetrator will no longer commit another crime? I suppose you could. These and others are all difficult moral questions to answer given the fact that there are no universal moral laws to which we are bound, unlike gravity. Free will is both a blessing and a curse. I do not know what the answer is, but prison definitely does not deter crime, and neither does the death penalty. We shouldn’t be lazy and let someone else fix the problems that impact us all. Locking people away does not change human behavior. It doesn’t reform anyone. It’s just an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.

I think it is time we find a better way. Again, because there is no such thing as perfection, there is always a better way!

Think of it this way: we kill all manners of organisms, plants and animals, every single day just to eat, and no one goes to prison. Governments, most especially here in the U.S., kill in the name of war that they justify as necessary, and no one goes to prison. We kill unborn fetuses via abortion, and I don’t believe anyone goes to prison. We end the lives of our loved ones by taking them off of life support, and no one goes to prison. Yet, when an act of murder happens at a personal level, for some reason we get up on our moral high ground and want heads to roll! We’re already killing unborn children, innocent bystanders during war, a ridiculous amount of animals via industrial farming, and all of that is okay, but then you want to punish the few that make mistakes, that act on impulse, that have their judgement clouded, that suffer with a mental illness, because they killed one or a dozen people? It’s funny how we have the audacity and arrogance to decide what is right and wrong to kill.

Conclusion

I love the series. I highly recommend it. It is very eye-opening. It’s also very disheartening knowing how broken our legal system is and how quickly you can go from being free and innocent to being imprisoned for life.

I hope this series does more than just help free Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. I hope it raises many questions in peoples’ minds. I hope it wakes people up. And most importantly, I hope it gets people talking about what we should do with our fallible, flawed, broken and often corrupt judicial systems.

My thoughts also go out to Steven Avery, Brendan Dassey and their families, if they are indeed truly innocent, which is what I believe from a judicial standpoint and based on everything so far in Season 1 of MaM.

That’s about all the thoughts I have for Season 1. Stay tuned for my thoughts on Season 2.

Thanks for reading!

 

The Flux Between Fantasy & Reality

There are 2 ways in which we go about our daily existence: sober on reality and drunk on fantasy.

How often do we drift between these two mental states throughout the day? One moment we are aware and paying attention to our environment and surroundings, most often at school or job, a split second later we are lost in a fantasy world whether it is simply daydreaming, or the point of this article: watching a YouTube video, playing a video game, or reading a book (no matter if the book is fiction or non-fiction).

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What About the Native Americans?

Hello dear stranger, I hope you are doing well. If you have a few moments of your time, this article is split into 2 sections: the first being about how Native Americans do not receive their fair share of representation and support compared to other social and world issues, and the second being my personal story as to why I have such a strong sense of empathy and compassion for the them. First and foremost, I am aware that the more apropos term is Indigenous People of North America. However I’m going to refer to them as Native Americans in this article for brevity’s sake. Oh and one last thing: humor and sarcasm are employed throughout.

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Modern Humans are Displaced Hunter Gatherers

You want to know why you’re bored and have nothing meaningful to do? Why you can’t sit still? Why certain school subjects or tasks at your job do not keep your attention very long? Why you’re frustrated because you have to work a job you might despise and hate so you can pay rent, utilities and buy food? Why you feel so out of control with your life? How you think too much control is in the hands of others? Why some of the things they teach you at school, or the work you do at your job, often has no practical use when you are at home? And why when you are at home, you often consume junk food, products, alcohol and entertainment because there’s nothing else to do with yourself? And why you feel an inner calling to nature and the great outdoors?

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Why “Good People” in Today’s Society are the Only Ones Deserving of an Award (Essay & Analysis)

Ephemeral Rift: Please open your hand.
Reader: [opens hand]
ER: [Places salt grain into hand, then gently closes reader’s hand]. 

Think of all the major awards that we hand out in today’s society. The people that get them don’t deserve them. (Psst: now would be a good time for you to start using that grain of salt).

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The Myth of Community and How It Doesn’t Exist

Are we truly social creatures? Did community ever truly exist? Or are we simply driven by self-interest and that’s the only reason we engage with one another?

I may be an idealist, but I’m definitely a realist and I know the difference between fact and fiction (though ever since I was a kid I found myself day-dreaming more often than not, especially in school. And that’s something I still do that to this very day). The following truth that I am about to reveal is my truth: that there is no such thing as Community in today’s society. At least, not the true definition of community. I know a lot of people like to throw that word around, along with that horrible term “fam” (short for “family”) just as much as they like saying they have OCD, which they don’t.

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The Myth of the Adult and Why There is No Such Thing

All throughout our lives all we have ever heard as young people was “Grow up and act like an adult!”. Yet time and time again, the so-called “adults” always end up doing something hypocritical that contradicts what it means to “act like an adult”.

So I have taken it upon myself to deconstruct this fantasy in order to reveal reality:

  1. You are not an adult when you turn 18, despite what the government often says here in the United States. You’re just eighteen. It’s a number. The “government”, aka a group of control freaks who think they know what’s best for everyone, picked this number arbitrarily as an age when one is intelligent or “responsible” to do certain things like drive, drink alcohol, get a job, or any combination thereof like drinking & driving or working & drinking. In reality, at eighteen you don’t know much about the world or even yourself. But don’t worry! Soon enough, especially going into your 30’s and 40’s, you’ll begin to see all the horrible truths about our species which compounds like interest on a daily basis to the point where one day you’ll wish you never turned eighteen. Which takes me to the next point:
  2. You are not an adult because you are biologically older. Again, whether you are eighteen, in your twenties, forties, or even nineties, you are just biologically older. Congratulations! It’s all downhill from there. All you have gained is more knowledge and experience.
  3. You are not an adult because you went to college. You just happen to have gained more knowledge. And of course it goes without saying that you were also suckered into playing that game and taking on the unnecessary stress of college tuition and student loans. You shouldn’t have went to college like many others and myself included. You can make it just as far in life without it. After all, all one needs is food, water, basic shelter and healthcare. If we were a truly upstanding community and society, if we were truly “adults”, then we wouldn’t make people pay to become doctors and dentists, and quality healthcare would be free for everyone around the world.
  4. You are not an adult because you are a parent. You just happened to have procreated. Any animal can do that once it hits puberty and finds a mate. It’s nothing special. Congratulations, I guess?
  5. You are not an adult because you are a parent and raise your child or children a certain way. We’re animals. There is no “certain way” to raise one’s animal offspring. There are only social norms that one follows and conforms to in order to be perceived as a “responsible” parent, which means something completely different from one person to the next from culture to culture.
  6. You are not an adult because you have a job. You’re just fortunate to have the mental and physical capacity and ability to work, when many others do not and struggle in this life because society favors those that are intelligent, attractive and able-bodied.
  7. You are not an adult because you wear a suit. You wear a suit because that’s the role you have to play, which is most likely to make money. Or maybe you just like wearing suits because you have a fetish or enjoy impressing the other apes that don’t own suits.
  8. You are not an adult because you have money. See #6 above. Or, maybe you were born into a privileged, wealthy family. Congratulations! Enjoy your life on easy street! Not everyone is as fortunate as you.
  9. You are not an adult because you have manners. You are what they call a “Conformist”. You just happen to adhere to the behavior that the majority decides is acceptable and appropriate given the situation you are in. Want a high paying job? Then be a good circus monkey and do what the ring leader says while wearing a fancy dress or suit. But don’t worry! We’re all conformists to some degree, so don’t feel so bad.
  10. You are not an adult because you do not use “foul language”. You don’t swear because you choose not to, or because you haven’t gotten over your judgmental human nature and look down your nose at the “low class” people that use it. They are just words. But that’s a whole other article I’ll be writing one day.
  11. You are not an adult because you have an extensive vocabulary. You just learned a lot of fancy words! Congratulations! You know a lot of big words that have the same meanings as the simpler ones that are much easier to remember and say. But you prefer to use the bigger ones in order to impress people like your boss, your peers, or average people that don’t know how to use those big words or who buy your books.
  12. You are not an adult because you are an “upstanding member of the community”. I mean really, “community”? What even is that these days?
  13. You are not an adult because you are successful. You just got lucky where others did not.
  14. You are not an adult because you vote. You’re an idiot because you vote and think it actually does something to make the world a better place. I’m kidding, you’re not an idiot. You just haven’t opened your eyes to the truth.
  15. You are not an adult because you have morals. There is no such thing as morals. You do know that, right? That’s just a human construct.
  16. You are not an adult because you obey the law.  You just happen to obey the law to avoid going to jail and prison.
  17. You are not an adult because you do not make fart jokes. Everyone farts, and it’s funny every single time. You should fart more often, especially in public. Keeping it in is not healthy. It may smell bad, but the sound and laughter make up for that!
  18. You are not an adult because of so many other reasons which at this point I’m too tired and lazy to list and i think 18 is a good number to stop at and get my point across. 20 reasons probably would have been better.

So there you have it. I’m sure by now you’re wondering: “Okay, Mister Smarty Pants, what is an adult then?”

There is no such thing. Bigfoot, Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, God and the Adult are all nothing but fictional creatures.

It is up to each individual to act and behave however they so please based on the knowledge they have, and based on whatever situation they are in and however they will benefit or be harmed from said situation, or choose to participate in said situation. However you choose to act or behave at any given moment does not mean you are any less or more of an adult. You are free to act according to your human nature. No one can or should tell your otherwise.

There is only coming to the cold, harsh realization that we are fallible, flawed, imperfect animals, and will remain so all throughout our lives, and as a species for however many more millions of years we will dominate this planet, with each one of us capable of conforming, nonconforming, creating, destroying, honesty, deception, selfishness, greed, generosity, love, anger, rage, murder, theft, ignorance, acceptance, obsession, compulsion and so on and so forth I could go listing every single aspect of being human.

And that’s exactly all that we are: human. Nothing more, nothing less.

ASMR gets a new home on YouTube (not really, but we can hope!)

On September 18, 2018, YouTube posted an article on their Creator Blog announcing a new look to a section of their website that is home to gaming videos. You can read the article here: https://youtube-creators.googleblog.com/2018/09/gaming-gets-new-home-on-youtube.html

As soon as I saw this, I thought to myself: “what if YouTube did the same thing for ASMR?”

ASMR gets a new home on YouTube

And even other categories beyond ASMR and gaming such as comedy, podcasts, music, tutorials, art, and all the other various types of videos that you can find where many of the creators work just as hard as anyone but may not get the recognition they deserve.

But for now, let’s stick with ASMR. As you may or may not know, I am an ASMR creator myself. Well, I should say I primarily create ASMR videos. From time to time I create other videos such as the EphemRadio podcast or comedy skits that are not ASMR related. In any case, ASMR has exploded on YouTube over the past couple of years.

If you are not familiar with ASMR, it stands for the non-scientific layman’s term Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, and is an actual physical sensation that is almost like the shivers or goosebumps except it’s pleasant feeling and lasts longer. Trust me, it’s a real thing. I and many others experience it (although, sadly, I no longer do).

ASMR videos are meant not only to generate this feeling, but also to help people relax and even fall asleep. Yes, people will turn on their electronic devices to watch and/or listen to ASMR videos in order to fall asleep. Stress, anxiety, headaches, insomnia and just chillin’ after school or work are just some of the reasons why many people watch ASMR videos. Although most people watch to get their fix of “tingles”, which is the word used to describe the feeling.

But back to the topic at hand: ASMR getting it’s own destination on YouTube. I can tell you for a fact that a very large number of people watch my videos every month (the population of Colorado to be exact) and I know there are ASMR creators who receive many more views than that. ASMR may not be as big as the gaming community, but it could very well reach that level in the coming years.

So after seeing this announcement by YouTube, I thought I’d have some fun by parodying and photoshopping it, and turning it into what we might see one day if YouTube were to give ASMR the recognition it deserves it’s own destination.

Cheers!
E.R.

 

Greed & Pro Sports: Fans & Their Communities Deserve Better

Once again another Super Bowl is upon us, and millions of people will be watching, and billions of dollars will be flowing ever upward often from the small pockets of the poor and working class into the large bank accounts of the owners, coaches, players, ad executives, car companies, beer companies, shareholders, members of the boards of directors, etc., etc., ad-nauseam.

This is one of the many bad investments one can make: this emotional and financial investment as a fan of professional sports, because in many if not the majority of cases, there is often little or no return aside from a few hours of emotional enjoyment and escapism.

This problem, both with these sports organizations and the issue of greed overall, is not a simple one to address, nor is the underlying issue of needing an escape. The NFL and some players do give back to those in need and their local communities, and there are fans who do not even care that they support the greedy NFL or other sports organizations.

While I cannot go into great detail into every aspect pertaining to this issue, mainly because I’m not an expert nor psychologist, I will try to touch on them as best as I can. Why? Because I want to help generate awareness of an important issue. I want to add my voice to those voices already out there in order to help wake up those who may not understand that they are not benefiting from this one-sided transaction, and may even be taken advantage of and preyed upon. I am not here to say that we should deprive people of simple pleasures, joys or entertainment. I am not here to say we should disband or destroy these sports organizations. But the main issue of greed and the subsequent issues of the lack of significant improvement of the lives of the fans and their communities needs to be addressed.

These fans, many of whom are poor and working class, spend their hard earned money and their equally valuable time, buying merchandise and tickets, being lured (sometimes preyed upon) into making various purchases (i.e. “wear your jersey and save 5% on opening a bank account, leasing a car, or buying a package of unhealthy potato chips) to help all of the aforementioned owners, coaches, players, executives, etc., obtain a more comfortable, lavish lifestyle, yet, where is the return for these fans’ and their communities who dwell in the shadows of these organizations and their stadiums?

First, we must address the fact that the NFL and some of its players do give back to those in need, as rightfully they should, as rightfully we all should, those of us who are “fortunate”, meaning those of us who are able-bodied, not suffering with any serious health issues and can afford to. Our civilization and society should place those who are worse off at the top. We are no longer living in a time of “survival of the fittest”. And by worse off, I mean those suffering with any myriad of the physical and/or mental disabilities that plague our species. And by “treated like royalty”, I mean that they are the ones in society that should be driven everywhere by limousine and living in mansions, not those of us who are without serious problems. I do not know of every single organization that benefits from the charitable donations of the NFL and its players. I do know that there is enough evidence to prove that it is not enough. Just take a look around at the areas local to the various NFL teams and you will find plenty of poverty, slums, families struggling to afford school supplies, and public schools struggling with funding. Let us not forget that some of the charitable work is for PR purposes to make the sports organizations look good and not out of the pure kindness and generosity of their and even some players’ hearts. Even with all of these charitable contributions, I am sure there are plenty of fans suffering with issues that do not benefit whatsoever by charity whether it is directly or indirectly.

We cannot place all of the blame on the NFL for not improving the lives of its fans and communities. Some of the fans and communities do need to take responsibility for their problems, or at least those who are able-bodied and financially able to do so. However, we must keep in mind that we are talking about an organization where 10 of the NFL’s wealthiest team owners are worth a combined $61 billion! Not every community has that kind of economic resource available. Plenty of able-bodied fans are happy supporting their favorite sports team even knowing how greedy these teams and organizations are, and even when these very fans suffer from any number of physical and/or financial problems. But because these sports organizations are sitting on so much wealth, we live in a time where there should be measures in place to insure that much of that wealth is redistributed back to those who supplied it, not just to charities. This should be the case for any large company or corporation.

Then there is the fact that many people, if not all of us, need a goal, need something to live for, especially if suffering from a debilitating illness of some nature. Thus: entertainment and escapism. Again, I am not saying we should get rid of entertainment. But there is a problem that needs to be addressed in regards to the sheer amount of wealth and greed associated with those in the entertainment industry compared to the lack of such wealth, be it physical or financial, when it comes to the lives of the people and their communities that help those in the entertainment industry, be it sports organization or artist, achieve a life of luxury. Is not everyone deserving of that life? Why is it so one-sided? If the fans can each contribute $20 to help line the pockets of an artist, athlete or sports organization to the point where said entertainer or sports executive lives in the lap of luxury, does not the fan deserve the same in return?

While the responsibility of improving the lives of people and communities does not rest solely on the shoulders of the sports organizations, these organizations are sitting upon a vast amount of wealth, and there is often a significant disparity between the lives of the fans compared to those who benefit from being associated with these sports organizations. There should be more responsibility on these sports organizations to see that the lives of their fans and the fans’ communities are significantly improved. Or, at the very least, these sports organizations should be charging their fans a very small price when it comes to tickets and concessions so that these organizations are not making billions nor gouging their fans.

When those fans suffer with a hardship, be it a layoff, a medical issue (whether it’s themselves or someone in their family), do those owners, players, coaches, ad execs, etc., show up knocking on those fans’ doors or start sending those fans financial aid? No, of course not, for some obviously apparent reasons (like the fact they don’t know who their fans are, which could be easily addressed), but they should. They should be directly and financially indebted to their fans, especially those fans facing hardships. This goes for all those at the “top” of this system of hierarchy. However, I must bring up the charity work as mentioned above. But even with that said, is not the fan and their community also deserving of an improved quality of life as much as those who benefit from charity?

One would think that with all the money that gets siphoned into the bank accounts of the wealthy NFL owners, coaches, players, sports analysts, TV companies, cable companies, ad execs, etc., that the lives of the fans and perhaps even society would be improved as well, but that is not the case. One would think that with all those billions that there would be a significant and vast improvement in the towns and regions near these teams, such as a lack of homeless people, less poverty, and improved public schools, yet sadly that is not the case. There is not enough being done.

But therein lies the dilemma: who is anyone to tell anyone else what they should or should not do with their money? But we are not talking about the starving artist living a modest and meager existence and forcing them to live an even more meager existence by giving a portion of their meager earnings away. We are talking about organizations and individuals sitting upon billions of dollars. If we cannot force people to share their wealth, then maybe we need to change the system of wealth, or stop feeding these machines.

We haven’t even discussed the cost of the television commercials and advertising, not to mention the absurd prices for a Super Bowl ticket.

When you take a step back and look at what is happening from a universal perspective, when you see the forest for the trees, you are seeing an obscene amount of wealth being sent from the masses at the bottom to the few at the top, with little improvement in the lives of those at the bottom. Especially if those fans at the bottom are not capable of benefiting from this system we live in, meaning, they are not attractive enough to be a model nor intelligent enough to be a programmer and thus earn a 6 figure income, just to name a couple examples. But so is the nature of this beast, of this society and civilization, where a value is placed on everything from the ground we stand on to our own lives. However, that is not a problem that is solely isolated to that of the NFL. We also must remember that life is not about value, material possessions and money. Many people are very happy with less. But that is not what is being discussed here. The problem is that there are people who cannot afford health care, or the fact that there are neighborhoods sitting in decay while billion dollar corporations build skyscrapers, and numerous other problems, all of which are happening in the communities local to these sports organizations.

I stopped being a fan once I realized I wasn’t receiving a decent return on my investment. I was spending countless hours and investing my emotions watching these wealthy people, being forced to watch the carrots of beer and car commercials dangled in front of my face which would try to prey upon my feelings of inferiority for not owning a fancy car, and when the game was over, what was I left with? Time spent unwisely, and undue mental anguish because “my” team did not win the game. My mental or physical health wasn’t improved. I did not receive a raise at my job for supporting the local team. I was not able to add “NFL fan for 10 years” on my resume with the hopes it would help me get a better job. It didn’t help with any aspect of my life other than to provide me with an escape, which perhaps is a problem that needs to be addressed. Nor did I see any improvement in the lives of those worse off than me.

After realizing all of this, something happened to me: I woke up, just like I woke up when I left the Catholic church. I realized that I was wasting my precious commodities: my time and energy (although to be honest, there is less energy wasted when one merely sits on a couch watching television). When it came to being a sports fan, I was unhappy with my life in regards to what I wanted to make of it. And so I stopped kneeling at the altar of the NFL and the NHL, just like I stopped kneeling at the altar of the Catholic church, and in some cases, stopped kneeling at the altar of certain musicians. Now I had more time back in my life. More time to focus on improving my life, or at least spend the time wisely figuring out how to improve it, rather than wasting it on those who were not providing me anything directly in return, nor doing much outside of charities to help those in need. Is that greed on my part? Selfishness? Maybe. Maybe that’s the underlying problem with all of us and the entirety of this issue: our human nature.

Unfortunately, not everyone can do what I did: work on improving their life, especially when they have a disability. Does the NFL do it’s part to help the disabled? Perhaps, with whatever funds go to The United Way and various other charities. But even still, it is clearly evident that it is not enough. Why, this past winter (2017) I saw a man in a wheelchair waiting for a bus when it was snowing, and I live in the Philadelphia region which is very pro-sports. That is glaring evidence that someone is not benefiting whatsoever from the wealth that in his community. There was no limousine emblazoned with the local NFL team logo waiting to take that gentlemen to his destination. That is the problem.

The fact remains that fans are not receiving a decent return on their investment, and they should, especially the poor and middle class fans, disabled or not, because they are in many cases the ones doing all the dirty work of society: cleaning up the post-game spilled peanuts and beer, and mopping up the vomit and urine.

I must reiterate that I do not want to get rid of entertainment. I am much of a sucker for a good film or video game as the next person. Yes, it is fun to watch a hockey or NFL game. I love my escapism too. But perhaps it is the commercialized aspect that is the problem. Or perhaps it is what lies underneath that: the greed. I know that artists, NFL owners, musicians, film directors, video game developers, etc., need to eat too. We all do, even those of us that buy the products or tickets. But doesn’t there come a point when someone that receives so much wealth should return an equal portion back directly to those who helped that individual or group achieve such wealth? Return something more than simple pacification, and more than just help with charity.

Are we not one species, one community, one tribe?

Life may not be easy, there most likely is no answer or meaning, there most likely is no god, and nature and the universe could care less about us because they are not sentient beings and they do not have a conscience, so we are alone on this planet left with each other. Therefore, life in today’s society, which so many seem to herald as being modern, civilized and without blemish, should be a 2 way street. It should be “I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine”. Sadly however, in many cases if not most, it’s a one way street that consists of “I’ll scratch your back while I struggle to find someone that will scratch mine especially in times of hardship”, or in the case of the topic here at hand it’s: “I’ll buy your expensive merchandise, concessions and tickets while you do little to help me or my community in return especially when a serious illness or dire financial situation befalls me”.

I do not know what the answer is. But something needs to change. Maybe people should stop buying tickets and merchandise? Maybe people should instead get together and support each other and their communities, but that’s difficult when everyone has been coerced to work too many hours in a day. Maybe we’re too selfish and our human nature will always get in our way and be our downfall? Or, maybe it is simply time that we stop putting so much money, time and energy into entertainment altogether when there are so many problems in society that need to be addressed. And once we have all helped to reduce the problems in our world, then we can go back to enjoying ourselves as if there wasn’t a leaky pipe or hole in the roof of this house to begin with.

We Need to Reclaim Our Humanity – How Modern Humans Are No Longer Human

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…

There once lived an animal that walked upright, was self-sufficient, empowered, highly skilled, proficient, intelligent and in control over almost all aspects of its life. It lived in small tribes consisting of generations of family members that looked after one another from its children to the elderly. It had the knowledge and skill of how to craft tools to use them in accordance with its knowledge of hunting, fishing and foraging. It had the knowledge and skill of how to prepare and cook said gathered food into meals, perhaps even how to store it. It had the knowledge and skill of crafting clothing to protect itself from the elements. It was physically fit and healthy because it had to use its body on a daily basis to perform all of the aforementioned tasks, and who knows how many more, that were all necessary for survival. It was an animal that knew how to exist in the wild and survive on this planet the way it was designed to exist; the way it was meant to live. And by “design” I mean either by evolutionary accident or intelligently by an unknown greater power. I prefer the former notion, ie. we are simply an evolutionary accident, a chance occurrence, a roll of the DNA dice, and nothing more.

Fast forward to “modern” “civilization”, a phrase that should be used sparingly if used at all, and today’s humans are anything but modern nor civilized. I know, you’re probably already thinking to yourself “humans are modern and civilized compared to those uncontacted “primitive” tribes living in the Amazon” to which I will politely remind you of the following aspects of our so-called modern civilization: war, terrorism, bullying, the homeless, poverty, the slums, college hazing rituals, elderly neglect and abuse, child abuse, child pornography, the sex trade, the porn industry, political corruption, gangs, the mafia, organized religion, global warming, and pollution. Need I say more? No, I didn’t think so. We haven’t changed. We are as much an animal today as we were 20,000 maybe 5 million years ago. All that’s changed is the surface fluff: the tools that we use, how we communicate (or the lack thereof, all depending upon your perspective), the way we dress, the structures we build, etc. But underneath it all, we are still a primitive animal living with primal desires and fears, not some sort of superior species deserving of its own biological Kingdom in the science books.

The biggest change, and the whole point of this article, is the fact that we no longer have, foster, or teach the knowledge and skills to be the self-sufficient, independent, truly free humans that our ancestors once were prior to the institution of agriculture and civilization. We no longer have the knowledge and skills to live out our lives in accordance with our biological evolution. We, the so-called modern civilized parents, schools and society as a whole, no longer have or freely share the knowledge to teach one another and our children, and all future generations, how to be intelligent, self-sufficient, truly free and independent humans designed to live in the wilds with control over their own lives. We are failing our children, and our children’s children. I can speak for 99% of all parents when I say that as a so-called modern parent myself, we do not have this knowledge because our parents did not have that knowledge to teach us, and so on and so forth all the way back through the generations to the point when agriculture and civilization started. That is the point in which we stopped being human and unwittingly traded in our humanity through coercion and the threat of starvation for slavery to those in control of all the resources. That is a system which is still in effect today, but instead of the term ‘slave’ and ‘master’ we now refer to it as ’employee’ and ‘boss’, ‘business owner’, ‘executive’, etc. etc.

In addition to the lack of knowledge needed to be human and survive on this planet, the environment itself we live in has changed dramatically as well, or I should say, has been destroyed and replaced with cancerous structures called skyscrapers, office buildings, apartments, supermarkets, malls, factories and highways that now poison (both physically and visually) the once clean landscapes, forests, woodlands, streams and rivers where we once lived, roamed, hunted, foraged and fished. Even if you had the knowledge to survive in the wild, from hunting and foraging to building shelter and crafting clothing (and good luck doing all that on your own!), where would you do it? In New York City’s Central Park? Philadelphia? Tokyo? Even if you did find a patch of woodland or forest that you didn’t need a car, bus, plane or train to get to, how much wildlife and plants that you would need to survive even exist there? Not to mention all of the other people that would now be living there with you should we all wake up and finally realize that is how and where we are meant to live.

(Sidenote: Before I go any further, this entire article and notion of reclaiming our humanity and reverting back to living a primitive lifestyle is what’s known as “Anarcho-primitivism“, which honestly was not in my conscious thought as I sat down at my PC to write out these thoughts which have been pestering in my mind like a thousand little maggots since late 2017. I only know about this term via Wikipedia and having seen it tossed around on occasion out on the great internet. I’m not a learned student or scholar of Anarchism or Anarcho-primitivism. I do not consider myself one, although for that matter, I don’t consider myself much of anything other than a human who plays the role of father, husband, sometimes friend, and artist. I do however support the ideals of Anarcho-primitivism, and in some form it is probably exactly what I am talking about here in this article.)

So here we are. Instead of learning how to be self-sufficient, empowered humans in control over almost all aspects of our lives, instead of knowing where our food, clothing and shelter comes from and who it supports (which would be the people within our communal tribe), we are taught how to be cogs in the machine. We hunt and gather, not in the forests, but at the local supermarket, where we don’t even know where the food comes from and we can’t even pronounce many of the ingredients. We no longer craft our own clothing, but instead purchase it from retail stores where again just like our food, we have no idea where it comes from nor whom the people are behind its manufacture, sale and distribution. There’s no need to learn how to use your body the way evolution and nature intended. Now your job is exactly that: to get a job. To work your life away for someone else, and in many cases, enriching the lives of other people under the illusion that you are free. Meanwhile, you are often consumed on a daily basis with worry and stress about when the next paycheck will hit your bank account so that you can pay all our debtors and all the people in control of your life just so you can eat some form of manufactured food and escape into a virtual world because you have come to realize all of this, but just like me and everyone else who has come to this conclusion about our current state of affairs, we are powerless and lack the knowledge to do much about it. Would living a primitive lifestyle be any less stressful and worrisome? It all depends on your perspective and whether or not you’ve accepted your place in this fragile existence. But you would be in control of your life, and that is the biggest payoff. Your life would have meaning because you would be putting your entire mind and body to use as evolution and nature intended.

The problem is that we are reliant and dependent upon this cancerous, parasitic, hierarchical system. It is a symbiotic relationship with a parasite, and we are the host. If we were to sever ties with it, we would, in most cases, die. You can name anyone living today, be it politician, celebrity, actor, musician, philosopher, economist, retail clerk, YouTuber, reporter, writer, next door neighbor, you or I. Pull them out from the comfort, convenience and safety of this symbiotic relationship with this parasitic system and place them into the wild, and a week or so later you would see them on the national news of having died of starvation, hypothermia or fallen prey to a predator. Why? Because we lack the basic skills and knowledge to be human. We lack our humanity.

True freedom is a death sentence. We are not free. No amount of wealth obtains freedom, it only affords you complacency, comforts and convenience. From the homeless to the elite we are all reliant and dependent upon this parasite to provide us with our lifeline: the manufactured food, clothing and shelter, and this lifeline is supplied to us at the never-ending expense of the low-wage earner barely eking out an existence, and often a meager one at that.

Living in modern society is akin to an ant living with the Cordyceps fungus parasite. Just like the fungus replaces tissue in the ant, modern civilization replaces our humanity with slavery.

This lack of humanity, this lack of what makes us human in the first place, how we evolved to this stage, is most likely the leading cause of depression, unhappiness, frustration and obesity. We are not meant to spend our days inside office buildings where we become vitamin-D deficient, getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as we perform inane, tedious, repetitive tasks while receiving a small percentage of a wage while those at the top of this parasitical, hierarchical system called “business executives” reap the fruits of our labors. People who we don’t even know and most likely would not want in our communal tribe were we living a primitive lifestyle. We were not meant to spend 8 hours or more all day on our feet as cashiers, construction workers, nurses or waitresses. We were meant to live simple, yet highly rewarding, satisfying, fulfilling, and meaningful lives where we know where our food and clothing comes from because each of us are the beginning and the end to the means of survival. We would live in small, communal groups that perhaps support one another, maybe trading with each other. Everyone pitches in and takes care of one another which includes caring for our elderly. Almost everyone is knowledgeable, proficient and skilled in almost all aspects of primitive life such as first aid, medicine, crafting tools, hunting, and various survival techniques, and probably a litany of other tasks and crafts that I am unaware of.

We would be happier because we would be putting our bodies and minds, putting our entire existence to good use, the way evolution and nature intended our bodies and minds to be used. We would not have to rely on going to a gym an hour each day to get our exercise because we spend most of the day in a chair at the office being wage slaves.

We need to reclaim our humanity. But how do we do it?

The only way to achieve this, as far as I can tell, is to leave all of these modern comforts and conveniences behind. They only keep us complacent and sedated knowing that we have relinquished all of our humanity to those in charge and at the top of this parasitical, hierarchical system.

The solution to me seems very simple, in theory of course: we stop buying and stop paying taxes. All of us, together, in unison, all across the globe. We stop supporting the parasite. We leave the comforts and conveniences of the cities and suburbs en masse and meetup somewhere in the wilderness. We let the cities and suburbs fall into decay and let nature reclaim them. We move into the wilderness with basic necessities to survive, such as seeds, some food, clothing, and we start over. We build basic, rudimentary shelters. We rely on basic, rudimentary tools to hunt and fish. One of the biggest obstacles that we would face would be the sheer number of people living in the wilderness and the lack of food to support everyone. That’s because civilization gave birth to overpopulation. The unpleasant answer to that is: we would need to let our own kind die off.

Returning to this primitive lifestyle comes with a cost, and most likely the ensuing chaos would be far worse than any Black Friday at Wal-Mart. While it will be much more rewarding and fulfilling, we must come to grips with the fact that life is fragile and chaotic. That there are no guarantees. Life would be more precarious. But the trade-off would be immense and well worth it. The satisfaction and knowledge that you actually reap what you sew, that you would see and relish in the results and rewards of your own actions and labor right in front of your own eyes. None of it would go to people you never see or don’t even know. While you may be hunting, fishing and foraging for you and your tribe, your tribe is consisted of generations of family members and others outside your family that you grown to personally know and trust.

At least, in theory. Here, “on paper” and in my mind it all seems so easy, but in reality it would be a difficult and challenging road, yet a road I believe that humans must travel if they are ever to truly reclaim their freedom from this devolved, cancerous and parasitic society, and have control once again over their own lives and destinies.

I would do this myself, but being in my middle 40’s and a husband and father as I write this, and more importantly a human that lacks the knowledge to survive as a human should in the wild, this is not a possibility for me nor my family at this juncture where I have come to fully realize all of this. We would probably die of starvation. So regrettably, just like everyone else in today’s society, I’ve made a compromise. My lack of humanity, my lack of true freedom and power for this manufactured, parasitic existence that is the lifeline to my family.

But this is where we are today as a species and have been ever since the dawn of agriculture and civilization. And as far as I see it, we have 2 choices in how we move forward: the first is to continue down this path of being cogs in the machine and hosts that support this parasite where we have traded our humanity and control of own lives for comforts and conveniences that keep us sedated and numb to the fact that we are all slaves, or we take drastic measures so that we live a much more healthier lifestyle of both mind and body that is inline with the way evolution and nature intended for us to live, even if by accident, the way we were designed to live, as an animal, in the wilds of this planet.

October 2017 Trip to Wooden Shoe Books in Philadelphia

Ever been to an anarchist book store? No? Well, read on!

I’ve added some photos to my Flickr gallery taken on a trip to the Wooden Shoe Books, the “all volunteer anarchist collective” book store located in the heart of Center City Philadelphia at their new location directly on South Street.

You can view the photos here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ephemeralrift/albums/72157665462311839

Wooden Shoe Books website:
http://woodenshoebooks.com/

Wooden Shoe Books Philadelphia

In regards to this blog entry about the book store itself and why I visited there, well that’s a story that goes back a little more than a decade to around the early 2000’s when I was in my early 30’s. Having just met my wife (girlfriend at the time), I was sick and tired of working for “The Man” and equally if not more dissatisfied and frustrated with what I wanted to do with my life, creatively speaking. I was just beginning my quest for more knowledge and awareness when I started delving into various schools of thought such as Nihilism and Anarchism. I don’t remember how it all happened, but one thing led to another and I ended up finding out about Wooden Shoe Books at that time, as well as another anarchist spot called A Space, also located in Philadelphia.

I’ll never forget the first time I stepped foot into “The Shoe”, as the staff calls it when they politely welcome you upon your arrival to their establishment. It was a mix of awe inspiring and culture shock. Having been raised Roman Catholic and living in the suburbs for most of my life (until I moved into the city of Philadelphia during the early 90’s), I lived a pretty sheltered life as far as any kind of alternative information and knowledge were concerned. For the first 30 years of my life, prior to the advent of the internet, all I knew was what was in the paper, on TV, in song lyrics, and whatever my parents and catholic school teachers shoved down my throat labeled as “The Truth”. It was pretty much the same for everyone that grew up in the suburbs during the 70’s and 80’s, and probably any period in history where people were not exposed to anything beyond the status quo.

Wooden Shoe Books Philadelphia

I don’t remember every detail about my first trip to The Shoe in the early 2000’s, but I remember falling in love with the Zines and the plethora of alternative and often radical books that you just wouldn’t find in a book store or library in the ‘burbs (Walden Books, anyone?). I made 2 purchases that day: one being a Zine, though I cannot remember the title, and the other being a book about the Native American people’s involvement with the U.S. government and FBI. I don’t recall that title either, and I never did finish that book because I know all too well how THAT story ends.

I don’t recall my 2nd trip very much. I believe it was a few years prior to this recent trip and it was with my wife. I believe we were visiting the city for one particular reason or another and happened to stop into The Shoe after so many years just for nostalgic purposes. It might have even been related to my acoustic neuroma follow up appointments. But whatever the case may be, I didn’t purchase anything, and the visit was less than memorable on behalf of my part, since it was more about reminiscing than it was acquiring anything new to read.

Fast forward to this latest visit in October 2017, and I had a renewed purpose and perspective, with the former being to purchase a variety of Zines and unique books to showcase and discuss in a YouTube video, and the latter being the fact that I have gained a lot more knowledge and understanding about anarchism, not to mention my also renewed enthusiasm for all things philosophy. They say that everything old is new again, and there is definitely something to be said about that. I personally feel it’s a combination of nostalgia in wanting to revisit the things that we fell in love with at first sight or bring us fond memories and feelings, as well as having grown in experience and gaining new perspective so that when revisiting something from our past, there is a fresh new set of eyes and understanding about it.

Wooden Shoe Books Philadelphia

And so it is that I took the trip to The Shoe. They’ve moved from an old location which was located off of South Street near 9th or 12th street, to their new location directly on South Street around 7th or 8th streets. The store seems a little bigger in terms of length, and perhaps a bit wider as well. There is a ton of literature, from flyers and periodicals to books and novels. That’s what they are known for: zines and alternative books and periodicals that 99% of the time you most likely will not find in Barnes & Nobles. They have a section near the front door where you can find out about local events occurring in the area such as musical performances by local bands. They also carry other items such as buttons, stickers, posters and t-shirts.

But the shop is primarily all about the zines and alternative and often radical literature. They do however hold in-shop events such as readings and lectures by guest authors and other notable individuals.

Don’t know what a Zine is?

Wooden Shoe Books Philadelphia

A zine is a self-published magazine created by an individual or individuals that is not mass produced and often not delivered through a distributor. It’s pretty much DIY. You’ll find anything from political Zines on various topics such as feminism, queer and anarchism, to the more artistic types such as poetry and graphic novels. As I mentioned above, I went to The Shoe specifically to grab a variety of Zines so that not only could I read them, but more importantly showcase them in an upcoming video on my channel in order to give viewers an idea of what The Shoe and an anarchist book shop is all about. It’s great to know that people are still making zines and that the art form is not dead. I also love seeing independent artists able to do what they love and get their art out there.

As for the books themselves, they are just as varied as the zines. You’ll find almost any kind of alternative and radical piece of literature on subjects such as anarchism, atheism, Native Americans, feminism and even childrens’ books about sex and poop.

So if you are looking to find out what anarchism and alternative press is all about, want to expand your intellectual horizons, or just want to step outside your comfort zone and into a place you never even knew existed, try to visit Wooden Shoe Books if you can or find an anarchist book shop near you. The experience alone is well worth it.