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.

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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