Tag Archives: Reality

Minnesota’s Media Dance with Childcare Fraud; How it doesn’t fit Their Narrative or the Local Taxpayer’s Interests

By the time you are finished reading this article you will have a better understanding of where your hard-earned tax dollars go in the state of Minnesota and beyond.  You will also wonder what is the importance of news media anyway, if you can’t get the entire story, or if you can’t yourself do an investigation or comparison using other media sources to find the answer you are searching for.  You will know bias.

The curious case of Minnesota childcare fraud has found me wondering, how anyone could watch one media source and be satisfied or even moderately fulfilled/enlightened. The glaring differences in narrative and how that narrative is presented, with a bias makes me question any and all local news entirely. We live in an age of somewhat objective fact being presented always in a subjective slant for people to shout at or down other people.  But do we know?  NO.

I ask you to read this page from the viewpoint that your tax dollars–Minnesota’s tax dollars, which are progressive and the third highest in the nation, are going towards something that they are not intended to go to. They are potentially going overseas and out of our country to benefit anything other than Minnesota. 

Think about that from a fiscal budgetary angle.  Our school teachers need money, our roads and bridges are destroyed and depleted, they need money, our homeless are on the streets and hungry, they need money, parents like me have no money for themselves and their family, even when working to the bone, they need money, and yet our high taxes allegedly leave the country by means of fraud to benefit people who commit those frauds, and very few in the local media take this allegation seriously.

If this childcare fraud report were true or untrue, I think it would be a good idea to find out, and have a good idea about its status, since everyone who works in Minnesota is legally obligated to pay state taxes, mostly. And if that supposition were true, essentially, this story impacts everyone who works and lives in Minnesota. That’s maybe you!  And to brush it under the rug. Very frustrating.

Let’s discuss scientific method for a moment, as I am an amateur scientist: if you want an answer via science, you search and do experiments, studies and tests to find an objective answer or result. You do not just say something is wrong or right and then share that opinion as factual evidence, that’s a blog or an OpEd. I think the media could learn a lot from science. Could learn a lot from looking into something instead of painting it wrong because of whom it is associated with or not associated with.

These reports are frustrating overall. One report suggesting fraud.  Others are suggesting nothing to see here.  I have a child in daycare and I pay taxes in Minnesota, that means that this fraud takes from me. I think fraud is a bad thing and should be investigated properly.  I don’t think that a nothing to see here initiative is a good stance to take on fraud.  I consider it serious business when individuals who commit fraud possibly take advantage of a system that puts me and my fellow Minnesotans, and fellow parents, at a disadvantage, on our dime no less!

I believe thorough reporting on this story is owed to the parents of Minnesota who struggle daily with or without welfare/childcare assistance. It is also owed to the taxpayers who pay huge sums of their paycheck to exist and work within our state.  These suggested frauds, if true, are an assault on families and taxpayers locally.

To conclude, all media involved in this, especially the ones not doing work and digging deeper into this story make the problem bigger, make the problem acceptable.  They do not fairly share an open-minded issue that impacts a majority of people in the state of Minnesota, if not all of the people in Minnesota.

This childcare fraud needs to be investigated further by many different sources, media, and experts without bias.  There is no benefit for attacking the person or people but for dissecting the idea, the potential fraud, looking at it objectively.  That would be  great news story, something with less bias and more objectivity, something that involves all.

But nowadays I do not expect it from the news, nor will I wait for said report. 

 

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How spontaneously getting involved in a Grassroots Political Campaign helped me discover the most important thing in the world, let me explain

I am going to tell you what the most important thing in the world is in this post, are you ready?  Accordingly, by the time you are done reading this post you will have learned one of the most important concepts that there is to learn in life, it will feel good.  You will be improved and feel positive.  Let me start with by saying, I found this valuable idea by volunteering for a political party, doing grassroots campaign calls and giving surveys in my spare time.  That is where I found this important idea and why I want to share it with you.

I have never been more excited to share something that wasn’t a sales pitch.  Do you ever get this line from people?  I digress…  That is not what this essay is about, it’s about talking with random strangers on the phone about random strangers who may in a sense rule them and getting something actually human out of it.  Our country is divided into how many parties and there are people out there talking on the phone and reading scripts and sharing ideas.  (And people listen!)  Voice interaction, the old calling someone up and saying “Hello, is (person’s name) there?…  Mind answering a few questions???”

Calling, communicating, asking questions, these things leave an impression.  Impressions are called impressions because they they are pressed on the brain, indelibly hard to forget.  (When someone thinks their ideas matter that makes them feel good.)  I give them a name, tell them more names–familiar recognition, and even if they don’t want to speak to me or take the survey, they hear kindness and associate that kindness with me, with that party.  They hear my voice, some moniker that is a very familiar one–like John or Dan, and they remember that encounter at the voting booth.

For starters, I believe that is what this nameless grassroots campaign wants to happen.  I have read a few books on persuasion, and I realize that unforgettable first impression is exactly what they want to happen.  Blank canvas, hello, think, names, ok, yes, goodbye.  However, it can be difficult; cold callers have the hardest jobs out there because voices give away everything.  Nervousness, confidence, snark.  It’s not a Facebook post, it’s an interaction, in real-time.  The campaign manager wants to be blurt out the names as fast as I can, new names, old names, take a survey, etc.  Think on those memorable names.  And after that, I am surprised people say “yes” because I often say “no” to such surveys.

Remember, this is important.  Doing things in your free time for what you believe in is important, whether that be getting your candidate elected or helping to mentor someone in literacy.  Doing a social experiment for science is important, getting into politics or marketing with persuasion is important.  Going above and beyond a Facebook post or an ad-hoc spectacle or holding a sign proves that you realistically want to do something to make change, like, perhaps writing legislature.  (We’ve all been there.)

Sure, we can all make waves in a group, that is impressive as well, yet we can get carried away from what is deep within our hearts as individuals.

I thought about my little social experiment and it doesn’t matter the party, it doesn’t matter the ideas because they are all for political effect; insomuch as Thomas Sowell said about “rent control”, in Basic Economics:  I paraphrase, it’s all hot button issues, that’s it.  But aside from the hot button political issues, in the end the underdog is the ultimate American.  The one that believes in their values when the popular majority throws them out and calls them dogs, doubts them infinitely.  That is the time when believing in yourself and doing what other people call “stupid”, “idiotic” or “wrong” on social media is the most important.

In conclusion, the most important thing is to do what is most important to you, not what’s important to everyone else and what they think about it.  Don’t worry about a sea of vehement passionists screaming accolades so you fall in line, or shaming you so you steer off course.  Stick to your plan.  Believe in your goals.  Believe in yourself.  If you can change the political color of a state, or someone’s mind, and not need to feel endorsed by everyone with their Twitter likes or their Insta-approval then it means that you are doing something right and that is important.  Even hearing “No, I would not like to take your survey…” is important because that person is telling you how they feel and making a point for what matters to them.  That is the most important thing in the world.

More information:  https://ballotpedia.org/Minnesota_elections,_2018

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How Trump’s “Secret Weapon” may have Bought the Election from Facebook for $100 Million Dollars and You just Updated your Facebook Status

Before you read this thesis watch the entire video that I share with you above. Watch it for the information about Facebook and social media, not because you dislike or like a politician, or for politically motivated reasons.

Observe this video from a marketing and social media engineering point of view. That is how the below thesis is posed.  This is in no way a political statement.  This is purely for observational purposes.

Thank you for reading in advance.  Also, you can donate to keep my blog current, and the information relevant.  Any amount helps, even a dollar.  Click the donate button.  You rock!

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Parscale attributed the success of his vast social media presence to using the assistance offered by companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Google. He said that because the Trump campaign intended to spend $100 million on social media, companies in that area were prepared to assist the campaign in using that money effectively.[18]

“The campaign poured money into Facebook, sending thousands of versions of tweaked ads to maximize response. Then it won the presidency by a margin narrow enough that Parscale (and Facebook) can justifiably take credit.”[19]

— Philip Bump, The Washington Post”

Link: Brad Parscale

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The contentious 2016 United States Presidential Election may have been won with a $100 million dollars, a “secret weapon”, and Facebook when used together.  Or it may have been won by any other boilerplate theory out there that can be backed by anyone, by any entity, with any statistics.

Either way, for all intents and purposes, the “secret weapon” in this theory is Brad Parscale, and his tool was/is Facebook.

Perhaps, I want to believe that the 2016 election was won honestly and fairly because I am a thoughtful American citizen and I have hope, but the more I look at the events, the more I see glaring inconsistencies in media stories of Russian Collusion and a general disbelief or ineffective attempt to look at the bigger picture objectively.  Social media played a HUGE role in this particular election, perhaps, as much so, or more, as any outside forces.

I aver, when looking at possibilities, generally we must look at everything, even information that has been overlooked from 10/08/2017 about Brad Parscale’s use of Facebook’s data/advertising tools to amass a successful, though debated, campaign–one which basically won the presidency, putting his candidate in the White House.

Moreover, to me,  the most concerning part of imagining, assessing, or thinking openly that Facebook et al. was used, with money, to command an election in such a way is that people still use the platform religiously every day without question as they cast blame/credit elsewhere.  Perhaps this is being oblivious, or willfully blind.  It can’t be Facebook, right?

Reality check: It definitely can be Facebook.  The reality is an inordinate amount of people are plugged into something (social media) that they wholly do not understand (I am in that boat), and marketers, salespeople, and data analysts are taking full advantage of that reality. (Beknownst, unbeknownst to all.) And how they do that advantageous venture is with huge, huge sums of purposed money.

Perhaps, purposed money and novel strategy, with a “secret weapon”, is what won the 2016 presidential election, along with a special tool of course: Facebook (when utilized by Brad Parscale).  Perhaps there are other entities pulling strings, but Parscale and his efforts warrant consideration, and notation.

Beyond Parscale and social media, the secondary key in this thesis is the $100 million dollars went to marketing–the unprecedentedly complex advertising itself, and the lack of the Clinton campaign to embed Facebook and other social media employees within their campaign offices, as the Trump campaign did.  And this may have swayed the election.  I consider this maneuver to be out of touch in the age of social media.  That’s glaringly foolish, in my opinion.

It’s like going to the World Series and leaving all your big hitters on the bench, extremely odd for a veteran politician…

Now, after these events, it sounds obvious to have key workers from these social media entities within your organization. Have one of the most influential and most recognized companies on your side in the most important race on the planet, possibly.  Don’t leave much to chance. That is not genius, that is obvious. It wasn’t to some, clearly.

Further, not having social media on your side on your account seems very out of touch with reality. Even if you despise Facebook and are not a member of the brand, you have to recognize that it is a powerful tool for connecting people everywhere. For example, I am not on Facebook anymore but I realize it’s marketing potential, (I also realize at Christmastime that my parents and in-laws like to connect with high school friends.  I don’t know why…  I use email).

Bringing it home, the video above is not only astonishing to me, because I am just learning about Brad Parscale, and because of the information it gives on the key marketing tactics used within social media to win an election and manipulate a demographic of people is vast and accurate, but this technology seems potentially dangerous. The scary part in any situation is that money seems to make that happen. If money wanted you to be a modern zombie or a group think solider it would already be happening.  And maybe you wouldn’t know.  You’d just go with it and update your status.  Probably not though, you are smart. 🙂

Accordingly, maybe someday we can better predict the future of everything, that is my prediction for the future.

For what it’s worth, with much of the media linking Parscale to Russia and basically making him look like a Sith lord in  article photos, I think he could certainly be a critical part of understanding the 2016 presidential election, and definitely to harnessing momentum in future elections.  At least his methods are very straightforward, in appearance, and no-nonsense.  Definitely they are of interest.

His use of social media tools to reach an audience with a campaign message has never been done before at such a level, and he has worked on “zero” elections before.

In general, that utilization of resources–if that is what it truly was, is progressive and inspiring to me.  He has been overlooked; and he is right there in front of us.  As is the power of social media, but we have other excuses.  Russia is scary and influenced the election. Trump may have cheated, etc. Any narrative is believable. But look at how many people around you are on Facebook clicking around, social media, exposing themselves to it all.  Marketing is more common than the other alleged threats.  I hope you like this post.

What influence.  What money and focused ideas can buy.

Annihilation – The End of the Original Sci-Fi Movie Plot – SPOILERS WITHIN

*** SPOILER ALERT  ***

Last night I saw a movie for the first time in years.  That movie was Annihilation.  I had little prior knowledge of the film before seeing it.  I didn’t see a trailer.  I didn’t read a review.  I just went and saw it with my wife.  Here is the gist.

As a disclaimer I will admit I enjoyed this film.  I enjoyed going to a movie for the first time in a long time.  It was great, minus the idiot on his phone in the row in front of us.  It was a pleasure.  Thank you for reading my review of Annihilation.

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Best Shot: The best shot in this film, aside from all of the visually stunning flora and fauna, is at about the midpoint when the team of experts stumbles upon a mess hall.  They find a video of some sick death by a cadet before them.  The crew finds the scene of his death has turned an  abandoned swimming pool into an explosion of colors and what appears to be mold.  This grotesquely morbid end creates creates and aesthetic I have rarely seen in films.  Like zombie ants with fungus shooting from their heads.  Like mummies on display.  This was the best shot in my opinion.  Although everything seems to sparkle and shimmer in alien phosphorescence.

Worst Shot:  Spoiler alert the worsts shot is at the end when the alien in the lighthouse pirouettes the main character.  It’s far too long.  Far too played out.  I have seen in before.  It adds very little.  We know that the alien is trying to mirror the humans before this point in the film.  Also, the shots of the extra-marital affair involving the main character.  This affair does nothing to move the plot.

Plot:  Perhaps we have reached a point in the sci-fi cannon when all ideas have been exhausted to the point at which we just basically are trying to understand us, while realizing there is nothing out there beyond us.  Perhaps.  The pedestrian alien in Annihilation are basically the same alien in Signs, or any other cartoon alien–except for with a smaller head and limited facial features.  Aliens are still somewhat green and still somewhat humanoid and thinking.  However, these aliens may not understand the ideological concept of “want”, “wanting”, or “preference”.  The just do.  They just change.  For whatever reason, it’s never really explained.

Takeaway:  Annihilation is visually appealing, it’s visually appealing like Prometheus.  The film offers moments of tender human relations, marriage, and longing.  It also bring a bit of horror with a monster bear and the idea of going nuts in a world where, or in a bubble–ironically for our times, a bubble, where those around you are going clearly mad.  Changing from one thing to another irregardless of the individuals intentions.  These things happen.  Like biology, I guess.  Near the end of the movie the main point shows through: things change for the simple reason that they can.  Outside alien entities change us for their reasons and their reasons are unknown.  That’s basically it.  Annihilation poses more questions than it answers while still making me thing a little bit but not offering much novel idea.  It was an entertaining flick, but it has some explaining to do, and of course a work cited may be necessary in the credits.

 

Real Fake Lives: Only 47% of Millennials are Living within Their Means, Social Media a HUGE Factor in Modern Debt Acceptance

I find the hardest thing about being a Millennial in 2018 is realizing that you have to stop living the lie of overspending that our culture promotes to us, that most of my contemporaries are probably assisted into debt and prove it daily, apathetically through social media posts. And this my friends, is a marketing tactic to sell you that it is OK to live on credit and not be accountable for your spending.

Debt is “good” they tell you… sure, think about that debt payment you’ll have to pay for the next umpteen years.  Not so good then.  NO.  But my credit score?  If you don’t have cash don’t buy, any wise financial guru would tell you that.

Those out there spending money to take pictures of their food, those who pretend they have fun with friends they only drink with, those out there buying shit they don’t need, those buying (or worse!) leasing new vehicles, those out there promoting products and platforms for free while they wallow in future debt, oh god, there is not down vote button for this stupidity.  Someone out there is making dollars off of them, sad.

You have to truly realize where you are. Oh, I am a human with flaws?  Oh, I am just carbon like everyone else?  SO why try to act like you aren’t?  You can not afford to put another bar tab on your credit card. You cannot afford to pay gas with a credit line. You cannot go on that vacation and make all your followers jealous.  How will you eat next Tuesday? I had to eat a bean sandwich once: just beans between bread. I am down there.  Are you bean sandwich read?!  If not, keep doing you.

It’s time to realize what a person has to do.  A person has to live free by making themselves free.  Debt is not freedom, debt is a prison.  Each day you work to pay off our debts, you are in chains.  Get out of debt now!  Or just stop reading right here and go scroll social media for hours and forget about it.  It’s all good! 😉

Or: We have to make sacrifices. Get off your phone. I think I can’t live the fake lifestyles that I see anymore. I think I must stop taking in this bullshit. I think I have to become the frugal master.  I think I have to get angry about my debt in order to change my future.  One where I will be debt free and at the beach.  Everyone wants to change things for the better for everyone else but forgets they have to change themselves for the better first.  Don’t stop being philanthropic, but if you don’t have something to give you can’t give.  Think about it.

So, trailing off, I get somewhat acutely disturbed about others unawares debt, the lives they promote that are so costly they couldn’t possibly know. But I don’t care. I realize if most are OK on a sinking ship–which is going very down fast, more lifeboats and options for me. (I am under the philosophy: I better me, I better you.)

Now think, my first sentence was very hard to take, but if you made a penny for every Tweet or Facebook post or Insta scroll, damn, you’d be loaded, and halfway through paying off that credit card or that new phone or that student debt. Now, it’s a bit easier to understand, I hope.  That is why Facebook is rich and you aren’t. Head in outer space floating for likes and affirmation of importance.  You intelligent piece of carbon. Do you have a status update for that?

BREAKING NEWS: No Study Ever finds that your Life is Fated by Pennies, People, and Problems

This week has changed my life. Events unfolded and I became apart of the solution. This fix took up a week, and a majority of my time allotted for other projects. But the things I did learn through experience taught me one thing– oh, and finding pennies and Easter Eggs throughout let me know that I was where I was supposed to be, like everyone else is–it taught me to take it as it comes. Be where I am when I am right here right now.

Firstly, events take place, happen, go down, and unfold beyond our humanly control. (I read a tweet about this: worry is a waste of time, the past is the past, we cannot worry about things we cannot change, etc.) I understand I cannot change the past I can only change the future, hopefully. In this new “special project” I have found that positivity is the only way to move forward together. We must move onward positively together. Getting down or bummed or saddened about something will only hamper your forward progress.

Secondly, everywhere I went this week I was met with a smile–or by the end of the meeting, a smile had fixed a frown or a grimace, at least in most cases. Furthermore, I kept finding pennies placed throughout my experiences. I got lost, found a penny. Someone needed me to do an alternative task, I found a penny. At the train station, found a penny. In this, I don’t believe pennies are lucky. But if I find a lot of pennies, a lot of pennies add up. Or maybe god is buying me a beer, I have no way to knowing. Also, these finds act like checkpoints for my life. Look for your pennies and you will see dollars. Then retrace your steps along that path, how did you come by three cents?! WOW! 🙂

The most important part to all of this is the worry factor. I read this last night, for a moment. The last few days, I saw people worried, upset, and frustrated. I stayed calm. I have no idea how. I just stayed calm and collected. Because it is how we act during times of uncertainty that matter most. (Someone famous said that, or something similar). Beyond the stress, the unpredictability, I was learning something unique, something new. Something different. It didn’t matter what; but if you are doing something different from your regular routine, you are learning something new. Remember that in a shitty situation that you have never had to deal with before.

Some people could say their week was a wash, many others could call it a major success. And the point here is, this is every week, could be every moment. They did something. They made something happen. The reason this contrast is important is because we can see life in this way every day, or in another way. One day it is shit. One day it is good. Four letters, two different ideas completely. Why can’t they all be good? Why can’t we make it as such? And I think we can. Thought I would share.

You have made it here, right where are you are supposed to be. Now go look for your pennies.

Millennials, Strive for that Perfect Selfie because You will Never get out of Debt and You Will Never own Your Own Home Responsibly

“The more he identifies with the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own life and his own desires. The spectacle’s estrangement from the acting subject is expressed by the fact that the individual’s gestures are no longer his own; they are the gestures of someone else who represents them to him.”
― Guy DebordThe Society of the Spectacle

“The spectacle is the nightmare of imprisoned modern society which ultimately expresses nothing more than its desire to sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of sleep.”
― Guy DebordThe Society of the Spectacle

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The headline you just read is what I think to myself when I realize I shouldn’t spend money and should save for my future interests, especially when my contemporaries scroll social media and see how others are living large and in charge and strive to be just like them.

(Firstly, social media is an affirmation to spend more money, and waste more time.  Do you have it in you?)

I am pretty sure the people around me are concerned about my one point of obsession, my now goal: paying off all of my debt. My motivation being: Because I am a slave to debtors, credit card companies own me, my student loans own me, I really don’t exist freely…  What keeps me going in this direction:  Good reasons.

Good reasons:  Some day I will own my own house, responsibly–not through some insane mortgage.  Some day I will be out of debt, entirely: zero debt.  Some day I won’t have to work every day to pay my bills, no worries.  I will retire with dignity.  And again, those around me will benefit from my now goals, from my relatively insane efforts, from sacrifices I make.

These sacrifices are easier than the alternative for me, of living in debt for the rest of my life, chipping away at what I one minimum payment, all that high interest at a time.  That is stupid.  That is something that could use distractions!

It’s hard and easy for me to imagine that there is a world out there stranded glaring into their phones at millions of other people acting out their fantasies–Millennials et al., taking photos, images of a luxury lifestyle that is nothing more than made up. IT DOES NOT EXIST.

Imagine if we could get paid for that time spent glaring at other people’s dreams… We’d all be as rich as Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Buffet, Steve Jobs, or Donald Trump.

I really shouldn’t care about the setting or the background or how long it took for another person to get that perfect photo, the perfect selfie, and all those likes, although it worries me. I care, imagine.  That is my philanthropy for the day: caring.

(Your debt is that train in the “perfect selfie” video above, maybe doing the same to you as you read.  Stay off of those tracks that lead you, or the future you, into imminent danger.)

The first thing I think about when I see pictures of people doing AMAZING things is, how much debt does that person actually have, credit cards, student loans, etc.? I know, it’s none of my business, but for science…  Then I wonder, does all that debt add up to contrived happiness, the happiness in that picture, imagines on a screen, unfocused a distracted ephemera of fleeting feeling… Does it come from that?

(A hobby of imagining your existence is entirely different from what it is?  Doing this doesn’t cause change, it avoids it.)

And we compare ourselves to those counterfeit images, those freewheeling fantasies, those nice narrative and salacious story lines… Am I as good as that other person’s selfie?  No, no, I am not… Should I be spending more money, should I be buying into this false pretense?  Do I give a shit?

Then I vanish from social media and that apathetic society that we all pay to join in some way or another. I vanish because we all should and walk back into the deep woods to find our inner animal selves, or into a deep sleep.  Beasts called gentlemen in suits and ties pretending to be anything other than ourselves.

(When we die our Facebook us’s keep on living.  Is that me?  For example, my father died four years ago in June and he unfriended me on Facebook a couple of years after that.  He is virtually still alive, however he is physically dead.  I don’t know if he sleeps anymore.  I cannot visit his grave because my reality does not understand this sort of paradox.  Social media creates dead and living zombies right now.  Imagine.)

So, yes, back to the beginning, you will never get out of debt or own your own home, responsibly–without insane lenders and bad deals, if you keep this up.  That is what I tell myself and then avoiding those distractions becomes very easy for me. You as in me.

Forget your likes, upvotes, retweets, highlights from whatever years ago, virtual memories, Facebook lives, and other people’s selfies, they evoke no artistic value whatsoever (or maybe they do: this mini-essay tho.).  Think about what you owe that credit card company, what you owe in student loans? Try to smile now, make that art, Picasso. Get that photo sing.  Real good job.  Create those American Dreams.