New Mexico – a lot of potential with an old mindset.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Living in New Mexico is like living in a trailer park that’s been granted statehood.  Our infrastructure is barely up to twentieth century standards, our politicians are unprofessional (technically), and most people don’t know how to drive.

 

School bus on Indian Service Route 5010 near Sanostee, New Mexico
Image Source: <http://www.newmexiconewsport.com/>.

 

New Mexico does have potential for growth if only the public would ditch this lingering old West, Libertarian mindset.  “Live free or die,” as they say – oh, wait, wrong state!  New Mexico’s motto is a question: “red or green?”  That’s also a good way to figure out if someone was born/raised in New Mexico, just ask the person if they like smothering their food in chili peppers to the point where you can’t even taste the main part of the dish.  Mexican-style food is delicious when it’s not smothered with one thing like chili peppers or cheese but I’ve digresed.

Perhaps I’m fixating on some things that don’t matter.  Perhaps I’m judging New Mexico a little too harshly.  New Mexican communities are heavily family-oriented which make for very cohesive communities, albeit communities that are not very well coordinated as one over-arching community throughout the entire state.  We’re more like a lot of isolated communties amidst an incredibly wide expanse of geography.  Maybe if we had some decent public transportation that was more widespread to more population centers, we could be operating as a more cohesive statewide community.

Albuquerque Public Schools should definitely do something about the lead in their sinks.

One area where New Mexico looks very promising is the film industry and we can hope that the state takes further advantage of of this.  With the new studio that Netflix is opening in Albuquerque, perhaps we can become the next Los Angeles in a few decades as an entertainment epicenter.

MinWage Legislation Advancing in NM House Committees

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

House Bill 31, or the “Phased-In Minimum Wage Bill,” received a “Do Pass” recommendation from the House Labor, Veterans, And Military Affairs Committee and was referred to the Commerce & Economic Development Committee where it currently resides.

 

screenshot_2019-01-29 legislation - new mexico legislature
Screen Capture from <https://www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/Legislation?chamber=H&legType=B&legNo=31&year=19>.

 

The final committee vote in HLVMAC was 6 in favor and 3 against – the three members who voted against the bill are NM Representative Rachel Black (District 51), NM Representative David Gallegos (District 61), and NM Representative Tim Lewis (District 60).

NM Representative Antonio Maestas is the chairman the Commerce & Economic Development Committee, he has not yet scheduled House Bill 31 for a committee vote.

Government Shutdowns are Epitome of Dysfunction

Cover Image Source: <https://theprogressivecynic.com/2013/08/02/avoiding-the-traps-of-compulsive-partisanship-and-compulsive-non-partisanship/>.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Should we expect another gov’t shutdown in February?

The funding lapse in the United States government has been temporarily resolved ending the 35-day shutdown.  President Donald Trump has explained publicly that this deal would give back-pay to furloughed federal employees but he is also NOT giving up his fight for his border wall.

How long will this temporary reprieve last?  3 weeks.  The national Congress will need to spar over funding again come February 15.

The U.S./Mexico border wall was a big campaign promise for President Trump back in 2016 and he has repeated the applause line at several rallies since his 2016 victory.  Considering the president’s stand-offish nature that we’ve seen in media appearances, I expect him to stick to that campaign promise to protect his own pride.  Although, it’s ironic that this gov’t shutdown is over border security because border security-law enforcement agents including T.S.A. agents and air traffic controllers are among the federal employees that were working without pay.

“While most government shutdowns are of relatively short duration, they all result in the disruption to government services and increased costs to the government – and thus taxpayers – due to lost labor.  According to the financial rating agency Standard & Poor’s, the 16-day shutdown from October 1, to October 17, 2013, had ‘taken $24 billion out of the economy,’ and ‘shaved at least 0.6 percent off annualized fourth-quarter 2013 GDP growth’ (Tom Murse, <https://www.thoughtco.com/government-shutdown-history-3368274>, 2019).”

Should we start expecting a gov’t shutdown under every new president? 

President Trump’s gov’t shutdown was about border security and a proposed border wall that some conservatives are claiming will be an effective tactic against illegal immigration.  The question of a border wall’s actual effectiveness is another discussion.

Back in 2013, there was a gov’t shutdown perpetuated by the Republican Party (who then controlled the U.S. House of Representatives) in which Republicans demanded a repeal of President Barack Obama’s arguably signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act (controversely nick-named “Obamacare.”)

Back in 1995, there was a gov’t shudown over apparently grim economic forecasts.  Then House Republicans expressed concerned about the Clinton Administration’s budget effects on the national deficit.

Are gov’t shutdowns becoming more and more common as partisan tensions continue to heat up?  As we move forward, is each subsequent Congress going to have its own battle over the national budget?  That doesn’t sound like it will go well with lower class American workers who are being squeezed every year with low wages and a lack of consistent healthcare coverage.

The solution is more home-rule.

I think a solution to extreme polarization in the national government is for citizens to reconnect with each other at the lower government levels.  Federal elected officials are at historic low approval ratings which means the American public largely does not trust its national leaders.  However; voter turn-out is also plummeting in local elections.  This is bad news across the board.  Regardless of our outlook on our federal leaders, Americans need to remain involved in our home communities.  If we’re unhappy with our federal leaders then we should be able to turn to our respective states and localities to pick up the slack.  That is exactly what was originally intended with our democratic-republican, federalist system of government – multiple governments acting as checks on each other’s power.

The Age of Memes

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

“Have you ever thought about what it means to be a god?  It means you give up your mortal existence to become a meme: something that lives forever in people’s minds.  You barely have your own identity anymore.  Instead, you’re a thousand aspects of what people need you to be.  And everyone wants something different of you.  Nothing is fixed, nothing is stable (Neil Gaiman, American Gods, 2001).”

Humans are very visual with communication often using images to supplement the narrative power of written words.  “A picture is worth a thousand words,” says the old phrase and pictures dominate the modern world of digital communications.

The news industry is undergoing a transformation through digital communications and I think the most successful news organizations to come out on top of that transformation will be the organizations that are fully embracing the web, not the organizations that are trying to keep one foot online and the other foot in physical print.  As much as I hate to admit it, printed paper is becoming less and less practical and digital platforms are becoming more and more relevant as web culture is slowly expanding through its various influencers, conquering the media landscape.  Mobile phones, touch-screen music players, and tablets are the new remote controls of our society.

instantmessagingapps-580x358
Image Source: <https://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/news/2416558/instant-messaging-to-overtake-email-as-biggest-digital-communication-platform>.

The ability to search for specific information has become just as important as knowing information and that is a powerful thing for the average person with no defining, exceptional skills.  Technology is an amazing equalizer that not only improves your own life but your ability to help others.  Of course, technology also has a dystopian element.  The so-called gatekeepers – the internet service providers, the search engines, and the speech platforms – now hold immense influence over the decisions of individual people.  I think the solution to that is more market choices for consumers as well as effective anti-monopoly laws from governments, but that leads us into a more specific political discussion.

There is no doubt that technology has improved lives for people all over the globe and internet access is a huge part of connecting people with products and services beneficial to altruistic endeavors.  Even comedians are utilizing the Web to spread short messages for quick laughs – “memes” as they have been coined.  Imagine how a person from the pre-industrial age would spread his idea to a million eyes and ears across just his own country let alone the world.  Today, one just has to post on Twitter and, if enough people see it and share it, instant pseudo-celebrity status (for about five minutes).

 

web20
Image Source: <http://www.vmagroup.com/digital-communications/>.

 

A computer (including a smart phone, a digital tablet, etc.) is a powerful tool.  It should be used to a society’s benefit rather than to dumb down a populace but perhaps I’m writing optimistically.

4 Possible Corroborators for Kavanaugh Accuser, Problems still at Issue

Credit for cover image: BBC, 9/23/2018.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

The USA Today reported this morning that the legal team for Professor Christine Ford, Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s initial accuser, has four sworn statements from four different people corroborating the Palo Alto University professor’s allegation of sex assault at the hands of Judge Kavanaugh back in 1982 – one of the corroborators being Ford’s husband and the other three close friends.

“In documents sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by USA TODAY, Ford’s attorneys present declarations from Ford’s husband, Russell, and three friends who support the California college professor’s accusation that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and attempted to pull off her clothes while both were high school students in 1982.

The declarations will be used by Ford’s attorneys during a committee hearing on Thursday that could determine the fate of Kavanaugh’s embattled nomination.  He also faces a second accusation of sexual assault from Deborah Ramirez, who claims Kavanaugh exposed himself and pushed his genitals into her face at a drunken party during the 1983-84 academic year at Yale University.”

SOURCE: Steve Kiggins and Richard Wolf, USA Today, 9/26/2018.

While four sworn statements may be slightly more credible than one allegation on its own, the flaws in the Professor Ford’s initial allegation still have not been addressed.  Chief among them: the fact that the crime allegedly occurred over three decades ago making it incredibly difficult to track down specific corroboration from that area at that time, the lack of details regarding the specific place and time of the alleged crime, the apparent lack of consistency between Ford’s account to her therapist in 2012 and her recent account to U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein, and the question of why the alleged victim waited so long to tell anyone about the crime.

There is also an issue with these four corroborators: they all were told of the alleged crime in the past five years (after Ford’s first telling of her account to her therapist in 2012) so it still does not answer the question of why she waited so long to come out.

This case surrounding Judge Kavanaugh has apparently spawned a discussion on Twitter under the hashtag “#WhyIDidntReport,” the discussion comprised of various women claiming to be victims of sex crimes explaining why they did not report the alleged crime to the police.  Most of the reasoning for not reporting seem to relate to the alleged victim’s emotional state at the time (which would obviously be distraught, I’m not denying that) as well as a distrust in the American justice system (which is flawed but still among the best on the world).

“Under the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, thousands of women began recounting why it took them many years to talk about their attacks.  By Sunday, there had been 675,000 tweets.”

SOURCE:  British Broadcasting Corporation, 9/23/2018.

There is one thing that Professor Ford could have done to avoid all of this political drama currently playing out.  Assuming that she is telling the truth, she should have reported the crime as soon as possible (back in 1982).  Ford says she was in high school at the time.  Why didn’t she at least inform her parents of this horrible crime against her?

Regardless of the emotional state of the victim, reporting a sex crime as soon as possible after the fact is the best way to get the law on your side, it will significantly increase that chances that the alleged criminal will be caught by police.  This is true for all crime, the longer the victim waits to report it, the more difficult it will be for law enforcement to raise legal charges and obtain a conviction.

Tracing Transgenderism

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Men and women are inherently different from each other.

^ The above statement may be considered offensive by many in the contemporary LGBT(Q+whatever) movement for absurd reasons that I don’t give one shit about and it raises the question of where this existentialist ideology began.

It can be traced to a psychologist, Dr. John Money (1921-2006), and a curious case of male twins (Brian and Bruce Reimer) born in 1965.

British Broadcasting Corporation, “Dr. Money and the Boy with No Penis,” (September 2014).

Dr. Money specialized in sexology and had written case studies about hermaphrodites and sexual transitions.

The story begins with a botched circumcision on one of the twin boys, Bruce Reimer.  The infant’s penis was burnt off and the Reimer parents chose not to operate on the other twin.  The parents were distraught and did not know what to do for their son, Bruce.

The Reimer’s eventually learned about Dr. Money from a television program.  The psychologist convinced the parents to raise young Bruce as part of an experiment regarding nature versus nurture; Dr. Money wanted to prove a hypothesis revolving around childhood socialization and whether or not gender could be taught rather than simply born.  Prior to the Reimer twins, Dr. Money had not performed any clinical studies on non-hermaphrodites.

Here lies the initial problem with the experiment: it was an opportunity for an ambition.  It is understandable that the Reimer parents wished to give their deformed some a sense of normalcy in childhood but Dr. Money was seeking a chance to prove his hypothesis and exploited the tragedy of these parents’ situation.  It also seems like Dr. Money had the end-goal in mind from the start of the experiment.

Bruce Reimer’s early childhood was marked with visits to Dr. Money and forced socialization tactics (wearing female clothing, playing with supposedly female toys, etc.) in an effort to convince him of his female identity.  However; as Bruce grew into adolescence, he began to reject the socialization and revert backward to his original gender.  Apparently, Bruce hated his visits to Dr. Money and was grateful to his brother for letting him play with his (male) toys.

The story ultimately ends tragically with the deterioration of both brothers’ mental health and their deaths, although Dr. Money continued talk up his experiment as a success despite resistance from the young Bruce Reimer.  The moral of this story is one of hubris in which a scientist falls in love with his own hypothesis and goes to extreme lengths to prove it with the goal of being etched into the annals of history.  A particular personality or an identity cannot be forced onto a child because a person cannot be forced into an identity.  Any parent that forces their child into a specific role will most likely be met with resistance.  The idea that gender has no relation to biology is based on a lie.

Steven Crowder of late-night fame “Lowder with Crowder” ranted about this subject more in-depth.

 

Trust no one but I.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Media personalities have usually enjoyed an underdog aura around them – the perception of a small-time journalist fighting corruption – but that is changing with the ever-expanding digital news environment and particularly since the 2016 presidential election.  Large media outlets no longer receive the benefit of the doubt when they report news.  President Trump has put a lot of pressure on media organizations to show evidence with their reporting and prove the facts in what they say, which will be a net positive for journalists.  No one person’s word should be treated as gospel.

Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you’re on, you probably have your list of news stations that you go to and that you trust more than other sources and especially more than government officials, but what if your preferred sources of news aren’t actually very trustworthy at all?  If you found out that your favorite reporter/anchor/spokesman [insert a name here] lied on every broadcast he or she had ever participated in, where would you go to fill the void left by the absence of that formerly beloved media personality?

To whom should we go for the truth?  I think the answer is obvious – everywhere.

The plethora of consumer choices in media today has created more competition between channels (be it on television or on the world wide web) and traditional televised media does not command audiences as it once did, there is more fluidity in the industry now.  And, as ratings fall among traditional media, the desperate they are going to get for viewers.

 

“Media Malignancy” from Wizard of Cause.

 

 

 

From New Mexico’s rural north to the big city.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

In March of this year, I migrated south from the village of Questa in northern New Mexico to the city of Albuquerque.  It was a dramatic change going from a village (not even a town) of less than 2,000 people to my state’s largest city of approximately 559,200 people.  I’ve lived in rural New Mexico since 2005, so for all intents and purposes, I’m from rural New Mexico.  I attempted to go back to southern California in 2016 after graduating from college but then I got a closer look at housing prices over there; I came back to the high desert with open arms.  Although, I’ve always preferred more urban environments over rural towns for purposes of convenience.

My initial hesitancy to move to Albuquerque was based on crime statistics (number one in the country for auto theft) as well as a less than favorable local reputation.  However; my two best friends in this state secured an apartment in one of the better neighborhoods in the city and offered me a chance to move in with them.  I accepted the opportunity because I was tired of living with family members; I wanted a place I could legitimately call my own (or at least 1/3 my own).  I had my own experience with local crime early this month and I may write about that in a future post but, other than that one instance, my apartment living in Albuquerque as been decent.  I’m using my hand-me-down car a lot less than in rural Questa and I’ve been attempting to “get out more” so goes the phrase.  I’ve learning more about the culture around the craft beer industry and scouting some local hangout spots where taps drip and gossip floats.  One brewery on Unser Boulevard, the Lava Rock Brewing Company, has a spectacular eastern view of the Sandia Mountains from its gated patio.

20180504_151945
East view from Lava Rock Brewing Co.

It seems New Mexicans really enjoy congregating around craft beer since there are 20+ local breweries/taprooms in Albuquerque alone.  Can you blame us?  We’re in the middle of a desert.  What else are we going to do with our water?

Communication, congregation, and productivity are keys to solidifying a community.  There are a lot of small communities in New Mexico but not much communication between those communities.  One reason for such isolation is the geography, the vast space between each region of the state.  I assume that as been an issue with communicating across the American west throughout history but, in the twenty-first century with our computer technology and digital environments, there are less excuses for not connecting with one’s neighbors.  Even a solitary curmudgeon like myself can understand the importance of being in touch with one’s locality.