Trust me, I’m a writer.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

“Journalism is not supposed to be propaganda from politicians.  Journalism is supposed to hold politicians accountable for what they say (Ana Kasparian, The Young Turks, 2019).”

How can a news organization today (particularly a new organization) gain the trust of the public given the current over-saturation of the market?  I think the key is transparency for themselves, each reporter/editor/producer must be willing to put their name in front of the public eye and stand up for their work in the face of criticism.  Make sure that any one of your readers/viewers/listeners can approach you with questions if they so desire and accept criticism with grace; do not let praise inflate your ego.  This is also just good advice in general – be honest with yourself about what you’re doing, try to be self-aware in what you do, and maintain an over-arching vision to guide your work.

It’s impossible to be completely objective simply because most humans orient themselves around their subjective feelings rather than logic and their objective surroundings but that doesn’t mean that we can not strive for objectivity for its own sake.  Every human has the capacity for logical reasoning through critical thinking and discourse, it’s what makes our species so powerful in nature – we can come together around common goals and manipulate our environment in ways other animals can not.  However; this attribute is a double-edged sword for, if we remain too long in one group with the same ideas in circulation over and over and over again, our minds become dull from ease and the group weakens with fatigue.  To maintain a competitive edge, a group of humans must always be inviting to a variety of ideas, individuals must be willing to challenge themselves to sharpen their arguments.  Echo chambers are dangerous.

This is exactly what modern media has become: an ecosystem of echo chambers.  People on the political Right-wing have their own sources, people on the political Left-wing have their own sources, and more moderately-minded people don’t know where to go for sources so they try to read multiple sources from both sides of the spectrum (if they don’t opt out of politics altogether) all the while animosity for everyone else increases and politics becomes more and more tribal.  Modernity is supposed to be more civilized than tribalism.

I think I’m digressing, let’s go back to the topic of modern news media.  I think the key to success in news media is transparency which is why I want to list what I think is important to discuss when it comes to political engagement, government functions, and such:

  • the role of a government relative to the society it presides over,
  • hearing from a variety of perspectives regardless of popularity,
  • clarifying differences between perspectives and taking care to NOT miss-represent one’s ideas.

I believe these to be important facets of news media – a result of my own beliefs in individualism, free speech, pluralism, government and corporate transparency, and democratic-republicanism.  My goal with my writing (both my personal writing and professional writing) is to promote inquiry into how our societies operate, encourage more people to ask questions that some people in positions of power may not want to answer.  I’ve written in the past about my belief in writing skills and their importance to civilization and I stand by that belief today.

New Mexico Relaxes Criminality of Cannabis, Maintains Control of Distribution

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 406 into law this week, the new law institutes several measures into effect this year regarding the criminality of cannabis as well as its distribution.

“. . . local school boards and the governing bodies of charter schools shall authorize by rule the possession, storage and administration of medical cannabis by parents and legal guardians, or by designated school personnel, to qualified students for use in school settings . . . (NM SB406, page 1).”

The state will implement cannabis into schools for medical use under strict supervision and only to designated students.

The new will also amend the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (the successful bill that legalized medicinal cannabis) to widen it’s umbrella for who can qualify as a cannabis patient/producer in the state, an individual cannabis patient/producer must still be licenced with the state’s Department of Health.

“. . . EXEMPTION FROM CRIMINAL AND CIVIL PENALTIESFOR THE MEDICAL USE OF CANNABIS. –

A.  A qualified patient or a qualified patient’sprimary caregiver shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner for the possession of or the medical use of cannabis if the quantity of cannabis does not exceed an adequate supply; provided that a qualified patient or the qualified patient’s primary caregiver may possess that qualified patient’s harvest of cannabis.

B.  A reciprocal participant shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner for the possession of or the medical use of cannabis if the quantity of cannabis does not exceed the limit identified by department rule.

C.  The following conduct is lawful and shall not constitute grounds for detention, search or arrest of a person or for a violation of probation or parole, and cannabis products that relate to the conduct are not contraband or subject to seizure or forfeiture pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act or the Forfeiture Act:

  1. a qualified patient or primary caregiver possessing or transporting not more than an adequate supply or a reciprocal participant possessing or transporting not more than the limit identified by department rule;
  2. a qualified patient or primary caregiver purchasing or obtaining not more than an adequate supply from a lawful source or a reciprocal participant purchasing or obtaining not more than the limit identified by department rule;
  3. a qualified patient using or being under the influence of cannabis; provided that the qualified patient is acting consistent with law;
  4. a qualified patient or primary caregiver transferring, without financial consideration, to a qualified patient or primary caregiver not more than two ounces of cannabis; or
  5. with respect to cannabis cultivated under a personal production license, a qualified patient or primary caregiver possessing, planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying, manufacturing or transporting cannabis plants or cannabis products as allowed by department rule; provided that a qualified patient or primary caregiver who possesses a personal production license shall not manufacture cannabis products using an oil extractor solvent that is stored under pressure unless the qualified patient or primary caregiver holds a separate license from the department permitting the person to manufacture cannabis products using an oil extractor solvent that is under pressure (NM SB406, pages 14-16).”

Individuals under 18 years of age can qualify for the medical cannabis program but it must go through the parents/guardian.

SB406 was sponsored by Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino, a long-time advocate for cannabis as a medicinal and commerical product in the state legislature.

 

Nuclear Tech for the Arabs, not the Persians

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

Reuters reports on “six secret authorizations” from the United States Energy Secretary Rick Perry regarding the sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

Screenshot_2019-04-06 U S approved secret nuclear power work for Saudi Arabia
SOURCE: Timothy Gardner, 3/27/2019, <https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-saudi-nuclear/us-approved-secret-nuclear-power-work-for-saudi-arabia-idUSKCN1R82MG>.

I’m not going to go into any details about how Saudi Arabia is an excessively authoritarian, theocratic monarchy that oppresses its people on a daily basis because anyone who pays attention to the news already understands that unfortunate situation (unless you’re also a power-hungry authoritarian who salivates over the kind of oppression that the House of Saud delivers daily). What frustrates me is the hypocrisy in American foreign policy. Why are so many power brokers so against the idea of our government making some peace with the government of Iran citing justifications like, “it’s a sponsor of terrorism,” or “it doesn’t align with American values,” but then those same psuedo-moralists will not make a sound when we deal with a government that does just that (state-sponsored terrorism). Can we at least have some consistency in our government policies? If we can’t deal with Iran because they are too authoritarian and they sponsor terrorism around the globe, then why the fuck are we dealing with the Saudis?

ArabianOil
IMAGE SOURCE: <https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-08-05/saudi-arabia-is-starting-to-stockpile-oil-again>.

I suppose it’s all about those Arabian oil fields and, since the Arabs don’t like the Persians, the U.S. will continue to suck that big Arabian penis until the oil runs out.

Mueller Report Out (but not public), Upwards of $30 million likely Wasted, and the Democrats are STILL IDIOTS

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

“Russia!  Russia!  Russia!”

^ That is what the “resistance” Democrats have been yelling incessantly for the past two years.  Many people continue to chant that slogan even after Robert Mueller’s special investigation is ending with an announcement for no more indictements.

I think Mueller’s investigation was poorly focused from the start, the Democratic Party should have pushed for an investigation into President Donald Trump’s business ties for potential conflicts of interest.  The fact that the president has not completely disconnected from his business interests as well as the fact that he uses his own properties for government purposes is suspect.

The Democrats could have been much more strategic over the past two years as an opposition party but they were blinded themselves by holding onto a grudge, bitter from the 2016 presidential election blaming everyone and everything but themselves as well as grasping at straws to point more fingers at President Trump.

If the fucking Democrats had not rigged their own primary for their precious Clinton, they probably would have won the damn election.  As it turned out, the voters don’t like to be fucked over without consent.

If the Democratic Party doesn’t clean up its act, I think President Trump may win a second term next year.

 

Illegal Immigration – a National Security Issue or a Humanitarian Issue?

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

The need to “secure our borders” is usually a hot topic for political campaigns. Unfortunately, fear too often accompanies the rhetoric around the topic. Too many politicians see the issue of immigration as simply a way to inflate their own egos by talking shit about foreigners as well as appeal to the very real human instinct to fear the unknown. The fear is understandable, it can be scary to think about people from a different country and culture coming into your own country – your own state – with values and customs that you don’t understand especially if the strangers are described using the harshest of words. There is an element of risk in meeting new people and its scary on an individual level as well as a collective level.

The great American cliche involves a “land of opportunity” and for many people over the past two centuries it was true. The United States experienced a surge of immigration from Europe and Asia through the latter 19th century into the 20th century during which time American citizens heard similar zenophobic rhetoric as we hear today and immigrants experienced similar prejudice because of rhetoric crafted to fuel fear. As with most groups of humans, some immigrants do not follow the laws of their new countries and they get punished by the respective justice systems as they are found out, but most immigrants have a very strong incentive to act as law-abiding residents, most immigrants are risking a lot in their own lives (sometimes life itself) to find a new place to call home and experience the same dignity through hard and meaningful work for which every human strives.

The liberalization of international trade as well as the stagnation of wages over the past few decades have created a situation across the globe in which large populations of humans are competing with other large populations of humans across vast regions for jobs just to supply themselves with basic necessities – laissez faire capitalism on a global scale. It is unrealistic and unsustainable over the long-term because large groups of humans throughout developing countries and even some of the developed world are now at the mercy of the bottom lines of a few mega corporations (corporations with more economic clout and political capital than some small countries). I’m imagining a future comprising of the combined nightmares of Upton Sinclair, George Orwell, and Philip K. Dick.

In order to combat this dystopian vision of humanity’s future where corporate executives have enough individual wealth and power to make the feudal lords of old salivate and government officials are basically prostitutes for private interests, I believe we need to renew an old conversation: what is the purpose of a government, what is an individual’s responsibility toward public interests, and what does a “social contract” entail? Immigration trends are responses to global economic trends, simply closing our borders to immigrants and refugees is not going to solve the root issue of economic inflation and stagnant wages.

NM’s HB31 Amended to Protect Tips; Understandable but Flawed

House Bill 31, the “Phased-In Minimum Wage Increase,” has been amended to protect earned tips of restaurant servers.

The amendment reads:

“From the effective date of this 2019 act until July 1, 2022, an employer may pay a lower cash minimum wage rate pursuant to Subsection D of this section only if the employer can establish that for each week that an employee who customarily and regularly receives more than thirty dollars ($30.00) a month in tips works, the sum of the employee’s tips combined with the employer’s cashwage is not less than the minimum wage rate as provided inSubsection A of this section (NM Representative Miguel Garcia, NM Legislature, 2019).”

I think it’s logical for restaurant servers to react defensively to this bill as it was originally written but I think that reaction is based in an understanding that helps their employers take advantage of them.  As I’ve stated in previous postings here, a tip from a customer in any industry is not mandatory.  Even if a server demands a tip, the customer is not legal bound to provide one.  It is simply an expression of good faith on the part of the consumer toward the business worker.  I don’t believe that any worker’s pay check should be contingent upon the potential good faith of particular consumers.  All of the responsibility of worker pay should be on the business.  A separate “serving wage” for food servers creates a minimum wage double standard between the food service industry and every other industry and it is exploited by businesses whose bottom line is higher profits.

“You have the possibility for more money through tips so I’m going to pay you less than the standard minimum for every other industry.”

^ That is the logic behind this double standard, it essentially outsources responsibility to the workers themselves forcing them to become entertainers as well as food servers, begging for tips because they get paid less than other workers.

Customers in any food establishment should not be expected to supplement the wages of the servers and they definitely should not be guilt-tripped into giving a larger tip out of sympathy.  Businesses should pay food servers the same minimum wage as every other industry as well as let servers keep all the tips they earn from customers.

City Councilor Draws Mid-sized Crowd at Weck’s on Louisiana Blvd. @ Montgomery

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson organizes a regular event in her district to meet with city residents (posted on the city website).  The meet-up this morning was a very cordial one of a couple dozen or so concerned citizens albeit the majority of attendees were senior citizens.

I was not disappointed about who was in attendance but rather about who was not in attendance; only a handful of faces in the crowd looked younger than 40.  It baffles me that most individuals from my own generation have no interest in prospecting their local political processes.  Although cynicism is understandable, it is not excusable.  Regardless of the overwhelming burden of political activism on an individual, it is still necessary to at least attempt to understand the issues happening around you and make an effort to exert your influence (no matter how small it may be) on the people elected/appointed to represent you.  Governments do not stop operating simply because you choose to bury your head in the sand.  In fact, averting your eyes from government processes will only ease the temptation toward corruption on government officials, a temptation that pulls on every human in a position of power.

The group discussion began with the possibility of a land bank for the City of Albuquerque, basically a method for the city to identify vacant lots and run-down structures to acquire and flip for productivity.  There was a majority support for this idea as a main concern throughout the meet-up was blight and property values.  I asked Councilor Gibson about this so-called land bank being used to identify vacant lots and dilapidated structures to be transformed into new public parks, she said public parks could be a possibility but the main focus was on acquiring old and vacant homes to flip on the housing market.  I also asked Councilor Gibson about how the Council could improve the city buses, she replied that she would like to see a larger fleet of buses to reduce wait times at bus stops.  Councilor Gibson joked that she would probably be long dead before we saw more bridges constructed across the Rio Grande so a larger fleet of buses is the next best thing to reduce traffic on the roads; she said that she is a ardent supporter of public transit.  The meeting ended with a vibrant discussion on how the city can “go green” regarding his consumption and energy use, it seems to be an issue on a lot of residents’ minds which is hopeful for the future.

It’s Monday so be sure to set a new goal for the new week and try and be a better than person than you were last week.  We all have our “bad days” but, if we tackle life just a little bit at a time, we can get through anything.

NewWeekNewGoals

 

Apex Legends bashes through a wall into the battle royale genre.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

There is a new battle royale game available that blows Fortnite out of the water.  With over ten million players in its first week upon launch, Apex Legends is geared to compete in the rising gaming genre that pits players in an arena-style map to fight to the death.

Did I mention that the game is free to download? 🙂

One reason that I prefer Apex Legends to Fortnite is the greater details in the gameplay.  Fortnite‘s cartoonish asthetic gives it an immature and child-like feel, limiting my suspension of disbelief in the fictional world.  That child-like feel combined with the fact that there are no unique characters in the canon makes the environment too superficial.  It’s true that Fortnite players can customize their appearance through the purchasing of various skins but it is purely for aesthetic purposes.  Apex Legends players have a choice of a select group of characters to play in the map and each character has unique abilites to use in combat.  The characters not only add variability to the gameplay but also add to the lore of the story.

You can decide for yourself which character is best for your style of gameplay but here’s a subjective guide of the characters from YouTube user “ImMarksman.”

Another reason why Apex Legends is superior to Fortnite is the more intricate map.  The little details in the terrain (more rocks to use for cover, more ledges to climb up on for a better view, the various paths you can take from one end of the map the another, etc.) make all the difference in the battle royale genre, a genre that is inherently limited by a set map that gets smaller the longer you play.

 

ApexLegends-map
Image Source: <https://venturebeat.com/2019/02/04/apex-legends-hands-on-gameplay-videos-highlight-fresh-battle-royale-tactics/>.

 

An unfortunate down-side to Apex Legends is that the game currently has no solo mode, you are forced to play in a team of three players.  That specific caveat would not be a  problem if more players would speak to each other cooperatively over the built-in voice chat.  In most matches, you’ll find players (like myself) wandering off on their own and not even attempting to coordinate with each other.  Those more solitary players would prefer a solo mode.

Despite the forced team play, Apex Legends is fantastic for newcomers and veterans alike, it has a beautifully designed map with detailed twists and turns that make for endless possibilities for potential strategies with rumors of more maps in the works from creator Respawn Entertainment.  I recommend this game to anyone craving some mindless competition while still looking for some decent world-building.