In Case You Were Wondering

In case you were wondering why I have not posted anything for a long time and now posted a lot of articles at once, it’s because I was moving.

Most of my writing is done on one specific site and then copied over to other sites for publication. Much of my writing is done during slower periods at my nursing job, though I have not had much slow time there for a few weeks. I can easily access the main site where I write from work, while other sites take more effort. For pasting them over, I use my PC, which I had disassembled during the move. Once I got moved, more practical considerations like furniture, kitchen, clothing, cleaning and clearing the old place had to take precedence. I just got the PC set up last night.

Even copying and pasting articles over is not completely straightforward. Then it takes changing the address of some links to coordinate with the other site, adding search tags. Some sites only allow 5 tags, while others are unlimited or at least much higher.

Some of the articles I just transferred over may have some minor details which are slightly dated but I made sure the ones I transferred are mostly accurate and up to date. Things that are out of date are fairly arbitrary and nothing has actually changed.

The move is an extremely welcome one. I have a lot more space but the cost is nearly the same. No more rap music at all hours of day and night in the parking lot. No more dodging potholes which could do tire or suspension damage. The more I get the new place set up as I like, the more comfortable I am becoming. Daughter is happy with the move. We even have a room we can set up for arts and crafts, while I now have a workshop where I can set up my woodworking equipment. Covered deck for summer, large kitchen. The deck looks out at vine covered trees.

Though I do have to start doing yard work again. Ugh.

The move had a few unexpected adventures which slowed me down. New place had a gas leak at one point. Then the AC went out and they had to replace the entire system. Then where I thought I had transferred gas service, there was an error and gas was turned off for a few days. (I cooked out. Daughter was not sad about that.) Each episode caused me to be awake while I should have been sleeping.

Daughter had various school events she worked at. Yesterday she was inducted into the National Honor Society!!! I am so proud of her!!!

Needless to say, add up working full time, overtime, moving with no assistance (the king size bed was a real mother to move), the various adventures along the way kind of took a physical toll for a while. I did not have the motivation to get the PC set up until this weekend. I was finally able to get a 4 day weekend to recover. I am pretty sure some people at work hate me for doing so but they’ll get over it. Eventually.

So, I expect to be getting back to some semblance of a regular writing schedule again soon.

Violence And Drugs In Alabama Prisons

I’ve mentioned before that I have been a nurse for over 24 years. Currently I work in the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC).

You may have heard of the recent DOJ report on violence in the ADOC system. Unfortunately, I feel this report falls far short of an accurate picture because of all that it neglects to mention. It does reveal that ADOC experiences far more violent instances than the next most violent prison system. However, the DOJ report mentions only prisoner-on-prisoner violence. It does not mention officer-on-prisoner or prisoner-on-officer violence.

The DOJ report also makes recommendations for curbing the violence in ADOC facilities such as increasing the number of officers.

Where the report truly falls short is expressing where the violence stems from in the majority of cases. Speaking from first hand experience, what I can tell you is that the majority of violent incidents are related to drug use and traffic inside the prison system.

This brings up an obvious question which nobody seems to want to address. This is a prison system. So, how do drugs even get into the prisons? The answer should be just as obvious as the question.

At some prisons, all personnel are checked on entering the facility. At others like the prison I currently work at, checks are random. Nurses get “shaken down” or dogs sniff your vehicle before entering. Since I began here a year ago, no nurse has been caught smuggling in an illicit substance. Tales of years past persist and I’ve never heard any stories of a nurse smuggling in drugs. Not saying it doesn’t happen, just that it is exceedingly rare. In an environment where drug use is rampant, every hour of day and night, no nurse or visitor would be capable of smuggling a quantity of drugs sufficient to add 1% to the amount of drugs flowing through a single prison facility. Visitations are monitored by officers, visitors are checked before entering. Medical personnel encounters with inmates are supposed to be monitored by officers at all times, partly for the safety of medical personnel.

Shortly after entering the ADOC system I learned how low the pay for officers is. They have good benefits but pay is not very high. Which led me to notice something. The vehicles in the parking lot. While nurses are paid higher than officers, most of us drive pretty standard, sometimes older, vehicles with no exorbitant price range. Yet many officers drive sports cars or large trucks with much higher price tags.

That’s not saying anything against officers who work a lot of overtime, multiple jobs or have retirement from prior careers, such as military. This is not uncommon. Others have spouses who bring in an additional income to their household.

Yet there are a large number of officers who drive expensive vehicles, work minimal overtime while driving expensive vehicles which most nurses say they could not afford easily.

Recently an officer at one local prison was charged with drug trafficking inside the prison and bail was reportedly set at $1.5 million. One of the biggest problems with this case is that the officer had worked at the same facility for several years. Verbal reports claim he was caught with nearly 2 lbs of artificial marijuana, which has been linked to numerous medical complications, chest pain and altered levels of consciousness.

What is worse is that drug dealing in the prison system leads to violent altercations for drug debt or suspicion of inmates being informants. In some cases, officers have been assaulted and severely injured. For a corrections officer to be witness to the consequences of drug traffic in the prisons, including the danger to their own fellow officers, is inexcusable. Stabbings are fairly common and deaths definitely occur, either from assault or directly due to the substance involved.

The further questions which should be raised regard how many other officers have been or are currently involved in such drug trafficking. Are there supervisors further up the chain with awareness, yet allow it to continue because they share in the profits?

Many modern drugs in the prison system are harder to detect than in decades past. These drugs can incite completely mindless violent behavior. A popular one is Flakka, which has been heard of in cases like one in Florida where a man tried to eat another man’s face off. Many are synthetic. Meaning formulations and forms can change from one lab or supplier to another. This also means they are higher risk. One never knows what chemicals are being pumped into a person’s body. These drugs can have unpredictable effects on the mind, while causing possible permanent damage to internal organs and the brain.

If an inmate suffers permanent damage which renders them permanently disabled, that leaves the taxpayer holding the bill for their support and medical care for the rest of their lives, even if they are released from the prison system. The same is true of injuries from violent incidents.

So this is an issue which affects all of us in the state of Alabama because the price will continue to accumulate and increase year after year. Even without permanent disabilities, the cost of acute medical care is massive, costing tens of millions per year. For rural prison sites, medical emergencies warrant frequent helicopter flights for transport, which costs the taxpayer roughly $40,000 for just one single transport.

Meanwhile, the level of violence and risks involved make it difficult to recruit corrections officers. The legislature acts as though throwing money at the problem will fix it. That will not work. They just decreased the pay raise for existing officers this year. For good officers who have spent years in the system, what effect will it have if new officers are hired in at higher pay than the veteran officers? Yet even new officers understand that the violence is not worth the risk. What good is money if you’re dead?

The known sources of violence must be addressed before anything will improve. For that, it really requires investigation and coordination with external agencies. ADOC and our legislature should request assistance from the DEA to go into the prisons and root out the sources of drugs flowing into the system.

I have already written before that the prison population needs to be reduced. Drug addiction should be treated as an illness rather than a crime. Treating addiction as an illness costs far less than incarceration. The average cost of incarceration in AL is $57 per day. If we spent $10–15 on treatment per day, the cost would plummet. If cannabis were legalized, the cost would be even less and would create jobs which would increase tax revenue.

I will be honest and state that even writing this could well place me in extreme personal danger, not only while at work but away from work as well. That risk is only minimized by the fact that the DOJ report has already shown a spotlight on the violence issue in the system, so more attention is being leveled at the problem. The risk involved is probably why nobody openly even asks the questions or state the obvious as I am doing here. Yet the other thing which decreases my risk is publicly raising awareness. Once published, there is no taking it back. The questions cannot be un-asked, the information cannot be erased. Then again, retaliation is always a possibility.

A copy of this article will be forwarded to multiple media sources, along with multiple elected officials. I will post information of any responses I may receive on the subject. Let’s see if they can do anything but spend money and point fingers.

The Programming of America: Pt II, Selling War

This is part II of my series on how Americans are programmed to think in certain ways without thinking, without questioning. If you missed part I regarding marketing in various forms (not always called marketing and advertising, sometimes called many other things), you can find part I here.

In part II of this series, I focus on war (military adventurism) and how it is sold like everything else in this country, though in a more complex form. We are sold warfare as a positive from early childhood until death. This is something I have written about previously, though often split between different subjects and articles.

Corporate (Military Industrial Complex) influence does not begin with the news media, as far as our life exposure is concerned. It begins in grade school. Think back to history classes and how past US wars were presented to you. Heroism throughout. Never the slightest question that each and every conflict we have been engaged in was justified and ethical. Never a hint that our soldiers and officials issuing orders have committed war crimes, which they absolutely have when you omit “patriotism” as a rationale. Protests against Vietnam barely gain mention and the protests which happened against WWII, Korea and Iraq are never mentioned in grade school. For all I know, they’re not even mentioned in college. Nor is it mentioned that the Nazi and Communist parties had wide support in the US prior to WWII. The Communist and Socialist parties had wide support in the US right up until McCarthyism.

For this, we have to look at the tangled ties between textbook publishers, politicians and the deep pockets of weapons manufacturers who donate to the politicians. Then the politicians set the standards by which textbooks are chosen. This is stage one of selling war to the American public, beginning with childhood.

Then the next stage comes as teenagers. Partly through movies and TV which glorify warfare without showing images of the reality involved. Military recruiters at schools and patriotic displays at sports events. Commercials showing someone in a uniform, then transitioning to that person in civilian life, uninjured, no PTSD from horrors they have witnessed or directly taken part in. They are all smiling, clean, drug-free, no therapy.

Who pays for all those displays and commercials? You do. Who pays for those textbooks? You do. Who acts as consultants to Whollyweird for the movies and TV shows? The military. Who pays for them to act in that role? You do. If a movie tries to show the military in an unflattering light, the military will bring pressure against the studio. That pressure can include coercion by coordinating with local authorities for licensing purposes. The military has “consulted” on tens of thousands of movies and shows over decades. Who pays for their “consultations”? You do. Who pays to prosecute and incarcerate peaceful antiwar protesters? You do.

Only after considering all the above do we reach the point where we can consider corporate “news” media and their paid portrayal of our military endeavors. Try and name a US military conflict which the media has ever opposed. I’ll wait. I’m 57 years old and have never seen the media object to a US military action. Look at the reactions we have seen when it was even suggested decreasing military presence in Middle Eastern countries or any peace efforts with Russia and North Korea.

No, you will never see anything more of the devastation wrought by US warfare beyond a few ruined buildings, blamed on “terrorists”. You will not see children splattered on walls and streets by our bombs. You will not see victims with limbs torn off and open head injuries showing exposed brain tissue. You’re more likely to see video of our missiles and aircraft launching, preferably in low light so it highlights the afterburner effect to make it visually appealing or exciting. You will hear rave reviews about drone warfare which makes warfare bloodless and without physical risk for our soldiers. You will not hear that drone pilots get PTSD too. You will not hear that children in the countries being bombed by drone warfare are terrified of blue skies because that’s when the drones are most likely to strike.

Cue the advertisements for Boeing, Raytheon and Northrup-Grumman. Paid sponsors of your favorite corporate news outlet. Who pays for the ads you see from them? You do. That is your tax dollars at work. Who pays for the drones? You do.

Up next, interviews with high ranking military officials and veterans speaking of how we need more bombs, more guns, more drones, more troops to kill more terrorists (children, mothers, grandparents living in their own countries, sitting in their own living rooms). It’s their own fault for living there. Their existence on top of “our” oil fields makes them enemies. Saying we need to invade another country and another. Never once do you hear a diplomat saying we need peaceful negotiations to end a conflict.

When the media and politicians talk about manufacturing weapons, they consistently do so couched in terms of “creating jobs”. What they fail to mention is that building bridges also creates jobs while not intentionally killing people. Universal healthcare would creates tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of jobs while improving and extending lives. Yet that we cannot afford. They fail to mention that to keep producing weapons means we must keep waging wars for as long as possible. When one war ends (if ever), another one must be started and another and another. We keep paying for each and every one of those conflicts with money ripped from our social support programs and educational system. We pay with creating more enemies and with trade losses. They fail to mention that producing weapons is only part of the cost. Then we have to pay for shipping those weapons, providing security for those weapons, targeting systems with training and salaries to operate them, and launching those weapons with training and salaries.. They fail to mention that weapons manufacturing frequently does extensive environmental damage long before the damage from using those weapons. Domestic environmental damage which we pay for in dollars, ill health and deaths. Yay, jobs..

Cue ads for oil companies who profit from our seizure of resources in the countries where we murder innocent civilians.

Next up, a report on how we cannot afford universal healthcare but we need to give more money to the VA for their limited socialized medical system which spends tens of billions per year on drugs and medical equipment. Wecan consider those VA costs to be subsidies for the oil companies, military contractors and drug companies who bribe politicians and advertise on corporate media to sell you on the next war. Who pays for the VA, even if you receive no care from them? You do. Who pays for the advertising? You do.

Cue ads from drug companies and medical insurance corporations. Maybe with big flags in the background telling you to support the troops. Yay, ‘Murca.

Up next, a report on the homeless epidemic. Many of whom are veterans. An epidemic, stated as though it’s a disease. As though the homeless are a disease, rather than victims of a diseased system which rapes them violently, bleeds them dry and leaves them to die by the roadside like bags of garbage thrown away by our government.

We have the VFW, the VA, insurance companies that specialize in veterans, magazines targeting veterans, Memorial Day, Labor Day… Have you ever noticed we do not have a single day or nationally recognized organization dedicated to the propagation of peace?

From childhood to death Americans are sold sterilized images of warfare. Shoved into developing minds in between basic math and English, as though mass slaughter is a mere fact of life. As long as it happens in other countries, not our own. Deaths at the hands of our war machine are sold as entertainment. The next war is sold as “humanitarian intervention” yet we are never shown the results when the bombs have stopped. Disease, famine, poisoned water, decimated economies, destroyed lives. Effects which take generations to “recover” from, as if recovery is possible. No reviews of success or failure, just advertising for the next war, the next “threat” which is never actually a threat, the next country we must save from themselves, the next investment opportunity.

Never question the advertising, the programming of your children or of yourself. Cheer for the veterans, pray for the widows, widowers and children of veterans but never ask why the war was fought. If you ask questions or object, you will be branded a traitor, un-American, unpatriotic, a pariah. Maybe a Russian troll.

Asking questions means you are brainwashed, not questioning means you think for yourself. Just believe, have faith, wave your flag and hold your hand over your.. eyes and ears. Keep telling yourself, “We’re the Good Guys©” until you convince yourself. Then keep watching the marketing machine, keep cheering as you act as free advertising for the death machine.

The Programming of America: Pt I, Marketing

This is my first installment of a series regarding how marketing pervades our lives in ways most do not realize and what the negative effects are. Be sure to subscribe to know when a new installment drops.

I continuously see Americans claiming to think for themselves while their words, opinions, attitudes and behaviors tell a far different story. This is no surprise. We live in a society that is ruled far more by marketing (advertising) than most Americans ever grasp. That’s because they fail to understand the very nature of marketing at it’s very core.

If you study marketing, what you find is that the core structure of marketing lies in a distorted study of psychology with the express intent of manipulation. In other words, it’s brainwashing on a massive scale.

If you look at a syllabus or course description of college marketing programs, you find references such as “customer engagement”, “consumer behavior and analysis”, “expanding value” (in other words, exaggerating claims) and so forth. You may have already heard such things as “creating a market”, “identifying a need”. What these things come down to means convincing people they need something they did not need last week.

Yet even that does not go far enough to explain how people are manipulated. One must understand that corporate news and political campaigns are forms of marketing. I’ve said before and say again, follow the money. Look at who is paying for advertising on a network. Look at who is donating money to campaigns.

Marketing is most frequently based on emotion. The emotion used most frequently is fear. Fear of social isolation. Is your breath fresh enough? Is your shirt white enough? Is your cologne as good as the next guy? Does your bra lift enough? (Look at old bra commercials, claiming to lift and separate and compare to push-up bras today.) Fear of pain. New insoles? How much pain medication can your liver withstand? Fear of illness. Fear of depression. In other words, using emotions to make you fear your own emotions.

Political campaigns use many of the same tactics and people with the same training in marketing techniques. That’s a large part of what campaign managers do. Identify “needs” of voters. Identify or manipulate fears to exploit.

The most interesting part of this is that it takes very little effort to convince people to be afraid and immense effort to convince them their fears are unfounded. The vast majority of people are programmed to react emotionally, rather than think critically.

Know who else makes extensive use of the exact same psychological techniques? The “intelligence” agencies. The CIA, NSA and FBI are well known to use propaganda in other countries and to have used propaganda in the US itself. For some reason, Americans think that any such manipulations inside this country are things of the past. Citizens also think they are not prone to being controlled by these techniques, even as they tune in to corporate media and watch people like James Clapper being used as a source of information on major networks. Even as “intelligence” agency veterans run for public office.

There are no Jedi mind tricks at play here. People are actually easy to understand, easy to manipulate. Most people want some authority figure telling them what to do, what to think. More “likes” means something is valid. Bigger is better. More viewers means higher quality. Join the crowd, march in line, buy the most popular items, watch the latest blockbuster on opening weekend, vote for the popular candidate but keep telling yourself how you’re different from all the rest.

Even here on what is supposedly independent media I see articles from major media sources with the highest views, likes and comments. Nothing about those articles are any different from what is published on the core websites of those corporate sources. So, why are readers even bothering to be on independent media sites if all they are going to do is follow corporate media?

Does it make any sense? Or have they just programmed themselves by their own choice?

Starting My Book

I have mentioned a couple of times that I plan on writing a book. I has taken a while but finally talked myself into beginning that project this week. To be clear, I have made the determination but have yet to set the first word down.

This has been a thought in my mind for quite some time. Of course, any author must come to terms with the question of whether they have something to say which people want to hear. Over time, I have reached the conclusion that my observations hold enough validity to reach that bar. I think I express things in a way that is different enough to gain some traction.

I’m not expecting to write anything that will be a best seller. I may be lucky if more than 100 people ever read my book. Still, it’s worth a shot. In the long run, I’m less concerned with the popularity than with sparking debate, inciting thoughts.

I know that I do not have the perceived authority that many authors or public personnas do. I am not in elected office. Not as eloquent as some of my idols such as Chris Hedges or Noam Chomsky. I hold no advanced degrees in philosophy, economics or sociology. However, at this point in time, I consider such degrees to often be nothing but certificate of indoctrination. However, we are living in times when millions have come to question the voices of popular authority because they display agendas which have done great harm. My own point is often to examine such agendas and show them for what they are.

I’m still slightly torn over the format and length it should take. Those are things which I will play by ear for now. It will likely be a collection of essays on various subjects, most of which I have covered here but updated and reworded.

I still plan on offering a free download of the book when finished to any subscribers to my Patreon channel. Otherwise, the price will be nominal.

It’s my hope to have the book completed within 3 months. Just call it an arbitrary deadline. It may take more time or less.

One challenge is going to be that I intend to continue my regular writing during that time. So that may slow down progress on the book because I want to keep close to the same schedule for my page entries. If I do slow down, it will be because of other things, not because I’ve diverted all my effort toward the book.

I hope those who enjoy my writing will keep sticking with me through this effort and consider buying the book when it is finished. Thank you for hanging with me.