Open Letter Addressing Sexism In Secular Community Is A Good Start

image of a man and women arguing

On Tuesday, leaders of most of the secular groups in the United States issued an open letter addressing the ongoing internal firestorm over social justice, sexism, and diversity in the freethought community taking place mainly in online forums and comment sections. I applaud the leaders wanting to take on this serious issue in the community and while it doesn’t go far enough in addressing the real issue in the dispute, I hope the letter does open the door to further progress.

You can read the letter at the end of this post then come back here for my comments.

Continue reading “Open Letter Addressing Sexism In Secular Community Is A Good Start”

Media no friend to man with the Golden Voice

You couldn’t miss him. One of the first Internet blow ups of 2011. A homeless man from Columbus, Ohio who gained national exposure for his radio DJ sounding voice. Ted Williams was homeless because of drugs and alcohol abuse that crashed his life and his family relationships. So his sudden fame was one of those great “American dream” stories? Ted was thrust into the media whirlpool and it looks like he will be spit out after the leeches get their fill. 

It started out with good intentions. A Columbus Dispatch reporter takes a video of Ted hustling for money at an Interstate exit. He has a “golden voice” and the video proves it as he does a professional sounding radio air check. Next the right people see the video at the right time and Ted is plucked out of the make shift tent home in the bushes near the interchange and into the lime light. National print, radio, and TV appearances follow as does tons of job offers from companies that see a feel good story any first year marketing major could see.

In the first week of Ted’s new fame no one talked about him getting help for his addictions. He claimed he had been sober for two years but it is very rare that an addict can just go cold turkey like that. When other people have lived in such conditions, like if they were abducted, there usually are mental health professionals who help them transistion back into normal society. Here was a guy who lived a rough life on the streets for more than few years and people took him at his word that he was sober and okay. They didn’t seem to be getting him all the help he needed to acclimate back into regular society.

After the umpteenth article in the Columbus Dispatch about Ted, I tweeted the editor, on January 6th, and asked if Ted would be getting some mental health help.

Me: Do you know if there is any mental health help for Ted Williams – I worry he might slip back to bad habits

Ben Marrison: Apparently #TedWilliams, the #GoldenVoice was offered some type of counseling support today.!/dispatcheditor/status/23026961144094720

So it seems no one addressed his mental health needs for four days. Of course the media got all they needed from Ted with all the appearances and interviews. 

Ted next showed up on the Dr. Phil show and I guess people might say he was getting help then but Dr. Phil McGraw gave up his licence to practice psychology in 2005 and the State of California considers his show entertainment. After the third full show, Ted agreed to go to rehab since he had relapsed due to the stress of his new found fame.

Williams left after two weeks because his manager said he had work in Los Angeles.

All ends well, right? Nope. The Hollywood ending is just that – found only in a movie – especially when it involves a drug and alcohol abuser.

Ted Williams really needs professional help if he is going to really control his addictions

Goodbye first decade of the 2000’s

Different critics have their “best of…” lists coming out this week as we get ready to end the first decade of the 2000’s. I thought I might add what I think are the major touchstones of the decade. These are events or persons who, generations from now, will still be looked at and studied or commented on.

In no particular order:

September 11, 2001

That date will live in infamy in the history books. Over 2,000 people were murdered that day in the terror attacks that led to the destruction of the two World Trade Center towers, heavy damage to the Pentagon, and sense of numbness that took some months to work itself out.

The event also brought out the best of humankind as millions banded together in the initial days and months both to grieve and to work through the aftermath. I admit I channeled my inner cowboy wanting to get the mofos who planned it.

9/11 has also guided our country’s direction for at least this first decade and probably for many more decades to come.

Presidential election of 2000

The 2000 election was the first time that one political party, the Republicans, were able to use their control of a state government and the US Supreme Court to thwart the will of a majority of Americans and install their own guy into the White House. I hope it will be the last time. It’s very bad for democracy if one party is able to manipulate the media, state, and courts to get what they want outside of logic and reason.

George W Bush and the neocons

The installed President in 2000 was a bad influence on this country for the 8 years he held office. It wasn’t only the guy but those he had working for him, the neocons, like Vice President Dick Cheney who wanted to install their brand of “Pax Americana” on the world.

Breaking with the traditional post-world war II idea of diplomacy to solve problems in the world, Bush and his goons “shot first” and asked questions later. They believed that fighting terrorism involved imposing organized military power first rather than the usual criminal justice model of investigation and intelligence. They were mistaken that a terror group could be fought like a war between armies. Their failed policy led to a loss of prestige in the world, loss of men and women in our military, loss of scores of innocent civilian lives in areas we invaded and destroyed, and the failure to capture the major people who planned and funded the 9/11 attacks in the first place.

At home Bush and the neocons chipped away at our civil rights – always “blaming” 9/11 – by violating our privacy, detaining without charge hundreds if not thousands of Muslim aliens in this country, holding so-called enemy combatants outside the country to avoid basic constitutional protections for alleged criminals, facilitating the use of torture, and using fear mongering to keep us all in line.

Bush and the neocons, through their use of the Congress, changed laws that were meant to protect our economy and well being which helped bring about the economic crash of 2008. President Bush was alerted to the signs of collapse and basically did nothing until Wall Street started to implode on itself. Then he gave them a blank check with basically no strings attached.

Presidential election of 2008

This election was good because the system worked. The American electorate, in a stinging rebuke of the whole Bush Presidency, put the Democrats into a commanding majority in the House and Senate. It not only elected a Democrat as President but also the first African-American, Barrack Obama. The Republicans and the neocons tried their best tricks to steal another election but the public turned them away hard.


Although the jury is still out on this one, I feel a major political point of the first decade is the continued corruption of our government by the corporate lobbyist. These people give money to Congress people to buy votes that benefit their industries agenda. It was this corruption that helped bring on the economic collapse of 2008 by getting bought legislators to remove regulations installed during the Depression of the 1930’s to protect the economy from wild speculation. What happens? Wild speculation followed by collapse. *sigh*

The corruption led to Congress passing tax breaks and other laws that gave big pay days to their wealthy friends while screwing the middle class and damaging the lower income people time and time again

Corporatism has led the Democratic majority installed after the abuse of the Bush years to continue the failed economic polices and to be ineffectual in passing almost anything, like real health care reform, that challenges their masters in the board rooms around the country.

The influence of the corporation has also led to our major media outlets being held by only a few large companies and that has effected what passes for journalism today. Mainstream media protects and propagandizes for their corporate bosses, their affiliated companies, and bought legislators at the state and Federal levels.

I have a feeling, moving forward, that Corporatism will become more of an issue that could lead to a crises that an election can’t fix.

The Internet

It really came into its own during the first decade. The one area not entirely controlled by media conglomerates – yet – is the Internet. Millions of people bypassed the propaganda that passes for news on mainstream media and shared news and information directly through their computers.

The Internet has already knocked down print newspapers and severely hurt broadcast media. That is a sure sign that people want their news and information unfiltered. People also want facts and the truth not a press release that spins something according to some agenda.

Fake celebrities

The first decade of the 2000’s saw the rise of basically lazy, untalented people thinking they should be famous by participating in “reality” TV shows or for doing something stupid. When you can’t answer the question “Why should we care?” then the person is basically a fake celebrity. Historians might look on this like we do about those wacky stunts pulled in the middle 20th century like stuffing a phone booth, dance marathons, and stuffing a small car with people.

Hopefully in the coming decade, there are far more better times than bad ones.

Good luck to us all…

Haters please do something else

The Internet is a good thing when all things are considered. It has done a lot to improve the world and to make it smaller for all of us. The Internet also has a dark side especially if people attack something you like. Those kind of people I call “haters”. They don’t like something so much they spend their time online letting everyone know it. I can’t understand why they must tell me they are a hater. I just wish they would go do something else.

I was watching the Cleveland Browns vs the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football and decided to do something different and read tweets during the game. I had to stop. I know the Browns suck this season (oh man do I KNOW) and MNF games are usually boring but this game was better than some of the others this season for the Browns. Tweet after tweet cracked on the Browns and the game. I understand tweets complaining about certain plays or ref calls but most were just mean toward the team itself. One person tweeted that the Browns shouldn’t be allowed to play on Monday night.

Why waste time typing a tweet to tell all of us you hate the team? Shut up and do something else.

The haters also seem to show up in comment sections of web site articles.

I am a fan of Saturday Night Live and have been since the 1st season in 1976. There are times the jokes are flat, the host stinks, and other times when it is laugh out loud funny. For a live show the cast and crew do a good job overall.

There was an article this week complaining about the previous week’s host and to be honest the show was flatter than usual. Fine, offer some complaints and others will defend or support those comments. Instead there were many who posted comments along the lines of:

Is that show still on? I stopped watching in 1988. Thanks for the recap letting me know it still sucks.


Mad TV did the same thing in season 8 and it was funny

Basically if you are not a fan or have never watched the show why waste time posting a comment.

I can think of many things to do if I don’t like something. One is to avoid it. Telling everyone how much I hated it would be wasting time.

Spending time off the net – Part 2

I was without Internet access for about 10 days and I didn’t realize how much its tentacles reached into my life. I had 10 days to kill and this is the second part of what I did to kill the time.

4. There was a faded celebrity with a new book accusing her now dead celebrity father of incest when she was a drugged up teenager in the late 1970’s early 1980’s. She was interviewed on Oprah which is like the President being on all channels for a speech. I understand that her ordeal is major and it may have had an influence on her later substance abuse and she should get treatment for it- but I can’t understand why she would need to be on Oprah and discuss it. People have said that by her being so public that some regular people who suffered the same trauma might finally come forward to deal with it … I guess that is one way of looking at it but I just don’t get someone wanting to be so public about whatever trauma they have suffered.

5. Got to watch some shows from the season DVDs of “Due South” that I missed the first time they were on back in the 1990’s. The problem with the season set is there isn’t any extras – just 6 episodes on each disk. Still funny after all these years – Thank you kindly. Just before I lost my Internet I got word that fans of the show will be meeting in Toronto in 2010 for a convention.

6. Finished up a screen writing workshop I had on DVD and that got me warmed up to write again. In one day I wrote 20 pages of a new script…. whooo hooo. Although I really wish I could write comedy. Got to really read one of my writing magazines I paid for but hardly read.

7. Kept up on my house cleaning and laundry…. wow – didn’t take long at all.

8. Really got to thinking why am I charged cell phone minutes to hear my voicemail. Shouldn’t voicemail be free for me to hear it? Yet another scam – just like paying $9 a month for Netflix even if you don’t use it very often and if you do then they charge you more. 

9. Edited and converted some digital video files I made from some old VHS tapes including some guest starring turns in 2000 from an acting favorite of mine. They appeared on several shows that season and I had video taped the shows. Also converted some old footage from the day of the 9/11 attacks. I had put in a tape and just pressed record during the wall to wall news coverage. Also had a bit of the first Letterman, Leno, and Saturday Night Live back after the attacks.

10. Listened to some of the commentary tracks on some of the DVD movies I have. A good one was the technical commentary on Clerks II with Director Kevin Smith and Dave Klein who was the Director of Photography. Another good one was the one to the 2000 reissue of “Superman the Movie” (1978) with Director Richard Donner and writer Tom Mankiewicz. The one thing I didn’t know was that Chris Reeves flew in 7 different ways for the movie all without any CGI (since they didn’t have CGI yet). Well I did know CGI didn’t exist but didn’t know they used 7 different ways to make him fly. That film still holds up. I also have “Superman Returns” and it is cool to compare the two movies and see so much was the same in theme and tone. I really love when both Supermen say “Well, I hope this experience hasn’t put you off flying. Statistically speaking, it’s still the safest way to travel.” Cracks me up every time.