YouTube, Censorship, and Capitalism


Earlier today, heads were on fire on social media, and YouTube ended up with fifteen minutes of infamy. Thousands of tweets went out about the demise of the streaming video giant, presumably because they decided to suddenly stop paying some high profile YouTubers for advertising on certain videos. This wasn’t a change in procedure, per se. The YouTubers just didn’t realize that ads weren’t running on certain videos because they weren’t told about it – they had to look to find it out. Now, YouTube has decided to be somewhat transparent, and let them know via email, or something.

So, this isn’t censorship in the strictest sense. It’s just a matter of YouTube not putting advertising on certain types of content, regardless who made it. Yes, this is annoying to YouTubers, along with the already fairly restrictive limits they place on videos that could be monetized. Seriously, one has to wonder if the advertisers really know where their ads aren’t appearing.

While it’s fair to guess that certain “wholesome” companies that want to keep a strictly family-friendly image might not want to advertise on controversial YouTube videos. However, there are many advertisers with commercials that actually contain the kind of material YouTube is keeping ads from appearing on in the first place. Yes, they are probably placing racy advertising on the relatively tame content of YouTubers who are currently complaining about not having ads on all their videos.

We’ve heard from the YouTubers. The real question is, why is YouTube doing “one size fits all” advertising? Sure, there’s the issue of corporate image, and the possibility that one group or another will get angry enough to call for a boycott of a product or company based on where an ad is shown. However, like the short-lived hashtag outrage over the issue of not placing ads on certain videos, those calls rarely last long, especially when it is just over advertising as opposed to something a company actually did wrong. But, the decision to place ads on controversial content shouldn’t be in the hands of the company serving the content. It should be in the hands of the advertisers. Shouldn’t they be the final decision makers on where their ads appear? They’re the ones paying for the placement. Since YouTube has established that they are capable of weeding out this content in the first place, instead of just pulling ads entirely, why aren’t they offering those placements to advertisers? Maybe they’re afraid of finding out the truth that is slowly sinking in across the internet. Controversial content is highly popular, and there is money to be made if a company chooses to advertise on it.

As for the protesters on social media, next time stick with asking why YouTube is making decisions for advertisers, instead of moaning about pseudo-censorship. YouTube doesn’t care what you think about their content guidelines, but advertisers certainly do care about getting their products and services in front of as many viewers as possible.


Facebook Is Now a Sociology Lab


Thanks to the bright decision of the management at Facebook, the social media site is one step closer to the Wachowski creation – The Matrix. The machines are pumping out the trends, without (much) human intervention. The initial results lead to questionable situations, particularly when it came to junk news about Megyn Kelly.

While that was a picture perfect example of unintended consequences, it brings to light an interesting point about many Facebook users. Much of the time, they are like the blonde in the commercial who believes that everything on the internet must be true. Without significant intervention of human editors, trending topics become a sociology experiment, showing the collective craziness of Facebook users. It becomes a semi-scientific lab for studying the concepts of group thinking and viral topics.

Since we’re heading into a presidential election, if the machines are just pushing out what the masses are sharing the most, this could get very interesting. Forget about presidential polling. We’d just need to see what’s being shared the most on Facebook. Maybe there could be prizes for which campaign manages to get the most fake news on the trending topics lists. Based on the Megyn Kelly situation, it’s fair to say that the Trump camp is ahead in that dubious race. Who can push the most libelous news this election cycle? Americans need to know!

Of course, the logical business decision will be to have at least some human involvement in the trending topics choices to avoid lawsuits. But maybe Facebook will decide to offer the undiluted version somewhere, just for amusement value. We can only hope they do, for the sake of sociologists and comedians. If you aren’t amused by the fake news making it into the trending topic list, there must be something wrong with you!


Sanctity of Life Versus Quality of Life


“Um, you can get dressed now,” the ultrasound technician said to Trish as she wiped the gel from her belly. “The doctor will talk with you shortly. Can you wait in the waiting room again?”

“Uh, sure,” Trish said as she cast a worried glance at her husband, Jacob, and started to gingerly move from the examination table.

The couple sat in the waiting room, holding hands silently. They had been trying to get pregnant for three years, and had almost given up hope. Jacob was 45, and his wife was 38 – they married only four years ago. Trish was 25 weeks along, and up until then, everything had been going well. The receptionist called for them from the doorway that lead to the doctor’s inner office, and they walked silently behind her.

After they sat down by the doctor’s desk, a young man who was probably at least a few years younger than both of them walked in, and took a seat across from them. “I’ve looked at your sonogram, and unfortunately, it appears that your baby is suffering from microcephaly.” He watched the couple in front of him for a few moments before going on. “Now, this means that your child will probably have severe birth defects, will need constant care, physical therapy, and have mental deficiencies.”

“Wait a minute,” Jacob broke in. Trish was sitting silently beside him, tears running down her face. “Are you telling us that there is nothing to be done?”

“Uh, unfortunately, yes,” the doctor said uncomfortably. “Your wife was probably exposed to the Zika virus, and since abortions are illegal in this state this far along, you have no choice. You must prepare yourselves to deal with raising a child with major medical needs.”

Trish and Jacob are entirely fictional, but their story could easily become the grim reality for some Americans. Too often, when it comes to considering hot button issues like abortion, people forget the fact that what they are arguing about has very real consequences for real people. Empathy dies in the battle.

As for this particular debate, this isn’t about whether or not someone is choosing abortion as birth control. It is about heart-breaking decisions that couples may have to face. Do you have a child who will suffer with no hope of truly improving? What happens after you’re dead, and your child who is entirely dependent on you happens to outlive you?

I am not suggesting that children with profound birth defects should not be permitted to be born. That is just the polar opposite of the argument that parents should not have the right to decide whether or not they are capable of dealing with caring for such a child. There are no winners in this argument, either.

By Beth.herlin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Who is the winner if parents are forced to have a child with severe mental deficits, physical deformities, and life-long needs for physical therapy just to reach a comparatively low level of functioning in life? Does anyone really believe that anyone who chooses to abort such a child does so gleefully? While it is important to encourage empathy, the fact is that no one can truly know how difficult it is to face this decision unless they have been there.

In spite of what some activists might claim, the fact is that most Americans aren’t comfortable with the idea of forcing anyone to have a baby with microcephaly. Last month, the Harvard School of Public Health and STAT conducted a survey which found that roughly the same number of people who generally oppose abortions after 24 weeks would not oppose them in cases involving microcephaly. The disorder cannot be detected before the 24th week of pregnancy.

Credit: STAT

Even before the various laws restricting abortion after 24 weeks, very few abortions were performed at that stage. The primary reasons for that have little to do with politics or society. The Guttmacher Institute states, “The risk of death associated with abortion increases with the length of pregnancy, from 0.3 for every 100,000 abortions at or before eight weeks to 6.7 per 100,000 at 18 weeks or later.” It is no secret that medical malpractice insurance for obstetricians and gynecologists is very high, so it is not surprising that they would avoid doing a procedure that has such a greater risk than one at an earlier stage in pregnancy.


As of 2012, under 2% of abortions performed in the US occurred beyond the 21st week of pregnancy. Unfortunately, that number may increase soon due to Zika infections, in spite of laws forbidding abortions beyond 24 weeks. It’s highly possible that we will see women traveling out of state for the procedure. That will put the US only slightly above nations like Brazil, where they have doubled-down on their abortion restrictions, and have passed laws that will make aborting a microcephaly baby a crime punishable with incarceration for the woman. We are better than that, aren’t we?

Sonogram image: By Sarno M, Sacramento G, Khouri R, do Rosário M, Costa F, Archanjo G, Santos L, Nery N, Vasilakis N, Ko A, de Almeida A [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Just Stop Lying About Maryland and Heroin


So, I’m a little late to this particular party, but I was on vacation – in Maryland.

No, I’m not going to say that part of my trip involved checking out the dark side of the state. I will say that certain people picking on Governor Larry Hogan’s attempts to combat the heroin problem they have need to sit down and shut up. Hogan is pushing for more drug addiction treatment, and less incarceration – yes, that is a smart move.

Right now, too many people end up in the prison system over drug charges – including heroin use – and once they get out, they end up back in again. Sure, this might be an acceptable situation to some people, but we do need to remember that an increasing number of heroin addicts are getting their start with legal prescription drugs. You know, the opiates that the VA has been slammed for over-prescribing to veterans with PTSD, among others. It’s happening in the civilian population, too.

As for who was picking on Gov. Hogan, there was Jason Mattera:


Seriously, I wish I was making this stuff up, but I’m not.

Is it possible that some heroin dealers could end up in this treatment instead of incarceration program? Yes, they could. However, the dealers would have to be addicted to the drug, too. In case you were missing anything, the vast majority of the high level drug dealers out there are not addicted to the product they push. It’s poison, they know it, and they don’t want to end up strung out like their clients. So, the dealers that would be let loose on the masses are just people who are addicted to heroin, and are probably selling on a low level to keep up with their habits.

Justice reform is about getting people who made a bad decision or two out of the cycle of criminal behaviors, not giving passes to hardened criminals. Gov. Hogan is making a good choice by pushing for investment in drug treatment centers instead of jails. The problem is addiction, not criminality. Like every other part of the misguided war on drugs, it’s a money mill for law enforcement and prisons. If we had invested in addiction treatment instead of prisons years ago, we wouldn’t be having this conversation now.


Farewell ‘Chilly Billy’ Cardille


Before SNL, there was Chiller Theater in Pittsburgh. Every Saturday night on WIIC-11 – now WPXI – there was a double-feature of sci-fi films, hosted by “Chilly Billy” Cardille, and his creepy entourage. Most of the footage has been lost over the years, but Cardille was entertaining Pittsburghers during commercial breaks for over 20 years. His family sadly informed the public that he died at home at age 87, after retiring from 60 years of television and radio broadcasting in the Pittsburgh region.

After Chiller Theater, Cardille went on broadcasting, finally landing at WJAS until their format switch to conservative talk. While broadcasting, Cardille also became the public face of fundraising for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Pittsburgh. He hosted a yearly telethon, and came out to see walkers during the yearly MDA Walk-a-thon. Cardille will be sorely missed in the Pittsburgh region, but definitely well-remembered.


Nudes in Cleveland and the Conservative Social Media Freak Out


As previously announced, artist Spencer Tunick was in Cleveland over the weekend, and photographed 100 women in the nude. This was an act of protest, as well as art – timed and placed for the RNC convention. A few of the responses on social media caught my attention, of course.


The men in this sample weren’t too bad, and honestly predictable. The women? I’d say they should be ashamed of themselves, but I know they wouldn’t know why. Since they said these things in the first place, it’s fair to guess that it’s worth taking the time to explain why they should be ashamed. First, let’s look closely at their comments.

Cheap gimmick to get attention for the photographer. How this empowers women, like some idiot commented, is beyond me. It degrades women by using their bodies…again…for attention or to “make a statement”. I have no respect for the photographer or the 100 stupid women who were part of this ridiculous stunt. Sickening.

Are we supposed to be shocked by this? Cause I’m just like whatever….they look like 100 desperate hookers trying to cash in…..what a great statement for women! Way to go Liberals!!

Both women are obviously of the opinion that women shouldn’t have pride in their bodies – even that nudity is immoral, regardless of context. They certainly do not comprehend the concept that there really are circumstances where being in the nude in public could be empowering for women. Tunick’s photography is one thing. In this particular case, there is much more involved, which requires reading. (Maybe reading beyond just headlines is beyond these two stellar women.)

All of the women in the photograph gave Tunick their reasons for wanting to be included. There were somewhere around 1700 who wanted to participate, but the artist limited it to 100. Perhaps that says it is more than just a stunt? Let’s take a look at a few of those statements, shall we?

As a woman, I want to stand up for my reproductive rights. As a Hispanic, I want to be seen as a member of this community. As a first-generation American, I want to show that anyone deserves the opportunity to come here. As a young woman, I want to embrace my body and everyone else’s size and shape. As a human being, I want to stand up against Trump and other Republicans whose hateful speech towards women, immigrants, lgbt people, and all “others” is poisoning this nation.

Being a participant in Spencer’s installation allows women to be the medium, rather than the object. We are so often objectified in our society, being told our self worth is directly related to our appearance. The mirrors reflect the viewer and environment, a message of connection and statement of empowerment.

Well, that woman definitely wanted to make a statement. Agree or disagree with her politics, the fact is that she seems to have decided to participate because she was feeling marginalized by the people meeting in Cleveland this week. She’s not alone, if one pays attention to the polls of potential voters. Also, in case anyone is wondering, it’s difficult to treat a woman as an object, even if she’s nude, if she is refusing to consider herself one.

I was recently sexually assaulted (for the third) time in my life .. It’s really been affecting me … The fact that this happens again … I’m dealing with a lot of shame and I don’t want to feel ashamed anymore – I want to set boundaries and not let others cross them but I also want to stand up and not be afraid to own my own body .. I think participating in this will be a freeing experience for me.

I suppose this means that self-healing from sexual assault is now a gimmick engaged in by hookers, right?

I would like to participate in this specifically because I’m not supposed to. Today is my 47th birthday. That alone means, as far as society is concerned, I shouldn’t be nude outside the home. I’m also chubby – I’m 5 feet, three inches tall and 170 pounds. I shouldn’t be naked, says America. I’m a married lady and no one should see me in the buff besides my husband and my doctor, says the world.

No, it’s not the whole world saying no to this woman. It definitely is the Victorian, uptight folks meeting in Cleveland, though. Handy that this happened there…

I would be honored to take part in your project on a personal level because I am a survivor of sexual abuse, rape and physical violence during childhood. I grew up living under the dominance and controlling nature of the men in my family system. I was suffocated, strangled and had knives thrown at me. I attended 16 schools by the time I left in 10th grade. My first abuse began when I was 4 and ended when at 15 I was forced to give a child up for adoption who was a result of the sexual abuse.. After returning from the hospital he started up once more and something snapped in me and I never returned to live at home again.

There are no words to cover why that woman cannot be categorized as those women on Facebook did.

No, the conservatives may not say another word about the hypocrisy of feminism as we see it today, and try to claim the high ground as people who accept women as equal. The conservatives disagreed with and totally failed to comprehend why those 100 women decided to pose in the nude in Cleveland. Yet another situation of both sides talking, and no one listening. It wasn’t even necessary to agree with those women, just simply respect their choice. Respect. That is what is truly dying here.


Subculture – 7-7-16


Do you use Pandora? You’ll want to listen today. Also from the world of tech, how innovation is saving economies, and how bitcoin is being abused. Remember all the heads on fire over protecting the sanctity of marriage from the evil same-sex marriage people? Well, there may be a bigger problem facing the institution. From the “unintended consequences” file, people might want to think twice before feeding footage to one site that makes its bacon on the backs of “freaky” people. All that, plus mob thought, and the Tune of the Day.

Listen here:


Subculture – 7-6-16


People are upset about Hillary not getting in trouble, right? Well, that is the status quo for certain people, and you’ll hear why. Remember the war on drugs? Congress is trying to deal with a real part of it, and so is the administration. Does this mean they are finally getting the reality that they are fighting the wrong drugs? There is some news from the religion v. politics front – multiple fronts, actually. Who really is on the wrong side of liberty and privacy now? Also, how to rock it at 90, coloring for calmness, and the Tune of the Day.

Listen here:

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