Welcome to Finley Experience

This website is dedicated to LGBT folks who are surviving in this crazy world.

What's good for one isn't necessarily good for another.

Attempting to control the hearts and souls of the masses through force and injustice only forces the seeds of dissension to grow. History has taught this lesson repeatedly. Perhaps, we'll learn the lesson this time.

31 December 2012

Gun Control, Hysteria, and a Letter to Senator Vitter

*Updated with Vitter's response see end of article)

Recently, many people have raised their voices against gun violence and more directly against guns in general, and in particularly against semi-automatic guns. I remind these people, guns ensure your ability to speak out against guns. The adage "guns don't kill people, people kill people," while correct and lyrical, is still an oversimplification of a serious problem. If people didn't kill people, guns wouldn't be necessary, nor would guns have been invented. Additionally, if people didn't kill people war would finally be obsolete and we could all go about our business in a happy-go-lucky world. Unfortunately, no matter how idealistically we view the world, no matter how rosy our rose-colored glasses, we live in a chaotic and dangerous world where evil people do evil things to other people.

The Founding Fathers comprehended the dangers that the colonists faced, whether we like to admit it or not, the Second Amendment was a tri-purpose amendment that recognized the people's rights to protect themselves from foreign (British) invaders, American turn-coats (British loyalists/Colonial traitors), and indians (Native Americans who suffered mass genocide and forced relocation by the U.S. colonizers). For clarification below is an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, these are the last of the grievences against King George:

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. 
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Today, we face dangers that would have given the Founders nightmares, I'm sure even Ben Franklin would balk at the total destruction possible with nuclear weaponry. The current array of armament available to government is precisely why, now more than ever, the rights mentioned in the second amendment must not be infringed.

The Second Amendment

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

No where in the Second Amendment does it specify what types of "Arms" the people have a right to "bear" nor does it specify any people "without" the right. It does, however, specify that "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Now, linguistically, some argue that the comma before "shall not be infringed" indicates that the right belongs to the "well regulated Militia" and not "the people." However, they are only partially correct, the comma immeditaely after "Militia" indicates a condition. The two clauses between "well regulated Militia" and "shall not be infringed" are conditional clauses acting as clarification of the subject "Militia." The Founding Fathers were men of letters, they were well-versed in grammatical convention. For modern readers, who feel the second amendment is an ambiguous run-on sentence (you're mistaken, its a complex sentence, get over it). Writing the two clauses into two separate sentences may be more appropriate for some readers.

The Second Amendment ("Broken Down" for the 21st Century)
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, shall not be infringed.
A well regulated Militia, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Through the simple process of making two sentences, we can clearly see that the militia is necessary to security and necessarially made up of rightfully armed people. You see, the Founders understood that the people were the Militia and that they were on the frontlines fighting the British, the loyalists, and the indians. Without the people and their weapons the states could not protect themselves. The country was too new, there was no United States "land or navy Forces," there were only the citizens in the militia that brought their weapons from home.

Many people claim that the National Guard, police departments, and other federal, state, and local "soldiers" are the "well regulated Militia" provided for in the Articles of the Constitution. That may be how the system has been twisted by corruption and propaganda, but that is not what is provided for in the founding documents. In fact, the various federal, state, and local "soldiers" that consitute the "standing-armies" of the United States are actually part of what the Founders were warning perpetuity against when they inserted a two-year clause. What two-year clause?

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States breaks down Congress' responsibilities (this is an excerpt, there are more responsibilities listed in the section):

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress

In this section of the Constitution, we find Congress has the right to declare War; raise Armies (with two-years financing); maintain a Navy; make rules for the land and naval Forces; call forth the Militia; and organize, arm, and discipline militia members "employed" by the United States (the States themselves, appoint officers and train the milita). The Founders were careful with their words, they listed provisions for "Armies," "a Navy," and "the Militia," these words were not interchangeable, not synonyms. These various lines of defense were not professional soldiers, they were civilians meant to receive training and if necessary arms "according to the discipline prescribed by Congress." The U.S. military, in all its glory, is now a standing army regardless of war or peace and it has a yearly budget that outpaces all other categories of government spending.

Since the beginning the U.S. has been weaponized, war after war attests to the fact we've managed to provide and maintain a standing army that, my friends, is unconstitutional. Since no amendment was ever passed to change the two-year clause within Article 1, Section 8, it is safe to say: our long-standing army is historically unconstitutional. Our Founders made clear "A well regulated Militia" is not the same as an army and that armies have funding time limits. What does it say that the national deficit is a two-fold problem whereby Congress, through incompetency and corruption, has sold its money making and financing abilities to private bankers (Federal Reserve Bank) and then professionalized a standing army for Wall Street to use as world-wide mercenaries? National Guard units have seen combat in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, etc. If the National Guard is truly a state militia, why have they been called to serve in oil wars overseas?

Oil is a commodity traded on stock exchanges (Wall Street), its value is determined by speculators speculating on the commodity's potential future value. Constricting the flow of oil increases the demand on oil and drives up the price. Conversely, opening up the flow of oil decreases the demand on oil and drives down the price. The history of oil in America is one rife with bribery, theft, and murder. To think that has changed is naive. Wake up! Bribery, theft, and murder are still the typical answers to obtaining control over commodities. The general rule: Bribe, if unable to bribe, steal, if unable to steal, murder.

Regardless of what some may say, our second amendment right exists, not for killing animals, but for killing people who threaten our security. Hunting animals is target practice as well as a way of obtaining food and clothing. The militia is a security fail-safe, a way for the state to obtain immeditate protection when an act of Congress would take too long or when the States need protection from Congress. The second amendment rightfully places the duty of securing the state into the hands of all armed citizens because, sometimes, the people have to protect themselves from the usurpations of rights, the human experimentations, and the mass genocides performed by governments.

With the historical implications of armament in mind, I wrote Senator Vitter. As some of you are aware, I regularly write our representatives. On occasion, they respond. I'll update if he does. I can't recall what day I sent this letter, perhaps Christmas Eve, not that that matters. Suffice it to say, an armed citizen prepared to defend their state against invasion is not the same thing as an armed person who becomes a mass murderer of civilians (regardless the reason or lack thereof). I don't blame mental health institutes nor do I support the subsequent demonization of mental health patients, however, I'll save that rant for a later article.  

Here's the letter. Please bear in mind, I'm not generally this polite to him. I take my rights very seriously and he has a serious habit of denying my rights. I'm sure whoever checks his email can attest to that:

Senator Vitter,

Please continue to fight for 2nd Amendment rights for all Americans.

We disagree on a number of issues, including my civil rights (I am an American lesbian and a Navy veteran).

I know after a tragedy, many want to place blame on guns, gun makers, and mental health institutions. There is a better solution: blame the responsible party, the shooter, the bomber, the terrorist. Do not blame the gun makers, nor the ammunition factories for the actions of the person who pulled the trigger. A killer will kill, regardless the weapon.

As your record testifies, you also hold the trigger-person responsible. I'm glad to see gun rights are one of the things we agree on. I commend you for your work on protecting the 2nd Amendment and I pray you continue to vote in favor of the people by maintaining vigilance.

Once again, thank you for standing up for our gun rights. Please stay strong in the upcoming fight against hysteria that often arises after such tragedies.

Thank you,
Monique Finley
*UPDATE: Vitter's response (received 17 January 2013):

Dear Ms. Finley,

Thank you for contacting me to voice your opposition to new gun control laws in response to the recent school shootings in Connecticut and California. I appreciate hearing your views, and I agree with you. 

In the wake of  these tragediesmany in Washington are calling for increased restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, arguing that it will help to reduce gun violence. For example, Senator Feinstein (D-CA) has announced plans to reintroduce a ban on assault weapons and to limit magazine capacity. Also,  President Obama has signed 23 executive actions and has called on Congress to pass legislation, including background checks for all firearms salesHowever, as many supporters of the Second Amendment have pointed out, increased restrictions do little to affect the actions of criminals, who by definition do not abide by the law. Instead, they restrict the rights of law-abiding Americans.

am a firm believer and ardent supporter of the rights enshrined in the Second Amendment. This constitutional right, and our heritage of using firearms for sporting and self-defense purposes, does not have to be sacrificed to reduce gun-related violence. Instead, we should focus on enforcing the extensive laws already in place and turn our attention to more appropriate measuressuch as increasing the safety of our schools and keeping guns out of the hands of those who may be mentally incapable of owning them  responsibly .

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about other issues important to you and your family.

28 December 2012

A Poem For Russia, Winners of the Finley Experience International Page Views Poetry Contest

To Russia: On Our Protests

It seems countries everywhere
face the bitter cronyism that tears
down civilizations one corrupt
brick at a time. Equanimous—
plenty of rhyme to exist and reason
to resist far more extravagantly
than with arms locked in front
of government buildings. The
picture begins to focus: for some,
police cameras, hovering drones;
for others, police watch as sheep
from deer stands targeting people
brazen enough to cover their faces.
Ain’t it quaint? In some places
folks fight to free their cheeks
to the wind’s caresses, in other
places they fight for their privacy
in public spaces. Here they take
for security’s sake, there they
take for the state. Liberty is never
given, just forcibly taken. Yet,
history proves, irrevocably, the people
can over-turn the tables, make
the gluttonous into hunger’s slaves.
And, turn the hungry into royalty.
Even a beggar can lead, I’d wager
more nobly than elitists, who think
everyone can borrow money
from mommy and daddy. That
mentality inbreeds the “let’em eat
cake” philosophy then plays taps
for an evolutionary death knell.

16 December 2012

Too Late to Secede from the United States of America?

In recent weeks we've seen post-election fall-out (G.O.P. whining), escalating discontent (social media racism), and murmurings of secession (citizen petitions on We the People). I have monitored the 10th Amendment / secession movements on-and-off since 2004. Secession is a concept I find fascinating on the simple grounds that while we, Americans, theoretically have secession as a state "out," no state has ever successfully seceded. In fact, our ancestors fought one of the bloodiest civil wars in history to conclude that we are indeed the "United States of America" and no, the South can't secede. From the Revolutionary War, through Slavery, Civil War, Reconstruction, McCarthyism and Jim Crow, by genocide of indigenous tribes and through assimilation of immigrants, from Stonewall to San Francisco, our dear lady Liberty, herself, has bled and wept o'er our lost generations.

We've struggled on striving to create a society that more closely resembles the society our founders dreamed up, we dreamed up. We fail at every turn, but we get up and keep working towards it. Every American, in every generation, has paid for the American dream, sweated for the struggle, and fought against tyrants to exercise their rights as individuals, as human beings. Polarized, categorized, stereotyped, and dichotomized into pasts vs. futures, yesterdays vs. tomorrows. Progressives so ready for the future they forget the lessons of the past. Traditionalists so afraid of the future they idealized the past. Neither looking out of the box, beyond their own limited time-preferences. Neither seeing the reality of NOW, that ever-fluctuating, never-changing, single point through which all time flies. What are you going to do now?

The ignorant call "to return to traditional family values" fails to realize the slow evolution of marriage from a communal or familial obligation to an individual obligation. An examination of "traditional [American] family values" exposes masculine superiority complexes directly related to the assumed superiority of  males within patriarchal societies. Women, conversely, experience inferiority complexes. This call blatantly ignores the quality of life that persisted for women during this supposed golden age of "traditional family values." In fact, to return to the traditions espoused by the radical right, would be to return women to the societal dark ages. Additionally, if we follow the various historical traditions of "family values," we'll be forced to return to a day where lovers cannot marry for love because both are property of their respective families and negotiations must be conducted. How many cows and chickens is your daughter worth? For the tradition argument to be valid, proponents would need marriage to return to its original place as a contract between families meant to increase their holdings, wealth, and reputations. Such a return to "traditional family values" would be a reversion of the progress our society has made in the area of an individual's right to decide their life partner.

Interestingly, within the historical origins of marriage we also find a great argument for legalizing gay marriage: the marriage contract is an economic contract. Gays are a part of the economy. The modern marriage contract is not between families, neighborhoods, cities, counties/parishes, states, or even nations. It is between two people; regardless of what the "traditionalists" spout. Approving gay marriage is a step towards economic and social equality that also financially benefits the city, state, and federal governments. In our current broke-ass state of the union, acknowledging that families come in various shapes and sizes is more than important, it is essential to healing division, fostering acceptance, and to growing our communities. Not only is it the right thing to do for liberty's sake, it's also the smart economic move. But, some Americans wouldn't know the right thing nor the smart thing if it were a pissed-off pimp waiting on a prostitute's past-due payment.

Many people consider themselves cream-of-the-crop, top-of-the-line, quality A-1 Americans. They're not. These are the same blowhards that insist on fascist clothing ordinances that turn crime prevention police into fashion police. Any move towards fascism is a leap away from liberty. Issuing citations for clothing is fascist. That said, my "favorite" example of American fascism will always be the Virginia Beach police department's use of police chaplains to issue speech tickets for cussing in public. To which I call "Bullshit!" Va. Beach, you ever hear of the First fucking Amendment? Americans that push for laws that prevent free speech or that determine what is and what is not appropriate fashion, well, those people are not American in spirit. There. I said it. They may be American citizens, but they are not the best we have to offer, they are the worst. These fanatics stifle creativity, ignore reason, and hate genuine inclusivity. They don't want equality, they want some fantasy world where whatever they say goes and to hell with everyone else. They bask in their ignorance as if it were the most noble calling, willfully blinding themselves to true liberty so that they can continue to spread bigotry and hatred.

Today, social scientists use algorithms to follow social media trends, including trends in bigotry and hatred. Studying social media trends offers real-time glimpses into the current levels of discontent (as well as other emotional levels). An undercurrent of discontent is normal and expected in any society, regardless of government "type." Even so, some governments, by their very design, propogate excessive rises in discontentment. Such governments long for realization of the mythical Iron Curtain that idealized and impossible complete blackout. It ain't happening, but they can try. Thus, trends must be watched regularly. The oscillations expose the constantly beating pulse of the nation and can signify great changes. One expects an erratic pulse when receiving competing inputs from 300 million people. When opinions begin to synchronize and the erratic pulse becomes cohesive, well, that's when the observant person recognizes that a climax is coming. How can the quality of that climax be accurately judged? Will the end result be progression or regression? That's where social scientists fit in. That's where we all fit in.

I'm not a social scientist. I'm a writer. I look at studies that social scientists conduct and I compare them with news from both the main stream and the underground. Truth is lost somewhere in the quagmire of memes, anecdotal tales, peer-reviewed studies, and investigative journalistic pieces that combine to create the broad fabric of discourse among social contemporaries deep within the "cloud." Is it just me or is this beginning to sound like Aristophanes' Cloud Cuckooland? Regardless of how bizarrely sci-fi life gets, regardless of how fanatics stay fanatical, regardless of traditionalists spouting traditionalism, regardless of progressives progressing, there will always exist opposing forces within human communities. Forces bent on dividing, deriding, and dehumanizing face-off against forces bent on uniting, uplifting, and humanizing the peoples and governments of the world. Of course, nothing is ever that simple. Nothing is ever truly two-sided. That's the complicated reality of humanity. We come with shades of gray.

These many hues preoccupy my thoughts when secession is brought to the fore. I think of where we came from, where we've been, where we are, and where we're headed. I think about the violent opposition we've all faced just to get here, then I think of where we have to go and the violent opposition we'll face getting there. I think of the "civilization" that we daily struggle to create and the barbarism that actually exists. I think of the ideal of liberty we've been indoctrinated to defend with our lives and the fact that no one alive has ever actually lived within the ideal libertarian society. I think of Utopia's elusiveness and the logical fallacies that drive secessionists to scream for a new and separate government. I watch and laugh at the fruitlessness of such a request. We're the only bastards in the world that know for certain our government is capable of dropping atomic bombs onto cities full of civilians. Any chance for secession ended the first day nuclear weapons were successfully detonated in New Mexico. Never forget that we burned our own cities during the Civil War, we didn't even have napalm then. Should we ever enter a second civil war, we are the same assholes who would use nuclear weapons on our own soil, we already have--just not in town. And, much like the South after Reconstruction, the fall-out zones would be a future lesson to any others who think to repeat the process a third time. Think about it.

05 November 2012

An Election Cycle 2012 Tirade: Wasting Votes?

The only soap opera, sitcom, or prime time show that ever really held my attention beyond my adolescence wasn't the crime shows (Law & Order, etc.) nor the comedies (Fresh Prince, etc.); Gene Roddenberry would be proud for it was Star Trek: The Next Generation. The show was forward thinking, weekly imagination-challenging, family time. And, the kids who grew up watching any of the Star Trek-s were blessed to pick up societal cues regarding progressive respectful living and proper behaviors when interacting with different cultures. These shows also came with societal cues regarding battle behavior: in peace time use "stun," in war "vaporize."

Technology junkies, bred on various generations of gaming devices, recognize the real life technological goals set by the Star Trek series (STs). Anyone who currently owns a cell phone ought to look at it and smile every time they use the speaker phone, after all, STs lent us a glimpse at hand held instant communication technologies. Even Bluetooth users ought to tip their hats to the comm badges made famous from ST: TNG, devices which are carried on clothing, operated at the touch of a button, and contained GPS (allowing for transporter signals).

We do not currently have transporters. Though some would argue, correctly, that we are in the infancy of replicator technology (think fax machines and the new 3D printer that makes plastic objects). As I grew up, I realized that my generation was finally coming of age and that today, we are stepping up as creators of the very technologies that we once wished actually existed. We are fulfilling our own dreams with new technologies for more culturally aware and interconnected peoples. With this growing awareness and connection of/with other cultures, we've witnessed amazing feats of assistance as well as severe backlash as each culture is put through the wringer until finally they become either assimilated or segregated. But, who/what are they assimilating into or segregating from? The Borg? Is resistance futile? Some might say the neo-colonials/globalists - an article for another day - who might as well be the Borg. It matters less who, more how. Politics is how. But, not upfront politics, we're talking backdoor, behind the scenes, sneaky underhanded politics.

Confession: I watch world politics on the internet, it's my current favorite soap opera. I see various governments attempting to retain sovereignty in the face of a growing "global need" for "common" laws. In the United States the individual sovereignty fight has raged on since the Declaration of Independence was discussed, written, and delivered to King George. We fought the Civil War over individual and state sovereignty. Individual sovereignty won out, though the Reconstruction's rise of the Jim Crow Laws era proved that the impact of seething racial animosity is truly lasting. We can still see the rising steam of anger in the remnants of historic extremism that led to the murders of some of America's greatest leaders. We see it in the racist slurs hurled at the country's first "black" president. A man whose "mixed" heritage has been speculated on by the most insidious types of racists, ones who refuse to admit their racism and maintain their claim that he's not an American.

He's "half" American which equals full citizenship when time living in country is also within legal limits. In our multicultural society that is all that's required. One parent and a certain number of years on American soil. Some people are fucking idiots. The man was not raised in Kenya. His mother is an American. He's got a Hawaiian birth certificate. I wish these people could admit to themselves that they would not act the same for a man who had one Canadian parent and one American parent. Especially, if neither parent was black. Because, racism is what this "birther" hatred is really about, regardless of what they may try to sell you. These "birthers" argue that Obama has no right to office. I say, where the hell were they when George Bush and Jeb Bush finagled the 2000 election and the 2004 election? They claim that a man whose parentage guarantees his right to hold office is ineligible because of that parentage. But, say nothing when the president was a man with familial connections in a state where voter fraud was proven prevalent. Whine about lineage, but ignore outright voter fraud and election theft? Can we all just admit the truth? The racist truth?

I think criticism is an interesting ball game. One must be careful to swing at pitches that are in the zone. The "birther" issue is one that riles me. These are batters swinging at wild pitches. And, they're missing. They're missing the entire point of America. In other words, they've struck out.

To be American is to engage in a constant uphill struggle against oppressors who would limit the unalienable rights of individuals. No matter where our government or our fellow citizens point us, we must always strive to maintain our "unalienable rights." These rights aren't things that can be taken away, they are our collective individual sovereignty granted us by our very existence as human beings who happen to be American citizens. We must remember that the battle is never won, the fight never over, for every year a new group of would be oppressors is born. And, every year their parents must be stopped from oppressing us.

Here we are, the count down to election day, our choices limited, oppression on the wind. The mainstream distracted populace no doubt only knows of two options. Though, Louisiana has 11 candidates on the ballot for president and Colorado has 17. Can you imagine that 11 to 17 candidates? That's actually 22 to 34 candidates when you take into account the Vice Presidential running mates. Which is another thing...why do the vice presidential candidates get fewer debates? If anything happens to the president the vice president takes over. What would a presidential debate be like if all the candidates (presidential and vice presidential) had equal coverage? Well, that's a fantasy world that doesn't have to be, if we the people start swinging at the pitches that matter. Pitches that are in the zone.

Swinging at the bureaucrats involved in the 2000 and the 2004 election tampering and voter fraud would have been one of those "in the zone" moments. A moment where every life that was lost in the struggle to obtain voting rights would have been vindicated. Instead, they were betrayed by the very generations they struggled to ensure could vote. Let's not lie to ourselves. They were betrayed first when their own generation struggled against them by fighting on the side of continued oppression. The real questions are: when are we going to collectively stop betraying the people who died to make sure we could vote? When are we going to stop betraying ourselves? When will we recognize that we risk the future every election that we don't vote, every time that we don't speak out against voter fraud, every time we don't protest election tampering, every time we don't call for a new election (after fraud has been proven) or don't require an "objective" election observer? Oh. That's right. We do speak out. We do protest. We do demand hand recounts. And, we are denied by fellow citizens (judges) who sully the integrity of vote by denying recounts.

I think not voting can be a form of protest or civil service (in a broad sense).  The few that choose not to cast their ballot for political reasons, those I understand. They may be frustrated by the system, they may believe that their vote is irrelevant, or they may be disgusted by their lack of options and convinced that no third party candidate stands a chance. Many people aren't voting because they "don't like politics" or "don't know anything about politics." These are the ones I fear for; I fear for their children as well as for the people who must interact with them. So, basically, all of civilization. But, I'd rather they exercise their right to not vote, then have to worry about where they put their vote. So, whether I understand or not, I thank them for having the courage to announce they'd rather not participate in something they don't understand or don't enjoy. At least they're honest enough to step up and say, "No. I'm not qualified to make decisions for our country because I'm not informed and I choose not to be informed."

The protest non-voters, these are my heroes in the non-voting community. These are the people who refuse to use their vote on principle: The voting system is broken, so why use it? Their abstention makes waves too. Though not so much that the election process stops. But, imagine an election where 300 million Americans stayed home. The only votes cast would be by the candidates, their immediate families, and a couple of their financial backers/lackeys. Would it be enough to still carry out the election? Probably, because that's how corruption works. But, it'd also say something major to whoever won. It'd say, "we're not playing anymore."

That said, I once again relegate my fear to those who cast their votes along bi-partisan, religious, or racial lines. The two-party system is a myth that can be broken easily whenever voters collectively vote third, fourth, or even fifth party. Right now there is a misconception that a vote for a third party is a "wasted" vote. This is a perception problem directly related to probability and indirectly related to a lack of conscientious voting. In other words, current perception: one of two parties has a chance to win, therefore we must offset the chances of the candidate we really don't want to win, by voting for the candidate in the party "opposite" that candidate's. In the casino industry this is considered hedge betting. That is paranoid/cautious (break-even) voting, not conscientious voting. The former reconciles probability with dislike: I dislike Candidate A. Candidate B has the best chance of winning, but I like Candidate C. The voter's paranoia regarding Candidate A pushes their like of Candidate C to the back burner when they cook up their reasoning for voting for Candidate B. And, their reasoning is simply probability based on historical voting trends. In recent history, only one of two parties gets elected, therefore it is probable that only one of two parties will continue to be elected.

Now, here's the flaw with probabilities based on historical human actions: people are predictably unpredictable. People are conditional and their opinions are subject to change (or, become more deeply ingrained). Given the right conditions, enough people will jump the two-party ship and cast their votes to third-party buoys. What's the trigger for such spontaneous collective action by voters? Frustration? Hell, I don't know, but that seems likely. How much depends on factors way beyond the scope of this little tirade. Just saying. Studying uprisings throughout history, familiarizes one with the cyclic nature of human behavior. That trigger is coming, mayhap this election, mayhap next. Who really knows?

The conspiracists would tell you the secret groups and uber rich (elites) know. Since Romney's son, Tagg, has ties with HartInter Civic, Inc. and they own some of "swing state" Ohio's voting machines (as well as machines in other parts of the country), I don't doubt the validity of conspiracists arguments. I don't even doubt the logic of probability behind the paranoid/cautious voters' decision making processes. What I doubt is the accusation that third-party voters are "wasting" their votes. Truly, third-party voters are ahead of the political curve, probability-speaking. They're the early risers in the cyclic process of voter dissent. The power of third-party voting blocks has only recently begun to be recognized in the U.S. of A. We've seen it in every recent election where a third-party official won the seat over an incumbent Dem/Rep. We've seen it happen at all levels of government except the presidency. Given the standard of historical time, the probability begins to raise that this over throw of the two-party system will eventually make it to the presidential elections.

The conscientious voter does not waste their vote when voting third-party. Rather, they express their informed decision making abilities, their objection to the two-party system, or their disgust with the options provided by the two parties (and, sometimes all three simultaneously). These are the people who have used action in the voting booth to express their displeasure with the system. They didn't hedge their bets, they risked it all on a long shot. That continued and repetitive action will eventually pay off in a big way. Just as we're seeing at the local, state, and congressional levels, so too, will the day come when a third-party candidate is elected to the highest national office. Of course, the historical probability that we will eventually have a second civil war is also rising every day. These "impartial" elections officials best get their act together and start delivering actual free and fair elections. Until the flaws in electronic voting can be fixed, we'd be better off delaying the announcement of a winner because we returned to the hand count.

As voters, we attempt to vote-in representation that will carry on in the best interest of the people. In America that's somewhere around 300 million people. No where near that number will vote. Some because age restricts them, some because they refuse. Ask yourself this: What is in the best interest of 300 million people when your options are: President Barack Obama, former Governor Willard "Mitt" Romney, Dr. Jill Stein, or former Governor Gary Johnson (there are others 7 to 13 others - at least)? Some of you may not have heard of Dr. Stein or Gov. Johnson. Stein was arrested bringing supplies to protesters during the election campaigns. Johnson was previously the governor of Arizona. The intentional bi-partisan effort to block third party candidates from exposure in the mainstream media is a sign of the power third parties weld.

Third parties hold the ability to ouster either or both of the reigning parties. These two parties have developed organizations, businesses, social and financial networks. The ability to unseat them is a powerful ability that would upset the lives of people who made their livings selling one or the other of the two-parties to the American people. One day enough of the American people will collectively say "I'm not buying" the fear-mongering, the media-driven hysteria, nor the insistent donation propaganda. They'll say: "I'm voting my fucking conscious for once. I'm done playing." That election cycle the vote will finally sway away from the two-party political bi-opoly. Some people tell me that's a fantasy that will never happen. I say: "Wanna bet? Give it time."

To the people that accuse third-party voters of "stealing" votes from either of the two-party candidates: The vote was cast. Not stolen. Your candidate never had that vote. How about this election you stop hedging your bets and vote your conscious? If you currently plan to vote for either of the two-parties and you have made an informed decision based on research and your circumstances, than I applaud you for voting your conscious. If you're voting along party lines because you're hedging your bet against the candidate you don't like, I understand. But, I think you're missing the point of gambling. A hedge bet is a safe bet. It's a bet that minimizes loss and profit while extending play. People who hedge bet while gambling want to experience the excitement without the risk of their bankroll.

Voting equals gambling for government representation. It is a risky practice that people have died and killed over. Don't let their deaths be in vain. Vote your conscious. And, beware. If your precinct uses any of the current hackable electronic voting machines, than it is likely that your vote has been tampered with. Since, we cannot be certain of the true outcome of our elections, we all are wasting our votes.

As a Trekkie, I love the possibilities that are unlocked by technological advances. As a 21st century American, I am realistic concerning the dangers that potentially exist in all technology. I love the idea of electronic voting. If we can ensure that an accurate count occurs and that verifiable hard copies are also made available. This country was built on checks and balances. For too long the balance has been tipped in the favor of corporations and government. It is beyond time that we tip the scale back in the favor of the American people. Justice is blind, not dumb. She can feel the imbalance and she will right the scales. Our liberty demands our vigilance. IF, you see anything suspicious at any voting place anywhere in this nation please call the police. Call the news. Call your local conspiracists. Do not remain silent. Do not idly watch as our election process is destroyed.

***Update (9 Nov 2012) - Here are some links to reports of election fraud this cycle. (I am not commenting on the validity of the reports. I am sharing the news I've seen. And, I urge every report be investigated thoroughly by every voter.):

Election Day 2012: Legal Teams Prepare...
News Brief Highlights...
Salon Voter Fraud links...
CBS News: Congressman's Son Resigns..."
Businessweek: Romney campaign app to report...
American Thinker: Voter Fraud Redefined...
CNN: Election Voting...
State of New Jersey: Emergency Voting Changes
Aljazeera: Malfunctioning Machines...
Reddit: 2012 Voting Machines Altering Votes...
RT: Long Lines...
RT: Pre-Election Lawsuit over Voting Machine Patch...
Princeton Computer Scientist Hacks Voting Machine...
New Jersey Voting Machine Lawsuit...

29 October 2012

Yahoo! Contributor Network Internet Censorship October 2012

Well. I knew the day would come when what was once an amazing writing outlet passed away. All amazing things pass away. Perhaps that's part of the allure of the amazing, it seems eternal until it fades (as all things do). You may wonder at the cryptics, the seemingly coy conversation starter, but fear not, I shall explain.

I realized it had been some time since I last submitted anything to the Yahoo! Contributor Network. I've got 91 pieces published through their site. I fancy stopping at 100. Now, some of the pieces are a testament to my status as a novice freelancer and were originally published by AssociatedContent.com.

AssociatedContent.com was an incredible place full of user generated articles, creative writing pieces, product reviews, etc. They had a fairly simple payout plan and an openness, an equal place for equal voices. Fellow content producers (CPs) acted as peer reviewers, part-time editors, concerned users flagged articles, private messaged or commented to the author about the quality, accuracy, or some line that resonated (whether good or bad).

In the beginning AC was unique. It was a place for liberated users to create a library, a database of thoughts from around the world. When I first joined (September 2007), AC didn't offer payments to people living outside the U.S. But, it wasn't about payment as much as platform. Don't get me wrong, payment is important, even so, writers don't write for money. They write because words are their life's blood, if they don't write they'll die. (Maybe I'm melodramatic, I'm a writer). Payment just helps them eat.

A writer today, writing online, can make decent money, if they can quickly pop out hundreds of 400 word articles on the most mundane subjects known to human kind. AC was a dual layered platform offering the article poppers a place to make residual income on their work and a place for creative writers to also make residual income on their work. AC offered upfront payments for certain types of non-fiction work (for article poppers), though the nominal payments weren't usually enough to compensate for the legwork.

I knew early on that if AC became successful enough the risk of buy-out would rise exponentially. I also knew that buy-out generally came at the expense of platform. Things always change when new ownership arrives. It's the golden rule of corporate buy-out politics: Find something that is awesome, then buy it out, change it up, mutate/destroy the awesome, and drag it out until nothing is left, then discard the damaged awesome. Rinse and repeat, in the name of profits.

When I found out that Yahoo! was poised to purchase Associated Content, I was emotionally confused. On the one hand, Yahoo's interest gave a legitimacy to AC that wasn't really there before. On the other hand, Yahoo was a different type of site, catering to a different audience. I wanted to be excited for AC, for the other content producers (CPs), for myself as a CP. Even so, I couldn't get excited. I knew. Yahoo was a large conglomerate already branded with a specific type of audience in mind. Buying out AC offered quick access to countless "quality" CPs and countless "non-quality" CPs. The first order of business would be renaming the site, the second order would be converting/synching the systems, and the third order would be weeding out the "non-quality" CPs (a two-step process involving changes in the submission guidelines and introduction of content editors). Technically, these orders of business could be done in whatever order fit Yahoo's interests.

Well, suffice it to say that the Yahoo! Contributor Network (formerly AssociatedContent.com) changed their name, switched AC's CPs to the Yahoo! platform, altered the submissions guidelines, and added content editors (not necessarily in that order). Thus, they began the process of weeding out those CPs they felt were "non-quality" or not suitable for Yahoo! Contributor Network. In this process, they also began the heavy-handed task of internet censorship.

I have a confession. Some of you may be taken aback. Others will just nod in understanding. I cuss. I swear. I curse. I use profanity. I'm a recovering sailor. I do not use profanity in every single piece I write. I do use profanity in the appropriate places within my writings. For example: Should a character in a story stub their toe, the realistic response would be: "Fuck! That hurt."

As a realist, I capture reality. Unfortunately, reality doesn't bode well with censorship. Thus, while I wrote for AC (uncensored), I was able to produce content like: Foul Language, Cursing, and Swearing are All Parts of Speech. (This article is part of the AC archives that were transferred to Yahoo!). Unfortunately, pieces like this are no longer possible on Yahoo! Contributor Network. This article would have been declined during the submission process because of "vulgar language."

This weekend I submitted two poems. One had no cuss words, the other had "shit". Both poems were initially "declined" by the editor(s). The poem without vulgarity had no feedback/reasoning for why it was rejected. For that poem, I added a keyword tag to the keyword section, additionally I added a period and capitalized the word following the period. I resubmitted and the poem was published immediately. Since there was no feedback, I can only guess why it was declined (I suspect SEO/keywords). You can read the newly published poem at the following link: Aching, for One Whole Minute.

The second poem (with "shit" in it), I have deleted from the Yahoo! Contributor Network submission process. They asked me to remove the "vulgar language" and resubmit. However, I refuse to be censored. I'd rather delete the poem from their platform, than to change a single word. I will find another outlet for that particular poem. I believe the only time my poetry (or other work) should be edited is when there is a blatant error. The word "shit" was intentional, thus no error, thus no change will occur.

For your amusement, here is a picture of the decline notice:

Yahoo! Contributor Network declines Finley's poem "Unseen Future Unfolding" for "vulgar language" 28 Oct 2012
And, for your reading pleasure, here is the poem I refused to change for the Yahoo! censors, I mean, editors. (Please note: I do not harbor animosity towards Yahoo! Contributor Network, nor their editors. My aim is to point out that censorship changes the intention of the writer and the intention of the written piece. Additionally, I'd like to highlight the point that altering a "vulgar" word compromises the integrity of the piece. In my poem, "shit" could be changed to a number of equivalent words all amounting to a stinking, steaming pile of fecal matter, none of those words capture the essence of "shit" better than the word "shit." Besides which, the act of making this change would be an admission by me that I think censorship is okay - censorship in the land of 1st Amendment rights is not okay).

Unseen Future Unfolding

While watching mytube Neil d. told me
my reflection is not present, but past.
That light travels there and back.
That light is the length of past sight
which is really now sight reflecting
past view. If, then, we each seek the past,
perhaps it is because we can only see
what was before. Now—though we may
be deep in it—is really the unseen future
unfolding around us, and we, though
super computers, can see but a second ago.

Space-time, then, limits our abilities to see
Now for what is truly there. We can
surmise, we can assume, we can project,
we can even prophesize. None of which
changes the sick beauty found in the reality
that we are inherently designed to see
the immediate past and to make assumptive
and presumptive decisions regarding the
immediate future based on that past view. 

We strive and drive forward with the urge
to live Now. But, we are bombarded by the past.
So much so, that many try living in denial, as if
past never happened and future doesn’t exist.
I think sometimes: Is it a sickness? An ailment?
Some sort of “I don’t give a shit” disease?
I couldn’t be happier that Neil broke it down.
It explains such as could never be explained.
It explains how and why even though some deny,
they repeat, verbatim, like their playbook
came from the first game ever played
on a SAP waiting to be taken into slavery.

All they see is the past. All we see is the past.
Not the long ago. Not, eons, nor ages.
But, seconds, maybe minutes. Well, I take
that back. When we look at the stars we see
explosions from ages, or eons, that long,
long ago. Don’t we dream while we look?
Hope while we stare? And for that instance,
when we zoom so far back we can’t fathom
the timeline, is that not when we know the future?

~Monique Finley

24 August 2012

Ever Hear of Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity"?


Rhetoric is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting aspects to politics and to language. Every society that engages in debate will recognize a number of universal tactics. All types of rhetorical tactics are available to sway a reader, some attract, others repel. The emotional appeal is common among politicians, juveniles, and anyone not ashamed of pulling a guilt trip. The appeal to reason is common among followers of logic, practicality, and know-it-alls showing off their mental prowess. As you may guess, I like to employ both, depending on the subject matter. Many other rhetorical tactics exist, but they're outside the scope of this blog post; I'm sure if one were to google "rhetorical tactics" a plethora of information would appear on their browser. I mention the emotional appeal and the appeal to reason on account of Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity.

Perhaps you've heard of it? I hadn't. However, I thought it would be good to do a little checking on mister vice-presidential hopeful Rep. Paul Ryan. And, that's when I stumbled upon his budget proposal. I thought, let's see what this Wisconsin Congressman has to say about fixing the budget. I began to read the web .pdf (see link above). He opens each section with an emotional appeal thinly disguised as an appeal to reason. It's amazing to read each section as if it were created from a template.

Step 1: Historio-emotional appeal using "American traditional values" (over the last 30 years...);
Step 2: Numerical facts as an appeal to logic; thinly veiled emotional appeal to "incomprehensible numbers"  (ie. $554 Billion; $15 Trillion);
Step 3: "Problem" reiteration as obvious solution and appeal to reason  (emotional transference, finger-pointing game; blame problem then remove current "solution");
Step 4: "Problem" reiteration infused with pro-tradition commentary (read as "nostalgia for Golden Era") as closing appeal.

New section? No problem...Rinse and repeat. Go ahead, scroll down through Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity.  What patterns do you discern in each section?

His every "solution" would take away from those without, while doing nothing to actually address the budget crisis.

You want to address the budget? Start charging corporations and the wealthy their fair share in taxes. Income earnings are earnings whether you worked 80 hrs or bought the right stocks. Quit giving outrageous chunks of taxpayer money to corporations that have more wealth than multiple governments combined, they don't fucking need money -  they already have it. Scrap medicaid? How about all congressional employees including the president get on medicaid and then cut the congressional healthcare coverage (an expensive and redundant program)? Oh, and  rather than paying these congress people whatever they choose to pay themselves, how about we reduce their pay to the minimum wage in their home states? Save taxpayers countless billions over the lifetime of the Republic. Besides, if it's good enough for the American people, it is good enough for our leaders, who are part of and servants to US.

Speaking of saving the Republic money over its lifetime, how about we scrap the lifetime pay benefits accrued through service in congress? One term in congress and the paychecks roll on. Wait, what? Yes, one term and the pay checks keep coming. Let's put a stop to that. Additionally, congressional welfare recipients ought to be drug tested before, during, and after taking office, pop positive and lose all benefits. Life-time secret service for ex-congress? Why? They know American secrets? They could be used as tools for terrorists? Why not put them in witness protection and save tax payers the money? No one is kidnapping Bob Dole, waiter.

Besides, if its good enough for the average person hiding from the mafia, it's good enough to hide a few congress people from potential terrorists. If they want to stay in the lime-light after office, they can hire body guards as a tax deductible business expense given their decision to chase fame is a business choice. The American people shouldn't be required to take fiscal responsibility for congressional people desiring the spotlight.

Public servants caught embezzling, misappropriating, or otherwise stealing from the American treasury ought to be whipped on the steps of the Jefferson monument then sent to prison...actual maximum security prison and not minimum security resort prison. In prison, they would then lose all the benefits of having served in congress and gain all the benefits of a felon serving 10-20 for defrauding the American people. Let us not forget the benefits of Bubba - just tell him the congress person molested young America and watch what happens.

We'd be doing far better for our country to hold these traitors to the standards they set for us, than we would be to listen to any more of their fiscal plans. Ryan's budget plan reads like the road to map to hell as dictated by that electronic chick GPS voice that takes us down every construction bottleneck in the country. Want to extend the years we feel the pains of this first global depression of the 21st century? Then vote for Romney and Ryan and let them enact this medieval plan. Like Chicken Little, you'll all be screaming, "The sky is falling!" while ducking under your cardboard boxes and kissing your chubby yet malnourished asses goodbye.

Update on 2nd Annual Finley Experience International Views Contest

Apologies for the way late posting (24 August 2012)...

For the Second Annual Finley Experience International Views Contest, the winner is Russia!
That means Russia is the winner two years in a row! And, I now owe Russia a lot of poems.

Any country out there think they can take Russia for the Third Annual Finley Experience International Views Contest?

United Kingdom

I'm already a couple of poems in debt to Russia, so, this works out well! More poems for Russia (cool prize, huh?) Fortunately, I've already got a couple in the works. Nope. I'm not telling. So quit asking. You'll know when they get here. ;)

Oh, and the Third International Views Contest began on the 1st of June! So, in the words of Ratrace: "Go! Go!" It ends 31 May 2013.

Finley's Newest Poetry in Helium.com Poetry Contest (May 2012)

Helium.com Creative Writing Contest title:
Poetry: Inspired by Galveston, Tx.

Helium.com Creative Writing Contest title:
Poetry: Inspired by San Diego, Ca.

Helium.com Creative Writing Contest title:
Poetry: Inspired by Key West, Fl.

Helium.com Creative Writing Contest title:
Poetry: Inspired by Hollywood, Ca.

18 May 2012

Finley Experience 2nd Annual "International Views" Contest

Hey Ya'll,

In case you were wondering about the contest, we're still rolling along. I owe Russia an apology and a number of additional poems (they only got one out of me last year). As it stands, Russia is well on the way to being the winner for a second year in a row. Now, Germany, you're trailing behind by nearly 400 views, there's still a couple of weeks left in the contest and as we all know the internet is a virus.

So, here's the Google Analytic standings as of 4:20 am 18 May 2012.

United Kingdom

Regardless of who wins, I still owe Russia a couple of poems. So, now that I've graduated, perhaps they'll flow easily.

Vale mea amici!

Some Nights by FUN

(*Please Note: We the People of the United States of America are citizens of a Constitutional Republic, a.k.a. The Republic. We are not a direct democracy like some believe. By the Constitution, we are a Representative Democracy. We elect representation to defend the Constitution and the People. We placed our faith with government in the people, not in monarchs, not in career politicians, but in the People.

You want changes? Then, it is time for you to take an active interest in the good of the Republic. Do not leave governance to career politicians. Run for office. Vote for third, fourth, and fifth parties.)

This November vote them all out!
Clean Out Congress or Bust!

Take Me to Church by Hozier

* 26 JUNE 2015 * LGBT Rights Victory *
read the Supreme Court's opinion:


What Would the Dude Do?