A Modern Day Insurrection

Wednesday 06JAN2021 is a day to remember. Trump supporters took over the US Capitol Building disrupting the certification of the 2020 Presidential election. This is but just one outcome of Trump’s rhetoric for the past 6 years. The constant lies, the abuse of power, the grandstanding, the putdowns of opponents and general desire to constantly show power helped to incite the Trump followers to march down to the US Capitol building. If the march was supposed to be a peaceful protest, once at the steps of Congress, these protestors started to force their way and eventually overpower the Capitol police in charge of keeping the peace.

There are so many observations to note

  • The clear double standard between policing white protestors vs black/brown protestors. White protestors were touching and pushing the police with the “Blue Lives Matter” banner in the back. And… what is even more amazing is that the police did not use force to push back the protestors but actually retreated as they advanced. That is white privilege at work.
  • Trump’s Facebook and Twitter social media were finally suspended for violating policy of prohibiting incitement of violence. This makes me wonder… why can’t social media companies implement a common set of rules that determine what kind of speech is appropriate? Speech that incites violence or speech with specific negative law-breaking consequences should be regulated. Consistently false claims that being made (ie rigged election) should also be regulated. Perhaps a set of simple questions like:
    1. Did this speech promote people to do something violent?
    2. Did a large amount of people (10+) actually commit acts of violence?
    3. Did this speech that claimed “X” turn out to be false?
    4. Has this speech that claimed “X” been continued to be spread by the account?
    5. The workflow to flag should be a simple yes/no matrix. A “yes” for 1 and 2 should lead to a ban. A “yes” for 3 and 4 should also lead to a ban. The punishment for continually violating the rules should be temporary suspensions of 1 day > 1 week > 1 month > and finally permanently. Free speech does not mean a person should be able to spread false information or incite violence.
  • The Democratically controlled House of Representatives is starting to talk about a second impeachment of Trump for his actions if invoking the 25th amendment does not happen. I have mixed feelings about this. I think the only message an impeachment will send is that the transfer of power must be civil and peaceful and that future attempts will never be tolerated. Republicans (like Minority Leader McCarthy) are only now offering peace to Biden stating impeachment would further divide the country. I think that’s a bit too late. Biden should let Congress do what Congress does. The Republicans dug themselves into this hole by sticking with Trump all the way to insurrection and should not expect that a white flag will instantly calm things over.
  • What Congress should be doing is looking for ways to censure/reprimand all the Republicans who humored Trump and his false “rigged election/stolen election” rhetoric EVEN AFTER the insurrection attempt by objecting to the certification results. Those like McConnell or Graham who conceded should be spared as they eventually conceded that Biden won. Congress should also be looking to clamp down on speech that has been already proven to be fake/false. Part of the reason why Trump was able to get to where he is was because he was able to continually peddle falsehoods about people and processes that if repeated over many times becomes “Fake Truths.”
  • In the initial breach of the Capitol Building, credit needs to be given to the understaffed/undermanned Capitol police for not escalating through the use of force. Although video shows them being engulfed by the crowd, the fact that only 5 people died after a 4 hour scuffle is pretty amazing.

These insurrectionists are being identified and arrested. How ironic that the “Law and Order” Republican party disrupted the law and order in Washington DC.

Humans

I stumbled upon an interesting TV series called Humans on Amazon Prime Video. It’s set in a future where AI and android robots called Synthetics (synths) are common place in society. These synths aid humans in every day tasks like cooking, cleaning, and laundry as well as more strenuous activities like elder care and disability care. The premise of this three season show deals with how human society attempts to find acceptance of synths that have gained “human consciousness.” The story follows the paths of 5 synths, a human implanted with an artificial brain, a family helping the 5 synths and the synth pursuers. Their quest to survive capture and to understand purpose lead to discovering a hidden code to AI consciousness within each individual synth. This leads to understanding the significance behind the hidden code and initiating a world wide consciousness “Day Zero” awakening of the synthetics and then facing the societal impacts from the awakening.

The series explores various philosophical views including the acceptance, discrimination, and legal rights of synths. These discussions remind me of the current fear of illegal immigrants and the unfounded rhetoric behind the fears. Other discourses include the ugliness of how society uses intimidation, violence and legal actions to control what is feared and unknown. Through various plot points the show explores both sides of the issues looking at the “synth views and feelings” as well as human society as a whole. Is this commentary of what civilizations need to overcome in order to progress further as a society?

What’s clear to me is that society will always express fear of the unknown. However, the concern should be how that fear is expressed. Devolving into hatred and violence as a means of expression ultimately is a form of fight. There needs to be ways for society to identify and shift to a constructive and non-violent expression. Unfortunately, society has not reached this level of cognizance. What could be that first step for society? Perhaps teaching of empathy. Certainly understanding how others think and feel would be important to bring together disparate views. What other qualities are needed? The ability to calmly discussing views is also important too. Understanding conflict management as a tool is helpful as well. Teaching to society is the first challenge. Implementing and practicing what was taught is the second challenge. Until then… the cycle continues.

Blueprint Coffee

December’s Trade coffee comes from Blueprint Coffee. The beans are from El Salvador and looks like a blend of different farms. From the website description, it looks like it’s predominantly beans from a farm in El Salvador mixed with a single lot from Brazil. I am a little disappointed that that the beans weren’t all single origin from El Salvador.

Opening the bag, a fruity sweet aroma greets me immediately. It’s a wonderfully light aroma that makes me excited to try these beans. Making my latte, the intense smell of the espresso syrup was addictive. With the first sip of the latte, I tasted an amazing burst of sugar, chocolate and berries. The chocolate flavor stood out the most and lingered at the back of the tongue after each sip. The latte was absolutely smooth and a delight to drink.

The Queen’s Gambit

Netflix released this quick binge-able 7 episode series called The Queen’s Gambit. It’s based off a 1983 novel also by the same name “The Queen’s Gambit.” The series follows the chess prodigy Beth Harmon as a kid in an orphanage to becoming a Chess Grand Master. I wasn’t really impressed at the start of the show. The pacing of exploring Harmon’s past was slow. And although I know how to play chess, I was wondering how they were going to make “chess exciting for the viewers.” Watching through the episodes, the build up of excitement was purposely portrayed through the move anticipation, facial expressions and actions of the opponents during the chess matches. The actors/actresses made up for the lack of detail and intricacies of chess. Slowly, I started to root for Harmon winning each match and conquering her demons (drug usage, alcohol and self destructive behavior). The chess matches in the 2nd to last and last episodes were amazing because the producers managed to create the “championship game tension” that shows not only the importance of Harmon’s victory. Along the way, I also started admiring the costume designs of Harmon. At the very end, the all white outfit was a spectacular way to showcase not only Harmon winning but also as the Queen atop of the chess field.

Luminous Coffee

December’s Angels Cup comes from Luminous Coffee. The beans are from the Tarrazu region in Costa Rica. Reading about this region, the beans from this area sound like they’re the best of Costa Rica. I received two bags of see through plastic containing the beans. The design is pretty interesting and definitely “luminous.”

The aroma from the beans are amazing. When I open the bag, I am greeted by this fruity and yogurt aroma. Making my latte, an intense aroma of berries and fruits lingers in the air after I press the espresso slurry out of the AeroPress. With the first sip, I tasted berries and a rich chocolate milk flavor. A nutty after taste emerges after a few more sips that changes the flavor to a rich earthy chocolaty almost fermented flavor. I find that I can’t use too much hot water or it ends up diluting the flavor a bit.

For you, the Un-American…

America prides itself on its democratic traditions and peaceful transfer of power. But it takes just one person in power to upend any semblance of respect and tradition of the Presidency and America’s democratic ideals. Are Americans not ashamed of these actions? Are Americans not worried about this abuse? If you aren’t ashamed or worried about the un-democratic abuse of presidential powers, then you are absolutely an un-American citizen.

For you… the un-American, go back and learn about US history but from an immigrant’s or a minority’s perspective.

For you… the un-American, go back and learn about the US government and what the founding father’s tried to imagine.

For you… the un-American, go back an learn about Constitution, the rights of citizens and civic duty.

For you… the un-American, go back and learn the true value of freedom.

Go. Reflect. And. Transform.

Red Bay Coffee Roasters

November’s Trade Coffee (yes I’m late in posting) comes from Red Bay Coffee Roasters. The beans are from Mbeya, Tanzania. I don’t think I’ve had the opportunity to taste any beans from Tanzania. So this bag will be a new experience. I also haven’t had too many medium-dark roast beans as well too. I also found out that the Angels Cup subscription sends me light roast coffee. I’ve updated that to medium roast and perhaps in a few months change to dark roast.

The initial aroma opening this bag was amazing. Fruity, nutty, and a strong roasted aroma filled the room. I literally kept smelling the beans for a full minute. The aroma from the ground beans had more of a fruity and nutty aroma. Making my latte, the first sip was delicious. I was shocked at the berry, chocolate and roasted nut(?) flavors. The lingering roasted nutty aftertaste tied all the flavors together at the back of the tongue. Each sip added to the berry flavors making this latte very enjoyable for the morning. I haven’t enjoyed a latte that wow’d me in quite some time.

Kickstarter Successes

With my most recent Kickstarter (KS) pledge to support this coffee campaign, I started wondering how many of my pledges were successful, how many of the pledges were cancelled, how many of the success eventually released product, and how many of the pledges were unsuccessful (for whatever reason).

KS Categories# of KS campaigns Notes
Participated135
Pledged, and received product11145 pledges for wallets
Pledged, but did not receive11Of the 11…
7 campaigns will probably send their product.
2 are computer games that are still in beta stage.
1 campaign just gave up.
1 campaign is having production issues and I’m pretty sure will not be able to fulfill their pledge
Pledged, but did not reach goal 9All 9 of these either failed to reach their funding goal or were cancelled by the creator.
5 of these were for wallets
Pledged, and I cancelled later2Of these 2, one ended up successfully pledged with product.
The other was a wallet that failed to reach the funding goal

I started Kickstarting campaigns back in 2012. Looking back at my pledging habits, I’ve concluded that around 75% of the products I’ve received have either been donated away, broken or are currently taking up space in a storage box somewhere. The other 25% have been either consumables (4 coffee campaigns), items that I am actively using at least once a week, or items where there is a specific use for. The one item that I use the most are titanium chopsticks.

Looking closer at my history, many of the pledges were focused on finding “perfect wallet” replacement. Of the 45 successful pledges, I ended up using only 4 of the wallets on any consistent basis. Through constant pledging and receiving wallets, I’ve come to realize what features that I like in a wallet: slim (10 bills max), max 3-4 card slots, no wider than a phone width for easy one hand transport phone/wallet bundle. To be clear, the perfect wallet does exist. It’s a magic wallet that I had purchased over 20 years ago from one of those credit card promotions. The ribbons that held the magic wallet together were taut and slowly loosened over time allowing the wallet to effectively hold the cash. The construction of this wallet was also extremely good. Over a 20 year period, I used 2 of these wallets to a point where the stitching started to fray and fall off. Looking at magic wallets on the market, I find that many of these contemporary wallets were made out of elastic bands which is not sufficient to hold cash in and are horribly constructed that they break after 1-2 months of usage. Currently, I’ve settled on my current slim bifold wallet.

I think overall I’ve become much more selective on campaigns that I support. Many of the recent campaigns have rewards where I have a clear picture of how I would use the product. Looking at the five most recent products received, they consisted of Columbian coffee beans, valet tray box, travel mugs, wallet and Purto Rican coffee beans. Of the campaigns where I’m waiting receipt of products, they will be Nicaragua coffee beans, hand sanitizer, calf stretching tool, pocket knife and eco-friendly hairbrush.

Nowadays, I try to be more mindful of the items that I have and look to only buy items where I know there will be an immediate use for. I’ve been downsizing significantly where I’ve ended up with a collection of empty storage boxes that used to store some of the junk I kept.