Author: backuphill

Fake News and Media Evaluation

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In a world where “fake news” is a thing, whether on social media or on an actual network, and lots of people are looking for ways to back up their own opinion YOU can do something to be aware of your own bias. Everyone needs a wider view of the world and being informed in a well-rounded manner could only make things better.

I used to tell my students there was no such thing as unbiased media – everyone has a slant – and I stand by that statement. However, there are media resources/outlets that do their best to remain “neutral”, as hard as that may be. One thing we know, even if an outlet tries to remain bias free the person/people contributing the media still have a bias.

I recently found a source I wish I had known about while I was in the classroom. It would have been incredibly valuable! The site is called AllSides.com. The cool thing is that you can get news from across the political spectrum – the Left, Center, and the Right. So, if you are a news hound like I am, you can get your news from all perspectives, not just the ones Google thinks you want to see (remember, Google logs your clicks and searches so it progressively narrows the results you get based on your selections).

Allsides

AllSides.com site banner

An interesting part of this website is the ability to check your own bias. It has you take their short bias survey, but you also have the ability to complete a bias survey from Pew Research as well as a political party quiz from Pew (for confirmation of where you fall, specifically, or seriously have no idea). All together those surveys give you a pretty complete picture of your social and political bias.

From there, you can rate the numerous media outlets based on your perception of their bias. Of course, your opinion is only a small part of the overall bias rating. They take all the submissions (a sort of crowd-sourcing) and then use statistical research and methodologies to develop on over-all rating for the media source. The methods they are using is really quite interesting. For me, I agreed with the bias rating on about 70% of the media outlets. I gave my input and added it to the aggregate results.

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An example of what you would see at AllSides.com

The important thing here is that you are contributing to bias awareness. Why is that important? Well, too many American’s get their information from too few sources. If more Americans took time to look at the same topic from different sources/perspectives, they might understand the topic in a more well-rounded way. Instead, many Americans fall into or use a confirmation bias. This is dangerous, especially in a technological, highly connected society that is hyper-sensitive and hyper-politicized.

We have to (no, really NEED to) stop using just one source to support our argument. Or, even better, we need to stop using sources that fit our point of view. We need to encourage more media sources to go back to what they used to do – report, without editorial and bias. We need to stop trying to argue our points over social media and instead demand truthful, unbiased reporting.

I know. Maybe I am too hopeful that we can “turn this ship around”. But, I believe that if we are more aware of our own bias we might have a chance. I think using websites like this is a good first step in the right direction.

**Disclaimer: This is not a paid endorsement for the website mentioned above and I am in no way affiliated with the organization. Just a satisfied new user.**

Why isn’t this reality?

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For just a short minute, my car hit max fuel economy.

I bought a new car a little while back. Like, a brand NEW car. Not a car that is new to me. I have never had one of those before so I was kind of fun.

I did my research and though I probably could have gone out and gotten myself a “mid-life crisis car,” I did not. I was relatively responsible and tried to keep it affordable when it comes to fuel since I drive over, on average, 2200 miles a month. Fuel economy is kind of important. However, I didn’t get the most fuel efficient vehicle because I did want something that was more attractive than the last vehicle.

Anyway, it occurred to me in my search that perhaps a hybrid would be better than an all electric (thought Tesla is intriguing), mostly because places to charge your vehicle are limited at this time.

So, why a hybrid? Well, it seems to me that it is the best of both worlds. The fuel obviously is needed to help supply energy to the car. But the electric motors also help with lowering fuel consumption at the same time. So, after doing some research I decided on a vehicle that I thought was most attractive and relatively efficient – a 2018 Kia Niro.

Now, I am not going to go into a sales pitch. That isn’t the point of this post.

The point is the picture at the top of the post. Why can’t we get max fuel economy all the time? It seems to me that 99.9 miles per gallon should be the standard. I believe the technology is out there to make it happen, so why doesn’t it?

My guess is that the oil industry/lobby has a great say in the matter. Of course they are protecting their profits, who wouldn’t want to do that? But, at the same time, perhaps investing in or creating engines that maximized their products for the consumer would be just as profitable if the consumer had the option? Oh, I am being silly. I am sure the oil industry is or has already been doing that. But, at the same time, we don’t see fuel efficiency in vehicle continually going up so someone is holding or killing the tech to make it happen.

I guess I am preaching to the choir here. I know you all want the same thing too. Just imagine, a small tank of fuel (10 gal?) and 100 mpg. Who doesn’t want 1000 miles on a tank? I know I do!

What do you think? How do you feel about the issue?

What if you could rewrite your life?

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Ever have one of those days?

Ever have one of those days where the “What ifs…” begin to wander in and you start to think about what you would have done differently? What you would do if you could go back and start over?

I may or may not be having one of those days; but, as my pen layed on the notepad in front of me, I had a moment of creative inspiration with an app on my phone so I decided to record it and create. I guess, for a moment, I was being philosophical.

So, tell me, have you had one of those days? Or, moments? Tell me your “blank page” moment/story in the comments – what would you do if you could rewrite your life?

Accountability of Weight: Update #9

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This is the ninth update on this project. I started a year-long project of returning my physical self to a much lighter, and healthier, version of the past.

I’ll try to keep it short so as to not bore you with lots of details and try to just cover some of the lowlights and highlights, cutting to the chase at the end.

Lowlights:

I am sure you are all aware of this already, but we are getting into “eating season.” Yeah, that time of year where it seems to be endless gatherings centered around food and family and friends. We have had two birthday parties this month with copious amounts of food and we are just two weeks away from Thanksgiving. Then come the Christmas parties and more birthdays and then Christmas dinner. It that were not enough, that is followed one week later by New Years parties…this stretch between November 1 and January 2 is going to be a challenge for the waistline no doubt about it.

Any way, learning to maintain control and portion size it not an easy thing, right? I mean, after all, that is how be all tend to get out of shape and overweight so as eating season has returned I need a reminder every time I step up to the plate that I need to control myself and not go overboard. So far, reminders ignored. Am I a lost cause?

Highlights:

The elliptical is up and running after repairs and I have been using it a couple mornings each week before I telecommute for work. It has been good to get a sweat on before work (even if I am at home) and then get a shower in to head into the day refreshed. The time on the machine passes quickly with an episode (22 minutes) of Friends and some scrolling (8 minutes) on the phone.

If I were maintaining weight, I would be killing it! LOL I guess it is good that I haven’t really gained weight since I began the process. Obviously I am more aware of what I am doing, just motivated enough to take it to another level yet. Not sure why. But, again, there is nothing gained.

The Chase:

210.0  = official starting weight 2/15/18

   7.4   = pounds lost as of the morning of 11/12

202.6  = current weight

Your thoughts, encouragement, and good juju as the journey continues is much appreciated! Slow, or lack of progress doesn’t feel good and so some extra motivation is helpful. If you have ANY words of wisdom, it would be much appreciated at this point.

 

Vote today, make a difference tomorrow

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

A vote cast today, means your voice will make a difference tomorrow.

Your civic duty, no, your Constitutional right is to be used.

I don’t care which “side” you are on, as long as you’re legally allowed to vote. As an American citizen you should care.

Use your voice, or hold it until the next election, because whining about the results after not having cast your vote is just plain stupidity.

So, don’t be stupid.

Vote.

 

Loss of voice

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Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

I am not talking about my voice in the physical sense, though some would probably like it if I actually did but that is a discussion for a different day.

I am talking about “the voice” in my writing.

I have struggled over the last several months to find something to post about. Over that time, I have recycled writing I did in the past but that I thought was worth visiting again. It seems I have just tried to keep the blog afloat on topics that were on my on my radar at the time it was written. I have started and deleted so many posts, mostly based on current events and my take on them.

When I was teaching I was having conversations about these things on a daily basis with my students and the conversations were worth rehashing in another forum, collecting my thoughts from the conversations and things students were thinking and then writing about that. It worked for me because it was something thrived on.

Now, well, those conversations just aren’t happening and I feel like the lack of conversation has finally caught up with me. I have lost my voice. It isn’t that I don’t have things to say, I just don’t have the ability to express them in a way that I have in the past and it is confounding me.

Or, maybe I am just overthinking it and caring too much about what I put out there. I have always struggled with a balance between putting content out there and putting content out that is researched and supported. Sure, I can write opinions all day long but as I always used to tell my students, “No one will care about your opinion unless you can back it up.” Therein lies the challenge for me, just write or write well?

So, I feel like my voice is bottled up. I want to express myself but to what end? Is it just to hear myself or is it to be listened to?

Anyone else dealing with this? Or dealt with it? How do/did you deal with it?

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Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

1 year later: Branching out, er, expanding?

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It’s been a little over a year and the project keeps growing! More people have looked at the page and more people have joined me on Instagram so see what comes up next. Have you taken a look yet? Have you followed on Instagram yet? I bet you get a giggle or two if you do! Go ahead, grab a morning coffee, and go visit and take a scroll.


Just a quick note to have you take a look at the new page on the blog. You’ll find it up there in the top next two “Home,” “About,” and “Contact.” If you can’t figure it out from all the hints, try looking for “Stupid Board: Classroom Quotes.” There is an explanation about what it is and where to look as well.

Happy viewing, and I hope you will be intrigued enough to join me on Instagram as well!

Accountability of Weight: Update #8

blue tape measuring on clear glass square weighing scale

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This is the eighth update on this project. I started a year-long project of returning my physical self to a much lighter, and healthier, version of the past.

I’ll try to keep it short so as to not bore you with lots of details and try to just cover some of the lowlights and highlights, cutting to the chase at the end.

Lowlights:

It has to get worse before it can get better, right? Isn’t that what we tell ourselves? Yes, I know, we shouldn’t do that but that is all I can hold on to at the moment…

Progress? Yeah, not so much. Holding steady? Yeah, pretty much. This is a lot harder than I thought it would be! In fact, it’s become a chore. I was hoping it wouldn’t get to this but now it feels like it will never get better. How do I change this attitude? Better yet, how do I change? There doesn’t seem to be any motivation left in me.

The elliptical I got used, broke. Well, not completely, but I am working on repairs and the parts are on their way.

Highlights:

I am still tracking the food intake, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference if I stay under the calorie count. Well, at least it isn’t making much difference in losing weight. It is helping to maintain where I am currently at – which is less than when I started but well above where I would like to be.

I can’t come up with any. It is hard to stay positive when you see little to no progress.

The Chase:

210.0  = official starting weight 2/15/18

   7.2   = pounds lost as of the morning of 10/16

202.8  = current weight

Your thoughts, encouragement, and good juju as the journey continues is much appreciated! Slow, or lack of progress doesn’t feel good and so some extra motivation is helpful. If you have ANY words of wisdom, it would be much appreciated at this point.

 

In the land of self-identification

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The idea of self-identification is absurd, a scam really. It is fraught with so many contradictions that society can’t keep up, so it just keeps creating more exceptions to make it float. Logic, rational, and even science are disregarded as “false” because it doesn’t fit with one’s idea of who they want to be. There is no rhyme or reason, it is “just because I want to.”

So, I have decided to join the conversation with my own self-identification.

From now on, I am going to identify as a 67-YEAR OLD, RETIRED WHITE MALE.

I am really 46, but that is beside the point. Who are you to tell me that I can’t be a retired 67 year old male? Are you going to deny my the right to identify as I please?

Now that I am retired, I am no longer going to show up at work. Why would I? I am retired. However, my work will now have to grant me my pension and continue to pay me on a monthly basis based on my past employment.

Also, since I am now retired, the government can start paying me my social security and medicare/medicaid benefits as well. How much should I receive in benefits? Well, that is hard to determine since I haven’t continued to work for the next 21 years. But, let’s assume that my current wage will increase on an average of 5.4% (plus, COLA and inflation)per year. Once my highest wage has been calculated then they can figure out my benefits. I want them now, I am retired.

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Photo by Monica Silvestre on Pexels.com

Oh, call AARP too. I want my membership card. Watch out everyone who has senior discounts at your stores and restaurants, I am coming for those benefits as well.

Hmmm, what other benefits can I derive from my new found identity?

Um, what?? You don’t like this idea?? Wait, you say I can’t do this?? Why??

Are you discriminating against me because of my age? That makes you an “ageist” and that is illegal.

Are you discriminating against me because I am a male? That makes you “sexist” and that is illegal.

Are you discriminating against me because I am white? That makes you “racist” and that is illegal.

Are you discriminating against me because I haven’t made enough money or because I make too much? That makes you an “economist.” Oh wait, probably not that but…hell, I don’t know, but is probably has something to do with socioeconomic status…

I think you get the point. At least I hope you do. I am RETIRED. Nothing you say or do can deny me of this right.

Now, give me my money and benefits before I take you to court and sue your ass.

School Picture Thievery

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It’s that time of year again, folks!

This school picture thing is a pretty big racket if you ask me, and if you’re a parent you know what I am talking about. If there is any place you know it and can feel yourself being ripped off but can’t do anything about it, it is definitely with school pictures and sports team photos.

I have felt this frustration in the past, but it kind of boiled to a head this year when I went to order my daughter’s school pictures. It usually isn’t a big deal trying to order them, but being the “non-custodial” parent who usually gets the information second-hand sometimes it takes a while to get it done. (Yes, I realize I could just have photographer friend take the photo and avoid all the trouble so I guess I am a glutton for punishment).

Anyway, I logged onto the website with my special code and wanted to just download the image to my computer and then go have them printed in the quantities and styles I desired. So, I selected the outrageously overpriced digital image – $22. Say what? Yeah, you read that right…let’s do some quick math…

If a school has 300 hundred students and the photographer can get 60 students through a line and photographed per hour, then the photographer would work for five hours. The photographer is, most likely, using a digital camera to take said digital images @ $22 each, therefore making $1320/hr, or $6600/day. That is of course presuming that each parent purchases just the digital image, let alone one of the other overpriced packages they offer. Now we know not all parents purchase the pictures, but you get the idea.

So, after choosing the digital image for download I get to the check out page only to see that I am going to be charged a “Shipping and Handling” fee of $7. Uh, wait, what? I am downloading a digital image. Why is there a shipping and handling fee? What’s worse is that I can’t remove the fee either. The radial button is greyed out. I either pay the fee right now, or wait until the next day to call them. So, I opted to call the company the next day since surely the fee for a digital download isn’t $7 bucks…

I called the next day and waded through their automated answering system until I got to a real person to talk to. I explained my situation and asked if there was some kind of error on their website that wouldn’t allow me to remove the shipping and handling fee. The response?

“No, that is a flat fee we charge for all late orders.” 

Late? Yes, it is true I didn’t order when the pictures were taken in the fall, but your website says they can be ordered at any time until the following fall AND there is nothing to indicate this is a “late” order on the website. I was a little dumbfounded. I said, “You’re joking right? How does downloading a digital image warrant a $7 late fee or even a shipping and handling fee?”

“Well, we do have to mail you the rights release so you can have the picture printed.”

So what you’re saying is that you are going to charge me $7 to mail me a sheet of paper and an envelope that costs, at best, a stamp or maybe two? I said, “Listen, I understand it costs money to send a piece of paper and envelope out to me but I have ordered digital images from other photographers in the past and they didn’t charge me an extra fee for the rights release, they included it with the digital image download. Surely you have the ability to do that right? So, why would I need a piece of paper mailed to me? It takes less than three minutes to compose a generic email and attach two image files to it.”

“Ok, I suppose I could waive the shipping and handling fee. What email address would you like the images sent to?”

Thank you. Now was that so hard and how about you waive all shipping and handling fees for all digital downloads from here on out? I probably speak for everyone who has encountered this ridiculous fee. There is no reason for it other than you can, and you have families over a barrel. I would venture a guess that many people just pay the fee, which is sad.

Highway robbery, I tell ya, only there was no highway and the bandit holds parents and other family members hostage every dang year around school picture time.

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