Getting Better Sleep

Sleep is absolutely crucial to the body. If you don’t get enough of it, your body and mind won’t function properly.  However, there’s a difference between getting “enough” sleep and “quality” sleep.

The aim is for “quality” sleep. How you get there is your own journey. I’ve worked hard at this issue, as I’ve been a chronic snorer for most of my life. Snoring stops you from reaching that quality level of sleep the body needs to rejuvenate itself.

It also stops Mrs. S, one of the lightest sleepers in the world, from quality sleep. When she’s continually tired because of my snoring, something must be done.

The first step was a device called the “snore stopper.” Originally meant as a gag gift for Christmas, the damned thing was essentially a shock collar strapped to your wrist at night. When the device registered sound, it would send a “gentle electric pulse” to nerves in your wrist that prompted you to switch positions.

Two issues prevented the snore stopper from working well. The first was a sound machine present in our room at the time I first started using it. This meant I was getting shocked all night long, snoring or otherwise. The second issue was tolerance.

Apparently a person can get used to being continually shocked overnight to the point where they will become non-responsive to the device’s “gentle electric pulse.” That plus the device’s continued need for batteries and replacement “conduction pads” (gel strips allowing for a greater shock) meant the snore stopper stopped being effective pretty damned quickly.

Currently I’m getting the best sleep I’ve had in ages due to a suggestion from a store clerk at Walgreens. Mrs. S. begged I get some Breathe Right nasal strips one evening just to see if they would work. Someone who worked at the store pointed me in the direction of “Air” snore sleep inserts. They are silicone bands you place in your nostrils before retiring for the evening with a lavender coating.

The idea is to open your nasal passages so anything restricting your airflow is minimized. Plus there’s a sort of lavender coating on the band, so you’re smelling lavender as you fall asleep. Apparently lavender is a scent designed to promote relaxation and sleep. I’m not one to care much for the homeopathic bullshit that gets tossed around, but it’s a nice smell.

I’ve used the inserts for about two weeks now and the difference in the quality of my sleep is dramatic. For the first few days I woke up foggy, but not brain dead coffee zombie mode. Today I woke up at four thirty in the morning, wide awake, and without a stitch of coffee in me. I was ready to kill the day before my son woke. I got both kids breakfast, ready, and off to school in record time without waking Mrs. S. once.

If you’re a snorer, give these a try. It may help you reach your optimal self.

POSTSCRIPT: There are some of you reading this that see anything about “snoring,” freak out, and immediately insist the person who snores schedule a sleep study and fitting for a CPAP machine. Sleep apnea is a terrible condition, and I lost an uncle to it. Not every person who snores suffers from sleep apnea, though, and automatically getting a CPAP machine when something simple will suffice.

There’s Nothing Like A Good Notebook

I keep at least one notebook with me wherever I go. This is funny because among my family members I’m considered the most tech savvy. That means, according to modern thought, I should use some sort of app to take all my notes.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing like putting pen to paper. And notebooks, unlike tech products, don’t crash. The trick is finding the one that works best for your needs. Here’s a quick picture of the three I use.

Yep. Three separate notebooks for the sake of everyday work, plus four pens. Each has their own specific purpose. I’m going to break down the focus of each, and hopefully give you some tips on which would work best for you. We’re going to work from left to right in this photo.

1. Moleskine Smart Writing Paper Tablet and Pen+

This is about as close to high tech as I get. The black Moleskine has been a staple of my notebooks ever since I got my first one. With the Smart Writing set Moleskine took writing to another level. The Pen+ records everything you write and saves it to the M+ app as you write it. If you want voice recording on the pen, it’ll add that to your notes too. The entire set up is like something out of a James Bond movie.

If you don’t have the app open when you’re writing, no worries. The pen will automatically transfer the data to the device with the M+ app installed when you open it next. You can also specify notebooks and more. I’m still getting used to the functionality of it, but it’s been a handy device when my MacBook isn’t around.

The entire setup runs about $139 at Barnes and Noble.

2. Rite in the Rain Journal And Pen

This number is what I carry everywhere. It’s small enough to fit in a jacket pocket and designed to take notes even when it’s raining outside (hence the name). The pages in the notebook are waterproof and the pen’s cartridge allows you to write on wet surfaces. I keep a Space Pen with this when traveling out and about in case one ink cartridge runs out. It’s great for jotting down brief thoughts or notes. The notepad and ink cartridges are naturally replaceable and easily findable if you have a nearby REI.

If you have the complete case with the cover, there’s also two pockets inside you can use to stash a few items of interest. Not really something I’d use often, but the notebook is the key.

You can get the set for about $40 at your local REI, or online.

3. Best SELF Journal

This is a personal choice, and one that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend to anyone. It’s a journal designed as a daily planner for people with a specific goal to achieve. The start of the journal is a brief overview of their 13 week system to help you figure out a specific goal and achieve it. Then you sign a pledge and date it to fully “commit” to the process.

There’s space for you to outline months in your 13 weeks, and spaces where you’re asked to write about specific goals and steps you took in every process. Every day you’re encouraged to plan your day to the hour, set a goal and define targets to hit that goal.

Best Self encourages reflection on your day as well as gratitude. You will be asked every morning to write down three things you are grateful for, and do the same in the evening. There is a space devoted to “lessons learned” for the day and a “brag zone” where you list what you achieved that day.

There’s also space each day for you to list your appointments and such, but you have to make sure you plan those in with your goal setting.

Does the process work? Yes and no. The first few days I had issues getting what I wanted out of the journal, because I didn’t really grasp the focus. I suspect new users won’t as well.  That’s why they have an “online community” for you to join that will allegedly help you reach your goals. I am not a fan of “communities” that I have no relation to, but I do enjoy the structure the journal provides.

I’ve definitely become more productive with the system once I started and stuck to it.

You can buy the Best Self journal for about $40 at Amazon if you’re so inclined.

There you have it. Three separate notebooks, each with their own usage, and each promoting a sense of productivity about them. All a part of this writer/lawyer/hell-raiser’s toolbox. Hope some of this helps you.

Film Review: “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech”

Full disclosure: the author served as Head Researcher for this film. 

“Silenced: Our War On Free Speech” is a picture of free speech in America as we know it today. It is a reminder we live in a society where one tweet costs you a job, and a Facebook argument loses you friends in real life. The ninety minute documentary, directed by Loren Feldman and produced by Mike Cernovich, will grab you by the seat of your pants from the opening until the credits roll.

The movie shows you how America has created a culture of self-censorship in almost every aspect of life. Religion, the law, broadcasting, science, medicine, and even comedy all suffer from the cancerous culture of silencing voices with which we disagree. This uncomfortable truth is presented by the voices of many who have been silenced, including Chuck Johnson of Got News, Pax Dickinson, Scott Adams (yes, the Dilbert creator) and more.

“Silenced” attempts to nail down a definition of free speech in the film. It’s not an easy task, and the different views of that which we call “free speech” reflect this. I’m not sure it reaches a concrete definition by the film’s end, but the best definitions are provided by the featured lawyers. Maybe that’s because in the legal profession words actually mean things, and concepts have meaning beyond the feelings of the individual speaker.

Some of the most interesting viewpoints and outlooks come from those who aren’t American or who immigrated to America. Perhaps this is because each comes or came from a place where speech ostensibly has greater restrictions than America. While each subject’s viewpoint was incredibly insightful, these intrigued me most because I am an American who’s lived in America all his life and haven’t really encountered restrictions on speech as they have.

One of the most hard hitting segments was the one involving comedy. Paul Provenza and Dulce Sloan’s remarks hit hard in “Silenced.” Standup comedy is supposed to be the bastion of truth, and something that gives us laughter while making us think. Instead, it’s been muzzled to the point comedians can’t work college campuses unless they keep in their repertoire a “super clean” set in addition to their standard set.

“I’m offended every day…I just choose to not be a little bitch about it.”–Paul Provenza

At the film’s end, one final question is left on the table. Will America ever return to a land where people can say what’s on their minds without fear of societal repercussions, or will we continue down the dark path of self-censorship and refrain from having honest discussions on subjects vitally important to us? I don’t see that question resolved, but the final scene before the credits roll gives me great hope for the future.

I’m not one for documentaries, but I found “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech” compelling enough that I’ve watched it three times since its release. It’s a nice length in a world where people are forced to sit through three hour films. And most importantly, it will get you talking with those around you about free speech in America.

If you are looking for light-hearted fare, “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech” is not for you. If you want a film that will captivate you, keep your attention from start to finish, and have you talking with those around you more by the time you finish it, “Silenced” is your best bed. If you’re an American who’s ever had a moment where you deleted a tweet draft or a Facebook post because you were afraid of the potential repercussions, you owe it to yourself to see “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech.”

Currently, “Silenced” is available through Vimeo On Demand. You can rent it for $4.99 or purchase it for $9.99. It’s an important film, and one you won’t regret watching.

Book Review: “The Liberal Redneck Manifesto”

The title alone will make some of my conservative readers cringe, but place aside your politics and give the boys behind the “wellRED” comedy tour a chance. “The Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin’ Dixie Out Of The Dark” is not as political of a book as one would think. It’s an unapologetic celebration of all things redneck, written by three guys who’ve lived the life, and a reflection on how the South can do better going forward. Trae Crowder (the original “Liberal Redneck”), Corey Forrester, and Drew Morgan hit with this book so hard if it were a baseball, you could consider it a home run ball that left the stadium, crashed through the window of a pickup truck in the parking lot, and then set off about three hundred fireworks in the back seat destroying a crate of liquor in the process.  It’s that damned good.

The book begins with a discussion of the etymology behind the word “redneck” and how it became a slur against poor white people from the South. Because the wellRED boys aren’t ones to mince words, they go into detail about how the term “redneck” was taken back by Southerners, why other slurs like “cracker” and “peckerwood” just don’t work, and how to spot a real redneck from a fake one.

Once the reader gets past why the wellRED comedy team has no problems admitting they’re from the South, or why they refuse to “lose the accent” to pander to mainstream audiences, no subject is off the table. From what constitutes acceptable country music (including a playlist of the Liberal Rednecks’ favorite hip hop groups), to alternatives to the Confederate Battle Flag, Trae, Corey, and Drew go after every subject near and dear to a redneck’s heart. They discuss the love and odd relationship with our Mamaws and Papaws. Why Church is a big thing in the South and why some Southerners try so damned hard to get out of going on Sunday. And the biggest problem of them all is something Trae, Drew and Corey tackle hard: why Taylor Swift is considered a country music artist and why in the name of Aunt Tammy no one has called this incident of cultural appropriation out yet.

In case you thought this was just a feel good book and a celebration of all things Southern, hold your horses. The Liberal Rednecks aren’t afraid to talk about the political and social issues concerning them. The war on drugs, gun control, and racism are all areas they discuss in detail and offer suggestions on how to get out of the loop the South continually seems stuck in with regards to each. Trae, Drew, and Corey don’t pull punches, and while I may disagree heavily with them on some of the points raised in the “Liberal Redneck Manifesto” they actually made me laugh in the process. If you can make me laugh when I disagree with you on a point, you’ve scored one for your side, and the wellRED boys do so with flair in “The Liberal Redneck Manifesto.”

The book is interspersed with “Porch Talk” segments from Trae, Drew, and Corey. These are personalized segments where each of the wellRED team talks about their personal life experiences to the reader. I won’t go into detail, because I think this book worthy of your time and money, but I will say Corey’s tribute to his Granny Bain and Trae’s final porch talk both moved me to tears. They were both strong, moving, and inspiring. You can’t ask more from people who make their living making people laugh. The porch talks are the authors getting as vulnerable as possible, and it makes the entire book real for everyone who reads it.

Prior to this book’s release, a tome called “Hillbilly Elegy” was released to critical acclaim as the de facto explainer for life in the South. I can tell you after reading “The Liberal Redneck Manifesto” whoever tells you that is full of shit and probably a Northerner. Shame the person with the Cafe Au Lait, tell them they’re wrong, and then make an offer of peace by getting them to read “The Liberal Redneck Manifesto” if they want to see what life in the South is really like.

It’s worth your time, money, and energy. You can buy the book at Amazon or most book stores, but I recommend you order the book through the wellRED website here. It’s a great way to get in the head of most Southerners, get a good idea of what life is really like in the South, and have a good laugh and think about all of it.

*Disclosure: I’ve had the privilege of sharing a stage with Trae Crowder, and Drew Morgan I’ve interviewed on the radio. I consider both friends.

Book Review: MAGA Mindset by Mike Cernovich

Mike Cernovich’s latest book, “MAGA Mindset: Making YOU and America Great Again” dropped last night on Amazon Kindle. His “Trump book,” as Mike’s detractors will probably refer to it, is far more than just a study on Donald Trump. It is an insight into the human condition and the forces that brought Donald Trump the Republican nomination for President. It is a takedown of the dishonest media that tells us what to think, who to believe, and lies to us the entire time. It gives the reader personal strategies and techniques on how to approach life when everything seems hopeless. Even if the name “Donald Trump” makes you shake in disgust, you’re going to learn something from “MAGA Mindset” that benefits you.

Part one of Mike’s book discusses the cultural forces that brought us to the point where even if Donald Trump doesn’t win the Presidency in November, a revolution is in place that won’t go away anytime soon. This includes details on the continued war on men, repeated attacks on free speech, the continued push to keep American society a “globalist” one as opposed to a “nationalist” one, and the systemic oppression of one group people long to deny are oppressed: white men.

This section is where Mike discusses the phenomenon of “cuckservatives,” or people who call themselves conservative but love to betray their own party and ideas to pander at the altars of the Left and Social Justice. He spells out for the culturally blind why “cuckservatives” are rejected by their voter base, and why stronger figures like Donald Trump continue to rise in popularity.

Part two of the book is devoted to the media. If you’ve been following Mike Cernovich’s latest work you know by now he’s scalping media figures left and right these days, and he lays bare to the world just how the media is bought and paid for in this section. Cernovich shows you who’s pulling the strings at the institutions you used to trust, how they’re funded, and how they manipulate you in the modern news cycle. He also discusses how social media has influenced the way traditional news operates, and how one person with enough questions devoted to digging at the truth can obliterate the media’s chosen narrative.

As an aside, you can tell Mike’s studied persuasion heavily if you know where to look. In his film “Un/Convention,” he pre-framed the question of “Who pays for the media’s message? In “MAGA Mindset, he hammers the persuasion home by showing you just how the grand old “fourth estate” has devolved into a machine of paid bloggers.

Part three, “Mindset,” is Mike’s bread and butter. Taking clues from Donald Trump’s prior written and spoken word, and attaching them to concepts in his best-selling book “Gorilla Mindset,” Mike shows you how to use concepts like positive self-talk, thinking big, affirmations, re-framing, and more to elevate yourself to a level where you can succeed in an era where most of your friends on social media are telling you all is lost.

I highly recommend this book, even if you support Queen Meemaw, Gary Johnson, or any other political candidate. MAGA Mindset is about more than Donald Trump, it’s a framework by which you can understand America today, how to survive in a toxic climate of hatred, and rise above it all to be the success you want to be in life.

You can buy the book here. It’s been out less than a day and Amazon already has it listed as a “Best Seller.” And it’s done better sales in less than 24 hours than Hillary Clinton’s latest book. Maybe that serves as enough of an endorsement.

Book Review: Trust Me, I’m Lying

If you pay close enough attention and question everything you see, you probably by now know the media lies to you on a consistent basis and perpetuates hoaxes without regard to the truth. What you didn’t know is Ryan Holiday, the former Director of Marketing for American Apparel, wrote the book on it three years ago. “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” is the playbook of the hoaxing journalist exposed, as well as the secrets of those who pull at their strings to advance a given narrative. Here’s the takeaways from Holiday’s book:

1. Journalism as we once perceived it is dead, now fueled by a blog based economy prone to manipulation. 

Our former belief structure concerning news was that reporters would take the time to question subjects, investigate facts, and then present the news to the readers or viewers. Today, the model involves taking nuggets of information from blogs or lazy sourcing outlets like “Help A Reporter Out,” turning it into a series of links used for “credibility,” and then advancing that story to a “major” news outlet like the New York Times or Washington Post.

This structure, advocated by media “influencers” like Jeff Jarvis, Henry Blodget, and Nick Denton is incredibly prone to manipulation by people who know websites depend on page views and bloggers who need eyes on their work every hour. Fake an email account, send something outrageous to a blog writer needing web traffic for the day, and you’ve managed to start the seeds for a media hoax.

2. In today’s news, feelings matter more than facts.

If you want to make sure your story gets the attention of a major media outlet the best thing you can possibly do is play on emotion. Happiness is good, but it doesn’t match the levels of attention one gets by exploiting anger and outrage. That’s why so many articles you see gaining traction are what I’ve referred to for a long time as “outrage porn.” Slate, Salon, Jezebel, and the now defunct Gawker are perfect examples of all this, but it’s interesting to see even “credible” publications like The Atlantic go in this route as November approaches.

After reading Holiday’s book, and thinking about it in the context of the current election cycle coverage, it’s quite laughable to look back and see the media print articles on how to quell the “hatred” fermenting in America right now, and what can be done to reduce the hate. It’s as if those who bullshit are trying to either make a faux-apology for their bullshit, or simply start another round of ways to play with the unsuspecting public.

3. Truth means nothing in the world of “updates.” 

This is especially true if the headline reads something to the effect of “Did Glenn Back Rape and Murder a Young Girl In 1990?” Holiday points out this is the sort of headline used by clickbait bloggers to get you to read a story that is demonstratively false, or contains numerous lies, and yet still makes it to the front page as “fact.” It’s also easy enough to counter claims of falsehood with statements such as “reliable sources tell us,” “this still developing story,” and more. If there’s an issue later pointed out by a reader, either through online comments or social media, all the poster or an editor has to do is change a few things around, add (UPDATE) to the story title, and then propagate the same bullshit over again.

4. Feed the lie machine long enough and it will come back to bite you. 

It’s very cool how Ryan Holiday includes anecdotes in his book how strategies he used to benefit some of his clients were eventually used against him by other individuals in the media world. I think this is one of the bigger reasons Ryan felt motivated to write “Trust Me, I’m Lying.” By the time people were contacting real estate developers in New York after Holiday emphatically told a reporter “No, we’re not closing any American Apparel stores in New York” he knew the machine he’d helped create and used for the benefit of himself and his clients had grown into a monster that needed exposure, if not shuttering completely.

5. In the media world, it’s all fun and games. No one means a word they say. 

Go back to that point I referenced earlier about outrage and anger driving so much news? If you were to ask the hack at Gizmodo six months from now what made him so angry about Ken Bone, he’d probably wonder what you were talking about. The same goes for the Gawker writer who penned the post that saw Justine Sacco fired by the time she landed in South Africa. No one writing the outrage material actually feels any sort of hatred or anger toward their targets. They just write a hit job then move on to ruining someone or something else in worship of the almighty page view.

This disregard for the subject and continued pursuit for pageviews is a problem of the highest magnitude. It could lead to an era where journalists engaged in “hit pieces” might find themselves unexpected targets. Roosh V wrote a short story outlining such a scenario. Holiday’s work, scarily enough, outlines where Roosh’s fiction might become a reality.

“Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” is currently in a revised, expanded edition with appendices containing articles Holiday’s written on media hoaxes and manipulation, as well as case studies of hoaxes he started, how they played out in real time, and how the end results either benefitted or harmed him. I highly recommend you purchase the revised, expanded version if possible for that material’s value.

Ryan Holiday’s book is a wealth of information on how you’re lied to by the media daily. As he says in the introduction, “what you do with this information is up to you.”

Book Review: “Bamboozlers”

I’ve been carrying around Volumes Two and Three of “Diamond” Jim Tyler’s “Bamboozlers” series for a couple of days now, and I’m quite convinced they’re worth every penny you might spend on a copy.  I want to find a copy of Volume One, but many places I’ve checked say it’s out of print.  Regardless, if you’re shameless, carry a bit of charisma with you, and apply the bits you’ll find in the “Bamboozlers” series you will make back the money you spend on them.  That’s because each is filled with bar bets, brain teasers, and gags you can apply to win free drinks, scam your pals for money, and more.

One of the best aspects of the Bamboozlers series is their size and appearance.  They’re leather-bound and small enough to fit in a pocket.  I’ve easily kept both volumes I purchased in my left pants pocket for a couple of days now, but I tend to wear pants with a lot of pocket space.  Another great feature is the size of each “bit of business,” as Diamond Jim labels them.  Each takes up approximately two to three pages, so you won’t waste too much time learning each gimmick.  There’s even bookmarks in each book so if you’re working on one “bit of business” you’ll be able to mark your place without trouble and come back easily when you’re ready to learn again.

Another great aspect of the Bamboozlers series is you really don’t need much in the way of special gimmicks or gaffes to perform the stunts and gags in the books.  You may need playing cards and some change, but that’s about it.  Just about everything can be done with common items.  If you know me, you know I’m not shy of using a gimmick or gaffe, but I think it’s pretty awesome Diamond Jim created all of these bits with economy in mind.  Purchasing magic effects and books can cost quite a bit, and many times don’t always come with a return investment unless you’re actually working in magic.  Diamond Jim’s books give you the ability to get a return on investment for a decent price.

A few of my favorites from Volume Two are “Odd Coins,” the “Card Conundrum,” and the “$3.41 Challenge,” all of which I’ve abused repeatedly.  Volume Three I’m just now processing, but I dig Mental Monte, the Hitchhiker Bill, and the Faceout Five.  No matter your preference, you’re sure to find a few gags, stunts, or bets to play on your friends or unsuspecting passer by.  Just don’t go for the “Beer bonking” bit in Volume 2 unless you’re with a really good friend, because you might get slapped.

You can find Volumes 2 and 3 of Bamboozlers on Amazon.  Both are worth the price, whatever you pay.

 

 

Book Review: “Anthology” by Daniel Madison

Playing Cards are a staple of my repertoire when someone says to “show me something.” The guy I think has the best handle on how to use playing cards is Daniel Madison, and his book “Anthology” will give any reader enough to digest for some time.  If you want to learn sleight of hand from a mad genius, I’d suggest “Anthology” as the first and foremost choice for you.

“Anthology” lays bare countless effects by Daniel Madison, including the genesis of one of my favorite card deceptions, “Angle Z.” The “Identity” and “The Advocate” (one gimmick I never leave the house without) are two more tools contained in this book that you’ll find yourself using quickly.

There’s also sleight of hand moves.  Madison has some of the best hands in the card handler game, and “Anthology” will teach you quite a few of Madison’s better sleights.  The big ones he’s currently using you’ll probably need to purchase one of his DVDs or downloads to really get, but you’ll rock the next networking event you take a deck of cards to when you have “Anthology” and take some time to really look into the full scope of Madison’s effects.

There’s a few of Madison’s effects in this collection you’ll need to prepare gaffes or gimmicks with.  They don’t take that much time to put together, and you’ll come up with some very powerful, visual close up using a deck of playing cards when you do.  All of the gimmicks are explained in creation with a step-by-step approach and well worth your time.

Another cautionary note is when Madison describes a sleight he uses a certain system to point out all the fingers used in executing the move.  “Finger One” and “Finger Two” are the index and middle fingers on a hand, for example.  You will learn this system quickly if you just pay attention to his frame of describing a sleight’s inner workings.

Perhaps the best aspect of “Anthology” is most of the effects can be performed with a borrowed deck of playing cards and a little practice.  You can wow someone when they call you out and say “You’re just able to do that because you have your own deck.”  Anthology will give you the ability to know with confidence that you can knock someone’s socks off when you go out in public to do just about anything.

One tip I’ll give you from “Anthology.” If you want to really build up your confidence, go to a market area or street corner and just perform a few of the effects for various passer by for free.  It’ll wow them if they bite, you can usually leave your business card with the spectator, and it serves as a great marketing tool for you.  In addition, if the sleights go a little out of whack, you’ll be able to come up with some way of getting out of a mess providing you just work with a little alternative or two.

The last point I’ll give you for Daniel Madison’s “Anthology” is learning and working some of these effects will add to your confidence because they’re really advanced.  When you can pull off some of the difficult to most advanced sleights Madison lays bare for you in this collection you’ll really feel like you can conquer just about any problem.  Of the books and effects I’ve seen, this is 5 out of 5 stars.  It’s a must read.

Purchase a copy of “Anthology.”  It’s worth the investment.

Learn about the “Wrongless Approach.”

Lessons From Nero’s Spot on The Rubin Report

The Rubin Report is becoming one of my new favorite podcasts.  Dave Rubin is unapologetically advocating for sensible discussions regarding free speech, and has taken to task the “regressive left” with their attempts to silence people through name-calling, labels, ideological politics, and more.  In doing so, Rubin made a commitment that’s laudable for many: he would present all views on an issue, even those he disagreed with and made him uncomfortable.  That takes remarkable integrity, and I applaud Rubin for it.

I also applaud Milo Yiannopolous for showing up to discuss anything and everything related to his conservative leanings, why he leads the life of a provocateur, and his unapologetic support of Donald Trump’s Presidential bid.  You listen to Milo for a little bit, and you’ll learn why the self-proclaimed “World’s Most Dangerous Faggot” has such a massive following.  Here’s what I learned from his appearance on the Rubin Report.

  1. Milo values fun and sees the current state of affairs in America as “boring” because of progressive left politics.

One recurring theme that circulated around Milo’s time on the Rubin Report was that he loves his work because it’s “fun.”  He loves seeing Trump’s rise as President because it’s “fun.” One thing Milo despises is “boring,” and that’s where he lays the finger of shame on the left.

His work as a journalist means living a life of “fun” as well.  One of the more entertaining bits on the Rubin Report appearance was when he talked about his creation of a “Feminism or Cancer” poll and a two time cancer survivor said she’d STILL pick cancer over feminism!  That may be an unappealing view for some, but Milo calls it fun, and he’s enjoying his work.  Good on him.

2. Milo values the ability to say whatever you want, whenever you want, without fear of repercussion.  He also practices what he preaches.

There’s some things in Milo’s appearance on the Rubin Report that will shock a few people.  If you get shocked by Milo or offended by Milo then you’ve never really taken the time to “get” Milo.  He takes issue with the current mentality that people cannot say what they want when they want without worrying about losing their jobs or alienating others.

Give the man a chance, and he’ll give you some quotes that will make your day.  One example comes from when he describes a press conference he would hold if he was President Trump’s Press Secretary.

“Daddy doesn’t feel like answering your questions today.  I’m going shopping.  Please leave your comments in the box.”

3. Milo is incredibly persuasive when speaking on just about any issue.

There’s a point in the podcast where Rubin and Milo get into a discussion of an issue Rubin had with a Buzzfeed writer who took issue with Rubin’s label of the “Regressive Left.” Rubin took what would be considered in many circles the “moral high ground” and tried to avoid naming this individual.

Milo would have none of this.  He badgered Rubin into naming the Buzzfeed writer under the rationale of “If someone does something stupid, I want their name and face exposed to the harsh light of scrutiny so people can see just how stupid they are.”  Eventually, Milo got Rubin to name the Buzzfeed writer that aggrieved him, and they discussed the entire issue.  It was clear Rubin didn’t want to go there, but after being called a “cultural librarian” by Milo  all gloves came off and Milo got his way.

4. Milo is willing to say things people are thinking but don’t have the ability to say, and that’s important.

Two points here.  The first is when Milo says the influx of Islamic culture into Europe is a big reason why he’s spending more time in America.  He views the way Islam treats the LGBT community as something he wants no part of, and that means he has to distance himself from places he once called home as a result.  Milo also says this is a bad sign for women too, but people aren’t recognizing it, because as soon as an attack by “radical Islamists” happens the first thing our world leadership and the news media goes to is “This was radical Islam and it wasn’t the view of the regular Muslim.”

The second is his indictment of the LGBT community for going after Christians on randomly “offensive” topics.  Milo takes a large issue with the LGBT community, for example, going after a bakery to find alleged “homophobia” because they’d rather not bake a cake for a wedding, and then grind that into an OFFEND stance that puts people out of business.  He’s not a fan, and sees it as a way of alienating people that would otherwise be allies.

5. Milo is unabashedly conservative and free speech, and sees all of it as the best way to be.

“If you want to be punk, if you want to be cool, you’ve got to be conservative.”

That’s Milo for you.  That’s a guy who says “free speech” means you have to take the piss out of words like “gay,” “faggot,” and other slurs that have been used to denigrate people who just happen to be attracted to others of the same sex.  His take is he wants to see the word “gay” go to mean “stupid” or “idiotic” as it’s been used by straight/cis/heteronormative shitlords for ages.  Milo’s take is that when you get to that point, then you’ve reached a society where “free speech” means something.

He also sees the current state of liberalism/progressive politics as a stifling of everything good in life, anything that’s fun at all, and that’s why it needs to be destroyed.  The same thing goes for conservatives in his book, though, and that’s why he thinks a Trump Presidency will do wonders for this country.  Milo is of a mindset that if and when Trump his the White House, our country will start to reconstruct itself into what it once was.

I can’t say enough good things about Dave Rubin and Milo Yiannopolous, so I’m just going to cut it short and say go look for the Rubin Report on iTunes or YouTube, and follow Milo at @Nero and Dave Rubin at @RubinReport on Twitter.  You’ll be glad you did.

Randazza’s Morality Law Review: Mandatory MiD

What if I told you the United States Patent and Trademark Office has never  registered a trademark containing the word “fuck?”

Step back for a second and just look at the word “fuck.”  Say it.  Does it create a “shock or jolt of dismay” when you hear it or read it?  Why?

What emotions does “The Slants” evoke in your mind when you read it or see it?  Do you take offense to that?  What if I told you that was the name an Asian-American party band chose and summarily had their trademark ejected on the grounds “others might find it offensive?”

These questions are all prime for Mediation is Dead, and that’s why I’m declaring Marc Randazza’s latest law review article, “Freedom of Expression and Morality Based Impediments to the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights” Mandatory MiD Reading Material.

Randazza’s take on the need to jettison the “moral utility” doctrine with regards to trademarks and copyrights is a discussion worthy of merit, because intellectual property is a form of communication, and Mediation is Dead is about a discussion of effective communication. I wouldn’t normally review a law review article, nor would I say that the layperson should read one, but when you have a discussion about topics like “Screw You” “Nut Sack Double Brown Ale,” and whether pornography should get copyright protection, the public will find Randazza’s take both entertaining and educational.

Here are the big takeaways I got from Randazza’s view on injecting morality into trademarks and copyrights.

1. Morality is a circular definition, it changes with the times, and has no place when determining “soft intellectual property’s” worthiness of protection. 

What is morality? That’s the framework with which we need to begin.  It is “principles concerning the distinction of right or wrong or good and bad behavior.” This is fluid and changes constantly, no matter how uncomfortable some people may find it.

It’s a little easier to justify denying a patent for a device on “moral utility” grounds if it’s affecting the human condition. For example, if a device or  procedure cuts away at human dignity then we may reject government protection of its creator because its “moral bankruptcy” doesn’t show usefulness or benefit to society.

With “Soft IP,” such as trademarks and copyrights, it’s a little harder to justify giving a government agency control over whether the creator gets the protection of intellectual property based on notions of what is “moral.”

Let’s take a few examples from the United States.  We have a provision in our intellectual property code that denies trademarks (where protection attaches on registration) or copyrights (where protection attaches on creation) based on whether they are “shocking to the sense of truth, decency or propriety, disgraceful, offensive, disreputable, giving offense to conscience…” You get the point.

We have tended to throw out any notions of whether the “marketplace” or a “substantial component of the general public” would find the trademark or copyrighted work offensive.  “CUMFIESTA” got the trademark because the people consuming their content were searching for pornography, and that’s not a situation where the government should deny protection.  The same with “Madonna” wine or “Nut Sack Double Brown Ale.”  Alcohol consumers won’t particularly take offense to it, so there’s no need to deny protection to the creators of said trademarks.

And then there’s In re Tam., the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals decision that may burn Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act to the ground.

Simon Tam wanted to call his band “The Slants.”  They’re an Asian-American party band. They chose that name.  The government rejected Tam’s application for a trademark, because “Slants” is an ethnic slur against Asian-Americans, and they might find that offensive.

Tam appealed his case all the way to the United States Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, and won.  The Court found that excluding “disparaging marks” from trademark registration violates the First Amendment.

2. There is a real danger the United States Supreme Court will have to decide “morality” and how it affects freedom of expression. 

Tam isn’t binding precedent on several levels.  It’s a good standard to follow, but it’s not close enough.  Right now, there’s a case in the Fourth Circuit that’s fully briefed involving the NFL’s Washington “Redskins” trademark.  If the Fourth Circuit, a historically conservative court, rules against the ‘Skins, then it’s going to cause a split in the law, and the United States Supreme Court will most likely have to decide what the law is.

Allowing the most dangerous branch of the Government to determine what morality is, and whether it should apply uniformly across this country, is absolutely frightening.

3. Morality based impediments on intellectual property violate human rights.

Did you know Budweiser’s trademark isn’t protected in Portugal?  Now you know.  Budweiser’s current owners took the case to the European Court of Human Rights over this matter, saying that denial of their trademark in Portugal interfered with the basic right of a human to freely enjoy his or her possessions.

4. The Morality Police have no place in stifling creativity. 

This is a trend we’re seeing in intellectual property laws as they’re decided across the world.  It still has the potential to shift at any given moment, and that’s a troublesome approach to take.  If we invite bureaucracy to determine what is right or wrong and good or bad for us, then we are good and truly screwed when it comes to free expression.

Imagine the most terrifying figure you can inhabiting the White House.  Now imagine that person having the ability to tell you at any given moment, with the blessing of the legislature, what is “right” or “wrong” for you.

Now ask yourself if that’s the world you want.  If the answer is “no,” your legislature is arguably a phone call away.

5. Stop placing value judgments on the message, and consider the message on the merits.  

“If we accept the theory that morality based restrictions are supportable then it threatens…free speech.”–Marc Randazza

That statement makes the entire article worth reading on the merits for those who frequent Mediation is Dead.

“Soft IP” is a form of communication.  It’s transmission of a message to an intended recipient. Don’t place a value judgment on the message transmitted before you start a fight.  It may be more appropriate to ask “What do you mean by that?” instead of jumping to “I find this offensive and must be silenced.”

You don’t need to place a value judgment on a person’s message to have an effective discussion with them on it.  In fact, your discussion will be better if you speak from a place where you put zero value judgements on your counterpart’s message.

That’s the Mediation is Dead approach.

If you want to download the entire law review article, it’s worth a read.
It’s mandatory MiD.