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.

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.