The Dinner Party Partisanship

I love a good family dinner party. 
Your aunt brings the garden fresh garden salad.
Your uncle brings his famous mac ‘n cheese.
Your cousin makes the best garlic mashed potatoes.
Your grandma bakes the cinnamon apple pie.
Your mom makes the biggest pork roast.
Your spouse makes their winning bacon wrapped scallops.
It’s about coming together, conversation and all the good foods!

Now lets switch gears.
Political parties are the same.
Some people fall on the conservative side of the spectrum, while others land on the liberal side. If you choose to stay between the two, you can always identify as an independent too.
Of course there are other subcategories, but without going to far down the rabbit hole, we’ll keep it to these three sections.

At the end of the day, we all eat together, so why the separation?
Depending on upbringing, personal opinions, virtues, values, and learned morals, each individual is entitled to their own opinions, should it not bring harm to others.
These are the separate dishes.

When these elements dine together,
a cohesive unit of humans should ideally be able to work and talk together.
The only way this won’t work, is when you’ve got that one family member who thinks their dish is the end all be all.
Everybody should only eat what they brought to the table.
Their big ole roast.
No bacon wrapped scallops,
no mac ‘n cheese,
no garden fresh salad,
no mashed potatoes,
no apple pie.

And that’s where we are currently in America.

I’m not here to tell you one party should surpass the other or that one is better.
I want a plate full of everything!
Same dinner party, remember?

However, we can’t work on problems equally, when one voice is on full volume,
while the other is getting
quieter

and

quieter

and

quieter.

Currently, republicans control the senate, the house and the presidency.
Until recently, the only area that acquired some level of equality, was the supreme court. However, Justice Anthony Kennedy has recently announced his coming retirement to spend more time with his family.
A simple google search will tell you all about how Justice Kennedy has been the major swing vote in many huge cases.

Now that he is stepping down, President Trump will be expected to hand select the next Supreme Court Justice. Now don’t forget, Justices are expected to serve until they either retire or die.
They’re in it for life; this is a huge decision to fall unto the Presidents’ lap.

Trump has mentioned that he has a list composed of candidates for the opening position. Considering he leads with a conservative hand, we can expect a conservative justice.

Without jumping to too many conclusions,
I would say it’s fairly reasonable to consider the idea that our country will then have a republican house, senate, presidency and team of justices.

This reality isn’t so farfetched.
When Obama was in office, the democrats controlled the senate, the presidency and the supreme court was pretty equal but fell towards the liberal side.
The house was the only part of senate controlled by republicans.

I see a bit of a problem with both instances.
One side is constantly trying to undo the other.
Instead of building each other up, we’re busy tearing each other down. It’s the same cycle with a different party.
The only way to change partisanship is go old school, reach across the aisle.

We don’t have to agree on everything,
some of us want steak and some of us want tofu.
We still sit at the same table, we still eat together.
I know I want a plate with a little bit of everything,
and not just because I was a fat kid growing up!

I want to hear about what everyone has been up to and how well they’ve been doing.
The dinner time conversation can only flow
when we’re all speaking at the same volume and taking turns.
We can’t keep trying to yell over each other, because eventually somebody hits the mute.

Now that I’ve got your wheels spinning I’ve one last thing to say:
Welcome to the dinner party,
what kind of guest will you be?

Pulse: 2 Years Passed

If you know about the Pulse tragedy that occurred two years ago, June 13, 2016, the word pulse may mean something different to you now.

It could represent a heartbeat, beating or ceased. It could represent a past place, once thumping with jubilant and alive electricity. It could represent a current place of empty space and quiet handmade alters with wilted flowers.

It could represent a feeling; one of anger and confusion. Or it could be one of strength sprouted and flourished from the concrete actions of a misled soul.

It could represent a tattoo, if you had one inked on you to show your support. It could represent a community you’ve been a part of, that slowed its pace in the peak of the horror. It could represent friends gone, family lost and those forever scarred physically and mentally by an act of hatred.

The word pulse could bring back memories put away, either of good days or not. It could conjure up questions of how and when and why and what could I have done? It could be a word that numbs the senses.

The word pulse means something very dynamic and shrewd to me. It carries a terrifying spectrum of reality and hopefulness along with it now.

To me, pulse is not just a word or picture or a memory or song or sadness. Pulse is a number.

49.

49 times does the word Pulse ring in my ears.

49 times does the word echo on the ground, when I stroll the cobblestone streets of my neighborhood.

49 times does the word stop my thought process and slow my pace, 2 years later.

49 times do I say to myself,

“Don’t you dare complain about any type of tiresome or trying time, when you know there are souls who will never get the same chance.”

49 times do I wonder, what if it happens again? What if something worse happens? What if I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time? Should I hide my sexuality? Should I remove myself from my community?

And twice as many times do I say no.

I say not one bit. I say never.

I will never shrink, or shadow my personality. I will never hide my being or sugarcoat my life. I will never slink out of a room that makes me uncomfortable.

I will never sit down because my stance is too tall for a short girl with individuality. I will never cower from or ignore the crude reality of the world we live in.

There is hate, and I cannot change it all at once.

There are people who spread that hate, like black mold.

Hate is quiet. It is easy. And most of all, deadly.

How can I fight a quiet and sly killer?

Hate can live in us all, if we let it. It holds potential to grow in the darkest corners of our minds.

But the thing is, love holds that same potential. It is the yin and yang of life. The darkness is equally met with the light. The scale that teeters and totters during our years of existence is weighted by whatever we pile onto it.

Because each and every one of us holds potential for both hate and love, we can fight the hate equally with just as much love.

You don’t fight fire with gasoline.

You don’t hide from fire either, because the smoke will eventually seep into your lungs.

You face the fire, and you saturate it until the water has washed away the char.

You listen to opposing views. You listen to the groups of people that preach hate. You listen to the anger and the sadness. You don’t spew venom. You just listen.

And once they feel heard, you can share your love. Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to be loved. It is instinctual, deeply rooted and almost primal. It acknowledges the other as equal, and that paves the way in the right direction.

That is the first step to stopping another shortcoming; the first step to saving the next life.

It has to start with us. We have to think about it consistently; be it 2 years later or 200 years later. 49 lives are gone from this world, but they are not gone for nothing.

This time has built the Orlando community tighter and stronger than ever before. There is a steady backing that says “I’ve got you, I’m here for you.”

We have to share that with each person we encounter. It won’t be easy, it won’t happen quickly. But we have to show courage and patience, and we have to show how much love our community holds for those with us and against us.

If you take away anything from this article, it is this:

Nobody is born hating the world, but holds an equal potential for hate and for love. What they are shown they will mirror and mimic into their adult life. In our adult lives, we still hold that same potential for hate and for love. Regardless of any dispositions or disadvantages, the potential does not disappear. Will you choose hate or love?

Thanks for reading, much love.

HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

The day is May 18th, 1998 and Bill Clinton gave a speech that challenged the way health pandemics would be handled entirely.

At Morgan State University, Clinton spoke about the HIV/AIDS worldwide pandemic and how our population in America could make a difference.
“So let us today set a new national goal for science, in the age of biology.
Today let us commit ourselves to developing an AIDS vaccine within the next decade,” said Clinton.

The speech was monumental because not only was progress being pursued, but the pandemic was finally being recognized in all of its horror and need for acknowledgment.

Today, it’s common to hear about safe sex and how to live with HIV/AIDS once one has contracted the disease. Luckily, HIV/AIDS is no longer totally a death sentence in countries with access to healthcare. Therapeutic drugs and treatments are available for those that live with the diagnosis. However, in recent years, there has been a costly spike in price in most medications required for HIV/AIDS sufferers.

In the world of science, the best way to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS is by getting vaccinated. In order to be administered the drug, you must be enrolled in a clinical trial. Although over 30,000 people have enrolled in these trials, the Food and Drug Administration still hasn’t approved the vaccine. Because the trials are so recent and progress has changed so much in the last 20 years, there isn’t a consistent or totally available database of longterm results with the trials.
However, the patients enrolled and administered the vaccine have never contracted the disease. 

As of last year, there was a new mosaic approach underway as a vaccination to prevent HIV/AIDS. The mosaic approach suggests that the vaccine contain genes from all over the world; which would then be more effective and universal.

As the search for a cure continues, the next best thing is get vaccinated. In celebration of 20 years since Clinton’s speech, people around the nation recognize today as HIV/AIDS Vaccination Awareness Day. Staying educated is the best way to stay ahead.
Share your acknowledgement by tweeting #HVAD on twitter
and share this article on facebook!

Thanks for reading friends,
and may we be the generation that finally gets ahead of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Sources:

https://www.fredhutch.org/en/news/center-news/2017/12/new-hiv-vaccine-test-launched-world-aids-day.html

https://www.hiv.gov/events/awareness-days/hiv-vaccine-awareness-day

https://www.fredhutch.org/en/labs/be-the-generation.html

https://www.healthable.org/world-aids-vaccine-day-2018/

 

HQ: The Hottest Trivia Game Show App with a Questionable Investor

The latest entertainment trivia app seems to be getting downloaded faster than you can google what it even is. The gameshow style app has absolutely taken off in recent months. Everyday at 3 pm and 9 pm, players can tune in and give their best trivia try towards winning some cold hard cash. It sounds like a simple concept, but the surprise savage questions weed out the weak fast.  As I’ve become a regular player and viewer recently, the app raised a few questions that pushed me to peak around the internet.

First I wanted to know who founded the app. As it turns out after Twitter shut down Vine last year, the creators of Vine, Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll,  funded the HQ gameshow app, according to marketplace.org

My next inquiry was how many people are actually playing?

The game show typically has 1-2 million players engaged when it begins. It depends on whether it is a big give-away or a smaller amount of cash per game. Also, as the trivia questions get harder and players are eliminated from the game, the players don’t stick around. The numbers decline quickly as the game gets harder. If players want to stay and watch, they can; but usually don’t.

tmg_article_main_wide.0
Third: What the hell does HQ even stand for?
Harley Quinn? Hippo Quails? Hey Q-T?
Players engage in the live chat regularly asking this question and the usual host, Scott Rogowsky, marvels in teasing players about this mystery. He won’t disclose the secretive information. The most reasonable answer I came across was on reddit and the thread suggested that HQ stood for “Hype Quiz.”

My last and not least quizzical question was where is any of this money even coming from?

When players win, there can be multiple winners. So if the game awards $5000 in cash or $50,000 in cash, it will still be split up equally percentage wise among the winners. Most recently there was a big winning opportunity, therefore HQ felt it was necessary to up their game and hire a bigger host; literally. They brought in The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, to host the Trivia show. As always, at the vey end there were multiple winners and the money was dispersed via PayPal. So, once again I ventured out into the wild wild internet on a quest to find out where the money was originating from.

This is where it got weird.

Many fans suggested the app was sponsored by certain brands and that is what pushes certain trivia questions to be asked.

For example, if Bitcoin was a sponsor, Scott could ask

“What type of currency can be utilized in the black market and not be traced back to the spender?”

The answer would obviously be Bitcoin, and then Scott would talk about Bitcoin.

According to Bustle, the app does NOT allow any sort of sponsorships to dictate questions. So Yuspuv and Kroll actually told Bustle there is inherently no intentional brand placement.

Some spectators suggested there was an option to buy into the game, however all of it is free to download and play, so that can’t be true either.

After a little more digging, I found that according to Money Magazine, HQ was backed by “venture capital.” Venture capital is money invested into a new and expanding business, typically with high risk. Although the investors are never named in this article, they are referenced as “deep-pocketed Silicon Valley” investors and they raised $15 million. It sounds like the perfect American dream; investing in a small business and it takes off.

What about asking the question of ethics or of morals or just of, where are these millions coming from with these invisible investors? That’s a big risk to take on an app.

I dug a little more and finally found some information on the monetary inclinations of investors and then it clicked. Of course it would be difficult to find out about investors when the investors aren’t always likable. HQ however, is a new app and wants to continue it’s likeness with fans and players so there hasn’t been much coverage (probably because HR and PR offices are smarter than that). Now I’m sure you want to know who the investor is. Keep reading.

5851c086ca7f0c5c008b5c3d-750-563

In another article from CNet, Peter Theil is named as the venture capitalist. Peter Thiel also has invested in PayPal and Facebook and go figure, HQ. So what is interesting about Thiel? He’s a techie that’s also a big, big fan of Donald Trump. At the end of this article I will add all the links and you can follow the link to CNet to see Thiel with Trump. Not only this but Thiel is currently under investigation by the FDA for not following regulations and protections for herpes trial medications. Also Thiel is promoting an outdated capital flow theory that apparently hasn’t been recognized as useful in decades, according to Investopedia.

The notable detail here is how players of HQ reacted with a hashtag of #deleteHQ February; similar to the other previous bans that shifted customers choices on apps like Uber.

As the modern day entertainment for the average Joe continues on, I’m very curious to see how much bigger the prizes will get and who else will become involved as an investor. I’m also interested in observing how this pans out with reactions from players. Will the app face an adverse affect because millions of dollars becoming involved that might have to do with politics? Should politics become involved? I’ll leave you with that as food for thought.

Until next time, thanks for reading! Much love.

Links

https://www.bustle.com/p/where-does-the-hq-trivia-money-come-from-well-its-complicated-6786284

https://www.marketplace.org/2018/01/12/tech/5-things-you-need-know-about-hq-trivia

http://time.com/money/5088086/hq-trivia-money/

https://www.cnet.com/news/hq-trivia-why-new-round-of-funding-might-make-you-deletehq-peter-thiel-founders-fund/

https://gizmodo.com/report-fda-launches-investigation-into-research-by-pet-1825211206

https://www.investopedia.com/news/peter-thiel-used-neoclassical-theory-argue-trumps-tariffs/

What the hell is DACA and does it matter?

I’m glad you asked.
DACA is like gluten; everyone is talking about it, but does anybody really know what it is?

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. According to FactCheck, the Obama administration created the act for children that were brought here by their families illegally. I don’t know about your parents, but when my parents took me somewhere, I couldn’t just..not go.
These children and other recipients, mostly younger adults, are commonly referred to as “the dreamers.” Oh, and it’s not free to be a “dreamer.”
The application fee stays around $495 and that’s if you get accepted and processed within the 120 days it typically takes to get through paperwork. The fee can reach up to $575 if you are priority. Did I mention the dreamers have to renew and pay the fee again as well? This isn’t a one time deal.

I decided to take a look at the 7 page application process on the USCIS.gov. To be honest, it gave me a headache looking through the pages. If you’d like to try to navigate it yourself, here’s the link:
https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca

Oh and here’s the instructions for the files.
https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-821dinstr.pdf

Oh and here’s the link for the changes.
https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-response-january-2018-preliminary-injunction

Oh and here’s the actual process to apply.
https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca#filing%20process

Oh, and here’s more updates.
https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca#previousdacaupdates

If it wasn’t enough to make this process comically difficult, our government is now going to take away the option entirely in March.

Also, this isn’t going towards or applying for citizenship. This is only to defer being deported while you’re applying for a green card; which includes much more paperwork, more expensive fees and longer wait times. I’m not saying it should be easy. I’m saying, the process is plenty difficult and expensive; you’d think that’d be the kind of process our president would prefer.

Imagine this scenario:
Your parents bring you to a country where you don’t know the language or culture. You only know there’s supposed to be better opportunities and it might be safer than where you were. You’re working while in high school just to give the government a big chunk of your money. You want to finish school and maybe go to college while you’re still on the waiting list to pay more money to be processed for citizenship; which can take years. All the while, you’re in a country with a president that says he wants to do away with the one program allowing you access to a better future. People accuse you of being here for free, but do they know about the fees, forms, wait times, guidelines and hard work surrounded by insults and rejection?

This is why DACA matters. I have no idea what it feels like to live this struggle, but after my very basic research I can say it looks really difficult to apply for DACA. I’m tired of hearing people say immigrants are coming here for free or that they’re lazy or not trying to gain citizenship. Nearly 800,000 people rely on DACA. Not for free assistance. Not for a free ride. Not for a free stay. It’s not free at all. It’s not easy to attain. They rely on it, simply for a chance.
The fact is that our government is taking away that chance. Even with making our immigrants jump through all those hoops, it’s still not enough.

My great grandmother came here from Italy, on a boat without much money. If she hadn’t immigrated here, I wouldn’t exist in this life that I live.

Although our president didn’t abruptly end the program, it does expire in March. This means, no more new applicants. Maybe you’re thinking, “that just means more people won’t be coming into the country.”
What about the people that haven’t been processed in time? What about the people finally gaining the courage or gaining access to the money to apply now? What about the kids brought here who didn’t even know about it? What about the young adults who finally have the time and understanding to apply?
There are so many grey areas.
I’m not sure what will be proposed by congress for incoming immigrants. Ending the act doesn’t mean people will stop entering America. It means more people will be here without properly deferring their deportation, which would prevent them the opportunity to gain citizenship.
Ending the program essentially means we will have more illegal immigrants, not less.

I challenge you to wonder- what will happen to all those kids?
DACA isn’t a perfect solution, but ending it entirely doesn’t solve really, anything.

Links I used for information for this article:
https://www.factcheck.org/2018/01/the-facts-on-daca/
https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-response-january-2018-preliminary-injunction