myBLOG-Online

How does removing or destroying history help POC today?

Will toppling these statues change anything for black Americans?

Over recent weeks, ever since the murder of George Floyd, we have been seeing statues of people involved with slavery being toppled by protestors in the US and Europe, or they have been removed by local authorities. Also, classic brands like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, which yes, are inherently racist are being renamed, but honestly, will this change anything in 2020, will 1/3 of Americans suddenly become accepting of people of color? realistically no, if anything it will cause these racist assholes to double down, making the life of people of color even more difficult, because their racist heroes have been toppled.

My take is, lets put history in context, instead of glorifying it, I don’t believe we should ever destroy history, we should learn from it. Americans seem to have very short memories, it amazes me how quickly anger dies down after a mass shooting, especially those that involve children, and every time a black person is killed by police, which results in zero action being taken. I really hope that these multi-racial protests continue; to force our lawmakers into making real change, not platitudes to appease the masses,, this is what I see the removal of statues and renaming brands as, no real change will come of it.

#DefundThePolice

I was watching the TYT Juneteenth special and Cenk Uygur posed the question is “defend the police” a good slogan for political change. In my opinion, I agree with Cenk’s assessment that the term “defund”, for most people means, to stop funding, i.e. abolish the police. Or even worse, put funding of law enforcement in the hands of private equity, we already have private prisons, so private police is not a big leap. I do understand that “defund the police” is a term to reallocate funds to other services to lift the African American, and poor communities up and out of poverty, creating a level playing field for everyone.

Politically, running a “defund the police” campaign is political suicide, not everyone is like me, a person that does their research to understand the issues. Most people hear soundbites like “defund the police” from the mainstream media, who rarely go more in-depth than repeating the soundbite, and automatically think abolish the police. This is why independent media and social media is so important to get the facts out there, mainstream media will not tell you the whole story unless it suits their bottom line.

The youth are the people who follow independent media and are active on social media, this is why so many 16 to 30-year-olds of all races are out on the streets protesting. But the reality is that most of the voter base is 40 plus and the idea of no police scares them, especially coupled with the mainstream media propaganda that black men are dangerous and black women are just “angry black women”. I think people campaigning for change in regard to race and policing needs to be smarter with their slogans if they want any desperately needed change for POC, the poor and even the middle class this November.

I understand that the black and brown community are angry, I’m angry, as a British white man, albeit with a black wife and bi-racial kids living in the USA, that people of color are still fighting the same damn battle, 56 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But straight-up anger, destroying the history that so many older white Americans hang onto, will only hinder progress. Obviously, the rebranding of Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima is a business decision, to protect their bottom line, these CEOs don’t give a damn about the black community, I don’t really consider this progress in regard to race relations in the United States.

I desperately want change, on many fronts, changing police culture, change American culture and attitude in general, changing our government to represent the people, not the corporations and wealthiest Americans. I am thankful that my kids are light-skinned enough, to more than likely not have to worry about being killed by police, being shot in the back, like Rayshard Brooks and Andres Guardado. But, I do not take that for granted, so I will teach my kids to be careful around law enforcement.

A few bad apples, really?

I think we can comprehensively dispel the myth that there are “a few bad apples” in police forces across the US. Two Buffalo, NJ police officers aggressively pushed a 75-year-old man, Martin Gugino to the ground, who was no threat to them, then walked over him as he was lying unconscious and bleeding from his ear, later, Gugino was confirmed to have a fractured skull. The two officers, Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski, were charged with second-degree assault, and all 57 members of the police riot response team resigned in protest, to be clear, all 57 did not quit the police, just the riot response team.

In the Rayshard Brooks shooting,, where the officer, Garrett Rolfe, who killed Brooks was fired and charged with murder. His fellow officers proceeded with a sick-out in solidarity with Rolfe. A few bad apples, you say? if you say that, you’re full of shit. Police officers shoot a black man in the back, and they get all bent out of shape because the officer has to face the music. Any officers that support’s murder, just because the person committing the crime wears a badge, should quit now, the whole barrel is bad, not a few bad apples, just look at the avalanche of evidence from the past few weeks since the murder of George Floyd, we have video after video of police assaulting people exercising their 1st amendment right.


Have I been unlucky or are Corsair peripherals suspect quality?

No More Corsair

In the past 4 years, I have dropped almost $550 on five Corsair peripherals, and three of those peripherals have failed. The latest of these is the $80 Dark Core RGB mouse, which when using the mouse wheel, scrolling down, it will every 1 or 2 clicks, bounce back up, despite continuing to scroll down physically, so I guess the sensor has gone bad, making it next to useless, as I use the scroll wheel a lot.

I like to invest more in my peripherals, with a view to not having to replace them every 1 1/2 to 2 years. Which, in the case of Corsair, spending more does not mean longevity, in 4 years, I have gone through 2 keyboards, $150 Strafe RGB and $180 K70 RGB Mk.2, in addition to the Dark Core RGB mouse.

The Strafe RGB keyboard suddenly failed about 2 1/2 years into ownership while using it. The backlighting turned off, and when attempting to turn the backlight on again, I notice the CTRL, SHIFT, and Windows keys on the left side stopped working. Forcing me to run down to Best Buy to drop another $180 + tax on a Corsair K70 RGB Mk.2 as I was in the middle of my workday and needed a keyboard.

Within seven months of owning the K70 RGB Mk.2, the backlighting started to fail, certain keys no longer maintained it’s assigned color of white (#FFFFFF), albeit with a blue tinge. In addition to that, it would randomly stop responding, even a reboot would not fix it. Playing musical USB ports would eventually resuscitate the K70 Mk.2, at least until next time it had an episode. The K70 Mk.2 got so bad that it would stop responding almost daily, so I ditched the K70 Mk.2 in favor of the Apex 7 from Steelseries.

I have reverted back to using the Corsair M65 RGB Pro, which I replaced with the Dark Core RGB, at the same time I replaced the Strafe RGB with the K70 RGB Mk.2, June 19, 2018. The M65 works fine for now, but given my experience with Corsair peripherals, I don’t expect it to remain reliable going forward, I’ll be looking to get a Steelseries mouse to match my current keyboard in the coming months.

Am I expecting too much? If a cheap keyboard included with a pre-built system from 10 years ago still works, I would expect a $200 (incl tax) mechanical keyboard to last at least that long, and realistically way beyond that. If paying 10 to 15 times more for a keyboard results in a sub 2 1/2 year lifespan, maybe I should just buy that keyboard and mouse combo deal for $14.99 and replace them when it fails, instead of giving Corsair my hard-earned money. I won’t be buying any Corsair peripherals in the future.

Update [Jul, 4 2020, 19:27]: As I am now using the M65 Pro on my desktop computer, which I previously used on my Asus Zephyrus laptop, I decided to use the Dark Core RGB on the laptop, even without a fully functional mouse wheel, it’s better than the built-in mousepad. And guess what, I cannot connect the Dark Core RGB to the laptop via Bluetooth, Windows can’t find the mouse, it previously worked, now it does not, so I have to plug in the wireless 2.4Ghz dongle. The laptop works fine, I tested it with another Bluetooth device and it connected the first time, so it has to be the Dark Core RGB at fault.


US Police: A Military Occupying Force!

US POLICE, A Military Occupying Force

It has become increasingly clear that the looting has been perpetrated by criminals using the #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd protests as cover, I said in my initial post about the looting and destruction of local businesses that I hoped that it was not Black Lives Matter and legitimate demonstrators, and that seems to be the case. Also, it has become apparent, that outside actors from both left and right-wing extremist groups are the ones *mostly* responsible for the destruction of property and inciting violence.

Moving onto the subject matter, the militarization of police forces around the country, acting as an occupying force. Last night, we saw Police and national guard around the country teargassing, pepper-spraying and firing rubber bullets at people, black, white and even members of the press, who were peacefully protesting, yes, being disruptive, closing down streets and highways, but people, until the police went in full military-style to disperse crowds, were peacefully protesting and chanting.

There is a bigger problem in America and it goes to the very top, the President, Donald J. Trump, who has repeatedly blown the dog whistle to his base on Twitter, the latest being MAGA night. And the day before this, he tweeted “when the looting starts, the shooting starts“, which he later claimed that MAGA loves black people, and in regard to the shooting of looters, he claims that business owners will be shooting people who try to loot their stores, despite his tweet talking about sending the military to Minneapolis.

Everything that has happened in the past week at a city, state, and federal level shows that law enforcement, national guard, and military forces are looking to put down protestors, not allowing for peaceful protests, which is a constitutionally protected right. Law enforcement should be a peacekeeping force, not a military force to put down people who are using their constitutionally protected right to protest. Law enforcement in the US is inherently broken, and the people in power don’t want to fix it.

Of course, racism is a massive problem in the United States, even in 2020. It seems to me that police forces around the US are attracting the wrong kind of person; when African Americans make up about 13% of the US population, yet make up 50% of the deaths at the hands of law enforcement. And in the age of cell phone cameras and social media, we are seeing this sort of police brutality go viral in hours. Yet, despite clear video evidence, prosecutors regularly refuse to indict murderous police officers.

I’m not saying that all police officers are bad, but clearly, it is not “a few bad apples”, racism in police departments is pervasive. When white people can turn up at a statehouse with assault rifles over Coronavirus lockdowns and a requirement to wear face masks, forcing the legislative session to be canceled, and police do nothing. Then we see Derek Chauvin put his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes, 2 1/2 minutes of that after Floyd had died, over the suspected use of a counterfeit $20 bill.

Given all the video evidence from multiple police murders of black people, we have to believe that if George Floyd was white, he would have been put in the back of the police car, taken to the 3rd Precinct, and be back on the street an hour or two later, living and breathing. But George Floyd is black, so he is dead, and his murderer will probably plead down to a lesser charge than Murder 3, and manslaughter and be out in less than 2 years. I have zero faith that prosecutors will go for the maximum sentence.

The solution, we need to change the policymakers, our representatives at the city, state, and federal levels. Elect people that will enact change, not reelect the same people, who continually vote to further their donors’ interests over their constituents. Having mayors, and governors with the balls to fire police officers, up to the highest levels of the force, who show a propensity towards racism and excessive force, to stop the murder of people like George Floyd, and remove prosecutors who refuse to indict.

Some examples of Police Brutality in America over the last few days, do you find this acceptable? If you do, you’re are part of the problem, if there are THUGS in America, it’s law enforcement.

As a footnote, if you are saying or using the #AllLivesMatter hashtag, you are missing the point, of course, all lives matter, but white people, like me, are not being killed by mostly white police officers for alleged petty crimes like selling loose cigarettes or using a counterfeit $20 bill. And no, black people are not more violent, its right-wing propaganda, that perpetrates that black people are more violent. African Americans like everyone else are just trying to get through their day, pay their bills, and live their lives.


George Floyd: Rioting, Looting & Destruction Won’t Change Anything!

GEORGE FLOYD MURDER, Rioting, Looting & Destruction Won’t Change Anything!

I have been interested in and supported the civil rights movement, and the modern-day extension, Black Lives Matter since the 90s. Like many people in the US, I am angered that George Floyd was murdered by a white cop, Derek Chauvin, while 3 other cops stood by as Floyd died. But I cannot condone the reaction of looting, rioting, and destruction of property, this is straight-up criminality. I just hope that the people genuinely protesting were not among the criminals looting and burning down local businesses.

Police and mainstream media have labeled black people as thugs, dangerous, and violent and used this as justification for murdering black men and women, and these riots in Minneapolis and other cities, just help them create that narrative. We saw the same scenes of rioting, looting, and destruction of property after Mike Brown was murdered in Ferguson, MO, and what good did that do? nothing, other than to allow the media to further demonize the black community and further their violent blacks narrative.

I want to see all four former officers, firstly, arrested and charged, then face trial. I won’t go as far as saying what the sentence should be, that’s for a judge and jury to decide, regardless of these officers’ actions, they deserve their day in court. I will say that the charge should be first-degree murder, Chauvin is on video holding his knee on George Floyd’s neck, while two other officers were also holding Floyd down, after being handcuffed, while he repeatedly pleaded for his life. It is disgraceful that often police departments put up the blue wall, shielding the involved officers, trying to justify murder.

The three other officers involved in this senseless killing are Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng. I believe all four should be charged with murder as they actively assisted or watched on as Floyd repeatedly said “I can’t breathe”, very reminiscent of Eric Garner, who was choked to death by NYPD officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who remained employed with the NYPD for a further five years before being fired, no charges were ever brought. We cannot respect police departments when they defend murder of the people they are charged with protecting, protect, and serve seemingly does not apply if you’re black.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to bring Chauvin up on charges, what those charges might be, we don’t know, but his words indicate that he wishes for at least one officer to be arrested and charged. Going back to the Minneapolis Police Department, we have to question their motives, why were the four not immediately arrested after the videos surfaced of what happened, a later video showed that their claim that Floyd resisted was a lie, Floyd is seen calmly walking to the police car when he stumbled on a curb and fell to the ground behind the police car.

Back to the rioting and looting, I really hope that the genuine protesters did not take part in this criminal activity, and I really hope that the official Black Lives Matter movement does not condone this sort of action. I suspect the people looting are criminals taking advantage of the situation, as there appear to be black and white people looting multiple stores in the Lake Street area of the city of Minneapolis.

It’s hard to know what is true on social media as the propaganda is flying from all sides, I heard some justifying the looting and setting ablaze of Target because allegedly store employees refused to give or sell, depending on which tweet you read, milk to black people who had been teargassed by police on the previous day. It is also claimed that Target funds the local Police Department, which some claim makes them a legitimate target. In my opinion, neither of those things justify the criminality we saw last night.

I’m all for peaceful protest, and activism, either in person or by making phone calls to local police and justice departments and posting your support on social media, it all helps. We have seen this in recent times, the Ahmaud Arbery shooting is a prime case of social media pressure directly caused the arrest and charging of his murderers, which the local Glynn County, GA Police Department had covered up.

I’m a white guy, originating from Great Britain, married to an African American woman, with two bi-racial children, so I am very aware of race issues, as an interracial couple, we have experienced racism from both whites and blacks. I worry about something happening to my wife or kids while interacting with police or just some racist asshole with a gun. I have even been accused of being a race traitor because I chose to marry a black woman. Every time I hear about or see videos of African Americans being murdered by police or other white people, it angers me, it’s fucking 2020, why is this still a problem?

This is exactly what I was talking about; rioting and looting just allow racists like Donald J. Trump to call for further violence, violence begets more violence. And in the meantime, the narrative has gone from George Floyd’s murder to non-stop video of destruction perpetrated by the African American community.

May, 30 2020, 06:07: Unsurprisingly, the riots have continued overnight, expanding to other cities, after the arrest and announcement of third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for Derek Chauvin, while the other three former officers involved in the murder of George Floyd are still free. I would love to think that these riots would make a difference, but it won’t, African Americans protesting has never changed the minds of the people in power, racism is rife in the US, and Trump is the Grand Wizard.

Hennepin County Attorney, Mike Freeman said after the arrest “This is by far the fastest that we’ve ever charged a police officer”, my response, are you fucking joking? how much evidence do you need? there were multiple videos, from multiple angles showing everything that happened from the time George Floyd was pulled from his car to the moment he died under the knee of Derek Chauvin, on day one.

A third-degree murder charge is an insult, George Floyd’s death was not an accident, it was premeditated; when a person keeps their knee on the neck of a person that is clearly in distress, pleading for his life, and even after Floyd had passed out, Chauvin continued to keep his knee on Floyd’s neck for a further 2 1/2 minutes, that is first-degree murder, not third-degree murder, and certainly not manslaughter.

I’ll leave you with this very raw and powerful message from Killer Mike, sentiments I agree with.


My thoughts on the Dominic Cummings situation

Dominic Cummings "I don't regret what I did"

On March 23, 2020, British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson enacted a “must stay at home” lockdown order. Four days later, Johnson’s chief aide Dominic Cummings made the decision to drive almost 270 miles to his parents’ farm in County Durham with his wife who had symptoms of COVID-19 and their four-year-old son, which would seem to contravene the Prime Minister’s “must stay at home” lockdown order.

Many Britons are pissed off by Johnson’s aides’ actions, rightfully so, in my opinion. And Boris Johnson’s defense of his aid has angered the people of the UK even more. I don’t buy Cummings’ explanation that he feared that should he also fall ill with COVID-19, he would not be able to find care for his son. I’m 100% sure that Cummings and his wife could have found appropriate childcare in London if necessary.

Not just that, three people in a car, a confined space with recycled air, for almost five hours, one with symptoms of COVID-19, traveling to the home of his parents, who are more likely to be at risk of dying from COVID-19, that doesn’t seem “reasonable” to me. The advice is to self-isolate at your home, your primary residence, not your parents’ home, 267 miles away. Potentially infecting others on the journey, anyone who has traveled with a four-year-old knows traveling for 5 hours without stopping is a big ask.

On top of the journey to his parents’ farm, Cummings then made a 30-minute drive to get his eyes tested, to make sure he is good to drive. Can you see the irony? he drove 30 minutes, despite being unsure if he is safe to drive. And even more crazy is that he had his wife and child in the car on his journey to get his eyes tested, not only potentially risking himself, and other road users, but also his wife and child.

The feeling I get is that there is a distinct double standard going on here. If it were you or I that had made this journey, we’d be facing significant fines. We expect our leaders to lead by example, but in this government, we cannot expect them to make smart decisions, after-all, Johnson contracted COVID-19 by shaking hands with people infected with the Coronavirus in a hospital tour in early March.

Cummings’ actions and Johnson’s defense of his top aide is a kick in the teeth to the people that have stayed home, isolating themselves from their families, while their loved ones passed away, just miles away, and not being able to attend the funerals of their loved ones due to social distancing. Others have been stopped by the police and turned back home while making shorter car journeys for similar reasons. You can read just a few of the stories of people angered by Cummings do as I say, not as I do actions.

After this episode, the PM cannot seriously expect people to abide by stay at home or stay alert rules.

Should Cummings be fired? I would say yes, as he was one of the people involved in drafting the “stay at home” rules, which he flouted and unashamedly defended breaking those same rules. If our leaders cannot lead by example, they need to go, if we cannot trust our leaders, that is a real problem. But politicians these days don’t care for the will of the people, so I expect no consequences for Cummings.

May, 28 2020, 08:23: As expected, despite a suspected minor breach of lockdown rules, according to Durham police, no retroactive action will be taken; and Boris Johnson has urged the people of the UK to “move-on”. I have a feeling that the public discontent won’t go away as readily as the PM hopes.


Rent Strike/Rent Cancelation Due To COVID-19

Rent Canceled

I’ll start off this blog by saying that I understand that many people, who have been laid off or have been furloughed, simply cannot afford to pay their rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. But, the idea that property owners can simply afford to lose that rental income for one month, let alone 2 or 3 months, is complete nonsense. Even the largest of communities will struggle financially, even with mortgages being ‘canceled’. The costs involved in providing rental housing are significant, providing rental homes is not a high margin industry, like many people seem to believe based on comments I’ve seen on social media.

I work for a company that manages thousands of single-family homes, apartment home communities, and senior living communities. I can assure you that profits for owners are very low, maybe 10 – 20% of the total rent is profit. A large chunk of the rent you pay is put back into the community in maintenance, staffing, and running costs, our vendors still expect to be paid, utility companies still expect their money.

As a property management company, we are not unsympathetic, we understand, it’s a crappy situation all around, so we are encouraging our residents to talk to us, to pay what you can, and arrange a payment plan to pay off any arrears over a period of time, maybe an even longer period with a lease extension. Just ignoring the problem or straight up saying “we are not paying, and you cannot evict us” is not the best way to deal with it. Rental home communities and its residents are in a symbiotic relationship, we equally need each other, working together will provide the best outcome for everyone involved.

The rent cancellation that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is pushing is super irresponsible. Owners will be put in a precarious position, where they cannot provide the basic ‘service’ of apartment/home rentals. No rent, means no staff to run the onsite offices, no maintenance staff to maintain the property for everyone’s safety, no money to pay water bills, meaning no running water for residents, if water is included in the rental rate, also, no trash collection, this is just the tip of the iceberg, if rent is canceled.

The knock-on effect, essential business or not, is that without rental income, owners and management companies will have no option but to furlough office and maintenance staff, creating an even bigger problem with unemployment, more people without the income to pay their own rent or mortgages. And, there are a lot of people employed in the multi-family industry, myself included, rent cancelation is definitely not a solution that works for everyone, especially if multi-family communities go bankrupt.

Rep. Ilhan Omar has proposed a House bill that would cancel rent from April 1, to 30 days after the national state of emergency ends, which would not work for the reasons outlined above. The difference is that the bill would offer assistance to owners of rental properties, but with strings attached, such as agreeing to not raise rents for five years and abide by “just cause” eviction rules to qualify for assistance.

Ultimately, rental properties are a business, and like any business, without customers buying the product, in this case, an apartment, townhome, or house, the business goes into administration, with the potential of going out of business altogether, reducing the pool of available homes, which will disproportionately affect lower-income residents as these low-income, non-HUD property’s margins are small to start with.

As I eluded to earlier, the only real solution is for the government to help every American that needs financial help due to the current global pandemic, a single $1,200 stimulus check is not going to cut it. My rent is $925, which takes 77% of that stimulus check, how will that help next month? And in some cities, that $1,200 would not cover a single month’s rent. But, let’s be honest, most of our representatives and senators are more concerned with socialism for multi-billion dollar companies, who just got a massive tax break from Congress, which they used to buy back their own stocks to artificially boost their stock prices.

The message I hear from Washington to the American people is “you’re on your own”. I’m not worried about any bill for rent cancelation passing in the US Senate, or even pass the Democrat-controlled House. This pandemic has proved just how broken the US is for everyday Americans, and from what I can see, our government has no interest in changing that, wanting to continue with the same old corrupt system, in other countries, we call the US political funding system, bribery, expecting congresspeople taking money from the interests they regulate, to vote in favor of bills that benefit Americans is laughable.


TRUMP! The Real Virus In America!

Trump, The Real Virus In America

While America approaches 60,000 deaths from Coronavirus, closing in on almost 1,000,000 total cases, Donald J. Trump continues to give daily updates from the White House, which are really campaign rallies, masquerading as press conferences, putting out dangerously false information about COVID-19.

While the President did not outright say Coronavirus was a hoax, he claimed the Democrat’s criticism of his administration’s response was a “new hoax”, downplaying the seriousness of COVID-19 in America in late February. Then further played down the seriousness of the Coronavirus pandemic in the United States with the following statement; “When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” – totally ignoring the pandemic.

In mid-March, Trump further played down COVID-19, noting that 36,000 people die from the flu each year, saying “But we’ve never closed down the country for the flu, so you say to yourself, What is this all about?” on Fox News. I remind you, that we are now approaching nearly 60,000 deaths from COVID-19.

We have to mention how Trump was pushing anti-malaria and Lupus drug, hydroxychloroquine, which was untested as a drug to treat COVID-19. The FDA, on Friday, April 24, put out a statement saying that hydroxychloroquine is not safe to use on the Coronavirus, and could be more dangerous than COVID-19 itself. A side effect of Trump pushing this untested drug is that Lupus sufferers, like my wife, could not get their prescriptions filled, due to a lack of inventory in pharmacies around the country.

Miss “Alternative Facts” herself, Kellyanne Conway said on Fox & Friends “This is COVID-19, not COVID-1, folks“, suggesting the World Health Organization should have been on top of the virus, being, the 19th iteration of the Coronavirus, the day after Trump announced he is suspending funding for the WHO, defending Trump’s decision to defund the WHO in the middle of a growing global pandemic.

Clearly, for anyone with a working brain, and an honest actor, knows that the 19 in COVID-19, represents the year the virus was first discovered. Conway, later tweeted out that she knew that the 19 was representing the year, not how many iterations of the Coronavirus there have been. But, as I said before, Kellyanne Conway, is the queen of fake news, and alternative facts, to Trump’s king.

Just this past Friday, Trump suggested in front of the nation’s press that people should inject themselves with disinfectant to cure Coronavirus, after hearing that disinfectant kills COVID-19 on surfaces within minutes. Obviously, disinfectant works on surfaces, that’s what disinfectant does, it’s literally on the label. Trump, later suggested that he was being sarcastic, he was not, he’s just that fucking stupid.

Moving onto the financial response from the Trump administration and Congress, who have signed a multi-trillion-dollar financial package, the majority of which went to massive corporations. The same corporations who benefitted from Trump’s ‘tax reform’ back in 2018, using the tax savings to do stock buybacks, inflating their stock prices, while many of them paid zero federal taxes in the 2019 tax year.

While small businesses, who genuinely need assistance while many of them are shuttered, keeping their workers employed, were handed a much smaller piece of the pie, and even then, larger companies, with many more than 500 employees, were dispersed tens of millions of dollars, which many of them gave back, after backlash on social media, 20 years ago, they would have taken the money and ran.

On an individual level, it’s better, people who sign up for unemployment due to the fallout from Coronavirus, if they can, will get $600 extra per week, on top of what they get from their state. On top of that, everyone earning under $75,000 or $150,000 for married couples will get $1,200 each, plus $500 per child, 17 and under. Which, the wife and I did qualify for, we make less than half of the $150,000 allowed for married couples, which Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claims should last 10 weeks.

Meanwhile, the people who did not have banking information on record with the IRS had their checks delayed by a few days, because the idiot n’ chief wanted his name on the check, hoping to boost his ratings. And, for those who had their stimulus check directly deposited, a separate letter was sent out from The White House with Trump’s name and signature on it, see the scanned letter below.

Stimulus Letter From The White House

And finally, Trump has threatened to VETO any bill from Congress, which includes emergency funding for the US Postal Service. Trump has long disliked USPS, as he sees his nemesis and billionaire, Jeff Bezos’ Amazon, as sending packages too cheaply, with the postal service losing money on each delivery, which is not at all true. Trump just wants to damage Bezos’ bottom line, with a 4 times price hike on delivery.

Why would the USPS want to take business advice from Trump? who went bankrupt six times, including casinos, seriously, how does a casino go bankrupt, the house always wins…

The bottom line here, President Trump has exacerbated the Coronavirus pandemic inside the US by constantly downplaying the virus and misleading the people. If you truly believe that Trump has done a good job in responding to COVID-19, you are beyond help. We still don’t know the true level of infection as the majority of people don’t have access to testing, even when presenting with symptoms.

And now some states are starting to open up again, at the behest of Trump, despite numbers of deaths still rising by over 1,000 per day across the United States. The state stay-at-home orders have helped ‘flatten the curve’, but the reopening of states will almost certainly cause a second wave, which some experts are saying will be worse than the first wave, which thus far has killed over 56,000 Americans.

US COVID-19 Cases, From 2/15/2020 - 4/27/2020

You can keep up to date with the current infection/death rate here.

Finally, stay safe, stay home, where possible, don’t immediately go out resuming your normal lives, even if your state governors and the White House tell you it’s safe to do so. By ignoring the CDC’s advice, you will be extending the pandemic, as the second wave hits, which it will, I believe in science, and the men and women who practice it, not lying Republicans, who care more about the economy than your life.

Additional: There has been a 40% uptick in people drinking or otherwise consuming cleaning chemicals and disinfectants. This is why Donald Trump needs to be censored, mainstream media need to stop coverage of Trump’s COVID-19 pressers because some Americans are fucking stupid. C’mon people, drinking disinfectants, seriously, is there no damn common sense in the Trump base?


Insomnia

Insomnia, I Can't Sleep

For as long as I can remember, going back deep into my pre-teens, I have suffered from chronic insomnia, finding it hard to, firstly, fall asleep, and secondly, stay asleep, averaging between 2 and 4 hours sleep per night, often not getting to sleep until 4am or later on the majority of nights.

In my younger years, it was not such a problem as I could manage on less than four hours sleep each night, and for much of that time, I worked evenings as a sound technician, so I did not have to get up early to work a 9 to 5 job, even when I worked a 9 to 5, I managed fine on a handful of hours of sleep.

My insomnia was such a regular event that it became the new normal, and I gave it no mind, just went on with my life. It’s only later in life, after passing 30 that it started to become an issue, with my body not being able to function properly on less than half the amount of sleep an average person requires.

I have tried all sorts of sleeping pills, natural supplements like melatonin and various liquid sleep aids, which partly work, helping me to get to sleep sooner, but I don’t remain asleep, the slightest sound wakes me up, as I am a light sleeper. And the effect of the sleep aid leaves me even more drowsy the next day.

At 43 years of age, it has started to become a real problem, to the point where I need to take naps during the day, just to function, being able to do my job. Thankfully, my job is flexible and autonomous, i.e. I make my own schedule, which is great, as I would struggle with a 9 to 5 job at this point in my life.

It’s gotten to the point, where I pre-schedule social media posts during the night, writing copy for online adverts, etc, after everyone else goes to bed, using insomnia to my advantage, although, I much rather be asleep next to my wife, instead of being sat in my home office working 1am through 5am.

It concerns me that my alertness level is not where it should be while I drive my son to high school at 7:30am, which is a 14-mile round trip, after sometimes as little as one hour sleep. Touch wood, I have managed to avoid any accidents, I don’t know how, as most days, the journey is just a blur in my memory.

Mentally, in the past half dozen years, insomnia has taken a major toll on me, it’s incredibly frustrating not being able to sleep next to my wife! Sometimes, I just lay there, listening to Youtube, or something on Netflix on my tablet, hoping to be able to fall asleep before the birds start chirping as dawn breaks.

I struggle with clinical depression, and insomnia, not being able to get a good night’s sleep, makes my depression worse, which has a negative effect on family life. I’m so mentally and physically exhausted, that I rarely am up for doing much with the family, much to the frustration of my wife and daughter.

It is truly a miserable life, living with insomnia, and I know it’s only going to get worse as I get older, as my body is less able to bounce back from the lack of daily sleep. And after more than 30 years of fighting this disorder, on rare occasions, I do think, I hope I do not wake up, ever again, let me pass away in my sleep.


Now, I Know Why Our Tax Refund Is Delayed!

I f**ked Up, I Didn't Think I Needed To File Form 8962

Yesterday, we finally found time to get a new mailbox key, after our communal mailbox was damaged, and removed, or stolen, I’m not sure which. I went to check the mail on March 8, 2020, and the mailbox was gone, looking like it had been ripped out of the ground. It was replaced a week later, but I did not have time to get a new key until yesterday, having to work the same hours as the post office is open.

In the avalanche of bills and spam, I found a letter from the IRS, and when I opened it, it told me I had not filed form 8962 with details from our 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement. I thought based on what I had read about not having to file 1095’s because proof of insurance was no longer required, due to the individual mandate being repealed. I’m not making excuses, I made a mistake, I didn’t research tax filing requirements, but I’m guessing, I’m not the only one to make this mistake.

I took one look at the 8962 (Premium Tax Credit) tax form on the IRS website and immediately thought, “shit, I don’t know how to fill this out correctly”, so I searched Turbo Tax, where I filed my taxes, and found instructions on how to add the data from my 1095-A, and print out a completed form 8962.

I printed out the completed form 8962, page 2 of my 1040 as the refund amount had changed, made a copy of my 1095-A, and wrote a note about why we had not responded within 20 days of the date of the letter, March 12, 2020, and stuffed it all into an envelope and popped it back in the mailbox.

A side effect of filing form 8962 is a loss of exactly $1,600 from our refund, because we received too much in advanced payments from the Health Insurance Marketplace, having to repay the overpayment. Annoying, but, whatever… at least we do not owe taxes, and we are thankful for the assistance with insurance, as our current premium is $1,300+ and that does not even cover me, as I am not eligible.

I just hope that form 8962 being returned more than 20 days after the date of the letter, will not negatively affect our premium for 2020, which tripled from last year to almost $250, even with the advanced tax credits. My wife has multiple medical issues and without insurance, she is likely to suffer from a fatal condition, she is already at risk from Coronavirus because of a weakened immune system.

Final note, why does the US tax system have to be so complicated? in my home country of the UK, we use PAYE (Pay As You Earn), and should you have a balance or refund at the end of the tax year, you either receive a tax bill or a refund check, but generally, you’ll receive neither as you have paid the correct amount of tax. While in the UK, I received one refund and no tax bills in more than 18 years of working.

The US tax system could work in the same way, the IRS has access to my earnings, tax paid and marketplace insurance information, as the IRS and the Health Insurance Marketplace, are federal programs. Literally, everything is tracked through social security numbers, you are allocated a number, so you can be tracked through your life, so why not use that information to simplify American lives?


A Mixed Bag Life Update V

Life Update

It’s time for another Mixed Bag Life Update, Coronavirus edition. The first thing to say is that my family and I are healthy, at least in regard to COVID-19, so we are thankful for that. I have been socially distancing myself for many years working from home, so nothing has changed in that regard.

Being able to work from home is a godsend at this time, as school districts across the United States are closing down, meaning that the kids will be at home with me for 5 1/2 months, as school is closed for the next 2 1/2 months in the run-up to the summer break. We are lucky in that regard, many people have been furloughed or laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing a massive financial strain on them.

Education for the kids will continue via the interwebs, this is expected to start by April 1, 2020, hopefully, this is not an April Fool’s prank. The kids really can’t afford to miss over 2 months of education. Although the Email that was sent out from USD259 was not clear, there was a lot of information, and I’m not sure what applies to my kids and what does not, so I am going to have to reach out to the school for more info.

Non-CORID-19 related, or maybe it is, given that some IRS employees might be quarantined? is the delay in our tax refund. We are due to get a little over $4,800 back from our federal taxes, we filed on February 4, 2020, and the e-file was accepted the same day. But, when we check the IRS website page for refund status, it’s still showing as “Your tax return is still being processed.”, with no refund date available.

Normally our tax refund is direct deposited into our bank account within 3 weeks. I did think I messed up and inputted the wrong account number, maybe transposing a couple of numbers. But, I quickly realized that was not the case because we received the massive $62 Kansas state refund, within 2 days of filing.

That money would sure come in handy to pay off some of our smaller credit card balances, which would save us about $200 a month in payments. Or with the current COVID-19 pandemic, maybe hold onto it in case my wife, Erin gets furloughed from her job, as apartment community offices are closing to the general public, it’s hard to be a service coordinator when you have to practice social distancing.

About a year ago, I wrote about a 70% increase in my water bill, which I thought was due to a misreading of the water meter. But it seems our lightly running toilets had gotten worse, causing a huge spike in cost as it pushed our water usage past the allowed usage limit before switching to a significantly higher cost per unit tariff, for which there is no recourse as Wichita Water has a monopoly. For about 6 months afterward, the bills normalized, but in the past few months, the bills have increased, culminating in a $140 bill last month, so we had our landlord replace the flappers in our toilets, stopping them continuing to run after flushing. Which, should bring our water bills down to the sub $70 level they were previously.

Finally, I was weighing up my options in regard to whether to stay with Erin or move out. After a week of minimal communication, 100% me being a dick, we talked and decided to try to make it work, for the kids’ sake, neither of us could face telling our daughter that Daddy would be moving out. The $77k of student debt that Erin has does not directly affect me, so I am letting her deal with it, or not deal with it!

As I said in the linked blog above, it’s not a matter of falling out of love with Erin, it’s more about me and the way I personally deal with our increasing debt. I despise being one cent in debt, let alone $20k in debt, and I don’t deal with it well, often taking it out on my wife, and for that, I am deeply sorry, and profusely apologize to my wife. She should not have read my feelings on my blog, I should have talked with her about it. As I said above, I am 100% a dick for this, I must do better in dealing with my emotions.