There is no better Christmas song than ‘Percy, The Puny Poinsettia’ from Elmo and Patsy’s spectacular album, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. #BHAdvent #FaveChristmasAlbum #InstaAdvent #photochallenge #advent @bustedhalo #waiting #poinsettia #itw

Stop The Soundbite Forecasting!

I stopped paying attention to The Weather Channel several years ago. Why? Because of notifications like the one showed in this image.

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According to the National Weather Service, rainfall in the Atlanta area is 17 inches below normal (National Weather Service, 2016) and local forecasters are predicting anywhere from 1.5 inches to 3 inches or more over the next 48 hours (Hill, 2016).

Three inches of rain does not end a severe drought, especially when we are looking at 17 inches or more. In fact, short term rain may postpone worse conditions, but unless there is a significant change to the weather pattern (Mellish, 2016) our drought is likely to continue for a considerable amount of time.
I understand the need for short messages in mobile notifications, but the Weather Channel began “soundbite forecasting” a long time ago. They do a great disservice when they hype events like this, because they are gravely mistaken if they think the drought is over simply because we will finally see two days of rain after little to no measurable rainfall for the past 42 days…

Sources:

Hill, Jeff. (2016). Rainfall Totals Forecast. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/jeffhillfox5/status/803287709624242178/photo/1

Mellish, Kirk. (2016). Drought in much of Georgia. Retrieved from http://www.wsbradio.com/weblogs/kirk-mellishs-weather-commentary/2016/jun/09/drought-much-georgia/

National Weather Service. (2016). Rainfall Scorecard, Retrieved from http://www.weather.gov/ffc/rainfall_scorecard

A Photo From Instagram

One of my favorite photos from 2010. #powwow #dance #people #nativeamerican #ig_great_pics #colorful #awardwinningphoto #itw

Tomorrow Is A New Day…

As many of you know I have been blogging since July of 1997, which was five months before the term ‘weblog’ or ‘blog’ was even coined. I have used my personal website slobokan.com, and now michaeltbarrett.com, as a platform to write about issues that are important to me, as well as to display my photographic work. If you have read my blog, or you have followed me on Facebook and Twitter for any length of time, you know I am an Independent. I am not a Republican nor am I a Democrat.

fullsizerender-2We have just wrapped up the 2016 Presidential Election. Hillary Clinton lost the election and President Obama will be working with Donald Trump for a smooth transition of power. Although our system of government is setup to provide for that smooth transition, there is a lot of anger, pain, and disbelief circulating among everyday people on the Internet this afternoon.

Let’s talk about the consequences of elections…

In the run up to the election of 2008, I refused to jump on the Obama bandwagon and I was chastised by many people for that choice. Every time Barack Obama spoke he seemed to contradict himself and I expressed my worry. I pointed out those contradictions and I was called a racist. I researched each candidate extensively, like I always do, and the more I researched Mr. Obama, the more I saw danger in his proposals and ideas. I did not want to ‘dislike’ Mr. Obama, but with the exception of one sentence, he never spoke a word as a candidate or as President of the United States that I felt I could believe. If you do not believe me, look back on my posts from 2007 through 2009.

I warned my readers that Barack Obama was dangerous for America, and I was called paranoid. When Mr. Obama was elected in 2008, I spoke out about his policies and initiatives, because each one seemed to contradict one of his campaign promises, require a large increase in tax revenue to fund, or infringe on our rights to implement. Throughout this process I was a called a racist, a bigot, and a hater. Then came the “Affordable Care Act”, which I actually read. Did you? I wrote several blog posts about it. I analyzed each section, pointing out the huge increase in government oversight, costs, and policies that would infringe on our rights as a free people. I did my homework. I saw it as the train-wreck that we know it is today. I studied, and although I had valid reasons (all of which have been proven true since then) for refusing to support Barack Obama, I lost friends, I made enemies, I was labeled by my opponents, and I even lost my job.

Eight years ago, I was laid off from a job that I had for more than a decade because Barack Obama won the election. My employer at the time had warned all of their employees that if Obama was elected they were going to “scale back”. The details of the way I was asked to train two H-1B Visa recipients to perform my job duties before I was suddenly laid off comprise a story for another day. The bottom line is that I sacrificed a lot eight years ago because I refused to ignore the truth, and I will not ignore the truth today.

So here we are.

Many of the same people who called me a racist for not supporting Barack Obama are now calling Trump supporters racists because they voted for him. The same people who said I was bigot because I did not vote for, or support, Barack Obama are calling Trump supporters sexists because they did not vote for Hillary Clinton. The same people who called me a hater because I pointed out the truth and stood by it, are now hating on Donald Trump yet refusing to see the truth, let alone acknowledge it, in their own flawed (and failed) candidate. It is funny, however, that I do not notice Independents, Libertarians, or conservative “neverTrump” supporters attacking anyone this afternoon. Call it what you will, but attaching labels to people is never a good idea.

Do you dislike an individual if they prefer different food than you do? Do you hate someone who drives a different car than you? Would you attack someone simply because they supported the theatre rather than a sports team? I highly doubt it. Yet, people today are unfriending each other on social media, attacking each other, and pulling the racist/sexist/bigot/hater card simply because they supported one candidate over another. This is ridiculous… Again!

Let me make one thing very clear. I had no dog in this fight. I voted for Gary Johnson because I was hoping to further the effort to bring another voice to the national political stage in the next election cycle. I voted for Gary Johnson because I do not believe our government should be involved in ANY aspect of our personal lives. I voted for Gary Johnson because my conscience would not permit me to vote for the lesser of two evils, which is still a vote for evil no matter how you look at it.

With this said, I will now receive hate mail from some people telling me that it is my fault that Hillary lost because I “wasted” my vote on Johnson, even though my vote would not have made a difference here in Georgia. I will receive insults because I will remember the words and actions of Donald Trump from days gone by and use those words to point out his own hypocrisy and disdain for the truth if he crosses that line. I will be labeled with one of those cards listed above simply because I will write about the issues and our President-Elect while making reference to that one word that is vile and repulsive to many who debate politics and religion. That word is ‘truth’.

election-2016The truth is, I remained fairly quiet during this election cycle because I did not trust Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump and espousing the values of my own independent positions would have fallen on deaf ears. Now that he has been elected, President-Elect Trump will have to earn my trust, just like any other candidate. He will have to prove that his words during the election cycle were true. He will have to prove that he is the man he says he is today, and not the man he clearly was before the election cycle began. Most importantly, he will have to prove that he is different than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton because I know the reasons why I could not, and do not, support them.

A little over eight years ago, on October 30, 2008, candidate Barack Obama promised to “fundamentally transform the United States of America”. That sentence, that sentiment, is the only sentence he has spoken since 2007 that I feel I could believe. He has fundamentally changed our country, there is no doubt about that. Attacks on personal freedoms (ie: religious liberty), our still broken healthcare system, and legislating through the use of Executive Orders are just a few examples. The past eight years have brought strife, turmoil, and angst to many Americans, but today there is hope for the future, but only if we work together to be a force for change.

Last night was a wake up call to America. The people made it clear that they want change. Real change. Will Donald Trump work to bring that change? I hope so, I really do. I think he did a great job last night with his victory speech, and truth be told, I feel a bit more optimistic today than I did in 2008. The one thing I know for sure is that America today has fundamentally transformed since 2008, personally I have fundamentally transformed since 2008, and I will once again optimistically look forward to tomorrow but I will not refrain from referencing the truth as we begin this journey into tomorrow!

Wise Up People!

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Are you fed up with the choices you have this year as we ready ourselves to see who becomes our next President of the United States? The whole “two-party” system is a farce, and if you do not believe me, listen to the experienced words of our first President, George Washington:

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

In order for things to change, we have to be that change. Elections will not get better unless we step up and insist on making things better. One way to do that is to increase voting for third (and fourth and fifth) party candidates, so we balance the field and eliminate the power and corruption of the two main parties that take power and control for granted because they do not think we will ever rise up. It’s time people. Wise up, and rise up!

You can read more of George Washington’s Farewell Address from 1796 at the Avalon Project.