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Propaganda still has power over Americans

In Dayton Ohio News, Health, Local News, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, State News, Uncategorized, World News on October 27, 2014 at 9:42 pm

DIH LOGOPolitics and religion both thrive on propaganda, some of it factual, some creatively manufactured. Either way, people will buy into almost anything when you hit them at the gut level. Emotions ride highest when fear is used as the manipulation point.

In 1938, Orson Welles managed to terrify the radio listening public as he destroyed America by Martian invasion in his version of H.G. Wells’, “War of the Worlds.” Of course, it was all a Halloween offering, a prank, “the radio equivalent of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out from behind a bush and saying, ‘boo,’” as Welles put it. But it was, for lack of any other analogy, an hour of “propaganda;” a radio play written to sound exactly like genuine news bulletins, and people fell for it.

According to the dictionary definition, propaganda is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, often used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view. A deceptive radio broadcast may not be likely to have the same effect today, but if the current Ebola virus scare is any indication, Americans are still far from immune to the effects of well-crafted media spin.

With virtually no qualified medical information being distributed within the propaganda (probably the best word to describe most of the information being circulated), politicians, the media, and the endless barrage of know-it-all cable TV commentators are spreading speculation, misinformation and fear, unabated.

As one might expect, election season has to be one of the most prominent times for the spread of heavy-handed, negative propaganda. Despite laws to limit how “misleading” political ads can be, there is still so much being dispersed that it staggers the imagination of the thinking person as to how it is even allowed.

With fewer people concerned about the accuracy of news reporting these days, believing any blog they run across on Google, media spin no longer needs even to be well-crafted for the masses to fall victim to its intent. There are still, bafflingly, people out there who think that what they see on the news or Internet must be the truth. Not so much “fact,” but truth.

Is the Ebola scare really the menace it's made out to be by politicians and media?

Is the Ebola scare really the menace it’s made out to be by politicians and media?

The spread of propaganda does not require facts but implies truth. Make enough people believe in an idea, factual or not, and it becomes “truth,” at least to those people. Once spread, that truth ends up being the predominant viewpoint and changing the minds of those who fall for it is a challenge, to say the least. Oddly enough, this is the same basis upon which every religion in history has been established.

As pointed out many times in “Deer In Headlines,” decisions are rarely made from factual information but more often based on emotional satisfaction. What makes a person feel good is far more powerful than a list of unemotional statistics. Once again, fear can be one of the most powerful emotions of them all and that is exactly the point.

Without fear, propaganda has much less of an effect. Political propaganda plays on the fear of the voter, suggesting that he or she will suffer under the rule of the opposing candidate – higher taxes, less food on the table, fewer jobs, and so on. In religious propaganda, the fear is purgatory, Hell, or whatever the particular denomination chooses to promote as the reason to show up every Sunday and ante up in the plate as it goes by.

There is, without question, a serious problem concerning the spread of the Ebola virus in the United States. But there is also, sadly, a tremendous opportunity here for politicians to cash in on the fears of those who are probably already paranoid about such things, enhancing the real threat enough to justify the need for such publicity.

Those fifteen minutes of fame come with a high cost, mainly in the stress and emotional trauma experienced by the people who trust their government to take care of them. Avoiding future panic means that people simply need to be cautious about what they take as “fact,” versus what they believe to be “truth.”

 

The Jamestown Comet.com editor Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Zombies, the lamest monsters

In Books, Entertainment, Movies, Opinion, sociology, television, Uncategorized on October 20, 2014 at 11:28 am

DIH LOGOHalloween is upon us and, once again, zombie-mania continues to reign supreme. From so-called, community “Zombie Walk” events to AMC’s season premier of the “Walking Dead” boasting the highest-rated cable television show in history, Americans certainly seem to be zombie-obsessed. But why; what is it about an animated, decaying corpse that seems to capture people’s imaginations and gets them to shell out millions of dollars in search of the next big zombie fix?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word, “zombie,” has its origins in West Africa, but the concept of the animated corpse most likely comes from Haitian folklore. Legend suggests that the dead are raised by magical means to walk the earth again and do the bidding of the one who performed the revival ritual, as a sort of creepy slave.

Zombies first appeared in American popular literature as early as 1929, then shortly after, actor Bela Lugosi, famous for his portrayal of “Dracula,” starred in the film, “White Zombie,” which introduced the familiar personification of the creature. The modern American zombie pop-culture most likely took hold after the release of George Romero’s 1968 film, “Night of the Living Dead,” although they were never actually referred to by that word in the movie.

zombiesZombies in modern tales aren’t usually created by magic, but science. Today’s authors have penned a more realistic origin for what has become known as the “zombie apocalypse.” In most current story plots, a rogue virus escapes to the population, infecting everyone and turning them into, essentially, zombies. Instead of one or two slave zombies on the loose, entire populations of walking dead murderously meander across the globe, destroying civilization as they consume the living for sustenance; right, whatever.

Really, except for the fact that they’re pretty gross to look at and can sneak up on people, as far as monsters go zombies are probably the lamest (pun intended) and least scary creatures ever dreamed up. Think about it – re-animated dead people, hobbling along with one foot dragging behind them and moving so slowly, any granny on a walker could whiz past. What’s scary about that?

These monsters have no motive for being bad and there is no end goal or desire for world domination. They’re just hungry. They wander the night, aimlessly, hoping only to happen upon a fresh brain to consume.

And would someone please explain why they even need to eat anything? They’re dead! What possible nutritional value could there be in anything for a zombie? And why are they bleeding always? Does it need to be pointed out again, they’re dead – there shouldn’t be any blood pumping.

Add to that killing them is really a piece of cake, depending on which version of zombie lore you adhere to. In the modern, “Walking Dead” style, all you need to do is smash in their heads or decapitate them or something. But, according to Haitian lore, the goal was not to destroy them but to release these poor souls from their magically-induced, wandering purgatory and there were several methods available to do that, like pouring salt on them.

In any case, zombies are just not all that intimidating compared to vampires or werewolves (ignoring the Twilight-styled, sparkling, Calvin Klein model types). And yet, inevitably, story protagonists nearly always get caught by the marauding zombies and get their brains eaten. Really, how dumb does someone in a monster movie need to be to actually get caught by a crippled, decaying dead guy?

So, here is the best possible advice for escaping zombies – run! Or, just walk fast; it’s not that hard to get away from zombies. Just be sure to sacrifice the comic relief character first, giving you extra time (not like you need it).

If for some reason the zombie gets too close, and yes, that will be because you are really, incredibly stupid, just grab the arms and pull them off – how hard can it be? They’re dead and decaying, right? Hopefully the zombie fascination will diminish soon, leaving room for even more ridiculous obsessions, like brooding, teenage werewolves. Oh wait, that’s been done already too. Oh well. Happy Halloween!
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is a production of GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing. More at gerydeer.com.

 

Police officers are people too

In Crime, Dayton Ohio News, history, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, sociology, Technology on October 16, 2014 at 12:15 pm

DIH LOGOWith so much attention over the last several months focused on the tragic shootings at the Beavercreek Walmart and in Ferguson, Missouri, the police are being vilified in the media now more than ever.  As these issues play out in the court of public opinion, people must remember the importance of police and that these men and women are, after all, only human.

Regardless of what people think politically or racially about the situation at the Beavercreek Walmart, without hesitation officers went in to protect the public. What happened next is a tragedy for certain, but irrelevant to this particular discussion. The point here is that the police put their lives on the line because that’s their job.

No one is suggesting that police officers are perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination. It does, however, take a particular kind of individual to work as a police officer, at any level. There are those who suggest, however, that the majority of cops are just muscle-headed, former military or high-school football jocks looking to legally exercise their aggressions and bullying nature. Those people need to watch less television.

If a police officer seems detached or cold when he or she is speaking to you it’s because they don’t know you or your intentions. They are constantly on guard, and that’s the way they need to be or they could endanger their own lives or the lives of people around them in a given situation. Keep in mind that badge on their chest may be respectable to everyone else, but makes a pretty good target for the bad guys.

police1Are there racist, misogynistic, and anti-gay police officers? Of course there are, as much as with any other profession. Prejudices, regardless of how liberal one pretends or tries to be, are normal, and not always outwardly racist or violent. But condemning the entire body of those who protect and serve because of the actions of a few does not make one a liberal or progressive thinker – it makes he or she just as prejudiced as they believe the police to be.

The average person avoids interaction with police officers wherever possible. Most Americans only encounter one during routine traffic stops. But they are always there doing their jobs, and for surprisingly little reward, all things considered.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, as of May 2008 (the most recent, confirmable data available), the average annual wage for police and sheriff’s patrol officers in America was just under $53,000. How many people would willingly put their life on the line for fifty grand a year? Many officers work 10 to 12 hour shifts and smaller departments around the country remain understaffed due to budget cuts and a lack of qualified applicants who prefer big-city jobs.

As for overly-violent and aggressive officers, unfortunately, they exist too. Hopefully, as video surveillance and smart phone technology becomes more invasive, any officers who exert excessive force – above and beyond what is necessary to defend themselves or subdue a suspect – will be discovered and properly disciplined.

On the occasions when the cops are the bad guys, that’s a tragedy, and labels the rest with a bad rap. Once again, remember, police officers are people to, with all the same weaknesses and temptations afflicting every other man and woman since the models first came out.

Even so, the police are not the enemy. Most do their jobs with honor and can be depended upon to help in any time of need, by any citizen.

Final thought: Where guns and emotions are involved something bad will always follow. A little girl cries in the dark after learning that her mother won’t be coming home from her police duty tonight after being stabbed trying to save an old lady from a mugger. A sobbing mother grieves the death of her wayward son after learning he was shot by police when he stabbed a police woman during a failed robbery. No one ever wins. On both sides there is always tragedy.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing. http://www.gerydeer.com

McAfee offers new product for lower energy costs, cleaner indoor air

In Business, finances, Health, Local News, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on October 10, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Dayton, OH – Forecasters predict a repeat of last year’s severe cold this winter bringing with it higher energy costs for homeowners. To prepare for the arctic blast, people may seal up windows and doors to keep out the blustery weather, but forget how much heat can be lost into attics and crawl spaces because of leaky ductwork.

Sealing up the house also traps harmful contaminants inside, complicating asthma, allergies and other respiratory illnesses. But one Miami Valley company now offers a UL-certified solution that helps to both increase heating efficiency and maintain cleaner indoor air quality.money-houseMcAfee Heating and Air Conditioning now offers Aeroseal, a patented air duct diagnostic and sealing technology. “Duct leaks are commonly the root cause of uneven heating, high energy bills, and poor indoor air quality,” said Greg McAfee, president of the award-winning HVAC company which has served area residents and businesses for more than two decades. “By using Aeroseal technology, McAfee can ensure that all the duct work is sealed properly, improving these areas for concern throughout the home.”

The Aeroseal process works first by using specialized software that allows the technician to accurately measure the duct leakage. Then the escaping air is put under pressure and causes polymer sealant to stick first to the edges of a leak until the leak is closed.

“Aeroseal was recently named one of the top 23 most important energy conservation technologies for consumers by The Department of Energy,” McAfee added. “While there are various duct-sealing methods available, Aeroseal is the most effective because it can reach all leaks, even ones hidden behind walls and under insulation. We are offering this unique process because it can help homeowners improve air quality and furnace efficiency, saving them money and offering peace of mind.”

For more information about McAfee and Aeroseal, call (937) 438-1976 or visit www.mcair.com.

Just Say No To Mike DeWine, Finally

In Local News, Politics, State News on October 1, 2014 at 9:35 am

dih-logo-SEMike DeWine has been in the public eye since his days as a Greene County prosecutor.  Part of a high-profile and wealthy Greene County (Yellow Springs) family, DeWine is now seeking re-election as Attorney General of Ohio. While he’s been taking every possible photo-op he can, Ohioans have likely forgotten what he really stands for – which is exactly what he’s counting on.

Richard Michael DeWine was born in Springfield, grew up in Yellow Springs and now lives in Cedarville – reportedly on inherited land. DeWine worked as a Greene County prosecuting attorney during the late 1970’s and was elected to the Ohio State Senate in 1980. Since that time he has been in politics as Ohio’s lieutenant governor and spent two terms in the United States Senate from 1995 until 2007.

DeWine’s voting record from his time in congress shows that he believes in curtailing the individual rights of private citizens, particularly their right to own a firearm. Being so vocally against the right to bear arms is an odd position to take considering that gun control is such a hot button topic in Ohio, especially for a Republican. His time as the state’s senior lawyer has been less than stellar.

Given his background, Mike DeWine will continue his fight against the rights of individuals. According to multiple news sources, including CNN, in August of 2013, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, was finally forced to disclose that Ohio driver license photos had been uploaded to a facial recognition database for criminal identification.

According to his statement at the press conference revealing this program, DeWine said, “Misuse of the facial recognition system is a felony offense.” But how can he make a statement like that when there are currently no written rules to govern its use?

According to DeWine, the program allows police to quickly compare photographs of suspects or crime victims to an electronic pool of mug shots and driver license photos in the Ohio database. Comparisons are made of facial measurements from one image to the next in search of a match. The problem with all of this is that it’s been active since June – in secret.

No surprise really, since, while in Washington, he voted in favor of loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping and in opposition to a law preventing employers from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation. Any individual who is so obviously unopposed to deliberate discriminatory action has no business being attorney general.

Since his days as a county prosecutor, he has been against private individuals protecting themselves with any sort of fire arm. He has also constantly made it known that he wants firearm manufacturers to be held accountable for crimes committed using their products. All of this, and yet he is calling for a federal investigation in an effort to overturn the grand jury decision in the Beavercreek Walmart shooting, all to gain points with a African American voters. Shameful doesn’t even cover that kind of act.

If re-elected as the state’s highest ranking prosecutor, DeWine would also be charged with protecting the public against fraud and discriminatory activities. But, as of now, the slick, misleading activities of shell power companies such as Dayton Power & Light’s “DPL Energy” and others like it have gone unchecked. These shell billing companies are unregulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and regularly con the elderly and uninformed into buying into their scam. Dozens of news stories have been done on the problem and DeWine has taken no action whatsoever.

One of the most confusing positions DeWine has taken revolves around immigration. DeWine, who represented a senatorial district where migrant workers are common, voted for building a fence along the United States / Mexico border, while at the same time choosing in favor of giving guest workers an easier path to citizenship. Conveniently, during the incomprehensible process of naturalization, the latter would probably allow greedy, corporate-owned farms to continue paying pennies to immigrant workers while helping to fill DeWine’s campaign coffers.

The record also reveals that DeWine would prefer that people stay as ignorant as possible and that the financially underprivileged are undeserving of a college education. In 2001, he voted against increasing tax deductions for college students. With Ohio’s staggeringly high unemployment rate, one would think that the government would do everything possible to make it easier for people to improve their skills, not limit their potential through nickel and diming beaurocracy.

Any out of work Republicans in Ohio who vote across the party, regardless of the candidate’s qualifications or platform, should remember that Mike DeWine is a trust fund beneficiary (in other words, he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth). According to financial statements from the 2004 fiscal year, his assets through DeWine Enterprises, Inc. – the family holdings – were valued up to $5 million and earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year in capital gains.

That would certainly explain why, in February of 2006, DeWine voted in favor of retaining reduced taxes on capital gains and dividends. The former senator is certainly one of very few people in the state who can sit around collecting this kind of “unearned” income. Everyone else has to work for a living – at least those who still have a job.

DeWine will do no more in the coming term than he did in the previous one and, like most career politicians, he spends a great deal of time talking out of both sides of it. He cares only about his thirst for publicity and political glory. It’s time for Mike DeWine to retire – let’s give him a proper send off. Ohio has had enough of him.

 

 Congressional voting records are available at http://www.ontheissues.org.