The first time I accessed Facebook was early 2011, a year before the 2012 Presidential election went into a full-tilt boogie. I had never been on a social media site though I’d heard of MySpace. My impression was it was where 12-year-olds went to pretend they were 16. (I was right.)

Initially, was surprised by Facebook. It was easy to use. I could connect with almost anyone. Anywhere. That warm fuzzy feeling evaporated faster than morning mist on the river. Facebook was very soon the most angry place on earth.

Everyone is pissed off about something, frequently for no logical reason. So much of the stuff on it is based on opinions which are based on rumor and some kind of bizarre obsession — nonsense or just plain scary.

Facts? We don’t need no stinking facts! This is Facebook! MY opinion is as good as anyone else’s (no, it isn’t). It seemed as if everyone was posting angry diatribes. From the left, right, middle and far ends of the universe, everyone had something to shout about. Whoa, I thought to myself. This could get ugly (I was right … it did).

Then I discovered games. I connected with kids (now grandparents) with whom I went to grade school or college. People I wanted to reconnect with. Then, with people I had hoped to never to hear from. The good, the bad and the wholly unattractive, all in one basket. Whoopee.

I began backing away as fast as I could. The games were cool, or some of them were. But the percentage of enraged people, illiterates, the mentally unbalanced, the lunatic fringe — all posting whatever was on their minds (perhaps “minds” is too strong a word) was too much for me. The temperature on Facebook was permanently in the red zone.

I continued to play games, which is why so many friends are those with whom I connected because we were playing the same game. The remaining 5% are real live people, some of whom I actually know. Personally. Among these, some prefer communicating via Facebook rather than email, telephone, or in person. To each his/her/their own. Who am I to judge? (Okay, I think it’s weird, but I try not to judge.) (I don’t succeed.)

In the beginning, I got upset when Facebook made blatantly exploitive changes to their site. Then I remembered: I don’t have to go there. I don’t need to post there. If Facebook vanished tomorrow, my world would not crumble.

By then, I’d found WordPress and begun blogging. The more into blogging I got, the less reason I had to visit Facebook … unless I was in the mood for a game. And of course, there is the convenience of using Facebook to publicize my blog. I may not like it, but lots of others do.

The thing is, you can’t completely avoid Facebook. Whether or not you post on it, so many places do — builders and electricians and plumbers and all of that kind of stuff — if you are going to find a local worker, that’s where you’ll end up looking. And that’s where you’ll get recommendations, too.

Facebook is the elephant in the room, the itch you can’t scratch.

The elephant in my (living) room

Moreover, a surprising (to me) number of authors and artists choose Facebook in preference to having their own website. Is it because Facebook offers wide open access and effortless connectivity? It is less demanding than a website. Since almost everyone already has Facebook access, so no one has to forge a new alliance.

Maybe that’s it.

For me, the open access of Facebook is a reason to avoid it. I want a modicum of control over who does what on my site. Others feel differently. Or as Mom used to say: “For everyone, there’s someone.” In this case, something.

Facebook is the something many people choose. It will never be my first choice, but freedom is one of my core values.  And, it’s the American way — or used to be. In the old days. When we lived in the real America.


I’m not thrilled with news. Any news. I can’t abide right-wing lies based on the opposite of what happened, especially when they are talking about things through which I lived and which I’ve seen. For shear blatant not-even-a-hint-of truth lying, they are the winners. But the left of the aisle crap is only nominally better. They may begin from a hint of truth, but then take some minor thing and blow it up to something gigantic. Put up a headline on it which sounds as if an astounding event occurred. So whatever it was in the beginning, it ends up a lie.

At the root was something real, but the end is nonsense. I would have to be a fool to believe it. At this point, I don’t believe anything.

My personal political allegiances is not news. I don’t need news organizations to approve or disapprove on my behalf. That’s not the point of news.

I want information, data, and facts based on a recognizable reality. I want the news to give me an informed, intelligent, and preferably neutral (or as close as possible) idea of what’s going on. I don’t want overblown headlines about how Trump is about to be impeached. Because he isn’t about to be impeached (yet) and anyone with half a brain knows that. I don’t want shouted headlines about stuff that isn’t happening and will never occur. Nor do I want distorted stories which only make the stuff in which I believe look stupid.

I don’t want right-wing revisions of news that never happened and never will  — or left-wing fairy tales, either.

It’s hard to find believable news from any source. I don’t trust anything from any form of social media. Each has its own version of what they think I want to hear. I don’t want to hear what they think I want to hear. I want to know what happened. What was seen. What was written. Then I will decide what I believe.

In today’s world, is there room for reality?

We’ve been watching a PBS series about World War 1. It was a terrible time. It was also when many of the myths, fables, and lies with which we are now living, began. It was the time when we started thinking we were fighting for democracy, and that somehow, we were “the right country” to defend democracy everywhere. It wasn’t true then. It isn’t true now.

We have been believing those same lies since 1914, the beginning of the breach between our political halves. It was the start of what we see every day, more than 100 years later.

A hundred years of lying.

Wilson could have gotten everything he wanted from Congress including the League of Nations, but refused to accept it because (are you ready?) the “deal” was offered by the wrong party.

Just in case you think the world has changed a lot? The answer is it has changed … but a lot less than you might think and in the worst possible ways.


Avoiding Stress, by Rich Paschall

Recently I attended a talk at work regarding avoiding stress.  We are in a deadline driven business and there can be a good deal of stress, so a talk on dealing with and reducing stress seemed like a good use of my time in a busy day. The speaker was Dr. Scott Cabrera of Higgins Sports and Spinal Rehab.  This caught my interest as I have had a variety of spinal issues and could not help but believe that some of them were caused by stress.

As I expected he had charts and a skeletal figure so he could explain to us about the spine.  He showed how we can often tense up and this is bad for the spine and the nerves connected to it.  We saw how nerves ran from the spine down the arms and legs.  Tension in the back could be the cause of arm and leg difficulty as well as neck and back pain.  Things were laid out in a colorful and clinical manner.  His main piece of advice was something I did not expect.

“Stop watching and listening to the news,” he declared.  “It adds stress to your life and is something outside of your control.”

He went on to ask how many listened to the news on the way to work.  I am certainly one of those.  I figure it is better to get in the morning rather than right before bed.  The good doctor did not agree.  He felt it was the way to start off your day in a bad mood.  Do these short radio broadcasts really give you a look at the news?  They are just tidbits, usually of the most sensational items.  There will certainly be something to upset you as they present a preponderance of bad news.  There is no big picture.  There is no understanding.

This makes the news somewhat irrelevant.  You have not learned anything that will be useful in your day-to-day life.  In fact, these tiny slices of news can be misleading.  You can draw the wrong conclusions based on the most dire pieces of factoids thrown at you in a report lasting less than sixty seconds.  After they have successfully upset you, it is likely to be “Traffic and weather on the 8’s” if you live in a big city.  That can upset you too.

The negative morsels broadcast in the never-ending news business can pile on the chronic stress.  This can result in the release of cortisol which is not just the item that builds belly fat, but it is also reported to have adverse effects on your immune system.  Did you know the news could adversely affect your health?

If you have paid attention to the news in this social media driven era of so-called reporting, you will notice how many people get riled up over tidbits of news. These can be tidbits that are essentially meaningless to the larger story, but enough to provide the “confirmation bias” lurking there for someone.  Many use the news or worse, social media memes, as a way to confirm their point of few, rather than to learn anything.  This turns conversations and social postings into upsetting arguments.  Is this making you happier?


Also helping you to get riled up is the spin put on the news by certain programing.  If you are right of center, you may be watching FOX to help confirm your point of view.  If you are on the other side of the fence, perhaps you can find your tidbit somewhere else.  This chasing down of miniscule pieces inhibits creative thinking.  There is no self interpretation of the news, just more proof from your side that the other side is bad.

Since news is largely about things you can not control, you might be happier if you skip the news altogether.  Consider this carefully.  Is it doing anything more than adding stress to your life?

Many will say it is not possible to live in society without being educated on the issues, but is the news actually educating you on anything?  Does learning how many people were shot today bring you closer to the policy decisions, or lack thereof, of gun control.  Does a late night tweet on a particular country bring you near to understanding the trade issues between our country and another?  There are many questions like this and you know the answer to all of them.  No.

Real journalism

What we actually need is true journalism.  We need to delve into a story in-depth so we may come away from it with the ability to do critical thinking.  Rather than a thirty-second piece, how about a story that takes a half hour to report or an article that takes a half hour or more to read.  Yes, many of these are also slanted one way or another, but if you get more than a half-minute of a story, you may stand a better chance to understand it.  Further, a thoughtful, even if time-consuming, look at a story is better than the bombardment of tidbits.

Some years ago, a television station in Chicago changed the 10 o’clock news format to be different from the other stations.  Rather than a bunch of tidbits, it examined the top stories of the day.  It looked into the background and brought the news makers on set to discuss what had happened.  The experiment did not last.  People gravitated to the pieces thrown out on the other channels.  The old format is addicting and people had to have it, no matter how little they actually gained from being upset before bedtime.

Leave the negative tidbit cycle and you will be happier.  Although I was not willing to go along with Dr. Cabrera’s assertion we should just stop listening to and watching the news, period, there is great value to avoiding the news as it is currently presented in society.  I find the tidbits on sports talk radio more interesting these days.

Dr. Scott Cabrera, D.C., Higgins Sports & Spinal Rehab, S.C.
News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier,”


As the drip, drip, drip of the Russia investigation is turning into a torrential downpour, the news cycle has been diverted to another story.

It appears the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama is a PEDOPHILE! A guy who had, or tried to have sex with CHILDREN!!

The facts are damning. The case against him is solid. So solid, in fact, most Republicans in Congress have come out against him and said he should drop out of the race. So, who isn’t denouncing him? Well, SCROTUS of course. What a surprise. Plus a whole bunch of Alabama Republican voters. The excuses some of them have come up with are mind-boggling.

How about: “Mary was under age. Joseph was much older, so Roy Moore is just being biblical.” Yes, that is real. I did not make it up. They also said “He might be a child-molester, but at least he’s not a Democrat.” That’s real, too.

My first thought at this was, is there no line that can’t be crossed with these people? Is there nothing this guy could do that would make them say “Enough. I’m out!”  Kill a puppy? Torture a kitten? Eat a baby?

But then I realized that the most probable reason they think the way they do is because they don’t believe the news reports. It’s all “fake news.” We live in a bizarre world where if people read news they don’t like, they refuse to believe it. Why?

Well, I think it’s mostly because of Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Most people get their news these days from social media. Not newspapers, not cable news, not network news, not local news. Just Facebook.

And where does the news on Facebook come from? Mostly from people on Facebook. All those folks sharing and sending stories they see on Facebook to their friends. Email is also a popular way to propagate “the new News”. I think the reason that this new “News” delivery system has been so successful is because you get the stories from your friends.

People you know.

There is only one small problem here. YOUR FRIENDS DIDN’T WRITE THE STORIES!

They just pass them along. 99.9% of them don’t check to see if they are actually true. It only takes about 30 seconds to go to snopes.com to see if a story is true, but almost nobody ever does it.

Unless your friend is an actual reporter you should take anything you read online with a grain of salt. Some with a grain of salt the size of a grapefruit.

That’s a lot of salt!

Here’s a sad fact. Almost all the stuff you see online is not true.

There is no pill, cream or exercise that will make your penis larger. There is no program from Bill Gates, Disney, or any other company that is donating five dollars to a cancer charity every time you forward an email.

You are not going to lose 50 pounds in two days using “This belly busting miracle food!” Nor is there a Nigerian Prince who is going to send you 25 million dollars. Did I mention there is nothing that’s going to make your penis larger?

Your friends mean well, but they’re your friends. They are not journalists.

The Russians managed to send fake stories to over 120 million Americans using Facebook. Mostly because people shared and tweeted those fake stories. Facebook is like the 9-year-old friend who knew everything about everything you had when you were nine. You believed every word he said. And he was always full of shit.

Babies come from Amazon.com

Try this as a general rule on whether or not the story might be true. If you read it on social media, check out where the story actually came from, not who sent it to you. 

News is news. It’s supposed to be factual reporting on what is going on in the world. It’s not supposed to be what you would like to be going on in the world.

P.S.: If you pass this blog along to at least ten people, absolutely nothing good or bad will happen to you, but it sounds like a good idea to me.


Keep Right On Going, by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

If you are a fisherman, and perhaps even if you are not, you can understand the frustration that comes with the sport. That is, you go out knowing fish are swimming all around you. Maybe a lot of them and you are ready to reel them in.  You bait the hook and drop it in amongst all those lovely fish and you wait … and wait. Nothing happens.  It is as if Charlie Tuna or some holy mackerel was there, warning off all the others to avoid your bait.

“This is good bait,” you may think.  “It is big and tempting and the sea creatures should flock to it,” but they just smirk and swim off to visit other old timers to see if their little fishes are off in schools somewhere else.

Avoid the bait

This is how we should be too.  We should stop taking the bait, but sometimes we do anyway. The consternation begins.  I am talking about social media and social conversation.  There is always someone lobbing bait in the water. It’s up to us to keep swimming.  No good comes from getting hooked.

It would appear that many throw out the bait on Facebook or Twitter — or whatever platform they prefer — knowing they will start an argument amongst friends and acquaintances.  In this politically charged “us versus them” environment fostered and encouraged by 45 and his ilk, there are always those waiting for someone to take the bait. Their posts can be filled with political arguments.  None are worthy of the time, but some play it like a sport.  It is almost like taking your boat out on Lake Michigan hoping to land a big one.  You are likely to end up with carp or alewives, of course.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Whether you are posting something in favor of POTUS or against, there is someone ready to take the bait and tug on the line.  While an astounding number of people are not in favor of the current pretender to the throne, he still has some rabid supporters who are willing to dangle the bait or take it themselves and the battle is on.  These battles of back and forth with the fish can get rather rowdy and sometimes Facebook or whoever has to step in and stop the battle from going on.

Soon after the terrible display of hate in Charlottesville, I posted a brief piece I saw about how the USA helped defeat the Nazis in World War 2.  I thought it was important to remember (or to learn) what that was all about.  I know exactly what my parents would have thought of recent events.  My father fought in World War II.  It is terrible, in my opinion, that people would carry the Nazi flags on our streets after the 1940’s but perhaps some forgot.  I had no idea I was dangling bait for the alt-right.

What followed my post was a long series of comments by a few people who conducted a mean-spirited, name-calling “debate.”  I could not keep up with it or monitor the frequent comments, which apparently turned threatening.  After someone complained, Facebook stepped in and removed the most egregious comments.  At my first opportunity, I removed the post completely.  History really is not debatable nor is it worth threatening someone, but that’s the road we’ve gone down.

Due to my stance on some topics, or my willingness to take the bait on a few occasions, I guess I have lost a few friends.  I can’t say it really bothers me.  If you are that bigoted, whether your opinion is based on some misinterpretation of history or the Bible or some other religion, I guess it’s best I swim on by. I’m too old to have this stress in my life.  Be careful. You never know when some fish might pull you into the water.

Until recently, I used to get together a few times a month with someone I have known since childhood. He’s a bit right of center politically, but we had mostly avoided political arguments. That changed in the current social climate. He has taken to dangling bait.  I was playing along for a while, but I now see the futility of this endeavor.

It will start with my friend saying something about 45 or other right-wing topic.  I might respond, “As a former military man, how do you feel about 45 making comments about North Korea that also seem to give up military secrets?”  It is a reasonable question, I think, but it only proves that I have taken the bait.

“What about Obama?” he might reply.  “You never said anything about Obama when he was in office.”

“Yes I did,” I usually point out.

“I never heard it.”

“You never listen to my side.”

“And what about Rahm (Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago)? What about that?” He will say in a voice somewhat louder.

“What does this have to do with 45 and North Korea?” I may inquire to try to steer the conversation back around, but it’s too late.  I am already on the line.



One of the things about social media is that whereas in the past we complained to our friends on the phone or over the fence, these days we complain to the immediate world. What used to be unfortunate and inconvenient … and sometimes “Wow, what a bummer!” has become “OMG the sky is falling.” It’s not that personal disaster is gone from our lives, but everything is now a disaster. Nothing is merely annoying, inconvenient, or frustrating. Everything is terrible, catastrophic. Mind-blowing. Calamitous.

I know people who are online every single day telling the world which fresh disaster has afflicted them. It is “the boy who cried wolf” writ huge and sometimes with international implications.

The result is exactly the same. At some point, “the world” just stops paying attention to the latest calamity because you can’t tell the difference between this calamity and the previous calamity. When everything is a disaster, ultimately nothing is.

I think maybe we should all tone it down. Try to determine which of our messes is a genuine killer … and which ones are just unfortunate, inconvenient, annoying, aggravating, frustrating. Which ones need the SWAT, the police and fire department … and which need a good friend, some excellent coffee and maybe top-quality cookies.

If we could tone down the note of hysteria that seems to accompany so many posts on social media, I think it would help calm us down. It doesn’t mean we won’t have some serious problems. We have plenty of really serious problem — personally, nationally, internationally  — but wouldn’t it be easier to sort them out if we weren’t hysterical all the time? I think the U.S. has been in a state of national hysteria since last November. I get it — really, really get it — but I have come to recognize that the frenzy isn’t fixing anything.

Nobody is thinking anymore. It’s all railing at the heavens.


The wheel of meanness, bad manners, incivility, and cruelty just keeps rolling. Here’s an example:

“If you don’t approve of my having my dog in my bed, too bad. The dog lives here and you don’t.”

On the surface, sounds okay to me. I’ve got dogs. Mostly, they do pretty much whatever they want. So as far as I’m concerned, she can sleep with her dogs. She can give them their own place at the dinner table. Her dogs. Whatever she wants to do with them, short of cruelty, is fine.

But … what’s the point of posting this? Are you intending to make anyone who doesn’t sleep with their dogs feel bad about it? Are you angry because your friends have criticized your sleeping with your dog(s)? Is this a big problem in your life? In which case, maybe you need more dog-sensitive friends?

Or are you trying to shame me (who you have never met) for not sleeping with my dogs?

The dogs favorite game is to stand on the top step as I slowly move on up the stairs. They think being above me is hilarious. Maybe it is.

We do not sleep with our dogs. We adore them. Play with them. Overfeed them, then feel guilty about it. Take the best care of them we can … but sorry, we are not sharing the bed.

Is this okay with you, whoever you may be? I mean … is it okay that I have enough trouble breathing without another hairy body or two in my bed? That my back is bad enough without trying to twist myself around two dogs?

Every time I bump into these “memes” on Facebook, I wonder if people understand how rude it is. Do the posters understand other lives may be different and questions like this — which remind me of the old classic, “Do you still beat your wife?” — are intended to make other people feel bad? That other people have their own issues and stuff like this sounds mean-spirited and petty?

The unpleasantness of social media is infecting our world. It’s like a disease and it seems to make many people think that however they feel, right this minute … they have the right (First amendment?) to blast it all over the Internet. My question is why so many people on social media are consistently bitchy to everyone? Not confining their ill-temper to the people at whom (presumably) it was really aimed, but targeting every person who directly or indirectly comes in contact with their timeline.

What’s with the constant snarky, nastiness? Is there something wrong with being nice to other people? Would a dollop of kindness and civility ruin someone’s day?

I’m weary of everyone accepting the overall meanness and unpleasantness as “normal” for this world. Just because you have a right to do it and can’t get locked up for doing it, doesn’t suggest it’s a good idea. It’s not a launch code to go bomb the world with your negativity.

Everyone has a right  to many things, but what’s your point? What are you trying to prove? To whom are you proving it? All I get from it is that you have bad manners. It doesn’t make you more free, brave, or independent. Just nasty.

What this makes you, is RUDE.