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Dedicated to the creative soul of a writer

Flanagan House B & B

They say money is the root of all evil, but is it? Before money what was there? Barter! A person grew fruit, and someone who didn’t grow the fruit wanted the fruit. So, they traded. Say, way back before memories and events were recorded on parchment, how did we get along? Hasn’t there always been those that do, and those that don’t? Or did life at that time mean everyone pulled their weight? And in all honestly, we really don’t know how we got here, or why we are what we are! We also have no idea how long we will be here. We may just be a floating bacteria in the body of all that is infinite. How is one to know? We are so self-important! But why? When you look up into sky during the day, we are greeted by a cloudy and familiar ceiling, or on a sunny day we are fooled by the blue sunny roof above, but at night when you look up, you can see that it is like floating above the ocean depths, but upside down. We are so small, yet so big in our thinking and grandeur. We all have what we believe in! Who is to say who is right and who is wrong? We probably all are!

We can only trace back 5000 years! That’s it! Those that believe in a God should realize then, that their belief dictates a dedication to good, and a purity of heart. The reward? Heaven or paradise on earth. Those that believe in evolution or a modern explanation of their existence, they have a tendency to be less understanding and empathetic! Maybe because the reality without hope, of birth then death, with manmade struggle in between, gives them a different perspective on life. Then of course you have agnostics. They, and well me as well, we do not embrace the ego, for we understand we are puny humans as the Hulk would say, so therefore we should understand out limitations, and work to better ourselves, and in doing so stretch those limitations further out. Agnostics are the middle in religion, just as the middle-class working person is the middle of society. If you understand checks and balances, or you are familiar with a scale, you know that the center of balance is in the middle. I rack my brain constantly in the pursuit of understanding! I am okay with dying, though I am not happy about it mind you, but it is a finality I cannot change! The middle have a belief that has empathetic understanding, but is strong in logical resolve. Meaning for example, if you can, why are you not? Working, helping, caring and contributing. It is okay to care and help, but being taken advantage of is something completely different.

So is money the root of our evil, or are we? We are a species so dependent on each other, while at the same time we are IDs…individual egos that are in conflict with each other! The simplest of animals can show us a love and a loyalty hardly found in another person, or yourself for that matter! So, does it matter how we live are lives? Sure it does! Do onto others is not just a line, it is a belief that we are here for a reason, even if that unknown reason is laid out in our path yet to come. So, I sit here writing to you people, while my stress is focused on money and paying the bills. Others have it worse, whether by accident or by choice. Some have it better, whether by luck or hard work, or both. I do not envy! Not because the Bible says it is bad, but because it is a negative in a potentially positive world. Is it a positive world? The beauty and wonder that surrounds, that we take for granted until it is gone, is not enough to  stem the desire for more. So, is money the root of all evil? Or was it the path the human race took long ago?

 

Have you ever noticed we make life harder than it needs to be? Part of the human experience it seems! So funny that we are all labeled by race, yet we are all of the human race! Weird stuff huh? If we stayed ranchers, farmers, smiths and slew of other forgotten trades, which at one time was the norm, would we have a less stressful society? Of course we would have evolved in technology and medicine, but it may have been in a more positive direction, than a world filled with people in cubicles, whose jobs are to chase money paper trails and make the all mighty dollar! Even if we went back to barter it wouldn’t work because greed would still be there. A Utopian society would be nice, unfortunately we have not evolved enough to all work in unison, each with their own skills and happiness to achieve it. So, are we lost? A choice for a society starts with compromise! The world may be to big for its britches, and the bigger it gets, the harder it is to blend amidst such diversity.

 

Many who have followed my columns know that during the time of my mother decline and death, I used to read her Louis L’Amour books, how many I have read, I have no idea! I found tonight, in an old notebook I used to carry when I went to the rest home, a piece of a page from Louis L’Amour’s “Bendigo Shafter”! I remember reading that paragraph to my mom, and saying how, what the author wrote hit home even today. It read, “There can be no living together without understanding, and understanding means compromise. Compromise is not a dirty word, it is the cornerstone of civilization, just as politics is the art of making civilization work. Men do not and cannot and hopefully will never think alike, hence each must yield a little in order to avoid war, to avoid bickering. Men and women meet together and adjust their differences, this is compromise. He who stands unyielding and immoveable upon a principle is often a fool, and often bigoted, and usually left standing alone with his principle, while other men adjust their differences and go on.” And it has always been! Those that will and those that won’t! It works for just about every scenario in life you could think of! So, is money the root of all evil, or is it the lack of compromise that condemns us to what have here today?

Compromise, the cornerstone of civilization!

By Columnist: Tim Flanagan

Targeting Advertising

creates harsher political lines

By Columnist: Alice Walker

Every day we are inundated with ads. It is a multibillion dollar industry so it only makes sense that advertisers would try to come up with ways to make advertising more efficient. Targeted advertising is one way that advertisers have stepped up their game.

Everything you do online is recorded and sold to the highest bidder. If you type in “what is the weather going to be like today” suddenly when you go over to your social media or other apps on your phone, tablet or, computer there are a bunch of advertisements for jackets, boots, and tropical vacation destinations.  Companies use web trackers and cookies to save keywords and personal information to better understand what kind of advertising would work for you. Each time you talk to your voice recognition devices it does the same thing. It most certainly is an invasion of privacy but there are other issues these ads are causing.

By collecting information about you they can then tailor the information and the ads that they feed to you. What does this mean for our country? With political lines already being harsh, targeted ads are only making things worse. With the information that they have gathered on you they cherry pick the information that they show you. Since companies choose what you see it is cementing political beliefs in peoples’ minds. It used to be that people would see both sides of an argument now; targeted advertising is taking that away. Targeted advertising bolsters their side of the argument while eliminating or tarnishing the other side. This is incredibly dangerous because it is eliminating their ability to make informed opinions while simultaneously getting them to perpetuate the argument.

 Most of the time there are multiple articles for the same event from the same company. They do this so they can sell to both sides. One of the most popular examples of this is when The Wall Street Journal on September 1, 2016, wrote two different headlines for the same article. The Article was about President Trump (before the election) meeting with the President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto to talk about the plans for the wall. One head line read “Trump Softens His Tone” and the other said “Trump Talks Tough on Wall” they did this in order to help sway voters for the upcoming election. The first head line “Trump Softens His Tone” was sold in areas that were shown to be more liberal to attempt to show that the now president was compassionate and the article with the title “Trump Talks Tough on Wall” was sold in places that were shown as more conservative to show that Trump would stick by his campaign platform. The Wall Street Journal said that their newspaper is “constantly under revision” and that it was “unintentional” however, things like this happen all the time. Unless you go out and seek more information you are only getting what they want you to see. Let’s face it not many people are actively looking up multiple articles to find out the whole story and the advertisers rely on that. There is a lot of thought that goes into each word of every article to make sure they elicit a response from you.

 David Green from ‘Marking Solutions’ states “Don’t just preach at your audience, engage them! Get them involved and promptly reply to outreach” one of the ways advertisers get you to reach out and share information is to create controversy sometimes even resulting in bending the truth. To this point Seth Godwin from ‘Wed Strategies Plus’ said “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.” Targeted advertising is becoming more invasive but there are ways around it. We the consumers must be more diligent in fact checking before we continue fighting for what the media and its advertisers are feeding to us. We must also realize that not all the information given to us is credible or useful. Sometimes the information that we are seeing is just more targeted advertising disguised as helpful information. 

Life Banks

By Columnist: Victor Chilaka

When I log into my online banking account, an alert message reads, “We’re here to help customers experiencing hardship resulting from the federal government shutdown.” I imagine that hardship, a federal employee and victim affected by the shutdown and seeking help. Running a household, the only one working, married with a child or two, maybe even a disabled parent-our mother in law-lives with us. My wife took off from work perhaps a year or two to stay home and be a full-time caregiver. We take out bank loans, ask old college friends for help, and get extensions on car payments, heating, and electric bills…

I recall a family hardship, when I was a teen. I think about the night my family and I spent in our beat up 1994 Park Avenue Buick, fresh off an eviction finalized in Winton, NC court house. On a church parking lot, my grandma begs the preacher to let us sleep in our car for the night. Never seen the righteous forsaken nor seed begging bread, but he tells us to leave and be blessed in the NAME of Jesus. 3 years of running around asking friends, family, and church family for help.

I recall a lesson learned my senior year in college, on my own renting, working 3 work study jobs 40+ hours a week to finish off strong, pay for my books, and begging the finance office to let me breach the $2,000 limit per semester. My teen experience taught me to never expect support, even when you have nothing, and thus I made myself learn to keep a $10-$15 electric/heating bill a month, and eat off $20 a month.

Finally I think on my post-college life, where it’s no longer about self-achievement or independence, but about being able to provide for my family. It’s taking out several emergency credit cards to keep my parents’ car in the yard, gas for work, house repairs, kerosene heaters running, pampers for my baby brother, and the utility bills paid. It’s about projecting into the future, visiting my grandmother more often and readying myself in the event that she needs to come home, taking care of my disabled uncle and still being able to treat him out here and there, because despite times of crisis, assuring he experiences life is just as important as making sure his basic needs are met. 2019’s kick off with a government shutdown speaks volumes on a fiscal level, but so much more on a spiritual one.

 

My experiences have taught me not to ask anything of, or to expect anything from the “banks” in my life. To start ignoring the "banks" who are merely watching me build a kingdom, offering linear advice and asking aimlessly from time to time “How’s the kingdom building coming along?” Instead I am grateful for the heaven-sent, the ones who notice and say, “I see what you’re doing there, allow me to help too!” 

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