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Wheat Allergy?

I’ve been feeling like I am living in a fog bank. Worse, while stuck in this foggy mental state I lack the energy to try to get myself out of it, or to work, or to do much of anything. It has been a confusing situation, but one that has gone on so long that I did not really pay a lot of attention to it. There are a lot more that needs my attention than some tiredness that was, no doubt, being caused by being over-stressed.
Or was it?
Years ago, when I was a family caregiver, I accompanied my dad to a doctor’s appointment. His doctor noticed a rash on my arm, near my elbow, and started asking me a series of questions. She told me that, based on my responses, there was a good chance I might have an allergy to wheat. The only way to know for certain was a test of my liver, and I’ve been uneasy about going in for surgery for someone to chop up my liver, so I’ve just done my best to limit wheat in my diet.
 
Lately been extremely tired and feeling like I am living in a fog, something that comes and goes time to time but has been getting worse in recent months. Yesterday I noticed that within a short time of eating the only thing I wanted to do was go to sleep. Odd since it was only about 9 pm and I’ve been awake from stress until 6 am most days. I woke around 5 am and had some eggs and toast – and soon was soon sound asleep again. I woke up around 4 pm and had something to eat – again, bead was a part of the meal, and again I was asleep soon after eating.
 
This was all a bit too coincidental for me, so I did some research. Sure enough, extreme tiredness after eating wheat products is a sign of a wheat allergy. Today I have had no wheat of any kind and am still going strong at 9 pm, after having woke up around 6 am.
 
So, I am now making a serious change to my diet and eliminating as much wheat as I can for the next week to see how things go.

Violent Video Games Exposed

It is a controversy that has come and gone and come again over the years, usually following some tragedy such as a school shooting, where people are looking to understand what could have caused a young person to pick up a gun and fire it at their fellow children.

The most recent tragedy was a shooting at a Florida school on February 14th of this year when a 19 year old walked into a Florida school with an AR-15 rifle and killed 17 people, wounding another 17. According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, documents in the criminal case indicate that a sheriff’s deputy and two school counselors recommended in September 2016 that the shooter be forcibly committed for mental evaluation.

Following the Florida shooting there was a lot of focus on the weapons used. TIME posted an article on February 15th that gave readers an insight into the AR-15, and included a line from a song by former Green Beret Barry Sadler, “You see this AR-15, she’s hot and she’s mean, and she ain’t built for love or fun.”

There was a lot of focus on the ease with which people could obtain such weapons, and on what kinds of regulations should be implemented to keep weapons such as the AR-15 out of the hands of children or those who may pose a significant risk. Then something happened.

Focus seemed to shift away from guns and onto video games.

On February 20th, USA Today published an article on the shift in focus, in which it noted a neighbor had made comments to the Miami Herald about the shooter having played video games. If one looks to the article in the Miami Herald, however, they can see that the quote in USA Today is slightly misleading and leaves out that the neighbor, who owns a film and video production company, “sometimes would play a game or two with them.” It is also not state when, at what age, the shooter began to play games in which shooting and violence were a part of the game. It does, however, say that “After Gold and Deschamps split up and went their separate ways a few years ago, Cruz stayed in touch with Gold.” Which indicates that the shooter, Cruz, and the neighbor, Gold, played the games when the shooter was age 16 or younger.

So, why so much focus on video games? Possibly because of a line from the article in the Miami Herald:

Gold said he believes a host of factors contributed to Cruz’s instability: his mental illness, the bullying, an obsession with violent video games, his mother dying, no safety net.

Gold, who said the only attendees at the funeral for the shooter’s mother a few months before were Cruz, his brother, Gold and Deschamps, also stated:

“He was very strange at the funeral,’’ Gold said. “He was emotionless. He was polite and grateful but he didn’t shed a tear. His mother was the most important person in his life, but that boy did not feel the way that normal people feel.’’

The February 20th article in USA Today, quoted President Trump from a meeting with state lawmakers on school security where he said, “We have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it. … We may have to talk about that also.” The full quote can be found in a March 8th article on CNNs website:

“We have to look at the Internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds, and their minds are being formed. And we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it. And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts. And then you go the further step, and that’s the movies. You see these movies, they’re so violent. And yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved, and maybe they have to put a rating system for that.”

This statement lead to a lot of confusion by those who know that there has been a rating system for video games in place since 1993.

As for the question that drew attention off gun control and focused it on video games? Studies have shown as recently as March 14, 2018 that Daily Dose of Violent Video Games Has No Long-Term Effect on Adult Aggression.

Playing violent action adventure games for prolonged periods does not make adults more aggressive say researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany. A new study led by Simone Kühn looked at the influence long-term violent video game play has on aggression levels, and compared this with playing a life simulation game or not playing a video game at all. The research is published in the Springer Nature journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Springer. “Daily dose of violent video games has no long-term effect on adult aggression, researchers find: First long-term study finds no link between violent video game play and increased levels of aggression in adults.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2018.
www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180314102008.htm

Note that the focus of the study is on adult aggression, the scientists behind the study state that they hope, “that similar studies will be done using children as participants.”

Violent video games, however, are not intended for children. Games that include violent content are labeled M 17+ to guide parents in understanding that they are not the kinds of games that are suitable for younger players.

Why then are games such as those made? Why make a game that is not intended for children to play it?

Because gamers are mature and responsible adults who enjoy the entertainment derived from playing video games. Many people see “game” in the description and assume that the product is intended for children, however, research by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) shows that most gamers are not only adults, but adult women outnumber the number of male gamers under the age of 18.

Notable findings from the 2017 report include:

  • Sixty-five percent of American households are home to someone who plays video games regularly, and 67 percent of American households own a device used to play video games.
  • Gamers age 18 or older represent 72 percent of the video game-playing population, and the average gamer is 35 years old.
  • Adult women represent a greater portion of the video game-playing population (31 percent) than boys under age 18 (18 percent).
  • Sixty-seven percent of parents play video games with their children at least once a week.
  • Seventy-one percent of parents feel video games positively impact their child’s life.
  • The majority of parents (85 percent) are very familiar with the Entertainment Software Rating Board video game rating system, and among them, 96 percent are very confident the rating system is accurate.
  • Fifty-three percent of the most frequent video game players report playing video games with others.

Quite simply put, games are made that fit into a rating of M 17+ because the people who play games are, on average, adult gamers roughly 35 years old.

How can such games be kept away from children? The best possible solution is for the parents and guardians of children to take active interest in what their children are doing. For there to be stricter self regulation on an individual household level. For parents to be aware of the rules that the parents of friends of their children have concerning such games. And, ideally, for parents to spend more time with their children and focus on what is going on in their child’s life.

I think Dee Snider might have put it best when he spoke before the Senate during the 1985 meeting on music lyrics and record labeling:

Senator Gore: So, the choice the parent has then is to sit down and listen to every song on the album, right?

Snider: Or read the lyrics if they’re on on the record. On all-

Senator Gore: What if … If they’re not on the … I mean I think there’s pretty general agreement that if the lyrics are printed that’s one possible solution for this. Let’s suppose the lyrics aren’t printed. Then what choice does a parent have? To sit down and listen to every song on the album?

Snider: If they’re really concerned about it, I think they have to.

Senator Gore: You think that’s reasonable? To expect parents to do that?

Snider: Being a parent isn’t a reasonable thing, it’s a very hard thing. I’m a parent and I know, okay, I’m a new parent, I only have one child maybe, but I am learning that there is a lot to being a parent that you didn’t expect. It’s not just “oh, isn’t baby cute.” There’s a lot of labor, a lot of time and a lot of effort that goes into it. It’s not totally pleasurable.

______________

Senator Rockefeller: What about parents where both parents have to work, which is an increasing phenomenon in this country now? Because they have to survive. And the whole notion of parents sitting down and listening to record after record, tape after tape, doesn’t that really strike you as just a little bit naive and unrealistic?

Snider: No, I don’t, because I know the reality of the record buying market. As a record buyer with my allowance, I was able to, if I was lucky, afford maybe one album a week, at the most, usually it was one a month. Albums cost anywhere from six to ten dollars, and that’s a lot of money to a teenager, to a pre-teenager it is a ridiculous sum, to a teenage kid, you know, that’s a considerable amount of money.So, listen to one record a week, I don’t consider that a hardship.

Now, I understand that a parent can not take the time to play every game their child might want to play, but a parent can take the time to do a little research online or to ask on online parenting forums about certain games to be able to make quick and accurate decisions about whether a game their child wants is suitable for the child or if it is something they would prefer their child not play. A subscription to a gaming magazine can provide parents with vast amounts of information on what games are or are not appropriate for their children, and maybe introduce them to some games that they might desire to look at for themselves.

So, the bottom line… games that include violent themes are not intended for anyone under the age of 18, they are intended for gamers who are mature enough that they have moral values that guide their understanding of what is right or wrong. Mature games are made because adults make up a very significant portion of the gaming population and game designers trust parents to oversee what their children play.

Parents taking the time to be with their children matters

When I was a little girl my father worked for a company in Los Angeles. He was, at the time, the equivalent of the program that tells your computer what to do when you turn on the power switch.

My father would get up very early in the morning and drive from our home in to work, write the program for the people who needed to use the computer to do their work, then fix that program if anything happened to make it stop working; Even if that meant going right back out the door as soon as he got home or being woke at 3am to drive to work. He would leave before I woke in the morning and be home late enough that I do not have many memories of my father outside of weekends and family trips.

I remember going to his office with him a few times, and riding along as he delivered payroll checks all over Los Angeles and Hollywood late at night a time or two. I recall a trip to somewhere where I met someone my father worked with and the man gave my brother, sister and me each our own bulky calculator with red LED numbers.

And yet, my father still managed to be a huge influence on my early years. I got a love of reading from him that drew me more toward libraries than video arcades, I developed a passion for computers, science, space and storytelling. So much of who I am came from this man who had so little time to spend with me when I was very young.

So, when people say that parents do not have the time to oversee what things their children are interested in, to guide them away from things the parents do not want their child to be involved with, all I can wonder is – why? My parents somehow found the time to take my siblings and I to Big Bear camping, or Castake Lake boating, or Marina Del Rey to feed pidgeons… creeks I can’t name fishing, Magic Mountain, Knotts Berry Farm, Disney Land, old ghost towns, out flying toy airplanes… Out to watch the California Condors fly before they were endangered, the San Diego Zoo (with wonderful wax animal machines), the ranch / petting zoo of a man who’s name escapes me at the moment, and so much more… all before I was 10. If as busy as my father was, he could still be a part of all that and take my mom out to rub elbows with people like Sonny and Cheer and Robert Redford in the evenings… Why is it so hard for parents now to guide their children without the government stepping in to make new laws?

(My brother, my sister, my dad and me – picture was taken by my mom)

Family picnic in the 70's

What do we Know About the Closed Meeting on Video Game Violence?

It has been about a month since the terrible shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, and in the wake of that tragedy both victims and students from the school advocated for stricter gun control law. There was a series of inquiries about the role of guns and gun control, however, the question was posed of what role violent video games might have played in the incident and attention shifted.

This is not the first time that video game violence has been the subject of White House meetings. Following the 2013 shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, Vice President Joe Biden held three days of talks on gun violence prevention. Amid those was a meeting with video game industry executives, and after the meetings the White House called for research on the effect of media and video games on gun violence.

The research came back and it was at best inconclusive. Video games, it seemed, had no connection to increased levels of violence. The question, however, was raised once again after the tragedy this past month in Florida and President Trump called for a meeting between members of the video game industry and some of their toughest critics to discuss the issue of video game violence and the effect it has on real world violence.

The meeting was closed to the press, so information on what transpired seems only available from persons who were in attendance, but attendees of the meeting say President Trump wanted to hear from all sides and asked a lot of questions.

A video was shown at the start of the meeting that included clips from games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Fallout 4Wolfenstein: The New OrderThe Evil Within – all games that are intended for mature adult audiences.

It is no wonder, with titles such as those, starting the meeting, that there were a number of questions and concerns. Speaking of the President, Representative Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo, said, “He asked a lot of questions and he raised concerns with the violent nature of these games and asked the question: Is this causing the kids to have (this) violent behavior?”

It is a reasonable question, and one that studies have tried to answer for years now.  Since the issue was first raised years ago there have been multiple studies, and those studies have shown that there appears to be no evidence to support any connection between video games and violence. In fact, many studies indicate that there is no connection and in at least one study the opposite seems to have been shown, it determined that crime actually decreased following the release of a new violent video game. Another study, conducted over the course of a decade and studying 11,000 children, determined that exposure to video games from the age of five had no effect on behavior, attention or emotional issues for either boys or girls.

The problem, it seems, is not with the games, but with the ability of parents to keep such things out of the hands of their children. Melissa Henson, program director of Parents Television Council, a conservative watchdog group, and one of those who attended the meeting, said she sought to convey the challenges faced by even for the most diligent parent of keeping violent games away from kids. She described the meeting as a listening session with no decisions about next steps. “I don’t think there are easy answers and I don’t think that we’re going to be able to figure out the solution in the course of a one-hour conversation.”

Ms. Henson’s observation about the issues parents face seems to extend even to President Trump, who has expressed difficulty in controlling what his son, Barron, has access to;  “The video games, the movies, the internet stuff is so violent. It’s so incredible. I see it. I get to see things that you wouldn’t be, you’d be amazed at. I have a young, very young son, who, I look at some of the things he’s watching, and I say, how is that possible?”

But the discussion, according to a White House statement, was on the effect of the games, not the challenge of keeping them out of the hands of children. The White House statement reads: “During today’s meeting, the group spoke with the president about the effect that violent video games have on our youth, especially young males. The conversation centered on whether violent video games, including games that graphically simulate killing, desensitize our community to violence. This meeting is part of ongoing discussions with local leaders and Congress on issues concerning school and public safety and protecting America’s youth.”

Given that studies have now shown, time after time, that games are not the cause of the issue, it might be time for the Government to focus on things that might actually solve the issue of violent mass shootings in our public schools. This is a sentiment that some Democratic senators seemed to share when they noted that the meeting on video game violence was no more than a distraction from taking action on gun control. “It’s a diversion,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, while Rich Blumenthal, D-Conn., said, “focusing entirely on video games distracts from the substantive debate we should be having about how to take guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”

We may never know exactly what was said in the closed meeting, which is a shame given how important it seemed to be to the safety of children in the public schools. It leads to questions on if the shift of focus toward video games is nothing more than a smokescreen to draw attention away from gun control. I would love to hear your comments on this topic, whatever they may be. Why do you think the meeting was closed to the press? Would you have wanted to see a transcript or watched footage of the meeting? What is your position on the role video games play in violent actions? Use the comments section to share your thoughts.

EVO Shooting Threat

This past week there was a threat made on Twitch that claimed there would be a mass shooting at the EVO Championship Series 2018 held this August 3rd thru 5th at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. The threat has been referred to the FBI. Joey Culler, the EVO organizer, said:

We are aware of the threat that was made against Evo 2018, and have contacted the FBI and Twitch regarding this matter. We take this very seriously, and they will be punished to the full extent of the law.

— Joey Cuellar (@MrWiz) March 10, 2018

The EVO is expected to attract some 100,000 attendees to the three-day event and is one of the more popular eSports events, making it wise for the organizers to err on the side of caution when it comes to assuring the safety of those attending the event.

Days Gone delayed, new release day will be in 2019

The PlayStation 4 exclusive, Days Gone has been delayed and will be released sometime in 2019 rather than in late 2018. Neither Sony nor SIE Bend Studio has given any information on the reason for the delay. Days Gone is a third-person zombie action shooter game that was first announced at E3 2016. Based on the images and footage seen so far, it looks to be a game that will be worth the wait.

Self-Therapy Notepads

I was browsing around on Amazon a few minutes ago and found these Self-Therapy Notepads by Knock Knock. They seem to have a full line of this sort of notepad, including: Today’s Plan of Attack, Make A Decision, Shit List, Get Your Shit Together, and more. It was the Self-Therapy pads that caught my attention and made me snicker, because who could not use a tablet like this on their desk to make people wonder?

It has me wanting to make myself a self-therapy journal, with similar things to check off and fill out in the pages of it, just so I have a place to chronicle all of the things throughout the day, week, month that makes me go, “Arrrgh! I wanna strangle someone!” It would be fun and interesting to look back on something like this a year later and see what sorts of things bothered you over the year as you get ready to make resolutions for a new year.

 

Who will attend the President Trump’s meeting on video game violence?

On Thursday, President Trump will gather people from both sides of the issue at the White House to discuss the role of video game violence in tragedies such as the Parkland school shooting that killed 17 people. Trump has indicated that he believes that violence in video games is partially to blame for real life violence, and will host a meeting between representatives of the game industry and people who think that, in recent years, games have made kids more violent.

On Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said, “As we continue to work towards creating school safety programs that protect all children, the President will be meeting with video game industry leaders and members of Congress to discuss violent video game exposure and the correlation to aggression and desensitization in children.”

She also noted that, “This meeting will be the first of many with industry leaders to discuss this important issue.”

People who have been invited include: Mike Gallagher, Entertainment Software Association CEO; Patricia Vance, president of the Entertainment Software Rating Board; Strauss Zelnick, CEO Take-Two Interactive, makers of games such as “Grand Theft Auto,”; and Robert Altman, chairman and CEO of ZeniMax, the parent company for Bethesda Studios that produces games like “Fallout,” “Doom,” and other violent video games; Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Missouri Republican who, after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, said the federal government needed to address violence in video games, not gun violence; and Brent Bozell, head of the Media Research Center, who after Sandy Hook, argued that Democrats deny “our violent media has any influence on these under-21 shooters.”

The games that are being called into question, however, are ones that are clearly marked as being rated M by the ESRB and are not intended for children. In a statement this past Wednesday, Dan Hewitt, spokesman for the Entertainment Software Association, said, “video games are plainly not the issue.”

“We have to look at the internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds and their minds are being formed,” said the President. “And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.”

It should be noted that President Trump’s brother, Robert Trump, is one of the 8 people who sit on the board of directors for ZeniMax, the parent company behind games such as “Doom,” and “Fallout.” Of interest as well is a study by psychologist Patrick Markey that notes that the vast majority of mass shooters, about 80%, show no interest at all in video games.

According to Markey, there is no evidence to support the correlation between violent video games and these extreme acts of violence that many people want to draw. In fact, it seems that the study showed there to be a completely opposite effect. Markey noted that when a new violent video game is released, crime actually decreases.

So, what will come of the discussion the President has arranged on the role of video game violence in real world shootings? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Does Purdue University want to destroy the Christian family unit?

In short, I don’t think so. But if you read the comments on any of a growing number of sites where the topic of the Purdue Writing Style Guide is being discussed, then you would see that there are many out there who think, genuinely think, that destruction of the Christian family unit is exactly what Purdue University wants.

So, what does Purdue want? Well, I would recommend that anyone who truly wants to know take a trip over to the Stereotypes and Biased Language style guide and see for themselves what the fuss is about.

Oh, wait, I am sorry, I think I just offended some of my readership by how I phrased that, let me try again…

So, what does Purdue want? Well, I would recommend that any man or woman who truly wants to know take a trip over to the Stereotypes and Biased Language style guide and see for himself or herself what the fuss is about.

The fuss is about the use of gender biased words when writing. There are a lot of people, sorry – men and women, getting upset about the Purdue guide at the moment, they, he or she sees it as being an attack on the Christian family unit. I will state my personal opinion here in saying that I do not understand this at all, what a specific person, sorry, man or woman chooses to call themself, uhm… himself or herself, is up to them… err, him or her.

I have to say that, as a writer, trying to make sure I was NOT gender neutral in the above paragraph was so much harder than just writing in a normal manner. As a reader it is much harder to read and comprehend in the corrected format than how I had wanted to write it. Each of the above words that I struck out were what I felt was the natural word choice in those cases, however, the people, sorry, men and women, who are against Purdue’s guide to Stereotypes and Biased Language are, from what I have read, of the mindset that only my corrections are proper.

Why?

Well, I’m pretty sure that this is where it crosses from a literary debate into a social debate. You see, there are men and women (people) out there in the world who identify as not exactly being a man or a woman, and it is those individuals that the men and women who oppose the Purdue guide are upset about.

Why? … I have no idea, I really don’t, on a personal opinion level here, I can not wrap my head around what difference it makes in a man or woman’s life how another person chooses to identify themself/himself/herself.

So, the journalist in me has decided that I want to figure out just why the way someone identifies theirself is a threat to so many others. I will be going out to research this, but for now I would love to hear what others have to say about this topic, so please, I hereby open the floor to my readers to share their, err… his or her thoughts in the comments below.

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld to be a 6-part miniseries

When I was younger my dad was always recommending books that he thought I would enjoy reading, and one of the series that he suggested was Discworld by Terry Pratchett. I still have not had the chance to settle down with any of these wonderful books, but I did get the chance to see two of the films adaptations; The Color of Magic and Hogfather.

The working title for the new miniseries is The Watch and is rumored to be written for BBC Studios by Simon Allen. BBC Studios is co-producing the series with Narrativia, a production company that Pratchett founded in 2012 that is now run by Pratchett’s daughter, Rhianna, and his former business manager Rob Wilkins.

For those who are unfamiliar with Discworld and are wondering if the series might be of interest, all I can say is if you love a good dose of humor with your fantasy you most definitely need to take a look at this series. The setting, Discworld, is a world that is a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants, and those in turn balance on the back of a massive turtle.

City Watch is one of the major story-lines of the Discworld series and is a whodunit series that focuses on the city watch of largest city-state in Discworld, Ankh-Morpork. I will be very interested to get the chance to see this series when it is finished, and hope that my finances will be to a point by then that I can watch it without resorting to waiting until months after its release to see it.