idebunkforme

Debunking the web, one uneducated corner at a time.

Category: Personal

“The Mayor of Summerville”

Spread across his oak desk were all the correspondence he had with the townspeople, over forty years of praise, comments and greetings. Elton Blumfield relaxed into his recliner and read the last letter he had received, a week before from the Thomas couple on East Street. Their eldest son had just gone overseas in the Air Force, stationed in Korea for the next year, and they included an image of their family before he had left.

Forty years, where had the time gone? The town had bustled in that time, almost outgrowing its boundaries on two occasions. Elton had to annex more land for the new homes and businesses to settle.

The tiny town of Summerville unfolded in all directions from his home, a beautiful Victorian overlooking most of Main and Market from the gradual hill it lay upon. It was the home he and his wife had purchased, one that still reminded him of her each day.

Forty years, he wiped a tear from his eye. His neighbors, the Davidsons, were still close. Pat retired from his job at the school twenty years ago, and they were talking of moving to the Bahamas as their grandchildren had gone off to college. They were always there during the holidays in case he could not make it to his son’s due to weather.

Mandy Tidwell, the single mother who had three kids grow up through the ranks of his school, her house only stood out for how small it was.

The town was quiet this morning, the solemness that lingered since Elton decided it was time to retire from his position. The many homes and buildings would be someone else’s responsibility, and the townspeople would talk to the new mayor instead. Besides the years he lived with his wife, the love of being the executive of Summerville was his life.

A knock at his door broke the silence and brought him out of his memories. Right on time, he noted as he opened the door and ushered the young couple inside.

“Great to see you,” his grandson said, shaking his hand, while his wife offered a wrapped box. He accepted both and brought the package to his desk to open.

“So, this is the home of Summerville?” she asked.

“Just as detailed as I had said?” Elton’s grandson, Nathaniel, hugged his wife to his side while overlooking the village. The manicured lawns never grew, and the streets never pocked with potholes. The “lost” sign pinned to one of the telephone poles from years ago when one of the villagers lost a dog had yellowed.

“This is beautiful,” Elton remarked, holding up the miniature house.

“This is your guys’ place?”

“Yeah, Dad told me that you used to purchase a home for families and schoolkids who were part of your classes.” They watched as he brought their porcelain two-story abode to the constructed land built upon tables.

“Do you have a preferred plot?” A plot, Nathaniel noted. His grandfather truly held that Summerville was a real town.

“None of the ones near yours are available.”

“I apologize about that. I do not like changing people’s homes here, and once they’re placed, they remain forever.”

“Then that lot,” he pointed, “down the street from Dad’s.”

Elton gently placed the house on the model grass, ensuring that its corners were at perfect right angles. Nathaniel withdrew a small item from his pocket and handed it to his grandfather.

“He told you much about this,” Elton said with a grin, and took the small mailbox to his desk. He added its address to the box using a jeweler’s scope to see his work.

The two watched him plant the post into the ground near their driveway. “I’m glad, as my last day of being mayor, to have you two as part of our town.”

“You do know it’s not real?” Nathaniel’s wife asked.

“Charlene, please don’t be rude.”

“It’s all right,” he said with a smile. “Summerville may not be a real town, but to me it’s a thriving village. I can’t get around as well, and this is how I stay in contact with all those people who meant the most in my life.”

“So how did this all begin?”

“My wife purchased that house,” he said, pointing to his own, “a week before I had a heart attack. I was driving, and I hit another vehicle. She passed from her injuries, and I was very lucky.”

He wiped a tear from his cheek. “Close friends came by and noticed the house after the funeral, and each purchased their own to help me remember my beloved wife. My son helped me build a model city to set them up, so that I would have enough room to keep them without feeling like it was a museum here.”

Nathaniel hugged his grandfather as the latter nearly broke down. “I’ve treated this as my village, and it’s kept her alive in everyone’s hearts. I will miss it.”

“We have a spare room,” Nathaniel smiled, “that we’ll keep this in. I’ll make sure that it’s always dusted and I’ll send you pictures of it.”

“Thank you.”

They embraced, while Charlene investigated the rest of the houses. Nathaniel and Elton both watched her, still holding each other. The younger Blumfield understood just how deep the love ran for the fictional town, and knew it had to remain with someone who would take care of it.

“I have one more surprise, before we help you to the retirement center,” he said, going to his wife’s side. “We rented the party center for a dinner tonight. All of Summerville who could make it will be there.”

“I don’t know what to say . . .”

“I love you will be enough, Grandpa.”

He nearly broke down again, and managed a smile through years of wrinkles and experience in the features of his face. “I love you both.”

Nathaniel helped his grandfather into his coat, and watched as Elton gathered the letters into a messenger bag. The three left, to meet with the people who had mattered so much to one person, who had meant the world to all of them.

# # #

Copyright 2005-2015, @idebunkforme

 

This is one of my short stories that I never got back to editing properly, nor really sent out to any publishers. A cleaning up of old backups led me to a trove of these types of stories on my hard drive. I don’t know what I want to do with these stories.

The pronounciation of Chicxulub, for @kaimatai, from the lovely @XeupeT

The Twitter user @kaimatai asked how to pronounce Chicxulub, as in the name of the crater. The lovely @XeupeT recorded herself pronouncing it in her native tongue.

Take a listen:

http://www.christopherbair.com/idebunkforme/chicxulub.wma

Or, download directly: click here

Possible solution for growing cities and underwhelming mass transit

Tonight, reflecting on the issues that plague my home city of Austin, Texas, I considered a possible solution that utilizes already existing technology. However, some of the technology is still under patent protection and owned by different organizations, so piecing this all together would not be feasible right now.

One of the issues that Austin faces is a lack of reliable, 24/7 mass transit. We have a bus system and a single passenger rail system that only connects the downtown area with northbound highway zones. Much of the city is underserved by the rail, and those which are served, during busy times like South by Southwest, have difficulty meeting demand. Buses are regularly sluggish and many are a burden on the roads and air.

Lobbying has kept non-taxi services such as Lyft out of the city as well, so ride shares are unavailable. Those taxis which already exist are notorious for either refusing fares due to short distances or only serving specific areas. Pedicabs and other non-automobile cabs are insanely expensive. Services like ZipCar and Car2Go are available, but they take up room and require one to try to locate where an available one is nearby.

My idea can rid a city of many of these issues, while hopefully minimizing new issues that arise.

What if there were a service consisting of small- and medium-sized vehicles, depending on the need of the person who requires a ride, that was available 24/7? These vehicles would be available by the request of an app, or at several designated businesses such as bars, gas stations and convenience stores, that are open long hours and spread out through the city. Once requested, the person hailing the vehicle would need to include a destination, and the app or remote station would state the total cost of the use of the ride. If the person accepts, he or she is billed and the vehicle heads to pick him or her up.

Herein are the proposals for saving room, traffic, time, etc. These vehicles would be autonomous, like Google’s street cars. When requested, they go to pick up the person without the need of a driver. If the person picked up wishes to drive, the price negotiated only becomes an estimate, and time and distance are factored into the final new cost for the ride. If the person wishes to sit back and enjoy the trip, even if the autonomous vehicle must change routes or takes longer, the cost never goes above the agreed-upon price. If it takes less time and/or less distance, the person requesting the ride gets the difference refunded.

if a person needs a vehicle to go shopping, for instance, the car will pick up the person at a spot and drop him or her off at the door of the place of business. It will then travel to its next destination. However, once the person shopping reaches the registers, another vehicle is dispatched to pick up the shopper at the door again and take him or her to the next destination, or back home.

If a person is too drunk to drive, he or she may request a bar hail. This would be done at the bar, by communicating with a terminal at the bar. An employee at the bar can approve of the bar hail if the person is not safe to drive, and a car is hailed to pick up the person and take him or her to his or her home, at a reduced rate. The person may not take the vehicle off autonomous drive nor make any other stops along the way.

When cars are awaiting a hail, they drive themselves to special lots throughout the city. Here they will have stations to recharge the electric cars, etc. Any service or general care, such as washing and detailing, can also be done at select stations. A minimal number of employees are required to staff these stations, mostly to refill the fuel of the vehicles, untether the vehicles when they need to leave, and inspect any vehicles for damage and such.

These vehicles can also be in constant contact with a traffic monitoring server that readjusts where these vehicles go, and better estimates cost of travel.

And, finally, since none of the vehicles ever needs to stay parked anywhere, or needs to be in easily-accessible sections of town to be utilized, parking is better available to those who use their own cars.

This idea needs some refining and some research on any and all patents that would be required for this to work. However, it seems like a better approach to relieving traffic, rides and parking issues that plague cities such as Austin, which has no great mass transit system in place, but is growing rapidly.

The true argument in support of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson

The uproar lately in the media has been on the suspension of TV show Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, for equating homosexuality to bestiality and promiscuity, and calling it a sin. Many of the people rushing to support Mr. Robertson and cry infringement of free speech aren’t arguing for free speech at all. Given that the vocal majority of these people are also those who call for boycotts for people saying things they don’t agree with, or demand television programs adhere to their religion or politics, they aren’t purveyors of free speech at all.

The rallies of “next they’ll come for your free speech” isn’t a battle cry to speak up to protect the First Amendment of the US Constitution. It really is a deep-seeded fear that they will be called bigot as well.

See, most of the people in support of Phil Robertson’s words agree with his beliefs: that homosexuality is a sin, and leads to bestiality and promiscuity, even though this is not the case. They are even the kinds of people who will pick and choose the parts of the Bible they subscribe to, while ignoring similar parts that would also make their lifestyle, personality or ideology a sin.

What they’re arguing is that if Mr. Robertson’s beliefs get him labeled a bigot, what’s to stop people from calling others who agree with his words bigots? If they take the focus off the intolerance of homosexuals and say it’s an attack on free speech, or religion, then they can continue their bigoted beliefs without being held accountable for them.

And that’s what most of this is about.

Not free speech.

Intolerance and hatred.

Donation drive for disaster relief from Typhoon Haiyan

My real job is working for a SAAS organization that deals almost entirely with non-profit organization. Two of the organizations we work with are UNICEF and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. A coworker and I convinced the head honcho of our small, but growing, company to setup a donation drive in house, that would be used to encourage the many organizations we deal with to do their own donation drives.

In this discussion, we also got an agreement to match all donations our organization raised for Typhoon Haiyan relief.

This is where my followers on Twitter come in. Since our boss will only match personal donations we bring in, I want to see donations go farther to the relief effort.

Any funds donated to me personally for this Typhoon Haiyan relief drive will be put into the jar at work, and eligible to be matched before going to UNICEF and the JDC.

If you would like to donate, you can send funds (if you are in the USA) through Square Cash (https://square.com/cash/) to iwriteforme@gmail.com, or anywhere in the world through PayPal, as a gift, to paypal@christopherbair.com.

Once the money is counted and donated, I will post the total I donated thanks to those who sent me money did, and our overall donation as an organization.

Even $1 from every follower is an extra $2200 that will be matched going to two great charities.

What do you say?

Another Reason Why I Doubt “Souls” Exist

If souls are real, where did they come from before the human being existed? If they go to an afterlife after death, then they existed before the life began, as well.

So, you’re telling me…

So, you’re telling me that an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient deity will judge us when we die, and knows whether we’ve been decent folks or not, but has no involvement in the evil in this world, no way to fix the problems in the universe that it created, and still wants to condemn imperfect folks for its lack of leadership?

How on earth does this make any logical sense to anyone?

My monologue tonight on why no one needs to worship a deity

Tonight, on Twitter, I asked a very straightforward question of a Muslim who argued that Islam provides a way for others to be good that is needed in this world.

He explained that in his faith, people should donate 2.5% of their savings that go to help the impoverished. And once, around 700 CE, this method eradicated poverty from one country. So, I asked the user on Twitter this:

If your god created the universe, why can’t it just create what the people need instead of having others provide it?

Unfortunately, he kept sidestepping this question by saying such things as this world’s a test to see whether people follow that god’s commands, and that god works by using others instead of being direct, and so forth. He insisted that this god would reward those who did well, by giving them whatever they wished after they died.

I followed up with an explanation as to what I was getting at with this question:

If your god created the universe, why can’t it just create what the people need instead of having others provide it?

If your god doesn’t exist, it makes sense that others have to act as proxy. If your god’s not powerful, it makes sense…

If your god doesn’t care, or no longer concerns itself with humans, it makes sense. But not if it’s the creator who loves us…

Once you realize that it’s just people perpetuating “god” as an entity through these diversions of reality, you see the futility of religious belief. And people will use others’ beliefs to get what they want, like donations…

I then asked a very direct, and carefully worded, question:

Is there any difference in how the world appears to work, if a god is testing humans, and if there’s no god at all?

Unfortunately, he kept going off on tangents trying to answer different questions, but I told him to read that question aloud and answer only what was asked. He finally responded that there was no understandable difference.

I then made sure that he understood what I was getting at, so I asked him,

Okay, so the only way you could foreseeably tell which one of those proposals could be true, is after one’s death, right?

To which he finally admitted, yes, that was the only way. Next,

Okay. And there very well could be another option that’s right, and “A test of the Islamic god” and “no god at all” could be wrong?

Once he agreed that my points were valid, I laid it out for him in this monologue that took up quite a few tweets:

Okay then. With all of that, and there’s no way to tell until after you die, why then believe any of it at all? Why not be good because you can be good, not because your religious beliefs say you should do this or that? Why would you want to worship an entity which constantly tests you, doesn’t seem to do anything, and won’t help others…? Why would you want to waste any of your time worshiping what may not exist, instead of making a bigger difference in this world? And, if that god does exist, but was this much of a useless jerkoff testing you, why would you want to be around it later? Promises of great things after you die, that can’t be verified until then, seems like a con man’s way of stringing rubes along. And since there are thousands of possible gods already, with most having similar reward systems, they can’t all be right, but it is possible that each and every deity/reward/religious system could be wrong. So why not just be good to be good?

Consider all of that, and then determine whether you’re living your life here and now, or for a reward that may not even exist?

And there you are.

Due to Twitter’s Incompetency, I Have a Backup Twitter for Debunking

I have opened @debunkery on Twitter, with the name “Debunking Stupidity.” Apparently, from the form mail I have gotten from them, mentioning with @ people on Twitter unsolicited (which is never defined in their terms) can lead to suspended accounts. So I will not be engaging the morons directly. Retweeting stupidity, pointing out why it’s stupid without @mentioning the person, and possibly collecting the tweets to post on this blog.

It’s really stupid that these idiots love spouting their nonsense, but the moment it gets challenged, they run to the block/spam buttons on Twitter. Can’t let any other ideas into those heads of theirs.

Anyways, here’s the new avatar:

Twitter Support Lacks Competency

I now have four tickets closed in the past twelve hours with Twitter Support. They all have this form letter as the closing response:

Hello,

This account was suspended for sending multiple unsolicited messages using the @reply and/or mention feature. These features are intended to make communication between people on Twitter easier. Twitter monitors the use of these features to make sure they are used as intended and not for abuse. Using either feature to post messages to a bunch of users in an unsolicited or egregious manner is considered an abuse of its use, which results in account suspension.

For more information about these features, please visit our @Replies and Mentions help page:

http://support.twitter.com/articles/14023

I have now un-suspended your account. Please note that it may take an hour or so for your follower and following numbers to return to normal.

Be sure to review the Twitter Rules, as repeat violations may result in permanent suspension:

http://twitter.com/rules

Thank you,

Zendesk

You can see for yourself that @idebunkforme remains suspended…

I even asked for something other than this form letter for the fourth ticket. As a response, I got the form letter. Incompetent support people.

The tickets are 6168748, 6200087, 6202304 and 6202334.

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