I take it back. Don’t vote for Gary Johnson.

The first presidential debate may be three days old, but discussion surrounding it has not stopped.

What’s most interesting is that the chatter most prevalent in the media and among the two campaigns has nothing to do with any policy positions that came up on Monday night — but rather, a former beauty pageant contestant.

It was the final minutes of the debate, and viewers had already somehow survived 90 minutes of incessant bickering, mostly from the left side of their screen.

But that’s when Hillary Clinton laid a perfectly executed trap. And Donald Trump took the bait.

She mentioned a former Miss Universe winner, Alicia Machado, who Trump once insulted alicia-machadofor gaining weight. It was ingenious because it was a blemish against Trump that, somehow, we have never heard of before.

Of all the terrible, horrible things we’ve heard about Donald Trump over the past year and a half, his treatment of this woman was not one of them.

Instead of letting it go, Trump did what he does best — went on the defensive, and rather than calming the waters, he only proceeded to make the situation worse. And now, with the entire nation refocused on this election, we’re getting a full dose of Trump’s sexist, misogynistic tendencies. (Trump, for his part, appears to be retaliating by trying to turn the narrative to Bill Clinton’s past infidelities.)

Hillary is a lot of things to a lot of people. She’s definitely intelligent. But she’s also cunning. And honestly, I don’t think that’s the worst trait to have in a president.

For many, the debate probably validated their belief that they don’t want either candidate to be our president. And those people over the last couple of days may have taken a second look at the predominant third party candidate, Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico turned Independent, who’s polling at around 7 percent.

They should stop. Immediately.

And I know I endorsed the inclusion of Gary Johnson in this race, but, we shouldn’t give him credence simply because he exists as a third option. If he was a good third option, then fine. But recent history disagrees with that notion.

It’s been a rapid descent for Mr. Johnson in recent weeks, beginning with his failure to know anything about Aleppo, the city in northern Syria that’s facing the worst bombing the country has seen in its entire years-long Civil War.

And that coincides with his quirky-bordering-on-crazy behavior during interviews, like in this one last week with Bloomberg politics.

But the final nail in the coffin may have come on Wednesday, when, during a Town Hall-style interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, he was unable to come up with an answer when asked to name one single world leader that he respects. It was, in his own words, “an Aleppo moment.”

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Maybe the problem is that we should stop expecting our presidential candidates to be perfect. I mean, if you think about it, how many world leaders around the world are there right now who are universally liked?

When you’re in the public eye, people are going to look for reasons not to like you. Most of the time, they find them.

Trust me, I wish we had a leader who kept his cool every day on the job. Who was respected in the international community. Who was well-spoken. And who kept his campaign promises and who could represent our country with the proper amount of dignity.

If only that existed.

Oh wait. It does.

His name is Barack Obama.

Well, you certainly can’t doubt Elon Musk’s ambition

With America’s focus shifting back towards the presidential election in the days leading up to Monday night’s record-setting debate, a few other notables news items have sort of slipped through the cracks recently. So let’s catch up.

For one, protests surfacing from racial unrest throughout the country continue, in the aftermath of police shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Charlotte, North Carolina.

In a way, both movements achieved results. In Tulsa, a female officer was charged for shooting Terence Crutcher. In Charleston, public pressure forced the police department to release video footage of the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.

But they were small victories in what will inevitably be a very long march towards justice.

News from the sports world took a tragic turn last weekend, amid the sudden death of 24-year-old Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. A beacon of light in the sport, and one of the game’s best pitchers who escaped repression by defecting to the U.S. from Cuba as a teenager, Fernandez’s death in a boating accident early Sunday morning has left all fans of the game in a state of shock.

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He will certainly be remembered as one of the most talented young players to see their life and career cut short, and it’s a loss for anybody who is a fan of the game of baseball. One of its brightest stars is now lost.

Sports also lost Arnold Palmer, at the more elderly age of 87. He’s one of the greatest golfers ever, and he popularized a very tasty iced tea-lemonade beverage that you’ve probably drank at some point in your life.

Next time you drink one, pour some out for good ole Arnie.

But what I would like to focus on today is the ambition and vision of Elon Musk. Dubbed by some as the real life Tony Stark, Musk is the CEO of Tesla Motors and the founder of SpaceX — two companies that have pioneered amazing breakthroughs in technology but have also suffered setbacks in recent months.

On Tuesday, Musk laid out his plan to colonize Mars. Not to fly to it, or even land on it, but to colonize it.

In short, his plan involves a giant spaceship that would be launched into the Earth’s orbit by a giant rocket. The rocket would return to Earth, and make multiple trips back to obtain fuel (the lighter it is per trip, the less expensive). The launch window would occur every 26 months, when Earth is closest to Mars.

The spaceship will then travel 62,000 miles per hour to Mars over the course of six months. Ideally, Musk said, thousands of ships would be launched every 26 months carrying a couple of hundred people, so that there is enough to create civilization.

Done and done.

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You can’t really blame a guy for trying, right? I mean, one day we probably will get to Mars, right? So why not think about it now? And in Musk’s defense, his plan was more thorough than anything we heard regarding any other topic during Monday’s debate.

Bear in mind, Musk is the same guy who thinks there’s a one in a billion chance we’re not living in a computer simulation (although if you read his rationale, it’s hard not to believe him. But that’s a topic for another day).

Either way, he’s a visionary and thinking light-years ahead of everybody else. And actually backing up his words with a plan.

NASA, too, has long had its own plan of getting to Mars. But unlike Musk, the federal agency is limited by bureaucratic red tape.

What’s that corny saying? Reach for the moon, because if you miss, you’ll grab a star?

Well fuck the moon and the stars. You heard me. This isn’t some inspirational fairy tale you tell kids to soften them for inevitable failure.

We’re reaching for Mars. And thanks to innovators like Elon Musk, we might one day pull it off.

As for me, I’m still mapping out a plan for how I will leave my couch to walk to the refrigerator.

Debate 2016: the day after — also known as: “What the heck did I just watch?”

The first 25 minutes of Monday night’s first presidential debate began like everyone thought it would.

Hillary Clinton did her best to appear calm and composed, emblematic of her claim that she has the proper demeanor and steadiness to be our nation’s Commander in Chief.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, came out like an attack dog. He immediately released his major talking points — deriding Hillary as an ineffective career politician whose decisions on trade have severely affected the economy — in his typical loud and abrasive manner. And like in the Primaries, he showed little interest in adhering to traditional debate decorum.

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Hillary, showing no desire to get into a shouting match with her opponent, let most of his insults slide.

All the while, moderator Lester Holt stayed quiet.

For those 25 minutes, it legitimately appeared that Donald Trump might bully his way into the White House.

And then the rest of the debate happened.

Unlike the Primary debates, Trump was allotted more time to respond to questions, and therefore had to follow through with his answers. He couldn’t rely on his many sparring partners to finish his dirty work for him.

And unlike the Primaries, he was squaring off against some one who actually knew what they were doing.

As a result, America got a full dose of what Donald Trump is really like. His ignorance on practically every subject pertinent to being president was in the spotlight. He blabbered incoherently into the night, was fact-checked on multiple occasions by Holt, and repeatedly came off as a petulant child.

Polls and analysis show that Hillary won the debate handily, and thus her numbers are likely to go up. But we are just 12 days away from the next debate, and Trump has implied he may “hit harder” when the times comes.

In other words, we’ve got a long way to go.

I only hope that Americans did truly watch and actually get to see with their own eyes what these candidates are really like. Because there’s nothing worse than the person who stubbornly dismisses both candidates and ignores a golden opportunity to learn who they are.

Because if you watched the debate, and you actually care about this country, then there shouldn’t be much of a question of who you should vote for.

But then again, Trump is such a bad candidate that, in some people’s eyes, he probably brought Hillary Clinton down with him by virtue of being on the same debate stage with him.

Oh well. At least we made it through the first one.

If you feel a little disenchanted by the whole process and need a little pick-me-up, then enjoy Buzzfeed’s compiling of Trump debate quotes purposely designed to look like inspirational quotes.

It’s where you’ll see amazing material like this:

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You are welcome.

 

The first presidential debate: finally, a chance to think for yourself

Well, after a year and a half of what has been a very difficult presidential election to stomach at times, we’ve finally arrived at a day of actual importance.

The first presidential debate.

It’s funny because the average American has long had an opinion on this election. Where they got it from is anyone’s guess. Maybe they actually took the time to educate themselves and read well-reported print articles on both candidates.

Maybe they caught snippets on TV news, which, for the most part, is limited by time from telling the whole story.

Or, sadly, they probably get most of their news from Facebook memes conceived by groups that have a very specific agenda.

Because of the longevity of this race, people are probably starting to feel numb to politics at this point. And thus, they lack interest in tonight’s debate.

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But in reality, today is the first day that actually matters. And if you actually want to make an informed decision about which candidate you prefer, then tonight is not optional. It’s obligatory.

Unfortunately, most people will come in with their preconceived notions and probably will not be able to have their viewpoint changed.

America takes an astoundingly long time to choose their leader. When David Cameron resigned following Brexit, it took the United Kingdom all of five minutes to replace him with Theresa May.

You could have lived under a rock for the past 18 months. It wouldn’t matter. As long as you tune in from this point on, you will be exposed to everything you need. We have three full debates to get a measure on both candidates.

Watching a presidential debate is one of the single most effective ways to form an opinion. If you don’t care, that’s one thing. But if you’ve been making your thoughts and opinions heard, and you don’t watch — or worse, watch it with a closed mind — then, well, shame on you.

As I wrap this up, the debate is set to start in 20 minutes. It may not be pretty at times, but personally, I find it refreshing that we will finally see the two candidates in a room together, side-by-side, discussing the issues that actually matter to us.

In a 90-minute debate, there is no where to hide.

So I implore all of you to tune in, and gauge both of them by what you see and hear.

Tomorrow, we will see endless commentary over who “won” the debate. But all that truly matters is what you personally took away from it.

People will also be quick to say that there is no real winner. That the loser is us, the American people, for being stuck with those two candidates.

But the real losers, in my opinion, are the ones that remain ignorant.

Get the popcorn ready.

Let’s do this.

Wells Fargo and ‘Brangelina’

My absence on Wednesday can be explained by my return to my college glory days, in Binghamton, N.Y., where I visited for a day and a half for a work trip.

It’s been years since I’ve officially “missed” college, mainly because I’ve finally accepted that those days are long over and that I had no choice but to put it behind me.

I was a goofball back then, with few responsibilities and little motivation, and while not much has changed, I can safely say I do feel like a completely different person than my college self.

Thus, it was an incredibly eerie feeling being back, almost like I was in an alternate universe where my slightly more mature and responsible self was crossing paths with my moronic, Keystone Light-guzzling self.

But what did I miss while I was gone?

Ah, Wells Fargo Chairman and CEO John Stumpf was grilled in Washington D.C. during a stumpfSenate hearing, most notably by Democratic hero Elizabeth Warren.

As most of you know, the bank was fined $185 million for years of illegal activity where its tellers were opening sham accounts for its customers in order to meet impossibly high goals set by their supervisors.

The bank responded by firing thousands of low-level employees, using them as scapegoats, while the high ranking executives, like Stumpf, kept their jobs and get to keep the millions of dollars that they profited from their stock options as a result of the scandal.

Sounds about right.

People already have very unfavorable attitudes towards banks. But we also know that our economy is built on big banks and that they are a necessary evil.

Forget throwing bankers in jail. That will never happen anyway. But for once, it would be nice if a banking executive just admitted they were wrong, and said they are sorry.

Just once. My gut says it will not happen.

Meanwhile, all is not Wells for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who apparently will Fargo the rest of their marriage.*

I starred that because it means it’s officially in contention for my worst joke of all time.

The couple, whose 12-year-relationship took on an almost mythic quality, is splitting up. A child abuse allegation that is reportedly being investigated may or may not have been a factor.

But it appears to be the end of “Brangelina.”

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Normally I don’t waste my time talking about celebrity breakups not involving Taylor Swift, but this is too big to ignore. It involved two of our country’s prettiest people. And if two extremely good looking people can not make it, then who can?!

Because this is America. We don’t marry out of love. Or compatibility.

We marry up. We find the best looking person who somehow finds us presentable, and we showcase them like they’re a gold medal in the Hot Wife Olympics.

But now Brangelina has failed, and the entire institution of marriage has been upended.

And I’ll say one last thing. I actually liked By the Sea. Even if I was the only one.

Though I might as Wells admit I liked the movie Fargo better.

An uplifting story of two brothers amid this week’s terror

Details are beginning to surface about Ahmad Rahami, the suspect who is accused of planting explosives in New York and New Jersey this weekend, and was subsequently arrested following a shootout with police on Monday.

Those details include the fact that his friends and associates said he became a “completely different person” following a trip to Pakistan in 2011, as well as the more intriguing revelation that FBI officials investigated Rahami two years ago after his father informed police of his possible terrorist ties.

The explosions, plus the ensuing manhunt, is obviously a story that has dominated headlines the last few days.

And it’s understandable why that is. Anytime there’s a semblance of a terrorist threat in bombing-suspectNew York City, it immediately invokes memories of 9/11.

But we have to remember that this was actually a pretty slipshod terrorist attempt. Of the four known explosives that are linked to Rahami, only two actually detonated the way they were meant to. And even so, they didn’t kill anyone.

That’s certainly not to imply that 29 injured people is insignificant, but as far as terrorist attacks go, this was on the tamer side. It was not the work of a calculated or sophisticated terrorist cell.

Furthermore, given the incredible job by law enforcement to connect all the clues to Rahami in short order, this ordeal should teach us that we are stronger when we are together.

When times get rough, be vigilant. Be alert. Help one another and don’t let fear take hold. This is a prime example of that and something we can build off.

But anyway, I want to move on to something that I feel more people should know about. A story of an athlete who shoved aside personal glory to come to his brother’s aid.

It was at a triathlon in Mexico on Sunday during the final race of the World Triathlon Series. As the competitors sprinted toward the finish line, the race leader, Jonny Brownlee, of Great Britain, suddenly started showing the extreme effects of dehydration.

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He stumbled over to a water station, where he was on the verge of passing out. Behind him, the next two runners turned the corner. One of them was Henri Schoeman, of South Africa, and the other was Jonny’s brother, Alistair Brownlee.

Without a sliver of hesitation, Alistar immediately ran to his brother, wrapped his arm around him, and ushered him to the finish line. The South African won the race, but Jonny and Alistair finished second and third, respectively. As soon as they crossed the finish line, Jonny collapsed and was admitted to a hospital.

If you watch the video embedded in the link above, you’ll see that Jonny never would have finished the race if not for his brother.

If that doesn’t make you feel good, I don’t know what will. It brings back memories of the Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino moment at this year’s Olympics, and it’s occurrences like these that remind us what it means to be human.

Winning a race is a wonderful personal accomplishment, but putting everything aside in the name of love and respect — that’s a moment that will leave your mark on this world forever.

Your own personal moment may not be caught on camera, or publicized in the media — but it doesn’t mean your acts of kindness aren’t doing their part to make this world a better place.

Remember that.

Crowdsourcing a terrorist suspect

People in and around the New York City area today were exposed to a very unpleasant noise to begin their Monday morning, in the form of a loud, screeching alarm from their smartphone that is typically reserved for AMBER alerts and severely inclement weather.

In this instance, it was neither. Rather, residents were being alerted to be on the lookout for a dangerous terrorist suspect.

By all accounts, it’s the first time that a Wireless Emergency Alert was used to essentially deputize millions of people during an active police investigation.

Given that social media  and technology has connected us all in ways that we never thought possible, it’s no real shock that it’s come to this. In fact, in many ways, it seems quite practical.

If people’s lives are in danger, why not let them know in the quickest way possible? Word of mouth does spread fast, but there’s no way to get information to somebody quicker than through their smart phone.

But let’s take a look at the actual message.

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This was, of course, in response to the explosion in New York City of a pressure cooker bomb on Saturday night, which appears to be linked to at least three other homemade bombs that appeared recently in New York and New Jersey. Thankfully (and amazingly), they’ve killed no one.

We’ve yet to learn if the attack is linked to ISIS, unlike a knife attack that took place this weekend in Minnesota that injured nine people, which the radical Islamic group has taken credit for.

But OK, let’s unpack this. Firstly, for an alert sanctioned by the federal government for the purpose of keeping people from danger, I’d like it to be a bit more official-sounding than your average text message, or dare I say, a tweet.

My mom uses better grammar in text messages and she just got her first smart phone this year.

Secondly, “see media for pic”? You just intervened in my life with this resounding chelsea-bombingmessage, and you’re not even giving me complete information? In fact, you’re ordering me to do something?

Not including a picture in this message underlies the fundamental problem with this particular alert.

Sure, a lot of people likely saw this on their phone and either turned on the TV news or went straight to Google to learn more.

But many did not. And those people were only told that some man with a Middle-Eastern sounding name is on the loose.

If that’s not an invitation to racial profiling, I don’t know what is. Every brown man wandering New York City must have been reported to the NYPD at some point today.

And I’m not saying that Wireless Emergency Alerts are a lost cause. Like I stated earlier, it’s undoubtedly an efficient way to spread the word and incite vigilance. But if your goal is to inform people, well, why not actually include all of the pertinent details?

But I may take a page from our federal government and send out wireless alerts whenever I write a new post.

“BREAKING — NEW POST BY WEINBLOG. SEE BLOG FOR MORE.”

Furthermore, instead of an obnoxious alarm, the alert will be accompanied by a serenading harp solo.

And those who don’t have the time to read it will have the option to have it narrated to them by Morgan Freeman.

This all sounds doable.