The Question to Ask Trumphole on Gun Control

I am not going to weigh-in again on the gun debate, as I have already shared my opinions several times over the course of the past five years. And, yes, that’s right boys and girls, this week we celebrated the 5th anniversary of Nipple Monkey!

However, I do wish that one of these grieving parents from Florida would ask Trump the one question that might get his fat ass off the bench in the gun control debate. And, no, it’s not asking him to think about how his campaign contributors, the lobbyists and special interests who helped put him in the White House, and all the far-right Republican hypocrites who have swallowed every ounce of self-respect in order to keep him there would feel if he introduced legislation that would not only reinstate the ban on assault weapons (which, let’s be honest, are made for mass murder, not hunting) but also establish measures that would prevent people with mental health issues from owning a gun as well as prevent people who are on our nation’s terrorist watch list from owning a gun (yes, Republicans actually shot down legislation to prevent confirmed terrorists from purchasing guns).

Instead, I am hoping that someone will ask Trump how he would feel if it was one of his own children who were gunned down in a mass shooting. OK, if Ivanka was gunned down, since she seems to be the only one of his kids that he genuinely cares about – even if it is just for her looks. I’d like him to think about how he would explain his inaction on gun reform to Melania, assuming she’s still talking to him at this point, or whichever of his three wives was the actual mother of his freshly slaughtered child.

Yes, it’s a gruesome thought, but no more gruesome than what those 17 families have had to face. And given that Trumpo is clearly incapable of thinking of anyone but himself, someone needs to get his pea brain thinking about what it would be like if his family was on the receiving end of an AR-15 or some other assault weapon in a mass shooting.

But as we debate this issue, keep in mind that there are two types of gun owners in this country. There are the responsible people who may or may not fear that enacting any sort of legislation will open the door for the repeal of the Second Amendment (personally I love guns, but I would support the sort of legislation I mentioned earlier, in the second paragraph, because I don’t live in a world of fear and therefore am confident that we are strong enough as a nation to always retain our right to bear arms responsibly). And then there are the people who burst into a crowded pizzeria with an AR-15 assault rifle – the same kind used in the Parkland shooting – and start firing off rounds because they genuinely believe that Hillary Clinton, who has a net worth of $45 million, had to resort to running a child sex trafficking operation out of a secret room in some random local pizzeria (no, I’m not making this up), presumably so she could afford her private email server.

And I don’t know what’s more disturbing, the number of people who actually believe that kind of nonsense or the fact that they are walking around with loaded assault rifles. Which reminds me, as bad as the Russian trolls may be, they hardly compare to some of these alt-right ones who were responsible for propagating moronic shit like this.

A Timeout From Technology

citytreesDuring 2015, I managed to crank out at least one semi-well-conceived post each week for the online glory that is Nipple Monkey. And as you may have noticed, I offered up nothing during the month of January 2016.

I wanted to take a little break. Not necessarily to focus on other things, though that was one of the upsides. I simply took a break for the sake of taking a break, to try something different. And not having that weekly need to feed the digital beast sparked some introspection into my relationship with technology.

The Trouble With Technology
I’m a long-time tech geek, old enough to be considered an early adopter of computers – even before they invented the personal computer. In fact, I was programming back in the 70s. So it’s no surprise that I pounced on the iPhone when it came out in 2007.

The point is that I like gadgets and technology in general. But I find that I often use these sorts of things quite differently from most people I know.

Let’s stick with the smart phone as an example. Have you ever had drinks or dinner with someone who not only leaves their phone on but actually sets it on the table? Worse yet, a phone that constantly chimes or vibrates with a steady stream of alerts?

I liken it to having some obnoxious guy constantly trying to butt into our private conversation. And yet you indulge him on the off chance that he might suddenly say something important? That’s crazy.

If I commit to spending time with you, I want to spend time with you. Not you and literally everyone you know.

That means the people who I’m not spending time with have to wait, because you are my priority. I expect the same in return. It’s as simple as that.

ifoneTechnology For Me,
Not For You

As I frequently tell people, especially those who complain that I don’t always answer my phone, I didn’t buy a mobile device so that they can reach me whenever they want. I don’t carry it around so it’s easier for people to reach me at their convenience, on their timetable, regardless of what I may be doing at that particular moment.

No, I have a smart phone so I can access people and information when it’s most necessary and convenient for me. It’s not for you; it’s for me. You don’t pay the bill for that service; I do.

And I also spend far more time looking up things on Google or accessing maps and other information than I do calling or texting someone to find out what they are doing. Sometimes I think people call or text simply out of boredom, as if they have forgotten how to be alone for a moment. For me, technology is a tool, not some sort of a pacifier.

Technology Teaching About Nature
That’s not to say technology can’t be both a tool and a source of entertainment. For example, I recently watched a documentary on the technological workhorse of the latter half of the 20th century: the television. And it taught me about some of the negative effects that all this technology can have on our health.

I stumbled across a show on the National Geographic channel that talked about the importance of occasionally disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. It was called Explorer: Call of the Wild, and it opened my eyes to a few things worth sharing.

Roughly 5 billion people own cell phones. Only 4.1 billion own toothbrushes. Though I guess one could argue that if you didn’t own a toothbrush, a cell phone is the best way to communicate because no one wants to spend one-on-one time with someone who has poor oral hygiene.

On average, Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors. And only 10 percent of our teenagers spend time outdoors every day. We’ve retreated not only from nature but from sunlight as well. And it looks like future generations are going to be even less connected with the natural world.

parktreeThe Niceness of Nature
So what’s the big deal? Well, imagine if there were scientific evidence that demonstrated the benefits of nature. There is, in fact, such evidence, and plenty of it.

Being in nature improves creativity by 50 percent. It also reduces stress hormones and lowers blood pressure and heart rate. It can help combat things like depression as well. Researchers even found that some trees give off chemical compounds that boost our body’s natural ability to fight diseases – including diseases like cancer – by as much as 40 percent.

So a walk in the forest – or even a park – can actually make you healthier. But taking that walk with a cell phone, and the mental distraction it causes even when it’s tucked away in your pocket or purse, greatly diminishes the experience and therefore the benefits it provides.

Trees For Technology
As 2016 progresses, I’m still going to try to consistently post material here on Nipple Monkey. Feed the Monkey! And I will continue to be a semi-functional cell phone user. But I’m also going to try to spend at least a little time in a park every day – rain or shine – for the rest of this year. And I will do so with my phone turned completely off. It’s just too beneficial not to.

Don’t live near a park? I live in Manhattan, one of the most densely populated places in the United States, and yet I have three parks within walking distance. But if you genuinely do not, your brain can still derive some benefit from simply looking at images of nature – even on your compuiter. And I suppose you can also watch a video of the wilderness on your cell phone, right?

Thought of the Day: Bloggers Can Be A Sketchy Lot

WpressFirst of all, thanks to all the genuine folks out there in the blogosphere, especially for those kind enough to follow Nipple Monkey or like one of our posts. I know we are an acquired taste, and all over the board with our content, so we genuinely appreciate the love.

The catch is that it’s not easy to tell who those genuine folks really are. And I fear there’s something about hosting your blog on that generates some pretty sketchy “likes” and “follows.”

This isn’t our first walk through the blogosphere. We’ve run blogs on and off long enough to know that, for example, the traffic data they provide is far more “generous” than the industry-standard data you will get from Google Analytics.

But we’ve noticed something slightly insidious in these early days of Nipple Monkey, our least-focused blog to date. Several of the “likes” and “follows” we’ve received are from blogs and bloggers who appear to have absolutely no common interest in the topic of the post – or our entire blog, for that matter.

In fact, we’ve noticed that we get a lot these from people who either blog about religion or blog about how to make money blogging. In other words, people trying to sell you feel-good fantasies. Why on earth would any of these people like one of our posts, or opt to follow a blog such as ours?

OK, even those blogs presumably have real people behind them. And maybe, just maybe, one of them thought something we wrote was interesting and/or funny. Maybe.

But it seems far more likely that this is part of a marketing scheme in which bloggers like and follow other blogs in hopes of driving traffic back to their own blogs, either through our curiosity (to click and see who gave us the false love) or by landing pingbacks that could drive our readers to visit their blogs.

It may seem a little far-fetched, but blogging is a numbers game, and people seem willing to try anything to trawl for traffic. And keep in mind that a lot of bloggers are looking for nothing but numbers. They want to inflate their traffic to inflate the perceived value of their blog. Big numbers can lead to better ad sales.

MuffenAnd speaking of numbers, we long ago gave up on traffic data. Anyone who has worked with Goggle Analytics will understand why. But I do find it interesting that there have been times when we’d get likes and follows with no discernible traffic for the post in question. Yes, there might be some sort of lag time for traffic data, but there appears to be no related lag time for the other data – the likes and follows.

Which makes me wonder if people are searching tags and liking and following blogs and posts based simply on those, rather than actually reading a post and exploring a blog. That would certainly explain all these abnormalities.

But why like or follow a blog simply because of a tag, without actually reading the post or looking at the blog? That strikes me as a little shallow and insincere.

Of course I’m not going to lose any sleep over this. We’re working to migrate our blog over to, so this should be a forgotten annoyance soon enough. And we really do appreciate the genuine love we have received from our legitimate followers (and they will surely appreciate the humor in all this speculation).

But in the interest of honest blogging, I thought we’d try a little experiment. We’re going to tag this post with words like camera and photography. We’re also going to toss things like muffin, baking, and recipe into the mix. And let’s see if we get any likes and follows from photography and/or baking bloggers.

We haven’t written about either of these subjects so far, and this post clearly isn’t about either topic. So such traffic should indicate that they have “blindly” liked or followed us, confirming our suspicion that bloggers are trawling through tags in hopes of driving traffic back to their sites.

[Update: It took less than five minutes before a photography blog “liked” this post, which 30 minutes later still hadn’t received any traffic according to WordPress. Clearly they liked it without even reading it. And four hours after that I got my first like from a baking blog. It’s so disheartening.]