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Not Trusted, but Verifiable

That was a short vacation.

Just one day after Americans took time to enjoy a long weekend by reminiscing and celebrating what they love about this amazing country, FBI Director James Comey and Hillary Clinton brought us back to earth. Back to the gritty, dirty realities of the world around us.

If you thought there were questions for Secretary Clinton concerning her private email server before…

Regardless of political party, trust in the modern era is evaporating. Trust is a precious asset, whether in a person or institution. Politically, dissenting views and distrust from the left, right and middle about the presumptive Republican nominee and Democratic nominee for president seem to get louder by the day (Clinton and Trump are honestly the choices?). Mr. Comey added the FBI to the list of influential institutions Americans will view with a shake of the head and hands up in the air. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton added the Justice Department last week.

Something is wrong and has been wrong for some time now.

Without diving into the details (of which there are sadly too many), Mr. Comey read a laundry list of violations starting at 11:00 a.m. ET this morning by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding her private email server. Then, with no logical turning point, concluded his incriminating statements about Secretary Clinton did not warrant a recommendation to indict Secretary Clinton. His justification relies on the notion that he chose not to see intent.

Literally unbelievable.

(The background music is inappropriately lighthearted for such a serious issue, but the back-and-forth is important to see) 

He used the phrase, “extremely careless.” You can bet a few lawyers will be using that defense in the near future.

Even Edward Snowden was confused (his Tweet had a Wall Street Journal link describing the indictment decision).

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The larger point is that America’s leaders frequently and blatantly demonstrate there are different rules and standards for those in power versus the public. Moreover, that there’s special treatment for specific individuals. Consequently, there’s a trust gap that continues to grow wider by the day. The yearning for competent leadership and inspiring, yet practical vision may be at an all-time high in this country, even around the world.

Consider Brexit: The leading voices of that movement have “conveniently” removed themselves from responsibility for their actions by not running for the governing position. Was Brexit a good or bad idea in the long-term? That remains to be seen, but the British people likely aren’t comforted by their cowardly leaders, whether they were for the monumental change or not.

The precedent set this morning by FBI Director James Comey was a dangerous one. He will have to answer for his decision in hearings and interviews for a long time. Perhaps, in an effort to maintain an apolitical position and reputation (a term he used this morning) like Chief Justice John Roberts, he was too clever for his own good. The facts against Secretary Clinton and her constant lies for the past year were clear as day as detailed by Mr. Comey (thereby removing any benefit of the doubt for Secretary Clinton), yet the FBI Director chose nonsensical nuance over substance and common sense.

The problem is trust isn’t nuanced. You either have it or you don’t.

Maybe there was an indictment today after all.

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When Trust Met the Unknown

“But I trust you.”

“No you don’t.”

“I don’t.”

Spoiler Alert: This is a recap of the February 4, 2014 episode of The Goldbergs

Trust.

It’s a tricky concept. Everybody says they want to trust someone and yet there is this natural instinct to abandon all of that supposed faith and replace it with relentless suspicion that takes oneself down to the figurative (and literal) level of the second floor corner next to an air vent that’s adjacent to your daughter’s room.

This specific condition is known as “Seal Team Beverly.”

The never-ending battle between a mother and her teenage daughter can shake and interrupt everything and everyone around them (like a classic ’80s television talent show featuring a one-legged model!) with their verbal spats that look and feel equivalent to volcanic eruptions. There are constant accusations and invasions of privacy, which Beverly cannot believe as she’s moved on from reading her daughter’s fake, planted diary to the real one she found hidden under the mattress.

Erica had faith her mom would find it…

The only relationship dynamic more entertaining than Beverly v. Erica was Adam + Emmy. Best friends since before they could even remember, these two neighborhood siblings were joined together by a shared love of movies, adolescent hijinks, worms and Big Tasty’s fresh beats (he’s always movin’ and groovin’ like a rad Ferris wheel ya’ll). But what Big Tasty Barry had in store for his much more innocent younger brother would send awkward shock waves into one of Adam’s most precious possessions: his friendship with Emmy.

Barry explained how it was only a matter of time before Adam and Emmy would finally kiss. And if there was one person who was uniquely qualified to give his younger brother advice on girls…it was not Barry. Why so harsh on the older brother?

Five words: Beaded curtains and whale sounds.

This harshness is underscored with great humor and admiration for a young man trying to figure the world out, as we all do. We’ve all been Barry at some point in our lives.

Anyways, Adam took Pops’ advice and invited Emmy over to watch When Harry Met Sally┬áto see if they were more than friends. Unfortunately, Pops never finished the movie, which left Adam and Emmy not wanting what the movie had (ie-kissing or romance). This forced Adam to want to leave his own house. Within seconds, Emmy left his house in a sprint. Their relationship had changed as fast as Indiana Jones running away from a giant boulder in an ancient cave.

What was the only thing that could save Adam and Emmy? Ironically (and perfectly), a grand romantic gesture…

Between Erica fooling her mom into thinking she had eaten “the crack rocks” with a fake journal entry and Beverly listening in on her daughter’s phone calls, father Murray was rather relaxed. Although, he usually is with his daughter. They have a very special “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of relationship.

But that was about to change.

Besides demanding he have peace and quiet to watch in awe as a one-legged model strutted down the runway, Murray was quite content to let life happen for Erica. Nothing to fear with his teenage daughter as she’s just having fun during her high school years. He kept insisting to Beverly that she was overreacting. Why was Erica’s bed sheet not tightly hugging the mattress? As far as Murray was concerned, it didn’t matter. That was, until his wife dropped this bombshell of reality on him that night…

“Your baby girl is at a college frat house wearing a thin layer of bedding.”

Content just met the burnout of a station wagon!

For Erica, being grown-up at a college party was supposed to be fun and transcendent with older, suave gentlemen. To say it was the complete opposite would be very accurate, especially after her friend bailed to check-out an aquarium. This left Erica stranded on “high school girl at a college party” island. This, plus bumping into the beer can mountain, solidified the fact that she couldn’t be trusted. Her mom was right. Erica wanted to go home. But that┬áreconciliatory tone that left her feeling slightly embarrassed was replaced with complete embarrassment when her mom and dad showed up in a station wagon outside the bustling frat house.

After Murray was somehow distracted by the infamous “aquarium,” Beverly had a heart-to-heart with her dejected and angry daughter. What was said? Basically, every daughter wants freedom, but every mother won’t trust her daughter enough to give her that freedom. The opening quote of this post says it all. And with this genuine confession and realization came peace between mother and daughter…at least until the next weekend.

As for Adam, he watched When Harry Met Sally again and had an epiphany. In that instant, dressed to the nines as a game show host, he ran out the door and down a street of raining sprinklers to Emmy’s front door. When she answered, he pulled her down into the “rain” and confessed that every reason why Harry loved Sally was the complete opposite of why he liked her. Sally would never put a worm on her face, but Emmy would…and did.

Adam didn’t love Emmy and Emmy didn’t love Adam, but they liked each other as friends and partners in crime. It was one of the most romantic, yet unromantic confessions between two people (with help of “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister).

It was perfect. It was Adam + Emmy again.

Barry, in his unique effort to impress his crush, made sure he had the beaded curtains and a mustard colored shirt with small geometric shapes ready for an afternoon study session…in the kitchen…with his mom nearby. Even when Beverly with her new found sense of trust for her children (though temporary) told Barry they could move up into his room, his attractive study partner refused. She not only refused the relocation invitation, but more shockingly she wasn’t tempted by the whale sounds?

Weird.

All in all, parents and children alike must work hard to demonstrate a mutual understanding of one’s motives and reasoning for a variety of life’s complicated circumstances.

Trust cannot be found hidden in a journal or in a famous movie, but only in our hearts…until that 11:00 p.m. curfew Mr. Mister!

Trying to Hold onto Something

What do “The Goldbergs,” a CD player with headphones and telephone poles have in common?

They’re all connected: 20th century style.

Oddly enough, being connected used to be construed as a bad, complicated mess. Wires would hang from everywhere…and then pop up somewhere else. Recall the triumphant house lighting scene from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” when Ellen has to navigate her fingers through a clutter of over-plugged outlets? This maze of confusion led innovators and inventors to draw a blueprint, but without a pencil or pen.

In a single word: wireless.

This reality was new, cleaner and more efficient. Consequently, we discovered space in our lives we never knew existed or thought was even possible. Along this evolutionary track came cell phones that increasingly functioned as handheld computers with surreal power. Included in the capability to make phone calls internationally while situated in virtually any location (as long as Sprint is not your provider) is the capacity to share random events, thoughts, pictures and videos through a myriad of social media platforms.

The range of practicality ranges from necessary to fun, as most aspects in life should. But will this ultimately be a good conversion for society? While wireless technology certainly has its benefits, there are drawbacks as well. For instance, what if a satellite is down (“Gravity”) or what if there is too much signal traffic that prevents the completion of a simple phone call or necessary internet search? What if there is an emergency, but every phone or communication device is formatted to the digital grid and the grid is temporarily malfunctioning or is broken?

Think Time Warner Cable…or Sprint. But with a wider reach and dependability.

Marco Santana of the Des Moines Register wrote an article about wireless and landline phones that was printed in USA Today on March 31st of this year. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which twice a year tracks the percentage of households that still use landlines, reported in December that 35.8% of U.S. households have gone wireless-only, a 77.2% bump over late 2008.”

Landline phones and landline technologies seem and feel ancient, uncool and not applicable to 21st century endeavors. Except that, in emergencies or situations when a person wants to actually feel connected to something, he or she would probably find assurance in holding an off-white receiver with a stretchy cord dangling around like a cosine wave.

It feels as if we are all entering the digital era of no return. However, like most things, balance is a good thing. Will the future be purely digital or will it develop into a hybrid of the past and present/future? Will analog become a legitimate backup system?

Point of consideration: Retro is considered cool for a variety of reasons and can even be viewed as a pausing mechanism to modern practices. This goes for clothes, lingo, general behavior, music, movies, toys, communication devices, etc.

It’s strange: the more connected we get by transitioning to digital technologies actually makes us less connected in the literal sense. More of our lives continues to float upwards into the ever-expansive and mysterious cloud.

What’s next? Fishing without a pole and worm?

Handing Over the Keys

The new iPhone 5S features a futuristic entryway: a fingerprint scanner.

Apple has now successfully enabled us to rest our minds from remembering and typing one more password to access our phone or to make a purchase. Instead, all we need is ourselves and our trusty finger to press on the Home button on our phone. Just like that, everything is accessible. Surely it makes perfect sense since every single person’s fingerprint is different. In essence, it’s the perfect password.

It should be noted that Apple did not invent the fingerprint scanner, but this latest adaptation by the technology giant seems to be the best version for consumer purchase.

Initially, this technology seems like it could be the first spark of a fire for an infinite range of technologies to be invented/adapted in the future. For instance, just add “smart” to any device, car (not those), entertainment product, light switch, etc. Imagine the safety of owning an electric fireplace that is only operational by scanning the parent’s fingerprints…

The benefits seem clear, purposeful and cool.

And yet, it does feel a bit too personal. Our fingerprint is ideally unique. Our fingerprint is one of the undeniable differences we maintain against everybody else we come into contact with in our lives.

My fingerprint belongs to me and only me.

With this recent innovation, Apple is continuing the short-term and long-term discussion in society that is constantly dancing on the delicate line between cool convenience and privacy. After the recent revelations about the NSA, there should certainly be serious concern over the potential and/or likelihood of our fingerprints being turned over to security officials for who knows why. This skepticism is absolutely warranted (the last word seemed appropriate).

Is the fingerprint scanner a good idea?

It’s ultimately an issue of trust.

On the one hand, it’s an intriguingly cool technology seemingly built for the future. On the other hand, it also conjures up gentle thoughts of a world from the past…like around 1984.

Will you scan yourself?