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We Have a Facebook Page Now!

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Good morning loyal readers. I assure you I will still be writing content for this blog, but increasingly I had found myself doing shorter analysis and posting it to facebook. It turns out not every issue requires 1,000 words to break down. To help consolidate everything and make it more easily shareable, I’ve started a facebook page. You can find us at www.facebook.com/ReedingTheNews.

No, I won’t apologize for the pun in the title. All my life I’ve had to deal with never finding my name on souvenir license plate racks, so the world can deal with me using it for branding.

I encourage you to give us a like and a follow there if you want more data driven current events analysis in your life.

I’d also like to repeat an offer I made earlier this year. If you have experience or a unique angle on a topic you think would be appropriate here, please feel free to contact me. I’m happy to share this space with other people looking for their voice in our modern times. I already have one person who has expressed interest in joining me on the facebook page to do specific bill analysis. Similarly if you have an issue you would like to see covered here more, feedback and suggestions are always welcome.

I hope you have a great Monday and I look forward to exploring this new tool that should help us have an even better, more informed, and complete dialogue about politics.

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The Bowling Green Massacre and Other Alternative Terrorism Facts

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The stated reason for President Trump’s Immigration Ban Executive Order has always been safety. Ensuring the safety of the American people is an important goal of any President. This particular EO has received a great deal of criticism for not actually advancing America towards that goal on the basis that there are no deaths on American soil from anyone from the seven countries on the banned list going back to 1975. The White House seems to be countering with the idea that there are attacks we just aren’t thinking of.

It started Thursday the 2nd when White House spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway said this on to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, “I bet there was very little coverage — I bet — I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre.”[1]

She later claimed it was a slip of the tongue and she meant “Bowling Green Terrorists” but it was also revealed that she had cited the Bowling Green Massacre twice in interviews on January 29th, once with Cosmopolitan Magazine and once with TMZ. She in fact went further with Cosmo, ““He did that because two Iraqi nationals came to this country, joined ISIS, traveled back to the Middle East to get trained and refine their terrorism skills and come back here, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre of taking innocent soldiers’ lives away.”[2] The thing is that no one lost their lives. The two individuals in question were caught and convicted of attempting to smuggle arms out of the country to ISIS. It’s doubtful any lives were lost because of their actions.

President Trump continued insisting that fear itself is not the only thing we have to fear. Monday February 6th he spoke before US Military commanders at MacDill Air Force Base. You can read the full transcript here. He began the speech with, “Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. It’s so nice. A lot or spirit. Great spirit for this country. Thank you all. We have tremendous spirit, and I want to thank you. We had a wonderful election, didn’t we? And I saw those numbers, and you liked me, and I liked you. That’s the way it worked.” It isn’t relevant to this blog post at all, but I still can’t believe the first thing he continues to bring up in speeches and to calls with foreign leaders is the election.

Later in the speech he made the comment that people have been talking about, “You’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice. All over Europe it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that.” Trump has had a…contentious…relationship with the press, but accusing them of covering up terrorists attacks was a new one, so obviously people wanted to know more.

Sean Spicer later clarified Trump meant things were under reported not unreported. He also said the White House would release a list of examples of times it felt the media should have given more time to an incident.[3] Well they released the list and it’s as notable for what’s on it as what’s missing. I looked everywhere for the original white house document, but couldn’t find it. If you scroll to the bottom of this article though, it includes an unedited list.

Sources for all of the following:Citation 3, the article with the unedited list, [4], and [5]

The list included 78 domestic and international attacks between the dates of September 2014 and December 2016. No rational was given for the selection process for these incidents.

What’s there:

  1. Extremely well reported attacks like San Bernardino, Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, and the 2015 Paris attacks. Each of these incidents received weeks worth of coverage, so putting them on this list seems strange.
  2. Thirty-nine incidents in which no one was killed. That’s a full half of the list is non fatal attacks. You can definitely have a terrorist action without fatalities, but this does make some of the deadly attacks in the last two years conspicuous in their absence, more on that in a moment.
  3. Two incidents which have no connection at all to Muslim extremism, the bombing of a Sikh Temple in Germany which wounded three committed by Salafists and a French national killing his British roommate and Hostel caretaker in Australia. Just like in point two, terrorism doesn’t have to be from one source, but these being on the list tells us that this was meant to inspire overall fear instead of it being specifically just about the Muslim ban.
  4. Typos. Seriously, multiple typos. The words ‘attack’ and ‘attacks’ are spelled ‘attak’ and ‘attaks’ a combined total of 12 times. More painful was their misspelling of San Bernardino. I’ll admit San Bernardino is not spelled the way you’d think, but even spell check would catch attack vs attak.

What’s missing:

  1. In total, 24 nations were represented as locations of attacks on the list, but left out was Israel. This seems particularly odd given how many incidents of varying degrees they suffer on a regular basis.
  2. The Quebec Mosque shooting in Canada which killed six, the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting which killed three, and the Charleston Church shooting which killed nine were all absent. They all fit within the time frame of the list and had more casualties than over half the list. If the list is about terrorist attacks not getting the coverage they deserve, the fact that Trump has made no direct comment on the Quebec Mosque shooting seems to go counter to his desire to make us all more aware of how death is lurking around the corner and will strike at any moment. If the list included only attacks committed by Muslim extremists, then there could be an argument not to include these other incidents, but since there were other terrorist sources, why not these?

This list strikes me as the classic example of finding facts to back up your conclusions when we all know it should be the other way around. Plenty of incidents on this list received months of coverage and the fact that no one even bothered to proof read it before releasing it shows this was something thrown together to try to justify the language of the President.

As a final note, please remember, you shouldn’t feel like death by terrorist is right around the corner for you. Your odds of dying at the hands of a refugee on US soil is 1 in 3.6 billion.[6] Your odds of winning the powerball jackpot is 1 in 292 million. If we go by incidents, we have this chart put together by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism showing total attacks and the percentage of those that are fatal.[7]

Sorry that data only goes to 2011 and not something more recent. You are currently living in arguably the safest decade in all of human history and despite Trump’s statements to the contrary, our media still goes by the mantra of ‘If it bleeds it leads’. It’s in fact so easy for people to believe we are living in a dangerous time because of the abundance of reporting of global terror incidents. Fears like this have historically been used to divide a people and it saddens me to see the President and key spokespeople being the ones to stoke those emotions.

Twitter Edition of ‘President Trump’s Defense of his Immigration Executive Order’

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My last post was a detailed breakdown of the White House’s official statement regarding President Trump’s executive order on immigration. He wasn’t done yet though. Over the last two days he has taken to twitter in defense of the move and although I don’t have time to breakdown all 18 of Trump’s tweets since the morning of the February 3rd, there are three that really stuck out to me.

At roughly 9:30am in Paris(3:30am EST) an Egyptian man with a machete attacked a guard outside the Louvre. No one was injured except the assailant who was shot and is in critical condition.[1] Trump tweets within four hours to tell everyone about it and tacks on a reminder at the end that we should toughen our own borders to prevent such things. After reading this. I had two questions.

  1. Why point to this attack when the man came from a country not included on the travel ban? If this man had chosen to travel to the US instead of Paris, he would have been allowed in even as people from Iran and Iraq were being turned away.
  2. Why ignore the recent attack in Canada that actually had a death toll? This isn’t the first time Trump has responded to a global tragedy with extreme speed, this is a good trait for a leader to have although twitter might not be the best medium for it. This tweet is from 6:51am, so it’s reasonable to assume that Trump might have tweeted even closer to the event had he been awake. There are no mentions anywhere on twitter about the six deaths at a Canadian mosque from earlier this week though. There was a response from the White House, but it was delivered by Sean Spicer and shaded in such a way that it also justified Trump’s travel ban.[2] All that despite the Canadian mosque being by a white Canadian citizen who also would have been allowed in even after the ban. I don’t want to speculate that the attacker’s praise of Trump played a roll in the White House’s muted response, but given the quickness of Trump to tweet about Paris, his silence on this other event is deafening.

Speaking of Spicer, the press conference held after the ban went into effect had one big take away, this definitely wasn’t a ban. He stopped several reporters during their questions to correct them on their use of the term ‘ban’. At the time it was pointed out that Trump had actually used the word ‘ban’  in a January 30th tweet, and that Spicer had used the word in an ABC interview.[3] Despite the evidence our eyes and ears were providing, we were told it definitely wasn’t a ban. The above tweet was one of four today that used the term to refer to the executive order. I haven’t read any reports of Spicer trying to tweet at the President to correct him.

The other thing that grabbed my attention on this one was the comment saying the, “Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban,” I went searching for these statements. The only evidence of any statements in support of the ban I can find is a single article stating Saudi Arabia and the UAE have made semi endorsements, but those statements aren’t actually shared in the piece.[4] There was even an article from CNN Money with the headline “Middle East Execs Won’t Talk About Travel Ban”.[5]

I’ll give the first article the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s correct. We shouldn’t be shocked Saudi Arabia and the UAE are supportive given that they aren’t on the list of banned countries and that that they have quite rocky relationships with countries that are on the banned list, like Saudi Arabia and Iran. I’d also like to reference back to something I mentioned in my last article that there is a group in the middle east who is extremely happy the ban went through, ISIS.

Late at night on February 3rd, Seattle Judge James Robart put a stay on the order. Trump responded the way we’ve come to expect at this point. Before we go further though, it should be noted Robart was a 2004 Bush appointee who was confirmed 99-0 by a Republican controlled Senate.[6] Terms like ‘activist judge’ get thrown around a lot, but when you have someone appointed by one party, confirmed by the same party and then make a ruling against that party, it doesn’t have the same punch.

There are lots of other things to discuss with the ruling, but I want to stay focused on the implications of the wording of this tweet. “Essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country,” Trump ran as the Law and Order candidate. He promised to bring an end to American carnage. This tweet goes further and implies the judicial branch of government filling their roll goes against those goals. It makes it seem like the executive branch, and therefor Trump, is the only path to safety and security for this country. The constitution sets up three branches of government for a reason. Especially given the fact that neither the Congress nor the Senate were consulted before this order was executed, the judicial branch weighing in is how things are supposed to work.

Unfortunately I don’t know which is scarier. Either Trump doesn’t understand that this is precisely the function of the judicial branch (This would seriously call into question his decision making process for his SCOTUS pick. If he thinks the roll of the Supreme Court is to uphold what the President does, he’s sorely mistaken.) or he does understand that this is the way of things and he wants to change it.

President Trump’s Defense of his Immigration Executive Order

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On Friday Trump fulfilled one of his campaign promises with an executive order indefinitely suspending Syrian refugees from entering the country and instituting a temporary travel ban from 6 other countries. If you’d like to read the full text of the order, that can be found here. It has received condemnation from an incredible array of sources. It isn’t often you see Michael Moore[1], Dick Cheney[2], Charles Koch[3], and The Pope[4] all finding themselves on the same side of an issue. Please note that Cheney’s and Pope Francis’s comments were in general about banning Muslims and refugees from the US and were from before the executive order. Moore and Koch were both after the executive order had been signed. The swift response from leaders and citizens alike led to the White House releasing a statement. I’m going to go line by line through it, but here is the statement in its entirety:

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So let’s dig in:

President Donald J Trump Statement Regarding Recent Executive Order Concerning Extreme Vetting

When I said line by line, I meant the title too. There were plenty of articles written about ‘extreme vetting’ back when Trump coined the phrase in August.[5] It should be noted again though, the process by which refugees are allowed into this country is remarkably extensive. Refugees don’t get to choose what country they go to when they apply for that status with the UN and it can take upwards of two years from when they’re given that status to when they end up living in the US.[6] I don’t want to spend too much time rehashing that argument, the point is that this is not an easily exploitable vulnerability in need of an overhaul, but let’s get to the body of the statement.

America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave. We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say.

This is of course the big stated reason for the refugee ban, safety. We turned away Jewish refugees during WW2 because we thought they might be Nazi spies, so this is familiar territory for our country.[7] But that brings us to the question of how safe are refugees? Germany has taken far more than the US has(600,000+ compared to the US’s 16,218), and their Federal Crime Policy Agency has put together data on how their crime has been affected. “the influx of refugees into the country this fall had a low impact on crime numbers relative to the natural uptick that would happen with any population increase: Although the number of refugees in the country increased by 440 percent between 2014 and 2015, the number of crimes committed by refugees only increased by 79 percent.”[8] Crime increased 82% less than what would be expected for that size of a population surge. These are not dangerous people and we don’t become safer in their absence.

My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.

The first thing that stuck out to me from this was the apparent praise of Obama’s handling of middle east foreign policy. Trump’s accusation of Obama being “The founder of ISIS” was long discussed during the campaign, so to go from that to suddenly citing the Obama administration’s opinion on who is and isn’t dangerous is an unexpected move. More importantly though, Obama did ban new refugees from Iraq for a period of six months, but there are some key difference.

Obama’s ban was for a specific country with no exceptions(more on that in a moment) and in response to a specific threat the FBI had identified.[9] That second part is important. It became obvious over the weekend that few others in the executive branch were consulted or even briefed that this executive order was coming. Head of the Department of Homeland Security, General Kelly, found out the order was being signed when he watched the press conference announcing it. The Pentagon is only today submitting the exemptions for key foreign translators that this ban also blocked from entering the US, something you’d think they would have wanted written into the original measure so as not to interrupt their activities.[10] To dig into the other key difference, let’s look at the next piece of text.

To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.

Here of course we come to the crux of the matter. Is this a Muslim ban? There are four key things that, if this isn’t a Muslim ban, should have been done extremely differently.

  1. Trump shouldn’t have promised a Muslim ban several times during his campaign for the White House. Even after he was elected, on December 7th he stated, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”[11]
  2. Trump shouldn’t have told Giuliani, in Giuliani’s words, “I’ll tell you the whole history of it: When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban’. He called me up, he said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’” [12] He goes on to say that they focused on danger and not religion, but that interview is guaranteed to see play in the courtrooms hosting the mounting number of law suits against this order. He seems to imply a Muslim ban was the intent from the get go.
  3. Trump shouldn’t have included religion as a factor in the ban. From the order itself, “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” Since every country included on the ban list is majority Muslim, that means everyone gets help except Muslims. This is another key difference between Trump’s and Obama’s proposals. Obama’s was for every Iraqi refugee. Trump’s allows in people from the banned countries, assuming they are not Muslim.
  4. Trump shouldn’t have been doing an interview with Christian Broadcasting hours before signing the order in which he had this exchange: 

     

    BRODY: “Persecuted Christians, we’ve talked about this, the refugees overseas. The refugee program, or the refugee changes you’re looking to make. As it relates to persecuted Christians, do you see them as kind of a priority here?”

    TRUMP: “Yes.”

    BRODY: “You do?”

    TRUMP: “They’ve been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.”[13]

 

 

If Trump wanted the country to take his word for it that religion had nothing to do with the order, those are the things he did wrong. Looking at his actions and the actions of his advisers, it’s tough to see this as anything but a the targeted strike against Muslims Trump called for just with careful language to attempt to slip through a legal loophole.

I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering.”

He closes again with this idea of safety and security. I mentioned how safe refugees are earlier, but let’s look at the seven countries as a whole. Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have been responsible for a grand total of 0 casualties in the US going back to and including 9/11. The countries that provided the terrorists behind 9/11, the Pulse Nightclub shooting, and the shooting in San Bernadino don’t appear on the list that Giuliani claims is mean to focus on danger.[14]

There have been three non-fatal attacks stemming from immigrants from those countries in the last 15 years, but that’s it. Compare that to the fact that ISIS is already hailing the ban as a “Blessed ban” and is using it as proof the west has declared war on Islam and that more people should rally to their cause.[15] Which is the bigger threat to lives both in American and around the world?

No this isn’t what Obama did in 2011. No we are not safer for banning immigrants and refugees from these seven countries. No we do not have checks and balances if the President can do this without consulting other key agencies who should be informed about such changes. Yes this was a Muslim ban. So begins week two of the Trump administration.

WSOP 2016 Event #22: $1,500 Limit Hold’em

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Thanks to Minnesota being one of the only states in the country with a gambling age of 18, I’m one week away from having played poker for 10 years. I’m two weeks away from fulfilling a dream I’ve had for that entire 10 years and then some. I’m going to be playing in the World Series of Poker. If I were you I’d expect several poker posts leading up to the event in order to answer some of the questions I’ve been asked about the tournament and to calm my own nerves about how quickly the date is approaching.

To most people the WSOP is just the main event. That’s what gets televised on ESPN and what gives out the biggest cash prize, in 2014 1st place took home 10 million. In reality it’s a full month and a half of the best poker on the planet. It’s 69 events covering all the popular poker variants at buy ins ranging from $500-$100,000 starting 5/31 and going to 7/17. All 50 states and 80 countries had players in the 2015 main event alone. To win an event and earn a WSOP bracelet is an accomplishment recognized in every poker room regardless of stakes or language.

I’m getting slightly ahead of myself though. In all my previous poker posts I’ve discussed cash games which are different than the WSOP tournaments. At a cash game you sit down with however much money you’d like, you play for however long you’d like, the stakes at the table don’t change, if you lose everything you can rebuy, and when you’ve decided you’ve had enough however many chips you have in front of you is the amount of money you walk away with. In a tournament there’s a set buy in ahead of time, you’re given tournament chips which have no cash value and are really just a method of score keeping, the stakes slowly raise as the tournament progresses to force play, when someone is out of chips they’re out of the tournament(there are exceptions to that, but right now I’m not worried about that), and you’re given money at the end based on how long you were able to last against everyone else.

The event I’ll be playing is event #22. It’ll be fixed limit hold’em, which is the style I feel most comfortable with, and the buy in will be $1,500. Looking at last year’s tournament statistics: 660 people entered, the final 72 made money, and first place was $196,055. It takes place over three days starting on the 14th with the first days being ten hours of play each and the final day playing down to a winner no matter how long that may take. The final table, the last 10 players, was broadcast live online last year and will be again this year.

As I said, I’ve had the goal of playing in this event for over a decade, and there’s something inherently dangerous about trying to fulfill a dream that you’ve worked so hard towards. You could fail spectacularly. It’s distinctly possible I could finish last. I could take my shot at proving the countless hours and millions of hands haven’t been wasted, that I’m actually good at this beyond my local card room, and be soundly slapped down. Of course I could win, and you’d never hear the end of it.

If I’m realistic for a moment, I know there’s no way I’m going to be the best in the room. In a tournament like this though it’s not always the most skilled player who wins. There’s a great deal of mental endurance that comes into play when you’re talking about doing a task for 10 straight hours and since this is poker, we can’t ignore that luck and variance have their own roles as well.

My goal for this event is to make it to day 2. If I can pull that off it will have been a success in my book. That’s still a tough goal, so it will push me, but it is achievable. At least that’s what I’m telling myself now. No matter what though, playing in the WSOP will make one hell of a story. This time in two weeks I’ll be sitting down in a hotel in Vegas to tell you what I hope will only be part 1.

 

My Experience on Ink Master

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Not quite a year ago I was watching Ink Master when a scroll across the bottom of the screen gave a website you could go to in order to apply to be a canvas on the show. As luck would have it, my name got picked and in August I drove up to New Jersey to get a tattoo from someone I’d never met before that would be broadcast on live TV. I had to keep it a secret until last night when the episode aired. In this post I’m going to go over some of my experience being on set, working with my artist, give my reactions to the episode, and my feelings on my tattoo.

Being There

  • They have the most prompt email responses of any group I’ve ever interacted with. It didn’t matter what time of day or day of the week I sent them something, I had a response in under 30 minutes. Major kudos for some serious professionalism.
  • That professionalism carried over onto the set. I felt well treated and respected by the whole crew.
  • The other canvases were friendly backstage. I feel like we got along well and I would get a drink with any of them to this day.
  • I wasn’t compensated in any way and I did have to pay my own gas and hotel room for the night, but they did give us food while we were there.
  • On interacting with the judges: I didn’t really talk to Nunez at all. Dave Navarro came back in the green room and talked to all the canvases for a bit. He certainly didn’t have to, but it was pretty cool of him. My biggest comment has to be about Oliver Peck though. He stayed until the end of all of our tattoos so that he could look at them in person, talked to each canvas about our experience, and took notes on what we said. Now I know why he’s often the hard ass on the show, he truly cares about the results of each week’s contest.

Working with Alex Rockoff (I’m only talking about my personal interaction, not anything I saw on the aired episode)

  • Honestly he was great to work with.
  • Listened to my ideas, asked questions, googled references for everything I brought up.
  • We went back and forth on a couple things. I did want more than one flower originally but he brought up several good reasons why just one would be better.
  • In his first sketch he put leaves on the redwood, I told him redwoods have needles, he redrew it with needles, and we both agreed that didn’t look like it worked so we’d just go bare bark since that is what the lower part of redwoods look like.
  • During the actual tattoo we didn’t talk much if at all. He told me that since it was a detail challenge he really wanted to concentrate and I was happy to oblige, so I laid there and he worked.

The Devil is in the Details – The televised episode

  • We had no knowledge of the flash challenge other than that we knew Cleen must have won since he passed out the skulls.
  • Those skulls are freaking heavy. I expected some light as a feather plastic prop, but nope, five pound solid bricks.
  • I knew the human canvas jury must go on for quite a long time and get cut down, but I was amazed at how much the person handing out the skulls talks to the canvases. Cleen was quite thorough with each of us about style, placement, and elements for the tattoo. He easily spent five minutes per canvas.
  • One thing that got cut was Dave Navarro wishing me good luck with Phoebe, that would have been a fun memento to have, but I’ll happily settle for my shrug in the human canvas jury segment. I consider myself a pretty relaxed person, so it was funny that the camera captured the exact moment I decided to disregard the negative aspects of a comment and move on with life. I’m hoping to find a way to turn that into a gif I can use in future internet debates.
  • Alex in the show is definitely made out to be much angrier and emotional than my experience with him. I don’t know if he was just professional in front of me, got much more upset after I left, the whole thing was just played up for drama, or any number of other reasons, but all I’ll say is that I was surprised to see him act that way after my interaction with him during the planning and tattoo process.
  • I voted with the majority in the human canvas jury. One thing we emphasized a great deal to that canvas was that we thought it was a lovely and well executed tattoo that she should be proud to wear for her Aunts, but if we’re using detail as our criteria we felt her’s demonstrated it the least. I have no hard feelings towards her and I wish her all the best. I’m glad she likes her tattoo and she should.

My tattoo:

Mask Tattoo

The idea behind the tattoo was to represent me taking on fatherhood with Phoebe. The small purple flower is a wildflower called a Phoebe and the tree is a redwood. The summer Betsy and I really fell in love, or at least when I fell in love with her, was when I was working at Muir Woods which has redwood trees which also happen to be great symbols of strength and stability, so the redwood is providing shade and shelter for the Phoebe to grow on its own and become amazing. The mask is a little to represent some of the old things that used to be a part of me before I became a father and also there for Phoebe when she’s old enough because she should try on many masks throughout her life before finding something that fits her right. Ending sappy symbolism now.

Seeing my tattoo in the bottom three was hard, but not completely unexpected. I think the criticisms that the judges gave were fair and accurate though. The proportions are a little wonky, but I knew that going in asking for a tree, a mask, and a flower could to lead to scale issues. That said, there’s a reason the judges didn’t have criticisms on the technical aspects of the application. The color is gorgeous, the lines are smooth, and I know a lot of the details are going to age well. I’ll proudly wear the tattoo for Phoebe. I think my biggest complaint with it is actually that the color in it makes the color in the apple I have tattooed in the middle of my back look really shoddy in comparison.

I guess my final thought is that if magic time traveling me from the future would have come to me right as I was about to hit send on my application, showed me the tattoo, and told me everything that would happen between then and now, I still would have hit send.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to speak up. If this is your first time on my blog and want to go read a bunch of political and current events stuff, feel free to subscribe.