Complex Cooking Is Now Accessible for the Blind Using Bluetooth

Typically I’m well known for ripping products apart, but not really for endorsing a product due to the amazing level of its accessibility. Since this subject is so important though, I thought this would be a needed exception. It’s called the Bluetooth Enabled Instant Pot.


First, food is one of those things that is so obviously, part of our daily existence that we overlook certain aspects of it regularly. We need it to survive, therefore cooking is an activity that is a critical part of our lives in one way or another. This also presents important challenges for people with disabilities.


For the last twenty years I’ve avoided cooking for these reasons. Due to the severity of my injuries when I was 14, I didn’t just lose my sight, but I also lost my sense of smell, and much of my ability to distinguish tastes. So in regard to cooking, I couldn’t see when food was cooking or where it was located, I couldn’t smell when it began to burn, and I couldn’t reliably taste when it was supposed to be done cooking. Also, cooking can be physically dangerous, and the idea of damaging my hands which I need for sight and to remain employed seemed like another risk that detracted from its appeal.


So, while at the 2017 CSUN Conference in March, a friend was telling my wife and I about this kitchen appliance she really liked since it was a combination crockpot and pressure cooker that could be programmed.


This last part perked my interest a bit, ‘programmed’ sounded pretty cool to me, though the pressure cooker not so much. I’ve been uneasy about having a pressure cooker in our house for years. Years ago, we had one explode in our kitchen with such force that it bent the lid like a fortune cookie and with such violence that it embedded pieces of meat in the wall and ceiling while causing other bits to ricochet around the corners into other rooms. The blast shook the house like a bomb exploded. My wife was standing 2 feet away from it when it went off, but not a drop of it touched her, which I still think is a miracle. Nevertheless, I have never trusted pressure cookers since then.


So, after we got back we did a bit of research and learned some interesting details about this weird gadget. First it has ten built in redundant safety features that make it impossible to explode in the same manner as our last one did, and the other part was that it was Bluetooth enabled so it could be controlled through an iPhone app. That really got my attention. For years, I’ve been saying that general household appliances don’t need to be custom built with text-to-speech features if they include a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi API that can be tapped into using an app on a mobile device like an iPhone, because VoiceOver is already accessible on these devices already. So, we took the plunge and ordered one on Amazon.


The setup for this thing is incredibly easy. First I installed the app on my iPhone, then plugged in the pot. Then I tapped the ‘Pot Unknown’ button then ‘Add’ within the app to pair the devices, which then prompts you to hold down the Adjust button on the cooker for three seconds until the devices finish pairing. This button on the cooker is the second button up from the bottom right of the display panel. The cooker will beep when the paring completes.


When the lid is placed into the grooves of the pot, a series of tones are played to notify you that the lid is placed correctly, then you turn the lid clockwise to lock it into place, at which point another series of tones is played to let you know that it is locked in place correctly. This is very helpful, especially if you are blind.


Then I opened the app and started playing with it. This is the incredible part, everything about the cooker is accessible through the app! Everything from setting it to use the slow cooker or the pressure cooker, whether you choose cooking options for the type of food in the cooker such as steaming, sautéing, and so on, the pressure levels, the timing options, as well as programming schedules for more complex recipes. As it cooks the current temperature is automatically updated, as is the current pressure level within the pot, as well as the timing countdown and other stats associated with the settings. When the cooking completes the cooker makes a series of beeps to let you know that it is finished and just needs to cool off, and the app shows what the temperature and pressure levels are as it does this so you know not to open it too soon, which isn’t possible anyway because the lid locks to prevent accidental opening when the pressure is too high. It will even adjust the cooking processes automatically to account for your current elevation using the GPS on your phone, how cool is that?!


Cooking with this thing feels just like programming to me, which is totally awesome and appeals to the way my brain works. All I need do is set up the pieces and ingredients according to the recipe, put them in as directed, program the settings as indicated in the recipe then tap the Start button to begin the cooking process. Then it’s just a matter of letting the cooker do its own thing until it tells me it’s done.


I started with something simple, steamed potatoes, which sounds stupid but I’ve never done this before. You simply add some seasoning if you wish like a couple of hot peppers or spices for seasoning, put the grate into the pot over this, add water up to where the grate begins, pile in washed and scrubbed potatoes, put on and lock the lid, then open the iPhone app and tap the Steam button, set the duration for 10 minutes for small potatoes or 13 if larger ones, leave the pressure set for High, set mode to Normal, then tap the Start button. That’s it, they turned out perfectly!


I’ve successfully done other things too, and plan to do a lot more experimentation from now on, but I wanted to publish this in case this information is helpful to others. Complex cooking really is now accessible to the blind, which I can personally attest to.


One last important detail for those who are non-sighted, when the lid is closed and the display panel is facing you, you will notice a wiggly spout-like thingy on the lid directly opposite from you. This is the pressure release valve. So, when you want to use the pressure cooker, you will need to push the valve away from you so it is pointing to the left, which will close the valve so that pressure can build up for the cooking process. When using the slow cooker however, you need to turn the valve so that the spout is pointing towards the handle in the center of the lid, which will keep the valve open so pressure cannot build up in the cooker.


Below is a collection of the sites I’ve been using to get recipe ideas for use with the Bluetooth Enabled Instant Pot, though there are lots of others when Googling “Instant Pot Recipes”.



In the future, as I get better at documenting accessible recipes, I’ll publish these on the blog at if anyone is interested.


Happy cooking,


[Letter to the President] The Great Depression and today’s working class, poor, disabled, elderly, and retired populations


From: Bryan Garaventa [] Sent: Monday, December 05, 2016 2:35 AM To: ‘’ <>; ‘’ <> Subject: The Great Depression and today’s working class, poor, disabled, elderly, and retired populations


Dear President Obama,


All throughout the lead up to the election of Donald Trump, the overriding message that was pushed constantly and without fail was that this was all being done for the benefit of the working class, the poor, the disabled, the elderly, the under-represented amongst us. He was only doing this for the people, to “take our country back” from the obviously corrupt politicians, to stick it to the establishment, to “make America great again”. This would restore lost jobs, would introduce more competitive and advantageous wages, would give more control to these millions in regard to achieving long-term personal savings and better qualities of life for all.


Unfortunately the complete opposite appears to be true, which is becoming much clearer.


““The Trump tax plan is heavily, heavily, skewed to the most wealthy, who will receive huge savings,” said Lily Batchelder, a law professor and tax expert at New York University. “At the same time, millions of low-income families – particularly single-parent households – will face an increase.””

“Minority families are set to suffer disproportionately from the tax increases, according to Batchelder. With 32% of African American families facing a tax increase compared with 19% of whites, this is mostly due to African American families being more likely to share the burden of childcare within the family and hence not benefit as much from Trump childcare credits. Batchelder said the effective tax increase for many millions of families would run into the thousands.”

“While the poor will face tax increases, the Tax Policy Center research said the rich would receive big tax cuts that get even bigger as you work up the income scale. The top 20% of earners would receive an average annual tax cut of $16,660 compared with an overall average cut of $2,940.”

“The richest 1% will collect 47% of all the tax cuts – an average saving of $214,000.”

“Gardner said that under Trump, America will become even more divided between the rich and poor. “America is already very unequal, and his proposals would make income inequality a lot worse,” Gardner said.”

Trump’s tax plan: massive cuts for the 1% will usher ‘era of dynastic wealth’ | US news | The Guardian


Equally important, this doesn’t just negatively impact the incomes for the majority of the United States population, but it also directly affects the infrastructure and overall economy for the country.


“But then there are the tax cuts. In the simplest math of fiscal policy, lower taxes plus more spending equal higher budget deficits. Mr. Trump resorted to vague hand-waving about any spending cuts to offset those changes, promising instead that faster growth would prevent the deficit from rising.”

“Most hardheaded analysis – including from those sympathetic ideologically – suggests this is wrong. The conservative-leaning Tax Foundation, for example, estimates that Mr. Trump’s tax plan would reduce federal revenue by about $12 trillion over the next decade, and faster growth would offset only about $2 trillion of that.”

The Trump Administration Could Test Whether Deficits Help the Economy – The New York Times


Such policies would divert billions into the personal and business bank accounts of the top 1% of wealthiest individuals and out of the general circulation for the majority of the country, and would also defund the majority of public services to those in need across all sectors such as finance, food, and healthcare services. This will negatively affect all people such as the unemployed, plus those on fixed incomes such as the disabled, the elderly, and all those on fixed retirement incomes; who will see needed services disappear, costs rise, and wages decrease.


The following illustrates the income divide between the rich and poor that currently exists in American society.


“The average American believes that the richest fifth own 59% of the wealth and that the bottom 40% own 9%. The reality  is strikingly different. The top 20% of US households own more than 84% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% combine for a paltry 0.3%. The Walton family, for example, has more wealth than 42% of American families combined.”

Economic Inequality: It’s Far Worse Than You Think – Scientific American


To rephrase this for clarity, there are at present approximately 323,995,528 people in the United States, and the Walton family alone owns more wealth in the United States than the combined savings of 136,078,121 people within this population.


The policies of Donald Trump and the GOP are guaranteed to tilt this balance even further so that even more of the country’s wealth is diverted into the ownership of the super-rich, thus removing it from circulation within the remainder of the country for critical services that keep our country running.


The idea being pushed by Donald Trump and the GOP that this is preferable because wealth can then trickle down as needed into society is completely false. Wealthy individuals don’t ever decide to fund police departments to keep the peace, to fund public schools for better education across the country, to fund maintenance for the electric grid for all of our technologies, to fund healthcare facilities for those in need, to fund new research into medical treatments and technological advancements, nor any of the other countless projects that require Federal and State funding to achieve. 99% of wealthy individuals horde their wealth and will not give it away just because they have it.


Another critical aspect of what is being aggressively pushed by the GOP is widespread deregulation across all private sectors to make it easier for businesses to make additional corporate profits at the expense of the people.


The following illustrates what is planned just for the banking system.


Donald Trump states: “One of the keys to unlocking growth is scaling back years of disastrous regulations unilaterally imposed by our out-of-control bureaucracy. Regulations have grown into a massive, job-killing industry – and the regulation industry is one business I will put an end to.” “I’ve proposed a moratorium on new federal regulations that are not compelled by Congress or public safety, and I will eliminate all needless and job-killing regulations now on the books.”

“The House Republican proposal also features a clever idea to help ensure that Trump’s regulatory freeze could outlast his term in office. It does this by essentially inverting the normal order of operations in the American regulatory process.”

Donald Trump’s administration is going to be a bonanza for bankers – Vox


“President-elect Trump said throughout his campaign he would oppose financial regulations and in May said he would repeal the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, which was passed in the wake of the financial crisis and empowered federal regulatory agencies to restrict banks’ ability to make risky investments.”

“Hufeld also warned that a loosening or scrapping of existing laws would lead to a new financial crisis.”

German watchdog warns against financial deregulation after Trump win | Reuters


Additionally, with his pick to lead the EPA, Donald Trump has already made it clear that corporate profits are more important than climate change research and environmental protection policy.


Interesting enough, all of these things were done once before when Republicans held the majority in both the House and Senate with a Republican president. This was in the 1920’s, just before the total collapse of the United States economy during the Great Depression.


“Throughout the 1920s, Congress was focused on slashing taxes on the wealthy and eliminating business regulations, arguing that a free market could govern itself and that a rising tide would lift all boats.”

“The results were devastating: Wall Street ran amuck, resulting in the 1929 stock market crash.  Wealth became highly concentrated at the top, leaving everyday consumers with too few resources to fuel a meaningful post-crash recovery.  Industrial pollution began accelerating, setting the stage for an era of smog and even flammable rivers.”

Radical Deregulation Won’t Bring Real Growth | The Huffington Post


Nor have these connections been lost on economic forecasters, who are making plans and advising followers to prepare for the worst.


““Housing prices will start to fall by as much as 40% over several years… unemployment will surge… many state and municipal governments will be forced into default…and the federal deficit will balloon to as high as $1.5 to $2 trillion,” warns Dent.”

“We are approaching what he terms “The Greater Depression”, and the coming months look bleak: “The recession is NOT over yet. $100 trillion of the $225 trillion in loans, bonds and stocks across the world…will simply disappear.””

Critical Warning from Rogue Economist Harry Dent: “This is Just the Beginning of a Nightmare Scenario as Dow Crashes to 6,000” | Economy and Markets


Sadly enough, it has become painfully clear that Donald Trump and the GOP are no friends to the general working class, the unemployed, the disabled, the elderly, fixed income retirees, nor to the future health and wellbeing of our children.


Moreover, it has also become painfully clear that those in the GOP who have the power to build our country instead of break it, will not hear, will not see, will not listen; they refuse to understand, and they refuse to care.


“For me, the really concerning aspect of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans.”

“Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.”

“To do that, we need to break down, not build up, barriers within and between nations. If we are to stand a chance of doing that, the world’s leaders need to acknowledge that they have failed and are failing the many. With resources increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, we are going to have to learn to share far more than at present.”

This is the most dangerous time for our planet | Stephen Hawking | Opinion | The Guardian



Bryan Garaventa

Founder of WhatSock, Accessibility Fellow at SSB, Research Developer (W3C ARIA WG; ISOC; FRSA)

Fascism and Trump: The Most Corrupt Election in American History


I wrote this because I have grave concerns regarding the recent rise of Fascism in our society, and to express concerns not just for the future Democracy of America but also for that of Europe.


It’s become increasingly clear that these sentiments are growing, and as with the recent election of Donald Trump, the demographic of allied nations is also at play where the Americas are now increasingly leaning towards Russia, or more accurately being pushed that way. This is deeply worrying, because similar radical sentiment in Europe is using this as a model to emulate, specifically France, Slovakia, amongst others.


My fear is that Fascism is regaining a foothold in our societies, and the inevitable results of where this will lead us, as history has shown.


I wrote the below article in the hope that it will shed some light on the dangers of this, and to expose corruptions in our own electoral system that appear to be under-reported in the mainstream media. This by itself is deeply concerning.


Especially that, according to the Dworkin Report, Donald Trump provably has registered over 250 businesses in Russia, and has travelled there on multiple occasions, but nobody seems to be focusing on this as relevant even though it directly effects all trade negotiations and conflicts of interest; not to mention all lies by Trump to the contrary.


The path where this is leading us is quite clear, and the Electoral College must be duty-bound to consider the consequences of this information, or threaten the future of our Democracy.


Kind regards,

Bryan Garaventa (FRSA)


Fascism and Trump: The Most Corrupt Election in American History


This election cycle has been so contentious, so divisive, so filled with misinformation that most people in our country voted out of a sense of disgust and not in support of our country as a whole.


So regarding our main internal issues including economic disparities between the rich and the poor, fears of terrorists invading the country, illegal migrants taking away jobs and using free services and causing problems, industries having trouble maintaining work in a global economy, rising violence in our country between racial divides, amongst others, these are all valid concerns and issues that our country needs to work on and correct.


Taking a step back however, this election itself has been plagued with such a monumental level of corruption that its like has literally never been seen before in the history of American politics.


First we were inundated with hate propaganda that has been so liberally spread across all social media sites for so long that millions of people didn’t even know what the truth actually was any longer.


“Rather than connecting people – as Facebook’s euphoric mission statement claims – the bitter polarization of the social network over the last eighteen months suggests Facebook is actually doing more to divide the world.”

Facebook’s failure: did fake news and polarized politics get Trump elected? | Technology | The Guardian:


At the same time we received so many mixed messages from Trump that we still don’t know what the truth actually is:


“The Republican nominee changes his mind so frequently and so dramatically that a compilation of his current policies would not tell the whole story, nor would it be up to date for very long — he once offered up three different views on abortion in eight hours. By mixing facts with exaggerations and outright falsehoods while simultaneously refusing to offer specifics – insisting that unpredictability is an advantage he’ll use to cut better deals – Trump and the Republican Party that’s nominated him are putting forward the most elusive presidential platform in modern history.”

A Full List of Donald Trump’s Rapidly Changing Policy Positions – NBC News:


Also, the Democratic campaign was deliberately targeted by WikiLeaks by releasing key information designed to cripple her chances of winning the election that was provably traced to Russia as the provider.


“U.S. intelligence officials concluded weeks ago that the Russian government was conducting or orchestrating cyber attacks against the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, possibly to disrupt or discredit the election, in which Democrat Hillary Clinton faces Republican Donald Trump.”

U.S. formally accuses Russian hackers of political cyber attacks | Reuters:


Meanwhile, known leaders from Dictatorships and radical politicians around the world publically endorsed Donald Trump as the best person to run America’s Democracy, including Vladimir Putin, Geert Wilders, Matteo Salvini, Kim Jong Un, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban, and Robert Mugabe.

Which world leaders support Donald Trump? – Business Insider:


“There are some common themes here. The less committed a U.S. ally is to liberal democracy, and the more hostile to immigrants, the more likely its government is to favor Trump. Allies uncomfortable with subtlety in U.S. diplomacy – whether it is support for human rights in pro-U.S. dictatorships, or a Palestinian state, or outreach to Iran – tend to see Trump as refreshingly one-sided.”

The foreign leaders who are rooting for Trump – The Washington Post:


Whenever Trump was pressed about his ties to such political leaders, he denied them while at the same time praising them as being good leaders.


“A key figure at the Republican national convention where Donald Trump was nominated for president has strong business ties with Ukraine, the Guardian has learned.”

“The party platform, written at the convention in Cleveland last week, removed references to arming Ukraine in its fight against pro-Russia rebels, who have received material support from the Kremlin.”

“The coordinator of the Washington diplomatic corps for the Republicans in Cleveland was Frank Mermoud, a former state department official involved in business ventures in Ukraine via Cub Energy, a Black Sea-focused oil and gas company of which he is a director. He is also on the board of the US Ukraine Business Council.”

“Mermoud has longstanding ties to Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who in 2010 helped pro-Russia Viktor Yanukovych refashion his image and win a presidential election in Ukraine. Manafort was brought in earlier this year to oversee the convention operations and its staffing.”

Donald Trump and Russia: a web that grows more tangled all the time | US news | The Guardian:


“Suspicion is mounting about Donald Trump’s ties to Russian officials and business interests, as well as possible links between his campaign and the Russian hacking of U.S. political organizations. But GOP leaders have refused to support efforts by Democrats to investigate any possible Trump-Russia connections, which have been raised in news reports and closed-door intelligence briefings. And without their support, Democrats, as the minority in both chambers of Congress, cannot issue subpoenas to potential witnesses and have less leverage to probe Trump.”

“Trump has made no secret of his affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin and came to his defense in the first presidential debate this week when he dismissed the assertion that Russian government hackers were behind intrusions at the Democratic National Committee. Although it’s practically the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community that the Kremlin is seeking to undermine the presidential election through cyberattacks and leaks, Trump said, “I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China, it could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds, OK?””

GOP Blocks Probes Into Trump-Russia Ties – The Daily Beast:


“The Republican presidential nominee told the forum the Russian president “has been a leader far more than our president [Obama] has been”.”

Trump says Putin ‘a leader far more than our president’ – BBC News:


“The campaign denied a Slate report that said activity on an organization server indicated ‘sustained relationship’ with Russia’s largest private commercial bank”

Trump campaign denies report of Trump Organization tie to Russian bank | US news | The Guardian:


Despite all of these negative signs, we are seeing the fascist policy proposals now emerging, which will plague our country and world relations for many years if they come to be enacted.


One such is the Un-American Activities Committee:


“Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is calling for the creation of a new House Committee on Un-American Activities, invoking the infamous “Red Scare”-era congressional body as a blueprint for weeding out American ISIS adherents and sympathizers.”

Newt Gingrich wants new House Un-American Activities Committee –



“He was a short-lister for Donald Trump’s vice president. He was one of the mogul’s few defenders among the Republican Party’s elder statesmen. So what will be Newt Gingrich’s reward for his loyalty? We’re about to find out.”

“I said I want to be the senior planner for the entire federal government, and I want a letter from you that says Newt Gingrich is authorized to go to any program in any department, examine it and report directly to the president,” Gingrich said Tuesday at a reception sponsored by the law firm Dentons.”

What role will Newt Gingrich have in a Donald Trump administration? | Political Insider blog:


Another is in regard to climate change policy and the future welfare of our world for generations to come:


“President-elect Trump has selected Myron Ebell, who disputes the scientific consensus around anthropogenic global warming, to lead the EPA transition team.”

“Ebell openly declares himself to be a climate change skeptic who disputes the severity of human activity on Earth’s climate. On this point, Ebell has been extremely consistent: He  argues  that anthropogenic global warming, if it happens at all, is a minor issue that has been usurped by liberals to expand the federal government. He has stated in many different venues that he intends to dismantle the scientific consensus around anthropogenic global warming”

Trump Taps Outspoken Climate Denier To Oversee EPA Transition Team :


The global damage that a Trump presidency can and will do is unimaginable.


“And, in the first test of Trump’s willingness to rebuild bridges with Russia, Putin’s spokesman suggested that President-elect Donald Trump should begin rebuilding the U.S.-Kremlin relationship by urging NATO to withdraw forces from the Russian border.  Dmitry Peskov told the Associated Press that such a move  “would lead to a kind of detente in Europe.” Trump repeatedly praised Putin during his campaign and suggested the U.S. abandon its commitment to the NATO alliance.”

NATO Panics As Putin Urges Trump To Force Alliance Withdrawal From Russian Border | Zero Hedge:


So now, like the tip of an iceberg just emerging, we see that Trump has been blatantly lying about his ties to Russia all throughout his campaign.


“The Obama administration is reviewing the Democratic Coalition’s investigative report highlighting ten “clear links” that the FBI failed to investigate about our President-elect’s business ties to Russia and to the regime of dictator Vladimir Putin’s regime.”

“The Dworkin Report shows that Donald Trump has incorporated almost  250 registered businesses  in Russia.”

“Additionally, the evidence shows that Trump has traveled to Russia dating back to 1987, before the end of the Soviet Union.”

“In particular, a visit in 2010 included a tour of St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum led by a Russian government official of sufficient ranking, that he earned a personal photo and award from Vladimir Putin earlier this year.”

“Since Tuesday night, Putin’s regime has publicly admitted to having a hand in the Wikileaks deluge of emails  during the election.”

“Russian government officials told the New York Times that they had  direct contact with Trump’s closest allies  this week, after polls closed.”

Obama Is Now Looking Into Trump’s Ties To Russia That FBI Ignored:


As such, the 2016 election has been the most corrupt in the history of American politics, and is probably the most brilliant use of Social Engineering by one Dictatorship country to completely undermine and subvert the Democracy of another.


“First of all, there are the kinds of themes Trump uses. The use of ethnic stereotypes and exploitation of fear of foreigners is directly out of a fascist’s recipe book. “Making the country great again” sounds exactly like the fascist movements. Concern about national decline, that was one of the most prominent emotional states evoked in fascist discourse, and Trump is using that full-blast, quite illegitimately, because the country isn’t in serious decline, but he’s able to persuade them that it is. That is a fascist stroke. An aggressive foreign policy to arrest the supposed decline. That’s another one. Then, there’s a second level, which is a level of style and technique. He even looks like Mussolini in the way he sticks his lower jaw out, and also the bluster, the skill at sensing the mood of the crowd, the skillful use of media.”

“I read an absolutely astonishing account of Trump arriving for a political speech, somewhere out West I think, and his audience was gathered in an airplane hangar, and he landed his plane at the field and taxied up to the hangar and got out. That is exactly what they did in 1932 for Hitler’s first election victory. No one had ever seen a candidate arrive by plane before; it was absolutely dazzling, the impression given, the decisiveness of power, of authority, of modernity. I suppose it was accidental, but wow, that is an almost letter-perfect replay of a Hitler election tactic. And the capacity of Trump to enlist working-class voters against the left is exactly what Hitler and Mussolini were able to do. There are definitely echoes.”

Is Donald Trump a fascist? An expert on fascism weighs in:


“A “nation-state” used Wikileaks to influence the US election, the head of the NSA says”

“The head of the US’s National Security Agency said Nov. 15 that a “nation-state” consciously targeted presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in order to affect the US election.”

NSA chief on Wikileaks and the hacks affecting the US election: “a conscious effort by a nation-state” — Quartz:


“French far-right party leader Marine Le Pen said on Wednesday that her election as president next year would form a trio of world leaders with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin that “would be good for world peace.””

“Anti-Europe and anti-immigration, the 48-year-old Le Pen was the only French political leader who backed Trump in the U.S. election.”

“Her National Front party has been buoyed by his victory and that of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, hoping to ride a similar anti-establishment wave in France to victory in next year’s poll.”

“”If I am president, France would have good relations with Russia,” she said.”

“Le Pen says she would re-instate border-checks with France’s neighbors and hold a referendum to take the country out of the Eu.”

Le Pen says ‘world peace’ would gain from a Trump-Putin-Le Pen trio | Reuters:


“The ex-Breitbart executive, who serves as Trump’s chief strategist for the new administration, told The Hollywood Reporter that “darkness is good.” “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they (liberals) get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing,” he said in an interview published Friday, his first outside of Breitbart since the election. Briebart News, which Bannon has been associated with since its start in 2007, has been vehemently pro-Trump throughout his presidential campaign, and is also known for pushing nationalist policy positions, as well as conspiracy theories, and has been criticized as being racist, sexist and anti-Semitic.”

Steve Bannon: ‘Darkness is good’ –



From HTML to ARIA Tabs, A Travelog

Tabs – a 3-step journey from HTML to ARIA

This article is an accompanyment to Danger! Testing Accessibility with real people

Here we take you through the steps of constructing the examples used in that article, paying particular attention to how we transform the functional html tabs with no screen reader semantics to a full-fledged tab implementation. We will make scenic stops along the way where we explain the importance of what we are adding. Photo opportunities are optional.

The basic Tabs without ARIA example is an online version of the halfway point of this journey, (after step 2), whilst tabs with ARIA example is the destination.

For a better understanding of ARIA, what it is and how to use it, we recommend giving The Accessibility Tree: A Training Guide for Advanced Web Development a spin. Then consult the ARIA authoring practices guide for advice on how to implement specific widgets, which has a very good entry for tabs.

Our goal is to make tabs on the web behave like tabs on the desktop. We’ll use some good old fashioned HTML as the basis, then enhance it as we go. In this exercise we create a tabbed form where a user provides contact information )home, work, or other). We don’t want to overload the user with unnecessary form fields, so we let them first choose the type of contact information they wish to provide so we can present only the form fields relevant to that information.

Step 1: The basic HTML

Here is the basic HTML code for our tabs example. (the CSS code is left out but is available in either of the online examples.

Note, due to formatting differences, section elements are used instead of div elements as seen within the live examples. Please use the live examples by saving them locally to run the code, since this will prevent any special character markup from clogging the works.


<h2>My preferred contact information</h2>
<ul id="tabs">
        <li><a id="homeTab" href="#home" class="tab selected">Home</a></li>
        <li><a id="workTab" href="#work" class="tab">Work</a></li>
        <li><a id="otherTab" href="#other" class="tab">Other</a></li>

<section id="home" class="tabcontent">
        <h3>Home contact information</h3>
        <p>Lots of input fields that do not matter for the purposes of demonstrating tabs.</p>

<section id="work" class="tabcontent hidden">
        <h3>Work contact information</h3>
        <p>Lots of input fields that do not matter for the purposes of demonstrating tabs.</p>

<section id="other" class="tabcontent hidden">
        <h3>Other Contact Information</h3>
        <p>Lots of input fields that do not matter for the purposes of demonstrating tabs.</p>


Note how we use CSS

  • To make links visually look like tabs.
  • To visually indicate which tab is selected
  • To display tabpanel content
  • To hide inactive tabs.

The only CSS understood by assistive technologies is the hidden class.

Step 2: Add the desired keyboard functionality.

To all intents and purposes, ARIA is a screen reader only technology (though some speech recognition tools have limited support). People rely on the keyboard for many different reasons though, so getting the keyboard interaction in place is a fundamental next step.

Like tabs on the desktop, it should be possible to move focus onto the currently selected tab, cycle through the available tabs using the arrow keys, select one, then move focus from the selected tab to the panel of content that is currently displayed.

We use the tabindex attribute to handle keyboard focus. The currently selected tab has a tabindex of 0, making it focusable. The rest of the tabs have tabindex -1. If the html base element for a tab is natively focusable (such as a link( we don’t need to set tabindex=”0″ on the currently selected tab.

When the arrow key is pressed, we:

  • Make the newly selected tab focusable (adding tabindex of 0 or removing tabindex=”-1″ if the element is natively focusable.
  • Take the old tab out of focus order (by adding tabindex of -1).

This method is known as roving tab index and ensures that only the active tab is in the focus order.

Important notes on tab selection.

According to the ARIA 1.1 authoring practices guide, (that we’re working on at W3C), a tab may be selected when an arrow key moves focus to it or when the space and enter keys are pressed with focus on the tab. The difference depends on the interface and the way the content is rendered.

In either case, to ensure accessibility across devices and with various assistive technologies, onclick must be used as the trigger to select a tab, and not onfocus or any other key event. For example when an arrow key is used to select a tab, it should trigger the onclick handler for the tab that is to be selected. This ensures that a tab cannot be opened accidentally on touch screen devices, where onfocus is triggered automatically, and prevents the tabs from becoming unusable because a key press is required on a device that has no keyboard.

Moving focus to the start of a tabpanel as soon as a tab is selected is not something everyone will find helpful, especially if you decide not to implement the keyboard handling we mention above. What if someone selects the wrong tab, or decides the tab wasn’t the one they wanted? You’ve made an assumption about what that person wanted to do, and with rare exceptions we’re not fond of people making those sort of assumptions on our behalf.

You can view the JQuery code that handles the keyboard interaction on the “Tabs with ARIA” example page linked to above.

Yes, but what about the ARIA?

Once the basic interaction has been tested with mouse, keyboard and touch, it’s time to add some ARIA to enhance the experience for screen reader users.

Step 3: Add required ARIA roles.

Now let us add the required ARIA roles to our content.

  1. Add role=”tablist” to the <ul> container that holds all the tabs. This tells assistive technologies that a set of tabs is coming up and allows them to respond in the way most beneficial to the user. Screen readers, for instance can switch from browse mode into interactive or forms mode, which passes the keyboard events directly to the webpage instead of intercepting them.
  2. Add role=”tab” to each of the <a> elements that represent those tabs. This is what tells the screen reader to forget the HTML consists of a list of links, and instead tell the user it’s a set of tabs. Make sure to always add role=”tab” on the element that has the onclick Javascript event.
  3. Add role=”presentation” to each of the <li> elements. We need to use the <li> elements so the underlying HTML structure is usable on older devices (that don’t support ARIA), but the presentation role is what stops screen readers that do support ARIA from announcing the list items and enables them to calculate and announce the number of tabs in the tablist along with the relative position of the selected tab (e.g. “tab 2 of 3” for the work tab in our example.
  4. Add role=”tabpanel” to the <section> containers. This enables the screen reader to announce the beginning and the end of the visible tabpanel content.


<h2>My preferred contact information</h2>
<ul id="tabs" role=”tablist”>
        <li role=”presentation”><a id="homeTab" href="#home" class="tab selected" role=”tab”>Home</a></li>
        <li role=”presentation”><a id="workTab" href="#work" class="tab" tabindex="-1" role=”tab”>Work</a></li>
        <li role=”presentation”><a id="otherTab" href="#other" class="tab" tabindex="-1" role=”tab”>Other</a></li>

<section id="home" class="tabcontent" role=”tabpanel”>
        <h3>Home contact information</h3>
        <p>Lots of input fields that do not matter for the purposes of demonstrating tabs.</p>

<section id="work" class="tabcontent hidden" role=”tabpanel”>
        <h3>Work contact information</h3>
        <p>Lots of input fields that do not matter for the purposes of demonstrating tabs.</p>

<section id="other" class="tabcontent hidden" role=”tabpanel”>
        <h3>Other Contact Information</h3>
        <p>Lots of input fields that do not matter for the purposes of demonstrating tabs.</p>


Step 4 (final step): Adding the ARIA attributes.

Finally, let’s add theARIA attributes that provide important context info for screen readers:

  1. Add the aria-controls attribute to each tab element. Its value is the id of the tabpanel whose display state is controlled by the tab. This attribute provides a programmatic context between the tab and its associated tabpanel. This programmatic context is important, and has already been turned into a keyboard shortcut (JawsKey-alt-m) using Jaws and Firefox. We expect more user agents to implement similar functionality.
  2. Add the attribute aria-labelledby to each tabpanel element. Its value is the ID of the tab that controls it. This is the reverse of the relationship explained in the above step and could also be used by assistive technologies, e.g. to provide a keyboard shortcut from the tabpanel to its associated tab.
  3. Add aria-selected=”true” to the currently selected tab and aria-selected=”false” to tabs that are not selected. Note how we used a CSS class to do the same visually? This is important, because screen reader user can see which tab is selected without switching to forms mode. Most screen readers automatically switch to forms or application mode when screen reader focus hits a tablist (to pass the keyboard keys directly to the page) , but advanced screen reader users often choose to override this behaviour.
  4. (optional) add aria-orientation to the tablist to indicate the direction (vertical or horizontal) of the visual tab layout. This can also indicate which set of arrow keys (up down, or left/right) to use for selecting tabs. Keep in mind that if the associated tabpanel has a lot of content, sighted keyboard only users may want to use the arrow keys up and down to scroll the page, so a horizontal set of tabs with right/left arrow keys might provide a better experience for that user group.


<h2>My preferred contact information</h2>
<ul role="tablist" id="tabs">
<li role="presentation"><a role="tab" aria-selected="true" aria-controls="home" id="homeTab" href="#home" class="tab selected">Home</a></li>
<li role="presentation"><a role="tab" aria-selected="false" aria-controls="work" id="workTab" href="#work" class="tab" tabindex="-1">Work</a></li>
<li role="presentation"><a role="tab" aria-selected="false" aria-controls="other" id="otherTab" href="#other" class="tab" tabindex="-1">Other</a></li>

<section role="tabpanel" aria-labelledby="homeTab" id="home" class="tabcontent">
<h3>Home contact information</h3>
<p>Lots of input fields that do not matter for the purposes of demonstrating tabs.</p>

<section role="tabpanel" aria-labelledby="workTab" id="work" class="tabcontent hidden">
<h3>Work contact information</h3>
<p>Lots of input fields that do not matter for the purposes of demonstrating tabs.</p>

<section role="tabpanel" aria-labelledby="otherTab" id="other" class="tabcontent hidden">
<h3>Other Contact Information</h3>
<p>Lots of input fields that do not matter for the purposes of demonstrating tabs.</p>


And we have arrived at our destination, “tab widget city”. A couple of years ago we would have said that the place is a bit of a mess, with inconsistent implementation and assistive technology support making it unreliable and confusing for the user. Today we can confidently say it is a more accessible place with the ARIA markup. But there is still room for improvements, both in terms of the authoring consistency and how assistive technologies take advantage of that markup.

Accessibility requires a lot of players to do their part but without the necessary semantic information that ARIA provides we never give user agents a chance to create a better world for those who need to access web content in an alternative and creative fashion.

Also, don’t forget that you can use Visual ARIA to visually display ARIA usage during development to aid in this process.

Co-authors: Birkir Gunnarsson from Deque Systems, Bryan Garaventa from SSB BART Group, Lèonie Watson from The Paciello Group (TPG), and Matt King from Facebook.


Reflections in Jagged Chrome

Running my thumb along the edge, the points sharp by touch;
my thoughts turn inward, wisps of memory for the soul to dredge;
the splintering of reality at dusk.


Stark mountains there, torn metal thrusting into the sky;
forever tracing the shadows edge;
awry, an epoch dwelling on the terminator between light and dark.


Jagged peaks still sharp enough to cut;
blood trickling down to streams and rivers,
pooling in valleys in times of flood.


Reflections there, from the past,
liquid in metal refracted in light,
glare from a thousand suns beating down;
smear of a billion stars in the ink of night;
haunting beauty of a smile, now lost forever in time;
bone white shard of a sickle moon shredding clouds in flight;
the softness in her eyes, gazing back into mine.



(Bryan Garaventa, 2016)

The Wanderer

He was only a nomad, as many attest,
so not to worry whence fell the blow
that broke his quest and struck him low.

Nothing was found in the aftermath,
though many searched the misty paths
hoping to uncover the slightest hint
that one existed with such a craft.

This farce began when long ago
a yearly fair was thence decreed
by the ruler of that wooded realm,
ensconced within his armored keep.

The people though, ever oblivious
to the rigidity of their plight,
beheld this event with the complaisant fervor
that appeasements oft incite.

Beneath the shadowy arches of leafy boughs
hung paper lanterns, haphazardly strewn,
twisting in the winds from leaden clouds;
casting light in dazzling hues.

Groups paraded to and fro,
shallow dandies oft to crow
and strut betwixt the silhouettes
of dancers with their limbs aglow.

Trade was brisk throughout the night,
lovers paid lovers led in tow,
masquerades to cover up
the darkness in their soul.

Swirling sparks were cast in flight,
tempting angels spun and rolled,
a greasy magician yet to swindle
a piece or two of gold.

Amidst the sounds of desperate laughter,
pipes and drums and flutes were merged
into an ever roaring tidal surge
of merriment unmastered.

Within a clearing, tucked away,
a bonfire snapped, cracked, and swayed,
bathing all in lurid light
as the drunkards drank their pay away.

No one noticed his arrival,
a bent old man, gnarled with time,
quietly intent on the glowing embers;
torments reflected within his mind.

As a pebble causes ripples in a pond to spread,
time first stretched, then slowed, then stopped,
as everyone became enthralled
by the pall of utter dread.

The old man stood, stooped with age,
demonically lit by the burning coals,
observing his captive host as sage
condemner of their souls.

“See for thyself what thou hath wrought,” whispered he,
and all that were bound throughout the land, heard his words,
trembling at the fear now stirring
within their hearts, like restless birds.

The bonfire danced merrily,
straining at its bonds in glee,
popping and crackling joyfully
as its captors could not flee.

All those present within the wood
were frozen thus, a terrible jest;
their deceits; designs; desires laid bare
to all; naked to the rest.

Frigid winds began to blow,
mournfully howling betwixt the trees;
storm clouds scudded across the sky;
rumbling thunder shook the leaves.

Watching carefully, the old man waited,
wondering if he would be displaced
before the enlightenment he began
could willfully be embraced.

While a distant rumble began to grow,
a cloud of dust was seen to drift
ever nearer through the wood,
as horseman pounded across the rift.

Smiling sadly, the old man turned
to face the one as yet beguiled,
unable to fathom how one forsook
so many souls, however vile.

Long ago, before this fated confrontation,
the king suspected that a spirit dwelt
deep within his wooded realm,
never seen, though often felt.

So the king, shrewd and cunning,
devised a plan that would in time
unite the hatred of his people
by implying foul design.

He thus contrived a yearly fair;
whereby his subjects must attend
to sing and dance and set the snare
for the entrapment near the fen.

Nevertheless, year after year,
no sign of the being haunting the man
was ever found, inciting fear
and anger throughout the land.

Now though, finally,
he would have the one who plagued his nights,
chipping away at his sanity
with imaginary frights.

The king and his soldiers surrounded the spirit,
weapons to hand as they started to ride
in for the kill, poised to spear it
through the heart inside.

Before the king could slay his foe,
the old man looked to the sky in wroth,
to storming clouds through flakes of snow;
raising his blazing staff aloft.

“See for thyself what thou hath wrought!”,
the old man screamed in the rising wind,
as a bolt of lightning was thence unleashed,
blinding all as it struck him.

When sight returned to the petrified throng,
none could recall who had come
to free them from the siren song
that disillusion won.

So the king returned to his armored keep,
unsatisfied, yet again,
forever obsessing on what he had and lost;
failing to comprehend.

His people resumed their torpid lives,
unable to fathom how close they had been
to the freeing of their minds,
though all felt the ache of loss within.

He was only a nomad, as many attest,
so not to worry whence fell the blow
that broke his quest and struck him low.

(Bryan Garaventa, 2013)

Why Guns are Fun in American Society

With all of the recent publicity about escalating gun violence in the United States, and proposals for and against legislation to moderate this, I’ve been thinking about the attraction that people have for guns, and why it is that legislation alone will never work to solve this problem. 


I grew up with guns. My dad and uncles had them, and mostly they were used for hunting when we lived in northern California. When I was little, I used to play with toy pistol cap guns that would make a popping sound when the tape was rolled into them [1]. During the summers, my cousins and I would shoot each other with water pistols, some shaped like Uzi submachine guns that would repeat fire when the trigger was held down, and you could even add red food coloring so that it looked like blood! When I was ten, I wanted nothing more than my very own BB gun, just like the kid in The Christmas Story [2], which I finally got when I was ten. I was also given a BB gun pistol with chrome plating, which looked just like a real gun like in the movies, which was fascinating; it was totally impractical and completely useless for anything, but it looked real, and that was all that mattered to me. I could pretend to shoot bad guys with it, just like I saw in the movies. When I was thirteen, I was given a 20 gage shotgun, which I learned how to disassemble clean and use, and this is the gun that I used to shoot myself in the head when I was fourteen. 


Guns were first introduced in the Americas when European conquistadors and settlers arrived to populate them, which were used for hunting, protection, and to kill the natives [3]. Guns have been an intrinsic part of American civilization ever since. They were needed to win the American Revolution [4]. They were needed to populate the western migration of settlers into the lesser populated regions of America [5]; protecting homesteads from natural predators and to maintain some semblance of order for communities as well as hunting for food. They were needed for Americans to kill each other during the Civil War [6]. They were needed during the Wild West for law enforcement [7]. In the early 1900’s, Thompson submachine guns could conveniently be purchased by mail order or from the local hardware or sporting goods store [8], then law enforcement needed guns to protect themselves from criminals who owned Thompson submachine guns. And so on, throughout American history. 


There is a part of human nature that has always been violent, but as part of modern civilization, we should be able to overcome this. So why is the problem only getting worse? It’s not just the easy availability of guns, but a combination of many factors. 


One large factor is the entertainment industry. 


As early as the beginning of the 1900’s, there has been a cultural fascination with American criminal folk heroes, including the Sundance Kid [9], Billy the Kid [10], and Bonnie and Clyde [11], plus violent counterparts such as Doc Holliday [12] and Wyatt Earp [13]; which many movies have been made to depict. The role of the Mafia has equally been glorified in American entertainment as well [14], including such movies as The Godfather and shows such as The Sopranos. The same is true for the depiction of inner city gang violence in American culture [15]. 


This is true for the music industry as well, which started to become more prevalent in the 1990’s with the popularity of some edge Rap performers pushing the envelope. One such was the release of Cop Killer by Ice-T [16]. Additionally, the use of violent and misogynistic lyrics in popular Rap and Hip-Hop songs since the early 2000’s have been tied to a rise in physical abuse since that time [17]. 


This is also true for the video game industry, where violence and crime against people in some games earns points and rewards. In a recent study, it was proven that children and young adults who play violent video games have much more difficulty exercising self-control [18], including such popular games as Grand Theft Auto, where it was possible to steal cars, have sex with a prostitute then kill her afterwards to get their money back, and kill police officers to gain additional points. In 2013, Guinness World Records announced: “Guinness World Records can today confirm that the launch of Grand Theft Auto V has broken six new world records including the Highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours and the Fastest entertainment property to gross $1 billion.” [19]. 


A second large factor is the growth of narcissism in American society. 


In a recent FAQ regarding The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement [20], it states: 


“We know that narcissism has increased over time among individuals based on several datasets. College students now endorse more narcissistic traits than college students did in the 1980s and 1990s; in one large sample the change seemed to be accelerating after 2002. An Internet sample of the general population also showed higher narcissism scores among younger people than older people. Perhaps most disturbing, a 2005 study using a large, randomly selected sample of Americans found that nearly 1 out of 10 people in their twenties had experienced NPD – the more severe, clinical-level form of the trait. Only 1 out of 30 people over 64 had experienced NPD in their lifetime – even though they had lived 40 more years than the people in their twenties and thus had that much more time to experience the disorder. This suggests a large increase in NPD over time.” 


“The Narcissism Epidemic covers a broad range of cultural symptoms, including increases in materialism, entitlement, public violence and aggression, self-promotion, and the desire for uniqueness.” 


In an article published in 2010 by Psychology Today, titled Shocker: Empathy Dropped 40% in College Students Since 2000 [21], it states: 


“College students who hit campus after 2000 have empathy levels that are 40% lower than those who came before them, according to a stunning new study presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science by University of Michigan researchers. It includes data from over 14,000 students.” 


“Worse, much of the time that used to be spent playing outdoors is now spent in front of screens. Television, obviously cannot teach empathy. Even nonviolent kids’ TV, research finds, is filled with indirect aggression and linked to increased real-world bullying.” 


A third large factor is dark propaganda in American society. 


The concept of propaganda has existed within all societies for as long as societies have existed. In The Story of Propaganda by the American Historical Association [22], it states: 


“In peacetime the promotional activities of democratic governments usually consist of making the citizens aware of the services offered by a given department and of developing popular support for the policies with which the department is concerned. The purpose is to make these services “come alive” to the everyday citizen, and in the long run official information and promotion tend to make the average man more conscious of his citizenship. If the public is interested in the work done in its name and in its behalf, intelligent public criticism of governmental services can be stimulated.” 


The dark side of propaganda however, can corrupt the minds of a society. In an article titled Enemy Propaganda by the American Historical Association [23], it states: 


“Hitler is the arch propagandist of our time. These are examples of his strategy in attempting to mold the opinions and attitudes of his intended victims to his own purposes. Division, doubt, and fear are the weapons he uses within one nation and among Allied countries arrayed against him. His purpose is summed up in his own phrase-to sow “mental confusion, contradiction. of feeling, indecision, panic.” ” 


This tactic is alive and well in America, and with the ever present availability of online news resources and social media, dark propaganda can easily be spread to millions instantly. 


In a recent article titled Beware of the online war of propaganda by USC News [24], it states: 


“As more people get news from social media, the spread of misinformation is a risk.” 


“The growing popularity of social media raises all sorts of questions about online security. According to a recent Twitter SEC filing, approximately 8.5 percent of all users on Twitter are bots – fake accounts used to produce automated posts. While some of these accounts have commercial purposes, others are influence bots used to generate opinions about a certain topic.” 


This concept is important, as noted in an article titled Media’s Use of Propaganda to Persuade People’s Attitude, Beliefs and Behaviors by Stanford University [25], where it states: 


“As a result of our increasing sophistication and to build our civilization, we have created and environment so complex, so fast-paced, and information-laden, that we must increasingly deal with it in the fashion of the animals we long ago transcended. Thus, from the case studies on how the media uses propaganda, we can understand that the media does more than presentation facts and information. The media has the ability to exploit persuasive tactics to the specific definition of propaganda: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person. Indeed, as we have shown, this does not have to be the “in your face,” World War II propaganda. Instead, the presentation is subtle and unaware to the untrained eye, so that even slight difference in the presentation can help change contextual understanding.” 


The spreading of false news is a prime example of this type of propaganda, the danger of which is illustrated in a recent personal account titled Fox News – Clear and Present Danger to America [26]. 


“These are people who I used to have spirited but intelligent political discussions with. That’s gone now. Those people are gone.” 


“In all other ways, they remain competent, functioning adults. My mom still works, they both are very computer-literate and active. Yet they believed that Dearborn, Michigan was under Sharia law. They believe that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts for profit. They believe our President is a Kenyan Muslim Socialist.” 


As part of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, we enjoy freedom of speech. This is a critical asset for a democracy. However, there is a dark side to this, because many people in our society will believe anything if it sounds like news. 


This was exploited by William Randolph Hearst in the late 1800’s as noted in his biography [27]: 


“The Daily Examiner became young Hearst’s laboratory, where he gained a talent for         making fake news and faking real news in such a way as to create maximum         public shock.” 


The same tactics are being used today to spread false news to millions through the Internet. This can be observed in an article titled NASA Confirms Earth Will Experience 15 Days Of Complete Darkness in November 2015 by NewsWatch33 [28]: 


“WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEWSWATCH33) – NASA has confirmed that the Earth will experience 15 days of total darkness between November 15 and November 29, 2015. The event, according to NASA, hasn’t occurred in over 1 Million years.” 


As opposed to an article titled Earth to face a 6-day blackout, viral hoax cites NASA as saying by RT [29]: 


“The original report was   published on a satirical news site, citing NASA   administrator Charles Bolden as the source.” 


“Bolden’s emergency preparedness video was taken out of context to   add weight to the report.” 


“When viewed as a whole, however, it becomes clear that Bolden was   discussing emergency preparedness in case of an earthquake or   hurricane, in order to help US families to be ready for such   scenarios.” 


“Still, many people reacted in panic, as the story went viral on   Twitter.” 


The spreading of dark propaganda through seemingly trustworthy news sources is very dangerous for American society, because this constitutes an abuse of our freedom of speech, and spreads malcontent and divisiveness where there should be none. 


A fourth large factor is population growth and economic disparities. 


According to the Population Clock from the United States Census Bureau [30], there is a net gain of one person every thirteen seconds. With this constant population growth in mind, the division of economic disparities in the United States is literally growing wider every minute of every hour every day. 


In a recent article by Scientific American titled Economic Inequality: It’s Far Worse Than You Think [31], it states: 


“According to Pew Research, most Americans believe the economic system unfairly favors the wealthy, but 60% believe that most people can make it if they’re willing to work hard.” 


“In a candid conversation with Frank Rich last fall, Chris Rock said, “Oh, people don’t even know. If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.” The findings of three studies, published over the last several years in Perspectives on Psychological Science, suggest that Rock is right. We have no idea how unequal our society has become.” 


“The average American believes that the richest fifth own 59% of the wealth and that the bottom 40% own 9%. The reality is strikingly different. The top 20% of US households own more than 84% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% combine for a paltry 0.3%. The Walton family, for example, has more wealth than 42% of American families combined.” 


The results of this are discussed in an article by Fortune titled Wealth inequality in the U.S. is 10 times worse than income inequality [32], where it states: 


“Furthermore, there’s reason to believe that such levels of inequality can have even worse consequences. The late historian Tony Judt addressed these effects in Ill Fares the Land, a book on the consequences of the financial crisis, writing:” 


“There has been a collapse in intergenerational mobility: in contrast to their parents and grandparents, children today in the UK as in the US have very little expectation of improving upon the condition into which they were born. The poor stay poor. Economic disadvantage for the overwhelming majority translates into ill health, missed educational opportunity, and-increasingly-the familiar symptoms of depression: alcoholism, obesity, gambling, and minor criminality.” 


“In other words, there’s evidence that rising inequality and many other intractable social problems are related. Not only is rising inequality bad for business, it’s bad for society, too.” 


A fifth large factor is the mental health of those effected by all of these factors and the impact of stress on the human psyche. 


In an article by World of Psychology titled How Stress Affects Mental Health [33], it states: 


“Chronic stress increases the risk of developing health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a weakened immune system. Chronic stress also affects a person’s mental health. Many studies show a correlation between stress and the development of mood disorders such as anxiety disorders and depression.” 


“According to the American Psychological Association’s latest stress survey, 66 percent of people regularly experience physical symptoms of stress, and 63 percent experience psychological symptoms.” 


“Previous research has found physical differences in the brains of people with stress disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and those without. One of the main distinctions is that the ratio of the brain’s white matter to gray matter is higher in those with stress-related mental disorders compared to those without.” 


“This study shows that the oligodendrocyte cells might play a key role in long-term changes to the brain that could lead to mental health problems. The researchers also believe that the stem cells which, due to chronic stress, are becoming myelin-producing cells rather than neurons, affect cognitive function, because it is the neurons that process and transmit the electrical information necessary for learning and memory skills.” 


So to conclude, it’s not just an overabundance of guns in America that are to blame for social violence, nor is it simply the lack of sufficient legislation, but rather a combination of all of these factors that continue to negatively affect our society. 


This also includes children, as illustrated recently when an eleven year old boy in Tennessee fatally shot an eight year old girl when she refused to show him her puppy using his father’s shotgun [34]. 


We in American society are becoming desensitized to violence by constantly being bombarded by it [35]. We watch it on television and in movies, we play video games where we earn points for doing it, we listen to music that promotes it, we as children are raised with war games that emulate it using fake weapons to do it, and we as human beings are learning not to care anymore. 


Violence has always existed in all societies around the world since the beginning of humanity, which seems to indicate that this is a fundamental aspect of human nature. However, human beings also have the capacity to be compassionate and empathetic as part of a cohesive society. This is why as intelligent beings we can exercise free will and choose not to be violent. 


What needs to be addressed, are all of the factors that lead up to violence in our society. One clue to this is rather simple, happy and well-adjusted people are typically not violent. This is because they have no reason to be. 


Personally, I don’t know how many of these factors played a part in my childhood. I do know that my favorite movie that summer was The Crow [36] starring Brandon Lee, who died during production from an accidental gunshot wound on the set. It wasn’t until years later that I realized why I liked the movie so much. I’m a romantic, and the provocative darkness portrayed in the film appealed to a darkness within me that I didn’t have the experience needed to properly understand. My favorite song at that time was The Unforgiven, by Metallica [37]. So, for a variety of reasons leading up to the end of that summer in 1994, I decided to end my life.  


The presence of guns in the house made this decision much easier. Even if they were not present though, it would not have changed my decision, though the outcome would have been different. To be perfectly honest, if a person really wants to end their life, they will find a way to do so no matter what tools are available. 


At the time, it never occurred to me to harm anybody else other than myself, physically at any rate. The idea of harming innocents is totally alien to me, and I don’t understand it. At some point though, the practice of murder suicide has become popular for some twisted reason, and this is reflected in all of the mass shootings that we’ve witnessed in recent years. In the early 1990’s, this was even depicted in the music video Jeremy, by Pearl Jam [38]. 


I’ll end this here with this last thought, even though the lack of access to guns would not really make a difference for a person who truly wishes to take their own life, a lack of guns would make it much more difficult for such a person to take the lives of innocents at the same time. 


Also, the multiple factors that lead up to violence in the first place, must be addressed in our society if we are going to have any hope for the future.



1. History Of The Toy Gun
2. A Christmas Story (1983) – IMDb
3. Epic World History: Conquest of Central America
4. Revolutionary War Timeline
5. Westward Expansion – Facts & Summary –
6. A Brief Overview of the American Civil War
7. Cowboys – Facts & Summary –
8. Thompson Submachine Gun
9. Sundance Kid – Thief –
10. Billy the Kid – Criminal –
11. Bonnie and Clyde –
12. Doc Holliday – Criminal, Folk Hero –
13. Wyatt Earp – Law Enforcement –
14. Why Hollywood is married to the mob
15. Drugs, Violence and the Street: The Top 10 Gang Movies of the ’90s – SundanceTV
16. ‘Cop Killer’ controversy |
17. The Influence of Rap and Hip-Hop Music: An Analysis on Audience Perceptions of Misogynistic Lyrics – JournalQuest
18. Violent video games decrease self-control | Psychology Today
19. Confirmed: Grand Theft Auto 5 breaks 6 sales world records | Guinness World Records
20. The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement – Book
21. Shocker: Empathy Dropped 40% in College Students Since 2000 | Psychology Today
22. The Story of Propaganda
23. Enemy Propaganda
24. Beware of the online war of propaganda | USC News
25. Media’s Use of Propaganda to Persuade People’s Attitude, Beliefs and Behaviors
26. Fox News – Clear and Present Danger to America
27. William Randolph Hearst Biography – life, death, history, wife, school, mother, young, son, old, information, born
28. NASA Confirms Earth Will Experience 15 Days Of Complete Darkness in November 2015 | NewsWatch33
29. Earth to face a 6-day blackout, viral hoax cites NASA as saying – RT USA
30. Population Clock
31. Economic Inequality: It’s Far Worse Than You Think – Scientific American
32. Wealth inequality in the U.S. is 10 times worse than income inequality – Fortune
33. How Stress Affects Mental Health | World of Psychology
34. 11-year-old charged with murder in Tennessee 8-year-old’s death – CBS News
35. Desensitizing the Mind to Violence – Dave Grossman, Author
36. The Crow (1994) – IMDb
37. Metallica – The Unforgiven (Video) – YouTube

38. Pearl Jam – Jeremy (Official Video) – YouTube