100 Days

I saw a post from a former pastor of mine.  I consider him a friend and mentor – at least, I considered him one.  It’s a confusing thing.  I still love and respect him, admire much of his character and have nothing but the deepest appreciation for the things he has taught me over the years.  But, I feel conflicted, too.  Our ideologies are not the same, and though I have faith in God, I would no longer characterize myself as a fundamentalist Christian in any form.  Over the past few years my friend has become increasingly more vocal in political and religious matters, something I will certainly never criticize, however it has highlighted the rift that is between us when I compare what we think and believe.  He is unabashedly both conservative Right and conservative Christian,  even when those two viewpoints are in direct contention.  More recently, he has taken to bashing both the Left and the Islamic religion, often conflating the two in order to make a skewed point.  Given his background as both an IBM engineer and a teacher of Philosophy, I have no doubt he understands faulty logic- but he no longer pays heed to that in service of rhetoric.  This depresses me.  There was a time when he measured the character of a person by when they were willing to keep their mouth shut.  Have we moved so far past civil discourse that even good men step over the line to protect what they see as their way of life?  Is the perceived threat to Christianity, whether it is by political, social or religious agenda so great that we must forget our principles?

I hope not.

Running for the Republicans

So yesterday I posited the idea of running for the Democrats as a non-Democrat, and not in the Bernie Sanders kind of why.  I can’t say I’d do the same for the Republicans, at least not at this time.  The first reason is that the Democratic party has, at least locally, accepted the notion that they are a party in disarray.  They know this.  Second, I can get behind a lot of their social programs without accepting their economic ones.  The Republican party?  Yeah, not so much, and it might be because I came from them originally.  I’ve found I disagree with many of their social stances, and I’m opposed to their attempts to push the Christian religion as the basis for our government and policy decisions.  On paper, I agree with many of their stated goals, at least as far as limited government and fiscal spending go, but in reality I have found that they have no desire to actually abide by those ideals.  It’s not a sales thing, or a presentation of the platform, it’s that in many ways, they are actively working against their stated principles.  To me that’s a longer row to hoe.  I also think that, as a party, they are still unaware of just how broken they are – Even as they laud their victories in the last election, they fail to see that many of those victories were on the back of Trump’s platform, which ironically, was similar to President Obama’s.  Change.  The people aren’t happy with the status quo and they’re looking for options.

I don’t think politics will ever change, but it could be an interesting political landscape in the next few years.

Day 165 – The day I didn’t sleep

I had a bout of insomnia last night.  That bout last exactly as long as it took to consume the rest of season 5 of Justified.  I am surprised and amazed at synchronicity that this particular circumstance displayed…but, the world is truly a wondrous place.

Yesterday I walked, but I need to walk further, longer.  So today, maybe one more step, maybe many more blocks.

I didn’t practice on the guitar last night, so it now sits beside me and gently weeps…

What are we fighting for?

Editor’s Note:  I wrote this back about 3 months or so, ago.  I was going to add a paragraph or two about my Dad, which I might do as an extended piece, but I thought I would get it posted now, as it has spent far too much time on my “To Do” list.

 

 

As the debate about health care continues, with President Trump and many of his supporters leading the way to repeal the ACA despite the lack of a real plan of action to replace or repair what is left, I find myself considering what it is we hope to accomplish with our country, our government.  What do we consider important at the national level, as a nation?  To what use do we put that blunt instrument that is our federal government?  That our government has grown large and unwieldy, straining under its own massive weight is no surprise to us.  We know it is fat, and growing larger.  We know that is too large, too heavy to support.  The Fed has grown in size and weight, but accomplishes less and less despite its increase in size and resources.  Both corporations and private citizens have attached themselves to that bloated mass, feeding off its excess like a tick to a mangy dog.  And those very fat, very happy ticks, they don’t want anything to change with their host.  No, even if the overall health and state of the union should falter, do not change anything lest their meal ticket become endangered.

This piece isn’t an analysis of the government, however.  It isn’t here to discuss the wasted resources and corporate whore mongering that goes on in our nation’s capital.  This essay is here to ask a basic question of ourselves.  What is it do we want our government to do for us?  What freedom and pursuit of happiness are we defending with our military?  What justice do we purport to provide to those of our nation that are too broke to pursue our self-evident truths?  In a nation as rich as ours, in a land as large as ours, truly our government should be responsible for very few things at the Federal level.  It is rarely the best tool for the job.  Help keep the common law consistent.  Help keep our perspective on infrastructure.  Facilitate communication among the States and their people as a whole, these things a Federal Government can do.  I would suggest to you that central to all of these things is the People.  Whatsoever our government does, it should be in the most benefit to her people, to the support of the pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness.  But what good is life, if we cannot enjoy it?  What good is liberty, if we cannot live it.  How can we have happiness if we are not healthy enough to pursue it?  People are the life’s blood of this country, the means be which everything is accomplished.  If our People are not healthy, how can our nation succeed?  We can educate ourselves, feed ourselves, defend ourselves- but only if we are healthy enough to do so.  In the past, collectively we have agreed that things like education, warfare, defense and trade are things we should spend our wealth on.  They are things that we considered integral to our nation, enough so to put into the Federal Government’s hands.  Why then, do we not consider our health such an asset, one worthy of our collective effort?  What else is worth fighting for if we don’t have our health?

 

And your new Democratic candidate is… Not a Democrat

Dear God, help us!

Heh.  Still between that article, and another one I read but cannot find, the Montana Democrats are in need of a few good candidates.  Perhaps I should throw my hat into the ring as the kind of candidate they need.  You see, I’m not a Democrat.  I’m not a Republican any more, either.  The Democrats have a tough go of it here in Montana – their social platform actually benefits a lot of the state, but they have no concept on how to market it.  On the economic side, well, Democrats suck.  We might identify, economically, as a state/nation of have nots, but even though the idea of sticking it to the man is appealing to many, even more of us want to be well off.  Sure those guys oppressing us are rich, but we wanna be rich too.  Taxing the rich isn’t something a lot of Montanan’s get behind, I think because many people identify wealth with hard work.  And while that isn’t as accurate as it used to be, we’re not really ready to throw that association out, not around here.  And truthfully, we shouldn’t.  Whether Democrats like it or not, the wealthy already foot the bill for the majority of our expenses- taxing them more just because we feel they can afford it is not a policy we should ever agree to.

So that’s where I come in.  Let’s get back to the basics of streamlining our government.  Less at the Federal level, more at the State.  Let’s invest in our infrastructure – our people, and we’ll sell it as good for business, good for the environment and good for the profits of everyone.  Well, almost everyone.  🙂  Let’s move from the extremes of both parties and find some ground that actually lets us accomplish some work in our country.

Day 135 – part 2

So what is today but another yesterday in the making?  Or perhaps, to quote the learned Axl Rose, “Yesterday there was so many things I was never told
Now that I’m startin’ to learn I feel I’m growing old”.

My father said something similar though he was surely no GNR fan.  Facing the frustrations of being sick with cancer and staring at a life cut short, he said, “Just when you’re starting to figure things out, you’re too old, too out of time.”

Mind you, I’m not feeling morbid, morose, ill or out of time, but I think it would be remiss of me to not learn from the very painful lessons of those who have come before me.  Carpe Diem was a popular saying thanks to Robin Williams, but I think it is apropos, too.  There are many, many miles to go before I sleep.  I hope.

So, today.  Fur Elise, The Firefly theme, and I heard an acoustical version of CCR’s Fortunate Son that I’d like to try.  I also need to find an amplifier since mine is broken.  Other than that, today is about sales calls, emails and maybe, exercise and coffee with my sons. Maybe a spot of tea, too.

What will you do with your day?  What mountain will you climb, lips will you kiss, flower will you smell?  Contribute that verse…

O Me! O Life!

Walt Whitman, 18191892

O Me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;   
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;   
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who  more faithless?)   
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;   
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;          
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;   
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?   
   
                                                        Answer.

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;   
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

It’s all fun and games.

I had to post this here, it just seemed too fun not to.  Monopoly has a reputation as a wrecker of friendships and families, a wasteland of destruction for relationships.  I cannot really recall having that experience, but I didn’t play it a great deal after about age 10.  In the scenario below, if you follow the link, you’ll find something where I would quite happily sit back and watch while munching on a bag of chips.  It certainly would beat the Oscars or Academy Awards for me.  You see terms like Socialism and Communism bandied about a lot right now. but honestly, they’re largely being used incorrectly with their implied associations.  Opponents to the ACA and similar programs yell, “Socialism!” while ignoring how our government and tax structure work, but what I think they’re really recalling to mind, if they are truly recalling anything, is a weird fusion of Stalin/Marx/Hitler’s Germany as well as probably a few others thrown into the mix with a slight hint of Mccarthyism to flavor the stew.  I’m not sure Marx or Engels would have recognized what passes for the idea of Socialism/Communism here in the US.  But I digress, enjoy the comic and the anarchy that follows.

http://existentialcomics.com/comic/159

No Longer Economically Viable

There was this Michael Douglas movie back in the early 90’s- Falling Down, where an out of work defense worker spirals downward after he is let go by his company.  In their words, his skill set and position were no longer economically viable for the company to continue employing him.  In the 20 years since that film was made, in one variation or another, this has become an increasingly heard line.  Computers, AI, automation, efficiency, downsizing, up sizing, globalization – whatever the term, the reality for many is that their job is longer there, and probably won’t be in any human form as this trend continues.  As we continue to innovate and upgrade our technological capabilities, we have been able to downgrade our workforce.  We can do more with less, a lot less, and in many cases, those less no longer have to be human.  What happens when even many of our skilled trades no longer need to be staffed by a human agent?  What happens to our workforce, our population, our economy?  Corporations don’t have to pay robots and networks, and the increase in profits that they realize from the improved efficiency and lower labor costs will eventually be overtaken by the reality that their customer base is no longer employed.  Sure, as science, technology and society progress, there will be new vocations, new disciplines that will employ some people, but that come close to employing our growing population?  I don’t think so.  I think we will need to answer these questions, and sooner rather than later.  At a time when the United States cannot even bring itself to admit that their government and economy are anything but pure democracy and capitalism will now need to answer questions that make such things passe’ in comparison.  I am still young enough that, one way or another, I may live to see the answer to the question as completely relevant…

Why History?

Dave posted recently on one of the purposes of history.  Or rather, he pondered a little bit on the purposes and then went on to use history as a means of illustrating some observations he was making.  He looked at history, made note of some useful contexts related to what he was thinking about, and then used those historical points to explain himself.   I thought that worked out pretty well.  History is a great tool for understanding many things, it provides much needed context.  In today’s world, where context is ignored or manipulated in so many things, I have a very hard time of coming up with something more valuable than that.

When I was younger, around 9 or 10, history reinforced in me skepticism and mistrust of what I was taught.  Although I would not realize it for for another 15 or 20 years, I had a huge trust issue with anything resembling authority.  Not like James Dean, or your typical teenager, but more along the embodiment of, “Trust, but verify.”  Facts at face value were only the starting point, they had to be checked.  Context and subtext had to be explored, reasoning followed, motivations understood.  History was my lens, and my mechanism, for all of my social interactions with people.  Suffice to say, when I learned that Columbus did not actually discover America, as we had been taught since I was a wee lad of five, it was enough to send me into a fit of righteous indignation.  I laugh about it now, but I remember with a great deal of clarity, the feelings of anger and betrayal at realizing the teachers that I trusted would lie to me like that, especially since I could see no reason for doing so.  At that age I lacked perspective and the ability to distinguish subtleties, but still-  trust, but verify.

To each their own…decision.

I happened to be reading this article when my oldest son looked over my shoulder and started reading along with me.  This lead to a conversation of sorts with him, which I rather enjoyed.

At first my son was actively against the shop owners.  He said he would have sued the owners, too.  Not because of any particular leaning so much as he views all discrimination as wrong.  I explored his thinking on that for a bit and I was satisfied with where he was coming from, but then I told him how things might have been different in Montana.  I shared with him how, in lot of states, the right to refuse service to anyone is available to business owners.  I also shared with him how customers have the same right not to go to a particular business.  They can complain to others about it, too, which usually works out better that just suing somebody.  It was fun to discuss the various alternatives.

We spoke on a lot of different topics related to the situation and the fun thing for me was watching him consider other viewpoints than his own.  He didn’t dismiss things out of hand, he spent time thinking about where the shop owners were coming from and why.  He considered other ways to handle the conflict and what some of the results were.  At the end of the day he held to his own opinion, for his own reasons, but he thought about things!  It was a great father/son moment, but it also made me laugh and think about how often I can’t have that kind of conversation with an adult…