RJ's Corner

I Just Wish I Knew What I Am Supposed To Do..

2016-01-30_11-26-38.pngI just heard the words in the title of this post in the movie “Matrix Reloaded”. I hear some of you probably saying “you watch that type of stuff???”.  I realize the Matrix movies have a bad rap from the conservative community because it is waaaay out there but to me its symbolism is awesome and I do like SciFi movies.

Getting back to the topic, some versions of religions including  quite a few Christian sects believe that God controls everything in the minutest detail, including every breath we take and every thought we have.  I guess that idea is comforting to some but not me. Maybe they are perfectly happy to think of themselves as puppets whose strings are pulled by a deity beyond their understanding. But I think that stand is just laziness on their part. They just don’t want to be responsible for how their lives turn out. They would rather put that in God’s lap.

If the statement “I just wish I knew what I am supposed to do” pushed us into a mode of deep reflection that would be something else. I think one of the things seriously missing in our American culture is determination in finding our path in life. Often times we don’t ask the serious questions until it is almost too late.   I believe that God puts in each of us a passion and reason for existing on this earth.  He leaves it is up to us and those who mentor us uncover what that passion might be and then to do everything necessary to make it happen.

2016-01-30_11-27-01.png I personally think, at least on some levels, my life has been an example of how not to do things. I went to school in a small rural community in the 1950s and 60s where guidance counselors and mentors were for the most part non-existent.  Most of my teachers were fresh out of college and only doing a couple of years at our little school before they went on the the bigger cities for more money. Many, due to the lack of life experiences, were just not able to help me with my life questions. Since my father was a single parent and a very stoic man I got little guidance from him. I was pretty much left on my own with the question of “what am I supposed to do?” and that question is really beyond most kid’s abilities without some wise guidance.  It would be years before I was able to answer the question and by then I didn’t have the courage to change life tracts so dramatically.

Fortunately kids today can at least investigate many different possibilities of life via the Internet and other readily available sources.  That type of info is WAY beyond anything that was available to my generation.

I hope that teachers today, at least many of them, try to help their students address this question early enough in life. We should all discover what God put us on the earth to do…

 

 

Sometimes It’s Embarrassing…

2016-01-30_10-32-11.pngSometimes it’s embarrassing how our country is run, but it sure does beat the alternative. We have an open system of government. We wash all our dirty laundry in the middle of the town square so everyone in the world can see the good, the bad, and the totally ugly of our system. I know many in the rest of the world are shaking their heads with just the thought of the U.S. choosing someone like Trump or Cruz to be the next leader of the free world and I don’t blame them as I am shaking my head too.  I think it just might fall off my shoulders sometime soon. :)

I don’t know just how it happened that this is the way we do business here in America. I think maybe our freedom of the press has something to do with it. Another is the right to protest which both are mandated by the first amendment of our constitution. I realize that among my evangelical friends the first amendment is all about keeping government out of religion but I, and I hope most others don’t see it that way. Two of my primary heroes are Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. I have studied their works throughout my life and therefore recognize that both these guys were more afraid of religion intruding into government than the other way around. :)  I put more weight on the freedom of speech and a free press as being important to our existence.  But I am getting off topic here. I believe that freedom to protest and for the press to say what they think is tantamount to why our democracy is the envy of the world.

There are places like China, Russia, and many of the Middle East countries where everything is kept hidden from public view. The despots and dictators don’t accept and even severely punish anyone who disagrees with them. Without criticism being tolerated they can do anything they want. In Russia and China the communist system puts most of the power in the head of the party. He has almost supreme rule. Some supposedly have elections but since no one is allowed to inspect any of that process its validity is very much questioned.

Our way of doing government is messy indeed.  How can we even allow that small minority of citizens who are avid Trump followers to rant and rave the most ridiculous things? How can we allow ourselves to look so stupid in the public square? That is the question of many who look at our process from beyond our shores. Our system of government is messy indeed but, given all its quirks it is the best in the world.

Thank heavens for the most part sanity has ruled when it comes to how we do government. Let’s hope it continues to do that in this particular election cycle and future ones.

California Biking…

I have been doing some housekeeping in my photo archive this wintry day and ran across these “biker convention” pics that I have yet to publish.  They were taken in the summer of 2009. I think most of these guys are boomer weekend warriors, not the Hell’s Angels variety.

As usual, click on any pic to see a larger slideshow…

Texas GOP Declares: “No More Teaching of ‘Critical Thinking Skills’ in Texas Public Schools”

2016-02-06_10-50-13The Texas GOP’s declarative position against critical thinking in public schools, or any schools, for that matter, is now an official part of their political platform. …. (page 20, Republican Party of Texas, 2012).

Yes, challenging beliefs or claims is considered insubordinate, immoral and could lead to rebellion, disobedience or perhaps worse: revolution. For the Republican Party and their followers, thinking is subversive, imagination is a sin and the Republican Party in Texas and elsewhere is working to codify this into public policy. The plutocrats can’t have a working-class citizenry that is asking questions of those in power, be they parents or bosses; instead, the people must be taught the ideology of what is morally acceptable, what rules and regulations to follow. and even more importantly, how to accept and internalize hierarchical authoritarianism. Critical thinking is a direct challenge to the “leaders” and their claims on authority, and any opposition to vertical arrangements is ethically unacceptable to those in power.

Reactionaries have long known that enshrining ignorance and hierarchy in both thought and practice within the school curriculum is essential if the control of young minds is to be accomplished softly and quietly yet profoundly through propaganda and perception management. In the quarters of obedience training, “education” has nothing to do with “schooling” under capitalism.

SOURCE: Texas GOP Declares: “No More Teaching of ‘Critical Thinking Skills’ in Texas Public Schools”.

2016-01-18_09-18-02.pngIs our country about “obedience training” or critical thinking? That seems to be the question at hand at least for the Texas GOP. Should we have a subservient society or one that is educated to ask questions? Many of the leaders in Texas seems to think the former and like so many other things are trying to force that opinion on the rest of us!

If you haven’t figured it out by now I don’t hold Texas politics in much regard. There are just too many nuts that have come from their in recent years. Some became president and some want to get there now.  There is just too much swagger in Texas politics, and even Texas in general, for my liking.

Being a critical thinker I can’t even imagine a country whose citizens are discouraged from asking  questions. Critical thinking is what has made our country great and the lack of it will surely be our downfall. When we fall in line with whatever our leaders tell us we are on our way to becoming something other than the great democracy we have been. Stifling critical thinking is what allowed Hitler such a strangle hold on Germany for so many years. I regrettable think that it is possible for us to turn that way if the Texas GOP has there way! When critical thinking ceases then propaganda becomes “fact” and that is a scary thing!!!

In the near future I will be showing you more details about the critical thinking process in order to illustrate just how insane Texas politics is in this, and in fact most other areas of life.

 

I’m A Car Guy, But…

2016-01-25_15-43-21.pngOne of my default satellite TV channels is Velocity. It is dedicated to almost everything about cars. As I am writing this they had the Barrett-Jackson car auction from Scottsdale Arizona.  All the CEOs and others willing to put out the big bucks are there in person or via the internet. Many 1960s and 70s restored cars are sold for $200,000 and beyond to anxious buyers wanting them for their already massive collections.  It amazes me how much they are willing to fork out!

2016-01-25_15-46-01.pngI turned sixteen years old in 1962 so I was around during what is now the peak popularity years. I learned to drive with a 1963 Chevy and my first new car out of college was a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang very similar to the one recent sold at Barrett-Jackson for $240,000. When I bought mine I think it cost me about $4,0000.

I really enjoyed my Mustang for the three years I had it before I wore it out. It had almost 40,000 miles on it and was on the second set of tires when the transmission started going bonkers but that was par for the day when it came to cars.

So, getting to the point of this post, I am a car guy but I would never go back to those days for a car today. Let’s face it, while the cars were more stylish and more easily identifiable than they are today, they were very unreliable compared to my 2012 Chevy Sonic that I drive now.  Carburetors were constantly clogging up, chokes sticking and a myriad of other problems.  Then there were points, rotor, distributor caps, and spark plugs that were changed everything 20,000 or so. Car maintenance was a never ending thing in the 1960s and 70s along with buying a new car every 3 or 4 years if you wanted reliable transportation.

So, while I enjoy the car shows on Velocity, I personally would never want to go back to those days. The only way I would want my Mustang back is if you put it on a modern-day chassis and drive-train.  The good-old-days just weren’t that good in this  or many other regards.

Answer to religious violence…

2016-01-18_09-56-59.pngThe 21st century will not be a century of secularism, he writes. It will be an age of desecularization and religious conflicts. Part of this is simply demographic. Religious communities produce lots of babies and swell their ranks, while secular communities do not.

Humans also are meaning-seeking animals. We live, as Sacks writes, in a century that “has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning.” The secular substitutes for religion — nationalism, racism and political ideology — have all led to disaster. So many flock to religion, sometimes — especially within Islam — to extremist forms.

This is already leading to religious violence. In November 2014, just to take one month, there were 664 jihadi attacks in 14 countries, killing a total of 5,042 people. Since 1984, an estimated 1.5 million Christians have been killed by Islamist militias in Sudan.

Sacks emphasizes that it is not religion itself that causes violence. Rather, religion fosters groupishness, and the downside of groupishness is conflict with people outside the group. Religion can lead to thick moral communities, but in extreme forms it can also lead to what Sacks calls pathological dualism, a mentality that divides the world between those who are unimpeachably good and those who are irredeemably bad.

SOURCE:  Answer to religious violence found within religion – San Antonio Express-News.

The source for the words above is David Brooks who is a New York Times columnist and a Friday night regular on the PBS Newshour. He represents the conservative point of view in that weekly dialog. He is an old-time conservative not a screaming one so often seen today.  I love his insight in the article above and most of the thoughts coming from Mr. Brooks.

Indeed, humans are meaning-seeking animals. I certainly know I have struggled with the meaning of my life throughout my years on this earth. Religion is a place that claims to have the answers and therefore many flock to it. The trouble is there are literally thousands of versions of religions that vary widely in their dogma and beliefs.

I must admit that my exposure to religion in the past 30+ years validates his statement that religion fosters groupishness.  Even though it may not be the religions intent to promote exclusivity it almost always does to one degree or another.  To many this exclusiveness becomes the center stage for “us vs. them” battles. They look at those outside their particular faith tradition as somehow being inferior to them.  Is this a consequence of religion or a side result? A little of both I imagine.

I am and will continue to be a follower of Jesus Christ but not a member of any particular religious organization.  I have personally come to believe that Christianity at its core is anything but about  groupishness.  It is about loving each other no matter what label is placed on them by Christians or any other group.  But I do admit that Christianity in many of its versions is as guilty of fostering us vs. them as any of the other forms of organized religion around today.  I have also come to realize that politicizing religion pollutes both institutions….  At least it seems that way to me…

 

 

Chicken or Egg???

2016-02-06_08-53-34.png

I wander which came first? Or maybe just ranting is the number one American passtime now? Thanks Dana Summers for the laugh.

About Apple’s Campus 2

2016-01-04_08-12-55.png

When Steve Jobs presented his proposal for a new Apple campus to the Cupertino City Council back in 2011, he had one aim: to create the best office building in the world.

via 16 facts about Apple’s Campus 2 – Tech Insider.

If you are interested in architecture or forward looking building I would highly recommend that you click on the source above to see all the info about the new Apple campus being build. It is going to be a place almost beyond imagination but being from Apple that is not too surprising.

I have included a couple of pictures here to entice you to the original URL.

2016-01-04_08-13-35.png2016-01-04_08-13-56.png

Maybe This Is The Year That….

 

2016-02-05_07-10-56Democrats say Sanders would be an electoral disaster.

Asked by Maddow later in the debate if his nomination would lead to a landslide defeat like Barry Goldwater in 1964 or George McGovern in 1972, Sanders said his campaign would expand the electorate and not only carry him to the White House, but bring Democratic Senate and gubernatorial candidates along on his coattails.

SOURCE: Insiders: Bernie scored in debate with Wall Street slams.

It seems like everytime I turn around I hear one more Democrat saying “I agree with everything he says but just don’t think he can win a general election”.  But then again, given what is happening over on the Republican side, maybe this is the year for the anti-candidate.  Maybe this is finally the time when most of us say “somethings got to change  and the establishment candidates just don’t get that”. Maybe it is time for another revolution?

The problem is which revolution will dominate:

America is for the exceptional. If you are exceptional then the world is yours, if not then get out of the way and out of our pockets..

or

It is time that the average guy gets a his share of the pie. 

These seem to be the two ideologies fighting for America right now. It is as simple as will the rich get richer on the backs of the labor of others?

Maybe it is finally time for the pitch forks at the castle. Maybe it is time that one of these doctrines wins out?  Maybe it is time to finally cast off the current establishment mentality that has gone no where in the the 21st century?

Revolutions are scary things… but maybe it is time?

3 In 5 Americans Have No More That A High School Education

2016-01-24_14-58-07.pngThe four most educated countries — Korea, Japan, Canada and Russia — report that more than 50 percent of their young people have a degree beyond high school, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. By contrast, young adults in the U.S. are barely any more educated than older adults: About 40 percent of both groups have an associate, bachelor’s or advanced degree.

SOURCE: Study: 2 In 5 Americans Earning Degrees After High School : The Two-Way : NPR.

In 2012, 39.4 percent of Americans between 25 and 64 had at least a two-year college degree. That was up from 38.7 percent in 2011, the largest single year gain since 2008….

Who gets a college degree is still starkly divided by race – 27.6 percent of blacks, 23.4 percent of Native Americans and 19.8 percent of Latinos hold at least a two-year degree, compared to 43.9 percent of whites and 59.4 percent of Asians.  There are signs this gap could narrow in the future. The percent of black and Latino enrolling college saw big increases between 2011 and 2012. In 2012, 67.1 percent of recent black high school grads enrolled in college, compared to 62 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, college enrollment for recent Latino high school grads went from 59.7 to 66.6 percent.

With more Americans headed to college, the findings of a new Gallup poll may be unsurprising. Paying for college expenses is the most common financial challenge facing those between the ages of 18 and 49.

SOURCE: Percentage of Americans with college degrees rises, paying for degrees tops financial challenges | PBS NewsHour.

It surprised me to see Russia as having a higher percentage of young people with degrees than the U.S. But then I guess that is probably due to my ignorant view of that country. We in the U.S. have been lead to believe that everyone in Russia is poor, uneducated, and starving due to lack of opportunities in a communist system.  To see that they are actually more educated then we are is a cultural shock but not an unpleasant one at least to me. I need to spend some serious time learning more about Russia instead of just believing what is fed to me by others.

The point of this post is why is it that 40% of Americans have only a high school education in the 21st century where robots are replacing all repetitive tasks? I personally think the following are a few possible reasons:

  1. Its just too expensive for most to go to college or even trade schools for that matter.
  2. Many teachers don’t instill the desire to learn in their students at an early enough age.
  3. Parents are not doing enough to promote lifelong learning in the home.
  4. Our country is geared more to sports/competition than to education/learning.
  5. Kids in the U.S. have in entitlement mindset.
  6. U.S. education is more about memorizing than learning how to think.
  7. Not enough kids have mentors/examples in their lives.

I don’t have enough space here to expand on these things so I will just say that all of them are in need of improvement. Instead of trying to find the “silver bullet solution we should be tackling each of the multiple underlying causes.  I hope someday that we can manage to put the solution to these things on a high priority that they deserve.

 

 

 

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