Archives For May 2012

Living Too Long….

May 31, 2012

I only fear that I may live too long. This would be a subject of dread to me –  Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson is not alone in this subject of dread.  I personally have already seen this too many times in my life and since I leave no heirs to care for me I dread that I too will live too long.  Those that I love sometimes have a very bitter end to their existence. They wither completely away before that last heart beat. They are a shell of what they once were before the Lord takes them. Then there are those who have died much too young in life. The first personal occurrence of this is when I lost a very good friend in the Vietnam war. He died much too young and for no purpose.

Too bad that we humans can’t have, like the milk we buy in the store, an expiration date stamped on us when we are born. At least then we would know what kind of life we might expect. If we are to die young then to heck with all that education stuff; lets just enjoy the time we have. If we are to die very old then we know to prepare ourselves for that eventuality. If we are to die in the normal course of things then we have the peace of knowing we will live a full life.

If we had an expiration date I suspect we would all live our lives more fruitfully. We would know exactly how much we needed to accumulate wealth and when to spend the last dime of it. :)

Gender Roles….

May 30, 2012

I noticed in our local paper recently that there were about 30 young people from our local high school who were inducted into the National Honor Society. Seven were guys, the rest were girls.  This seems pretty indicative of what is happening in the U.S. the last few decades. Girls are the ones who see educations as important and guys, for the most part, think it is a waste of time. Girls are pretty much the ones who stay in school and guys make up the majority of those who currently drop out of high school.

It is a fact that girls are also the majority of those going to college.  As the graph below shows they became the majority about 1990 and has been pulling away ever since.

If it hasn’t occurred already I imagine the gender roles will soon be reversed in that the female of the household will become the primary bread winner. Guys, and maybe our society as a whole, just seem to be more fixated on sports than they are about education. The nerds among us guys, despite successes such as Bill Gates, are still the object of ridicule among testosterone driven teenagers ;)

Source: Facebook isn’t free – USATODAY.com.

The best way I’ve ever heard Facebook’s business model described is simple: “If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.” What makes Facebook so valuable is that you, your friends, and everyone else who uses the site are sitting ducks for marketers out to exploit your information to sell you things.

This article is about FaceBook but could be about many things in the world today. The saying “If you are not paying for it you are not the customer.” goes beyond this one particular company but it is also very appropriate to Facebook. Facebook’s real customers are the ones who pay them for the info you put on you page. Let’s face it (pun intended) that Facebook and Google make their millions by selling info about each of us.

I am not a conspiracy type guy so I am not one to put an evil face  (pun intended again ;) ) on either of these companies. They both provide a worthwhile service.  Being able to keep up with long time friends and being able to find info on just about anything with just a few keystrokes has changed our basic way of life in the twenty-first century.  I can’t imagine what is coming next in this area.

But we must also realize they both of these companies know what side of the bread the butter is on. I know that after I “googled” about getting a new car there suddenly appeared dozens of emails from the various car manufactures. I became quite a bit of work to parse through all of that and rightly put it in the virtual trash.  Since I am not a frequent user of Facebook, I seldom post anything and only get on the site a couple of times a week, I can’t say much about them.

Memorial Day…

May 28, 2012

Memorial Day is supposed to be about remembering those who have died in our wars. Since I believe that every person is equally valuable I will mourn the innocent civilians lost in our wars as much as the soldiers on both sides who fought in them. After all the vast majority, if not all our previous enemies in war are now our allies to one degree or another.

The twentieth century is known as the bloodiest century of our existence. Let us all pray that somehow all of us in this world manage to put our belligerent ways behind us and be a people of peace and love as our God intended.

If by some divine act of providence we could get rid of both these parties and hired some good men, like any other big business does, why that would be sitting pretty. – November 1, 1932  Will Rogers

I am going to go off-topic here and talk about divine providence. Just what is it?

Here is the general definition:

Divine providence is the means through which God governs all things in the universe. The principle of divine providence asserts that God is in complete control

And here is one from Wikipedia more aligned with religious theology:

In theology, divine providence, or simply providence, is God’s activity in the world. “Divine Providence” (usually capitalized) is also used as a title of God. A distinction is usually made between “general providence”, which refers to God’s continuous upholding the existence and natural order of the universe, and “special providence”, which refers to God’s extraordinary intervention in the life of people.

Simply put I don’t think we should blame God for all our screw-up or expect miracles from him to fix them up. That is just jettisoning the responsibility for our actions.  I know Will was not particularly a religious person so I’m sure he didn’t realize the full extent of what he was saying so I won’t put that on him.

I guess I am one to believe in “general providence” as shown above but not the divine version. Yes, when God created the universe during the Big-Bang he set us on a path dominated by his laws of nature. He has been dribbling out knowledge of those laws to us throughout our existence. When we say that the tornado that killed many people was an act of God we seem to be saying that God somehow decided to kill a bunch of innocent people with a weather event. That is simply horse-hockey as far as I am concerned. I see tornadoes as being an occurrence of violence due to the coming together of several natural events (usually weather fronts colliding) and not a willful act of God.

We need to get over the idea that God wills everything that happens to us and around us.  Most of those things, excluding weather related natural disasters,  we simply brought upon ourselves. God had nothing to do with it.

But what do I know….

Source: U.S. News – Historic battleship USS Iowa to become museum in Los Angeles.

“There’s no more ships like this in existence in the active navies anywhere in the world,” said Robert Kent, president of the Pacific Battleship Center.

Thank the Lord there are no more ships like this in existence.  When you take a massive explosive shell and launch it from up to twenty miles away there was little chance that it will hit exactly where you intended. It could just as easily hit a small town of 800 as it would a military complex.

Anyone who has read much of this blog knows that I am a peacenic. I utterly disdain all the wars we have managed to get ourselves into here in the U.S. They say that the 20th century, which I lived in more than half of was the bloodiest one of our existence.  We seemed to be constantly in a war with someone for a number of different reason and as the years went by we honed our killing ability more and more.

We are to the point now that our soldiers don’t even have to leave their community and can still kill the “bad guys” remotely and be home for dinner.  But at least we don’t have anymore Battleship Iowas that cause so much collateral damage. Now we have million dollar smart bombs released from remote-controlled aircraft to do our dirty work.

I can only dream that there is someway to make the 21st century less deadly than the previous one. Blessed are the peacemakers. Maybe some day we will actually take that lesson to heart.  Goodbye Battleship Iowa. I am so glad to at least see you go…..

I just saw a segment on CNN about kids, high school age and younger, who are dropping out of school to take care of a home bound love one.  These kids are caring for a mother, father, grandparent, or sibling on a full-time basis because there is no one else available  to do it. The compassion they show is inspiring indeed. But at the same time it is totally shameful that they are even be put into a situation like this.

It is estimated that there are about 1.3 million kids in this situation. They have dropped out of school to give constant care to a loved one.  By leaving school at such an early stage they are almost guaranteeing that they will live a life of poverty. This situation does not occur in any other developed country besides the U.S.  We are the only developed country in the world that chooses to make healthcare a privilege of those who can afford it instead of a right to all its citizens. This terrible situation is a direct result of that choice. Unfortunately there are hundreds of other examples to be found.

I pray that someday we will provide universal healthcare for our elderly and disabled so that future kids do not have to make the choice of staying in school or seeing that a love one is cared for.  SHAME ON US FOR EVEN PUTTING THEM IN A SITUATION LIKE THIS…..

To Take a Drink…

May 24, 2012

A few years ago we were so afraid that the poor people was liable to take a drink. Now we’ve fixed it so that they can’t even get something to eat.  – Will Rogers

Every time I look at all my source quotes from Will for one to the included here I am amazed at how they apply to our times as well as Will’s eighty years ago.  Most of Will’s quotes come from the Depression years of the 1930s. While he was one of the 1% of his era he had the mind and compassion for the common folk.

I think Will understood that about the only affordable luxury for most folks today is to gather at their favorite “watering hole” on Friday nights to complain about everything with others like themselves. Some might say they really can’t even afford to do that but it is definitely cheaper than the psychiatrist’s couch that the rich folks typically use. It seems that Friday nights and a weekly lottery ticket are the highlights of many folks life now.

Maybe some day the corporate people will see that giving the average guy a raise once in a while instead of always giving it to the shareholders will actually cause more profits. They all bought into the “trickle down” theory of the Reagan years so why not the “trickle up” theory now?

But what do I know…..

What is a culture, the non-medical kind that is? The best definition I could find in relation to this post is:

 a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period

I was recently introduced to the term “the culture of viciousness” and was immediately struck by its seemingly accurate description of our current times here in the U.S.  and perhaps the world as a whole. The most appropriate term to describe what is going on in congress and in much of the country is viciousness. The way we seem to treat each other lately is very saddening indeed!  Have we turned permanently to the dark side of civilization?  I hope there is a way out of this current trend.

It is totally perplexing to me as to why we got to this state of affairs but I believe that it stems from the fact that the average everyday guy is just tired of running in place and still getting farther and farther behind.

  • He has not seen a real raise in his income for twenty years.
  • He sees the 1% get more and more each year while he gets less and less
  • He sees statistics that show that he will be laid off or have to change jobs seven time in his working years.
  • He wants to give his family many of the things he sees everyday on TV but can only do that by adding to his credit card debt and therefore digging himself deeper and deeper into a hole.
  • Maybe most importantly he looks at his kids and can’t see that they will be any better off than him.

I don’t know if our current congress is mirroring this viciousness or just maybe the cause of it. Either way they are not setting an example for how we should be treating each other.  The folks in congress are supposed to be our leaders and the wisest among us. Why aren’t they leading by example?

When Jesus, the foundation of our Christian establishment, was asked what is the most important he said to “Love God and to love your fellow man”. What we are doing today is the exact opposite of this. There seems to be very little love in any of us.  How did we get into this state? But maybe more importantly how do we get out of it????

I wanted to put out a “aside” quick post to update one of my earlier posts about the Republican Budget that recently passed the house. Here are some words from a Sojourner email I just received.

Another week in Washington brought another week of attacks on the poor.

The immoral budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan called for billions of dollars in cuts to poverty programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs that feed hungry Americans and help those in need.

But here’s the kicker: Ryan’s destructive plan would increase the already bloated military budget by 20%.

Cuts for the least of these. More money for bombs and guns. Sounds like a horrible plan, right? We think so. But the sad reality is that this budget actually passed in the House and was only narrowly defeated in the Senate.