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For Too Many….

August 24, 2014

NYC - Wrapup (6)

For far too many of us the image of being religious is the above.  This picture was taken on a busy Saturday night in Times Square NYC recently. Too many look at religion as some grim-faced old man telling us that we need to quit having any fun and get ready for the wrath of God. They didn’t take this old guy seriously anymore than take most current religious establishments seriously.

In some ways religion has earned this moniker. Too many  spend too much time worrying about God’s wrath rather than focusing on his love. Too many worry about the afterlife than they do living out God’s command to be our brother’s keeper.  Too many young people are just turned off by the religion of past generations.  They think their lives here on earth are what matter. In some ways I agree with them but in other ways not.  As is typical of many things moderation is the best choice. A little of everything on your plate gives you the most fruitful life.

The guy in the image above and so many like him are doing more harm than good by showing an image of God that is primarily man-made and for the most part disgusting. If God so loved the world why would he condemn most of us to an eternal agony as this grumpy old man preaches?

America Stands Alone…

August 6, 2014

2014-08-03_10-52-27I just finished watching a Shields/Brooks segment of the PBS Newshour where Mark Shields made the statement that “America stands alone in its unflinching support of the current actions of Israel. He mentioned that almost all of the EU countries and other developed nations are condemning the atrocities that are being put upon the Palestinian people. Even though I have for the most part boycotted this area of life, his statement got me to thinking about it. So, here goes. As they say fools rush in where…

The latest toll is something like 60 Israeli soldiers killed and over 1900 Palestinians, mostly civilians, killed!  It seems that whenever and Israeli soldier is killed they think they must kill 50 people in revenge. With this almost indiscriminate bombing I can certainly understand why there is so much hatred of Israel in that part of the world. The Isrealis seem to have almost no sense of “collateral damage”. They seem to deem it totally acceptable to bomb schools full of children and U.N. facilities because another very crude “rocket” was launched from that general area.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do not have any sympathy for Hamas who has been inciting much of this violence. They are a very small minority thug organization who if they had the power that Isreal has would be doing worse to their enemy. To hold all the people in Gaza accountable for Hamas’ actions is kind of like us nuking Atlanta because the KKK bombed a government building somewhere.

2014-08-05_08-26-47This whole debacle seems very much like a “David vs Goliath” but this time it is a Jewish Goliath. The response to a crude missile being fired into Israel they destroy yet another Gaza neighborhood, women children and all. I recently saw a report that Israel is asking the U.S. to ship them an emergency supply of bombs and missiles as they are quickly running out with their current vendetta. At least a “cease fire” might actually come if they do run out of bombs and laser guided missiles.  The U.S. currently give them about $3 billion a year of our military hardware. What are the limits to where we as a country say enough is enough with the disproportionate killing in the Middle East?

Why are so many of our politicians, including the current president, sitting back and saying nothing? Why do we continue to send them our bombs to kill so many innocents along with a few bad guys?  Is there nothing they can do that we will find unconscionable? Yes, I agree that they have a right to exist but there are limits to what they need to do to convince themselves that they feel safe.

Enough said. I will get off my soapbox now and try ignore such things for as long as I can before chiming in again.

 

Bitter Rivals….

July 29, 2014

2014-07-20_09-28-10Apple and IBM are teaming up to bring iPhones and iPads to business customers, the two companies said in a surprise announcement Tuesday. In a wide-ranging partnership, the two tech giants that were bitter rivals for decades will create a suite of apps and services aimed at enterprise clients….

“For the first time ever we’re putting IBM’s renowned big data analytics at iOS users’ fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

2014-07-20_09-28-39“We are delighted to be teaming with Apple, whose innovations have transformed our lives in ways we take for granted, but can’t imagine living without,” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty offered. “Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate and companies perform.”

SOURCE:  Apple Partners With Former Rival IBM to Target Enterprise Customers | TIME.

IBM and Apple doing business together???  Go figure… Next thing we know the Israelis will be getting along with their neighbors!  Wouldn’t that be something to see. But then again when money is involved things seem to get worked out sooner. That is, money coming in, not going out…

Apple has always been considered the computer of choice with the creative crowd and IBM amongst the bean counters. I know the iPhones and iPads have been making their way into the business world folks. They just can’t pass up the leap in quality over Apple’s competitors and finally the IT departments are beginning to slack up on the adamant resistance to anything Apple.

Maybe what it took was for Apple to move beyond its first generation of bosses. Now that Tim Cook is at the wheel instead of Jobs the rivalry has been tamped down a hair and that is good for all of us.

 

 

2014-05-23_08-34-04  2014-05-23_08-34-36

What’s at stake, after all, is citizens’ representation in Congress. Partisan gerrymandering undermines the whole notion of a representative government. For proof, just look toward the lopsided seat distribution in the current Congress.

SOURCE:  What 60 years of political gerrymandering looks like – The Washington Post.

I don’t know if gerrymandering was a foregone conclusion when our democracy was formed. Everyone wants to take advantage of all possible means in order to win. I can imagine that in the 1950s someone with a pile of voting records and a map tried to figure out how to gain an advantage. Because the chore was almost overwhelming using the existing tools not much was able to be accomplished.

Fast forward to the computer age and gerrymandering has become an art form. Computer models are able to track almost every vote by location and draw thousands of different maps to take advantage of every single vote. Thus we see voting districts morph into what is shown above.  One of the secrets to being able to accomplish this jigsaw task is that one political party must have the power to accomplish this re-districting after it is configured and to maintain that status over a number of years.

The American obsession of winning at all costs almost dictates that these sort of things happen. To the winner goes the spoils and the spoils in our political processes amount to trillions of dollars. I have a dream that some year, probably in the very distant future, saner minds will finally prevail in this and so many other areas. When we can finally concentrate the common good and get away from the extreme partisanship of today then we might be able to accomplish things that benefit us all instead of a small segment of our society. I have a dream but unfortunately that is probably all it will ever be.

2014-02-23_10-07-01The company “unveiled” the new product in an online video this week. In the ad, which refers to the offline world as “the thing that happens when you run out of battery,” people buried in their phones have a eureka moment when an absurd red funnel is placed on their heads and they’re forced to witness sunsets and look into other human beings’ eyes.

SOURCE: Coca-Cola Social Media Guard Commercial | TIME.com.

I will admit up front there that I am not a social media junkie. I seldom go on any media site except for Facebook and that no more than a once a daily.  But this one got my attention and I am adding the YouTube version of it here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u3BRY2RF5I

Since I am deaf and as usual the video is not closed captioned I have no idea what the audio portion of this strip is but just watching the video says it all for me. We, as a society are become fixated on our social media devices.  I am one of those techies who has more than my share of devices.  I have a MacBook Air as my primary tool. I have an iPhone and now have my second version of iPad along with my third version Kindle reader.  But even with all these things they seldom take up very much of my daily life.

This video is about how we can be so addicted to our social media that we tune out almost everything else. We no longer look at the people just across the table from us. Instead we are texting or posting…  When my wife and I travel via car on our frequent, although lessening now, roadtrips I am often fixated on keeping track of where we are via GPS mapping programs.  I am more interested in what towns and features lie ahead than what is outside our window.  This fixation requires my wife to jolt me into the present once in a while.

Getting back to the video, I don’t understand how  Coca-Cola expects to sell more of their sugary drink with this ad but I do salute them for even making it.  Here is a comment attached to the source article that I find amusing and maybe even provocative.

2014-02-23_10-08-58

Protecting The State…

February 6, 2014

JeffersonBe it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship,place of ministry whatsoever….

Thomas Jefferson — An Act For Establishing Religious Freedom — 1786

From my study of Jefferson I think his separation of Church and State was more to keep the Church out of the State’s business than the other way around….

2014-01-31_08-57-01First, Google cracked the code on Internet search. Then the company used its search platform to build the world’s largest online advertising business. Now, the Silicon Valley icon is turning its attention toward streamlining its business to focus on next-generation hardware and services, particularly in the mobile space. Judging by Google’s latest earnings report, the company’s core business remains robust, as the Cupertino, Calif.-based cash machine posted strong sales and profit growth on Thursday, sending its stock price surging more than 4% in after-hours trading to an all-time high for the second consecutive quarter.

SOURCE:  Google Is Making Itself a Lot Leaner and Meaner | TIME.com.

I don’t know how many of my readers realize just how earth-shaking the search platform that Google developed was. Before that time it took sometimes hours to find some of the most basic info on the Internet.  Let’s take a quick look at what Wiki says:

Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University. Together they own about 16 percent of its shares. They incorporated Google as a privately held company on September 4, 1998. An initial public offering followed on August 19, 2004. Its mission statement from the outset was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, and its unofficial slogan was “Don’t be evil”. In 2006 Google moved to headquarters in Mountain View, California, nicknamed the Googleplex.

Simply speaking Page and Brin made the internet what it is today. Never mind that Al Gore invented it ( :) ), they changed it from a complex military network into an everyday appliance.  For that reason I am an avid fan. Even if I don’t use their browser or some of the other tools they make available. The above article is about how they have grown in the last ten years and where they might be going in the next ten. Will they go the way of Apple or the way of Microsoft?  That is a basic question that needs to be answered and I’m sure they are very aware of that difference.

Most of us old guys, especially the techies among us, know that Microsoft and Apple  happened at about the same time. Microsoft developed a user interface that totally dwarfed the FORTRAN language that was used to program the IBM mainframes. When I was in college desktop computers were still just a dream. Even in college I realized that computers would be a big part of the future so I took a couple of classes to build an initial foundation.  I spent hours writing up a very foreign code and then typing it out on punch cards which were used to put the code in the mainframe very early the next morning. Of course there was always that one card of out hundreds that I misspelled something and therefore the whole lot was rejected.

Thanks to Google, and yes Microsoft and Apple, the initial experiences of new users are vastly different from my own.

2013-11-25_08-01-50Fine dining at Michelin-starred restaurants around the world can come at a price. But what you get for those high price tags (which can often be accompanied by sticker shock) are outstanding dining experiences that can take you to a castle in Switzerland or to an underwater culinary experience in the Maldives. From Japan to Europe to the Big Apple, luxe dining menus are often designed tasting courses paired with wines, which substantially adds to the consumer’s bottom line.

SOURCE:  10 most expensive restaurants in the world.

I guess there are people, especially the 1%er who don’t mind plunking down between $200 and $600 per person to eat at one of these top ten restaurants but 4TheRestOfUs that will usually be the day when hell freezes over. :)

I guess I could eat at one if it managed to sustain me for the rest of the month as that is about the total monthly food budget for my wife and I. We do eat out at least a hand full of times each month but that is often a Big Mac and Coke or on occasion a visit to the Olive Garden or similar place.

I am somewhere between the “eat to live” vs. “live to eat” categories. I enjoy good food but don’t relish and sometimes I just wish I didn’t have to eat so often.  While I celebrate that a few of us can afford to eat a $600 meal I think I will limit myself to a top of thirty bucks or so in almost all cases.

Its Own Real Estate….

January 9, 2014

4TheRestOfUs Logo 1Cooking is one of my passions. I have always enjoyed it since I started cooking for my dad, brother and me at the age of ten years. Mom decided to look for greener pastures, which she found, and left us on our own.  I didn’t really know much about cooking so I learned as I went. Dad, growing up on a pig farm, knew how to make a pretty wicked pork chop and he learned how to make milk gravy on toast in the army during WWII. The soldiers called it “shit on the shingle” back then. (Like always I am drifting off topic here.) The point is cooking has been a part of my life.  I worked my way through college in a dormitory cafeteria and have been cooking at a local soup kitchen for a decade or so now.

I used to dream about opening my own restaurant but that dream has quickly faded as being just too much work for this stage of my life. One of the things I might have used as my signature for my restaurant is that

“all of my food is so good that it deserves its own real estate on the plate.”

2013-12-20_16-50-26Which finally brings us to the actual point of this post. It is the current trend to pile all the food in the middle of a plate and then drizzle a little sauce around the rest of it. I added the picture to the right to make sure you get the idea.  Now that I have for the most part given up politics about the only thing on the satellite channels, which my wife would never let me drop, is cooking shows. I do watch them occasionally to get some new ideas for the homeless shelter but a little goes a long ways with those shows for me.  My mind is drifting again so to get back on topic you simply can’t tune into any those shows and not see ever ubiquitous food pile. I am a simple guy but I do on occasion enjoy a really well prepared (read expensive) meal. Of course when it comes it is always in the piled mode.

I don’t know about you but I guess I march to a different drummer in the culinary world. I like my food to reside around the edges of the plate, not piled in the middle. Maybe it is my lower class upbringing rebelling once again against this upper-class stuff but it just seems down right stupid to pile the food in the middle of the plate.

Getting again slightly off-topic but for a reason, one of my earliest childhood memories was visiting my pig-farmer grandfather, as mentioned above.  He was maybe the ultimate “simple” guy and one of the things he would almost always do was before he started to eat he would diligently cut up all his food on the plate and then proceed to mix it all together and then eat is with his knife! He would proclaim “it all goes to the same place so why shouldn’t it start out that way”.  Maybe the current trend is just a variation of what my grandfather did.  But I kind of doubt it :)

4TheRestOfUs Logo 1With my move away from politics in this blog I have been searching for a new supporting theme to fill the gap. I think I have found it.  I am announcing a new category called 4TheRestOfUs.  I have hopes that this will become a major part of RJ’s Corner going forward.

The idea is that everyone tries to tell us what to do, how to act, what to wear, what to eat, where to live, and almost everything else that makes up our lives.  They tell us what will make up happy or rich or famous. In reality all this hype is about getting you to spend your time or money in a particular way. Some have a huge ego and think they have all the answers. Some just want to depart us from our money.  They try to convince us that if we don’t buy into their latest trend or fashion then we are not part of the “in” crowd so we therefore must be some sort of society reject!  Who like to be a reject? It is surprising just how many people sheepishly fall in line with this mentality.

If you know anything about me you know that I bristle whenever someone tells me what I am “supposed” to do. I kind of think that many of you are like me.  We don’t need someone to tell us how to live our lives. As I often say, I’m just a simple guy leading a simple life; as my new header says, I don’t pretend to have all the answers but sometimes common sense just prevails over everything else.

4TheRestOfUs is about seeking our own path and not letting others push us in a direction where we don’t really want to go. I will cover a wide range of topics including:

  • Retirement living

  • Food

  • Travel

  • Fads/Fashions

  • Political alignment

  • Religious affiliations

  • Home environments

  • Lifestyles

and other topics as they come to mind.  I will most often start each post with the latest trends and then proceed to tell you why I often go in the opposite direction and why I think you should too.  Let’s have fun with this new topic. I think it will blend quite well with the ornery side of my character and also melds well with the words and thoughts of my hero Will Rogers.