Is It Worth It???

September 10, 2014

2014-09-04_09-31-04If it were challenged by Russia, how important is Estonia’s sovereignty to you? Would you kill and die for it? Send your children to do so? Would you risk the nuclear annihilation of your civilization? Is your gratitude for use of Estonia’s airspace during the war on terror that great?

SOURCE: Don’t save Ukraine – The Week.

The publication “The Week” is becoming a favorite of mine. It is from a British organization so it lends a different viewpoint than most traditional U.S. sources.  It seems to have the same contrarian philosophy as me. When we take away all the spin of being the “policemen of the world” is preventing part of a country’s population from splitting off into a different allegiance worth billions of our dollars and more importantly thousands of American kids lives? That should be the first question we ask ourselves whenever we get involved in yet another conflict on the other side of the world.  I know my answer to that question and I suspect you know yours without hesitation.

Apple Innovations…

September 9, 2014

2014-09-01_09-28-00The new iPhone will make mobile payment easier by including a near-field communication chip for the first time, the person said. That advancement along with Touch ID, a fingerprint recognition reader that debuted on the most recent iPhone, will allow consumers to securely pay for items in a store with the touch of a finger….

“Love it or hate, Apple drives a lot of standards in the industry,” Bajarin said in an interview. “They are the mover in these markets. When they do something, the industry seems to follow.”

SOURCE: Apple Said to Team With Visa, MasterCard on IPhone Wallet – Yahoo Finance.

Today being the day for the “big” announcements from Apple almost necessitates that it also be the subject of this post.

A couple of years ago I downsized the wallet I used to have from a one inch behemoth that bulged from my back pocket to something less than a half-inch and the size of half a dollar bill and I found out I don’t miss all that other stuff I used to needlessly haul around. I have been waiting to move to the next stage and that is to chuck the whole wallet. It looks like with the latest Apple innovation I might be able to do that sooner rather than later. Of course soon is a relative term when it comes to our electronic gadgets.

Over the years I have seen quite a bit of miniaturization in the world around me. The doctor’s office, of which I seem to spend more and more time lately, has finally  gone totally digital. The dozen or so ten foot high by twenty-foot wide racks of patient records now reside on laptops carried around by the nurses. The doctors for the most part still stubbornly resist having to use “those things” so they relegate that responsibility to them.

I used to get about ten different paper magazines a month in order to keep up on what is happening in the world and to follow the hobbies that interested me.  I am now down to one weekly magazine. Everything else is on-line. Let’s face it the digital world saves trees and since trees give us our oxygen that is a good thing. :)

Our world is becoming smaller each year and it is about time to chuck the old wallet of the 19th and 20th century for a digital one. I am still using a three-year old iPhone but will upgrade to the iPhone 6 after the hoopla dies down. When that happens I will move as much as possible to digital transactions. Thanks Apple for giving us 21st century solutions to our daily challenges. I certainly look forward to your announcements this afternoon.

 

The “It” Factor…

September 8, 2014

2014-09-01_09-41-00Now, the fact that we call It “It” implies that this certain something is a little squishy and difficult to define. You just know It when you see It. Still, there are some obvious components. Good looks certainly help. So does confidence. Gravitas, swagger — both help you have It. And it’s often very important to be cool — whatever that is. Competence and the notion that you’re a winner who can get things done? Now that’s It.

JFK had It. Reagan had It. Clinton had It. So did George W. Bush. And Obama — well, let’s just say he was once heralded as “the biggest celebrity in the world.”…

Think of the last several presidential elections — Obama over Romney, Obama over McCain, Bush over Kerry, Bush over Gore, Clinton over Dole, Clinton over Bush, Bush over Dukakis, and so on. The candidate who has more of It always wins. So my fellow conservatives, I urge you: We’ve gotta find a candidate who has It. Because we’ll need It in 2016.

SOURCE:  The elusive ‘It factor’ in presidential politics – The Week.

I will admit that this article didn’t immediately catch my attention because it is from a well-know conservative blogger but the picture and the title pulled me in. Yeah, I am like everyone else in that I primarily read those I agree with. As to be expected I don’t agree with everything in this article but the overall premise is certainly true.  In the last thirty years or so we only elect people who we think have “it”. Some end up having “it” and some just don’t in the end measure up.

One of those characteristics mentioned above is almost the exclusive domain of Republicans and that is swagger. I suspect if John Wayne were alive today he, like the fellow actor of his time, would almost be a shoo-in for president given that he is the epitome of swagger.  But what these guys have in swagger they totally lack in cool. JFK certainly had cool but I’m not too sure the other Dems had it to any degree.

Getting back to the real purpose of this post, I’m just not sure why we insist that our presidents have “it”. Why don’t we pick the one most qualified to be in the Oval Office instead? As mentioned to a degree in the article some of our most effective presidents have been those who definitely didn’t have “it”. Look at LBJ, he was anything but cool but he got a lot of things done including Medicare, and Civil Rights. Look at FDR, he didn’t have any cool, swagger or much else on the list but he got things done.

We just don’t seem to be able to look beyond “cool” for our presidential choices lately. But at least one saving grace is that the country seems to survive almost anyone being in the highest office in the land. As proof of that look at Reagan and baby Bush….. :)

2014-09-04_19-56-10“Now, just suppose, for a change they preach to you about the Lord and not about the other fellow’s church, for every religion is good. There is none of it bad.  We are all trying to arrive at the same place according to our own conscience and teachings. It don’t matter which road you take.” – Will Rogers March 11, 1923

Since Will Rogers is a hero of mine, of course I get a daily dose of his Facebook page. Here is one that strikes me as typical of his wisdom. Will was not particularly a religious person, his mom wanted him to be a Methodist minister but as he said he slipped and became an entertainer instead. He wasn’t much of a church goer but he didn’t put down except maybe on a few rare slips those who were.

Religious establishments, or at least the ones I know much about,  seem to go to an extreme to pronounce that the god of Allah is not the same as the Christian god. Each different group of religious people seems to insist that their god is the true one and everyone else is praying to a pagan one. After ten years of theological self-study I kind of think that Will got it about right almost a hundred years ago. Of course the religious pundits of today say otherwise.

We all latch onto one version of God and therefore proclaim that one the true god. Then we proceed to fashion words based on what we want from our particular god. For many Muslims that includes going to prayer five times a day and always praying toward Mecca. It is also about praising Allah and keeping others away from him.  For Some Jews it is about obeying thousands of different rules and eating only very strictly prepared foods. They think that is what their god demands of them.  Many of us Christians believe in a something-for-nothing god who only thinks of us a poor miserable human beings but will take us to heaven anyway provided we say the right words and believe what we are told. For them nothing else is required. And then there are other Christians who believe the exact opposite.  Got to love us Christians as we are all over the map on just what God wants from us.

We all spend way too much time convincing ourselves that “our “version of God is the only true one. We pick and choose various words from our particular religious documents to back up that feeling while ignoring everything else that doesn’t align with our chosen beliefs. We ALL do this to one level or another.

But in the end there has to be only one God in the universe and I kind of think she is almost laughing at our absurd efforts to split her into so many different parts. But she is probably also crying because of the same thing. As Will says all religions are good at some level but they all got it wrong at others. The sooner we all realize that the sooner we can quit fighting and killing each other to defend our version of God against their version.

Enough said…

Small Town America…

September 6, 2014

SmallTown

I am bringing this picture collage over from my picture blog at InSearchOfAmerica. It is one of the many small and almost abandoned towns we have visited over the years. I’m not sure but I think it is located in North Dakota or Nebraska. I once considered trying to document these types of small towns before they become extinct but after a dozen or so visits to small towns like this one  I gave up the idea. It proved just too depressing and that is not what I wanted to accomplish.

But, here’s to you small town America….

2014-08-24_14-35-11I am getting up there in years (approaching seventy) and it seems I have a different sense of what is important to put into my brain now than I have had in previous years.

I spend about a half hour every morning going through my selected new feeds on the Internet. Several of those feeds have various stories about this person or that.  For the most part they are celebrities of various ages but they tend to be in their teens and twenties I think. The stories are usually about some outrageous thing they have done or worn lately. Some are heirs to vast fortunes and spend it like they don’t know the value of money or hard work and I’m sure they don’t. I just don’t understand why so many are so enamored with this crowd?

Another thing I just don’t get are selfies. Why would someone want to take so many pictures of themselves? I was recently on a New York City tour bus, you know the kind that has the open upper deck. We were  two rows behind a couple. He was in his seventies and she appeared to be about thirty or so.  She kissed and hugged him frequently. Getting to the point now, she took probably 100 or more selfies during the hour ride. I don’t think she ever took a “normal” picture during the whole time.  Now I must admit that I have an inborn prejudice about narcissistic things such as selfies because I had a very self centered mother who abandoned her young family to find someone with more money.  So, given this story you might understand why I groan whenever I come upon selfie people.

Getting back to the main story here, There seems to be hundreds of people who are followed by millions of adamant fans now days on Facebook, Twitter and probably dozens of other social network feeds. I take the view that they don’t know my name so why should I bother to learn theirs or spend my precious time reading about their frivolous activities….

 

Of course the physics of a shadow make it impossible to get away from but in a more philosophical sense the title above means we must live with the consequences of our actions. Your past is what has made you what you are. There is no escaping it.

We can pretend our shadow isn’t there but it never leaves us. It tends to taint our joys as well as heighten them. One of the detrimental things I see happening in our country today is that so many want to cast off the responsibility for their actions. They want to have fun and forget about everything else. At times I admit that I am one of them. The news around the world and especially within the Washington beltway is just too dark for many of us. But, like the old saying “we get what we pay for” our current crop of leaders is a result of our past decisions. We chose, and continue to choose, those who control the country’s purse strings in the same nonsensical way.  They are as much a shadow of our complacency as anything else.

When all the investment bankers got into so much trouble with their derivatives they counted on our government to bail them out and that is just what they did. If they had to live with the consequences of their actions they certainly would not have gotten their million dollar bonus three years or sooner after the meltdown. Not one of those responsible for the near financial meltdown was held accountable. They seemed to have escaped their shadow of those irresponsible acts.

Too many people get into financial problems today by over extending themselves with debt. They just don’t seem to be able to understand that buying things on credit leave you with a long and heavy shadow that will eventually drag you into the sewer if you don’t face it.

Metaphorically the only way to get rid of your shadow is to start running in the dark but then you are constantly bumping into things and quickly lose your path.

On a much lighter side I have a constant shadow that follows me around my homestead. It doesn’t matter if it is sunny or cloudy or inside our out, my shadow is always there. And I kind of like it that way. I can depend on my shadow to always be there and that is kind of nice. For those of you who haven’t already figured it out here is a picture of my shadow.

My Shadow

2014-09-01_09-59-33

No More Whoppers For Me…

September 3, 2014

2014-08-26_08-36-25Burger King’s plan to scurry across the Canadian border to avoid U.S. taxes could be seen as the corporate equivalent of flipping President Barack Obama the bird….

“My sense is this is Burger King trying to dodge paying its taxes. I don’t know that I’d attribute it to their making a move like this to directly challenge Obama,” Frank Clemente, executive director of the nonprofit Americans for Tax Fairness, told The Huffington Post. “I can’t say what’s on the company’s mind here, whether they’re trying to beat the clock on this and do something before Congress passes legislation or do something before Obama signs an executive order.”

SOURCE:  Burger King Dares Obama To Stop It From Fleeing To Canada.

It irks me to see U.S. corporations declare bigger than ever profits and then shirk their tax responsibilities by moving out of the country.  As far as I am concerned Burger King might just as well move all their stores to as I will not be frequenting any of them in the future.  They can send me all the coupons they want but they will go immediately to the trash can.

Burger King is also known for paying no more than minimum wage to most of their store employees.  In my small town that results in huge turnover and low customer service. I’m sure the executive officers are well paid and like most others have figured a way to get their lavish bonuses year after year.

Goodbye Whooper…… We overthrew one king I guess we can do the same to this one…

I Read…..

September 2, 2014

readingReading the written word is a very important thing for all of us but especially so for me.  For some reason I have been thinking about just how much I personally read. Being deaf hearing the spoken word is no longer possible so with that sense gone reading has become my primary method of knowing what is happening in the world around me.

My computer and the Internet are a vital part of my life. But then again they have been since their invention three decades ago. I spend between a half and a full hour each morning reading about what happened in the world lately. One nice thing about the Internet is that I can quickly browse a large number of articles and only spend the time to thoroughly read the few that I select. When I was growing up we never had the money to afford a set of encyclopedias. But now Wikipedia is just a click away for all my questions. I read things there very frequently.

There is no such thing as closed-captioned radio so that venue is worthless to me. For that matter I really don’t know how much about how radio is used since the invention of iPods and such. Maybe no one listens to it anymore. But I do know that some of the radical hot heads such as Rush are on the radio? Maybe that is the venue now? If so then I wish it would just go away.

When I sit down to watch my favorite TV programs it is still about reading. I thank heavens for closed-captioning but my eyes do get a little tired of trying to read the captions and watch all the action at the same time.  TV is as much about reading as most other media is for me.

Then there are books and magazines which I continue to consume on a daily basis. I even subscribe to a few of the hard copy versions. The one problem I have with reading is that the letters are getting smaller and smaller. Or maybe it is my eyes are getting older and older. I don’t know which?

Reading is who I am and what I am about. Like my hero Will Rogers about everything I know about the world I get from reading….