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ob⋅ses⋅sion /əbseʃən/  —  noun

an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone

syn: fixation

Kids with GunsStoryline:

The gun was small and light, the training wheels of firearms. The .22-caliber, single-shot Crickett rifle turned deadly on Tuesday, officials in Kentucky said, when a 5-year-old Cumberland County boy shot and killed his 2-year-old sister in what the coroner described to a local paper as “just one of those crazy accidents.”

Source: Guns made for kids: How young is too young to shoot? – U.S. News.

The above definition of obsession is a pretty simple yet accurate one. Are guns an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with some of us, particularly in the U.S.? I think the parents who gave a five-year old a loaded gun definitely fit that definition!  Like Newton, sadly there is a two-year old life that was extinguished as a result and an innocent five-year old who will have to live with that for the rest of his life.  I wonder if that tragic loss of life changed those parents views of guns?  I kind of doubt it because if they buy a gun for their five-year old  their guns are probably a very deep-rooted compulsion. I hope that they at least suffer some legal consequences for this death but since Kentucky is a pretty NRA leading red State I doubt that there will be any action taken against them.  As the coroner said “just a crazy accident”. The Crickett rifle did not turn deadly; it was deadly to start with!

I know I will get a healthy share of flamers with this post but again but I just can’t understand how something whose sole purpose is to kill became so endemic in our society. Guns, besides death and inflating egos has little or no purpose. But, shamefully it has become so engrained that even classrooms of kids dying and a five-year old killing a two-year old has no effect on the  “protecting my guns at all cost” mentality.

A five-year old killing his two-year old sister with a gun given to him by his parents! How sad and tragic is that. That is probably one of the saddest parts of the twenty-first century for me. Thirty-five thousand Americans will die as a result of guns in our country this coming year. Why can’t we find a less deadly toy to occupy our weekends?

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GrahamWith evidence indicating that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons in Syria, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday on “Face the Nation” that “there’s a growing consensus in the U.S. Senate that the United States should get involved.”

Source: Graham: “Growing consensus” in Senate for U.S. action in Syria – CBS News.

It is interesting that Senator Graham is able to find a “growing consensus” in the Senate but what about a consensus of the people who elected them? Do any of these guys actually listen to their constituents anymore?  Everyone knows that Senator Graham is a war hawk. He like Senator McCain seem to have never found a conflict they didn’t want to be involved in.  I thank the Lord everyday that we didn’t give Mr McCain the Oval Office five years ago. Lord knows how many more wars we would be in right now. President Obama is bad enough for continuing to throw money into the two he inherited.

But, getting back to the topic at hand just where do our elected representatives go to find out how to vote? It seems that the party they belong to is the top source. If the party leaders says vote for or against something then they almost always heed that call. They know if they don’t they won’t get the powerful committee assignments they so desire and Washington, if nothing else, is about power. The second source seems to be the lobbyists. Since many of these guys go on to be lobbyists themselves this is known as investing in your future to them. Kind of like almost every general who does the same thing at the DOD.

The next one on the list  of who are representative listen to seems to be the NRA and folks like Grover Norquist, or Rush Limbaugh. When any of these yahoos open their mouths scores of our supposed representative anxiously await their marching orders.

Pretty far down the list for how to vote comes the people they represent. That is a sad but obvious fact in today’s world. One basic thing that allows that to happen is that we the electorate seem oblivious to the power that we hold. Only about half of us even bother to vote and the half that do seem more attached to a party line or just plain selfishness than to the common good of all of us.

If only the electorate realized that they could easily change almost anything to do with our political system if they only had the will to do it. The true power in the country still resides in the vote; someday we may actually come to realize that fact.

The latest polls show that almost 2/3 of us think that the U.S. should stay out of this latest conflict. We don’t need to be the policemen of the world. Let some of the regional players who have much more to lose  get involved. If we kept our nose out of these things I’m sure others would come forward. But why should they bear that burden now when they can so easily push it off on us?

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kidsThose are astronomical numbers. I’m floored,” said Dr. William Graf, a pediatric neurologist in New Haven and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. He added, “Mild symptoms are being diagnosed so readily, which goes well beyond the disorder and beyond the zone of ambiguity to pure enhancement of children who are otherwise healthy.”

And even more teenagers are likely to be prescribed medication in the near future because the American Psychological Association plans to change the definition of A.D.H.D. to allow more people to receive the diagnosis and treatment. A.D.H.D. is described by most experts as resulting from abnormal chemical levels in the brain that impair a person’s impulse control and attention skills.

Source: More Diagnoses of Hyperactivity Causing Concern – NYTimes.com.

The whole idea of medicating kids who are a little different is very disturbing to me but it seems like this is becoming more and more common. I am sure that if I were born fifty years later than I was I would be one of those drugged kids sliding through life.  Are we really medicating out a large degree of creativity in this next generation?  I really fear that is the case.

I’m sure severe cases of A.D.H.D. are about chemical imbalances in the brain but like many things today that diagnosis seems very much abused. I hope that it is not the teachers who are promoting this new pattern.  Maybe they are just tired of that over rambunctious kid in their class who disturbs the normal class flow. Just who is behind this dramatic increase in drugging our kids?

I am very aware that through numerous media the drug companies are trying to increase their sales by having patients go to their doctors asking for certain drugs. I know that I am currently on five different medication to deal with various health issues I now have.  Am I being drugged more for a beneficial effect or to increase a drug companies profits.  One pill I take that is still under patent protection costs more than the other four combined.

Viagra is one of those cases of obvious abuse in my mind and no I don’t take that one. :)  It supposedly produced to help older men maintain a satisfying sexual life but has since morphed into a drug to be used by every male who is seeking and enhanced sexual thrill. I’m sure that Bob Dole is no longer the typical user of Viagra.

Getting back to the original thoughts on this post are we drugging creativity out of our kids in order to obtain increased conformity in our society. That is the fear I have…..

Brainwashed???

May 6, 2013

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brainwashI just read a news article about a woman who says she is going to convert to Islam. Her family shouts that she has been brainwashed and needs an intervention to prevent that from happening. Just what does it really mean to be brainwashed? Brainwashing like many other words and conditions has a myriad of definitions depending on the speaker.

Here is what Wikipedia says about brainwashing:

Mind control (also known as brainwashing) refers to a process in which a group or individual “systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated”. The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting an individual’s sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making.

Who is to say what is an ethical vs. unethical manipulation for convincing someone of a different truth? Aren’t we all manipulated in one degree or another almost every day?

  • When I was a kid if I wanted to go ride my bicycle I just went to the garage and jumped on board. Now if you want to ride a bike you have to go to a store and get all the proper bike riding clothes, riding shoes and especially a helmets before you ride. Am I being brainwashed into thinking that somehow this additional $200+ expense for clothes I would not normally buy will somehow make the ride more enjoyable?
  • I have spent sixty-seven years on this earth brushing my teeth twice a day but now I find that isn’t good enough. Now I am supposed to spend several dollars a month for products that bleach them to a very unnatural white. Am I being brainwashed into doing something that actually have some long-term negative consequences?
  • I am told that I just can’t cook a tasty meal unless I have granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and cherry cabinets. Everything else is just substandard and will therefore make tasteless meals.
  • For pretty much most of my life I was told by numerous sources that the founders intended this country to be a Christian nation. It was not until I researched it on my own that I found that to be false.  Was I brainwashed into something that served a political or religious agenda?
  • I was first told by my Catholic teachers and clergy that Catholics would be the only ones in heaven. Later when I became a Lutheran I received the same message except that now it was Lutherans who are the only ones going to heaven.  Have I been brainwashed all these years?
  • When I was a rebellious teenager I was told by all the tobacco company experts that cigarettes were not addictive and definitely didn’t cause cancer. I know I was brainwashed in this area. It took me twenty-five years to break that addiction.

I could go on and on about being brainwashed about one manner or another. In order to sell their products Madison Avenue and the drug manufacturers attempt to brainwash me everyday to buy their products. They want me to go to my doctor and tell him I need the particular drug that sell. Religious organizations try to brainwash me into believing that they are the only ones among the thousands of religious denominations out there that have it right about things spiritual. Everyone else is simply wrong.

Let’s face it brainwashing sadly  is just a fact in much of today’s world.  I think we all need some serious intervention for many of the things we have been brainwashed about.

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….

Spring 2013 Front Yard

 

I have chosen the crabapple tree in the front yard as my inspiration theme for this Sunday. I just love watching things come back to life after a dormant cold season. The horses across the street are wintered someplace else. This was the first week they were back.

Crazy Glass…

May 4, 2013

Milwaukee Museum Glass

 

October 2007 –  Milwaukee Art Museum.  This crazy looking piece of glass art is in the crazy looking museum. We very much enjoyed our visit there…

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GOP“The Republican Party is not really a party. It doesn’t stand for anything except re-electing itself,” Stockman, who directed the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, tells Newsmax. “The neocons are only oriented to an aggressive, imperialistic foreign policy of big defense establishment and suppression of our civil liberties. That’s bad.

“The tax cons want to just cut taxes — any time, any day — regardless of the fiscal situation,” Stockman adds. “That has gone to an absurd length. The social cons, social policy people — the right-to-life issue and gay marriage and all of that — that’s irrelevant to governing a democracy in a free society.

“That’s basically the heart of the Republican Party,” Stockman concludes. “In that mix, how can you find anything that’s going to stand for conservative economics, fiscal rectitude, free markets, sound money? It’s not there.

“The Republican Party is basically irrelevant to the economic crisis that faces the country.”

Source: Former Reagan Budget Head Stockman Critical of GOP.

Now before you conservatives out there start piling on I want you to know that these words above are from David Stockman who was a Reagan apostle who invented “Trickle Down” which still remains the siren of the GOP. The party seems to have taken on the mantel of being anti-deficit even though Reagan was anything but a deficit hawk.

I won’t add too many other words. These speak very well on their own:

  • imperialistic foreign policy of big defense
  • suppression of civil liberties (that was a Bush thing)
  • just want to cut taxes – anytime any day
  • No stands on fiscal rectitude, free markets, sound money.
  • basically irrelevant

These are awfully strong words coming from an apostle within the party. And here I thought Karl Rove was pretty harsh…..

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jail cell 2HOUSTON — As school districts across the country consider placing more police officers in schools, youth advocates and judges are raising alarm about what they have seen in the schools where officers are already stationed: a surge in criminal charges against children for misbehavior that many believe is better handled in the principal’s office….

Such criminal charges may be most prevalent in Texas, where police officers based in schools write more than 100,000 misdemeanor tickets each year, said Deborah Fowler, the deputy director of Texas Appleseed, a legal advocacy center in Austin. The students seldom get legal aid, she noted, and they may face hundreds of dollars in fines, community service and, in some cases, a lasting record that could affect applications for jobs or the military.

Source: With Police in Schools, More Children in Court – NYTimes.com.

As if we needed more opportunities to put our citizens into the prison system; we are far and away already the number one incarcerater in the world. Now it seems, especially in Texas that we are dipping into the youngest generation for additional fodder.

I don’t know how the NRA feels about our prison system. Since they seem to have so much sway with our government representatives maybe they should chime in here with their opinions. I know that our prison systems were severely privatized by Mr. Bush and most Republican governors in the last decade or so. I also know that those corporations are among  the most profitable in America. But to increase profits, and isn’t that the sole purpose for corporations, means more prisoners.  I know there are documented cases of judges getting kick-backs for sending more people to prisons but I just don’t know how wide-spread this is.

Lets get back to the core of this post. More police in our schools as the NRA is advocating is adding to misdemeanor tickets in a serious way.  Is that a necessary requirement for protecting them from a nut job with a legal assault weapon?  Maybe there is some grand conspiracy that I am missing out on here. :)

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Moses“The minute a thing is long and complicated it confuses. Whoever wrote the Ten Commandments made ‘em short. They may not always be kept, but they can be understood.” – Will Rogers, 17 March 1935

What is even more amazing it that Jesus turned those ten into just two. Love God and Love each other. How could it be simpler than that.

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JusticeAttorney General Eric Holder says he will not need to furlough any Justice Department employees in the current fiscal year.

The attorney general says he will be able to avoid furloughs because of additional money in the recently enacted legislation, combined with aggressive steps to freeze hiring and cut contracting and other costs

via Holder: No furloughs at Justice Department – CBS News.

I’m sure the purpose of this article was to show how well the Justice Department was run. They brag that they don’t need to lay off workers because they found the necessary 10% budget cuts elsewhere. Being the contrarian that I am while it is a good thing to not have to lay off anyone, to me it shows the opposite of good fiscal management. It means their budgets were bloated to start with and now some of the bloat had to be removed.

I know from having to do budgets in the corporate world that budgeting and expense planning are as much of a game as anything else. You always put more into the budget because you know that some of it will be cut.  The secret was to know where the line is.  If you bloat your budget too much  to where it is obvious that you have done that then a much heavier knife will be used and you end up a loser. If you are naive enough to only put down what you actually need then you also suffer the consequences.

Knowing all these games I was almost in favor of the sequestered  10% across the board cuts to government spending. Where the cuts do real damage like in the recent case of air traffic controllers they can be amended. Where there are cases like the above with the Justice department we should maybe be looking at additional cuts in next year’s budgets.  I’m sure government agencies are not immune from this typical corporate gaming.

But then we come to the defense department all of this stuff seems to be moot. Every year, at least for this millennium, the defense departments bloats their budgets beyond any actual need and then the congress adds even more. Defense department spending has increased dramatically during this period while everything else has suffered. I am hoping that the recent talks about serious reviews of the DOD budgets are well, serious.

The other thing we need to get serious about is healthcare costs. Since we have thrown out the most obvious solution that the rest of the world has discovered to these ever rising costs (that is single-payer system) we will have to find a unique solution.  Reigning in costs means giving some people and corporations less money for their services or finding more efficient ways to do things.  I have not really studied this area much but I seem to remember that there are billions, if not trillions , of dollars wasted each year due to medical errors and over-billing Medicare. Lets get serious about those things too. Maybe they need a sequester too. :)

I know that some folks will look at this post and the previous one and see a conflict. Since I am a pragmatist  I like to look at all the angles. You never know which one might be right for a given situation.