Hunt Out The Good….

May 20, 2013

Banner - Will Rogers

“Hunt out and talk about the good that is in the other fellow’s church, not the bad, and you will do away with all this religious hatred you hear so much nowadays.” – Will Rogers, 11 March 1923

This quote from Will definitely applies to the churches in the U.S. but it equally applies to many other things that are problematic in our country today.  As I commonly state on my other blog over at RedLetterLiving.net there are currently more than 39,000 different versions of the Christian church in the world. Most are the result of splits around different beliefs about this or that. We seem to always be looking at why we should be different and split rather than what we have in common. If we only took Will’s words to heart I think the number would be vastly different.

The political parties in this country have now devolved into hatred for each other over our differences. We can no longer seem to come together for what we find good in ourselves. We no longer seem to be able to compromise. Much of this division is totally unnecessary if only we would swallow a little of our pride in believing that we are the only ones who have it right about  this or that.

I have found that sometimes it is better to just say “I know this is not the way I would have done (fill in the subject) but that’s ok. Not everything in life has to go totally our way in order for us to be happy. When we insist on that happening then we most assuredly doom ourselves to frustration and constant bickering. That is not a way to live during our brief time on this earth.

Niagara Falls

May 18, 2013

Niagra Falls

 

I had my first and only visit to Niagara Falls in the Summer of 1999.  The falls were impressive and yes I did put on the rain coat and toured them close up via the little boats shown below.

Bigger Than….

May 16, 2013

Banner - Will Rogers

Will Rogers 6“This country is a thousand times bigger than any two men in it, or any two parties in it.” – Will Rogers, 2 November 1932

I seem to often get ground down by the politics of the day. Especially with all the gridlock and bickering that is always there. Thanks Will for reminding me that the country is a thousand times bigger than all those ornery folks in Washington or the two parties that now occupy space there.

Outside the Washington beltway and several State houses there is still a lot of good going on in this country and lets never forget it. As Will says “Politics is applesauce”.

Burnout…..

May 15, 2013

Banner - Aside 2

FrustrationI know I am getting burned out on all this constant bickering in the U.S. I watch little or no news on TV now. All the news channels seem to be about inciting a riot among us. My internet news sites which I visit first thing every morning are now for the most part briefly scanned.  I am just tired of all this stuff. It may just be time for me to go “Walden” as Thoreau did and drop out for a while. I seem to only be able to see the dark side of life and I just can’t live in that mode very long.

Since the Spring and Summer months are the busiest times away from blogging for me I will likely be limiting my posts to one every other day or so for a while and I will likely stay away from politics, at least for a while. I just need time to get things back in perspective again and get all this fighting off my mind….

Secession…..

May 14, 2013

Map Red BlueTake an essay in The Daily Beast last week, in which Bronx-born culture critic Lee Siegel used the gun rights fight as one reason for the South to “Go ahead, secede already!”

With secession, a “red-state nation, giddy with new mobility, could make the 1958 Chevy its official car … [and] it could arm all of its citizens, and thus relieve itself of the financial burden of maintaining law enforcement for its citizens,” he wrote. The North, he added, could be unshackled from its Bible-crazed, knuckle-dragger anchors, to venture forth to establish the America envisioned by the enlightened: “Universal health care. No guns. Strong unions … high revenues from a fair tax structure.… In short, a society on a par with most of the rest of the industralized world.”

Source: As NRA meets, Great Gun Debate intensifies America’s culture war (+video) – CSMonitor.com.

Sometimes I think that maybe secession is about the only way to get over our constant squabbling between the red States and the blue. We seem to just fundamentally disagree on so many topics I’m not sure that we don’t have irreconcilable differences.  The major problem with this idea is that there are very significant numbers of blues in the red States and visa versa. How do we handle that?

So many in the red States don’t seem to want any form of government. They prefer a survival of the fittest world where individual fire power is the dominant factor. Everyone for themselves is their motto. It boggles my mind to realize that less than 10% of our citizens are able to basically shut down all our democratic processes with constant filibustering.

Maybe the only way we can finally join the rest of the world in several practices is to split.  Universal healthcare, despite the meager advances from Obamacare,  is pretty much doomed. Any common sense gun regulations seem unaccomplishable.  There is very little sense of “the common good” amongst many of us. Paying for a healthy infrastructure is doomed due to the no-tax pledge chanted by many. Maybe it is time to go our separate ways?

Maybe it is time to start thinking about three countries in North America or maybe even fifty-one?  I know that Lincoln is perhaps President Obama’s favorite past president. I wonder how he would handle a red State secession?

By the way, the map above is what it would look like if the red/blue States were sized by population instead of geographical space.

Fert plant“The bottom line is, this lack of insurance coverage is just consistent with the overall lack of responsibility we’ve seen from the fertilizer plant, starting from the fact that from day one they have yet to acknowledge responsibility,” Roberts said.

Roberts said he expects the plant’s owner to ask a judge to divide the $1 million in insurance money among the plaintiffs, several of whom he represents, and then file for bankruptcy.

He said he wasn’t surprised that the plant was carrying such a small policy.

“It’s rare for Texas to require insurance for any kind of hazardous activity,” he said. “We have very little oversight of hazardous activities and even less regulation.”

Source: Fertilizer plant that exploded in Texas carried $1M policy – CBS News.

I have long known that Texas is the execution capital of the world but didn’t know about its dismal lack of oversight until I read the above.  For six years I was a sole-proprieter cabinet maker. I sold a few thousand dollars worth of furniture and cabinets each year; not enough to make a living on but it did supplement my pension. In that small non-hazardous (except maybe to me) business I carried a $1 million insurance policy. That is just standard in this part of the country.

When I learned that a large fertilizer plant near such a dense population carried no more than I did I was just astounded! How could oversight body have allowed this? They say there were no inspections of the plant in several years due to the lack of taxes to fund them.  I’m sure that the hundreds of people who were killed or maimed or their families now regret allowing such disgraceful oversight by their government officials.

Banner -Inspiration

MotherLong before I became familiar with the academic debates concerning calling God “Mother,” debates that I am now currently a part of as a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, I was being raised in a household where I instinctively understood that the divine presence was manifest in the loving hands and arms of mothers, and most especially in the life of my grandmother who raised me. My grandmother’s kitchen was a theological laboratory where she taught me how to love people just as naturally as she taught me to make peach cobbler and buttermilk biscuits. I watched and listened as she ministered to the sick and the lost, with a Bible in one hand and a freshly baked pound cake in the other, despite having no official ministry role.

I knew that if God was real, if God truly loved me as a parent loves a child, then God was also “Mother” and not only “Father.” Only years of dogma and doctrine force you to unlearn what you know to be true in your own heart, demanding “Father” as the only acceptable appellation and concept for God.

Source: Why God Is a ‘Mother,’ Too | TIME.com.

God is love. There is no doubt about it for me that is the primary definition. Although I myself lacked a loving earthly mother I see that love manifested all around me.

Happy Mother’s day….

Blooming Oaks

May 11, 2013

Bloomin Oaks

 

This is a rather simple picture but a meaningful one to me.  It is of the grandfather oak tree on our property. I’m pretty sure it pre-dates our 1925 farm house. In our part of the country oaks are about the last trees to finally leaf out so this must finally be Spring.

F-35 Bookkeeping…

May 10, 2013

F35As defense secretary, Robert Gates withheld $614 million from Lockheed Martin in 2010 for its lackluster work on the $400 billion F-35 fighter program, the most costly weapon system ever bought.

Source: F-35 Bookkeeping | TIME.com.

A few hundred million here a few hundred million there and before long you are talking about real money. It is totally unfathomable to me how we could spend $400 billion on one plane design!  But it seems that the $614 million that Gates took away was actually just delayed. He planed on giving it back at a later date. I can only hope that Secretary Hagel is a little more stingy with my tax dollars.

I like to figure, especially when my money is being spent, just what something is going to cost me and what benefit will I glean from it.  For the sake of this post let me assume that I am in the military aircraft buying mode. I can’t possibly see that actually happening even in a moral support thing but lets assume it anyway.

At an estimated $140 million each these planes will be by far the most expensive ever built. I’m sure a very big percentage of that cost is justified as being about pilot safety.  Being stingy with my own money I can’t see why we don’t shelve this whole thing and build a few more pilotless drones to replace them.

The F-35 is as above costed at $140 million each and is estimated to cost about $600/hour to operate. The MQ-1 drone, which is currently the primary drone of choice costs about $4 million each and cost about $3.50/hour to operate. So getting my calculator out I can buy thirty-five drones and still save money and of course risk no pilot’s lives. If I were the enemy which would I be more fearful of, one super expensive plane with a pilot on board, or thirty five drones circling over head.  I don’t know much about the terrorist business but I would expect the later.

I hope there are at least a few bean-counter left in Washington to figure this stuff out. I know the drone industry is much like the fighter aircraft business who see this cash-cow and are trying to figure out how to add more bells and whistles to drones to drive up the costs and therefore their profits so we might just have a short window of opportunity to make a decision here. If they don’t have enough calculators in the Pentagon I would be more than willing to send them a few of mine. I seem to have plenty of them around.

Banner -Off The Top

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?