Follow Me On Facebook or Feedly

Snippet Banner  2017-02-28_10-27-01A quick snippet here to give you a couple of different ways to follow my daily posts on RJsCorner. If you are a regular Facebook viewer you can now see my post there. Just click on the”Facebook Connect” block on the right edge of this post and hit the “Follow” button on the Facebook page.

If you use Feedly, another way to make it easier to read me is to put me on your Feedly list. It is a great app that I use daily.  Just copy the URL here and then go to Feedly search box and paste it there and then click “Search” and then “Follow” on the subsequent page.

Someone Has To Pay..

No, this post is not going to talk about taking revenge or seeking vengeance. Instead, it is about the idea of getting free information on what is going on in the world and particularly our country today. I think the old saying “you get what you pay for” is true in many areas of life including this one.

2017-02-19_11-13-29.pngI must admit up front that I am probably like most of the people in that I get at least part of my news from Internet sources. I used to get agitated when I clicked on a news article only to have some words to the effect that I need to sign up with a paid prescription in order to view the article. I almost always mumbled, “you gotta be kidding…”

But it finally it dawned on this dense brain of mine that someone has to pay if you want quality news information. Someone has to track down the info, get at least double verification of the facts, and then write the article in concise and understandable words and then someone else needs to check it for all the above. It takes people of talent to do that and they need to be paid what they are worth. In the past, the video versions of news sources were paid by the advertisers of the programs selling their products but that paradigm seems to be losing its effectiveness rather quickly now. How do we get reliable sources for our information? That is the question at hand.

One way is to pay for the service directly through subscription. I recently joined millions of others in this post-truth era who subscribe to the New York Times.  Why the Times? Because they have the most talented writers around. They stick to tried and true methods of obtaining the latest news.

With the abundance of fake news now proliferating the Internet, we need someone we can trust to give us the real facts.  “You get what you pay for” almost seems to be archaic in today’s world but maybe it is actually truer than ever.

Next time you read a news article or see it on a cable news channel, stop and think if this is really true or even pertinent? If you doubt it in any way look for another source of verification.  Especially if that news channel happens to be FOX news or MSNBC and most particularly when it comes out of the Oval Office…

 

How accurate are your Blogger stats? – Not Very..

Snippet Banner This snippet is for all my fellow bloggers out there, everyone else can just ignore it.   I have been looking into my blog stats lately and have discovered some interesting things. I am on WordPress and the general consensus is that it gets less traffic than Blogger because the Google search engine gives priority to its own app. But, what I actually discovered is that Blogger includes all the spambot hits as well as search engines who roam through the blogsite as a visit count.  Sometimes that leads to some rather gross inaccuracies.  As it turns out I guess is that the Google search engine punishes Blogger blogs because it counts all the spammers and other bots that attack it as views, WordPress filters them out excluding them from your counts. And with Blogger even these inflated numbers can be easily faked by a readily available app.

Long story short, don’t count the blog stats you run across being anywhere close to accurate and especially if they are hosted on Blogger.

When we Christians shun our responsibilities….

Jesus clearly told us to be our brother’s keeper but somewhere along the way we Christians unapologetically shunned that responsibility. During the first three centuries, Christians were very much their brother’s keeper. They often pooled their resources so that those neediest were taken care of. They not only cared for their own there is even documented evidence showing that they took care of those not even Christians.  But, of course, this is what Jesus did so they were just following his lead.

The vast majority of Christian congregations today spend about 95% of what they gather on themselves or their organization’s hierarchy leaving little for the kingdom of God work particularly in the brother’s keeper area.  When that happened the moral goodness, which I believe to be also a gift from God to all humanity, dictated that the kingdoms of the world take over that task. Some do a much better job of it than others. The government of Sudan seems to totally reject the “brother’s keeper” mentality.  Many thousands die daily of starvation and political genocide. Whereas, thank the Lord, the government of the United States has generally taken up this task in our absence, at least to a partial degree. Or at least one of our political parties carries that mantle.

Now I’m not saying that Christians do nothing in this area. Indeed some of the best humanitarian agencies in this area are Christian based. But, their total contributions is almost minuscule compared to the need. Having religious institutions take over all the care for the poor is beyond the realm of possibilities so I guess we must depend on our governments to do that for us. It is said that government instituted by God so I suppose you could say it is now their duty. To even suggest as some do that since we Christians won’t do it our governments should stay out of it also is a total affront to the teachings of Jesus. It is indeed a sad day that many Evangelical Christians seem to be saying that very thing today. Shame on us for shunning this compassionate responsibility!

Letting Others Think For Us..

All of this conflicting rhetoric and division has many of us worried about the fate of our country but from the new “Quote of the Day” at the top of this blog, it sounds like that letting others think for us just might be the norm.

I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.  –Alexis de Tocqueville 1835

2017-02-25_09-04-23.pngAlexis de Tocqueville who wrote the now infamous book “Democracy In America” was a Frenchman who traveled our country in 1835 trying to understand what made America what it was. His book is a must-read for anyone serious about understanding our country. I only recently came across this quote and it kind of surprised me to see that so many let others think for them even in his time.

I guess that is what leadership is for, to tell others what they are to believe! Of course, there are two camps in the regard today and neither one of them have the necessary leaders to give us real wisdom. They are just too busy fighting each other and contending with in-fighting in their own party to see the overall picture of our possible futures.

One party is determined to shut down almost all government responsibilities and the other is too busy trying to protect our minorities to be concerned about the rest of us.  Given these states of mind, true wisdom is completely missing from today’s dialog. How long can we exist in this current state is hard to say, but given the quote above it is not the first time we have been in this boat.. maybe it is just who we really are?

Making Stuff So Rich People Will Spend Their Money…

crayon-banner   I am a car guy, a good part of my TV viewing is the Velocity Channel where they routinely make and auction $200,000 to up to $4,000,000 cars. It seems almost every time someone goes to my favorite car builder it is to “fill in their collection”. They have most of the 60’s Cameros but need another to fill a hole.  Another show is where a guy runs around the country trying to find cars that his clients need for their collections. Car shows are no longer about the average guy rebuilding an old car in his garage, or at least the Velocity Channel version.

2017-02-18_10-38-17.pngThat got me to thinking about so many other cable shows where they are making stuff so rich people will spend their money.  The last few years the rich seem to have tightened their purse strings for fear of this or that. Trying to get them to spend so of it so it will trickle down to the rest of us is the name of the game. Of course, that makes total sense if you really look at it since one percent of the U.S. population control about half of our total wealth and the rest of us are only manage to scrape up only an occasional dollar or two of discretionary income. Not nearly enough to buy the things they make for their wealthy clients.

2017-02-18_10-40-26.pngRich guys don’t usually want what other rich guys have so you just can’t mass market to them. They want the bragging rights to say “this is the only thing like this in the world”.  When it comes to rich guys “the customer is always right” is the mantra so there is a lot of anatomy kissing going on in that world. 🙂

I see where CO3 upped the initiation fee from $100,000 to $200,000 for this Palm Beach golf club as soon as he got in the Oval Office but that just moves money from one rich guy to another. The moral of this story is if you want to join the ranks of rich guys you gotta make the current one’s toys.

* CO3 = Current Oval Office Occupant

What About The Soul??

With this post I am going to go deeply into philosophy and speculate on just what is life. I couldn’t decide if this post belongs in the “That’s Life” category or “Crayon Marks” so I put it in both.  🙂

2017-02-19_10-40-15.pngMan has spent ages trying to figure out what happens after we end our life on earth.  For Christians, Jesus tells us that our spirit leaves our body and goes to what we decided to call heaven. He tells us that marriages don’t count in heaven and we will live in one of the rooms in his mansion.  I kind of put these words as what a person who has infinitely more knowledge of a subject trying to explain something to someone who is ignorant in the matter. Kind of like a space traveling alien explaining to an aboriginal person what the stars really are.  They will put it in simple terms because they know we couldn’t fathom anything more.

What is heaven?  No one on this side of life really knows. But that doesn’t keep us, including me, from speculating.  So here goes…

When I die whatever causes me to be alive will leave my body and eventually my body will disintegrate back to the dust of the earth. That is if I don’t hasten the process by cremation. 🙂  My soul, which I choose for this post to call my life spirit will go to wherever life spirits go. If it is eternal as I think it is, it will either stay there or maybe get used for another body being born. Will it have memories of my past life? I would like to think so, that’s what reincarnation is all about, but if I believe the words of Jesus that we will not be married and other such social obligations then I kind of think my spirit will just be a spirit, the essence of life.

Much of my speculation hinges on the belief that life cannot be made, instead it is created by an omnipotent being. In past ages the heart, among other body parts, was believed to be the soul of a person, that is before it was discovered that all the heart really is is a muscle that pumps blood.  If life is somehow created in a laboratory sometime in the future then my concept of life spirits would like so many past ones will be thrown aside and replaced by something else.

Does it really matter what I think the life force is?  Not really, we need to concentrate on just living it to the fullest and watching out for each other. That is the real meaning of life to me.

Mountains…

ISOA Banner  One thing that Indiana simply doesn’t have are mountains. To me, there is just so much majesty in mountains. Sometimes I have brief glimpses of being a mountain man but I think that is probably just too much watching “Jeremiah Johnson” than anything approaching reality. 🙂

So, this InSearchOfAmerica post gives you some of my favorite pictures of my travels out west in the last decade.

Not Everything…

Snippet Banner  I may surprise you with this, but I am not against everything CO3 proposes. He wants to shake up things in Washington and so do I.  It is just that I wanted someone with the wisdom and tact necessary to do that job and he simply isn’t that person.

One of the shakeups that I am adamantly for is term limits. I changed the quote in the header above to indicate that fact. Thomas Jefferson was well aware of those in the nation’s capital that stayed too long. Like everything else though, CO3 is all over the map on the details, or should I say lack of details.

2017-02-21_09-43-49.pngHere is my proposal:

  • U.S. Senate: 12 years (two terms)
  • House: 12 years (six terms)
  • Supreme Court: 18 years or 80 years of age
  • U.S. President: 8 years (two terms)

I know the argument that we have unofficial term limits via our election process but that argument just doesn’t hold water anymore, if it ever did. One reason is because of gerrymandering. Congressional district maps are totally made up to keep the incumbent in office. The second reason is because of a lazy electorate. So many complain about their representatives but then almost always vote them in office anyway.

Of course, the Supreme Court is a new one. Lifetime offices in total should be eliminated. After all, we are not a monarchy and shouldn’t treat a branch of our government as if it were.

So, here is to you CO3, if you can just keep your mind on one thing long enough to get it done I hope it is term limits.

* CO3 = Current Oval Office Occupant

If Grace Is True

After many years of resistance and finally accepting God’s love I find it strange to believe that so many believe he is going to damn the vast majority of those he loves to an eternal anguish.  We spend less than a century on this earth in one degree of happiness or another and then billions, if not trillions of centuries in total misery and anguish. That is just not the God that I have come to know.

I grew up in a very sheltered life in a small midwest town. There were no visible minorities there and there certainly were nothing but Christian churches of one flavor or another in the area. It was not until I went to college that I was exposed to anyone outside my usual cliche. Things would change rather dramatically for me during those years.  I learned that everyone who didn’t go to a Christian church were not bad guys. Many seemed to share the same level of morality that I did during those years.

It was later in my life than it was for Mr. Gulley that I saw the movie Gandhi but it also affected me greatly.  I went on to learn more about the man and the religious stands of his version of God. Gandhi was a man of infinite morals. He understood thing about loving your fellow man that I still can’t fathom. Why would God send him to hell while giving me a place in heaven.

I like the idea of emptying hell. Is God really going to eternally condemn those stubborn souls who fail to recognize him during their utterly brief time on this earth?

All About Blah, Blah, Blah

crayon-banner   I simply can no longer tolerate blah, blah, blah.  I don’t know if my age has anything to do with it, maybe it has been learned from my many hours on the Internet as Tom Friedman suggested in his book Thank You for Being Late. I will have much more to say about this book in a near future post but for now I want to limit my words about it to this current topic of blah2017-02-05_12-02-54.png, blah, blah.

When I have to read something over 500 words or so I almost immediately start skipping. I didn’t used to be that way.  I devoured books in my youth and even in my mid-years.  My bookshelf behind me used to be filled with what I read but now 90% of them are gone and replaced with e-books but that is yet another story.

I read somewhere that book publishers tell their authors that they need between  60,000 and 75,000 words in order for them to publish their works. So, what often happens is that someone comes up with a very unique idea that could be thoroughly described in 10,000 and then has to add another 60,000 filler in order to get into people’s hands. Maybe in the past this fact had something to do with the expense of setting up a printing press verses the profit they could accomplish from the work?

Let’s talk a little about the book by Tom Friedman in this vein. The main topic of the book Thank You for Being Late is how the pace of change is increasing at an almost exponential rate in the beginning of the 21st century. One of those changes is the Internet and the resulting availability of instant answers to almost any question. Has that  caused our minds to seek a more concise way to learn new knowledge?

I admit that the first source of information I go to for new information is usually Wikipedia. I know that not all the info in that venue has been thoroughly checked for validity but it is a good first check on just about any topic.

2017-02-12_13-36-31.pngI recently did an experiment with one of the books I read.  I read the first two pages of each chapter to see what I could glean. I then went back and read the entire book  (well actually I skimmed much it) to see how that first look changed. It turns out that it didn’t change all that much. Most of the remaining words of each chapter was either giving examples or maybe stating the original information it in different words.  Very little of the overall argument was lost by skipping massive portions of the book.

I know this is not the way to read fictional novels but then again has any of us really read every word of the 1225 page book “War and Peace”. 😉

About Deafness — Chapter 92

I realized that it has been quite some time since I put out a post primarily about deafness. But the title of “chapter 92” is kind of made up.  🙂  This particular chapter is the result of an episode on the CBS News – Sunday Morning about being in an anechoic chamber. First off the program mentioned is not really about “news” but more of like On the Road with Charles Kuralt but with Indiana’s own Jane PauleyNow I know I am dating myself with this reference but for those of you who don’t know about “On The Road..” check it out on Wikipedia.

2017-02-12_10-01-21.pngGetting back to the anechoic chamber story, it was about a couple of guys who were amazed at the experience of sitting an anechoic chamber.  I have some personal experience with this as I rather frequently used a chamber in my early engineering years. I was hearing, at least to some degree, at that time and agree that is it a unique experience. An anechoic chamber basically stops all ambient noise.

Anyway the guys mentioned that they could hear each other’s breath and even when they moved their eyebrows.  I kind of doubt the eyebrow comment but they said this was an experience they have never had before.  That got me to thinking that I have been in an anechoic chamber for almost thirty years now, but not really.

To explain that a little further, I am plagued with tinnitus which is ringing in my ears. For me is it two frequencies overlapping each other. One is a low rumble and the other is a whistle type sound. They are constantly in my head.  Thank heavens that my brain is able to just ignore them most of the time but not always, especially when  I think of them as I am now. The roar would probably drive a hearing person to insanity. They say that Van Gogh suffered from tinnitus and that is the reason he cut off his hear.  I don’t know about that but it is an interesting story 🙂

I was hearing impaired most of my life and knew that one day I would go deaf. Luckily that day didn’t come until I was about forty.  I remember in my hearing aid days wondering what it would be like to not be able to hear anything. I once even tried to simulate it by keeping my head under water in the bathtub but then I could still hear the lower frequency sounds of the water and the tub so that just didn’t work.

It turns out that as is often the case it is not possible to simulate total deafness except in an anechoic chamber and even then you can hear yourself breathe.  One of the things that Helen Keller said when someone asked her which sense she would like to have the most either hearing or sight.  She said hearing as that is what keeps you attached to people. That kind of surprised me as I would have chosen sight but their is certainly a lot of truth in her words. being deaf is not for sissies…

 

 

San Francisco..

ISOA Banner  In this weeks ISOA post I thought I would finish off my report about San Francisco. Of course the first view is the Golden Gate Bridge, second is The Wharf. Don’t miss the Aquarium, it is one of the best in the country. We must have roamed about 6 miles one day throughout the neighborhoods. Not bad for a couple of senior citizens. Regretfully we never managed to get a ride on a cable car.

As usual click on any picture to bring up a larger slide show view

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

This post is a first review of a book by David Brooks called the Social Animal. It delves into the basic nature of man. David Brooks is a writer for the New Work Times and is a weekly regular of The PBS Newshour so I have a regular exposure to him. He is the conservative voice that I most admire in these current crazy times

I found this a pretty interesting book about a little known topic. There is a revolution currently going on in trying to further understand the human psyche.  The main thing discovered is that we are not for the most part the product of thinking but primarily what happens below the surface in our subconscious. This statement is kind of like Galileo who dared to tell us that the earth is not the center of the universe. Our conscious minds  are not the center of human behavior. How dare he claim that!! 🙂

In other words wisdom is about being able to look outside your current box and to be able to objectively look at things you don’t necessarily agree with.  It is about being able to change your view of life. Much of our thinking comes from what we have been taught to believe whether it is true or not. Some of what we think we know is simply a fabrication of non-facts.  As David mentioned the human mind is an overconfidence machine. We give ourselves credit for things that we didn’t do. We simply don’t know what we don’t know…

That is enough of a teaser for today. There will be several other post coming about this interesting topic….

Everyone Deserves a Hand Up…

As I have grown older and wiser I have learned some important lessons in life. One of them is that everyone deserves a hand up when they come across hard times in their lives. The words of Jesus taught me that early on but I guess I just wasn’t ready to hear that message. It would be years and many personal relationships before I took it to heart.

I think I have had my share of troubles during my life.

  • I grew up in poverty although I didn’t really realize it at the time.
  • I had a very narcissist mother who just didn’t pay much attention to me and then she abruptly abandoned me at the age of 10.
  • I was a kid of small stature and kind of clumsy in my growing up years.
  • I was just never any good when it came to personal interactions. I had few real friends as I just couldn’t figure out how to make that happen. Years later I found that this was primarily caused by my having Asperger’s Syndrome.
  • I went deaf at the age of forty and was hard of hearing many years before that happened.

2017-01-27_10-49-48.pngI had some tough times but not nearly as tough as many others. At least I didn’t get arrested for some of the dumb things I did in my youth. I was addicted to cigarettes for  25 years but never tried anything more severe that might have caused me to do other stupid and illegal things. I had a pretty good job which was well paying but not terribly rewarding for 30 years that allowed me to save for my retirement years. I didn’t have to struggle to find where my next meal came from as so many do today. I had tough times but I also had a pretty good life in spite of them.

I spent eleven years volunteering in a soup kitchen so I met many others who have a much harder life than I did.  Many who came there over the years depended on the kitchen for a substantial part of their daily food. The soup kitchen is also where I met one of my closer friends today. He got hooked on meth in his early years and as a result spent a number of years in prison. He turned himself around several years ago but due to an injury  from his drug dealer and his felony record has been unable to find any full time employment.  Once you have a prison record it hangs with you your entire life creating unnecessary obstacles.

This brings me back to the point of this post. Everyone deserves a hand up sometime in their lives. I know that many people with less empathy than me don’t really understand my message here. To them there are simply unredeemables among us. I try not to put qualifications on who deserves help and who doesn’t. I have now come to fully realize the words of Jesus about being your brother’s keeper.  That is a valuable lesson that I  wished I has learned earlier and I wish others would learn it too.