Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Position (Part 3) What is the Meaning of Life?

To summarize:  we individually must come to grips with when life begins, and the value we place on that life.  The state (in this sense I use state as the term for institutionalized government, whether it be at the local, regional, national or international level) cannot determine for us when life begins.  It may try, but it does so without the moral authority necessary to justify it.  This brings us to what I think is a central question.

What is the meaning of life, or what makes life meaningful?

How can you place a value on something if you don’t understand its meaning or its purpose?  I suspect this is why so many struggle with the question of abortion and choice and why there is a divide between the traditional religions, non-traditional practices, and the non-religious.  Even within the traditional religions we see disagreement over the rights of the woman and the rights of the fetus. 
What is the meaning of life is a central question in philosophy and religion.  Why are we here?  What are we meant to do, or be, or achieve? If I was to even attempt to enter into the philosophical discussion I would move quickly in the academic and perhaps arcane world of people who debate the meaning of words, or as William Jefferson Clinton once said, “it depends on what the meaning of the words 'is' is.”  I think this link lays out the discussion much better than I could;  The Meaning of Life, written by Thaddeus Metz, and included in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  He does a very nice job outlining in understandable terms the major principles and underlying basis for definition as well as the weakness in the several major philosophies.
So again we come, as I said in the beginning, to a question with no clear right or wrong answer, at least as far as we humans are able to discern.  We are left to form our own answers based on our life experiences, our education and our belief system.  But if we believe life is important and special there must be purpose and direction in that life.  Can life have meaning if we are not perfect?  I think a simple to look around us and we see so many examples that lead me to believe it can be.  There is example, after example of those who inspire us beyond the ordinary.  Should we value life less if we know that life will be filled with pain from physical defect?  Should we assign a reduced value to someone whose mental capacity is not as high as someone else?  In historical times some societies have taken the weakest and left them to die.  We know in China female children are valued less and may be left to die if a couple is seeking a male heir.  Is this natural and acceptable?  How do we explain segments of society where the very same people who believe abortion is acceptable condemn cruelty to animals?
Were we to kill those with physical defects we never would have known Helen Keller.  Steven Hawking has inspired the world with his battle with ALS while continuing to expand our understanding of the universe.  Beethoven, when learning he was going deaf voiced his desire not to live through this tragedy.  Thankfully for the world he did carry on for another 25 years.  Now that we know all about genetic disorders should we prevent life for those who will suffer them?  We would lose the art of Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa if we had done that in 1864.  This does not even begin to touch on the stories of those who have over come their physical limits to achieve greatly.  If we believe we should kill those with limitations what will we lose in the future?
When the Nazi’s attempted to create a pure Aryan race at the cost of millions of Jews, Poles, Gypsies and others why didn’t the world cry out?  It was only after the war, when we saw the scale of horror that we condemned the inhumanity.  Even today there are those who would have us rewrite the history to mask this evil.
For us, as individuals, how we find meaning in life and fulfillment seems to be a critical outcome from how we view our self-worth and the relationships with society around us.  If we look to those who have set before us wonderful examples of how a purposeful life can change the world what do we find?  Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Steven Hawking, Randy Pausch, and hundreds of others show us that self awareness, confidence, love of mankind and joy in the giving back are truly central to finding the practical meanings of life.  Dr. Kevorkian does not rate high on my list of inspirational lives.
Can impoverished lives have meaning?


Can impoverished lives have meaning?


On the face of it this is a stupid question, but it seems to me to be one of the underlying premises for the liberal position the state must pay for abortions for the poor.  Clearly the poor have the same potential for fulfillment and self-determination as any of us.  Our history is rife with examples of the poor growing to be the next generation of wealthy.  But somewhere along the line we have decided we need to treat today’s poor minorities as victims and provide them with the rational it is better to end life before birth, reduce the burden of responsibility and let them continue as they were than it is to seek to change their status.  Some have the wisdom to see this trap for what it is and grow beyond the status quo.
Unfortunately far too many don’t and they repeat the same mistakes time and time again.  They are always the victims, and always the state is there to clean up after them.  This provides for the proponents of abortion the perfect cliental and rationale why the government needs to fund it. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MC-130J

The first four MC-130J Combat Shadow II were presented to AFSOC today in a roll out ceremony at Lockheed Martin's Marietta, Georgia facility.  Fittingly the weather was gray and overcast.  The kind of weather the aircraft will thrive in when put to operational use.  It is kind of nice to see something you had a hand in actually materialize


Lockheed Martin Roll Out of MC-130J, 29 March 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Life of a Balloon, Update 4

Inflated on 6 January 2011
Clearly a happy disposition goes a long, long, long way...

Eleven Weeks... will this balloon ever surrender to gravity?  The Float continues!

Public Service

There is an interesting movement in this country.   Today more and more tax payers are questioning why they should pay taxes to support what they view as wasteful government spending.

My awareness started in the early 1980's  with the California Initiative process when several propositions were placed on the ballots to reduce taxes and support for the school system.  At the time California's educational system was viewed as the best in the nation, where is it today?

What confuses me about this movement is the same thing that confused me with the GW Bush approach.  We want to lower taxes but expect to have all the same services, or do all the things we have historically done.  How is that remotely possible?  More efficiencies?  Ya right!  That mentality is why we are where we are.

We complain when the roads are in disrepair, we complain about the long lines at car registration, tax office, or any public service.  We complain when the water system fails to meet our expectations.  Yet we don't want our dollars to go to taxes?

I see the new generation of politicians promising to lower taxes, but I don't see anyone telling the tax payers what they should stop expecting from government.  On one blog I follow, a public employee from a California city wrote in to say he was in the National Guard, a member of the NRA and made something that approached the median salary for his area.  His job was grounds maintenance for the city parks.  The commenters all slammed him for making close to the median salary for his two jobs (both in the city and national guard).

I recognize there is a point beyond which governments become for government and not for the people they serve.  Perhaps we've reached that point, perhaps not.  But with the convergence of a "Me" society and the desire not to pay for anything it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Presidential Power

With the possible exception of George Washington every President of the United States has, at one time or another, pressed against the constitution to expand his power and authority.  Why would we expect President Obama to be different?

My concern is his lack of vision or understanding on the use of the tools available to him.  He leaves us to wonder if he knows what is critical to our nation and where or how to reflect leadership?  I guess that should not be surprising for someone who has really never been in a leadership role, but was brought to office more because he wasn't something than what he was.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Position (Part 2) When Does Life Start?

This is a continuation of a post first made on 3/20/11.  It is part two of a yet to be determined number.

From before:

Purpose:  This paper is intended to put into solid form my position on the Pro-Life, Pro-Choice debate; it outlines my rationale for that position, and articulates my concerns with the current state.  I will attempt to synopsize the history, the decisions and the smoke screens I see on the part of advocates for both sides.
 BLUF:  I think the pro-choice movement is fundamentally flawed in its position, but once a personal choice has been made the choice is no longer part of the public debate and is an issue between the woman and God, or her conscience.  Advocates for both sides, far too often, fail to consider the consequence of their words or actions on the individual.  I don’t believe I have the right to tell someone else how they should or must live their life.
Part II
The real question is then, what is the value of life to you?  Can you be against war and genocide and be for abortion?  Can you argue that it is immoral for car companies to design cars with defects and say once a fetus is created a woman has the right to kill it?  


When does life start?

When does life start?  That is a basic question linked to the decision we individually make on the value of a life.  In the landmark decision, written by Justice Blackmun for Supreme Court docket 70-18, Roe v. Wade, Justice Blackmun notes the court was presented with arguments on whether a fetus was a person and therefore protected under the 14th Amendment.  This hinged on State of Texas' position life began at conception and therefore it was a compelling right of the State to protect that life.  The court took a pass on the argument, citing a lack of consensus among those disciplines where the Court felt a consensus would be found. 
Texas urges that, apart from the Fourteenth Amendment, life begins at conception and is present throughout pregnancy, and that, therefore, the State has a compelling interest in protecting that life from and after conception. We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.
Justice Blackmun goes on to say,
It should be sufficient to note briefly the wide divergence of thinking on this most sensitive and difficult question. There has always been strong support for the view that life does not begin until live' birth. This was the belief of the Stoics. [n56] It appears to be the predominant, though not the unanimous, attitude of the Jewish faith. [n57] It may be taken to represent also the position of a large segment of the Protestant community, insofar as that can be ascertained; organized groups that have taken a formal position on the abortion issue have generally regarded abortion as a matter for the conscience of the individual and her family.
So the court rejected Texas’ right to impose a singular view on when life began.  Justice Blackmun summarized the courts findings as shown here.
1. A state criminal abortion statute of the current Texas type, that excepts from criminality only a lifesaving procedure on behalf of the mother, without regard to pregnancy stage and without recognition of the other interests involved, is violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
(a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician.
(b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health.
(c) For the stage subsequent to viability, the State in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life [p165] may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.
2. The State may define the term "physician," as it has been employed in the preceding paragraphs of this Part XI of this opinion, to mean only a physician currently licensed by the State, and may proscribe any abortion by a person who is not a physician as so defined.
In Doe v. Bolton, post, p. 179, procedural requirements contained in one of the modern abortion statutes are considered. That opinion and this one, of course, are to be read together. [n67]
This holding, we feel, is consistent with the relative weights of the respective interests involved, with the lessons and examples of medical and legal history, with the lenity of the common law, and with the demands of the profound problems of the present day. The decision leaves the State free to place increasing restrictions on abortion as the period of pregnancy lengthens, so long as those restrictions are tailored to the recognized state interests. The decision vindicates the right of the physician to administer medical treatment according to his professional judgment up to the points where important [p166] state interests provide compelling justifications for intervention. Up to those points, the abortion decision in all its aspects is inherently, and primarily, a medical decision, and basic responsibility for it must rest with the physician. If an individual practitioner abuses the privilege of exercising proper medical judgment, the usual remedies, judicial and intra-professional, are available.
What strikes me in this decision was the determination that at/before the end of the first trimester the decision rests with the physician and the woman, but after that point the individual states could place increasing restrictions on abortive procedures.  Somewhere along the way, that is now being argued as a presumptive right up to birth.
So here we are, back at the original question, when does life begin?  As I see it, you have three choices:  a) at conception, b) when it may be sustained after birth, c) whenever you feel it convenient to do so.  I don’t think this is a question the state has the right to decide, and I think in Roe v Wade the justices wisely chose not to.  They did though recognize there is a period after which the viability of a human fetus cannot be questioned and it would be capable of sustaining itself as an independent being.  It appears in choosing not to decide, and then defining a physician’s right to primacy in the decision process to the first trimester they acknowledged the states rights to protect life, but only to a degree.
As I consider this problem I am, like the court, drawn to precedent to form my position.  In so much as medicine is an inexact art, and philosophy goes into arcane discussion I am left with the theology of my upbringing.   This is not an area my church dealt with, birthdays were always the day’s we celebrated the start of a new life.  Since I reject the option of choosing an answer that is convenient for my purposes I have but two choices.  At conception, or when a fetus is able to sustain, or be sustained, outside the womb.  Thanks to medical science those two days are getting closer together each year.  When they become the same we will have a whole new debate about the ethics of pregnancy.  If we consider as our choice when life can be sustained I am not sure we can ever come to a universal (right all the time) answer.  Therefore, I conclude life begins at conception, just as Texas argued in its defense.  But as the court points out different religions see things quite differently and in an open society tolerance of differing religious views is a foundation.

Northern Japan

If you're curious about what you don't see on the nightly news, this is what the weather is like in Japan and what your military is doing.  Gas to operate vehicles is in very short supply.  FARP stands for Forward Area Refueling Point.

AFSOC FARP

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Position (Part 1) Purpose Statement

Purpose

            In my job I write a lot of background papers, position papers, talking points, and analysis of issues to inform the leadership and/or recommend courses of action.  I have found, as part of that style, we always put our purpose statement up front.  It is there to help focus the information and to tell the reader the intended use of the document.  We have now evolved to follow the purpose statement, many times with a BLUF statement.  BLUF stands for bottom line, up front.  I think we do this now because no one wants to read anymore and this way they can blow off the actual words and rationale and just go to what the writer intends.  I say this to preface the next two paragraphs.  As in most of my ramblings I don’t intend this to be an academic paper filled with cross-references and supporting documentation.  These are my thoughts formed over the past 50 years.  For those keeping track, I am dismissing the first 10 as the do not really contribute to my beliefs.
            Purpose:  This paper is intended to put into solid form my position on the Pro-Life, Pro-Choice debate; it outlines my rationale for that position, and articulates my concerns with the current state.  I will attempt to synopsize the history, the decisions and the smoke screens I see on the part of advocates for both sides.
            BLUF:  I think the pro-choice movement is fundamentally flawed in its position, but once a personal choice has been made the choice is no longer part of the public debate and is an issue between the woman and God, or her conscience.  Advocates for both sides, far too often, fail to consider the consequence of their words or actions on the individual.  I don’t believe I have the right to tell someone else how they should or must live their life.
            I realize in codifying my position I open myself for criticism and perhaps ridicule.   I note this because the past several years have shown me the supposed intellectually enlightened move very quickly to name calling when they disagree with something.  (e.g. Keith Olbermann, Paul Krugman, et. al.)  As we’ve seen with the Wisconsin union issue they also move to death threats.  That seems, unfortunately, the way the left treat disagreement with their enlightened beliefs.

Philosophy of Life

            If we are to talk about life, and the opposing positions of pro-choice and pro-life I think we need to start with some basic questions.  They are questions men and women much wiser than I have written about, but they are questions that each must answer for themselves.  Why are we here?  What purpose do we serve?  When does life start?  What is its value?  Is there a morally defensible time we should end life?  Who has the right to decide? When does life end?  If we do not, or can not answer these questions, with reason, than how can we form a basis for our position on the topic?
            Each of the major religions provides us with a framework for answers.  If you are a believer then that framework and your understanding of God form what must become a core of your belief system.  If you are an atheist you have dismissed God as an option and are left to form your opinions based on something else.  You will note I say opinions, because as an atheist you have no belief, you rely only on what can be proven or what you want to.  Whichever suits your preference?
            Let me say, for the record, I do not know the best answers for most of the questions I've asked.  I know how I answer them, but I really believe they are multiple-choice questions and I am not sure I have always made the right choice.  If you do even the simplest of web searches there must be a thousand sites dealing with “philosophy of life.”  Everyone has an idea of what that is and what he or she believes, so it must be a pretty interesting topic for us.  We must, whether we want to or not, answer them as our heart and soul see fit, and we live or die with that choice.  So lets get to it!
            Why are we here?  Is it just a random chance or is it part of some grander design?  Have we been given dominion over the earth and all its creatures as Genesis indicates, or was it just a random juxtaposition of DNA and interstellar coincidence? I believe we are here because God has created us, in his image, and for his purpose.  Although most days I am not sure he knew what he was getting into when he did it.  As for dominion over all the earth we have certainly demonstrated we can influence the entire ecosphere but do we understand what our commanding influence should accomplish?  Our problems seem to stem from not having dominion over ourselves.  I think we are here to show God we are capable of growing to the beings he wanted us to be.  Not subservient slaves, but capable of walking in the light of his wisdom.  I would point out we’ve really not done a great job at the growing part, but God has shown his infinite patience with us.
            What purpose do we serve?  This is a tough question and I don’t think there is one collective answer to it.  Each must choose his or her purpose to define their lives.  Those who see no purpose lead an unfulfilled, unrewarding existence bereft of joy and honor.  They will always make petty choices and seek instant gratification.  They will tear down and destroy in an attempt to show themselves to be better than they truly believe they are.  These poor souls will destroy others rather than seek their own level.  When my life was darkest I always had my dream and a purpose to push me on.  In high school I was not wise enough to strive for success, but I never gave away my dream of flight and adventure.  It would be a lie to say I joined the Air Force to give back to the nation, but as I matured that did become a need.  I joined the Air Force as my way to gain my dream, to fly.  Even when it looked like that may not happen I never let it slip away.  Fortunately I was always able to find a way towards that dream.  I talked with my children once about the importance of pursuing their dreams.  I left those conversations with the fear neither understood why that was important.
What is the value of life?  We like to say life is precious but that is just a greeting card statement for most.  Our history has shown, at the common level, we collectively place a very low value on life and some would even go so far as to say not all lives are of equal value.  Throughout the world the weaker are trod on by the stronger.  Genocide is, unfortunately, common even in today’s world.  Women and children are abducted and sold into bondage.  Children are thrown away, caged, abused, tortured, raped, and killed every day.  Men and woman who are inconvenienced by someone or something rage against whatever it is, somethings going so far as to kill the offender.  Yet at the same time, some of the worst of the worst will value their life as priceless.  We see in the Arab world a sense of how little they value life in sending women, children and others into suicide events to kill those whose lives they place even lower in the value chain.   We engage in almost non-stop war and conflict to dominate some piece of territory or population.  Is that wrong or an unfortunate by-product of being human?
Industry calculates the values of human life when they design products that may place it at risk, insurance companies place monetary value on it, and each of us make decisions on its value every day.  We choose to take risks, we attempt dangerous things, and we elect officials who will send our military into dangerous places.
The real question is then, what is the value of life to you?  Can you be against war and genocide and be for abortion?  Can you argue that it is wrong for car companies to design cars with defects and say once a fetus is created a woman has the right to kill it?  But wait, I am getting ahead of myself.  (to be continued)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Did You Know There was an Airport Named After Batman?

During Desert Storm/Northern Watch we deployed to Incirlik AB, Turkey.  Incirlik was about an hour and half flight from the Iraq border for our MH-53 helicopters so they were sent to Batman AB, Turkey.


I don't know where Batman spent Bruce Wayne's money but it sure wasn't on his airbase.  Our helicopter aircrews spent the entire war sitting around this hole in the bottom of Turkey waiting for the big mission our General was saving us for.  Never came!


So... if you are given a choice between whirling dervishes and Batman... go with the whirling dudes!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

More Random Thoughts

If a train leaves Chicago heading west at 100 miles per hour and New York is 800 miles away and it make three stops of one hour each, how long will it take to reach its Destination?






If the universe was created in a big bang was Mother Nature really satisfied afterwards?




Who lived at 221A Baker Street?
Who came up with those ridiculous Elizabethan Collars? 



Which is better, repeating an excuse more often or saying it louder?  Bush administration -- not the greatest of all time, he was engaged in a war and lowered taxes.  Got it!  So what?  Two years of control in House and Senate what did you do to fix it?


When you promise transparency and operate behind closed doors in the dark of night shouldn't you give out night vision goggles? 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tunes

     I have satellite radio and enjoy the uninterrupted music.  They make up for it by having routinely interrupted everything else, but it is a commercial enterprise so who am I to complain?


     If I was one who looked for hidden messages and signs in everything I did sometimes I think I would get a little paranoid after turning on the radio four or five times and hearing the same song.  Fortunately I am not schizophrenic, just a touch neurotic so it doesn't bother me too much.


     But it is kind of strange to know an anti-war song of the 60's fits so well today.  Guess my generation didn't really accomplish what all the radicals said we would.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Troubles

Isn't it fascinating how different people handle trouble.  Some find in any adversity a reason to complain and wait for others to fix the problems.  Others dig in and work on solutions.  Governments seem to reflect that same approach some times.  Some governments are organized and when problems occur they mobilize their resources and get to work.  Others wait for the world to fix everything.

Why is that?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Life, a Question?

As we watch the news each night we are assaulted with the calamities of the day.  It may be civil unrest in Africa, shootings in Arizona, earthquakes in California, nuclear power plants exploding, forest fires in Yellowstone, volcano’s in Washington, or Tsunami’s in the Indian Ocean, or as we see right now earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdowns in Japan.
In the wake of all this doom and gloom it is easy, in fact it is expected, to believe we are in some terrible end time where life is going to be extinguished and we will all perish.  Hollywood makes millions of dollars selling us fiction about how we will destroy our earth, be invaded by aliens, or suffer some cataclysmic event such as believed to have caused the end of the Mesozoic era and the domination of humans on this planet will end.
Somewhere in all this there is probably someone will guess right in whatever dire prediction they make, but until then they are all wild guesses that serve little purpose.  This is akin to the popular "Infinite Monkey Theorem" that postulates if “an infinite number of monkeys were typing on keyboards for an infinite amount of time almost surely would a given text such as the complete works of William Shakespeare be created.”
I would like to put into some context what we see and what has happened in history.  Let start with the simple first, man destroying other men.  My reference is 1900-2000 A Century of Genocide website © 2009 by Piero Scaruffi and is used in accordance with provisions outlined for non-commercial use.
Mao Ze-Dong (China and Tibet 1949-69) – 49 to 78,000,000 (that is million in case you are wondering if I typed it correctly)
Joseph Stalin (USSR 1932-39) – 23,000,000
Adolf Hitler (Germany 1939-45) – 12,000,000
Leopold II of Belgium (Congo 1886-1908) – 8,000,000
Those are just the big hitters in the last hundred or so years.  The list is way longer and I would recommend, if you were curious, a visit the site.  More importantly it does not include the wars we have fought and the lives lost in those sanctioned conflicts.
How about earthquakes?  From the US Geological Survey we find.
As point of reference:  Worldwide in 2010 there were 226, 729 deaths from earthquake.  This would compare to 0856 when 200,000 died in Damghan Iran, or 1556 when 850,000 perished in Shensi China, or 1920 when 200,000 lost their life in the earthquake in Haiyuan, Nigxia China.  Obviously there are many other examples, and probably an equal number that have not been documented.
How about nuclear plant meltdowns?  I know of only Chernobyl, although I would bet there are a couple of subs on the bottom of the ocean that may have had incidents.  On April 26, 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl plant exploded from a power output surge sending a radioactive fire plume that spread contamination over a wide area.  This led to the resettling of 336,000 people, see CHERNOBYL. The immediate deaths from radiation poisoning seemed to center on the first responder fire fighters who were not told about the potential for radiation.  I would think this an example of a complacent bureaucracy seeking to protect itself first?
Finally, earthquakes and their tsunami by products; in 2004 there was a 9.1 scale earthquake off the island of Sumatra.  Final count 227, 898.  Hopefully the Japanese totals will be significantly less than this.
I think the take away I would close this with is while nature and our human mistakes can inflict a pretty significant toll on humanity the numbers will actually pale when compared to the damage mankind does to itself.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami

Big waves wash the shore
a force none can imagine
life never the same

Life of a Balloon, Update 3

My Birthday Balloon
We have now passed week nine, surely a major milestone in the life of any balloon.  He has moved from flat against the ceiling to a more upright posture and has chosen to move from his former position of guardian to one where he can observe and critique my writing.


As I type he watch's over my shoulder, offering on occasion words of encouragement and other times turning his back to my efforts.  His helium remains sufficient to buoy my sprits.


Live long, live well, float on!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wow

A lot of stuff happened today.  I just watched as the Wisconsin Senate decided to break the impasse by separating the collective bargaining provisions from the budget bill.  It was most interesting to hear the complaining from the unions and the sympathizers as they moved forward.   I guess I am not intellectual enough to understand how elected officials who believe it is better to run away is a responsible course of action.

Speaking of not being intellectual enough, I also learned the NPR CEO Vivian Schiller has resigned following the release of a video yesterday showing an NPR fund raiser Ron Schiller slamming the conservatives and tea party movement, showing his basic contempt for anyone who didn't think as he did, while he was wooing two people who he thought represented the muslim brotherhood willing to donate $5 million to NPR.

The most interesting dialogue was Schiller's statement he didn't think NPR needed federal funding.  I am all for supporting that position.  But then I am not intellectual enough to understand how elitists who believe America is usually wrong should be funded with my tax dollars.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Niagara Falls, Slowly I Turned...

This gag, from Abbott and Costello or the Three Stooges kind of sums up the way your government works.  One minute you have a perfectly nice plan in place and the next moment someone says something and the world turns upside down and you are getting beaten around the head and shoulders by some government agency or bureaucrat babbling about something you don’t understand.
That is of course, unless you believe it’s the governments role to solve your every problem and in that case you enjoy the beating.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Partial Truth

How easy it is for Hollywood to depict those who don’t agree with them as vile, selfish, angry people.  In a television story there is no need for truth, no need for facts, no need to show both sides.  They can write the script with whatever agenda they want and feed it to the masses.


As we view those shows there are, in the natural course, three audiences.  The first two are simple; those adults who’ve decided what they believe and the show either reinforce those beliefs, or unsettle the viewers with its inaccuracy.  It will be just another in the polarizing events that drive us apart.  The third audience is the one that most troubles me.  The young who are struggling to find their own beliefs, to decide what is right and what is not.
The young who watch these shows walk away with impressions the next show will only deepen.  They will believe that liberals are always concerned with human rights, and conservatives are not.  They will believe the rhetoric that going against the liberal point of view you, as a person, are vile and selfish.
As our nation debates the critical issues of today, I guess it is to be expected that the entertainment industry will take sides.  They always have and being a part of this society they have that right.  If I were for bigger government, and a more intrusive set of regulations I would argue for bias ratings for all shows.  We have content ratings today “G,” “PG,” and such, why not bias ratings while we are at it? 
But I am not for bigger government, and I believe we all have the ability to think for ourselves so we don’t need more FCC guidance as to what we are about to watch, it falls to parents to talk with their children about how we as individuals fit within the local, state, national, and international communities.  If we let television, the Internet, or even our teachers take over than we fail in a critical role as parents.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ah to be a Psychology Student

Psych Class at Northwestern University

When I was in college I majored in Psychology, there were several reasons, but suffice it to say a 1.0 GPA my first semester had some influence on it.  After two and a half years of study I developed this theory on who got into Psychology and who stayed to become PhD's.

It is refreshing to see these many years later my original beliefs are not totally without merit.

The End of the Week

This week started of with a day of golf, and went down hill from there.  There are days when being a paper-pusher is easy, and then there are days when it’s not.  What I would like right now is a quiet house, on the top of a hill, overlooking a lake, with a fully stocked bar, and a cellar full of money.  I would like to tell Generals to pack sand, and take a hike.  I would like to return to a state where I only have to worry about me, occasionally empty the trash, and not worry when my wife is locked inside the mall because the stores closed before she had run out of money.
I would like to look out from my porch and watch hawks soaring over a large field, hear the rumble of thunder in the distance, feel the chill of a summer day as the storm passes near by, and walk back into the house as I grab a drink on my way to lay on the money in the basement.
I would like to wake up tomorrow surrounded with nothing, a warm fire removing the winter chill, as snow piles on the hillsides and keeps anyone from driving up the driveway to my cellar where I am drinking while laying on my money with a large screen television showing scenes of summer.
It would be a perfect weekend if I could sit looking at the Great Smoky Mountains and hearing the low throaty growl of a mountain lion.  I would walk around the house with my in big bunny slippers while someone made me a big breakfast and hot steaming coffee, with maybe just a touch of Irish…
After I’ve schlepped around for a while I would dress and go out into the cool mountain air and load my golf clubs into the Corvette and drive over to my private country club where my caddie awaits.
Maybe I would head over to an airport where my glider sits.  I would jump in and fly for a hundred miles up the Great Smokey’s feeling the freedom of the air.  The controls are light and balanced in my hands, the air is a quiet rush past the thin plexiglas canopy of my sailplane as I climb into one thermal and glide down to the next.
Then as I start my dazzling approach into the airport I hear “pockata, pockata, pockata”  

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Streaks (with apologies to ee cummings)


the sun streaks across the sky removing the darkness
bringing clarity to the day; it shows the imperfections in my world

as i see life unfold around

there is much in this life, from the joys of birth
to the sorrows of death each event bringing new texture

each day filled with new memories

look to the sky; as man has always looked above, the streaks of life moving within the pressure vessels necessary to sustain it

always moving somewhere

tears, a product of life, streak down the cheeks
and remind of the fragility of our hearts

joy and sorrow

the heavens fill the night sky, as tiny streaks clog space between
the last fires of a rocks presence as it falls to earth

to renew the planet we guide

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Should Teachers be Unionized?


To me this is an interesting question, which has no simple answer.  There should or could be a much larger one, should any local, state or federal employee be unionized?  On that subject I am at best ambivalent.
Unions, as I understand them, were formed originally to protect workers from unreasonable demands from the company management, to provide workers with an umbrella of support for collective bargaining, and improve conditions for those whose singular voice was lost in the industrial revolution.
Many unions have become, again as I understand them, bloated self-serving organizations that foster their own position with at best a nod towards their original purpose.  They have, in many cases, been coopted by organized crime as a means to pressure businesses into what would legitimately be viewed as extortion and as a way to wash money for those crime organizations.
So what do unions do for those service employees working for local, state, or federal governments?  What do they gain for their employees and what rights should those local, state and federal employees expect from their employment?  Do unions serve the greater good when they drive industries or governments to failure?  I think not!
We have seen with the recent near collapse of the auto giants GM and Chrysler that poor management, coupled with self-serving interests of the union have at the end of the day probably cost thousands of American jobs.  I say probably because I am uncertain anyone knows the truth with regards to what management would have done if no union existed.  But we do know that the union negotiated terms with management that forced them into economic realities they could not afford, and consequently our tax dollars were used to take over payments the companies needed to divest.
From Huffington Post
Now we are seeing where State governments, saddled with those same kinds of fiscal burdens are attempting to follow a course mandated by their state constitutions and the union position is to vilify and condemn the politicians who have the responsibility to do so.  Of course those politicians who choose to run away from their responsibilities only feed the union arrogance.  Teachers, who are supposed to educate our youth, are showing they really aren’t much smarter than the longshoreman and teamsters we are used to seeing on the picket lines. 
I didn't see a copyright, not a fan, and just used to balance the other pic
Are these really the people who we want as teachers?  While I certainly understand the expectations of teachers to “retire” at 55 and find a second career I am not sure how we can actually come to grips with our aging population and shifting demographic if unions remain dogmatic in their demands that their previous rights are never to be renegotiated.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

As if I Needed a Humbling Experience

We all have strengths and weaknesses.  We all like to play to those strength's and mask, as much as possible, those weaknesses.  This weekend I had the opportunity to visit and spend time with my brother, unfortunately the cost was to demonstrate my inability to hit a golf ball with any consistency.  Plus the greens fees at some pretty pricey golf courses.

Friday I drove from a meeting in Marietta GA to Jacksonville FL to hook up with my brother, his college roommate, and the roommate's 16 year old son.  We then proceeded to play 72 holes of golf over the next three days.

Day 1:  Pete Dye's Valley course at TPC at Sawgrass.  Let me say up front Pete Dye is a sadist.  I hadn't played much this winter and it showed.  I think I shot a 115 and lost about half a dozen balls.  Dye's valley has narrow fairways with lots and lots of water, although I found other places to lose balls to as well.

Day 2:  World Golf Village, 36 holes of wonderfully groomed fairways, greens and hazards.  106 and 103, but only another half dozen balls.  When we started the fog was still lingering over the course, so I am amazed I found the fairway at all.  Maybe I should always play in a fog?

17th Hole, TPC at Sawgrass
Day 3: Back to TPC at Sawgrass for the Stadium Course, where the Players Championship is played in May.  The course is another Pete Dye challenge with the famous "island green" on 17.  Another dozen balls and I walk away with a 125(ish).  It was a gorgeous course and you leave in awe of what the professionals can do on it.  This year when I watch; it will be with a whole new perspective.

At least I remembered to use sunscreen!

Hard to drive home and go to work the next day, even if I know I should consider giving up golf!

P.S. The 16 year old stuck it 12 inches from the cup on 17.
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