Tug-o-war

The tug-o-war is a struggle while on vacation. You are being pulled this way and that. You are torn between two sets of family who both have missed you, who have looked forward with anticipation to your arrival, and ultimately have planned out every waking moment of your visit.

Here in Arizona, there are two sets of relatives to visit – the inlaws and the sister-n-law’s family. When you only have a week during your vacation, your time has to be split between both and that is the challenge. How do you keep both happy and feel like you have spent enough time with both? In the end, someone is likely going to feel like they got the short end of the stick.

So, this vacation isn’t shaping up to be all that relaxing. It will be go go go the whole time and if it isn’t one it will be the other.

Yesterday’s adventure left out one family but it did have provide for a unique experience as there was a visit to a national park where wild horses roam free. There was a good chance the horses wouldn’t be spotted since they go where they please and one would never know where to find them unless you were in a helicopter looking for them.

Anyway, as it happens, we got very lucky and they were literally less than a hundred yards from us since they had come down to water at the river. A magnificent site they are! Kind of felt like the Old West for a moment. Just sitting there on the bank of the river, watching and listening as they did their thing. I am sure the horses probably feel the tug-o-war war between modern society and the quiet solitude of the wild, something they really have no control over.

Well, despite the push and pull of family obligations, this was a gratifying experience and I am thankful that I was lucky enough to catch this site on the very first visit.

Resigned truth

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Two stories in the media over the last week deal with the truth and ultimately what may lead to a resignation in both cases. In one instance, the resignations came swiftly. In the other, it remains to be seen on what will happen but I am fairly sure it will also result in a resignation.

Truth hurts.

Plain and simple.

Of course, we live in a world that now speaks of “your truth” or “my truth.” There is no such thing. There is only one truth. You can’t create a truth for yourself because it makes you feel better. Truth doesn’t care about your feelings. Truth is truth. You can’t invent truth by telling a lie over and over again to make it true (though there are lots of people who do this). Truth is unchanging, even when we don’t like it.

School Board

Was the school board that far off on what they said in a “hot mic” moment for a meeting? They all have since resigned, but what exactly are they resigning for? The truth? Sure, they were speaking in generalities and doesn’t apply to all parents, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

If you have been in education at all (and I was for 15 years), the feelings of frustration expressed at the meeting are feelings that all people in education, at one time or another, have felt and thought. Teachers know full well that parents are the WORST part of the job. Not the students. Not the admin. Not the co-workers. Not the long hours or the endless paperwork. It’s the parents. Always the parents.

So, their criticism of the parents was not off base at all. Yes, they want their babysitters back so they can go to work. Yes, they want their kids gone so they can smoke pot (side note: the kids I was teaching as high school students are the late 20s, early 30s adults that led the push to legalize pot and are now smoking openly in their homes, around their children). Yes, parents don’t care what it takes each day to teacher their children. No, they don’t understand that their child acts differently at school than they do at home. Yes, not all kids are angels and they DO act like that at home and at school.

Professional Baseball

Kevin Mather of the Seattle Mariners head office (President and minority owner) stepped into last week with a video that basically offended everyone in baseball or that enjoys baseball. BUT, did he say anything that wasn’t true or hasn’t been thought and felt over the decades of baseball? No, I don’t think so.

The problem is that he talked of some things that are “taboo” I guess. Openly admitting that you are playing with people’s careers in order to keep them under contract longer or that hiring additional support staff to aid baseball personalities is a drain on revenue isn’t something we haven’t all thought or assumed. But the fact that he had the audacity to say the truth, in essence exposing a dirty little secret that every team in the league has dealt with, has turned the baseball world upside down.

Will he ultimately end up sacrificing his position? Yeah, I think he will. He is going to have to play to the PR nightmare game that is created by candor and truth, because people don’t like it.

To make amends, people will demand his resignation just like they did with the school board mentioned earlier. It won’t make the issues go away. The truth won’t make the issues go away. The issues will just be swept under the rug again and it will be business as usual. There won’t be a reckoning with the truth and people won’t change their ways.

They’ll (those being spoken about) just create their own truth to justify their behavior and keep on, keeping on.

They really know

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Some people just really know how to push your buttons. Some people just really know how to make you feel lower than low. Some people just don’t show you any appreciation or love. Some of those people are people you just know, maybe they’re coworkers or acquaintances. But sometimes they are people that are supposedly close to you.

Step-kids.

Yesterday was the beginning of my 49th trip around the sun. It was a quiet day since the day before we were blanketed with about 9″ of snow (and the ensuing compact snow and ice on the roads). So, much of the day was spent watching tv, taking a nap, playing video games, and eating food.

Lots of people on social media, family and friends alike, issued wishes of cheer and congratulations on the day. That felt good.

Only two of the nine children (our six kids and three spouses/significant others) managed to communicate with me. MY daughter and the second oldest of the step-kids. That doesn’t feel nice.

They sure know how make me feel like crap…

Six(ty) Word Story

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We have talked about it over and over again. You know I don’t like it.

I have asked you not to do it. You agreed you wouldn’t.

Yet, you do it anyway. Are your actions that important to only you?

You just ignore me and my feelings, my requests.

I don’t understand. I’m confused.

I’ll just sit here hurt, alone.

One man’s…

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Perspective, or point of view, makes a big difference in how you or others view something. When it really comes down to it, no one perspective is correct because everyone sees things just a little bit differently. Two people can experience the exact same thing, yet have different views about what happened, how it happened, who it happened to, and what happened afterwards.

One man’s patriot is another man’s terrorist.

When I was teaching my history classes and specifically a class on modern terrorism I used to challenge my students’ thought by giving them the phrase above. It is based on the statement, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” I have researched who may have first uttered these words, but I can’t find anything that definitively gives attribution, so I can’t give you that info. But, that isn’t really the point.

Who defines a patriot and a terrorist really comes down to perspective or interpretation. There is no one definition that can truly encompass what the words actually mean. As such, it almost always comes down to who has the power to define the people, the actions, and the result. As Michael Bhatia of Brown University puts it, “…it’s about power, authority, and legitimacy.”

Now, he is talking specifically about international terrorism in general, but I think we can apply the situation and phrase to many different historical events because there are always two sides to take a look at.

  • The leaders in Britain saw the colonists as insurrectionists, terrorists, etc. as the colonists fought to create the United States. But the colonists saw their own people as freedom fighters, patriots, etc. because they were standing up to the tyranny of England.
  • The American military saw Iraqis in Iraq as terrorists when they blew up convoys, attacked bases and outposts, and killed Americans whether they were in the military or not. But the Iraqis saw the American military as an invading occupier and those who fought against the occupier were freedom fighters and patriots.
  • The leadership in South Africa saw the South Africans fighting for their rights and freedoms as insurrectionists and terrorists, but Nelson Mandela and his followers saw themselves as a freedom fighters and patriots.
  • Fidel Castro and his followers viewed themselves as patriots and freedom fighters who liberated their island from the right wing government and imperialist international interests while the government and international community viewed him as an insurrectionist and terrorist.

These are but a few examples. The point is, those in power have the ability to define anything and anyone as they see fit. We can’t let them define situations and people so easily without a little common sense and critical thinking.

What happened at the capitol last week can be viewed in much the same way. Are we going to let the media and those in power dictate who is a patriot and who is a terrorist? The use of either word has strong connotations behind them and if not used carefully, as in just throwing them around to fit a political agenda, it could harm people and ideas, and most importantly freedoms. It could keep people from standing up and fighting for their rights when there is legitimate cause to do so.

We must be careful when defining who is a patriot and who is a terrorist, because if we aren’t then the terms can too easily be manipulated for political purposes, which in turn allows us to be manipulated for political gain.

The Ban

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The ban from Twitter heard (or not heard) round the world. An interesting case of “private” versus “public” property, business, and serving the public. Can we trust the ban from tech no matter where or who it is?

Parler, a “conservative” alternative to Facebook, is banned by Apple, Google, and Amazon. The reason, supposedly, is for the fact that there is no “moderation” of the site and the planning of the WA DC riot took place on this venue.

I have seen some of my friends talking about this stuff on social media and saying that such bans don’t violate the 1st Amendment and the Freedom of Speech because the clause specifically refers to protection from oppression of private citizens by the government. That is true.

But over the years, that protection has been expanded beyond just the government oppression of citizens and been used to protect lots of different situations where people were upset with something someone said. Protections was extended to protect what people say because of the “marketplace of ideas” concept.

So there are some real contradictions when you see a private business (whom obviously serves a wider audience than just the public or private citizen, AND us a publicly help corporation) decided who can and who can’t use their service. The issue become rather problematic when you start applying the standards to some, but not others.

A friend posted on Facebook the other day (in regards to Parler), “…They are all privately owned businesses who can do business with whomever they choose. Would you as a business owner,…, like to be ‘forced’ to do business with someone who didn’t match your companies [sic] values?…”

Apparently this justification of “freedom to do business with whomever I please” is appropriate to apply on some situations when it fits the liberal narrative, but not the conservative narrative.

A few situations come to mind:

  • Shall I be forced to create a flower arrangement or bake a cake for a same-sex union if it doesn’t fit with my company’s values?
  • Shall I be forced to pay for abortions or provide health coverage that includes the abortion pill if it doesn’t fit with my company’s values?

In the cases above, the government has forced people and companies to “serve the public” even though the people they were going to be forced to serve were clearly going to go against the company’s values. For all intents and purposes, the lawsuits filed against the owners of these companies were basically told they couldn’t discriminate against people who had different values than they did.

Isn’t that what we have going on here when we talk about banning a service that is used by people who differ in “values?”

Liberals and liberal companies discriminating against conservatives and conservative companies?

Clearly, when violence, threats of violence, or breaking the law is at the heart of the service being provided, then a company should be able to limit those who have violated “community standards.” Did the president do this? Maybe. But, did the vast majority of users on Parler do this? Likely not. We’re talking about a small portion of the community, but the whole community was punished.

The result is you appear to be silencing an entire group of people simply because you don’t agree with their perspective, their opinions, or their beliefs.

There is dangerous precedent in this.

The big deal here is that if it happens here, where else can it happen and who else or what else can they do?

Idiocy

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I hate to say it, but America (the land that I love and still think is better than anywhere else in the world) has become the land of idiocy. Yesterday, as well as the events of the last…well, pick a time frame…either way, this stupidity has been going on for a long while. A LONG while. Yesterday, and many events over the last year, are just coming to a head of ultimate stupidity.

Let’s be clear, the events of yesterday and storming the Capitol building are unacceptable. It should have never happened and I hope that it never happens again.

History has shown us (our own history) that displeasure with the government isn’t all that unusual and leads people to do things they would not normally do. Our Founding Fathers led a rebellion against a king and a government they found to be unjust. Those who supported the king and did extreme things in their support of the king likely found some actions despicable when the “other side” did them. Those who supported the colonies and eventually a free nation likely found the “other side” despicable when they did some of the same extreme things. Heck, even during our Civil War, both sides did despicable things to each other. Vietnam era protests? Yep, still some ugly things happening even then.

The difference between now and then?

Increased, instantaneous communication. It exists now, it didn’t at any time in the past.

How does that play a part in all this? Well, it literally takes no time for a rumor, opinion, or thought to spread far and wide. In an instant “information” can be disseminated to any number of people at one time. That’s a problem. It could be a good thing, but for the most part I think we see more problems with it than we see positives for it. Why?

It eliminates the possibility for someone to evaluate information and immediately creates an emotional response. There is little time for an individual to consider the information, process it, and then evaluate a response. Instead, people have devolved into an instantaneous, emotional response. They don’t think. They let their idiocy take over.

Instead of thoughtfully considering a response, or thinking clearly about their actions, they just respond. No forethought. No consideration. No evaluation. No wait. No weighing of consequences. No evidence. No proof. No nothing. Just response.

That, folks, is a terrible thing.

Social media has killed our ability to thoughtfully consider, to evaluate response, and restrict our own actions. Instead, we feed our need of immediacy, our need of instant gratification, with regrettable words and actions. We don’t wait for facts. We don’t consider another’s point of view. We don’t tolerate those who are different from us, think different from us, or believe different than us. We just don’t. We are not better off because of this.

We are actually becoming unrecognizable.

We are no longer a bastion of freedom, tolerance, and opportunity.

We have divided ourselves into camps of this or that. We have let ourselves be divided into those camps. We are not what our Founding Fathers believed we could become. And the direction we are currently headed won’t get us there either.

This idiocy can’t continue. We are in trouble if we continue to let it happen.

End of

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End of the year brings lots of thoughts, usually. I am not going to waste your time on mine and I likely won’t read any of yours. Truth be told, there are better things to be doing today than sitting in front of a computer.

Tomorrow starts a new day. A new month. A new year. There will be new challenges, but there will be a lot of the same old ones too.

Looking back over this last year of challenges only brings frustration. But, looking ahead brings stress because there isn’t a way to know what is ahead.

So, take it day by day and keep your head down.

Cheers.

Pork

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The amount of pork in the “stimulus” package passed by Congress and challenged by the President, even a lame duck president, is stupid. For a body that says they are trying to help the American people, they sure know how to help themselves to our money. This stuff, among other things, is why so many Americans don’t believe the government is working and is broken beyond repair.

For the record, I don’t believe it is beyond repair. However, I do believe it is not working the way it was intended or should.

Is it really necessary to include money for foreign countries in a bill that is aimed at helping American citizens? Is it really necessary for the country, already in debt, to make it larger to help people outside of the U.S.? Is it really necessary for our congressional representatives to stuff every spending bill with frivolous pork barrel crap just so they can get themselves re-elected and pad every pet project brought to them by the countless lobbyists?

Honestly, there is nothing stimulating about the bill.

For those who need the direct payment, it isn’t enough. For a majority of Americans (including myself), they don’t actually need a direct payment and so it is too much. Once again, Congress isn’t actually addressing the real issues and they have delayed real help by including a massive amount of stupid spending at a time when many Americans are looking at their finances and wondering how to make it from day to day.

Don’t forget the money a government spends wasn’t theirs in the first place. THIS MONEY COMES FROM YOUR POCKET! So, in one way or another, they are taking if from you: payroll taxes, income taxes, sales tax, death tax, capital gains tax, etc. The list is seemingly never ending.

The least you could do is demand that your money be spend in ways that make sense. Spend wisely. Use and follow a budget. Save.

There used to be a joke (maybe it still is a thing) that when you bought stuff from China it was cheap and would break almost immediately. People would say, “You get what you pay for,” meaning the more you pay for an item (in most cases) equates to the quality and durability of the item. Though it is cliche, the thought hold weight because there is some truth to it.

The same can be said of our representative government. We get what we pay for. Unfortunately, most of us can’t pay for a senator or a representative, so the people and companies with real money get what they pay for.

This “stimulus” bill and all the pork in it just proves that’s true…again…