Thursday, January 31, 2019

Who or what is the "Big Bad" in the current world order??

The last 10 years have seen many changes in the world order. Along with a severely fractured split in the political debate, rapidly accelerating in the last two years, how are things aligning today? Has there been a change in the leadership roles by nation stated and their leaders? Are we still living in a primarily east vs. west world or has that dynamic changed? Is the world safe? Are we safer now  than we were ten or so years ago?

Much has changed in politics and the view held by the citizens of the USA - of that we can be certain. There is a daily hue and cry in social media from the far right crucifying former President Obama and the Clintons. For simplicity sake I am focusing on the commentary offered by a single individual. Maybe he is having difficulty accepting that his guy won in 2016 and despite having control of both houses of congress and the executive branch Trump's sole accomplishment has been a tax break that has effectively fubared the economy so badly our grandchildren will still be paying the debt long after the poster and I are dead and gone. One long, eloquent post after another in the same vein. never a mention of the Russia connection between Donald Trump and Vlad Putin. More than once he has posted words similar to these (these are taken directly from a recent post speaking about Obama "The Piece of Shit is a traitor to our only ally in the Mid East. Barrack Hussein Obama should be tried for treason and executed." No comment on how Donald Trump is rolling back sanctions previously placed on  an oligarch who is a strong Putin ally. Never a comment about a White House meeting between Trump and Russians wherein only Russian media was allowed. Never a comment about how Trump constantly lies about the NATO alliance. Trump  lies about Robert Mueller. Trump lies about our intelligence gathering agencies. Trump lies about his accomplishments as president. Simply put, Trump lies. About everything. Constantly. But Barack Hussein Obama should be tried for treason and executed. 

This poster constantly reminds readers that his side has their guns and stand ready to use them. He claims the other side wants to confiscate them. And have the UN establish a new  world order wherein those who do not toe the "company line" will have no place in the new society. One language, one religion, one currency and so on. Liberals are libtards in his world and Democrat is just about the worst thing one can be called unless you add corrupt as an adjective. Or piece of shit.

I trust by now you have gathered I do not agree with this fellow. What you probably have not figured out is he has been a friend of  mine for years. Still is. But the hatred he regularly spews - (he disagrees and calls it patriotism) - is his right and even his duty. He has a regular cadre of supporters that collectively pat him on the back for being their honest spokesperson after each tirade. Many of them are also my friends, though most just Facebook friends.

So what does all of this have to do with the "Big Bad" on the world stage? Simply this - a very real and distinct lack of civility in political discourse in this country has allowed (caused) us to elect as our so-called leader a man who is systematically trying to tear down the institutions of our government, is damaging  alliances that have served us well for decades and has fixated on illegal immigration as the single largest problem we face and is causing so much harm to our country that the harm may not be reversible. THE HARM MAY NOT BE REVERSIBLE.

This hate speak has accelerated to the point that the left wing fringe has now taken up the mantle and are firing back just as haphazardly as those on the right. Pelosi and Schumer sound as bad as Miller and Bolton.It sounds like an American version of what went on between Britain and Northern Ireland and we all know how that turned out. We simply must find a way to disagree and find common ground. We  do not need a concrete wall along our entire southern border but there are places where a substantial physical barrier is necessary. Being pro choice does not make you a baby killer - it does, however, speak to having government make choices for half of the population about their own bodies. Sorry, but I do not feel any government has that right. We must figure a way to beat China at their long game. They play it extremely well at our peril. We must find a way to deal effectively with an increasingly weak (economically speaking) Russia that is becoming more and more aggressive internationally and has the second largest cache of nuclear weapons. We must deal with climate change that can and will disrupt food production worldwide whether climate change is naturally occurring or assisted by man. Without sufficient food supplies regional conflicts will expand and possibly lead to all out global conflict. Plus, the evangelical movement is being more aggressive than ever about allowing God back in our schools and government. We are not now nor have we ever been a Christian nation. We are a secular nation founded on Judeo-Christian fundamentals. There is a difference. Religious clubs are fine, religious,  curriculum does NOT belong in public schools. If that is what you want go to a Catholic school. Attend a religious-affiliated college like BYU, Notre Dame, St Marys - there are plenty of them available.

Those are just of a few issues we could address if civility existed in our political discourse. The hate speech cited earlier is a symptom of the problem, not  the problem in and of itself. The lack of civility that in turn lead to the election of Donald Trump is  the two-headed monster that is in my opinion the "Big Bad" we are faced with. Addressing the civility matter would - also in my opinion - inoculate us from a second Trump term - something I fear we might never fully recover from.

That's my quick take on things. Be sure to check Ramana's Musings

Thursday, January 24, 2019


Ramana selected this weeks 2-on-1 topic - relocation. There is a television commercial running these days that  says Americans move more than people in any other country. It suggests we in the USA will live in 11 different homes in our lifetimes. I immediately started doing the math and found I have lived it 10 different homes to date in my lifetime. It is not likely I will move more than one more time. Well I'll be damned.

Related image

Depending on the circumstances, relocation can be adventurous and fun -  like my move from Colorado to California just  before my 10th birthday, or somewhat harrowing - like our move from California to Texas when Lynn and I had both lost our jobs and employment prospects in the SF Bay Area were almost non-existent. So off  we moved to Fort Worth for a promised $10.20 per hour job with the hope it would grow into a future for our family.

Texas proved to be a good move - I did not leave until 2015 when I ended up in North Carolina. Between that first moving adventure and the trek to North Carolina our relocation timeline looked like this:

1975 Lynn was offered a promotion if we would move to New England and set up a new office for her company. How could we turn down New England in the Bicentennial year? I loaded up the car  with our dog Sherman and cat Peabody  and headed off on my maiden cross country drive. Lynn worked in the Los Angeles office for a few  weeks and then flew back to Hartford to meet us.

The New England office Was soon  functioning smoothly and Lynn was offered a transfer back to Los Angeles. Being natural left-coasters, we jumped at the chance to get closer to home, even if it was Los Angeles. We packed our Chevy Monza, loaded Peabody and  Sherman into the backseat and off we went. We landed in Hermosa Beach, 2  blocks from the ocean. That made the move palatable but changes in the company were afoot so Lynn resigned shortly thereafter. She moved back to Northern California and stayed with my parents.  I was promptly let go and I took a job with Radio Shack after being assured I could transfer to Northern California. Three months later I moved in with Lynn and our daughter in the basement of my folks place in Castro Valley. 

By mid 1986 things were going well and I was offered a position in Honolulu, Hawaii. Many promises were made - including money for relocation expenses so off I went to get the facility set up and find a place to live. When senior management started dragging their heels on the relocation money. Lynn got mad and said they might never get us back to California. Long story short, Lynn and the kids stayed in our condo in Hayward and I spent 6 months in Hawaii with my only transportation being the Suzuki 550 I purchased in Hawaii. You just never know what hardships one must endure when Image result for 86 suzuki 550relocating. Rest  assured I had way more fun than I was supposed to. But, Lynn and the kids met me  at the airport with huge grins on Christmas eve. 

The next big relocation was the move to Texas in May of 1994, brought o  by a  collapsing economy in silicon valley and a lack of suitable employment opportunities. I was not thrilled with the circumstances of the move but it was definitely one of those  "Ya gotta do what ya gotta do"scenarios. Texas turned out to be a great place and if I was younger I would move to Austin.

Every major relocation takes on a life of its own. They all include hitting restart - getting established and comfortable in a new place. Ours were all positive although some took more work than others - except Hawaii. I used to pull up to a stoplight and look around and think to myself I cannot believe I am here. I also believe if Lynn and the kids had come nobody would have cared if RadioShack did not get us back to California. 

That's my relocation story. Be sure to check Ramana's Musings to see what he has to say.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

What would you do given 38 minutes to live before Nuclear disaster were to strike?

This topic was my choice. It came from seeing a picture of the old duck-and-cover days when I was in grade school, junior high and high school and a friends post on Facebook that asked the same question. Why did my friend  post the question? Simple actually - it really happened to Hawaii when on January 13, 2018 the following emergency message was broadcast at 8:07 A.M. to all Hawaii cell phones - BALLISTIC MISSLE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

As you can imagine, the fear and anxiety was nearly unimaginable. Check these links

Fear. Panic. And tears. For 38 minutes, Hawaii thought it was under attack

Being a mother in Hawaii during 38 minutes of nuclear fear

For 38 Minutes, Hawai Panicked. This could be the end

Obviously there was an error and Hawaii remains lush and lovely in the middle of the Pacific. But, ngiven the political climate both here in the USA and elsewhere in the world, what do you suppose the chances are another mistake is made and what if it isn't caught in time? Or, in a worst case scenario, a nuclear attack is actually launched? Wth the actors and nations involved, I frankly am no longer not worried about nuclear conflict. I think there are enough fools in charge in all of the nations with nuclear arms that actually believe nuclear war is both survivable and winnable. As the old somg goes, it's a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack.

And to answer the question posed by the topic, like most I'd undoubtedly spend most of my time contacting those I care most about. Where I live is not likely in and of itself a primary military target there are several close enough that I won't have to worry for long about anything.

I often wonder if tjhe younger generations these days are as aware of the situation we live in - as I think we were in our youth or have they seen sufficient movies and game scenarios that have dulled them to reality? Has any movie had the effect of Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach that was turned into a fairly sobering film in 1959? I know that one stuck with me for years.

As our society seems to move closer and closer to the vision of Ayn Rand are the chances for nuclear conflict heightened? "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”  

That certainly sounds like the credo of any high-powered CEO to me. Kind of reminds me of that old credo - the one who dies with the most wins" - the call of the unchecked, unregulated capitalist. Merge that with the decidedly un-Christian hateful evangelical right and the recipe for disaster is at hand. Lets just hope common sense has not taken a permanent vacation.

Be sure to check out Ramana's Musings to see his take on this week's topic. I suspect it will be quite different. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Good Old Days.

This week''s topic - The Good Old Days - was chosen by Ramana. Be sure to visit Ramana's Musings to see his take on the topic.

Who among us hasn't at some point in time shrugged their shoulders and said back in the day we we would never get away with saying that, doing that or something similar in response to some action by a less than respectful (in our mind) young person? How many pictures of push mowers have been posted in response to a complaint about mowing the grass with a power mower? How many times have you heard or read that you ate what was put in front of you or you ate nothing ar all? For me that usually referred to Tuna Casserole on Tuesday nights when Sea Hunt was on. To this day I cannot look at a can oan of tuna without this flashing through my brain - 

Think about it. Were things really better back in the day? I find it hard to believe a member of the LGBTQ community looks back on the fifties with warm, fuzzy feelings about living a lie and having to deny who they really were. And African Ameericans look back on Amos 'n Andy or Rochester warmly? The Jim Crow south? Or were  the sixties and the Black Panthers more nostalgic for them? Confession time - I thought Amos 'n Andy was hilarious and so were The Honeymooners. Both shows were laden with stereotypes and of course we all know that is political correctness - a serious no-no these days.

The good old days is largely generational - each generation has its very own good old days. Younger generations these days enjoy blaming the baby boomers for today's problems.We rebellious boomers started the participation awards nonsense and our children picked up that ball and ran with it Most of the current politicians - whose failings and actions are directly responsible for the election of Donald Trump as POTUS45. Apparently we never learned to be careful what we ask for as we got it - a non-politician in the white house. In this instance the good old days might be considered to be any time before Trump was  elected. 

A fair number of Catholics consider the Second Vatican Council of 1962-1965 as the delineation point for the good old days in their faith, meaning anything before that is valid after it not so. Think Mel Gibson and his traditionalist Catholic beliefs as an example. In fact Christianity has several changes which could be considered defining points for the good old days. Think any Protestant sect. Think Church of Jesus Christ for Latter Day Saints.

Every generation claims to have the best music. I laugh when I hear a kid these days disparage the Beatles. It is highly unlikely that without the Beatles, popular music would have evolved to what is popular today. The Beatles turned popular music on its ear as they broke new ground with things like Sgt Pepper and inspired people like Brian Wilson, Bruce Springsteen and others. The Beatles went from being a standard guitar band to a highly complex mixture of orchestral sounds and experimentation that is all the more amazing when you consider the band members could neither read  nor write music (not to be confused with and was inspired by them and others and so today we have rap and hip hop. Not surprisingly we encounter a good old days speedbump here - I just heard these 50-year old tune on the radio and enjoyed them  as much as ever. If you have a sudden nostalgic urge to hear  these just click the link.

I Will.

You Didn t Have to Be So Nice
 Will this next song be as popular in 50 years? My guess is no. But my mixed- race grandkids disagree.

Naughty by Nature

There is a certain nostalgia for film noire that has been around fordecades. Some folks simply perefer black and white as a medium - listen to the hue and cry whenever a classic film is colorized. As many hate the newly colorized version as perefer. Many a Good Old Days moments here. 

It has become the custom in many  a competition these days to have no winner or      losers and lets give everyone aparticipatipn trophy too while we are st it. Sadly ths seems to have evolved from my very own Baby Boomer generation. So this Good Old Days moment is very valid - lets get back to the good old days of teaching kids how to play a sport fairly and to be good winners or - perish the thought - losers. Kids need to learn how to compete to get along in the world today.

So where are we with the topic? Are the old days really the Good Old Days? Are they really better? The answer is a great big old sometimes. But older is no guarantee of better. This line from another favorite song of mine gets it - "Yesterdays over my shoulder but I can't look back for too long. There's just too much to see wauring inn front of me and I know that I just can't go wrong"

Don;t recognize it? Here's a link to the song

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Atitudes

While some things never change, we are really bettere off culturally when things evolve and grow. We may not love the changes as they occur but progress comes from adapting to change and adopting changes. These days corporal punishment - or really a lack thereof - is another big Good Old Days rant. Both sides vehemently defend their choices. A few other somehat common Good Old Days flashpoints include Kids growing up playing outside vs the electronic devices; Violence in video games (and remember - my generation grew up playing some form of gun centered game, deending on what the latest popular movie was. And some of those guns shot plastic bullets - I had one of these

And of course I had a Rifleman rifle and Josh Randall's (Steve McQueen) Mare's Leg from Wanted Dead or Alive. And several friends had big backyards in which to play guns. We played them all - Paladin, Rifleman, Josh Randall, Wyatt Earp, Matt Dillon, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry - even Audie Murphy. I am not sure a video game is as much fun as gunnunn'down Virgil Barnhart or Kenny Lockard in a serious bout of guns in Virgil's back yard. And yes the Indians could be good guys - Broken Arrow had Michael Ansara as Cochise and Tonto was no stereotypical Indian to us - he was one of the good guys. And the Mexican kids had The Cisco Kid, Zorro and El Fego Baca.

So that is my quick shack take on The Good Old Days. I confess I am occasionally guilty with some of my nostalgic trips back in time - I do think in a few instances those times were better, But I believe looking forward and constantly learning is the way to go. And you do know what they say about the past - if we do not learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it. One last thing - none of my neighborhood buddys was ever Bat Masterson Nobody had the requisite cane and derby hat.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The First Time I Saw an Ocean

The first time I saw an ocean was the summer before we moved from Pueblo, Colorado to California. We were trekking west to see my new grandparents and decide if we would  make the big move. We made the drive in 2.5 days and had 4 days to check out the lay of the land.

My first real ocean view was Ocean Beach in San Francisco. I loved it. Of course in typical tourist fashion,  we rolled up our  pants and took off our shoes and socks and went wading.   n knee deep water, when the wave was receding from the beach it felt like the ocean was making a serious effort to pull me out to sea.That's when I got my first real sense of the power of the ocean. I knew I was a strong swimmer but it made me nervous as hell just the same. Plus, it was summer and the water was frigid.

Ocean Beach SF Surf Cam.  The surf is treacherous and as I said, the water is frigid. Plus, there is a great white shark breeding ground nearby, just outside the Golden Gate Bridge.

Mt next view of the Pacific Ocean was Half Moon Bay - a fairly typical state beach .It was a fun place with some  great restaurants. The water was still frigid but at least we were further away from those pesky sharks.

We continued south down Highway 1 to Santa Cruz , which rapidly became my favorite ocean spot. I wonder why. Must have been that roller coaster - The Big Dipper and  the Mad Mouse. Funnily enough I remember neither the water temperature or the distance to the great white breeding grounds. Must have been that bumper car ride.

A little furthersouth was the last stop on our ocean/beach tour, Monterey. The thing I liked best about the entire highway 1 trip was the ruggedness of the coast. There were normal beach places but th e coastline is basically rugged - and gorgeous.

My dad  insisted we take the boa1t tour of Monterey Bay. When looking out to the bay and seeing nothing but whitecaps, I was not really interested but alas my 8y-year old vote was quickly smashed by those cruel parent types. If the Santa Cruz roller coaster had been on the water it would have only been half as scary as that darn boatride.Of  course I asked if there were shatks on the bay. You bet said the cheshire cat-ike ggrinning captain. It just dawned on me that perhaps Mr Speilberg was also a passenger on the trip as I am sure I said something like  "We need a bigger boat". The boat captain and my dad had a great time - me not so much. My Mom was somewhat neutral, perhaps fearing for the sanity of her firstborn child.

That day in  Monterey ended my first exposure to the Pacific Ocean. I even stopped thinking about that boatride when we stopped at the Giant Artichoke Restaurant  and I go-t myfirst taste of deep-fried artichoke hearts. It is true - everything is better fried.

The trip was a rousing success. The next summer we  packed  up our 1957 Dodge Cornet, loaded  UHAUL trailer and headed off on the new life adventure in a land called California.

Besure to check Ramana's Musings to check on Ramana's first encounter with an ocean.