Thursday, June 27, 2019


Diversity is this weeks topic.  Diversity - the condition of having or being composed of differing elements : variety; especially : the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization. With all of the anti-globalism running rampant these days, diversity has almost become a dirty word. This country is literally divided into two camps, driven by the anti-immigration stance taken by our current administration. Stephen Miller is the policy wonk  largely responsible for our extreme hard line stance on illegal immigration. Miller told the New York Times in April of 2018 the zero-tolerance policy, which separated almost 2,000 children from their families in six weeks, was a "simple decision" and "the message is that no one is exempt from immigration law." 

Our administration policy is now that we want only people who are well educated and we no longer support Chain Migration, which ironically would have prevented Melania Trump's Parents from becoming citizens in August of 2018.

The administration wants to reduce the number of refugees that enter the country. We are constantly told about gang members and any crime, no matter the significance gets tremendous media action, especially from the far right.

It all fits in with the extreme nationalistic approach to governing that is driving the whole MAGA program. Personally, I think it is all driven by the fact that according to the Brookings Institute by the year 2045 the white population in the USA will be a minority. That quite frankly terrifies a bunch of old white men in the GOP, based on their rhetoric and actions. To them it is nothing more than a ploy by democrats to beef up their numbers as the assumption has always been that refugees and lower class immigrants vote democratic. My personal experience with Hispanic immigrants is that most are conservative Catholics - not exactly the bedrock of the Democratic party.

I find this fear of the diversity people from different countries bring to the table here is a net positive, not negative. One of my favorite relatives was my great aunt Edith  - a Higgins like me. But she married a man from Montenegro  Uncle Milo came here as an i indentured  laborer. His life was very difficult but with hard work he removed the indentured shackles and built a successful life. Aunt Edith and Uncle Milo owned several small cafes and a highlight of my childhood was coming in the back door to our house on West Grant and seeing fresh pasta hanging and drying - Aunt Edith was in town and she was making raviolis. I was a happy kid. We used to visit Trinidad and Edith, Milo and their son Marko and his family. That meant I got to hang out with my three cousins, Charlene, Michelle and SheilaJo. Thanks to Facebook I was able to reconnect with my cousins over 60 years later. Milo was a decent, hard working man who would not meet the standards being set by Stephen Miller and this administration. It seems we no longer have room for every day people.

A diversified culture can handle people from other places. It is capable of having Italian, Korean, Polish, German - any ethnic neighborhood that reflects the cultures and values of the lands from which the inhabitants traveled. Each of those groups assimilates our cultural values and we become a huge melting pot. Some of those neighborhoods may retain a higher degree of their original culture - Chinese neighborhoods spring to mind.

“Song of myself
I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse and stuff'd with the stuff
that is fine,
One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the
largest the same,
A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant and
hospitable down by the Oconee I live,
A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the limberest
joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth,
A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer-skin
leggings, a Louisianian or Georgian,
A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;
At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with fishermen
off Newfoundland,
At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking,
At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine, or the
Texan ranch,
Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, (loving
their big proportions,)
Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake hands
and welcome to drink and meat,
A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest,
A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons,
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion,
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker,
Prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.

I resist any thing better than my own diversity,
Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.”
Walt Whitman 

We are as strong as we are because of our diversity. Taking children away from their parents at our southern border does not make us stronger, it weakens us as we lose the moral high ground on which we claim to stand. The light from that shiny city on the hill grows dimmer.

It is important to clarify that being pro immigration does not mean I am for open borders. People who enter the country illegally start out with one foot in a grave and the other on a banana peel. They have already broken the law. We need to beef up our border presence and substantially increase our capacity to screen the border determine the eligibility of those attempting to enter the USA. A wall is not, IMHO, the way to go. 

It is important that groups like police and fire departments reflect the diverse populations they serve. It is not political correctness that suggests this - it is simply common sense.  

That's my quick take on diversity - to see what Eamana thinks, please stop by Ramana's Musings

Thursday, June 20, 2019


We have been very close to this topic  on several occasions - maybe I can tie things together with this post. Ramana selected the topic - be sure see what he has to say over at Ramana's Musings.

Definition of nostalgia

1 : the state of being homesick : homesickness

2 : a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition also : something that evokes nostalgia

Nothing invokes a feeling  of nostalgia in me like this

My very first roller coaster ride was the Cyclone at Lakeside Park in Denver, CO. and yes I sat in the first car. I was 8 or 9. That of course led to this-The Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk - in operation since the 1920s.

There was also a ride called the Wild Mouse that scared the heck outta me  but it was replaced in the 1970s. It was single cars - 2 riders per car with the wheels set far back so that you felt like you were sailing off into space on every sharp turn.

Folks who know me or who read my blog know of my music tastes. They are firmly rooted in the sixties and seventies - not because I am firmly rooted in those decades but the music then was the best - Beatles and the rest. Major changes in the direction of pop music that continue to this day. And nostalgia? How about this:

or the real thing:

A lot of people long for the good old days - the fifties. Good? 5-10% of the population was closeted and afraid to admit how they really felt. Women were regularly denied their rightful place in the workforce. They were expected to manage the home and raise the kids while the men did the real work. Rather strange, if you ask me, considering how a nation of Rosie the Riveters handled the workplace while men were off fighting the war.  IMHO the old days were not always so good.

Fortunately, kids in the UK were listening to our music, taking the birth of rock and roll and standing the music on its ear by repackaging it and selling it back to us.

Television and movies were both quite different back in the old days. Both were more character driven but as technology improved over the years both mediums embraced it. Track the differences in Dr. Strangelove, Platoon, Saving Private Ryan and Flags of our fathers to see how movies about war are handled. Television has kept pace with the times as well. and good is good - a good old movie is every much as enjoyable whenever it was made. My all time fave movie is an anti-war film written by Paddy Chayefsky called The Americanization of Emily.

These days films seem to be heavily laden with CGI, often to the point of overkill. I typically find that boring although I freely admit I am a huge fan of the Jurrasic Park, Star Wars and Star Trek series. It is a pity my favorite Science fiction film - The Last Starfighter - was not made 15 or 20 years later to take advantage of the improvements CGI - Starfighter was the first movie to use a Cray computer for all of its CGI.
But, better CGI would not, IMHO have improved the 1956 film Forbidden Planet, and the 2008 remake of  The Day the Earth Stood Still was  IMHO nowhere near as good as the 1951 version. But John Carpenter's The Thing in 1982 was vastly superior in every way to the Howard Hawks The Thing From Another World in 1951.

I distinctly recall watching Leave it to Beaver when I was a kid and thinking that was very similar to my life. I got it and felt like they got me. Today along comes something like HBO's new series Euphoria and it scares me to death if it in any way accurately portrays high school kids today.

I confess to a certain level of nostalgia for my first car - a 1956 MGA.  It looked exactly like this one - dents and all. It cost me the hefty sum of $300.00 when I bought it.
To acquire one today would run between $21,000 and $25,000 dollars. Damn - I should've stuck that puppy in storage and for those smart asses out there wanting to know how I got in it, one leg at a time just like anyone. Ahem.😜

To be homesick you need a home. I have two places that will always be home to me - Pueblo, Colorado and Hayward, California. When I was nine and my sister a newborn, we moved from Pueblo to Hayward. I still remember my childhood buddies in Pueblo - Dave Perkins, Kenny Lockard and Tommy Samberson. Several kids I met on my first day in Hayward remain my closest friends today. The songs  Rocky Mountain High and California Bloodlines immediately take me to my homes and if I am honest cause me to tear up. I miss both terribly, even though they are significantly different then the last time I saw either and perhaps not even recognizable. Nostalgia keeps those two places exactly the way I remember them.

Clearly any positive life experience  is apt to have a trigger that makes us nostalgic and transports us back in time. I think it is perfectly natural to be nostalgic for those good times, but dwelling on them too long and actually living in the past is not the prescription for a happy life. As I have said many times, live for today. Jimmy Buffet said it perfectly - Yesterdays over my shoulder but I can't look back for too long. There's just too much to see waiting in front of me and I know that I just can't go wrong.

That's it for my nostalgic trip through my life. See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Sometimes I wonder

 This week's 2-on-1 topic  asks questions. Do you have questions? Do you have answers? The topic is actually the opening line to a song from the sixties written by my friend Ron Ryan, and I found myself laying in bed  a few weeks ago and the song popped into my head.  Even at the age of 69, I find myself pondering the universe and where we are headed. Some answers come easier, others are much more difficult.

Sometimes I wonder :
  1. Is there really a meaning to life?
  2. Is there really a God?
  3. Have I failed the ones I love?
  4. Is the world better with me in it?
  5. Is there intelligent life elsewhere in the universe?
  6. Is humanity headed in the right or wrong direction?
  7. Why do so many people fear diversity?
  8. Is there inherent order in nature or is it all chaos and chance?
  9. Has there always been something or before something was there nothing? 
  10. Why are so many people so confident in beliefs that can’t be proven?
  11. When is taking a human life justified?
  12. Do animals have rights?
  13. Why is life unfair?
  14. Is privacy a right?
  15. Is fear, ignorance, jealousy, or something else responsible for hatred? 

Please visit Ramanas Musings to see what Ramana has to say about this weeks topic.

Thursday, June 6, 2019


This weeks 2-on-1 blog topic comes from Ramana. Be sure to check  his take over at Ramana's Musings.

Intolerance. The unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one's own. A my way or the highway attitude. We've all been there - on either side of that equation, if we are honest with ourselves. Or, an inability to eat a food or take a drug without adverse effects.

The latter definition of intolerance can be the cause of serious embarrassment to one who suffers something like lactose intolerance or some other malady. The air may need to be cleared quite often. With my multi Xs before the L on my frame, clearly there is not much food I cannot consume save for some nuts, including Brazil nuts and walnuts so I shall confine this discussion to the former definition - the unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one's own.

I consider myself a very tolerant individual. I can and do put up with most things. I am, however, noticeably intolerant of liars and the special kind of stupid required for racism and/or those who stir up racist action and commentary.

I am not suggesting I have never told a lie. That would in and of itself be a lie. But - perhaps somewhat hypocritically, the notion that some lies are worse than others and the individual that lives in a world populated by alternate facts - those who when their lips are moving are most likely lying - aka compulsive liars breathe good air a useful human being could use. That is a far cry from the lies we perpetuate with our children - Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny - and other similar notions. If those are "real", why not Superman/Supergirl, Thor, Iron Man - any character from the Marvel or DC universes. Are all lies harmful? Are some harmless? Is what mom and dad always told us - honesty is the best policy really true? How can it be when we routinely lie to our kids?

The ethics of lying are actually pretty interesting. Lies for selfish reasons - lies that benefit the liar at the expense of another are ethically immoral as far as I am concerned. What we commonly call little white lies are typically acceptable. They are not meant to benefit us, they are designed to not hurt someone else. have you ever told someone you really enjoyed a meal they prepared for you or a gift they gave you when you did not really enjoy it? The relevant sports analogy is no harm - no foul. 

That raises a question - does the politician that lies about crowd sizes do it  for selfish reasons? Does one who routinely lies about facts and figures do it for selfish reasons? Does the politician who screams fake news and says the so-called main stream news media is the true enemy of the people and who chooses to believe the word of the leader of our longest standing enemies over his own intelligence officers have anything but his/her own selfish intentions in mind? Perhaps that special form of stupid - or just plain being stuck on dumb is the simple answer. Frankly it seems the only bipartisan activity these days is lying. The Amazing Race for politicians in this country racing to be the biggest and best liars is underway and with both parties populated by amoral sociopaths, buckle your seatbelts folks.

I despise racism in all its ugly forms. It seems we are being led into a period where any and all progress made regarding race relations in the last several decades is in jeopardy.  Why? It has suddenly dawned on some folks that around 2045 the white population in the USA will no longer be the majority. So-called white privilege will disappear. So, it seems some in our government are making a push to make some permanent changes in our culture by stepping us back to the good old days. You remember those days - closets were full of people afraid to be themselves, women were supposed to stay home and raise kids, evangelicals are attempting to firmly place their faith in our public institutions, including schools and the government is now trying to end federal funding of schools. The good old days indeed. Kids pledging allegiance to a flag in a nation under god will make it all better. Multiculturalism will go away. We will restrict immigration to only those with something to offer us who are willing to assimilate to our way of life. We need to make English the official language. Business requires less regulation. Rivers need not be clean - dump that coal ash in them. Leaders of companies and lobbyists find themselves in charge of major agencies that regulated them and regulations are disappearing like candy in a basket at Halloween. People will know their places in society. Ahem.

As the grandfather of 3 mixed-race grandkids I have seen first hand how racism effects people. I have been riding in cars in the back seat when the black drivers are pulled over for no real reason other than driving while being black.

It is not hard to see why black culture is so mistrusting of whites. Of course many whites deny the existence of so-called white privilege. They were not alive when slavery was the norm. And now they are discriminated against  when they are denied jobs so lesser qualified minorities fill quotas. Their rants against immigration are almost always against immigrants of color.

Racial unrest is stoked by a current administration that never misses a chance to fan the flames. White supremacists are enjoying an a resurgence of ugliness and hatred. White so-called militia groups take it upon themselves to patrol our southern border to keep out Central American immigrants, They stage marches and rallys and are told what fine people their groups contain by the leader of the free world. Is it any wonder those groups feel emboldened?

It would be too easy to continue a rant on intolerance - but it would be pointless. We are in the midst of a vast generational change - a change that will not only include a new generation of leaders but also a shift in the racial balance of power. I'd like to be around in thirty years to see how it is working out. Then again, maybe not.

Perhaps I am not as tolerant as I thought - I find myself getting angry just  thinking about liars and racists. Time to wrap up this week's topic. See ya next week with another 2-on-1 blog.