Paula Deen – another “Lipstick on a Pig”

Credit: veggieboard.com

Credit: veggieboard.com

 

In light of all the issues we have staring us in the face in this country at the moment, one would think that the current Paula Deen scandal would not be all that important.  On one hand, are any of us surprised that a 66-year-old woman from the South holds a level of bigotry as she has admitted?  I know it isn’t all the people in the South and that there are many educated and open-minded people that reside in the region as well we in the Northeast have our share of bigots and racists who believe it’s still the 1950’s when it comes to white superiority.  One the other hand, the views and opinions held by this silver-haired asshole quite clearly represent much of the divide we see in the country today – one based on intolerance and narrow-mindedness.  Whether it is Blacks, Latinos, gays, atheists, whoever, when we as a society don’t immediately denounce and show consequences of actions such as this, we are all essentially enablers of it.  I think her fate with the Food Network and what would appear to be quickly disappearing sponsors and endorsements is well deserved as any tolerance of that opinion and attitude of others is unacceptable and, more over, reprehensible in today’s world of hate and intolerance.  While attitudes are slowly changing and our younger generation are obviously more tolerant, in the meantime, it’s hammer time for those who are that stupid and shallow.  I have already sent my support to Food Network to ensure they don’t just hear from the haters out there – it is critical we all make our voices heard.

I would also suggest that if you don’t really care that Deen dumped on Blacks, you might want to read a bit more about some of her other comments – she is apparently a non-discriminatory bigot.  While she admitted she occasionally used the N-word — but not in a “mean” way, she apparently also felt that racist and bigoted jokes weren’t harmful – apparently during the court deposition when asked if she told racist jokes, she reportedly answered, “It’s just what they are — they’re jokes … most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks … I can’t determine what offends another person.”  We undoubtedly have a brain trust here who, if she can’t figure out what is offensive to others in this day and age, needs to be placed well out of the public eye.  Being stupid doesn’t get you a free pass nor does it work as an excuse.

On a related note, my wife pointed out one of the pictures attached to a Paula Deen story on MSN – not sure I need to provide much explanation but I ask you – is there anything obvious about the people in the photo whom have taken to the street (so to speak) to protest the treatment of this southern diva?  It would look like flocking to a restaurant is a protest that pretty much falls in their sweet spot.  They were likely also not bothered by Deen’s little diabetes scandal, although I would suggest that a good many of them are well acquainted with diabetes.

 

Patrons waiting in line outside The Lady and Sons, Paula Deen's restaurant in Savannah, Ga. this weekend (credit: MSN.com)

Patrons waiting in line outside The Lady and Sons, Paula Deen’s restaurant in Savannah, Ga. this weekend (credit: MSN.com)

Gun Control – Gone but hopefully not Forgotten

Over the recent weeks I’ve been somewhat distracted from this blog – quite a change from the time where it seemed I put something new out there almost every day.  Part of me has been distracted with the loss of our pet, Gunther, 5-6 weeks ago.  It is still hard to pretty much do anything without realizing how integral he was to our house, our family and the rhythm we came to expect and enjoy.  Boy, the pain and the tears stay pretty close to the surface – more a testament to how great a little guy he was.  I’ve also had another shoulder surgery a couple of weeks back – due to a great extent of me maybe not taking the first one as seriously as I should – I’ve been a lot less active this time around including doing a bit less typing.  So I have some excuses but when I look around there seems to be somewhat of a diminished intensity on areas or issues which were pretty important not that long ago.  We are definitely a society with ADHD – how quickly we let things pass and become non-issues when something new shows up.  Pretty sad overall.  But not enough reason to give up.  I stay stubbornly positive in hoping that knowledge and commonsense will ultimately prevail – maybe not because I necessarily believe it deep down but I’m not sure I can make my head get around the fact that ignorance and emotion will rule the day.

adhd

 

So with that, let’s talk gun control again.  I read an interesting and relevant article in the May 2013 Scientific American – not a magazine I usually read as most of it typically flies over my head but my son frequents it and this recent one ended up on our kitchen table as one of the key articles was on 3-D printing – a new world (well relatively new to consumers) our household recently entered into.  In any case, I came across a great article by Michael Shermer, who is the publisher of Skeptic magazine where he attempts to add some facts to the current discussion and takes on the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre and the view that essentially more guns are the only way to make things better.  He sites a couple of studies on guns that paint an interesting picture – one that many of us I think already know (that more guns mean more problems) but the stats are interesting so I thought I’d share some of them as well as the link to the article (which I would strongly you read and take way what you may) – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gun-science-proves-arming-untrained-citizens-bad-idea

 

thCAXF9XDQ

credit: factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com

 

Some highlights for those of you who don’t want to read it all (credit again to Mr. Shermer in Scientific American – May 2013 issue as I’ve shared this verbatim) –

 

A 1998 study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery that found that “every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.” Pistol owners’ fantasy of blowing away home-invading bad guys or street toughs holding up liquor stores is a myth debunked by the data showing that a gun is 22 times more likely to be used in a criminal assault, an accidental death or injury, a suicide attempt or a homicide than it is for self-defense.

From a 2013 book from Johns Hopkins University Press entitled Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis, edited by Daniel W. Webster and Jon S. Vernick, both professors in health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In addition to the 31,672 people killed by guns in 2010, another 73,505 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for nonfatal bullet wounds, and 337,960 nonfatal violent crimes were committed with guns. Of those 31,672 dead, 61 percent were suicides, and the vast majority of the rest were homicides by people who knew one another.  For example, of the 1,082 women and 267 men killed in 2010 by their intimate partners, 54 percent were shot by guns. Over the past quarter of a century, guns were involved in greater number of intimate partner homicides than all other causes combined. When a woman is murdered, it is most likely by her intimate partner with a gun.

US-Gun-Control-Laws-85835243137

 

For gun nuts who really don’t care, numbers and statistics are, well, just numbers and statistics.  But for the rest of us who could easily be one of the statistics above, I’d actually want to make sure we don’t lose sight of how important an issue this is.  Newtown shouldn’t just be a distant memory.  Pretty disappointing how quickly we all forget.  Equally scary that the likes of Wayne LaPierre gets his way and sees validation of his views in the inaction and antipathy of the American public.

 

 

The more it stays the same…

credit: worldnewscurator.com

credit: worldnewscurator.com

“All in all, today was a pretty shameful day for Washington.” – President Obama

While this statement was pretty much focused on the unsuccessful gun control efforts driven by the massacre in Newtown, the ramifications and considerations are obviously more widespread than just that incident.  Yes, the NRA is a big part of the issues of the level of violence we are seeing – not all but a strong contributor.  However, we are a nation of ADHD.  The outrage and attention this past week on the events that began on Monday at the Boston Marathon will all but disappear to most by the end of the month.  The shock and sadness from the recent tragedy at the Texas fertilizer plant will begin to fade for most within two weeks.  Most in this country have all but forgotten about the 21 children brutally murdered less than 4 months ago.  The inability of our people to sustain any real focused intensity for any extended period coupled with the obvious apathy and unwillingness to take action of any sort leaves most decisions to the small few in Washington DC who, to any person who actually pays attention and can think, have little interest in reflecting the wishes of our people.  We have become accustomed to violence to the extent that I would suggest that no other civilized country is at.  And much of it sits with our love affair with guns.  Ignoring over 11,000 gun-related deaths a year should be no easy matter but yet it is.

thCASPXAKI

Can we just blame the politicians?  Not entirely but we the people are who should shoulder the real blame.  We put them there and we let then stay there.  These politicians really voted against increased gun control because of the 10% of the American public against the increased control vs. the 90% who supported it.  Figure that math out.  Many of the politicians knew the bill was the right thing to do but voted against it because those 10% are the ones they know will come out to vote.  So the problem is with the 90% who voice that they care but are too lazy to extend the effort to execute their civic duty.  How sad is that.  I will guess that those 10% also were the ones that took the time and energy to write or call their politicians and made their voice heard.  I actually wrote to mine this time around – and I’d like to think that it had some impact on Senator Pat Toomey’s (my senator in PA) decision to join Senator Joe Manchin in legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to obtain guns while preserving the rights of law-abiding people to do so.  Both Senators are from gun happy states and they figured it out and potentially put their next election at risk – and maybe they heard more from the people they represent.  But obviously in many other states, the senators either didn’t hear from their constituents and/or lacked the conscience or fortitude to do what it right and what is needed to better protect our people.    People, time to pick up a pen, a phone or your keyboard – is it really that hard to take that small step?

On the other hand, we still have organizations like the NRA who actually exist primarily to ensure that business, in this case gun manufacturers (and related industries) make as large a profit as possible.  I, for one, have quite a problem with the power that has been handed off to an organization like the NRA.  No matter their stated intent or objectives as an organization, there is something wrong where an entity that only really represents the interest of 10% of our country can influence so much.  So to all you NRA supporters – do you really think they are looking out for your best interest?  And it extends well beyond this recent stance against universal background checks. We can also see it in another perspective that is directly tied to the Boston Marathon bombings.  Luckily, given the events of the week we have a conclusion (of a sort) in less than 5 days – we know who, which is really the core of any other actions.  But let’s say that events didn’t unfold as they did and the perpetrators were a little smarter and we didn’t know who they were.  We would still be looking at evidence left behind and a good deal of effort would be on the homemade bomb remnants, looking for traces of where things came from as a way to track back to individuals.  If we were dependent on this evidence at this point, we can thank the NRA for the difficulty that would be encountered in tracing back where the devices were made based on the explosives used.  And as a result, we are all a bit more at risk.

Almost 40 years ago the government developed a way to mark explosives to help trace terrorist bombs. But Congress blocked the research, even after a test of the device helped catch a bomber in Baltimore.  Who was behind Congress in voting it down? – the explosives industry and the National Rifle Association, citing safety concerns.  More likely driven by lost profit resulting from increased costs and oversight of the process.  Then the Oklahoma City bombing put it back on the table and President Clinton proposed legislation to resume the Treasury Department study of the feasibility of mixing tracers, called “taggants,” into dynamite and other explosives. There was discussion to include the fertilizer used to make the Oklahoma City bomb, or other materials that detonate such bombs.  A blast would scatter these tiny plastic tracers, which survive as a clue to help find the bomber.   Opponents said the government had not proved the devices were safe. Tampering with explosives could put miners and others who work with them at risk, the Institute of Makers of Explosives said. Opponents also argued that the taggant program would be too expensive.  The NRA again raised similar safety complaints about taggants in gunpowder, and also likened it to federal registration of firearms. The government wanted to mark the black powder used by owners of old-style muzzle loading guns because it is often used in pipe bombs.  Oh-oh – another possibility of federal government in their house. Again, Congress took direction from the NRA and cut off all funding of the taggant program.  Interesting, one of the phrases thrown around a the time was “The problem’s not fertilizer, the problem’s people.”  Boy, does that sound familiar to the rhetoric of the pro-gun lobby today.  Different day, same shit.

Credit: LA Times

Credit: LA Times

Will increasing the gun laws fix every problem and keep incidents like Newtown from ever happening?  Not at all and that argument by the NRA should be soundly called as bullshit.  To not realize as a country that we need to take steps to begin to reduce the likelihood is where the focus and conversation should be.  I have reached a point in my life where absolutes never matter – it’s really about the journey to get there and what we can accomplish on that path forward.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step” – Old Chinese Proverb

Time to get off the Religious Bandwagon

Source and owner of picture = dingo.care2.com

Source and owner of picture = dingo.care2.com

With all eyes on the Supreme Court today with what will eventually be an historic ruling and leap forward, I still find it amazing the people who stand against what is an obvious (to some of us) civil right for our LGBT citizens.  It remains tiring and disheartening that I needed to have the conversation with my son today to not let this ongoing crap and the ignorant comments get to him as it is really just a matter of time as law catches up with where the majority in our country are going with gay rights and gay marriage.    Yes, it might not be this time around where we get it right but it is inevitable.  What is just and what is right will prevail.  We have time on our side as many of the naysayer’s are of that “Greatest Generation” and they will not die off soon enough.  Giving them that honor (Tom Brokow – you are undoubtedly an asshole) just because they served in WWII managed to dismiss the fact that they have been one of the most bigoted, most selfish and most self-entitled generation this nation has ever seen.  But I digress – we still have all the other bible thumpers – most of whom are religious in name only and then only when it serves their personal need.  These are also people who hide their prejudice behind some crap out of the bible – a novel from the hands of pure mortals at best.  I might have a little more respect if these same people actually lived their life based on the purported beliefs but these are the same people who make up the 41% of people in marriages that admit to infidelity or the 57% of men and 51% of women who admit the same (and these are just the ones who admit it).  If the bible is your only course of pushback to gay marriage, your platform is rapidly shrinking and will likely catch up to your brain shortly.

Source and owner of picture = i.imgur.com

Source and owner of picture = i.imgur.com

But again I digress.  I’m thinking that maybe it is time to take this same approach these anti-gay people are taking and start to apply it to other human traits/characteristics/whatever you want to call it but basically aspects of being a person that you really have no control over and were likely pretty much born with – yes, pretty much like those people who are gay ( and it you still believe it’s a choice, it is time to take that gun you are so afraid is going to be taken from you and do us a big favor and move ahead with an unassisted suicide event.)

Let’s look at a few of the options.

Intelligence – Maybe we need to start looking at people’s IQ as a means of differentiation and begin to allocate access to things based on level of intelligence.  Maybe if your IQ is under 120, you should be limited in access to certain societal institutions – like access to college or maybe even high school if you’re too far down that IQ scale.  Maybe we should limit the jobs available to these dumbbells as our economy as an institution is one we should be protecting from those who contribute little.  You can still get married but only to other people of lower IQ but I think we might want to limit your ability to have a baby as if you aren’t able to really add to the family as an institution in a positive sense, maybe a limit is in order.   Not sure you should be able to drive a car – I don’t think I need to elaborate on the benefit of that direction – have you been out there on the road recently?

Attractiveness – We could look at how attractive people are and limit certain access based on where they are on the ugly scale.  We could actually memorialize height and weight as a differentiator.  As I understand it there are many clubs that ugly people already can’t get into.   There are other aspects of this that exist already so this one is already underway.

Statistic Verification
Source: American Psychological Association, Smart Money, Princeton University
Research Date: 11.27.2012
Attractive People Success Statistics Data
Percent chance an attractive person will receive a callback after an interview 72.32 %
Percent chance an unattractive person will receive a callback after an interview 62.02 %
Percent more that attractive workers earn than unattractive 10 %
Average lifetime earning difference $230,000
Average salary for people with low self-esteem $50,323
Average salary for people with high self-esteem $78,927
Average salary for someone who was 6’0″ at age 18 $51,880
Average salary for someone who was 5’1″ at age 18 $40,000
Percent of salary increase with each standard deviation increase in facial symmetry 8%

I won’t belabor the points here but at some level this is all wrong.  And it seems stupid when you put it on paper but yet it is not all that different.  Discrimination is wrong no matter the justification or rationalization.  It is not up to any one individual or group to limit the access a person has to that society has to offer or to impede their ability to live a life equal to the rest of us based on their own personal beliefs.  I’ve said it before and I don’t know how people don’t see it (maybe it’s the intelligence factor cited above) but just because you believe something and choose to live your life a certain way doesn’t give you the right to force that on everyone else. I do wonder what you are really scared of because that is the only thing that explains this unthinking and unfeeling behavior.   Your justification, usually based on some religious doctrine or belief, doesn’t hold water into society today.  We don’t all want to follow your God (and most of you really don’t anyhow) and we don’t want your rules to be our rules.  I don’t force my ways or beliefs on you – I might think you are stupid or an asshole – but I’m not asking you to do it my way.  And don’t limit my son’s ability to live and enjoy life to its fullest.  When you do I don’t just think you are stupid or an asshole – you have removed all doubt.

Life Isn’t a Smorgasbord…

Not sure if fits...just love the picture!

Not sure if fits…just love the picture!

Gun Control, Abortion Rights, LBGT Civil Rights (someone please tell me how this is not a Civil Rights issue) – quite a bit going on this week and next.  As our Congress spends the majority of time playing pocket pool and continues to demonstrate ineptitude beyond belief, they systematically ignore where this country has been and is heading in these areas.  Recent legislative efforts by Kansas and North Dakota (again, both states that never make the top 10 list for admirable points for which most strive) to outlaw abortion, again demonstrates a vendetta against Women’s rights and a direction counter where most people in this country are.  The Supreme Court this week will hear two cases crucial to the pace of progress in giving LGBT citizens their civil rights and equality under the law.  Gun Control – little progress in even what a thinking and feeling person might think would be an easy step forward – Universal background checks.

Are you sure you want to go back to Kansas?

Are you sure you want to go back to Kansas?

In every case the American public who, as a whole, is well ahead of the political musings and stances, makes it clear they support abortion rights (a woman’s right to choice, let’s be clear), LGBT equality and the right to marry, and better gun control (in particular Universal background checks).  The problem is in the details as we look at the state and local level and the way political divisions have been drawn. We end up with a clear division of view of where the Federal should have rule and set law and where it should fall to the State and Local.  While I don’t always believe the Federal Government is right and should be making choices for States, I would be more inclined to move decision-making for these specific issues I’ve cited to the State and Local levels if I actually believed they had the intellectual and social where-with-all to make smart decisions.  Again, my judgment to sure but making decisions based on bible teachings, views that harken back to how we used to treat both women and Blacks in our country and lastly, some misguided view that the government is trying to take everyone’s weapons seems to fall short of the yardstick of a civilized and informed society.

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” – Mark Twain

That being said, I am willing to take a shot at letting the states have their way.  We can move these sorts of decisions out there and let the states decide for their people.  However, I suggest we should also begin to play approach out to the full extent of the concept.  If you really want the Federal government out of your shorts, sounds good to me but then let’s make it incumbent on the States to then provide everything the Federal Government provides today – try that for health care costs.  We can let the States deal with the repercussions of making abortions illegal.  We can watch as States continue to outlaw LGBT Civil Rights.  We can let more idiots own guns in those States that want it and watch more people die from the results.  End of the day, the costs, both financial and social, can sit with the State.

What happens is that we get more pockets of the same type of people living in different states as people with a social conscience and intellect migrate either to those more progressive states.  We can watch the distribution of income and educated people move around at the same time – sorry but I would expect that the median income and level of education isn’t going to rise in the South or places like North Dakota and Kansas.  And these states will lose most everyone there who have kept their state within arm’s-length of civility and humanity (maybe even Texas has a few).   At some point it will become obvious that the longer-term impact of attitudes and mindsets from the 50’s isn’t a step forward.  Sad commentary but maybe we let them have what they want.  I for one might actually see my Federal tax bill drop a bit when I’m no longer having my tax dollars going to states that are the “Takers” and depend on Federal support to run their states – interesting that as of 2011, we now have 30 of the 50 states having 1/3rd of their state budget dependent on Federal funding (my state is one of them) and two states (Oklahoma and Louisiana) with more than 50% of their state budget Federally funded.

Fed Taxes/Benefit Balance

Fed Taxes/Benefit Balance

 

Sometimes you just can’t protect people from themselves.  However, we can only hope that people at some point realize that life isn’t a smorgasbord – it’s basically “Eat what’s on  your plate” – some you want and some you don’t but in the end it’s all there for a reason.  And if you’re good, you might get some .

“All government — indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act — is founded on compromise and barter.” – Edmund Burke 

When it hits close to home…

Senator Portman with his own sort of coming out.

Senator Portman with his own sort of coming out.  (Photo credit – MSN.com)

Not to pick on Sen. Portman per se but I find it very insightful that we again have a situation where we have a politician who maintains a political position which might be contrary to what their constituents want to see UNTIL somehow it comes home to roost.  The following (a part of which I have included) was reported on MSN this morning –

“Sen. Rob Portman, who voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, says he has changed his mind on the matter since one of his sons came out as gay in 2011.

 CINCINNATI — Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is now supporting gay marriage and says his reversal on the issue began when he learned one of his sons is gay.

Ohio’s junior senator disclosed his change of heart in interviews with several Ohio newspapers and CNN. In an op-ed published Friday in The Columbus Dispatch, he said the decision came after a lot of thought.

“I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married,” he wrote.

As a member of the House in 1996, Portman voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Portman said his views on gay marriage began changing in 2011 when his son, Will, then a freshman at Yale University, told his parents that he was gay and that it wasn’t a choice but “part of who he was.” Portman said he and his wife, Jane, were very surprised but also supportive.

He said it prompted him to reconsider gay marriage from a different perspective — that of a father who wants all three of his children to have happy lives with people they love.”

I expect the sentiment shared by Portman as to the different perspective driving his change of heart is not one that will change most of those stone-hearted anti-gay politicians (or any other person of influence in any position of authority) who seem to look through political, religious, etc. lens as they continue to treat many of our citizens as 2nd class people, at best, and lesser human beings, at worse.  I said the same thing after the Sandy Hook travesty that maybe when the anti-gun control lobby people actually have someone in their family killed in a similar manner (or any manner with a gun to be honest) we might be able to manage our issues with guns with a little more common sense     A little sad that it takes a personal event to get someone to take notice and to start to feel a little.  I would suggest that empathy is a quality that goes much too unnoticed as we evaluate and elect our leaders and that maybe it is time people begin to not look at caring and understanding as a weakness and maybe see it for the benefit it brings. But this all requires some thinking and empathy to get there.  And we have a long way to go.

Santorum_StanL

Now the next question is at what point will one of Ricky Santorum’s five sons comes out – and how apoplectic will Ricky become….

Stupidity – the new normal?

I’ve read several articles that raise the question whether people in general are less intelligent today than in the past. I actually like the phrase “more stupid” as it gets more to the core of the issue but the question raised is one that should not be taken lightly. On an individual basis there is no doubt that there are many more smart people today than in the past. One need only look around at the conveniences of daily living we enjoy to see there are obvious signs that there are many out there who have put their education and native intelligence to work. But the bigger issue is society in the US as a whole. There is thought that with the proliferation of many modern technologies, there is less to stress and exercise the brains of most people. Just look at the result of the use of calculators. Watch a lot of cashiers work out change when you provide the challenge of giving them extra coin so you get back a whole bill. Something is missing. People have gotten lazy as there is less to work at. That too adds to stupidity as a brain unexercised doesn’t grow. Now I don’t need to see large scientific studies to prove this – just look around. Lazy and stupid aren’t too far apart on the continuum of human conditions.

First example – the blizzard that just hit the Northeast. Seems that despite the rather advanced warnings, there were many in Long Island who figured they knew better that everyone else and took their cars out for some reason that only they can probably make sense of. Now, I know that New Yorkers are smarter than most of the rest of us and are much more experienced and worldly (they always seem quick to make it clear that they know more than those of us that don’t live or haven’t lived in New York) but in looking at the number of vehicles that figured they could traverse the blizzard based no doubt on their superior intelligence, let alone vastly better driving skills, I offer up the following picture.

What do you mean I can't get my car thru here?  It has FWD.

What do you mean I can’t get my car thru here? It has FWD.

So bad enough that they are that stupid to go out and get quickly stuck, most of them ended up abandoning their cars causing other issues with getting roads cleared or put emergency workers at personal risk when they had to go out to rescue them from their own stupidity. My suggestion would be that any vehicle that was abandoned be picked up and immediately brought to a junk yard to get crushed and recycled. My guess is that those individuals would be a little less stupid next time around.

I do believe that stupidity is our biggest problem at the moment. It invades most every other issue and it is the common denominator across most every situation where anyone who can actually think looks up and scratched their head and says “WTF”. Stupidity hides itself in many ways and is core to many other shortcomings people consistently demonstrate. I have to believe that if you are a Tea Party member, stupidity is at the core. And admitting it is just one more piece of evidence. If you can today still take the stance there is no reason for further control of guns in our country, your proclamation of patriotism and 2nd amendment rights is a cover for stupidity.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” – Albert Einstein

Just look at the current political landscape. A lot of stupid people in politics – the likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz demonstrate that quite nicely. But we also can’t ignore those who actually felt the urge to vote them into office. So without stupidity, many of our politicians would not get elected, let alone be able to take the political stance they do. While I think the Republicans have it down pat (one of our current favorite phrases is from Bobby Jindal where he called on the Republican Party to “stop being the stupid party” – and they still don’t get it), the Democrats aren’t without their share.

To a great extent I think organized religion and most “devout” religious belief is steeped in stupidity – not in whether one believes or even what they believe but that most of these assholes feel they have to have the rest of us live in the same aura of stupidity and bow to the same inane beliefs. Hey – you don’t want to take birth control, fine, but keep it in your own family – and by the way, the likelihood is your son or daughter is out there screwing around anyhow. And by the way, at least 1 in 5 of you have a gay son, daughter, aunt, uncle, cousin, mother, father…pay attention – but then again, you are stupid.

Most prejudice is about stupidity. And there is a lot of that going around. I think the Boy Scouts of America are clearly a beacon of demonstrated stupidity. To think that they are upholding a more “moral” standard by discriminating against gays is monumental stupidity. They have enough moral challenge when it comes to patrolling their own ranks of child molesters. Another level of moral question when one looks at the effort to cover it up – more stupidity to think they could actually get away with it. Only to be outdone by the Catholic Church – but that is a another whole story.

Future Leaders of our country?credit: http://m3foto.tumblr.com

Future Leaders of our country?
credit: http://m3foto.tumblr.com

And speaking of Boy Scouts, that shitbag of a human being, Ricky Santorum managed to squeeze into the public eye again as he felt it important to identify another area where he could help report the demise of old and prejudice opinions as he continued his assault on gays – concerned the BSA was abandoning the “founding moral principles that nurture boys into men”. BSA and morals in one sentence is a problem to begin with – having Santorum in your corner doesn’t speak to mainstream longevity.

Ricky with what he thought was a new Ipad 4.

Ricky with what he thought was a new Ipad 4.

“The wise understand by themselves; fools follow the reports of others” – Tibetan Proverb

Lastly, I did want to share a few experiences that I had recently that brought it home very clearly to me the level of stupidity we are dealing with out there. The first occasion was when I stopped by our local township office to make a “Right to Know” request. I had asked for an organization chart of all our public employees indicating all reporting relationships. As the woman at the desk reviewed my form, she very seriously asked “Why do you need to know who is related to who in the organization”? I will say I managed to keep a relatively straight face as I explained the concept behind the term reporting relationships – maybe I’m expecting too much but really?

Lastly, while getting an order from the deli counter in our local supermarket, I asked for 1/3 of a pound of turkey breast – yes, 1/4 was too little and 1/2 was too much but I digress. As I watched the deli guy get my order, I overheard him ask another deli guy how much 1/3 of a pound was. I was even more amazed at that point that he was actually allowed to operate the deli slicer and that he had all his fingers intact.

End of it all, stupid takes a lot of forms – I recognize that some people are doing their best but the vast majority of stupid is there because of laziness and an unwillingness to think. Unfortunately, I don’t see it getting much better.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. – Martin Luther King Jr.

Stupid is as Stupid does…

 

One thing I’ll say for Republicans – they really don’t know when to keep their mouths shut.  Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia can take his place with the likes of Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana with what we can only hope is a similar result.  At a Chamber of Congress meeting this week in Georgia, Gingrey not only defended both Akin and Murdock to some extent, he shared his own experience that “adrenaline can prevent pregnancies, and that women who are frightened during sex will not ovulate”.  Sounds like just another take on Akin’s view of pregnancy after rape that “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”  We have here another discourse by a man who seems to be somewhat out of touch with the reality of women’s lives – demonstrating, at best, insensitivity – at worse, a rather pompous and callous view of women.  As Gingrey has been an OB-GYN physician since 1975, this gives pause to never lose sight that 50% of doctors finish at the bottom of their class.

Of course Gingrey, after having time to think about it (or at least beginning to hear the proverbial shit hit the fan) subsequently followed up with a further explanation and said the comments he made on rape “misconstrued” his own position on the topic but here we again have the chance to see the real view of a politician when he responds off-the-cuff and without monitoring his own sound bite.   Again, I can’t tell anyone what they should believe and what they can say.  I’m just more amazed at the stupidity that gets displayed – and these are people in position to make decisions for our country – scary and disturbing.

So let’s take a roll call –

Todd Akin - Defeated 2012

Todd Akin – Defeated 2012

 

Richard Murdock - Defeated 2012

Richard Murdock – Defeated 2012

Can we go for #3?

Can we go for #3?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll just hoping they keep up the good work – this is one way to reduce the number of seats the Republicans hold.

And in this corner, representing the gun nuts…

In the face of the tragedies we’ve seen in this nation in the last couple of years that have resulted from our inability to control firearms in the face of providing safety for our people, the one in Newtown should be haunting everyone in this country.  Surprise! In less than three weeks, the faces of the children and the heartache of the families seems to have been lost on those gun advocates and right-wing nut jobs who claim to be the real patriots and who seem to feel that more force is the only way to deal with the ever-growing problem we have with guns in this country.   It is everything else that is wrong that needs to be addressed before there is any consideration of changes in gun law.  I, for one, am glad to see how vociferous and angry these zealots get as it demonstrates very clearly the edge many of these gun owners walk when it comes to being a bit crazy.  I am also hoping that the rest of our country – the ones who haven’t historically been convinced that unbridled gun ownership and rights isn’t necessarily a good thing – might take a look at some of these people and the interviews or videos they are putting out there and start to think that maybe something is wrong with this picture.  When you finish looking at these people and really listen to what they say, I ask you “Are these the people you want roaming the halls of our schools protecting our children?”.  They seem a bit on the crazy side to me – from watching the spittle build in the corners of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s mouth as he worked himself up with David Gregory on “Meet the Press” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDgvHJ8ZkTc)

thCAEIMYLB

or wondering at what point Radio host Alex Jones was going to knock Piers Morgan off his chair on “Piers Morgan Tonight” in his lesson on world history around what happens when governments (although I didn’t hear one example of  a democracy) taking guns from the people (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/alex-jones-piers-morgan-guns_n_2429161.html)

thCA0JVYTQ

to a rather disturbing video by James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response, a Tennessee company that trains people in weapon and tactical skills (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/james-yeager-start-killing-people-obama-gun-policy_n_2448751.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular) – if I were a neighbor of this dipshit, I might be a little concerned. (Note:  if you attempt to view this video using your Ipad it will not be successful as it appears this requires Flash to play correctly – I’m looking for an alternative way to post – apologies. In the meantime, I believe you can get this directly using the YouTube app on your Ipad – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9sMv9mcdc4 – not the best copy but give it a shot).

thCA8GVKU9

These are only a couple of the people who are driving an agenda that will undoubtedly lead to more deaths.  There are more out there that fear government takeover or confiscation of their weapons – not sure what they are hearing that the rest of us seem to be missing but it gets scarier.  One last perennial favorite nut in this space shouldn’t be ignored.  Ted Nugent, long time nut, shared this opinion of what it coming – “There will come a time when the gun owners of America, the law-abiding gun  owners of America, will be the Rosa Parks and we will sit down on the front seat  of the bus, case closed.”  You should take a look at this article (at http://www.wnd.com/2013/01/ted-nugent-gun-owners-the-next-rosa-parks/#sYG7lmuWXlow7jbx.99) but I would suggest you take a look at the comments to the “news” story – even more scary.  Also, keep in mind, Ted is such a great patriot that he made an interesting choice when faced with going to Vietnam.  What a patriot!

Credit: progressiveerupts.blogspot.com

Credit: progressiveerupts.blogspot.com

Last thought – specific to Ted, given his remarks prior to this past presidential election that he (Ted) would either be in jail or dead by April 2013 if Obama is re-elected.  Well, let’s hope he doesn’t end up in jail in the next couple of months.

And which side do we believe this fine individual stands?

And which side do we believe this fine person stands?

Wrapping up 2012

I am never one to lament the completion of another year as I spend relatively little time looking backwards.  To be honest, much to the chagrin of my wife (who is quite the planner), I spend relatively little time looking forward either as I’m usually absorbed in the here and now.   I find there is enough to deal with in the present.  As with most of my years on this earth (and there have now been almost 60 of them), 2012 was a year with some good and some bad – and in some cases pretty horrid.  Luckily, my life and my sphere of influence fell mostly on the side of the good stuff.  I am happy with that but I am disheartened by all the not so good stuff I see around me – again feeling lucky that most all of it has chosen to remain outside of me and my family but never feeling so insulated and safe to not recognize that at any moment it could easily intrude.  That possibility is never that far away and with everything going on in this country at the moment, nothing is a certainty.

While most anyone else probably doesn’t care about the personal side of my life, this is really for me – by seeing it in writing it re-emphasizes the gift I have and how lucky I am to have the people around me who are my immediate family.  It ensures I never take it all for granted.

Let’s talk about the good first.

  • I remain happily married and in love – kind of corny on one hand but having the type of relationship I have with my wife after 32 years is one that happens far too little in our society – I am very fortunate.
  • All four of us in the immediate family are healthy.  Those of us over 55 are feeling our age but that’s it.  There is nothing life threatening we need to deal with and we can do most everything we want – and I am thankful for that.  My joints make much more noise than they ever have but I take this over most of the alternatives.
  • As a family we have remained pretty much unscathed by the economic travesties of the past couple of years.
  • My two kids continue success in their careers and jobs – and they have good jobs.  Not as a result of luck because they have both worked hard and have not waited for things to be handed to them.  And I am (we are) extremely proud to have raised these types of adults.
  • I can also see the fruits of the time and effort we put into parenting over oh so many years (and it never really stops – it just changes).  I believe my kids are contributing members of society.  Perfect with no faults – not at all – they were raised by imperfect but caring parents.  They are thoughtful, intelligent and caring of everything that is around them.  They are not myopic and self-centered which seems to be more the rule than the exception any more.

gunther1

On the personal “not so good” side, I actually can’t come up with too much that has happened this past year.  In fact there is only one thing that has been bad that I can really think of.  For anyone who has a family pet, you will understand.  For the rest of you, probably not.   If you look at the photos in my blog header and probably dispersed around other places, you will see a few of Gunther – our Jack Russell who has been a member of our family for the past 13 years.  I’ve had a good number of dogs over my time but there has been none that have been like him.  He is the embodiment of attitude and coolness.  This was a dog that was all id, in your face, spirited beyond belief but loveable and warm through it all.  His health issues began actually almost two years ago but it has been this past year we’ve watched him change the most.  Where he was a friend to any person who walked into our house, he now moves away from everyone other than a couple of us – even those he readily jumped on just a short time ago.  He is often confused and seems disoriented – his cataracts have gotten worse so it’s hard to tell if it is because he can’t see or if it is really the canine dementia the vet has diagnosed.   We are lucky (again) that we have the resources to make sure he gets the treatment and care that he needs.  Not sure if cataract surgery is in the future or if the medicine for the dementia will actually help him but I am hopeful.  I know I’m blessed that this has been the only real downer on my year but that doesn’t take away the pain of watching the changes taking place and knowing what is happening to him – hoping his discomfort is more evident to us than to him.

On a broader note, some of the most recent happenings in our country have been tough to watch and often harder to understand.  I don’t have answers to all the problems as I don’t believe there is any problem that has one or two causes and given the complexity of people and their varied ways of perceiving that around themselves, there will never be a “fix” that everyone sees the same way.  That being said, there is some common sense that might factor into what we do or at least how we approach some of our issues of the day.  Nothing magic or deep on my part or even maybe helpful but given this blog was a way to dump that which is in my head, so be it.

Guns and killing in America  – Good topic top of mind – and one that could use some common sense applied.

  • Let’s start with the premise that I don’t think that anyone really wants to take everyone’s gun away from them.  I could give two hoots about what animals you want to kill – I don’t do it, I don’t really understand it.  I have had guns and I’ve hunted – first time out deer hunting I quickly realized I couldn’t ever shoot a deer – and luckily one never showed up.  I hear the talk of personal freedom, 2nd amendment, it’s an equalizer, etc. etc.  I look around and see the evidence that guns breed more violence and death.  There is no other civilized country with the number of guns we have in the US and there is no other country with a murder rate that comes close to ours.  Not sure that adding more guns to the mix will improve the situation if we are really focused on reducing gun violence.  Banning assault weapons and mega-clips seems to be a logical step forward.  Yes, it won’t get rid of the guns and clips already out there.  But if logic were to prevail, if we are not making more assault weapons then there won’t be more people with them.  Does it fix the problem and make sure that no-one will again use an assault rifle or use a mega-clip to kill a bunch of people?  Not at all but if it keeps someone who doesn’t have one now from getting one and creating another Newtown incident then maybe it makes sense.
  • Armed guards in our schools – unfortunately, the state of our society has already resulted in some surprisingly high number of schools where there are already armed guards protecting something.  I would surmise it might not be a result of protecting against terrorist or crazy person attacks but more for internal school problems but that is neither here nor there.  As has been heavily discussed, Columbine had armed guards.  Will it possibly stop another Newtown?  It might and if I follow the logic I see on an assault weapon ban, if having an armed guard saves lives in one instance, maybe it makes sense.  That being said, having the likes of a Wayne La Pierre walking the halls to protect our children sends chills down my spine.  While I have no doubt there are NRA members with the right skills – both gun and people – to maybe pull it off, sorry, if armed guards is the answer, then we need to talk about some real special people.  The last thing we need is an internal disaster resulting from this “fix”.  Arming school administrators and teachers – sorry – that is another disaster waiting to happen.   Pretty sad this is even a topic we need to discuss.
  • Violence in the movies and in video games – nice, easy target but if we again use common sense, the US isn’t the only country with violent movies and video games.  Take a look at Japan – not without violent movies and definitely not without violent video games – take a look at their murder rate.  Is the amount of violence a problem?  I think there is something wrong here but focusing on this area isn’t going to get the desired results.
  • Taking religion out of schools – Mike Huckabee, a man who never saw a barbecue he didn’t like, was quick to jump to this one.  Not much to say other than “what an asshole”.
Dora has more to her than I would have thought!

Dora has more to her than I would have thought!

 

End of the day, as President Obama has said, because the problem is too complex isn’t a reason not to do something.  If we can save one life, it is a start and an action worth taking.

Looking ahead I expect there is much more to rant about and I expect 2013 will offer plenty of fodder to continue my blog.  Speaking of fodder, how about that Congress?

 

At least there is one thing on which we can all agree!

At least there is one thing on which we can all agree!

Happy New Year to all.    Here’s to a great 2013 for everyone.  A little peace and prosperity for all.

th