Tag Archives: culture

Lest We Forget

Freedom Isn't Free

Freedom Isn’t Free (Photo credit: swanksalot)

(Parts of this are reposted from an earlier post entitled “No Guts No Glory”.)

This Monday we will see billboards, bumper stickers, and car magnets all proclaiming “Support our Troops“, and “Freedom Isn’t Free”. Are these truly heart-felt words, displayed by proud patriots or are they meaningless platitudes, mindlessly quoted by pandering politicians?  On this day there will be countless memorial services and tributes.  But will we stop a moment and reflect on what this day really means or is it simply the beginning of summer?  Just a day to have a picnic or barbecue.

I remember as a child hearing the stories of my mother, who, as a toddler underwent surgery on her foot. For years afterward she required special orthotic shoes that had to be replaced every time her foot grew. This was during WWII and rationing was in full force. Everyone was allowed only one pair of shoes a year. Including my mother. The government didn’t make a special exception because she was a child with a medical condition. Her parents didn’t demand that she was entitled to more ration coupons because of a unique hardship. Instead they gave up their ration coupons to get her the shoes she needed and when those ran out other family members, friends and neighbors donated theirs. Why was this necessary? Because the materials that were used to make shoes over here were needed to make shoes for the troops over there. Could you imagine giving up coffee, sugar, shoes and tires and sending them to the troops in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq?  Could we ever again unite as a whole country behind an effort to rid our world of an unspeakable evil? Do we even know what evil is anymore?

The invention of photography as allowed us to see the horrors of war up close and personal.  The flag draped coffins of our loved ones, the bloody, mangled bodies of our enemies, the atrocities. Faced with the horrifying reality that the price of freedom is blood, many of us have decided that the price is too high. We believe that the act of war, rather than the  megalomaniacal ideals of ruthless men is the true evil and that nothing save our own personal survival is worth fighting and dying for.

The men who marched at Lexington and Concord, whose bodies covered the ground at Gettysburg, who raised the flag at Mount Suribachi, all understood the power of the words of our Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution.  That such a radical ideal as individual freedom, that men should control their own destinies, requires a collective sacrifice.

By looking to the government for our prosperity rather that demanding that our elected officials recognize the freedom to build that prosperity ourselves, by allowing the government the rights to our personal property, and by allowing the government to usurp and mismanaged our wages though an unnecessarily complicated tax code, we dishonor those who have fought and died to maintain those freedoms.

By allowing our schools to indoctrinate our children with the mantra that it is the government’s job to take care of us, to protect us from our own ignorance and folly, and that “from each according to his ability and to each according to his need” is the highest morality, we dishonor those who fought and died for our right to think for ourselves.

Our Forefathers wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, not to give us certain rights, but to preserve them.  The government does not grant us our freedoms, rather we “the people” grant the government its right to exist.  It’s time for us to “take back” our government and hold our elected officials accountable, for what they do with the money, property, time and power we “the people” give them.

In every election we have the opportunity to show that we truly understand the cost of our freedom and that it is precious.  By taking the time  and making the effort to  research and vote for people truly worthy to serve us, and by reminding them regularly that they do, is how we prove that those who made the “ultimate sacrifice” did not do so in vain.

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Don’t Break My Electronic Bubble

Walking

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A study originally published by the journal Injury Prevention is “big news” on the TV and internet today.   It’s a report about the increase in deaths and injuries caused by walking around with headphones on.  Really? This is big news? Did we really need a study for this?

Any one who’s walked though a crowed mall, or train platform and has been run into by a headphone wearing menace could have come to the common sense conclusion that walking around with headphones on is dangerous.  What I find  interesting and sad is to observe just how socially isolated the electronically connected are.  Whenever you put headphones on or take out your phone and begin texting or talking in public, you put up an invisible barrier of personal space.  You send the message that the people around you are not worth your effort to notice them.  They cease to exist in your electronic bubble until you are forced to interact to complete your business or until you bump into them. Once while at the mall, I was run into by a teenage girl, texting away with her face in her phone, who seemed genuinely shocked that an actual person was impeding her forward motion.  I have seen families sitting around the table at a restaurant texting to people miles away while ignoring those three feet from them.

I am amazed that I have to remind my kids that leaving your headphones on, texting or typing while someone is talking to you is just plain rude.  I thought maybe it was just teenage disrespect, but they behave the same way around their friends, and their friends do the same.  It seems we are losing the ability to verbally communicate in person.  The manners necessary for personal interactions also disappearing.  I think that this lack of civility is as much a loss as that of personal safety.

My New and Improved? Twelve for 2112

English: Robomop, a domestic robot to sweep fl...

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Oops! Sean Patrick Hazlett at  Reflection of a Rational Republican has asked for predictions for 2112. I thought He wanted predictions for 2012. That’s what years of watching Barney the Dinosaur with your kids does to your brain. Drawing on the hopes, dreams and sense of humor of a housewife, this is what I think the average household will look like 100 years from now.

  1. Homes will be built of materials that are resistant to heat and radiation.  This means that people will no longer fear losing their homes to fires or maybe even a nuclear war. Houses will also be able to shield their occupants from the effects of climate change
  2. Homes will have self-cleaning filtration systems.  Household air will be free from dust, pollens and pollutants greatly reducing the prevalence of diseases such as asthma and hay fever. It will be discovered however that such clean living results in weakening our immune systems causing outbreaks of new diseases.
  3. Clothing will be made from disposable, compostable materials.  Eliminating the need to do laundry while nourishing the soil.
  4. Boo boos will be treated with a spray-on synthetic skin that will immediately heal the wound and eliminate scarring. It will still be permissible to “kiss it and make it better”
  5. Mundane housework such as dusting, mopping and vacuuming will all be done by a household robot.  Like a Roomba on steroids.
  6. Bad hair days will be eliminated. A woman will be able to style her hair by uploading an image of her face and the desired style to an automated hair dresser that will then fix her hair.  By interconnecting to the auto stylists of your neighbors you can still catch up on the latest gossip.
  7. Baby monitors will be able to interpret an infant’s cries.  We will now know if baby needs a fresh diaper, a bottle or just a hug.
  8. 3-D technology will advance to where we will be able to interact with the characters on our TV screen.  This will prove to be a bad thing leading to all sorts of social dysfunctions.
  9. We will be able to communicate with each other  via cell phone like devices implanted behind our ears.  These devices will also be able to issue reminders and to do lists to us making errand running more efficient.  As an added bonus husbands will no longer be able to forget birthdays and anniversaries. On the downside it will be difficult to tell if a person is schizophrenic or merely having a legitimate conversation.
  10. The ultimate remote will be invented.  This device will enable a wife to override all other remote devices in the house. Eliminating inappropriate programming, channel surfing and excess sports watching.
  11. The “little red schoolhouse” will cease to exist as all children will be taught at home through virtual schools.
  12. I’m still holding out hope for that replicator.

My Predictions for 2012 the Horror, the Hope, the Hype

an image of mayan calendar on cosumel island' ...

Sean Patrick Hazlett at  Reflections of a Rational Republican  has thrown down the gauntlet and has asked other bloggers to list their technology predictions for 2012.

I am technologically defunct. Just starting this blog was a huge leap for me. I usually have to get my tech advice from my teenage kids. They love Apple. Now if I could just get them to eat one once in a while.

Here are my 2012 predictions. I chose to focus on issues that may be of importance to families. Some deal with technology, some not.

  1. As schools deal with budget cuts, virtual schools will become common. Children at all grade levels will take at least some of their public school classes at home online.
  2. The job markets will remain weak. As more and more families adjust to a reduced income, many people will choose not to re-enter the work force. This will create a return to the single income family with one parent staying home to care for the children. The stay at home parent will not necessarily be the mom. The spouse with the most income potential will be the one to return to work.
  3. We will no longer need to depend on Soyuz rockets to supply the ISS. Companies such as SpaceX will begin regular privatized missions late this year or early 2013.
  4. Video games will become more realistic. The gamer will be able to experience the feel of different environments. For example, feeling wet when in water, hot in a desert, or cold in the snow. He will be able to feel the sensation of various terrains beneath his feet and games will have sensors that emit real pain sensations when the player is injured in a battle. Thus giving our kids even more reasons to avoid playing outdoors.
  5. Biosphere resorts will become popular vacation destinations. Imagine relaxing in a lush tropical garden where it’s not too hot, not too cold, and no mosquitoes.
  6. The Mars Rover Curiosity will discover actual microbial life on the planet.
  7. Iran will test fire it’s first nuclear bomb this summer.
  8. Tensions with Iran cause gas prices to rise to over $5.00 a gallon this spring. This will result in real food shortages here in the US. In response more families will start to grow personal vegetable gardens. Several states will pass regulations to stop HOA’s from forbidding such gardens.
  9. Because an impending war with Iran will force us to stop our dependence on Middle Eastern oil in a hurry and because the technology already exists, I expect to see used vegetable oil  become e popular as an alternative fuel.
  10.  After the Republican Convention, Ron Paul, Michele Bachman and Rick Santorum will remain in the race as third-party candidates. The Republican Party will be fractured and Barack Obama will win the election as a result. This will cause the formation of a truly viable third-party and the election of a third-party president in 2016.
  11.  Star Trek type replicators will become common in American homes. I know, probably not, but a mom can dream.
  12.  And finally, all those of you who are expecting the world to end in December, and re using this, as your retirement strategy will be sadly disappointed come January 1, 2013.

I wish you all a blessed new year.

A Peaceful? Protest

A "First Amendment Area" at Muir Woo...

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Now that Time Magazine has made The Protester “The Person of the Year”, I have been giving a lot of thought to the First Amendment Rights to peaceable assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. We hear a lot about our constitutional rights, what we don’t hear a lot about is our responsibilities in exercising those rights.
There are many ways to petition our government officials. We can write or email them. We can gather signatures on a petition. We can call them and we can vote. We can even gather in large numbers in a show of unity to call attention to an issue. That is what is meant by the right to peaceably assemble.
A peaceful assembly respects the rights of those not participating to go about their daily lives and does not try to impede them by blocking streets, sidewalks, or the entrances to buildings. A peaceful assembly does not destroy public or private property. People do not commit crimes against one another during a peaceful assembly. A peaceful assembly respects the rules of usage for public parks and open spaces. A peaceful assembly respects the rights of others to use public parks and open spaces and does not occupy them for an unreasonable amount of time.
When the purpose of a gathering is to call attention to its cause by being willfully disruptive or destructive, when it causes an inconvenience to those not participating by obstructing their access to places were they have a right to be, then the gathering is no longer a peaceful assembly. It is an act of civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is an unlawful act and is not protected under the constitution.
To understand the difference between the two acts we need to understand why we have this right.
The Constitution was written by men who had a healthy mistrust of government. They wanted to limit the government’s intrusion into our daily lives. The First Amendment spells out some specific rights that allow us to maintain control of the government and the individuals elected to serve us. Not all countries enjoy this kind of freedom. In places such as China, and Middle Eastern theocracies, the people have no other choice but to engage in civil disobedience in order to confront the injustices their governments force them to endure. But because our constitution gives us lawful and civilized ways to keep our government accountable to us, an act of civil disobedience is not only unnecessary it is counter productive.
When a gathering becomes a disruptive nuisance to a community there will inevitable be someone who seeks to remedy the situation and prevent future problems by suggesting regulation. It seems reasonable enough, lets protect the public by restricting, how many may gather for a rally, where they can gather, how long they can gather. Before long political correctness takes over and along with protecting public safety, the government decides that it should protect us from being “offended” as well. Now along with the restrictions already in place comes a restriction on who can gather. Now you have to submit your agenda to code compliance to make sure it does not encourage disruptive behavior. See how this goes?
We all have a right to have our grievances heard, but we should also be good neighbors and citizens. The First Amendment was not meant to allow an “anything goes” approach to addressing our concerns. When we abuse our rights, we set in motion the means to erode them.

Occupy This

#OccupyLA protest

I hope the New Generation Hippies, the Junior Baby Boomers also know as the Occupiers realize by now that any hope of having a serious discussion of their grievances has been quashed thanks to their embarrassing shenanigans. It’s unfortunate because there truly is an intelligent debate to be had. People are really struggling.   And not just the spoiled twenty somethings still living on their parents labor, or those living off of the tax payers. There are many of us who work hard every day and still can’t get ahead. Our benefits get cut, and raises are eliminated. Prices for basic needs are getting higher and higher and each week our paychecks are stretched as tight as a fat lady’s girdle. And we feel no one is listening. We hear a lot about corporate greed and class warfare these days. I think both sides have it wrong.  At heart I suppose I am a capitalist.  I believe that strong businesses free of burdensome government regulation are the foundation to overall wealth in our country. It is obvious however, that there is something fundamentally wrong when a CEO can earn half a million a year at a company that can’t afford to pay its lower level employees a decent wage or even worse has to let them go. Loyal, hard-working employees, deserve to share in the wealth of a company.  Businesses that realize that keep a dependable well motivated labor pool who are satisfied with their jobs and work to keep a company profitable. Those who do not create an atmosphere favorable to the labor unions. Companies that choose to do business in an unethical fashion clear a path for government regulation. It all comes down to practicing good stewardship.  American businesses need to realize that they have a responsiblity to do what’s right by their employees, customers, community and environment.  Pay their employees a fair wage and benefit package, produce a quality product at a fair price, give back to the community they are located in and don’t exploit or pollute unnecessarily. In the town where I’m from, there was a man named H B Zachry. In 1924 he started his company with very little capital.  He had a contract to build a bridge and had to finish the job in order to be paid.  As the story goes, he didn’t have the money to pay his workers so he told the men if they would stay with him until the job was finished, he’d see to it that they were taken care of.  The bridge was finished and Mr. Zachry kept his word. He even took care of men’s widows. Personally delivering bags of groceries to them. This was a man who truly understood the values that make up a good business ethic. The answer to cleaning up corporate America is not in persuading the government to step in and force American businesses to do the right thing. The answer is in changing corporate values. in bringing more men like H B Zachery into play. In a free market society, the real power belongs to the consumers. We need to be smart, do our research and use the goods and services of a business only if it operates in harmony with our values.  The Occupiers are fond of shouting “power to the people not the corporations” but the people have had the power all along.

Good Thing I Have My Boots On (I Just Stepped Into the Primordial Ooze)

William Blake's etching/watercolour "Anci...

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I have been thinking about the controversy behind the teaching of intelligent design in the public school system. My opinion is that the classroom should be a place where the free exchange of ideas can take place. That cannot happen in an environment of political indoctrination. That being said lets examine some of the reasons for the controversy.

We are told that intelligent design is not taught because it promotes a religious viewpoint. To determine if that is true we first have to define what constitutes a religion. My Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary’s fourth definition of a religion is, ” A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” This same dictionary’s second definition of faith is, ” A belief in something for which there is no proof.” The third definition is, “Something that is believed esp. with strong convictions.”

There is nothing in the Bible, no sermon, no theological study that can prove concretely, without the shadow of a doubt that God does in fact exist.  My belief in God is the result of my faith, based on my study of the Bible, my observations of the world around me and the sum of my experiences. That element of faith is what makes my belief a religion.

On the other hand, there is nothing that science can produce, no controlled experiment, no theory, that can prove concretely, without the shadow of a doubt that God in fact does not exist.  People choose to believe there is no God based on their study of scientific theories, their observations of the world around them and the sum of their experiences.  Without proof of the non-existence of God their believe is also based on faith.  This defines Atheism as a religion.

I do not disagree that the theory of intelligent design leaves open a door to the theory of Creationism, but Evolution by its implied indorsement of Atheism also promotes a religious belief.  The public education system cannot use the Constitution to allow one belief but not another.

Let’s take a look at the first amendment. It states” Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

According to this principle, Public schools cannot compel nor forbid the teachings of evolution or intelligent design.  I say let out teachers truly educate our children by giving them a well thought out lesson on both theories, then teach them how to have a civilized debate on the subject and then draw their own conclusions.

Who’s Got Who’s Back?

Picture of Samsung Moment cell phone with scre...

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I am really irritated at those television commercials advertising free cell phones for low-income people. Yes, basic landline service should be provided for emergency purposes. No one should be left without a way to call 911. What gets me about these commercials however, is that they are misleading as to the source of the funding. One commercial practically insinuates that the Government owes you a cell phone if you are on public assistance. A women in another commercial proudly proclaims that she “has her mother’s back.”  Who do these people think the Government is? A more truthful commercial would have the woman thanking her friends, family, and neighbors for “having her mother’s back” by providing the tax money that subsidises her mother’s phone. I really feel that this is a program that seriously needs to be reconsidered. Why should my tax money go to provide a luxury that I can barely afford myself.

No Guts, No Glory

Support Our Troops

Support our Troops“. “Freedom Isn’t Free”. We see the words on billboards and bumper stickers, T-shirts and posters. They are the tagline and headline for political speeches and patriotic memorials. But what do they really mean? What is the price for freedom and how do we support the troops sworn to defend it?
I remember as a child hearing the stories of my mother, who, as a toddler underwent surgery on her foot. For years afterward she required special orthotic shoes that had to be replaced every time her feet grew. This was during WWII and rationing was in full force. Everyone was allowed only one pair of shoes a year. Including my mother. The government didn’t make a special exception because she was a child with a medical condition. Her parents didn’t demand that she was entitled to more ration coupons because of a unique hardship. Instead they gave up their ration coupons to get her the shoes she needed and when those ran out other family members, friends and neighbors donated theirs. Why was this necessary? Because the materials that were used to make shoes over here were needed to make shoes for the troops over there. Could you imagine giving up coffee, sugar, shoes and tires and sending them to the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq? How many of us who sent “goody boxes” to the troops would have done so if it meant taking the gum, deodorant, soap and Kool-Aid out of our own cupboards to send overseas? Truly supporting our troops requires personal sacrifice. My grand parents knew that.  Nobody knows that more that military families. But it is much more than that. To really support our troops we have to support the mission they were sent on.

Ever since embedded reporters brought the horrors of the Vietnam War into our living rooms, America has slowly lost its passion for freedom. Faced with the horrifying reality that the price of freedom is blood, many of us have decided that the price is too high. We would rather give up our freedom than fight and die, and to make our cowardice seem noble we buy into the negative reporting of an anti-war agenda. We believe that our military men and women are merely pawns, highly trained but brainwashed automatons sent by a corrupt government to kill babies, burn villages, exploit oil fields and humiliate Muslims. So we “support” our troops by wanting them home ….now.  We think that by demanding an end to the war we show the troops we care about their lives and families and want their deaths to have meaning. But by pulling out with the job undone and the battlefields left unsecured, liked whipped dogs with our tails between our legs we send the opposite message to our troops and our enemies.  We say “you have failed” and we no longer belive that anything is worth dying for.

I’m not naïve, I know that politicians have used wars to promote their personal agendas.  I also know that the intense mental pressures of the battlefield can alter judgment and atrocities are committed.  Yes, there are harsh and disturbing realities to war, but there are very real evils (whether ideological or personified) set to steal our dearly won freedom. To destroy our way of life. To defeat them, you can’t simply make nice, ask please and expect them to comply.  There are those who choose to forget that our troops do many good things out in the field. Even in the mist of the enemy they provide medical care, aid, comfort and security.

It is time for us to truly “support our troops” and remember that every war that America has ever fought from the Revolutionary War to today, was fought for a noble purpose. Our military has fought to overthrow oppressive governments, stop slavery, stop the spread of Communism and rid the world of insane despotic tyrants. They did not fight for conquest, land or resources. The image of our country as a “big bully” to the rest of the world is a fallacious stereotype created from the malicious propaganda of our enemies. It is time for us to quit apologising for being American. To not only welcome our troops coming home, but to also remind those still serving that “you did a good job”.  More importantly, “you did a good thing”. And we as a nation are proud of you.

Why This, Why Now

I admit it. I’m a news junkie. National, local, paper, internet, TV.  I could spend hours watching, reading, researching. The more I learn the more sure I am about one thing. Extremism is the most dangerous threat to our way of life.   Left, Right, Conservative, or Liberal, Republican, or Democrat, Tea Party, or Occupier. We seem to be as divided a nation now as we were in the period leading up to the Civil War. As we, as a people become more polarized, common sense and reason have taken a back seat to emotion, and group hysteria. Many people want change, any change, and others are mired in an inaccurate nostalgia for “the way things used to be”. Thus the need for this blog. I hope to impart some “real life” wisdom born from the experiences of someone who knows what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck, and understands the necessity of making meaningful sacrifices for children, marriage, and country. Here I will speak my mind. I will offend or anger some, but I hope that many more will be inspired and encouraged to make a difference in their corner of the world.

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