My Work

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Some Random Thoughts

Here are some random thoughts from a muddled mind as we venture into another year, this one to be called 2014.

What exactly does it mean when we use the word tolerance?  There are so few examples of it today.  Was the head duck showing tolerance?  Were those condemning him also showing a bit of tolerance?  Many who are blasting congress and the president for not being willing to work together have no concept of tolerance either.  Many today are quite willing to say that it is wonderful to be an American because we are free and we allow for differences of opinion.  But we aren’t free if we compare our current society to that of 1820, and we stab and wound anyone whose thoughts differ from our own.

To allow for someone to be different, to give others an opportunity to have different values, to have or not have religious beliefs and give the same opportunity to others would be a start toward tolerance.  One only needs to glance at a few bumper stickers to understand a vast emptiness in the land of the free when it comes to tolerating those that might be “different.”

An over abundance of government has helped create this lack, a tremendous explosion of “Nanny-ism” adds to our intolerance daily, and extremism in politics plays an essential role as well.  Laws are written with a background of “we know what is best for you,” while those in some pulpits scream racism at the least little opportunity, and children are punished for pointing fingers during playtime and going, “bang-bang.”

Our entire concept as a nation came about because of intolerance, our original laws and rules were formulated to include tolerance, to be inclusive, to allow for differences of opinion, thought, belief. 

What a boring and miserable life this would be if we were all alike.


Back in the old days, some fifty or so years ago, when I had already reached my majority and was sure that I knew a lot about life, politics, government, and on and on, I used a mantra to determine whether or not I was willing to support some proposed government program.  It was simple, concise, and complete within itself.  Whatever the program was, I asked, “Is this really a function of government?”

It worked for me during the late 1950s, through much of the 1960s, and then seemed to fail miserably.  Government programs became a way of life for hundreds of thousands of people, now numbering in the millions.  The programs did not offer a hand up, they offered a hand out.  The idea of personal responsibility was taken out of the equation by the government itself.

As the years rolled on, the government programs became more and more intrusive, delving into personal and business lives until we now have our own government spying on us and seemingly acting with a touch of pride in the ability to do so.

A compassionate government would be a good government, but an overbearing one, delving into every facet of life, is just that: overbearing.  We were offered “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” some two hundred forty years ago and we find that our lives are threatened by a government that says it has the right to kill citizens with drones, our liberty has been thwarted by programs such as NSA, TSA, and IRS, and we no longer need to pursue happiness, it will be provided by an all consuming federal government.

While some of the major news outlets are currently consumed by the fact that the roll out of Obamacare was a fiasco no one is looking at the program itself.  Yes, my darling daughter, the web site is fouled and those that built it are short sighted, but it’s the program that is wrong.  A national health policy?  Is this a function of federal government?  A national education policy?  A national policy on gas mileage?  A national policy on child seats?  A national policy on highway construction?  The government is currently pursuing the option of being in control of all water and water rights and water policy nationwide.

Why, one might ask, do we even have 50 states?  Washington and those in current leadership, Reid, Pelosi, Obama, Holder, want control over every single aspect of our lives, conception to burial, and what is most feared by those that sincerely believe in liberty, there are enough people currently being coddled in social welfare programs, to have the electoral power to maintain the effort.


Two things have happened recently, at first glance totally unrelated, that might help us understand these first few years of the 21st Century.  The botched roll-out of Obamacare on the one hand and our decision at this household to return to land line telephone service, both reminiscent on earlier times.

As a nation we have become completely dependent on what is commonly called modern technology giving it a level of trust that is undeserved.  We are willing to drive into country we’ve never been in putting our lives in the hands of a gps unit, willing to give our personal information over a communications device that is devoid of a security level that would protect that information, and feeling that we have been somehow cheated when these pieces of flawed technology fail to operate as promised.

Why are we surprised that the government can’t create a massive health care system?  Why are we dismayed when Joe Jerk steals our identity?  Why am I lost in the forest when a battery fails in my fail-safe gps unit?  We paid one hundred dollars for a hand held telephone that fails as often as it performs, but not according to the advertising.  And, we’re surprised and upset?

We have not reached the level of the Twenty Third Century (think Star Trek), where technology is all but fool proof.  Right now, all we have is we, the fools, have proven the technology has not reached a level of perfection the advertising promises.  Putting one’s entire life into the hands of a piece of technology that hasn’t proven itself reliable or safe is mostly stupid.

That’s a strong word, but if you take the time to analyze what we are doing, it has to be the right word.  One massive sun flare and our satellites are out of business, and if our entire communications system, world wide, is based on satellites --- oops.  If your defense against having personal information available to those that shouldn’t have it is based on you believing that it’s safe … oops.  If you’re going hunting, camping, traipsing in woods you’ve never been in, and you have a gps but no maps or compass …  oops.  And, if you’re the president and you … never mind, his entire administration is an oops.

A reality check came to us when Patty and I realized that we had no means of communication without a device that could fail and did regularly.  It’s almost impossible to get a real land line telephone today, and I’m old enough to remember when that old black telephone, with or without a dial, seldom if ever failed.  A fool might run into a pole and take out service, but that ‘phone didn’t fail.  You simply can’t say that about today’s technology.

I’m not willing to put that much trust in today’s tech wonders.  Twenty five years from now, maybe.  When a device has not proven itself trustworthy to a high percentage level and is replaced by a “new and better” model, that model is based on what has already not been proven.  That’s a bad little circular equation that can only lead to big problems.

The president’s complete faith in modern technology has destroyed his reputation and the health care insurance of millions of people, and it came just from poor planning and less than adequate technicians.  Think what might happen if a major sun storm would wipe out our satellite systems.

Have a great day, read good books and stay regular.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Winter's Wonders

A single storm does not a winter make, some will say, but as we moved into the month of December, it was very obvious that at least winter might be trying this year, and there is no doubt that we need old Jack Frost to be neighborly.  Winter can be frigid and dry, can be wetter than an old wet hen and not so cold, and be just right, with enough chill in the air to remind us that it is winter, and with enough snow to make our spring and summer lots of fun and productive.

Winter officially begins on December 21 this year, the occasion of the winter solstice, bringing us the day with the least amount of daylight, after which we begin the slow climb toward spring.  The ancients lived by the sun and stars, there were no calendars as such, no clocks, work began at or slightly before sunrise and ended at or slightly after sunset.  Chickens still live their lives that way.  Many in agriculture do as well, but with the advent of electrical lighting, the chickens are messed up and so is the farmer.

With the advent of civilization, back in Mesopotamia, came the advent of agriculture, but there are indications that celebrations of solstice and equinox may pre-date agriculture.  Hunter gatherers used these occasions for celebrations that may or may not have been related to some kind of religious program.  Knowing that less sunshine, thus colder weather, also brought flocks of ducks and geese into the area would be a good thing, knowing that deer and elk are more inclined to think about breeding than self protection when the cold weather begins would be excellent knowledge.

Knowing that the first storm of the season as we had this year means it’s time to unhook the hose and wrap the heat tape is that same kind of intelligence, 21st Century style.  If the solstice entices the hunters of Stonehenge to venture forth, it too makes the survivors of today wrap the pipes.

There has always been some indication that high birth rates in August and September are reflections of the previous winter, and that brings us to mistletoe, and its curious connection to Christmas.  Mistletoe is supposedly known as a pagan plant within the Roman church, yet it is freely used in many programs within the church.  Never-the-less, hanging a sprig and enticing a lovely to stand under it has benefits beyond the reach of the church.  The druids are known to have held mistletoe in high esteem.

Along with mistletoe, early civilizations used holly and ivy in their winter pageants, thus when Christianity came along, the church confiscated that for their own, saying such things as holly representing the crown of thorns, and that ivy and its clinging had something to do with clinging to God.  The so-called pagan rituals written into the new church.

Symbolism is rampant during the winter months, the ancients working overtime to entice the sun to wend its way back high in the sky, the religious adding to the fervor of celebrating coming glories, and the massive amounts of evergreens being slashed into wreaths, cut for Christmas trees, and mangled into what the British used to call “Kissing Boughs,” not being satisfied with tearing mistletoe from surrounding oak trees.

Following immediately on the heels of Christmas come the New Year, and we make all kinds of promises to ourselves, few of which last the week, and pray for more snow, until at last it’s Groundhog Day and we can start to believe in Spring.  Until then,

Merry Christmas To All