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After toiling under the hot sun for several hours, a man sat down on a rock slightly bent, sweating profusely, to catch his breath.

A worm, looking for shade, passed between the man’s feet and was pummeled by hot drops of sweat from his fingers and face. The worm slipped into the dirt and mused to himself: Even the rain is hot today.

Lack of Olympic sporting events

I guess Friday didn’t have enough sporting events going on for NBC as they started their taped 3-hour coverage segment with a mushy 15 minute tribute to the 1996 women’s gymnastic team. Really?

Add to this that, NBC crammed what felt like 20-25 minutes of advertising into each hour and you find that there was only about 95 minutes of viewable sporting news coming out of the Olympics on Friday. How about showing events in which USA is not expected to win gold? Wouldn’t that be interesting?

No? Hmmmm …

On balancing the federal budget ….

Cutting the budgetAs much as we all may distrust the 536 folks charged with setting policy, there are rational agenda-free offices within the government doing a bang up job and quietly making interesting though potentially controversial suggestions on fixing the very institutions they work for. More on these folks later.

Our sputtering economy is tops on everyone’s minds these days. And I applaud both the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movements for venting their frustrations. This is America; this is a country built upon the premise that everyone has a voice. The problem with both movements is that in their frustration they rail against institutions that grant these rights and freedoms and their stridency while applaudable is not built upon promoting actionable solutions. Instead they are founded on the premise that that which they find objectionable must be torn down or removed. The government just can’t stop spending money tomorrow. Wall Street can’t stop working tomorrow or pull all paychecks. It’s not black and white, it’s 256 shades of gray. And it’s in recognizing and solving for gray that real workable solutions can be achieved.

Let’s face it, whether we like it or not, we’re all (well, maybe almost all) in this together and there are always workable solutions. This is a country that came of age and became a world leader because we were more industrious, more clever. We threw caution to the wind and came up with better more effective solutions. The time is ripe for being clever again. The time is ripe for making tough decisions and leading again by example. There is no better way to lead than by putting your money where your mouth is.Lincoln Memorial under construction

Let’s take the deficit and our debt issue…..

Continue reading On balancing the federal budget ….

New use for TV

Yes, I an an inveterate complainer about television (because it could be so much more, so much more). And I rail against the media a lot because they have strayed so far from just giving us the facts and letting us do the thinking (there’s a concept). But recently I was finally able to put television to good use.

Every couple of years we get introduced to a wacky bird. Ten plus years ago it was a cardinal, seven years ago it was a sparrow, now it’s a robin. The sparrow found an outdoor light it liked on the porch and decided to build its nest there. We found the nest a little too late. Once the nest was built and the eggs laid down, we were screwed. Bird poop everywhere and for several years after that the mom or the kids would always come back to the same light and build a new nest (in the interim we would attempt to remove every trace of the nest), drop off a couple of eggs, hatch them, poop all over and then take off. Yeah, nice knowing you too.

The cardinal as well as this new robin found their adversary in their reflection in the window. The cardinal was actually very entertaining because it was my office window right behind my desk and the cardinal was bright, bright red. I love the color red, especially a flitting-about bright red on a summer’s day against all the vegetation green. It always brings a smile to my face and so did the cardinal for about three to four years. He always came back, attacked his image in the same window, the same pane. Blunted knock, knock, knock against the window. He never beat his adversary, the adversary never left. The two of them just entertained.

Now we come to this year’s robin. He found his opponent in the door off the deck, which was unusual but again entertaining, for about a week. Then I happened to go out on the deck and see all the bird crap all over the furniture and on the door jam.

So I did the man thing: attempt to outwit the bird. I moved all the furniture away from the door so at least the bird now couldn’t come to rest on the furniture, see its reflection and go on the beak-butting attack. In theory it worked. The bird though flew a little farther down and came to rest on the railing, happened to look around and, lo and behold, saw a foe in the side window and attacked. Now there’s bird crap all over the railing and elsewhere. I outwitted myself in other words.

But I was not about to be bested. It happens that the room with the door and window is the family room which has a TV in it. My thinking now was that maybe the light of the television would interfere with my crapping robin’s reflection enough to discourage its behavior. I didn’t need sound, I figured, just image.

Son of a gun, don’t you know it worked.

Children’s shows (bright lights) seem to work best. I knew there had to be some good in television, I just wasn’t looking hard enough.

Been Away

What can I say? I been away. Not sure there’s much else to say but that I’ve got reverse writer’s block. Rather than having absolutely nothing to say and not knowing how to say it, I have the reverse situation: I have too much to say, but I’m not sure I want to say it.

I’ve spent my entire life being an optimist or at least looking at the bright side of things, especially when they go down hill. But these days, I feel beaten down. Oh, I have lots to be happy and thankful (great family, friends and job – what more does a guy need, I ask ya?), I really do.

But it’s when I look out around me and I see all the crap that’s going on, it’s tough to keep a positive attitude. I see Congress write 2,000 page bills and I scratch my head thinking “Why does something as simple as that bill consume 2,000 pages?” Well, because lawmakers have to throw their pork and crap into it. They can’t leave well-enough alone. The problem is: this is how business gets done (it’s how the governor of Wisconsin snuck a right-to-do-whatever-I-want-and-call-it-“for-the-good-of-the-state” clause in the union-busting bill a month ago).

Sadly, we are in a place now where the only things that will ever get made (or done) are those that generate money. It will have nothing to do with “for the good of mankind”. So, oil is here to stay until we run out. If cellphones require precious minerals in their production, we will rip up the crust of the earth to get those minerals, until we run out. If Yellowstone National Park or a specific beach on Maui were the only places where one could find those precious mineral, ooops, too bad, you know there would liens put on those places and they would be inundated with backhoes in a matter of days). Heaven forbid there might be a better undiscovered need for those minerals.

Look, I’m saddened by our fanatical rush to greed, by our headstrong haste to embrace gossip, rumor and everything insubstantial.

I just don’t know where to start. Like Hercules being tasked with changing the course of a river, is it possible to get people to think again? To be real people again? To lead productive lives rather than waste theirs vicariously reliving other lesser-spirited people’s scripted reality-TV stories?

Is it possible to compel the media to shut up and just give us the facts? I don’t want their opinions, because -I hate to say it- none of their opinions have any value.

I’m back. Just looking for a voice to shout with. It’s awfully loud in this here Internet cloud with everyone clamoring for your attention! 🙂

The voyeur’s path to heaven

Man has always had voyeuristic tendencies: we like to watch. Some like to participate (especially if they are getting paid for it) but most people like to watch. Whether it’s sports, movies, pornography, the stock market, reality TV,  security video cameras, or listening to 911 calls, we like to experience voyeuristically.

What’s scary about this is the trend towards more demeaning content. I’m not a prude and I’m not a cross-waving born-again Puritan bashing anything that reeks of sin and temptation. But it seems to me that these things we are watching are altogether taking on a crueler bent. Pornography is becoming more demeaning and cruel. Reality TV is anything but real and the only shows that make it are those which feature personalities outside of the norm (Ozzie and Harriet wouldn’t make a pilot screening today). Wholesomeness is out, violence, cruelty, and marginal behaviour is in.

Even sports cannot escape the demeaning lights of society. Fights and screw-ups get more play than achievements. Violence and pushing inane envelopes are applauded. Simple achievement is nearly irrelevant.

We are sadly evolving into a nation/society/culture of voyeurs.