Saturday, May 07, 2005

V-E Day May 8, 1945

Tomorrow is Victory in Europe Day plus 60 years. I was 7 weeks old when victory was declared. I don’t remember it at all. I do remember the aftermath.

Growing up in small town America there were many opportunities to see the strong young men and women who had served in that brutal war. When I was 10 years old most of those veterans were an average age of 35; still young, erect and strong. On Memorial Day, Flag Day, 4th of July, and Homecoming we would have parades and the honor guard of veterans carrying the flag would walk by. Even at 10 yrs old I was impressed by the stature of these people.

I remember seeing Gold Star Mothers, those who had lost sons in battle. I didn’t understand it then. I barely do now. There were signs in windows in our town demonstrating the same thing. It was a holy thing.

These noble men and women are disappearing from the face of the earth. I wanted to once more say thank you to that Generation Brokaw called Greatest.
May those of us who now must carry that banner recognize and value the trail blazed before us and travel it with proper reverence. I will

Clinton, I miss him, kinda

I saw XXX President Clinton on C-Span today. He was making a speech to a Jewish committee of some kind. I listened for 5 minutes or so. He was very good. I had forgotten how deep in knowledge and analysis of situations he could be. It was astounding.

I think George Bush is wonderful, a man of God, a strong ethical leader, a sure voice in an uncertain time. Lots of other things Clinton never was.

But, ol Bill was the best when it came to talking about issues on which I have little comprehension like Mid East Peace. He is a very smart man. When he talked to us as President, even though we knew he was lying much of the time, it was a pleasure to hear him do so. Like lovers in an illicit affair, nothing anyone says is truth but its very exciting stuff at the time.

I wonder if the cloning folks could do anything about getting a few speech making genes into our beloved leader. I’ll bet ol Bill wouldn’t miss em a bit.

Too Much PowerPoint Already you ADHD Heads

Teach me everything you know about trees Gene. Do it in 5 minutes. Alrighty then. I have 30 years in the business, a post graduate level of education in horticulture, and you want me to give you a 10 bullet points overview of everything I know. Curse you evil PowerPoint.

As if we didn’t have people with short enough attention spans promulgated by remote controls, microwave ovens, and now the internet, everyone thinks everything is easy like the home makeover shows. Give us a day and we’ll give you the world. 22-minute problem to full resolution TV sitcoms have created an expectation that anything can be mastered if we just had the right PowerPoint presentation. It’s not me you understand, it’s the poor PowerPoint presentation you prepared. We used to have Cliff notes to read great classics. Then they got too long.

I hear this all the time:
  • I don’t have time to read like you do
  • Just give me a quick overview
  • Teach me how to __________________
  • Could you give me one page that tells me all about it. BUY A BOOK!

I know there are all kinds of quick and dirty cribs on the market to help you learn history, WordPerfect, math, exercise. You have seen these laminated sheets for sale in truck stops printed both sides that purport to give you all the information you will ever need. I confess I have bought them.

Video professor will make you a software engineer.

Then there were the quick learn a language books complete with vocab flash cards. I have several; Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, French and others. I lived in the hope that in the trip over to those countries I could master the language enough to “pass”. ADHD. If there were only a 5-minute PowerPoint to master Latin we would all be better for it? The illusion is we really believe this is possible. Its not!

So, my friends admit some of your ADHD’ness is laziness. Buy a book. Work. Study. Master it. For goodness sake try living without PowerPoint for a month. The shakes stop after two weeks.

I don’t know why this is so long, the ones who needed to read it stopped after the first line. Sighhhh

Blogging = The Pain of High School

1959 I became a freshman in EHS. Gangly, skinny, and a little nerdy.

This new world was Ruled by Seniors and Juniors who didn’t know or care that I existed. There were Jocks who roamed the halls with virile accomplishments. There were the tag along sycophants who were their “best friends”. There were the popular pretty girls. There were the Rock Star Guys, president of or leader in everything.

Much of the time in High School was about connections. If I knew him and he knew her then maybe she would know me. Jockeying for position was the game.

A few Juniors and Seniors befriended me. Very few. I was thankful for those who did. More like a charity case I guess. They had their clubs, cliques and groups most of which I was not allowed to be part of. There were teachers who tried to organize relationships into formal structures. This nearly always failed.

So the system developed into Freshmen and Sophomores laughing uproariously at Juniors and Seniors jokes to ingratiate themselves to these power brokers. Everyone wanted to be recognized and be part of the in crowd.

There were a few freshmen who were track stars, good looking, and who were adopted quickly by the Seniors. Most of us less athletic types who didn’t mesh well with the groupthink were seen as outsiders and shunned. It was political gamesmanship at it’s worst.

Heavens forbid if you had a view on something that you shared with an upperclassman that was outside the mainstream. You were considered narrow-minded or judgmental or not able to think for yourself (an accusation they often made against my brother John). We had to make a decision to either fit, go along to get along or be made an outcast. That has never been my style.

Some freshmen with good ideas and great ability chose rather to blend colorlessly into the wallpaper than to exercise their individuality and be put out of the High School social order.

Eventually I became a Senior. Self-absorbed I performed the task of ignoring the Freshmen coming up below me admirably. They were just as awkward an clueless as I had been. I would like to think that I was helpful and encouraging. I don’t know. I was to a few. Some of them remember me better than I remember them.

It is just about 6 months now since I entered Blogosphere High School. My experience has been nearly the same as 46 years ago. I click around 30 or 40 blogs from time to time and find little cliques and clubs most of whom I don’t want to be part of. I find a few which look like-minded. But you have to hold your mouth right to be accepted. I want to remember what this was like so later I can help upcoming freshmen. Nice to have a second chance to be nice.

The Blogosphere is just like High School. Isn’t that sad how far we haven’t come?

Friday, May 06, 2005

I do believe, I do, I do maybe

I just read this review of The Revenge of the Sith. I want to believe it. I really do. My expectation on this is so low the bottom is up. Is it possible?? Is it? We'll see.

But, I’m a Person of Faith, Really, Honest, Cross my Heart, Swear to ????

I read a couple dead tree blogs every day. Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune. It takes a lot of pulpwood to feed my habit.

Today’s WSJ editorial page has a couple op-ed pieces about the religious right. I don'’t mind if a person wants to opine and says right off the bat, I’'m not a Christian, or I’'m an atheist. I can tolerate that. It’s pretend Christians I struggle with. You either is or you ain't.

I draw the line with phony baloney quasi Christians on NPR and talking head shows whose primary drone is, “"I'’m a person of faith and I don'’t agree"”. They will then trot out their thesis based purely on popular opinion. Their mantra is, "I go to church, I pray, I believe in God". I know lots of people who have all those qualifications who have nothing in common with the believers of conviction they criticize. They might be Muslim, Bahi, Hindu, Taoist or Buddhist. I don't consider them a brother or sister in Christ. A brother or sister in Christ knows who their father is and what his last will and testament says.

Barry Lind is the poster child, a “Minister” who’s primary service to the kingdom of God is seeing to it we don'’t have any of that sort of thing in any form anywhere. Not my spiritual kin.

So, Mr or Ms person of faith who disagrees so vehemently with the Christian Right in this country, Here’s a short quiz to see what the cultural divide really is all about..

Answer Yes or No to these questions:

  1. I believe the Bible is the word of God and true from Genesis to Maps.
  2. I believe God is involved in the world and is passionate about it.
  3. I believe there is a literal heaven and eternal damnation.
  4. I believe Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Sampson, David, Daniel, and Noah are real people who lived and died on this planet.
  5. I believe evil is real and that there is a real Devil (Satan) who roams the earth.
  6. I believe life is sacred to God and cannot be taken without consequence.
  7. I believe miracles still happen in response to prayer and fasting.
  8. I believe God is a good God and wants only the best for his people.
  9. I believe Jesus was born, lived, died and rose from the dead and lives today
  10. I believe Jesus is truly God and the only way to redemption and salvation**.

Total the number you don’'t agree with completely and you will see why you might consider yourself a person of faith, but we don'’t. That is the true cultural divide. Sorry.

**I consider Devout Jews to be my Brothers and Sisters, I can't explain it but they are. I'm grafted in. They have just not yet come to faith in Jesus. They will.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Long Long A'GORE

Growing up in rural ND as a teenager was a mixed blessing. In early High School I had a girlfriend. There's not much to report from that relationship except this one event. One sunny September afternoon I was walking her to the corner after school. She was upset, crying (15 yrs old). I being the center of everyone's universe in my eyes asked her what I had done to make her cry. She set me straight with these words, "What makes you think everything is about you". She was right and I never forgot it. I also didn't marry her. But thanks Jean wherever you are. I learned that day that sometimes people who are close to you have pain a part of which you don't play at all. It is egocentric to think you do, so get over your big bad self. It's not always about you.

This rush of memory (something those of us in our 7th decade do a lot) brought to you courtesy of Eric and his mention of a new compilation of Leslie Gore. You Don't Own Me is a great song and a good thing for young men to learn. I did.

Tip of the hat to Julie, see, I learned how to use the permalink. HA!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Miracles come from Expectancy

Many years ago I stopped to see an old college friend while I was working in Bismarck. She was operating a travel agency and I was organizing a Dale Carnegie Sales Training class. There's not much about the visit I recall except a poster on her wall which said "Anyone who doesn't believe in Miracles isn't being Realistic".

That saying impressed me. I have thought about it many times. It was a wind in my life's sail.

I do believe in miracles. I have seen many. Some come out of trust and faith in the potential for good from choices we make. Not everything we try works. Trust me, I've failed in some spectacular ways. I've been nearly bankrupt 3 times in my life. I have very wealthy (7 figures) twice. I'm just off the 3rd of 3.

So I should be more conservative, more cautious, not take a risk, right? I read this recently, "If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable you disconnect yourself from what you truly want and all that is left is a compromise".

So why this now? I don't know. I just know that I am too conservative sometimes. I have built some substantial businesses in my life. I have had a few crash and burn with disastrous results.

So I'm starting all over again, at my age. Oh, I'm OK, I'm not missing any meals (my waistline demonstrates that). I enjoy good things as much as ever.

I just have a new sense of optimism and expectancy I haven't had in a long time. I have no idea what it looks like. But there is a pony in that pile somewhere.

Wiser people than I have pronounced this truth of looking for good and shunning security for the sake of security. I was taken up short one time by a friend who said to me, "If you were as conservative and cautious as you are now 20 years ago, you would never have accomplished everything you have till now". He shocked and awed me. He was right. So, here are a few other thoughts. Maybe for you today.

Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem more afraid of life than death.
James F. Byrnes (1879 - 1972)

Security is a kind of death.
Tennessee Williams (1911 - 1983)

There is no security on this earth, there is only opportunity.
General Douglas MacArthur (1880 - 1964)

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature....

Helen Keller (1880 - 1968)

The one above is my favorite, written by a deaf, dumb and blind woman given up for nothingness of a state institution. Saved from it by an anointed woman of God. To offer hope and inspiration to those of us blessed to see, hear and speak. Press on! Expect a miracle!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

And you thought slavery was abolished

I’ll have to go to the final prequel to Star Wars. I am dreading it. I have come to the conclusion after the last two I suffered thru that if George Lucas would just come on the screen after we are all seated in the auditorium and say, “OK, I got you. You’ve paid your 8 bucks, you have your 11 dollars worth of popcorn and pop. Since it’s no better than what you were going to see, we just want to thank you for being a total idiot. Enjoy your popcorn and go home.” The screen would then go dark and that would be that. It would at least be honest.

I have to go you understand; Just as I had to see Matrix 2 and 3. I would have preferred they would have given me a pass on going; I would have mailed in my 8 bucks and skipped the popcorn. Now that I think of it, there are almost never sequels which even come close to the original. Rocky, Superman, Batman, Predator…..

That’s why I shudder to think that Adams wrote other books relating to Hitchhiker’s Guide. I smell a sequel. YUCK.

On the other hand there have been a very small handful of sequels that were as good as and in one case better; Spiderman and the Star Trek Next Gen movies.

So, like an obedient drone I’ll file into the theater in a couple weeks and whine like mad. Wait, I already did. I’m a prisoner of hope; I keep hoping I’ll be surprised. What are the chances? Maybe I’ll win a million in the lotto. Bout the same I’ll wager.

We’re a Nation of Laws - and that's good?

I’ve heard this mantra enough lately to come to the conclusion that it’s doublespeak (1984). For instance, during the Terri Shaivo incident we heard constantly that “we’re a nation of laws”. This uttered by spineless politicians who knew the right things to do. Even my beloved Rush Limbaugh is in lockstep with this drumbeat.

In Hitchhikers Guide there were the fat ugly Vogons; bureaucratic drones that took their lunch breaks and did all their work according to a set of rules, laws and regulations that made everything gray. The irony was not lost on me. We are becoming Vogons. Not only in government but in business too.

I remember when AT&T was under the impression that it made laws in the late 70’s. If you tampered with or sent digital information over a voice line it was “against the law”. It was a culture shock when telecom was deregulated. When I told an AT&T employee that there was no law behind their rules it tipped her over. Companies always become more and more bureaucratic until they implode or are taken over by a more flexible creative competitor. It’s part of the life cycle.

It’s also part of the life cycle of nations. Germany and Russia were more and more nations of laws (particularly about Jews and political opponents) until they imploded. I worry about the USA.

I am not a liberal by any means. I do question everything I see or read. So sometimes what I hear my conservative brethren saying I question just as vigorously. Does that make me a libertarian? I don’t think labels work here. I think, I question. Is it still legal to do this? Will I go to jail?

Which brings me to the point: If as US politicos are famous for saying, “we are a nation of laws” my question is; Who’s Laws? The talk shows are full of self-righteous folks saying, “keep your nose clean, behave, and you don’t have to worry about the law”. I have done enough in-court time to tell you that it isn’t that simple. Not until you see the laws tyranny do you understand it’s potential for danger to you and yours.

Since 9-11 2001 we now have cameras everywhere, TSA, bank transactions over $1000 tracked, Patriot Act, Government of the, by the and for the Corporations (ie new bankruptcy bill), and a thousand other growing intrusions into your life’s road until you can barely keep from falling off this government imposed straight and narrow. In fact oppression comes when you do fall off and they have something to hold over your head. (Ve haf vays of making you talk)

Who’s making these laws we are a nation of? Un-elected Judges, bureaucrats, obscure lines in laws passed in omnibus spending bills, and rouge lobbyists with deep corporate pockets buying for sale politicians.

That’s who. Not you, Not me. It’s out of control.

This is not innocuous. In Toronto Canada they have allowed Sharia courts to pass judgment on Muslims. Can we be far behind? We need Muslim controlled oil don't we. How could we deny them this in the good old USA.

Iran is a nation of laws too. Take a look at this Justice being handed out.

Do we simply want to be a nation of laws abandoning all sense of reason and redress? I think we need to rethink this whole thing. Not lawlessness. Maybe laws bigger than a nation. Think about it. How about revisiting the bill of rights?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Hitchhiker, a Guide

I just saw A hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I recommend it IF:

* You are willing to suspend your judgment
* Having a really good time is your objective
* If you don't mind your sensibilities messed with

I DON'T recommend it IF:

* You aren't a science fiction fan
* You like logical story lines
* You have a hard time with underlying themes (there are some)

I sat down in the theater chair prepared to be hypercritical and disappointed. I was going because I enjoyed the old TV series. I came expecting to harangue on how bad it was.

Was I ever pleasantly surprised. I laughed and marveled thru the whole think. I did wonder how much LSD it took to write this?

I don't know if the author really intended this to be an argument for intelligent design, God's existence and the power of pursuing the answer. You knew I would end up here. It does. It also pokes appropriate fun at "Religion".

In any case, it was terrific. I will see it again on DVD.

Haunting Movie Scenes Become Reality

Years ago I saw two movies on cable TV that haunts me to this day. I don’t remember the name of either one but I remember a scene. If you know the name of either I would appreciate it.

Movie One: A queen or some mighty power middle ages or earlier. She is worshipped by her minions. The scene, she and an opponent or potential ally are standing at the bottom of a hill. On the hill is a long sharp blade. Perhaps designed as a method of execution. As a demonstration she looks up the hill, points to a minion and signals him to come to her. He understands her, leaps upon the blade on the hill and is cut in half from the groin up. She (the queen) is unmoved by this display of obedience and uses this senseless act as a card in negotiations.

Movie Two: An evil leader (oriental as I recall it) has a group of trained competent young men who serve him fearlessly and in absolute obedience. He is meeting with an opponent. He has brought with him what appear to be two body guards, dressed in black. During the discussions the evil leader snaps his fingers and the two young men hang themselves in 2 seconds and die. The evil leader is unmoved. The opposition is impressed.

I don’t understand wanton waste of life, any life. I believe it is wrong to commit suicide. I believe that if you do it’s insanity. I’m the kid who at the age of 5 killed a robin with a toy bow and arrow and grieved. I’ll hunt. But I don’t kill without a reason. I’m not against just war. I’m not against capital punishment. Some cancer must be cut out.

I have preached on these two movie scenes. The issue for me is the devil’s ability to delude people so completely that they give their lives without any regard for the consequence. In both cases in the movies, no thought was given to the fact that these people who killed themselves deluded end up in Hell. I know that about now if you don’t share this doctrine you just tuned me out. Hear me out.

That’s why the last couple day’s headlines disturbed me. What in the world kind of delusion demonically inspired causes this kind of wanton waste of life.

A man bombs a group of people and then as the police come, jumps to his death; an hour later his fiancĂ© and sister fire several rounds at a bus and then shoot each other. Columbine was a horror when the two young men killed several others and then shot each other. How is this horror with the same deception from the pit of hell any different. That young man, his sister, and his fiancĂ© woke up in Hell. I’ll bet when he gave her the ring and they were planning their life together this wasn’t in the honeymoon plans.

The other was the large number of suicide car bombings in a single day in Iraq. 5 people die in one day for what?? Gallows humor says they come from the Bagdahd suicide hotline. "You're depressed? Too bad. Listen can you drive a stick shift?" Funny? Not really. The truth in the humor is maybe these are self destrutive people in the first place. But the question is: How is that different from Columbine? How is that different from the horror of the two movie scenes I mentioned? People totally deluded giving their lives not in the line of duty but because some evil prince of darkness tells them to.

I don’t understand it. I think the level of delusion must be incredible. If you don't believe in Satan take another look. He's still an evil prince or princess calling people to eternal destruction.