Steps

Cross-posted from Hoodathunk’s blog Story Time, Steps is a thoughtful follow-up to his recent post, What Made America Famous (which includes Harry Chapin’s great song of the same title).

It’s time to see what America is made of…will we accept the needed 12-step program to recovery?  Or as Lynyrd Skynyrd would say, “Gimme three steps toward the door?”

What life is all about…steps.  They come in all sizes, from baby to giant and they can go up or down.  Generally speaking, they are how things get done.  You don’t dump a bunch ingredients in a bowl and suddenly have cookies.  And you don’t make or break a country in one fell swoop.  Americans have something of a tradition for being impatient, even arrogant enough to think that steps don’t always apply to them but it isn’t true.  We are where we are today because we have been slowly led in a series of steps to the point where we have been desensitized to the actual steps of change.

Our education system has been tinkered with to the point where we are no longer producing individuals capable of cognitive thinking.  Our economic system has been stripped of needed regulation that once existed.  Environmental policies have been

removed to allow profits, undoing years of real progress in making our country a place heading towards a sustainable ecosystem while business could still function.  Our moral/ethical values have been undermined with a continuous barrage of incidents of increasingly bad behavior promoted as entertainment.  And our political system has just flat out gone into the toilet.  Bribery has morphed into a practice that actually defines how our Congress works.  And the cherry on the sundae is that racism and bigotry still exists to a greater degree than any thinking American believed.

We have a pretty ugly and bleak picture for where America is today.  We are no longer in even the top ten for standard of living and we only have ourselves to blame.  Along about 1980, America started to drink.  We imbibed the heady brew of exceptionalism.  We started on a course of consumerism that quickly turned into a binge.  In the 90’s we had a bit of a respite but it disappeared when we had a President who told us in response to the first major foreign terrorist attack on our country…go shopping.  He and his compatriots handed over the keys to the liquor store while they stood back and raked in the profits. Continue reading

Who are the Good Guys?

Story Time, by hoodathunk

In this world today, this isn’t a rhetorical question.  When I was a little kid I learned that America was the good guys.  As I got a little older and started having to think about what I wanted to do with my life I did so in the opening act of Viet Nam.  Saving the world from evil Communism, Domino Theory, helping the poor fledgling democratic government who asked for our aid.  That all sounded pretty good to a twelve year old kid.  Of course I was also faced with the images on the nightly news about what was going on with the civil rights movement and listening to the rhetoric from both sides of that issue.  I think that is where I began to wonder.  MLK made a lot more sense than George Wallace.

Then along comes Tet and the burgeoning anti war protests.  More information on the news about carpet bombing and napalm.  Older brothers and cousins of friends and family returning from Uncle Ho’s Happy Playground with tales that made HP Lovecraft look like Dr. Seuss.  As my high school years dwindled down and the draft loomed ever closer, I got to thinking real hard.  And studying so I could figure out just how true it was that America was the good guy and that we really did believe in Truth, Justice and the American Way.  The more I looked, the more I learned.  Even then I was more of a cynical realist but I also had a romantic optimist’s heart.

I figured out that America was really two countries.  The one we played on TV was kind, generous, altruistic and that was the one that believed in Superman and Santa.  The greater majority of the population held this in their hearts to be true.  This is still true today.  With the exception of Hurricane Katrina, the American people reflexively respond with support and effort in the face of crisis and calamity.  There is still a strong outflow of support for charities today in spite of the dire straits we all find ourselves in.  The heart of America, the belief in our TV image is still strong on Main St.

Continue reading

Aaarrrgh Begarrrrr

Another fun and timely post by our friend, Hoodathunk.  Enjoy it me hearties, or you’ll swim with the fishes!

Shiver me timbers.  Swab the poop deck, matey, piracy is back.  We’ve got our letters of marquee declaring the government backs our actions so hoist sail and hunt the prey.  Grab your fan blades, prime the file cabinets for firing while we hunt.  Arrrrgh…somebody shut that damn parrot up.

Bwaaack!!

Bwaaack!!

Profits there be in plundering the weak, the sad sacks who think that by paying us to protect them we will listen.  Yes, mateys, they hand over their coin of the realm and expect us to protect them from evils and illness but since we be blessed by the powers that be we can laugh…ha ha ha…while they wallow in their suffering.  Even better, once we take their pitiful tribute we can hand them over to the debtor’s jails while we make port in Switzerland, safe behind our bank accounts.

Never fear, my friends, the Jolly Roger flies once more!  We have bought the harbormasters and our plunder is not only secure but guaranteed.  Our profits are our freedom.  Just as it was in the old days, we have been given the right to plunder the unsuspecting in the name of making the world a safer and better place.  No one notices that we are total privateers, embracing our booty, sinking whatever we find so we can enjoy the lifestyle we have become accustomed to.  No one notices we provide no useful service other than pillage and plunder for our own gain.  Pirates gather wealth and booty because that is what we do.  Gold is our gain, our reason for being.  We don’t have to supply anything else.

Continue reading

Script boy!

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Another insightful rant by Guest Blogger, Hoodathunk (Story Time), this time taking on political and religious hypocrisy.

‘Time for a rewrite, this scene just isn’t working.’  There’s an old

saying that the pen is mightier than the sword.  There is something even mightier — the eraser.  Or, in this age, White Out.  (It is called that because paper is white and ink comes in many colors but that’s another rant).  We are seeing a movement today aimed at rewriting history on many levels.  Modern history by portraying the actions of the previous administration as glorious and noble, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.  And early American history so that the founding fathers who, almost to a man, were pretty much secular humanists according to the existing historical records which include reams of personal writings from all of them become staunch supporters of modern day Christianists.

This practice is not a new one, particularly when politics and Christianity mix.  Back some 1,500 years ago Christianity got its big leg up into the political arena when Constantine decided it would be a great idea to have a popular religion backing his political power.  He gathered up a bunch of bishops and scholars and tasked them with coming up with a codification of teachings that the general population could get behind and hence behind him.  So they vetted the existing writings, picked the ones they thought would work and came up with the beginnings of the Bible as we know it today.  They did this under God’s watchful eye, immersing themselves in holiness while they hung out as the Emperor’s guests.  (Did I mention they then tried to destroy all the existing copies of the writings they deemed unworthy?) Continue reading

Right of Passage

Have you ever wondered exactly what is up with “birthers,” “deathers,” and “tenther” types?

Our bloggy friend, Medjhiesco (aka Hoodathunk), whose blog is called Story Time, has ranted on the very possible source of the above-mentioned loons folks…

Yes, the wrong spelling but with malice aforethought.  While there are many rites of passage in many societies, all designed to signal the passage from childhood to adulthood, most are symbolic gestures to remind the participant it is time to put away the toys and move on to become a responsible, productive member of society.  This generally includes such things as

accepting responsibilities, performing actions that are not just for personal gratification and realizing the individual is not the center of the universe.  But there is more to it.  It is one of trick questions that inevitably bite one in the keister.  One has the right of passage, you can grow up and stop being a self-centered, spoiled child except with that right also comes the duty of growing up.

This is where the US is having some serious difficulties.  Most of the rest of the industrialized world has realized that cooperation and respect for others is the only way people can live together and flourish as a society.  And it is working pretty well for them.  Sadly, the US is still held in the thrall of a group of dangerous children.  Children, in that they retain the juvenile idea that the world revolves around them and that they have every right to having their every wish granted and immediately.  They have their little clique, their in crowd, and the rest of society exists just to serve their pleasure.  Our society has been slowly permeated with their beliefs, twisting the basic generosity of spirit and humanitarian ideals our country was founded on and which had served us very well for two hundred years until the idea of individual rights has become the mantra of the greedy and the frightened.

This isn’t surprising.  Children live with many more fears than adults because they lack the experience that enables them to deal with scary things.  The deregulated capitalistic types live in constant terror.  The idea that the accrual of money and power saves them only demonstrates their fear.  It is obsessive/compulsive behavior; something most would call a mental illness.  Since they can buy approval, they have foisted it off on the American public as a good thing, a goal to reach.  They don’t understand the adult concepts of compassion and responsibility to anything beyond their own self so they push their propaganda that these things are weakness.  They are like the Lost Boys and Peter Pan, caught in their fantasy only they have found they can pass their fears and childishness to others.

It is time for America to grow up.  It is time for us to realize this isn’t a kid game.  Just as the young couple who, in their youthful passion, make a new life, we are at a crossroads.  We can stay irresponsible children, ignore the magnitude of what we face and abandon our responsibility for our actions or we can stand up and do the right thing.  For too long the ‘love child’ has suffered because the parents were too frightened to do what was needed.  It is time to put down the Ipods and jet skis, time to quit hiding behind the juvenile idea that a society can exist without the participation of every member who is capable.  And that it is up to those who can to help those who can’t find some way to add what they can.

There is no mention in the Constitution of the Right of Passage because it didn’t have to be there.  That one is too basic and one that is too personal.  Society either grows or it stagnates and dies.  We get to choose.

Moral Ethics

I found another fine post by our bloggy friend, Medjhiesco.  His place is called Story Time.  Enjoy…

Or Ethical Morality. It has always bothered me that these things, taken separately or together (though I have a difficult time doing so) have been the bailiwick of organizations and schools of thought, which claim, divine prominence. At least here in the Western world. Why must these things come from outside, dictated by external authority? I know the Church has spent centuries building the case for this and ramming it down the throats of society with many claims of hellfire and damnation. It doesn’t say much for

humanity that they have accepted this without one shred of proof. Not to mention many exhibitions of proof to the contrary. It has been my observation that when something is true, it finds its way into our reality whether we humans want to accept it or not. Nor does it matter to the truth if mankind believes it or not. Nor does the irony of it escape me.

An example of this is the present move to ban gay marriage contracts. I can understand why the religious organizations might find ways of taking offense so if they want to keep their dogma from blessing, sanctifying or whatever these unions, that is their right. But the last time I checked we had a nation where Church and State are separate. Freedom of religion also includes freedom from religion. The legal process of entering into a contract is one of the core building blocks of democracy. Not that long ago other types of people were prevented from doing this and these egregious wrongs have slowly but surely been corrected. Women can now participate, as can blacks, Hispanics, Asians. It wasn’t that long ago that society felt it immoral for people of different races to intermarry. This whole magilla is just more of the same blind prejudice. It is evidence that morality and ethics are not divinely inspired and enforced. Just as it is evidence that people are so very selective about what they believe to be God’s will. If they were truly interested in the moral fiber of this country they would be more concerned about the fact that about half of all marriages end in divorce (What God has joined, let no man sunder) than the idea of a tiny number of people wanting to exercise their civil rights by making a contract between them that allows tax breaks, rights of certain legal powers (next of kin) and trying to provide a stable home atmosphere.

This happens when responsibility for either morals or ethics is not personal. It opens the door for such silliness as; everyone else is doing it or if I want to be accepted by (insert whatever group you want) I have to subscribe to their tenets. It is compounded when the sources of these morals and ethics have split in so many ways that it is impossible to find much continuity in the original concepts. Sort of like being a Democrat. There is no source so people make it up as they go along, picking and choosing from the limited and ambiguous guidelines to make things work for them. Usually in the short term. And the groups that are supposed to have the true skinny either change their tune to pander to the childish needs of the moment or fall back on the inflexible dogma that made the mess possible in the first place. This what happens when people abdicate their personal responsibilities. Christianity made this particular bed and it is slowly coming around that it is a most uncomfortable and useless one.

Part of the problem today is communication. As the song said…”Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.” It has only been in the last century that information of all sorts was made available for mass consumption. And only in the past decade or so that it has surpassed human capability to process. Prior to the printing press, people had to depend on their local padre to tell them what was in the Bible. This kept a nice captive audience. For local news it was minstrels and merchants who traveled and dispersed news that didn’t come through the Church. A very slow process and easily contained and controlled. That the bulk of humanity in Europe was illiterate helped as well. Don’t worry, chilluns, we will tell you everything you need to know. Which isn’t much.

So enter the printing press. And Martin Luther. Now Martin was not the first to try and reform the Church. He was just luckier because he came along just after Gutenberg came up with the printing press. With information beginning to flow people were exposed to more ideas and the novel concept of thinking began to show its ugly head among the masses. It was the beginning of the end for the nice closed system the Church had built, an end that is finally coming to fruition now 500 years later. The main difficulty today is that nothing has risen to replace the old way, which is why we have this void of morality and ethics today. Organized religion is still fighting to retain old patterns that can never work in this modern age rather than searching for ways to make it grow. They are battling to keep Christianity a child when it is time for it to become an adult. Instead of embracing all of the writings of the early Christian era, they insist it isn’t needed. They don’t see that something has to not only be allowed to grow, it must be nurtured and encouraged to do so. Maybe mankind in the 5th century wasn’t ready for more of the information.

Keep reading…

A Whole Mess…

…of Stupid. Yessiree, Bob. Been makin it right here in America for bout 50 year. Mebbe longer but we didn’t git serious bout it til real recent. Took us that long to sneak up on folks so’s they didn’t git all riled up. Yessir, been

Mmmmm...

Mmmmm...

dumbing folks down little bit at a time and sellin em pie-in-the-sky so now they got doodly squat in their pockets and fer some, less than that in their heads.

Sort a like you comin in this here cafe and orderin yogurt and fruit and a bran muffin. And now yer complaining cuz I set down one of the finest plates of biscuits and gravy ever served. Lemme tell you, bud, ole Cookie, he was a cook in the Army and our boys dearly loved his biscuits and gravy so you best just pipe down and support the troops. Heckfire, I know you didn’t order it but its your patriotic duty to eat what gets put in front of you.

What’s that? Well, I guess you could take your bizness elsewhere. My cousin Billy owns the next place down the street and Aunt Lou has a diner in the next town so you might git something different there. Doubt it though. See, we done figgered out that if everybody gits fed the same, they come to ’spect it. Boy howdy, ain’t it jest grand how you can go jest about anywhere’s in the whole US of A and find you the zact same food waitin fer ya? Same clothes, same groceries, same jest about everything. See, we done figgered it was too damn hard on folks if they had to go and think about makin choices, we just set things up so’s they’d be made fer em so’s folks could git on with the important stuff like where ta spend a car payment on a night out jest a pushin ‘n shovin to listen to some clown sing or watch a buncha folks chase a ball around.

Now don’t you go gitting all upset about them sick folks who cain’t git health care. If God didn’t want them to be sick, they wouldn’t be. Sides, if they had more gumption they’d be takin care of their own selves. And you jest know God knows what he’s talkin bout, ’specially since he’s done got him so many people gitting paid big money to git his word out.

Aw, now you done let yer food git cold. No nevermind, we got a whole messa stupid jest awaiting to dish out. Maybe we cain’t sell it to furriners but we done got us a real captive market right here at home.

~Written by our bloggy friend Medjhiesco.  For more of his writing, visit his blog here.

Entropy

 

 

This post is by guest blogger, Medjhiesco, and is also posted on his blog Story Time.  Enjoy!

 

 Entropy: The process of degradation of a system into decay. Or maybe the Newtonian Laws about inertia.

For centuries we have believed these things only apply in the physical sciences. I’m wondering if there isn’t an application in the economic world. As in the bigger something gets (more inertia) the more difficult it is to change direction. Or that everything answers to entropy.

 

Call it the Jabba da Hutt school of economics. Slowly built, using intimidation and manipulation through fear of reprisal until an entity gains a modicum of control. As the control increases, the morbid obesity of the controlling entity does as well. Fear plays a major part in the building phase but as the controlling entity gains weight the ability to respond diminishes. Take the US car companies as an example. They slowly built themselves into a juggernaut, burying rivals (like Tucker and Rambler) until they controlled the market. Or the banks in NY, slowly building to such a size they were ‘too big to fail’.

 

I submit, they are too big to survive. They, both the banks and the car companies, are outsized, incapable of generating what they need to survive. They are depending on the fear tactic that they are too big, too important to be allowed to die when the truth is they have out lived their value. Let GM and Chrysler die off, abandon their US operations and leave them open to someone who has not become so bloated they will listen to the needs of the market rather than dictating them. Both are looking to retain life by importing vehicles made off shore that they have been selling to the rest of the world. Both will die off in the US for their blindness.

 

Entropy. The process of degradation of a system into decay. Welcome to the US. The only problem is that the people who have not been part of this gluttony just don’t want to accept it. Let the big dogs fail, die off. May the American public discover they can throw the chain around Jabba’s throat. They aren’t too big to fail, they are over ripe.

 

Read more of Med’s writing at Story Time.

 

Look here for the image source.

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