Monday, January 28, 2008

A Response to GDAEman

I was going to respond to GDAEman's comment to this post in the comments section. I didn't realize I was writing another complete post!

An introduction is in order: GDAEman is a regular commenter on the Patriots and Tyrants blog co-hosted by Scott and me. (If you consider our posting on P&T to be regular.) If you looked at all three of our personal blogs, you would probably say that we shouldn't be agreeing on anything. However, we all believe there is a greater good than the two political parties we succumb to, and have some good conversations that transcend the current goo called U.S. Politics.

I also added GDAEman to my links on the right today. Welcome, GDAEman!

Here it goes.


Agreed that we have gotten smarter on some principles, and made amends (pun intended). There is something to be said about "life, liberty, and property" though, that gets lost in the mix.

That which I am given, I tend to find less valuable. I'm not talking about family heirlooms or priceless treasures here, which are given to us and are extremely valuable, but primarily only to us. I am talking about commodities on the low end, and common assets that were once seen as luxuries - houses, cars, etc. - on the high end.

Those things that I earn - through profits, wages, battle, debate - I tend to defend and protect. Why do inventors protect and defend their ideas? Because of the years of toil and strain. It's pride of ownership.

What happens when pride of ownership disappears? When someone buys a house, and gets it on a zero down-pay mortgage, then cannot afford the mortgage, what did they really lose? Not the $20,000 they saved up for 5-10 years, because they didn't save it in the first place. Not the ding to their credit score, since their credit score might have been bad already. And who cares when it is socially acceptable to declare bankruptcy at the drop of a hat?

I'm not bundling everyone into the same category here in the sub-prime fiasco. My point is that it's easy to distance yourself from failure when there is nothing to defend, nothing that you owned.

We don't have to earn much nowadays to have more than people in 65-70% of the world. The monthly earnings of some entitlement recipients, which aren't taxed, rival the post-tax discretionary incomes of some low-level professionals and many blue collar workers. We look to be given more, instead of looking to work for more.

We are so far removed from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, where U.S. liberty was defended on American soil. This pride of ownership issue not only applies to tangible goods, but to ideals as well. Today, we take our liberties for granted, as though they were given to us as a gift, not as something for which we sacrificed lives. We don't "own" our country any more. Pride of ownership is taboo, because it makes those that don't own feel inferior. We can't have that now, can we? Instead, we must build up their self-esteem, tell them how wonderful they are, yet still not nurture them into being thoughtful, productive, progressive members of society.

What I'm saying is that we are a country of enablers. We enable politicians to take us for granted, to use us as their own pieces on their big Risk game board. I can hear it now:

"I want to be red this time."
"Okay, I'll be blue."
"Can I play, too?"
"No! There is only enough room for two of us."
"But what about all those other playing pieces?"
"Won't work. We'll both gang up on you so you can't win."
We enable businesses to take advantage of us by trying to create legal monopolies and stifling competition. We accept 'free' offers for cell phones, wireless service, and for 'click points' on websites. Or we register our buying habits with grocery stores...gas card companies...all so we can pay a little less, or nothing at all, on our next gas purchase or big-ticket-I-still-can't-afford-it fantasy vacation (it's for the children, after all). Nothing like letting all these companies know exactly what our buying habits are. We might as well just give them the keys to the house!

We enable political action groups to tell us when to emote, while never actually delving into why they want us to emote. Why should I MoveOn, when it's just about bashing the Right? Same with Kos. Same with many right-leaning websites. Heck, lefties bash Kucinich and righties bash Paul. What's up with that? Each party now cannibalizes their own non-conformists, instead of letting the voters give them the thumbs up or thumbs down.

We enable the media to whittle down our presidential nominee list for us by volume of positive or negative coverage.

And, conversely, politicians enable us to ask for more, because they keep giving it to us. We get lazier and lazier, ask for more and more, and defend what we have less and less.

Okay, enough ranting. My point is that the Constitution may have been written by wealthy men looking to protect their assets from other wealthy men, but look what happens when we don't want to protect anything - ideals, borders, faiths, liberties. I remember seeing a graphic about the rise and fall of civilizations, I think by Benjamin Disraeli. Looking at the natural regression of civilization after we get "too much", civilization declines rather quickly. From what I recall of the representative graphic, we are almost halfway down the decline.

Geez, I didn't think I would be writing a sub-post. :-)


***I wish I could find that graphic somewhere, something about the body politic. Someone please help; even just citing a legitimate reference would be good.

Affirmative Action Presidency

Are we going to make Barak Obama the first affirmative action President?

I'm not talking about his credentials. I'm not talking about his races, considering he is multi-racial. I'm not even talking about his beliefs or political aspirations.

I'm talking about the people who claim him for their own.

Is the need to vote for "my person" going to put us in a position where qualifications and an affinity with the candidate's direction of the country don't matter?

Okay, stop laughing. I know they don't really matter to any of the candidates still seriously in the running today, or to the people that will vote for them and only them. For those folks, it's still about "us vs. them".

But, seriously...are Oprah's disciples so starved for a "black" man to be president that, should a white man with the same political beliefs and ideals run against other white men, her disciples wouldn't look twice at him, but would instead vote for one of the other candidates?

And there, you would have it. The "unqualified" white version of this man would remain unqualified. The "unqualified" mixed race version of this man would be promoted over others more qualified. That sounds like affirmative action to me.

Of course, that would mean we had qualified candidates. But that's for another post....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Song Quest

Hello friends,

We are at it again. Running in Circles is looking for new songs to add to its repertoire. We are looking for a couple different types of songs:

- sing-along anthems, like Journey's Don't Stop Believing
- dance or danceable rock songs

The way this works best for our band is that each band member picks five songs they would like the band to consider. Everyone listens to those five songs, and the band picks one. Six members, six songs selected. Unless our keyboardist says, "just tell me what to learn," then it's five new songs.

So I have to pick five songs. Here is my short (too short) list from which I will choose my five:
- Lovin' Every Minute of It - Loverboy
- Oh Boy! - Buddy Holly
- Any Way You Want It - Journey
- No Matter What - Badfinger or Def Leppard version
- Somebody's Baby - Jackson Browne
- Heart & Soul - Huey Lewis & the News

Like I said, it's a short list. Got any other ideas?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Super Test

With Super Tuesday coming soon, I think it's time to have a Super Test. The test is simple.

1. Read these articles:

Article #1
Article #2
Article #3

2. Answer this question: what does each article reference that which our current crop of Big Box candidates only gives lip service?

If you fail the test, then maybe you shouldn't vote in the November Presidential election, because you have no idea on what this country is founded.

If you fail the test, you should visit my political links on the right, because you just don't get it. back to your regularly cordial Quipper.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rooting for the Favorite

The Engineer does not know who Bill Belichick is. He does not know what that name means to Cleveland sports. All he knows is that the New England Patriots had no losses prior to today's conference championship football games.

I asked the Engineer who he wanted to win the games. He chose New England and Green Bay. When I asked him who he wanted to win the Super Bowl if those two teams played, he chose Green Bay. (Must be something with the green.) He is asleep now, but will be disappointed tomorrow morning to hear that Green Bay lost. My guess is that he will pick New England.

I, on the other hand, really don't care who wins. Like most of the playoff games this year, it's a case of which team I disliked less. (Sounds like how some people approach voting in elections, doesn't it?) Whereas the Engineer is compelled to root for one team every game, I can watch a game without needing to root for one of them.

This is how I will be watching the Super Bowl. Generally, I don't like New York sports teams. Then again, I've had my fill of Boston teams winning all the marbles, too. The Belichick angle does not bother me, although I know it bothers a lot of other Clevelanders. The guy is an emotionless, abrasive, arrogant genius. We see what he might have been able to do in Cleveland if we weren't so star-crossed with our quarterback at the time, Bernie Kosar. I still can't root for the Patriots, though, but I'm tired of seeing the Manning quarterbacks in Super Bowls.

What is a football fan to do? I will watch the game considering the historical implications on the sport itself. The Patriots are in their fourth Super Bowl in seven years, and could still have an undefeated season. The Giants could, ironically, play the giant killer. They've seen this script before, and didn't like the way it ended during the last game of the regular season. And how's this for drama: New England and New York, playing the final game of the post-season after New York tried to end New England's undefeated year during the last week of the regular season. Poetic.

And if the game is anything like the regular season ender between the two of them, it should be a very good game.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Under the Bus?

I was presented with two fabulous opportunities this weekend. From the business and Christian perspectives, however, I couldn't take them.

See, both were opportunities to throw someone under the bus. One was band-related, and the other work-related. Some heat was exchanged in the band-related issue, but nothing significant will come of it. I know who the culprit is and what to expect of them. I don't have to be happy about it, but will keep a closer eye on certain situations in the future.

The work issue relates to a C-level employee and a Senior Vice President. They tried throwing me under the bus on Friday, but they could only do that by providing scant information about a situation they knew about, but let fester in myriad ways. I could expose a significant number of issues relating to these persons' department, but that would do nothing. Instead, I took the high road and answered the charges factually, thoroughly and professionally.

I will be working with these folks on a huge conversion project this year. This project, by its mere existence and sponsorship by our new owners, Farmers, will eliminate virtually all of the causes and symptoms of the current situation. These two folks already do not trust IT, yet become their own worst enemy because they then try to have unqualified staff do the work IT should do. So why should I fan the flames of animosity if everything will be sorted out in the next twelve months?

In the meantime, I do what I do best: use my project management and organizational skills at work, and play bass and entertain the crowd at gigs. But, in both situations, I also bite my tongue and exercise patience, neither of which are easy for me.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Mulligan '08

Between illness, lost days at work, and other things going on for family and friends, I am officially declaring a mulligan for 2008. We can all forget that the last week really happened, and can start the new year over tomorrow.

Happy New Year everyone!