Politics…When Did Lying Become OK?

The following is an Email forwarded to me by a friend. Some variation of it has been around since 2011 (at least), but, it keeps surfacing.    Although normally I just ignore nonsense like this,  I decided this time to run through the claims and see if there were any valid claims in the pile.   I also put in some rebuttals, here and there, too.   As you can tell, if you plough through it, there is very little truth to this…. The Sad thing is that there are a lot of folks, including some fairly well educated people, who believe this nonsense… I apologize for the length of this posting, but, it kind of snuck up on me, and, by the time I realized how much there was, my CDO had kicked in, and I found it impossible to NOT rebut the lies I found.

 So…Here it is:
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WHEN – he [President Obama] refused to disclose who donatedmoney to his election campaign, as other candidates had done, peoplesaid it didn’t matter.

     While it is true that Pres Obama hasnot taken the time and expense to list the millions of people whodonated small amounts to his campaigns, to imply that OTHERcandidates DO provide this information is an out and out lie. Not a single candidate ofeither party is willing to release donor lists without being forcedto do it. After all, how many donor lists do the Koch brothersshow up on? Almost none….yet they are pumping billions of dollarsinto the political system to manipulate it so as to turn it intoTHEIR vision of paradise. And folks, if you think that vision isgood for you….Well….think again.

WHEN – he received endorsements from people like LouisFarrakhan, Muramar Kaddafi and Hugo Chavez, people said it didn’t matter.

     It is true that Louis Farrakhan saidObama was America’s New beginning. But, considering the crap thatpeople of color have had inflicted on them for decades, I suspect that almost anyone that was not anold, white guy would look good.   Also, Pres. Obama IS a community activist, trying to improve the lot of the disadvantaged in America… Since then, Farrakhan has hadplenty of criticism of President Obama. 

     Kaddafi not only did notendorse Pres. Obama, but, the fact that a little while after takingoffice, the USA, under the control of Pres. Obama, encouraged hisoverthrow and execution, which, if Kaddafi HAD been a supporter of President Obama would have put a chill on that relationship. . Remember that under earlier presidents, the USA had bombed many ofKaddafi’s homes, killing his children and wives, but missing him –so he would have no love for ANY part of the USA. 

      Chavez calledDubya “The Devil”, but did say he thought Pres. Obama was anintelligent man, and was a good president. Venezuela has sufferedfrom sanctions so that sounds more like sucking up to try and getaccess to American Markets than any real love for Obama! It issimplistic and unwarranted to imply that the endorsement of any ofthese men means that Pres. Obama is not one of the best presidents America has had in the past 30 years…

WHEN – it was pointed out that he was atotal newcomer and had absolutely no experience at anything exceptcommunity organizing, people said it didn’t matter.

     No one comes into the presidency thefirst time as an experienced veteran. Also, Pres. Obama is aconstitutional lawyer and one step below a full professor in thesubject. He has, indeed, done other things in his life. Besides,if the President is supposed to understand America and do what isbest for ALL citizens, then, which is the better choice? A high-endlawyer who is so rich that they do not know how to use a barcodescanner, and whose interactions with poorer folks is very carefullycontrolled and limited, or a man who was down in the trenches, seeing how the government and other citizens screw each other over,how the citizens financial situation is eroding away thanks to thegreed of Wall Street, and, fighting to bring justice, fairness andmercy to the needy in society? I would go with the latter myself.

WHEN – he chose friends andacquaintances such as Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn who wererevolutionary radicals, people said it didn’t matter.

     Do you remember the 60s, when Ayersand Dohrn were part of the Weather Underground? It was a time whenradical changes were happening in American society, and, thegovernment was proving exactly how much of an enemy of the people itwas. It is true that they made some unwise decisions during thattime, that had long-term consequences. But, they faced them, paidtheir price by spending time in jail and on probation, and, today aretrying to be the best citizens they can be. As a part of that theyare still questioning authority…but, now it is within the system. Can any of us honestly say we got through our 20s without making ANYbad decisions, or taking actions that, looking back, might have beendone differently? I think not. So, let him/her that is withoutsin cast the first stone.  Again, while he might have been acquainted with them, there are no documented signs that he embraced their radical philosophy.

WHEN – his voting record in theIllinois Senate and in the U.S. Senate came into question, people said it didn’t matter.

     Ok…I did not search out everycriticism of his voting record, but, the first several I found wereeither on Constitutionally questionable laws, or, complicated and(in some cases) unnecessary laws that were subject to mis-use. SO, since the only folks that seemed to hate him for his votes areRight-Wingers, it sounds more like an agenda thing than a rationalthing.

WHEN – he refused to wear a flag lapelpin and did so only after a public outcry, people said it didn’tmatter.

     He stopped wearing the pin as a matterof course after 9/11, because he saw a lot of people wearing it thatwere not acting like patriots and good, American citizens. Herealized that it had become a meaningless symbol, and so decided hewas going to make sure his ACTIONS spoke to his patriotism. I haveto say that I agree, as I have seen too many people in the pastcouple of decades who have been waving the American Flag like anicon, and, acting more like the Taliban or ISIS. Actions speaklouder than words….

WHEN – people started treating him as aMessiah and children in schools were taught to sing his praises,people said it didn’t matter.

     There is a book, “A child of hope”that is written on about a third grade level, that pushing the simplelessons of hard work, honesty, caring for others and trying to makelife better. It is apparently used in some schools as readingmaterial. Now, it is for 9 year old kids, so of COURSE it issimplistic…but, I do not see anyone besides Conspiracy Loonies andRight-Wingers who are claiming that it paints Pres. Obama as theMessiah! This is spin to push and agenda.

WHEN – he stood with his hands over hisgroin area for the playing of the National Anthem and Pledge ofAllegiance, people said it didn’t matter.

     There is a little to much interest inPres. Obama’s groin here. There is one -and only ONE pictureshowing him standing with his hands clasped in front of him duringthe Anthem. And yes, like most men, his arms are long enough thathis hands are indeed, at groin level. Pres. Obama is a human likethe rest of us. Who knows how tired he was that day, or distractedbecause of worries. Will we condemn a person for ONE mistake? Itwill go a long way towards cutting the excess population….and I amsure that the author will be one of the few remaining alive, as sheis obviously perfect every moment of the day.

WHEN – he surrounded himself in theWhite House with advisors who were pro-gun control, pro-abortion,pro-homosexual marriage and wanting to curtail freedom of speech to silencethe opposition, people said it didn’t matter.

     Pres. Obama, like every otherpresident before him, has advisors that, in general, agree with hisplatform. This is hardly a surprise. After all, Dubya had Cheneyas his number one advisor, and HE wants to take us back into themiddle of the Cold War, and bankrupt America with war spending thatenriches him and his buddies. As for the homosexual marriagething…No one is forcing anyone to get married to a same-sex spouse. Rather, the push is to give those people who happen to love and bepair-bonded to a same sex person the same rights that every otherAmerican has. Finally, while there have been some issues withfreedom of speech that I am not happy with….the changes are so farfrom what is implied here that they are not even on the same planet. After all, neither the Author, nor any of the congress-critters, orany member of Fox News, or Rush Limbaugh, or any of a thousand otherpeople foaming at the mouth with hate over what President Obama isdoing has vanished, or been censored. Know what would happen ifPres. Obama was REALLY intent on silencing opposition? Let us sayyou are shaun Hannity, or Rush Limbaugh. One day your neighborswould wake up to find the front door of your house standing open, andno one there. There would be a chance that the same thing wouldhappen at the homes of your parents, brothers and sisters. Everyonewould be gone, and you would never be seen again. It MIGHT happenthat in a few decades, some explorer driving through the deserts inthe South West might find a femur sticking out of the ground, but,even that is unlikely. There might be a little burst of puzzlementover where you had gone, but, that would pass quickly, and you wouldbe forgotten. That does not happen in America, because ALLpresidents respect the Constitution and the limits it places onGovernment….We are a society of laws…not a dictatorship…andevery one should thank their lucky stars this is true.

WHEN – he said he favors sex educationin kindergarten, including homosexual indoctrination, people said itdidn’t matter.

     Actually, there have been a number ofscientific studies that have shown that a simple introduction tohuman sexuality to young children produces  positive results. They tend tobe more understanding of others, respectful of the other sex, andless likely to end up unwed parents in their late teens. Of courseone has to work on the level the kids can deal with. It is not likethey are showing them hard-core porn and saying “This is how mommyand daddy made you”. As for the concept of homosexualindoctrination….that is so delusional that it ceases to be funny. It does not exist because homosexuality is not a choice! It is aresult of the way the brain is wired, and, that is genetic in nature. If you really believe this…then, let me ask the author…when didYOU decide to be heterosexual?  That having been said…yes…as a partof that sexual education, the subject of LGBT folks will beaddressed…it cannot be ignored. Also, by the by I suspectpedophilia will be talked about too…

WHEN – his personal background waseither scrubbed or hidden and nothing could be found about him,people said it didn’t matter.

     Unless there is some proof to supportit, this statement is nothing more than an out and out lie,  included only to push the author’s agenda.

WHEN – the place of his birth wascalled into question, and he refused to produce a birth certificate,people said it didn’t matter.

     Why am I not surprised that the authoris a birther? I am fairly sure she will hold onto that delusion no matter what. Thefact of the matter is that there is much independent evidence thatObama was born in Hawaii, and, he HAS released a copy of his birthcertificate. So, again…nothing more than a lie to push anagenda.

WHEN – he had an association in Chicagowith Tony Rezco- a man of questionable character, who is now inprison, and had helped Obama to a sweet deal on the purchase of hishome – people said it didn’t matter.

      Another lie. Rezco and Obama’s onlyconnection was that they bought lots next to each other that had beensubdivided by the original owner. Later on, Obama did buy a strip onRezco’s land, to get a bigger yard (I assume for his kids). Rezcohad nothing to do with Obama’s purchase. He got a discount on thehouse because it had been on the market for months and it was WAYoverpriced. His bid was a bit better than the one OTHER bid for thehouse, so Pres. Obama was able to purchase it at a notable discount..

WHEN – it became known that GeorgeSoros, a multi-billionaire Marxist, spent a ton of money to get himelected, people said it didn’t matter.

     It is true that Soros contributed amillion bucks or so to a PAC trying to elect Pres. Obama. On theother hand, the Koch brothers are doing the exact same thing…so Ilook at this as a wash. They are both massively rich 1%ers trying tochange the world. As for him being a Marxist….does the authornot realize that becoming a billionaire and being a “real”Marxist are contradictory views of reality – unless she is talkingabout Groucho Marx, I suppose… So…meaningless spin thatbasically says “A rich guy contributed money to get a Democratelected”. Sadly enough, for the haters, ALL Americans have the right of free speech.  This means that anyone can contribute money to whatever candidate they think will be best for them.  I suspect that if some investigation were done, the author would find that Soros has contributed to Right-Wing candidates too.

WHEN – he started appointing WhiteHouse Czars that were radicals, revolutionaries, and even avowedMarxist/Communists, people said it didn’t matter.

    First off, Czars is a media term, nota title. It is meaningless and bestows no more power than theoffice they are in has. Secondly, almost any activist of that agewas likely a radical or revolutionary in the 60s. But what we arein youth is not what we are as adults. It is true that one of hisappointments (Anthony Kapel Jones) said he was (for a period acommunist in the early 90s. However, he was only in theadministration from March to September of 2009, so, I do not think hehad any great influence on policy or actions. I suspect a littleresearch would find records of EVERY president firing someone whoturned out to have questionable associations. So…again…spin topush and agenda.

WHEN – he stood before the Nation andtold us that his intentions were to “fundamentally transformthis Nation” into something else, people said it didn’t matter.

     This is true. But what WAS thattransformation? I submit that his goal was to try and turn Americaaround from the path of self destruction it was on. He wanted tostop the level of unbridled greed and remove the unregulatedplayground that allowed the hedge fund managers to destroy America’seconomy, leaving it on the edge of death for a decade or more, whilewaltzing off with billions of dollars for themselves. Thesefinancial games not only came close to destroying America’s economicposition in the world, but, it put millions of Americans in financialhardship, and in many cases ended up with them being kicked out ofthe house they had worked so hard to get. It has left many otherswith huge burdens from paying obsolete mortgages on houses that areworth 60% of what the original price was. It has hurt retireesbecause the investment income they depend on for survival and acomfortable life have taken huge cuts. Some folks have had theirnet worth cut by 60% or more….and have gone from a relativelycomfortable state to wondering how long they can stay in their homes,and, each month having to decide “what do I spend money on? Medications? Utilities? Food?”.

     As a part of the economic destructionof America were the multiple war fronts that Bush and Cheney pushedus into. Those debacles cost America a couple TRILLION dollars,thousands of dead, and tens of thousands of maimed young men andwomen that will carry the scars with them for the rest of theirlives. The sad thing about this includes the fact that we werepushed into it by a lie. There were no weapons of Mass Destructionleft. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan were sources of the terrorism that brought down the towers on 9/11, and, the end result was that welost. We are leaving the area in far worse shape than we found it,and, our actions while there have managed to create many, many peoplewho now hate America and what it stands for so much that they are ahuge pool of potential terrorists to draw from. And of course, Ihave to point out that after years of Pres. Buish chasing Osama binLaden, and failing to capture or kill him, in a surprisingly shorttime, President Obama achieved that goal, and sent him to feed thefishes. More importantly, President Obama has worked, in spite ofmassive resistance from the Right, to draw down our presence in thearea. Cut down the costs associated with the war, and get our kidsback without more dying.

     In addition he vowed to address themassively abusive health insurance industry. Before the ACA, itwas hard to get coverage. If you could get considered for a policy, the companies would dig into every aspect of your life, searchingfor a “pre-existing condition” that would either allow them tojack up your premium, exclude the condition from the policy, or use it to denyyou coverage. Many of the policies that WERE written were total junk. Theywere cheap…true enough, but God help you if you tried to file aclaim. At that point, you would discover they covered nothing, andhad such a high deductible that you would be out tens of thousands ofdollars before they paid a penny out. Far too often the first actiontaken by the insurance company when you filed a claim was to cancelyour policy. Even if you managed to keep the policy, every yearyou would see rate hikes of anywhere from 20% to 60%. Now, many ofthese abuses are regulated and either gone or on the way out. Recent studies have found thatthe actual cost of medical care in America is dropping to sanerlevels too…

     To touch on the economic situation inAmerica again for a moment…he saw an America where the Stock marketwas augering down, and the deficit was expanding like a balloon on acompressor. During his administration, the Stock Market hasrecovered to values not seen since the late 90s. The deficit iddown to something like a third of what it was under the previousadministration, and continues to shrink. The economy is still verybad and very fragile, but, unlike under the previous administration,it IS recovering and may, in another few years reach a stronger pointthat is not on the ragged edge of disaster.

     I could go on, as the list of thingsthat are GOOD about President Obama wanting to change America is alengthy one, but, I think this makes the point. It sounds to me asif the author is wanting America to stay on a path that is guaranteedto end up with us losing our position as a world power, and becomingmore like England, in terms of our economy and influence.

WHEN – it became known that he hadtrained ACORN workers in Chicago and served as an attorney for ACORN,people said it didn’t matter.

     This is a quote from Politifact.comthat pretty well covers this : “Obama once took on a case forACORN. But Obama was never a staff attorney for ACORN. He did not doongoing work for the organization. He handled o ne case along withtwo other attorneys. ACORN was one of several plaintiffs. And theU.S. Department of Justice sided with ACORN in the case. We thinkRove’s comment suggests a deeper legal relationship between Obama andACORN than actually existed. And so we rule Rove’s statement HalfTrue.”   Also, there is NO documentation that he ever “Trained ACORN workers”….So..this is nothing more than  spin to push the anti-Obamaagenda.

WHEN – he appointed cabinet members andseveral advisers who were tax cheats and socialists, people said itdidn’t matter.

     I  could find ONE person – Tim Geithner– who the IRS dinged for taxes he had not paid. In that case, his(fairly reasonable explanation) was that he was under the impressionthat the IMF (which he was attached to for four years, was payingthem. He did file the paperwork, apparently…. Now, I have hadthat happen to me, when I worked for a bit as a consultant. I wasassured that the client was paying the taxes…yet…a few yearslater I got dinged for them because they had NOT done so. In anycase, he did not argue about them, but, paid up, so…this seems likeMORE Spin.   As for the Socialist issue….Having a society with a large amount of Democratic Socialsm is not a bad thing, and, if the author thinks America is not that, they are , again, delusional.   The Police Force, the Fire Department,   the Department of Transportation who keep the roads in shape, and build new roads,  are all examples of socialism in America that work pretty well.

WHEN – he appointed a Science Czar,John Holdren, who believes in forced abortions, mass sterilizationsand seizing babies from teen mothers, people said it didn’t matter.

     Apparently, in 1977, Mr. Holdren wrotea book looking far into the future and speculating about possibleroads that might be taken to do population control. Indeed, one ofthem was forced abortion…but only one among several possibleoptions. It was philosophical debate people…not a statement ofcore values. Also, what is important are his beliefs NOW and how hewould handle reality now…Are any of us hanging onto the views we had in 1977? I suspect some are butmost are not, because we have lived about 40 years, and, have a muchbroader view of reality. As for the Seizing babies from teenmothers….not only does that happen today, it has nothing to do withPresident Obama. It has happened for decades! Also I have heardpeople of all political persuasions arguing that this would be a goodcourse of action. Now, the sad thing is that they really have noidea what to do once they have the babies in hand….as there are noeasy or inexpensive answers to that part of the equation. So…doesMr. Holdren “BELIEVE” in these actions? I have not found asingle website that has any objectivity that says “Yes”, andnone of the rabid Right Wing sites care to provide quotes or links tosupport their stance. Once again…a lie in support of an agenda.

WHEN – he appointed Cass Sunstein asRegulatory Czar who believes in “Explicit Consent,”harvesting human organs without family consent and allowing animalsto be represented in court, while banning all hunting, people said itdidn’t matter.

     Ok…Mr. Sunstein apparently supportsthe idea of an “Opt Out” policy on organ donation. Right now,America has an “opt in” that requires the survivors to givepermission to harvest organs. This “opt out” policy is quite common in Europe, actually, and, does not mean that the family cannot tell the doctors they do notwant to donate. What the “Opt In” policy  does do is increase the number of organs available for transplant.  It also saves time in harvesting theorgans, and, with organs, time is of the essence. Every minute theorgan is left in the body it deteriorates. So if it can be removedquickly, it is going to be in better shape for transplant. An “Opt Out” policy kicks up the number of availableorgans from the 2%-5% in America to the 70% or so that is common inEurope. The more organs that are available, the more people thatcan be saved, and live a relatively normal life.         As for therepresenting animals in court….that stems from many years ago, whenMr. Sunstein was advocating for abused animals, and proposed thatFederal law be changed to allow humans to go to court to try andredress the injuries done to them. Finally, about hunting….He isagainst hunting for sport or fun…and there I agree with him,because I look upon anyone that derives joy from the act of killinganother living creature to be damaged. He is fine with defense, orfor food, though…again… I agree with him there.

WHEN – he appointed Kevin Jennings, ahomosexual and organizer of a group called Gay, Lesbian, Straight,Education Network as Safe School Czar and it became known that he hada history of bad advice to teenagers, people said it didn’t matter.

     First off, why would the sexualpreferences of the director of a program to keep schools safe placefor everyone be an issue? Almost all pedophiles are straight men, soshould we complain about one of THEM being appointed to direct theprogram? The “bad advice” accusation has been made before,and, frankly, is questionable. In any case, any advice was givenafter he was (technically) and adult, and in private conversations. In addition, the events in question happened over 20 years ago… Are any of US giving out the same advice now that we would have 20years ago? I hope not…because there should be   a lot of maturing and increase in wisdom ove that 20 year period of living.

WHEN – he appointed Mark Lloyd asDiversity Czar who believes in curtailing free speech, taking fromone and giving to another to spread the wealth, who supports HugoChavez, people said it didn’t matter.

     Well, first off, Mr. Lloyd was notappointed by President Obama. He was appointed by the FCC -which isan independent agency of the government. Look up this guy’sacademic credentials. He has been an advocate for free speech andcommunication for decades. There is NO sign that he supports HugoChavez ,either – although, even if he did…so what? He was not ata policy level, or a cabinet level, so, it would be unlikely that hewould have ANY influence over America’s path. Granted the FCC doescontrol communications, but, there have been ZERO instances of itattempting to censor speech that did not support the currentAdministration. Fox news, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh as well asmany others are still on the air, are they not?

WHEN – Valerie Jarrett, an avowedSocialist, was selected as Obama’s Senior White House Advisor, peoplesaid it didn’t matter.

     Valerie Jarrett was not, and is not acommunist or socialist. The closest she MIGHT come to it is that herfather was rumored to have been a part of the Party for a while. But, again, no actual proof. A lie, created by right-wingercommentators to push their agenda.

     WHEN -Anita Dunn, White HouseCommunications Director, said Mao Tse Tung was her favoritephilosopher and the person she turned to most for inspiration, peoplesaid it didn’t matter.

     Spin and a lie created by clipping outa sound bite. Here is what Ms. Dunn actually said:

     “DUNN: A lot of you have a great dealof ability. A lot of you work hard. Put them together, and thatanswers the “Why not?” question. There’s usually not a goodreason.  And then the third lesson and tipactually come from two of my favorite political philosophers, MaoZedong and Mother Teresa — not often coupled with each together, butthe two people that I turn to most to basically deliver a simplepoint, which is, you’re going to make choices. You’re going tochallenge. You’re going to say, “Why not?” You’re going tofigure out how to do things that have never been done before. Buthere’s the deal: These are your choices. They are no one else’s.  In 1947, when Mao Zedong was beingchallenged within his own party on his plan to basically take Chinaover, Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist Chinese held the cities,they had the army, they had the air force, they had everything ontheir side. And people said, “How can you win? How can you dothis? How can you do this against all of the odds against you?”And Mao Zedong said, you know, “You fight your war, and I’llfight mine.” And think about that for a second.  You know, you don’t have to accept thedefinition of how to do things, and you don’t have to follow otherpeople’s choices and paths, OK? It is about your choices and yourpath. You fight your own war. You lay out your own path. You figureout what’s right for you. You don’t let external definition definehow good you are internally. You fight your war. You let them fighttheirs. Everybody has their own path.

     And then Mother Teresa, who, uponreceiving a letter from a fairly affluent young person who asked herwhether she could come over and help with that orphanage in Calcutta,responded very simply: “Go find your own Calcutta.” OK? Gofind your own Calcutta. Fight your own path. Go find the thing thatis unique to you, the challenge that is actually yours, not somebodyelse’s challenge”

WHEN – he appointed Carol Browner, awell-known socialist as Global Warming Czar working on Cap and Tradeas the nation’s largest tax, people said it didn’t matter.

Not only is Ms. Browner NOT asocialist, but, “Cap and Trade” is a Republican idea, supportedby them for years now.

WHEN – he appointed Van Jones, anex-con and avowed Communist as Green Energy Czar, who since had toresign when this was made known, people said it didn’t matter.

     Touched on this earlier. Van Joneswas a part of the administration from March 2009 until September2009. He was forced to resign not because he was an ex-con or acommunist, but, because he went onto news programs and ranted aboutstuff that showed he was kind of fanatical and bat-shit crazy. So…Pres. Obama took the step to keep his administration in theModerate area….and keep the fanatics out of it.

WHEN – Tom Daschle, Obama’s pick forHealth and Human Services Secretary could not be confirmed because hewas a tax cheat, people said it didn’t matter.

     Actually, there were several reasonsthat made it obvious he would not be confirmed. The tax issue arosefrom the fact that he neglected to report the company car and driverhe had as “income” Apparently everyone was so used to himgetting it free as a Senator, that it slipped through the cracks. He did realize the mistake, and self-reported it. He was a bit slowpaying it because it he had not realized it would be such a “Jawdropping amount”. A bigger issue was that in the years since hehad left the Senate, he had worked as a lobbyist for the health careindustry – and that was who he was going to be overseeing. He mayhave thought he could do it objectively, but, I suspect theconfirmation committee would have disagreed.

WHEN – as President of the UnitedStates , he bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia

     And what? This proves that SaudiaArabia is over America now? This is a tempest in a tea cup,frankly. I recall this, and it was more of a polite “incline”. If nothing else, think of it as an example of noblesse oblige onthe part of President Obama. At least he did not go strolling inthe gardens hand in hand with the king!   Now, who would do that?  Oh yes, It was George Bush!

WHEN – he traveled around the worldcriticizing America and never once talking of her greatness, peoplesaid it didn’t matter.

     A lie. The closest to this thatPresident Obama came was to say that we had made mistakes, and wewere trying to clean up our act. He has NEVER slagged the Countryeither when in or out of America. However, when the government orpeople have been failing to live up to the American Ideal, he has notbeen shy about pointing that out.

WHEN – his actions concerning theMiddle East seemed to support the Palestinians over Israel , ourlongtime ally, people said it didn’t matter.

     Not even going to get into that barrelof worms very far. I will say, though, that Israel’s hands have notbeen clean for decades in this conflict. They have taken actionsthat, if it had been anyone else, would have caused the entire worldto condemn them. It is quite likely that President Obama has pointedout this fact, and suggested that everyone clean up their act, andtake a step back. President Obama would like to see a solutionthat allows the Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace, and notbe turning the entire area into a blood-soaked rubble pit. SO, ofcourse, he is suggesting solutions that involve the Palestiniansgetting a little bit, and the Israelis giving up a little bit. Hardly a reason to condemn him, or imply that he is doing a bad job. Would the author rather that we send over a flight of b-52s andcarpet bomb Gaza into a glass-lined swimming pool, so the Israeliscan build a Howard Johnson’s next to it?

WHEN – he took American tax dollars toresettle thousands of Palestinians from Gaza to the United States ,people said it didn’t matter.

     This is a lie.   America did spend several millions of dollars, but, it was for humanitarian aid (Food, water, blankets, clothing, etc)  and was NOT used to relocate anyone to the United States.

WHEN – he upset the Europeans byremoving plans for missile defense system against the Russians,people said it didn’t matter.

     It is true the missile defense system was scrapped.   And, I am sure there were some Europeans that were upset about it.   However, the threat is not from Russia, but, from Iran and similar countries in the Milddle East, so the attention was turned to changing the location of the equipment.   Add to that the fact that it did not work well at all, and, it finally became obvious to even the dimmest wit that it was a waste of money.

WHEN – he played politics inAfghanistan by not sending troops early-on when the Field Commanderssaid they were necessary to win, people said it didn’t matter.

    So, the author is second-guessing the President’s decisions here?   Show some proof that the field commanders EVER said that it was a winnable war, or that there were complaints that Pres. Obama sent in troops after too great a delay.   The lie here is that anyone really thought that a war in the Middle East was winnable!   It never has been, and, America is not a miracle worker that COULD make it happen.  

WHEN – he started spending us into adebt that was so big we could not pay it off, people said it didn’tmatter.

     A lie.   Since President Obama has taken office, the deficit (and therefore the growth of the debt) has steadily decreased until is is a fraction of the legacy the previous administrations left.   In addition….to ignore the fact that the current debt is the product of decades of foolish policy decisions and pork-barrel greed (mostly by Republican administrations)   is denial of the first order.   If the author wants to find a scapegoat for the debt,   then look to the administrations who passed huge tax cuts, mostly helping the rich and ultra-rich,  yet, continued to spend money like drunken sailors.   Again…those were Republican administrations!

WHEN – he took a huge spending billunder the guise of stimulus and used it to pay off organizations,unions, and individuals that got him elected, people said it didn’tmatter.

     Unless there is documented evidence of this, then this statement is nothing more than a lie, attempting to smear the President.    

WHEN – he took over insurancecompanies, car companies, banks, etc., people said it didn’t matter.

     Ok…President Obama did NOT take over anything.   Some banks, which were insolvent were closed and sold to other banks.   Every automobile manufacturer who received the stimulus LOAN (mentioned above, by the by) has repaid it, with interest.    As for insurance companies being “taken over’….what companies?   I do not know of a single instance of the government taking over an insurance company.   And it did matter because these actions saved millions of Americans from even more financial losses, and, helped regenerate automobile manufacturing in the USA….which kept people working and earning a living.   To me, that sounds like a good thing!

WHEN – he took away student loans fromthe banks and put it through the government, people said it didn’tmatter.

     This is a lie.   The administration has NOT removed student loans from the private banking system.   Now, the government has always provided student loans,  but, only as one of several options.   

WHEN – he designed plans to take overthe health care system and put it under government control, peoplesaid it didn’t matter.

     The author is saying this like it was a bad thing, and, frankly, people DID say it mattered!    After decades of being abused by the Health Insurance industry,  the ACA addresses and regulates the worst abuses, and, ensures that ALL Americans can have access to affordable health insurance.   Already millions of Americans that did not have insurance now DO have it, and are able to deal with health issues before they get to be so much of a crisis that a trip to the ER and its horrendously expensive care is the only answer to curing the problem.    To imply this is a bad thing for the citizens is, again, a bald-faced lie.

WHEN -he claimed he was a Christianduring the election and tapes were later made public that showedObama speaking to a Muslim group and ‘stating’ that he was raised aMuslim, was educated as a Muslim, and is still a Muslim, people saidit didn’t matter.

     This is such an obvious lie it is amazing anyone has the courage to drag it out again.   It has been refuted so often it is not even funny.   Like it or not, Pres. Obama is a Christian, has been a Christian for most if not all his life, and, has no inclination to become a Muslim.    Now, it is quite possible that, when younger, he did attend a Madrass (which, by the by is the exact same thing as the Christian Schools in America),  as part of his educational journey.  However, he was there to learn reading, writing and arithmetic, just like the rest of us…not to be indoctrinated into a religious belief.   His attendence at a Christian church for his entire life indicates that he is not a very good Muslim at all.

     That having been said….why does it matter?   If the author will read the Constitution, she will find that one’s religious beliefs are specifically banned as a criterion for qualifying for an office in the government.   As long as the president fulfills the duties he swears to in the Oath of Office, who or what he worships is not relevant. 

WHEN -he set into motion a plan to takeover the control of all energy in the United States through Cap andTrade, people said it didn’t matter.

    Ok…again…Cap and Trade is a REPUBLICAN plan, not a Democratic plan.   Secondly, the government already control the    Electric Utilities which keep our lives ticking along. Utilities like this are a governmental function, and even the privately owned generating plants are heavily regulated.   Finally,  President Obama has been in office for five years or more now.   There are no signs that any such energy takeover is happening, and, to say it is being hidden is foolish.  Nothing that big could be hidden from the media, and, they would be all over it like ducks on a June bug.

WHEN – he finally completed histransformation of America into a Socialist State , people woke up —but it was too late.

     Add these up one by one and you get ascore that points to the fact  that Barrack Hussein Obama isdetermined to turn America into a  Marxist-Socialist society.

All of the items in the precedingparagraphs have been put into place. All can be documented veryeasily.

Before you disavow this, do an Internetsearch. The last paragraph alone is not yet cast in stone. You and Iwill write that paragraph. Will it read as above or will it be ahappier ending for most of America ?

Don’t just belittle the opposition.Search for the truth. We all need to pull together or watch thedemise of a free Democratic society. We need to seek the truth andtake action for it will keep us FREE. Will our Republic survive? Our biggest enemy is not China , Russia , North Korea or Iran . Our biggest enemy is our complacentselves.The government will not help, so weneed to do it ourselves.

     Question….will you delete this, orpass it on to others who don’t know or chose to ignore Obama’sactions and his plans for the USA, so that they may have facts, usediscernment and better judgment when it is time to vote in November,2016 and the ensuing years?

It’s your decision. Does itmatter?……AND WHEN?*

     As for this closing paragraph on the letter….I believe that I have not just belittled the author….but have provided factual data to point out the fallacies of their rant.   As for their claims of “easily proved” and such….nonsense….again, my replys are based on Net searches that found dozens of examples undercutting their opinions.   The thesis that Pres. Obama is trying to turn America into a Marxist-Socialist state is foolish and unsupported by ANY facts.    Oh, and why refer to him as “Barack Hussein Obama?”   It sounds to me as if the author is trying to sneakily make him seem more of an outsider…NOT of the tribe, so, probbaly a danger to the tribe.   Classic manipulation, but, pretty childish of them I have to say….

=========================================================================================

     One ofthe really sad things about this rant is that the author is happy asa clam to complain about how terrible things are, yet, they offer nooptions about what they would prefer to do to fix the problems. 

     For example, the author takes a coupleof shots at the ACA. Ignoring the fact that it has already providedmany benefits, in spite of its chopped up version that theRight-Wingers forced on the administration, it has already gottenaffordable insurance for millions of Americans; It has eliminatedmany of the abuses the insurance industry implemented in order tomake more profit from the American public, and, it is causing thecost of health care to decrease a bit. More people are able to goto the doctor before an illness becomes a crisis and requires a tripto the ER (Which is the MOST EXPENSIVE way to treat a problem). Thisis helping keep people more healthy and productive. An increasingnumber of Americans, both who have already benefited from the ACA andwho have just heard of it, are changing their opinions away fromhating it to actually liking it. I saw a poll recently that foundthat when people were told some benefits of the health care law, and,asked if they liked ObamaCare, they said they still hated it. Yet,if the same benefits were listed and it was called the ACA, theysaid they liked it pretty well.

     That having been said….whatalternative does the author offer? Should we keep the old form ofinsurance, and return vast numbers of Americans to a state where theyfear going to the doctor because they are sincerely afraid that theywill end up financially ruined and in bankruptcy from the costs oftreating their issues? How is THAT good for America?

     This continual drumbeat of PresidentObama trying to make America a Marxist/Socialist state simply provesthat the author has no understanding of either philosophy, and,perhaps should spend a bit of time getting some education beforeposting rants like this.

     As I mentioned at the beginning of this entry, this Email, in various permutationshas been around since 2011 or earlier, and, has NO more truth to itnow than it did then. It is nothing but ignorance and hate, spewingout and attempting to inflame the emotions of the less educated so asto keep them from thinking about how they are being manipulated inorder to keep the 1% making money without fear of regulation or law.

Posted in Characters, Ethics, General, General Thoughts, Heath, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Political rants, Politics, Snake Oil | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Political Foolishness

Right_Wing_Rants
     Greetings and Salutations;
     There has been a burst of mindless lies and rants from Right-Wingers showing up on Face Book and while I realize trying to combat the problem with facts is probably like trying to keep the Ocean Tide from coming in,  I thought I would not just sit by and do NOTHING.   So…When the above image showed up on my time line, I decided to grab a copy, and, discuss here each of its “points”.
     My first thought upon seeing  this sort of rant is “What in the world are they trying to do with this?”    It would be nice to believe that some thought had gone into it, and, it was designed to generate debate on how to improve America.   However, as Click and Clack say…some people live life unhindered by the thought process.    Rather, I realize that this is nothing more than a whiny rant that has no interest in improving things, but, rather just exists to spread hate and dislike.
     So, now, let us look at  each of the points raised in the image.
     1)  This is Pres Obama’s second term, so, by the Constitution, he cannot run again…so in a few years they will get their wish.  He will be gone and someone else will be elected..  Of course,  they are ignoring the fact that during the five years that Pres. Obama  has already served, he has accumulated a surprisingly lengthy list of quite positive accomplishments, all if which are aimed at improving America.   This has happened  in spite of unending and strong opposition by the Republicans and other Right-Wingers.   A few of the positives?
     a) Osama Bin Laden met his end and was fed to the fishes (Respectfully, of course).
     b) the Deficit is reduced by 3/4 or more from what it was when Pres. Obama took office.
     c)  While the economy is still terribly fragile,  It has improved a bit, and, there is some hope that it may regain much of the strength it had some 10 years ago.
     d) The Stock Market has regained a huge amount of value, reaching numbers it has not seen in a decade.
     e) The ACA is the law of the land, and, after a rocky start, is proving to be a boon to millions of Americans.   Perhaps most importantly, it has curbed many of the abuses by the Insurance Industry that allowed them to cancel policies without reason,  sell crap policies that took huge premiums but provided nothing in return, raise premiums by huge percentages every year, deny people coverage due to “pre-existing conditions” – some of which had NOTHING to do with serious health issues, and, cap the amount of money they would have to spend on a policy holder in case they managed to get a claim approved.
      f) We are no longer deeply entangled in the wars in the Middle East, taking the huge numbers  of casualties that we were during the previous administration.
     There are a lot more, but, these are a few, good examples of why I believe that wishing that Pres. Obama was “gone” is foolish and based on factors that have nothing to do with his performance in office.
     2)  Closed Borders?  REALLY?   If the borders were truly closed, and it was impossible for undocumented workers to make it into the USA, what do these people think would happen?  Like it or not, undocumented workers are a vital part of the American Economy now, have been for some time and probably will continue to be for the foreseeable future.   After all,  who is going to pick the produce, clean the toilets,  build the houses and do all the really hard work that it takes to keep America going?   Are Americans going to take those jobs?   I know that they are not going to work for what the producers pay the undocumented  workers.  Now, if the borders were closed, and Americans DID take over the jobs,  it is likely that they would demand more money for less work.  That would cause a jump in prices for everyone.  Also, I suspect that there wouldb e a drop in availability of goods and services,  because it has been my observation that American workers often do not have the focus or speed that other workers exhibit.   So…it gets back to the question I started with…who will replace the undocumented workers, and, how much will YOU be willing to pay them per hour to do it.
     3) Right now, it is true enough that English is the defacto language of the USA.  However,  that is mainly because English speaking citizens are in the majority, at least for the moment.   For us to not even attempt to accommodate people who speak another language really shows what small, shriveled souls we have.  Read the Constitution.   The Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, chose not to create an official language for the country.   Even then, they realized that  America was going to be a melting pot culture  that would attract people from all around the world.  People  who spoke a multitude of languages.   They wanted America to WELCOME those people, because they also understood that the  alloy of these differing peoples would create a country that was far stronger than it would be if it were “pure”.    Finally, If you have a problem with interacting with folks that do not speak English well, I would suggest that it is far better and more productive to learn a second language, then be an egotistical twit and force others to learn YOUR language.
     4) This point seems to imply that American life is NOT controlled by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.   Again…kind of delusional… I look around and while I see some things happening that are infringing on those rights,  I do not see a wide-spread erosion of the Rights guaranteed us as Americans by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.   Since I seem to be missing something, I wish that one of these Right-Wingers would be kind enough to explain to me why they are saying this and what I am missing.  Actually, considering the number of Right Wingers who want to remove Constitutionally guaranteed rights, this is even more puzzling.    After all, it is not the Liberals who are protesting and raising a big stink to try and force the elected officials to block people from their right to vote,  to block children from getting a good, broad education that will allow them to be successful in today’s world, and, are trying to remove the rights of citizens to make personal decisions about their own bodies and life.   It is the Right-Wingers who want to expand government to deny these rights to citizens.   Explain that to me, please.
     5) Mandatory drug screening?   Been there, done that,  and it was an expensive failure.  Less than 1% of recipients were found to be using and, since MILLIONS of dollars were spent on the program, it ended up costing around $40,000 to find each one of them.  The only people that really benefited from these programs are the rich Right-Wingers who run labs that test for drugs.
     6)  No Freebies?  I am not sure that this means to the Right, but, to me, it shows a sad lack of understanding  about what people are getting in benefits from the government.   The food and support benefits provided the poverty stricken in America are hardly generous, are limited to 60 months in the LIFETIME of the recipient, and, are challenging to get and keep.   Actually, Walmart makes out better than most of the poor.  It is reported that Walmart salaries for many workers are so low  that we taxpayers are giving the stores  many tens of thousand of dollars a day to provide benefits to their workers, so they can afford to work for the company.  Also, the rich and ultra-rich get such generous tax benefits that they avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.   It also ignores the fact that many undocumented workers are both so underpaid that they would starve without aid, and, are paying income taxes and such that they will NEVER see any benefits from.  It would be worthwhile for some folks to follow this link, and  read the article, so they will have some facts about the subjects they hold such strong  opinons about.
     Reading this statement really kind of makes me think that the poster is proudly proclaiming that  we are NOT a Christian Nation, but, a collection of greedy, self-centered, grasping bastards that would  kick a starving child to the side of the road if we happen to see them!   Good to know, I suppose, since it clarifies what the rest of the world can expect from us.
     7) A Balanced Budget?   Sure…and easy to do with these two actions:  a) Cut the military budget, the vast amount of pork, the benefits enjoyed by the Federal Representatives,  and the “Black Budget”.  b) Raise tax rates on the part of society that can afford it the most – the Rich and Ultra-Rich.
     8) Tax Reform?   Sure….As mentioned above, raise taxes on the rich and ultra rich.  In the process, eliminate loopholes that allow them and the large companies to hide their income in other countries, and, so, avoid paying any taxes at all.  I realize that to many Right-Wingers,   this means “Stop collecting taxes”, but, again, that is delusional.  There is nothing magical about the government.  It needs to collect money from someplace to pay for the services it offers to the citizens.   No money coming in…at some point, the services will stop.   No one wants to pay taxes, but, everyone wants the services that they get.
     9) Term limits?  Do not make me laugh.  We already HAVE term limits for elected officials at every level.  It is called “getting out of the recliner on election day and voting for someone besides the incumbent.”   Who is responsible for the fact that, traditionally, 95% of the incumbents are returned to office?   You and I and too many other citizens are responsible.  Every American who does not stand in the election booth on the date, and record a vote for someone else  is responsible for elected representatives keeping office well past the time they should leave.
Posted in Ethics, General, General Thoughts, Humanity, Misc, Nuttiness, Political rants, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Life is Complicated…Observations on Jackson Galaxy

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Over the past year or so, I have started watching Jackson Galaxy’s Animal Planet program, “My Cat From Hell”.   I have to say I like it a lot, as Jackson does a great job of analyzing the family dynamics and finding ways to modify the behavior of the people and animals to make sure that everyone has a positive life.   I will say that this show has also re-enforced one of my basic rules of life – that is that there are no bad animals, just bad owners.    While there have been a few cats that have had actual issues that made them difficult to live with (The most recent, and perhaps the most famous one, is Lux – the “911 cat” who recently became an internet and news sensation because he was so violent that his owners felt they had to call 911 for aid),  a vast majority of the issues are caused by clueless attitudes and actions on the part of the humans in the house.   The fact that Jackson does such a good job of analyzing these issues, and finding ways to re-direct and educate the owners in a non-threatening and non-confrontational way says a lot about him and his talents.    He is not a bad musician either! Over the past year or so, as his program has gathered a following, he has expanded his commercial presence…which is fine of course.   He needs to take advantage of the fame while it lasts. 
     Alas,  not all is happy in Galaxy-Land.   As part of his online store (which does sell quite a number of excellent products),  he has something called “Spirit Essences”.   Now, I had not paid much attention to these, but, recently, thanks to some stress in the cat population here, one of the cats was getting a bit hinky and having some difficulties interacting with the other cats.   So,  since Jackson has, in his Spirit Essences line a couple of products that are designed to deal with the sort of issues I was having, I looked into getting a couple of bottles and trying to modify the cat’s behavior.   Well,   I was terribly disappointed to find that Spirit Essences are nothing more than homeopathy!  And, for $23+  per ounce, that is REALLY ANNOYING to me..  At least he is honest about it, in that the listed physical ingredients in the bottle are water and alcohol.   The description of the process, though, explains that the water  is “treated” by shining colored light that has been refracted through special  crystals  into the water, and, apparently, waving various herbs, flowers and other plants at the water.  The water then “retains the energy” of the materials and lights, and then somehow imparts that to the companion animal  it is applied to.  This is, in my considered opinion, nonsense and nothing more than a way to suck huge amounts of money out of people for water and a small shot of alcohol. Homeopathy has been discredited time and time again…it just does not work.    At best,  the Essences are providing a Placebo effect…but, the claims of the water magically holding onto the energy of the light and plants are just silly.  If the cats that these Essences are used on actually have behaviorial changes, it is because of the increased handling and interaction by the owners  as part of the instructions for the proper application of the Spirit Essences.
     I really like Jackson, and, appreciate the work he does both to improve the lives of the individual cats who end up on his program, the education he provides about the reality of cats and the way their mind works through the show, and, the support he gives for various shelters and rehabilitation programs around the country, so it pains me to see this sort of foolishness being included in his bag of tricks.  In my opinion, if you purchase the Spirit Essences…do not be fooled into thinking you are going to get a magic cure in a bottle that will do anything positive for your companion animal. .   Rather, look at it as a contribution to Jackson’s ongoing programs, and, to specific shelters he is supporting (a part of the selling price goes to a shelter)
     I am fairly sure that Jackson will not ever see this, or hear of it….there is just TOO much noise on the Net.   However…if anyone DOES read this that has contact with him….Please, Please….change the blasted formulation of the Spirit Essences!   Put SOMETHING in there besides Water and Alcohol….It will not affect the cost of production any huge amount, and, at least you will be selling something that might do some good!   I will suggest (and I give up ANY claims for compensation for this suggestion) that you actually put extracts of the herbs and flowers in the bottles.   There is a lot to be said for Aroma Therapy, and, cats DO have a VERY sensitive sense of smell.   Jackson….You do a huge amount of good in the world, with your campaign to help companion animals have a good, long life, and, your other good works…but, the homeopathy thing is a stain that can cause big problems for your growing empire.    
      Pleasant Dreams
      Bee Man Dave
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Remembrance of Things Past…

     Greetings and Salutations;

      Proust, in his famous tome “Remembrance Of Things Past”, spent something like a dozen pages describing the joys of having some Madeline cookies and Tea in the afternoon.    Now, to a certain extent, I can understand his enthusiasm, as I have made Madelines myself, and, the delicate, lemon flavor of those foamy treats is a great taste treat.   I would make them more often, but, they are labor intensive, and, I have not had the time or energy to spend on them for far too long.   I will mention in passing, though, that once when I took a couple of large platters of them to a dinner party of a circle of friends,   I took about six of them back home with me, and, the only reason I took that many was because I was kind of a hard-ass about it.
     However, while that is a pleasant memory,   that is not the one I wanted to mention here.   No,  my topic is really supposed to be Jello chocolate pudding .  I prefer the cooked version over the “cold milk” version, as I think it creates a slightly better flavor and texture.   But, that is personal prejudice….   It had been a while since I had cooked any up, and, yesterday, while I was casting about in the afternoon, to see what I could put together to eat, I noted that I had quite a few boxes of the pudding mix in the pantry.  It had been on sale last year, and, so since at the time, I had a buck or two to spare, I stocked up.   I moved on to cut down on the number of mix boxes, and increase the amount of ready to eat pudding in the refrigerator, ended up with a nice bowl of it cooling on the counter in fairly short order.   One little bit of cooking technology I discovered a bit ago was that it works amazingly well to microwave puddings and custards.   It is amazingly efficient (cutting several hours of cooking in the oven to half an hour or so), and, with the proper sequence of heating and stirring, creates a pudding/custard that is every bit as good as the slower cooked one
     Finally, I was able to spoon out a bowl of the rich, dark custard, and take a bite.   Like Proust, this taste took me back into my memories to a Young Adults Retreat we had held about 25 years ago.   My good friend, Bill M, my sister, Cathy and I were the active force creating the event, and dealing with the logistics of it.   At the time, we were all very active in First Lutheran’s programs for youth and young adults,  so we stayed quite busy.   As a matter of fact just a couple of weeks before, we had run a Youth Retreat.  Of course, food is an important part of these events, and, we were casting around to decide on some sort of slightly sweet dessert snack for the Retreat.  At the Youth Retreat, we had experienced a run on the chocolate pudding.  No one wanted the Vanilla, but, we ran out on the first day of the event (and kind of struggled to deal with the next two days because of it!).  Well,  the Young Adults group was only a few years older than the youth that had run through the chocolate pudding like locusts through a wheat field, so we thought we would be smart and get plenty of extra pudding so as not to run out.
     Of course, as one might guess,  the age difference of just a few years made all the difference in the world.   Almost NONE of the chocolate pudding got eaten over the weekend, and so we were stuck with gallons of the stuff.  It was actually pretty good, though, but, there was just so much of it.     We ended up contributing some to a food bank, as I recall, and took a bunch of it for us to have.   I made it through the stack of cans I had ended up with, but, I was pretty sick of chocolate pudding by the time the last bowl was gone.  It was several years until I would eat a bite of the stuff, and, even today, the mention of a truck load of chocolate pudding remains an inside joke for us.   
     Regards
     Bee Man Dave
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I am feeling a little stuffed today….

     Greetings and salutations;

     Once again, I am relieved to find that there are stranger people than me out there.   I ran across this link about Walter Potter, who lived around the 1850-1890 time frame.   He was interested in taxidermy,  and started doing it at the tender age of 15.   Today,  he would be looked upon with suspicion, I suspect, as this could be a sign of an incipient serial killer.  However, in Victorian times, there was much interest in the hobby, and, he ended up creating some of the most amazing dioramas out of small animals that one has ever seen.   For us, today, it is a bit weird, and one looks at it with fascination even though there is a strong feeling that one should not…. Here are a couple of examples of his work:  

Busy At School

A nice game of Croquet
     and, I would suggest you follow the link to read  more about  his work…it is pretty amazing:   Walter Potters taxidermy 
Posted in Art, Ethics, General, Humanity, Misc, MultiMedia, Nuttiness, Observations, Questionable decisions, Sculpture, Something Good This Way Comes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Who the Hell is THAT?

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Some time ago, I was poking through Ebay on one of those random walks to see what nuttiness was posted there, when I ran across a delightful little statue of a cat perched on (and looking over the side of) a stack of books.   According to the listing it was done around the 1950s.  Well, at $80, it was attractive, but, past my pain point, so I did not grab it.   Over the next month though, I kept it on my “watch” list, and, checked on it several times.   No one bought it, and, when the vendor re-listed it at $60, I was no longer able to resist the tempation.   So, now it is decorating one of the little alcoves by the main entrance doors in the Octagon.    Tristan has taken to sitting in the next alcove down, as it gives him a good perspective on the room.   Well,  the title of this post comes from his reaction (which I was able to capture on camera) when he finally realized the cat statue was there:
                                                     
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The twists of life.

     Greetings and Salutations;

     The past couple of months have been a chaotic nightmare in many ways.   Firstly, we were ready to move into the Octagon on The Hill as of the first of the year, so I got given the job of moving everything from the Rental to the new house.   Lisa, who has had increasingly bothersome amounts of pain and disability from her left hip, was not really able to help that much.  She managed a couple of sessions of a half hour or so each, of putting stuff in boxes, but, that was it.   The entire burden fell on me.   In addition, when we told the landlord that we were finally heading out, they turned around and found someone to rent the place who wanted to move in almost the day after we exited!   Of course that was not going to happen, as there was cleaning that needed to be done, and, some repair items that had been pending because I was too nice a guy to make an issue of it with them.   However, they needed us out by the end of February.   I made it, by pushing myself too hard, and, through the kind aid of several of my friends, who came out one day and helped me get four truckloads of possessions out of the Rental and into the Octagon – including the heavy stuff of the appliances and some other furniture.   I cannot express how thankful I am that they came through for me, and, would not even let me feed them dinner in return!   I will get them later with the dinner thing, but, I did not push it then. 
     Then, to add to the fun…At the first of February, Lisa went to an appointment with her medical group, and, finally mentioned to them during the examination that she was having a lot of pain from her hip.   They took an x-ray, and, a few minutes later popped into the examination room to say she was scheduled for an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on the next Tuesday.   She felt that it was probably not good news simply because one does not get an appointment that quick for a consult, or double-check.  Indeed, the surgeon, Dr. Oros, looked at her scans and scheduled her for hip replacement surgery 10 days later!   While things went very well, indeed, she did have to stay in hospital for several days, and, I, of course, spent much of that time there too – which meant that nothing got moved from the Rental.   It has now been four and a half weeks since the operation, and, from my point of view, she is doing very well indeed.   She has been very good at doing the physical therapy exercises we were shown in Joint Class,   and continues to push the envelope.   She discarded the walker almost completely after Dr. Oros said she could try walking with a cane a little bit, and has hardly used it since.   She is back to work, at least for half days until the NEXT appointment, where with luck, she will be cleared for full time again.   she is driving herself fairly well.   And, her quality of walking has improved greatly.   Now, for example, she is getting good, normal movement out of her left leg – after using it for little more than a crutch that she moved by swiveling her hips for a couple of years.   She is quite steady, and has had NO falls, even when negotiating stairs.    Finally, her uses of the cane is evolving.   She was putting weight on it when she first started using it, but, now, it is more for balance and steadiness.   So…that is good, but, since I was the caretaker during this time,  it did complicate trying to get other things done.
     Finally, once everything was packed into the Octagon, that still left a somewhat overwhelming number of boxes to empty out and sort out the contents to their final location.   That has proceeded apace, though, and while it is still pretty chaotic here, it is easier to find things, and the paths are MUCH wider.
     As for the Art and Cats part of the title….that has to do with the move too.   The cats are really taking to their new environment well.   They enjoy the fact that they can run long distances now, and, have several big windows where they and Mr. Sunbeam can get together.    They are also enjoying exploring the main part of the Octagon, and, really want to get up into the tower (which has been off limits because they could have escaped into the garage)  and have managed to get into it a couple of times already.  Since I covered the open risers of the stairs with wood paneling, I have no problem with them going into it now.
     So…we are in the Octagon.    It is a MUCH better house than we have lived in for some time, and, if we can keep it is going to be a great place for parties, and life in general.   Keep your fingers crossed!
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looking at the ravages of winter and neglect.

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Well, for the first time in far too long, I hiked into the apiary, to see what was happening there.   My thought, as I looked around, was that at least it is going to provide me with a great opportunity to rebuild and restore it in a better place and plan!   I am sorry to report that the two colonies I had remaining last year have either crashed, died during the winter or flown the coop, as the apiary is a quiet, and deserted place just now.   While the hives have not suffered too much – they are still standing and appear fairly dry and such, the girls are gone.   Maybe in a couple of months I can afford a nuc or two and get them going again.   At least this affords me a chance to clean up the hives, and move them to a better location.   
     One problem I noticed a bit ago is that the “good” place I had for them turned out to be a location where a river of very cold air would accumulate and flow by.   Considering the single digit temperatures we had a month or two ago, I suspect that is what did the girls in.   Ah, well, live and learn.     As I may have mentioned before, though, one good thing about living on the property, instead of 30+ minutes away is that it allows the opportunity to actually take care of things, instead of being an absentee Landlord.
     More later…
     Bee Man Dave.
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Keeping life Positive…more or less.

     Greetings and salutations;

     Amazing how quickly time slips away when life becomes a hectic whirlwind of chaos and challenges!   However, I am trying to ensure that I find ways to bring little rays of sunshine into my life, to help drive back the darkness of Depression and frustration.   Although I have been spending almost every penny I have scraped together to make the Octagon livable and keep it progressing to completion, last week, I decided I needed to do something purely for me.    As it happened, I had, some weeks ago been poking through Ebay, marveling at the amazing variety of weird stuff available today, and, I ran across a small statue of a cat, perched on a stack of books.   Well, two of the primary forces in my life that keep it worth living are the cats I interact with,  and the books I am blessed with.   However, at the time, it was listed at $80.00, which was slightly more than I could cough up.   So,  with a sigh, I moved on.   Well, a little bit ago, I was, again, distracting myself from the stresses of reality with a dip into the Weird Pool of Ebay, and, to my surprise, the cat statue was not only still available, but, it had been marked down to $60!   While still a worrisome sum of money, I decided to go for it, and, did a “buy it now”.   The statue showed up today, and, I have to say that it comes closer than anything recently has to bringing a smile to my face.   It was claimed that it was sort of an antique ( supposedly carved in the mid-1950s).  I do not have proof of that, but, it is really nicely done, and, the cat has a very “cat-like” expression of concentration on its face.   I am very pleased with it, and, will enjoy having it around as long as I can.   Violetta and Tristan spent a little bit of time sniffing the “carved” cat….which was most amusing.   In any case, here are a few pictures of the sculpture.


There is a lot of detail on this well-carved item…

Violetta noticed the new cat directly and checked it out.
SHe rapidly lost interest when she discovered it was just a carving

And here is the carved kitty looking down at the floor…
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New picture of the Octagon.

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Progress is happening at the house in Blaine, although it remains a slow and painful process.  The picture at the top of the Blog, as of 2013/11/09 is a picture I took recently when I had to be on site by 7:00.   That was very early, alas,  but, the golden sunlight flooding the structure made it look pretty good.
     More later
     Bee Man Dave
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Once again, the Politicians AMAZE me.

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Well, it is now day 9 of the government shut down, and, I, for one, have been affected by this childish game.    Specifically,   several months ago, my younger sister told me she and family were coming through Knoxpatch on the 3d of this month, and, she was going to throw me into the van and drag me up to Washington D.C. for a few days.   There were three main reasons for this trip.   
     First off, my older sister and her husband are celebrating the 43d anniversary of their wedding this month.   Considering the state of relationships in America, this is a minor miracle, and, is a great thing to see.   There are just too few people who truly complete each other, and, have a happy marriage even after all these years.   No marriage is without conflict of course, but, she and her husband have found positive ways to work it out, and, still care deeply for each other.   I freely admit that I have some envy for them, as I am far less socialized and find that happy state to be well out of my reach.   With luck, they will have many more years of happiness.
     Then,  there was the fact that neither my younger sister and her family, nor I, have been to D.C. for about 10 years, and, my younger nephew, Tim (AKA Tennessee), has never been there, so, it is high time we get re-acquainted with the city, and, he get some exposure to the amazing treasures of the Smithsonian, and, to see the complexities of the Federal Government.   The timing was good, too, as he was out of school for a time, thanks to a “spring break” of sorts, and, my brother-in-law had hit a point at work where the flood of IT problems had subsided a bit, so he could get away too.
     Finally,   my younger sister, being a mother several times over,   is sometimes slightly too concerned about the level of stress in my life, and, wanted to do something to help me escape from it for a bit.   It is certainly true that I have been through some dark times recently,  but, I was surviving….However, she was quite insistent, and, when a Red-haired woman of German/Engish descent makes up her mind that something needs to happen, it is just safer and easier to go along with it.
     So…that was the theory, when this was arranged, several weeks ago – well before the foolishness going on in the Congress right now.   Then,   the Republicans, in yet another attempt to get the Affordable Care Act repealed,  dug in their heels and shut down the government, furloughed 800,000 workers, got the doors of every museum owned by the Feds locked up tight, and, had the Park Service, as their last act before going home and trying to figure out how to feed their kids for the rest of the month,  put up barricades around all the national parks and monuments that they could find.    Now, I may not be the brightest star in the sky, but, even I would have figured out by at MOST the 20th failed attempt to repeal the act,  that I was not being particularly productive.   I certainly would not have pushed on to more than 40 failed attempts, and, I certainly would not have decided to screw over hundreds of thousands of moderate to low income government workers just to make a point.   They claim they are trying to “Save” us from the ACA.   Who is going to save us from THEM?
     As of today (October 10th),   the emergency measures that various governmental agencies had taken to try and shuffle money around to keep going for a while are starting to fail.   Perhaps the most outrageous example is that the bodies of five Servicemen, killed in Afghanistan a week or so ago, finally made it to America yesterday.   The Veteran’s Administration normally gives the families a goodly chunk of cash ($100,000 or so), to cover their expenses for travelling to the Air Force Base where the body will arrive, and, to help with funeral costs and that sort of thing.  Well, thanks to the shut-down, these families were faced with bearing that expense on their own – which meant that there was a good chance that several of those bodies would arrive with no one from their family to meet them.   Luckily,  a private agency has picked up the slack, and is, essentially, loaning the government the monies, to be paid back when the shut-down ends.   However,    the cash that the Veteran’s agency needs to send disability checks, etc, out to our warriors runs out at the end of October.    That will mean that hundreds of thousands of veterans will be forced to find other ways to get dinner, keep the lights on, etc.    In addition, further inspectors have been released from the DOE, so, for example, the nuclear plants around the country are no longer being monitored for safety.    Yesterday, there was a fatal crash on the Red Line Metro in D.C.   THis will not be investigated because the DOT inspectors have been furloughed.   While it may not be that important to a lot of people, I, personally,  find it sad that 97% of NASA’s employees have been laid off, so, many, many programs have ground to a halt.  There are likely going to be some that never start back up, because that equipment is time-sensitive.   I could go on, but, it is trivial to find a train-load of stories talking about governmental services and programs that are shut down.   While I am sure that all of us have one or two programs that we can look at and say “good riddance”.  However, there are a small number of Members of Congress who seem to believe that ANY government  or governmental program is bad.    They want to to destroy everything, apparantly with the attitude that somehow, by a miracle, some other private organization, or church will pick up the slack, or,  all those slackers and parasites who are draining money from the government will go get real jobs and become productive citizens!    It is amazing to me that it seems to be the very well off, nay,  very rich cats in Congress, who could live comfortably off their bank accounts and not raise a finger for the rest of their lives, who seem to feel this way.   They do not seem to have any idea of what a challenge life can be for us ordinary mortals today!  They want to get rid of the ACA – and allow the insurance companies to go back to cherry-picking only the most healthy folks to sell policies to – which did a great job of making huge profits for them, but, left millions of Americans with little or no insurance against catastrophy.   They want to allow the insurance companies to put caps on how much they pay out…so if you happen to get an aggressive cancer in your 30s,  by your 50s, you will have gotten all the treatment for it they will pay for, and, there is little left for you to do but die.    They want to attempt to turn America into a Theocracy, where, as long as you are a fundamentalist, and go to THEIR denomination, you will be “ok”, but, if you stray, or believe anything else, you will be subject to many penalties.   In short, it looks to me as if there is a small percentage of Congress who want to turn America into a live version of “The Andy of Mayberry” show, or “Leave It To Beaver”.    It seems to me that sometimes they do not realize these were television shows and NOT documentaries about reality.   It is impossible for America to go there, because it has never BEEN there, no matter what they say.
     The final bit of amazement for me is that the Republican Party, which my parents were proud members of, has been taken over by these extremists, and has almost totally given up the idea of fact based arguments, and, relies only on lies, anecdotes, and ad-hominum attacks on President Obama and the Democrats to try and push their agenda.   It is a terribly sad thing, because many Republicans I know are very intelligent and wise folks, but, are trying as hard as they can to swallow the jagged bits that the party puts out now.
Pleasant dreams
Bee Man Dave
     
     
Posted in Ethics, General, Humanity, Nuttiness, Political rants, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How do YOU deal with Stress?

     Greetings and Salutations;

     After far too long as a Renter,  we are moving into the Octagon on The Hill.   Thanks to the economy,  my health issues, and the difficulties that are a hallmark of two people with very different goals that work on building a new structure,  it has taken several years to get to the point where it is livable.     The stress  of moving, and finishing some of the pending tasks is still there, alas.   While I hope that this is the last time I will have to do a major move in my life, I fear that at least one more terrible disruption is rolling down the pike towards me.   That  adds more worries to those dark moments in the wee hours of the morning.   However,  with luck,  being able to contemplate views like the following from the Deck will help me find enough peace to deal with those stresses in a positive and productive fashion:
      This is looking  South-Easterly from the deck.
This is looking Westerly, watching the shadows of the tower creep up the nearby trees
This land has a lot of positive energy to it, so it is fairly soothing.  Combining that with the fact that the neighbors are rather far away, it is quite peaceful.    I am hoping now that we can  have some dinner parties and music evenings there…
Wish Us Luck.
      Pleasant Dreams
      Bee Man Dave
Posted in General, Humanity, Observations, Questionable decisions, Ruminations, Something Good This Way Comes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How should we treat the Needy in our society?

     Greetings and Salutatons;

     Just a short note about a story I read this Sunday morning.   It seems that the city of Raleigh, North Carolina is starting an urban renewal project by making life for the homeless in the city less comfortable.    As I mention in the below note, I am all for cities being clean, nice and attractive, but, it is somewhat repulsive that the towering, crystal spires be built on the misery of the disadvantaged in the city!   A link to the article that came across my desktop is included in the quote of the letter I wrote….
 Greetings and Salutations;
This Sunday morning, I read an article about how the “Love Wins Ministry” was prevented by the LEOs from distributing free food to the homeless and needy in your city.   Here is the link to that story:  http://lovewins.info/2013/08/feeding-homeless-apparently-illegal-in-raleigh-nc/

I am registering a protest against this action, and support the ministry’s actions completely. 
There are several reasons for this decision:
1) As a follower of Christ, I follow His lead in this matter – and his teachings were that we, who are more fortunate, are to help the disadvantaged whenever possible.
2) I have a general objection to the thought that in America, where we throw away more food in a year than many other countries would need to feed their entire population, there are people who remain food insecure.   How in the world does anyone expect a person down on their luck to be able to climb out of that hole when they are preoccupied by trying not to starve to death.
3) There was a mention of a “revitalization” of the city bouncing around in your minds.   While it is a wonderful goal, and if we have to have cities, we want them to be as nice as possible,  it is a bad idea if you are going to build it on the bodies and misery of the homeless trapped in it.   If you think that an artificial limit on how they can get food will have any positive effects, I fear you are doomed to disappointment.   They will not leave, they will not vanish, and, I suspect that if you use draconian methods like this to try and make the problem go away, all you will see is an increase in property crime, and, in the number of homeless, desperate folks standing by the road with cardboard signs begging for food.
4)  From the article I read, the Ministry folks were treated with terrible disrespect by the LEOs that prevented the food distribution.   For the police to arrogantly tell them that (a) they were going to jail if they handed out the food, and (b) to refuse to quote what laws they were breaking indicates to me that there was no legal basis for harassing these people and their clients.   I am not a lawyer, but I have enough age and experience in local politics to feel that I am quite correct in pointing out that this is the sort of police tactic that exposes the city to some serious liability.   If, for example, the LEOs had arrested some or all of the Ministry folks, this would have gone to court, and unless the charges were very well documented and not the usual mish-mash of serious-sounding, but hollow charges that the LEO community uses to annoy citizens, the case would bring nothing but acquittal for the defendants and, loads of bad publicity for the city.   Think for a minute – How would you like Rachael Maddow or Anderson Cooper to feature Raleigh on their programs, in the “worst thing in the world” or “Ridculist” segments?

That having been said – Let me offer you some suggestions on how to fix the problem and make this a winnable situation.   I gather from the article that there are no places in the city, where people in need of food can go for a hot meal on the weekends.   This Ministry was created to deal with that need, so, the simplest way to deal with the situation is to re-open the soup kitchens and shelters on the weekend.   I am sure the Ministry folks who now take food out into the world would be happy enough to support this effort with volunteer labor, if the expense seems too much.
Alternatively,  reconsider the licensing structure and costs as regards public areas.   While $800/day is probably quite reasonable for using the park for an entire day, it is far out of line for the short time that the Ministry folks would be there distributing food.  After all, considering the demand and supply available, I suspect that the food is all gone within half an hour of their opening up shop.   So, either pro-rate the licensing costs, or create a free license with restrictions, so the Ministry can come in, do its work, and leave without hassles.   Now, as a part of this, if there is going to be a conflicting event there that the City knows about…make it a point to communicate with the Ministry folks, so they can have their distribution set up elsewhere, or far enough out of the way that it will not conflict with the other event(s).
I would also strongly suggest that your police department be reminded that they are not warders in a prison, and, the people they were threatening were not prisoners under their control.   The fact of the matter is that, even in these chaotic days, the police force is a servant of the citizens.    They are hired to keep the peace by ensuring that crimes against citizens end up with the criminal being tracked down, arrested and put into the Justice system.  Law is the basic structure of our society, so an accurate and objective police force to enforce those laws is a vital part of that society.   If the police err in their enforcement of the law, it should be on the merciful side.   For example, in the quoted example, it would have been more appropriate for the LEOs to say to the Ministry folks “This statute says that you are no longer allowed to distribute food here.   Go ahead and give out what you have today, but, do not do it again.  The NEXT time you will be arrested for <list of excuses for cracking down on the folks>”  Obviously, this was not the course that was taken.

I could go on, but, I believe this makes my point.
Regards
Dave Mundt
Knoxville, TN.

Posted in Ethics, Food, General, Heath, Humanity, Nuttiness, Political rants, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why should someone have to die because some punk is “bored?”

  Greetings and Salutations;

Once again, my fellow Americans have shown that they have the capacity to amaze me and push the limits of how one should conduct oneself.

In short, Christopher Lane was an Australian baseball player, in the United States on a baseball scholarship. Last week, while visiting his girlfriend and her family in a small town in Oklahoma, three boys (ranging in age from 15 to 17), pulled up behind him in a car, pulled out a gun and shot him in the back. This week, a court heard that their explanation for the act was that they were bored, and, thinking of themselves as wanna-be gangsters, randomly picked this young man as a target.

People around the world are asking”why”, and “How could this happen” and such. A problem with asking these questions is that it pre-supposes that there are some rational reasons for such an act. There really are not, as it has more to do with the weird way that the minds of kids work than any real reason. I believe there are some factors that contributed to this terrible event, that provided the roots for the act, and, I want to discuss them in this post.

Over the past several decades, there has been an almost obscene glorification of the outlaw and the gangster. The American entertainment industry has glommed onto this theme with both hands, as they see that it sells movies and television shows. As I have said before, children are, essentially, empty vessels  when it comes to morality, ethical behavior and the like.  If parents do not work to fill that void with positive values, then, those places will be filled by the next option – which in this case is the examples set by the entertainment media.

As I just mentioned, one of the other issues that is causing problems is the issue of parenting (or the lack thereof) in today’s world. This is a complicated issue, too. Some of the problem is that the economy is such that it is almost impossible to survive if both spouses do not have fairly well-paying jobs. This sucks up so much time and energy that even the best parents have limited time to do the sort of job that is necessary to rear good citizens. There is the fact that, still, too many parents do not want to BE parents, and accept the fact that this requires them to be the “bad guy” at times.  Rather, they seem to look upon their children as their new “best buddies”…and think that it is ok to treat them as equals. This attitude is pretty much guaranteed to ensure that the kids will not get a good moral basis to live by,  but, will tend to grow up with a sense of entitlement and self absorption that makes everyone else far less important.  . This attitude also ends up making it nearly impossible for the parents to discipline their kids, and, it allows the kids to believe that they are doing everyone a favor simply by existing, and they have no duty to put the dirty dishes in the sink after eating (as a single point in the list of helpful chores). The whole concept of assigned chores and working to help improve the environment for the entire family is falling by the wayside. There is the fact that too many parents, these days, have no interest in supporting the education of their children. Too many of them seem to believe that their “Little Snowflake” is perfect, and, if there are problems at school, they must be caused by unreasonable demands on the kid by teachers, or, tyrannical administrators, or some other factor.  So, instead of supporting the teachers, and working to make sure that their kids are doing the work necessary to pack the information and skills into their heads that are necessary to become good citizens these days,  they rant and rave at school administrators to try and force them to change things to fix THEIR problem.

Unlike too many people on the Net, I may rant about problems, but, I also try to offer some ways to improve the situation. Now, how would I approach this can of worms?

First off, I realize that I cannot fix the parents in the world, although it would be nice to be able to wave a magic wand and improve the quality of their work and to make it easier for them to be good parents.  However, I would encourage everyone to consider looking at their parenting habits, and, perhaps start taking a more active part in their kid’s life. My upbringing was hardly perfect, but, my parents DID take far too much interest in my life, and keeping track of what was going on in it. Also, I had chores, and, I had to do them…NOT doing them was not an option. I did not like it so much at the time, but, it left me with a strong sense of taking on a job and finishing it, even if it was hard. I also tend to see problems or messes and clean them up without waiting for someone to ask me to do it….I just do it,   I, for one, think my life and the lives of those around me are better for it.

An issue with this murder was that the three boys who did it were sitting around the house, killing time. The old saying is “Idle Hands are the Devil’s workshop”,  There is a lot of truth to this old saying.   Now, some of this could have been dealt with if the kids had enforced chores to do, or some other, positive activity to fill their time.  One of the things that kept me out of a lot of trouble when I was in my teens was the fact that I had a membership in the local “Boys Club” (Now, known as a “Boys and Girl’s Club”). That gave me a good place to go, it provided me with a fairly decent library, and, the staff there had organized games that they would drag us outside to participate in. While I am no great fan of Basketball, it was good to get dragged out on the court and practice the concepts of teamwork, as well as building my eye/hand coordination. Over the past decade or so, the Conservative wings of the government have consistently cut funding for places like this.  I think this is a foolish savings, as it only saves a small amount, and, ends up removing the places where kids like this can work off that excess energy, and get a bit more socialized.

Finally, this glorification of the“gangsta” world has to end.  It has never brought anything goodto the equation, and, it never will.

These three kids have done a terrible thing, for which they will pay for the rest of their lives. If we do not make some serious changes in the road we are on as a society, I fear we shall see more and more such events in our world.  Nothing good can come from this.

Pleasant Dreams

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Political rants, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why the Space Program is SO worth it

 
    Greetings and Salutations;

     There are so many amazing images that NASA is collecting, that I thought I would share one here.    This is an image of two of Saturn’s moons (Mimas and Pandora) hanging in space just outside of the Rings.   It is an image taken by the Cassini spacecraft as it orbits the planet, and, is yet another of a amazing flood of images from this craft.
     Mimas is interesting, as it is also known as “The Deathstar Moon”, because the huge crater left from a meteor impact has left a bowl-like depression in JUST the same general area as that monumental space craft from the Star Wars Saga.    It is a pretty amazing sight. 
     However, images like this are not only kind of amazing to view, but, some quite useful, scientific data can be gathered from them.   Rather than repeating the information, let me point you to The Bad Astronomer blog entry that discusses this at some length.
Posted in Astronomers, Astronomy, Cosmology, Ruminations, Something Good This Way Comes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

No More Spam, Man

     Greetings and Salutations;

     I am sorry that the actions of a few have to impact the reality of the many.
     I just spent quite some time zapping close to 200 spam posts from the comments queue.   Frankly I am tired of it.   I do not know if anyone out there actually reads this blog, nor, frankly, do I care that much.  I do not do it for you as individuals.  I write these posts because there are topics that I feel are important enough to comment on, and, leave a mark.
     So…to get back to the comments.   From now on, you will have to be a registered member of the blog in order to post comments.   Your comments (if any) will still get moderated before they appear, so do not worry if they do not pop up immediately.    If you have any questions, feel free to email me at xmundt@yahoo.com.   Put “beemandave blog” in the title to catch my attention.
      pleasant dreams
      Bee Man Dave.
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How to write a story (one man’s view)

     Greetings and Salutations;

     I was perusing my FB entries a bit ago, and, I came across a plea for help from a novice writer.   They were experiencing challenges in getting stories finished up and ready to go, and, wanted helpful suggestions on how to make the process less painful.   I got to thinking about this, and, while I do not think there is ANY painless way to go about it   (after all, I believe it was Mark Twain that said “Writing is easy…just put a sheet of blank paper in the typewriter and stare at it until you sweat blood”),   I think there are some steps that can ease the process…so here we go:
       Writing is, perhaps, one of the hardest habits to deal with.   To be driven to write, yet, to have to deal with those distractions makes it very difficult to get a good story out and onto paper (or in the computer).   
     While there are a number of things that can make it a problem,   I thought I would touch on a few of the main ones that I have run into over the years of trying to get something worthwhile on paper.  When one is attacked by several problems at once, the best actions is “Divide and conquer”….
     0)  Dealing with getting off track!
      Decide the  destination for your story.    Keeping focused on, and, progressing on a story is easier if it has a target to shoot for.   As a part of that, it can  help to rough out an outline for the general path of the story.    If you do not have a concrete goal to focus on, it is entirely too easy for one to wander aimlessly around the land.   A perfect example of this  is Frodo’s quest in LOTR.   The Cracks Of Doom in Mordor were his goal.   He focused all his energies on achieving it, and, so, while there were diversions, mostly due to the actions of others, he successfully reached that goal and fulfilled the quest.    That having been said, I also realize that sometimes when one gets into a story, it becomes clear that the original goal was the wrong one.  Either it does not fit the protagonist’s character, or, it is too confining.   Sometimes a change of destination can allow the author to create a much better story.   However, if this happens more than once or twice, then, it is the wrong story, and, needs to be scrapped and restarted from scratch. 
     1)   Sometimes, when we get off track, it is because we are distracted by an interesting plot twist, or a character who shows some unexpected facets of their personality.  These are useful, as they can be seeds for a whole, new story.  so, open a “slush fund” file, and, write down some notes about that distraction.   Do not spend too much time on it, but, put down a few high points, so, later on you can revisit the situation and use those notes to flesh out that new story.    I find plot twists are easier to do this with, as they translate to other stories without too much difficulty.  Personality quirks of characters require a little more work, though, as, part of writing a good story is creating a 3d character who people can relate to, and, will care about.    Every personality trait we put on a character changes the way they will react to events in the story, so, making too many changes can lead to problems…which leads us to point 2….
     2)   Try and start out with as fully formed characters as is possible.    When I was running my AD&D campaign,  I would spend hours thinking about the major non-player characters that inhabited the world.    I created a reasonably lengthy back story for each of them, so when the players would intereact with them in the game,  I would know what the NPC liked and disliked, who their allies, friends and enemies were, and how they would react to dealing with them.   I did not, of course, create a fully formed being there, simply because there were not enough hours in the day.  However, if I had a couple of dozen facts about each NPC, that was usually enough to get a realistic reaction when they reacted to the players.   That having been said, I also realize that, as one writes,  the characters change.  We get to know them better, and, as creators, certain things start feeling “right” or “wrong” as a part of the character’s personality.    For example, in my campaign, There was an innkeeper who really hated Elvish sorts, and especially Elvish Mages.    He would be coldly courteous to them, but, if he had a chance, he would find a way to injure them.    As it turned out, his story was that he had a strong strain of Elvish blood in him, and, his grandparents, who had been pure Elvish, had been destroyed by an experiment gone wrong.   They had gotten involved in the Dark Magics, and, had been incautious.  Well, he had lost them very early in life, but, had a very close relationship to them, so their apparent deaths had hit him hard.   The family – both Elvish and human, had buried the truth of their death and had maintained that they had been killed by another Elvish Magic User after a disagreement got out of hand.    The Innkeeper had kept a grudge against all Elvish sorts ever since, and, had a certain amount of self-loathing for himself because of his heritage.    Since the adventuring party included a couple of Elvish types, this had the opportunity for some serious repercussions….    In any case, this short example shows how it is a good idea to flesh out the characters first.  They may change during the telling of the tale.   That is not a problem, as changing is one thing that makes it easier for the reader to relate to them.   However, having a solid base to start from always makes for a better, easier story to write.
     3)  Make it a point to write the story you have laid out, then stop.   Do not try to edit on the fly.  Do not worry about whether or not it is great prose or crap.    Some years ago, a wild child of Science Fiction, Harlan Ellison, said  I don’t know if what I write these days  is great or crap.  I put it out there and people read it.    He has been writing since the 1950s, and has amazing amounts of experience and knowledge.  He is also not afraid to push the envelope.   I have read most of his works, and while some of them ARE crap…even the worst have some very interesting moments in them, and the best of them are gems of insightful writing.
      Once you have put the last word of the story in place, put it aside for a bit.  Let it mellow.    Then, and only then, go back and read it with fresh eyes, to see if there are some awkward places that could be polished up.   There will be, trust me!   I have joked over the years that the best authors are not writers, rather they are Re-Writers!    This is also a place that having a good editor can be a God-send.   A different set of eyes to read the story, and mark it up for awkward writing, or spelling/grammatical issues is a wonderful thing to have.  It can be painful for one’s ego, but,  the result will be a much better story.     By the by…my definition of a “good editor” is pretty much covered by the proceeding sentences.   It is, alas, not a person that is just as creative, who will start re-writing the story the way THEY would have written it.   Even if they are your best friend, that is not good editing.
     4)  One of the other issues brought up in the original post was, basically, “is the idea good enough” or “is my writing good enough”.   Put that concern out of your mind.  That is nothing more than the demons of Failure and Dispair whispering in your ear.    I would go so far as to say that ANY idea can create a great story, even one as mundane as “do you hang the toilet paper roll with the end to the wall, or out into the room”.   As for the question of “is your writing good enough”…I say a qualified yes to that.   It is fairly unlikely that your first story is going to take its place with LOTR (as an example).   However, if the writing is clear, and you can find an interesting point of view…then, yes, it is great.   It will get better, as you write more (that is the nature of the beast), but, it is likely good enough now that if you publish it, you will find a fair number of people who will read it, and enjoy it…and THAT is one of the goals of writing.
    One of the things that just grates my last nerve are those authors who go back and destroy old notes, or partial stories, because they cannot see the value in them.    For that matter, I know of at least one amateur writer who keeps threatening to take the story she has spent hundreds of hours on, and, delete it, without backup, because she is unhappy with it.    The fact is that this is a terrible waste, and is admitting that the demons are right.   The only way to succeed is to push those demons back, and keep moving on towards the goal.    perhaps the most important lesson learned in my multiple creative careers (woodworker, programmer, and Dungeon Master) is that the end product is NEVER going to be as good as we want it to be.  We, the creators, will always see the flaws.  We forget that those flaws are like Sun-spots.  They are tiny defects in a huge ball of light, and, the rest of the world is only going to see the amazing ball of light.
     5) Keep the momentum going.    if getting a story finished is a problem, then, do not put it in the drawer and ignore it for weeks.   In a perfect world, we would have time and flexibility to be able to set aside a chunk of time every day to work on the writing.   I have a good friend who is quite an accomplished author of Fantasy/SF tales, who makes it a point to pull out her writing during her lunch hour and work on it a bit.  Some days, she gets a couple of thousand words typed in.  Some days, she stares at the screen for the entire time.   But, the momentum is there.   In a bowling analogy…when I was learning to bowl, my instructor’s favorite line was “Pick up the spares;   the strikes will come”.    That one day when the words flow out of one’s fingers like sparkling waterfalls makes all those other days of just a couple of edits more than worth it.    That having been said, I have to say that I do not perform well under pressure.   If I have a short deadline, it is always harder for me to get the words out.   My mind works more in a fashion of slowly building a model of reality, then, when it is working properly, all I have to do is look at it with my mind’s eye, and, note down what I see.   However, building that model can take time!
     In closing…take heart.  sit down in front of the typewriter/computer with a blank page in front of you.   Type something…  Then, type something more.  When you reach the end – STOP.   You will produce and interesting tale that is worth reading. 
     Pleasant dreams
     bee man dave
Posted in Characters, General, General Thoughts, Humanity, Nuttiness, Plotting, Thoughts on creative writing | Leave a comment

Brave Men Struck Down Too Soon.

   
  Greetings and Salutations;
     I  am pausing a moment to send my condolances and prayers to the family and fellow firefighters of the “Hot Shot” crew killed by a wild-fire in Arizona.     These are the names of the 19 brave men who had gone into the country, carrying heavy packs and armed with only basic tools to attempt to gain control over a lightning-created wildfire that was ravaging the countryside, and, had already destroyed several homes in a small town caught in the middle of it.     Fire is a vicious monster, and, this time, it whipped around and washed across the crew.   Although they did have protection with them, it was likely inadequate for the fury of the flames.     some of them were just starting families.   All of them had people close to them that will miss them.     Their bravery and self sacrifice both shows that there can be hope for humanity, and, it gives us all a model to aspire to.
     This has happened before, and it will happen again.    Do not let this sacrifice be wasted.   Take action to keep your house safe from fire by taking common-sense precautions.    When you are out having a picnic in the wilderness, or camping,  practice good fire safety.   This fire was started by lightning.  Too many fires are started because of stupidity, or deliberate arson.   And, perhaps most importantly – Thank a firefighter for their efforts to make the world a safer place.
      Pleasant Dreams
      Bee Man Dave.
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Drowning At The Shelter

     Greetings and Salutations;

     It has been far too long since I added any notes to this  journal of my wanderings through life and the Internet.   Unhappily, life tends to overwhelm one at times.    Among the various things that have covered me up recently are several bouts of severe depression.   This is a problem I have struggled with since I was far too young, but, only in the past few years has it gotten to a point that I have (for example) been unable to take a step outside of the house for a week – and barely been able to get out of the recliner for much of that time.
     One of the anchors that have helped me through this period are the companion animals that live in the house.   We have, at the moment, six cats, all of whom were rescues from a feral life in the great outdoors.    For you that do not interact with cats all that much, do not believe that they are aloof and uncaring.   If one builds a relationship with them, they are quite caring.    In any case, while I was locked into the Darkness in my mind, they would hang out with me, and be very purring and happy when I would scratch them.   It may sound like a small thing, but, it was a huge help.
      I realize that the proceeding is kind of a bummer and not the most cheerful way to start off a blog entry – but, it leads me into my original topic, mentioned in the title.    In that title, I am referring to the ongoing problem of excess animals that we Americans produce every year, and, the somewhat shameful way we treat them.   Right now,  the local shelters are beginning to fill up with dozens and dozens of cats and dogs that have no “forever home”.   Some of them are animals that were taken out into the country by their owners and dumped, because those people became bored with the animal, or changed the decor of the house, or, had issues they did not know how to handle with socializing the companion animal.  If they are lucky, they are captured and taken to the shelter.    Some of them are batches of kittens or puppies that an un-neutered pet produced, and the owners have no ability or interest in dealing with finding them a good home on their own.   In any case,  the shelter ends up with the animals on their doorstep and has to do something with them.
     Generally, kittens and puppies are relatively easy to get adopted.   Everyone thinks they are cute, and, wants one.    Older cats and dogs can languish for months at the shelter, waiting for their fate.  If they are lucky, someone comes in who realizes that an older cat is a great companion too, and, is just as good or better than starting off with a kitten.    Then, there is the pool of animals that no one wants to talk about, but, the staff at the shelter has to deal with.  These are the animals who have injuries that have left significant scars (like three legs instead of four, or one eye instead of two), or are unsocialized to the point that they are not the cute, snuggly creatures that most people want.    These “unadoptable” animals tend to come into the shelter, and, end up being euthanized within days or weeks.    I know the staff hates to do this, because every one of them has a deep love of animals, and, really appreciates the distinct personalities of each animal that they see.   However,  there are only so many spaces at the shelter, and, only so much food in the stockroom to keep them alive, and so difficult decisions have to be made.    It is a fact that the best thing that can happen to some of these animals is euthanasia.   When they come into the shelter, they have enough physical problems that ending their pain is the kindest thing to do.   However, it is also a fact that (as of last year) around two thirds of the animals that come into a “kill” shelter end up being euthanized.     That is a problem that we, as pet owners are directly responsible for, and, while I am not sure it is entirely possible to get that number down to single digits, there are some things that would help.
     1)  Have your companion animal  neutered.    It does not hurt them, and, unlike humans, they have no sexual insecurities that cause it to bother them.
     2)  If you have to surrender your companion animal, then, do it in a responsible way.   There  are shelters in your area that will take your animal and try to find it a new home.   Go on the Net and search for rescue groups for your animal’s breed.   There are a huge number of people who volunteer to transport dogs and cats from their current home to their new home.  It is quite well organized.
     3)  Remember that getting a companion animal is not like buying a sofa.   They may be a small life, but, they are a life, and, should be looked upon as just as much a part of your family as your children.    Do not think it is acceptable to just discard them if they become sick, or inconvenient, or no longer match the furniture, or, develop bad habits, or, you just get bored with them.    Companion animals will give you unconditional love and do not hold grudges (unless REALLY mistreated).   Remember that to return that, you have the responsibility of making sure that they have a good life until they die.  If that includes making the hard decision to have the animal put down, then, that is OK.   I, for one, will not have an animal put down unless I am there for their last heartbeat, letting them know that their contribution to my life was appreciated, and, that I am willing to escort them into the darkness.   That is, perhaps, one of the hardest things a person can do for their companion animal, but, it is the most ethical thing that we, as humans, can do for our little, furry friends.
     4)  Seriously consider taking an adult, or less adoptable animal from the shelter.   At best, you might lose a few years of time with them…but, on the other hand, you will have extended their life by, perhaps, a decade or so, and, made that life a good one.   I know this is not the easiest course of action.  If you adopt an unsocialized animal, it will require more work on your part.   First, you have to gain the animal’s trust – and that can take some time.  Then, you have to reprogram them to be social creatures – again more time.     I do not recommend this for everyone, but, I will say that I have found, over the years, that I am quite good at the process.   As a matter of fact, I have collected a number of animals from the shelter that were not going to get adopted because they had been tortured by humans and had a deep mistrust of them.   Over a period of time, I was able to work with them, and rebuild that trust to a point that they became some of the most loving, friendly and playful creatures one could imagine.    In one case, of a pair of sisters, it took a year or two before they really loosened up, but, they did become great companion animals.
     5)  Finally, while the world is full of need, consider supporting your local shelters.   They are always happy to accept cash (are not we all?)  but, contributions of cat and dog food and time are always appreciated and will go a long way to helping the problem.
     Dogs and cats have, for thousands of years, been mankind’s companion animals.   They have improved mankind’s lot in many ways, and required very little of us.  Alas, for a variety of reasons, we humans tend to treat them thoughtlessly.   This is the source of the flood of animals that are drowning the shelters these days.    We, as ethical humans, should do what we can to pay back that debt we owe our companion animals, and do what we can for them to have a good life that is relatively danger free.   Take Action!
     Pleasant Dreams
     Dave Mundt
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Hello world!

If things look a bit rough just now, I apologize.   I am moving hosts, and, of course, the “easy as pie” stuff never works properly.

The regularly scheduled appearance should return shortly

BeemanDave

 

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