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The Elective Process – Religion and Politics

20201118 The Elective Process – The Daily Summation
20201118 The Elective Process – The Daily Summation Podcast

It can’t be denied that the current national election in the United States, held in November of 2020, has been a mess. If you’re willing to count that not being the case, I would imagine you’re strongly in the minority.

Whether you think one candidate won the presidency, or another did so, you’re bound to find people around you who—if they were willing to be honest—have doubts about that being the case.

As time has gone on, it’s become more and more likely, things will fall in a given direction. That said, many observing the process—whether casually, or more intently—are pretty well of a mind, that there are serious questions to be answered.

Where I have an interest in seeing a certain presidential candidate (along with those for various other elective offices) win though, that’s not the major issue where I’m concerned.

Anybody who knows me, is aware my larger focus pretty much at all times, is the future.

Where the person making his or her way into the White House at present will affect the next four years at a minimum, the integrity of the balloting and voting processes in the country, almost certainly will do so, for a substantially longer time.

The point here is, where I’m concerened about the outcome of the present elections, my greater concern, is in the future legitimacy of the American political selection process.

Where the process is still playing out, in the very near future, things will wrap up and a victor will be chosen for various offices.

When that occurs—short of some startling, and very high level corruption charges that can be substantiated being arguedthe proverbial water will have made its way under the bridge, never to be seen again (at least, not in its current form).

As such, the present moment may be of import where the most recent outcome is concerned, but we must look to the future, with an eye toward bettering the process in the coming years—and by that, I mean making sure it’s as upright and transparent, as is reasonable and proper.

Looking at some of the issues we’re currently seeing, I think it entirely fair to indicate, there are at least some questions that cannot be ignored.

The lesser of these, are things like individual voter irregularities.

There have, by way of example, been voters who were told they cast ballots in states in which they previously resided. This is a problem on two obvious fronts.

To begin with, they didn’t do so, which means that vote counted, was techicnically theirs, yet wasn’t cast by them.

Additionally, if the person casting the errant ballot, voted for someone opposing the choice they made, it essentially cancels out their selection. I hope that’s not at all hard to comprehend.

It’s assumed that the number of folks to whom this happened was relatively small, so where it’s a problem, it shouldn’t be a major one.

I’m far more concerned about things like mail in ballots, that obviously never saw the inside of a security envelope. That’s even more significant, when the number of such ballots seems to have been quite large.

Keep in mind, not having been inside a security envelope by nature, makes them invalid, and therefor not countable.

Another concern would be mail in ballots cast from deceased or otherwise inelligible people, as well as from addresses that aren’t residential.

An even larger concern though, is ballot counters who were not observed in certain situations, along with caches of votes that came into counting locations enmasse, and at 4:30AM, technically after any legal ballots should have been accepted.

What makes this even more problematic if true, is that the ballots in question appear to have been overwhelmingly cast for one candidate.

This—on top of the lack of “down ballot voting” in numbers entirely inconsistent with similar data from previous elections—makes the votes in question highly suspect.

Add to this, the fact that many precints, had suspiciously high voter turnout (read here, “in many cases, more than one hundred percent of registered voters cast ballots, when the expectation was more like sixty to sixty five percent”), and things begin to get really ugly.

Then there’re questions about some of the companies providing voting machines and related software (Dominion Systems and Smartmatic among them). It’s literally true, that Texas refused to entertain or certify these systems, yet they appear to have been in use in some twenty plus U. S. states.

Having given ear to multiple presentations talking about these systems (and others), regardless the outcome of the current election, I believe a serious review is called for.

Assuming that occurs, if the problems I believe will be found actually are, those systems should be entirely scrapped and new ones put in place, regardless the related expense.

Put simply if the systems in place are not impeccable, and clearly free from signs of potential foreign influence (not interference, influence), they must be removed from the process.

In my opinion, three additional things should be addressed.

To begin with, any and all back doors must be foreknown and dealt with in some fashion.

Next, any and all auditingmust beinscrutible; and it should occur on all actions involving voting equipment.

Additionally, actual voting machines should have zero connection to any external network (to include, of course, the Internet).

There should be a manual transfer process to wide area connected systems. This is not too much to ask.

By the way, if people can be proven in appropriate venues, to have committed crimes, or can be found guilty of malfeasance in current or future elections, the punishment should be fitting to those crimes or bad actions.

At a bare minimum, guilty parties should be excluded, from future election processes.

Those who have done no wrong, should have nothing to worry about.

The important thing here, is to ensure voters aren’t disenfranchised in the process. The things I’ve indicated are needed in this piece, should help to keep that from being an issue. The voters voices must be heard, regardless whether their choices are good or bad.

In short, we can and must do better than what appears to have occurred in the present situation. This is not an option in my view, and I think you’ll find far too many out there agree with that idea. Elections should be free. Voting should be fair, and transparent. And let’s not forget, correct is more important than fast.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Who’s Responsible – Religion and Politics

20201117 Who’s Responsible – The Daily Summation
20201117 Who’s Responsible – The Daily Summation Podcast

It can be a difficult question—particularly when you realize what answer makes sense, the majority of the time.

The solution to the question may be different, than the one I’m about to put out there. Where that’s true, I wanted to speak specifically to the main one, I think needs to be understood.

When we’re younger (and sometimes not so young), we have a tendency to try and answer this conundrum in a way that’s both not really the case, and frankly, to our detriment.

You see, most of the time, the simple statement made should be, “I’m responsible.”

Yes, it’s true there are situations where placing the burden on oneself, may potentially be at least partially incorrect.

That said, most of the time, it’s a simple query, with an equally simple response.

Even in situations where somebody else did something, that resulted in some sort of less than desirable outcome, had we taken action to stop them doing so, what happened might’ve been completely different.

Sometimes it’s true, we may not have been been involved in the process. At other times, we may not’ve understood what was occurring, or been in a position to stop not-so-great things from happening. In those cases, unless we chose to not act appropriately, I think it’s fair to say whatever occurred was not “on us.”

In just about every other scenario though, it’s pretty reasonable to say we bear the burden, for at least a part of what happened.

I don’t say this in order to either beat myself up, or to get people to do likewise. The point of statement, is to seek future improvement, by bringing to light something we may not be accounting correctly.

In personal relationships for example, I’ve done a horribly bad job. Whether it was in deciding with whom I would be in such a coming together, or dealing badly with one or more (usually more than one) thing that happened while in that union, or other situation.

In the end, there’s certainly nobody more to be blamed, for the unfortunate outcomes, than plain old me.

Am I saying the other person involved has no responsibility in the various catastrophes, pitfalls, good, or great times we went through together? Not at all.

Rather, my intent is to point out two things.

If I don’t take responsibility for what I’ve done—how I’ve erred, or done well—I’m abdicating both that responsibility, and equally importantly, my authority, in those times when I obviously had both.

The other point of importance is, blaming whatever other parties were involved, rarely results in any benefit at all for anyone. About the best I can hope for, is keeping it in my mind, that the person in question might not be trustworthy.

Of course, all of this applies equally to business transactions and activities, as it does to private interpersonal relationships.

It’s incumbent on each person involved in public interactions, to do their best to ensure a favorable outcome for both themselves, and others.

It may be, none of this comes off at all surprising to you.

If you’re like me though, it’s a hard lesson to first internalize, then to maintain as recognized.

I have a terribly bad habit of blaming others, when I either did wrong myself in some fashion, or maybe more importantly, knew they were probably going to do badly, and failing to prepare for that eventuality.

Trust me, if nobody else gets it, I do. It can be hard to recognize that blame or fault lies in one’s own back yard.

You should also be totally aware, this is still something with which I cross swords on a daily and ongoing basis—and it’s not a battle I expect to win completely, any time in the near future.

That said, I’ve begun to build a pattern. It involves asking simple questions like, “How could I have made things better, or done more correctly?”

Sometimes I forget to even ask, much less answer questions of that sort. As I go along, I hope to get better and better, at doing so.

The funny thing is, blaming others is such an easy, and basic response, that I do it in the simplest of times, without taking a moment to look in the mirror, before doing so.

I’ll be driving down the road, and a car will basically stop in front of me to turn right. This is an absolute recipe, for me to blame the person at the wheel of that vehicle, for acting badly.

Should I do so though?

In reality, the common answer is, “No.”

How many times has such a thing happened before? It would be an amazing thing, for any driver with more than ten years of experience, to not be able to count a hundred or more such times.

If I knew the possibility might exist, regardless why it happens, is it not my responsibility to prepare for that eventuality?

Considering that’s true for a thing that seems so badly out of my control, how much more should it be the case, for things I should be even more likely to encounter?

If I flatly refuse to accept the possibility such things may come to pass, sooner or later, there will be potentially serious problems to face.

It’s for this reason I’ve been working to “fix” this issue within myself.

I’ve been lucky (you may be inclined to say blessed, instead), my ability to react quicky has been good enough most of the time, and the results so minimal, as to not have caused any serious harm, to myself or others.

It takes just one time for life to throw just the right curve ball, and for someone to be seriously badly affected, as a result.

Considering my luck, or how blessed I’ve been to this point, statistics are working heavily against me. Even if they weren’t though, it’s definitely time for me to shoulder what burden I can, and work to keep things, from going awry.

Remember this. Others may well affect various situations in which you find yourself. In general though you’re responsible for the outcome. Failing to look at things in this way, may result in dire consequences.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Inner Strength – Religion and Politics

20201116 Inner Strength – The Daily Summation
20201116 Inner Strength – The Daily Summation Podcast

I wanted to take the time to relate a couple of incidents, from my time in the U. S. Air Force. Trust me, I’ll explain why I’m doing this a little further along in this piece. For the time being, just take in the pictures, and see what you think of them.

I was relatively new in the military, not more than a couple of years in. I had married a young lady who was from the Republic of Korea.

I decided it would be a good thing, among other considerations, for me to see her home country.

I found a way to get myself on the installation I desired, and off we went!

One day, during one of the rainy seasons there, I found myself plodding heavily along, in a fairly steady downpour.

It was early evening, and I had a long way—more than two miles—to go to get home, off base.

As I walked, I was reminded by the playing of “To The Colors,” that the military day was coming to a close.

That particular tune, was used to tell one, flags were going to be lowered and put away, and Taps was about to commence playing. As was expected, I stopped, turned in the direction of what I knew was likely the nearest flag, snapped to attention, and prepared to salute the setting banner.

As I stood there, rain dripped off of pretty much every part of my body. It fell from the bill of my cap, down in front of my face.

I heard the melody, signaling the end of the day, saluted, waited until the last note had sounded, dropped my hand, and trudged on to my home.

Sometime later on, I was working in the receiving warehouse on that same installation, where I spent the majority of the day. The commander of the Pacific Air Forces, had decreed that his people would work fifty hours a week, as a measure combating culture shock. The thinking was, if you spent enough time working, perhaps you wouldn’t be so wierded out by the differences around you.

I was beginning a ten hour day (it was either a Friday or a Saturday, as I recall), and we were in the middle of a training exercise.

That particular learning session, was one of the type referred to as an ATSO (Ability to Survive and Operate) event.

On that day, in the middle of summer, I was told early on, that we were to don our chemical warfare attire (Ground Crew Ensemble, gas mask, cotton gloves, rubber gloves, and rubber boots, worn over the top of full uniform), and perform normal work, until notified to take it off.

As indicated, it was summer, and the warehouse had no air conditioning, which meant it was already a hotbox, as such, the heat was pretty difficult to handle. Wearing all that gear, made it that much worse, as you can imagine.

Both of these scenarios, could be taken for being very near the bottom of circumstances, in terms of fun and enjoyment value. To be sure, they were far from pleasant.

The reality is though, I tell those stories, neither to evoke pity for what I’ve been through, nor to show you just how bad things could be.

What you need to understand is, these were some of the more difficult times, in my military career.

The next thing you ought to be clear on is, my experiences were minor inconveniences by comparison to the likes of MSG Roy Benavidez (whose story can be heard in part, by watching the video found in this post on my blog site), and Audie Murphy.

These guys make everything I experienced in my time in service, look absolutely lame by comparison.

And they’re far from alone in that. Think of all those men (and women) who went to Afghanistan, and Iraq. Consider those who went to Vietnam, the Korean War, and the Second World War.

Concern yourself with those who lost limbs, who were burned beyond recognition, yet survived. Cast your mind on those who went to war on foreign soil, and never returned alive.

My little trials, were akin to skin blemishes by comparison, to what so many have dealt with.

The more amazing thing? Besides having tremendous amounts of physical prowess to bandy about, many of the folks mentioned, had virtually unimaginable inner strength.

Benavidez speaks of crawling to walls, in order to try to stand up, suffering unbelievable pain in his back, when doing so.

I can’t tell you how many others can make similar claims; I’m sure the number is not at all, a small one.

When I look back on my time, not just in the military, but in life overall, I’m often more than a little ashamed, how bitter, disappointed, sad, and upset, comparatively tiny things have made me.

Bearing witness to such internal fortitude, can only make a thinking person stand in awe, of the people displaying it.

I can toot my own horn here, and say that I’ve continued through some relatively tough circumstances, and that for the most part, I’ve come out stronger, and more able, as a result. That considered, the folks I’ve discussed in this article, make it very plain to me, I don’t necessarily hold a candle to the toughness, they apparently possess inside.

You may be going through hard times. You could be dealing with things, the like of which I’ve never dealt. Still, your ability to stand up within, and deal with such things, may end up being one of the most important things you can do. At some point, people may look at you, and see another Roy Benavidez.

It’s often not an easy thing, to edure the struggles and difficulties of life. Doing, so can make us want to give up on that toil at times. That said, being able to look at the struggles and difficulties of gallant, valorous individuals, and realize maybe what we’re experiencing isn’t as severe as we’d like to think, can be helpful to realign our perspective. It’s hoped we can come to really understand, what inner strength looks like, when we do.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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The Ladder – Religion and Politics

20201115 The Ladder – The Daily Summation
20201115 The Ladder – The Daily Summation Podcast

Who out there has not heard some variation of the old expression, “climbing the ladder?”

It seems the concept is a fairly universal one.

What’s maybe not so widespread, is an understanding of what “the ladder” actually is.

It may be fairer to say the term, and terms like it, don’t mean the same thing to all people.

That said, where I don’t think we can come to an all-encompassing definition, I do believe we can arrive at a meaning, a good many would count acceptable to discuss that ladder, and the idea of climbing it.

I’m pretty sure the majority of folks out there, want to achieve successes of various types.

Some among us, may never have dreamt of being rich, powerful, or famous. I would argue at least one of these, is an ambition the majority of individuals, have a desire to accomplish.

Here’s the first point of this piece. In order to climb a ladder, there must be one.

Take the idea of becoming wealthy.

First, there must be some form of currency. We’re not necessarily talking about notes, and coins here. In systems that work around barter, the currency might be cows, houses, and rutabagas.

Still, some sort of thing one may possess, which itself has value, must exist or be created in order to make it possible, for people to gain it in sufficient quantity, to be well off.

This implies a second thing, there must be some sort of standard—either personal, or societal, or both—that gives some idea, who has achieved that goal of attaining a necessary amount of assets, to be considered affluent.

That measurement system, may not be so easy to nail down.

Here’s an interesting thing though, in order to go from not having to having, there must be some mechanism or set thereof, which allows or allow, passage from one to the other.

I submit that pathway typically has a couple of components in a social unit with values, that aren’t horribly skewed.

The first is, it’s normally expected, that one must work hard to manage to get, to the place of plenty.

A second, would be that the person doing so, would have to behave in ways that are commonly moral, ethical, and legal. You may gain by doing otherwise, but you’re always at risk of losing. That’s true whether you act properly or not, but in my way of thinking, even more so if you don’t, than if you do.

Though there may be others, there’s a third that comes to mind. That would be having the smarts to get from point a to point b.

To be clear, that doesn’t necessarily mean, some sort of all-knowing intelligence. Some folks prove to just be good, at traveling that road.

And as I sit and think about my list, I realize there’s at least one more helpful—if not required—asset.

That would be, tenacity. You must be willing to work through obstacles, to continue when roadblocks loom.

Little in life comes easy. Seldom do things like wealth building, happen speedily.

Because that’s true, you have to be willing, and able, to “tough it out.”

So I think we’ve defined some important traits one must come to hold, if one intends to become well monied.

The next consideration that comes to me, is the types of bottlenecks a person might encounter, on that road.

To begin with, there will always be naysayers—people who’ll tell you it’s just not possible to achieve your desired end.

Additionally, there’ll be those, who insist it’s in some wise immoral to even attempt to possess more than enough, to live a meager existence.

Even if we assume that’s true, there’s a level of achievement that must occur to get, and stay there. That means themark I try to get to, is still just that, a point on the scale.

Sometimes, the folks who insist there’s a point at which someone has too much, will get into positions, where they have the ability to set some stopping place. At that point, they may seek to establish tools by which confiscation of what one has, over and above their assessed level, is possible.

This may seem like a grand “leveling mechanism.” In truth though, it’s pretty much invariably a bad idea.

Why? Because of the aforementioned attributes needed to achieve success. If one person comes to a position of power, such that they can take what’s reasonably gained from the gainer, the one having done the work, loses incentive to continue to acquire.

Does that sound desirable? If so, perhaps it’s because you’ve failed to consider the potential collateral damage, that will almost assuredly occur.

When a person seeks to gain, he or she will almost without exception, come to a place where doing so, will be more than he or she, can manage alone.

It’s at this point that they’ll enlist the aid of others.

Smart folks taking on help, will make it worth the while—to the extent they’re able—of those they employ, to be there.

Then there’s the idea that, once you get to a certain point, holding on to what you’ve managed to gain is generally a bad plan. Things perish. At best, excessive possessions sit, and gather dust.

You might ask, “So why gather things in the first place?”

The question isn’t a bad one. The thing many fail to recognize though, is that such things are at least brought together, and often, go through some additional processes, to make them useful. Like it or not, this is what such folks manage to accomplish en masse.

From there, others can more easily come by the things they need and want, by obtaining them through trade, from those who have them.

In the end, I guess my point is this. A ladder to various places at least should and really probably must exist. Some will argue for that path’s hindrance. For the most part, I contend against such perspectives because of their net effect on not just the wealthy, but everybody who might benefit from one climbing that ladder. You may disagree. If you do, I’d like to hear your logic.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Information Sources – Religion and Politics

20201114 Information Sources – The Daily Summation
20201114 Information Sources – The Daily Summation Podcast

Where do you get your information?

That’s not just a reasonable question, in my view, it’s pretty much an essential one.

As is true for many, I spend too much time wading through social media.

It was in the process of doing just that, I encountered a post that talked about how ironic it was, that a CNN reporter was arguing, the Parler social media platform, is “killing American Democracy.”

The discussion was in the form of a video clip, so it was relatively easy to see exactly what it was he was trying to say.

His argument, was that Parler is a “right-wing echo chamber.”

Here’s what astounded me. I’m on Parler (as well as many of the other social media platforms), and where I acknowledge that it tends to have a definitely rightward tilt, I consider that to be true for an obvious reason.

People on the political right seem prone to join Parler, because they don’t expect their voices to be heard consistently on any other platform.

It’s for that reason that both Parler, and the platform that can be considered competition to YouTube—Rumble by name—exist.

I’ve been a listener and watcher of Mr Dan Bongino for some time now.

I bring Dan up, because he’ll be the first to tell you he has an ownership stake in both companies.

Because that’s true, he advertises for both platforms on his show(s). That said, in much of the talking about them, when he runs his various plugs, he makes a point of saying they’re not designed to be total replacements, for other platforms.

Does that sound like someone living in an echo chamber to you?

How about a person who posts a clip of a CNN personality talking about how he doesn’t like Parler, because it’s destroying democracy? Yes, it was Mr Bongino who posted the clip I referenced earlier.

And by the way, that’s how I get certain more left-leaning opinions and commentary; I hear them from conservatives.

So the next question is obvious, “Considering I hear various liberal talking points, does it sound to you like I’m in a right-wing echo chamber?”

What if I told you I listen to other folks, with whom I sometimes agree, but with whom I certainly don’t always stand?

I enjoy listening to Tim Pool (timcast), Bruce “The Boss” Brooks, and others.

Bruce and Tim both, tend to have conservative leanings. That said, you can be assured, we periodically disagree.

And they’re not the only ones I’ll take the time to sit down and listen to by any means.

Here’s the thing.

Bongino is prone to use what I believe are referred to as “super cuts” on his Dan Bongino Show. Much of the time, they come from somebody or some group who’s known as Grabien. I’m not sure who they actually are, but they’re pretty good at compiling sound bites from the mainstream media.

This matters. because much of what comes out of such activity, is folks from a variety of different mainstream outlets, saying the same thing. They’ll literally utter the exact same verbiage from person to person, and program to program.

Want to know how I picture an echo chamber? Check out the super cuts out there, that show multiple mainstream news personalities, parroting the exact same language.

This, to me, is the very definition of the idea, “echo chamber.”

It’s for this reason—among others I’m sure—people like Dan Bongino are seeing such amazing success.

To be fair, had it not been for Mr Rush Limbaugh blazing that trail, I wonder if anybody would be traveling it.

That said, the reason the right-wing talk phenomenon has exploded, is at least largely, due to a hunger for something other than mainstream pablum.

I’m pretty sure I’m of a mind with Mr Bongino, and most others on the right. I would expect most such people to say, you should pay attention to a diverse set of sources.

I’d say further, that most of us who tend towards conservatism, would count it not only reasonable, but more or less essential, to listen to arguments from people truly in opposition, to those holding forth.

In my mind, I want people who disagree, to critique what I have to say. Having that occur, means I must either defend what I believe, or question what I hold true.

I’m a big boy. If I weren’t by this point, you should be worried. I can stand to have people attack my ideas, perspectives, and viewpoints.

In fact, I consider it valuable, for people to do so with factual, content filled responses.

What all of this boils down to is this.

It’s incumbent on each of us, to come to understand the tilts and slants of those around us.

It’s equally important to comprehend our own leanings. After all, I’m pretty well convinced we all have them.

If we get in the kitchen, and find the heat is too much for use to bear, maybe it’s time to start looking at what we hold dear.

Even if it all but makes you sick, hearing from other angles is a worthwhile thing.

Nobody says you have to agree with them. Then again, you may just find that you do, if you take the time to hear them out.

I’ve heard a good many right-side-of-the-aisle folks, talk about their liberal, even far left progressive origins. I don’t find that same sort of story, coming out of the camp of leftists folks. That is to say, that many of them started out as conservatives, and moved to liberalism.

In order for such a shift to happen though, it’s necessary for the folks in question to look to their opposition. Knowing that’s true, can you honestly say you believe it’s folks on the right, that tend to live in echo chambers?

My main point is this. We all need to look at from where our information comes. If you’re not prone to support, and attend a widely diverse set of sources, maybe it’s time for you to start.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Voting Blind – Religion and Politics

20201112 Voting Blind – The Daily Summation Podcast

Those who know me at all well (read here, “almost nobody”), will likely be aware of one thing, if no other. They’ll be apprised of the fact, that I’m a “confirmed non-voter.”

I’m not going to go into the details as to why that’s the case, at this point in time. Further, I’m not going to expound on why it is, that I continue to pen articles on voting and government, despite my not being one who casts ballots.

Allow me to say simply, that my unwillingness to do so, neither makes me as generally clueless as many would assume, nor does it make me uninterested in the government under which I live, to say nothing of whether or not I have a wealth of information at hand, with regard to that subject.

As well, most people I know—whether on a casual basis, or in more intimate ways—are voters. This means helping them to be informed on their options, can hardly be a bad thing, assuming I know what’s going one, and act in accordance with that fact.

Having disclaimed appropriately, let’s get on with it.

I saw recently, a social media post, in which someone said for all intents and purposes, “If I’d have known Mr Biden was for more lock-downs, I wouldn’t have voted for him.”

You’d have to be living underground somewhere, to not be aware of two facts.

The first is, much of the country is still locked down as a result of COVID-19 as I write this.

The second, is that Mr Biden and his running mate, have both openly expressed their support of continuing and extending lock-downs, “if the science warranted such actions.”

Writing what I just did, breaks one of the cardinal rules of this blog—or it would, if I didn’t intend to relate the previous social media post, and related facts to, something timeless.

The reality is, there’s a basic idea, each individual should keep in mind when voting. In truth, the concept is so basic to life, I shouldn’t have to apply it specifically to voting, in the first place.

That consideration can be summed up thusly, “If you’re going to trust anybody with anything of consequence, take the time to come to understand the person beforehand, if at all possible.”

You can be sure such a plan is a good one, when talking about entrusting somebody with the highest executive office in a country having a population of more than three hundred million individuals.

Like it or not, if you choose to exercise right of enfranchisement, it’s incumbent on you, to ensure the person you help to place in office, is in your mind, fit to reside there.

The individual indicating such a serious lack of knowledge regarding the candidate she was working to help to fill the position in question, certainly did not make it seem as though she was equipped to exercise the right of selection given her.

Here’s what mystifies me. Imagine you were working in a given job.

Now envision the employer for whom you toiled, decided another position had to be filled, in order for all needed tasks to be completed.

Advertisements are placed. Resumes are submitted. People are interviewed.

You’re aware a given person vying for the position is not in any sense qualified. You’re also fully certain, the person is not just lazy, but a thief as well.

The department head for your area, chooses the person in question, as the most suitable to come to work.

They ask those in your section, for feedback.

Do you hold your peace, or do you make it plain the applicant being considered is not a good choice?

I know my answer, I hope you’re clear on yours.

Having that person come to work in your company is substantially less of a problem, than inviting them to run your country, or write and change laws.

Yet people asked, would assuredly say the opposite. They would also almost certainly, be more concerned with sitting next to a bad workmate, than having that person occupy public office somewhere.

Fellows in toil can be fired. They can be removed from their positions in many parts of the country, with no reason cited.

Unless politicians are guilty of major wrongdoing, and that impropriety is exposed to the light of day, chances are they’ll at the very least, serve a full term, after election.

Most such individuals, already have public records. For some, that’s a function of holding some former office. For others, it’s a result of having been in the world of work, and folks knowing enough about them, to help yet other people, to be informed.

At the very least, you should be able to take the time, to listen to what they have to say, and make your decision based on what you hear.

Again, the person earlier mentioned, appears to have not even done that. That’s obvious, based on the statements of the figure who she seems to have potentially helped, to place in office.

Allow me to make one more critical point. If you’re willing to base your choice of a given politician on one consideration, one of two things must be true.

Either the position held is supremely important, or the chances are, you should probably reconsider your perspective.

I know “one issue voters.” I have such folks in my family. The positions in question are things like, “Should it be legal to abort babies?”

Perhaps the idea of lock-downs is sufficiently important to disqualify a candidate on that basis.

If it is, it would seem like it’s pretty darned important, to know the potential office-holder’s viewpoint on it. Again, this seems to have not been among the things at least, the person mentioned in the social media comment, sought to determine.

I don’t care if a person is a Republican, a Democrat, or something else entirely, knowing who they are, what they represent, and will do given the chance, is of strong concern. If you’re not willing to find such things out, perhaps you should sit out the selection process, at least for that race?

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Misused Statistics – Religion and Politics

20201111 Misused Statistics – The Daily Summation
20201111 Misused Statistics – The Daily Summation Podcast

I’ve spent a reasonably good part of my adult life, working in jobs where it was necessary for me to have a reasonable knowledge of data. You can be sure that includes a moderate amount of interpreting what statistics do say, and what they don’t indicate.

I recently saw a post on one of my social media accounts, that made it clear to me, far from everyone has had the need to learn how deal reasonably with such information.

I want to be clear, where in certain regards, my understanding of data centered facts, can be argued to be something close to expert, in other ways, that’s certainly not the case.

To give an example of how important it is to understand what you’re able to glean, when viewing statistics, it’s clear perusing the factual data surrounding COVID-19, that much of the action, as well as the policies put in place surrounding its existence, have been serious overkill.

I could go on to cite the data in question, but that isn’t the intended purpose of this article. Rather, the thrust of this little set of scribblings, is to talk about the idea that, without serious research and consideration, it’s often not true, one can look at data in meaningful and useful ways.

Another example of this, was found in the social media post, mentioned above.

It’s obvious the individual meant well in the statement they made (which was actually a repost of what someone else had put out there). That said, the point made about the thing discussed, shows how statistical data can be pretty readily abused.

The basic idea posited, is that one in ten children is born prematurely. The information presented lines up with the Data found on the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

A quick review of the page titled Premature Birth though, gives us the following information: “Premature (also known as preterm) birth is when a baby is born too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy have been completed.

Considering that the accepted normal term for a human pregnancy is at most 40 weeks (various writeups say 39), that means the definition of prematurity used by the CDC, involves cases where children are born as little as two weeks early.

I’m pretty sure one of my children can be considered premature by that standard. He’s Moderately (Level 2) Autistic, but other than that, appears to have been born healthy.

The point here is simple. Unless you wish to argue his autism diagnosis can be blamed on premature birth, the fact that he was born early, is a consideration bearing little to no weight.

I want to be clear in what I’m saying here. For those having children born at 21, or 22 weeks, or even younger, there’s little doubt they have a hard—one might even argue desperate—road ahead of them.

It can’t be denied, that folks who have children a month or more prior to the anticipated normal delivery date, may well suffer more than a little consternation as well. In fact, I’m sure in some circumstances, it can be downright devastating.

Though that’s true, I would be very surprised to hear many such folks, have more than a fleeting recollection of their child’s early birth, even a couple of years after it happened.

The fly in the ointment come to this statistic then, is this.

Where it’s true that one in ten babies is born prematurely, that information is not sufficient to form opinions, on the seriousness of such a claim. Instead, it’s necessary to possess additional data based on the potentially varying ages and health outcomes, for the children in question, to do so.

In order to seriously talk about this topic, it would be necessary to do a great deal more work, than I’m willing to do for this article.

None of this negates the horribly stressful, and difficult time, new parents (most particularly mothers, but fathers too), go though as a result of more serious instances of premature birth.

That said, because the data is relatively vague, it’s a completely reasonable thing to ask more revealing questions like, “Out of the one in ten babies born prematurely, how many suffer even remotely seriously problematic health outcomes?

Doing this is not a sign of callousness. Rather, it helps to pinpoint the severity of the issue in question.

In the same way that people concentrating on the number of COVID-19 infections, fail to discuss the number of deaths, or even serious and lasting health outcomes attributable to the virus, considering the number of premature births simply doesn’t answer the questions, that can and should be asked about the well being of the babies in question.

What makes this worse, is that in employing statistical sleight of hand, people are making things that shouldn’t be matters of great concern, seem substantially more so, than they actually are. And when people figure this out, they often wrongly fail to attribute to those actually dealing with real and meaningful issues, the hardship those folks, have truly endured.

Further, because the data used to support their claims can be seen to be somewhat disingenuous, others who’re dealing with issues that are more serious and widespread, are seen as less significant than the ones having had their data inflated.

You have to understand too, it may appear that I’m intending on picking on a couple of cases only, but that’s not at all the case.

This type of statistical inflation and malfeasance, is a problem in many cases, and causes more significant things to be ignored on a regular and ongoing basis—and we’re not just talking about health related situations, either.

So how do we deal with this? It’s certain that many spreading unintentional falsehoods likely aren’t even in on the game.

About the only thing I can tell you, I’ve said many times before. Do your due diligence. Anything less, and you’re likely to be an unwilling dupe, of those spreading misinformation.

My final word is this. Please, please, I beg you, be very careful when presenting data given to you by others. Not taking the time to confirm what you see and hear, is likely one of the leading causes of muddied waters, surrounding things like understanding which health conditions are the most impactful. Take the time, do the research. If you’re not willing to do that, best to remain silent, at least where specific claims are made.

Thanks for reading and may your time be good.

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Snob – Religion and Politics

20201110 Snob – The Daily Summation Podcast

It dawned on me recently, there are a couple facets of who I am, that likely cause me to be counted as a snobbish individual.

The funny thing is, nothing I can imagine, could be further from reality.

I won’t say that other people tend to scare or intimidate me much these days. On the other hand, I recognize there are many people, who’ve managed to accomplish things I’ll be very lucky to ever replicate.

A day or two ago, I sat in my local tire shop, finally able to have a couple of new tires, put on my vehicle.

The ones that were on my little car, were in such bad shape, the fellow doing the replacement, indicated he was surprised I was still able to drive on them.

While I stood, watching the people involved in making the switch work—no simple task, since lug nuts were essentially frozen onto studs—I saw a man wearing grease-stained, somewhat dirty clothes, standing nearby.

I initially assumed he was part of the staff, since he looked a great deal like the folks there.

I turns out he wasn’t (though he’d not too long since, left that company’s employ), but he was a mechanic.

He struck up a conversation with me, and we talked about a number of current political and social issues.

He was pretty well informed, and that’s certainly true where things relating to his family were concerned.

He’d recently had to make some hard financial decisions, regarding taking money now, or socking it into a retirement account. We talked about what he had done and frankly, I was more than a little impressed.

This man, who probably spent more time worrying about things related to his trade, than just about anything else, had chosen a solid path I don’t believe a large number of people, who work in industries like software development, would have done so well with.

It’s not the case by any means, I’m talking this man, or any plying his trade down, by the way. Most of the mechanics I’ve met in the course of my life are decent, hard working individuals. We may not always agree on social issues, but I tend to differ on such things with people in many diverse professions.

The more we spoke, the more we connected on a variety of things.

I learned from him, and he from me.

This is just a single example of the type of relationship I prefer to have, as a general rule.

Not long ago, I worked at a building where there were a couple of security staff members, who spent a great deal of time in the lobby. I struck up a reasonable relationship with one such fellow.

He was a black man of a similar age to myself. He wasn’t highly educated as far as I was able to tell. Even so, he was a relatively smart individual. We had many a pleasant discussion, when he and I crossed paths.

The main person responsible for maintenance at that building, was a white man, maybe just a little younger than me. We too, discussed things periodically. Yet again, we may have had our differences, but we got on just fine.

I can tell you about any number of similar experiences. They involve janitors, garbage collectors, mail men and women, mechanics, store workers, teachers, and so many more.

Here’s the funny thing, I have a hard time thinking of a single person who I’ve gotten to know, who would likely apply a word like snob to me.

So why might it seem to those who maybe don’t know me, that I’m such a person?

I’m quiet. I’m reserved. I’m somewhat a private person. I dress in more or less traditional ways, and have no tattoos or piercings. And to top things off, I’m strongly opinionated. The funny thing? When it comes to those considerations about which I have strong viewpoints, I’m seldom wrong.

There are a few reasons this is the case.

The first of these is simple, and could be viewed as somewhat sad, depending on your way of looking at things. Put simply, I’m getting old. That means I’ve amassed a degree of experience on a variety of subjects—some of which, I care very little about, others I consider to be of great importance. This makes it so I speak from a position of knowledge much of the time.

The second, is that when I deal with many things, I take the time to learn a lot about them, so I won’t be inclined to speak from a place of a lack of knowledge. Experience is great, but sometimes understanding requires doing your homework.

Finally, I make it a practice to speak about things that matter to me—things I know a good deal about.

The sad truth is, being the person I am, seems to make it so people are prone to label me in ways that are in no sense, indicative of the person who lives inside my skin.

When we talk about things I know, I still try to listen to what others have to say. In fact, as a rule, I attempt to put them first, in conversation.

That’s not because I want the last word. It’s because I know it’s possible I may learn something new, by listening to them speak. In the end, things often work out in predictable ways. They speak, I attend. I work to internalize what they’ve said, but often, their statements are things I’ve long since considered. Even so, when I reply, I try to make it so what I’m saying, is not odious to them.

The point of all of this though, is that many look at me—particularly the external me—and assume I’m going to be snobby, or high-minded. In fact, most people, asked what they think I do for a living, assume I’m a teacher.

My final message in this piece is this. Just because someone looks unapproachable, doesn’t mean the person is who you assume them to be. That individual looks snobbish or uppity? Talk to them and find out whether or not that’s true, before making your judgment. You may be surprised at who lives in that flesh house. It’s also true you may be correct. That said, you’ll never know without testing the water.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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COVID-19 Vindication – Religion and Politics

20201109 COVID-19 Vindication – The Daily Summation Podcast

If you’re new to my blog, you may not be aware I’ve been pretty keenly attending, the COVID-19 statistical data for the U. S.

I have a tendency to pay the closest attention to various data on fatalities. The reason for this, is that I expect the vast majority of survivors, will very likely come back to more or less complete health, over the course of time.

Obviously, the same is not true for those who lose their lives to the ailment.

For those interested in checking out general fatality information for the United States, you can go to the page at the U. S. Centers for Disease Control titled Daily Updates of Totals by Week and State. If you want information broken out by age and a variety of other factors, you can go to the page entitled Weekly Updates by Select Demographic and Geographic Characteristics found on the same site.

There’s an interesting reality that can be found in Table 1 on the first page given. It turns out that we had a spike in mortality at the beginning of the pandemic, followed a pretty large drop in short order.

After many states began to open up from lock-downs, we saw another spike, which rather quickly subsided.

Since that time, all we’ve seen, is a continuing decline in deaths.

Obviously, if the rest of the country were to go back more or less to normal, we could count on another spike, followed by a likely very similar drop in fatalities.

This points to an interesting idea, that can be expressed in a single word. That word is, “Vindication.”

Here’s what makes that even more true. It turns out that, places in the country that haven’t already experienced spikes in infections, are now doing so. That means, mask wear, lock-downs, or not, they’re still seeing similar results—albeit, delayed by the supposed precautions.

Even so, the jump in cases is fairly small when compared to what’s happening in parts of Europe.

That’s right, that bastion of proper action is now seeing massively increased numbers of infections, in areas that carefully, studiously, chose to shut themselves into their homes, and wear appropriate facial coverings.

As should be expected, those countries (or parts of countries) that already had increases in COVID-19 numbers, aren’t seeing the same kind of increases.

Here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure if you asked about any virologist or immunologist, they would tell you pretty plainly, that viruses don’t just disappear.

This is particularly true if they’re passed around through simple respiratory activity.

What that means is, folks’ve been more or less prolonging the agony, rather than somehow defeating the bug.

Though people may want to disagree, I’m pretty sure of what we can and should expect. The virus will—over time—make its way through the majority of the population.

People will either survive, or sadly, pass on.

Once that happens though, a good number of folks will be immune, at least for a time, leaving the invader with little to no mechanism to spread.

People try to argue to the contrary, but this is more or less the same thing that ended up happening with Spanish Influenza, and other such outbreaks.

We may think we’re massively more sophisticated in the modern day, but honestly, that’s not so much the case.

It’s true that some viral epidemics or pandemics, can be limited in scope by using certain techniques. For airborne ailments though, that’s just generally not the case, unless you catch them very early—something pretty much everybody failed to do with COVID-19.

That said, I believe we’re in much better shape to deal with that pathogen now, than when things started where it’s concerned. That’s because we have various therapeutic methodologies for dealing with it, that should not only keep folks alive, but help them to heal more quickly, and suffer less severe after-effects.

Considering that younger, healthier people, seem to be mildly affected, mitigation should largely only be necessary for older folks, and folks with comorbidities (other conditions that work together to cause more serious effects).

The idea of a vaccine, seems a rather silly one to me for a couple of reasons.

The first of these, can be found when looking at the standard vaccine for influenza. Its effectiveness ranges between marginal (10 to 15 percent), and moderate success (almost never at the level of 70 percent or above).

Besides that, there will certainly be those, who refuse to be vaccinated.

The second consideration, is that even if a vaccine is created in the minimum possible time, it’s likely to be a couple years from the beginning of the outbreak; before it’s ready for mass production and distribution. That’s probably going to take even longer, with changes in government, should they occur; if on no other basis, than the need for an acclimatization process, by those taking the helm.

Based on the aforementioned Spanish ‘Flu’s period of strong effect, that means, by the time we have a remotely effective vaccine—even working exceptionally quickly—COVID-19is likely to be more or less, no longer a serious factor.

For those really looking at things, this means the concept of a vaccine, has pretty much always been a pipe-dream, and not much more.

What this all points to though, is other than overreacting to the virus, the fact is, the policies and activities in the United States, have probably been as spot-on, as those of any other country. If that’s not the case, it’s only because they’ve been more so.

We’ve never been a nation of cowardly folks. We’ve always tended to be hale and hardy.

Nobody has ever wanted to see people die from this disease, or anything else. I maintain far fewer would have done so, had it not been for malfeasance, on the part of some.

My final thought is this though. You can think what you want, in my way of looking at things, all said to this point, adds up to just one word. I used it at the beginning of this little writing. That word is, vindication. Like it or not, although we may have overdone things, we certainly didn’t fail, as folks would have others believe.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Self Sacrifice in Practice – Religion and Politics

20201108 Self Sacrifice in Practice – The Daily Summation Podcast

Not too long ago, I wrote an article in which I covered the subject of self sacrifice.

In that piece, I didn’t really delve into what I meant, when I used that term.

Here’s the thing, the concept of giving yourself for others, can seem like an extremely weighty one—and to be sure, sometimes that’s entirely true.

At others though, the reality is, we can actually be talking about considerations, at various degrees of difficulty, for the person opting to give of him or her self.

One of my harder decisions by way of example, was to continue to be a part of the U.S. Air Force, past the time I was well and truly ready to leave, in order to try and keep my marriage of the time, alive.

I’ve had various other times, I felt the need to give of myself, and as I say, the level of toughness for each, was different.

One example I use, was that there came a time when I was in a relationship, and found one of the involved persons, decided they were going to listen to music of sorts I couldn’t abide.

I was a strong Christian by that point in my life (a thing which is still the case), and I had zero desire, to listen to, or even be around, what’s termed secular music.

I realized that I was being hypocritical in my behavior, because of my expectation, the person in question listen to what I wanted. In the end, I basically chose to forgo listening to music at all, while allowing them to tune the radio to whatever they wanted to hear.

It grieved me greatly to have the music they chose playing, but I stuck to my guns, and tried hard to be as cheerful as I was able, when doing so.

The next mildly serious situation I want to discuss, is one in which I started arising at 4:00AM, and going to the gym.

Both the act of waking up at the hour in question, and going to the gym, were designed to be sacrificial in nature.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked getting a workout. Truth is though, my reason for continuing to do so, was to be in good health, for the sake of my family. I’m not getting any younger, and I know for most folks, they experience health issues, as they get older.

Getting up at such a time, was to make it so I minimized the impact on the family, in my timing.

Unfortunately, it was made clear to me, I had failed in keeping things from affecting people. At that point, I made a choice to stop going to the gym, in order to try to keep the peace. This too, was an act of self sacrifice.

Sometimes, the changes I’ve made, seem a great deal less significant.

As an example, when I came to a place where I didn’t have a job, and was essentially the primary (read here, “only”) breadwinner for my family, I concluded some adjustments were in order, to my spending habits.

As I say more than I thought I ever would in my writings, I have a Moderately (Level 2) Autistic son. He’s much pickier in what he’ll eat, than I am. As a result, I came to a place where, I would allow him to eat restaurant food, but would buy food only for him, and make food for myself at home.

That’s true even though I enjoy restaurant food, every bit as much as many folks do.

I also came to a place where I was very close to dead broke during that time. When that happened, I decided to make another concession.

I’m prone to buy certain things for myself, when I go grocery shopping. One such thing, is bottled coffee drinks.

When it became obvious I was going to have to curtail my expenditures, instead of asking my son to eat less, or not have the things he wanted, the coffee drinks, among other items, ended up leaving the cart.

During that same time period, I also limited my leisure travel, which for me was a small thing, since I don’t tend to do a lot of extra miles, for my own sake.

I did a similar thing with my older children, where I would pay for them to do things like ice skate, even though I would stand on the sidelines and watch, because I wasn’t able to afford for all of us to be involved in that activity.

One interesting thing we don’t really think about is, the effect of not being able to do various things is often cumulative. We end up paring down our own activities, purchases, and luxuries, in order to support the well being of others, sometimes in rather major ways.

Those people may be family, friends, workmates, or any number of others—even folks we don’t even know. Much of the time, the point is, to make things better, for those around us. That may be true in ways we don’t necessarily realize or understand.

On top of all of this, I see a need in myself, to have a good attitude—in some senses, this is part of the sacrifice made. Having a bad outlook, when you do things for others in a sacrificial manner, is something that will sour, even the most selfless of acts.

Part of that process, can be biting one’s tongue. There are times when I’ve wanted to say things, but stopped myself before doing so. I was so happy when I did that at various times, realizing later, that what I would have said, was not only not reasonable, it was often horribly incorrect.

I want a couple of things, to be well understood. I’m not telling you what I am, in order to brag. My desire is to give people ideas of the simple, and not so simple sacrifices they and others can make. I’m not seeking sympathy for what I’ve been through, either.

I hope this little article, has helped you to understand what I mean when I talk about self sacrifice. Obviously, there are substantially more extreme examples as well.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.