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Opposing Views – Religion and Politics

I find it more than a little odd that so many people seem to desire the closing of public fora. It seems to be to be a trend mostly on the left side of the political spectrum, though I’m sure some in the center and on the right, want this as well.

The argument most often employed seems to be, “What you say can and does harm me as much as does physical activity.”

I should say at the outset, I find this contention to be horribly unfortunate. It shouldn’t ever be true that what one person says to another, has the same effect as what they do. That’s regardless whether the result is positive or negative.

That’s not to say words have no sway over us at all, just that the expression of ideas and concepts shouldn’t have the same weight as things done to us.

Here’s the major problem with the idea that what I say is a bad as what I do. If we wish to discuss the best way to deal with a given thing, be it a situation, a circumstance or much of anything else. Without open dialog, there’s a high risk we’ll never reach the optimal answer if we cannot converse openly.

I should make it plain here and now. I’m not talking about people shouting things (particularly not rude or obscene ones) at others. I don’t say they shouldn’t be allowed to do that, just that it’s by no means an aid to civil discourse.

And that’s my primary purpose, civil discourse. I want to openly chat with others about what they believe and why.

To what end? It’s all about potential outcomes. Each of the four listed below has merit.

My favorite, because I, like everyone, am biased, is the idea that I can help someone to see where they’re errant. Put simply, it may be possible for them to change their mind assuming they realize what I say is accurate. I want to be clear though, I only want that to happen if another is convinced of my rectitude.

I don’t like it as much, but it does and must happen as well, that others manage to change my mind. The same caveat applies here. I want to be certain they’re correct. That said, if they can get me to change my view, it’s almost as good an outcome as if I’m able to get them to change theirs.

The third is, when I find things about my “opponent’s” portal on life that make me change my outlook in some measure, and my co-combatant does likewise. This is really my second favorite, though at times, I like it best of all. We can teach each other and all in the self-same conversation.

In the last possible end, we come away disagreeing, but understand each other better as a result. I had a conversation with a young man recently, in which he upbraided somebody else for something she did, arguing she should’ve known better. I maintained that, where that was true, she wasn’t wrong for hoping to see good in humanity. He had a very strong perspective in one direction, I in another.

Even though we left the discussion in disagreement, I know his position better, and I hope he knows and can respect mine as well.

I developed a sort of philosophy some time ago, it probably echoes that of some profound thinker, I couldn’t tell you. The basic tenet was, “Good interaction between two people rarely consists of, ‘Nice day huh? Yep, sure is!’.”

The point is, where pleasantries are not bad, for the most part, they’re not all that helpful either.

When one sits down with one’s fellow persons to hash out the things upon which there’s disagreement, so much can be achieved if we agree to be civil and open our minds.

As such, unlike so many, I actually enjoy those meetings that’re typically referred to as arguments or contentions.

The rain on that parade is bad behavior. When one or both of those dissenting spend their time in unproductive ping pong, or resort to something silly like fisticuffs, I tend to jump off the bus unless I can help to pull the offender(s) back from the brink.

When I’m at odds with others though, I learn some of life’s most important lessons. Sometimes they’re taught by my fellow travelers, sometimes I learn them in spite of them. In the end though, if we can remain calm and work to reason out our conflicts, the results can be amazingly worthwhile, even if we come away still at odds.

There are three skills you must learn if you want to practice this type of interaction.

The first is dispassion. You need to be able to largely remove emotions from the back and forth. That can be hard at times, no doubt. If you can master it though, you’ll find your ability to cogently put forth your position and potentially, to convince, to be that much better

The second is to be able to recognize that your companion in discussion has some sort of investment—whether or not it involves the heart—and gently urge him or her to consider your position, even though it works against what their presupposition argues in their ear.

The third can be termed humility. Another way to put it, is “A recognition that I too, make mistakes.” Without this, you can remain convinced of things that are assuredly invalid.

In the end, the point of this little piece is to indicate that disagreement and argument are not inherently evil or problematic things. They can even be considered necessary ones. Evolution of ideas, even for a single individual is largely predicated on one’s ability to have contentious discourse with others. Arguing that this is some sort of aggression or violence is something that can easily be turned back on the one doing so. Rather, you ought to hear others out, then apply what you know to the best of your ability. In doing so, you may potentially achieve amazing results.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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The Cost of Mayhem – Religion and Politics

It doesn’t matter if they’re big stores or small ones, if their headquarters are in the U. S. or outside it, the effects of destroying stores and looting cannot be ignored.

You’d think that someone who’d taken a substantial amount of time to build up a business—to win customers, and work to satisfy them with his or her work—would come to understand basic economics. On a microeconomics level, that may well be the case. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t appear to be necessary when it comes to understanding things from a thirty thousand foot view.

As an excellent example of this, I was listening to one of the talking heads I make a regular practice of attending. He’s worked to create his own little media empire, and it’s starting to get to the point where maybe he doesn’t have to worry about where his next meal, or his mortgage, or his car payment is coming from.

Of course, I applaud his actions. I’m well aware that he’s spent countless hours “building his brand.” I’m very sure it hasn’t been a simple thing to get where he now finds himself. But, you know, if his building were to get burned down by rioters, and his equipment was stolen by looters, what’s it to me?

This attitude is one he conveyed in a recent video. That it’s fine to pilfer from and damage bigger retailers and other large businesses.

Sound appalling? It does to me as well. Totally aside from the fact that I consider his videos and podcasts to be a valuable resource for those looking to better understand their world, I also value his right to success and happiness. The same applies to mega-stores.

But surely it’s different for a national or international big box store? Not really. To begin with, just like any other successful business, there are countless hours taken out of untold numbers of lives that could’ve been spent in various kinds of leisure, but instead went into building up that business you might so flippantly write off.

But that’s just the beginning of the story. That you destroy an empire a person or a family, or even a group of associates (read here, “probably friends”) spent unimaginable resource building, is bad enough.

That store you burnt down or looted? It was the workplace of your cousin, or my uncle, or maybe just a good friend of yours.

That individual hated going to work every day, but at least he or she had a job. He or she may’ve been barely making a living, but when you torched their workplace, or stole the products that entity was selling, you potentially cost them their livelihood.

A business won’t open its doors if it’s damaged or has nothing to sell.

Here we come to my grandma or brother, who used to shop at that particular location. Since it’s no longer open, that won’t happen anymore. The people who used to frequent that convenient place to get essentials or desired products that’s no longer there, can’t do that anymore. Maybe it’ll come back, but who’s to blame the people who spent their hard earned dollars creating it if they decide against that happening?

More importantly, it cost money and countless other resources to put that facility and the things found inside, where it sat. What if the owner counts the expenses, and comes to the conclusion they just don’t have the needed resources to restore it to its former glory?

So it’s possible in “giving them their comeuppance,” you did more to harm those who counted on that grocery store, or appliance outlet, or whatever, than anyone.

You can bet the owners have been saving their money, so they could retire in comfort. What happens when they decide to just go ahead and call it a day, to say it’s time to stop dealing with the ongoing pressure of making that top spin? Maybe, just maybe someone else’ll come along to provide those same goods or services. Then again, maybe not.

So, who was hurt the worst? Was it the owners, or those counting on being able to shop locally and cheaply? Or was it the people who worked there, who now are unable to pay their bills.

The sad part is, it just gets worse.

For the most part, big box stores and supermarkets create none of the products sold. They may even buy and repackage products from local farmers and not-so-local manufacturers, but they don’t typically craft that which they sell.

Instead, they must pay for it, buy it from those who do cause it to come to be. Then there’re additional costs, stocking shelves, paying cashiers, janitorial services, water, electricity and so many more.

When people riot, burn, and pillage, all of that time and purchased resource is lost. And lest you think, “They can afford a little loss or damage.” Think again! To begin with, even for larger stores, they must remain competitive with the market. That applies to multinational corporations just as it does to mom and pop bodegas.

Granted, the larger entities can often eat the cost of loss or damage to products and buildings, but you’d have to be nuts to think they’re not going to pass as much of that as they can on to their customers. If it doesn’t happen immediately, it may show up in the steady rise in prices as time marches on.

If they can’t recoup their losses through increased prices, they’ll often settle for reducing employment, either by cutting hours, or jobs.

Or maybe instead, they’ll cut wages. It’s a myth that most entities pay their employees minimum wage—particularly as they become more valuable to them. When they lose money on an ongoing basis or as a result of catastrophe—man made or not—they have to find ways to make up that loss.

If you think you’re doing anybody a favor by rioting, looting and, destruction, you’re not just lying to yourself, you’re harming people about whom you claim to care in the process. To say nothing of others you’ve never even met, who might seek to be sympathetic to your plight, were it not for your untoward actions.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Stepping Away – Religion And Politics

I can’t tell you how many times it’s happened to me. I start dealing with some horribly complex process, only to find it lasting hours or days. Worse yet, at some point along the way, I find myself so overwhelmed, that I may’ve been doing more to harm what I was trying to accomplish, than to help it.

My primary line of work has been software development, but a part of that job is dealing with problems that occur when the software doesn’t work properly, or folks misuse or abuse it.

Since most of the stuff I’ve been involved in is largely data-centric, when that happens, actions must be taken to correct any issues that may occur in that data.

So on top of potentially writing exceptionally complex algorithms (including, but certainly not limited to, structured query language stored procedures and ad hoc queries), there are times when I’ve been responsible first for identifying issues with code or information, then fixing those issues.

All this says nothing about having to sit down and think out new, often mind-bending processes, and developing methodologies for their implementation.

You can imagine being about fifty feet under the surface in such an endeavor, and going fuzzy-headed.

Along the way, I learned something exceptionally valuable. It started with walking away from the workplace at the end of the day. I realized that my brain continued to work on problems long after I had bailed out of the office after a tough shift.

Oftentimes, at some entirely unexpected point, I would have what many refer to as an “Ah-ha moment.”

Put simply, I would leave my desk defeated, go home, and at some juncture, I would realize something about the issue upon which I had been working, that totally changed its character.

There were literally times when I spent hours or again even days working on something, only to come to the solution when I wasn’t even supposed to be thinking about it.

With this came multiple problems. To begin with, since I spent typically at least eight hours sitting at my desk, it might take that long before I left and was able to free my mind from the clutter that kept me from a potential resolution.

Another issue was that for all of that time, the pressure was building. That meant I would sit there, becoming more and more tense and concerned for however long it took me to figure out a given conundrum. Only decompressing at the end of a potentially long day.

I took breaks, but generally they were quick and packed with some activity, like going to the restroom or making coffee. That helped some, but it wasn’t until I began to take time to intentionally walk away from a given puzzle, that I really started to see benefits.

Even more, when I got out of the office and walked around outside, the small amount of exercise and a little bit of unrestricted breathing really helped.

I would get out, walk around for ten or fifteen minutes and put the bugbear on the back burner, as it were.

It’s not fair to say every time I did that, I immediately came up with some revelatory conclusion, or solved world hunger. Even when that wasn’t true though, I got immense benefit out of the decision.

If it did no other thing—and you may trust that often it did have other benefits—it made it so I was looking at the problem with relatively fresh eyes.

There’re times when you’re dealing with something that must be handled contiguously. For those times, I’ve often had to create what amounted to a “map” to keep track of what I had and hadn’t yet managed to tackle.

Even then, I was still generally in much better shape after stepping away from what I was dealing with, than if I had continued through an extended period.

So successful has this approach been for me that, not caring what others (even bosses) thought of my taking time to leave my work area, I’ve been prone to do so. In the end, it generally worked much better for them than any of them probably were aware.

I get that there’re positions where it’s difficult or even impossible to take this approach, and I’m genuinely sorry for those working in such jobs when that’s the case.

To date, I’ve never found myself in a place where it wasn’t possible to take the approach stated. I count myself blessed beyond measure this is the case.

Working from home more recently, this has been, believe it or not, a more difficult thing. The reason being that my son was not allowed to go to school or daycare in recent months. Now that he’s attending classes regularly again, things should become relatively simple.

The only way you’re going to find out if this idea works for you, is to try it. My recommendation is, even if it doesn’t clear your head and allow you to better focus on the problems you’re facing—a thing that would surprise me greatly—it should give you the opportunity to refresh yourself somewhat, making it worth your while, all other things considered.

By the way, this is also true for me when it comes to taking lunch or not doing so. I find that I’m almost invariably better off doing it, because it allows me to break free from those things that are hounding me for long enough to eat and think. In fact, when in a workplace, I usually end up not just stepping away from my desk for lunch, but leaving the building.

So, maybe it’s not the total ticket to success when dealing with complex issues. Maybe others can function unerringly without needing to step out, but for me it’s been an invaluable tool in my toolbox. If you find issues at work or in your personal life are leaving you drained and feeling like a failure my suggestion is, for just a while, walk away.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Undue Violence – Religion and Politics

I think most of us like to believe we have uncommon intelligence; I’m no exception to that.

At some point under the age of four, I was run over by a car (I have a shoulder and part of my jaw that don’t always work correctly as a result).

As a younger man, I was prone to take care to not do myself bodily injury of sorts that others take for granted are parts of living. I may’ve broken a toe in my earlier days. It’s a sure thing I managed to dislocate a bone in my wrist (which I set back in place) when I was hit by a car whilst riding my bicycle around sixteen years of age in Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia.

I can think of a few more injuries obtained as a result of foolish activities or accidents, but overall, I mostly survive with more than half a century under my belt, and nothing greatly more serious than I’ve indicated to this point to show for it.

Maybe you can count that luck. I like to think some of it was due to my level of understanding.

Even so, there’re times when it’s difficult to do various things. I periodically must work to stand up. Sometimes doing something like, getting off the floor when I’ve gotten down to do something, proves harder than I’d like.

All told though, I’m in pretty good shape considering my age. Much to their chagrin, more than a few of the folks I know who’re my equally old or older, have dealt with various—more serious—things.

More often than not, it’s just pure aging, and the body breaking down as that happens.

But some are suffering the ravages of carefree youth.

What do I mean by that?

Many that I know, were active as young people; willing to do things they really shouldn’t have done.

The result is spills, accidents, miscalculations and other situations and circumstances that resulted in a damaged this-or-that.

For some, the misfortune was a result of going to work and doing something, or having something happen, that resulted in various physical injuries.

But the point is, pretty much all of what I’ve discussed up to now, was accidental or incidental to living life.

Some I’ve known were scrappers—they went about challenging and being challenged. Many of those contests, they willingly entered.

Some of the outcomes from those battles are not pretty.

Truthfully though, even my seven-year-old has been limping around for days with a sore ankle. That’s how fragile we humans are.

It’s been a thing for some time now, for folks to riot and generally create mayhem, and it can hardly be argued that the results of many confrontations by these individuals end even as well as the things I’ve described above.

I heard a story about a man chasing down another, handgun in hand, and being shot in the arm when the pursued person responded with violence in turn.

Even if they’re able to repair much of the damage (which I understand to be doubtful at best), that man’s life will never be the same.

This is one of the problems with riots and other similar activities; people get hurt or killed.

When you’re young, there’s a tendency to believe you’re indestructible. Allow me to be among those making this clear. You’re not.

More importantly, neither are those with whom you tangle. You likely can and will harm or kill them in the course of riotous activity, assuming the converse doesn’t happen.

“At least it’s them, not me!” you may say. Let me just make it plain to you that in the quiet moments of your life yet to come, you words and actions will come back to haunt you.

You may well find yourself jolting into wakefulness with memories of foes vanquished coming into your head and invading any semblance of peace you’ve managed to gain since.

Not only can you damage or kill yourself or others in violence outwardly, but the inward results may never go away.

Even if you don’t believe in any power greater than mankind (a serious mistake in my view), there are potentially still psychological, mental and emotional harms you can do yourself by acting badly.

The best part? You may not even realize you’re battling the resultant demons. You may go on for many years, failing, falling, acting unequally to circumstances and situations and so much more as a result of the trauma you’ve helped to inflict upon yourself.

Likewise, those against whom your actions and words were directed, may suffer similar outcomes.

Even if you decide the world needs “fixed,” in some way, if the thing you choose to do in order to effect the desired changes involves violence, count on creating as many issues as you rectify—if not more.

In these days, even more than in the days in which I was a lad, instant gratification is almost ubiquitous. I used to periodically say something (that may’ve come from elsewhere, I honestly don’t recall). It was “I demand patience, and I want it right now!” The problem is, good things often take time.

I don’t know if I so much hold to the old adage, “Good things come to those who wait.” That said, I do believe good things come to those willing to take time and work for them. We don’t always get that for which we aim, but there’s a much better chance that’ll happen if we’re willing to abide in patience.

Rashness is rarely ever beneficial and when it is, it’s typically accidental.

Much of the time, violence is the outpouring of rashness; and again, the results are typically not desirable—particularly not looking forward from its occurrence.

Perhaps you think you’ll change the world through rash, violent action. The truth is, you can’t help but change some part of it. That doesn’t mean the alterations will be for the better. When you maim and kill as a result of trying to bring about some difference or other though, you can count on being viewed badly by others, making it likely they’ll revile your ends as much as or more than your person. Chances are you’ll be on the planet for a good many years to come. Do you really want to live with the results of sowing discord and chaos through violence? I hope not.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Social Safety Net – Religion and Politics

Years ago there was a young man. He was going through a pretty rough patch. His wife had decided for the second time, to leave him. He’d two young children, and had just left the U. S. Air Force a short time earlier.

He got a job in the civilian world before he left the military, the company for whom he worked at that time hired him for what he did in the service, mainframe computer operations. That organization—a hundred and twenty year old department store, was going out of business.

He continued working there until they closed their doors; he even bought a PC they were liquidating when they went under.

There was a small company nearby, who did direct mailing. They hired him as a “personal computer operator.” That meant someone who was technically responsible for creating labels used on direct mail pieces.

In short order, he began writing software in the language used for label generation (FoxBase ®, the precursor to FoxPro ®). He worked hard to keep that job, but it wasn’t to be. He was let go by the company when they hired on another couple of people from a competing entity. That wasn’t why they said he was released, but it was a large part of the reason it happened.

At the time, he was acting more or less as the sole provider for two children under the age of ten. I won’t go into detail, but he loved those children, and did his very best to ensure they were provided for.

After losing that position, he thought initially about starting his own business, but soon realized he was woefully unprepared for that undertaking.

While trying to figure out how to make that happen, he sought to live on unemployment and food stamps.

There was only one problem, he slipped through the cracks.

How? Well, he went to the unemployment office, and that worked out just fine, it wasn’t enough to really pay his debts, but at least it took care of some of what was wanted.

Next, he made his way to the entity who issued food stamps. He applied, and was told he would be able to get them.

Thinking things were looking okay, he set out to pursue his dream; to create a company that offered backup solutions to other local businesses.

He filed for unemployment on a weekly basis, as was required in that state, and was paid as expected.

But one day, the food stamps didn’t arrive in the mail. He’d received just one set when that occurred. Instead he got a letter of rejection.

That letter essentially said this,

Dear sir or madam,

We regret to inform you that your food stamps have been terminated.

The reason is that you received too much income for the month of (fill in month here).

You may contest this and possibly get food stamps as a result, or you may reapply, which also may or may not cause you to receive food stamps in the future.

Thank you,

The Food Stamps People.

This is obviously not a word-for-word transcript of the letter, which the person has long since discarded. There was more.

To begin with, they did specify the reason for termination. Why did it happen? The individual was informed he had “earned” too much from his unemployment insurance for the period in question.

Allow me to explain. He filed for the last week of, say January, but didn’t get paid for that week until the first week of February. Because he ended up getting one “extra” check in that month, he went over the income line for food stamps.Remember, the money paid was for January though the check was sent in February.

It was at that point our intrepid hero learned a valuable lesson. When you put bureaucrats in charge of pretty much anything, they will make decisions and take actions that lack any relationship to common sense at times.

He thought seriously about appealing the utterly ridiculous decision, only to realize it would mean he and the children spending another day in the food stamp office, with potentially no beneficial outcome.

Worse than that though, he came to recognize that this kind of thing could happen at any time. Simply put, he was at the mercy of the agency in question.

Shortly after that, the fellow got a job at a local gas station, where he could be close to his children. He made basically nothing at that job.

Without making too much noise about things, his wife (they still hadn’t gone through the steps to dissolve the union at the time) had someone acting as a “sugar daddy,” who helped her to concoct a plan.

She would ask for the children over a three day weekend, then disappear.

The woman moved with her new guy, a couple of counties away, filed divorce, and filed a restraining order, making it impossible to find out what she’d actually done.

The irony? He wasn’t even allowed to see his children, and was deemed a “run risk.” Government strikes again!

Shortly after that, he left the area, and ended up three days away by bus with no money, seeking to rebuild his life. Years later, he’s still working on that process, but that’s an entirely different story.

By now, you may’ve figured out that man, is this one—the one writing this tale of woe.

Being able to tell this story makes me a bit of first-hand anecdotal evidence.

Where I haven’t done the research, and doubt seriously it’d be easily possible to tell, I would bet I’m far from alone in this type of experience.

Most folks probably fought a good deal harder to get their “benefits” than did I, so even if you could get data on people denied various programmed assets, it would probably paint a far happier picture than the one I’ve conveyed.

You may think government programs are generally pretty decent, that’s not been my experience. Even now, I’ve been waiting for a decision on my local unemployment insurance for the past six weeks. I’ve been off work (and looking desperately for more), for three months. Part of the delay was my fault, the rest is on the government. Trust me when I tell you, people definitely do get lost in the shuffle.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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School Interaction – Religion and Politics

The new school year has begun, and among other things, because my only child still attending at an elementary level is Moderately Autistic, the morning ritual is well on its way to being established.

In case you’re not aware, Autistic folks are very prone to establish patterns. So true is this, that one must be careful to not allow “bad” habits to form, knowing he or she will potentially deal with them for a long time to come.

Last year, the school morning typically started the same way as a result of that tendency towards almost obsessive-compulsive ordering. Daddy comes into my bedroom. He tells me he’s there. He gives me a five minute “snooze button” time. Then my blanket comes off, I get turned around and I sleep through him putting on my clothes and combing my hair.

After that is the obligatory five minute second snooze on the dad-alarm, followed by his pushing me (in a sort of game) off the bed and getting my feet on the floor.

From there, I get my morning chocolate, and we walk out the door.

Once at school, the family transportation is parked at the side entrance and he waits for the show I’m watching on my cheap computer to end. At this point, we get out of the vehicle, walk to the door, and I knock (even if people have already seen us and are on the way to open it).

We walk inside, and make our way down the hallway to my classroom. Depending on how I’m feeling that day, I may be silently resigned to my time at school, happy to be there, or pitching a fit and largely refusing to move forward for a time.

Ultimately, we end up in the classroom, and I accept my fate. From there, it’s give the staff my folder if I have it (that can be confusing), then off to the bathroom, watching the video playing on the big screen as I go.

Such is the life of a Moderately Autistic six and seven year old. No, they’re not all the same, each has their own ritual. I’ve just given you the one my son followed in the last year.

This year is shaping up to be a good deal different. Besides that my son is actually getting up without me counting time so much, because of COVID-19, he’s also going into the school by himself. I knew that day was coming, and to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it.

His teacher assured me we would “break him” of the need to have dad come down that hallway with him. Where I never told her so, that was one of my favorite morning activities. We would walk, talk and pass the sometimes-jeering “normal” kids as I played little games with my boy on the way to the room where he spent a large part of his day. I already miss that.

My son spends, as I say, most of his school time in a suite for want of a better word, very near the front of the building. Instead of taking him in through the side entrance, he now goes in through the front one instead. That makes his walk, and the work of the ones watching after him the much shorter.

For the first couple of days of school, there’ve been teachers standing outside to welcome the special needs students. They would gather up the children as they made their way to the door, and usher them inside.

To begin with, it became obvious our morning confabs in the hallway were a thing of the past in this model. As I say, where I knew it was bound to happen, I’m still a bit discombobulated it occurred so quickly.

The other thing though, is that unlike with the old way of doing things, a teacher really ought to be there, to make sure he and others make their way inside.

Where he mostly doesn’t do it these days, my son has been prone to get “spooked” and run away from the thing he’s expected to head toward.

Yesterday (Friday), when we got to the school, he grabbed his backpack, opened the car door, and headed to the front entrance. I got distracted, and in that split second, I couldn’t see him anymore.

I’m not the type to be alarmist, though I suspect dealing with my boy has made me even more hypervigilant. As such, when I was unable to see him, I didn’t panic, I just made my way to the front ingress point.

Up until recently, they would have buzzed me into the building, I could have checked that he’d made his way to the class in which he was supposed to be, I might have bade him a good day and told him I loved him, then I would’ve been on my way.

I ambled up to the entryway and pulled the handle. The door was locked. “No big deal,” I thought. I knocked, and one of the staff in my son’s class group came to the door to advise me I couldn’t enter. “No, no!” I said, “I just wanted to make sure Garrett got in.” “You can’t come in!” she said. “I wasn’t trying to come in,” I responded, and repeated my earlier statement. At that point she understood what I was saying, and assured me he’d gone to the classroom.

This may not be a concern to you, but if it’s a foreboding of things to come, it’s quite likely I’ll be relatively unaware of what’s going on in the learning environment. That I’ve been able to keep up on that to some degree, has been a strong factor in the success that’s been consistently there between his educational team and myself. That ceasing to be possible will assuredly hamper future progress.

I get concern over the current health situation—though my thoughts and feelings on things don’t tend to match most folks’. Even so, I feel as though I need to have open communications with my child’s teachers to ensure he continues to move forward apace. I’m hoping things settle down as time goes on. That said, I’m a little worried that may not be the case. If it isn’t, I have fears for my son’s well-being, at least in the short term. This is my current concern. I hope and pray things work out for the best, not just for my child, but in general.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Lock Step – Religion and Politics

I’ve spoken before in one or more of my pieces, about the fact that a major thoroughfare running through the city in which I live, has gone through periods where the lights were timed relatively well, and others when they’re horribly against the main flow of traffic.

It happens that I use that street to deliver my son to school. Recently, that’s meant I haven’t traveled that road, since first there was “home school” due to COVID-19; and that led directly into Summer vacation. The result is, it’s been months since I last drove the path in question, considering I rarely use it for anything else.

My son went back to school this week.

Initially I was told he would go two days a week. Right as he was getting ready to go back, I was informed he would be able to do four. More recently, I’ve been made aware he’ll be able to do all five weekdays—which speaks volumes about the supposed COVID-19 pandemic, but that’s not a matter for this writing.

Since initially I was told he would only have school Tuesday and Friday, I was surprised to get a message from his teacher that he could’ve gone to school on Monday. Because of how things worked out, he didn’t end up attending on Monday, but started on Tuesday.

That said, I drove him to school today (Friday), and found the traffic signals on that stretch of road to be badly timed again. As I sat behind the wheel, my mind drifted to other things. Though I wasn’t thinking horribly much about the trip, my brain—as it sometimes does—constructed a rather humorous train of thought that was a pretty direct result of the stop and go nature of the trek.

I came to think about how this was quite strongly symbolic of government intervention in just about every part of life.

One excellent example, is unemployment insurance. I worked until recently, as a contract employee. My contract ended as a result of a disagreement with the entity for whom I worked (a major telecommunications company), at the end of May. I had saved up some money while I was still employed, and was expecting to get paychecks from hours of toil for which I hadn’t yet been compensated.

As such, I waited to apply for unemployment insurance until sometime in early July. Looking back now, I can honestly say I should’ve known better. After all, the government is involved in the process, and I could have banked money I didn’t use.

The result is, as I say, I waited a month to file, then when I did, the filing “expired” because I was unable to make claims against it. “Why?” you ask. Because it’s entirely impossible to make “backdated claims” through the online system. You must call or go into the office. Red light number one.

Not realizing the entity handling claims was not taking calls, with nothing on either their website, or in their phone tree indicating that was the case, I spent another week trying to call their office to get things straightened out. Red light number two.

At the end of an unfruitful week, trying to call them to get them to create claims. I went to their office to handle things in person. Because I have an almost-eight-year-old Moderately Autistic son for whom, for various reasons at present, I’m the sole caregiver, I had to find someone to look after him when I went in. This was part of the reason I‘d been trying to call to begin with; that I knew I would have to have him watched if I went in to try to work things out.

I tried to visit the office on a Friday, only to find out that, unless you get there before nine o’clock most days, the chances are, you aren’t going to be seen at all. Red light number three.

The next week, I got up and out early on a Monday—no easy task, since my son was on Summer hours (meaning he was staying up late and getting up late)—dropped my son off at the house of the person acting as a sitter, and went back to the Unemployment office, arriving around eight thirty in the morning.

I waited to be seen that day until around two in the afternoon, standing outside in the sun because of their COVID-19 “protocol” until maybe one thirty. Red light number four.

On entering the actual office, the wait was relatively short, but when I got to talk to the individual about what I thought I was there to do, I was informed I didn’t show up in the system as having filed.

The person I talked to made it clear it was because the filing had occurred weeks earlier, with no claims having been made. I was told I would have to file for unemployment insurance again, and handed paperwork to do that by the person with whom I sat. Red light number five.

I asked the person who gave me the forms to refile unemployment, whether I would have problems filing claims after doing so, and he said categorically, “No.”

I filled out the necessary information, and handed it back to the folks outside the office, so I didn’t have to go in again.

Because this story is so long, I’m going to try to be terser.

I tried to file another claim and was told I couldn’t because I’d have to file backdated claims. Red light number six.

I went back to the office and stood in line again all day—most of it in the sun—after taking my son to the one sitting him. Red light number seven.

I got inside on roughly the same schedule as before, and was told I had to decide how to file claims. I asked the person what I should do, he had me file a claim for the current week only. Red light number eight.

I received notice that no decision had been made on my filing, so I couldn’t be paid. Red light number nine.

I’ve since received five more such letters over the next five weeks after creating claims. Red lights ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen and fourteen.

To date, I haven’t gotten a penny from my unemployment filing or claims. Red light number fifteen.

You may say the government deals reasonably with those trying to work with it. I tell you that, I paid into this system, and cannot take out of it, even after fighting to get them to acknowledge me at all. You’ll forgive me if I see government as a set of lock-step, horribly inefficient entities (and for more reasons, and more cases than this); if you haven’t read this piece, you probably won’t fully understand why. When you have, you should.

Thanks for reading and may your time be good.

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Covert Authority – Religion and Politics

Imagine you’re an egotistical megalomaniac who had decides that your fellow man could hope for nothing better, than to have you in a position of supreme authority over society at large.

You set about implementing your plan for world domination, but you’re shocked to learn most of the rest of your fellow humans don’t share your confidence or excitement in the idea of your rule.

Maybe you try unsuccessfully, to gain control of some portion of society, but you find that what you’re selling, others are not buying.

You reason that they’re just confused, or they lack vision. If they could only see the incredible benefit in having you in control of their little worlds, they would not just willingly hand over the reins, they’d happily do so.

“If only there were a way to gain control through subterfuge, so people don’t see it coming; then slowly shift direction so society works as it ought to.” you tell yourself.

Then it hits you, “I can get myself voted into some position of power, then use various mechanisms already in place to boost my authority over the peons.”

“That would require people to like me enough to vote for me.” You think. “And it would take more time than using other methods.

So instead of garnering support through a popular election, you decide to look for other ways to accomplish your ends.

One day, you’re talking to a friend. As the conversation moves forward, you start discussing how government operates. Your friend tells you he has another friend who’s been appointed to some office in which she makes decisions about some facet of people’s lives they never would’ve guessed she controls.

“That’s it! That’s the answer!” you exclaim inside your head.

It’s at that point, you seek to receive an appointment to some position, through which you can covertly carry out your plan for bettering the world.

In your wanderings, you come to understand there’s a government department called, “The Office of Public Safety.” Instead of seeking an appointment to lead that entity, you find it’s relatively easy to just get a position there as an employee.

You start out low on the totem pole, but in the long run, work your way up the ladder and before long, you’re making policy decisions for the group.

Not wanting to attract too much attention, you take your sweet time, implementing policies that give you more and more power.

As an example, you make it a rule that any time anything like a storm that’ll dump more than a few inches of rain passes through your little piece of the planet, a warning is issued by your office.

Because the press generally believes you’re doing what you’re doing for the benefit of the locals, when you issue such a warning, it’s echoed far and wide.

Before long, you have people hiding in their houses every time your office puts out an alert.

Initially, you might do things in such a way as to truly attempt to protect the citizenry. In the long run though, you have other plans.

You start to issue notifications when it’s not really particularly necessary or beneficial so to do. It’s never terribly obvious that’s the case, so people continue to follow your lead.

It’s at that point you realize you can literally affect everyday life of those under your jurisdiction.

Things are getting good!

Because of your position, you begin to rub elbows with those who run things from an elected perspective—politicians.

In those interactions, you meet people of like mind to your own. They too seek to change the status quo; they too, desire to be large and in charge. Between you and them, you realize you truly have an opportunity to effect change.

As you’re working together with those folks, you begin to use your power and authority, to cause everyday people to move in directions they would never travel on their own.

Then you hear about some viral outbreak and things really start to move forward. You issue a warning that people need to undertake quarantine activities if they’re in certain places, or came into contact with given individuals.

In some measure, you’re actually truly trying to protect people from a wider outbreak, but in the process of doing things, the light dawns on you. If you can use something like this to best effect, what started as an innocent warning system, can be used to make major changes.

The next time a virus breaks out, you seize your opportunity.

Firstly, you tell your friends in politics this could be bad. Such an outbreak could spread and cause unknown amounts of damage. Then, over the course of time, you amass people who either willingly, or with some convincing, say things that allow you ever more control.

It starts with, “We just need to shelter in place, wear masks in public, and distance ourselves from others for a couple of weeks, to slow the spread and flatten the curve.” By the time it’s all said and done though, you’ve helped to lock down your region and aided in silencing dissenters in the process, by helping to get mask laws passed, which they receive citations for breaking.

Before long, it’s been six months, many folks are out of work, more people than ever are counting on government largess and there’s no end in sight.

You may think what I’m saying here could never happen. You may wonder why anybody would want it to. You can rest assured, there are reasons that fit the agendas of certain elected officials who seek to change how life looks on a more or less permanent basis.

In the end, the point is, if you don’t take the time to see what’s happening, if you continue to cede your rights to “government agencies here to help,” you shouldn’t be surprised when the result is not what you expected. Whether you like it or not, when some folks taste power, their response may be to want a whole lot more. Is that what’s presently happening here? You decide.

Thanks for reading and may your time be good.

Business For LinkedIn Philosophy Politics Religion Religion, Politics and Philosophy

Fact Check – Religion and Politics

I can’t speak for anyone else, but a couple of times now, I’ve had things I posted or shared on social media “fact checked” and found to be false

“What’s wrong with that?” You may be asking.

To begin with, I should make a disclaimer and say that nothing I’ve ever been the originator of, has been found to be “factually incorrect.” To be fair, the probable reason that’s the case, is that my current reach is typically less than a hundred folks in the best case.

Since what I write rarely makes its way very far from its origin at this point, I would expect it to be somewhat unlikely they would bother with me. Assuming things work as I would like them to, and my “audience” grows, I can imagine a different outcome.

I’ve said before, there are a number of folks to whom I pay attention, all of them have many more followers than me.

Without exception, each has had content checked for accuracy, and has been told there were incorrect statements in something posted or shared. In just about every case, they were able to explain why the people looking to make sure their content wasn’t full of garbage, were wrong in their analysis.

In one case of which I’m aware, a statement was made that was true at some point, but the person about whom it was made in that case, reversed his position. That turnabout, made one small piece of the information technically incorrect.

In the end though, my interest is in seeing what folks say, or share, and deciding for myself what I think about it.

Put simply, I don’t need my disapproving, heavily left-leaning aunt, telling me what I should be looking at on the Internet.

There’s a reality of life. Even the most conscientious person will occasional post something on social media that at least has elements of fabrication. They may not do it intentionally. Then again, they might.

That said, watching what anybody I monitor says and does helps me to know who the person in question is.

Part of that process is finding instances where a given individual isn’t entirely accurate in what they’ve posted.

That’s not something I can do if I don’t have access to the things they say in which there are issues or questions of accuracy.

When somebody says something that looks questionable to me, if I care about it at all, I generally have ways to confirm its validity. If I don’t care, I don’t bother.

Sometimes I can’t find answers as to whether or not something reflects reality. Though that’s the case, I also don’t necessarily take what’s being put out there as gospel either.

So I already often either check or know, that what they’re saying is or isn’t true in whole or in part. That’s assuming again, that I care.

It’s important to understand though, that I typically want to see when someone I deal with says things that aren’t entirely on the up and up. There are at least three reasons for this.

To begin with, it helps me to know their biases. It’s not quite invariably the case, that when somebody says something questionable on purpose, there’s a slant to what they’re saying.

If the person is right-leaning, the chances are what’s said supports that world view. The same is true for people who lean left.

For folks who are clueless, it helps you to know what they believe, and those things they’re likely to tell you that’re not correct.

The point is, their failure is a window on their character. It tells you who they are, and how they’re likely to get things wrong.

The next aspect is that at times, I’ll call the person out on their misstatement. Seeing how they respond to my doing so (or someone else pointing it out), gives me a chance to find out not just how honest they are, whether or not they’re likely to hear correction, and fix their mistakes.

Knowing this can totally change the way I deal with that person, and the content they’re likely to push out.

The last thing that immediately comes to mind, is that people put things out there knowing full well they’re bogus, because they think folks’ll get a laugh out of it. They might also do so in order to gauge responses—to see who buys what they say without checking their veracity.

We all need a good laugh now and then, and ridiculous stories and the like, are one way to get that release at times.

On top of all of this comes the last point I’d like to make. People checking the validity of a story or fact have perspectives too. That means it’s possible they’ll flag something as problematic based on their way of viewing the universe.

Because this is the case, I’m really not looking for my content to be “curated” by even supposedly independent, neutral individuals.

Fact is, social media isn’tintended to be about filtering what I receive. Heck, I don’t even like it when they leave things out of my feed or move them around. I’m surely not likely to be pleased when they try to tell me something I’m looking at is correct or not; or refuse to show me something when they’ve decided it’s invalid.

If I could give a single piece of advice to the social media giants (and based on what I’m seeing, I don’t believe they’d take me remotely seriously), it would be this. Ditch your content verifiers!

If you want to say some story is not up to the standards set for content in some way other than pure factuality, great! Put it in your terms of service that people must meet those standards, and let them know when they violate them so they can fix what’s wrong or remove the improper post(s).

I can see a number of reasons to do that. Not having videos from serial killers dispatching their victims might be an example.

The point here is this. If you own or run a social media company, please don’t assume I want you to act as my nanny, and validate the correctness of what’s put out on your site. I can do that work acceptably well all on my own. Thanks for your attention.

To my other readers, thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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And Justice for All – Religion and Politics

jus•tice jŭs′tĭs

  • n. The quality of being just; fairness.
  • n. The principle of moral rightness; decency.

More at Wordnik from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

As usual for my writings, the above was gotten by going to my favorite search engine (DuckDuckGo) and searching using the expression, “justice definition.”

I watch and listen to, various individuals in the course of a typical day. Besides getting a smattering of less biased news than I would if I were to listen to the better-known sources, I also get delineated opinion.

That is to say, the same persons who give me the news, often share how they feel and think about what was just proffered. The person generally makes a clear distinction when stepping out of the story, and into his or her viewpoint.

Yesterday, while watching one such video, I heard a word repeated, and it made me wonder how many people have really taken the time to think about that term.

The word in question—as you might’ve guessed looking at the beginning of this article and its title—was “justice.”

When I initially began to write this piece, it started life with the title, “Justice” as opposed to “And Justice for All.” As I got thinking about things though, it came to me that what most people seem to lack, is a perspective that considers justice something that should apply equally to everybody.

You might say that those out there supposedly fighting for fairness and morality for the marginalized, believe that’s true. For my part, that’s not how I see things playing out.

More often than not, “social justice warriors” become laser focused on the population they believe to be under served in the department of what they see as equity—as fairness.

In their pursuit of an improved situation for the person or persons they seek to undergird, they appear to lose the ability to see how they’re affecting the remainder of the World.

One modern day example, is the Black Lives Matter movement. Though their message is not by any means limited to the discussion of those black folks who’ve been killed in their minds unjustly by police, that’s a large part of their messaging with regard to those they seek to support.

Here’s where the problem begins to rear its ugly head.

It seems to me, it’s been the tendency of BLM, to skew their outlook so that the black person killed in a confrontation with law enforcement is invariably the victim of injustice.

So when Trayvon Martin was killed—who, as I’ve indicated before, wasn’t even killed by a cop—George Zimmerman is the evildoer and Mr Martin is a saint.

Anyone having done research, will be absolutely unwilling to couch Mr Zimmerman as some sort of vision of holiness. He was and is anything but that. I suppose the same can be said for me.

Further, it seems that for the most part, if not entirely, Mr Martin wasn’t anything close to Satan incarnate. He seems largely to have been just a young man, navigating the pitfalls and foibles of youth.

Since neither appears to have been a particularly horrible human being, the question of what occurred, can be asked without imputing those qualities to the players, as it were.

Considering this, what I’d like to know first about that situation, would have to be, “Was George Zimmerman a racist?” As far as I’m able to tell, the answer is a pretty certain, “No.”

By the way, when you look into most other situations cited by organizations like BLM, the same query posed, seems to result in the exact same answer.

Put simply, the fact that the person killed was a black person (typically man), seems not to be a factor.

Having dispensed with that aspect of things, the next question looks to be pretty basic. It is, “What actually happened?”

You would think this would be an easy interrogative to answer, but it rarely is.

It’s almost always true that what looks to have occurred, isn’t what actually did take place.

This is certainly true in the interaction between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.

The narrative forwarded early on in this case as I heard it, went something like this.

A young black man, who was running from a local security guard, was gunned down in cold blood when he confronted the man who had been following him.”

Since then, facts have emerged that totally change the character of the exchange.

The story as I know it today sounds more like this.

A young man, who didn’t live in the community, but was visiting a family member there, was walking in a residential area for which Mr Zimmerman was a security person.

Mr Zimmerman had been made aware that someone had been performing potentially criminal mischief in the neighborhood.

Not knowing who Mr Martin was, when he saw him in his travels, he followed him, to see if he could ascertain what the young man in question was doing.

At some point, Mr Martin hid from Mr Zimmerman.

Mr Zimmerman continue to attempt to determine his whereabouts.

In the process of seeking the youngster out, Mr Zimmerman went past the spot where Mr Martin was concealed.

Mr Martin jumped out from his hiding spot and knocked Zimmerman to the ground, where he landed on concrete. At this point, Trayvon Martin was on top of George Zimmerman.

Mr Martin then began to beat George Zimmerman with his fists, pounding the back of his head into the concrete when he did so.

Zimmerman—fearing for his life—pulled his sidearm and fired at point-bank range on Mr Martin.

Mr Martin perished as a result of at least one gunshot wound.”

Is this story a sad one? Indubitably, yes.

That being said, if the account given was correct, I see no injustice here.

The point is, in this tale and many others currently in the news and on social media, the facts one initially hears, often look nothing like the final story that comes out. Investigations typically follow such occurrences. Sometimes they prove the person killed was innocent of any wrongdoing. Largely though, that’s not at all the case. It certainly doesn’t appear true in the aforementioned event. In this country, the ask is in that line of the Pledge of Allegiance, “With liberty and justice for all.” At present, that isn’t what seems to be happening.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.