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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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Legal, Moral and Ethical – Religion and Politics

20201113 Legal, Moral and Ethical – The Daily Summation Podcast

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Sometimes I’ll be off and away from my “second job” of writing articles, creating videos, and making podcasts, only to have some thought enter my head that ends up being the impetus to all three.

That’s the case with this particular piece (and the associated video, and podcast).

For some reason, a person I know who’s doing various kinds of what I would refer to as skilled manual labor crossed my mind, and gave me a cause to think in a direction, that was out of the ordinary for me.

I began to consider that many people may well think I look down my nose at such folks.

As I said in the companion video to this piece, I assure you nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact is, I’m that guy who sees the value in just about every job a person could do—with certain notable exceptions.

Are you a truck driver? Are you a carpenter? A grocery store checker, or stocker? How about a janitor? Do you have the thankless task of scrubbing toilets, or patching roadways? If you’re any of these, and a good many more, you’re seriously important. It doesn’t matter if you work in fast food, wield a scalpel at your job, have your head in law books, write code, work security, or law enforcement, or as an E. M. T., or do a thousand other jobs, you’re somebody to be valued, and appreciated.

Going down this trail, I began to consider what makes a person someone I don’t appreciate as a worker.

That led me to ponder the titular concepts for this article, legality, morality and things ethical.

You see, it’s these three—or a lack of one or more of them—that may change my outlook, on your worth in the world of work.

It came to me, that a person may be doing a job that’s ethical, moral or both, but that’s not legal.

That, I decided, is just fine in my mind; though I know at some point, they’ll possibly have to pay the piper.

Then I considered the opposite, a vocation that’s legal, but not ethical, or moral, or yet again, not either.

I got thinking about those who set usurious rates on credit cards.

Of course, the majority of lines of business, are all three; the result being, they don’t tend to cause me any type of concern at all.

Then came the next thought, there are jobs that are in various acceptable camps, but the people working at them can still do things that’re wrong; whether illegal, immoral, not ethical, or in some combination of the three.

It was at that point, I realized what I was considering.

The real idea rattling around in my brain, was the subject of one of my recent articles. The actual thing at the core of the conversation, was character.

Suddenly, the cat poster from the Lego movie, sprung to mind, along with a seemingly trite message. “Character is when you do the right thing, even when nobody’s looking.”

That’s what makes a good or bad worker. That’s what makes a particular profession worthy of praise, or scorn.

It happens that the hallmarks of good character can partially be summed up, in the ideas of legality, morality and ethics.

That epiphany brought back to mind, a conclusion I’d come to sometime in the past.

In my mind, there’s a sort of hierarchy for these three attributes.

First is morality. If it’s not morally correct, in my mind, the other two simply aren’t important. If you can’t do, or be something in good conscience, nothing else much matters. In my way of viewing the world, that’s the very essence of morality.

Next on the list, is whether what you are, or do, is ethical. If it’s morally correct, it ought to be considered ethical as well, though that’s not always the case. That said, if it’s legal, that doesn’t mean it measures up to either of the other two standards.

That pretty much drops legality to the bottom of the pile in my mind.

If something’s doable in conscience, the fact that it’s not considered either of the other two, may not be much of an issue. Though the result of doing it may not be desirable, in terms of consequences.

If I have to do something, assuming I want to be morally correct, then the ethicalness or legality of that thing is of no significance.

If society counts it reasonable—that is, if it’s considered ethical—yet it’s not something I can do without being outside what I believe to be correct, its being so, is of little import.

Likewise with legality. Things counted legal, are still not things one ought to do if they fail at either of the two I consider the higher criteria, of ethical and moral.

So in all of this, I came to understand what makes a given set of life choices—employment based or not—respectable to me, is they meet at least the standard of being moral. The more measures they can match, the greater their level of acceptability in my mind.

This is why so many perspectives and directions, can be so varied, and yet command in me, such respect.

Those performing or moving in such ways, are working to make a world, in which good can readily be seen, and experienced.

I’m quite sure many readers are sitting there going, “Well duh!”

The point though is, there may be people out there, who haven’t come to understand the truths I’m trying to express here.

It’s for such people, this article can be argued to exist.

If you aren’t seeing things through the lens I present, may I humbly ask you to think about changing your vantage point to make it so you start doing so?

Summarizing, just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it meets any higher standard. If its ethical, chances are good it’s legal. That said, it’s not a foregone conclusion that it’s morally correct. Legal, supposedly ethical or not, when something’s a matter of conscience, it’s almost certainly the right thing to do or be. Keeping this in mind in one’s travels, is almost certainly, a good idea.

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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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.

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Winning and Losing – Religion and Politics

20201107 Winning and Losing – The Daily Summation Podcast

If there’s one truth about life it’s this. You will be expected to compete for various things along the way.

In many instances, that competition will supposedly be against others. The reality is, that’s actually pretty much never the case.

It’s not that there aren’t others involved in many competitions, just that you’re not really up against them.

As hokey as it sounds, the person you’re consistently challenged to best, is yourself.

You may or may not, manage to outdo others in that contest as well. If you’re not doing the best you can manage, the chances of that happening, are slim.

I was inspired to talk about this as a result of issues I see in the modern day, here in the United States.

In my mind, there’s a concern with the general tenor of folks, when dealing with others, as well as within themselves.

This is certainly a result of what’s going on inside a lot of individuals, as such, that’s somewhat the place to start, where it’s concerned.

I’m not silly enough to think a video, podcast, or article, is going to change that in people, and I’m not at all interested in trying to shame them, either.

What am I trying to accomplish then? I would love to get others to examine where they are, figure out whether changes are called for, and determine exactly how to go about affecting them.

A large part of what I believe to be driving folks, can be counted to be external influence.

Whether that’s parents, siblings, friends, teachers, mentors, or whoever, is pretty much bside the point.

The important thing to remember is, you’re responsible for you. Others may be able to help you to make yourself, into who and what you want to be. Though that’s true, in the end, it’s on you to decide what’s good, desirable, and correct.

There’s nothing at all wrong, with working hard when you compete, unless your reason for vieing for success, is bad. If it’s not, the old expression, “Leave it all out on the field,” is entirely valid.

Here’s the rub. If you try, you will fail in all likelihood. There are those who rarely ever fail. For the most part though, I wouldn’t count on being one of them—not that it’s not a good thing to aim for, mind you.

That said, you’ll note the expression above, “rarely ever.” Even the most successful folks, have lost or will do so, at some point. From there, the question is whether or not they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and move on.

If they do, the chances are good they’ll live to fight another day, in most cases. If not, well, I think you get the gist.

The simple reality is, you didn’t learn to walk, by not trying and failing, likely multiple times.

Put succinctly, if you continue to try, so long as your goal is reasonable, you may not succeed. Then again, you just might.

As I’ve stated, in not trying, you may not lose per se (though, technically, by default, you sort of do just that), but you shan’t win either most of the time.

Nobody likes to fail. It’s not as satisfying a thing, as succeeding, or winning. That said, it is something you must assume is going to occur.

In some things you do, there will be actual competition with others, obviously, in those situations, you can win, or lose.

Where you can count it winning, when you’re in competition only with yourself, you might just as easily refer to it as success.

The obvious point is, the words success and winning are not quite synonymous, thought they’re rather close to being so.

When competing agaist others, remember, it’s about you doing the best you can. Looking back doesn’t help when you’re not out front. It doesn’t really help when you are.

It doesn’t matter if the contest you’re in, is a track meet, a math test, a spelling bee, or just getting the job done first and most correctly, remember that it’s about doing your best, and not worrying about others.

You might be able to use the acts of your fellows, to help egg you on, or spirit you ahead, but that’s really the best that can generally be hoped for. That said, if you’re not “out front” in races against others, you’re not winning.

If you are ahead, run and run hard.

I have a bad tendency in the heat of things and after, to gloat. Thankfullly, I’ve mostly overcome it these days. I hope you can do likewise, if that’s an issue for you.

These days, I work hard to be humble—to realize rubbing people’s noses in things, is a bad idea.

On another topic, my Moderately Autistic son, tends to throw fits, when he loses (as well as gloat, on winning). Considering his Autism, he’s going to melt down at times. As well, he doesn’t always understand the result of his reactions.

As for me, and I think for most folks, we really have no such excuse. If we do behave in such ways, we need to learn to deal with the world in better, more proper manners, just like my son does.

When you gloat, or throw fits, you just make things worse, both for yourself, and for others.

I think the tendency to do such things is a sign of a larger problem, that being that folks are prone to react in emotional or empassioned ways; this seems particularly true for younger folks.

More often than not, this will only cause more or greater problems, since others are likely to respond badly as a result, and argue or disagree. Instead, it pays to be logical and understanding.

Remember too, what comes out is a sign of what’s within. As such we should be looking to “fix” those issues that are internal to us. This is what’ll result in a better outlook and response.

I say some other things in the video, but I want to try to keep this piece relatively short, so I’ll let you check it out, if you want to hear them.

Remember this, though. Healthy competition is a good thing. Responding badly to winning or losing? Not so much. If you’re a Christian, you need to work on giving things to God, and reacting humbly when you win, or succeed. If you’re not, you probably ought to work to root out frustrations, and learn how to release them in constructive ways. In the end, it’s about having peace inside.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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The Administrative State – Religion and Politics

20201104 The Administrative State – The Daily Summation
20201104 The Administrative State – The Daily Summation Podcast

If you haven’t heard the term, “the administrative state,” I’d have to wonder from what source, you get your information on government.

In certain quarters, the term is used all but mockingly. Among that group, there’s tendency to argue that either there’s nothing wrong with the vast amount of power being vested in bureaucrats, or that things aren’t as some (read here, “people like me”) would have you believe.

Others maintain, that at present, the control held by unelected individuals, is so great, that short of a good deal of dismantling, the chances of wresting it from them, are almost nonexistent.

This is an argument that will, I’m sure, continue to rage, for a long time to come.

That said, I wanted to take a moment to discuss my personal dealings, with what amounts to the long arm of the administrative state.

To begin with, let’s talk about my time working as a subcontractor, to an organization that contracted to provide certain services, to my local Department of Health and Human Services.

I worked as someone who helped to keep their various web applications running, make enhancements on existing ones, and help create new ones.

One of the projects I was involved in, was a system called Coding Validation Tables or CVT. We were working to modernize that site, so that it looked and felt as a newer application ought to.

I learned from my time working on that system, that typically more than fifty percent of state funding, wasn’t from the people of the state directly, but from the U. S. federal government.

You can be quite certain those monies, did not come to the state with no strings attached.

It turns out, that’s just one of many ways, the national government, keeps its hooks into state and local entities.

Another example, is the Medicaid system.

Anybody who’s worked on either Medicare or Medicaid, is well aware there’s an oversight body, known by the acronym CMS

The funny part? That abbreviation expanded is, “The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.” In case you think I’m making that up, go to the CMS website, and check out the expansion of the letters under the words “,” at the top of any given page.

And to be sure, if you were confused into believing the federal entity supposedly providing oversight to Medicaid (supposedly ostensibly a state agency, for each state), doesn’t have an iron grip on that program, just ask anybody who works in things related to it—if you can get them to converse honestly with you.

Because the federal government decides how a large part of Medicaid is funded (since much of the largess in question originates with that entity), all it has to do, is threaten to withhold those funds, if a given state won’t play ball.

But my favorite example of government at a high level, reaching down into the daily lives of others, is related to my experience, with having my children in daycare facilities.

As it is, I’m not at all happy with such an arrangement. Having my choice, my children would never find, or have found themselves, in either public schools, or daycare.

That said, I’ve been in circumstances, where I couldn’t easily see another way to do business, and still provide a home for them that was anything like reasonable.

The simple result is, my children go and have gone to, both school and daycare.

One of the more interesting things you find in daycare facilities in my area—and I doubt very much, my region is alone in this—is notices informing you, the business in question is essentially prohibited from discriminating, on the basis of race.

You might expect to find such an admonition in many businesses, but the interesting thing about this particular warning, is its source.

You see, it actually says on it whence it originates. You may not be surprised to hear, it wasn’t the idea of the company itself.

It may come to your mind, that local, or even state government, required its placement.

If so, you’d be incorrect.

So who did cause it to be posted?

“Surely it wasn’t the federal government?” you might be tempted to inquire. Yes, in fact it was.

“What agency could possibly have done such a thing?” might be your next question.

The answer? The United States Department of Agriculture.

That’s right, the USDA.

You may next ask, “How on Earth can they have implemented such a requirement?”

The answer is, some time in the distant past, the USDA convinced a sufficient number of such enterprises, to take food given via their programs.

If other such businesses wish to compete in that market, they must either buy food very cheaply, or partake of those same “giveaways.”

For daycare facilities that make small amounts of money, and are required to have a certain number of workers on staff, the obvious choice, is to use the programs in question.

Of course, as usual, they must meet certain standards, to obtain the items they receive. One such requirement, is a non-discrimination dictate, including the aforementioned placards.

This is just one of many such things, folks performing daycare services, must have in place, just in order to succeed in their chosen business.

You can bet other such strictures (based, of course, on benefits of some sort given), are as or more onerous, than the one mentioned.

It may seem like a small thing, to have to maintain such items in your place of business, whether or not you agree with what’s required. That said, it’s just one more thing they must do, if they wish to survive.

So on top of the more nebulous aspects of the nanny or administrative state, there are some examples I can give, that’re far more concrete, as you can see.

You may not have a problem with a constantly growing and expanding group of bureaucrats, implementing requirements at ever lower levels, from on high. As for me, you can rest assured I consider such things, a major concern. Perhaps it’s already too late to do anything about them. By the time many conclude they’re problematic, it will almost certainly be so. Make your choice now or later, but remember, choices have consequences; as does kicking the can down the proverbial road.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Media and Social Media – Religion and Politics

10-30-2020 Media and Social Media – The Daily Summation
10-30-2020 Media and Social Media – The Daily Summation Podcast

Most everything is connected to about any other thing, in some way. As a result you can be sure some part of what I say in this article, will essentially be what you’ve heard before.

I should also point out, when there have been ancillary discussions, relating to what’s spoken about in this piece, you probably should expect me to say the same, or at least very similar things, to what I express here.

Having made those disclaimers, allow me to get on with things.

Very few people would be surprised to hear me couch myself as a right leaning person. Some would be somewhat interested to hear me say that I’m not heavily to the right, in my perspectives and positions.

Being clear though, in my view, people who are strongly on that side of things, tend to advocate for at least anarcho-capitalism, if not straight anarchy.

I’ve said before and maintain now, that Socialism is a leftist philosophy, but Communism is an almost completely right wing one.

This confuses a lot of folks, so let me clarify. In my view, the closer something comes to anarchy, the more to the right, I consider it to be. Strong Socialism—including Nazism—tends to very much seek heavy government control, as such, it’s a leftist position.

At least in theory, true Communism expects people to come to a place, where they can all but self govern. That makes it so it’s a good deal closer to anarchy, than even many on the right, have any interest in.

For my part, I support the idea of a central government for a very limited set of things, with a more diffuse set of government bodies, for again, as limited a set of things, as possible.

The remainder of societal interaction should be left in the trust, of the population at large.

Though I very much consider myself moderate-right in my leanings, I have zero problem, with folks having both more right, and left based positions, holding forth on their beliefs.

This applies to the “standard,” and social, media.

That said, it’s an expectation on the part of many, that the media complex (read here, “Newspapers, television and radio news reports, and the like”), be impartial in their reporting.

I’ve said before, and maintain now, I have absolutely no illusion, that will be the case.

Even if the lines between editorial and unbiased news reporting weren’t totally blurred, I’m of a mind that people will be biased, on the simple basis, that they have particular beliefs.

This can be reduced in some measure, by having multiple hands involved in what’s reported and how.

It’s an ongoing problem though, that most news organizations operate within a culture. That culture—as with most any enterprise—has a tendency to be biased, in a given direction.

Want folks who’ll not spend their days rubbing their coworkers the wrong way? Hire individuals who have similar belief sets, to those already in place.

All considered, the media, whether news entities, or various types of editorial components, is considered by many (incorrectly), to be unbiased.

And I don’t by any means, give a pass to media outlets on the right, either. If they’re not as biased as the mainstream, it’s because they’re typically more so.

In fact, there’s a tendency on the part of rightist media, to—if it were possible—be more editorial in their point of view.

Social media is another matter. For those in that sphere, there’s an expectation of a true lack of bias on the part of the platforms, that exist.

That’s not to say the people who work in such companies, have no bias. Neither is it true, that from a content perspective, various social media entities, will not have a potential tilt, in one direction or the other.

The truth is, where it’s allowed, there tend to be raucous voices in both directions, as well as some who’re more centrist in their outlooks.

The problem though is, the people who both own and more importantly run many social media platforms, have a tendency towards bias, which creeps into their management philosophies.

Equally important, is the fact that many who work for the businesses in question, either institute of their own accord, or in deference to their tech overlords, policies for various types of filtering, bans, and censorship, that generate a distinct bias, in the direction of the ownership or management of such entities.

Considering the businesses in question are literally protected by law, from being counted as content providers, such a tendency is untenable to say the least.

Simply put, it should be the mantra of social media entities, to provide a platform, and to do so without political bias.

If filtering, censorship, or bans of any kind occur, it should be on the basis of legality.

As I’ve said before, I’m in complete support of people being able to say (and even do, where there’s no illegality involved), things I consider entirely repugnant in nature.

That works for what’s put on various platforms that supposedly purvey social content, just as much as anywhere else.

In my mind, you should literally be allowed to publish outright falsehoods.

It should be the task of those consuming what makes its way out there, to work to decide what’s true, and what’s not.

None of that activity ought to be undertaken by the platform owners.

You saw that Jennifer Lopez, had a baby with a martian dad? To begin with, I think you maybe should take that with a grain (maybe a barrel) of salt.

At that point, it’s on you, whether or not you do the research to determine the veracity of the claim, or claims made.

Social media not only shouldn’t have to fact check for you, they really have no reason to assume they ought to take such actions.

So I don’t consider the media nor social media, to present perfect fact, in all instances. Of the two, it’s hard to say which is less prone to do so. In the case of social media though, the source is not the platform. As such, it should be possible to make determinations, on likely validity of that presented, if you’re able to readily determine who’s saying what. It’s not the job of social media platforms to determine correctness of information, nor to fact-check in any way. That’s my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.