Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year Resolutions Suck

Christmas is over and it is natural you start to think about the New Year that is rapidly approaching.

You think about time wasted. Money wasted. You tend to think about the general confusion you seem to be in but in truth it has been just another year.

Yet we inevitably think about what we want to accomplish, of the year's past resolutions we failed to live up to and think about what we want to try to accomplish next year.

Good friends and readers let me make a pre new years toast if I may

It is simply "Thank God we survived another year."

I mean really this has been one really strange time we are living in right now. So forgive yourself not living up to or accomplishing your goads you had set for yourself. It is a miracle you survived no thanks to the powers that be.

Bu what the hell. I tell you what I'll do I start out with this last post of the year with my New Years' Resolutions.
  1. I will continued to be the best person I can be and when I fall short I hope I recognize my failure and ask for forgiveness of those I offend. and strive harder. For I will fail for I am not perfect.
  2. I will continued to strive to protect my family and fiends and expect minimum help from my government.
  3. I will strive to think before I speak and hopefully make fewer idiotic statements and give less foolish advice.
  4. I will try to hid any money that comes my way from those who wish to part it from me. Although I figure that is a lost cause I still will try.
  5. I will try to enjoy each day as it comes and accept it for what is is.
  6. I will accept the fact that there is a sour grape in every bowl of grapes. When I get one I promise to spit it out and not let it spoil the rest for me. That goes for whether it be a bowl of grapes or a room full of people.
  7. I promise to holler out my war cry and  stand firm against the injustice and abuse of power and privilege.
Well that is enough for now.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Domino Effect

One of the things I like watching on you-tube is the guys who spend a week or more setting up dominoes so that when they tip one over they create the cascade effect that  is unique and creative.

But unfortunately in life the domino effect often is not that unique or creative. You would think that folks would realize that by this time the simple law of physics that guide the domino fall creators effect all walks of life. But no sadly our leaders haven't a clue.

They say they do but as of yet I have not seen any proof of it. They keep setting up the same old dominoes up and then they say that it will last a life time or until someone sneezes and they all fall down.

You can understand why the activist become so dispirited no matter what they do it never seems to change. You elect the first black president. You put a overwhelming wave of vote out that says get off your duff and do something different. Then when the people we elect get into office what happens?

More of the same old s@#$ or SOS.

We think that means save or ship but for a activist it means more of the same old S%^&.

The problem as I see it is that the people we elect are either not honest with us as to how they really feel or who their allegiance is with or their butts hit the seat in the chambers of power and their mentality totally changes. Remember Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

So what do we do?

A good question and the answer can only be one and that is to never give up.

If Martin L. King and the NAACP had given up because of the seeming no changes to attitudes or laws from previous generations of Civil Rights activist do you think there would be the Civil Right Act. I don't think so. Rather it is the steadfast pressure that will lead to the changes that will make the diference.

We must keep active. We must keep pushing no matter how ineffective we think our efforts are. It is the combination of the all the protest and letters and non-viloet acts of civil disobedience that will eventually lead to change. Just like it did with Civil Rights.

So we must keep on setting up the dominoes so that eventually and rightfully they will fall into something beautiful and righteous. It is only a matter of time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Solyent Green

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt, Citizen in a Republic

I couldn't help but start this blog but with this blog.

Sometimes I believe that we become so overwhelmed by what we hear on the TV/Radio/Internet Blog sphere/print media that we start to feel why are even trying.

 Because we have to. The alternative is worse.

To give up and lay down and allow the powers to be to run over us is exactly what they want. Who are they?

I guess it is who ever you want to blame for the feeling of oppression. For me it is the nameless  Ultra-rich. Those who feel that they know what is best for me and I just need to accept. This I can not do. Someone once said that the best revenge is to live well and I believe that it up to you to  decide what is living well means.

For me it means not worrying about the what if's on  my health , food on the table, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head. Simple things it may be until it is thearthen then it becomes a major issue.

It is that way for many.

Right now folks are worrying about their job, mortgages, how they are going to put healthy food on the table on a beans and potatoes budget. How are they going to just get through the day.

This daily persistent and unrelenting concern becomes so overwhelming I believe we end up making mistakes. It makes us too cautious when we need to step up to the plate and swing for the fence. We may strike out but at least we tried.

Great things never happen or even the smallest things unless we are willing to take that chance. I believe President Obama has forgot that .That he has people whispering into his ear play it cautious, don't take chances. If it goes wrong you may loose the race in 2012.

Now you are thinking but we must have realistic expectations. You would be exactly right. why shouldn't you. You tell me that we must be willing to give up something for our security. I say security means nothing if you don't have your self-respect.

To me to not hold people accountable for what they do is to find our self in thar classic Sci-Fi movie "Soylent Green"  where we are eating ourselves.

It is time we stop consuming our self's. It is time we take back control of our lives.  Stand up for what you believe in. Take responsibility for what you do.

As i was finishing this article I found myself thinking about my Dad and his first heart attack.

He was laying semi-conscience in the Intensive Cardiac Care Unit. and he had been giving the doctors and nurses a difficult time .

It was about 2 in the morning and Dad had come too and I asked him to be patient with the staff that all they wanted was to help him. While it was the morphine talking he told me "I rather be shot for a wolf then die like a sheep."  Totally disapproved but I understood what he meant.

He might be in a hospital bed, semi-consciouses but as long as he could he was going to have a say over his life. That is all I am trying to say.
We, as a nation, may be on life support,  As a individual we may be gasping for air struggling to find a moment of respite. But Never give up. Live your life as a wolf for it is better than dying led blindly to the slaughter.

In the Shop

Well this week I need to spend some time in the shop at the wood lathe. One of my sons has ask me to turn some wine bottle stoppers to give to a few of the folks at work as Christmas presents. 

I think today I will glue up some turning blanks out of red oak and mesquite. Should make a interesting combo. I see about posting some photos when I get through.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"It anin't over until it is over"

Yogi Berra was one of my favorite baseball players. More so because of his witticism that seem to just pop out of him. One of my favorite is "It ain't over until is is over."  Why? Because that is just it "it ain't over until it is over.

We tend to forget that. Just because something doesn't go our way we think that's it. It is all over. But that is far from the truth. It is over when we draw our last breath. When they put the pennies on our eyes to pay the ferryman is when  it's over.

So do you just give up when things don't go your way? Of course not

Does it change the reality of the day? Of course not.

To paraphrase another great philosopher of our time Popeye "It is what it is and that is all it is"

Since Cain and Able there have been someone trying to gain favor over you at the destruction of your person. Let me put it to you heathens this way. Ever since man has stood upright there has been one man tying to put his bare foot on the neck of another. So why should now be any different.

Obama accepted a compromise with the republicans, for what I truly believe he felt out of necessity, that would extend the tax cuts another two years. He did this he said for the working people not for the rich but to do so he had to accept the republicans trickle down economy BS and extend it for the very wealthy. This compromise also extended the unemployment compensation for those who were about to run out of them. This in itself would of hurt the economy.

Either way it has not ended it. It has to still be approved by the congress and senate and the democrats. particularly the more progressive are livid that they are being forced to accept this compromise. Yet at this time I think they have no other choice. They gave up the high ground for fear of being called Tax and Spend democrats.  About the only thing they can do is take the moral high ground and point their finger at the republicans and say "for shame". They need to do this and make their case at the same time. One with out the other is useless.

What does this mean. Will it means another two years of nothing happening .Another two years of our economy tanking and maybe never having a chance to stabilize. That is why it is even more important that you vote. That you make known your beliefs and positions. for not to do so is to give up an that is unacceptable.

Later in the Week

The Pres has come out with a little more fight to him. About time. The word is that he intends to work on getting the tax code changed into a more balance system with fewer loop holes. States that the current agreement if passed he has hopes will not stand for the entire two years. "It anoint over until it's over"

Reading Material

One of my favorite type of literature is the Essay form of writing. It is a interesting way of looking at different ideals and has been a boost to my mental acuity by making me stop and think. Currently I am reading the "Writers on Writing -The New York Times Collected Essays. It is just what it says Different writers of all kinds and genre talking about what motivates them. Common theme is it is all they know what to do and driven to do it. Makes for a interesting read.

Just started "The Devils Hatband" by Robert O. Greer. set in Denver, Co. new author for me.  A type of mystery that works for me are those that are regional in nature. Writers such as Tony Hillerman, New Mexico - John Dunning, Colorado - Jean Hagar, Oklahoma - James Burke, New Orleans La.  are a few of the type of authors I am talking about. Hopefully Greer will be one of those regional authors that will introduce me to a whole new way of looking at an area.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Robert Reich is he right?

Is the TEA party the reactionary independent party that Reich warned us about in his book "The After-Shock"?

Can we as he optimistically believes rise above our self interest and make the necessary changes in our economic system that he proposes such as
  1. extend EITC for those not traditionally thought of needing them. His proposed for example $15K for those making between $20K to 30K and 10K for those making between $30 to 40K a year and $5K for those making $40 to 50 K a year.
  2. Step back to the tax status that made us a economic power house from 1946 to 1975 where the ultra rich carry a tax burden more proportionally to their income
  3. stop giving tax breaks on capital gains and treat it as income to be taxed.
  4. Get rid of our current unemployment insurance and instead create a employment insurance that would would cover you better should you be laid off and by subsiding you should you find yourself taking a lower paid job until such time as your income came up to 90% of your previous pay rate. Thereby encouraging the unemployed to take a lower paying jobs.
  5. Create a real Carbon Tax that would begin at the point of entry or source and would increase annually to encourage greater conservation and investment in renewable resources. This he admits would increase fuel cost by a minimum of $1 per gallon at the fuel pumps and $0.06 per kilowatt hour for our electricity yet would have side effects of improving our environment and put more emphasis on better mass transit systems. 
  6. Make Medicare available for all as more cost efficient than the current system of for profit health care. States that the new legislation is a insufficient start and does not do any real changes due to health insurance and pharmaceutical companies influence. Instead it should be a public option available to all. States that cost of running medicare is 2% of it's cost while private insurance programs looms at 30% of cost. Mentions that right now 45 million people are uninsured. Of which reader I am one of them. That polls by the Wall Street Journal and NBC show 76% people are in favor of such action.
  7. Change the way we look at education and fiance that education through the use of school vouchers, charter schools for K thru 12 and improving the pre k educations. Change the way we look at staying educated or current in the work place. Make it easier for someone who has become unemployed due to industry changes to be retrained. Change the way we repay student loans so that people our encouraged to take on what has been traditionally underpaid profession in  social services and education.
  8. Change the way we fiance and run political campaigns. by one to put into a blind trust any contributions to a candidate so that he will not be influence in anyway legislation that might be of importance to that contributor. This is a great ideal. Also increase the public contribution to a dollar per dollar amount.
  9. increase the money we invest in public goods such as museum, parks, community centers, public insitution anything that gives people a sense of ownership and stop the fees that so often stop people from using these facilities.
The ideals presented by Reich has one basic premise and that to stop from happening such things as the TEA party come to fruit.  To initiate changes for basically redistribution of wealth. Not so much as to take from the wealth but rather to increase a more level playing field.

He goes on to say that he believe in the near future as the economy continues to stagnate the very hedge fund/bank CEO and major corporate players will see this for their self and will put their influence to bear. No so much because they want to but because not to will only lead to stagnation of their profitability.Better to give up a dollar to make two. For it was the working  middle class that created this nation wealth thru their ability to afford to buy what they were producing. Failure to not be able to as they are not now able will lead to even more layoffs and a shrinking economy.

I ask if Robert Reich is right in his book "After-Shock" both his analysis and in his steps for a cure. Well for me hs is. I do and will suggest you read this short 147 page manifesto. I say manifesto because I believe that is what it should become .

In 1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a middle class bill of rights. I think it is time we re-examine his proposal.


Aftert Words

Take a moment and read Reich's blog post for this Friday the 3rd

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Permancy is greatly overated.

It seems at times that life is about playing the game. You know the game. Go to the right school. Have the right degree. Work for the right company. Drive the right car. Live in the right neighborhood. Not to do any one leads to diminished your achievements.

I never have been one to follow the rules. In fact I have it on good authority that I don't play well with others. Never have I been considered a team player. Always considered following the herd a bad ideal. Therefore when I tell you that to do as I have done will lead to  failure based on the formula for success set by others I speak from experience.

Even so let me urge you to follow your own instinct. Define your own sense of success. for failure to do so will only lead to a bad end. /The ideal of he who dies with the most toys wins is bull shit.  All it means is that he who dies with the most toys ends up with the most crap.

My wife once told me that while I was not a gypsy for birth I was one in spirit. When she told me this we were talking about allegiance to a home church. She said that I was one of those who home was where ever I was at the time. She was right in so many ways.

In the movie "Heat" the professional thief character played by Robert DeNiro taught his protege Val Kilmer, and I paraphrase to  never be so involve that he couldn't walk away from it in 30 seconds. For me that has always been a way of living.

I guess that is why I like things like laptops vs. desktops. digital cameras vs. film because they are portable. When my wife bought me my first MP3 player and was able to download all my music.I immediately fell in love with it. I mean no big box of CD's rather one little memory device in my pocket ready to go where ever i went.

Years ago I read a SciFi short story by I think Greg Bear in where the character never identified by name and told in the first person of a traveler in the future that involved catastrophic environment, scavenging and trading. where people used technology both high  and low tech to carve out what ever little existence they needed. By it self the story was not dramatic but it was a life that could be.

On that same line John Dunning wrote a novella or short story publish and sold by the association of antiquarian booksellers to help pay for book events. It told of a old man who had partnered up with a mentally challenged man and were making their living as book scouts.  As the story ended with the old man telling his partner that it was time for them to move on down the road. Point?

The point is sometimes and particularly in these times we live in I am wondering if we need not to be more mobile. To be more gypsy like means to me to know when we need to pickup and move on down the road.  To develop life skills that do not tie us down to one location.

My father for all of his faults was a lot like that gypsy. Loyalty to a company or a community he didn't trust as they had often let him down. Rather for him loyalty was to his paycheck and when it ended he moved on. His occupations were what ever he needed to do. I can remember him being a trader, card player, cabinet maker, finish carpenter, furniture restorer, welder. and tool and dye maker. But mostly I remember him being able to take something that someone didn't want and trading it or selling it to someone who did want it for a few extra bucks. I was 16 before my mother made my Dad decide on one place to live at least until I graduated from high school.

So what am I trying to say?

It is just this. I do not believe the economy will ever return to the same level it was at one time.  I believe we need to be more adaptable. You may be a programmer today and a book store clerk tomorrow and next month you may be repairing tires and by the end of the year you may be working the flea market circuit. Whatever it takes to put a roof over your head that night and food in your stomach that day.

You may live in a Mac Mansion in a suburb today but a apartment tomorrow downtown in the big city  and a travel trailer next month  in a RV park and a small house in small town by years end.

Bottom line don't lock yourself down mentally to thinking you don't have options. As it has been said think out side of the box and that will be the way we survive the times to come.

Current Reading

 I have been reading Robert Reich's book "After Shock" rather slowly for me. I find myself stopping and going back to reread passages to make sure I understand his point.  Not because it is difficult but rather I think he is saying something important and needs to be said and I want to be sure I understand so I do not get it wrong.

Basically government intervention to redistribute wealth by use of taxation of the ultra wealthy and expansion of earned credit to include more of what in past were considered middle class. Again I haven't finish the book and I will try to give a more detailed report