Saturday, November 11, 2017

Speaking Up – Me Two

Speaking Up – Me Two

The Alchemy of Karma

Okay – “The times they are a’ changin’” – (Bob Dylan circa; a long time ago).  I was just reading bulletins from several very high-profile female Legislators, in addition to all the female actors.  Harassment!  Sexual Harassment!   Of course, this is a very important and long-time needed concern.  Totally legitimate.  Courageous and brave.  Needed to happen.

What these high-profile people have begun to include in their messages, is that it is time for men to speak up.  … ! …  I, as an old man, sincerely don’t see much of that happening.  And, I have found, so often in life, even if you might have a different angle on a topic, such as this, that is so HOT!  You can be totally crucified!!  Yes, if you say, “Well, what about this, or that?”  If it is not in complete and total agreement with whatever justifiable cause is involved, you are tarred, feathered and set adrift on a log, in a raging river, just above the falls.

But, as I am in complete agreement with what these women are saying, I just have to make a couple of points.  First – there are millenniums (sp- thousands) of years of tracked and trained-in behaviors, culturally imprinted expectations.  For my own part, my own mother was a terrible homophobe.  She had very deliberate notions of what men did and what women did – or were supposed to do.  And, her homophobia was really weird and disjointed.  She loved several movie stars and musical performers that everybody knew were gay, except her, and she would never accept it!  So for my own behavior, as a young boy and young man, was definitely tracked.  Any shade of femininity was seen as bad, very bad.  And, treated as such with a good dose of ridicule.

When your mother ridicules you, when you are a child, you remember it.  My father never cared, or seemed to care.  He loved jokes and humor and could really shed the tears when his heart was moved.  He never tried to hide his emotions when they were strong.  What I mean here is I was raised, tracked, into a strong sense of what was manly and what was girly.  And, I was not allowed to be anyway kind of girly.  But, I was allowed to show emotion under extreme circumstances.  Many young boys and men do not get that.  Succinctly, there is no balance in their lives from their earliest days.

So – let’s just say a young man is raised in a manner without balance.  He’s not attractive, as men go (I guess).  All his youth, he does not attract girls or women (or men if he is gay).  In fact he is seen as kind of a social looser and treated that way.  However, he is smart, clever and, unknown to most, very very talented.  Time passes, maybe he’s almost thirty before he has his first sexual experience.  Maybe also, by this time he has really been successful in some way.  Made a whole big chunk of money and moved into a position of huge influence, very quickly.

Everybody, men and women, are attracted to money, fame and success.  Whether business or entertainment or the entertainment business, there is crushing competition.  And, here he is, the big looser, at the top of the food chain (all of a sudden).  Suddenly he’s got more friends than he can manage.  He says “jump!” and dozens of people all jump and keep jumping until he tells them to stop.  And, during the period of cultural history when this is occurring, there do not seem to be rules, or anyone with enough position or courage to keep his behavior proper and moral, well … he goes way off the rails. 

Soon he’s not just telling people to jump! , he’s telling, he’s demanding them to do things that are simply wrong, immoral and, worse yet, demeaning.  He has, through the alchemy of karma gone from a quiet, maybe a nice guy, looser, to his wildest dream of a superhero (in his own mind).  There are dozens of persons, who suddenly are willing to do anything he asks them to do.  Persons, who previously would have recoiled in disgust from any advance he made, are now his playthings.  AND then, there are those who are in his circle of life, job or distant social community, who might have to work with him – for him – that are just not interested in him in any other way than what is required by that job, or social connection.

He has never learned to know the difference, to spot the difference, let alone accept that difference.  Part of his simple-minded make-up is getting even.  NONE  of any of this justifies his abusive behavior and when the hammer falls on him because of actions he has committed, well … once again that’s the alchemy of karma.  “What goes around comes around.”  And, what happens to these persons should be a life lesson for others.  Life and career destroyed, maybe even some incarceration time.  The big payback and “payback is a bitch”. 

The cancer comes back to the act of bullying.  Those in a position to override the decent behavior expected of all of us, do so.  Over and over again.  It often, historically, takes a wave of serfs to overwhelm the oligarchy of a few – and, most often, there is heavy bloodshed. 

Every citizen in every country has, most often, very strong identity expectations placed on them and yet times change.  Sometimes times change so dramatically that everything, everything, gets hugely out of whack.  What was not only acceptable in one generation, but encouraged, is totally unacceptable and even contemptible in the very next generation.  What was accepted as just a bump, or mole, in one generation is discovered, by the next generation, to actually be one of those cancers.

I would say you can cure cancer with treatment and medication, sometimes very dire and seriously dehumanizing treatments, but you can cure it.  It is done thousands of times a day, around the world.  You can also stop cancer – with a strategically placed bullet.  Simple morality would indicate that the former is the first choice.  Immorality would choose the second.  And, what we have here overall is not just a matter of the powerful using their power to take immoral advantage over the less powerful.  In one instance.  That is sexually.  Which is where the oo-waa stigma, “can’t talk about it” is off course.

It occurs to me, that, as a culture (maybe even a species) we are going through the treatment to cure a cancer.  It is painful, it is somewhat dehumanizing for the perpetrators, and more so for the brave victims who come forward.  However, if we do do our best to hold onto our best moral intentions, we can -?- find a cure and implement it.

{Author’s note: I realize this piece kind of wanders around a bit.  I’ll work on it and maybe get to a better solution, conclusion at a later time (?).

Friday, October 27, 2017

Bring Back the Draft

Bring Back the Draft

When the last presidential election was in progress, there was a massive bunch of signs on the corner as you would turn into the Walmart parking lot.  This was THE hub of retail activity for several rural counties here in my state.  Some of them were very big – especially the ones for presidential candidates.  Somebody drove their truck right over the Clinton sign.  Just crashed over it -  big truck tire marks squishing it into the grass (now mud). 

When I was picking it up and trying to unbend the metal stakes, and get it back to a dignified state, several locals started yelling at me.  I won’t repeat what they were yelling, but it WAS NOT nice.  Mostly these people were young men.  In one of the cars though, was a young woman who attempted to throw some kind of drink at me.  Like a “Big Gulp” or slushy thing.  She didn’t have much of an arm and timed it all wrong, so it didn’t really even get close to hitting me.  But still!  Trying to hit a bald gray bearded old man by throwing a gloopy drink at him – what kind of person does that?

To be honest, I wasn’t all that nice, or kind, in my reaction.  As I remember a well-known hand gesture was involved.  By me.  Not what someone in my demographic should do.  I was trained in combat, jungle combat, when I was drafted during the Viet Nam War, but that was like a half century ago.  I never actually got the chance to ever use that training, just the way things worked out.  But I was trained to like crush tracheas and stuff – while screaming things like “Kill! Kill!”.  Which, I never did with much enthusiasm. 

I was forced to stab shortened telephone poles covered with old truck tires.  With a bayonet attached to a rifle.  “Kill! Kill!”  I think I did about a million push-ups because my shouting was more like, “kill, um … kill?” And the Drill Sergeants didn’t think I was quite violent (?) enough.  I shot a bunch of bullets at a target.  Don’t know if I ever hit any of them, but somehow I got an “Expert Marksmanship” medal.  I’d have had to point the rifle straight up in the air to not get that “Expert Medal”, I think.

It doesn’t matter, for lots of reasons I never had to go into combat.  Part of that was because I could actually type (keyboard) well and I could read (I’m assuming).  But, as a Draftee, it’s not like I had any choices.  I was told over ‘n over, over ‘n over, over ‘n over that Draftees were the lowest form of life (in very colorful terms. Some of them involving whale shit.)  So it was not that I tried to avoid the Infantry, it was men who could type, and read, were made to do lots of paperwork that, I believe, involved sending others to shoot rifles at other people.

Anyhoo, our American Culture at the time had, had The Draft – known as the Selective Serve Act .  Historically Jefferson Davis first put the Draft in place towards the start of the Civil War.  And, about one year later, by Abraham Lincoln.    So the wartime Congressional legal precedent has been around for some time.  The point being that whenever the President chooses, he can implement this – once Congress approves it during a Declared War.  Of course now, Wikipedia says it was originally done during WW I as the National Defense Act of 1916.  This is NOT accurate because during the Civil War both sides made service in the war by every healthy available male, as it were, mandatory.  And, both sides had gangs of appointed thugs to enforce it.  (The actual historical study of this is fascinating.)

It should be noted that in the North, you could buy way out of it.  And, much of the wealthy did just that. 

As an American male, growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, the Draft was just part of life.  Everybody had to deal with it, even Elvis Presley, Mohammed Ali and lots of other famous and noted men.  My father served in WW II and was highly decorated.  His father had not served because he was a farmer, and the country and war effort needed all the farmers to farm.  But his four sons served.  So my own inculturated  soul, as it were, was just attuned to going in, if I was called.  (Which I was.)

At the time it was just the way it was.  (As I said.)  We didn’t know anything else.  Every male had to deal with it, at some time in his youth.  And, not that the Draft affected only men.  Every man originates with a birth by a woman.  Every man is some woman’s son, partner, brother, father – no man is on an island without at least one woman involved in his life somewhere.  So, it was culture wide.

For the last couple of generations, this has not been the case.  We went through the late 80’s and 90’s with no National Compulsory Service, a.k.a. Compulsory Military Conscription.  I was teaching High School at the time, so I did begin to notice a number of things. 

The American children of children who were not subject to this, the Draft, have grown into citizens who seem to truly believe they don’t owe anyone anything.  Don’t owe their parents for anything (apparently even the roof over their heads), don’t owe a respectful learning attitude to their teachers.  And, forget owing anything to the country of which they are citizens – this sense of American Freedom – is owed to them, and it is just the way it is.  And, always will be the way they have known it.  And, I say this not as a criticism – oh the kids, the youngsters of today are just spoiled, etc..)  Which I don’t think is true.

Say 200 years ago, if you didn’t know how to saddle a horse, maybe you were spoiled.  Times change.  The young of today have a ton of real challenges, just the same as their grandparents – the challenges are just different, it doesn’t make them less challenging.  Just exactly what these challenges are, we won’t know until the young become old and those that are old today will be beneath the ground.  SO … I would make a short list of what might be considered.

Examples:  When you have children, it is your obligation to raise and provide for those children.  When you own a car, it is your obligation to drive safely as you share the highways with others.  When you become an adult in a country, you have an obligation to take a few years of your life and serve to secure the benefits that, that country provides you with.  Almost all other developed nations have this requirement.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Unsung and Virtually Unknown Heroes

Unsung and Virtually Unknown Heroes

Every movement for Social Justice, in the United States of America, has had heroes.  Most of them are quite well known, celebrated by most, vilified by small hateful groups.  But, we all know who they are.  Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., etc..   Part of history.  In all the books.  Even moving down the ranks of others who were equally brave, but never quite got the spotlight.

Tbis is not a blog where I’m going to get into deep history, or a ton of research.  Most of what I will say, is just pretty obvious stuff based on rational thought and common sense (I think).

Before anything can become real law, in this country, it has to be written up as a Bill.  It has to circulate through lots of Committees and, sometimes, back cloakrooms of not necessarily upright nature.  Deals are made, quid pro quo’s, established.  Cigars and hookers and other slurry activities take place.  And then, … maybe … just maybe it will be brought to the floor of the House or the Senate.  Lot’s of debate and politicking will be shouted down the halls of Congress. 

It has been compared to the making of sausage.  You might love it or hate it, but you definitely don’t want to see it being made.

The point of the spear, however, must be held aloft, at some point by somebody who is already a member of the established governing body.  Some person who is a credited member, someone whose career is on the line, has to present this new Law, as it were, to their fellow law makers.  THIS is, quite often a Senator or Congressman who, as near as I can recall from a lot of reading of history, is just swept into the corner(s).  Forgotten, mostly.

In short, to make real changes, to make real progress in any society, with the intention of righting wrongs, there needs to be found an insider.  A brave and strong person who is already there where the cause is to be taken up.  I bring this up only to say, “Sometimes the real hero we need, can often be someone we have heretofore not seen.”  And, it is possible this person may be from a group, a group that has espoused beliefs directly opposed to the intent of the change.  It CAN be a person, who through persuasion by Ms. Anthony or Dr. King, suddenly becomes enlightened to the rightfulness of the cause.

Every human being is flawed in some way.  EVERYONE!  It is not necessary to be politically in love with the leader you need to bring about change.  You don’t even have to truly like them as a person.  Abraham Lincoln said, or quoted, “A house divided cannot stand.”  And, history using the full scope of knowledge has shown us that Abraham Lincoln was NOT a man without flaws.  Lincoln did a lot of things under the table and in the smoky cloakrooms, BUT he got the job done that needed to be done.

I see our current situation, where a great country, a Great Society, is coming undone – unraveling right before our eyes because too many good people, with good intentions, were convinced (through some truly insidious manners) that because the object was sort of shiny, that it was well made.  Like squirrels, what they thought was a really big and tasty acorn turned out to be dried dog doo. 

I’m just saying that the hero (savior) we absolutely need right now, might be somebody from the enemy’s camp who, in their heart, has had a change of heart.  Those of us, who are so deeply disappointed in the direction our country has recently gone, should be ready to support what might be somebody we would never have thought of.  If this person can turn the boat aright, from the disastrous route it is taking, maybe we should give them a chance.

Last note:  “The Caine Mutiny” – it was not a big leap to recognize Capt. Queeg was loosin’ it when he started rambling about “who stole the canned peaches (?cherries)!!” 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dude! You’re On Camera!

Dude! You’re On Camera!

A tragedy.  A person is shot dead.  It’s a murder.  A horrible crime has been committed.  Bring in the Law.  A Forensic Specialist arrives.  A Police Detective and their crew.  A bullet is found.  Gunpowder blowback is discovered.  

Quicktime – the type of gun is determined.  Lots of computer research, say bout an hour, and the type of bullet, gunpowder, time of day … Vendors of that kind of gun and munitions are determined, traced and whammo!  The one shop that sells either of these is pinpointed.  Video surveillance is surveyed and no less than bout a hundred images are downloaded of a person purchasing that gun and those bullets.  Facial Recognition software is run – the person who bought that gun (etc.) is located say in another hour.  SWAT is on the road and the shooter is handcuffed.

Exaggeration?  It took the cops less than six hours to find and responsibly take out (kill) one of the Boston Marathon Bombers, find and apprehend the other.  And, that wasn’t even a gun, but a homemade explosive device.  Within minutes, video of the scene, every single person who was in the vicinity was scrutinized, analyzed … etc. etc.  Quite literally, thousands of faces.  Within minutes the manhunt was on for specific persons.  !!  Within hours they were found.

Should we license firearms in the U.S.A.?  WTF difference would it make?  Anytime anything happens anywhere on the whole fuckin’ planet, if it’s worth looking at, everybody on the whole fuckin’ planet IS looking at it.  At present I am sitting in a franchise coffee shop, on the ceiling are two (2) dome cameras.  There is not one square inch of this coffee shop that is not on camera being taped 24 hours every single day.  !!  What difference would it make?

I have in my wallet a Driver’s License.  It has a photo on it – a photo of my face.  I am about six years younger than I am now.  Facial Aging Software is available.  They can add or take out my beard.  They can put hair on my bald head, change it to a dyed black.  It would not matter.  Software exists that can take all of my soft tissue facial characteristics and examine my skull bone structure and 99% determine if it is me in a particular photo – or not. 

Some countries, like England, have more public and private video recording devices than actual citizens.  The ability to acquire and store nearly 100% of all human activity, pictorial, text of audio, is becoming pervasive beyond anyone’s ability to conceive.  Anywhere. Anytime. All the time! 

AND, it’s not going to go away until it is no longer possible to generate electricity.  On many American highways there are cameras that have solar power cells.  These cameras do not have any hardware cabling attached.  In other words, they are running off of sunlight or batteries powered totally by electricity gathered from sunlight.  These cameras transmit all data constantly and consistently to off-site storage – in the cloud.  “In the cloud” – or, data broken up by a process that puts bits and bytes on multiple servers that can be physically located anywhere. 

Open the “Monitor Activity” panel on your laptop or personal device and just watch as it scrolls the data it’s processing continuously.  Every nano-second, even when it’s turned off the I/O runs (In/Out).  Remove the battery.  The second it is turned back on, it will retrieve, from the cloud everything remotely connected to the unique identity of that device, that occurred while the fuck it was off.  Your laptop tells you when you missed a phone call on your cell.  Your cell phone tells you where your laptop is and just what it is doing at any moment of the day.  Your cell phone can tell you if you need to buy milk and can show a picture of the inside of your refrigerator if you are lame enough not believe your cell phone.  And, ten years from now, it can pull up and show you, or anyone, that photo, no matter how many times you try to trash it.

I have phone numbers and email addresses of people with whom I have had no contact whatever – for decades – that I cannot get rid of.  !! I don’t want to contact, or even remember (for that matter), these people – and they won’t go away!  I have been married for 41 years.  I quite honestly, have no interest in Asian or Russian Beauties!!  How TF did you get into my email???

A.I. exists now, today and it’s call The Cloud. 

You can’t run, you can’t hide – anymore!

“Smile, Dude.  Yer on camera!”