Category Archives: Philosophy

Lincoln Spins

Senator Romney expressed his displeasure at GOP members who supported Putin. Thanks, Mitt. Now, Republicans, what do you have to say?

[cricket chirp] [whirr] [cricket chirp] [whirr] [cricket chirp] [whirr]

The cricket chirps are from the Republican Party, while the whirring sound you hear is Abe Lincoln spinning in his grave. Pretty significant since after certain people tried to steal his body and hold it for ransom, it was placed under tons of rock and concrete.

But then, Abe was always an exceptional man in so many ways. After rogues attempted to steal his body and hold it for ransom–but failed–he was buried beneath the floor of the crypt, reportedly with a hefty load of concrete to prohibit future illegal disinterments. Therefore, his spinning was not nearly as easy as it would be for others in less constricted gravesites.

Nevertheless, it would be nice if you stood for something honest.

More’s the pity.

I Hope We Don’t Go to War

As you know, I am a student of history, particularly the history of war. It is my heartfelt wish that my children, their children, and their grandchildren should never have to face war. My grandfather served in World War I, my father in World War II. During my lifetime there was the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as various other military events, including Grenada, Libya, Syria, and a myriad of others. I served during the first Gulf War and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I have son who served 10 years in the Navy and is now in the reserves, so to me this is not merely an academic exercise.

The two wars that keep my attention are the United States Civil War and World War II. As is always the case, the wealthy and powerful decide to go to war while others who bear the burden.

In the 1860’s, many in the North opined that if the South wanted to leave the Union, they should be allowed to. The cannonade of Fort Sumter offshore of Charleston, South Carolina changed that and is considered the single most costly victory in the entire history of warfare.

During the Civil War, a wealthy man could pay someone else to serve in his place and did not need a medical excuse not to serve. Other influential men joined and were commissioned as senior officers regardless of their education or experience. For example, Brigadier General Joseph Davis, with no military training, rose to general because he was the nephew of Confederate President Jefferson Davis; he lost nearly two regiments at Gettysburg.

World War II was a bit different. Having been drawn into World War I, Americans were predisposed to let Europe fend for itself—until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. That changed everything. Virtually the entire country threw themselves into supporting the war. Men enlisted and women took over the manufacturing and other duties back home.

Vietnam—some were drafted, some enlisted, some went to Canada, others went to a cooperative doctor for a deferral.

I am not a disinterest party in judging my fellow service men and women from the 80s until and including the 21st century. However, I would proudly serve again with any and all with whom I served with before.

Now to the crux. If we are faced with another crisis, what is my confidence level today? Like during the civil war, we are a country divided. The dividing lines are not geographic—they are philosophic. We could not build our way to victory as we did in the Second World War because we’ve exported our manufacturing. Today, if there was an embargo against the United States, could we even be confident that we could produce our own underwear? I doubt it.

Winter 2022

I grew up in northern Ohio. Winter was not only cold, but if Lake Erie isn’t frozen, as the winds came down through Canada, they pick up water vapor from the lake. When the winds hit land, which is colder, snow forms (often a LOT of snow). This is called lake effect.

I remember winters as being cold, windy, and lots of snow. By cold I mean single digits or lower, although the wind made it feel substantially colder. I worked at the downtown public library during high school, and waiting for the bus at 9:00 PM during the winter was cold, cold, cold.

I now live in Virginia. We rarely get snow here. Before sunset, it was 48 degrees Fahrenheit; right now, it’s 39 degrees. Many people down here begin to wear quilted coats, gloves, and scarves about 45 or 50 degrees. I’m not that bad–at least not yet.

However, with all the differences, when I walked outside today, I caught myself thinking, “Yes, it’s winter.” I think it’s the clouds. A winter sky just looks different than any other season’s cloudy sky. I believe it makes me feel colder than I actually am.

Progress

My wife and I went out for lunch today to Abbey Road in Virginia Beach. That may sound like a infinitesimally minor event, but it wasn’t. Most of you know that I have been schwacked and reschwacked by COVID.

Before that, on several occasions, I went off to war without a second thought; I cannot prevent war, or any injury that war might inflict on me, but I can prevent more damage from COVID. As a military officer, I differentiate between the battles I can win and those that are less certain.

Don’t laugh. Knowing what is winnable is important. Longstreet, Lee’s most experienced and savvy officer advised Lee against Pickett’s charge. Lee should have listened.

In any case, I was successful in the wartime assignments to which I was assigned. Up till now, COVID; not so much. Nevertheless, I am now at the point where I can and will once again grab onto my own life.

I had a wonderful day today. I plan on having a wonderful day tomorrow.

As the Klingons say “Today is a good day to die!” It, indeed, could be, but it could also be a great day to live.

Election Shakeups in 2020

Everyone is watching elections-ALL elections to try to determine who will hold the real power after the 2022 elections. Here are my TOP FIVE predictions:

Sally M. will be elected president of the Shreveport PTA, just as she has for the past 12 years.

Jim B. will win, by the tightest of margins, the top Shriner spot.

Kathy Perry, in a surprise upset will win the Ohio Pie Contest, finally passing by Sandra Cain, who had won in the past due to political connections.

Francis X. will be the overwhelming choice for the Knights of Columbus, Grand Knight in Dubuque, Iowa.

Bob Cowznofski, who was featured in Who’s Who in the Midwest, Who’s Who in Advertising, and, of course, Who Gives a Damn as to Who’s Who, will not be elected to anything, nor even be mentioned in his local newspaper.

Just wait. Next year at this time, you’ll have to admit my prescience.

Count on it.

Parental Advice

Advise our parents gave us, or should have:

  • Don’t run with scissors.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Don’t play with fire.
  • Don’t miss a vaccine.

In mid-March 2020 I began to telecommute in order to avoid COVID-19. Since then, I live a monastic life. I leave the house for medical appointments or to take an occasional ride in the car with my wife and that’s pretty much it. This means that I’ve essentially been homebound for 687 days.

Even with these precautions, somehow, the virus got through before any vaccine was available. I started feeling bad about 11 December 2020 and was diagnosed with COVID-19 on 17 December. I secluded myself and my wife tried to take care of me. On 30 December 2020, we gave in, she called 911 and I was admitted to the hospital, which at this time had 3 entire wings assigned as COVID wards. I was given every medication that they had any hope for.

At one point, even though I was on oxygen at the highest flow rate, I could not breathe. I was taken to the COVID ICU. I honestly don’t know how long I was in ICU. Eventually, I was back on the COVID ward and on 10 January 2021, I was released.

It has now been over a year. I’m vaccinated and boosted and have not been reinfected. I do not currently have COVID-19. However, in an abundance (overabundance?) of caution, I normally stay at home as an added precaution. Having suffered through COVID-19, I do not want to encounter any of the variations. I hope to avoid COVID’s second cousin twice removed, or any COVID variation.

I repeat, I do not have COVID. However, I do have post-COVID syndrome, which is the damage leftover from when I had it. Damage to my lungs. Damage to my pancreas. Damage to my nervous system and who knows what else.

It is estimated that one out of three who had COVID have post-COVID symptoms. There are indications that even people who had no symptoms from COVID itself can suffer from post-COVID symptoms.

It sucks.

Get vaccinated. Wear a mask. If not to protect yourself, then to protect the neighbor who has had an organ transplant, or a child too young to be vaccinated, or a friend or relative who is immunocompromised.

An Important Message

Honest to God, I received a message from Jesus Christ. Does that make me a prophet? Maybe so.

Don’t laugh at me, or you think I’m lying. I assure you, it isn’t a joke, I’m not lying, and I’m not crazy.

However, it is a message that is for all of us–those in our country and the rest of the world. We need to heed it today.

I’ll admit. I didn’t get it direct–it’s not like Jesus rang my doorbell or called me on the phone. It passed through a number of people before I received it, just like the mail does. That does not dilute its importance. It’s a simple message, but one that could only have come from the Christ.

“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Puzzlers

Here are a few miscellaneous thoughts from my wandering mind.

Marcel Schwantes (INC. Magazine) wrote that 48.5 percent of workers are looking to leave their current jobs. Apparently, the greedy bastards are looking for two things their current beneficent employers are not offering:

  • Higher pay
  • More opportunities

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Through the negotiations of my children over the years, we have 1 dog and 3 cats. I cannot blame them for my parrot, which is mine. All of the animals are each convinced that they are in charge. Some of this is wickedly intentional.

In humans, especially human babies, there is a physiological action called the oral-anal reflex. When you feed a baby, it’s generally followed by a diaper change. Our dog has his own style of oral-anal reflex. Every time I sit down at the table to eat, he immediately goes to the door, whines, and rattles the doorknob with his nose. I think his response is more control-of-humans than anything else.   

Why does it seem like every time I’m at a stop sign or a traffic signal with a right turn on red, there is a 10 – 30 foot hedge blocking my view of oncoming traffic.  

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Don’t try to read anything into this, just enjoy.                                

Headlines!

Our local paper is the Virginian-Pilot, which by its title was obviously a compilation at least two separate papers (actually, there were more, but you get the idea). The paper was family owned until 1918 when it was sold to the Tribune Publishing Company, which was purchased by Alden Global Capital. Alden’s media subsidiaries are operated through Digital First Media. And Abraham begot Isaac . . . .

But I digress.

As often happens, local staff writers disappear, and many stories are just cut and pasted from the Associated Press. However, lately, their headline author/editor has shown a wry sense of humor.

With the COVID pandemic continuing ad nauseum (literally as well as figuratively) yesterday’s top headline:

IT’S MASK CONFUSION

Virginia doesn’t see a lot of snow, so when it’s in the forecast, all the meteorologists are on an adrenaline high an try to outpredict each other on doom and gloom. Today’s headline:

On your mark, get set, SNOW!

Now back to our regular depressing news, already in progress.

Rhyming History in Ukraine

Little Green Men (meduza.io)

We used to say that history repeats itself. Today, we tend to think it may be more like rhyming than repeating.

In 2014 and 2015, Ukraine’s computer-controlled utilities began to go on and offline unexpectedly. This has been generally attributed to Russia. Not coincidentally, forces began amassing on the Ukraine border. In February they attacked and by March, the Crimea was annexed by Russia.

The forces, generally referred to at the time as “little green men” did not wear identification on their uniforms but were believed to be Russian Spetsnaz—special forces. This was later confirmed by Retired Russian Admiral Igor Kasayonov. In Russia, the mysterious soldiers were referred to as “polite people.” How quaint.

Today, the Ukraine cyber-system is under attack. Military forces are marshalling on the Russian side of the Ukraine border.

There are a few differences. Putin has shut down REvil, one of Russia’s most notorious cyber hacking organizations and recently destroyed an obsolete satellite, which has resulted in thousands of pieces of debris in low earth orbit, at least 1,500 large enough to be tracked. Each piece, regardless of size, is traveling at nearly 18,000 mph. For comparison, a bullet on earth travels somewhere about 1,700 mph, or less than one-tenth the speed of every single piece of debris.

In the midst of all this, I have two questions and no answers, just guesses. If anyone can answer these, please do so:

  1. Why destroy the satellite and why now?
    The United States, Russia, and China all are known to have this ability, so it didn’t prove a capability. On the other hand, it may make a huge swath of space unusable for orbiting satellites. Or there may be a totally different reason. In any case, the timing is suspect.
  2. Why would Putin be making all these moves now?
    While only Putin knows the answer, there are some suspicions.
    1. The West is in chaos.
    2. The United States is in the most serious chaos—a house divided against itself. There is even talk—frequent talk—of another civil war.
    3. Trump would never tell his devotees to follow Putin. However, so much propaganda that the Oath Keepers, Three-Percenters, etc. believe information that could (and at times did) originate with RT (Russia Today). A proponent could just point to the ideology without crediting the source.

Prior to President Biden, people in the United States responded to, repeated and created disinformation consistent with Russian efforts to confuse and divide us. Biden’s predecessor, and Putin’s number-one-fan, has been out of office for one year—long enough for plausible deniability. Long enough for the apprentice to not have to worry about hearing “You’re fired!” from Putin.

America has never been so weak and so tempting a target.

I hope—I Pray—that I’m totally, completely, and entirely wrong. Unfortunately, I fear that I might be facing the truth.

I’m Offended

When I forget and accidentally click on the news, it seems lately that whatever isn’t about celebrities (and and some that is) relates to people being offended.

Masks and vaccinations offend some and anti-vaxers offend others. Parents are offended by school boards and vice-versa. The Royal Family is offended by Prince Andrew. Everybody is offended by somebody.

Somehow it brought to mind the 1980 movie Popeye, starring Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall and a running gag through the movie.

Where’s the Payback?

In one of my college management classes, we were taught that the mark of a good leader was that the people would say, “We did it ourselves!” However, I believe that concept can be carried too far.

Some people succeed because their parents were in the same industry. Actors beget actors, doctors beget doctors, and Ivy School graduates beget Ivy School admissions for their children.

I had a reasonable career—my family always a had a roof over their head in a good school district, and we never worried about eating. I worked hard, but there were many things for which I was not responsible that contributed to my success, so I would never consider myself a self-made man.

I worked full time and went to school, but I that would not have been enough to pay for college and graduate school. Instead, I got extra help from my employers who offered tuition reimbursement. I paid at the beginning of the school term. If I got an A in a course my employer reimbursed 90 percent of the tuition; a B was 80 percent; a C 60 percent; and nothing for a lower grade. Not only did it help financially but was a powerful incentive to apply myself.

Many successful entrepreneurs have similar support they rely on. Society provides transportation facilities, communications, utilities, and in some cases tax breaks. Yes, these people may have had a brilliant idea and brought that idea to fruition. However, they relied on many invisible supporters.

It’s sad that many are patting themselves on the back for being “self-made-men,” using tax dodges rather than reinvesting in the system that helped them succeed.

January 6th

In the news today was an Associated Press article that included the following:

Nearly a year after the Jan. 6 siege only about 4 in 10 Republicans recall the attack by supporters of then-President Donald Trump as very violent or extremely violent, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. About 3 in 10 Republicans say the attack was not violent, and about another 3 in 10 say it was somewhat violent.

Their views were a distinct minority as overall about two-thirds of Americans described the day as very or extremely violent.

I wonder if these Republicans would describe the event the same way if it had occurred at Mar a Lago?

If Necessary, Use Words

There is a quotation often misattributed to St. Francis of Assisi. He may have said it, but most probably he did not originate it.

Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words.

It’s a powerful quote. The word Gospel, of course, means “Good News.” I believe it does not mean it is necessary to quote book, chapter, and verse. After all, when Jesus was asked, which was the most important commandment, He did not quote the commandments as given to Moses. Instead, He said, “Love God above all things with your whole heart and soul. The second is like it—you must love your neighbor as yourself.”

I know that if you look this up in Matthew or Mark, you’ll notice I did not share it verbatim. That was intentional. It’s the thought, not the words that is important.

Each of us shows love for God and our neighbors in our own way. I believe that’s what God planned and what Jesus was saying. With what you are; with whatever gifts you have to share; show your love for one another. Whether you have the ability to donate a new wing to a hospital or you can only smile and wish someone else well and pray for them, you are doing acts of love.

In these days it seems like there is acrimony everywhere. Someone needs to start the change. Maybe the people who need to act are you and me. It would not be much, but it would be a start.

This time, I will use a direct quotation:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have
loved you, you also are to love one another. 
                                                                                 
The Gospel according to John, 13:34

New Year’s Eve

Tourists desperately looking for the Capitol gift shop.

The last day of the current year—the last of 2021.

Good riddance.

The climate was all hosed up. A sudden devastating fire in Boulder, Colorado destroyed nearly 600 homes and 1,600 acres. Thirty thousand people were evacuated. It is expected to be followed by a winter storm with heavy snowfall.

One thousand, two hundred, forty-nine tornadoes ripped through the United States destroying whole towns, killing 149, with thousands injured or homeless.

The COVID-19 hoax was reported to have infected near 300 MILLION people in the world with over 55 million in the USA. These numbers do not include those who used a home COVID test. US deaths approached 850,000. For a hoax, it was pretty damned deadly.

A huge, armed mob broke into the US Capitol wanting to hang Vice President Pence and kill various members of Congress because the president (at the time) told them to. The attack was described by some members of Congress—the same ones who hid under their chairs during the attack—as ‘just some tourists.’

Perhaps the worst event of 2020 was the death of logic. This was inevitable given that facts became irrelevant.

I know it’s misplaced optimism, but maybe 2022 will be better. I pray it won’t be worse.

This, That, and Something Else

CNN reported today that some people’s New Year will be affected because of a shortage of high-end champagne because global warming screwed up the vineyards (Gasp!). I hope all the billionaires who make their money from industries that pollute have to make do with grocery store bubbly. And wouldn’t it be fun if it makes them belch at especially embarrassing times?

Last year, on 30 December, in the days before COVID-19 vaccines, I was taken by ambulance to the hospital. I spent about two weeks there, most of which is still a blur. This year, on 30 December, I retired. I prefer retirement to COVID—Big Time!

And just for the record—after I got the first and second doses of the vaccine AND the booster, I tried to get metal to be magnetically attracted. No luck—not even the little, tiny pieces. I used a sensitive frequency meter to detect any chips. I came up empty-handed. If it doesn’t make me magnetic or enable me to transmit to satellites, what’s the big deal?

Having experienced COVID-19 and the 3 jab* vaccination, I can tell you, I’ll take the jabs.

* I’d never hear a heard the medical use of syringes and needles referred as a jab before. I think it’s a British term; they just want to make sure we know that, George Washington notwithstanding, that they still have clout when it comes to language.

Slightly Different Christmas Message

We often see quotations from the Bible used during Christmas, which is most appropriate. One common quote is a bit off, which changes the meaning significantly. The quote?
Peace on earth and good will toward men.”

While this is the phrase used in the King James Bible, many, if not most biblical translations sound a bit different. Most modern translations render something closer to:

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.”

There are a variety of translations on Bible Hub, most of which reflect the latter translation.

The reason this is so important is because peace is a gift God gives to those who express an interest in God. This does not mean that God’s peace is not reserved for those who go to church every Sunday, pray constantly, tithe, etc.–although I’m sure that those who do so with love for God in their heart are blessed.

Instead, I believe this message proclaimed by angels to the shepherds* that night is not a blank check from God. Instead it’s something akin to trade. God gives his peace and showers his blessings on those who try to care for others the way He cares for others.

I believe that God is pleased when we try to do good, whether it all turns out successfully or not.

I ask everyone to try to act with good will toward one another, especially with the turmoil we face today.

I ask God to bless those on earth today who try to please God.

Peace

Writer’s Block

I keep trying to write an amusing blog, but end up with a couple of paragraphs, then it ends up scrapped.

I can’t try to be funny, because some well-armed group is bound to take offense. I currently have a dog, a parrot and three cats and can’t afford to have wild shots ricocheting throughout the house. Besides, it would be unfair for my wife to have to clean up the mess.

So I guess I’ll wait for inspiration.

While I’m waiting, I will instead ponder the love of a God who sent his only begotten Son to earth to help unscrew the mess we made. Two millennia later, he’s still at work. If we’d just stop screwing things up, maybe he could finish.

Confused Again, Naturally

Every day that I don’t ignore the news, I get befuddled beyond my ability to properly function.

A White House without scandals is like a day without sunshine, but usually, when administrations change, the scandals die out or are at least, scaled down. Not so with a certain recent president and his cronies associates. Every day, something new pops up and if I accidentally watch the news I get soooooo depressed.

About a year ago, presidential pardons were handed out like Halloween candy. (You want a Snickers? Sorry, here’s a pardon.) Right, wrong, or indifferent, it’s a thing that presidents can do as they wish.

A presidential pardon is the ultimate “Get out of Jail Free” card since it’s essentially, “Not only do you not need to worry about jail, you don’t even need to worry about being arrested.” I can’t think of ANY reason I would need a presidential pardon, but if offered one, I’d grab it without hesitation. After all, who knows. I might still have an overdue library book that can send me to prison for 5 life sentences–to be served consecutively. If not, what a great heirloom to be passed down to my children and grandchildren.

Nevertheless, Roger Stone, pardoned by the former president, invoked the 5th amendment. If he’s been pardoned, how can he plead the 5th? In history, certain individuals refused pardons so as to not lose their 5th amendment rights. Roger, however, claims both–and more than a few other things.

I’m not a lawyer. I didn’t play one on TV. I didn’t sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. However, I study history.

I lived through the Nixon-Watergate years and followed the Congressional investigations intently. I have this nagging feeling that Nixon is jealous.

I’ve been to Warren Harding’s Tomb, and while there, considered the implications of the Teapot Dome Scandal.

I would not be surprised if there were whirring sounds near each of the gravesites as those two former presidents spin in their graves.

I’m just thankful that they weren’t cremated. Imagine their ashes spinning, creating two tornadic gusts of ashes spinning through the air at 350 mph.

Knowing they were former presidents, do you you salute or head to the storm cellar?

Pray for the Tornado Victims

A category 5 tornado can generate wind speeds of 300+ miles per hour. A category 5 hurricane (the worst level) has winds in excess of 157 MPH. In the movie “Twister” the category 5 tornado was referred to as “the finger of God.”

In my younger days, I provided communications assistance and damage assessment for more than a few tornadoes and hurricanes. They’re newsworthy for a few days, even though it may take years (if ever) for the families in the path to recover. For many, everything they owned is gone–if they’re lucky. If they’re not, some of, or everyone they love may be gone forever.

To my knowledge, we have never seen a tornado like this with a 200+ mile track that hit eight states–Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee. If you need to, go look at a map and see how much territory this covers. It does not matter if one corner of a state was hit, the economic and emotional damage hits the whole state, as well as neighboring ones.

So today I ask for you to pray for the victims, the first responders, the National Guard men and women, and the families of all of them. There will be requests for donations – many bogus. When in doubt, donate to the Red Cross. Cash is best. Many well-intentioned gifts of clothing, etc. cannot be matched up with those who need them, so they end up in the land fill.