Not Cease from Exploration

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Two Kinds of People

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of people in this world....

...those wake up with an alarm and those who wake up before the alarm

...those who work to pay their own way and those who insist  that others pay their way

...those who see problems and those who see solutions

...those who dream of the past and those who plan for the future

...those who read and those who watch TV

...those who seek to control others and those who seek to control themselves

...those who wait for inspiration and those who find inspiration

...those who ask "why" and those who say "why not"

...those who blame and those who accept

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Glenn "I am a flaming idiot" Beck Strikes Again

This one is courtesy of Dan Spak (you can find his blog on my blog roll), from the LA Times.

Glenn Beck hits new low

For the record I want to note that the following was my comment on the posting, as it appeared on Dan's Facebook page...

Stephen Albert Media whore, douche-bag, tea bagging former 'wacky morning zoo' DJ. He should be spinning Wang Chung records at some mid-western low power "All 80's" $hit-hole radio station instead of picking on dead kids.

Now I don't subscribe to much of what Dan posts, but I give him lots of credit for picking this one up.

If you are a conservative, it's my hope that you read what Glenn Beck said and say to yourself "why can't he be a liberal instead?".  If you are a liberal, I hope you understand that Glenn Beck isn't a conservative...he is simply insane.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Stupid Things I Want To Do (before I die)

In no particular order, for no particular reason.

Monster Truck
Find one of those monster trucks...
...and ask the owner if I can push the button that turns the truck into a giant fighting robot.

Nerd Fest
Watch all the Star Wars movies in order (from Episode I to Episode VI). I think my previous Director at work, Jean, once did this.

Stars-n-Bars
Find someone who have a stars-n-bars license plate...
...and urinate on it.  Note that I almost did this at work, but then I realized that our entire campus is covered by security cameras.  But if there weren't any cameras...

ABBA Karaoke
Enough said.

Star Trek Wedding
Attend an actual Star Trek wedding...
...these things actually do exist.  I swear.  Complete with Borg best man.  For the record I'm not saying that I'd actually like to get married this way.

Complete Hair Cut
Just for kicks, I'd like to get my head shaved.  When I ponder this one word comes to mind:  hideous.

Tea Party Rally
I'd like to attend a Tea Party rally and see if I can get one of the participants to talk about how "the white race is being polluted by mud-colored people" or something equally vile.
It's not as if a racist would actually be all that difficult to find.  

Response to Justin Vacula's Comment

I started to respond to a comment by Justin Vacula to a prior post (reference HERE), but since it was getting rather long in the tooth and touches on something important, I'm going to re-purpose the comment as a posting.  Oh, and it also creates some relatively "cheap" content.

*****


Justin...thanks not required, but appreciated never the less.

I find this whole religion & politics things fascinating actually.  I'm not anti-religion and definitely not anti-faith.  What's more, I'm convinced that there is an inclusive  place for concepts like faith, science, religion and logic in our society.  The key though is tolerance.

Tolerance

That's what bothers me about The Response actually.  It reminds me of when I was in high school and couldn't afford the cool sneakers that the popular kids had...we all know that "outsider" feeling.  It's this notion that if you don't somehow subscribe to the religious beliefs of the Governor of Texas that you are in some way the "odd person out".  I'm not sure just how far about my own personal stances on faith and religion are from that of The Response host, but it doesn't actually matter, truth be told.  What matters is that The Response is clearly an "us" thing, with "us" being born-again evangelical Christians.

"It's about being an us for once, instead of a them" 
(from "la vie boheme").

Despite being having called a "high churchman" once, I have no objections to evangelical Christians or their belief system.  Heck, I have no objections to the those who have no belief system.  What matters to me is that the common denominators of our society...those things that should stand for "all" of us...shouldn't be design exclude "some" of us.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Response USA

theresponseusa.com

Thanks to Justin Vacula for reporting on this HERE.

Basically we have a sitting governor saying that evangelical Christian beliefs are the only real answer to the nation's problems.

Gee, will they let me recite a Hail Mary to the crowd if I feel that the United States needs the intersession of the Blessed Virgin?  Somehow I'm thinking NOT.  Same thing goes for all you Jews,  Muslims, Buddhists, and anyone else out there that do not subscribe to the King James version of the Christian Bible.

I am all for religious faith, if you have it.  Heck, I even have some myself.  What I'm not for is the government (of the Republic of Texas or anywhere else) basically condoning a very specific set of religious beliefs.

NEPArtisan Posting: A Clear Line of Sight

You can read my latest substitute blogger posting at NEPArtisan HERE.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

In case anyone wins the lottery...

...and they feel like being generous to a certain obscure local blogger, then I sincerely ask for the following:


(you can read the details HERE)

For the record I don't really play the guitar, but for a Gretsch Duo Jet I'd learn.

This is the same guitar that George Harrison is seen holding on the cover of his Cloud Nine album.


I like to think of things like this as functional art.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Road Apples, #107

Blogging Units...I have to publicly apologize to Tom Borthwick for not posting as much as I probably should at NEPArtisan.  I blame my lack of productivity two things:

  1. I simply have a lot of "stuff" going on, mainly in the professional arena (but there are a few personal irons in the fire as well).
  2. I am shooting for quality over quantity, so I have to be somewhat more selective about that which I opine.
Rumor has it that NEPA's favorite blogger is now in Paris, so I wish him well.  Enjoy good food and socialism at it's very best.

Speaking of Socialism...I read an interesting statistic the other day:  many of the "socialist" and/or western nations with strong social safety-nets actually have LOWER public debt as a percentage of GDP than the United States.  Here's how it shakes out (figures for 2010, source is HERE):

  • "Not" Socialist United States = 58.9%
  • Socialist Sweden = 40.8%
  • Socialist Canada (with that crazy public health care system) = 34.0%
On the higher side we have:

  • Japan = 225.8% (I believe though that private debt in Japan is very low)
  • Greece = 144.0%
  • Italy = 118.1%
  • Ireland = 94.2%
Maybe the moral of the story is that things are bad, but not as bad as some would have you believe.  Also, some countries, such as Sweden and Canada, aren't busy being "policemen to the world", which no doubt helps in the debt management department.  File this one under the "food for thought" department.


Ciav and Con...Anyone know what is going on with the sentencing for NEPA's most notorious judges?  Apparently at least one member of the dynamic duo has learned a new trade (see HERE).

Ohio State....had to vacate all of its wins last year due to flagrant violations of NCAA rules...and basic stupidity on the part of players.  Cry me a river.  I say kill the program entirely and turn the stadium into the world's largest outdoor flea market.

Speaking of Crying...Convicted former Lackawanna County Commissioner A.J. Munchak has been told "No Dice" (sorry, I had to slip in a gambling reference...Mr Munchak was apparently a big-time gambler...get it?) by the U.S. Attorney's office in his bid for a new trial.  As the Baretta would say "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time".  As I've noted in the past, I personally think Mr Munchak is basically a good guy who got caught up in some bad stuff.  But I have no doubt he did get caught up in it.

Debt Talks...Revenues will have to be raised, preferably by eliminating nonsensical tax breaks.  Can we just agree to this and move on already?  It seems that most liberals have already acquiesced to the reality that social programs will be cut...it's time now for conservatives to see the painful truth they want to avoid.  Oh, and military spending must be on the table as well, as it's about damn time we stop funding wars that only benefit others.

Friday, July 15, 2011

NEPArtisan Posting: Political Math 10-2=11

My latest addition to NEPArtisan, inspired by local political candidate Kevin Haggerty.  You can view it HERE.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Franchise Fee (a.k.a. Kickback)

Okay, here is a scenario for you:  I run a business and I want a monopoly in a particular geographic area for my specific service.  How do I do it?  Well I figure out a way so that I can charge my customers an extra fee and then funnel that money back to the governing entities that gave me monopoly rights.

The politicians win, as they get a new form of tax revenue just for giving me the monopoly.

I win because I get my secure monopoly.

The customers lose, because not only do they have to pay more for my service (with that "more" being the kickback), but they can't buy my specific services from a competitor.  Do they get the best possible service from me?  Honestly, it does't matter:  what matters is that I kick-back money to the city.  If another service provider offered a better, cheaper product it wouldn't matter, as the fee I charge and kick-back I provide is really what drives the decision to exclusively offer my services to the city.  Screw such esoteric concepts as "service" and "value".

*******

Yes, here you have the City of Scranton's insane agreement with Comcast/Xfinity cable.  I like cable television...while I don't watch much of it, I have to confess a soft-spot for such educational programs as "Hoarders" and "Falling Skies".  Rumor has it I also have something called "On-Demand" that allows me to watch old shows.

What I don't know though is whether or not Comcast offers the best possible value to the residents of the City of Scranton.  Nor will I ever know, because as long as Comcast has this franchise fee arrangement with the city, they are virtually guaranteed to continue the monopoly they have always enjoyed.

Now could I move to, say, satellite dish service? Sure I could, but that misses the point of this rant.  What point?  Simply that a franchise fee is just another back-door tax, all be it with a pretty dress on and sweet smelling perfume designed to mask the stench of things like inefficiency, greed, corporate welfare and ineffective/self-serving politicians.

Now I understand that the City of Scranton's contract with Comcast lasts something like a billion years (kind of like the contract Scientologist sign with the C of $), but when it eventually comes up, maybe some genius on North Washington avenue can actually consider the concept of eliminating monopoly cable service in Scranton.  Maybe.

Monday, July 11, 2011

NEPArtisan Posting: Gary Johnson on the Marriage Pledge

My latest contribution to NEPArtisan can be found HERE.

Complimenting a Republican on the "Progressive" NEPArtisan blog may not endear me to some, but so be it.  I gotta "call'm like I see'm".

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Science "vs" Faith

I received an invitation to attend one of the NEPA Freethought Society's meeting, and while it sounds intriguing, I will respectfully take a pass at attending.  Why?  Well two reasons mainly:

  1. I don't especially like parties & mass socializing.  Being an extreme introvert, having a lot of people around me creates so much pressure that it becomes more "work" than "play".  Now this has nothing to do with the freethoughers, who I am sure are a great group of folks.  Instead, this has everything to do with my psychosis de-jour.
  2. I don't do "Sciences vs. Faith" discussions.
To point #2, I am absolutely convinced that people at extreme ends of the atheistic and religious spectrum simply don't get it. What is "it"?  Well it is the very notion that faith, by its very nature, almost has to preclude proof.  Look to the Gospels where it talk about the disciple Thomas to see what I mean.  Religious folks that try their best to find proof for their faith in the natural world will almost always come up short, as it simply IS possible to explain HOW many things happen in natural systems.

On the other side of the coin, the atheistic crowd may be able to explain how certain things happen...for example, sub-atomic particles form atoms, atoms come together to form molecules, molecules come together to form complex systems...but at the end of the day they simply can not answer the very basic question of WHY things happen in the natural world.  In my humble opinion, the notion of faith helps to answer the "why" question...or at least helps to frame the "why" question.

I don't want or need "proof" to justify what faith I possess.  That's not to say that my personal faith is completely void of markers in life that tell me I am something greater than basically a collection of organic molecules held in a water bag, because there have been situations, happenings, "things" in my life that point to something more.  I have not seen the Virgin Mary is pasta, I have not been spoken to by a burning bush and I don't need a book that proves that it is the divinely inspired word of God by saying that it is the divinely inspired word of God (circles anyone?) as justification for my personal faith.  My faith is a result of my knowledge, experience and some "other" factor that tells me I am not fully capable of understanding and explaining it all.

At the end of the day, I firmly believe that the existence we all enjoy has to more than just the result of some cosmic burp in a stellar nursery.  The fact that we can even have this discussion lends credence to this point.  The ability to reason...to question...to try and understand...these have to be more than just biological processes.

One final point:  in the past I found that when I prayed for something I almost never given what I asked for in prayer.  As I've grown older and had some difficult experiences (particularly over this past year), I've discovered something that has, more than anything else, enhanced by faith...namely that I am not given what I want, but I am given what I need.  When I do pray now...something I do with some degree of regularity at certain situations...I basically just ask for guidance and for what I need, even if it isn't what I want in a particular situation.  That, to me, is faith.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Road Apples, #107

Mayor Leighton...see my postings as a "substitute blogger" on NEPArtisan that chronicle Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton's asinine hiring of his daughter and niece.  To be blunt, I thought this guy was better than this kind of stuff.  Guess I was wrong.  Speaking of all things "hayna"...

Hayna 500...I recently discovered what was once called the "Hayna 500".  Interesting stuff.  For the uneducated (or those from north/east of Avoca), this was a cruising circuit in and around Wilkes-Barre and Kingston.  Actually I just think the term "Hayna 500" is funny.  Kudos to Ms Rivers for that one.

Casey Armstrong...I do think that it is horribly tragic that a little girl is dead and an accused murder may have gotten away with the crime, but seriously, where is the uproar when any number of actually more pressing issues come up for public debate?  If half the people who followed the Armstrong case also followed, for example, developments in educational policy in this country, then I'd think there really would be a ground-swell for real change. This is, in a nutshell, what is wrong with Americans today:  we pay attention to the wrong things.

Kennedy Home Movies...I've been watching a History Channel show on the home movies of the Kennedy family.  Fascinating stuff.  It really does make you believe that the Kennedy clan was "America's Royal Family".  This was a clan full of beautiful people that had the world by the testes.  Well everyone except Rosemary.  Ouch.

Facebook Etiquette...At what point do you decide that those people you don't know really shouldn't be your "friend" on Facebook?  I do an every once in a while purge of Facebook, but I still have a few people that I don't actually know listed as a Facebook "friend".  All this modern technology does come with its challenges.

My Cat...had a few visitors today, and I have to say he was very well behaved.  Actually he is more of an attention whore than Lady Gaga, so his good behavior shouldn't have been much of a surprise.

Independence Day...a belated "Happy July 4th" to one and all.

NEPArtisan Posting: NEPOtism...the story continues

My latest posting on NEPArtisan, which you can link to HERE.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Casey Anthony Verdict

Disclaimer:  I didn't follow the Casey Anthony case, not for one moment.  I did, however, hear that...

...she allegedly killed her daughter
...she was found innocent of murder charges this afternoon

...and now there is an uproar.  Sign-o-the-times?  How the "Casey Anthony is Guilty" Facebook page?

I don't know if Casey Anthony is actually guilty.  Certainly it seems like she could be guilty, but that isn't what the jury determined, and in the end that how the system works.  Failed?  I think that anyone who looks for perfection in anything created by man is always going to encounter that which fails.  We are, it seems, perfectly incapable of perfection.  At best, let's hope that we get it right most of the time.  Maybe this just wasn't one of those times.

For now I say leave Casey Anthony alone.  Her trial wasn't an election and we didn't get a vote on her guilt or innocence.  The jury did, period.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New York Times - OpEd, Defense of Marriage Act

Worth reading...

July 3 2011 NYT Editorial.

As an extremely heterosexual male, I know that people don't "choose" to be homosexual.  Who would? I know I never would, but that fact alone tells me that being gay is more a notion of who someone is at their core, not a flippant "choice" that is more a kin to trying to determine what flavor of soft-serve is tasty at the moment.  If we accept the fact that for the vast majority of homosexuals it isn't a "choice" in as much as it is a matter of nature, then why deny them the very basic notion of determining a legally recognized partner?

I don't favor any religion being forced to recognize gay marriage, but then again I don't favor any religion being forced to recognize any form of marriage that differs from their specific dogma.  This is no different that Catholics not recognizing the religious aspect of a Protestant wedding.  What we are talking about here are basic legal rights, not infringement upon religious practice.

Time to end DOMA, once and for all.

Oh, and a final note:  It's also time for President Obama to get off the legal and moral fence on this issue.  Come out strongly against DOMA or don't come out at all.  Enough with the "I'm against this but I won't say how I feel..." nonsense.  His wishy-washy fence sitting is nauseating.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Thought Worm (follow-up)

Well the thought worm is gone, but I do find myself thinking about why it appeared in the first place.  I also sit here in amazement that I have the kind of life whereby I can actually move beyond these kinds of things.

To the former, I think I have it figured out:  I was simply mentally exhausted after a few days worth of extroversion and, being a dyed-in-the-wool introvert, the effort required to be so "on" simply took a toll.  The result was that something which really doesn't deserve "front of mind time" actually got that kind of time.    Yes, there are some weights that we carry for a long time (to borrow a line from an Abbey Road song), but that doesn't mean we have to focus on that weight.  Hell, we all carry some emotional weight with us, and who is to say that mine is any heavier than that of anyone else?  Thoughts of anger, questions of "why?", trying to understand why you allowed yourself to get so exposed, all of these things take effort but yet produce nothing in the final result.

Sometimes it helps to just say to yourself "get the f&$k out of my head".

Yes, the above is a perfectly valid strategy for dealing with the errant thought worm.  That, in and of itself, isn't enough though, at least not for me...not all of the time.  No, I'm far more blessed in that I have a wonderful support system that miraculously allows me to both give and receive when it comes to taxing situations that life brings.

Ah, giving and receiving.

I've always been good at giving...so much so that it became a kind of cover for not dealing with the real challenges facing my life.  It's been the receiving...receiving support in this specific case...that's been something of a challenge.  I've always had this "balance of payments" concept in my head whereby I never wanted to "owe" more than that was "owed" to me.  This comes from an innate fear of not being quite good enough (and therefore somehow needing to draw on that positive balance of payments).  How pathetically sad! Life isn't an accounting ledger.  Life isn't about counting your chips so that one day you can cash it all in.  Life is missed, in part, when you constantly have to constantly think though the balance of payments.

In the end this whole episode has been very, very instructive.  I've learned to accept the weight that I will be carrying.  More importantly, I've learned that for the first time in my life I actually feel supported.  There will be future stumbles, but I don't have to face them alone.

Friday, July 1, 2011

NEPArtisan Posting: Matt Drudge's Jungle Fever

By way of preface, I am acting in the capacity of "substitute blogger" for NEPArtisan blogger Tom Borthwick while he is on a well-earned vacation.  As a result I'll be adding (strictly) political content to that blog during the month of July.

My first NEPArtisan post, "Matt Drudge's Jungle Fever" can be found by clicking on THIS LINK.