Not Cease from Exploration

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Various "How's" and "Why's"

"How can I go forward when I don't know which way I'm facing?"
- John Lennon ("How")


I've been thinking about a few things lately...

How come some folks with good health habits get sick, but yet others who make absolutely no efforts in the health department seems to sail by with hardly any health issues?

Why do some folks think that a two-party state is so different than a one-party state?  Do we honestly think that all the solutions exclusively belong to just Republicans or Democrats?  Seriously, BOTH PARTIES have had multiple shots and neither has done all  that much.  Sorry worshipers of "Saint Ronny" and "Slick Willy".

Why do some men think that they should be able to tell women what they should do with their bodies?

How is it that some seemingly intelligent individuals succumb to poking fun at Mitt Romney's religion and Governor Christie's weight?

Why do I have to pay Comcast $130/month for Internet and the five cable television channels I actually watch?  By my figuring I should owe them about $50/month.

Why is it that some folks think that what George Soros does is wrong but yet what the Koch Brothers do is somehow right? For the record you can reverse the names if you'd like, as it really doesn't matter.

How is it even American to believe that greater tenure always equals greater capability?  Shouldn't people be judged for what they do at work, not for merely showing up to work?

Why is it that JeanLuc the cat only wants to sit on my lap in the mornings?  You know, after I've gotten dressed for work?  For the record he never wants to sit on my lap in the evening when I am wearing grubby shorts and a tee shirt.

Why do we still tolerate racism in 2012?

Why do some people act as if the Founding Fathers were born-again Christians?  If they were, wouldn't "Jesus Christ" be mentioned at least once in either the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence?

How come is it that the older you get, the faster time seems to go by?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Junkie Gets Another Fix (Scranton gets another loan)

What do you give a strung-out junkie that is barely alive?  Why more Smack of course!


Our esteemed leaders seem to have forgotten that Scranton's problems stem from spending too much.  Yes, this loan will help over the short term, just like another "hit" will make the junkie feel better for the short term.  But one more hit for the junkie...and one more bill for Scranton...both just forestall a day of reckoning.

Ms Evans, Mr Doherty:  you can't borrow your way out of debt.  It doesn't work for individuals, it doesn't work for companies and it doesn't work for cities.  Oh, and a recovery plan that relies of taxes that will not be enacted (sales tax) and voluntary payments that will not be made (PILOT) isn't really a recovery plan:  it's wishful thinking.

Scranton is already bankrupt...it's time to make it legal. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Traveling Introvert

It's said that introverts get their energy from within, so logically it might make sense that external surroundings don't matter all that much.  Note the word "logically".  As someone who does travel from time to time, and seeing as though I am in Boston this week on company business, it makes some sense to explore this thought in greater detail.


Credit to http://deptoflindsey.com/2012/04/10/an-introverted-retort/   for the above graphic.

A few basic parameters need to be set.

First,  business travel is NOT glamorous, fun, exciting, a vacation, full of drunken debauchery, cool, etc.  If you think it is, then you obviously don't travel on business very often.  It is the equivalent of being at work 24/7.

Second, introversion does not equal shyness.  If you think it does, then you are a moron.   Sorry.

Got that?

The above noted, I find that being a traveling introvert is particularly difficult some times.  Here are a few reasons why.

External Stimuli - There is a ton of external stimuli to process.  While I like a change of scenery every once in a while, being in a new town means that I have to re-orient myself to my surroundings.  That takes time away from other things. It also means that I need to have my guard up even more than usual.  So much energy is expended on stuff like this.

Being "on" - When I travel,it is, sadly, not with the primary purpose of sitting all by myself somewhere working.  Nope.  Rather, I always end up having to extrovert to some extent.  It might be because I am teaching a class, running a meeting (or series of meetings), participating in meetings, or attending a class.  I have to interact with people I don't know.  I am forced to engage in that which I hate the most:  small talk.  Regardless, it always requires me to act extroverted for extended periods of time.  Another thing that sucks the life force out of me.

Many Choices - Traveling requires almost constant choices.  Where do I turn?  What do I eat?  How will I manage my time back at the hotel?  Making choices isn't an introverted trait, I know, but for me all these choices require thought and analysis.  They require me to sometimes make spot decisions.  My preference is to be able to think about what I want to do; while I can make spot choices, I'd prefer to have a routine in place whereby the choices can be made ahead of time.  Travel = no routine.  No routine = more stressful.

Away from people I care about - I don't have a ton of close friends.  Guess what?  This is okay.  I'm not coming to Boston, for example, to make new friends...I have come here to work and learn new "stuff".  While I am okay not necessarily making new friends, that doesn't mean that I treasure being absolutely alone in a hotel room either.  In fact, it is rather disconcerting at times.  I miss the regular routine that I enjoy with Ms Rivers.  Sometimes being away get's egregiously bad, such as last night when my youngest daughter had to go to the ER for some pain she was experiencing.  Yes, she ended up okay, but it was downright painful for me to be here, 300 miles away from her, feeling helpless.  Now I'm not claiming that introverts love their children more than extroverts, but I am going to claim that when the circle of people in your life is smaller, those that are in the circle tend to mean a lot to you. 


Bottom line?  Yes, I am blessed in that I have a job whereby I get to travel, but business traveling isn't all sunshine, smiles and rainbows.








Monday, August 20, 2012

Rep. Akin "no pregnancy from rape" comment

Missouri Representative and U.S. Senate candidate Jim Akin is in scalding hot water for recently saying that...

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Put another way, if a woman gets pregnant as a result of a rape, she wasn't really raped.  As a father of three daughters, I find his comment to be disgusting.

To be fair for a moment, this kind of ignorant spew is not new; a decade or two back, Pennsylvania's own Rep. Stephen Friend made a similar comment.  See citation HERE.  Like Akin now, Friend eventually backed off of his statement (citation HERE), but the damage was done.

Let's set the record straight:  Rep Akin and Stephen Friend are both categorically, 100% wrong.  Just two of hundreds of available citations can be found HERE and HERE.  Basic biology dictates that if a woman has an egg that can  be fertilized...and it is fertilized...she will get pregnant.  Period.

The quick-n-easy thing to do here is to make this a political issue.  It isn't.

This issue isn't about abortion either.

This is an issue of common sense.  It is an issue of basic science and biology. It is an issue of basic empathy and understanding.  It is about treating the victims of a horrible crime like victims, not criminals.

The fact that we are even having this discussion in 2012 is shameful.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Chris Kelly Column, Aug 19 2012 Scranton Times

Once again, The Scranton Times columnist Chris Kelly nails it, in a very big way.

"...but the recovery plan is still a fairy tale"

It must bug the hell out of Janet Evans and her rabid followers that Chris Kelly is telling the simple, unvarnished truth about the farce that is Scranton's "kick the can down the road" non-recovery plan.

Mark my words:  this is going to get worse.

This reminds me of a song, so as something of a long distance dedication (I am in Boston as I write this), this one goes out to Scranton City Council President Janet Evans and Mayor Chris Doherty.  Ms Evans, Mr Doherty, there really is no way to hide from the reality of Scranton's financial mess.

Road Apples, #130

In the getting older department...My middle daughter just turned 20 on Friday (see HERE).  It's amazing the perspective you get as a parent over the years.  Anyway, when your children become adults you learn to  treasure the time with them even more, for you have less of it.

Speaking of parenting...I know people who wrap their entire lives around their children, which on the surface may sound noble, but which in reality is exceedingly foolish.  As parents we must love, nurture, protect and guide our children.  But we also need to set good examples, including the importance of...

...of being independent & self-sufficient
...of having a variety of  interests
...of being intellectually curious
...of constantly learning
...of cultivating healthy relationships
...of wanting to make a difference in the world around you

Most of these things aren't "teachable", but they are "learnable", chiefly (as noted above) through setting good examples that your children observe throughout their lifetime.  Your children don't want you to tell them what to do...they want you to show them what to do...in big things and small.  For example, telling your children that reading is important but not actually doing much reading yourself is an example of hypocrisy that children eventually see through...and end up emulating for the worse.  No one ever said being a parent is an easy job.  

Boston Bound....I am headed to downtown Boston for a class this week.  I am really looking forward to four and a half days of being a student and learning.  Hell, I bought a notebook and pens just for the occasion.  I know that this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for me I really do enjoy the occasional "pure learner mode" times I get.  I am hoping that group exercises, presentation and the like are of the "limited to none" kind this week.  I don't want to be a spokesperson, I don't want to work in a group, I don't want to socialize.  I just want to immerse in knowledge.

Facebook...Well it seems that Facebook stock is now trading at less than half the IPO price.  I'm not a stock analyst, nor do I play one on TV.  I do, however, have some business smarts about me and I've always thought that businesses that rely almost entirely on advertising revenue have to be viewed with some caution.  Google is the exception, for a single great reason:  they, unlike Facebook, Yahoo or others provide an extremely valuable service and they have figured out ways to steer traffic effectively to advertisers.  Facebook?  I'm far more likely to delete an advertisement on the right-hand side of my page than I am to actually click on it in anticipation of a making a purchase.  I'm even MORE likely to delete the advertisement if it is political in nature.  Mark my words:  this will not end well.

Car wars...I am still pondering cars.  I did toy with the concept of actually buying a new car, but I think that pretty much has gone the way-side.  Buying a new car is much more about emotion ("Hey, I got a new car!") than it is about sound financial decision making ("Hey, I got a new car, and the value of it dropped by 20% the moment I drove it off the dealer lot!").  I am still thinking about something chiefly with much in the way of room, unlike my Kia Rio.  Something that wouldn't be blown off the road by strong crosswinds...unlike my Kia Rio...would be nice as well.  Oh, and I have another month of this kind of pondering to do.

Friday, August 17, 2012

My middle daughter is now 20!


Forget being the President of the United States:  the best job in the world is being a Dad.

Moratorium

It's August 17th and I'm already sick and disgusted with the upcoming Presidential election...and, quite honestly...those who shill for either side.

"Obama is a Socialist!"

"Mitt wears magic underwear!"

"Obama didn't release the records for his grade school vaccinations!"

"Mittens is in bed with the Illuminati and tortures dogs!!

It's all just so utterly stupid.

Oh, and for those who, the place of actually debating issues, simply spout the "fact" from their favorite candidate's latest commercial, I have this to say:

Good Doggie!!!!! 

As for me, I'm done with Mittens and Obama.  I'm done with hyper-partisans.  I'm done with "my guy is great and yours is evil" nonsense.  Now I may...

...post something about Gary Johnson from time to time
...comment on religious attacks directed towards either candidate ("But, but, but...you don't understand Steve...it's a Meme!!" said the hippster to me, trying in vain to defend the mocking of Mitten's religion, as if making fun of someone else's belief system was somehow okay ONLY if you use a catchy phrase and a neat picture.)

...but that's pretty much it, unless of course I decide to change my mind.  It's my URL after all.

So knock yourselves out fellow bloggers and readers.  Really, go to town.  Go ahead believing what you want to believe, facts and reality be damned.  Spew the latest mock-viral catch phrase that your party demands you spew.  Surrounds yourselves with friends who simply affirm the things that make you comfortable.  Believe that either candidate is really going to change things.

And be good doggies for your respective camps.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Finding moments of truth

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don't know
(Kerry Livgren/Kansas/Carry On Wayward Son) 

Sometimes the most profound moments of truth aren't found in church, aren't found in the teachings of some guru, certainly aren't found from the lips of Presidential candidates and aren't found in universities.  No, sometimes they are found in a simple verse...be it from a song or from a poem. Even a song from a 70's progressive rock band.

Over-thinking anyone?

Me? Well I know fully well that I have the propensity to over-think things.  Hell, if "it" is an emotional thing that I'm facing, well over-thinking is probably an understatement.  Over-thinking could give the uneducated and/or uninitiated the impression of intelligence.  It's not.  In fact, I'd argue that the very concept of clarity in face of multiple points of stuff (where "stuff" can be thoughts, data, feelings, etc.) is probably quite the sign of intelligence. Lord knows that in this day and age we all have far too many points of data in our lives.

Of course there is good news in all of this:  as I've learned over the years (especially over the last two years) no one really knows.  We are all, in a basic sort of way, equally clueless.  Maybe some are better at masquerading their confusion than others, but in reality we are all searching, even if we choose to not to acknowledge the search.  Think of it this way:  I can refuse to acknowledge the theory of gravity, but that will not make me fly if I choose to jump out of a third floor window.  Life brings us all challenges, just like gravity keeps us all pinned to the ground.  That doesn't mean though that we all need to stay pinned to the ground (figuratively or literally).

The point in all this gibberish?  Well, I suspect is it to remind myself that it's okay not to be a wise man, even if some may have the impression otherwise.  The "some", in a bizarre sort of way, if me.  Schizophrenic?  Not really: like most folks I am wearing a few different hats in my life, and some require varying degrees of clue or carelessness at any given time.  My single biggest challenge is that I forget the very words I am writing here, as I have a tendency to island myself into this little world where it's just me that has to figure all this stuff out.

The real nut here isn't knowing or not knowing.  It's not about owning answers, it's about being wise enough to own the search for answers.  It's really about the journey of learning (about life, love, taking chances, etc.) and living, not the destination of life. It really is, as T.S. Eliot observed, not ceasing from exploration.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Road Apples, #129

PA GOP targets Gary Johnson...I saw this posted on Gort's blog and wanted to share it as well.  GOP voter suppression on the right.  I get the politics of trying to keep a competitor off the ballot, but maybe this is just another example of why politicians are rated somewhere below used car sales people in the respectability department.  I like Gary Johnson...a lot...and while I don't agree with all of his stands, I do find that he is the ONLY candidate for president that truly has bold ideas to change this country for the better.  We've tried giving poor people money and we've tried giving rich folks even more money...neither works.  We need a different path.

Gary Johnson 2012.

You know, I feel somehow soiled by even writing about politics these days.

Buying a car...My youngest daughter, who is starting her second year at West Chester University in just two weeks, just passed her driver's exam.  Needless to say, this is just one of many reasons why I am very proud of her (others include the fact that she works full time during the summer, she has always gotten very good grades in school & she has a big heart...but so I digress).  Anyway, at some point over the next few months I will be giving her my Kia Rio to drive back to school.  This creates the need for me to start the process of buying another car.  Now for someone like me, this is no small undertaking.  Here's just a sample of how my mind works with things like this...

  • I think about how I foresee using a car
  • I gather key attributes of the kind of car I like (for example, I loved the 63 cubic feet of cargo space in my old PT Cruiser & use that as a benchmark...note that I didn't like the fact that it was an unreliable piece of crap towards the end) & create a set of key specifications
  • I research vehicles that I think might have those specifications (www.edmunds.com is a great resource) & post their specs on a spreadsheet
  • I begin to narrow the field of cars down based on how they match to what I am looking for; I also factor in Consumer Reports quality ratings
  • Once I have the field is narrowed down I start to physically look at some of the vehicles
...I know, it all sounds so very complex.  One thing missing?  Well, Ms Rivers nailed it when she said "well what kind of car would you LIKE?", which did make me stop and ponder for a moment.  My process does provide plenty of quantitative data, but I do sometimes have a habit of not thinking of the qualitative.  In the end, the idea is to put some science behind a process so that it is well thought-out and results in a better selection.  It is worth noting though that this process hasn't always yielded a better result:  I used it when I bought the previously mentioned PT Cruiser.  More to come...

Introversion...I saw this terrific graphic on Facebook and just had to share:


Credit goes to Marilyn Powell for putting something together that, speaking as a fairly extreme introvert, is spot-on.  I remember talking to a professional once (the specifics are not all that important), someone who should know better, who kept commenting about how I should go out and socialize more.  It was difficult trying to explain that I actually don't like to socialize all that much.  I like being active, but I am really uncomfortable with things like small-talk, parties, and the like.  It doesn't frighten me...we are not talking Agoraphobia here...but being in large groups and "hanging out" just is not me.  Yes, I can pretend to be extroverted (especially at work...people at the office are sometimes surprised at my dyed-in-the-wool introversion), but the fact remains that I am very comfortable in my introverted skin.  So says that man typing a blog entry in his apartment next to his cat.

Cable Wars...My Comcast cable bill has ballooned up to $130.59.  This is something I pay to get internet service and watch, maybe, 6 different channels.  Definitely on my radar of financial things to address.  I love Comcast's internet service, but the TV stuff is horrid.  Sorry, but why do I have to pay for stuff I will never watch?

Australia & Cigarettes...Kudos to the court system for requiring that tobacco companies do something that sometimes marketers hate:  tell the f&^king truth!  Article link HERE.  My general life philosophy on things like smoking & drinking is this:  if you want to do it fine, just...

...don't force me to do it as well (via second hand smoke, for example)
...do it with your eyes wide open

Forcing a company to say that their product, when used AS DIRECTED, causes your teeth & lungs to rot out seems pretty reasonable to me.  "But, but, but...candy makes you fat! Should a Hershey bar have a picture of a fat kid on it as well?"...I can hear the illogical smoking apologies retort in my head as I type this, so allow me to respond:   Food...of any kind really...is inherently necessary for our existence.  In fact, if you were stranded on an island with just a crate of Hershey bars as food, Milton Hershey's creation would save your life.  Smoking, on the other hand, has no benefit.  Bottom line?  If you want to smoke, then go ahead.  Just don't kid yourself about what it does to you.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

10 Other Potential New Names for the Scranton/Wilkes-Boro Yankees

Thanks for Michelle Hryvnak Davies for posting THIS article on Facebook.

As reported by CBS Sports (see link, above), the local baseball franchise is close to picking a new name for the team.  Finalists include:  Blast, Fireflies, Black Diamond Bears, RailRiders, Porcupines, and Trolley Frogs.

For the record I have no clue as to what a "Trolley Frog" even is; maybe what happens when you put a frog on a rail right before the train comes?

Anyway, I think these names stink.  They lack area authenticity.  So, as a service to the area, I'd like to present 10 alternatives that capture the true spirit of NEPA.

MethHeads
You will be in ecstasy watching the local team play!  You will be so caught up in team play that you will forget to brush your teeth, bathe, and eat.

WifeBeaters
We beat our opponents like we do our spouses!  Think of the possibilities:  wife beater tee give-away?

CoalBillies
Who needs Hillbillies?  We got the real deal here in NEPA, straight outta da mines!  Hard scrapple play for a hard scrapple area!

Haynas
Hayna or no, da team is up der at da field tonight?  Can you imagine the announcements:  "Local fan Cappy Smith died on Tuesday and will laid out at da corps house on Friday down da line der in Plimmit".

PimpStick
Scranton was once a center of prostitution, so what better name to capture the spirit of NEPA past?  Think of the slogan:  We beat our opponents like they owe us money! PimpStick give-aways every Wednesday evening to kids under 10!

Plimmit Fury
If you call the airport the Wilkes-Boro/Scranton International Airport, why not go all the way and name the baseball team for a small local town known for shootings, drugs, and a really good BBQ restaurant?  Besides, it was the name of a car I once owned (although, to my credit, I pronounced it "Plymouth").

Frackers
No, this has nothing to do with Battlestar Galactica, so all you nerds need not get excited.  We're talking gas exploration!  We will crush our opponents like natural gas holding shale deposits!  Free bottle of gas-industry certified methane free drinking water to every fan on Thursdays!

MineRats
A true example of successful local critter!  Tough, tenacious, able to survive where few other can.  The team mascot's costume could be really, really cute!

BlackLungs
Credit to Cheri Sundra for this one.  I can imagine the uniforms:  white with a black front.  Team motto:  we suffocate our opponents!

BlindObedience
Fitting given this area's history of basically never questioning much of anything.  "Now here's your Scranton/Wilkes-Boro BlindObedience!"...kinda sound eerily true to me.  The Diocese of Scranton can sponsor a sky box.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In the "Simple & Absolutely True" department

I saw this on Facebook and just had to snag it.


If ever something met the definition of "truism", it's this...in fact, as I think about my life and the people I interact with, I'm almost astonished how much this applies.  It also makes me feel good about myself, in a sense,because I do try and treat everyone I interact with with respect, regardless of what they can...or can't do for me.

Tea Baggers & Occupiers: Two sides of the same (misguided) coin

Boy, it will be a struggle, but I am going to keep this short and to the point.  Like an Andy Palumbo post, if he were to post about these kinds of things.

To the point at hand, I am absolutely, positively convinced that:
  1. Tea Baggers & Occupiers are basically just two fringe sides of the same "we are unthinking dolts" coin.
  2. Both groups are simply blunt force instruments of their respective establishments.
Take the Tea Baggers for a moment:  They want to cut spending.  But they just want spending that impacts someone else to be cut.  Don't cut defense.  Don't cut tax loopholes that favor the wealthy (not that Tea Baggers as a group are wealthy, because they are not; the people who bankroll the national groups are though...see reference HERE).  They are against "judicial activism", well to the extent that it favors the Left (if it favors the Right?  That's okay!).  Also, let's not forget Sarah Palin, who cries "drill baby drill (as long as it is in YOUR backyard)".  Tell me, anyone want a hydro-fracturing rig in your neighborhood?  Come on, drill baby drill!  Lastly, how about those loud cries for "less job killing regulation".  You know, regulations like those that required cars to have airbags, kept Lead out of gasoline, and keep someone from opening an smelting operation in a National Park.  Yup, job killing regulations.

The Occupiers?  This is a group that cries about "the 99%" and "evil corporate greed"...via the smartphones created by evil corporations that are bankrolled by an even eviler Wall Street.  This is a group that loves their iPhones, which are created in a Chinese factory known for, among other things, horrid working conditions and worker suicide prevention nets (see reference HERE).   Hypocrisy anyone? I recently had the privilege of pointing out (see THIS) that some of the statements made by local Occupiers are just plain moronic...and I am being generous in that description.  I work for a living, in the financial services industry to be precise.  By Occupier standards, I guess I am part of the legion of Satan, destroying families and simply pimping for the rich.  Funny, but my company was started by a man who felt strongly that working families could benefit from having life insurance...a product that, at the time, was mainly just purchased by rich folks.

All of this gets me to intent.  Why do these groups exist?  I think it's to placate the fringes in both political parties.  On the right, it gives the GOP a place to put angry & mainly working class white people.  It also provides a safe haven for racists.  Don't like my assertion that some Tea Baggers are racists?  Too bad...they are.  Not all.  Not even most.  In fact, I think it's small minority...but they are there.


On the Left, the Occupiers are a way to instill misguided liberal protesting into a new generation.

That's right, organizations that provide jobs are, as a blanket statement, "stealing" the futures of children.  Why just the other day I was in a meeting at work where we were plotting how to steal the futures of 10,000 more children (I am joking!!).


In the end, what's really wrong with America in 2012 is that we legitimize the fringe way too much.  People treat the pronouncements of a drug-addicted windbag like Rush Limbaugh as gospel on one hand, and on another we act as if there is something evil about being successful in business.  Most of us don't listen to Limbaugh and most of us are grateful (not sorry) for enjoying personal success.

We are better than this.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

This is damn cool...Mars Orbiter captures Curiosity in mid-air

Since we all pay for NASA, I figure that it's okay to use this picture on the blog.  Besides, how cool is this?


The picture shows the Curiosity Rover descending via parachute to the surface of Mars.

You can read the full story HERE.


Monday, August 6, 2012

REAL Exploration

Taking a break for the petty budget squabbling in Scranton, the petty Presidential campaign, and yet another mass shooting, it's nice to have something big...and positive...to think about.

From the article cited below:

"Even the engineers who drew up the unprecedented plan for the landing admitted that it looked crazy. But the plan actually worked."

The moral of the story?  Sometimes you have to dream big.  Here's more years of great science coming from the Mars Curiosity rover.

NASA's Curiosity Rover Scores Touchdown on Mars.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Gore Vidal

As has been reported widely, writer Gore Vidal passed away recently.  Link HERE.  I'll confess that I've never read any of Mr Vidal's books, and while I know him by reputation (and by virtue of the fact that William F. Buckley once called him "queer"), I can't say that I was drawn to his work.  I do, however, respect the fact that many have been touched by his writing.  You can link to an example of what I mean HERE.

The passing of Mr Vidal does remind me just how much we can be impacted by the written word.  As Gort mentioned in his posting (the link, above), I too, at about the same age, had some neurons reconfigured via reading a great book.  In my case it was The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson.  As I've noted here before, it was the first book I think I've ever read cover to cover that intellectually grabbed me and made me think about "things".  The specific lessons about politics...and the absurdity of politics...aside, the book also was the first time when I actually felt okay to be, well, somewhat strange.  It was as if there was a subtext to the book that said "it's okay to be a weirdo".  Later in life I would learn that we are ALL a little strange, in our own beautiful ways.  To this very day I still treasure the time when I first read The Great Shark Hunt.

As a side note, I was not really broken to pieces when Thompson committed suicide.  In fact I was more relieved than anything else, as I had read where the last year or so of his life was lived in quite a bit of physical pain.  While I'm not advocating for suicide here (as someone who has had member of his family make such attempts I know all too well how painful that can be), there is something graceful in a person who consciously makes the ultimate decision to take charge of their life.

The moral of this all?  I think that there is tremendous power in the written word.  We need to cultivate great thinking via great written works so that others have the same opportunity to learn and grow that we have enjoyed in our lives.  To the extent we have a culture it is reflected in the works of people like Gore Vidal and Hunter S. Thompson.  What a great legacy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

NEPArtisan Posting: Scranton's Recovery Plan

Every once in a while when I feel compelled to say something with a louder Internet voice, I take the opportunity given to me by Tom Borthwick at NEPArtisan to post on his site.  The need to speak loudly is very much needed when it comes to Scranton's recently unveiled "recovery" plan.

Here's the posting:


Scranton is incapable of managing it's own finances.  We need to declare bankruptcy and start over.