Freedom

May 3, 2013

robertfrost Freedom

Are you free?

I find that many people play this game of life bound in chains.  They rattle around this world like Marley’s ghost.  They are simply just not happy.  They are constantly adding new links to their chains, and wonder if there isn’t something better around the next bend.  Therein lies the problem; they spend a lot of time wondering, and very little, if any, time peeking around the bend.

It’s really not their fault, though.  They have been programmed that way.  They have always let someone tell them what to think, what to do, and how to act.  In doing so, they have forfeited any hope of being truly happy by thinking for themselves.

How many of us at one time or another has heard “Don’t question authority”?  Really? Bow to the power?  Hasn’t the “power” ever let you down?  Hasn’t the “power” ever disappointed you?  Is the “power” infallible?  My answers would be, yes, the “power” has let me down, yes, the “power” has disappointed me, and no, the “power” is not infallible.  That’s why I never let authority go unquestioned.  Hence, I do not allow authority to have free-range control over me.

It’s been drummed into our heads that we should do the things that are safe; to live by a formula that has keep millions of people in unhappy bondage for centuries.  Learn your structured lessons and find a good paying job so you can support the family that is surely in your future.  Bind yourself to these things so you can buy the big house and a couple of fancy cars.  This will fulfill you; this will make you happy.

And maybe it will, maybe that is what you were made for.  On the other hand, it could leave you pretty hollow and empty if it all comes crashing down, and if you never developed the ability to think for yourself.  If you never questioned the fallibility of the formula, you will probably feel like a failure. Most likely there will still be people around you who will be more than happy to help you with that, too.  Misery loves company.

Robert Frost was absolutely correct in that quote up top there: “Freedom lies in being bold”.  The first step towards boldness is to learn to trust in your ability to think for yourself.  Formulate your own formula.  March to a different drummer if you must.  Peek around the next bend, and if what you see excites you, round it.  The shackles and chains that bind you to your unhappiness will begin to dissolve, and freedom will come into view.  You will soon begin to see that you can easily adjust to whatever life throws your way.  Feel free to be you.

Pawns As Far As the Eye Can See

April 25, 2013

pawns

 

We all know what pawns are, right? Even if you don’t play chess you are probably aware that they are the weakest pieces in the game. In the evolution of word usage, pawn is often used to mean “one who is easy to manipulate” or “one who can be sacrificed for a larger purpose”. Because the pawn is the weakest piece, it is often used metaphorically to indicate unimportance or outright disposability. In what I am putting forth here, I am referring to all of the above, except the actual chess piece itself. I will be identifying the pawns as I see them, and I will probably opine as to whom I believe the players are. And unlike chess, there are not just two players, but numerous players all playing at once.

 
In 2011, Congress passed a law called the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was signed by President Obama on August 2nd of that year, saying that if they could not agree on a plan to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion, about $1 trillion in automatic, arbitrary and across the board budget cuts would start to take effect in 2013. In President Obama’s own words, “The whole design of these arbitrary cuts was to make them so unattractive and unappealing that Democrats and Republicans would actually get together and find a good compromise of sensible cuts as well as closing tax loopholes and so forth. And so this was all designed to say we can’t do these bad cuts; let’s do something smarter. That was the whole point of this so-called sequestration”. The game is politics in this instance, and the playing field is sequester. You and I, my friends, are the pawns.

 
Whatever your political leanings are I’m sure that you will agree; passing and signing into law what you know to be bad legislation is pretty stupid. That is, of course, unless you intend to gamble, and try and use it to beat your opponents into submission before it actually kicks in.

 
Nobody knew for sure what the political landscape would look like after the 2012 elections. If you were running and won I suppose your hope was that every other election would go your way. If you were running and lost, it would simply become somebody else’s problem. If some things changed, but not enough to break the log jam, then not only the politicians, but us pawns as well would be confronted by this ten ton gorilla called sequester.

 
Most pawns won’t go through the trouble it takes to read a piece of legislation, and the politicians count on that. Most of them won’t go to the trouble either. If you clicked on the link to the Budget Control Act of 2011 above, then you already know that in order to read it comprehensively you also need to read the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, and the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Why; because the current law amends and replaces things in the former laws. But that’s not all. The farther back you go, you’ll get sent back even further because you need to see the laws that were amended and changed by those laws. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing you will eventually end up back at the beginning, the Constitution.

 
So here we are pawns, sequester happened. Everybody responsible is pointing fingers at everybody else. The simple truth is everybody who voted aye for this law, and the President who signed it into law, are all the responsible parties. The House tagged it as a bill to make a technical amendment to the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, but it was still a vote on S 365. Here is how they voted. The ayes are the guilty parties, the no votes are spineless jellyfish as far as I am concerned, and the nays were looking out for we the people, the pawns. The Senate at least had the decency to call it by its rightful name. Here is how they voted. No spineless jellyfish here, just the guilty and the innocent.

This Is Why You Pay Taxes?

April 12, 2013

The government sham that is “Sequester” is bearing down upon us like runaway train. “It will affect us all”, they say.

 

The Military is forced to not only cancel air shows by the Blue Angles and the Thunderbirds, but to ground fighter jets at bases throughout the country. With Kim Jong Un acting up the way he is, that doesn’t make me feel too safe. How about you?

 

Permanent long-term federal employees, one of whom I am married to, are being furloughed. That is, they have to take one unpaid day off for each of the remaining pay periods of this fiscal year. This purportedly is going to save hundreds of millions of dollars.
Temporary government employees are being given the ax. Try as I may, I cannot find the exact number, but that will lead a boatload of people to the Unemployment Office. They will collect their unemployment compensation, some of them for the full allowable term, without any “furlough days”. The ones who look for work will be looking in an already overcrowded job market.

 

Some airport control towers are being shut down altogether, while others are be short staffed. No doubt this is a public safety issue of major magnitude.

 

Federal Aviation Administration employees not only man these towers, but guide aircraft throughout the flight from takeoff to landing. Some of them are responsible for maintaining the equipment used on the ground and in the control rooms. They fall under the Department of Transportation and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

 

Yesterday, Secretary LaHood was in Tampa, Florida. I’m sure he was concerned about the safety of the air space in and around the Clearwater-Tampa-St. Petersburg area what with sequester and all, right? Wrong; he was touting bicycle safety and bragging on the $11 million grant his Department gave Tampa to build a bike path. Not only that, he was boasting of an additional $450 million that is available to any other municipalities that would like a nifty new bike path themselves.

 

If you think I’m making this up, you can see it for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_nO5aVwEWs&feature=player_embedded

 

Here is the link to the DOT’s blog so you can check out this, and the other fine ways DOT is blowing tax dollars: http://fastlane.dot.gov.

 

Now my dear readers, if you don’t already own one, I want you to run right out and buy a bike because the DOT is making it so you’ll be a hell of a lot safer riding on the ground than flying through the air.

Because Facebook, Because of Jay Burnette

April 9, 2013

If there is a defining moment in the life of every man, mine came quite serendipitously.

I was still engaged to Pretty, my wife, and author of “The Sugar Bee Chronicles” and “Susan Marie Molloy,”  at the time.  Facebook was rather new to us and we were feeling our way around.  She had a friend who I always found to be quite amusing.  When I asked about him she told me that she really didn’t know him per se, but he was a friend of a friend and went to High School either before or after her.  She sort of remembered him, but was fuzzy on the details.  Because we both found him entertaining, I sent him a friend request.  He accepted and what happened after that changed everyone’s life.

Jay Burnette was always starting his day at Starbuck’s.  He, Pretty, and I decided to meet there one day, figuring it was a safe public place in case any of us turned out to be the unbalanced type.  That was the day we came face-to-face with Mr. Jay, Life Coach, Style Consultant, Author, and Renaissance Man.  It was life changing beyond anyone’s imagination.

Seeing the raw material before him, material he was eager to work with, Jay kept in touch.  We became fast friends.  He worked on us, kind of.  His probing and encouraging began bringing out the best in us. Soon we began collaborating on ideas, jotting down notes, and working on presentations.  Another one of Jay’s disciples, Margie Binetti, joined the Brain Trust and the rest is history.

We have brought our seminars to every state in the union and Europe as well.  This has put us all in a position to work, or not, whatever pleases us.  All of this in just a few short years.

Off To a Baffling Start

March 28, 2013

Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is thinking of running for Governor of Illinois. How do I know this? He sent me a letter telling me so, and asking me what I thought about it. He also asked me for a contribution. While this may look like standard operating procedure for political campaigns, I can’t imagine why a guy running for statewide office in Illinois is wasting money soliciting a guy who is registered to vote in Florida. Since he asked me what I think I’ll tell him………………right here.

 
I’m glad you are a friend of Cook County, Dan; it’s good to have friends. Seeing as how you are a Republican I doubt that many of the Cook County voters will be voting for you, but hey, you gotta try; right? I used to work for Cook County before I retired ten years ago, and I can’t recall the powers that be ever endorsing a Republican.

 
I see by your letter that you are not a name dropper, title dropper maybe, but not a name dropper. I can see why “community leaders,” “friends,” “elected officials,” “veterans,” and “people you have never met before,” would ask you to run for Governor; most of them think that the Mighty Quinn is a misguided clown who is running the state into the ground, but I’m puzzled as to why “union supporters” would ask you to run. They know that you will have to emulate Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin and show them the door if the State is to survive financially. That is, of course, if you truly want to save Illinois. I suppose you could mislead the “union supporters,” get their votes, and then show them the door, but that would only work once.

 
To achieve an improved business climate in Illinois, you’re going to have to do something about that unfriendly 9.5% corporate tax rate that the Mighty Quinn put into place in 2011. To get that stronger educational system you say the people of Illinois deserve, you are going to have to fill the school system with qualified teachers, as opposed to union teachers, who may or may not be qualified.
I admire your wanting to make services for the elderly more affordable, but it sounds like you may have ripped that “affordable services for our less fortunate” plank right out of your Democratic colleague’s platform. That might syphon off a few Democratic voters for you, but I doubt that it will help to balance the budget and erase the State’s deficit.

 
I have a pretty good idea about how to give your constituents safe neighborhoods. Since Chicago has the dubious distinction of being the murder capital of America, perhaps you can revoke its Corporate Charter, fence it off, and turn it into a prison. Most of Illinois’ evil doers are already there so you won’t see much an increase in inmate transportation costs. Do that, and every other neighborhood in the State becomes safe. Don’t worry; most of the good folks have already fled the city already.

 
According to your letter, you think that Illinois residents deserve “an appreciation of our natural resources.” While I don’t believe that that is really the business of government, I’m wondering how exactly you intend to bring that about. Do you intend to force everyone to sojourn to, let’s say, Starved Rock on an annual basis? Will you send them to The State Prison of Chicago if they show no appreciation? Since instilling an appreciation of natural resources in people is not really government business, I think you had better let that one go, Dan.

 
You say you want to be “a defender of our Constitutional rights” – now you’re talking Danny boy. You see, your colleague from the Illinois State Senate, Barack Obama, has done a bang up job of trying to dismantle the Constitution since becoming President, but you probably know that already. You could start by restoring the Second Amendment rights, which are nonexistent in Illinois. Once you do that you can forge ahead and repeal every law that the government has overstepped its bounds to pass. Oh yes, become a defender of our Constitutional rights and you stand a good chance of becoming President of the United States once you fix Illinois. You will surely be a government leader “we can trust.”

 
In order to give the people of Illinois “a state where our families will want to stay for future generations,” you are going to have it a state where business will want to stay. The Mighty Quinn has chased business out of Illinois like no other Governor, so your work is cut out for you.

 
There you have it, Dan. You asked for my advice and you got it. No way am I going to send a contribution to your campaign. I live in Florida, and I vote in Florida. You would think that an astute business man such as yourself would have checked all of that out before you spent the $7.95 you claim to have spent on the mailing. Although that waste in itself should prevent anyone from voting for you, as you do not appear to be enough of a stickler for detail to right the sinking ship that is Illinois, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.

When The Cure Will Kill You

March 23, 2013

Just like General Andrew Jackson forced the Indians down The Trail of Tears, Mayor Richard M. Daley forced the homeowners of 2,800 residences in Bensenville, Illinois out of their homes. He also dug up over 900 deceased from their final resting place in Saint Johannes Cemetery. This happened, disguised as the O’Hare Modernization Project (OMP). As with most things in the Chicago political landscape, this O’Hare Expansion was driven by ego and greed, but wrapped up as a public safety issue.

Saint Johannes Cemetery

Whose ego you ask? Mayor Richard M. Daley’s, that’s who. His father, Richard J. Daley, was the 39th Mayor, and the first King of the City of Chicago, ruling the city for 21 consecutive years. It would have been 24 years, or more, if he hadn’t died in office during his sixth term. It was during the first term of his reign, in 1955, that O’Hare International Airport was open to commercial air traffic. While he was not The Mayor King when Orchard Place/Douglas Field was transferred to The City of Chicago by the U.S. Government, he was instrumental in turning it into what once was The World’s Busiest Airport. That distinction was lost to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Enter Richard M. Daley, the 45th Mayor, and second King of The City of Chicago, who held the throne for 22 years, one year longer than his father. There were five pretenders to the throne in the thirteen years between the Daley Monarchies, and some damage had been done, and plenty of graft money had been left on the table. And this is where the greed comes into play.

Richard M. Daley

O’Hare had become somewhat outdated over the years, and something had to be done; the sky over Chicago was becoming dangerous. While there was a viable alternative to O’Hare Expansion, one which the FAA was on board with at the time, none would be as lucrative to the Mayor King and his cronies as O’Hare Expansion. A third airport in the Chicago area, but not within the city limits, would mean no contractor kickbacks, and no patronage jobs for the Mayor King to control.

It is important to note that OMP is an FAA project of ongoing upgrades to what was pre-expansion O’Hare, and O’Hare Expansion is the City of Chicago’s project. While Chicago would like you to believe they are one in the same, they are not.

What has O’Hare gained in place of the 2,800 residences and the cemetery? Runway 27R, and the North Control Tower. This gives them the capacity to land 42 more airplanes an hour and added fifteen controller jobs. Since the North Control Tower deals exclusively with runway 27R, I have to wonder if the $450 million dollars that O’Hare Expansion has cost so far is worth it, especially since runway 27R, and its dedicated Control Tower are now going to become victims of “sequestration”.

What puzzles me even more is why NATCA didn’t get on board and use their influence to push for a third airport in the Chicagoland area. Even if it wasn’t as big as O’Hare, surely it could have handled more than 42 flights an hour, it would have added more jobs than the North Control Tower at O’Hare did, and it would have made the airspace around Chicago even safer. Maybe a NATCA member can clarify this for me.

The bottom line here is that O’Hare International Airport has a $450 million runway and its dedicated tower which, even if shut down part time, will impact air traffic and the people who work in that industry. This will cause sequestration to have a much greater impact on the safety of Chicago’s air space than if everybody had not caved in to politics and King Richard the Second, and the third airport was built. I never thought I would be quoting the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but America’s chickens are coming home to roost. They’re not flying in either; they are simply riding in on the shoulders of Politicians and Union Bosses.

Facebook Is Really Starting To Aggravate Me

March 14, 2013

Facebook is really starting to aggravate me. What used to be a stroll in the park with friends and a few trolls has turned into some parallel universe super highway. Weaving through the waste land to find a few good morsels, especially with an iPhone, is a pretty daunting affair. Becoming a publicly traded company really led to a plethora of slow moving sludge permeating our pages.

What’s a guy to do? Sometimes there is something you want to like, but you know that if you do all sorts of crazy things get set in motion. You become a statistic in who knows how many marketing surveys, for one. Yeah, imagine that. Some people used to pick up a few side bucks by going to the mall and getting in a short little focus group. I don’t know if they still do, but it must be a dying trade because of all of us who have “liked” something and allowed that opinion to be spread far and wide, in more ways than one.

Seemingly benign, the “pages you might like,” “people you might know,” “maybe family members,” and “the games people play, Lord, every night and every day, Lord” begin to appear. Then little boxes start showing up. Lo and behold, there you are on your friends’ newsfeed as an unpaid spokesperson endorsing Wal-Mart. Even has-been celebrities can earn a little scratch plugging products; why should I allow Facebook’s advertisers to use me for free?

Much like television, Facebook has begun to deliver reruns as well. You would think you were watching the endless loop on cable news channels. The same jokes, the same postcards, the same links, and the same missing people keep being regurgitated for a cycle. Then some change the pictures while others change the words, and they cycle again. These things are easy. They take no thought; just click it on out there. I fear my little witticisms and words of wisdom are getting lost in the congestion.

It is for the reasons stated above that I am going to start shifting my output to this blog. I generally have something to say, and it usually takes more than a sentence or two to get it said properly. The blog publishes to Facebook and anybody who cares about what I have to say can just click over. It also publishes to our website, www.geneandsusie.com, and we can always use the traffic there. So, while I am not going to quit Facebook, I am going to be handling it a little differently.

Blaming Television

March 12, 2013

Nothing On< It was bound to happen sooner or later. The invention of a video-capable mass communication device was pretty nifty, as are all new distractions. Don’t you agree?
So now you got it; what exactly do you do with it? Well, back in the 30’s they started making them commercially available, and people began figuring out how to make people want one. Entertainment was the big draw. You know, variety shows and such. Television helped news travel faster, too, but then radio, which had been around longer, was already doing a pretty good job of that.
It started off innocently enough alright. Most people were able to get a handful of stations offering a variety of distractions. The stations themselves shut down for the night, usually with the Star Spangled Banner and a video of a flag waving in the breeze. Then on came The Indian with his high pitched sound wave.

Then the morph began. Some people enjoyed being distracted so much that they wanted more. The people who delivered the entertainment began testing different forms of distraction, trying to find the limits. More people were becoming attracted. And the broadcasters began figuring it out. Just about anything they could dream up would garner an audience.
For a while, the regularly broadcasted shows were slightly glorified versions of life in America. They were mostly true to life in the good parts, and really didn’t deal in the bad parts. It was an exaggeration of the ideal family life. Something to strive for, I suppose, but something to fail against as well.
Advertisers began seeing the wisdom in flashing their goods before us as often as possible right from the start. Companies began pouring money into television advertising, sometimes becoming the sole sponsor of an entire program. They wanted input into the viewer capturing, and the censorship issues. They wanted to find the limits also, but they were adding a new dimension, they were studying people. They wanted to figure out how to make you think about their products, their brands.
Eventually, people began watching more and more television. Stay at home moms found the electronic baby sitter to be a very useful tool. Those on the go would tune in to the morning news to get the weather before they rushed out the door. On more than a few occasions, when the television was left on, the distraction would suck the stay-at-homes into the “stories.” Soap opera breaks were the norm for many a harried housewife. Between the soaps and the kiddie shows, the tube burned all day long. When the bread winners got home there was news to watch and maybe a sporting event to help them unwind from a hard day at the salt mines. Television was offering something for everybody, and everybody wanted something. Small portable television sets even began showing up on the kitchen counter in the hopes that more work might be accomplished.
Before long every room in the house was equipped with a television set. The need to converse with others was quickly disappearing. Public gathering places such as taverns and restaurants all had television sets installed. In stores where televisions were sold, it became a common sight to see people glued to the screens, watching, always watching.

Today there are hundreds of stations, broadcast, cable, and satellite. Twenty four hours a day, three hundred sixty five days a year, they have the capacity to invade our space. The nature of the new “reality” shows has turned us into Peeping Toms. The twenty four hour news stations, which aren’t really “news.” instruct us as to what we should be thinking. The advertising is now aimed at titillating us into buying, buying, buying. Once we are hooked, the cable and satellite sellers, just like drug dealers, keep raising the prices. Is it any wonder we have become a nation of morons?
My darling, Pretty, and I have abandoned television. We have not even owned a television set for the last two years. We don’t miss it. Time that was once wasted in front of the screen watching reruns of Leave It to Beaver is used to actually communicate among ourselves and with others. We read, we write, we explore the world around us.
Admittedly, we know little to nothing about who is winning American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, or Celebrity Apprentice. On occasion we run into folks who know nothing but who is at the top of the heap in those endeavors, and we find them very difficult to communicate with. How do you keep from laughing at the look on their face when a drooling chatterbox stops talking in mid-sentence about some jock doing the foxtrot, because it just dawned on them what, “I don’t watch television, we don’t even own a television set” means?

WHY? BECAUSE!

March 6, 2013

It would seem that a major malfunction has taken place, all things have gone awry. There they are like a bunch of entitled children, na na na na na!  Somehow, we, collectively as a nation, have hired a cast of characters fit for a nationally-played soap opera or docudrama.  Were we not supposed to be selecting a crew of fine Patriots to send off to Washington to do the business of America as prescribed by The Constitution?

You can boggle your mind trying to connect the dots on the who, what, why, and how.  There appears to be a megaton of blame piled high on the heap, and plenty of folks, politicians, pundits, and just plain regular folks, relishing the opportunity to grab some and fling it around.  Even the regular grass roots folks who don’t care to do too much, think of finding a palatable pundit to help them figure it out.

The current undies-in-a-buncher is the fact that our elected officials are undeniably not doing their job, which, I will remind you, is doing the business of America.  The way-too-long-put-off-budget is a very important, constitutionally prescribed, part of that business.  The ramifications of this will soon become evident in everyday life.  Budget=Financial=Economy.

The underlying subplot has them doing a lot of busy work that has nothing to do with the business of America, and everything to do with my business and your business, which is really, constitutionally none of their business.  Once they stick their noses into our business, they stick their fingers into our pockets to pay for whatever they put into play.

Some of them can’t help themselves. They need to live in chaos.  They have been to the crossroads.  For them it’s about wielding the power, making the deals, the fame, and the fortune.  They revolve around themselves.  They are the ones who corral the altruistic newbies and take them under their wings, teaching them how the games are played.  Unfortunately, these games usually revolve around the self-gain items that are attached to, and used as bargaining chips, in order to move forward with the business of America.

Then there is the star of the show, that beloved Chicago Politician and Savior, Barack Obama, President of the United States.  His wants are many, both personal and political; hence he has quite a few logs in this jam as well.  Since he is playing his part by not doing his job, I guess that makes him the largest welfare recipient in the country.  I believe he never really had to come up through the ranks, but some would say he came through them at an accelerated pace.  Either way, he never had enough political experience to be able to handle what was in store for him.  All that adoration that got him a boss’s job started wearing off when it became obvious he wasn’t exactly boss material.  Since everyone wasn’t going hand him his every political want on a silver platter, I believe he’s just decided to shut down and adopted a “Homey going to play dis shit for all it’s worth” attitude.

In the end there might be a silver lining to this cloud.  This was a pretty divisional election cycle, where friends, relatives, coworker, etc. took to name calling, unfriending, and disowning each other.  There were great chasms formed.

Now that we know that we all apparently voted for the wrong person, be they winner or loser, maybe we can start to fill the divides and unite to get these elected officials to do their jobs.

November 3, 2012

And if you need more……


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