Sunday, June 07, 2020

Having lost all my mirth...

Lately I've struggled mightily with the grief of losing Dad. I seem to have waves of days in which I cry a great deal, and this weekend has been sort of a tsunami. Maybe it's because Father's Day is next week. My eyes just get dried up and they start leaking again.

I messaged my sister tonight and she said to read Ecclesiastes 7, and that was good advice:
A good name is better than precious ointment
    and the day of death than the day of birth.
It is better to go to the house of mourning
    than to go to the house of feasting,
    for this is the end of all mankind,
    and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
    for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
    than to hear the song of fools. 
For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
    so is the laughter of the fools, this also is vanity.
Surely oppression drives the wise into madness, 
    and a bribe corrupts the heart.
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,
    and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
    for anger lodges in the heart of fools.
Say not, "Why were the former days better than these?"
    For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
Wisdom is good with an inheritance, 
    an advantage to those who see the sun.
For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money,

    and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
Consider the work of God:
    who can make straight what he has made crooked?
Ecclesiastes 1:1-13 ESV

I must be doing well, because I am SO so far from the house of mirth. But what a wonderful comfort to have my dear sister and brother and Mom.

I ran out of the house on an errand about 9 o'clock tonight. I got home about 30 minutes later and I saw something so beautiful that it felt like a little postcard from Heaven, the twinkling of Dad's eyes: the yard was aswarm with what looked like a thousand tiny fireflies emitting the visual symphony of their little phosphorescent semaphore. I haven't seen so many fireflies at once since I was a small child, and they were big green Ozark fireflies. These are so tiny that they are like little flashes of glitter, and you could almost doubt your senses if you only see one or two. Tonight they are out in force and emitting the glory of their species. I take a moment to hope and pray they will make lots of wonderful new fireflies that will hatch and bless the world a year from now. I am pleased to realize that I can still hope.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

An inexcusable series of hideously avoidable events.

Things have got full sporty up in here.

On May 25 in Minneapolis, a gentleman named George Floyd died of positional asphyxiation in police custody, and this is problematic in so so many ways. He was detained for a relatively minor issue, so the police response to the situation was excessive. However, the outrageousness of the situation is compounded by the fact that Mr. Floyd repeatedly said he couldn't breathe, even as an officer's knee was on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. Bystanders and even a fellow officer told the officer to get off of Mr. Floyd, to no avail. This incident was recorded on video that has been widely shared and has sparked outrage around the world. There is no good way to slice this, and this video and ones like it fuel the perception that we have a field of law enforcement that is run amok and out of control.

Law enforcement personnel have tough jobs. They are the rough women and men who stand ready to maintain peace and order in a society where things can go sideways in the blink of an eye. They see the very worst of our society and have witnessed horrors the rest of us will only ever see in nightmares. They are usually the first on the scene of ghastly car accidents, tornadoes, murders, house-fires, and every flavor of brutality that people serve up to each other.  No one ever calls up the local PD or SO to say they are having a wonderful day. Is it possible that this barrage of grief and despair is warping for them? Surely it is so. However, I know quite a few people who work in that field, and I can say unreservedly that most of them are decent, above-board people who want to serve their communities. I can also say with no hesitation that these good officers want the bad ones out as much as everyone else in the community does. They need to clean their houses, seriously, and they need to reach out to their communities rather than defend the indefensible.

In the face of stories of Mr. Floyd and the murder of peaceful citizens like Breonna Taylor, an EMT who was shot in her own home by a Louisville Kentucky SWAT team who invaded the wrong house in the night, it is easy to understand why the United States would be perceived to have an ongoing and serious problem in which persons of color are under threat of murder by police on a daily basis. Incidents like the killing of Mr. Floyd on video only serve to fuel this perception. That Mr. Floyd and Ms. Taylor were persons of color cements the narrative that their deaths happened because of racism, but I will say this with absolute certainty: the officers in that house in Kentucky would have killed whoever they found there that night, of whatever color. Also, any person who has an officer kneel on their neck in that position for 8 minutes will die as a result of that action. The bitter pill of this is that our law enforcement agencies have some serious soul-searching to do about the rot they tolerate among their ranks. Were the murderous officers racist? I don't know. I think the murderous bit is the real problem here. I don't wish to control the mind of anyone else, but I do expect everyone to behave in a civilized and respectful manner.

After Mr. Floyd's murder, protests in Minneapolis spread to major cities all over the country, and even overseas. Unfortunately, nefarious hate groups from both ends of the spectrum seize upon this moment to fan the flames of unrest, even going so far as facilitating violence, property destruction, and physical attacks against people at what were planned to be civil protests. Opportunistic outliers will always be with us, and will always seize the opportunity to wreak havoc and chaos at such moments.

People who have a goal of a harmonious society that respects all citizens should not allow themselves to be derailed by agents of chaos. We need to talk this stuff through, but many here seem to have dug in their heels and have no plan to budge. We don't know where this is going, but we don't seem pointed in a direction that results in sweetness and light.

People who want a revolution are naive at best and are wantonly evil at worst-- the outcome would be mere ruination and the downfall of western civilization. About a third of the world's wealth is in US dollars(and I've heard higher figures), so if we collapse, so goes the world. All the people already living in mud huts will see little difference, except that the billions of vaccines we send around the world yearly will evaporate and life will become more deadly for the most abject poor on the planet. For those of us who like electricity, conditoned air, and clean cholera-free water in our homes, well, this is going to be a big and deadly adjustment.

My point here today is to gird your loins. The truth is that someone is not going to flip a switch and turn our society and its many cultures into Happy Rainbow Unicorn Land - people here have no idea how difficult life can be (and how difficult it IS on the daily in other places around the world). We need to figure out a way forward in which we can live in peace and respect with one another, but that will require everyone to be on their best behavior, even if they don't love their neighbor.

The book of I Peter is a series of letters to Christian exiles in which Peter admonishes them to not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, in all your conduct, since it is written "You shall be holy, for I am holy." And if you call on him as the Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (verses 14-19, ESV)

Christians only reject this wisdom at our own peril(and yes, I'm talking to me here), and even people who are not followers of Christ would be wise to heed the warning that they need to dance at all times like someone is watching, and that they will be held accountable for their actions. The weirdly full-circle effect we are experiencing is the way that someone or something is always watching here in this age of technology that was the bill of goods of "liberation" wherein machines do everything for us, like calculate numbers, vacuum our floors, or even put our words into writing. The meter is always running, the mic is always on, someone is always filming. You can ruin your entire life in a moment of carelessness - it happens daily in this rabid mob-ruled social media age.


I've watched and listened as people argue this topic from many differing perspectives, and I'm trying to lay out the facts here as clearly as possible. You are welcome to comment on this post, but my comment stream is not a forum for argument. If I have misrepresented a fact, I appreciate a courteous word to set the record straight, but I am not here for an argument of politics or class or racial warfare. This is not only a time of soul searching for people in law enforcement, but for every human on earth. We are accountable for our actions, and we should act accordingly.

The 'rona:
As of 10:32 AM today according to Johns Hopkins covid tracking site, Global confirmed cases of of Covid-19 are 6,789,313, USA - 1,901,416, Global deaths 396,131, and USA deaths 109,215

Monday, June 01, 2020

On Russiagate and Ukrainegate, and how media outlets and the Democratic Party squandered the trust of the public

Generally, I'm sidestepping politics, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Like most people, I have strong feelings about a great number of things. To be utterly frank, I was shocked when Trump ran for president and I was more surprised that he won the nomination than I was when he was elected. Let's just say this has been an era of a great many surprises. I've also been pleasantly surprised by some of the things he has done as President. On the other hand, I wish Twitter didn't exist, but I can appreciate the way he uses the Twitter to run his feline political opponents silly after the laser dot, but they just never seem to figure out they're being played. On the other hand, there are times when he's been quite Presidential and acted with dignity on important occasions.

What's been frustrating was to hear the constant drumbeat of Russiagate and Ukrainegate, only to ultimately (and unsurprisingly) hear that the whole thing was fabricated and merely wishful thinking.

I must warn that the clip below contains a fair bit of profanity, so if you are averse to coarse language, do not click on the video. I have some major viewpoints in common with Jimmy Dore and we differ dramatically on others, but I think he is spot on in this clip with Aaron Mate on this issue. I've watched the whole video several times, and the final ten minutes repeatedly, because they cut to the heart of what happened with this episode, and Mate perfectly verbalizes why many Americans are fed up with the media and cynical about arguments Democrats make against the President. On the basis of the bumbling around with manufactured crises that amount to obsessing over the Obama birth certificate times ten, the Democrats have handed Trump a second term, if no vote tampering is successful. And this is why:

Starting from the 22:37 mark  - 
Aaron Mate:  It made no sense, but of course the media outlets reporting this never could look at the facts in front of them and use logic and rationality, it was all in the service of putting forward a narrative and all that is happening now is the more evidence that comes out—from now it’s been nearly three years ago—all it shows is just how baseless this entire thing was and it only further embarrasses the people who propagated it.”
Jimmy Dore: But this shows that Adam Schiff knew, he was in this- he was the guy questioning. So Adam Schiff knew that this was bullshit, and still he went on with this anyway. That’s what happened, right? – am I missing this?

AM – Well, no, and what’s crazy is after that, and it’s not only on this Russian email hacking allegation, we also learn from these transcripts that witness after witness—James Clapper, Susan Rice—all these intelligence officials, all these people who came in said “yeah we saw no evidence of Trump/Russia collusion whatsoever” and despite hearing all this, Adam Schiff who was the head Democrat on that committee, goes out in public and multiple times says that he’s seen evidence of collusion, he just can’t share it with you yet. So the guy is a pathological liar and it’s been a disaster for the Democrats that he has been given such a prominent role. I mean it’s amazing that after the colossal failure of Russiagate, what did Democrats do? They gave him the keys to the next big fixation which is Ukrainegate, and Adam Schiff led that one, too. He was the impeachment manager. Rachel Maddow was tweeting that Adam Schiff’s speeches during the impeachment trial are going to be taught in Presidential history classes, and so all Adam Schiff did, he may have pleased his donors who come from the weapons industry by drumming up tensions with Russia, like Raytheon, but in the process he humiliated the Democratic party and he helped channel the so-called anti-Trump resistance into dumb conspiracy theories and chauvinist anti-Russia militarism. And it’s been a disaster. It’s been a big gift to Trump possible. And I can’t say for sure, but imagine if Democrats hadn’t wasted the first three years on telling people that Trump is controlled by Putin, maybe it would be easier to convince more people now that Trump has done a really bad job handling the Corona virus, but now people understandably don’t trust the media. They don’t trust Adam Schiff. They don’t trust MSNBC because these same people were telling audiences for three years that Trump is controlled by Putin, and that there’s a pee tape, and that Trump and () are communicating via a Russian server, I mean all this insane stuff. No wonder people are sick of all these people and don’t trust them, and Trump has understandably been able to exploit it and he’ll continue to do so heading into his reelection campaign as it goes on now.