Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Basic Human Respect

Posted: July 22, 2018 in Miscellaneous
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So I was at a Keep Families Together rally and several of the speakers were talking about the desire to shut down the ICE detention center at Etowah County in Alabama. So first, I didn’t realize there was an ICE detention center in Etowah County (so issues that you think are far away may be in your own backyard). But Etowah County did ring a bell, and checking on that, it was because it was the same county with the sheriff that pocketed funds to feed prisoners to buy beach houses and such (and as an aside, now is accused of having sex with underage girls). As it turns out, the federal government will farm out ICE detention centers to localities, and Etowah County is one such location ran by this very same sheriff.

My thought upon hearing that was pretty much ‘no good can come from this’. And sure enough I run across this story about a detainee who was denied medical care even though he was peeing blood, instead accused of “faking” as an example. The thing that struck me was both that he obviously wasn’t faking so this distrust was misplaced and a curiosity of why the staff would just assume he was faking? Not that it necessarily matters, but detainees are NOT prisoners and are simply to be held until their status can be determined. And yet the baseline assumption is that the detainees are lying until proven otherwise. Shouldn’t this be the other way around? That the detainees should be assumed to be truthful until proven otherwise?

And it occurred to me that the issue was one of basic human respect. That at some level we all should at least start at a baseline level of equality when it comes to dignity and respect. It also occurred to me that this basic issue is at the root of so many things facing this country. Are people coming into this country inherently criminals, or are most just seeking a better life (or even safety)? Are people who practice a different religion inherently prone to be terrorists or do most just have a different religious belief? Are people of a different race that just happen to be having a grill out at a park inherently prone to be a threat, or are they just looking to have a good time? Are people of a different gender inherently only able to work at, say 80 percent of yours, or are they just as capable of producing the same level of work as you do?

My feeling is that if we all saw each other at the same base equal level as far as deserved treatment of dignity and respect, we would be in a better place. That much of the friction is the feeling that we need to class people into categories that then deserve different levels of treatment. That may well be human nature to want to do that. After all, this is not a new phenomenon. Goodness knows you can’t even begin to justify an institution like slavery without classing people as lower than human. And I imagine there would be some that would say I am a sucker. But I do wonder how much things might change if we could start at the same base level of equality (and to paraphrase MLK, judge each other on the content of individual character rather than on demographics)?

Just my random thought of the day.

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Only In Alabama

Posted: May 13, 2018 in Miscellaneous
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Only in Alabama do we know that every good coon dog deserves a decent burial.

  • Only in Alabama would somebody think it would be a good idea to just hand county sheriffs a food budget for inmates and then tell them they can just keep whatever they don’t spend. What could possibly go wrong with that idea? I mean, there’s no way a sheriff would become known as “Sheriff Corndog” because that’s all he would buy for the inmates. Nor would there be any a sheriff would use these funds to pay for a $1.7 million beach house while just feeding inmates beans and veggies. No sir ree, not happening, these are men of the law! And besides, even if this was happening, our state legislators would quickly hold them accountable! (Spoiler alert: they ain’t going to do nothing…it’s what they do.)
  • Only in Alabama would we would get stuck with train cars that’s literally full of crap. Actual sh*t. No joke. It’s actually known as the “poop train“, poop shipped straight out of New York City. But hey, we are described as “American’s biggest industrial toilet”, something much like Alabama’s dozens (or whatever, I lost count of how many they claim) of college national championships they like to drone on about to be truly proud of! We here in ‘Bama don’t take crap off nobody…unless you pay a fee, then we will take the negotiated amount. Sweet home Alabama indeed!
  • Only in Alabama would somebody would set fire to a ham they didn’t want. Hey, the hotel that burned down was just collateral damage! Now that she’s in a Limestone County jail, she may be longing for the days when she could get ham!
  • Only in Alabama would you have over 2,200 dams and no dam inspectors. In fact, there’s no dam safety program whatsoever. Actually Alabama doesn’t even know how many dams it has, much less what condition they are in. But you know, that costs money. And nobody has died yet, amirite?

 

 

Wormholes? No, everybody doesn’t have wormholes so that can’t be it.

My opinions (FWIW as they say):

  • Supposedly John Kelly and James Mattis have discussed what to do if Trump ordered a nuclear attack. Now I don’t know if this is true, I don’t work in the White House and I am sure they would call this “fake news”. But if this is even remotely true, there is only one answer: the 25th amendment. A President that can’t be trusted with the nuclear codes isn’t fit to serve office.
  • A better person in office could and would avoid the spats with the NFL and Gold Star families and friends and North Korea, etc. It would require thinking beyond one’s self though. President Trump not only can’t avoid these spats, he doesn’t even want to.
  • NFL and other players who are kneeling during the National Anthem aren’t protesting or disrespecting military service people. The military doesn’t own the National Anthem. It belongs to all Americans. I believe the protests are protests against injustice in general and against the African American community in particular. Further, since I do not believe anybody was really doing any knelling during the National Anthem before President Trump made his comments in Mobile, many of these acts of protest more generally are actually speaking out for the right to protest at all. I believe that preserving this right, the freedom of expression, is one of the selfless things military persons are fighting for. I would hate to think they are actually just fighting for the “right” for citizens to honor them during National Anthem playings, which would come off as an awfully selfish endeavor (I don’t believe that to be the case. But to me that would be the logical conclusion from some of the arguments I am seeing an hearing.)
  • You can’t actually “fix” health care without looking at the prices no matter what system you use. Anyone that has a “solution” that doesn’t address prices is just blowing smoke.
  • Asking President Trump about his policy is a waste of time. He doesn’t know what it is. In as such as there is any policy, other people are responsible.
  • The recent speech given by former President George W. Bush is more proof that he is a much, much better man than President Trump ever thought of being. For as much as I disagreed with Bush’s policy decisions, I do believe that in his heart he is a good man who cared about this country. I do wonder if he (among others) was too vilified at a personal level (rather than just questioning and criticizing his administrations policies) that when it came to warning people about Trump that it came off as the boy who cried wolf?
  • I am beginning to think working for the Trump administration precludes one from being the so-called “adult in the room”.
  • We in society are not doing enough to protect women, children, LGBTQ, minorities and other disadvantaged groups from harassment, abuse, and assault.
  • I really fear things in Puerto Rico are going to get worse before they get better.
  • A Democrat becoming Senator in Alabama? I think it could happen and I’m not the only one.

  • Republicans have no idea what to do about health care (other than the cut taxes part), “repeal and replace” was just good campaign jargon with nothing behind it, and none of the propose plans are better than just leaving the original Affordable Care Act alone. Further, no dramatic improvements to health  are will occur until the issue is discussed in terms beyond insurance, instead with the goal of making health care affordable and accessible to all. (This will probably also require agreement that access to health care is a right, not a privilege.)
  • “Trumpcare” is a stupid name for any of these bills. Trump doesn’t know what are in these bills and doesn’t care. Heck, it seems he might not even know what health care insurance even is. “Obamacare” made sense, as President Obama was heavily involved in the crafting of the bill and shepherding it through Congress to passage. Trump wouldn’t even know how to do this. Call it “GOPCare” or “Republicare” and place the accountability where it belongs (not to say Trump is 0% responsible, he is a Republican after all, just that we all need to start realizing more that our other leaders matter, not just the President).
  • Trump is very ignorant about most subjects but his massive ego doesn’t allow for him to admit (or perhaps even be self-aware enough to even realize) that he is very ignorant about most subjects so he doesn’t bother to try to learn. (The recent New York Times interview can serve as exhibit ‘A’ as evidence of this ignorance.) Further these are bad traits for a President to have.
  • Trump asserting that his power to pardon is absolute should be concerning.
  • Trump’s failure to really remove himself from his private business dealings both domestically and abroad and the conflicts of interest that has created/creates should be concerning.
  • The police shoot too many people and the criminal system is not going to solve this. We as society in this country need to reevaluate what we want policing to be. The current system seems to dictate that police safety comes before all else. Does that mean too many errors are made in the name of police self-protection?
  • What other people do, as long as it doesn’t harm others, is nobody’s business.
  • Our military is way too active and has been since World War II (we call it a defense department rather than an offense department for a reason).

I actually think it’s only a matter of time before the color of the sky becomes a partisan issue.

I wrote this blog post a year ago before Christmas. I hope as the holiday season is upon us, along with all the fun and important time with family and friends, we also take the time to think about others with empathy. We all don’t have the same circumstances or advantages or disadvantages or backgrounds or means and that what may be good for you or I may not be good for your fellow men, women, and children. So with Christmas upon us once again, in addition to the normal festivities, I call for us all as best as we can to think beyond just ourselves or even beyond our own family and friends to a wider perspective. We really are ‘stronger together’ and the more we strive to make all lives better, the better off we all will be. I am reposting this blog article as just a reminder that there is more we have in common that not. Merry Christmas everyone!

https://gesvol.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/no-matter-who-you-are/

different

No matter who you are or where you come from, or what you look like or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God….”  President Obama said this during his prime time speech regarding ISIS.  A church I attend semi-regularly goes further, “No matter…no matter what your standing is in the community, or where you live, no matter your age, no matter your gender or race, no matter who you are, where you come from or where you’re going, no matter what you believe or doubt, no matter who you love, God loves you, and you are welcome here.”

With the horrible acts and hateful rhetoric as of late, I think it is time we try to put things back into perspective.  While we have all kinds of different experiences and circumstances, the bottom line is we are all people.  Men, women, and children.  And it’s in all of our best interests to keep in mind that we all play on “team humankind” at the end of the day.

I think sometimes we forget when we throw labels around, like “refugees” or “Muslim” or “gays” or “liberals” or “conservatives” or even sometimes still “blacks” or the “poor”, we are talking about actual people.  Now if we focus on just our differences and decide some groups don’t “belong”, we need to keep some stats in mind.  Religiously, 20% of 6.9 billion people worldwide claim no religion, and of the 80% remaining, about 30% are Christian, 23% are Muslim, 15% are Hindu, with the other 32% or so belonging to all sorts of other religions (ignoring that within “Christian”, “Muslim”, etc. there are all sorts of subgroups).  Race?  Around 25% East Asian, 21% South Asian, 16% “white”, 15% “black”, 8% “Middle Eastern”, 9% Southeast Asian, and 8% Central/South American.  The number of homosexuals, while unknown, likely number in the hundreds of millions worldwide.  The male/female breakdown is close to 50/50.  Over 3 billion people worldwide live on less than $2.50 per day.  At least in this country, 38% self identify as conservative, 34% as moderate, and 24% as liberal.

All of this is to say, no matter how you divvy up a world of 6.9 billion people, if we focus on our differences, and allow our biases, our prejudices, our fears, and our hatred be our guide, we will always be divided and there will be no winners.  We all lose.

However, people have key similarities.  We all smile when we are joyful.  We all enjoy music.  We all have fears.  We all are playful.  We all have the same basic necessities for survival:  food, water, shelter, warmth, security.  We all have the same desire to be treated with dignity and respect.  We all have feelings.  We all have family.  To paraphrase the Dalia Lama, we all just want happiness and on that fundamental level, we are the same.

Christmas is just around the corner and a phrase you will see and hear a lot this time of year is “Peace on Earth and good will toward men.”  As we all continue to deal with issues and policies and all the messiness of the world, I think we would do well to keep this phrase in mind and that on a fundamental level, we are the same, as we consider the words we speak and the actions we suggest and/or take.

The day after election day University of Alabama football head coach said, “To be honest with you, I didn’t even know yesterday was Election Day. It was so important to me that I didn’t even know it was happening, we’re focused on other things here.” But hey, that really shouldn’t come as a surprise. His “problem” is football and we’ve decided that “problem” is worth a LOT of money to work on. Still, it’s hard to believe Nick Saban doesn’t have any concerns or opinions beyond football. Fortunately shortly after the playoff committee announced that Alabama was ranked number one, I scored an exclusive interview with Nick Saban:

Me: Thank you Mr. Saban for taking the time to sit with me to answer a few questions. Congratulations on your team making the playoffs by the way.

Saban: Thank you. I’m so happy for our team and fans.

Me: You don’t look happy.

Saban: I am happy.

Me: Um, are you sure?

Saban: This is my smile.

nick-saban-1

 

 

 

 

Me: ??????

Me: Um……ok. Moving on. So I know you say you don’t pay attention to politics and all, but surely you have some thoughts beyond football. For instance, taxes, what are….

Saban: Taxes? The Crimson Tide Foundation pays my taxes. Everyone should just get a foundation to pay their taxes.

Me: Uh, that’s not how the world work….

Saban: They pay for my house too. Everyone should try it. Then you can just focus on the “process”…Alabama football.

Me: Er….ok. Maybe we should stick to football then. So what are your thoughts on your upcoming opponent Washington?

Saban: What’s a Washington?

Me: Well to start off with it’s a state….

Saban: States???? Oh…those are type of things those know-it-all professors want to fill my players’ heads with rather than football. Look, I don’t have time for geography, we are focused on other things here. Wished those pointy-heads in academics would get that through their thick skulls.

Me: Ok, ok, forget that….it’s a football team, the one you play next. Your thoughts?

Saban: My thoughts? When is the game?

Me: December 31st.

Saban: December 31st??!!! Grrr….for Christ sakes! You people in the media just don’t get it. It’s all about the “process”. One game at a time? Pfft. Probably what they do at Auburn. Or Tennessee….winning those…what did Butch call it….championships of life? Almost makes me laugh. Almost. Then it makes me puke. Here we focus on one second at a time! What can we do to be better football players this very next second??!!!! In fact I already forgot your question, because I’m focused on the next second.

Me: Oh I am SO sorry…uh, are you still smiling?

nick-saban-1

 

 

 

 

Me: Nevermind. Ok, this is going nowhere. You have anything you want to say? Whatever.

Saban: Look, your world confuses me. Elections? Why elephants and donkeys? Will the super moon light the world on fire? When I get a text on my I-Phone 7, did magic trolls make that happen? I don’t know. I’m just a caveman football coach. I don’t have time for figure out such trivial matters. But there is one thing I do know. Pay me no less than $7 million a year and a free house and I’ll win you a shit-ton of National Championships that will make you forget that Bear loser!

Me: Bear Bryant?

Saban: How the hell should I know? I forgot him already.

Me: Alright then. Well, thank you for your time.

Saban: Who are you and what the f&%k are you doing in my office???!!!

Me: Leaving sir!!!!

target

Dear Valued Customer,

And by “valued”, we mean we value the money you give us. We could care less about anything else.

Speaking of caring less, it has come to our attention that there is some confusion about the primary services we provide. The reason we exist is to sell you merchandise at a price that exceeds the cost of goods and the costs of providing the logistics of selling you those goods. In that way, we turn a profit. Contrary to what seems to have become somewhat popular belief, restroom services is not a primary service we provide.

Restroom services do not make us any money. Heck, we probably wouldn’t even have restrooms if it wasn’t required by law (if we serve food) or if we didn’t fear that there’s a slight chance that nature’s call will force you to leave the store without spending money first. Therefore, while it may seem like we have the security of Fort Knox controlling who can and cannot go into the restroom, really we don’t monitor it at all. (In as such that we monitor restrooms, it’s just to make sure you haven’t ignore the “no merchandise beyond this point” sign.  See, stealing our merchandise does cost us money, so yes, we actually care about that.) We instead put our trust in the society to be able to figure out which restroom to use.

So while we may release a statement regarding our “inclusiveness” of restroom use, it’s actually that we just don’t care (we are very pro-inclusive as far as buying stuff from us….we want everyone’s money!). This is not new. We’ve never cared. The only reason we released that statement is because of a rash of recent silly state laws, and we have a public relations department that thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone that we want everyone’s money….er….I mean that we welcome everyone!

As far as any fears of “pervs”, unfortunately “pervs” have always existed and certainly some of them are not very discouraged by the laws on the books banning such “perv” activity. As such, as you might imagine, they aren’t very discourage by store policies or stick figures on doors either (and that’s ignoring the fact that some “pervs” prefer the same-sex anyway). The good news is that there are very, very few people of this nature, and even fewer that choose big box department stores to participate in this activity. If you do fear for your kids privacy or protection, we do allow adult supervision in our restrooms. We also encourage you to report any suspicious activity to us and we’ll call the police. We believe the difference between using the restroom as it is intended and perving is generally really obvious, and we trust you will know the difference too.

We hope that clears everything up.  In summary, we care about making money. We don’t care which restroom you use. In the extremely unlikely event you run across a “perv” (whether in the restroom or not), please report it.

Thank you and have a nice day (of spending a lot of money in our store)!