Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Simple Logic Prevails

My son sat in the backseat of the car on the way to soccer practice.  He was fiddling with my iPod.

"Dad, how do you get rid of this?" he asked.

I'm a stickler for details, and I needed more information.  I said, "What are you trying to get rid of?"

He fiddled for a second and then said, "Nothing."

"Oh, that's easy," I said.  "Anything."


"You want to get rid of nothing.  You can use anything to get rid of nothing."  Problem solved.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Understanding the Left

I have a friend who is a full-fledged conservative of the highest degree, and we recently discussed the intentions of the left vs. the right.  His take, and indeed the stance assumed by many on the right, is that the left is attempting a fascist coup and is aiming to destroy America.  As an independent, I disagree.

Listening to any ideologue discuss how politics affect the nation is like listening to a fish in a bowl describing the room in which the tank sits; the environment of the bowl warps the perspective of the observing fish.  Some things may seem larger or smaller than they actually are; other things are reflections of objects in the tank and do not actually exist in the room itself.

If conservatism involves less government and the basic fiscal responsibility to spend within reach of revenues, fine.  I get that and I agree whole-heartedly.  The Democrats have little-to-no sense of fiscal responsibility, but the right misjudges their intentions and vilifies them.  Most that could carry the label “Liberal” are actually quite charitable at heart, perhaps to a fault, and they want to use the resources of government to administer what they see to be charitable acts, such as financial assistance to the poor, healthcare for the sick, and protection from oppressors (both foreign and domestic).  I see the primary disagreement between right and left being that these charitable acts should not be the responsibility of the government, not that these intentions are inherently evil, although the pundits may disagree from within the fishbowls.

In regard to the lattermost point regarding protection against oppressions, particularly domestic, the left sees a great potential for business owners to be oppressive to their workers.  It is true that they call for government regulation of business in hopes of preventing such oppression, for they fear those with money will quickly lose moral judgment in pursuit of more capital. Government’s regulation of business for the protection of workers goes back to the abolition of slavery.  I would certainly hope we can all agree that the federal government was justified in making laws deeming slavery illegal, and while it certainly impacted the profitability of slave owners, the rights of those workers were deserving of federal protection.

Going back to the overdeveloped sense of charity that “Liberals” are affected by, I see a great irony in the number of Christians who align themselves with the GOP from a moral standpoint.  It seems to me that Jesus would have been in favor of doing all that was possible to clothe and feed the poor and heal the sick; that Jesus would not be in favor of preemptive military strikes; that Jesus would accept a homosexual as a person deserving of love and respect.  From my understanding of Jesus’ actions, he demonstrated more “Liberal” qualities than conservative.  He washed the feet of tax collectors, he made company with whores and beggars, he protected the adultress by inviting one without sin to cast the first stone, he espoused charity and urged his followers to do away with all their worldly possessions, he eschewed wealth; most importantly, he called on others to follow in his footsteps.  These are virtues pursued by “Liberals” who are trying to protect their fellow man and the earth we all share.  They are Christian in nature.

Speaking of protecting the earth, environmental laws do serve a purpose: they keep people from shitting upstream of others.  Present bickering over climate change and pollution is not about a fascist takeover of the world, it is an attempt to define what constitutes shit, and where the boundaries of the stream are.  Those downstream say “Stop shitting in my water supply” while those upstream say “Too bad, I can’t afford to build an outhouse.” 

And then there’s perhaps the most divisive issue in all politics: abortion.  It seems to me that the right’s stance on abortion has allowed all logic and reason to be swallowed by blind dogma that states no abortion should be allowed, ever, under any circumstance.  Pro-choice does not entail the merciless slaughter of infants.  If a woman were to be raped and impregnated, I think she should be entitled to an abortion and should not be forced to carry that baby to term.  If pregnancy complications threaten the life of the mother of two, I think she should be able to have an abortion and save her life, for her two children and husband are better off with a mother and wife than a sibling / third child.  If a father rapes and impregnates his daughter she should not be forced into a back-alley with a coat hanger in order to keep that child from entering the world.  However, I do not think abortions should be used as a basic means of birth control, and late-term abortions should only be allowed in the event of a life-saving decision on the mother’s behalf.  There can be a middle ground. 

The right seems to have unwavering faith that businesses will be just and moral and need no regulations, but strives to regulate morality on the individual level.  They claim the fascist left wants to re-form the constitution, but the right has its own changes it wants to make, such as a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  The heart of gay marriage really boils down to tax benefits and advantages gained from being able to file jointly; normally the right is all for lessening a tax burden, but not when it’s just for a couple of fags, I guess.  Homosexuality is not new.  It is neither created nor expanded by gay marriage. Two gay people getting married does absolutely nothing to affect the sanctity of my marriage.  It is not an act of war on marriage, as many right-wing pundits claim.  Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh have done more to deface the sanctity of marriage with their infidelity and multiple divorces than the two ladies who live together three houses down from me, yet Rush and Newt are idolized by a large faction of the right. 

Then there’s waterboarding, which is another divisive topic between right and left.  There are two angles to the argument: whether or not it is torture, and whether or not it is effective.  I can’t speak to the first directly, but I do take credence in John McCain’s view that waterboarding is torture; here is a man who has truly been tortured, he has a valid perspective.  I doubt waterboarding’s effectiveness as an interrogation technique.  I bet if you waterboarded Dick Cheney or George Bush long enough you would get them to confess that 9/11 was an inside job (NOTE: I do not believe 9/11 was an inside job, I do believe people will say anything to stop being tortured).

I do not condone the voices of the far left.  I am glad Keith Olbermann was fired from MSNBC and from Current.  While I think Rush Limbaugh is a selfish man with very little moral value, I do not think he is the “Worst Person in the World” and think that by attempting to classify him as such, one downplays the truly horrible acts that occur every day.  Likewise, to liken the left to a rising Nazi party belittles the horror of the Holocaust, and to associate the left with Nazism is to imply the left is trying to rise up to take over the world and engage in mass genocide—a Fourth Reich, so to speak—which is simply ludicrous.  The left—who wants to feed and educate the poor, to heal the sick, to abolish the death penalty, to protect the environment—is not the party of death.  They are more pro-life than many foes of abortion.

I’ll conclude by saying that while this rant was largely focused on the right, the left are equal in their use of deplorable tactics, and they also set party lines based on rigid dogma requiring unwavering support on all fronts.  Both sides have a single, primary goal: to destroy the other party.  There is no intent to fix, to heal, to reconcile.  Both sides have adopted the stance that “it’s my way and fuck yourself while you’re at it.”  Sadly, the majority of Americans, who are just trying to live day-to-day, will be the ones most affected by this fight, and not in a good way.

PS  I won’t defriend you if you comment sharing a different viewpoint.  I value the ability to debate issues in a rational manner.


Saturday, May 5, 2012


I woke up at 6am this morning.  In case you are reading this in the future, let me specify that it is Saturday, and except for house fires and tornados there are very few acceptable reasons to wake up that early on a weekend.  I did it so I could run a half-marathon, 13.1 miles.  This is not an acceptable reason, and it is evidence of the fact that I am slightly crazy.  Like we need more of that.

I am not, however, clinically-certified batshit-crazy.  That classification is reserved for the silly people I saw today running the half-marathon barefoot.  And I'm not talking about those shoes with toes that supposedly give a "run natural" feel.  I mean totally barefoot over city streets.  There were two such lunatics today, and I would like to thank them for making me feel sane.

Many people held signs and cheered for the runners.  I cheered for the cheering people, because they need love too.  Plus they did a great job, I felt highly motivated and deeply loved even though I am not "Mom."  Man, she has a lot of kids rooting for her.

One man held a sign that said "Run Like You Stole Something" so I grabbed it from him and took off.  He should have seen that coming.*

About eight miles in I passed a young kid.  I asked his age, he said twelve.  Way cool.  It's good to be crazy when you're young and it's better justified.

I finished in 2:02:35, according to my Garmin, which also says I ran 13.24 miles.  I was trying to get under two hours, but I'm satisfied.  I beat my 2009 time of 2 hours 10 minutes, so it's all good.

They had lots of food and beverages in "recovery row."  Sports drinks, and for those who wanted something lighter water.  And for those who wanted something lighter, Mich Ultra.

The real reason I ran this year, though, is to support a college friend whose son has a rare and dibilitating form of muscular dystrophy called Ullrich Muscular Dystrophy (“UCMD” or collagen 6 deficiency). This is a terrible progressive muscle wasting disease for which there is no cure. Gabe does not have the muscle strength to run, jump, or climb a flight of stairs. Individuals who suffer from UCMD also develop contractures, complications with feeding, and respiratory problems. Congenital Muscular Dystrophies do not receive much attention in the way of research grants or funds.  Fortunately a group of parents of children afflicted with congenital muscular dystrophies stared CURE CMD a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization in dedicated to raising funds to for research.

I have a 10-year-old son, and also a 7-year-old son, and I am thankful for their health.  Dedicating time to training for this run and helping to raise awareness and funds to help find treatments and, hopefully, a cure for CMD is the very least I can do in appreciation for my own sons' health and to show Ted and Gabe that they are not alone in this difficult battle.  This lessens, but does not resolve, my insanity for partaking in this event.

If you would like to make a donation, you can do so at: http://curecmd.org/events/ccmarathon2012

You can pick my name (NOTE: "Rick") from the list.  Please also select "Collagen VI Research Fund."  Donations can be made anonymously. 

*No, I didn't really steal that sign, but I should have.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

Today is my 13th anniversary.  I am sharing a song I wrote for my wife because she is beautiful and I love her deeply.  It's tough to imagine what life would be like without her, she is truly the best thing that ever happened to me!