Go With Your Ethical Gut!

In an interesting article titled Why Your Gut Is More Ethical Than Your Brain the authors examine the role of ethics in industry. They begin by saying:
It's believed that to live ethically, we must engage our reason, which reins in the whims and follies of emotion. Ethics, then, is heavy on Spock and light on Sally Struthers. But what if unethical behavior is actually spurred, rather than prevented, by reason?
The piece goes on to report about a series of experiments that tested the decisions of participants to cheat or be fair.
The results looked like this:
  • Some were encouraged to think rationally about the situation and to ignore their emotions. Equipped with this advice, the great majority (69%) analyzed the situation and con-cluded that they should screw their partners.
  • Others were primed to "make decisions based on gut feelings." Their guts were pretty trustworthy: Only 27% lied.
They say most people do not think that our guts are good criteria for living though..
There's a twist: Even though the study shows that we would be treated better by people who trust their feelings, we're leery of them. When people were given a choice to interact with a rational decision-making partner or a gut-trusting one, 75% chose the rational partner.
Isn't it interesting how our brainy rationalizations seem to trump our gut? I wonder what it is about our brains that make us feel so safe? And what is it about our gut that makes us uncomfortable? I think that it might involve our desire to be in control of our lives. Dr Matthew Eliott puts it this way:
We think our job is to control our feelings ... we are uncomfortable when people feel deeply. In our desire to distance ourselves from feelings, we do great damage to souls and our own ability to feel love and compassion.
I think that we find our conscience in our gut. When we go with our gut we go with our moral center. I think that is why our gut will always be more ethical than our brains.

What do you think? Are you most comfortable living from your brain or your gut?

Sidekicks and Second Bananas

Last night I watched Kevin Eubanks' last time (after 18 years) of playing sidekick to Jay Leno on the Tonight Show. It reminded me of all of the great folks that have had supporting roles in television. Here is my short list of memorable second bananas:
  • Ed Norton played flawlessly by Art Carney on "The Honeymooners". Who can forget that sewer worker buddy to Ralph Cramden's bus driver?
  • Ethel Mertz performed by Vivien Vance on "I Love Lucy" and "The Lucy Show". That scene of Ethel and Lucy on the candy assembly line is so iconic.
  • Barney Fife played so well by Don Knotts on "The Andy Griffith Show". I still remember that deputy who was allowed only one bullet for his gun by Sheriff Andy Taylor.
  • Ed McMahon costarring on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. I think Ed invented the sidekick role for talk shows. Who can forget the antics of Ed and Johnny?
  • Niles Crane played so fussily by David Hyde Pierce on Frasier. The banter between he and his brother was some of the best in television.
  • George Costanza, Cosmo Kramer and Elaine Benes of Seinfeld. These characters played hilariously by Jason Alexander, Michael Richards and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss took second bananas to a different stratosphere.

I left the list short so that you can add some of your favorite second bananas.

Islam, Christianity and Extremism

A few nights ago I couldn't sleep and found myself watching the Tavis Smiley show on our local PBS TV station. I cannot remember who his first guest was.. kind of forgetable - not so with his second guest. Here is his introduction:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a former member of the Dutch parliament and the founder of the AHA Foundation. She is also the author of the international best seller "Infidel." Her latest is called "Nomad: From Islam to America, a Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations."
The interview that followed was as compelling of an interview about Islam that I have heard in a while. Here are a few things that this courageous woman said about Islam and jihad:
And when I say "Islam" I'm talking about Islam as a theology and as a political theory. Islam has different aspects. It has a spiritual aspect but it also has a political and a social aspect. The spiritual aspect of praying and fasting, I have no problems with that. The political and social aspects have to do with concepts such as jihad - waging a holy war to either persuade people to become Muslim or to kill them.

The social aspect has to do with the treatment of women, and given the fact that we are now living in a world that is fast globalizing - people are coming from all different parts of the world, living here; people are leaving here and going elsewhere - I think it's very, very important to note that not only are people moving but ideas are also moving.

So people with ideas who feel that they should introduce Sharia law, a theocracy based on Islam such as Iran, such as what the Taliban have attempted in Afghanistan, that these people with these ideas, resources, convictions, can sometimes be successful.

What I tried to do with the book as an individual who grew up with Islam and I was once myself - considered myself a member of the Muslim brotherhood, I want to say that these ideas are really not only dangerous but a lot of people are subscribing to them.
I don't ever want to make the impression that all Muslims are potential terrorists or potential jihadists. But there is a movement that wants to have Islamic Sharia or Islamic war introduced, through persuasion sometimes, without using violence, and sometimes by using violence. The society that they're aspiring to is a society that is modeled around a place like Saudi Arabia or Iran.

The point I want to make in this book is the majority of Muslims don't even read the Qur'an. They've just been told what is in there is good, it's God's word, it's perfect. The majority of Muslims don't know what Muhammad exactly said.

So these people who are coming to them are building - the agents of radical Islam, the agents of jihad, the agents of Sharia are just building on the fact that most Muslims have only been told the Qur'an is great, Muhammad is infallible, and then radicalizing them. It's very important for us to realize that.
Right now there's no competition. There isn't a competing propaganda. We talk about it only in terms of national security. We talk about military means, we talk about what the FBI can do, but we don't talk about what you and I can do. Why can't we just reach out to Muslim-Americans living here and say, "Hey, do you really believe in practicing what is in chapter 4, verse 34 of the Qur'an - "Beat the disobedient wife?" I'll tell you most Muslims don't want to beat their wives and don't want to compel them to do that.

But with that justification, with that narrative, with that propaganda, more and more men are finding a reason to justify to themselves something that is truly abominably wrong.
Here is what Ayaan Hirsi Ali said about Christianity:
I'm not a Christian. I would like to introduce to them critical thinking and the enlightenment and secular thought. But I've also met, through my last years here, a number of Christians, and I've realized that their concept of God differs very much from that of Islam. I've had people who've read "Infidel" and who write to me saying, "I just cannot be, I just can't fathom being an atheist. I can't. There is a force out there, it's a good force. I don't want to be with Allah or Muhammad, but I just need a different kind of -" and most of them convert to Christianity.
Like all human individuals, I am a bundle of contradictions. I was very much, after I had written "Infidel," very much on the side of people who say all religions are the same and all religions are inherently evil. But again, what I learned from the enlightenment is when the fact change, change your mind, and the evidence I'm seeing - and this is what I admire about some Christians, not all of them. I'm not blind to extremist Christianity.

But what I admire about Christians today is - and I would like it for the Muslims too - is that many of them have come to grapple with their faith, have come to acknowledge that there are things in the bible and things that the institution, that different churches have done that are hostile to humanity, that are hostile to gay people, hostile to women, have justified slavery, for instance.

They have come not only to grapple with it and to understand it and to acknowledge that it's all in there, but they've also learned to distance themselves from that. That's what I admire about moderate Christians. I say in the book right now we cannot speak of moderate Muslims because they still cling to the absolute idea that everything in the Qur'an is the true word of God and cannot be changed by human beings, and that the prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, left a moral guidance behind and all we can do is follow it, not question it.
Here is what Ayaan Hirsi Ali opined concerning extremists:
Well, I think you and I disagree, not so much on is there extremism in Christianity - I fully acknowledge that. There are people who want to take the bible and use passages from the bible as justification for violent behavior. I'm not denying that in the least. But mainstream Christians in the 21st century are more like you.

I'm an atheist, I'm not a Christian, but they are more like you - accepting of other religions and tolerant. The latest example, "South Park," where Jesus Christ was made fun of, watching pornography, people, Christians, maybe have been annoyed by it but the producers of "South Park" were not threatened by Christians.

They were not threatened by Buddhists. They showed Buddha snorting cocaine. Muhammad, whose picture wasn't shown, there was a line saying "censored" and he was imagined to be in a Teddy bear, some of the followers of Muhammad got very angry. A few of them posted threats about the producers, and this is very mild.

There are today - I don't want to say, and it's been established, not all Muslims are terrorists, we must emphasize that, but almost all terrorist activities that take place today in our time are done and justified in the name of Islam.

Now to acknowledge that, the point I'm trying to make is is it possible, is it imaginable, that we can compete with the radical jihadists for the hearts and minds of young men like Faisal Shahzad or like Nidal Malik Hasan, and I believe we can, before they get to that stage.
And here is her answer to the question of why she continues to speak out as her life is threatened every day and security guards accompany her everywhere she goes:
I ask myself that question every day, and I think it's worth fighting those who intimidate me. Those who threaten, those who try to kill people who disagree with them, I think it's worth it. I think it's worth continuing to fight.
I encourage you to view or read the entire interview here. I know that I was very impressed by this very intelligent woman and her quest to inform the West about the religion that she was raised in. She is someone we should all pay attention to.

Art Linkletter, 1912-2010

This dear television icon passed away at his home in California yesterday. I will always remember him as the wonderful gentleman who interviewed children.. a segment from his "People are Funny" show that became known as "Kids Say the Darnedest Things". To honor Mr Linkletter I give you some of those darnedest things:

Have you ever been in love?
No, but I've been in like.

My father's a schoolteacher.
That's a fine profession. Does he like it?
He only has one thing to complain about.
What's that?
The kids.

What did your mommy tell you not to say?
My mother told me not to tell any of the family secrets, like the time she dyed her hair blonde and it came out purple.

Any brothers or sisters?
Would you like some?
Sure, I'm lonesome.
What does your mother say when you ask for one?
She just groans.

(Little girl, asked about her pets): I used to have a duck but it ran away. Then I had a turtle, but my father stepped on it. Then I had three goldfish, but my sister put water softener in their bowl and they softened to death.

What would you like to be?
A stewardess.
What if a plane was in danger over the Rocky Mountains?
I'd put parachutes on everybody and if there wasn't any parachutes I'd sew up sheets into parachutes real fast and put in extra pillows so if the sheets ripped on the way down, they could always land on the pillows.

You can find other kid stories here. Please join me in praying for the Linkletter family.

2,500 calories and 85 grams of fat

This just in from Kelly George at Atlanta Healthy Trends Examiner is this article titled
Worst restaurant meals revealed. Here are the winners.. I mean.. losers:
  • California Pizza Kitchen Tostada Pizza with Grilled Steak. With 1,680 calories,32 grams of saturated fat, and 3,300 mg of sodium. It’s equal to eating a Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizza topped with six Taco Bell Crunchy beef Tacos.
  • Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger. It has 920 calories and 30 grams of saturated fat. A large order of French fries at Five Guys has 1,460 calories, that’s equal to three large orders of fries at McDonald’s.
  • P.F. Chang’s Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo. The dish contains 1,820 calories and 7,690 milligrams of sodium.
  • The Cheesecake Factory Pasta Carbonara with Chicken. 2,500 calories and 85 grams of saturated fat are in this meal.
  • The Cheesecake Factory Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake. One serving has 1,670 calories and 48 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat. It’s equal to eating 14 Hostess Ho Ho’s.
  • Chevy's Crab Shrimp Quesadilla. This “appetizer” has 1,790 calories and 63 grams of saturated fat.
  • Bob Evans' Cinnamon Cream Stacked Stuffed Hotcakes. This breakfast is 1,380 calories and 34 grams of saturated fat. You could eat two country-fried steaks and four eggs for about the same.
  • Outback Steakhouse New Zealand Rack of Lamb. The lamb alone has 1,300 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat, add the sides and it is 80 grams of saturated fat.
The article says that "the standard recommended daily caloric intake for an adult is around 2,000 calories, with less than 20 grams of saturated fat." Some of those entrés are simply gross. I sometimes wonder if people really understand what they are eating.

Explaining Us to Ourselves

I will start with full disclosure - I have never seen one episode.. or even a part of an episode.. of the recently completed TV show called "Lost". That said, I will say that I was aware that this past Sunday night wrapped up about six season of the show. The reason I mention this is because of this thought shared at this site:
"Ultimately, 'Lost' was a show for the anxious, uncertain, post-Sept. 11 nation we have become. We've had to accept ambiguity as a fact of life, and we seek answers and closure, though none may be forthcoming. We're leery and skeptical about science but riddled with doubt about faith. To the extent that 'Lost' was about the journey and not the destination, about the drive to solve riddles rather than the solutions themselves, it was the show that best explained us to ourselves."
Looking at the title for season five (in the image) it seems apparent that some sort of destiny theme must have run through the show. That said, I am not sure that I am compelled to go out and rent season one of the show and get immersed in all things Lost.. but a few things did intrigue me about what was shared above:
  1. That the show's appeal (in part anyway) might have something to do with connecting the viewer with their own anxious feelings of uncertainty. Reflecting a bit.. I do think that life is that way.. the older I get the more I understand that.. life is so much less predictable than it was when I was younger.. much younger.
  2. People these days are less certain about things that scientists and preachers tell them. Really? Who can blame them? When I was young I believed that medical science was going to heal cancer. I thought space travel would be much more commonplace by the year 2001. And didn't we all get a bit more cynical when the immorality of televangelists and priests was exposed? 
  3. I have come to believe that life is about the journey and the way that we live our lives is very important. Often I have found that the journey is about confronting fears and embracing the courage to change. Sometimes it simply involves doing what God asks me to do.. even if it is difficult or makes me feel uncomfortable.
I liked the phrase "explained us to ourselves". Life is that way sometimes.. if we slow down enough we can almost observe life as it is happening and can come away with a new understanding of why we are the way we are and why we do the things we do. I guess it is all part of this inner journey of the heart that we all are on.

Does Time Heal All Wounds?

The title of this blog post,"Does Time Heal All Wounds?", from The Center for Grief Recovery, caught my attention. Here are a few thoughts from the piece:
  • We can all look back at certain hard or painful situations in life and laugh now about them. But the main point is time is just a concept we use to measure minutes, days, hours, months, years. Time is not a healer. The passage of time may take the edge off of acute pain, but it does not heal pain.
  • On the other hand, time can be used well for healing purposes. When time is used well, in terms of healing wounds, then it is because we do something specific with and within it. We take time and shape it in order to do inner work. It is inner work coupled with courage and honesty that heals all wounds
I suggest that you take a few minutes and read the whole post if you are interested in a brief treatment of the nature of grief and inner healing.

On a personal level I have found sharing and writing to be a vehicle for grieving. When my first wife Ellen passed away I joined a grief recovery group. This group provided me an outlet for my pain and a place to share with others who were also grieving. On the first night me met the leader of the group told us that we would either step into our pain or we would walk around it for a long time. Grieving is hard but necessary work.

After the group was over I began a long process of writing my thoughts down in a short ten chapter booklet I called "An Eye for Redemption". In it I walked through the grieving process I saw in the biblical book of Job and I related it to my life experiences. The experience of writing and sharing my pain was very healing.. I can remember crying at times as I would write.. there seemed to be a deep level of inner healing taking place.

It was from this writing experience that my first blog was born.. and of course I called it An Eye for Redemption. On it I have tried to share about the redemptive power of God in the midst of our pain and how He has used pain to shape me in amazing ways. I do not write there as much as I used to but feel free to browse the archives for my writings on varied topics.

In retrospect I have to say that time may not heal all wounds but time is definitely needed to do the difficult things that heal those wounds. What activities and resources have you found helpful in dealing with grief, pain and the healing of wounds?

Political Free Agency

The subtitle of this book "The Future of Working for Yourself" creates a different image of work than the one I had when I worked at Ma Bell for 27 years. My image changed though when I retired in 1998 and worked as a consultant (i.e. for myself) for the following seven years. For the first time I felt both the insecurity and the freedom that comes from a self-employment of sorts.

Recently heard someone describe the anti-incumbent primary winners as "free agents". I am not sure what he meant by that.

It did get me to pondering what it means to be a "free agent". Here is one definition:
In professional sports, a free agent is a player whose contract with a team has expired and who is thus eligible to sign with another club or franchise.
In that vein their are several types of free agents:
  1. Unrestricted free agent: Player without a team.
  2. Restricted free agent: Player is free to solicit offers from other teams but their team can keep them by matching an offer.
  3. Undrafted free agent: Player eligible for the Draft but not selected.
So I am wondering how these types of free agents would map to our current cadre of political candidates. Seems that most of these agents might fit into #2.. they might say that they are free but, in reality, they are indebted to some "party" - GOP, DEM or TEA. Some of these candidates fit into the third category.. they are untested and their allegiances are unknown.. they might be dangerous in a political sense.

Yet I do think that there are some that truly fit into #1.. truly independent people who will stay true to themselves and their constituencies. Granted, in this day where a lot of money is needed to get elected, it does seem that no candidate is a true free agent. To get elected these days one needs support from all sorts of special interests. Maybe no one is a true free agent? What do you think?

Digital Lynch Mob

This morning I heard this term, "Digital Lynch Mob", from a political TV pundit. It got me to wondering where it came from.. so I googled it and found this 2006 Washington Post op-ed piece with the same name. In it columnist Richard Cohen bemoans the thousand of emails he gets when he writes on something that folks disagree with. Here is a clip from him:
It seemed that most of my correspondents had been egged on to write me by various blogs. In response, they smartly assembled into a digital lynch mob and went roaring after me. If I did not like Colbert, I must like Bush. If I write for The Post, I must be a mainstream media warmonger. If I was over a certain age -- which I am -- I am simply out of it, wherever "it" may be. All in all, I was -- I am, and I guess I remain -- the worthy object of ignorant, false and downright idiotic vituperation.
Sadly I think that most of us have been part of one of these mobs. I know that I sometimes have written some ignorant stuff here on my blog and have been corrected by nice people in the comments section. This stuff reminds me of this Pierre Beaumarchais quote that I recently posted on Facebook:
"It is not necessary to understand things in order to argue about them."
Such is the dilemma that we bloggers face: Do we, like some investigative reporters, spend days researching issues then publish our thoughts when they are ready for prime time? Or do we, in a conversational mode, present our views and solicit ideas from others in the Blogosphere? I tend to do the latter.

Even though I understand it I do not like the term "Digital Lynch Mob" because of the picture it paints of the Blogosphere.. and granted I do not spend great amounts of time reading political blogs like Politico or Huffington Post.. the little I have read in places like those I don't see a much of a mob mentality.

Maybe the real mob mentality is more about those viral email messages that regularly show up in our email in-boxes. It does seem that these folks are not interested in dialog. Seems like I never hear from most that I reply to with a counter-view.. and any reference to Snopes.com is pretty much ignored.. and yes I have read the stuff about the Snopes bias.. I also use TruthOrFiction.com.

What comes to your mind when you hear the term "Digital Lynch Mob"? Emails? Blogs?

Another Health Insurance Horror Story

I think that this note, from a gal in a NMO online group that Ann and I belong to, accurately describes the what happens when health insurance companies run the show:
My insurance initially denied my first rituxan treatment (despite verbally confirming they WOULD pay). I went without rituxan for 3 years after that and I feel it was the biggest mistake I have made. My neuro did not advocate for me and I (stupidly) did not advocate for him to advocate for me (does that make sense?). Finally, after a really bad episode that landed me paralyzed from waist down, I decided to fight.

I asked my neuro to write a pointed and explicit letter detailing why I needed the drug and what would happen if I didn't get it, I wrote a letter detailing the same thing and how I had run out of options, I gathered info papers on NMO from the web (from doctors with respected credentials) showing that rituxan is effective for treatment of NMO, and my husband contacted the insurance liason from his company who acted as an advocate between us and the insurance company.

Believe me, I was ready to go to court-- that is how strongly I felt about it. Fortunately, they approved the request right away after receiving all that info. Please don't give up too soon. I just wish I hadn't--it has cost me a lot of mobility.

BTW, the insurance companies do not pay $20K for the infusions (that's what they want you to pay). The insurance companies negotiate a rate that is much less than that (still more than you would want/be able to pay). In my case, the rituxan (that they wouldn't pay for) was actually cheaper than the IVIG treatments they would pay for. Now doesn't that make sense?
A few lessons that we can glean from her experience:
  1. Insurance companies do not have our best interests in mind.
  2. We are responsible for our own treatment.
  3. Doctors are often reactive and not proactive with insurance.
  4. Bad stuff can happen if we cede treatment options to insurance companies.
  5. We need to vigorously fight claim denials.
  6. Computer programs routinely reject claims based on inaccurate information.
  7. Share information with other people.. it may really help.
I hope that things will get better after some of the new health care reforms are actualized but I think that these lessons may be even more important in the future.

Do you have any insurance company stories? Ever been denied coverage?

eGrandPrix: Electric Motorcycle Racing

According to this ZDNet article describing a different kind of race:
The eGrandPrix is open to any zero-carbon-emissions motorcycle including other alternative power sources such as hydrogen or solar. So far, though, the entries in the circuit have only been electric bikes.
Durng the 11-lap race at Infineon Raceway, most of the electric bikes will hit top speeds of around 100 mph.
One of the main challenges in electric motorcycle racing, says driver John Wild, is stuffing enough battery power into the bike frame. The frames that most teams are using were designed for traditional bikes, and fitting in all the batteries while maintaining proper weight distribution and aerodynamics can be challenging.
I kind of understand how manufacturers can throw a bunch of batteries in a car and somehow get it to work. I am not seeing batteries on these motorcycles though. Must be a whole different kind of battery.. maybe a bunch of D cells.. nobody uses them for flashlights anymore. I wonder if these bikes will be sold for street use?

Don't Judge My Misplaced Words & Personal Failings!

Does it ever surprise anyone these days when a politician lies or cheats? There are a few examples in the news this week of politicians who seem to have been caught lying and cheating.

Consider recent democratic primary winner Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal who once told crowds that he served in Vietnam and was on the Harvard swim team. As it turns out he did neither and confessed:
"On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service and I regret that. I take full responsibility."
"But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country."
Also consider "family values" republican congressman from Indiana, Mark Souder, who had an affair (I think we used to call it adultery) with a part time member of his staff and resigned from congress. He offered these words:
"I wish I could have been a better example. I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff."
"In the poisonous environment of Washington D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain. I am resigning rather than to put my family through the painful, drawn-out process."
Did you notice the similarities in these "apologies"? There seems to be an admission of guilt followed by a "don't judge me" attitude. Well.. I am not one to judge.. but I do wonder if either one of these guys is really sorry about what they did or just sorry they got caught.

I now remove my judicial robe and yield the bench to you. How judge ye?

Lessons from an Eccentric TV Doctor

One of my favorite TV characters is Gregory House.. that doctor genius played impeccably by Hugh Laurie. This season ended last night with another great installment.. the whole season has been about House's efforts to stay clean from a prescription drug addiction.. the season opener was a compelling story about a man in pain getting free from the grip of drugs. These past few weeks have been replete with observations about this past season of getting free.. here are a few of House's recent observations:
  • "I followed all of the rules and I am not happy." - House tells his counselor that he is done with their meetings.. after months of therapy he feels no better than he did when they began. Man, can I ever relate to this one.  It reminds me that life is not about following rules and sometimes getting healthy involves some tough living. I think that happiness is seldom found when it is the object of our search.
  • "I did everything right and she still died." - House is devastated.. he cared.. he used all of his medical genius to save an innocent victim.. and she died. Again, I can so relate. Reminded me of how I prayed for my first wife for years hoping and believing that she would be healed.. but she died. Life is not a formula.. religious or otherwise.. life is something that confounds the rules.. bad stuff happens even when we do everything right.. even when we believe and pray.
In the end Doctor House is faced with a tough decision.. he is in physical pain.. he has stayed free of that nasty Vicodin all year.. he is hurting.. he feels stuck.. he is ready to chuck it all and go back to a life of addiction.. and out of nowhere love wins the day - something else that I can personally relate to.

i-Fairy Pastor

Do you ever wonder where our high-tech world is heading? Look no farther than this Reuters article titled "I do" goes high-tech with Japan robot priest.. it may be just the ticket for those folks that are unhappy with the "institutional" church. Consider these outtakes from the article:
The groom looked dashing, his bride resplendent in white, but all eyes in this Japanese wedding were on the priest, a four-foot tall robot with colorful, flashing eyes called i-Fairy.

The robot is usually used in museum and exhibitions to direct visitors, but with the help of a flower headpiece, and a new programme, it pronounced Satoko Inoue and Tomohiro Shibata man and wife at a Sunday ceremony.
The bride, Inoue, works for the company that makes the i-Fairy, and her husband, Shibata, is a client.

"It's true that robots are what caused us to first begin going out, and as suggested by my wife, we decided that we wanted to try this sort of wedding," Shibata said after making his vows.

After saying "I do," the bride said that she wanted to use her wedding to show people that robots can easily fit into their daily lives.

"I always felt that robots would become more integrated into people's everyday lives. This cute robot is part of my company, I decided that I would love to have it at my ceremony," Inoue said.
I have to say that this is just plain weird.. first because Japan allowed the i-Fairy to officiate the wedding and secondly (and more importantly) that the couple wanted it to.

As a person who has done a bit of premarital counseling I believe that marriage is something not to be taken likely. I do hope that this couple somehow found a way to involve people in their marital preparations.. and I do hope that they will not one day need an i-Fairy lawyer.

Boomer Narcissism

Don't you just hate that image on the right.. it just shouts to me.. not that I am giving up my Facebook account. Reminds me of a conversation I had last week about our culture and Baby Boomers. I began reflecting on how different my generation seemed to that of my parents.. Boomers just seem so much more narcissistic.. in case you are wondering what the term means here is a definition:
"narcissism: an inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity."
When I think about the differences with my parents generation I think of the word sacrifice - it seems that living through the depression created an environment where sacrifice and care for others was a bit more prevalent. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor men of all ages sacrificed their lives and safety to defend our nation. One the flip-side most Boomers had to be drafted into military service during the Vietnam War.. not that I am making a direct correlation between those two wars.. just seemed to be a different prevailing attitude.

Even faith and church life seems to be different for Boomers and their parents. In the 70s the message seemed to be all about "my" "personal" relationship to God.. even today their seems to be somewhat of an unhealthy narcissistic focus on church and religious community.. most of the donations seem to fund buildings and salaries with very little going to real charitable stuff.. but maybe that is the way that it has always been?

I am not sure why but I think that maybe even the type of government we have is a reflection of this narcissistic bent.. it seems that, for some anyway, we are all about keeping what we have and making sure the government doesn't spend too much money on welfare programs. It reminds me of something I heard once about the three ideological C's:
  • Communism: What's yours is mine.
  • Capitalism: What's mine is mine.
  • Christianity: What's mine is yours.
While some believe that our government is trending to that first communistic "C" I think that most Christian Boomers embrace that second capitalistic "C" rather than the Christian "C". And yes, I agree that the church could better care for poor than the government.. if the church was not a part of this boomer narcissism.. but it is a part of it and therefore building and salaries still seem to trump caring for the poor.

Not sure what I really wanted to say here.. feel I have rambled a bit.. guess I just wanted to reflect a bit and process this stuff. I think that narcissism is an unhealthy issue that our culture is dealing with but I do not have any answers.. seems that it is so widespread.. and I have no clue about where it will take us or how much more narcissistic the next generations will become.. hopefully future generations will buck the narcissism trend.

What do you think? Do you think narcissism is a problem? Any solutions?

Ten Random Answers about Me

My friend Barbara posted a meme yesterday on her blog. Thought that I might do the same one.. been a while since I did one of these.. here goes:
  1. What would your perfect day consist of? Being with my wife Ann; beginning with a stroll close to the beach; continuing with an afternoon with friends; and ending with a quiet meal at a place on the ocean at dusk.
  2. How would you describe yourself if you were an article of clothing? A pair of jean shorts.. a bit revealing in a comfortable way - but not all that transparent.
  3. What hobbies are you currently working on? Blogging - what else.
  4. Walking in the woods in wellies or barefoot on the beach? Anyplace close to the ocean.
  5. Have you ever hugged or sang to a tree? No but I have taken a chainsaw to a few - gotta keep that fireplace going.
  6. Growing your own veggies or nipping to the supermarket? No contest there - I am a city guy but my wife used to grow stuff.
  7. Have you found anyone exciting in your family tree? My first wife told me she was a descendant of General Robert E. Lee but I kind of doubted her.
  8. Slap up meal in a posh restaurant or fish 'n' chips from the wrapper? Depends on the mood - but I am generally always up for pizza.
  9. Which element do you most resonate with: Earth, Air, Fire or Water? Love long hot showers and time in a hot tub.
  10. Do you believe in fairies? No - but I do believe in angels.
I invite you to enter your answers in the comments or on your blog.. tell me if you do.

Listening to Your Emotions

This interesting ten minute video features Dr. Matthew Elliott talking about his book, "Feel: The Power of Listening to Your Heart." I like the focus in the video on listening to and not following our emotions.. I use emotions and not "heart" because I think that it is a clearer term. Here are a few clips from Dr. Elliott's post on the Jesus Creed blog:
I was with a woman this morning who lost her son to tragedy three years ago. This intense, strong, vibrant follower of Jesus told me that she had almost left the church because people spoke theology and empty Christian platitudes to her instead of feeling and weeping with her. It was terribly empty. She found comfort from those who would share her pain. That is the way God made us.
We think our job is to control our feelings and in our church culture we are uncomfortable when people feel deeply. In our desire to distance ourselves from feelings, we do great damage to souls and our own ability to feel love and compassion.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the doing we forget that, to God, the core issue is the state of our hearts. Feelings have much to say about the true state of our hearts, that is why they are so prominent is Scripture
Our most powerful witness is often not what we say but how others see we feel our faith. The world is not asking us for perfect answers and ultimate logic. What people are asking Christians is: "Do you love me? Does the life you say you have in Christ bring you the joy and hope I want in my life? Can I see it on your face?"
I like how he says we must listen to our emotions but not follow them. The imagery of "feeling and weeping" with someone is one that many feel so uncomfortable with. In a sense I think that feeling another's pain is a way that we can love them. I have often cried with others and have had folks cry with me - in each case I have felt a bit more whole.. a bit more human.. a bit more loved.. a bit more connected to God.

I think that people need us on many levels.. my hope is that each of us will be open to loving others in this compassionate way.. and not afraid of being labelled as an emotional person.. like that is a bad thing.

First Lady Popularity - not like their husbands

Consider the results of my two recent polls and how differently people feel about our recent presidents and their wives:

Firstly, I have to say that I have extended the sidebar First Lady voting a few days so please vote away if you have not already. I would love to see if the trend is different with a few more ballots cast. Here are a few questions I had as I watched the votes come in:
  • How can Ronald Reagan be so popular and Nancy not?
  • How can Laura Bush be so popular and her husband not?
  • Is Hillary Clinton still as unpopular as she was in the 90s?
  • Is the role of the First Lady that important to people?
Sometimes I want to return to the days of Camelot when the Kennedys lived in the White House and first lady Jackie wowed everybody. I was a young teen back then and the White House seemed to be such a magical place. Alas, those days are long gone and images of the cynical Watergate days still seem to occasionally overshadow Washington.

I am interested in your thoughts about the role of the First Lady. When you think about past first wives do you think that they have been an asset or liability to their husbands?

Conspiracy Theories

Once a month I get together with some great guys at something we call Colloquy.. a term that is from the Latin word colloquium and is defined as "discussion" or "conversation". Last night we began by talking about conspiracy theories. One guy began by saying that he is a died in the wool "birther" and doesn't believe that our president was born in Hawaii.. and yes, these folks do exist.. and no, I am not one of them. Our discussion got me to thinking about some of the other theories that have floated around out there.. here are a few:
  • New World Order: I have been around this one for a long time. It comes from some passages from the biblical book of Revelation and is wrapped around the idea that the whole earth will one day be ruled by an Antichrist figure. The theory is replete with current day rumors about the Illuminati, Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Affairs. I guess only time will tell.
  • JFK Assassination: Central to this theory is the claim that the injuries received by President Kennedy and Governor Connally could not have been caused by a lone gunman behind the motorcade and to the right. See Oliver Stone for more details.
  • Skull & Bones: This Yale University fraternity is often thought of as being a secret society producing many financial and political leaders who have control or seek to gain control of the world. See Presidents Bush and Senator Kerry for more info.
  • UFOs and Area 51: The popular X-Files TV show was based in part on this whole idea that extraterrestrials exist and are in cahoots with powerful humans to dominate the world. Ask me about my trip to Saturn some time.
  • Apollo Moon Landings: This theory purports that man did not walk on the moon but these flights were "staged" in a Hollywood movie or other studio because they never happened. I think Buzz Aldrin might have been a bit buzzed in 1969.
  • Elvis Sightings: This one is probably my favorite. Since his death in 1977 several theories have developed suggesting that the King is still alive. I think that he probably stole President Obama's birth certificate.
Do you have a favorite conspiracy theory? Care to share it?

GOP YouCut: Move over American Idol

A friend forwarded me an email about a new idea that Eric Cantor, GOP congressman and minority whip, has about how our government should operate. Here is Cantor's introduction to the program from his website:
YouCut – a first-of-its-kind project - is designed to defeat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress. It allows you to vote, both online and on your cell phone, on spending cuts that you want to see the House enact. Vote on this page today for your priorities and together we can begin to change Washington's culture of spending into a culture of savings.
Al this program needs is Ryan Seacrest to announce the voting results once a week on live national TV. Here are a few of the things that Congressman Cantor wants us to vote on:
  • Presidential Election Fund to save $260 million over 5 years
  • Taxpayer Subsidized Union Activities to save $600 million over 5 years
  • HUD Program for Doctoral Dissertations to save $1 million over 5 years
  • New Non-Reformed Welfare Program to save $2.5 billion a year
  • Eliminate Wealthier Communities from CDBG to save $2.6 billion over five years
The idea is to vote on these online or from your phone and Congressman Cantor will give us new things to vote on next week. His website reduces these intricate issues down to one paragraph so that we, the great uninformed, have everything we need to vote.

I have to say that this is a weird idea.. at least on American Idol we get to hear all the contestants sing before we vote. On these issues all we get is a partisan view of the issues.. no pros or cons.. no middle ground positions.. no compromise. Just a silly website that is designed to placate fiscal conservatives. It seems like a bit of a weird joke to me.

The bills that typically go through congress are more than a paragraph.. they are studied by smart people.. they are evaluated for their benefits to our country and our citizens. Crazy to think that someone thinks that we should reduce them to a paragraph and "let the people vote" on them using limited information.

I may not really understand what Congressman Cantor wants or how he plans to use this information.. or if he no longer believes in a representative style of government. It just seems silly to me to have people texting yeas or nays ala American Idol.. unless he is asking us if we want to cut the salaries of congress.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? Will you text your vote today?

The Need for Speed

I clipped this image from the front page of USA Today. The image came with this poll:

"How Would You Describe Your Driving?"
  1. Hard-core speeder
  2. Sometimes speeder
  3. Speed-law observer
  4. Not sure

Once upon a time (when I was single) I think that I would have answered 1.2.. not sure that I was hard-core but I did speed a lot. I remember how difficult it was to stay under 70mph when I lived in Texas and Mexico.. all that desert and no one to be seen for miles and miles.. once I did get pulled over in Mexico doing 90mph.. and was decelerating at the time.

In my middle-years I think that my poll answer would have been 2.. especially when I was on a long trip to see my family back east. I think that my driving habits back then were reflective of my Type-A personality.. I always had my watch set 5 minutes ahead back then.. I had places to go and people to see.. and I was so important.

These days I think that I would answer the poll with a 2.9. I usually observe the speed limit but occasionally catch myself going a few miles over the posted limit. I guess I am just not in that much of a hurry to get where I am going.

How would you have answered the poll? Have you slowed down since your youth?

The Hurt Locker | ★★★★★★★★★

I was surprised by this great movie about the war in Iraq. Here is the Netflix writeup:
Kathryn Bigelow directs this gripping drama (winner of the Best Picture Oscar) following one of the U.S. Army's elite EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) teams operating in the ferocious war zone of Iraq. As the squad identifies and dismantles improvised explosive devices and other bombs, they must also contend with the frayed nerves and internal conflicts that arise from living in constant peril.
I found the movie to be moving and educational at the same time. I thought it was a pretty believable rendering of what it must be like to live in such a dangerous place doing such a life-threatening job. The lead character, Will James, was portrayed so well by Jeremy Renner.. he showed us the type of person needed to defuse explosive devices.. Sergeant James seemed to be such an amazing blend of courage, testosterone and wisdom. At one point he tells us that he has defused 873 explosive devices.

I enjoyed the movie and thought that it honored our troops serving overseas. It was especially meaningful to me as my son has served two year-long tours on the front lines of Iraq. I recommend it to you. On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★★★★★

Not Those 14th Century Cures Anyway

I grew up watching Jerry Lewis host telethons for Muscular Dystrophy and I honestly believed that MD would be cured in my lifetime.. I turn 61 this week and my hope that major diseases like MD will be cured before I die is slim at best. It seems that all of my life researchers have been futilely looking for cures to diseases like cancer, diabetes, AIDS, ALS, MD, MS, NMO, and many other acronymed diseases.

Apart from that it seems that we humans are also killing ourselves slowly with the food and substances that we ingest. Comforting to know that we have improved some though considering that, according to to this site, the people of 14th century Europe battled disease using superstitious and uninformed treatments like:
  • bathing in human urine;
  • wearing of excrement;
  • placing dead animals in homes;
  • use of leeches that sucked out blood;
  • drinking molten gold and powdered emeralds.
So glad we have advanced past those things. Even so, in the past few years I have spent a few bucks researching and imbibing other nonprescription home remedies to battle osteoarthritis and elevated cholesterol levels.. and I have not found any to really deliver results.. but I still take high levels of concentrated fish oil each day hoping that it will do me some good over time. And people often tell me that I need to find a family of leeches to help me to reduce my high iron levels.

I am still hopeful that research on things like stem cells may one day produce a cure for diseases like NMO (the one my wife battles). Until then I will remain thankful for the drugs and therapies that are helping fight off diseases after they inflict their victims.. and especially today I am thankful for Rituxin - that chemo drug that is helping my wife as she gets a dose of it today.

Do you remember watching Jerry and thinking how one day these diseases would be cured? Have you found any natural/home remedies to work for you?

Remembering a New York Woman

This past January my mom died in New Jersey. She was 93.. she would have been 94 this month. Today is my first Mother's day without her. Following is a childhood picture of mom (on the left) with her sister Blanche … along with a few excerpts from the eulogy that I shared at her funeral:

Growing up I got to spend a lot of time with Mom’s mom. There were a lot of similarities between Grandma and Mom: they were both feisty New Yorkers … both had a great heart and deep seated love for their family. Like Grandma, Mom was a very independent woman … she was a strong woman … she ran the house … paid the bills … and rode herd over four New York kids and made sure that we were in church at All Saints Episcopal every Sunday.
I already miss my Mom. I want to end my talk by sharing a few thoughts with you about her. When I think about my Mom I will always think of a New York woman … it was hard to keep up with Mom … she could out-walk anybody on the sidewalks of the city … at times when I was growing up she seemed so fearless.

When I think of her, I will also think of an imperfect woman … Mom made mistakes but she was not a person who let herself wallow in those mistakes … she knew how to forgive herself and move on … it took me a while to understand that about her.

But most of all I will remember Mom as the woman who was instrumental in making me who I am today. My Mom showed me how to be tough in adversity – God knows I have needed that lesson. She taught me to believe in others and believe in myself … she always accepted me and loved me for who I was. Mom was proud of me whether I was in school, in the Army or working at AT&T. When I was around her I felt encouraged … you know, it was years after I left home that I realized that I had limitations.

I knew no limits with Mom … her love for me inspires me still.

Favorite President Poll Results

Thanks to the twenty-four folks that took my favorite recent president poll. Here are a few observations that I took away from it:
  • You all are so politically diverse. The vote was dead even between the democratic and republican presidents given that I voted for the first President Bush.
  • Neither President Bush was popular when compared to President Reagan. 
  • Republican nostalgia seemed a bit present.. even I pine for those good old Reagan days.
  • President Obama is the most popular among democrats but not in the same way that President Reagan is among republicans. Maybe he will be in a few years?
I do wonder how Independents voted. I think of myself as one of those indie folks - but I did vote for the GOP candidate in most of the last nine presidential elections. Maybe I am only an IINO but I don't think that I have ever been a RINO.

What are your thoughts about the poll? Any surprises? Want to change your vote?

Please take my new First Lady poll on my sidebar.. seems like an appropriate way to honor first moms on Mother's Day.

Vote for My New Answering Machine Message

A few suggestions from this funny site.. please vote for one of these messages and I might change my message.. if my wife gives me permission.
  1. Hello. I'm Bob's answering machine.
    What are you?
  2. Bob here. I'm home right now, I'm just screening my calls. So start talking and if you're someone I want to speak with I'll pick up the phone. Otherwise, well, what can I say?
  3. Hi, this is Bob. I'm sorry I can't answer the phone right now. Leave a message, and then wait by your phone until I call you back.
  4. I'm only here in spirit at the moment, but if you'll leave your name and number, I will get back to you as soon as I'm here in person. 
  5. You have reached the number you have dialed. Please leave a message after the beep.
  6. Hello. You are talking to a machine. I am capable of receiving messages. My owners do not need siding, windows, or a hot tub, and their carpets are clean. They give to charity through the office and don't need their picture taken. If you're still with me, leave your name and number and they will get back to you.
  7. You have reached 555-5555. We picked this machine up at a garage sale in "as-is" condition. You can try to leave a message on it, but we are not sure it will be recorded. If we don't return your call, it means the machine did not work. 
  8. Thank you for calling 555-5555. If you wish to speak to Tim, push 1 on your touch tone phone now. If you wish to speak to Lynn, push 2 on your touch tone phone now. If you have a wrong number, push 3 on your touch tone phone now. All of this button pushing doesn't do anything, but it is a good way to work off anger, and it makes us feel like we have a big time phone system.
  9. The President is not in his office at this time. Please leave your name, phone number, the name of the country you wish to invade, and the secret password.
  10. You know what I hate about answering machine messages? They go on and on, wasting your time. I mean, all they really need to say is, "We aren't in, leave a message." That's why I've decided to keep mine simple and short. I pledge to you, my caller, that you will never have to suffer through another long answering machine message when you call me.
Please vote on one of these, the other 80 messages here or suggest one of your own.

The Age of Majority: 18 or 21?

This cartoon reminded me of an interesting blog post and following comment dialog that my friend Barbara had on her blog. The essence of the dialog was whether the age of majority in the United States should be 18 or 21. The topics involved voting and drinking ages as well as the maturity level needed to serve in the military and potentially risk your life in war.. some stuff that we don't think too much about.

Over the years I have been all over the place on this issue. I really resented the state of Texas for denying me the right to drink a beer when I was 19 and lived there during my military service. I felt that they disrespected me and my service to our country.

In more recent years, after discussing front-line battle situations with my son, I have come to believe that a person should be at least 21 to serve in the military. Some of my son's descriptions of 19 year olds on the front-lines of war are disturbing and troubling. I think that teenagers are too young to be put in these life and death situations.

I have similar thoughts about the maturity levels needed to cast a ballot in the voting booth. I am not saying that all 19 year olds are immature but I have noticed that many of the ones I know may not be the best informed on the issues.. and yes.. I know that folks over 21 fall in that same category.. some people stay politically young forever.

So I kind of net these things out.. I think of how many young people are not really independent.. some live with their parents and others go to college on their parents dime.. I think about how immature I was before 21.. and I feel that.. all things considered.. the drinking age should not be lowered but the voting and military ages should be raised.

And I know that I have not even mentioned the age of majority when it comes to criminal prosecution.. or the age when a person should be eligible to drive a car (see this post for my thoughts on teen drivers).. I think that those may be different issues.. but frankly I am not sure they are.. I just don't want to think about them right now.

Either way it seems that the age of majority for drinking, military service and voting should all be the same age. To me, it still seems disrespectful to tell a soldier that we honor his service but not enough to allow him to drink a beer. An alternative would be to keep things as they are and allow a soldier to show their military ID and be allowed to drink before age 21?

What do you think the age of majority should be? Any stories?

Defiance | ★★★★★★★★★★

I am not sure how this wonderful 2008 movie got by my radar. I am so glad that Netflix recommended it to me. It is the inspirational true story of Tuvia Bielski, one of four Jewish brothers who escape from Nazi occupied Poland into the forests of Belarus during World War II to lead a band of resistance fighters and create a safe haven for Jewish refugees. The real-life sanctuary established by the Bielski brothers saved more than 1,000 Jews from persecution and death.

At times the movie broke my heart - I will never understand the cruelty of Nazi soldiers or the people who did not help the Jewish people. I was so inspired by the courage of the Bielski brothers and the people they led and protected in the forest. Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber played the eldest Bielski brothers and gave us a peek into the frustrations of losing their parents, wives, children and the people they cherished. The actions of the Jews in the forest often show us their raw emotions and their desire for avenge the ones they lost to the inhumanity of the Nazis.

The movie is over two hours long but it did not seem that long. The story grabs you and keeps you entranced by these courageous people as they endure the hardships of a Belorussian winter and struggle to find community in the midst of such difficult times. The selflessness and strong leadership of Tuvia is most inspirational and reminiscent of other strong cinematic leaders like William Wallace of Braveheart.. some of the Jews in the story called him Moses.. he did seem to carry them in his heart.

I highly recommend this movie. On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★★★★★★

My Cinco de Mayo Taco Story

In the same way that everyone is Irish on St Patrick's Day, today everyone is Mexican.. at least in the way that they eat and drink to celebrate the day that commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over the French on May 5, 1862.

I think this funny picture is the image of Mexican food that I had in 1970 when my Army buddy, Conrad, brought me from El Paso to his home in Phoenix. When we got there his mom announced that we were having tacos. I hope that I didn't but I may have made a face about eating something "Mexican". Although I had lived in the El Paso, Texas area for several years I had not even tried Mexican food.

I was a finicky eater back then - not so much these days.. unfortunately. In retrospect it is pretty funny.. sometimes I think that tacos are more American than Mexican. I can still remember that dinner in Phoenix and how much I loved those tacos. The following year was replete with many trips to Taco Bell in El Paso to grab some of those delicious folded tortilla sandwiches. I even branched out a bit eating the occasional burrito but think that I mainly stayed with those wonderful tacos.

My wife and I left the Army and El Paso in October of 1971 (yes I got married in June of that year) and moved back to New York - the place of no tacos or burritos. A year or so later we introduced my New York family to the world of tacos.. I am not sure where we got the shells. Our taco dinner was met with raves as my New York family was introduced to the world of Cinco de Mayo.. well.. they liked the tacos and eventually.. years later.. a Taco Bell showed up in the area.. and people of the New York area had access to fast food Mexican.

Do you remember the first time you tried Mexican food? How will you celebrate today?

Whoda Thunk It?

About twenty years ago when you we laying around the pool looking up at the clouds and dreaming about what great things might come in twenty years you might have been thinking about hover-cars without tires and cures for cancer. Who would have ever thought that these things would be popular:
  • Premium Coffee Drinks: 20 years ago I had never even tasted a cappuccino much lest tasted one. And I used to be very happy with the taste of Folgers.. even the instant crystal version seemed okay way back then. Sadly those days of cheap caffeinated drinks have given way to very expensive brews and blends. I wouldn't touch that Folgers these days - unless you offered me some at your place of course.
  • Bottled Water: This one still amazes me. I remember having to buy bottles of water when I was in China in 1987 and thinking how lucky I was to live in a place where the water from the tap was clean enough to consume orally. Now I have a water filter on my refrigerator - even my ice cubes are pure. Sadly I still use the kitchen sink to fill up my glass.
  • Liquid Soap: Anyone remember the days when each sink had a soap dish that hosted a communal bar of soap that we all used to wash our hands? These days each of my 5 of my 6 sinks have their own liquid soap dispensers. I have to admit that I do like the feel of the Dial liquid soap that we use - and it is antibacterial as well!
  • Crocs: When I was growing up guys did not wear sandals and we called those rubbery foot things "thongs" (i.e. flip flops) that we mainly used in public showers. These days everyone wears Crocs (see image) - I have two pair of them. They are cheap.. after all most of them are made of rubber (mine have canvas or leather trim) and pretty functional. Even so I still see a lot of sandals and flip-flops out there.
What have I forgot? I know that there are other things that have surprised me over the past 20 years. Can you think of any other stuff?

Immigration: Compromise instead of Confrontation

I thought that this Associated Press article, titled Could immigration furor create positive evolution?, presented an interesting perspective on the new immigration law in Arizona:
What good could possibly come of this bad situation? A lot, it turns out. Because suddenly the entire nation is having a huge Arizona conversation, from rallies on the streets to voices on the airwaves — and there are signs of compromise instead of confrontation.

The emotional outcry could, counterintuitively, improve the country's immigration situation in the long run by addressing directly a problem Americans have faced for a long time: We have no effective system for dealing with people who risk everything and break the law to come here.

"It's a deplorable situation. But it will have an energizing, mobilizing effect," said Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The Arizona law, he said, has caused a conversation that otherwise would have remained largely undiscussed.
I do not live in Arizona and do not know what the impact of illegal immigrants have had on that state.. so I guess I do not want to criticize too harshly the bill that has raised all of the national angst and outrage. I do share the concerns many have about racial profiling and think that the bill could be very problematic for law enforcement.

I do agree with the essence of this article though. Before the Arizona law was passed discussion of US immigration policy was way on the back burner of political debate. I mean really - where were these discussions when the bill was being debated by the Arizona legislature? So maybe a good outcome of the bill is that it returned immigration to front and center of the national debate.

Lets hope congress can get passed the Arizona law and begin constructive debate on national immigration reform. Lets hope that we will get passed confrontation. Lets hope that the lasting effect will be an increase in conversation and compromise. With that in mind what compromise would like to see brought to the immigration debate? Do you think that there is a middle ground?

One is the Loneliest Number

Hmmm. That post title cause me to flash back to my early twenties when "Three Dog Night" sang that song. As many of you might have guessed.. I am a lover of quotes.. I am signed up for several "quote of the day" services. Today these two quotes came across my virtual desk:
"We're all in this alone." -Lily Tomlin

"Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it." -Tallulah Bankhead
These speak to me of how many of us really feel alone in the world. In a sense we are alone in our uniqueness - no two people grieve alike.. each of us experience pain differently.. the recipe that brings us joy is so diverse.. and we can sometimes feel so alone in our uniqueness wondering if anyone really "gets us".. sometimes questioning whether people really care.. often going to some pretty dark places.

I remember when my first wife Ellen died how people would ask me if I was lonely. I would usually say no.. after all I did have many people at work that I interacted with during the day and my children with me when I was not at work. What I would think though was how alone I felt.. I wondered if I would ever find another person who would "get me". Fortunately I did.

Even so I still have times when I find myself feeling alone.. even in prayer I often do not sense God's presence. It is at these times that I have learned to let myself embrace the stillness. Instead of running away from the discomfort of being alone I turn it inside out. I find that it can be a time of building a relationship with myself.. time to meditate on the things that are going on in my life and examine deeply how I feel about those things.

I think that it is so easy to be dependent on others, and even events, for our happiness.. and when those people or events are not present we can feel so alone in our sadness or our happiness. Now I am not saying that we do not need the presence of people or God - these are essential aspects to our well being. I am just saying that it can be healthy to be comfortable with being alone. Maybe it is another way to say that we must find a way to love ourselves before we are able to love others in a healthy way.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What do you do when you are alone?

Calvin Borel Does It Again

He did it again.. Calvin Borel won the Kentucky Derby for the third time in the last four years riding 15/1 favorite, Super Saver, across the finish line today. Simply amazing.

Congrats to the reigning king of the jockeys.

A Cow Standing in the Rain

Something about this funny Shoebox cartoon that speaks to me about being a nonconformist. So much of my work life I conformed to the image that I had about the expectations of the company that I worked for. Only part of that expectation involved clothes.. and yes I dutifully wore a tie in those days. I wonder how many corporate executives or even religious leaders could be labeled as conformists. Seems like the great ones were not.

Here are a few thoughts about it:

The average man is a conformist, accepting miseries and disasters with the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain. -Colin Wilson

Every society honors its live conformists, and its dead troublemakers. -Mignon McLaughlin

You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note. -Doug Floyd

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. -Mark Twain

The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself. -Rita Mae Brown