Posted by: JDM..... | January 31, 2013

There I go…

…taking myself too seriously again…

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Posted by: JDM..... | September 18, 2014

Promises, promises, promises…

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Posted by: JDM..... | September 16, 2014

Last call…..

Don’t bet on it…..

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Posted by: JDM..... | September 12, 2014

News is the new Vaudeville…

except it’s ridiculous, not funny….

Never a moment’s rest, it seems. The tabloidesque media hardly has time to whip some incident of alleged inadequate interracial or ethnic obeisance, social turpitude with sexual undertones, or some other trendy no-no into a lather when someone else steps in a yard cookie. Jeese!

I’m tempted to make reference to “the latest” issue to get wanna-be investigative reporters wallowing in dumpsters at midnight and demanding fifth grade report cards et al under the Freedom of Information Act, but I know another will likely hit the fan any minute now. Regardless, the hot issue at present is the Ray Rice controversy, wherein the star Baltimore Ravens running back was video-recorded giving his now-wife a knuckle sandwich in an elevator about five months ago.

Not unlike when a size 12 disrupts the integrity of an ant hill, the revelation, the video, and NFL resumes hit the fan as Rice was kicked off his “job”, relieved of the trainload of money he was contracted to earn, and the feeding frenzy was on. Who knew what, when did they know it, and what did they have for lunch that day? Film at eleven….probably the same one everybody saw at six in the morning, at noon, mid afternoon, and after supper. Only the details change as the taint of responsibility wicks through all in the neighborhood.

Interesting. When a similar thing happened in my town recently, as it unfortunately does on a regular basis, the accused was arrested, made the Police Reports in the morning paper, went to jail, bailed out, and was scheduled for a court date a few months in the future. If he is convicted, appropriate consequences will be handed down in a court of law. Meanwhile, other than having no contact with the victim and a few other restrictions, he returns to his normal routine and is innocent until proven guilty.

Employers are often supportive of valued employees who run into trouble, except in cases of heinous felonies, of course, and unless the frowned upon and/or illegal behavior has become a habit for the employee. When big Names and big Dollars are involved however, “employers” can’t wait to shake the Name off and away like a tenacious booger

Rice, Commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL in general, and somebody’s third cousin, no doubt, are all being tried by the rabid media. Fingers are pointing in multiple directions in a game of “Musical Who Gets to Live Under the Bus“. Meanwhile, there has been no involvement by the law enforcement side of the equation.

Here’s my take on it, political correctitude and the media be damned:

Domestic violence is against the law, and while it is not tolerated in our society, it happens to more than 1,300,000 men and women in the United States every year. Consequences may include incarceration, probation, financial penalties, and more. The goal is not only to protect the victim and exact punishment, but to address the abuser’s issues in an effort to prevent subsequent assaults.

Like it or not, we do have an unofficial caste system, and people of fame and wealth, whether it be in politics, the entertainment world, or in sports, are treated differently. Ray Rice should have been held accountable under the law just as any other man would have been. No consequences should have been levied until he had had the benefit of his day in court, and any consequences should be the business of the court, not the NFL. And even if the NFL were to have a say, it seems to me the incident should be mulled over by some sort of tribunal before they draw and quarter the man in the town square.

Rice and other people of note should not be immune from prosecution, nor should they be punished and stripped of their assets without benefit of first being allowed to present a defense to prosecution.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | September 9, 2014

I’m sorry….

and other moments of ennui…..

I see that the Apology Epidemic continues to chug along nicely, or at least the media flies continue to swarm around it like a July barnyard. I have some thoughts on the matter.

First of all, “apology” is a misunderstood reference today, though with unintentional but exquisite irony its application is almost always as apt now as it would have been when the ancient Greeks coined the word’s precursor to denote the act of speaking in defense of something. In the modern context, that usually means the apologizer’s ass.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | August 24, 2014

I wonder what happens.….

when the puppet yanks BACK on a line…..?

I think we’ve all run into one of those annoying people who has made it their life’s work to finish every sentence you try to utter. I even knew one who did it silently, just mouthing the words you were presumed to be on the verge of saying. I don’t know about anyone else, but that sort of thing has a way of inspiring felonious fantasies in me.

I was thinking about that yesterday when I scratched out a cartoon that had zipped through my head and just had to be brought to life. Within moments, that irritating third Facebook column informed me that I might also be interested in a “group” about animation.

That happens a lot. If I blog something, the “tags” are forwarded to the Marketing and Thought Completion Department where they are repurposed as spam. The same thing happens if I e-mail a friend or look something up on Google. The Cybersnoops presume to decide my every next act, thought, urge, impulsive purchase, genre of curiosity, and body noise.
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Which provided me with an amusing thought “THEY” haven’t been privy to until this moment…..

I’m going to embark upon a campaign of chumming in cyberspace, just to see what will bite on whatever I toss out there…….and I guarantee it will be an eclectic scattershot of double entendres, obscene references, psychosis inducing incongruities, and any other padlocks and random metal ware I can stuff into the Facebook, Google, and Microsoft extruders.

This should be fun. I wonder if I can manipulate them into self destruction or self incrimination of some sort?

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | August 22, 2014

Government on guard against extremism.….

might I suggest they look in the mirror?…..

When the Attorney General of the United States made a visible point of grabbing some airtime from the Ferguson, MO flare-up, I was reminded of something I was thinking about just a couple of months ago when he announced that he was going to reconvene the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, a tentacle of the Dept. of Justice brought to life in response to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The function was put on the shelf following the events of “9/11″ when international circumstances took precedence.

I have a problem with this concept, and am still withholding any fist-pumping or symbolic bellowing of “HOO-rahs” until AG Eric Holder and his handlers answer some tough questions. Good luck; “terrorism” is neither a new word nor a modern concept, and it seems to be one of those “silly putty” items in the lexicon that take on the shape of whatever context they happen to land in. Just what the hell is a “terrorist”, anyway? From the perspective of King George III, George Washington must surely have been a “terrorist”. Nelson Mandela was called a “terrorist”. Et Cetera.

The point is, you can jump back and forth across that moat indefinitely without discovering a stable definition that works on both sides. I’ve heard it said that “terrorism” is kind of a broad brush, mostly used by governments and other authorities to cast an air of doubt and negativity over those who oppose them. Heck, most of us learned how to exert power by discounting the other guy before we got out of Kindergarten.

***

Getting back to the DTEC

First of all, I can’t help but wonder precisely how this “ Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee” will definedomestic terrorist” to begin with. If one looks at that question in the context of 1995, when Timothy Mcveigh set off a truckload of explosives in front of the Oklahoma City federal building, who could object?

On the other hand, if one looks at it in the context of the early nineteen fifties when Sen. Joseph McCarthy went on a binge of assuming everyone was a “subversive” until proven innocent, the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) blacklisted some of our most creative citizens because they didn’t march in step, and the Subversive Activities Control Board (SACB) sniffed out suspected Communist sympathizers hiding in every nook and cranny, anybody with a gram of common sense would object very loudly. Regardless of the answers to these questions, I’m stingy with my approval in such matters. The NSA scandal didn’t help to soften that stance, and I think we have good reason to be concerned that the Bill of Rights might, once again, be facing challengers who cause us to teeter on the brink of totalitarianism in the name of “National Security”.

And, as is almost always the scenario, the more dangerous enemy may be the very one whose mission it is to protect us from the enemy. Reminds me of “Pogo” cartoonist Walt Kelly, who created an iconic poster back in 1970 saying essentially the same thing.

These are times when fear shrinks the intellect and eccentricity of any kind may be construed as a threat, reminiscent of the Cold War years. Holding views that don’t harmonize with the Approved View of the Moment should not be defined as extremism. “Terrorism” can be painted with a broad brush, and we need to recognize the differences between organized campaigns to cause death and destruction, people of strongly contrarian beliefs, and rogue players of questionable sanity. In a society of 318 million people, how many acts of alleged “terrorism” constitute an epidemic or “threat” to our safety warranting a task force with such innate potential for abuse? Answer: When the breadth and scope of authority and secrecy increase, it’s because the count was too low and the stats need padding.

Vigilance is, in itself, “common sense”, of course, but focused government task forces and committees can be highly motivated to find something. If not counterbalanced with oversight to ensure they don’t find more than is actually there, the combination of passion and power is at least as great a threat as the ones they are supposedly convened to ferret out.

Any time a government takes it upon itself to police, as it were, the activities of fringe ideologies, all ideologies become subject to scrutiny.

There is no question about whether or not government is putting the hard-sell on policing the people, and redefining associated activities as “protecting” them.

When AG Holder announced the revival of the DTEC back in June, news articles cited Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who claims to be an expert on terrorism and stated that “more people have been killed in the U.S. by ‘right-wing-extremists’ since September 11, 2001 than by al Qaeda-inspired militants.”

That’s a bit scary, not so much the substance of her allegation, but the fact:

  • That she made such an outrageous claim

  • That she pre-condemned a huge number of people based on politics and implied association because they score to an unspecified degree to the “conservative” side of an imaginary “centerline”.

  • That Holder seems to think along similar lines

  • And, the fact that people with real power believe such tripe

While I don’t question that Beirich has earned “expert” designation in certain areas, the numbers being tossed around sound more like figures thrown in for effect rather than ones tendered to provide any useful information. I’m a statistics skeptic, and though I don’t consider myself to be an “expert” in my fields of interest, I do have many years of hands on, front line experience in the behavioral sciences which provided me with a certain understanding of what makes people tick, and I think I know tunnel vision when I see it. I don’t know where she got her numbers, or what filters she applied, but I understand about 3,000 innocent people were slain on September 11, 2001, after which the architects of the horror did what any sociopaths do after a hit….they laid low for a couple of years.  If a “right wing extremist” ran over her neighbor’s dog in the interim, it probably qualified for the non-al Qaeda tally.  Pre-scripted epiphanies work like that.

There is bound to be disagreement and misunderstanding regarding what the “War on Terrorism” is all about because there are so many factors affecting the definition of “terrorism”. On a personal level, the concept of “terrorism” brings to mind the events of that dark date, September 11, 2001. I think of organized activity designed to harm the United States, to destroy, disrupt, or kill innocent people on a large scale. In the “legal sense”, to the extent that I understand it, and evidently from the government perspective as well, “terrorism” may refer to the ideological forces behind an act as much as to the act itself.

In my layman’s opinion, that is dangerous; that is unconstitutional; that is un-American.

Incidents of an extreme nature are not difficult to condemn as terrorism, but the lack of a commonly understood definition that doesn’t change with the political weather, leaves a lot of room for undocumented expansion of the net being cast.

The A.C.L.U. has expressed concerns because of the Attorney General’s stated intention to keep tabs on “anti-government animus and racial intolerance.” Oh, that helps clarify things! Well, at least I know that I am probably under somebody’s microscope because I openly admit that I think my beloved country is being mis-administered by idiots and worse. I defy anyone to prove me guilty of “racial intolerance”, though. In fact, even anthropologists can’t agree about “race”. It’s another of those “silly putty” words. What ever happened to the “Irish race”, anyway…..? Those who strain every word and action through a filter that divides people into piles according to skin color and a handful of other real or imagined physical characteristics are the primary CAUSE of cultural tension today, not the solution. Shut up. Please.

By the same token, what might be considered terrorist at one time may not be so defined in another. History has demonstrated that, under stress, a society tends to narrow its path of approved ideologies and activities, and to expand the roster of those deemed enemies of the state, which creates opportunities for excess and abuse.

In thinking of the political, ideological, and economic environments of today from both international and domestic perspectives, the American people, and their elected representatives at all levels, must be equally vigilant for potential threats against our physical and economic safety, and of potential government excesses committed in that effort.

***

While looking for a workable definition of terrorist or terrorism, I meandered through the ideas of many authors, journalists, and self-styled pundits, and most seemed to see “terrorism” as:

  • Acts of violence or the threat of violence;

  • Actions that are designed to create fear and alarm;

  • Actions intended to coerce their target into taking certain paths;

  • Motives include political objectives;

  • Actions may be those of a group or of an individual.

The not so funny funny thing is, both terrorism and counterterrorism can be described accordingly, depending upon perspective.

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Posted by: JDM..... | August 20, 2014

Two chairs.….

A little over two years ago, I wrote a small item about meeting a neighbor of mine on my way back from walking to the post office. I spoke with Eldon from time to time after that day, and never forgot to thank him on Veterans Day and at other appropriate times. If you recall the item of July 13, 2012 , you may remember that he was a WW II veteran who had come home decorated with a number of medals and more than his share of lead.

Last fall, I didn’t see as much of him walking to town as I was accustomed to, but he and his wife were almost always sitting out front in their two white lawn chairs when I’d walk to the Post Office, and we’d wave and comment on the weather.

Eldon passed away this June, at the age of 92, surrounded by family and friends, at home in the house he had built back in 1948. As a matter of fact, for the last three or four months of his remarkable life, he and his wife of 66 years were rarely if ever alone. It wasn’t unusual for there to be two or three cars in the driveway, which, incidentally, he seal-coated himself about three years ago. One of the neighbors had started snow-blowing the driveway for him last winter, and has been taking care of the lawn this summer as well, checking in on Eldon’s widow just about every day. Our village is like that. I didn’t know there were many such places left until we moved here.

Eldon was a remarkable man, and I wish I had known him better. The image of that fit and trim, ninety year old man, in his blaze orange vest, marching purposely down the highway breakdown lane, a couple of miles from home, is etched permanently in my memory. Sometimes, I’d pass him on his return trip, with a newspaper tucked under his arm. He liked to read the paper every day, and I know the nearest place to buy one in this part of rural Maine is two and a half miles away.

I still see his wife from time to time, when I walk to the Post Office. I wave, she smiles, and waves back from where she sits in her white lawn chair, in its usual spot by the side of the driveway. There is always another white chair there, too, but it is empty now.

At least, that’s the way it looks to me. I’m not sure she would agree.

Well done, Eldon.

…and, thanks.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | August 19, 2014

Power by Newspeak…

and other political parlor tricks…

As the emperor continues to strut about the White House and local golf courses as though he knows what he is doing, and as if everybody else thinks he’s as peachy keen as he does, I recall an article I read earlier this year that also fit right in with the current obsession with “appearances”. These days, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is NOT a duck, even though it may have papers asserting otherwise. In this Age of the Wall Hanger, what you see isn’t necessarily what you get. What’s actually under the hood is irrelevant.

It was back at the beginning of summer, I believe, that I noticed an item about the closing of some Social Security field offices and that the writer had made reference to the “customers” of the agency. Being somewhat fascinated with the uptick in Newspeak intrusions in recent times, I took a moment to dust off the old Webster’s I keep handy and look the word up.

Customer:

  • someone who buys goods or services from a business

  • one that purchases a commodity or service

Being retired, I now receive Social Security income each month, but I did not purchase it. In fact, I had no choice in the matter. the federal government began helping itself to a portion of my earnings in 1958 and continued to do so for the next fifty years. That isn’t to say I don’t appreciate the money. I most certainly do. But I raise an eyebrow whenever language is “tweaked” to normalize government activities and equate them to things like free enterprise, entrepreneurship, and the like. Nor is it necessarily a charitable stipend for which I should feel humbly grateful. I paid for it, and I have to say, if government was indeed a “business” and Social Security had been my Investment Advisor or broker, I’d have fired their ass forty years ago. Had the same amount been invested and managed according to some fundamental investment guidelines, I would be far better off than I am as far as income is concerned, and I’d still own the principal. It’s should be pointed out that the two classes of people traditionally involved with Ponzi schemes, which is precisely what Social Security is, have been referred to as “sharks” and “suckers”, not “representatives” and “customers”.

Social Security is not a “business”. People don’t walk in off the street to purchase a product. Those of us who have worked and paid taxes all of our lives access Social Security to begin receiving the benefits we have been promised, even though government has had few qualms about changing the rules as they go along. If it was a “business” and I was a “customer”, I, too would have the option to change my plans if I felt like it. Those who have become disabled, or who have a lifelong chronic disability, come in to apply for support. They are not “customers”, either.

I consider myself to be a “claimant“, and would prefer that the relationship be described that way.

***

One may wonder why I would object. Perhaps it seems a bit nit-picky. Not too many years ago I might have scoffed at the choice of words as a bit silly and mistaken, but I wouldn’t have made an issue out of it.

I would argue that I’m not making an issue of it, however; the “issue” has achieved its current state without any input from me whatsoever. Pointing out something offensive on the lawn doesn’t mean I put it there. The fact of the matter is, the depth to which government has assumed authority over the personal choices and behaviors of the citizen has grown in direct proportion to the level of responsibility that government has assumed over the care and feeding of same. Our language changes almost imperceptibly to adapt and preserve the assumption that the old definitions apply to the new relationships.

Remember sitting down at the dinner table in the evening, back when people actually did such a thing? Any negative remarks or complaints regarding the fare presented was, at best, met with a stern reminder that when you assumed the responsibility of paying for the goods, you might have a voice in their selection. Children, however, arrive totally dependent and the natural responsibility of caring for that little human being belongs to the parent, the parent’s task being to progressively wean the child of his dependency until the only thing left for the parent to do is mow the lawn, go to the beach, and play golf, or maybe just sit on the porch and do absolutely nothing.

The United States government is not, and never has been, the parent of the people. On the contrary, it is the people who are supposed to make choices for, and direct the activities and behaviors of the United States government!

When government begins to take on the appearance of a parental authority, the problem is not with the government itself, unless its underlying structure and marching orders have been legally altered. Barring such fundamental changes, the transition from a government that serves and protects to one that feeds and directs, is clear indication that one part of the population has hijacked the controls and manipulated the underlying structure and marching orders to require the rest of the population to fulfill its needs and cater to its desires. This is precisely what the Founders feared the most and labored to prevent.

***

So, having sidled by, whistling idly and gazing into space while nevertheless watching to see whether or not the progression from servant to partner managed to go over with minimal stink, the US government has made the first leap into the role of the served and protected Master, under the guise of server and protector. Steeped heavily in Newspeak, the Affordable Care Act is neither affordable nor caring. Furthermore, those who actually believe an unknown lawyer from Illinois simply marched in, laughed “Ta daaaaa,” and shoved a nationalized healthcare system through Congress before his suitcase was unpacked, just because he’s a sharp cookie, might be interested in some oceanfront property I have for sale in Arizona.

The Newspeak lexicon has thus nearly reached the stage of growth where it has the very real potential to become an accepted and normalized language. Scary thought.

I subscribe to no established party’s mottos, alleged principles, or other verbiage because new meanings have been slathered over old words and concepts to the point that corruption and abuse of power have been normalized. Having been encouraged early on to “use my squash,” and being temperamentally inclined to ask “why” and not to take “because” as an answer, I find it difficult to simply take the word of an alleged authority figure. Other than voluntarily having once put myself briefly into a circumstance where I had to do so and salute at the same time, I have pretty consistently made up my own mind about things wherever has been possible and practical. Situations involving higher mathematics excluded.

By so doing, while I may have appeared the idiot to some on occasion, I have never to my knowledge willingly followed one. I don’t intend to start now, either.

I subscribe to the fundamental ideas of the gentlemen who authored the framework for this nation, and who thereby exclaimed with the great authority born of first hand experience, that government should always serve the governed, and never the other way around.

We have work to do.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | August 17, 2014

The new American dream ….

Is it way out of reach? …..

While raking through the internet’s morning litter box to separate that which might be salvaged instead of unceremoniously buried, I came across an interesting teaser asking “Is the new American dream way out of reach? ” I sat back to ponder the question before reading what the writer had to say on the matter.

My initial thought was a question of my own. What is the American dream these days? I don’t believe it is the same one I visited back when I was launching myself headlong from the 3 meter diving board without knowing if there was any water in the Pool of Life. This isn’t your granddaddy’s world, and it certainly isn’t your granddaddy’s United States of America.

For some of us, that is a good thing. For some of us, there may be a downside or two. Was the writer introducing some fact-based revelation, or simply whacking the beehive to see what might fly out? Is the writer thirty years old or does he/she have grandchildren that age?

We have experienced some impressive positive changes in a number of areas. In the field of medicine alone, the developments have been amazing. Vaccines and treatments were discovered for diseases and conditions that devastated my father’s generation; influenza, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, pneumonia, and meningitis, to mention a few. Small pox was eradicated. The cardiac pacemaker was invented, we learned how to successfully transplant vital organs like the heart, and research is underway to create artificial replacements for failed or damaged body parts with technologies such as 3-D printing. Men have walked on the moon, and astronomers have seen things their own teachers may have been unable to imagine. Communication is no longer limited to pen and paper, the two-way radio, and a heavy Bakelite telephone with a dial or that required a remote operator to manually connect two parties so that they could talk. Speaking of “pen and paper”, hand written communication was significantly changed forever with the introduction of the now iconic Bic pen in 1952. The “ball point” idea was actually pioneered as early as 1888, but an instrument that actually worked did not appear until after WW2.

Telephony also had it’s limitations, with intercontinental communication relying on radio transmission before the Trans-Atlantic Cable was brought to use in the mid nineteen fifties. Domestic long distance calls were clunky, not particularly clear, and often involved manual transfers from one relaying station to the next before microwave transmission came into general use around the same time. The birth of the “Space Age” in the sixties gave rise to satellite technology.

The “telephone” is actually an archaism today, as communications devices that function only as voice communicators are fast disappearing. Even the cheap “phone” on my desk performs multiple tasks such as identifying the caller, recording messages, keeping track of missed calls, and more. Americans are actually abandoning the traditional “wired” kitchen wall phone and the desk phone in favor of wireless cell phones, “Smart phones”, and various other devices that function as cameras, video recorders, computers, miniature televisions, and more.

One of the most prized possessions for a teen back during the sixties was the “transistor radio’, an amazing pocket-sized replacement for the suitcase-sized “portable” of just a few years earlier. The invention of the transistor in the late forties changed electronics completely and provided the foundation for countless subsequent technologies and developments.

In addition to these and hundreds of other changes to all aspects of day to day living, our population has more than doubled in just my own lifetime. The world population as a whole has grown nearly 500% during the same time span. We have begun to recognize for the first time in history the very real potential for humanity to literally eat itself out of house and home.

So, the American Dream of today cannot possibly be the same as it was when I was starting to chase it.

When I was in high school, one of the Brass Rings was a degree in engineering, and the most complex mathematical calculations were done manually with pencil, paper, and perhaps a slide rule.

Another Brass Ring was Medicine. Being a doctor was a prestigious profession wherein one could be the boss as well as one’s own boss, and make a lot of money.

Those without the opportunity or desire for higher education did very well in the still robust industrial sector, construction, and work was plentiful

The Industrial Age has given way to the Technological and Digital Ages, and the job market is more service oriented. With “Boomers” entering their seniority, medical and ancillary fields are the place to be.. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of the most sought after and highest paying jobs today are in the actuarial sciences, biomedical engineering and, of course, computer sciences.

To what do new graduates aspire today, and what do they expect to discover and achieve?

As possibilities change, so do dreams, or at least they should. My generation largely defined our dreams by the standards of our fathers’ generation, which turned out to be woefully misguided for many. I suspect that could be said by many who have preceded us, the one constant, I believe, being expectation of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Such principles have traditionally been protected by our government, which was formed for that purpose. In recent years, that government has transitioned from representing an extension of the will of the people, to acting as a partner of the people. Roles are being reversed and even usurped. Government has begun to take on an authoritarian, parental role.

For those who are still youthful and pondering the future, I’m sorry to say that the world your parents believed they were going to inherit didn’t turn out exactly according to plan, and neither will yours. Perhaps that is as it should be. So, to answer the question posed at the start of this essay, “Is the new American dream way out of reach?” If the dream is a prescripted model one expects to follow, I’d bet one won’t even get within spittin’ distance.

However, if one’s American dream is fundamentally no different from the dream of his predecessors over the past eight generations or so…..the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…..I imagine it is very much alive. Whether or not it is within reach will depend upon how much one is willing to stretch, and whether or not one has fallen for the come-on and believes it will be served on a silver platter.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | August 12, 2014

A man walks into a bar

uh oh…….

 man-bar_001a

It’s an old story…

A man walked into a bar, strolled up to the rail right next to the biggest gorilla in the joint, looked up at him, and drawled “you’re an ass hole”.

Incredulous, the Big Guy looked down at the gnat grinning back at him.

“……….What’re you, NUTS?”

“No, not at all. I was just suggesting that you are an ass hole…..”

The Big Guy stared back with raised eyebrows for a moment, before grunting, shaking his head, and returning to the process of sipping his drink, which seemed a far more important issue than the annoying behavior of a little man with a big mouth who he figured had had a bit too much to drink.

The little guy didn’t move.

After a moment, the bigger man looked over at him and scowled. “So, what the hell was THAT all about anyway? I’m twice your size and half your age….seems to me YOU’RE the ass hole around here….”

“Oh, not at all, my friend,” the little man chuckled. I’m still in one piece and we’re sitting here engaged in conversation. Either my observation was true or you found it so insignificant as to warrant little or none of your concern”. He motioned to the bartender, who was disappointed to learn that the man wanted only ginger ale. Neat.

His ire beginning to penetrate his facade of disinterest, the larger man turned to face the Gnat and showed his full height. “Now listen up! You’re beginning to piss me off! I’m NOT an ass hole, I don’t appreciate being CALLED an ass hole…..especially by some pipsqueak jerk I never met before in my life, so knock it off before I lose my temper!” He glared into the Gnat’s eyes as he threw down the remainder of his drink and noisily returned the empty glass to the bar. The bartender silently appeared out of the shadows and poured a refill. The man curtly nodded his thanks while fishing a couple of loose bills out of his pocket without breaking eye contact with his tormentor. The smaller man lowered his eyes and slowly turned to the bar, leaned on his elbows, and nursed his ginger ale in silence. The big man glared for a moment longer.

“Hmph!” he grunted, and turned away to swirl the amber liquid in his glass for a time before raising it to his lips for a sip.

“Well, ya know….” The little man started.

The big man froze, only his eyes darting sharply to the left to fall on the Gnat still hunched over and staring at the bar top.

“……I may very well be a pipsqueak, and I may very well be a jerk,” Gnat continued, “but saying that out loud or hanging it on the side of the Goodyear Blimp doesn’t make it so, and it CERTAINLY doesn’t diminish or cancel out my description of YOU…..”

“Why you little …..!” the big man bellowed, tossing down his drink and slamming the empty glass down loudly on the surface of the bar. He spun around and took a step toward his antagonist.

BUT….” the Gnat said, raising his palm and cocking his head to the side while staring at the floor, “I can see you’re pretty upset, so as a peace offering and gesture of neighborliness…….” He turned to the bartender and said “please pour this gentleman a double, on me, and keep the change.” He placed a ten dollar bill on the bar, and walked quietly out of the establishment.

The big man and the bar tender looked at each other and shook their heads. He tossed down the free drink and stood back from the rail. “I’m not in a very good mood, Jack. Guess I’ll see you another time. G’night”. He ran his fingers through his hair and walked out, ambled across the small parking lot and got into his car.

No sooner than he had turned onto the avenue and shifted into second gear than the flashing blue light filled his back window.

“Shit…….”

He eased to the curb and rummaged around for his license and insurance verification as the glare of a flashlight bobbed toward him.

“Evening, sir….had anything to drink tonight?”

“Yes officer, I just had a drink in that bar you saw me leave.”

“I see,” the man behind the flashlight said. “License and insurance please?”

The man handed the papers out of the window. “Is there a problem?”

“Why, yes there is….” the suddenly familiar voice behind the flashlight said. “You acknowledge that you had a drink, but I happen to suspect you’ve had more than that…..say, at least two plus a double?”

“…………………………..shit…………”

~-~* * *~-~

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