Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Facebook Discussion Groups: A Survival Guide

As a person who loves to discuss and exchange ideas with folks about important or at least interesting topics, I have drifted into a number of Facebook discussion groups. I don't recommend it. However, if you do decide to wade into the deep, here are Psychosomatic Wit's Rules for a Stepford-ly happy experience:

1. Find out who the administrators are and make every effort to agree with them.  Facebook group administrators have finally found a place of power and they love it.  They look for a chance to wield it. So, in order to remain active in the group, learn to parrot the masters.  As soon as you disagree, you become a troll.  Trolls are not long for this world. If the first two administrators don't get you, the third will knock you off the bridge and make the group the safe echo chamber that it should be.  You are banned!  Which brings us to rule number two:

2. The group isn't REALLY a discussion group, it is an echo chamber.  If you manage to get into a group where the administrators are not megalomaniacs, then it reverts to majority rules. Brace yourself for The Lord of the Flies!  You need to learn to pivot to the side of the majority or become the pig that they strive to kill.  Of course, the Internet translation of "pig" is "troll."  They throw that word around a lot.  If you are dubbed the pig, you get slaughtered.  And if you are a worthy pig, then there are always a few little snitches who run to the administrators with their troll accusations.

3. Finally, learn to use the emoticon buttons.  If an administrator posts something, whether you agree with it or not, "like" it.  The same thing with a post from the majority.  "Like" it! You can always "unlike" it after it gets a little stale and no one will be the wiser.  If you want to be a little bold, you can "like" a comment that disagrees with the company line.  Usually they let that stuff slide - especially if you don't have a track record for being a "stupid troll."  It is these little tricks that MAY allow you to live with yourself as you navigate the group social structure.  It is the same as rubbing zombie guts all over you so as not to be detected by the other zombies (Walking Dead Reference).
Or, you can live on the edge!  Speak your mind and get mocked and ultimately kicked out.  You can wear your expulsion like a badge of honor.  Just knock the dust off or your shoes and move on to the next group.  That is the real test of your convictions.  You get banned, they make sport of you, and you don't feel like you have to have the last word.  Then you know it is about conviction and not pride.  

If you have read this guide and you are wondering what technique is right for you, just close the lid of your laptop or put your phone down.  Go for a walk. Watch the sun set in the west.  Listen to children laughing at the playground. Curl up with a good book (I don't recommend Lord of the Flies).

The point is, life is too short to waste on the narcissistic society of the Facebook discussion scene. 

Now if  you will excuse me, I can see I got three fresh Facebook notices while I have been writing this.  Wait till my politics group gets a hold of this blog post!

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Lilly King Reminds Us of the America We Want

I can’t help but to swell with pride when I see Lilly King at the Olympics.  The 19 year-old from Evansville, IN is the picture of what we dream our kids and our country should be.

Not intimidated by Russian powerhouse swimmer, Yulia Efimova, King challenged her in and out of the pool.  Efimova had been found guilty of doping but was allowed to compete in Rio because she won a last minute appeal – despite coming up dirty in a recent drug screening.  King made it clear that she was not a fan of athletes that use banned substances before her 100m breast stroke final, then backed it up in the pool by taking the gold away of Efimova.
Hometown Proud - Sign from a
business saluting Lilly King in
her hometown of Evansville, IN

It is King’s gallantry that inspires all of us to remember what America is all about – or what it should be.  It is about hometown heroes. It is the good in the good vs evil narrative.  Lilly King has given us an injection of American pride at a time where politics has soured us, and the threat of terrorism has left us overly cautious.

Thank you, Lilly, for allowing us escape the appalling stories of the day, and lose ourselves in proper patriotism – if only for a moment.  We appreciate you letting us know that there is still a such thing as an American hero and a fantastic role model for our kids.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Ahead of Super Tuesday, PW Endorses Bernie Sanders

This year, in the Democratic primary, we have Hillary 2.0, “It’s My Turn” versus Bernie Sanders, whose “Enough is Enough” campaign has excited people who normally don’t think about politics. Clinton and Sanders both offer compelling cases.  Clinton brings experience and pragmatism to her campaign while Sanders wants a more transforming government. Since they both agree on the issues roughly 90% of the time, it is their approach to how to best run the executive branch will decide in the end for most voters who they will support.  As for Psychosomatic Wit, I believe Bernie’s approach to be the most compelling and serves the best interest for this season and for the future of this country.  Let me lay out my case.

To See The Republican Nomination Endorsement Click Here

I originally was in the Clinton camp. I didn't think that anyone should even bother to challenge her in the primary.  As we all have heard before, many believe that Hillary is the most qualified candidate that has ever run for president.  She did meaningful work while being associated with the executive branch as first lady and received hands on experience of government from the legislative branch side of it as a senator from New York.

She has also spent four years as Obama’s secretary of state which is probably the most impressive qualification she has.  Many may argue that she didn’t do anything significant, but she certainly was busy cleaning up a lot of diplomatic messes in the Middle East which is a result of a broad military presence there.  Despite the right wing talking points that the US has a worst reputation around the world under Obama, the facts do not back them up.  According to the three polls I could find (BBC Polling, Pew, and Gallup), the US has improved its standing around the world compared to the Bush administration.  Clinton can sincerely take credit for a big part of that.

The Issues

It wasn't easy to look at Clinton’s credentials and decide to go in another direction.  However, the issues help tell the story. Both candidates claim to want to bridge the gap in economic inequality. Bernie Sanders wants to address this by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour slowly over the next several years. Clinton wants to raise it to the twelve dollars per hour which she deems “sensible.”

Both realize that we have farther to go in providing health care.  Sanders wants to transform our healthcare system to something similar to the rest of world - a single payer, everyone is covered system he calls Medicare for all - borrowing from the popular system already covering senior citizens and the disabled. Clinton wants to build on ObamaCare, (the Affordable Care Act) that President Obama worked hard to pass that is the centerpiece of his presidential legacy.

The third leg of bridging the gap between the rich and the middle and working class has to do with accessibility of education.  Sanders believes that public education should increase from K-12, to K-16.  He claims that a Bachelor’s degree today has about the same bargaining power for employment as a high school diploma fifty years ago.  He claims that in order to stay competitive and give the middle and working class a chance to keep up with educational requirements for most gainful employment, the time has come to revise the extent of public education bridge the educational gap.  Clinton wants to take that notion as far as an associate's degree (2 year) at a community college. This is concept that was introduced by Obama.  She also wants to make borrowing money for tuition more affordable.

Clinton’s main arguments about why she should be elected over Sanders is three-fold.  One is her experienced which I have already touched on. The second reason is her electability.  She believes that she is the only one that has a chance defeating the Republican in the fall.  Finally, and the reason she emphasizes the most, is that she is the only one that can get her agenda passed through Congress.

The Decision

When analyzing these and other arguments, PW has decided to endorse Bernie Sanders.  In addressing her experience, it is true that, no matter how you slice it, Clinton has more qualifications based on experience. Although Sanders has served in the legislature longer, Clinton’s experience as Secretary of State cannot be matched by Sanders or anyone else.  However, if this was the main qualification to hold the office of president in this country, we would have a number of former secretaries of state holding the office throughout history. Sanders argues that his judgment is more sound than Clinton’s.  He points to his opposition to the Iraq war and the numerous trade deals, such as NAFTA that he opposed while Hillary supported them.  Still, judgment aside, it is hard to minimize her experience.

Clinton argues that because of her experience, she will be ready on Day 1 to deal with anything that arises on the foreign policy side.  The saving grace for Sanders, in addition to his judgment, is that starting in November, the president-elect, while putting a team together is kept apprised of all security situations.  As long as the team is good, the foreign policy is good and Sanders will have the opportunity to use his judgment based on the information he is given.

Clinton claims the edge on electability but the facts really don't bear that out. The right wing absolutely despises her.  She has had over 20 years head start acquiring that level of contempt compared to Bernie, a relative newcomer on the national scene. Unfortunately for Clinton is that hate spills over to mainstream America because of the success the Conservative Entertainment Complex (CEC) of pushing their views.  Fox News and AM radio have butchered Hillary for years and some of the metrics associated with her establish this.  She is running a high deficit on trust issues as the CEC will not let her email issues and other scandals disappear from the public eye.  

In addition, the most recent head-to-head polls for the general election show Sanders in a much better position to win in the fall than Clinton. In polling reports provided by Real Clear Politics,  Clinton narrowly defeats Trump but loses to the rest of the field.  In the same polling, Sanders beats the entire field.  When figured on average, Hillary loses in the fall no matter who her opponent is, but Sanders beats the entire field by an average of 9 percentage points.

In examining which candidate can push an agenda through Congress, Bernie still makes the most sense. Hillary is running on a pragmatic platform. She keeps saying that she won’t make promises that she knows she can’t keep.  What that means, is that she is the candidate of increments.  She knows we need a universal healthcare single payer system in this country, but she doesn't want to push it, so she says that she just wants to build upon ObamaCare which still gives insurance companies control over our health care. Bernie wants a revolution.  He wants to take the populist capital that he has and continues to acquire and put pressure on the system.  That is what a revolution is all about - championing the grass roots with the threat of “throwing the rascals out” if they do not bend to the will of the people. A revolution will have bigger coattails and have a better chance bringing lower level democrats into office with the huge excitement and turnout it should bring.

That brings us to the number one reason why Bernie is the only choice to get Psychosomatic Wit’s endorsement. He is committed to getting big money out of politics. Without that, “the one person, one vote” concept of our democracy is only a myth.  This is a battle between the people and the establishment. Hillary tries to tell us that she is not establishment, while taking millions from Wall Street and other interests.  Bernie is funded by the people.  He has no PAC.  He doesn't get Wall Street money.  He gets his funding through the folks - those of us that want our vote to count whether we have $20 or $20 million in the bank.  Bernie would rather have our donations (which he boasts only averages $27), than any check from special interest that will always want special favors.  He wants to for and with the folks, not special interests with deep pockets. Clinton says that she has never changed a vote because of big money.  Maybe she hasn't; maybe she hasn't needed to because her agenda has been shaped by those gifts in the first place.  All we know is that Bernie makes sense when he proclaimed at a recent debate, “Let’s not insult the intelligence of the American People. People aren't dumb. Why in God’s name does Wall Street make huge campaign contributions? . . . I guess for the fun of it.”

Bernie knows that with the big money in campaigns, he isn't going to get the great things passed.  That is why it is his number one objective to reform campaign financing.  If we can’t get money out of politics, it really doesn't matter who wins, does it?

So, yes Bernie Sanders wants to do great things and Hillary wants to be pragmatic. To borrow a sports metaphor, Hillary might be a good game manager, but Bernie is a play maker. The time has come to stop throwing a few crumbs to the masses in an unseemly attempt at pacification while preserving a system of big money corruption that flies in the face of our very democratic national identity.

The Republican party is not going to work with ANY Democratic president.  We have seen that over the past seven years and the election of  Hillary Clinton will not change that.  It will take a revolution to change the government from one of stalemate and stagnation to one of progress. Because of this, Psychosomatic Wit is forced to shout, “Go big, or go home!”  And in that spirit, PW whole-heartedly endorses Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for president.

To See The Republican Nomination Endorsement Click Here

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

MSNBC, Chris Matthews, and Hillary Clinton, An Exclusive Club

I have seen that look before.  He is completely smitten by her!

There was an interview between Chris Matthews and Hillary Clinton after the Iowa Caucuses on the following day. It was the most lopsided interview I have seen in some time. I thought I was going to see Matthews blow her kisses. Let me paraphrase the interview for you.

Matthews: Hillary you are great! Not like that looney tune, Bernie Sanders.

Hillary: Yes, I know. And you are right, there is a lunatic running for the nomination against me but I won't name names.

Matthews: How does that guy think he is going to win? He isn't as great as you. He doesn't smell as good as you do, either.

Hillary: I don't know why anyone would listen to him. Everyone knows that the status quo is what is needed.

Matthews: Of course the status quo is what's needed! He is talking about a revolution. FDR who gave us Social Security and JFK who put Americans on the moon would turn over in their graves if they knew someone would try to be as bold under the Democrat banner as that nutjob. (Note: I am not even embellishing this line much at all)

Hillary: Agreed. Bold ideas will never work. He won't get anything passed by Congress. The Republicans will block everything. It is such a good thing that the Republicans love me so much. I can work with those guys. They have always been willing to listen to me and treat me fairly.

Matthews: You know he isn't really a Democrat. He is a socialist. A SOCIALIST, I tell you!

Hillary: I know, right? Just because he caucused with the Democrats in the Senate, supported every Democratic policy for all the years he has served, and publicly praised Barack Obama's policies including ObamaCare and closing the gun show loophole, he thinks that is enough to be able to give Democratic voters a choice to support him! Just sickening!

Matthews: Well, best of luck, Madam President! You are a lock!

Hillary: Thank you, Chris. The check is in the mail, er uh . . . I mean . . . uh just thanks!

This interview was put on the air during the day time when MSNBC is trying to establish their straight news brand, in contrast to the Democratic leaning night time fare. I guess Bernie has another name to put on the establishment list: MSNBC. With all the sentiment in the country hating how the system is rigged against people who aren't in the establishment, this interview did nothing but provide a boost to Bernie Sander's campaign as well as to the ratings of CNN - well that is what it did for me, anyway.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Time Again for Presidential Endorsements - The GOP Primary

This is my snarky take on the GOP nomination derby.  Although some of it is tongue-in-cheek, if you look hard enough, you may find the substance.

The 2016 nomination derby might be the most interesting in history.  The Republicans boast of a virtual herd trying to position themselves to face-off against the Democrats in the fall. For the sake of time, space and interest, I will only touch on a few that many think have a chance. I will spend the most time on the overwhelming front runner because it is important to understand what currently has the most support.

Donald Trump

Mr. Trump is a fascinating candidate.  What is more fascinating than his candidacy is the fact that he has so much support.  People like to be mad and Trump gives them an opportunity to represent their anger.  He gives them an outlet for the "It's simple folks; we just have to keep Mexicans and Muslims out of the country and we will be fine" camp. Trump gives the "we against them" drive a place to light. He also just tells them that he can make all the deals that overwhelmingly favor the US and the other countries will go along with it.   Trump tells the masses that everyone in Washington are idiots and he is the only smart guy around that can save the country.  For whatever reason, they believe him.

Let's look at his specifics - that which we can find:

  • Trump's tax plan favors the poor and very wealthy.  It messes over the already shrinking middle class. For instance, a person who makes $151,000 pays the same rate as billionaires. Also, a person who makes $50,100 pays the same tax rate as someone who makes $150,000. These may look like small differences to a billionaire, but it certainly isn't to the folks who make those amounts.
  • His stance on 2nd Amendment rights is ineffectively stagnant.  He leaves too many people to able to get guns without the hinderance of background checks as long as they get their guns from a non-federal dealer of firearms.  I am surprised he doesn't draw them a map of where they can obtain them.
  • His immigration policy is insulting to anyone that is not Anglo.
  • In his presumably strongest issue, trade policy, he is very presumptuous about what he thinks he can get other countries to do.

In summary, we don't know that he has the best interest of the citizens.  He doesn't operate with principles because he brags about how he gamed the system as a businessman.  He doesn't have the ethical backbone to do what is right because if he had a penchant for ethics,  he wouldn't have gamed the system for personal profit.  There is no reason to think that he is influenced by ethics at all but by only what makes him successful - and success is defined by him.  He is just too dangerous to trust with the country's welfare.

He also doesn't seem to understand that there is a difference between a business deal and a deal made by countries that have other agendas besides profit which often implies the intricacies of diplomacy and the relationship with allies.

Finally, I don't think he takes the quest for the White House seriously.  It is like a hobby to him or a sporting match.  He is obsessed with his poll numbers rather than being concerned about pursuing a harmonious country.  It makes me worry that he believes it is okay if we all lose, as long as he wins.

Ted Cruz 

No one likes Ted Cruz except people who do not understand what governing entails.  These are the same people who also like Trump; it is just that Trump is more entertaining.  When a respected person like Bob Dole said he would rather have the clueless Trump in office over Cruz, that should tell you all that you need to know.  Cruz comes off like a televangelist in his speech and mannerisms which is a turnoff to most people not glued to TBN.

Cruz is the candidate of no.  He isn't as interested in governing as he is obstructing.  If he can't compromise in a republic, he isn't fit to govern in a republic because that is what democracy is all about - giving everyone a voice and a choice.

In addition, it turns out that there is a legitimate concern that he may not even be eligible to be president - and I am not trying to be funny here.

Marco Rubio 

He, like most of the other GOP candidates, believes that he is running against Barack Obama instead of his fellow Republicans or even the Democratic candidates.  As Americans, we were scolded by the Republicans if we insulted the president of the United States. To do so, made critics of GW Bush un-American.  Of course, that only applies to Republican presidents, I guess.  To rational thinkers, that seems pretty disingenuous.

Rubio also is against unions at every turn. I am not saying that unions haven't had their faults over the years, but unions are the backbone of labor.  Because of unions, even non-union shops have to treat their workers more favorably.  Killing unions would lower wages and make the wage gap even larger.

Rubio also seems to not have the kind of work ethic necessary to be the POTUS.  The presidency requires someone to be on the job 24/7 including vacations.  Rubio has a poor voting attendance record which is bad enough, but he downplays the importance of it which means he isn't too concerned with carrying out the job that he was elected to do.  Is it really a good idea to elect a president with that attitude?

The Also-Rans 

When considering the others, Jeb Bush seems to be in a daze like he can't believe he is losing.  He spends a whole lot of time bashing Hillary Clinton which isn't going to do him any good if he can't leap over the five or six Republicans ahead of him. He is one of the only candidates that is nervy enough to attack Trump, but that has been ineffectual.  In fact, he has slidden so far now that Trump, formerly his greatest adversary, now ignores him for the most part.

Chris Christie has a hard time telling the truth according to Politifact.  Besides, he doesn't even have the sense to go by his middle name, "James".  Chris Christie should only be forced on him; it shouldn't be his first choice. You have to pick the name that is most flattering.  Let "Chris Christie" go by the way of "Steve Stevens" and "Dick Dixon." At least go with the hip, "Topher." He should put his best name forward. You don't see Barack Obama going by Hussein or Barry now, do you? James Christie sounds a lot more presidential to me.  

Rand Paul just can't seem to get any traction.  He has some sensible ideas from his libertarian side, but it also provides some idiotic ideas so that is a wash. He slid his way out of the prime time debate in South Carolina.  Not wanting to be relegated to the "kid's table" debate, he just took his ball and went home.  He might as well stay there.


John Kasich.  
Sensible, successful and compassionate makes John Kasich 
the best choice from the large Republican field.

Kasich has a different attitude compared to the other candidates.  As governor of Ohio, he had the sense and the courage to adopt ObamaCare.  He, like the rest of the field, says he wants to repeal and replace it, but he is the only one talking about preserving access to health care to do it. He states that the Ohio model "provides the path forward to the nation." The thing is, the Ohio model is an expanded Medicaid program - which is also part of the Obama plan.  Be that as it may, Kasich does recognize that it is unconscionable to kick millions off of medical coverage for political expediency.

The other candidates are content to end the ACA and worry about replacing it at some later time (or more likely, not at all).  To illustrate this, the new Congress has already had a repeal bill pass and sent for Obama's veto, which he predictably executed.  With all the hollering of "Repeal and Replace,"  the Republicans have tried to repeal ObamaCare over 50 times without a single replacement offer.  At least Kasich has seen first hand the need and allowed it to be met in his state.

The people of Ohio, who knows him best, love Kasich.  He enjoyed record approval ratings going into his presidential campaign.  This shows the success he has achieved as chief executive in a heartland state.

In addition, Kasich has been the most open to governing instead of perpetuating the feud that has been going on in Congress for far too many years.  He champions a hopeful and positive campaign. He has demonstrated compassion driven by his faith that is determined to not leave "the least of these" behind.  That attitude isn't getting him very far so far in the GOP, "I got mine, let them get theirs" subculture, but it does provide the reason that Psychosomatic Wit endorses John Kasich for the Republican nomination for president.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Jesus and the Presidential Election

This has always been a fascinating topic to me.  The right wing seems to champion the founder of Christianity and claim to v
ote with their faith on their sleeves.  On the other side, the left wing can sometimes appear hostile to Christianity and those who adhere to the faith.  Jesus, not being a respecter of persons, would not be swayed by any of that.  So, the question is:  Who would Jesus vote for in the upcoming presidential election?

I'm sure that the answer to this would vary depending on who you ask.  I could take a pretty educated stab at it.  However, to try to leave as much bias out of the question as possible, I decided to leave it up to to determine the answer.  This site helps people determine which candidate shares the same values that they do - regardless of party.  I did my level best to answer the questions based on what the Gospel accounts attribute to Jesus' views.  Sometimes, I had to expand the search to other parts of the Bible, but I stuck mostly to the synoptic gospels.

There were a number of questions that I had to simply leave blank because there was no way I could determine the correct answer by the Bible. These type of blank answers typically came from very specific questions such as those concerning "common core," or term limits, or other specific contemporary issues.  I had to skip more questions than I had hoped, but I would rather leave them blank than try to editorialize an answer for Jesus.  Still, there were plenty of questions to paint a pretty clear picture.

The Results

Here is a summary of what the gospels teach us of Jesus' values.   The results of the quiz show that Jesus finds that standing up for the oppressed and those that are taken advantage are very important to him. Few could argue that this is a common theme in his ministry.

Jesus also sides toward the traditional which means that he believes in a civilized society that honors traditional morality and values.   The gospels point out that even though he has compassion, he remained "sinless." He also quoted Old Testament scriptures a lot and read them in the Temple.

The results also show that Jesus strongly believes in showing compassion, empathy, and rehabilitation for small time criminals.  The way he dealt with the prostitute and thief on the cross would support this claim.

It also shows that he slightly sides with regulation to ensure that business doesn't take advantage of the system and consumers.  That conclusion made me picture the anger that he showed at the money changers and how he converted two cheating tax collectors into honest followers.

Other items of note in the summary include being against social inequality, corruption and being an environmental centrist.

Drum Roll, Please!

Jesus is more aligned with Bernie Sanders than any other candidate.  His beliefs and values are consistent with Sanders' on a 79% of the issues.  The closest Republican was John Kasich with a 64%. So these would be the two men he would vote for in their respective primaries.

The conclusion makes sense for a number of reasons.  Sanders is against corruption of banks and is the champion of the "least of these" as Jesus called them.  It probably didn't hurt that both Jesus and Bernie are Jewish.  

Check out and see who you line up with and see if you see the issues like Jesus does. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The After-life is like Schrödinger's Cat

. . . or How Blaise Pascal was actually the first pioneer of quantum mechanics.

Whether or not there is an afterlife and/or a god or gods that rule it is a debate that has been going on for some time.  In fact, just search bulletin boards, chat rooms or Facebook groups and you will have more than your fill of choices.  Of course, being one that is not shy about debates, I thought I would weigh in here with a different perception.

Enter: Blaise Pascal. 
Pascal was a 17th century genius - a jack of all intellectual trades, one might say.  His work advanced both mathematics and physics. In addition, some of his philosophical arguments are still discussed today.  One of these is known as Pascal's Wager.
The Reader's Digest version of Pascal's Wager states that no one can know for sure about the existence of God and/or the after-life but everyone bets their life on one or the other - they have no choice.  The safe bet would be to believe in God and live like He does exist because even if one was wrong, he would lose nothing but a few years of inconvenience and then vanish into nothingness.  If the believer is correct, thus winning the bet, he gains eternal life.  So it is a not much to lose and everything to gain proposition.  Compare that to the person who bets that there is no God.  If he wins, then he lives as he pleases and vanishes into nothingness.  However, if he is wrong, he is subjected to a horrible and eternal afterlife.  For Pascal, the smart bet would be to believe in God and live like it because one would have very little to lose and everything to gain.

Schrödinger vs PETA
Fast forward about 270 years. Erwin Schrödinger was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who was instrumental in the development of quantum theory. Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment that deals with possibilities and outcomes.  The original concept was based on whether or not a radioactive atom is decayed in an hour's time. It is a complicated explanation dealing with the half life of the atom in question. Since I don't want to lose anyone in the explanation of it, I will modify the scenario in a fashion that will make it more likely that people will stay for the ride.  So here is Psychosomatic Wit's version of the Schrödinger's Cat thought experiment.

A cat was closed in a box with some food laced with deadly poison.  After an hour, it was assumed that the cat had either eaten the poison and died or did not eat the poison and is alive.  Until the box is opened, the cat can be considered both alive and dead at the same time.* This explication (known as the Copenhagen Interpretation) holds that it is the act of measuring (or in this case opening the box and observing) that changes the dual reality (both the alive and dead cat) into one conclusion. That is just one of the many interpretations of this thought experiment.** As nonsensical as this sounds to some, many reputable theorists still assign validity to this interpretation. 
The Afterlife has Gone to the Dogs - or in this case to Schrödinger's Cat.

Whether or not there is an afterlife is something that cannot be determined with any certainty until after one crosses over from this life into . . . well, that remains to be seen, doesn't it?  So if we are to use Schrödinger's thought experiment as a model we can conclude that while we are living, waiting for us is both an afterlife AND a state of nonexistence.  When we depart the living in this physical world one of those conclusions will remain a reality while the other will no longer be viable.  How then shall we live in the meantime?

Well, if it was your beloved cat in Schrödinger's box, you would anxiously cling to the living cat until you are finally able to joyously reunite with it or sorrowfully say goodbye.  If not, you would have said your goodbyes at the point the cat was placed into the box.

Why would we treat the afterlife any differently?  The choices are that one could embrace a hopeless destiny or a meaningful life full of hope.  With the former, we might muddle through this existence looking for some kind of meaning and only finding it by assigning purpose to helping a few fellow hopeless souls who also have a meaningless, finite existences. 
Or, one could choose the equally viable option of the afterlife. With that choice we could look forward to unending bliss in reunion with loved ones and embrace being part of an eternal plan that gives meaning to life by being a part of something much bigger than only a finite, random existence offered by the alternative.

I know that some would argue that even if the afterlife exists, it may be unpleasant no matter how one chooses to live and a seemingly infinite list of other negative possibilities.  That is a discussion all its own and should be given its own space. I will leave factoring the probabilities of the characteristics of the afterlife for another time.  So keeping it simple, one can choose which direction he wants to go in consideration of his appointment for death. The beauty of it is that there is no wrong answer.  It is just a question of choosing what kind of life you want to live and what kind of gamble are you willing to take.

I know what reality on which Pascal would have wagered . . . and he was a genius.

*No cats were harmed in the making of this blog post
**Schrödinger's Cat thought experiment was based on sub atomic particles, half life of a radioactive atom and a mechanism to determine whether or not the atom had decayed to the point of emitting radiation that would cause a vial of poisonous gas to be broken therefore killing the cat.  I explain this to hopefully dissuade egg heads from coming after me about quantum mechanics which would really just be a distraction that misses the plot.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Memories of Dad

Today, of course, I am thinking of my father.  He passed away when I was 18 - just six minutes after my birthday expired. Life was crazy then and the whole thing was surreal.  I watched him waste away from cancer the preceding months.  Everyone told me that he waited to pass so he wouldn't foul up my birthday.  I like to think that is true, but who knows?  If so, it was a nice present.

I didn't have the same experience with my dad as my siblings.  They knew a man that was gone a lot. They remember a father who probably drank too much and was prone to be a little scary as a result.  I am glad that isn't my memory.  In my years with dad, he was a nondrinker who made my dinner every night because my mom worked.  He was the guy that took me to every little league game and even coached a little for my team.

Dad was responsible for giving me my first friend of another race.  He helped a black man that he worked with get his son into the little league I was in.  A few times he and I, his friend and son went together to the games and got a bite afterwards.  I thank him for showing me how normal life should be.

My father had a keen since of humor which involved his own vocabulary.  He had names for everything.  He called orange juice, "Simpson," water was sky juice, and because we always tended to leave the vacuum cleaner (the tank kind with the hose), in the hallway as a hazard, Dad called it an automatic tripper.  There were MANY more names he had for stuff, I wish I could remember them all.

Dad loved corn bread and made it practically every day.  I never cared for corn bread as a child, but dad was determined to change that.  He would change up the recipes and add stuff to it just to try to win me over.  I remember one day he took some out of the oven and there were pools of butter on the surface.  He said, "Jeff, take you a bite of this.  I know you'll like it."   I responded, "Dad, you know I don't like corn bread, why do you keep offering it to me?"  His response was, "That's not corn bread; it is buttered corn cake!"

When I was 16, I got into a car accident.  It wasn't my fault - REALLY!  Some guy backed out of a Pizza Hut across three lanes of traffic and hit me.  I was really scared to call my dad.  I don't know why; me being 16, I just thought somehow everyone would figure it was my fault.  My dad showed up and made me believe right away that it was no big deal and it wasn't my fault.  He even fixed the fender in our driveway with his auto body expertise.

Anyway, that is the father I remember.  I am blessed with those memories.  I do miss him more than most people realize.  I miss you, Dad. And dad, I like buttered corn cake now.

Leave it All on the Field


She heard him say it a thousand times over the years. “Leave it ALL on the field,” Eric would bark at his players at the practices and games for the Freemont High School football program. That was his mantra and all on the team knew it well. Its aim was to make it quite clear that every tiny bit of effort, every ounce of strength should be expended in the attempt to win the game. He loved that phrase, but seldom believed it was accomplished.

Gina grew up with definite ideas about marriage and her duties as a wife. She was always there for Eric. She would run errands and provide drinks and fruit to the players. Every now and again, she may even cross the nourishment line and bring cookies. Whatever was needed, whatever she could think of to make things better or nicer, Gina was there to serve her man.

Although she took her role in the marriage quite seriously, she did have her own ideas and dreams. She did quite well as a kindergarten teacher at the neighborhood elementary school. She served in the PTA and had just published her first children’s book. Gina was a real go-getter and she knew what she wanted. She was successful at every endeavor, except for the one she wanted the most.

Gina was able to juggle marriage and career through love and conviction – the conviction of just doing what was right by her husband. In addition to her supportive duties at the field, she also tried to exhibit her dedication at home. She was always there to bring him a beer, chips and plenty of backrubs. She did love him and frequently told him that. But more than that, Gina gave her love hands and feet. This was just Gina.

However, this was NOT Eric. He was a perfectionist and was never able to find perfection. No matter how well his team performed, there was always something they could have done better. They won a few regional titles, but had yet to make it to the state finals. He would not be happy unless they brought back the state title, he thought. What Gina knew that Eric didn’t was that even THAT would bring only a fleeting smile. Eric was not happy and it seemed to Gina that he was determined to stay that way.

Unfortunately, Eric had this same attitude at home – particularly with his ever loving, and ever trying wife. He tried to do his part in his own way. He helped out at the house, especially the maintenance and outdoor chores. He would even manage to muster out a “thank you” when Gina was being her serving self. However, he never showed his love for Gina and seldom voiced it. He didn’t really understand it or what it was or wasn’t, but Gina knew. She felt it go right through her every day, sometimes every minute.

Gina felt that Eric’s affection was token as if he was hugging an old aunt that he hadn’t seen for years. When they shared intimate moments, Gina shuttered because she knew that she was a mere object to ease his frustration, not a wife to be loved or cherished. He was not always that way. Gina wondered how the change ever came about. She dealt with the temptation of blaming herself, but deep inside, she always knew that she could only do what she could do.

Day after day she endured this marriage, most of the time with a smile. She, in faith, kept serving him, loving him, being there for him at home, at the games, and in the bedroom. She was there, but she felt it dying. She wasn’t sure what it was that was dying. Was it the marriage? Could it be her love for him? Perhaps it was her life, itself. All she knew was that something important was dying and she was slipping, ever so assuredly, into survival mode.

One crisp October Friday morning, Gina started her routine. Knowing that there would be a game that night, she prepared for her husband a big, healthy breakfast. This got her up a full hour before him to clear out of the bathroom and have coffee and breakfast at the ready when he opened the morning paper at the table. Her preparations were made with conflicting emotions. She was excited to again go the extra mile for him out of faith and love, but at the same time, was agonized that it would be accepted with unloving apathy.

After breakfast, she sent him off full and awake ready to face his day. In return, he kissed the air a good two inches from her cheek and drove away. She noticed his game folder left on the oak secretary by the front door. She scrambled to ready herself for her day in a fashion that would leave her barely enough time to stop by the high school to “save his day”. She saw Eric outside the gym and rushed the folder to him. Her reward was a not-so-angry, “if you would have reminded me at the door, you wouldn’t have had to rush over here.” Tears welled up in Gina’s eyes as she turned out of the parking lot.

At lunch, Gina stopped by the supermarket and grabbed the makings of his favorite meal. Because her planning period was back-to-back with her lunch, she was able to get the meat and potatoes home and pre-prepped so she could have it ready and on the table after the game. She also managed to grab three cases of soda and four bags of apples to be put on ice in the back of her van.

She was there in the front row, when the Freemont Roughriders won in overtime that night. She cheered until she was hoarse. She supported her man. She presented the apples and soda to the players after the game and dashed off to make his meal.

Eric thanked her but never diverted his eyes from SportsCenter as she trudged up the stairs to bed. Somehow, she mustered enough hope to exercise her love and duty one more time before crossing off another hapless day on the calendar of their marriage.

She waited there for him in bed with a new gown that flattered her thirty-something body. Her wrists and body had the light scent of her most luring perfume. Anxious tears filled her eye wells as she heard him finish up in the bathroom a few feet away.

Eric knew what to do when he slid into bed. With not as much as an “I love you” or a mouth kiss, he finished his business with her and rolled over and fell into dispassionate slumber.

Saturday morning arrived not unlike other Saturday mornings. Eric slept in while Gina got up early. Normally, she would do laundry and prepare breakfast. Today was different; her chore was only for herself. She filled two suitcases, gathered her laptop, books and other important papers. Gina was nothing, if not consistent - always thinking of her man so she let him sleep. While he was snoring upstairs, she wrote him a note so as to not wake him on his cherished day off:

Dear Eric,

I devoted the last twelve years to you and our marriage.
I was there for you and I gave to you all I knew to give. I never asked
for anything in return, but I did need a husband - you know, Eric, a husband
to care for me, partner with me, but mostly to love me. Unfortunately, you can’t see that YOU need to be a husband for your own good as well as for the
prosperity of a marriage pledged to each other and to God.

I don’t know what else to do; I have nothing more to give to bring about
the kind of marriage I know that WE deserve and God wants us to have. You
should be proud of me, though, Eric. For our marriage, even though we
lost, I want you to know that I left it ALL on the field.

Your wife,

Monday, May 25, 2015

On this Memorial Day, We Want to Pay Honor to Those Who Serve

All kidding aside, my sincere thanks and respect goes to all those who have answered their country's call to defend and protect us.  I would also like to thank the families who have sacrificed and lost loved ones in order to make and keep this country strong.  We are in your debt.

No matter how certain military actions have been viewed or supported, these brave individuals do not have the luxury of asking questions.  They just answered the call.  Respect should be given to them from EVERYONE.