Disgusting American Pigs

 

Well I assume they are Americans…  certainly seems consistent with how I’m starting to regard my fellow American…   (with disgust and disdain).

I consume a lot of news from the interwebs… and its all too popular to comment on news articles these days.

I know, already, most are in pretty poor taste and most that are posting seem to be intellectually stunted.

Today, however, takes the cake.

 

This article about a British woman who was on holiday in Spain, went into a Chinese grocery store, and then got stabbed in the back and beheaded by some guy who proceeded to flee the scene with her head…

Its an atrocity that should rightly horrify people…    Of the 133 comments on there, most include a cheap joke…if not being entirely just a cheap joke.    What’s truly disgusting, though, is that the top-rated comments depend on who ‘liked’ it.    (Stupid Facebook Era).

Its rather appalling to me that two of those three top comments, where people ‘liked’ it to stardom, are nothing more than a cheap joke…   “He wanted to get ahead” kind of humor.    Frakking classless, tasteless, and a few more colorful words I’ll not taint my blog with.

I’m not laughing.    It isn’t funny.     Then the poor sap trying to defend it… ‘my initial reaction was one of horror and disgust… but since its so far away and doesn’t really affect me, using humor to get through it isn’t so bad.’

What the hell does distance or personal relation have to do with it?    If the humor were being used as a coping mechanism, I might be more forgiving.   There isn’t anything in the comment to suggest that is the case, however… so no… no forgiveness…   I’m not big on judgment either, but occasionally will acknowledge righteous judgment.

 

That poor woman had loved ones.   The jokes are insensitive and just plain cruel… which I guess is rapidly becoming the American Way.    Those are our values now… to be disgusting pigs who should actively seek out new lows to stoop too.

I’m not big on censorship, but I do think that when you’re afforded certain rights, like that of free expression, that they come with certain responsibilities.

 

Then again, mankind is often the least human thing in the universe.

 

Consider me outraged.

 

At least, however, a few good people contrast the majority… and this comment puts it well:

 

Given the ability of people anywhere in the world to read the comments left here, I hope that this poor woman’s spouse, children or family members don’t. Those of you who think this murder is "funny" HAVE your heads, but a fat lot of good they do you.

See…

 

Sometimes I think we just need to acknowledge what we’re feeling to ourselves.    Then we can move on to better and brighter things…  like my day… which has gotten progressively better as it has progressed along.  

Smile

Although… I sense my blood sugar had been low upon waking, which probably explains my earlier outburst.

A message for conservatives…

 

The interweb is abuzz with political chatter on just about everything.    Print may be dead, but at least one can still read a book without enduring hundreds of comments exposing stupidity and simple-mindedness.

So much of it isn’t even discussing the issues.   Its attacking each other instead.   Now that we’re in the Obama years, its a whole lot of so-called conservatives making attacks on their fellow-americans who identify as liberal… except most of the time they didn’t self identify… they just have a different opinion so they must be liberal (because afterall there are only two possible conculsions anyone could make and they neatly fall into opposite extremes).  

Well before the conservatives bemoan the liberals again, lets remind you of something.

Those founding fathers you cream your jeans over?    Radical Liberals.   All of them.    Liberals established this nation.   Liberals paid in blood to secure the liberties you now enjoy.

No taxation without representation?    Radical liberalism in the the late 18th century.

All men created equal?   Radical and liberal as well.

Certain inalienable rights?    Only those handed down to you by your sovereign… which was the King, not God.     Those who believed they had inalienable rights from their creator?    Liberals.    (And radicals at that.)

A government that governs by the consent of the people?     Absolute crazy talk!

Do you see a pattern developing here?   

And this was well before our beloved constitution.    But then we ratified that and followed it up with the liberal agenda known now as the Bill of Rights.

Liberalism is what changed the face of the world and (arguably) made it a better place.

But what was liberal in 1776 may well be considered conservative in 2010.     Just remember who it was that got us here before you start taking jabs at your fellow patriots.     Liberals love your country as much as you do.    

The infighting needs to stop.    By and large we are all in agreement on what the issues are.   Its really the strategies to resolve those issues that we have differences of opinion on.     It is vitally important for each and every American to remember this… conservative or liberal, we maintain that we are all equals.    Equals!!!!   This means that your opinion and point of view are no more, and no less, valid than your liberal counterpart’s.     When you levy personal attacks on them just for having a different opinion you’re ultimately reducing your own credibility in the argument.   So much of the comments I read on news articles and such are just blatant smear.    No one is having an adult conversation anymore.    

Except the moderates, like me… but we generally keep silent.    Our liberal and conservative brethren seem to have completely unhinged themselves from rational thought and we’d just rather not engage people who favor simple-mindedness over critical thought.

Of course you just lament that we moderates are too clueless and out of touch to know anything.    Again, such sentiments appear to put you in the category of being of the mind that there are only two possible points of view to be had and they must fall on one extreme or the other.     Believe that if you must, but the reality is that the moderates in the nation have a much better handle on the issues than you do.   They’re not ignoring valid points simply because they’re coming from a liberal  (or a conservative since the liberals tend to dismiss any conservative argument even though they have their share of valid ones too.)

The reality is we’re all in this together and any solutions to our problems needs to work for all Americans.    To accomplish this both the left and the right need to move to the center.     Its the only way to govern a population of equals fairly.

Critical thought is the only way out of this quagmire.  The simple-minded thinking so rampant on the internet is directly in opposition to this grim reality and serves only to bolster the barriers to ‘fixing’ the nation.

As for you liberals… keep in mind that the above does apply to you as well, just in reverse.   Today’s conservatives aim to protect the liberal values of yesteryear..  they want to preserve all that wonderful liberal activism that our nation was built upon.   You need to give them a break as much as they need to give you one.

Just keep in mind… true and pure conservatism holds society in place.   Liberalism is what has historically advanced society forward.   Its only with a careful mix of both conservatism and liberalism that we can advance society in a manner that truly benefits the people of that society.    Its kind of like the tortoise and the hare.    If we are pure liberals, we work like the hare.  We make all these leaps and bounds but ultimately fall short of the goal.     Mix in some conservatism and you get the slow, but steady pace of the tortoise.    We all know who won that race.

Ours is an imperfect nation.    The US Constitution aimed to establish a more-perfect union but remember that is a relative.   It is more perfect than what came before.   Our founding fathers left a lot of work undone in the constitution.    Later generations carried on that work and today’s generations are carrying it on as well.     Treating each other as adversaries won’t bode well for America or her people.    We all love our country and want to see it do right by its people.    

So lets start having the adult conversations our elected representatives seem incapable of having.    Lets let civility rule us.    Lets treat each other with the love and respect a fellow American – nay, a fellow human being – deserves.    If you’re really a conservative, try conserving the particular value that all men (and women) are equals and as such  you’re not so special that your opinion has greater weight.

So sayeth the Stryse.  

Soul Food for Thought…

 

Its an interesting perspective.

 

A living planet is a much more complex metaphor for deity than just a bigger father with a bigger fist.  If an omniscient, all-powerful Dad ignores your prayers, it’s taken personally.  Hear only silence long enough, and you start wondering about his power.  His fairness.  His very existence.  But if a world mother doesn’t reply, Her excuse is simple.  She never claimed conceited omnipotence.  She has countless others clinging to her apron strings, including myriad species unable to speak for themselves.  To Her elder offspring She says – Go raid the fridge.  Go play outside.  Go get a job.  Or, better yet, lend me a hand.  I have no time for idle whining. ~David Brin

A MultiPost

 

Several unrelated blog entries, all in one.

In other news…

Last night was the first of what will be several nights all alone.   Gabe is safely in Oregon, where he is installing a new fire alarm & intrusion detection for his sister.    Then he’s off to his mom’s to do some work on her place.     I have at least two more weeks of living alone to go.    I foresee much Xboxing in my immediate future. 

 

 

My Seeds of Discontent are Sprouting!

I feel somewhat vindicated as I hear more and more ‘news’ like the following article out there in Americana:

http://www.lvrj.com/news/poll–voters-wish-for-other-choices-101631283.html

At least some people are coming out of their hibernation.   

Since I am a devote non-partisan (more accurately a devote anti-partisan), it would appear that the senate race is mine to decide.    Mwa ha ha ha ha.     

What I find appalling is that the people polled seem to be of the mind they don’t have another choice already, that they must choose between two candidates they don’t really want.    (As though the ‘anyone but [insert today’s devil here]’ campaigns have proven wildly successful over the past decade.)  

Let me clear something up for you Nevadans of the mind you only have two choices for US Senate.    We have several other alternatives for you to choose from… and you still have a couple of months to vet them out  (where available I have their names linked to their campaign sites to get you started on that process):

In addition to one Sharon Angle, running against Harry Reid this year are the following (in no particular order than what they were listed in when i copy/pasted the list):

Tim Fasano (IAP)
Businessman & Navy Veteran

Scott Ashjian (Tea Party)  (I thought they were trying to avoid being an actual party)
Businessman

Michael Haines (Independent)

Jesse Holland (Independent)
Metallurgical Worker

Jeffrey Reeves (Independent)
Teacher & ’08 US Rep. Candidate

Wil Stand (Independent)

I doubt you’ll find any of them are battier than Angle and Reid.    So while we may still be relegated to nut-jobs, at least we have a number of nut-jobs to choose from.

Hilarious Picture Time:

wp95422704 (I knew the Pope looked familiar.. this is actually from one  of those nutty ‘alternative-choices’ we Nevadans have.   But is he so nutty?)

While the rest of you are ‘stuck’ without ‘real’ choices, I get to enjoy having six candidates to choose from.  (Still undecided amongst the six, but at least I have choices… if any of you six are reading, stopping by my house to meet with me will all but seal the deal for you.)  Smaller, more local elections, you often do end up having two (non) choices, but in a race as big as the US Senate, you can count on having alternatives to the two-party system destroying the very foundation of the country.

Silly Nevadans.   You don’t have to vote for Angle just because you believe (as many of us do) that Harry Reid needs to exit the Senate.    The argument that not voting for the two party system is wasting a vote is silly, more than a little simple-minded, and ultimately comes down to being a self-fulfilling prophecy.     

Here are my campaign slogan for whatever race I one day might end up in:    

VOTE NO CONFIDENCE.   VOTE AGAINST A TWO PARTY SYSTEM.    SEND A REAL MANDATE TO WASHINGTON.     OUST BOTH PARTIES.      DEMAND YOUR GOVERNMENT BACK.    (vote for me)

Except I have my eyes on a judicial posting.   I’ll spend most of my time on the bench dismissing cases for being silly and a waste of tax-payer time and dollars.

 

Happy Friday!

“Shark attacks on humans are very rare. Statistically speaking, you are more likely to be attacked by Charlie Sheen than a shark.”

-Jimmy Kimmel on Live!

 

Sci-Fied

The count-down is on.   We have one month to go and its all-new Stargate.    When that’s done… its all-new Caprica!      Sadly Eureka doesn’t seem to be showing signs of fixing its time-line, so I guess I should get used to Fargo being the head of GD.   I think it would be good if next time Carter is in charge of GD.   Or Sarah.   But I digress.   SGU is returning and some big reveals are coming our way.   What is the Destiny’s mission?  What is that awesome new set?    What will get Rush and Young on the same page?    Oh, and now Telford is actually onboard!  

What has been interesting to me about SGU is the speed in which the pay-offs keep coming from the teases.    {SPOILER ALERT}

For example, when Young left Rush on that desert planet, I figured it would be toward the end of the season before we found Rush back onboard the Destiny.   Instead, it was pretty immediately worked out.   Not that I mind.  It pleases me to be surprised as Stargate had become a bit too predictable, and SGU has consistently surprised me in the pace of developments.   It helps too that with each pay-off comes another ‘now what’ moment.    Serialized television.   Its interesting.    🙂

 

Bacon!

Since the idea crept into my head, it hasn’t left… so I think I’m going to go for it.   The first annual Radcliffe Bacon Party!     I’m picking 9/29 for the event, for no other reason that its my brother’s birthday.  I have no idea what his culinary leanings are like, so I hope he likes Bacon, because its what’s on the menu as I observe his holiday.

Bacon Party:    Bring a dish that involves bacon in some way.   Preferably a creative, really?!-you’d-put-bacon-on-that? kind of dish.    Then we’ll spend the evening in fellowship whilst sampling some bacon delicacies.

You have a month for that too, so start trying recipes.  

When Good Jedi go… Human?

 

Not that they weren’t human to begin with…   but I guess I have come to expect more from those who have taken the mantle of Jedi to heart.

Its hard to talk about the real-life Jedi these days without mention of the Church of Jediism in the UK.    This Church has been making some waves of late, that have gotten media attention on an international scale.

Over hoodies, I might add.   Its a bit of a contentious issue amongst Jedi.   Some debate is going on in various corners… some good debate, others not so much.     According to the Church of Jediism’s own doctrine, members of the church are encouraged to wear a hooded sweatshirt, if not actual Jedi robes, preferably with the Church’s logo on it, at all times while in public.   It has come to light that this is more a suggestion… as they don’t enforce it…  which translates as:  It’s still Doctrine on their part, and not Dogma.    Basically they want their members too do it, but they won’t punish you if you don’t.  (If only more Church’s stuck to Doctrine and avoided Dogma.. we’d all be better off.)

Although I’ve not received any answers that I found satisfactory on just why members of their church should do such a thing.. other than for self-promotion reasons…   in the end what do I care?   I’m not one to really get up in arms over what people decide to wear, and when they decide to wear it.   Even if I do view spandex as a privilege and not a right.   I’m even less inclined to weigh in if you tell me whatever you are doing is for a religious reason.   I’ll just give you the benefit of the doubt and be on my way.    Whatever floats their boats is generally fine by me (just don’t sink my boat).

I knew sooner or later, though, this hood thing would find itself challenged.   One could say I’ve been eagerly awaiting it.  I foresaw the implications of that piece of doctrine very early on.     Sooner or later, someone would be called out for wearing the hoodie.    Sure enough it happened, with a second incident following on its heels.   (Force premonition perhaps?  Or just history repeating itself?)

In the first incident, the CEO of the aforementioned Jedi Church went into a Tesco, with hood up.   Apparently Tesco has some rules about their customers concealing their faces or something.    All in all, I can understand their reasoning.   They’ve not doubt had some past experience that keeps them wanting to see everyone’s faces… I suspect more for the benefit of their security cameras than anything else.

Ordinarily I’d expect a Jedi to say, Okay, and take the hood off.    On the other hand, though, we have some Jedi who are religious in their path, and believe very strongly that they should be allowed to wear their hoods.   They even provide justification for their beliefs.   I may not understand them, and why they are so insistent, but my own values dictate that its their right and that it falls under the same category of religious expression that is practiced by Muslims, Jews, a host of indigenous religions across the planet, and even Mormonism in some regards.     I’d have a hard time believing Tesco would tell their Islmamic customers to remove their headdress.    But that’s a long-established religion with centuries of tradition to support the custom.    No religion under the broad umbrella of Jediism can really claim that.    Most are a decade old or younger.    Those that predate that aren’t generally of the mind that they are religions (although I have my own ideas on that…)

I knew it would happen eventually, and it did.   The Church of Jediism decided their religious rights had been infringed upon.    I actually agree with them on that stand.  

The Jedi Order of the Sacred Flame’s official response on it is that the right of all Jedi to express their religious affiliation is affirmed by the order.    The order also affirms that the belief outlined in the Church of Jediism’s doctrine on wearing a hood is a valid one (valid as any other belief anyway), and that in places where religious expression is freely permitted, that accommodation should be made for new religions, as well as those that have been established for centuries.

I was then preparing to witness Jedi in action… fighting for an injustice in the way only a Jedi could.    Unfortunately I was sorely disappointed.    Maybe its because this is a Church whose leader identifies himself in terms of being a CEO when I know of no other church whose executive actually goes by that title.    Maybe its because the CoJ seems to be run more like a business than a religious institution.    Whatever the reasons, the CoJ’s response did not live up to my expectations of how Jedi should handle this.    In my opinion, the CoJ destroyed all the credibility they had in their case with their chosen response.   It wasn’t the calm, rational, approach that I would expect Jedi to exhaust before taking more aggressive action.    Aren’t we known for our diplomacy?   Is not diplomacy about finding common ground and also acknowledging fundamental differences?    Right or wrong, they’ve been portrayed by the media in a poor light and its cast a dark shadow over the rest of the Jedi in this world who would like to be taken seriously.    What I see in their response is more inline with a Sith’s philosophy than it is with a Jedi’s.  

So I understand those Jedi speaking out against the CoJ.    Unfortunately, I’m not particularly impressed with their demonstrated level of Jediness in the process.    I know they mean well… wanting to show the world that not all Jedi behave like the CoJ Jedi have been portrayed to behave (and can we honestly believe that all members of the CoJ act and behave the way the handful of individuals we’ve actually seen in the media do?).   But when you’re going out into very public forums like Wikipedia and start labeling the people of this church… your fellow Jedi (whether or not you agree with their philosophies or position in this particular manner)… and calling them idiots and other, even more derogatory, terms…  (and i’m not completely innocent on this either I realized)… that you’re destroying your own credibility as well.    It saddens me because I’ve seen it done by people whom I KNOW are better Jedi than that.   It saddens me because I’ve gotten myself into that camp too.   I know I labeled them a bunch of teenagers at one point.  

Better that Jedi remain silent if they can’t find constructive means of critiquing the decisions of their brethren.    These decisions may affect the whole, but the standards a Jedi are held too are so high as to make me consider name calling and disrespect of another’s religious beliefs, however justified we might feel about it, something that should be kept to ourselves.   

It concerns me that Jedi are not only attacking the CoJ’s response to their perceived injustice, but also attacking the CoJ for holding to its own doctrine…    attacking them for having such doctrine in the first place…    and making light of the fundamental issues at play simply because a few Jedi caused some bad publicity.     Granted, in the minds of the world-at-large… very little distinction, if any, is made between the various sects that fall into the category of our real-world Jedi.     Its true that not all Jedi pursue their path as a religion, but some do, and they have rights.

To label them idiots, to declare their doctrine nonsense… simply because you either don’t agree with it, or worse, can’t be bothered to understand it from their point of view… is not the Path of the Jedi that I have walked (and stumbled quite a few times in the process) these many years.    I call on all Jedi to be better than this, and to live up to the mantle they have taken as their own.   Treat the Church of Jediism with the same respect and courtesy you would any other group of Jedi.. even if you don’t agree with them… especially when you don’t agree with them.   Treat its members even better, for they are individuals with their own minds and you are unlikely to have polled each and every one of them to form your opinion.   This is how Jedi behave.   Not name calling.   Not insults against their religion.  The dark side, if there is such a thing,  would like nothing more than to see the Jedi of the Earth fighting amongst themselves.   Our movement is defeated the moment we do, and our rights as Jedi forfeit the moment we oppose the rights of our brothers and sisters in the Force.

Clearly some of my Jedi brothers and sisters have more training to do.   Really though, we all do, for a Jedi’s training is never complete…   They are rightly annoyed by the events that have taken place, but I fear they are working against themselves in how they’re dealing with their own emotion.    

These incidents are the work of the Force.   Of this I am certain.   Jedi across this globe are being called to undergo the Jedi Trials over this.    There are four such trials and foolish is the Jedi who thinks they undergo them only once on their path.    The Force tests us time and time again.  For many Jedi, these incidents are bringing about more than one of the four trials to face simultaneously.  In the end, who will pass them, and who will fail?  

Jedi are symbols, first and foremost, and we must live up to that symbolism if we are to truly be Jedi.  

Difficult to see, the future is. Always moving.

Immigration. Arizona has returned this issue to the forefront of consciousness for the American people.

There is a lot in my mind about the topic. Difficult to express, it is. Shifting and twisting. There is much I could say on it. I shall only say this, however:

When the day comes that you look out into the world and do not see an American People, a Mexican People, Candadians, Europeans, Iraqi, Eastern, Western, or any of the other multiltudes of illusionary-distinctions that the imagination of you and your predecessors have spawned….

When the day comes that you look out into the world and realize, for the first time, that there are not American People or Mexican People or any other kind of People… there is only one People… THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH….

When that day comes, your views on matters such as immigration will undergo radical shifts.

Why Home-ownership Remains Out of the Everyman’s Reach (or my latest outrage in this fiscally challenging time)

This just appalls me.   It doesn’t surprise me, but it appalls me.

Mostly I’m appalled that no one has yet stood up to do something about it.   This blog is my contribution, to raise awareness so that a much needed public outcry can be made.

Housing.   If you don’t know that there are a bunch of foreclosed homes sitting ‘vacant’ out there, you’ve been living in blissful ignorance far too long.   By the power of this blog, I shatter that bliss and supplant it with grim times.

A bunch of foreclosed homes sitting ‘vacant’ (because there are some that are indeed occupied, albeit by squatters) in your community is not a good thing.   The more individual homes that fall into this category, the more neighborhoods fall.

Take, for example, my immediate neighborhood.   I’d say its roughly half occupied.   The rest of the houses are either currently for rent, for sale, or in a third grouping I’ll get to in a moment.

This spells trouble for my neighborhood.   The more ‘abandoned’ it becomes, the more those negative aspects of societal life take over.    Reno has graduated from having ‘gangs’ to having gangs.  They’re not something for me to laugh about anymore (unlike air quality concerns… talk to me about air quality when you can’t actually see mount rose anymore).   No, gangs are a real deal here.   They’re also on patrol in my hood.  

You see as good, respectable people are forced out of their houses because of an economic downturn that has robbed them of their income, less-than-respectable people fill in the void.    

This too, shouldn’t be news to you.   I just want to make sure you think about the longer-term consequences of a prolonged housing bust.    Once these elements take root in a neighborhood, there is very little you can do to drive them back out.

If you live in Reno, than I’m sure you’re as used to seeing For Rent and For Sale signs all over the place as I am.    I can’t speak to other locales, as I hear that Nevada is suffering the most on this front, though I’m sure similar situations exist all across this great land of ours.

What you might not know is that in addition to being for sale, or for rent, there is a third category of ‘empty’ housing out there.   Houses that are foreclosed upon, are technically for sale as they are bank owned, but nevertheless remain OFF THE MARKET.

Why?   Well because we have such a huge inventory of houses to sale, that if they were on the market, housing prices would be so low that the banks wouldn’t be able to command the prices they are currently selling houses for.  

That’s right.   In a nutshell, the banks are preventing Nevadans (and I am sure it extends to most segments of the American population) from realizing the American Dream of home ownership.    When houses are selling for thousands of dollars instead of tens of thousands, think of how much more likely you are to be a home-owner (if you’re not one of the lucky ones who has been able to hold onto their home).

Instead, the financial institutions that drove us into the economic ground are holding out on us, in some cases accepting public money to stay afloat, all so that they can avoid losing money as a result of their bad lending in the first place.

That is kind of over simplifying it, and while I respect that its a bit more complex and convoluted than that, I also simply don’t care.   As a taxpayer, its not my problem how complex and convoluted you’ve made things…  I just see that you have houses you’re not putting up for sale so that you can artificially keep house prices inflated higher than the actual economics of supply and demand dictate they should be.

Which is really the jist of our economic mess.  

Systematically, every mechanism of capitalism and free-marketing that serves as a check/balance to the system has been interfered with.   Its either been broken altogether, or its function has been severely restricted.    Capitalism is like a machine, much like your car’s engine.  If you break components of your car’s engine, or constrain their operation, your car isn’t likely to get you very far, if anywhere at all.

That’s what has happened with our free-market system.   It’s not just that we as consumers have forgotten the power we wield (not to mention the responsibility to wield it).  The mechanisms of the invisible hand (that thing that forces basic human greed to work for the betterment of society at large) have been so badly eroded that even if we did suddenly wake up and start doing our full jobs as consumers, we’re still going to see greed work against us instead of for us.

Then again, the notion that we have a free-market at all is an illusion designed to make you feel good about being slaves.

Human beings may not go out and publically buy other human beings in this country anymore, but every one of us is owned by the pieces of paper we put into our wallet.   Without money, we die.  Our masters are our paychecks.    Except that now that money has become scarce, some communities are moving to alternatives.    They now issue their own currencies, and outright barter systems are re-emerging as the way to do business.   

Thankfully humans are resourceful creatures.

But back to these banks.    Just be aware that the banks that got us into this mess are still screwing us over.   Now some are just doing it on our dime.  

The thing about investing, and real estate is an investment, is that its risky.   The greater the risk, the greater the reward.    This, of course, means that while you have potential to make money, you also have potential to lose.   You won’t lose more than you put in, but if you put in more than you can afford to lose, you’ve invested too much.   It is exactly like gambling, because it is gambling.   They just give it a different name because they want people to invest their money into their schemes, which would be more difficult if ‘invest’ had the same stigma as ‘gamble.’

So what these banks have done is front a bunch of money for houses, paying way more than the houses were actually worth (because the same institutional-machine has been artificially inflating the cost of houses—not to mention healthcare—beyond what their actual value is for years and years and years).    They kind of scammed themselves in that regard… paying more than a house was worth and betting on the ‘home-owner’ to be their fiscal slave for as long as they still had the loan.   Except that the ‘home-owners’ felt the effects of the economic band-aid coming off our depression-era wound (that band-aid being the ‘credit’ mentality of buying things with money you don’t have and thus going into debt) and found themselves with a reduced income.    Mortgages went unpaid and suddenly the housing market collapsed, triggering a tsunami of economic blood-shed.   (Evidentially someone picked the scab after the band-aid fell off).

Basically the institution lost the gamble.   Instead of paying up though, they’re going to do everything they can to offset that loss at you, the taxpayer’s, expense.  (As though we aren’t suffering enough from there mess.)    They’re keeping houses off the market on purpose, which drives up the cost of houses that are on the market.   This inflated price means more people need to borrow money to buy the houses that are being marketed.   The banks won’t give out money because they at least learned that lesson and have become more selective about whom they will loan money too (and rightly so), so the houses remain unsold.  

They’re not making good on their commitment to work with those people still in their houses, so more houses go into foreclosure to sit, unsold, and unmarketed.  In some cases, refusing an offer that is only a couple thousand less than the original asking price.. just to maximize the money the can get… all while taking kick-backs from Uncle Sam.  

Yet if the housing market were to be flooded with the actual inventory sitting around waiting to be bought, yes they would lose a lot of money in the process.   Yet we, the taxpayers who must bare the burden of the economic mess they brought about for their own short-term profit, only find ourselves with a growing barrier to home-ownership.

Let’s just say that these houses did flood the market, and housing prices plummeted to all-time lows of a few thousand dollars.   Well, for one it would be less risky to loan money to people who needed, say 7 grand to buy a house.   It would certainly be easier for people to come up with the money to buy the house with cold-hard cash.

People who today have no hope of getting out from under the thumb of oppression that is renting, might actually find themselves in a position to own their home.    They won’t be wasting their money on rent, but investing in their own future.   

Rental rates would also drop with the surplus inventory of housing available, thus even those who couldn’t seize the opportunity to buy a house would nevertheless find themselves with more cash on hand now that their rent is adjusted to the new market-value.  

What do we do with that extra money?   Hopefully we save a portion of it, but we spend it.   Spending it drives our economy in an upward direction.

Its certainly not the fix-all of the current depression.   It will certainly mean those who gambled in real-estate will lose their shirts.    I suspect that will be short term though.  Once the inventory of houses is seized up at insanely low prices, the supply will be decreased, home values will go up.   Those who lost can get back in the game and gamble again, and make a buck or two.  

Whatever our solution, it will take long-term foresight, not short-term thinking.    What we’re experiencing is a market resetting things to what their actual value is.   Those who control the goods are suddenly at a loss because they bought into something at inflated prices.   Yeah it sucks, but that’s life.    Just as I have little sympathy for people who financed a house with a mortgage that was three times what the actual value of the house was (artificial manipulation of the supply/demand market) and now find themselves dreadfully upside down, or worse without a house at all… I have little sympathy for the people who tied their livelihoods to the institutions and practices that sunk us into this mess.

I don’t know if my idea of putting these houses on the market and letting us all get cheap home-ownership will really pay off.   Nevertheless I think deliberately keeping house prices at a certain level to ensure your profit isn’t in the best interests of society at large.   

Our President and Congress aren’t the people who should fix it either.    The City of Reno, the County of Washoe, the State of Nevada…  these are the entities that should be enacting legislation prohibiting the real estate industry from keeping inventory off the market.    I say we force them to sell it for whatever they can get, and write the losses off.    Sure we’ll see real estate companies fold up.   We’ll see lenders fold up.   I guarantee you new ones will surface to take their place, manned by the very same individuals.      

The short term pain may be great, but in the long run I think we’ll all be better off.    One of the key jobs of the consumer is to make sacrifices.   We sacrifice owning something so that we can send a clear message that we simply will not pay more than something is worth.    We sacrifice buying something from Wal-Mart because we value quality as well as price.    We pay too much for everything in this country.  The only exception is the cheap-low-quality-disposable crap that we have to replace every few months because it broke or tore.   Our power, as consumers, is to dictate to the suppliers what the quality of the goods will be and how much we should pay.   We wield this power by being very selective about who we give our money too.   We buy only those things that meet the delicate balance of quality and affordability.     Its not our ability to get insurance that has our healthcare system jacked up, but the outrageous cost we have to pay for something that isn’t that expensive to begin with.

In a real free-market system, human greed is guided along by the invisible hand towards the benefit of society at-large.    People get to make money off other people, but the money they make reflects the true value of the goods or services provided.   This is not because the supplier is altruistic, but because the supplier simply can’t sell anything for an inflated price.   When consumers actually go without, the prices of goods come down.    There is something to be said about going to a second-hand-thrift store and getting a can-opener that will still be in your drawer and fully functional some 50 years from now, as opposed to going to your local Wal-Mart and getting a cheaply made contraption to open cans that will break and be in a landfill not 5 years from now.

In our current system, human greed runs amok, unchecked, to the detriment of society at large.   Even those who stole the bank with their clever scheming find themselves losing in the long-run. 

Change doesn’t happen from the White House though.   It happens from your house.   As the Bajoran Prophets like to say, Look for solutions from within [your local governments].

Stryse’s Roadmap to Love (Patent Pending)

So today I was talking with a friend who is going through some relationship woes and I made the comment "Everyone should follow my roadmap."   He wanted to re-read it and so I sent him the link and re-read it myself and decided it would make an awesome sermon… so here we go.

Stryse’s Roadmap to Love – Newly Revised

Look, this was written more towards relationships between two men, so its largely worded that way, but the principles behind it apply to any relationship, same-sex or opposite-sex, male or female.   If you’re straight you may not be aware, but gay men (and maybe gay women but what would I know of them?) have this annoying tendancy to rush their relationships and then cry over it when it blows up in their face.    There are a lot of reasons why they do this, but if they truly want an enduring, meaningful relationship with someone, they should slow down and enjoy the process.   It’s half the fun of having a relationship.  

The road from meeting someone to spending a lifetime is broken up into five stages, each of which builds upon what came before it.   I have some ideas of appropriate timelines for the stages, but where those are expressed understand that they’re merely guidelines.  Don’t move into the next phase until you’re good darn and ready.

I’ve put this together based on my own experiences in love and it has served me well on the path to finding a life partner.   Unfortunately I haven’t always communicated this as well as I should have and that’s led to conflict, so it led me spell it out in this format.

This is the roadmap:

As you see, I have broken it up into five chevrons.  What follows is an explanation of each chevron.  Get ready, this could bring about a radical change to your world view.

Chevron 1 – "Friends"

It starts with one.  You’ll note that the word friends is within quotation marks.  This is because friend is a word much like love.  Its meaning is a continuum, not an absolute.   In truth, I have very few friends:  i.e.. those people I’m actually close to and share a mutual involvement in one another’s’ lives.   The true friends in my life are like my pack.  So the word friends is used loosely.

In the context of a relationship, where romantic love has a possibility, the "friends" phase of the relationship is the starting point.  This phase begins when a mutual interest in one another is expressed.  It is the phase where we determine the nature of the relationship we desire with one another.

There are three possible outcomes for this phase:

1) A romantic interest is found and we move on to the second chevron.
2) A true friendship is born, but without any romantic involvement
3) We are acquaintances only.  We recognize one another out in the world and may or may not acknowledge one another in the process.  All we can really say is that we know one another but there is no meaningful interaction.

Chevron 2 – Dating

Step 2 of the Roadmap is where you have both expressed a romantic interest in one another.   This is when you are actually dating one another.  It’s called courtship and its different from spending time with friends.

In this phase we being opening ourselves to experiencing an emotional connection to the person we’re seeing and start laying the foundation of our relationship with them.  By the end of this phase we should have a solid understanding of what each other expects in a relationship.

There are two possible outcomes to this phase:

1)  You fall in love.
2)  You don’t.

If you fall in love, you move to the next Chevron, and if you don’t, you move on.  Maybe you stay friends with the person, maybe you don’t, but you do stop wasting each other’s time pursuing a relationship that isn’t meant to be.

The dating phase should last a minimum of six or so months.  The purpose of dating is to see if you really like this person to make them part of your life.   Do you like them well enough to start making commitments to them?   If your goal is to get laid, stay at the first chevron.  If you want a casual thing, stay at this chevron.  If you want something meaningful, continue.

Chevron 3 – Boyfriends

If its phase three in the relationship than that means you know that you love this person and you hope that they love you back.   Of course if we’ve made it to phase 3 than that love you feel has already been mutually expressed.

The mantle of boyfriend is not one to take lightly.  This is point that actual commitments to one another are being made.  Woe to any who would make such a commitment lightly.   

It is only in the third chevron that one should start having any expectations of their partner.   Until now its been casual and fun, but at this juncture things are now serious.   The first, and foremost, expecation you should have is one of communication.   You tell each other what is going on in regards to the relationship.   This is this phase that you start exploring your compatibility for life-long partnership.  If you’re to a point where you both consider each other to be your boyfriend, then you should fully expect you’re both in it for the long-haul.   If there is a fight, its not going to be the last you speak to or see each other.   This is were we drop all facades and show our true, unedited selves to one another.   This is where the relationship becomes "serious."

Two possible outcomes:

1) You find out you’re good together as a couple
2) You don’t and part ways (in whatever manner you agree on… maybe you settle for being friends, maybe you don’t want to see each other again).  This option would involve some heartache as there is an emotional attachment that is being severed.

This phase should not be rushed.  I’d say a minimum of a year or so.   No matter how much you think you know someone, you don’t know them after a few nights together.  Life takes a bit longer to give you situations where you can see their true colors.  In all honesty, you will learn far more about someone by observing how they handle life than they will ever learn from what they tell you.

Chevron 4 – Live In Boyfriend

In the past, this is the step that seems to get me into trouble more than any other, because the people i’ve been with seem to confuse this stage, with the next one.  Don’t make that mistake.  This is an important stage in getting to our end-goal of what some people call "wedded-bliss".   Think of it as the final test before taking the ultimate step in a relationship.

At the fourth chevron, we know we click well with our partner.  We’re great together and quite happy in our relationship and find ourselves ready to take the next step.  We decide to live together.   Either you move in with them, they move in with you, or you both move into a new place together.   You live with one another, sleep in the same bed every night together, and wake up each morning to find the love of our life laying there next to you.   You see each other at your best and worst because you reside together and can’t hide it.

Understand, however, that there is a difference between living together and being "married" to one another.  Assuming I was proposed to, I could not say yes until I had already experienced what life was like having you around day in and day out.  A successful long-term relationship must at some point explore what its like to live with one another and see each other when we haven’t had time to prepare for each other’s company.  This phase teaches us a lot of things we just can’t learn living apart and truly tests our commitment and compatibility with our partner.  We learn a great deal about each other’s character through their daily behaviors.

There are three possible outcomes:

1)  Successful cohabitation.
2)  You determine that while you still enjoy one another and the relationship, you’re just not ready to handle life in the same home.  So you revert back to the third chevron until such time as you’ve resolved whatever the problem was and you’re ready to give it another shot.
3)  We decide that we’ve seen our partner’s true colors and the person we thought we were in love with just isn’t "the one" for us and we part ways.   You might end up hating each other after this phase, but in general my experience is that I do consider the ex to be a great person, but just not the right guy for me to spend the rest of my life with.  Hopefully if you find yourself here, you’ll have the same revelation.  You shouldn’t be this far into the relationship if the person you’re dating is a terrible human being anyway.

My dad said live with someone for five years before marriage, and I generally agree.  If you really are going to spend your lifes together, waiting several years for the commitment ceremony is a small thing.   You’ll be glad you did anyway because there is little you won’t know about your significant other after that amount of time together… and it would be rather unusual any "marriage" would fail.

Finally…

Chevron 5 – "Husband"

This is it.  You are convinced that they are "The One" or "Mr. Right" or however you want to phrase it.  Your love for each other has become so strong, so pure, that the loss of your parnter might well result in death by a broken heart.  That is how strongly you should feel for each other at this phase.   At the fifth chevron, we know without any shadow of doubt that we will be at each other’s side until the end of time, or we both should perish, whichever occurs first. You know that you can depend and rely upon each other for this and that you can comfortably grow old together, there is no fear that you’ll end up alone when you’re past your prime.   Life apart is incomprehensible and you really have no idea how you made it so long without this person there.

This is the equivalent of marriage whether you go through the formal institution or not.   It is that level of a relationship that, no matter what happens in your lives or between you, we will always remain together.  You’ve learned how to resolve conflict between you, and there isn’t much of it anyway.   It is a sacred commitment you make to each other and no longer are you two people, but one.

It is a commitment that I will only make once. 

You may note in the graphic, I left this chevron open.  Perhaps there is something higher in the afterlife, or perhaps the relationship can evolve in this life beyond even my considerable imagination.


That, dear children, is my roadmap to love.   Take your time with it.  Love is a process, not something you pick up from a convenience store.   Lasting relationships are built brick by brick, not bought premanufactured.

Frankly, if you don’t take the time to enjoy each and every one of these little chevrons…   I can almost guarantee you that you will not ever get to the fifth with someone.  

So says Stryse.

A Horse Story

This came to me at work as a paradigm for good leadership.   But on closer examination, its something each of us should internalize.

“If the horse you’re riding dies, get off” This quote seems simple enough yet we don’t always follow that advice. Instead, we often choose from an array of other alternatives, which include the following:

· Buying a stronger whip

· Trying a new bit or bridle

· Switching riders

· Moving the horse to a new location

· Riding the horse for longer periods of time

· Saying things like, “This is the way we’ve always ridden the horse”

· Appointing a committee to study the horse

· Arranging to visit other sites where they ride dead horses more efficiently

· Increasing the standards for riding dead horses

· Creating a test for measuring our riding ability

· Comparing how we’re riding now with how we did ten or twenty years ago

· Loudly complaining about the state of horses these days

· Coming up with new styles of riding

· Tightening the cinch

· Blaming the horse’s parents. The problem is often in the breeding.

 

The point is that we must not be afraid to change. An investment in life is an investment in change to the end. Every day is new. Every experience is new. Everything is new, every morning of your life…. And if you don’t believe this, you are in the process of dying.

Dr. Leo Buscaglia 1972