Friday, June 30, 2017

The Lost Art of Conversation

Once upon a time, many years ago, people would talk to each other. The talk would be face-to-face conversation without the aid of electronics or mind-altering substances.
This conversation could take place anywhere and at anytime between two or more people. The topics of a good conversation could vary from family to health to recently read books or music or politics or religion but it was always a civil discussion with a sharing of ideas and opinions without snarky comments or demeaning attitudes.
In certain circles the conversation was a high art of etiquette with rules of who can speak and when they are spoken to. Casual conversation goes on everyday in offices, homes, stores but it is normally speak or reply distracted by the disturbances of life. Some who know each other well enough can finish the other’s sentence.
Part of a good conservationist is to be a good listener. A good conversation can offer new twist on uninteresting subjects if you listen. A good listener will allow the speaker to finish their thought without interruption.
A conversation can teach, preach, motivate, inspire and even become romantic. A good conversation can bring joyful laughter and friends closer together in the common experience,
The art of conversation is not lost but hard to find. A few will still share their time and space and ideas and opinions without a deadline. Open enough to learn and be taught and share stories and laughter and tears, conversations can bond and revel much to each other and themselves.
You know what I’m saying?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Losing Yourself

It has become the time of year to think of vacations and look for some good books to take with you. Not only do you want to get away from your mundane life on constant crisis and uneventful adventures and shake off the doldrums of the cold grey winter months cuddled in blankets staring at the constant stream of young beautiful badly acting like English aristocrats of yore or athletic police, doctors or lawyers implying a fantasy we all wish we could live.
The sun comes out and we are compelled to go outdoors and dig in the dirt. Yet the sun is hot so we wander to where the waves crash or the water falls on the rocks.
Packing up all the ‘stuff’ we can stuff in our motor vehicle we gather our family for a distant destination full of expense, frustrations, consumption and possible illness. Vacations are for losing ourselves.
A book, unlike a television show or a movie or even a play, takes some effort of the reader. The pace can be as fast or slow, as you want. The characters with the finest descriptions to details of clothing, hairstyles, surrounds, are individually visualized in the mind of self-reference. Read aloud and find a tone for each voice in quotes. We get lost in every delicious word and phrase presented to us in black and white by someone somewhere who can imagine what we can only marvel at.
Not every book is a far away fiction of wizards and dragons or romance that could never really happen but there is also factual documentaries and biographies of historic events and celebrity figures who have made significant changes in our history. For a few pages we are whisked away to times and places lost in ourselves.
Then the alarm goes off and reality rears its ugly head and the day-to-day list of chores and meals and doctor visits and car repairs and laundry and checking the coupons for the best price of toothpaste returns.
Yet every year there are thousands more printings of books of every sort with each author taking a different slant on their passions and ideas.
Every afternoon (or at least as many as I can do according to the weather) I make time to rock on my front porch and just lose myself.
The other night I see this tall black man walking slowly across the street. It is somewhat usual because the only black men seen in this neighborhood are city workers cleaning the streets, filling in potholes or removing trash or wearing UPS brown uniforms. Not to say this is not a diverse neighborhood but there are few smoking jalopies parked on neatly manicured lawns so as I watch the cars come back to their empty shells neatly in rows one behind the other as ‘neighbors’ rush inside to ponder what movie to watch with delivered pizza, I rock and watch this tall black man slowly walk down the sidewalk. Then I hear a child’s voice. A small nappy-headed boy is following him and my anxiety drops. He and his son (I make the association in my head) must live around here. He turns the corner with his son on his shoulders and I think, “Good poppa”. How quickly perceptions can change.
So I’m leaving for my morning adventures following my daily routine and stop to wait for traffic. There is a man in a yellow tee-shirt walking down the road. He is not on the sidewalk but in the street. It is 7AM and there is no traffic but I wait for the old man to pass. He appears old by his stance and pace and the walking stick he is carrying but not using. He looks up under the brim of his red baseball cap and says, “Good morning” to which I replied the same. He would have seen like some quirky old guy out for an early morning walk or looking for his dog except for one item. He had a pistol stuck in his waistband. It was not some kind of peashooter but a large caliber pistol protruding from his trousers. “What would this guy need to carry a gun around at this time a’morning?” “Did he have a permit to open carry?” “Was it loaded?” “Was this guy up to no-good?”
Not wanting to become part of his story I quickly pointed my steed in the opposite direction and did not tarry.
Observing reality can present more tales and adventures than any book and you are the author, thus losing yourself in life.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


The other day putting out the trash I was breaking a branch when it scratched me. It was more of a stab than a scratch and I started to bleed from the puncture. The blood didn’t gush but it flowed until I went into the house to put on a band-aid.
A band-aid is a wonderful thing. A band-aid is a little swab of cotton on an adhesive strip wrapped in paper. If there isn’t a nurse available the paper must be ripped off while blood trickles down your hand. A quick wash off and dab dry and wrapping around the band-aid either stops the blood flow and ease the pain or shows it is time to call 911.
The reason I even bring up this gross subject is I remember as a youth of not worrying about bleeding. Everyone got a scrap or a cut or a boo-boo and you just licked it, and moved on.

Coagulation (also known as clotting) is the process by which blood changes from a liquid to a gel, forming a blood clot. It potentially results in hemostasis, the cessation of blood loss from a damaged vessel, followed by repair. The mechanism of coagulation involves activation, adhesion, and aggregation of platelets along with deposition and maturation of fibrin. Disorders of coagulation are disease states that can result in bleeding (hemorrhage or bruising) or obstructive clotting (thrombosis).
Coagulation is highly conserved throughout biology; in all mammals, coagulation involves both a cellular (platelet) and a protein (coagulation factor) component. The system in humans has been the most extensively researched and is the best understood.
Coagulation begins almost instantly after an injury to the blood vessel has damaged the endothelium lining the vessel. Leaking of blood through the endothelium initiates two processes the exposure of subendothilial tissue factor to, which ultimately leads to fibrin formation. Platelets immediately form a plug at the site of injury; this is called primary hemostasis. Secondary hemostasis occurs simultaneously in a complex cascade to form fibrin strands, which strengthen the platelet plug.

I used to give blood and always finished quickly but if I got a scratch I’d get a scab and a few days later everything would be the same or a minor scare. I had a few bloody crises but don’t remember getting a transfusion.
I certainly don’t understand blood loss as the ladies do so I have to relate this puncture as a guy. I just noticed this change in my bumping around, as I grow older. Bruises take longer to go away and this thin blood flow is different.

From what I read about blood clots in the arteries and my wife’s stents after a heart attack I think thin blood might be good for me. There is still a history of eating red meat, lack of exercise, and no medical exams so I don’t kid myself about walking into this minefield. I’ll just stock up on band-aids.

Sort of like what happens to people in your life. We grow apart and far away and lose contact with each other. We may be in the same town or on the same street but have different friends and religions and hobbies and tend not to associate with one another until we clot. We may gather for the most ridiculous reasons but soon want to shelter back to our protective lifestyle.

In previous wars, weapons were invented to hack and chop and bore through the flesh of ‘the enemy’ in hopes that if enough of them were incapacitated then we would win. Before Medevac and M*A*S*H units close to the fighting tried to repair the carnage to fight another day the dying would just lay on the field to cry out until the cries went silent.

Like many of the aches and pains of old age I come to the realization that if I get seriously injured, I’ll probably bleed out.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


I’m lucky or of an age where I know what that word ‘borrow’ means and the connotations of using it. Can I borrow your lawnmower? Can I borrow $50 till payday? Can I borrow your daughter for a weekend?
The best intentions are to allow a family member or close friend or neighbor to use whatever you have accumulated for a short period of time with insurance of replacement.
If the item is returned on a specific date unharmed or damaged, the bond is reinforced. If the timeline is extended, questions arise.
An item purchased for home use or family can have a significant meaning to the owner. Family heirlooms passed down through generations can raise red flags when asked by other members of the clan to borrow. 
To be abiding we show our trust and confidence in another person to allow them your cherished processions to use and return shortly in pristine condition. Yet accidents happens the culpability of insurance and repair raises its ugly head.
The same is true with time.
When someone wants to sit and talk, they are borrowing your time; time that could be spent doing some other chore or experience. The same is true with social media. Another form of borrowing is spending hours tweeting or chatting or scrolling thorough a myriad of opinions and responses to other nonsense. You only have a finite precious time on this planet so why waste it giving it away?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


So after a hard day of doing nothing but feeding hungry faces and listening to Rolling Stone music, I retire to the front porch. It is still early so most of the neighbors have not taken a break from working so the quiet between construction and children is appreciated. I grab a couple of cool Coors and my iPad to figure on rocking to roll. There is still water puddle from last nights rain so before I relax I sweep it out to dissipate. Without headphones I start my process of rocking and enjoying the yard activities. I notice some fella cross the street to talk to a neighbor as she came home. I could not hear the conversation but he was unfamiliar to the regular yahoos who live around here. She went into her house and he approached my gate. The usual welcoming to a stranger came next, “Hi, how are you?” A comfortable discussion of the yard and the neighborhood and still I had no idea what he was selling. “Can I come in and talk to you?” “NO!” You do not enter my personal space unless invited and he obeyed. Nice looking guy with grey hair and a blue blazer and kakis pant. He wore the acceptable uniform for this area since time began. “What do you do?” “How is your wife?” “What are you doing with your money?” I didn’t know if Chris (he said his name was) was selling insurance, yard malignance, aluminum siding, financial advice or God. I had no fear of talking to this stranger so the subjects wandered back and forth and unfortunately he didn’t know I’d worked in advertising and knew the drill. After finally getting frustrated he was not making a sell on me, he excused himself to continue to his path up and down the block. Chris was on a mission. He stopped back by and asked if he could leave a flyer and I said “Just put it in the post box. I won’t tell the feds.” He made many notes into his pad probably saying “Asshole at this location. Stay away.” Doesn’t matter none for I’m dry and want to go back to the Tummy Temple before dark because dark is bad and I don’t like bad. So the usual path makes the breathing better and the legs say ‘WTF’. Pick up a few more blueberries, because you just can’t have too many blueberries and another Coors to turn into the ‘health food’ section that is usually free of customers. There was a cute tatted blond staring at bottles of some sort of wonder liquids and seemed somehow confused so I stopped my cart. She smiled and said she was “Looking for….” I acknowledged her cuteness and pointed to the shelves. “That one?” “What about that one?” “Or that one?”. We both had a good laugh and she commented she needed more caffeine and moved on. Thanks for the encounter. Back at the ranch another feeding of the hungry faces and slum down to the social media mayhem. Another Rolling Stone soundtrack eases the day until tomorrow. Sorry Chris, I ain’t buying but good luck.

The War is Over!

Since I’ve been on this planet that headline has been ‘fake news’. In my almost seven decades there has always been war. The country I live in has always been involved if not the predicator of the war. If one war seems to be fizzling out, we start another one. We have a massive industry to produce products that provide the young to be killed and kill others.
I grew up in an era of celebrating the victory of WWII while watching movies of our troops storming the beaches and always defeating the Nazi or Jap enemy. Just like previous years when the Yankees done whooped the Johnny Rebs but there were no movies showing the end of war, so the South will rise again.
We believed the power and the glory of the red, white and blue could defeat anyone or anything because we can manufacture more weapons of destruction than anyone else, especially when we are not being bombed. Still we had to decide what to do with this massive armed force and even though many quit and went back to civilian life, it became an option of those who could not get a mining or construction job.
To fuel the fear and maintaining a standing army, we invented the commies. Now we had a new enemy who was as large and as strong as the U.S. of the A. and had similar weapons of mass destruction. We hid under school desk as protection of a nuclear war.
Meanwhile as Europe was redefining itself and Africa was carving out nations run by dictators and Japan shrunk into a manufacture mogul and China was awakening, there were these constant spates going on around the world.  
America became the policeman of the world.
We picked our fights thinking we could win but it wasn’t that easy without the entire world backing us up. Korea was actually declared a police action trying to keep the commies from spreading and it looked pretty good until the Chinese decided to join in and for the betterment of saving face we drew a line and decided to call it a stalemate. Vietnam was a toe in the water that increased to a no-win solution and a commie win.
Meanwhile the body bags kept coming home with those proud children that sacrificed all for a noble cause. The graveyards expanded and another war was created.
If there wasn’t a war we could join in, we created our own. We believe in being a bully pulpit to invade another sovereign country just to try and make the country to follow our ideology.
War on poverty. War on drugs. War on discrimination. War on sexual freedom. War on religion. War on….

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Daddy’s Day Pt. II


That was my dad at the beach in ’41. From the gathering of photos kept he seemed to like the beach and the lifestyle. Young tan stud on the beach plus he played in a band.
There is a story that he didn’t get into the ocean and I must admit I never saw him get into the ocean. My mom used to drag me around in the ocean until it became second nature to swim but dad stayed up on the beach. The story I heard was his brother Bill almost drowned him once in the ocean and he never went back.
I called him Dad. I don’t think I called him Daddy but I may have early on. Never ‘Pop’ or ‘Father’ but always ‘Dad’. I certainly never knew he was a ‘George’ but he was a junior named after his ‘George’ dad and he named my older brother ‘George’ but I don’t remember using or hearing that name associated with him.
It took me awhile to figure out whom ‘Jelly’ was but all his friends and associates used it to refer to Dad. I never heard the story but figured his initials G.E.L. turned into his nickname and it stuck. When his identity became ‘Jelly’ I’ll never know but either the name seemed to fit or his personality changed to match the name.
I wondered why I wasn’t called ‘George the IV’ but it was my brother’s job to carry on the family name. I also never associated my brother with the name ‘George’. I always, to this day, call him ‘Chick’. Don’t ask me where that came from.
Dad was the head of the family. He had a place at the head of the table and no one else ever sat there. He carved the turkey on Thanksgiving. He provided a ton of stuff for Christmas. He bought cars at the same place. He rode the bus to work until later in life when he was working later and later. He did the bills. He seemed to enjoy being alone watching television and eating ice cream. He painted our shed that held rusty broken tools over and over again.
On a couple occasions when I received the wrath of ‘George’, I would respond ‘Yes sir’. I never had any fear of physical punishment and not real sure I paid any attention but he was the ‘Head of the Household’ so I obeyed the rules. I was mostly handed to my mother to translate his wishes to me. I always felt a closer connection with my mother’s family than being Jelly Junior, though I look just like him only with a beard.
So if Dad was alive today, whoever is close enough in the family would gather at the house after church and gather around the table and he would offer grace to a meal brought home from the club and the conversation was golly and frivolous and somewhat awkward until presents were open and a possible cake with ice cream then the television would be turned on and everyone would sit in silence and stare at the tube.
What would I buy for my Dad now? Old Spice after-shave? Novelty tie? Cross pen? A mug that will go up on a shelf and never be used? A Spencer gag gift that will go to the trash before being opened?
Dad didn’t have any hobbies. No fishing stories or construction instructions or golf adventures (Mom had those) or even old musical experiences. Dad woke, shaved, got dressed and went to work. Dad would come home and watch television and never say a word. Maybe mom and Dad would talk but everything was private. My brother and I lived in our rooms and never asked.
Here is my dad, my brother and I at the beach. I am either being christened to the ocean gods or being sacrificed to the sharks. Don’t know why he is wearing glasses but maybe he was reading the instructions on how to empty the load on those bulky cloth diapers. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rainy Night

Yesterday was hot. Today is hot and muggy. The ground is soft and the air is thick. It is becoming summer in the city.
No details or fact checks or computer data to verify that it is hot and it is muggy. At least in Puppywoods but ½ of the jungle is gone freeing up sunshine to bake into ground.
Many summers and winters have been experienced at this location and everyday changes are noted and appreciated. For weather depends on how the day will be planned and accomplished.
It doesn’t take much to notice the animal kingdom’s eternal knowledge in the changes of wind and humidity. They communicate between one another way before any Breaking Weather Event is published. The clouds tell those who want to observe what are happening in the heavens.
As the story goes, the windows were installed and the storm came. It was a gully buster but no leaks that I’ve noticed so far. Mission accomplished to use a overused phrase.
Still releasing the stress of strangers crawling all over the house there is the relief of strong double-pane glass against the heat and cold. Maybe the house will hold up for another couple of years.
A rumble of thunder in the background indicates there may be more rain coming. Unlike the smoke alarm that went off at 4AM but luckily I was up and at’em, I can’t take the batteries out of the clouds.
I enjoy the weather. I respect the weather. I dress according to the weather. I watch the radar and ride when appropriate. I sit through hurricanes and watch the trees dance. I’ll sweat and bake in the heat and towel off for after a few months I’ll be applying more layers.


• Affection • Anger • Angst  • Anguish • Annoyance • Anticipation • Anxiety • Apathy • Arousal • Awe • Boredom • Confidence • Contempt • Contentment • Courage • Curiosity • Depression • Desire • Despair • Disappointment • Disgust • Distrust • Ecstasy • Embarrassment • Empathy • Envy • Euphoria • Fear • Frustration • Gratitude • Grief • Guilt • Happiness • Hatred • Hope • Horror • Hostility • Humiliation • Interest • Jealousy • Joy • Loneliness • Love • Lust • Outrage • Panic • Passion • Pity • Pleasure • Pride • Rage • Regret • Remorse • Resentment • Sadness • Saudade • Schadenfreude • Self-confidence • Shame • Shock • Shyness • Sorrow • Suffering • Surprise • Trust • Wonder • Worry

  Emotion is any relatively brief conscious experience characterized by intense mental activity and a high degree of pleasure or displeasure.
  Emotion is often intertwined with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation.
  Emotions are complex. Emotions are states of feeling that result in physical and psychological changes that influence our behavior. The physiology of emotion is closely linked to arousal of the nervous system with various states and strengths of arousal relating, apparently, to particular emotions. Emotions are also linked to behavioral tendencies declared as good or bad.
  Extroverted people are more likely to be social and express their emotions, while introverted people are more likely to be more socially withdrawn and conceal their emotions.
  Emotion is often the driving force behind motivation, positive or negative.
  In psychology and philosophy, emotion typically includes a subjective, conscious experience characterized primarily by psycho-physiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states.
  Research on emotions including psychology, neuroscience, endocrinology, medicine, history, sociology, and computer science have not come up with the answer. The numerous theories that attempt to explain the origin, neurobiology, experience, and function of emotions have only fostered more intense research on this topic.
Emotions just come along with us like our voice or breathing. Emotions are there when we go to sleep and infiltrate our dreams. Emotions, no matter how hard we try, cannot be controlled. Laws are made if our emotions get out of control.
A few years ago I feel in love. It might have been love or a mix between lust and infatuation but it was a strong emotion at the time. Unlike when I was a pup and didn’t know any better I’d had crushes defining the results of testosterone rushing through my body as love.
The word ‘love’ is thrown about like ‘dog’ or ‘God’ and has tried to express every emotion in songs, poems, novels, movies and emojis. We love our children, love our country, and love our mother but not so sure about our dads. We love our work, we love our deities, and we love our phones but not so sure about our comments.
Back to the story, I had all the symptoms. I wake up in the morning and think about her. I would go to sleep thinking about her. I would go over and over silly comments and try to analysis what they really meant. I mailed Valentine cards.
Now all of this seems like the emotion associated with the ‘love’ we all associate with but there was one added element.
Logic raised it’s ugly head and revealed that the titillation, depression, ecstasy, and every other rollercoaster ride my emotions were on, I couldn’t act on them and knew full well the consequences. Reality overrode fantasy.
I enjoyed that time, as emotions fade and we move on with life, but the moon was much fuller and the night air was cooler and every song had a hidden meaning. It did give me some better understanding of previous relationships. Not a mid-life crisis since I’ve long passed that stage in the timeline, but it was during a period of stress.
Thank you emotions. You make our dull existence interesting.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is the right to articulate one's opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.
The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the UDHR states that:
“Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”.
The version of Article 19 in the ICCPR later amends this by stating that the exercise of these rights carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary “for respect of the rights or reputation of others” or “for the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals”.
Therefore, freedom of speech and expression may not be recognized as being absolute, and common limitations to freedom of speech relate to libel, slander, obscenity, pornography, sedition, incitement, fighting words, classified information, copyright violation, trade secrets, non-disclosure agreements, the right to privacy, the right to be forgotten, public security, and perjury.
Justifications for such include the harm principle, proposed by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty, which suggests that:
“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”
The idea of the “offense principle” is also used in the justification of speech limitations, describing the restriction on forms of expression deemed offensive to society, considering factors such as extent, duration, motives of the speaker, and ease with which it could be avoided. With the evolution of the digital age, application of the freedom of speech becomes more controversial as new means of communication and restrictions arise, for example the Golden Shield Project, an initiative by Chinese government's Ministry of Public Security that filters potentially unfavorable data from foreign countries.
The right to freedom of expression has been interpreted to include the right to take and publish photographs of strangers in public areas without their permission or knowledge. However, according to a legal case in the Netherlands, the right to freedom of expression does not include the right to use a photograph in a racist manner to incite racial hatred or ethnic discrimination if the photograph was taken without the knowledge of the subject.
Concepts of freedom of speech can be found in early human rights documents. England's Bill of Rights 1689 legally established the constitutional right of 'freedom of speech in Parliament’, which is still in effect. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, adopted during the French Revolution in 1789, specifically affirmed freedom of speech as an inalienable right. The Declaration provides for freedom of expression in Article 11, which states that:
“The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.”
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states that:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Today, freedom of speech, or the freedom of expression, is recognized in international and regional human rights law. The right is enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Based on John Milton's arguments, freedom of speech is understood as a multi-faceted right that includes not only the right to express, or disseminate, information and ideas, but three further distinct aspects:
1. the right to seek information and ideas
2. the right to receive information and ideas
3. the right to impart information and ideas

In the United States, freedom of speech and expression is strongly protected from government restrictions by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, many state constitutions, and state and federal laws. The Supreme Court of the United States has recognized several categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection by the First Amendment and has recognized that governments may enact reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions on speech. The First Amendment's constitutional right of free speech, which is applicable to state and local governments under the incorporation doctrine, only prevents government restrictions on speech, not restrictions imposed by private individuals or businesses unless they are government acting on behalf of the government.
However, laws may restrict the ability of private businesses and individuals from restricting the speech of others, such as employment laws that restrict employers' ability to prevent employees from disclosing their salary with coworkers or attempting to organize a labor union. The First Amendment's freedom of speech right not only proscribes most government restrictions on the content of speech and ability to speak, but also protects the right to receive information, prohibits most government restrictions or burdens that discriminate between speakers, restricts the tort liability of individuals for certain speech, and prevents the government from requiring individuals and corporations to speak or finance certain types of speech with which they don't agree.
The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights was originally proposed to assuage Anti-Federalist opposition to Constitutional ratification. Initially, the First Amendment applied only to laws enacted by the Congress, and many of its provisions were interpreted more narrowly than they are today. Beginning with Gitlow v. New York (1925), the Supreme Court applied the First Amendment to states a process known as incorporation through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), the Court drew on Thomas Jefferson's correspondence to call for “a wall of separation between church and State”, though the precise boundary of this separation remains in dispute.
Speech rights were expanded significantly in a series of 20th and 21st-century court decisions which protected various forms of political speech, anonymous speech, campaign financing, pornography, and school speech; these rulings also defined a series of exceptions to First Amendment protections.
The Supreme Court overturned English common law precedent to increase the burden of proof for defamation and libel suits, most notably in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964).
Commercial speech, however, is less protected by the First Amendment than political speech, and is therefore subject to greater regulation.
The Free Press Clause protects publication of information and opinions, and applies to a wide variety of media. In Near v. Minnesota (1931) and New York Times v. United States (1971), the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protected against prior restraint pre-publication censorship in almost all cases. The Petition Clause protects the right to petition all branches and agencies of government for action. In addition to the right of assembly guaranteed by this clause, the Court has also ruled that the amendment implicitly protects freedom of association.
The amendment as adopted in 1791 reads as follows:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Criticism of the government, political advocacy, and advocacy of unpopular ideas that people may find distasteful or against public policy are almost always permitted as Freedom of Speech.
Categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection by the First Amendment include obscenity, fraud, child pornography, speech that incites imminent lawless action, and regulation of commercial speech such as advertising. Within these limited areas, other limitations on free speech balance rights to free speech and other rights, such as rights for authors over their works (copyright), protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons, restrictions on the use of untruths to harm others (slander), and communications while a person is in prison. When a speech restriction is challenged in court, it is presumed invalid and the government bears the burden of convincing the court that the restriction is constitutional.
The right to freedom of expression includes the right to take and publish photographs of strangers in public areas without their permission or knowledge.
Legal systems sometimes recognize certain limits on the freedom of speech, particularly when freedom of speech conflicts with other rights and freedoms, such as in the cases of libel, slander, pornography, obscenity, fighting words, and intellectual property. Justifications for limitations to freedom of speech often reference the “harm principle” or the “offense principle”. Limitations to freedom of speech may occur through legal sanction or social disapprobation, or both. Certain public institutions may also enact policies restricting the freedom of speech, for example speech codes at state schools.
Members of Westboro Baptist Church have been specifically banned from entering Canada for hate speech.
In On Liberty (1859), John Stuart Mill argued that
“...there ought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may be considered.”
Mill argues that the fullest liberty of expression is required to push arguments to their logical limits, rather than the limits of social embarrassment.
However, Mill also introduced what is known as the harm principle, in placing the following limitation on free expression:
“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”
In 1985, Joel Feinberg introduced what is known as the “offense principle”, arguing that Mill’s harm principle does not provide sufficient protection against the wrongful behaviors of others. Feinberg wrote
“It is always a good reason in support of a proposed criminal prohibition that it would probably be an effective way of preventing serious offense (as opposed to injury or harm) to persons other than the actor, and that it is probably a necessary means to that end.”
Hence Feinberg argues that the harm principle sets the bar too high and that law can legitimately prohibit some forms of expression because they are very offensive. But, as offending someone is less serious than harming someone, the penalties imposed should be higher for causing harm. In contrast, Mill does not support legal penalties unless they are based on the harm principle. Because the degree to which people may take offense varies, or may be the result of unjustified prejudice, Feinberg suggests that a number of factors need to be taken into account when applying the offense principle, including: the extent, duration and social value of the speech, the ease with which it can be avoided, the motives of the speaker, the number of people offended, the intensity of the offense, and the general interest of the community at large.
Along similar lines as Mill, Jasper Doomen has argued that harm should be defined from the point of view of the individual citizen, not limiting harm to physical harm since nonphysical harm may also be involved; Feinberg's distinction between harm and offense is criticized as largely trivial.
In 1999, Bernard Harcourt wrote of the collapse of the harm principle:
“Today the debate is characterized by a cacophony of competing harm arguments without any way to resolve them. There is no longer an argument within the structure of the debate to resolve the competing claims of harm. The original harm principle was never equipped determine the relative importance of harms.”
Interpretations of both the harm and offense limitations to the freedom of speech are culturally and politically relative. For instance, in Russia, the harm and offense principles have been used to justify the Russian LGBT propaganda law restricting speech (and action) in relation to LGBT issues. A number of European countries that take pride in freedom of speech nevertheless outlaw speech that might be interpreted as Holocaust denial.
Norman Finkelstein, a writer and professor of political science expressed the opinion that Charlie Hebdo’s abrasive cartoons of Muhammad exceeded the boundaries of free speech, and compared those cartoons with the cartoons of Julius Streicher, who was hanged by the Allies after World War II for the words and drawings he had published. In 2006, in response to a particularly abrasive issue of Charlie Hebdo, French President Jacques Chirac condemned “overt provocations” which could inflame passions. “Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided”, Chirac said.
In the US, the standing landmark opinion on political speech is Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), expressly overruling Whitney v. California. In Brandenburg, the US Supreme Court referred to the right even to speak openly of violent action and revolution in broad terms:
“[Our] decisions have fashioned the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not allow a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or cause such action.”
The opinion in Brandenburg discarded the previous test of “clear and present danger” and made the US citizens right to freedom of (political) speech almost absolute. Hate speech is also protected by the First Amendment in the United States, as decided in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, (1992) in which the Supreme Court ruled that hate speech is permissible, except in the case of imminent violence.
The Internet and information society
Free Speech flag, from the AACS encryption key controversy over HD DVD encoding
Jo Glanville, editor of the Index on Censorship, states:
“The Internet has been a revolution for censorship as much as for free speech”.
International, national and regional standards recognize that freedom of speech, as one form of freedom of expression, applies to any medium, including the Internet. The Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 was the first major attempt by the United States Congress to regulate pornographic material on the Internet. In 1997, in the landmark cyber law case of Reno v. ACLU, the US Supreme Court partially overturned the law. Judge Stewart R. Dalzell, one of the three federal judges who in June 1996 declared parts of the CDA unconstitutional, in his opinion stated the following:
“The Internet is a far more speech-enhancing medium than print, the village green, or the mails.”
Because it would necessarily affect the Internet itself, the CDA would necessarily reduce the speech available for adults on the medium. This is a constitutionally intolerable result. Some of the dialogue on the Internet surely tests the limits of conventional discourse. Speech on the Internet can be unfiltered, unpolished, and unconventional, even emotionally charged, sexually explicit, and vulgar – in a word, “indecent” in many communities. But we should expect such speech to occur in a medium in which citizens from all walks of life have a voice.
The absence of governmental regulation of Internet content has unquestionably produced a kind of chaos, but as one of the plaintiff’s experts put it with such resonance at the hearing:
“What achieved success was the very chaos that the Internet is? The strength of the Internet is chaos.”
Just as the strength of the Internet is chaos, so that strength of our liberty depends upon the chaos and cacophony of the unfettered speech the First Amendment protects.
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Declaration of Principles adopted in 2003 makes specific reference to the importance of the right to freedom of expression for the “Information Society” in stating:
“We reaffirm, as an essential foundation of the Information society, and as outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; that this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Communication is a fundamental social process, a basic human need and the foundation of all social organization. It is central to the Information Society. Everyone, everywhere should have the opportunity to participate and no one should be excluded from the benefits of the Information Society offers.”
According to Bernt Hugenholtz and Lucie Guibault the public domain is under pressure from the “commoditization of information” as information with previously little or no economic value has acquired independent economic value in the information age. This includes factual data, personal data, genetic information and pure ideas. The commoditization of information is taking place through intellectual property law, contract law, as well as broadcasting and telecommunications law.
Freedom of information
Freedom of information is an extension of freedom of speech where the medium of expression is the Internet. Freedom of information may also refer to the right to privacy in the context of the Internet and information technology. As with the right to freedom of expression, the right to privacy is a recognized human right and freedom of information acts as an extension to this right. Freedom of information may also concern censorship in an information technology context, i.e. the ability to access Web content, without censorship or restrictions.
Acts such as the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act of Ontario, in Canada, also explicitly protect freedom of information.
Internet censorship
The concept of freedom of information has emerged in response to state sponsored censorship, monitoring and surveillance of the Internet. Internet censorship includes the control or suppression of the publishing or accessing of information on the Internet. The Global Internet Freedom Consortium claims to remove blocks to the “free flow of information” for what they term “closed societies”. According to the Reporters without Borders (RWB) “internet enemy list” the following states engage in pervasive internet censorship: China, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar/Burma, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
A widely publicized example of Internet censorship is the “Great Firewall of China” The system blocks content by preventing IP addresses from being routed through and consists of standard firewall and proxy servers at the Internet gateways. The system also selectively engages in DNS poisoning when particular sites are requested. The government does not appear to be systematically examining Internet content, as this appears to be technically impractical. Internet censorship in the People’s Republic of China is conducted under a wide variety of laws and administrative regulations, including more than sixty regulations directed at the Internet. Provincial branches of state-owned organizations vigorously implement censorship.
Defamation is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.
Under common law, to constitute defamation, a claim must generally be false and must have been made to someone other than the person defamed. Some common law jurisdictions also distinguish between spoken defamation, called slander, and defamation in other media such as printed words or images, called libel.
False light laws protect against statements which are not technically false, but which are misleading.
In some civil law jurisdictions, defamation is treated as a crime rather than a civil wrong. The United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled in 2012 that the libel law of one country, the Philippines, was inconsistent with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as urging:
“State parties should consider the decriminalization of libel”.
In Saudi Arabia, defamation of the state or a past or present ruler is punishable under terrorism legislation.
A person who defames another may be called a “defamer”, “libeler”, or “slanderer”.
“Separation of church and state” is a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson and others expressing an understanding of the intent and function of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that reads:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...”
The phrase “separation of church and state” is generally traced to a January 1, 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson, addressed to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut, and published in a Massachusetts newspaper. Jefferson wrote,
“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
Jefferson was echoing the language of the founder of the first Baptist church in America, Roger Williams who had written in 1644,
“[A] Hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world.”
Article Six of the United States Constitution also specifies that:
“No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
Preaching is to deliver a sermon or religious address to an assembled group of people, typically in church.
Preaching is to give/deliver a sermon, sermonize, address, speak religious teaching, message, and sermons, publicly proclaim or teach (a religious message or belief).
Preaching is to proclaim, teach, spread, propagate, expound earnestly advocate (a belief or course of action).
Preaching is to advocate, recommend, advise, urge, teach, counsel give moral advice to someone in an annoying or pompously self-righteous way.
Preaching is to moralize, sermonize, pontificate, lecture, harangue;
A lie is a statement used intentionally for the purpose of deception. The practice of communicating lies is called lying, and a person who communicates a lie may be termed a liar. Lies may be employed to serve a variety of instrumental, interpersonal, or psychological functions for the individuals who use them. Generally, the term “lie” carries a negative connotation, and depending on the context a person who communicates a lie may be subject to social, legal, religious, or criminal sanctions.
In certain situations, however, lying is permitted, expected, or even encouraged. Believing and acting on false information can have serious consequences. Therefore, scientists and others have attempted to develop reliable methods for distinguishing lies from true statements.
So what does all this mean?
Repression of thoughts or censorship of ideas maintains control over the population who than then be controlled by propaganda. Too many variations of opinions causes confusion and mindful shutdown.
What is truth or fact or alt-reality or just plan lies?
“No, those pants don’t make you look fat.”
“I promise I’ll love you in the morning.”
“That is not my baby.”
“You will feel better in the morning.”
“This won’t hurt.”
Today we have the freedom to say whatever we want and get away with most of it no matter who else we might harm but the political correctness might be loosening.
Raise your right hand and repeat after me,
“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”

Friday, June 9, 2017

Intellectual Genocide

Intelligence has been defined in many different ways including as one’s capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, planning, creativity, and problem solving. It can be more generally described as the ability to perceive information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context.
Intelligence is most widely studied in humans, but has also been observed in non-human animals and in plants. Artificial intelligence is implemented in computer systems using program software.

To genocide or massacre intelligence provides for the annihilation, extermination, elimination, liquidation, eradication, and decimation of the human thought process.

The radical theory that there is ‘intelligence genocide’ may seem a ridiculous until you turn on the television or read the newspaper or listen to the radio or participate in social media.

Anyone with any sense of education or mental understanding knows our species are in a different place, an irrational time of nonsense. Our trusted news providers have gotten so conglomerated and lost in entertainment with questionable experts spouting ‘fake’ or ‘real’ facts, the public is lost in confusion. Social media has provided anyone with any idea to post to the world as if opinion was fact.
Novels have turned into comic books, tragedy has become comedy, reality is fading into fantasy and we are all along for this journey of wonder. Mockery has turned to hatred, references of esteemed philosophers have become memes, debating ideas and thoughts have become shouting matches bigoted on any point of view.

If you agree or not, we have gone through a cloud of confusion and have wound up with this ridiculous place where lies are alternative truth and today’s wonders are only replaced by more incredible statements the next day.

Can this be blamed on years of technology numbing our mindless video games and emojis?  Have we dumb down to minimal thought patterns due to our fast paced lifestyle?

If we are in the mist of intellectual genocide, how do we get out?


Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Big Adventure

Gorgeous day. Cool June day with a mixture of clouds and sun and a soft breeze, enough to wear a sweatshirt. Strap on the gloves and helmet, adjust the sunglasses, and take a deep breath for today will be an adventure.
My normal route will vary to unknown lands and far off places for I’m decided to enjoy the weather before the heat and check off some more ‘to-do’ list items.
Turn east and check the changes in the neighborhood on streets and houses I know so well but are constantly changing. There is a new fence or a nice brick wall and a wonderful garden in the yard. There is a new paint job and some major renovations with lots of heavy equipment. Still it feels familiar as I cross the bridge. 
Looky there, seems the Carytown Crossing apartments are about done. Still a hardhat area but much fancier than the plain brick barrack style ones across the street built in the 40’s. A turn to the left and ride by the old neighborhood with no new construction due to lack of space to squeeze another building in. A new paint job but mostly the same old same old. The deli hasn’t opened yet and the little corner grocery surrounded by bikes.
Safely crossing by the Matthew Fontaine Maury statue and wonder if they will take him out too with Jackson/Lee/Stuart? A faithful turn to the right and a bumpy ride down old, old cobblestones until I can find a route to get through the construction for a speedy bus route.
Entering the area that all the local rags have been hailing I slowly wander seeing old warehouses turned to chic dining establishments and pubs. There are still plenty ‘for rent’ or ‘vacant’ signs but not every building is abandoned. I don’t look for the old Coke-a-Cola factory for I am on a quest for a tee-shirt shop.
I’ve thought for a few years about putting my logo….er, ‘brand’ as the hipsters would say, on a t-shirt. Why? I have no idea because I avoid wearing items of clothing with advertisements on them.
I couldn’t find the shop so I moved on to my next destination. Over more bumpy roads and trying to avoid the graduation traffic happening a block away I lock my trusty steed and look for a small basket.
Entering the gigantic toy store so popular to former ventures I start my search. It will be a long journey on a hard cement floor so I take my time overwhelmed by all the ‘stuff’ I either have bought before or would probably be putting in a cart now.
First on the list: Fly Swatter. Do you know how hard it is to find a simple fly swatter? There are loads of chemicals, aerosols, electrical zappers and other gizmos to eradicate the simple flying pest but NO fly swatter. I stop a fine young lad pushing a heavy chart and asked assistance. He more than graciously halted his task and went above and beyond to find the item stuffed away on a shelf. I should have gotten his name for he was a prime example of fine customer service.
Next was onto paint section to get some swatches. No, too busy so I moved on to the locks and latches. I found my four handles for the new fence and with some more pleasant and informative assistance found the magnetic locks and ring key hooks.
Back to the paint area and just choose a couple of books for ideas. No painting today, but what about that socket kit?
I never knew anything about sockets until I found a kit in my wife’s garage. It was her father’s and since he had passed and her mother didn’t mind I took it home. Not being a big construction person at the time I did find it very useful on some bike repairs. Then metrics came out and all the sockets had to be replaced. I had boxes full of sockets but never seemed to have the right size. A few years ago in the same toy store I bought some more sockets thinking they would be really swell. Sockets are great tools for mechanics but since I don’t own a car and I get my bikes repaired at a shop that does have the correct tools, they have sat in a drawer for years. So here I was back at the toy store thinking about that original socket wrench set and how neat and tidy it was (it is a guy thing) so I bought another set in a little case. Doesn’t that feel good? 
The last item on the list was a pick. I found several and pondered if I could strap one to my bike to get it home. There was a lightweight but appropriate tool that might do the job but might also not be durable. There was another with a heavy duty iron blade that would definitely do the task I was looking for but watching the guys who put in the fence swinging that heavy tool over and over again, I decided to try out the light one first. If the first one doesn’t work, I can always go back and get the monster version.
An adventurous travel back home trying not to scrap the parked cars with my spear bungeed to my bike frame (this in not my first rodeo) and seeing all the young Benedictine cadets getting pictures taken at the museum (or they could have been police recruits) I may my way back home safely to unload my purchases but the venture was not over.
Next stop, the Tummy Temple. I had no need to previous the food stuffiest but to restock the critter chow and then travel to the fast food place (for the fruit I had at 6am was wearing off with my exercise).
Somehow I timed it just wrong and got there at lunchtime. The line was too bad and the service wasn’t anymore than expected and upon return home I remember (as I do every year) why it is called junk food.
Stuffed to the gills with salty starch I need more exercise to work this off. I return to a similar path to find the tee-shirt shop. This is my quest.
This time with the address and another review of Google maps I retrace my earlier searches but still not site of a desired location. I stop and ask in one shop that said cleaning if they were “Action Shirts”. Behind her bulletproof glass and locked doors against soliciting she pointed me down the block where I had just come from. Her key clue was a parking lot out front of the building.
I slowly walked down the sidewalk getting out of the way of two huge yet very pleasant guys until I found “Action Shirts”.  I locked up my steed across the street and walked into a building with several options for separate business but I was in luck. “Action Shirts” was on the first floor and after ringing a doorbell to be allowed entrance (this is a dangerous place) stated my intentions and was given the options they offered.
I had used this company many years ago and could not remember what the project was but they provided good service and were friendly. Today seems to be everyone is in a friendly mood. Must be the weather.
Back to the traffic and trying not to be run over with all the construction and huge trucks I find my way back to my old high school and a path back to the Tummy Temple for I forgot to get soft drinks. I’m going to have 12-more t-shirts and have stuffed my belly with junk food but I needed (Wanted? Desired? Required?) Soft drinks.
Soda pop in plastic bottle had been on the list since I got two yesterday and they were very refreshing so I decided to test different versions of sugary drinks as the heat rises. I had thought about this tasting last year but never did it so now I can compare the original (not really but close enough) Coke to Mountain Dew to 7-Up to Canada Dry.
After all this I’ll make a cup of warm dirty water and rock on the porch for awhile but knowing I’ll sleep good tonight and have many projects before the heat becomes stifling.
Good night.