Archive for February, 2013

I don’t think so.

But I have been wrong before.

Psychology is a fascinating thing.

To understand people and all that goes into them can be both fascinating and difficult.

I cannot resolve in my mind how Michael Bloomberg, and others like him (the President’s mandate with accompanying fines on healthcare, for example) can believe this is right or best. I cannot; and I am stunned by it. So I write with some fascination and some sarcasm but it is equally aimed back at me, at all of us.

I aim to give a straight forward and serious response here.

My blog was not at all intended to be an insult. I understand how someone could take it or parts of it that way. I meant to call us all out just a little bit; we can latch on and let go so quickly to those things that comprise our lives. This includes me; we all deserve to be called out and put on notice once in a while.

I do actually believe that Michael Bloomberg wants to do what he believes is good for people (I could be naive, but I do believe he wants to do well). But for the life of me I cannot see how this kind of action by government can be justified. That’s it. I cannot find the right, rational behavior in it. So I think it is misdirected good intention (again, perhaps I am naïve).

I like to attempt tongue -in-cheek and self-deprecation when I write. I am not always so artful with it; it is a risky venture to write publicly at all. I never intend to insult or denigrate.

I was thoughtful about what I wrote and not unserious. If I am disappointed in the mayor or our president, or people I know, I will assure you I am also disappointed in myself.

But the simple matter of subject is that I find this kind of government intervention an intrusion in our personal freedoms and against the free market dynamics we all want and depend on.

There are practical problems with activities that are not well rooted in a philosophy of freedom.

One is that, for example, the soft drink issue, we have been given no information as to how many smaller drinks a person might buy – or be allowed to buy, or restricted to according to either a private business decision or a governmental regulation.

What about one’s ability to buy multiple smaller items? To walk from store to store buying as many as they can? Shouldn’t the government then prevent this behavior as well? Clearly questions becomes, “how far should the government go?”

There has to be a better way. I believe it should be left to market forces, freely driven by both the supply and demand sides.

The path that NYC has chosen to go down now can become an unmanageable one, bogged down in micromanagement and intrusion upon intrusion to the smallest detail.

As for an apparent belief that some have that the so-called red states “in the middle” should stay out of the east coast’s business, that’s absurd. You wouldn’t hardly extend that to demanding an individual with political ambitions from Illinois stay there and never attempt to influence an entire nation as President, and only because the capital happens to be near the coast.

Is it to be said that we, “out here” away from the coasts do not understand that New Yorkers really do need, in fact, to be managed in such a way, and differently than other people? To attempt to denigrate Midwesterners is the real insult. Well, regionalism is fine if all meant in fun, but we’re really all on the same team.

The simplest way I could ask is this: When given the choice, do you – any of us – want to hand our decision-making over to the government or do we choose self-determination, self-control, and personal responsibility?

(By the way, I believe Prohibition was the extreme of such governmental intervention. Look what happened. People will find a way to have what they want.)

One could argue that I am wrong, but I believe that in this country, under this Constitution we really are, and must be free to make bad decisions as well as good ones.

The Constitutions of the State of New York and the United States ought to be referred to in cases such as this, not a mayor’s “I know what’s best” agenda. If you believe consulting those Constitutions is not paramount, then say so plainly.

I see such things as a fork in the road. Shall I choose the path that someone else has determined, or shall I choose my own path, freely?

It seems very clear to me.

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How is it, exactly, that New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg could possibly rise up from modest, even humble beginnings and up through the free market system achieve great wealth and build global institutions, yet somehow come to believe that government knows best?

Are his mandates – to control, even worse ban, the over-large sizes of soft drinks offered by competitive businesses in the free-market system to freely choosing people or to walk into the nursing rooms of new mothers and declare they are to breast feed their babies, regardless of what they may wish to do – encroachments on our Constitutional rights? Invasions of our privacy?


Well, to speak of consumption of Coke and Mountain Dew and A&W root beer in the same breath as a reference to the Constitution of the United States seems a little off, a bit melodramatic.

But we’re not the ones who started this conversation.

So how could he do it?

Would he, of all people who strive for the freedom to go and do and achieve and persevere and fight for the American Dream, be the very one (who might understand it better than most, having actually done it in spades) bail on the whole idea?

You’d think…

You’d think Bloomberg would know better than just about anyone the value and importance of freedom. The freedom to choose, to compete, to offer what consumers want, to do one better than the other guy, to offer a better deal; a more attractive deal, to rise to the top; even crush the competition with a product offering that no one else can or will, that attracts the most business. You’d think.

After all, that’s how he made his billions.

– – –

So what happened?

Is he sorry? Does he feel guilty? Did he change his mind? Has he had second thoughts about the whole free to choose thing?

And by the way, if he is a social liberal as he has been described on occasion, where’s the liberality in all this? Liberal-schmiberal. And a Republican? Ha! Republican-schmublican.

If we hadn’t already written him off as a nut – a farcical anomaly of a mayor; of anything really; perhaps he’s become crazed in his latter, tired days – we might think him funny, even cute and harmless in his wacked totteriness. But it’s not funny. We’re talking about our rights to – or not to – breast feed and drink pop, and lots of it, all at the same time, by God, if we want.

And we do want.

– – –

He spent his growing up and entrepreneurial boom years going like mad, eventually making money hand over fist, and building his capital. He achieved, in the business world, great success, and financially achieved absolute independence. And all arguably by offering what his customers wanted.

He was able to do this because of a few important factors:
One, he was smart.
Two, he was ambitious, willing to work hard and tirelessly.
Three, he was able to understand the market and the marketplace, and took advantage of his opportunities and so could give consumers what they wanted.

Here’s our theory:

After he arrived – at the top – he was done.

He pretty much said, “I have spent my entire adult life being brilliant and rational. Now I am old and I have achieved everything I really can, so I am done, I quit.”

Well done, Business World’s Good and Faith Servant, come into your reward. Bliss. Ignorant, irrational, and intrusive I’m-gonna save you from yourselves-bliss.

“I no longer have any desire to be rational. Been-there-done-that. Now I am tired. Tired of thinking and remembering. Remembering how I got here. In fact, where am I?

I just spent the last 60-odd years being an entirely rational and sentient animal, and I have done it, so now I quit.”

And that was the end of Michael Bloomberg as a rational being.

– – –

Here’s our simple interpretation, translation, really, of the Rules:

Without actually hurting or placing others in imminent danger, we are free to be as stupid as we want to be, free to be as fat as we want to be, free to be as unhealthy as we want to be, free to be as irresponsible or dumb or as poor decision-makers, or foolish or reckless or selfish or mistaken or obnoxious or rot-gutted-decayed-toothed as we want to be.

– – –

Can the courts or corporate lawyers or citizen’s grassroots pop-drinkers –formula mixer-feeders-32 ounce-obesity rebels and fast food anarchists turn his intrusive Big Brother craziness around? Will they try? I think probably not. We’re all too content lying flat on our couches to get up and give a damn.

And that was the end of the rest of us as rational beings.

– – –

Photo credit Politico.com

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If anybody ever wanted to ask a Hoosier what might be, perhaps, “the one line about life…” as the question went, “…that would help carry [a person] through…”

David Letterman was asked that question.

His answer?

“…helping somebody else …that’s the only thing I can say with any confidence that has any merit.”

I can relate to his perspective on fatherhood, too, graciously given during a recent interview to WISH-TV in Indianapolis.Exclusive_interview_with_David_Letterman_418990000_20121227225441_640_480

Like me, he has one child. He lamented – though not too much; only enough to recognize the unique challenge that parents with one child face – it seems everything we experience with him is for the first time. We do not have the benefit of previous experience.

On the other hand, it has for me, and I confidently suspect for David Letterman as well, provided the impetus for and joy of remaining young and fit (relatively, perhaps) – to always be available to my son. Having also started somewhat late – I was 40 when my son was born – I have maintained a keen awareness that I need to make sure I am always available for him.

That was seriously threatened on September 12, 2011 when I had a serious accident while biking in Denver. The short story is that I found myself in the Trauma Center at Littleton Hospital with a broken neck and collar bone and 27 stitches from my left eyebrow to the bottom of my left ear. While I am now back in the saddle, as it were, I have fought with the realization I could have been gone from him in that instant when I lost all control.Helmet post-accident

The most impacting thought in my mind, feeling of guilt, I think, that has remained is that I was irresponsible, not putting his future first; that I took an unnecessary risk at his expense. I am thankful I lived and was not permanently incapacitated. It was a traumatic time for all of us, and he suffered especially, seeing me in the emergency room with the awful evidence of what had happened. But aside of some relatively minor remaining issues (an occasional sore shoulder and concussion-related “swimminess” with a quick head turn) all is well again.

No matter that I am no longer quite the flexible athlete I was in high school or even college; I can no longer [comfortably, or in other words, without pain] throw a rock all the way across Lake Malone at Camp Krietenstein. (The objective has always been to see it or hear it thud on the hard ground beyond the water. My mind says, “yes” but my shoulder and elbow say “no.”) I can no longer lay absolutely flat on my back with a leg folded underneath me to stretch my thigh before a run; at the attempt, my back now arches dangerously to threaten a lower back disc rupture. Oh yea, and it hurts my thigh and the opposite hamstring more than I think it should or ever did before.

And I no longer display the dreamer’s idealistic and emotional passion for hardly anything, so intense at its apparent peak in my college years. I am quietly tempered in so many issues now, except perhaps when I write. And it is then that when I see it in writing – especially, that I feel some embarrassment in such a bold willingness to put it in writing for anyone to read. I am at war with myself in this regard. That too, after many years, is waning in my system. I am winding down I think. Mellowing perhaps.

So I run and ride, and cuss myself for being so philosophical sometimes. I actually prefer to remain on the ground; my persistent and internally irritating compulsion to be engaged in heated discussion, even argument makes me tired, mentally, emotionally.

So running and riding are better, more straightforward. And not nearly as complex. Canoeing

I regularly ask him out to throw the baseball or football. We wrestle together – rough, too. Getting outside with Jace, canoeing or go-karting, or sitting with him to watch a favorite show or old movie, or as we have so many times – I am so blessed to be able to spend our time, our lives this way – taking road trips, just he and I; whether Across Kansas, or home to Indiana or up in Michigan and on to the cabin in northern Ontario, or to Cimarron New Mexico to the home of a dearest friend, mentor and older brother. These incredible and precious, formative times together are better, and more important than anything else I could spend my time doing.

Crossing Kansas

Yet, as we sat in church this past week, listening to a talk about the tragic crime of human trafficking and the child sex trade, then reading a brochure about our church’s mission to assist the Lakota people at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, I was reminded of something missing.

And I first remember seeing it in writing on the mantle of the dining hall fireplace at Camp Krietenstein: Service Above Self. The motto of Rotary International. The portrait of US Navy Ensign Carl Krietenstein there on the chimney above the mantle, a Hoosier who devoted himself to others sacrificed his life in the service of others in World War I.

Service Above SelfThe Krietenstein dining hall fireplace - Service Above Self

I don’t think I have done enough, and worse, I have not set the example for my son as I could, to put others first; to sacrifice my time and efforts and money for others, to the point that I feel it, that I notice it. I realize that he needs to not only see it, but also be involved in it.

We have not gone away – traveled somewhere – together in the service of people less fortunate. A mission, a personal sacrifice of our time and money and physical and emotional efforts.

It is time.

This is what David Letterman spoke of during his interview. Regardless of what anyone might look for in an interview with him, whatever one’s personal view of him as a personality may be, he focused on a single simple idea that perhaps our lives ought to boil down to. And regardless of religious beliefs, or the lack of them.

His answer began with “Well, there’s only one thing I know for a fact…”

The one thing we ought to agree on when it comes to existing with and amongst others: we do better, and others do better, when we give, and help, and reach beyond ourselves.

Please watch and listen:

Letterman talks family, Indiana, home

– – –
Camp Krietenstein dining hall photo credit, James Willis

– – –

Places to look further:

Rotary International

Crossroads of America Council, Boy Scouts of America

Cimarron, New Mexico

Philmont National Scout Ranch

Trade of Innocents

The Great Sioux Nation

YouthWorks and the Lakota Sioux of Pine Ridge

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AAHs Top 5 for February

1. Brandon Marrocco
This Iraq war army veteran
who is a quadruple amputee due to the devastation an Improvised Explosive Device – IED or “roadside bomb” – can wreak, has been in the news recently because he received two new arms. It was a remarkable double transplant accomplished by a gifted team of 12 doctors at Johns-Hopkins University Hospital. While he has what is described as years of rehabilitation yet to go, and so many challenging times yet to face, he is already a powerful inspiration to the rest of us.P1 BRENDAN

And he simply says he’d do it all over again, his appreciation for the army and his dedication to country motivating his effervescent positive attitude.

In the interviews played out over the airwaves, he didn’t make any political statements. He just exuded a confident pride in his service and humble appreciation for the opportunities and people in his life. An amazing guy.

2. Jane Austen
This year marks two-hundred years
since Austen published her classic among classics, Pride and Prejudice.

Even in light of her story of love sought, fought for, fought over, and love found, Jane Austen herself never married. It is said she briefly considered a suitor, but within days, perhaps hours of his request to marry her, she decided against him; inexplicably, to many of us in our eternally distant hindsight.

Yet she was able – she had the elusive and beautiful capacity – to capture what millions of romantics and dreamers hope – or dream, or lament – to find, or not. She was able to achieve in her stories (including Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park) what she – and many – could not in her own life.CassandraAusten-JaneAusten(c_1810)_hires

Perhaps the newest yet classic portrayals of the captivating yet mysterious Elisabeth Bennett and compelling and complex “Darcy” on film (2005; it is in my personal top five) have caused a modern-day resurgence in the story’s popularity, but to read the book, and an actual book at that – which is a rapidly fading past-time – is to immerse oneself in the very best of literature. It is also said that perhaps Elisabeth Bennett is Jane Austen’s literary incarnation of herself; the woman in love and life finally fulfilled; hers – Austen’s – life fulfilled in a way she could not achieve any other way.

No wonder there are so many Jane Austen societies that meet around the world to this day. Perhaps the only real surprise is that there are surely not more men that attend them. http://www.janeausten.org/

3. Mark Mattioli
He will forever be the father of 6-year-old James
, one of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary this past December.

Mattioli was not individually known to us until the last of January when he testified before a Congressional committee. His testimony was honest and direct, and called the tragic issue as he sees it – as it truly is a human problem. A mental health problem.

The other side of that coin is this: he made clear there are enough gun laws on the books, and they have not stopped such terrible tragedies from happening. Enforcement of existing laws is a better solution. He rightly – and passionately and rationally – reasoned that the problem is not guns, not even certain types of guns, rather, people.

Credit: Fox News

Credit: Fox News

For his ability to separate his thoughts and judgments from what is clearly his great emotional devastation, he is a remarkable and admirable man and father.

And if we can take anything inspiring from little James, it might be this: that according to Annettee Sullivan, owner of a stable where James and his sister rode horses, “He was a boy that wanted to know how everything worked.” His curiosity and desire to learn can surely be an inspiration for and a challenge to us. As young as he was, there is great maturity in the willingness and desire to learn.

Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/James-Mattioli-was-always-first-to-wake-family-4122860.php#ixzz2JPFSg3Mv 

4. Jason Materra
This New York Times best-selling author
(twice) is described by Politico as “DC’s bad boy reporter.”

He was seen recently on Fox News (our take is because, as with many social and political issues of our day, other news media outlets such as CNN, CBS and MSNBC among others, are not willing or do not believe the legitimacy of Fox as a news agency, or simply not interested) in the story where he confronted NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg overtly with questions about our – regular people – equal access to physical security, equitable to the Mayor’s. Jason Materra During his almost comical, farcical confrontation of the mayor and hence the mayoral bodyguards, Materra counted no less than five, all presumably armed.

Less overtly and concurrently, he called out the absurd law that Bloomberg instituted to limit soft drink size to 16 ounces – per single drink; he carried with him an illegal sized drink cup and offered some to the mayor out of concern for his hydration.

The world needs him and more guys like him. Materra that is. Check out Jason’s work here: http://www.jasonmattera.com/

5. Ginny Owens
She is blind.
But what Ginny Owen produces at the piano and sings – comes from the heart and goes far beyond mere human sight.

Her music and words leave me feeling as though I have been crushed deep inside, with the sense I had been stripped to my core, exposed and yet covered and sheltered all at once.

Jenny Owens
The argument is forever – whether or not God – any god – any spirit with form or no – if any eternal existence is actual.

It doesn’t matter to me.

On one day I might decide the evidence is thin and irrational; on another I am at a loss to explain anything in this life – the wonderful and simple good or the loss or devastation of it – any other way. But one thing I do once in a while is look to others to see what they say. Oft times I find all the bad. But I also find the rational, the reasonable.

Someone will say she’s wrong. After all, she has not been healed and received her sight back. So what? When I listen to her, I think she sees much more than I. http://ginnyowensmusic.com/

Bonus: The Twinkie

I knew this would happen. It just had to.

And honestly, I don’t think anyone, truly, wanted to admit just how worried they were that the Twinkie might disappear forever. On the other hand, I don’t think any of us really believed it would. It couldn’t. It is eternal. Eternal in the figurative sense because it is an American icon. Eternal in the literal sense because we still don’t know exactly what it’s made of, but we’re pretty sure it is not of this world.twinkie

Hostess found a buyer. Maybe-probably. We knew they would-they just had to. According to Fox News (OMG. Them again?!) and the Associated Press, two investment firms have been selected to provide bids: C. Dean Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management. Well, we don’t really care which one wins. We just want Twinkies guaranteed, and for something less than a few hundred dollars per. Thank you, thank you. There is a God.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/01/29/hostess-set-to-announce-private-equity-firms-as-top-bidder-for-twinkies/#ixzz2JPL3F6MZ

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Our analysis considers individually each of the 23 Executive Orders issued on January 16 to include what we believe their impact might have realistically been if they in place during the time frame of the most recent mass shootings, then present our take on the remaining or unanswered problems.

CNN presented a report in which the 23 EO’s were detailed; this is where we went for our source information. The original article is linked here.

In the December 23 post, The Pain and the Truth of Friday we try to make the point that as strong as our emotional response is to these devastating tragedies is, a rational basis and technical understanding of the subject matter is essential to come up with an appropriate response. We may feel outraged, and we should, but we’ve got to use our minds to make decisions.

Most importantly, we need to focus on solving the problem.

We do not believe addressing guns – and gun designs, per se – will lead to the best answer; rather, addressing the human condition is where we must go.

To the extent that the President’s plans address mental health, we applaud them; it’s more than we expected, frankly.

The the extent that medical providers may be forced into a defacto deputized role, we are alarmed. But then, in light of previous encroachments such as rules threatening religious freedom, we’re not surprised.

To the extent he avoided the language of banning assault weapons, we are relieved. Not so much that we feel the need to defend these objects or the ownership of them, but to the extent that we seek a rational basis for decision-making, not an emotional one.

When it comes to the human behavior aspect of gun violence in America, last night’s State of the Union speech was devoid of any mention.

The frustrating bottom line is that while the President strikes a central powerful emotional chord, calling for more and more stringent gun controls, as long as the mental health aspect is not addressed, his proposals will not really help.

Just select the title link here to down the PDF and read the details:

President Obamas 23 Executive Actions – “Orders“ – for Gun Control

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