Monday, June 24, 2013

Dead men walking

I've been conflicted about this for a while. But I think I found a way that works for me.

Should we have the death penalty or not? Sure, why not. Why? Because some people should be destroyed off the face of the earth. But, I bet within the United States, there may only be one or two of those, if that, every year. 

I've confused people most of my life. I don't believe in killing people for much of any reason. I do think you have the right to kill someone trying to kill you, however. I mean, it's one for one, right? And they are trying to kill you, you have the right to stop them. You should try not to kill them but stop them, but hey, sometimes                 passion just gets the better of you. But then if they started it they asked for it. 

Okay, but for the most part we shouldn't be killing people. (War is bad says Subliminal Man). 

If several people are trying to kill you, really you shouldn't be trying to kill a bunch of people to save yourself. Yet then again, if they are choosing to try to kill you and you are better at it than they are, who's to say that you shouldn't, as some would say, use your God given talents at their utmost to save your skin? 


So fine. What about State sponsored killing, like Capital Punishment, the Death Penalty? When I was first in college in my first Philosophy class, our Prof. brought this up one day as a learning experience. I said I thought it was okay for the State to have the death penalty. But he pointed out (many things I won't go into here) that it is basically State sponsored murdered and a Government should never kill it's people to whom it serves. It's just ethically wrong.

Okay then, maybe he had a point. And so I passed that class, I graduated, years passed and here we are.

Now we have Florida who has been letting go like one in three prisoners on death row because they have found that in all the time since their trial and verdict, they were actually innocent as proven by various things like DNA and confessions. Or Texas who are about to celebrate their 500th execution as of mid June 2013, next week. 

The Colorado Governor just interceded to keep the death penalty live in their state, while signing an order so as not to be responsible for any executions during the rest of his term as Governor. He upholds the death penalty but doesn't want anything to do with it, himself.

So, where does that leave us? Well, I know where it leaves me, because I have an idea. 

Go ahead, keep the death penalty. But let's do this, make it possible only if and when the Governor him (or her) self actually goes to the room execution chamber, and personally executes the prisoner. 

Why? Because what we seem to have here is too many people not caring or thinking deeply enough about the situation and so they just let it continue on. Much like with Right Wing Conservatives who are staunchly against the LGBT community or Gay marriage, they are all against it until it turns out to be their son, or daughter, or someone close to them. Then it is fully and finally brought home to them, it becomes personal and so they tend to turn away from their beliefs and change their mind, altering their original position to one of agreeing with say, Gay marriage. 

The death penalty is a very similar and strange animal. The problem is that people seem to be too divorced from it to make a fully qualified decision. So let's make it personal. If someone is really so bad that they have to be executed by the state, then let the highest authority in that state carry out the execution, personally. I think it might only take one execution for one to come to realize that this is a bad thing. It is cruel and unusual punishment to hold someone for years, and then on a day set very much previously, to take that individual knowingly and murder them.

But what about their victims, you say? So we should become like them, and kill them? Besides, isn't life in jail far worse than death? 

Here's the thing. If you have someone that is a seriously deranged serial murderer, someone truly and wholly evil, then I do think that they should be destroyed. But even they could possibly be saved, make a turn around at some point. Still, I'll grant you it's very possible or even likely, that there are people like that who do need to be not only removed from society and imprisoned, but removed from life itself. I'm also willing to recognize that these types of people are very few and far between. 

Even so, we really need to stop killing people as a nation, both internally and more so yet, externally. War is bad, necessary on occasion, but far too many times we have been illegitimately pulled into it. And too many times we have killed too many innocents in the strife and fog of war. But so too have we killed innocent people through the death penalty. If Florida is accurate in releasing people who are innocent at so high a rate as reported, a third, then how many other states have killed how many innocent people over the years? 

I would argue that if we kill even one innocent person it is one too many and we need to stop. One innocent life is more important than all of the guilty lives we could execute. After all, one thing that Time does really well is release information, it loosen lips, allows knowledge to rise to the surface of the social conscience. 

For those who are truly dangerous and evil, I really wouldn't have trouble executing them. And I don't think many who hold a position of power would. But if it were someone who had a moment of anger, who had grown up with a chip on their shoulder and just need to be locked up, then they might just have a problem. If for no other reason than that, we have to consider that old adage, "There but for the grace of God, go I."

Yes some of those on death row are real bastards I'm sure, and have caused a lot of people a lot of grief. But when you also take into consideration those who have to handle these people on a daily basis, those who have to deal with them leading up to their death and those who have to actually execute them on their day of atonement, we have to consider, why would we want to do THAT to our own citizens, either?

I once heard that considering how expensive it is through trials and appeals and so on it is really cheaper to keep a prisoner for life in prison, than execute him. Which surprised me because I would think, you flip a switch, inject to fluid, bingo, money saved. But not really and certainly not assured. And so too there are non-monetary costs we should take into account. 

I'll say it clearly, if someone is trying to kill me (especially if I don't deserve it, which is another matter entirely), I will have no problem killing them instead. Once I know there is nothing left for me to do but kill them, I'm 100% behind the idea. Of course, getting to that realization is what typically gets good people killed and gives the bad guys the edge in being able to more easily kill some unsuspecting victim. They don't have to consider, they just act. They kill. They have the element of surprise. They are murderers and cowards.

However, once you start talking about my Government killing American citizens, I have a serious issue with  it. I have a problem with them killing non-Americans too, but on a list, Americans are definitely on top for who NOT to kill. Consider for a moment that ultimate rule of empathy, "what if one day I'M in that situation, and worse, what if I'm INNOCENT?"

This country needs to start advancing again. We need to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps (we've done it before) and get our act together. We need to get smarter, deeper, funnier, happier, more benevolent and stronger. And Strong, does not mean you kill people. It is after all, harder not to.

I've always said that I always try never to lie, because it makes you smarter as you have to think your way around things. Any idiot can lie, just say the opposite of truth. But try finding a way, any way but lying and it's not so easy. Is it. Probably why so many people lie so much. Telling the truth also sets up a kind of Karma for you as people start to realize you are an honest and loyal type, dependable at least in your word.

America needs to find the high ground again and live it. Inflate our mind, body and spirits and not just inflate our egos and pride as we have done for far too long and far too much in recent decades. We are a great nation and a great people. And we can be more so. If we just have a mind to.

We just need to start looking more closely at the things we do, to be more honest with ourselves, more open, more rational. 

Killing our own citizens, just isn't one of those things that will put us on that road upward and into the future with grand prospects. Because if we don't make some changes like these, we can only have more to look forward to of the same. More and more right wing nutzo propaganda, more ridiculous religious fervor, more partisan patronizing, more stopping intellectual progress, more, more, more...but not of the things we need more of. 

For one, we don't need more dead men walking....

Monday, June 17, 2013

Are we still headed for a world wide economic crash in the next few years?

What I'm hearing from around the world isn't looking good for the economy. The world economy. I seldom make conspiracy or doom comments as most of them that I run across are based on nonsense, ignorance, misunderstanding, just fear or maybe even cowardice (there's a lot of those latter two in many of the conspiracy and racists groups). But I am actually now, even considering these past ten years, feeling a bit nervous about our near future living situation. And I lived through the cold war, was fairly intimately involved with it, but this is making me more nervous than that ever did.

I wouldn't get too secure in your situation, not quite yet. It may take a year or three to happen, but I suspect until we get past 5-10 years we really won't know if this is really all over yet. Now, don't get scared, just get smart. Look around, look into things. Preparation eliminates panic and fear and sets you up for a bigger possibility of success and sustainment. It used to be when economic fears like this cropped up you should put your money into things like gold, but not even that is secure anymore. At this point I'm not quite sure what is.

China who we owe a lot of money to and who for a while people feared might pull the trigger on the US and crash us (but then realized that it really wasn't in China's best interest to do so), has been setting itself up for a huge crash in the building industry. They have been using that to boost their stats. They actually built entire cities, eleven of them which have now nearly no one living in them and there never were. Bad builders ripped off many people for money, the poor were displaced from their homes, and for no good reason. It's really kind of horrendous. They've built a mock Paris, which is just basically sitting there. Bizarre vistas of empty cityscapes.

Things are still brewing in Greece and in Egypt and if things continue to go the way they are, if the leadership keeps doing nothing, going the wrong directions, it could pull Europe down. And if Europe goes down, their economy is bigger than ours. If China and Europe both go down, there will be some very hard times for a very long time, for a lot of people.

Countries have a lot of power to resolve really bad issues. But the reasons for wars in the past have been economic, debts couldn't be paid so it's easier to just attack for resources, to end debt (which was what Saddam Hussein did to Kuwait whom they owed mass amounts of money to). But I'm not talking about war here, though it is a scary and very possible afterthought. But I'm not afraid of a possible war, I just know it's a possible and obvious eventuality of this situation. What really scares me is the economy, world wide, dissolving.

America (and other countries) have been wiping out the middle class. If things really go south (why do we always disparage the south anyway?), we could also wipe out the lower and upper classes with it. Which sounds good in a way, but somehow, I don't think it would be.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Is your life happening by accident?

Perhaps I should be asking, ISN'T your life happening by accident? Let's just for a moment, consider things that are easily left by the wayside.

Have you ever on a daily basis, considered your finances, your daily living expenses? How about your bills? Your retirement savings?

Of course you have. We have all had to. Maybe not so much the retirement part, especially if you are still young. But one has to take care of these expenses or one is not long to live this relatively easy life we have during these very modern  times, even in this great country of ours called, "America". And yes, these times are relatively easy. Take the person with the most difficult life here and put them back 3,000 years ago and see how well they fare.

But how much do you attend to so called, "luxury" expenses? Such things as entertainment, refreshments including both food and drink beyond mere subsistence? What about your emotional or spiritual concerns? What about your happiness scale of how much life is worth living? Not paying attention goes both ways. You can not budget for them and not have them, or not budget for them and have them and lose control over them. Both can be bad in entirely different directions.

We tend to lend our concerns to the most immediate elements in our lives and forego the ones that are in many ways just as important, but seldom giving much thought to those "luxuries" because they are not of such immediate concern. But these are not forgone conclusions for they too are important to living the Human Experience. We hear much through life about the “spiritual” or religious side of things. But we do not hear so much about the other side of that equation. And there is another side to it.

Sadly for some, those foregone conclusions could be considered one's family, it could be they are only concerned for their own creature comforts and that is what guides their every living moment. When really they should be more concerned about their family, their obligations, their work or profession, or simply maintaining the dwelling they live in.

For most of us however, it would be in consideration of our family. But what about ourselves and own personal comforts. Look, it could be just giving enough consideration to the family dog or pet. Having or playing with your pet has been shown to greatly increase the quality and even duration of people. You just have to stop and ask yourself form time to time, "what is it I am forgetting in my life?"

For many of us and I think for our betterment, the answer is, "Me". We all have to consider ways to make life livable for ourselves, as well as those in our lives. But not just about those in our lives It is really about balance, though.

There is something about life in these times that puts us in the mindset that everything is going too fast around us, taking up too much of our time and so makes for a good excuse for avoiding those things we find most difficult (or boring) to deal with. That is to work out how to have enough of everything in life that we need as Human Beings.

There are indeed a great many demands put upon us in our daily lives. But if you go back in time and read what our predecessors had to say about the life they were living, it was really much the same for them, too.
I have read deciphered hieroglyphics from ancient Rome and found that it was just the same for them. For instance, they had the same complaints parents have always had for their children: "they just don't listen", ”they are too self-absorbed", "they have no manners", and "they are only concerned about the here and now". Politics, civil and social situations were also much in the same with the same concerns and problems.

Times are always faster paced than when we were younger. It’s the nature of the beast of making your way through life from beginning to the end. Not to mention we simply tend to slow down through life. And that's OK!

And so it goes...on and on.

I think the key here is in the balance. One has to consciously weigh out the various elements of one's life. Consciously. Remember to take the time for yourself, just as you do for every one and every thing else that you feel responsible for. Remember that you too are important. Just be sure to understand that you are not all that is important. Weigh out if you are overbalancing your concerns toward yourself, or others.

Do you sacrifice too much for others? Because that can lead to a rebound effect if you're not careful and in the end, time and pressure included, it can break you. Take time to release those pressure, to enjoy some of what life has to offer you. You don't need a fancy four star vacation, sometimes it can just be about enjoying a moment during the day. Appreciate that sunset, that beautiful tree, an exchange of pleasantries between two people on the street. You work hard, maybe you can't play hard, but play-- some.

Getting through the difficulties of life is not about that once a year two week vacation (if you even get one, I haven't had one of those myself, since the 1990s. It's really more about having a special moment, multiple special moments, each day. Special moments every so many moments throughout every day of your life.

Simply put, one needs to plan to enjoy the trip, the journey, not just the destination. Besides, sometimes the destination turns out to be just not what it was cracked up to be. But if you've enjoyed the trip to get there, what does that matter? Some no doubt, but then you haven't put the entire weight of the thing on that one part.

Also, take care for your future self. Do today what will do well for you tomorrow; just as in the past where you have hopefully done then, for yourself today.

It never really ends, until it ends. So help it along. Life is one big continuing ending. Some say that the moment we are born we begin to die. Disconcerting perhaps, but work with what you've got. Help that ending along as much as you can.

On the other hand, if you are too absorbed with only your fun times now, reflect on what got you to where you are now. If you now have the leisure time and the influence, power, money, resources (or none of those and so you are free to do as you will to be able) to do anything you like, do not forget the other side of the coin. If nothing else, it makes you appreciate more the good times you are now having now.

Life is good. But Life is also a piece of artwork, much like a painting. Or a relationship. You have to ask yourself, “is my life framed like a Jackson Pollock painting, with parts of life flung hither and yon with apparent (though possibly not) total abandon?” “Or am I more like a Rembrandt painting, with a perfection of each brush stroke and palette given much thought, with great attention to detail and a concern for every breath and sigh?”

Well, it’s up to you.

Life is good. Or it can be.

But a good life doesn't just happen by accident.

Monday, June 3, 2013

God in your pocket?

First a couple of things important to me.

I'd like to say to my son, Happy Birthday! I know exactly where I was and what I was doing on this day twenty-five years ago. Happy Birthday Son! Cheers! We'll talk....

Also, "Expedition of the Arcturus", my latest short science fiction story (first released on the Sci Fi magazine web site is just today also released as an audiobook on and iTunes. It is about Earth's first deep space generational / colonization ship. Don't believe everything you are told....

Okay now....

Memories... recording your day. All day, everyday?

God in your pocket? Parents on your shoulder?

Now, this is another one where I wasn't sure if this was an Entertainment piece or Commentary. Because its both. It's about entertainment type devices and one in particular, and there are even newer ones than this. But that device (or the ones similar), are going to change how the world works. We can certainly include in this the Google Glass.

Allow me to me explain....

I have had a few discussions with my son over previous conversations we have had. Some, we had only just had a few minutes before. And we disagreed on what was said. This is also a situation that has plagued married couples, friends, coworkers even, most likely forever. There are a variety of situations where you know you were right in a conversation (or the other person believes they were) yet, there is simply no way to accurately prove it. This even goes into toxic relationships and spousal abuse situations where one spouse lies to cover up some misdeed on their part and leads the other person to thinking they are crazy, basically. Doing that to someone in my book  is truly evil. But it happens. All the time in some relationships until inevitably in the end, someone is found out.

My ex has a condition where she can't remember certain things that have happened, whether it is from "switching" personalities which I suspect, or simply put, some of her experiences slip into what we used to call her "Black Hole" in her mind. Either way, I got in trouble sometimes for things I had said but she didn't remember, or that she had not said and remembered saying because what she remembers would put her in a better light, which is typical of individuals who "switch".

Due to either emotional or physical mental issues or both, she could not always remember things that had happened; or she would do or say things she would later simply not remember; or misspeak and later believe she had said something she hadn't. I can't tell you how many times I got in trouble for having "forgotten" that I had been told something, only to find out later that she had never said what she claimed she had said. And there were other formats of that same situation where I was in the wrong but hadn't done anything wrong. It's always challenging living with someone who has a condition like this, but it's far more difficult when you don't know what's going on as it hadn't yet been diagnosed. To this day it hasn't been, but it's quite obvious to myself and other family members, what is going on there for reasons I won't go into here. It was a lucky day when a friend was there who also heard what originally had transpired and spoke up to say those words never were spoken as claimed.

The point is, it's not a conscious thing and it is interesting, but it's not we are here about today. The point here is, how could you rectify these situations? Well, we're technologically at a point in time where there is an answer and more are becoming available on a frequent basis.

Last year, had a device up for sale ( has different on sale items daily until they run out), called a sylvania SMPK2312. Cost was $9.95 plus shipping. I've seen it elsewhere for $19.95 plus shipping. It is labeled as an MP3 player, something you can listen to music on. It has 2 Gigabytes, rechargeable battery, and works as a memory storage device (USB flash drive). Using your PC, you can even edit lyrics associated with a song on it, so your lyrics will be shown when you play a song you have set this up for. So, its slightly versatile.

Now, why do I mention this device? Actually, I had pretty much the same device a few years ago, but that one only played music, pretty basic. However this newer device has one other feature, a built in microphone allowing (allegedly) up to thirty hours of audio recording to the device. THIRTY hours! Now I can't find if it will actually do thirty straight hours of recording, or will simply hold thirty hours of recording, needing a recharge in there somewhere, I should think. But the write up, from what I understand, indicates you can turn it on in the morning, and turn it off when you go to bed (be careful, you might want a second one for night time recording); thus, having recorded your entire day.

Just think of the legal ramifications. Say your boss fires you illegally and tells you that, but how could you prove it? "Well, your honor, Judge dude, I've got an audio recording of it." Please check legality of this kind of recording for your state and consider that many times this may only be good for you personally to have a copy of transpired conversations (see below). But, will this change laws at some point if everyone is recording everything everyday?

Or perhaps you could argue that you didn't know it was recording and it is evidence found by accident and neither you or the defendant knew it was running and so maybe it would be allowable (I don't know, I'm not an Attorney, and I don't even play one on TV, besides, maybe that's just TV talking).

Still it's something to think about and maybe to look up.

So, interesting little device, right? But that's not why I'm mentioning this. My point in all this, is that we have now gotten to the point, especially if this device allows thirty straight hours of recording at a time, wherein we can record our entire day; then if need be, immediately play it back to use as either a proof of previous recording that day (or conceivably a little from the previous day), for any conversations, or audio occurrences that may have transpired within the reach of its mic.

So what, you say?  Well, I'll tell you what.

Have you ever tried to remember where you put something and couldn't remember, but you know you just told someone where you were putting it? Then, when you ask them (typically my kids in this situation), they don't remember where either, if they even remember the conversation at all. Probably because they weren't really listening to Dad in the first place. Well if you had this device running, you could simply play it back and voila! There you are, talking about to your kids and sure enough its where you said it was going to be! Or more likely you remember it incorrectly and really hadn't mentioned it at all and now what?

In the past I have had innumerable conversations with ex-wives and more recently with my kids, where it would have been worth paying good money for a recording of what had just been said, not infrequently only a few moments ago.

"I didn't say that Dad." Or spewed at you somewhat in a fit of passion (and not the good kind), "That's not what I said, that's not how I said it, that's not what I meant; I mean in the context of what I had said, IF ONLY YOU REMEMBERED IT CORRECTLY!" Yeah, whatever....

And, so on. Now if I'd had one of these devices on me and running, had I merely fired it up in the morning and kept it on and on me all day, I could have at any time then, stopped it, played it back, and prove what WAS actually said, rather than there and then having had a separate argument over what was actually said rather than what the point of the entire discussion actually was about. If you see what I'm saying. Trouble with that situation is you really need another backup piece to record while you are playing back your recording.

But basically, Marvelous! Right? Maybe.

Yes, I'm sure there is a downside. Like, if you are dating and pull this out over a topic, or conceivably use it with your spouse, it really could end with an icy time in bed that night when if you had just sucked it up and let yourself be deemed wrong, bed time might have proved to be a somewhat more salacious endeavor.

You'd really have to learn to pick and choose carefully how and when you use it. If nothing else, you could always play it back to yourself so at least YOU know you aren't going crazy. Now that is something I would have paid for in my last marriage because I KNOW I wasn't wrong that often. My memory isn't all that great, but it's not all that bad, either. Logic even dictates sometimes that you had to be correct, but in the face of continual disagreement, you start to question your mind and at some point, even your sanity.

On the other hand you could find yourself in a situation where your wife or girlfriend says, "Hey, pull out that device and play it back, THAT will prove me right." And if it doesn't, well, you may end up in the dog house anyway, having not done anything wrong at all. Being right, frankly, isn't ALWAYS what it's cracked up to be.

Still how handy would this device be in an abuse situation, say for battered wives who begin to think themselves insane because their spouse is fooling with their reality, lying to them, giving them the "I never said that" thing." A truly evil bastard. This kind of device could lead to these situations resolving much more quickly. You don't have to play it back for your significant other, but you can play it back for yourself, or the police.

So, God in your pocket? Parents on your shoulder?

It's been said for years that you are raised by your parents and if you are raised in a religious family, you will forever until the day you die, have either your parents, or God sitting on your shoulder watching everything you do. In other words, you will always have a tiny voice inside your head questioning your actions, God, or parents. If we think someone is always recording our actions, wouldn't we tend to temper our actions more? Wouldn't we eventually internalize that? Surely, a police state like that is a terrible thing to consider. But if we know that those watching us, Big Brother, really is just, us? How will that be? We had better get used to it, because we're just around the corner from it becoming a reality.

We are in interesting times, Ladies and Gentlemen. And at some point these kinds of devices will change interpersonal relationships forever. Trust me.