Monday, October 28, 2019

Bringing someone to justice

Much has changed in the last two years. Much of what we knew as normal or expected behavior has been discarded like last weekend's stale pizza. What once was unacceptable has been normalized. Such are the times we live in.

In today's announcement on the death of ISIS' leader, Donald Trump used a phrase that took my breath away and sent shivers down my spine. In describing the killing of an enemy, Trump used the phrase "He was brought to justice." All day long that replayed in my mind, crashing loudly against the concept I have had that "bringing someone to justice" meant charging them with a crime, bringing them to court, and using due process to determine their guilt or innocence.

Granted, several sources online do use "punishing someone for a crime" as "bringing them to justice." In the case of al-Bahgdadi and many other accused foreign terrorists, death may be considered punishment for their crimes, assuming we believe everything we are told about them, a point I will not argue here. So that is how we treat foreign enemies, assigning death as justice.

A question kept jumping at me: what happens when this or any other administration turns that definition on domestic "enemies"? Will political opponents become "enemies" and, thus, subject to being brought to justice by means of death? We already have way too many examples of citizens dying shortly after committing insignificant "crimes". What happens when speaking your mind becomes a crime?

I don't know if Mr. Trump meant the phrase one way or another. I don't know if the administration would turn on its own citizens like this. I do know that words matter, behavior matters. And, based on the last two years, nothing, absolutely nothing, is outside the realm of possibilities. We have already seen that what was once considered absolute bottom is nothing but a rung in a very long ladder heading down.

A little FB experiment

For the last few weeks I have been paying careful attention to my Facebook news feed and doing an experiment to track how closely the bots are adjusting what they present to me. You will not be surprised if I tell you that the algorithms are very much in use on every one of us.

Personally, I do not want to be manipulated or brain-washed, especially when it comes to politics and elections. Therefore, I have decided to be a (mostly) non-reactive user of Facebook in as much as politics is concerned. I will not "Like," "Love" or share any post that concerns politics or the upcoming elections. It is nothing personal. I am just going to play a different game, and hopefully not their game.

The Experiment

My experiment consisted of two phases. First, I focused solely on posts of animals and landscapes, liking and loving as many of these posts as I could. Facebook served me more of those posts, tons and tons of them. In phase two I switches to focusing on political posts, liking and responding and loving as many of them. Quickly, Facebook abandoned most of the previous posts (the birds and landscapes quickly disappeared) giving room for more and more political posts. It took less than 24 hours for their programs to adjust to my new interactions. Phase three, now in progress, is to stop reacting and begin acting. I will try to use FB for nothing but building personal relationships, things such as saying happy birthday and keeping up with everybody's adventures.

Let's Be Careful

Please be careful when using FB. The poisoning of our minds is actively underway. There are active efforts to widen the gaps between us. We can either let FB and other actors weaken us as a nation, or we can find ways to cooperate and find common ground to make our nation truly greater than it has ever been.

Friday, August 30, 2019

This book is finished

This book is finished. The last page completed. The last paragraph inked, all "ts" crossed and all "is" dotted. Done.

I cannot, in all good sense, call it a chapter. Something that has taken 20 years to write deserves to be much more than a chapter, it deserves to be a book. Besides, who would read a chapter that long? Not me; I hate long chapters. Give me a stopping point every few pages, I say.

Today, I penned the last line of my career at Dominion Energy, the place I still, too often, refer as SCANA. Here are the words I shared in my almost-mandatory, sent from the heart, email message; I share this to reach all those that retired ahead of me and those I know I did not include in that electronic blast of memory-laden electrons.

Dear colleagues and friends:
Today is my last day at Dominion Energy. It is hard to believe that 20 years have gone so quickly.
My contact information is [Ed:email address removed] and cell phone remains [Ed.: phone number removed]. I am on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
I began working at SCANA as a contractor in August 1998; I was employed by Vanstar, which then merged with Inacom in 1999, and went bankrupt in 2000. I was hired by SCANA in July 2000.
During the last 20+ years while at SCANA/Dominion Energy, I got married; went through the incredible Y2K (yawn!); had two incredible kids; went through bankruptcy (thanks Inacom!); learned that my wife had cancer; fought the darn disease with her for three dark, incredibly painful years; experienced the death of my wife and then my mom; and lived life with my kids for 13 years as they became adults. I am now watching them leave home to attend university.
Along these two decades we have shared many experiences. Some of you saw me go through, and some helped me with, the darkest three years of my life as I tried to help Tracey with all that comes with a cancer diagnosis, and helped my kids deal first with all the surgeries and procedures she endured, and then her loss and our new reality without her. I am eternally grateful to those that stood by us, offering everything from a kind word to hours of companionship in hospital waiting rooms.
Over the years I moved from Workstation Support to Staging (now ABARS), to software development, to Cyber Security. Along the way I had the honor of interacting with many of you and with many that have already retired. It has been a great experience.
I wish each of you well. As with anything worth doing, there will be challenges and successes. In keeping with the family spirit that we experienced here throughout the years, please continue to be kind and supportive to each other, knowing that your kindness makes a huge difference to those that receive it.
May there always be light where you are. May the brightest light come from your heart.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day Thoughts

While many Americans "celebrate" Memorial Day with BBQs, picnics, cookouts, and parties, I find the day very sad.

It seems many Americans misunderstand the reason for Memorial Day. Some think it is to honor those that serve in the armed forces; actually, that is "Armed Forces Day." Some think that it is to celebrate the valiant efforts of our veterans; in reality, that is done on "Veterans Day."

Memorial Day is supposed to be a day to remember those that died in combat or while serving in the military. It is a day to be grateful for their sacrifices and those their families made. It is a day to stop and think why those sacrifices were made. It is an opportunity to stop and question why those sacrifices were made.

As I grow older and gain ability to discern, I find myself very sad on Memorial Day. The last few wars, from Korea on, are very different from their predecessors. The reasons for going to war have shifted from morality to economics. I cannot help but to question how many lives lost in wars motivated by greed could have been spared and would have benefited our country and our world in so many better ways. My admiration for, and gratitude to, the men and women that lost their lives is not diminished; my sorrow for their loss is heightened by the awareness of senselessness.

We now face the prospect of another prolonged war, this time against Iran. The lies being told are obvious to anyone that wants to use a questioning attitude. Who will benefit from another war? Will it benefit the average citizen in the United States? Not likely, as we will all be made to pay for this war and the restoration thereafter. Will it benefit the citizens of Iran? Not likely; their dead will be but one more reason to hate us. Or will it benefit, mostly, a few wealthy industrialists that peddle their deadly, immoral wares unconcerned with whether the victims are in a far away place or in an elementary school down the street.

I think we must grow impatient with the status quo; we need to question the excuses for more unnecessary death, for more unnecessary destruction. Let us be true patriots and pledge allegiance to the nation, not to the government, certainly not to a government that has sold out to the war lords.

Our fallen deserve our respect, our gratitude, and our truest patriotism.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The future of motorcycles?

I used to ride motorcycles in my youth. That was a blast to do. I have not been on a bike in decades. I just came across this review and I am very excited to see what motorcycles are up to. This would be a sweet ride to have. The price is right, the technology is amazing, and this really looks like the future for motorcycles.

Let's talk about baking a cake....

In three short minutes Beau and his wife show us the power of logic and choice. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Are we looking at the Alabama law all wrong?

The debate over the new wave of anti-abortion state laws has been raging; I even engaged in it on Facebook. But Beau makes a great point in this video. Could we be looking at the Alabama law all wrong? Could it be that a combination of good old free-market supply and demand, with some relatively inexpensive technology may save the day for women that need or want an abortion?

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Mammoth Caves & Bully Butterflies : Camping Kentucky

One of my favorite things about the Internet is the ability to travel to places without ever leaving home. I know, it is not the same as being there but, at least, if you don't like the place, you saved a whole bunch of time and money, and you can use those to visit a place you really would enjoy. Here is a place I definitely want to stop by and visit sometime.

Monday, May 06, 2019

This Gasoline Will Destroy Your Car

For several years now, I have avoided using gasoline that contains ethanol. Why? It is bad for engines. Take a look. Besides, there are major economical and ecological factors that make ethanol a bad choice. Among them: increased use of pesticides and fertilizers to increase the yield for corn; these chemicals wash down river and are killing our oceans.