Our Secret Weapon Against Laptop Bombs: Flight Attendants

The news is troubling. Terrorists may have found a way to place explosives in laptops that are undetectable by current technology. We need a new weapon to combat this new weapon.

We have a ready-made, highly-trained, in-place force to serve this purpose.

Flight attendants.

Can you imagine how pissed off flight attendants will be if they have to entertain a plane full of whiny, short-attention afflicted passengers denied access to their mind-numbing devices? Picture a cabin full of the in-flight needy, the attendant call buttons flashing like alarms, seeking someone to relieve their boredom.

That someone will be the flight attendants. The Captain and First Officer will be safe in their locked cockpit. That door will never open.

You forcefully separate people from their laptops, make them read a real book or, the horrors, have a conversation with a stranger and you are setting the stage for a nightmare in the air.

So, announce to the flight attendants that passengers cannot use laptops in-flight. Let them consider what 10 or 12 hours of being the sole entertainment for electronically addicted passengers in withdrawal banging away at the call buttons will be like.

Then, let them loose on ISIS et.al.

The war will be over faster than coffee service on a short hop flight.

America’s Long Walk on a Short Pier

The America I know, the one that once served as a bright shining beacon to the world, is changing. Our headlong panic rush to insulate, rather than defend, ourselves from those that would do us harm is disheartening.

Talk of building walls, denying entry based on religion or origin, craving a national policy of carpet bombing without regard to innocents is not a solution. It is the easy way out. That is not America.

We are on a very long walk on a short pier.305880-pier

America was once the country who built piers to welcome those who seek the American dream. We stood greeting those looking for a better life. Yet now, because it is so easy to focus on those who misuse our welcome, we are throwing it all away.

When did we become so afraid of standing up for what is right, that we are willing to bury our head in the sand?

We bought into this ‘I’m being bullied nonsense’ and cry to our mommies. I know this may offend some people but you don’t run from bullies, or try to legislate them out of existence. You stand up to them.

It’s the only way to solve the problem. Time to recapture our pride and dignity.

Now, we are faced with a Presidential election. The campaign is a bunch of meaningless drivel, hurled by both sides, that offers no real solution, no intelligent analysis of the problem, and no real hope for change.

We are better than that. We deserve better than that. And yet, most of us just follow along like blind sheep lured by the aroma of fresh feed right into the slaughter house.

Instead of doing the hard work of identifying those who would misuse welfare, we punish the entire program.

Instead of doing the difficult task of bringing the fight to the enemy, we embrace politicians with no idea of the rules of engagement who see carpet bombing as a solution to end a philosophy. Innocent casualties be damned.

Instead of making the effort to understand the complex problems facing us, we engage in screaming matches that do nothing.

Instead of focusing on the logjam that is Congress, we scream and yell about useless Congressional hearings and speeches that capitalize on our ignorance.

Instead of embracing education, we dilute the standards then blame teachers for the results. Johnny can’t read and we do not care.

But there is still time.

There is time to remember that Congress holds the purse strings of America, not the President, and understand who holds the purse strings of Congress.

There is time to return to an America where holding public office meant doing public service not keeping it for life.

There is time, but it, like the end of the pier, is growing short.

I have noticed a troubling trend among the tattooed generation of Americans. I am noticing more and more individuals sporting a barcode tattoo on the back of their necks.

If we are not vigilant. If we do not wean ourselves away from chasing Pokémon. If we do not think instead of remaining mindlessly enslaved to our cell phones.

If we do not realize that we have stopped adding to the pier that is the American dream but continue to walk at our current pace, we will find ourselves at the end.

Those sporting this barcode tattoo may be a foreshadow of the American future.

Where once each new generation represented an addition to the treasure of America, our people, they may be reduced to nothing but inventory from a failed dream.

Think before we walk into oblivion.

Insights from 60 Revolutions of the Sun

In my now sixty complete revolutions of the sun, I am struck by how much the world has changed and how little people have progressed.

We are a single race. The human race. Yet, one is hard-pressed to find examples of this.

We live at a time when access to information is at an all-time high and rationality at a depressing low. Instead of recognizing our differences as nothing more than window dressing, we isolate ourselves with those we share those shallow aspects and separate ourselves from those we see as different.

Why is it we fill our hearts with the irrationality of prejudice, the willful ignorance of others, instead of embracing the commonality of our nature?

Tolerance is something we demand for ourselves and deny to others. The surface differences that comprise such a small percentage of our being cloud the overwhelming similarities.

At a time when it would seem the very survival of our common race is at hand, we focus on promoting our differences instead of joining together to insure our survival.

The faiths of the world publicly espouse their common goal yet continue to teach the doctrines of difference.

Politicians play to the lowest common denominator of fear to further than own careers no matter the cost.

We resort to violence as a solution rather than recognizing violence is at the root of the issue. Violence is the tool to protect differences not people . What we need is the rationality of diplomacy and acceptance.

I can only hope that five hundred or a thousand years from now the descendants of the human race look back on the foolishness of this time as a product of ignorance and stupidity.

Much like we mock the ignorance of the Dark Ages or the image of Stone Age man cowering in his cave from the thunder and lightning of the gods, future humans will find a similar ignorance in the history of our time.

If there are any descendants to do so.  I can only hope we survive  to live up to our self-described moniker of Homo Sapiens.

With all the tools of destruction and our skills at killing our fellow humans over artificial differences, there may not be anyone left to attain such insight and maturity of character.

Rationality is Overrated: Time for America to Face Her Problems

Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

Perhaps it is time for the vitriol of hate and fear to win.

Perhaps it is time we obliterate an entire group of people based on their common religion.

Perhaps it is time us to consider a policy of irrationality. Focus our anger not on finding a solution, but eliminating the need for one.

After all,

It is Muslims that are killing Americans.

It is Muslims that are trying to destroy our culture.

It is Muslims who wish to enslave us in the violence and intolerance of Sharia.

Perhaps it is time we stopped worrying about the innocence of most Muslims.

Perhaps we should use our overwhelming military power and take them all out as a way to insure we get the guilty.

I fear there are those reading this who mistook my satire as something worth serious consideration. A frightening prospect but we see evidence of such irrationality every day in this country.

Just look at the Presidential campaign.

Now comes the part they will ignore because it is hard and might force them to think.

Is it possible we bear some of the blame for the terror visited upon Orlando? Is it possible the blood of those victims are on our hands as well?

It is clear that we are unwilling to do the right thing. Unwilling to confront the scourge of violence that plagues this country.

What happened in Orlando is a tragedy. In far too many cities in this country, it’s called Saturday night.

Those that see one side of the issue see guns as the problem. We need to control the guns, they scream. But they offer no real solution. No answer to how to deal with the 300 million firearms in private hands. Do they blame the car when a drunk driver runs over a group of children?

Those that cherish their guns wrap themselves in the Second Amendment. They scream, I have a right to protect myself. I have a right to own as many guns as I like. The problem is not guns, it is criminals. Lots of I, I, I’s there.

Do they offer even a nod to OUR interest in preventing these incidents? Do they show a willingness to be part of the solution instead of being a roadblock to even considering one? They look at Sandy Hook and Orlando, hold up their copy of the Second Amendment, and say this is more important than those lives.

They argue that if every law abiding American that wanted to carry a gun did, we’d all be safer. Now there’s a comforting thought. Think of some of the idiots you meet on a daily basis and imagine them in a firefight in a school, or theater, mall, or the desk next to yours.

Imagine good old Harry, waiting to pick up his grandkids, whipping out his trusty .45 and taking on a crazed gunman in an elementary school. Within just a few short years, we’d need fewer schools.

It would raise the effect of friendly fire to a whole new level.

If that is their idea of a rational solution to preventing these incidents they’re more delusional than even I imagine. It would make as much sense to make everyone wear ballistic vests.

In the aftermath of these things, we follow a familiar pattern.

It was only a matter of time before the right-wing lunacy put the blame for this on Obama. Somehow his policies created an environment where this would happen. After all, he is a secret Muslim. I mean, come on, Barrack Hussein?

And it was only a matter of time before the left began their worn and useless chant for gun control.

They yell and scream. Hold hands. Pray. Make speeches about the tragedy of guns.

Which accomplishes nothing.

There’s a brain tumor eating away the mind of this country. We are one candidate away from palliative care.

The nut who purchased this weapon is, according to the media, on an FBI Watchlist. One which would prevent him from flying.

We have a system in place to stop someone we suspect of terroristic leanings from flying. We recognize our overwhelming interest in airline security.

Sounds logical. I fly quite often and I support such policies.

We can stop them from doing something that requires a certain amount of skill and planning. We can stop them from doing something that is hard to do.

Why not expand that list to the purchase of firearms, which is easy to do? I’ll tell you why. Because the NRA opposes it.

They think the government cannot be trusted to do such things fairly. They contend it might prevent an innocent person from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

How do they do this? They control the cowards in Congress addicted to the gun lobby money. They manipulate them into killing such legislation and killing Americans in the process.

They stop the government from having an effective tool against these incidents.

The same incompetent government they blame for these incidents. Which government is it they fear most?

They spin the story and blame the President. They whip those who would have a difficult time finding a foreign country on a map into a frenzy.

They then focus them on anything other than the actual problem.

Their solution is simple. It is more important that I have my gun. They would prefer we eliminate an entire group of people rather than risk a few extra steps in buying a gun.

The nut who pulled that trigger was an American citizen. He exercised his Second Amendment rights so precious to so many.

Think of it this way, if the Orlando gunman had been denied his Second Amendment right to purchase a firearm, the NRA would support him in his case to right that wrong. Let that bounce around your brain for a bit.

On the other hand, he is the wrong flavor American. His parents are from Afghanistan. What do you expect, they would argue?

So, perhaps it is time for their Final Solution. If we are unwilling to balance responsible gun ownership against preventing tragedy, it leaves us little choice.

Perhaps it is time we embrace the words of Arnaud Amalric, Papal Legate and Cistercian abbot.

A man of the Christian God. That might offer comfort to those who do not understand Islam.

His words brought solace to those seeking vengeance against that which they feared. He spoke these words before the massacre at Beziers. Where one faith confronted a difference they perceived as a threat.

“Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius”

“Kill them all, God will recognize his own”

This is a country that once decided to put a man on the moon, built the technology to do it, and did it. How is it we cannot find the courage and conviction to protect our people?

The real tragedy here is that as a nation we have forgotten the great things we are capable of accomplishing.

Encouraged by a zealot on a crusade of intolerance, we chant slogans illustrating our ignorance. We ignore the foundation of fairness and justice upon which this country was built.

The blood of the victims of gun violence is on all our hands. Until we regain our rationality and work toward a real solution, more will come.

Trumping America

I think I have figured out the Trump phenomenon. His success in the primaries comes from supporters who behave at the maturity level of 15-year-old boys and 13-year-old girls. They are not quite children, not quite adults, and driven by raging emotional responses to anything they cannot or choose not to understand.

They are willing to sacrifice civil liberties and constitutional protections in the pursuit of fighting terrorists. They are willing to employ torture as a means justified by their mistaken belief it will protect America.

They support a candidate who said targeting families, including children, is a worthwhile military strategy. One he is prepared to order our military to carry out. Trump, with all his pride in his Ivy League education, must have skipped history and ethics. His was a poison ivy education.

Here is a quote Trump and his supporters could adopt in support of effective genocide.

Raymond D’Aguilers, a witness to the victorious end of the Crusade of 1096-1099 in Jerusalem, wrote

‘Men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers.’

Men, women, and children not of the Christian faith dead at the hands of the faithful. Unbelievers meaning those who believe differently than the one holding the sword or the launch codes for nuclear weapons.

Trump must believe My Lai was the most successful operation during the Viet Nam war. Unless he missed the story on TV.

Trump’s idea is not even original. Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheik Mohammed thought it a good idea. If we follow Trump’s logic, flying planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon was brilliant.

This country is in a lot of trouble if anyone, let alone a candidate for the Presidency, takes such policies seriously.

They risk destroying the very freedom and moral character that built this country.

Trump screams he will lead us to Making America Great Again. By what measure? By what means? He wraps himself in the flag, portraying himself as the ultimate patriot.

To quote Samuel Johnson, “Patriotism is the refuge of the scoundrel.”

Trump’s idea of patriotism encompasses all the evil of nationalism that no rational American should condone.

Out of this fire of ignorance, Trump emerged as the poster boy of xenophobia.

This pseudo-tough, swaggering, ne’er do well spouting invectives and threatening anyone not in lockstep with him. An American version of ‘das Herrenvolk.’

A schoolyard bully picking on the weak while his “fans” stand around with their cell phones recording and posting their childish voyeuristic nonsense, afraid to stand up for what’s right.

We face the real specter of a President whose policy platform consists of acting like a junkyard dog.

During the last debate, where supporters considered jokes about the size of appendages high humor, there was only one adult on the stage. Trump was not it. Yet his supporters are okay with that.

The reality that people are fooled into believing Trump represents the best of America is frightening.

Nevertheless, he is winning the primaries. True, he is winning Republican primaries under a system rigged to favor the lead candidate; designed to minimize the chance of a brokered convention. They never imagined the rise of the Donald and his living, but brain dead, hordes.

Keep this in mind; he is winning with at best 35% of the vote. Which means 65% of the vote went against him. Many of these are winner take all contests.

Staunch conservatives, like the Tea Party and others, deserve some of the blame here. As Stephen King so aptly wrote. “Conservatives who for 8 years sowed the dragon’s teeth of partisan politics are horrified to discover they have grown an actual dragon.”

We can only hope a St. George will arrive on the scene to slay the dragon before he incinerates us all.

If Trump wins, he will have at least given us one thing of value. We will need that slogan, Making America Great Again, once his Presidency ends. I fear, if there is a Trump presidency, we’ll be singing the line from the Paul Simon song, America.”We’ve all come to look for America…”

 

Using Apple to take a Bite out of Crime

As most of us know, (and if this is news, you should pay more attention), the Justice department sought Apple Computer’s assistance in bypassing the security encryption on an iPhone.

Not just any phone, but the phone used by the two shooters in the San Bernardino case.

The FBI contends there is probable cause to believe that the phone contains evidence related to the case, may contain names of unidentified co-conspirators, and is a matter of national security. They cannot break the encryption without Apple’s assistance.

Now at first blush, this is a no-brainer. Apple should decrypt the phone and turn over the evidence.

However, upon more contemplation, I think Apple’s position is better for our cherished freedoms.

Now, for those of you who may not know my background, I was a police officer for twenty years. Every job has it fun moments. Ours often consisted of having a search warrant in one hand and a sledgehammer in the other.

Knock, knock we are coming in. One way or the other.

Over time it was inevitable I would see abuses of this system. Warrants obtained on the flimsiest of information. Governmental fishing expeditions usually in the cause of the Holy war against drugs.

Now, that Holy war has a new cause. Terrorism.

In the cause of fighting terrorism, we have lost sight of our original founding principles.

To force Apple to defeat the encryption designed to protect personal data is to start down a road from which we cannot return. The government wants companies to design a “backdoor” into encrypted devices. A door controlled by government.

That is a frightening thought. Imagine the potential for disruption of the political process, privacy violations, and abuse.

To invoke the specter of Orwell’s 1984 has lost some of its once chilling effect. In this world 32 years after that date, it fails to convey the dire warning it once did. Yet we should keep this in mind, Orwell’s warning of “Big Brother” may have been premature, but he was not wrong.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

 

 

 

 

Tormented by Choice

All of us face choices in our lifetime. Some of these can affect a moment, a day, or a lifetime. Often, we face ridicule and torment from those who follow a different path.

Does the toilet paper roll go over or under?

Peanut butter first, then Jelly or vice versa?

Yankees or Red Sox? (This one’s is easy for me. I like pinstripes and World Series Flags.)

Does anyone really know what time it is?

However, there is one choice I have consistently made which subjected me to a lifetime of torment and terror. One that every time I make the choice I have instant flashbacks to the taunts and the torments.

Tortures visited upon me by two people I looked up to, admired, tried to emulate.

After all these years, I am ready to face my darkest fears. Ready to confront the demons of the past.

You see, from the moment I was able to choose, I always picked mayonnaise over mustard.

There was no other way to go.

Yet I faced the ridicule, nay bullying, of my two cousins who shall remain nameless (Dave Moreau and Joe Szpila.)

They made sport of my choice. Sniffing the mayonnaise coated knife as if covered with the excrement of demons. Insinuating I was insane to so choose. Madness, they implied, it must be madness.

Oh how they tortured me. Their haughty superiority as mustard men hung over me like the Sword of Damocles.

To this day, I cannot enjoy a sandwich with my beloved mayonnaise without the demons of the past laughing in my mind. Even now, as I try to enjoy my sandwich, the torments continue.

A lifetime of torment for a simple choice. As Shakespeare said in As You Like It, “How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes!”

 

Misplaced Tolerance: The Price of Practicality

There is a sad, yet well-established history in this country of aligning ourselves with groups and governments that are the antithesis of our cherished love of freedom.

During WWII, we allied ourselves with the Soviet Union for the greater good of defeating Nazi Germany

In Vietnam we supported, some would say orchestrated, a violent coup which overthrew one tyrannical government in favor of one more to our liking. We then supported this government in its battle against the communist north under Ho Chi Minh. Of course, we supported Ho Chi Minh prior to that when he fought against the Japanese. Yet we did not support Ho Chi Minh when they fought against French colonialism, after all, Vietnam does not fall under the umbrella of the Monroe doctrine.

We did it again in Kuwait, aligning ourselves with one dynastic, Islamic royalty against the country of Iraq. Among our allies, Saudi Arabia. The house of Saud is a theocratic dynastic royalty which embraces Sharia law.

Now our latest, supporting false democratic governments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These alliances make sense if one takes a practical approach to the world. However, practicality should have limitations.

The world needed to stop Hitler. His actions set in motion a war in which over 60 million people died. Three percent of the world’s population at the time.

Our alliance with Stalin brought about the defeat of Hitler. Under Stalin, an estimated 50 million people died “unnatural” deaths during the years 1924-1953. This number excludes wartime deaths.

In a practical world, aligning with Stalin to defeat Hitler made military and strategic sense. Moreover, one could argue Stalin killed fewer people. In a practical sense, he was the lesser of two evils.

The Soviet Union went on from WWII to support the North Vietnamese with weapons against our new allies in South Vietnam. Our Russian allies killed Americans because the practicalities of the world changed.

Practicality has a price.

Our path of practicality has come at a cost to our beliefs. I, for one, think it past the time that we put practical considerations aside and focus on doing the right thing.

Some will argue we have no right to impose our standards on others. I agree. We do not impose our standards on anyone. However, we also do not support those that would mistreat their own people under misguided 14th century concepts.

What we need is a qualifications checklist for receiving aid, military or otherwise, from this country. This country may not be perfect but our laws seek to protect everyone. The last time I checked our laws do not consider women to be property. Our laws do not permit discrimination based on race, ethnicity, skin color, or sexual orientation. Our laws are there to protect all of us.

Are there exceptions to these rules, of course there are. The sad fact is that many embrace similar archaic, mostly religious-based concepts of equality. Many consider women inferior to men and in need of male guidance. They cloak this control with claims of “protecting” women. Protecting them from what? My guess would be from the very ones controlling them.

Many consider certain races or ethnicities to be inferior. That is a symptom of their faulty upbringing or lack of education. While the reality of these idiotic, misogynistic and childish beliefs is unfortunate, it is not enshrined in our laws. Unlike many of the countries we support under the guise of practicality, we strive for the equality of all.

I think it long past the time when this country needs to be that “Shining City on the Hill” (in the secular sense.)

Time we stop ignoring civil rights abuses under the premise of “tolerance” for difference and start insisting on conditions for our support.

If the Saudi’s believe that Sharia law is more important than our strategic support that is their choice.

If Afghanistan permits the jailing of women based solely on the word of their husband or believes that some archaic social code that refuses women the right to self-determination is more important than our support that is their choice.

Practicality has limitations. Common sense tells us that all human beings are entitled to self-determination and the right to control their own destiny.

This experiment called the United States began with these words,

We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; …

These were the words of Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration of Independence. Words later changed for the final document. I think these words capture his meaning in a much clearer sense.

Perhaps it is time we put these words at the top of every agreement, treaty, support, or assistance package we offer as a condition.

Our practicality needs a conscience.

Lost in On-line Addiction

There are one thousand four hundred forty minutes in a day, five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes in a year. On average we spend 1/3 of that time sleeping, leaving nine hundred sixty minutes a day, three hundred forty six thousand eight hundred ninety six minutes a year to do things.

When you think about it, it sounds like quite a bit. As you pass through your first few years, you can almost hear each second of the clock tick. With the passage of time, the sound is blurred, time speeds up, and each tick of the clock seems to represent a season, or a year, or a decade.

Einstein forgot to mention that not only is time relative, but it is accelerating. As a wise older man once told me, ‘monthly magazines come every three days.’

Being conscious of this aforementioned phenomenon of time acceleration, I decided to pay attention to the things I do with my time.

I created a little experiment I call Connectivity Impact; separating myself from the online world in toto and measuring the amount of time I could redirect to other things.

No email

No messaging

No social media

No surfing the net

I must say it has proven both refreshing and enlightening.

Here is the number of items waiting for my attention when I rejoined the world of connectivity.

845 emails all clamoring for my time.

I timed myself in opening several and reading them through. It took an average of 20 seconds. If I responded it added, on average, an additional 30 seconds.

Thus if I read all the emails (16900 seconds) and responded to only 10% (1690 seconds) it took about 300 minutes of time out of my life.  5 hours a week/260 hours per year. More than 10 days. Just for email.

Facebook: I had 45 Notifications/Messages/Friend requests. It took me 20 minutes to read through/respond. It was hard for me to tell how many newsfeed notices were there since I last checked, but holding the down arrow and watching the screen fly by so fast as to be unreadable, it took a full 2 minutes to get to notifications dated on the last time I checked. If I only took a second to look at them all and only stopped to read 10% of them I am estimating it would take at least 120 minutes. Thus Facebook took 140 minutes of my allotted time.

Twitter/Instagram/Linked in: Without going into more detail and further wasting your time, which is the whole point I am trying to make, it took 45 minutes for me to sort through it all.

If I went through the normal process of reading some, responding to some, deleting some, forwarding some, in the timeframe I was “off the grid,” it would have taken almost 500 minutes of my time. 8 1/2 hours.

Now we add in, just for arguments sake, 30 minutes a day surfing the net. That brings the weekly total to more than 10 hours per week doing nothing but staring at a computer screen reading, for the most part, senseless drivel. Out of all the emails I received, 25 required a reply for either business or personal matters. All the rest were mostly attempts to entertain, politicize, criticize or promote some meaningless point of view.

This was just for a 7-day period. Seven days! Over the course of a year, I would spend 520 HOURS reading email/Facebook/Instagrams/Twitter material without including net surfing, googling trivia, and watching YouTube videos.

Keep in mind, I do not work a traditional job (I write and it is a solitary endeavor) so I am not receiving work related emails. Unless you count rejection notices from publishers, but I consider them to be a source of inspiration.

I recall when I worked at Southwest Airlines there was easily 40 to 50 emails a day, most of which had to be read and at least 1/3 required responses. This doesn’t include cell-phone calls/texts. I have a cellphone. I use it only if I need to call or text someone, which is minimal. The time I spend on it is minimal. I know that is not the case for many, if not most, people. When I see people watching TV shows or movies on a phone I want to cringe. These things used to be something you looked forward to, now they are just something else to waste time on.

And I am also one of the few remaining people in this world who does not play Candy Smash or whatever the game of the moment is. That seems to be an even more insidious time thief.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not advocating abandoning technology. I couldn’t reach as many people as I do with these posts without it. I am advocating that we take a hard look at what time we devote to these various technologies and seek a balance in our lives. Instead of watching videos, try actually doing things.

If you do the math, and extend to the numbers to a year, “on-line” takes 21 days of my time on an annual basis. For most people I am willing to say it is much, much more.

21 days of your finite time in this world. And that’s 21 full days, if you deduct sleep time, it takes about 29 days a year to deal with online activities. A month out of your life.

Seems like a lot of time to me to spend watching cat videos.

If you are of my generation, (interesting correlation to time acceleration is age relativity, I now consider sixty years old to be just a kid,) we didn’t have these issues to deal with until our thirties. My daughter’s generation has dealt with them almost from birth. Her children will deal with it from birth (Facetime/Facebook announcements/etc.)

This is not a plea for a return to the “good-old days.” Our perception of the good old days is often a twist on Shakespeare’s words “The evil men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.”

In the case of the “good old days” we remember the good, and gloss over the bad. These are the only days we have. That is what we need focus on.

I recognize there are some great benefits from this connectivity. In many countries, the internet is a lifeline to free expression and access to new ideas. There are posts from sites like Humans of New York which highlight the best of our diversity and sadly sometimes point out the worst of things we do to our fellow man.

But these are the exceptions, not the rule.

Perhaps if those of us in countries like ours, with open and free access to these worlds, understood the value and power of such technology we would use it more selectively. We would stop watering down the net with meaningless, nonsensical pleas and requests to “like” or “forward.” We could stop flooding the cyber-world with messages containing pictures of colorful sunsets, puppies in the snow, or horses dancing on beaches holding promise that you’ll receive money/blessings/etc. I am not a religious person, but I have read many of the books. Not one mention of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram as a vehicle for contacting the Supreme Being du jour.

Maybe he/she/they are off-line? Is it possible ‘god’ or “God” or the “Goddess” doesn’t have an email address? No Twitter handle? No Facebook page?

If that is what you seek or embrace, try using your mind and heart. Stop looking for quick fix Tweets to bring eternal salvation or to spread the word and tell the world of your devotion to a particular faith.

There are many who find a false courage in the deceptive anonymity of being online. This false sense of empowerment makes them willing to say things online they lack the courage to say in person. Used improperly, it turns even the meekest among us into bullies. Until they are found out.

When did having an online video go viral become a worthwhile goal?  Why would anyone admire someone who stood around and took a video instead of helping out? We’ve become a world of voyeurs seeking pleasure in watching others suffer and rewarding those standing idly by doing nothing.

Back to the numbers.

The life expectancy of my generation for a male is 82, (although I am hoping to exceed expectations.) This means, if I can believe my research, that I can look forward to spending 262 days of the 7030 days I have left on the following.

Answering emails, reading the latest Mark Z’berg giveaway nonsense believed by the dumbasses of the world, watching cat videos, listening to belligerent uneducated morons proclaiming their expertise on everything from military policy, to immigration, to police procedures, to the second amendment, to what they claim is the one true religion.

Draining my humanity one digital moment at a time.

On-line is a wealth of information, lacking the filter of knowledge and common sense.

To steal a line from one of the most profound sources of wisdom in the world today, coffee cup slogans, “Don’t confuse your Google search with my education and years of experience.”

I have returned to the world of connectivity. I look forward to the many benefits, now more cognizant of the risks and pitfalls.

Will I let it consume any more time than is necessary and practical?

I don’t f$&^ing think so.

(You can email a response to joe.broadmeadow@hotmail.com, Joseph.Broadmeadow@gmail.com, jebroadmeadow@gmail.com, Tweet to me at @jbroadmeadow, I am on Linked in and Instagram. You can comment here or my WordPress blog or ‘like’ or comment on my Facebook page.)

See what I mean? It is insidious.

Christmas Traditions: Variations on a Theme

There is a commonality shared among many families around Christmas or other special holidays. They have traditions. Long held, choreographed, well-established traditions passed down generation-to-generation, by which they celebrate holidays.

We do not. I like to think of our traditions as non-traditional. Think of it as a Jazz improvisation of Christmas instead of the Handel’s Messiah version.

We like to wing it.

Each year a little different from the year before, much of this determined by the latest cast of characters.

When our daughter Kelsey first joined our non-traditional traditions, it added to the wonder and magic. Christmas consisted of mountains of presents, requiring hours of wrapping, followed by the unforgettable wide-eyed expression as she first saw the gifts.

That was just her first Christmas; it got bigger and more magical after that.

Over the years Kelsey has gone from the small, little, squirming, bundle of wonder into a remarkable young woman.

She stands on the cusp of a new period of her life; she is engaged to an equally remarkable young man. Soon, if they are as fortunate as my wife and I, they will create their own Christmas traditions. Whatever they turn out to be.

This year’s celebration of Christmas Eve consisted of much good food, small gathering of family, and watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas and The Muppets Christmas Carole.

The Muppets have the best lines.

…light the candle, not the rat! Light the candle, not the rat!

 I told you, storytellers are omniscient; I know everything!

 Hoity-toity, Mr. Godlike Smarty-Pants.

And our personal favorite, which I suppose comes as close to an annual tradition as anything else,

…and Tiny Tim, who did NOT die…

Therefore, our Christmas tradition will continue to vary year to year. Over the next few years we hope to add a few new cast members (subtle hint), and create some new variations on the theme. (No pressure there Kelsey and Charles, take your time, we can wait for a bit)

Our non-traditional tradition always includes wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy whatever it is you do to celebrate this time of year.

….Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men…as Linus would say.