Tuesday, March 15, 2016

We've elected to resume posting

And we're back. After a nearly four year hiatus. A hiatus we took 'cause we got bored. Which ironically is also why we decided to resume posting. So what's first on the agenda now that we're back? Well it's an election year and elections are, in my mind, extraordinarily mundane, and entirely absurd, so that seems like as good a place as any to start. So without further ado here is my brief guide to the election.

In light of the upcoming election and the inevitable deluge of rhetoric which has already descended upon us from all sides I've prepared a brief summary of some things I think you should know this election season. One thing you should know before you start reading the list; the points are in no particular order other than as they came to me and any attempt to discern further meaning from their order is an exercise in futility. And now the list.

1: Your vote doesn't matter. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar or really bad at math. There are really only two votes that matter in any election; the tie vote and the swing vote. Statistically speaking given the number of votes cast the odds of your vote being one of those two is functionally zero. So mathematically your vote doesn't matter. You don't have to like that reality but the math doesn't lie.

2: You should probably still vote even though it doesn't matter. It's an important part of our system of government and active participation encourages a more active awareness of the issues facing our country. A general lack of awareness and education regarding the issues facing our country is a large part of the problem we face in finding meaningful long term solutions to said issues. So be informed, get active, inform others, and go vote.

3: The First Amendment does not come with a voting clause. Seriously; enough with the, "if you didn't vote you can't complain" crap. The First Amendment guarantees your right to free speech and no where does it say that if you don't vote, or if you don't vote for one of the major party candidates, you can't: discuss, debate, complain, moan, rant, rage, or whine for the next four years. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either uninformed or willfully ignorant.

4: Know what party you're registered with and consider registering independent if possible to keep your options open during the primaries. This is really just an issue for the primary elections but it's still important. Many states will only let you vote for the party with which you are registered which can leave you with fewer options for voting or possibly even leave you unable to vote for your preferred candidates. So know how you are registered and know whether your state uses closed, open, or blanket primaries.

5: The general election allows voters to write-in a candidate in most states; you don't have to vote for the candidates the two major parties are fronting. States have various ways of handling votes for write-in candidates; so know your state's laws on the subject. If you aren't comfortable supporting either/any of the candidates on the ballot most states will allow you to write-in a candidate though the validity of a write-in varies from state to state. Some states only count write-ins for candidates that have petitioned the state to be placed on the ballot and throw out any other write-ins; while other states will count every write-in vote regardless of who was written in. Writing in a candidate may seem like a waste, and some people will invariably accuse you of "throwing your vote away", since there's virtually no chance of them being elected but it does offer a couple important advantages over not voting at all. 1: it saves you from having to explain point number three to people for the next four years. 2: It allows you to participate in the system without offering your support to a candidate whom you don't wish to support. 3: it can raise awareness of unrepresented voter groups whose values are not addressed by the current system. And remember voting for the lesser evil is still voting for evil. Don't do that.

6: Not voting is always an option. Not my personal recommendation but it's a free country; if you don't feel adequately represented by any of the candidates you can vote for; or you feel that the candidates are in some way so abhorrent as to be unsupportable; you don't have to vote for any of them. As with point five you'll get the inescapable rhetoric about how you threw away your vote or that you're "un-American" etc. but if you genuinely feel that there are no candidates deserving of your vote than "throwing your vote away" might be the best statement you can make. It's true of both the write-in vote and the decision not to vote at all that throwing away a vote may well be preferable to giving it to a candidate. Some things are better off in the trash than in the hands of monsters.

7: Vote all year long every year. Your vote might not matter but your actions and dollars do. Support companies that share your values and get active in groups that support and foster the furthering of those ideas and values you personally support. Making your voice heard in politics is difficult if you're not wealthy or politically connected but that doesn't mean you can't be heard. Washington may not always be listening but our neighbors and the market are most definitely paying attention. Talk to the people you know. Convincing people that your position has merit may take time and effort. You won't make political, or ideological converts in Facebook debates but if you're politely vocal about your thoughts and positions and your actions ball your rhetoric people will take note. If you put your money where your mouth is companies will take note. I'm not telling you that your grassroots efforts will sway the next election, though that has happened, usually it takes years or decades for major, or even minor, shifts in mainstream thinking and public opinion to occur but they won't ever occur if people aren't actively pursuing them now.

8: Don't be rude. You can have intelligent meaningful discourse without descending into ad hominem attacks and name calling. It's far to easy in our internet age to scream obscenities at a random stranger halfway across the world or to say things to a friend we wouldn't dream of saying if they were standing in front of us. And heated passions can lead to awful behavior even in person. Don't fall into that trap. It's fine to be passionate about a political position. It's not fine to be abusive or dehumanizing towards others in your pursuit or support of that position.

9: If you are rude then be an adult and apologize. You get heated about an issue and say something rude, hurtful, or mean; it's wrong but it happens. Make it right. This should go without saying but experience tells me it needs to be said. If you make a mistake, call names, behave poorly, or are just generally obnoxious over a political issue then you owe someone an apology. And you're not doing yourself or your position any favors by withholding a well deserved apology. People make mistakes, adults correct them. Don't behave like a child when engaging in political discourse.

10: You're probably never going to convince anyone to change their position by debating the issues. We're stubborn, proud, and generally convinced of our inherent rightness. Accepting that will save you a ton of stress. I'd love to think that with few choice examples and couple of witty replies I could convince the masses to come over to my way of thinking but that's simply not how people work. And the sooner we all embrace that the less personally we'll take dissent and the more productively we'll be able to discuss the issues. It's fine to have debates and discussions. It helps keep us intellectually sharp and honest. But it's not likely to make us change position completely. If you want to change people's minds go back to point seven and start walking your talk.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The TMNT Art Tour And Other Things To Do Before You Die

I'm not sure when they found the time to create some of history's greatest art masterpieces. It always seemed like fighting Shredder and his endless army of Foot Soldiers was a full time gig. But somewhere between the street fights and a slice of pepperoni pie Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael managed to enrich the world with their art. No small feat for a bunch of slang spewing turtles. So seeing as how the art is there to be seen I feel I should see it before I die.

This one of the growing number of items on my bucket list. I'm not planning on dying anytime soon but it doesn't hurt to start working on the list now; after all failing to plan is planning to fail. I'll have more entries from my list as well my thoughts on the construction and use of a bucket list coming soon so stay tuned. It's gonna be radical dude.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

If you read Brian's post today....You'd get "it."

An Ode To A Thistle Hued Terrapin And Other Absurdities

Have you ever had a thought so completely random and outside the bounds of your normal thought patterns that any attempt to discern its origin is as fruitless as an orange grove in the Antarctic. And has such a thought ever gotten lodged in your subconscious and then floated into the realm of conscious thought at seemingly random intervals with such encounters sometimes separated by spans of a week or more. As you may have guessed I have been in possession of such a thought for some time now and have yet to uncover an effective method for dislodging my unwelcome if somewhat humorous guest. What now lies before you is an attempt to exorcise the specter of this thought by giving it a body of its own; even if only a body of the written word.
The thought in question is "purple turtle". Perhaps this terrible terrapin is the result of watching reruns of The Ninja Turtles as a child. Donatello was always my favorite. Maybe it's the rhyme that makes it stay and play and never ever go away. I'm suspicious that the purple turtle hails from the same realm as my friend's Cosmic Possum but that suspicion is not something I've been able to confirm at this juncture. Where the turtle hails from originally is in my mind of less import than where he has chosen to reside now. Namely in my mind. Perhaps now that others are aware of his existence he'll chose some other poor soul with which to room. In the mean time I'm going to try to lock him up for the night and hope he stays put long enough for me to get a reprieve.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Deep Water


“Rewriting history will not change the past, but a small change in perspective can.” – e. Tetterton

Today I’m delving into the deep waters of deep thoughts on this delightfully dreary, drippy day.  …..and pondering Proverbs 20:5…… “The purposes of a (wo)man’s heart are deep waters, but a (wo)man of understanding draws them out.”  So often when thinking through my past, I focus on the “What”?  “Where”? & “When”?…..but not “Why”?  ……yet it is through the answer to this incredibly simple question that I can begin applying the lessons of the past to my future. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Aforementioned Buoyancy Of Hope

We've spoken previously of hope's oft purported tendancy to remain aloft when there is no logical reason why it ought to do so. And while the this peculiar property defies our understanding it is well that it exists. For some days grabbing a hold of and relying on this buoyancy is all that keeps us afloat in a sea of uncertainty. Which doesn't mean that bobbing along in this fashion will be a pleasure cruise. After all; Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12 NLT). Waiting on that hope to be fulfilled can be a seriously miserable experience. But we hold onto hope because despite the pain there is a tree of life at the end of the journey. Sometimes we can't see that for the waves and sometimes the tree isn't growing where we thought it would be but never the less there it is. And when we finally reach that point we'll know that "every second lived is worth each second of the pain". So grab a hold of hope and hang on tight. Cause drowning is a terrible end.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Contrast

contrast[ kuh n-trast, kon-trast, kon-trast ]

verb (used with object)
1. to compare in order to show unlikeness or differences; note the opposite natures, purposes, etc., of: Contrast the political rights of Romans and Greeks.
verb (used without object)
1. to exhibit unlikeness on comparison with something else; form a contrast.
2. to differ in a way that can serve to distinguish meanings: The sounds (p) and (b) contrast in the words “pin” and “bin.”

I find the contrast created by certain events, people, and moments in our lives both curious and enlightening. The ease with which the status quo can be completely upset and what once was good enough rendered anything but acceptable is sometimes shocking. And I am always amazed at what I find I have allowed myself to accept when I lack these points of contrast. So here's to those moments when contrast changes our view of everything.
Now if only changing the contrast on my TV could improve the program content in the same way.