Sunday, February 24, 2013

What's It's All About: Thinking

When the Newtown massacre occurred I waited a couple of days until the horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach subsided over the loss of these innocent children.  Then I wrote a blog that suggested that meaningful restraints of the use of guns in our society were warranted.  I sent this blog to friend and foe alike on the premise that even those who apparently claim the second amendment as the holy grail of their existence might also recognize the concept behind the principled first amendment of our society; that free and open discussion of ideas and issues is an integral part of who and what we are.  I received many positive comments and thoughtful replies from the writing and dissemination of this particular blog, but there were several that surprised me given that I only send my work to those who have given me some kind of indication in the past that they are receptive to exchanging thoughts about various issues.  To be specific, I received three requests to perform a specific bodily act, the nicest of which was ‘go screw’ myself.

These responses scared me, but allowed me to clarify my own thinking as to the real damage to our country and it’s Bill of Rights that this maniacal and slavish devotion to guns is causing.  Let me mention the simple handshake.  In the middle ages, the handshake was adopted as a custom to set aside one’s weapon and engage in meaningful discourse without the threat of a weapon overpowering the experience.  The hand was symbolically extended to demonstrate a show of good faith to another that meaningful conversation could occur without the threat of violent reaction.  In short, the extended hand set aside ’screw you’ thinking  and allowed for rational discussions.  Coming back the present, the NRA-types don’t get this concept.  They want to be able to walk into bars, churches, schools and other events which generically are evidence of civilized behavior and, rather than a handshake, convey an impression that the use of violent force is their substitute expression of an ability to think.  Their standing behind the 2nd amendment is indeed the adult equivalent of a young child’s standing behind a woman’s skirts.  What they are saying is “I am incapable of an intelligent dialogue, we need more guns not less” approach to human interaction. 

Just saying . . .

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Dope About Dopes

I was reading through a few articles of interest this morning when it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard, read or written the word “dope” in the past couple of years.  Most recently, the word was used as a slang expression to depict marijuana, as in “Are you smoking dope?”  Dope is also used in the context of describing the reality behind a given situation as in “Let me give you the real dope on what is going on.”  There is a third way the word can be used.  It can describe someone who is not doing something particularly bright, or restated, doing something stupid.  The word ‘dope’ in the latter context came to my mind this morning when I read about the following:  Last year the Texas G.O.P. condemned efforts to teach “critical thinking skills,” because, it said, such efforts “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”  What a bunch of dopes. Republicans in the Virginia State Legislature have specifically prohibited the use of the words “sea-level rise” even though cities in that state are considered to be among the most vulnerable to flooding as a result of global warming.  Another bunch of dopes.  House Republicans tried to suppress a Congressional Research Service report casting doubt on claims about the growth effects of tax cuts for the wealthy.  This is really ‘dopey.’  In the 1990s conservative politicians, acting on behalf of the National Rifle Association, ceased just about all research into the issue of the relationship between guns and violence.  Are these dopes that stupid, or is there an agenda in attempting to keep Americans from the real truth of the matter?

So there you are, I have given you the dope about dopes.  Just saying . . .

Friday, February 1, 2013

Austerity Measures

Prof. Krugman, the Nobel prize winning journalist/economist wrote this morning about world-wide examples of the  failure of austerity measures in various countries as a means of dealing with recessions and massive levels of unemployment.  In response to Krugman's article, one commenter described various considerations that must be dealt with in the United States, including massive infrastructure investments.  In reply to that comment, I wrote as follows:

Another major factor to be considered are the various individual states who are imposing austerity programs on such important components of our society as public education. Michigan is a prime example in which emergency managers are appointed by the Republican governor to run 50% of the under-financed block of black school districts in the state. The various 'solutions' among these districts is to increase classroom size to 61 students, fire experienced teachers and hire first year teachers at half the cost, not to mention give-aways to wealthy friends by privatizing partial or whole school districts. To paraphrase your final comment, Mr. McMahon, we also cannot leave to our children a country of individuals whose life opportunities are compromised by inadequate educations. Our kids , all of our kids, deserve quality educations.

Just saying . . .