Put Politics Aside: We Need a New Supreme Court Justice


In Webster’s Dictionary few words are defined by a single word. Balderdash is just such a word. Webster’s uses the word “nonsense” as the descriptor! Ergo, my dictum of the political circus that has been going on can be described quite aptly by the word balderdash!

Yesterday, the Honorable Mr. Antonin Scalia died. Although I was not a fan, as much as anyone can be a fan of a Supreme Court Justice, Mr. Scalia suffered no fools and never minced his words. Even in the midst of disagreement to the extreme, I always respect anyone who can define their starting place and never vary from that. Thus was Mr. Scalia. From the outset of his career on our nation’s highest bench, he described himself as an “originalist” where the constitution is concerned. He remained faithful to that definition oft times to the scorn of his supporters. Originalism means applying the ideas of those who wrote the constitution to legal decisions. He quite openly stated that the framers never considered homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion and a myriad of other issues when they wrote the document. He believed that making a decision which revised the constitution without the use of the Amendment procedure was simply wrong. Hence his stand of opposition of Roe v. Wade.

I have just spent too much time describing a man I can admire, even though I bitterly disagree with ideologically, why? Because of where we go from here, who will be the next justice.

I decided well over a month ago that the Democrat candidate for president will be Hillary Clinton with Bernie Sanders as her running mate. The Republics I feel are likely to nominate John Kasich as their presidential candidate. Kasich will have the unenviable job of choosing a running mate from a party so splintered it has become an amorphous rendering of its past glory. I suspect Ted Cruz will emerge for ethnic identification and to assuage the far right, a.k.a. Tea Party.

Scalia was not dead two hours when Sen. Mitch McConnell announced President Obama would not be allowed to have a nominee take Scalia’s place. What! He is hoping that his party will retake the White House. He can effectively bottle up any nominee procedurally in the Senate so the candidate’s name never comes up for a vote. I cannot help but believe the Mr. Scalia would have reprimanded McConnell for such chicanery.

The 114th Congress, now in session, is far from the most contentious. That dubious honor is owned by the 37th and 38th Congresses. Those are the sessions held during President Lincoln’s tenure and were well known not just for their theatrics, long and boisterous arguments but also for physical altercations. There were “war democrats” and “peace democrats,” “war republicans” and “peace republicans.” There was also the “Constitutional party.” It amazed many that these congresses were able to get anything done.

Is that where we are at today? The Republicans hold 56% of all House seats and 55% of all senate seats, Bernie Sanders and Angus King declaring themselves Independent. That means neither is veto proof but that the Republicans have enough power to slow down if not totally stop any and all Democrat initiatives, which they have shown a propensity for doing these past 4 years.

The prime purpose of each senator and representative is to champion the desires of those he supports. But you would not know that by the rhetoric coming out of Washington. A recent Gallup poll shows that Americans favor abortion 80% to 20%. That is an overwhelming majority and yet to hear Washington politicians speak one would think the American populace is evenly divided if not slightly tilted towards against abortion.   The American public wants abortion and it is the responsibility of the elected officials not only to respect that view but push aside attempts to countermand that.

On other issues it is tighter but still a message is being sent. On the issue of tighter gun controls, Gallup polls show 55% want stricter gun control while only 33% want the laws left as they are. Sixty percent of Americans favor gay marriage, but disapprove of the Affordable Care Act 50-44%. That last poll cautions, however, that the ACA, or Obamacare, shows 57% of all Americans were unaffected by the law. The caution here is that the ACA has more importance, more impact and a much more positive view by younger and ethnic Americans than by older Americans.

I would ask only that each U.S. Representative vote according to: 1. The desires of their district, 2. The desires of their state, 3. The desires of all Americans, and 4. Their conscience. I fear that Republicans as a whole put number 4 as their first priority and that Democrats put number 2 as their first. Neither is correct considering the mandate of the voter is always to do his desire.

I doubt most Americans can give a reason for why we even have a Supreme Judicial Court but that notwithstanding, they would likely want a vacancy filled reasonably quickly. That’s just how most Americans want most things done.

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Rating the Web Sites of the Nations Top Universities With Particular Attention to the Ivy League


Now that I have gone through 10 of the top technical/engineering colleges in the United States rating their website, I think it only fair to continue on to the Ivy League colleges, except Cornell which got included in my previous post, plus four other prestigious colleges and see how they did.

So, why not start with my Alma Mata.

HARVARD UNIVERSITY

Home Page – “C-“ Well, Harvard beat the previous high of 5 frames, it has six! Things which do not belong on a home page which Harvard put there anyway: Social Media, News From Around Harvard, Multimedia and Events. Harvard is far from being alone in putting such errata on their home page but they really need to come to grips with the concept of less is more and in this case, a lot less. Every bit of information a prospective student needs access to can be found at the very top, in slightly small font, of Harvard’s home page.

Second Level Pages – “A-“. I would have given them an “A” however I think the most highly endowed University in the United States does not need to put two headings which alumni and other institutions have interest, “Give” and “Campaign.” Overall these second level pages are exactly what you want to see. Little to no scroll needed to find desirable information.

YALE UNIVERSITY

Home Page – “C+” If Yale would only remove all the graphics plus the “YaleNews” section it would be perfect. Oh, is YaleNews truly a single word or is there a missing space? But Yale beat Harvard in that it had only a 5 screen scroll on its home page. My big question is: Why did Yale find it necessary to put Martin Luther King, a graduate of Crozer Seminary and Boston University, at the top of the page? The picture seems incredibly out of context. A prospective student or parents must wonder why. Please trash this page and start over!

Second level Pages – “B+” I would have given Yale an A straight up but I had to see the “Admissions” page. What did it say to me? “Let’s show the world just how difficult we are to get into. We’re so good you probably should even consider us!” The rest of the pages were all business as they should be and very informative.

BROWN UNIVERSITY

Home Page — “A-“ If only Brown had left out the “events” and social media sections it would have been perfect! Otherwise, a very good page. Also, the font at the very top of the page is several sizes too small. They have some very important headings there which need to been more easily seen.

Second Level Pages – “A” Brown did it right, completely! Mostly single screen pages which are concise and quickly lead to lower levels as desired.

Overall, Brown has one of the best designed websites I have reviewed thus far. Kuddos!

DARTMOUTH UNIVERSITY

Home Page – “A” Dartmouth would have gotten my first A+ except it felt it necessary to include an “events” calendar on the home page. I would have a header called “events calendar” upon which someone would click and be taken to a lower level. One other thing, there is a row of items at the very top of the page in a very small font. Of the 7 items listed at least 2 are extremely important to the prospective student so why not bring them into better view.

Second Level Pages – “A+” There it is, my first A+ and well deserved. For everyone else who is trying to do it right, look at Dartmouth, they know how.

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

Home Page – “A-“ I would have given Princeton an A+ if only because you cannot scroll their page plus all the necessary top level information exists there. But the layout itself leaves a lot to be desired. The home page looks like an undergraduate class project. Lose the “News at Princeton” and “Featured Events” first. They belong elsewhere. And the picture of four students look out the rear of a Land Rover left me saying “Huh?” This picture belongs in one of Princeton’s particular schools and not the home page. How about a picture of the campus? That always looks nice.

Second Level Pages – “A+” Very nicely done. I especially like that the left hand menu stays in place as you move through those pages. Good design!

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Home Page – “A+” Wow! Talking about doing it all in a limited space, Columbia did it in spades! Perfect, what else is there to say?

Second Level Pages – “A+” The perfect website! What Columbia started on its home page it continued to its second level pages. Lots of information can be gathered with a minimal amount of clicks. This is absolutely as good as it gets!

UNIVERISTY OF PENNSYVANIA

Home Page – “A-“ I would have given Penn an A but I had to make a single scroll and if you have been reading what I have said previously, I hate scrolling on a home page. The W.E.B. DuBois picture bothered me only in that it reeks of political correctness of some sort. There is a place for such things, just not on college home pages. Otherwise, a very nice looking home page.

Second Level Pages – “A” A couple of the pages need a little refining but still each is very informative and easy to navigate. The “Academics” page could use a little tightening up but still, pretty good.

JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

Home Page – “F” The only thing this home page did was say “look at how ingenious we are with the use of graphical presentation.” First screen is a whole lot of nothing. Second Screen, more of the same, lots of nothing. Third screen, so you do have a group of schools! Who knew? Fourth Screen, only the four blocks at the bottom hold any meaning. Fifth screen, this is how we brag. Sixth screen, and just to put a point on the 5th screen, here are our bragging rights. If JH paid an outside company for this they should demand their money back. If it was done in-house, shame followed by firings. This is by far the worst home page I have come across.

Second Level Pages – “F” When I first wrote code in the early 1980s we called these “stubs.” It was a place holder where additional information and coding would be grown. Why would there be a bunch of stubs at the second level? Beats me. I decided I wanted to see what the Krieger School had to offer and clicked on a “balloon?” And what to my wondering eyes should appear, two nursing programs! I thought I had seen a nursing school on the previous screen and upon further inspection, sure enough, there is was. What I wanted to see was things like history, social studies, psychology, etc. My mistake was I clicked on the first of two buttons and chose the wrong one.

Well, Johns Hopkins, you do wonderful research and turn out fabulous students, but is the first test for entrance the ability to navigate your website? Those lower levels are an absolute maze of disconnected thinking. Hey, don’t you have a program which studies exactly that?

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

Home Page – “A” Nice layout, very well designed.

Second Level Pages – “A-“ I would have given Chicago an A here as well except that it put admissions and aid under the same header. Admissions is one thing, aid another, and each deserves its own page. These pages are very easy to navigate and are the epitome of obvious, which is exactly what you want in good web design.

DUKE UNIVERSITY

Home Page – “B-” Why is there a picture of the tobacco industry at the bottom of the home page? It needs to go! Wait a minute, you want Students Visitors Alumni Staff and Media to smoke Lucky Strike cigarettes! That is, after all, who you have listed in the light blue upper portion of that screen. Duke should have concluded its home page after the first 2/3 of the present page because everything the prospective student needs is right there. And everything after that belongs elsewhere, if anywhere at all. That Luck Strike picture just defies explanation.

Second Level Pages – “B+” Why do I have to go through a pull down menu to get to a second level page? Makes no sense! When I click on Academics I should be taken there. I should not have to make a second selection just to get to my first choice. However, upon arriving at the desired page I found them to be well-done and very informative.

Why do major universities find web design so difficult? Overall, the Ivy Colleges did very well, better than their technology counterparts. Must be that “attention to detail” they harp upon. But the rest, what a mess!   Too much glitz and glamour and not enough nuts and bolts.

Rating the Websites of the Nation’s Top Technology Universities


I started in computers in 1970, got a B.S. degree in computer science,  and a masters later, was a member of an IBM/DEC effort to computerize the college campus. That was in the mid-1980s. Afterwards, at another job where I was a project manager, my instructions to my web designers were simple: always make whatever you put on a web page “painfully obvious.” The user should never have to guess where to find something and going between a subpage and the home page should always be one click away.

Graphics are great where graphics are called for. But in the first 10 universities I reviewed, all of which either have the word technology in their name or pride themselves in the technology acumen, too many were overburdened with graphics. Worse, some of the graphics seemed like an inside joke, something a person working or attending the university would understand but which an outsider would be made to feel like an outsider.

My next review will be of the Ivy schools, except Cornell which I reviewed here, plus a few other top rated universities.

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Home Page – “A”. A single frame page with links to every part of the university you are looking for.

Second level pages – “A” equally fine with a single frame, for the most part, but all the important highlights a potential or incoming student may desire.

Overall, the M.I.T. webpage is a model for all schools.

CARNAGIE-MELLON UNIVERSITY

Home Page – “B+”. Scrolling required. Should have stopped at “the fold.” That is, everything below the first frame belongs on another page.

Second Level Pages – “A”. Well organized, no scrolling, and links off to areas potential student would want to see.

Overall, not a bad look. A few fixes here and there on the home page and the site would easily get an A overall.

UNIVERSITY OF MIGHIGAN

Home Page – “C+”. Multiple scrolls require on home page. Would have been perfect if they had stopped at the bottom of the first frame. Everything below the first frame belongs on a different page.

Second Level Pages – “C-“. Does not look like much thought was put into these pages. Way too much blank space. The “Prospective Students” section, for example, has many redundancies which easily leads to confusion.

Overall, is the Big Blue trying to show just how pretentious is can be or is it a lack of engineering oversight? Either way, it is not a good look for such a great university.

CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Home Page – “C-”. The slide show banner has got to go! It is very unprofessional. This page is in desperate need of re-engineering. Funny I should have to say that about an engineering school. Kids today love the acronym TMI, too much information and that exactly describes this, the worst of the best technology schools in the nation.

Second Level Pages – A great improvement over the home page.

Overall, I recommend that Cal Tech take a look at the Cal Poly home page to see how it’s done right.

RENSELLEAR POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE

Home Page “D+”. A slideshow at the top?   Why? The most valuable information appears all the way at the bottom of the page: Admissions, academics, schools, resources, etc. This page is easily the biggest waste of space of all the technical colleges.

Second level pages – “B-“. Some were good with all information contained within a single frame while others looked like the home page all over again. The Lally Business School page, for example, would be better served with much small fonts and elimination of the “Lally News & Events,” at least from that second level page.

Overall, this site desperately needs to be reworked. It is poorly laid out and is too concerned with past accomplishments rather than future students.

WENTWORTH INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Home Page “A-“. I would have given them an A” but a listing of current “events” simply does not belong on a home page.

Second level pages – “B+”. Not bad although a couple of pages were a bit long. Top in a prospective student’s mind, and his parents, is the cost of attendance. This showed up under admissions as a tertiary page. It should have been on the second level.

STANFORD UNIVERSITY

Home Page “C-“. A college/university president is not the most important person in education. His picture needs to go! Ongoing college events does not belong on a home page. The things most important to the prospective student look like an afterthought sitting at the very bottom of the page. Shame on you!

Second level Pages – These pages are well-organized and a vast improvement over the home page. Were it not for these pages I probably would have given Stanford a “D-“ overall.

I thought Stanford was better than this, guess I was wrong.

GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Home Page “C+”. The graphic presentation which takes up the entire first frame needs to go, or at least be put into the background. Flashy is not always good and here it is just bad. The next screen down belongs on a separate page or pages. The third frame needs to be moved to the top in a place of prominence in which it belongs. And with it, most of what is in the second screen could be incorporated there.

Second level Pages – “C+” Same problem as with the home page, the information is spread out over many scrolled screens.   Most of these pages need to have the information which currently resides at the bottom of the page pushed to the top of the page where it belongs.

Those persons responsible for this site desperate need a heavy dose of logic and reasoning. The most important information an educational site offers consistently sits at the bottom of the page on Georgia Tech’s site.

CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Home Page “C-“. I counted five full frames from top to bottom. Here’s a thought, do it in one! Sadly, much of what presently exists on Cornell’s home page is pure eye wash. Everything the prospective student needs already exists in the first frame. The following four frames should have been placed elsewhere on the site or simply eliminated.

Secondary level Pages – “F”. Someone at Cornell is really proud of his graphics. Is that what Cornell is all about?   My first click at the top level was on academics which took me to a page that told me, nothing! Once again, lots of graphics about, who knows what, and I found myself in a position of having to descend yet another level to find anything about academics. And there, at the third level, was all the information I expected to find at the second level.

Overall, I hope Cornell teaches its students better engineers than that which they did on their site.

VIRGINIA TECH

Home Page “A”. Compact and complete. One of the best reviewed.

Second level Pages “A.” I am finishing as I started, a college with a good grasp on what a good website looks like. It is easy to maneuver and very complete with information offered.

Overall, VT site is right up there with M.I.T. as one of the best.

 

Who Owns America? Not You!


American political parties today are dominated by political action committees. Democrats and Republicans both have PACs who make large contributions to support their various causes. It may come as a surprise to you but the limit for giving, individually, is $35,000. There is, as there always seems to be, a catch.

Let us say, for example, that I am Charles and David Koch with more money than I know what to do with. And I decide I want Joseph Stumblebum to be president of the United States. I start by giving my $35,000 directly to Joe’s campaign. Then another $35k from my wife, another $35k from each of my kids but his kids are all grown. But there is no limit to how much I can give to a national PAC which is not directly supporting a particular candidate.   That is the loophole.

As of February 9, 2016 (www.opensecrets.org) there exist in America today 2,197 groups which are classified as Super PACs! There is no limit on how much money I can give a Super PAC. And of the top 20 Super PACs you have to go all the way down to number 20 to find the first one which supports liberal candidates. But to be fair, of those 20 top Super PACs, one claims no political persuation.

The number 1 Super PAC, which happens to support Bush (Right to Rise USA), has raised a whopping $118,300,000!

According to Forbes Magazine (October 2, 2015) Super PACs have raised over ½ billion dollars for this election cycle. The Forbes 400 estimates the contribution by those 400 to be approximately $66.5 million. But there is a problem with these figures. Like dark matter which is undetectable, Forbes has deemed this sort of giving to be “Dark Money.” It effectively challenges anyone to figure out how much it is and who exactly is giving it.

The original political action committees were formed in the 19th Century to lobby Congress for their various projects and desires. And for all of the 19th Century and a good part of the 20th Century these groups stayed away from political campaigns. It was deemed dishonorable but as soon as campaign finance reform became an idea, certain large industrial groups fearing heavier regulation, transparency of operation and being held accountable, brought the Super PAC into existence.

I am not a supporter of Bernie Sanders but God bless Bernie Sanders because he has done something no one else has had the courage to do. He has flatly refused all PAC money and is at this point running a very successful campaign for president. Bernie has flatly stated that if we want our government back we have to turn away the PACs.

Without regard to party, our Congress has abdicated its obligation to the citizens of the United States favoring the opinion of the PACs and the corporations behind those PACs. Every candidate will make the claim that he, or she, promises to do the will of the people. A multitude of polls have shown the will of the people includes, legalized abortion, tougher gun laws and controls, a higher minimum wage, a better health system (we are 37th in the world just ahead of Slovenia and behind Morocco and Colombia to name a few). Americans want a curb put on jobs being sent overseas, want their roads fixed, their water systems made safe, and their voice heard!

Sadly, America is run by about 1000 people total and not a single one is an elected official. How can I say that? The phrase Political Action Committee is merely a euphemism for political control. The majority of the most power PACs are conservative in nature but there are many liberal PACs as well.

Well, why don’t we just outlaw PACs? Seems like a reasonable solution however it would unconstitutional. It comes under protected speech of the 1st Amendment.

I believe the most reasonable solution is the enacting of term limits for members of Congress limiting any member of Congress to a total of 20 years. That would mean 3 terms for senators and 5 for representatives.

There is no simple solution to the afore-mentioned problems but Americans are going to have to come to terms with these problems if they care to regain control of their government. But until that day, regardless of your political persuasion, the person you put in office will do the bidding of the PACs they are beholding to.

The Rules of Life


Whatever happened to manners, common curtesy, thoughtfulness? I do not know where it went but we need it back, and we need it back right now!

When I was a kid and had received a present, Christmas or birthday, my mother sat me down at the dining room table and had me write out a thank you note to the person who had given me the gift. It was a small thing but at the time I did not realize how important it was.

RULE 1: ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL

That thank you letter was an acknowledgement of a kindness given. It was a curtesy demanded of people who desired to have good manners. So what is curtesy?

There was a time when men would stand up at the dinner table when a woman came in to sit down. A man would hold the door for a woman to walk through. There was a time when you spoke to your elders using the word “sir” or “ma’m.” It seems like much of that has fallen by the wayside.

Americans are in a rush, all the time and everywhere. But why? I do not know. But here’s something to chew on. If you live 15 miles from work and the average posted speed is 45, that means it will take you about 20 minutes to get to work. Now today’s American is in a rush so he is going to try to average 55 miles an hour for that 15 miles to work. How much time does he gain from going 55? A little over 1 minute. Yup, that’s it, one minute! But that extra 10 MPH makes that driver more dangerous on the road. It is likely he will take chances along the way, rush a yellow light before it turns red, cut off another driver, or worst of all, cause an accident.

RULE NUMBER 2: NEVER EXCEED THE SPEED LIMIT

Now it would appear that rule 2 is meant for the previous paragraph and it is, but only in part. There is a speed limit to living life. But it the case of life, you can neither live it faster or slower than the clock allows. But some people believe that have to push as hard as possible to get where they want to go. To be who they want to be. That person will try to get things done in half a day that normally takes a full day. Are they moving too fast? Speeding? Possibly. Each person needs to check his stress level. A train can go into a curve traveling at a rate of speed greater than the tracks can handle. The tracks become overstressed and fail. People do the exact same thing. Stress is not a normal state of living. That you feel stress for an extended period of time is proof positive you need to slow down.

RULE NUMBER 3: BE A GOOD FRIEND

Okay, so if this were a question it would be a trick question. Being a good friend to the people we know is easy. The people I am speaking are those people we do not know. If you live in a city environment, as I do, you can easily come in contact with a thousand people every day. Most of them we simply pass by without a thought. But occasionally someone catches our eye. Their eyes meet our eyes. At that point we become their brief friend. We smile, nod to them, and maybe even say ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon.’ This is what friends do for one another.

Recently I have exacted a demand of myself. Whenever someone asks me how my day is going I must answer with a smile and say energetically, “I’m having a marvelous day! How’s your day going?” I have found it absolutely amazing the positive response I get. I believe if I do that enough times and on a regular basis, sooner or later I am going to run across a person who is actually having a crappy day but my positive energy will lift them just enough to smile for a moment and possibly allow them to feel a little better. But is that not exactly what you would do for a friend?

RULE NUMBER 4: BE INTOLERANT OF INTOLERANCE

The United States of America may be the most diverse country of any in the world. I would not be surprised if we have at least one person who represents every country, every race, every everything in the world. We probably have a member of every religion here too. But just between those two things Americans seem to generate an awful lot of intolerance, bigotry, racism and xenophobia. Do not allow yourself to be drawn into the trap the likes which Donald Trump is making popular. We are both bigger and better than those whose small minds speak poorly of others. We need to recognize that all people, regardless of who they are, share common fears, desires, and interests. My years of living have taught me that whatever you fear, whatever you have done, whoever you are, you are just one of many who feel the same things, want the same things, fear the same things.

RULE NUMBER 5: NEVER LOAN MONEY ANYONE; GIVE IT TO THEM

Few things cause more resentments and hard feelings than money which is lent out and not repaid. Every now and then someone will ask me to loan them some money. I tell them I will not loan them any money but will give them some money with just a single provision attached. That provision is that they promise when someone asked them for a load they will give that person some money. I tell them once that is done, their debt to me is paid but the must never tell me of it. This is just the “pay it forward” concept someone else came up with.

RULE NUMBER 62: DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY

The world does not revolve around you! Ever hear that saying? Well it is true! But here is the really good news: the world does not know you exist. That means when it rains, it rains on everyone, not just you! When you are stuck in a traffic jam and will be late for a super important meeting, just look around you. Everyone else is stuck in that same jam and one of those people may be a doctor who is desperately needed to save a life.

The world was here billions of years before we were born and will continue on billions of years after we die. In time we will all be forgotten. That is neither a good nor bad thing, it just is. If you want to know how to live, take trip to your local park, sit on a bench, and watch the squirrels. Each of them lives entirely within a single moment in time. They scurry around to find food. Hide in the branches to escape the wind and rain. And when they sense danger, as we do, there is that little place in their brain that yells at them to run, same as us. But have you ever heard of an unhappy squirrel. No. And you never will. They simply adapt to what is going on around them and move on.

RULE NUMBER 0: EVERY DAY YOU WAKE UP IS GOING TO BE A GOOD DAY, CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVE

Politics and Religion Do Not Mix!


The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment is actually very complex taking on no fewer than 5 separate issues. My interest here is in only one of them, religion. I will start with the man who wrote this amendment, James Madison. Madison was central to writing the base document as well. Madison was an Episcopalian. His colleagues in writing the basic document were:

http://www.internationalman.com/articles/framers-of-the-american-constitution

 

Adams was a Congregationalist, Dickinson a Quaker, Edmund Randolph was an Episcopalian, and Thomas Jefferson was a Deist which meant he did not adhere to any religion in particular. Such was the make-up of those who wrote the Constitution and helped with its first 10 amendments. But only a few of them could be found with any regularity at the church of their choice, except for Madison. The wisdom among each of these men was their ability to compromise because they recognized that to have the new country not only get off to a successful start, but to have a secure future. Going back to 1775, the only man of repute who helped get our country started but held disdain for organized religion was Benjamin Franklin. And yet to this day he is revered.

Strangely, the early 21st century, where politics is concerned, is sounding a lot like the early 19th century when America experienced the 2nd Religious Revival. Politicians from the Republican Party are particularly enamored allying themselves with Evangelical Christians. Curiously, only about 13% of the entire population clings to Evangelical beliefs. As a country, the US is about 71% Christian. Therefore, even among all Christians the Evangelicals can claim about 18%. Why is such a minority so important? When lawyers investigate certain types of individuals during a criminal investigation they are told to follow the money. I believe that it exactly what is happening in the Republican Party today and that is a real shame.

The historical man Republicans love the most is Abraham Lincoln, and for good reason. He brought the party back to life and gave it direction. But Lincoln never joined any particular religion. It was not important to him.

Why then, are today’s Republicans so intent on infusing their religious beliefs on American society in general? Follow the money! Even though I have no proof, I believe many of the Republican PACs are funded mostly, if not entirely, by Evangelicals. This needs to stop, now!

I am not a big fan of Bernie Sanders politics, not because I am a Republican which I am not, but because of his socialist beliefs. And yet he has done something truly remarkable. He is waging a pitted battle against Hilary Clinton but Bernie receives zero PAC money while Hilary relies upon it. But Bernie has made an extremely strong statement in the way he is funded and that is he does not owe a PAC anything. With the exception of Donald Trump who can fund his own campaign, all the rest of the Republican candidates are deeply indebted to multiply PACs. And they know that the Evangelical based PACs are particularly adept at energizing the public to support their candidate.

“Their candidate” should be seen as a curse to every American. The two people who run for president representing their political party should be our candidate. Bernie is on to something because he has shown that individual Americans are more than willing to support a candidate at a level that makes the candidate viable. I expect Hilary will eventually become the Democrat candidate for president and that she will ask Bernie to be her running mate. He is charismatic and will energize the public, particularly young people.

Religion has no place in the American government. Our first amendment says as much. But more importantly, Americans need only look to otherwise democratic countries which do allow religion to mix with the government. In general they are a mess.

It is really quite simple, Jews do not want my Catholic ideas impressed upon them. Southern Baptists have absolutely no interest in embracing Unitarian beliefs, and so forth.

I ask only one thing:

PLEASE KEEP YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OUT OF MY AMERICAN GOVERNMENT!

PLEASE KEEP YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OUT OF MY AMERICAN GOVERNMENT!

 

PLEASE KEEP YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OUT OF MY AMERICAN GOVERNMENT!

 

PLEASE KEEP YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OUT OF MY AMERICAN GOVERNMENT!

 

 

 

Self Care


The expression “self-care” is likely people think they understand but when nailed down for a definition they would need to think about it for a while. And were you to ask that very same person what they do on a regular basis that qualifies as self-care, they would probably find themselves at a complete loss for words.

Self-care comes in three distinct, but each equally important, parts. Self-care involves the physical body, mental state and spiritual state. Now do not worry about this becoming some sort of religious treatise, but I assure you, you will hear none of that in this.

PHYSICAL SELF-CARE – This concept is by far the easiest of the three to explain. I cannot imagine any adult have doubts as to its meaning but I am going to bring up a few points all the same. In this area everything starts with your primary care physician. You do have a primary care physician don’t you? If you find yourself answering “no” to that question then get one, today if possible but tomorrow at the latest. Then make an “as soon as possible” appointment for a physical. You may think you are in perfect health but until you hear those words for someone whose job it is to make such judgements; you simply do not know! I cannot emphasize this enough to women in particular. You have breasts which, whether you like it or not, can become cancerous. This is where the advice of a physician is crucial. They will do an in-office exam of your breasts for you plus will teach you how to do a self-exam. Also, and even as a man I know this to be uncomfortable, you need a pelvic exam on a regular basis. Again, cancer is the concern but the good news in both cases those cancers have a high degree of cure. But along with the usual listening to your lungs and heart, looking in your eyes and ears, they do blood and urine tests looking for things with a higher degree of difficulty of discovery.   Get a dentist too while you are at it!

Ah, but that is not everything. Our bodies want us to eat good healthy food. Most of us have some degree of difficulty in identifying what our particular body is craving and which is also healthy. My body craves chocolate but I know except in moderation, it simply is neither necessary nor healthy.

And finally there is exercise. This tends to be the least popular of physical care and yet it is equally important to all the others. What is regular exercise. I believe the general rule is 3 days a week of ½ hour of cardio level exercise. That means your heart beats fast and you work up a sweat. If that seems more than you care to do then I suggest one hour of walking 4 days a week.

MENTAL HEALTH SELF CARE — This may be the scariest of the three but I will attempt here to make it less so, a lot less. This is not a test to find out if you are crazy, just the opposite, it is an exercise in insuring mental acuity. That simply means you do thinks which require you to exercise your brain. Reading, crossword puzzles, even video games require a high degree of focus which helps keep the brain sharp. But it also helps forestall, if not stop completely, any chance of depression, a listless feeling, and other things contrary to good mental health; things which lead to a feeling of dullness in the brain.

It is my belief that 75% or more of all people suffer through a period on mental illness. I am not a medical or psychological professional, however, experience leads me to believe I am probably right. The good news is that most mental conditions encountered by people are temporary and easily dealt with. However, and this is the big one, left untreated a simple problem can easily turn into something extremely serious. One thing I know for certain: there is no shortage of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers in this country. These are to “go to” people for when you encounter one of the many mental illness any human can experience. I think the ones which most people experience, if not all people, are depression and trauma. We all think we know what depression is and we are probably right. But at such times it never hurts to get an unbiased look-see at the situation. This is not to say that your best friend cannot help you all the way through a depression, but should (s)he not be able to see you through it, the responsible thing to do is to seek out the professional.

Trauma, fortunately, is the rarer of the two conditions. But what is “trauma.” “Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives.” (http://www.apa.org/topics/trauma/).

Unfortunately, many people find themselves having to suffer through one or more of the above mentioned circumstances. In such cases professional help is a necessity. If you are one of those people and have not sought out help because you are afraid of what people will think, stop it! Anything you do which promotes any portion of your health in a good way is always a good thing. In truth, it is none of anybody’s business what measures you are taking to stay healthy and shame on them should they have the temerity to criticize you for doing so. You have to put your well-being ahead of what anyone thinks.

SPIRITUAL HEALTH SELF CARE – It is my belief that spirituality is either the most misunderstood or not at all understood of the three. Spiritual health is necessarily tied to mental health because lacking good mental health makes spiritual health almost impossible. And yet, a person who keeps himself in excellent spiritual health finds that somehow, almost by magic, physical and mental health seem to take care of themselves.

Spiritual health is a state of mind which is practiced on a daily basis. For example, I love to say to people, “Do you know how I know it is going to be a good day today?” And of course they say “no.” “Because I woke up,” I respond. Then I suggest they consider the alternative, it is that day that I do not wake up because I have died. I may be on my death bed but upon waking up that morning I know it is going to be a good day because I woke up. Simply put, I am grateful for every day I am alive.

But that is just the beginning of my day. I have committed to myself to do my level best to never judge another person, regardless of their bad deeds, their irresponsible behavior, their immaturity. There are a lot of people who anger me, that is to be expected. I hate their deeds but I have come to believe that it is either they are very much the narcissist or have a lacking of self-worth. But I have the power to keep myself clear of their foolishness. I will be all right regardless of what they do.

I believe that you cannot be to kind to a person. I like to be a person’s cheerleader. I like encouraging them. I like reassuring them that they are doing the right thing. But most of all, I like telling that regardless the circumstance, they are not alone, there is always someone willing to stand by them and help as much as reasonably possible.

I was at the supermarket today and the woman at the cash register asked me how my day was going. The way she asked me made me feel like this was something the supermarket had commanded her to do. I responded that I was having a fabulous day and asked her with a big smile how her day was going. She instantly knew my question was genuine and she smiled. Mission complete. And that cost me nothing at all.

Healthy spirituality to me means knowing when to speak and when to remain quiet. It means being someone other people can rely upon. It means being 100% honest. It means being helpful even when it might mean my having to go out of my way.

Spirituality to me means that when it is rainy and windy and causing me discomfort, it is the same for everyone else. It means that when I get bad news for my doctor my next question is: “So what are we going to do about this?” It means that I have come to the realization that the universe is moving inexorably in a particular direction and that I can either fight it and lose, or going along with it and win. It means acceptance of my life and everything going on around me always helps me get past the difficult with the least amount of pain.

Spirituality means I take complete responsibility for all of my actions and have no problem admitting to such when it is called for.

Spirituality means I am grateful for all that I have and do not feel I need anything more for continued happiness.

All this things make up the complete package of self-care, at least as far as I can tell.  Who knows, maybe there is more but I am certain that if I keep to the above, which I do, I am guaranteed the greatest amount of happiness possible.