Freedom

Freedom isn’t free can have more than one meaning.

The meaning people fixate on is that freedom is paid for with the blood and sweat of our fine servicemen and women, though the reality of that is slightly off. Those who have died in every engagement since WWII have not been fighting forces capable of extinguishing the light of freedom. Neither the Vietnamese nor the Koreans nor the Iraqis were an existential threat to freedom or the American people.

The people who fought there, the people who died there are deserving of our love and respect. End of statement. They are also deserving of the truth. They died for each other, died trying to get home in one fucking piece. Which is just as noble a cause.  Not for our freedom though, our freedom was never at stake in these fights. Just saying.

Freedom isn’t free can mean, for the more cynical among us, that Freedom, like all other things in this world, has become a commodity. There to be bought and sold to the man willing to pay the most for it, there to be bought like stocks and bonds.

Sure, freedom is important, but what makes it a commodity? It has been treated like a thing. A thing that can be moved aside like a can of beans on a shelf. The fact is that it has been swept aside by laws meant to protect the government (Patriot act, Fisa), and that people want it back, and that no person in uniform, no matter what they think, can fight and win and bring it back. If we pass laws that affect our freedom, that makes it a thing that can be whittled away, made smaller, easier to manage for those who have other agendas, other things they think are more important; the rich few, to whom borders mean nothing above We the People.

Are those laws meant to protect freedom? Yes and no. Yes in that they are designed to protect Americans from external threats, and No in that they have been implemented in such a manner as to create internal ones, particularly from the government towards the people…

I respect those who have fallen, sacrificed their lives for this country, regardless of all I just said. I salute the flag like they did. I salute the sacrifice like everyone does. What I want is a clearer and more precise picture of the world painted so that we can all see the real world for what it is. I do not want this day meant to honor the fallen, turn into jingoistic nonsense sloganeering by those who want slavish mindless respect given to a government that doesn’t deserve it, and one that long ago gave up on the concept “Of the People, For the People, By the People.” Those words are no longer true.

Freedom is free. Don’t let them lie to you. Death is a price we all pay, one way or another, no one gets out of this life alive.

Freedom is a choice. Not an easy one but no choice worth anything is easy. Freedom is work and responsibility and sweat and strain and a slog, a fight that is never over, fought by people who never rest and never forget to think of others before themselves.

Remember those who have fallen.

Think of the sacrifice.

Never forget what Freedom is.

Things to Remember

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James Madison in party mode.

 

Things to remember as 2016 becomes 2017:

First off, everything is going to be alright.  Right up until the moment it isn’t, and since you obviously can’t control that, why concern yourself overly with it. Enjoy the good things. There are many of them.

Secondly realize that in this world we have this thing called entropy, which means that everything goes to hell in some way at some point, and usually in a way that we have not foreseen. Think about it. How much of the shitstorm that was 2016 did you foresee? How much of it was avoidable? And to be honest was it ALL that bad? Somehow I’m thinking there were good things too.

Thirdly, the very concept of shitstorm is invariably in the mind of the beholder. I am sure that there are a great many people who had a really good year in 2016. Just because your candidate didn’t win, there was a higher than normal amount of stress in your world and some of your cultural idols died does not mean it was the worst year ever.

Fourth, there are people out there who had a great year, some for reasons you would find 399px-Jabberwocky appalling. There are millions of people who like the Oompah Loompah for example. Millions. Which is fine. We have this thing called freedom in this country. Don’t denigrate them because of him, or because they think differently than you, or want different things in their lives than you. Find a way to incorporate their lives into yours. They are, by and large good people. Don’t treat them like shit because you think differently from them, that helps no one. They aren’t the problem, you are, especially if you feel the need to be angry at them simply because of their politics. There is more than politics in the lives of most people. And, here’s a hint; you won’t make things turn around for you politically by alienating people you will need to work with later. That isn’t how politics works, not in the real world, regardless of what you think of that. Make friends with your political enemies where possible, hope always exists in places where enemies can become friends.

You will have a very hard time convincing me that 2016 was in some way worse than say the years of WWII, or The years of the great depression or great recession or the civil war years.

Doesn’t mean President-elect Oompah Loompah isn’t an asshole. Doesn’t mean there wasn’t tragedy in 2016. There was. It’s hard to not have tragedy in a world with this many people in it. I’m just saying as 2016 goes the way of the Dodo, have some perspective. You are strong and resilient. This is still America. We are a strong people. Things have gone right in other places. Be thankful for that.

Anger

Bunnies are assholes sometimes.

I for one could say I had a great year. After years of first searching for a new career and then trying to get hired on full time in that career, I finally landed that full time job. Almost shed a tear when I found out I had made it, so long and arduous was the journey.  Let’s see what else. I’m still a runner. Which, for those of you that aren’t, is great for clearing the mind and strengthening the body, and in the long run makes the person who does it tireless. I highly recommend it. If a two hour run ain’t kicking my ass, no way a few extra hours of work will. On top of all that, I’m still married to the most awesome person ever. If you have a happy place to go to, it makes everything easier, and home is a happy place for me, she makes me happy. With that as my sword and shield, I can take on the world and win, without a shred of fear in my heart.

 

So do me a favor America. Don’t dwell on the negative.

I’ll take care of that as I skewer our soon to be asshole-in-chief.

You go find your happiness, I have mine.

I’ll fight the monster. I’m good at it, been doing it for ages, and I enjoy it.

If you want to help as we move ahead, thats great. But pick your fights with the right people. Fight bad policy and bad decision making, not good people who feel and think differently than you. We’re on the road to the future together, let’s travel it as friends.

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But there are some people, nevertheless—and I am one of them—who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger, it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy, it is important to know the enemy’s numbers, but still more important to know the enemy’s philosophy. ~ G.K. Chesterton, Heretics (1905)

Early Morning Idle Talk

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It’s 6:00 am, and despite the fact that I’m on vacation I’m awake, have been since earlier than I normally get up on most work days. My wife and I just came back from the In-laws, and the cats, who boarded with our vet, we’re clearly not in the mood to let us sleep. So I’ve decided to run interference, for lack of a better term. I stay awake for a bit and they hang out with me so she can sleep. Later on, she’ll do the same for me.

Although, admittedly, she seems to now be awake and unhappy that I am awake. Do you see how decisions sometimes go awry? Lack of communication, though in this instance I think I have a legitimate excuse. She was asleep, or making the attempt to sleep well enough where I thought she was.

Which is fine.

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I love reading the news.

There’s a ton of stories out about fights breaking out all over America as retailers all across America became mosh pits for unruly shoppers. Which to me doesn’t sound like a bad thing, I’ve been known to jump in the occasional mosh pit after all. But apparently it was bad enough where in a number of cases the malls in question closed and some of the brawls may have been orchestrated in some fashion on social media. Or better put, anti-social asshole media.

And plus, you know, Capitalism. Life in America is all about the fight for the dollar, and where better to stage that fight then at your local Piggly Wiggly or Dollar General or Bed Bath and Beyond? Isn’t thirty percent off (and a lack of manners and social grace usually Wolverineassociated with feral wolverines) a reason to beat the crap out of a total stranger?

No? And you people wonder why Donald Trump won the Presidency. This is the America that we live in. Stupid, violent and prone to excess. This is what we are. As a nation. These are our future leaders.

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Wazzup wit dat, bruh?

It doesn’t bother me one bit either. Why? It points to where we are as a culture, what we deem important enough to fight over. It isn’t good government. It isn’t the rights of our brothers and sisters, regardless of what we may think of that. It’s a love of violence that is endemic to our species, even if many individuals decry the truth of that statement. It’s saving a few bucks on things that we have grown attached to. Base desires for material objects that are deemed socially desirable because of it’s cost-benefit on a personal level, despite our national dislike of math and the lack of money that goes along with that shameful dislike.

I’d prefer to have us show our true faces, so we can at least get a grip on who we are going forward, than mask it with some high minded bullshit and lie to ourselves about who and what we are. After all, a society is only as strong as it’s weakest link.

And America is filled with weak links.

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It is by its promise of a sense of power that evil often attracts the weak. ~ Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind

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It’s more than an hour later, and all the piss and vinegar seems to have left the cats, and they are now peacefully asleep, or perhaps not so peacefully awaiting  their next chance to strike and steal our ham and cheese. All I want to do is go back to sleep.

Thankfully my wife is blissfully asleep. Something is going right.

But I still have things to do. Clothes to wash, food to buy, things to get for my wife for her birthday.

I’ll give them what they want later. Not sure what’ll happen next, aside from a few more words…

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Twelve dead, forty others wounded in Chicago this weekend. Christmas weekend.

Much of this is being attributed to gang violence, and most of the dead were gang bangers.

Gangs police themselves apparently. And like the police, they miss and shoot people who didn’t have jack to do with anything they were doing.

Reminds me of the Henry Rollins lyric ” I see you say you hate Pigs so much, so why the hell you act like one? Because you’re civilized.”

It’s a short, sad, hard life, and these Darwin award winners were out to prove that this weekend.

Glad I don’t live in that shithole…Which may otherwise be a nice city but…c’mon, really? How nice can it be if that much shit happens there during Christmas?

Clean your shit up, Chicago.

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Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. ~ Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers, 1959

An Open Letter To Michael Bloomberg

Good Morning, Mr. Mayor.

I know you have a lot on your plate, that the world is an absolute mess right now, but I want to focus your attention somewhere that desperately needs your attention, one that normally takes almost no thought from the mayor of a city as large as New York City.

The running of the New York City Marathon.

Now Mr. Mayor,  I know you don’t normally read any of my articles, being a busy man and all, so you probably don’t know that I am runner and a regular one.  An all weather runner.  I run in every type of weather.  I also know that you don’t know that I am a  lifelong resident of Staten Island.

For most of my life I lived on the north shore, but I moved out of there after 35 years in 2002 and moved to Dongan Hills, where I lived for a few years before re-settling in Castleton corners, where I have been since 2005.

Enough of the background, let’s move to the foreground.

On October 29th one of the largest storms to ever strike land in the northeast, and certainly the biggest in my 45 years, struck us.  All of us.  New Jersey was crushed, as was the city. It dropped several feet of snow in the Appalachian mountains in West Virginia.  Hell it caused 20 foot surges in the great lakes.  Needless to say you also know about the billions of dollars in damage it did, and the number of dead.

And yet you want to have this marathon run through New York City, our city, now.

Yesterday, Mr. Mayor, yesterday the bodies of two small children who were pulled by the storm out of their mothers arms were found. Half of the city’s dead from this storm come from my island. Do I have to make the point that I have family members who live in that area still?  They’re OK thankfully, but plenty of other people aren’t, and there are tens of thousands without power, both on Staten Island and the rest of the city.

Generators are in Central park for the marathon that could be used to help people who are in dire need, who have lost everything, that could be used to power neighborhoods that need that help.  And yes there is a massive effort to help everyone, but can you say you are doing everything you can when generators that could help people in need are used for recreation?  Need I remind you that running is recreation, and that recreation comes third at best in times of need like these?

You say the race wont pull resources away from recovery efforts yet we know and we see with our own eyes that this is simply untrue.  I know that there are many people working on trying to fix things, I have eyes, I see them.  But when I see the people of Breezy Point and Midland Beach and South Beach who have been so harshly put upon by pitiless nature suffer so and efforts that could be made are quite simply not being made, I get angry.  And I am not alone.  There are hundreds of thousands of us, millions of us who don’t want to see this race happen, because it is simply not appropriate.  There is talk around the neighborhood and on facebook of simply walking en masse up to the start line and blocking the start line.

I’m sure your security people have already appraised you about that situation by now.

Idle threat?  Perhaps, but if you have angered these people, these working class Americans who voted for you that much where they are talking like that, it means that it is time you paid attention to us.  It is time to listen to the people and not dictate your will to them, Mr. Mayor. You are not our ruler, you are a temporary administrator. nothing more.  Don’t forget that.

Mr. Mayor I cannot find a single instance of any one city ever deciding to hold a race of any type 6 days after a hurricane made landfall and devastated the area.  We should continue this trend.  Want to run the marathon in December? If those who do the job of search and recovery are finished looking for the bodies of residents of this great city I am all for it.   Wanna make it a big running party on New Years eve?  That sounds like fun!  Might even do that myself!

But now?

No.

Mr. Mayor, please postpone the New York City Marathon. It’s the right thing to do.

Signed,

Michael Walsh

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That’s it from here, America.  Talk to you later.

Thoughts For A Saturday Night

Pic of the day: The Vision After the Sermon (Jacob wrestling with the Angel) by Paul Gauguin

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There is no me. I do not exist … There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed.

Peter Sellers

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Thoughts for a Saturday night:

Some people right now are prepping for a big Sunday, but not me. It’s the first football Sunday of the season. It is a big deal, but not so much for me personally. Not because I’m not a football fan, I am. My New York Giants have already played and in fact lost. Dammit. Not gonna miss the start of the season, the real start of the season, the first football Sunday of the year, but having my team not play on it makes it seem less important.

Never understood why they play games during the middle of the week. Thursday? Wednesday? Doesn’t make sense to me. Sunday (and thursdays on Thanksgiving ONLY) is the way it should be. But that’s just an old man who remembers the game being like that when I was a kid talking out loud. Why would you WANT to play games during the middle of the week, when the bulk of your fans have just finished a long day of work? Most people don’t work on Sunday. Makes Sunday a day that makes sense for ALL the games to be played.

Just saying…

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At this point I am looking at stories about Greece and Spain. About the economically troubled nation of Greece leaving the Eurozone. Fun fun fun. The Swedish finance minister is the one predicting this, and he is saying that Greece may not stay in the Eurozone, may in fact leave within a year, possibly 6 months. He says Spain is also still in trouble, and may need more help in the form of a bailout.

The conditions for such a bailout would likely be so bad that the medicine that is a bailout would likely be more painful than the fiscal problems they are suffering from. The rollbacks of government services that Spain will be asked to swallow, the strength of the austerity measures that will occur in Spain should they get that bailout will be such as to actually do more damage long term to the Spanish economy than no bailout.

Because the bailout will come from the IMF, who are freidmanites at their core, are more concerned with making the rich richer and the poor… well, fuck’em. The unemployment rate in Spain, should they accept a bailout will in all likelihood increase both short and long term. That despite the fact that the unemployment rate there is insanely high.

Spain’s unemployment rate sits at 24.7% right now.

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I believe that the abortion debate is framed improperly. It isn’t about rape or incest or the health of the mother or when it is right and when it isn’t right. It is about choice. It isn’t my choice. It isn’t yours, unless you are the one contemplating the procedure. Those who are trying to stop women from having that choice, are trying to take freedom directly from women for religious/moral grounds. Beware that type of thought. It is immoral in that it makes choice, which god gave us to test us (to use the religious argument.) seemingly irrelevant.

If the Almighty did not believe in choice, Adam never would have had one, and there would have been no apple, and no Eve.

If the Almighty did not believe in choice, Christ would never have had to die on the cross.

The Almighty is firm in his belief of choice. Are you?

For better or worse we have choice in most every way most every day in most every thing. Allow others the right to make their own decisions, or you negate their right to act like adults in an adult society, to make life altering decisions and living with the consequences of them.

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.