Sunday, March 12, 2023

Post No. 211: The Problem Being A Forward Thinking, Solution Grounded, Pragmatic Optimist

– © 2023, The Institute for Applied Common Sense™

If I did not know better and did not have the input of hundreds who studied under my mother during the 1950s – 1960s, I would suspect that she was a reincarnated, ancient Chinese philosopher. Always trying to get me to see both sides of everything, thus suggesting therein lies potential solutions. She was bigger than the racial and gender parameters generally assigned to her.

Here once again, I find myself at 3 am reading the National Review, which I am compelled by her memory to absorb on a daily basis, along with watching Fox News, in an effort to: (a) understand the mindset of the conservative / authoritarian governance faction; (b) determine whether there is a commonality of interests amongst a super majority of American citizens; and (c), being a "forward thinking, solution grounded, pragmatic optimist," try to articulate some amorphous consensus around which we ordinary everyday citizens can coalesce.

Contrary to many, I honestly believe that both sides in this ideological and cultural war should listen to and try to understand one another, because the stakes are bigger than any faction, no matter how defined or framed. As hard as I try, I find myself intellectually incapable of defining the word “woke,” other than the time I get out of bed. A central tenet of democracy is consensus finding. However, the professional politicians, like the handlers of heavyweight boxing championship contenders, can’t have that. There’s no money to be made.

Believe it or not, my distant cousin, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and I have not conferred on this idea of dividing up the country. To her credit, she came right out of the blocks advocating it, while those of you who have followed my roller coaster views know that I consider it an option of last resort before bloodshed. Despite coming from two dramatically different types of idiots, our positions have been severely criticized and labelled illogical and insane by 99% of the voting public, or at least the professional, non-resolution oriented talking heads on the media outlets.

And therein, perhaps, hope springs eternal.

Back in 2008, my writing mentor, Willy Hopkins, suggested I take a side on issues occasionally to develop an audience of any value. I ignored his advice, stating I preferred having both sides throw rocks at my positions. All I ever wanted was to have 2 or 3 readers say, “Hmmm.” “Interesting,” is the highest compliment in my view.

I am sure that my cousin from the great, sovereign state of Georgia is dead serious about her position, while I have proposed a national divorce facetiously on occasion, and to stimulate some debate on others. My primary motivating consideration has always been the avoidance of bloodshed, not the practical difficulties, and yet many consider bloodshed to be a periodic, necessary evil, before civilization returns to its senses.

I’m not a fan of politicians. They have few socially redeeming values. The vast majority of them cannot successfully maintain relationships with spouses of their choosing (as opposed to pure happenstance like citizens), successfully provide guidance to the offspring of their delusional blood flow distractions, or even balance their household checkbooks, and yet they have somehow convinced us that they should be our leaders regarding the big policy issues in life.

I invite you to read this piece from National Review, in depth, to gain a better appreciation of how complex a country we really are. No monolithic nothing, according to this analyst. It might also prompt some really creative approaches so we can surgically and strategically focus our work at the local and state levels, to avoid backsliding on individual freedoms and choices. I have to give the National Review writer his props, having exhaustively analyzed the s_ _ t out of the statistics, to show us that there are no true blue or red states, let alone “The American People.” The manipulators impress upon us that we are in separate camps since that advances their interests and enables them to further manipulate us.

I found the following quote at some point within the past couple of weeks and realized that although an ancient Chinese philosopher did not pen it, she could have: “The most powerful way to heal someone is to listen. Don’t think or judge. Just listen. People start to heal the moment they feel heard. You can’t be a healer if you refuse to step outside of your own emotions and view things entirely from the perspective of the other person.”

Our purported elected leaders aren’t in the business of listening. They are in the business of framing, to advance their own interests. The sooner we recognize that, the better off we will be without them, and their manipulative influences.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Post No. 210: She’s So Fine, There’s No Telling Where the News Went

© 2023, The Institute for Applied Common Sense™

SPOILER ALERT! Today, I’m an Equal Opportunity Offender. The success of this post is based on how many groups I manage to offend.

Despite my appreciation of consequences in life, I’m not concerned; because (unlike politicians) no one is paying me for my inconsequential nonsense (unlike politicians who we pay and whose nonsense is consequential). There is nothing like the power of money, having prompted the Vatican “Founding Fathers” to propose “greed” as a Deadly Sin. A black friend of mine is sending out proposals this week to KKK chapters, to build their websites, if the price is right.

I called him a few minutes ago to warn him that despite my failure to identify him and his location, he might see some protesters out front. He said that he would be on the lookout and get him promotional materials ready. He noted that he tried to join several of the chapters from which he solicited business, but he couldn’t get past the application question whether he was a Christian.

And yet, many were confused about the motivations of Herschel Walker, which upon investigation, arguably go back to 1983. Unlike the inability of police to identify “motive” amongst the mentally ill, I always say, “Follow the money, or lack thereof.” Its accumulation promotes unparalleled devotion and loyalty. Its absence has long term ramifications.

I delayed posting this for 7 days. Michael Richards of Seinfeld’s Cosmo Kramer fame destroyed his career in less than 100 words, and forfeited millions. Then I thought, “I ain’t getting paid. People ain’t reading my nonsense. Why should I care?”

A positive feature of old age is not worrying about offending others. To some extent you don’t care. You realize that by uttering a phrase which was unacceptable just 9 weeks before as an employee, no one will call from HR, or, as a business owner, serve you with a lawsuit. Despite my concerns about the current divisive environment, something is “unsettling comfortable” about being able to identify those who do not wish me well. Don’t forget about the convenient sudden onset dementia option. “He used to be so sharp.” You can get elected president by simply noting, “I was just joking.” And then there is “I'm just a dirty old man” option available when needed.

As one of my former girlfriends oft says to me, “Greene Man, but you digress. Focus.” I move to prospective “offended group No. 21.”

After a full year of drinking California Kool-Aid and breathing smog, I may be delusional about manipulation by elected leaders of “deeply divided” citizens. I don’t think so. I regularly speak to ordinary citizens of every variety, including friends of 45 years. I’m convinced (like Obama), there is more that binds us than divides us. Consider the reactions to George Floyd, the Buffalo supermarket massacre, Tyre Nichols, and Damar Hamlin.

It’s the professional politicians who stink, along with their sycophants. (I got that from one of my die-hard Trumper friends of 45 years.) On one of my no income platforms, someone noted former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, an academic I enjoy while on Kool-Aid, suggested a memo to media outlets.

Paraphrasing, he ordered that they stop referring to “labor shortage,” and try “living wage shortage” instead, along with “hazard pay,” childcare,” “paid leave,” and healthcare” shortages. Of my readers, 97% cheered as if they won the Super Bowl. I asked, “Is it because it’s (a) not true; (b) needs more detail description; (c) scares / discourages people leading to anxiety; (d) the media has too much power / influence; (e) we ordinary citizens can't handle the truth, or (f) a combination?

They pretty much obliquely suggested that the message to “the American people” needs to be crafted, framed, and spun, in pursuit of their goals. They engage in the same tactic about which they complain of the other faction. Heretofore, I appreciated why professional hubris and greed merchants felt citizens lack sophistication / ability and right to make their own informed decisions. But the fact that those of us not seeking elected office felt the same way caught me off guard.

Admittedly, Overbooker, once again, I digress. Focusing now, the most disgusting phrase which the most disgusting people in our country utter is “the American People.” We are not some monolithic body. Perhaps the local “Founding Fathers” were prescient opting out from direct democracy?

For those of you on the young side, click here to watch an entertaining video explaining the title of this piece. For older folks who still read, click here for lyrics, which you may have been previously reticent to sing or whistle out loud in our politically correct world.

I’ll just keep choosing my news outlets based on who captures my visceral attention, as I scan channels, with the sound off. I know the names of all 173 of them that really matter.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Post No. 209: Sneaking Peeps Down Rabbit Holes During Negro History Month

© 2023, The Institute for Applied Common Sense


Many of us find ourselves complaining about the role of new media and social networking platforms in our lives, particularly that of kids.  Seattle recently sued Big Tech companies for a purported detrimental influence on the mental health of kids, which implicitly acknowledges the futility of parental involvement / responsibility.

While I appreciate the value of formal education in my life, it was not nearly as eye opening as two recent periods on internet platforms: (a) blogging since 2008 on Google’s Blogger platform; and (b) engaging folks on the Facebook group page I started, “Black Baby Boomers Who Seek a Better Future for All.” The page was prompted by my desire to better understand Donald Trump and the huge segment of the population, including Christian Evangelicals, who considered him akin to the Second Coming.

Consideration of and being open to widely varying, different views and positions, followed by revisiting our own, can't be anything but a good thing in my silly but pragmatic world. And here it was I thought that dementia was going to spoil the fun. One of our group page members has often forced me to use the phrase, "While I agree, I have a slightly different take...."

People on the platforms (and even friends throughout life), have always complained about the absence of hard and fast positions on my part regarding much in life.  I quickly disabuse them of that notion by informing them that I know the position that I would take should both Jessica Alba and Halle Berry pay me a visit, alone, and naked, should they be so inclined.

I was just saying yesterday that many of us in the late 1960s - early 1970s espoused anti-establishment views.  We campaigned against tradition and the old rules and values. Now, many of us appreciate how important they were in our lives and wish that we could bring them back, many of which cannot be rescued.  

The real institutions of value, I suspect, have changed with the times in some respects, but have continued to embrace the same fundamental rules and principles which existed long ago.  Consider, for example, the Seven Deadly Sins.

During my teenage years, I was the least experienced, least sophisticated, clueless creature on the planet, still trying to make sense of things.  It was a constantly changing landscape during those days, as it arguably should be with young adults.

In my dedicated effort to derive some modicum of benefit from my experience over the past 71 years, plus have forward thinking dominate my remaining years, history suggests that black folks have no choice but to at least intellectually segregate ourselves, take care of our own, build our own businesses and thus create our own jobs, with the ultimate goal of improving our communities as components of a civilized and evolved society.

I argue on a daily basis that while I consider it important to "appreciate” history, there is a danger associated with being consumed by the past, its wrongs, and wishful thinking. Interestingly, most protest and ask why I wish to deny our history; in response to which I ask, "Has humankind solved the racism issue?"

Black Baby Boomers are the last significant group with segregation, in all of its various forms, appearing prominently on our resumes. That's why duty requires us to seek a better future for all.  We, as societal members, ought to get the best out of that “learning opportunity,” as mucked up as it may have been.

In my view, every country and society, throughout history, has been built on gaslighting segments of the populace, beating them into submission, or instilling fear to suppress their interests. One of my partners used to refer to management as "herding cats," and the governance of citizens is most certainly not any easier.

Our challenge here in America is one of expectations in that our documents set a high standard. Reading the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address might make one stare up in the sky as if they were handed down by Providence.  I often use the term "aspirational" to describe them.

The stark, pragmatic reality is that humans will never live up to the ideals outlined. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't keep trying, and yet we should always keep in mind the inherent limitations of humankind. My favorite Clint Eastwood /"Dirty Harry" line is, "A man has got to know his limitations...."

So, the most significant difference between being 17 and 71 is simply more experience under our belts and thus the ability to reduce the number of stupid things we do.  But we still have to at least keep trying to engage others and keep taking peeps down potential rabbit holes. 

Simply put, rigidity is counterproductive.

P.S.  As I put the finishing touches on this piece, PBS was featuring a revival of the Youngbloods singing “Get Together.”

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Post No. 208: Desperately Seeking Solutions; When There Are None - At Least Not Long Term


© 2023, The Institute for Applied Common Sense


I may be the most conflicted black man in America – situated somewhere between the towns of Hope and Pragmatism, USA. 

Reeling from having viewed the savage beating of Tyre Nichols, yesterday I called one of my former partners whose father was a civil rights icon.

I told him I was visiting a local shop, where 1 of 5 black people I encounter per week in my latest Southern California home, generates his version of southern fried chicken. Neither sushi nor saag paneer would do. I needed to perform an immersion back into time.

I considered having Jessica Alba and Halle Berry work with me to produce some entertaining, dancing video for this post, but they were not immediately available for the price I was willing to pay.  However, I do have a musical selection, if you can make it to the end.

I often tell the story of how my parents and I were traveling in the Deep South in the mid-1950s, and stopped for gas. Being a thirsty 6 yrs. old, I saw 2 water fountains, one clean and sparkling white, the other dirty and grimy where I suspected mechanics washed their hands. 

I gravitated to the clean one, but before I could take a drink, I felt my Father’s hand snatch me by the rear collar, while shaking.  He turned me around while trembling, and whispered, “Don’t you ever do that again!” 

Suffice it to say, I’ve long known my place in America, along with the real deal.  While I didn’t envision that black mechanics working at the station might come out to whip my ass (and that of my Father), perhaps I should have.

About 3 years ago, as the 2020 presidential election approached, I started a Facebook group page, Black Baby Boomers Who Remember, which was later changed to Black Baby Boomers Who Seek a Better Future for All

All I wanted to do was share accounts of segregation with young people, and encourage them to vote, thus emulating the efforts of the old NAACP, which my Father held so dear.  I called myself following in his footsteps.

What I found most fascinating was that Black Baby Boomers spoke of the “good old days” and how solid our little villages were, despite being sprinkled all throughout the Deep Segregated South. I realized that many of us were “conflicted.”  

I had three, deeply held, but controversial positions.  One, that racism will never be eliminated, being DNA / gene driven for survival evolutionary purposes. Two, that we need to talk less about the past (while recognizing the importance of history and repeated patterns), and come up with some new, creative approaches for tweaking our system since humans do not change in the long term. Three, having had a little legal experience, I argued that those in power have the ability to give, and the equal ability to take away.  I developed a mantra – watch the debate on abortion, and you will see what is about to take place in the civil rights arena.

I found myself surprisingly emotional over the past couple of days.  Not about anything specific; just things in general on the planet.  But I’ve thought about three things the most: (1) how sad I am that my Mother only lived to 52 and did not see America at its optimal best; (2) how happy I was that my Father lived two weeks shy of 97, and saw America get better during his lifetime; and, (3) how happy I am that my Father, a WWII vet, died before he saw this world seemingly descend into chaos, again.  While it might not have surprised him that 5 black police officers beat the crap out a 148 pound black man, it might have destroyed his optimism, and the optimism he shared with me.

Thus, the conflict in me runs deep, and arguably should in us all. Ain’t nothin' new, as Marvin noted in 1971 in What’s Going On

Lest there be some confusion on the part of the "twisters" out there, I love this country with all of my heart, soul, and every fabric of my being.  Our aspirational documents are works of art and science.  They don't get any better and are considered marvels by every freedom-loving creature. It is we humans who screw up the system in the application of whatever we come up with.  Just look back 5,000 years.

The best that we can do in the short term (our lifetimes) is to engage one another, despite our fears and apprehensions, and recognize that for complex issues, there are no real solutions, and definitely not simplistic ones.  There are only trade-offs.

With that mindset, we just might maintain some modicum of optimism and generate some longer lasting, more effective band-aids, before we go out. 



Saturday, October 1, 2022

Post No. 207: An Unusual Post for Me


© 2022, The Institute of Applied Common Sense, LLC


I'm a major fan of Turner Classic Movies. 

Watching "Giant," for the 2nd time in 4 weeks. If you thought that the O.J. case touched on and revealed many contradictions in American society, check out this movie.


Class, wealth, racism, extreme inequality, tolerance, the lunch counter long before Woolworth's in Greensboro, greed, addiction, revenge, matrimonial loyalty, hubris, intolerance, politics, prejudice, religion, patriotism, the flag(s), regional pride, miscegenation, family, a tropical storm, arrogance, comeuppance, the role of women in society, and how people can change as they age, starring a guy who would ultimately "die of complications related to the virus known as AIDS," and a white gal who married 8 times, and ultimately became best friends of one of the more unusual black cats in the world of entertainment, too much reality (and not enough in the way of conspiracy theories) not to mention all 14 of the 7 deadly sins,

 And all of that within the first 20 minutes.

AND THE MOVIE which Will Smith  studiously absorbed before deciding to hit Chris Rock in front of millions....

Simply Special.


Monday, August 22, 2022

Post No. 206: If Only Amber Heard and Johnny Depp were Like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott


© 2022, The Institute for Applied Common Sense, LLC ™


Earlier this morning while I was watching CNN Headline News, I saw a banner appear containing the phrase, “Are We Taking Out the Trash Incorrectly?” Initially I did not take the issue very seriously, expecting a light – hearted humorous segment to follow.


However, much to my surprise two “experts” on the subject suddenly appeared to expound on the best practices associated with taking out the household trash. There was, I must admit, an occasional oblique allusion to the need to reduce the transition of bacteria or disease.


Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that in addition to Susan Hendricks snickering, the two experts were working hard to suppress their laughter. It made me question whether anyone should take them seriously while performing a routine straight out of the Abbott and Costello playbook.


But it did get me thinking. I have often suggested that because of our seeming inability as citizens to really solve the true mysteries of the desert, we take the easy route and focus on the trivial. But then again, one million of our citizens might quickly disappear (like magic) due to some exotic viral complication, unless we approached this with caution.


But that’s unlikely.


So, it was with a great deal of excitement, that I discovered a potential solution to all my societal concerns. Let’s say that one disgruntled state sends problems to which it does not wish to devote resources, or people who they regard as problematic, to another state.  Factor in the target dump off location  which is very carefully chosen based on whether the destination jurisdiction is Republican or Democratic. After all, that’s just about as good as any other determining factor when confronted with complexities.


The more and more that I thought about it, if Amber Heard or Johnny Depp had simply just bused the other to another city or state based on the political party affiliation of the current mayor or governor, they could have saved all of that moolah spent on that nasty divorce litigation, not to mention the cost of the appeal. Plus, Amber could have avoided a punitive damage award.


But then again, that would not have fared very well once the mayor or the governor of the very carefully chosen target city or state was removed from office.


I will say this: the concept forces one to consider the stark differences between Republicans and Democrats about the role of government in our nation, and the role of the United States as the leader of the Free World.


1.Can we realistically take care of our own on some basic subsistence level?


2. If we took all the wealth in our nation and divided it up equally between all citizens, what would that amount to, and would it make a difference?


3. Should we open our borders to the disenfranchised and the homeless, and the poor of the world?


4. Should one poor person be allowed to come in for each rich person we allow to come in?


5. Should border states bear a disproportionate share of the burden associated with people who wish to enter our country?


6. Should there be an equal percentage of blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, and South Pacific Islanders allowed in each year?


The reality is that we do not have answers or solutions to any of these problems. The fact that our operative governance model is "rule by current committee," and we cannot plan beyond the next election, makes governance even more difficult.


However, as an elementary schoolmate of mine reminded me, paraphrasing Thomas Sowell of Stanford, "With complex issues, there are no solutions; there are only trade - offs." That’s what happens when folks get a world – class education.


My solution? Eliminate all the frigging politicians! They are all liars, even if not by choice! :) We need a Constitutional Convention to update our governance model and tweak it to repair the broken parts of our vehicle. Take the chance to identify the 3 parts of the system which work, and produce new, innovative approaches. But I doubt that will happen because we are humans.


This 1932 Packard has just about travelled its last mile. It's time to trade it in, or upgrade, before it breaks down in the backwoods at midnight on the way to the family reunion. Nothing persists forever, except Mother Nature. And we don't control her....


So, you might ask, what is the applicability of all of this to the proper way to dispose of something posing complexities for you? For all those things for which you no longer have a need or the motivation to address, just wrap em' up, make sure that you use a 6 mil Glad brand trash liner, and take it over to your neighbor’s patio.  But only if you suspect them to be a member of the opposite political party. That approach should work as long as that neighbor continues to live in that house in your area.  I guarantee that will be longer than one political party is able to maintain control of the presidency and the legislative branch. At least you can depend and plan on that.

Thank you, Susan. Watching you snicker made my day.


Sunday, July 24, 2022

Post No. 205: I Have a Newfound Respect for 7 - 11



© 2022, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

If only our nation’s leaders were as sharp as 7 – 11 executives.


I’ve alluded to the importance 7 – 11 has played in my life- particularly during my return to Southern California.


I considered naming this post, “Things I Learned, or Had Affirmed During the Past Few Months.”  However, after reflecting on my trip to 7 -11 a couple of weeks ago, I thought that I should pay tribute to the true source of the inspiration.


I have lived in numerous locations and patronized different 7 – 11s to get a sense of the demographics, while trying to figure out where I should land permanently.  My Father taught me to look in the classified ads to gain a sense of a community.  In my effort to use more cutting-edge technological tools, I simply go to a 7 - 11.


I missed this refuge during 16 years in North Carolina, since they are few and far between.  The Southern California store which I first visited always has two clerks, and an amazing array of “junk.”  You’ve never seen so much sugar assembled, of every imaginable color, consistency, price – prompting patrons to spend hours perusing 5 aisles, seeking that one, special, fuel injection.   Imagine a junk food version of Walmart SuperCenter.


When I first visited that property, I made a foolish comment to one of the clerks regarding the scientific marketing approach to everything that was in the store, having just read an article about warehousing and inventory. She disabused me of that notion rather quickly.  She said bean counters were constantly changing their approach, which she regarded as a waste of time.


I routinely find the homeless at these locations, since the clerks are always willing to engage them. The clerks themselves are an interesting bunch, prepared to deal with virtually any calamity which might pass through the door.  One of the clerks was a man about 21 years of age, who wore a Bruce Lee T – shirt.


As is my wont, upon encountering 20 something folks wearing shirts of some kind reflecting 1960s and 1970s icons, I asked my classic question, “And what does a young fella like you know about _________.  You are too young to know anything about Bruce Lee, or perhaps Bob Marley?”  Yet, they always reveal that I am the fool.  My latest clerk simply informed me, “I learned how to fight from Bruce Lee.”


He went on to describe his matriculation watching Bruce Lee films (or videos).


I refrained from watching videos for the past 14 years, not wanting to waste my time while they buffered up, and I suffered the ads.  I heretofore argued that I could read text 4 times as fast.  Despite being a member of the Triad Audio Visual Group for years, I continued to express my resistance to videos.


But them something significant happened about 2 months ago.  I discovered the healthy line of foods put out by 7 – 11. In particular, I found a green colored, cold pressed, not from concentrate drink, and fell in love with its mint flavor.  It occurred to me that instead of bitching and moaning about how people didn’t share my values, I needed to embrace the times and make a change.  I needed to reach across the 7 – 11 aisle and find the healthy products and start watching videos.


Then I realized the 7 – 11 executives were way ahead of me.  They started their healthy drink line 4 years ago.


Amazing what one finds when one takes time to leave one’s comfort zone and check out what others have to offer. Over the past couple of years, I’ve encountered people who, in pursuit of the goals of comfort and security, are no longer to even venture near a rabbit hole.  Knowing that I am still willing to at least entertain the notion of alien abductions, without Dana Scully being around, is perhaps the most important thing that I have learned about myself over the past several months – I’ll just keep on looking out for them.


Now I appreciate that the clerk may have been wrong about the waste.  Being willing to entertain those who think differently just MIGHT be a good thing for an old man as I approach 71 years on the planet.

P.S. Those of you still interested in viewing Gillian Anderson on occasion might check out The Fall.


Thursday, July 7, 2022

Post No. 204: And Now for Something a Tad Radical - Before We Implode or Russia Attacks (Whichever Occurs 1st)

© 2022, The Institute for Applied Common Sense

I've had many problems during my soon – to - be 71-year-old existence on the planet.

It’s my mother’s fault.  She forced me to read anything and everything on which I could get my hands, and consider all points of view, even thought I may have vehemently disagreed with the positions of others.

And then to compound my wackiness (God knows she tried), when I asked a question, she would never answer it.  Instead, she would point to World Book Encyclopedias (which she sold in her spare time), and say, “Go look it up, and then come back to me with your question.”

Thereafter, she forced me to attend engineering school where I slept through the acquisition of an industrial and systems engineering degree.  Consequently, I think that everything in the physical universe can be fixed or tweaked, while conceding that humans cannot.

Now that we've had some time to appreciate the significance of the 4th of July, and perhaps ignore it, we peaceful citizens need to make an overwhelming statement as we approach the next presidential election. Simply put, it can't be close the next time around. 


No frigging 51%- 49% BS so that the disappointed can perform their rendition of a Marx Brothers routine

If: (a) Democrats are willing to "adopt" Liz Cheney (or write in her name); and (b) we can garner the support of moderate Republicans and Independents, we may be able to reach 70% - 75%.  (I know what you are saying, "Silly boy!")


Complicated? Yes, but can anyone suggest another pragmatic way to assemble 70% of the popular vote so that the next President has a legitimate mandate?


Biden can't do it. 


Harris can't do it. 


Trump can't do it.


DeSantis can't do it.

(Check out the pictures and ask yourself why they are always wrapped in the flag.)

There is simply no way that we will have peace if either party runs with their preferred candidate. We ordinary everyday citizens have more power than we realize, and we need to defy and tweak the system that has been forced on us. (That’s the engineer in me standing on my shoulder.)  We don't have time to form a viable 3rd party.  We may not be able to get around the primary impediments forced upon us.


However, we can try to cross party lines and occupy the middle, where (I firmly believe) there is a commonality of interests.  There is no way to get to 60% - 70%, unless we tweak the system, and form a "peace coalition." Can't be done by either party separately.

For all of you naysayers who disagree with this goal, PLEASE tell me an alternate SOLUTION.  If not, spread the word #LizCheney4Prez. (Mitt Romney is my 2nd choice but Cheney has been standing up more recently, and Liz and Prez both end with a z, which may be more important than we are willing to admit.)

Our country was founded through a balancing of competing interests so that we could all live as one people - citizens of one country. There has always been a "tension," and always will be should we continue to exist.


A wise former partner of mine once said, “A good settlement / compromise is when all parties walk away somewhat unhappy and partly dissatisfied," and I later added, "...not when one side bullies the other into submission through some type of power." 


P.S. 1: This post is well under 750 words, which my now departed mentors horse - whipped me about repeatedly. That leaves time for you to watch one of my favorite movies about the power of ordinary citizens

P.S. 2:  You Can't Always Get What You Want

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Post No. 203: Something Good to Wake Up To On a Sunday Morning - From Anne Lamott

I WAS ABOUT TO CALL IT A NIGHT, after eating a burrito (after midnight) as big as my upper arm running from my shoulder to my elbow, and after telling the clerk at the 7 - 11 how foolish I felt and that I was no longer 27, I re - discovered Anne Lamott on Facebook, who made it all seem okay, and placed everything into perspective:

"I am going to be 68 in six days, if I live that long. I’m optimistic. Mostly.


"God, what a world. What a heartbreaking, terrifying freak show. It is completely ruining my birthday plans. I was going to celebrate how age and the grace of myopia have given me the perspective that almost everything sorts itself out in the end. That good will and decency and charity and love always eventually conspire to bring light into the darkest corners. That the crucifixion looked like a big win for the Romans.


"But turning 68 means you weren’t born yesterday. Turning 68 means you’ve seen what you’ve seen—Ukraine, Sandy Hook, the permafrost…Marjorie Taylor Greene. By 68, you have seen dear friends literally ravaged by cancer, lost children, unspeakable losses. The midterms are coming up. My mind is slipping. My dog died.

"Really, to use the theological terms, it is just too frigging much.


"And regrettably, by 68, one is both seriously uninterested in a vigorous debate on the existence of evil, or even worse, a pep talk.


"So what does that leave? Glad you asked: the answer is simple. A few very best friends with whom you can share your truth. That’s the main thing. By 68, you know that the whole system of our lives works because we are not all nuts on the same day. You call someone and tell them that you hate everyone and all of life, and they will be glad you called. They felt that way three days and you helped them pull out of it by making them laugh or a cup of tea. You took them for a walk, or to Target.


"Also, besides our friends, getting outside and looking up and around changes us: remember, you can trap bees on the bottom of Mason jars with a bit of honey and without a lid, because they don’t look up. They just walk around bitterly bumping into the glass walls. That is SO me. All they have to do is look up and fly away. So we look up. In 68 years, I have never seen a boring sky. I have never felt blasé about the moon, or birdsong, or paper whites.


"It is a crazy drunken clown college outside our windows now, almost too much beauty and renewal to take in. The world is warming up.


"Well, how does us appreciating spring help the people of Ukraine? If we believe in chaos theory, and the butterfly effect, that the flapping of a Monarch’s wings near my home can lead to a weather change in Tokyo, then maybe noticing beauty—flapping our wings with amazement—changes things in ways we cannot begin to imagine. It means goodness is quantum. Even to help the small world helps. Even prayer, which seems to do nothing. Everything is connected.


"But quantum is perhaps a little esoteric in our current condition. (Well, mine: I’m sure you’re just fine.) I think infinitely less esoteric stuff at 68. Probably best to have both feet on the ground, ogle the daffodils, take a sack of canned good over to the food pantry, and pick up trash. This helps our insides enormously.


"So Sunday I will celebrate the absolutely astonishing miracle that I, specifically, was even born. As Fredrick Buechner wrote, “The grace of God means something like, “Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.” I will celebrate that I have shelter and friends and warm socks and feet to put in them, and that God or Gus found a way to turn the madness and shame of my addiction into grace, I’ll shake my head with wonder, which I do more and more as I age, at all the beauty that is left and all that still works after so much has been taken away.


“So celebrate with me. Step outside and let your mouth drop open. Feed the poor with me, locally or, if you want to buy me something, make a donation to UNICEF. My party will not be the same without you.”

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Post No. 202: On Whose Team (or Side) Are You; Should It Make a Difference?


© 2022, the Institute for Applied Common Sense


This is a post I generated a year ago, but never published - partly because I wanted to ensure that my position was clear, even though out of the mainstream.   


Around that time, I promised myself that I would never write anything again about being a black man in America.  Why? Because it doesn’t really accomplish anything in terms of advancing any meaningful societal interests.  Either one already recognizes the complexities associated with the race issue, or one doesn’t.  Either one feels that America is a racist country; or one doesn’t.  I’m not sure that the conversation really matters, unless one believes that they can sway the sentiment amongst the “undecided.”


Unfortunately, I’ve always tried to find solutions to problems, and not just repeatedly complain about them. (It’s the engineer in me.) Thus, I prefer to talk about human issues (and widgets), and the commonality of interests facing all widgets, and not just black widgets.


So about two years ago, I started a Facebook group page entitled, Black Baby Boomers Who Remember – namely segregation.  I later changed the name to Black Baby Boomers Who Seek a BetterFuture for All, seeking to attract more Chinese followers. (Seriously!  During the early days of this blog, I tried every imaginable tactic to reach Chinese students. Silly me, once again.) I’ve been amazed, quite frankly, with the nature of the discourse on the Black Baby Boomers page, which I expected to become “self – executing,” and take on a momentum of its own.


Then this black guy, who was a member only briefly and supported most things Trump, accused me of assembling a bunch of Trump haters and feeding them raw meat, which led to this: Just so that there is no confusion, or a claim that the goals of this group page have been misrepresented, I started this group page with no particular political agenda in mind, either explicit or implied. Additionally, I welcome, and encourage, people of all ideological views to participate. I do not belong to either major political party. I am unaffiliated. This page is focused on the potential reversal of civil rights laws as it affects minorities.”

Then, shortly thereafter, a different black guy (as far I could tell, although he might have been a Russian operative) asked me to expel him from the group, because he could not figure out how to do so himself.  He was offended by my intellectual dishonesty for including the word “Black” in the name of the group, which had white members.


All of this reminded me of a time when I had a 4 or 5 hour layover in Mexico City, and decided to walk through some neighborhoods to get a “real feel” for the city, but chose to walk down the middle of the street to avoid being attacked from either side. It actually worked.


Consistent as is my wont to entertain the views of all humans I encounter, and learn “something” from them, I thought about something often said by one of the most despicable (and devoid of socially redeeming values) childhood friends of mine, "Take the names and faces off of the individuals involved, and then analyze the conduct."


In theory, and in principle, doing the right thing and having integrity and principles SHOULD NOT CHANGE FROM SITUATION TO SITUATION or event to event, no matter which team you find yourself associated. There’s a phrase which I have been uttering to folks for the past year, and I believe that there is a modicum of truth to it:  “There’s no need to take a side, unless you have a dog in the fight.”  And if we find ourselves rooting for one dog over another, we should consider the nature and consequences of the fight, and whether it is a good fight. 


I am still amazed to this day about two things in history pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church – the first being the Doctrine of Discovery, justifying the exploration and colonization of lands not inhabited by Christians - hhmm, hhhmmmm..., and if that wasn’t deep enough, the second, the Church cozying up to the Hitler and the Nazis (reminiscent of Trump cozying up to Putin).


I’m done for tonight.  I can’t make sense of any of this, despite spending an entire year thinking about it.  On whose team or side are you; and should it make a difference?  That is the question.


"There Are More Than 2 Or 3 Ways To View Any Issue; There Are At Least 27"™

"Experience Isn't Expensive; It's Priceless"™

"Common Sense should be a Way of Life"™