2013 in review

Sharing as a thank you to all of you! Have a happy and blessed 2014!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 58 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Governed through Consent

You and I are governed through consent.

This is a given in a world of question marks that I don’t have all the answers, but a world in which I try to exist. What happens when you no longer agree with how you are governed? Who is it that will inevitably control your consent?

Last Friday, The Guardian published an article on PRISM. An NSA program targeting all of the data processed on every cell phone number Verizon provided. When we say all of the data, we mean all.

Every tweet.

Every status update.

Every nonsensical thought.

They want to predetermine subversives and terrorists.

They want to know all of this information to prevent mass bombings and solve criminal behavior.

Why do we use the term “They”?

“They” are the organizations that prevent the behavior?

It’s my theory that “They” are not middle income government employees, but let’s not go there. That is dangerous territory in this day and age.

I am often asked, “What is my political affiliation?”

For many reasons I am pretty conservative in my actions. For many more I am liberal in my views.

Basically I feel we each have the right to private property, life built on our own terms and the ability to express ourselves without recourse.

It was pointed out to me yesterday that I am Libertarian.

Now, I have looked that up and largely agree with their views, but I don’t believe that I am.

Then in that same conversation I was asked if I am an anarchist.

This led me down a train of thought that you can only imagine.

While I am not happy with how we are governed I do believe we need to be governed. I believe there needs to be systems and processes in place to provide the infrastructure we have come to enjoy.

Without an entity worrying about the details we would not have reached the diversity in thought and availability of information.

We would not have moved beyond the Industrial age to the Information age.

We would have halted our theoretical evolution.

OR perhaps not, but we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Many of the arguments I have read refer to our Founding Fathers. They contain great quotes by great men who were themselves subjected to a tyrant. Benjamin Franklin is HUGE right now.

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

That is the one that circulates and recirculates until your head spins. But what was his context?

I haven’t actually had time to read the entire book I found involving this, so we will just have to believe that he was referring to the standard practices of the British who ran the Colonies at the time.

Franklin also believed that in order for the republic that would be formed the peoples had to be virtuous for it to survive.

His parents were pious Puritans. Puritan values include devotion to egalitarianism, education, industry, thrift, honesty, temperance, charity, and community spirit.

These values have become so integrated with the American spirit that you can feel Franklin’s impact daily.

Franklin also believed in the “Divine Providence” of this endeavor. This nation built on freedom and self-reliant responsibility. He felt God was in command of our every action.

To me he was correct.

God’s divine providence created a whole new world of governmental possibilities.

However, Franklin also believed that in order for the Republic to survive it had to be run by good, virtuous men.

Nearly 100 years later Lord Acton provided a memorable thought.

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

What the Founding Fathers built and believed in was a system of small federal government that kept the states in control of their destinies. No, not all the representatives agreed to that ideology, but their history proved that only the local governments could understand the needs of the local population.

The foundation was set for freedom and liberty and due process.

(Due Process 2013 style is another post entirely)

Now nearly 250 years from the Continental Congress we are met with a growing dissidence to the actions of the government that has constantly been handed more and more power.

We give them power for our safety.

We write the rules of social responsibility with the government providing the keys to the piggy bank that will provide prosperity to the nation.

We provide our consent to security beyond anything our forefathers ever imagined.

I can remember when I was a child we had some freedom to explore. We could wander within a range of our home and experience the liberty of our own choices. Nothing was more liberating than walking to the corner store with a dollar and buying a candy bar and then eating it in the woods with my friends.

I was 8 years old and felt like I had some control of my existence.

Today, my son is 7 years old and when I think of letting him walk to the building next door to our apartment to buy a candy bar alone I cringe.

Why is that?

Because our world is incredibly different.

We live in a world where it seems the majority of the population has forgotten that to be a part of a free society they have to have a certain level of virtue and decorum. The unwritten rules of life and propriety that are scoffed at in the modern world are the precise rules that let us be free.

So when we are faced with the choice to put up surveillance cameras to monitor the actions of others to place blame when something bad happens, we let them.

We allow the monitoring of ourselves to protect ourselves from thieves, murderers, vagrants, and child abusers.

We trade our privacy to protect. We began doing this while I was a child.

Monitors in that store where I bought the candy bar would blink and the VHS tapes would record and if something bad were to every have happened to me there I would have been seen.

When my mother and grandmother were children they had the ability to have that same freedom I felt, but the monitoring of their actions didn’t exist. That was when community meant something. That was when if you miss behaved your mother received a phone call from the store clerk telling her that you had pinched a piece of chocolate and she could pay for it next time she was there.

We have replaced this line of thinking.

We now do what we want and leave it to a prosecutor to catch us. We have allowed the disintegration of the community that the founding fathers had wanted to create.

We now have “Big Brother.”

Where your actual blood brothers should be we have a video camera, a satellite link and digital relations watching out for us.

As technology has developed during my lifetime, I’ve watched the preventative measures to unseen dangers develop as well.

For every milestone made in technology there is a milestone in government bureaucracy. We give more power and the government willingly and joyously accepts.

All in the name of security and jobs.

I think back to Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I think back to Ben Franklin’s belief that for the republic to prosper we need virtuous leaders.

I’m of the opinion that the bureaucratic power we have provided the government lends itself to absolute corruption. If we are governed by consent we have given the powers in charge the ability to do whatever where ever they want.

My freedoms dwindle while they remain unchecked.

But

There is another piece to this puzzle.

Education

We were given an education that caused us to think for ourselves, grasp theories and explore possibilities, write our own opinions and develop the tools to think for ourselves.

Whether we were introverted or extroverted we were taught to develop ideals that would have a positive impact on the world.

I don’t know if this was everywhere, but I know this is what I was taught by the leadership in my school.

Think for myself.

Share your theory and have an open discussion.

Build the idea alone and then put it into action as a community.

Whether that community was a few students or a whole organization.

It is with this line of thinking that we have developed the tools that allow for the wealth of human knowledge and history to be available at a moment’s notice. By developing a theory alone and putting it into practice within a group humanity has developed the internet, the computer, the personal computer, cell phones, GPS, and on and on.

We embraced all of these technologies that we have built because of the knowledge that exists within them.

Humans are curious. Humans crave connection. Humans crave community.

So here we are. 2013.

Our curiosity, our connection, our community exists online and through the internet. We share knowledge, opinions, news, and need to innovate.

We share one with another in hopes of creating breakthroughs in our own human, temporary, existence so that all of society can improve.

Our education provided the tools to make this possible.

I graduated high school in 1999, having completed courses in Physics and Calculus, advanced placement in History and Government. I don’t know if we were an exceptional class, or the norm for the country of the time, but I was normal for my peer set.

I look back with interest as I discuss education today with my peers who have become teachers.

Nothing is taught in the same light as before.

Where once teachers shared their idealism and need to get the children to think for themselves. There is now a need to conform and teach to the prescribed curriculum.

A curriculum that has been dumbed down.

In a world whose lifeblood is knowledge we are hindering our children who attend public schools.

We are teaching to the base line instead of setting our expectations higher.

Why?

Through my research I have found several reasons…none of them are good.

First, it is not easy to control someone who has the ability to think for themselves.

Second, we are a resource based planet. We can never create more of any of our finite resources and it has been suggested that more educated people require higher incomes and therefore will consume more resources with these higher incomes. So it’s actually a threat to our sustainability.

Finally, those in power like to feel superior to the norm. If you price education out of their range and remove the tools to assist in the payment of that education; and then tax and fee the student to death they will never meet their potential. By never meeting their potential that makes room for those with the money, no matter their common sense and reasoning, to become the societal elite.

My children are being raised at a time when math isn’t thought to be of much importance. Reading words and comprehension are vastly different topics. Science isn’t really about innovation, but about repetition. Recycle, reduce, reuse the same theories until they learn more at home than in the school that is supposed to be teaching them the keys to the world.

The state that I live in, love and pay taxes to has rewritten our public school curriculum to their political affiliation, rewriting history and adopting books that change the very foundation of knowledge.

I could go on and on about the travesty that is our educational system, but really what does this have to do with the problem at hand?

By being taught to only do as the authority tells you and to be punished for thinking otherwise we are predisposing our kids to a life of surveillance. By not educating them to think for themselves they will never cause dissidence or create polarizing arguments.

They will never feel the passion of knowing something isn’t right at the very core of their being.

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Right now we are at an impasse.

Society, government, virtue, and education are all being forced to reexamine themselves.

I have more questions now than when I began my research for this topic.

Questions that go to the very core of who we are as Americans, who we are as Humans, and who we want to become.

Do we want to continue down this path of centralized, political subservience?

Do we need to reboot the system?

Do we know who is dependable enough to not seek selfish gains to correct the problems?

Is it possible to create the world we want while hurting no one?

The undercurrents of society are not sure about the last one, but I feel as others feel that in order to change the future you have to do it differently than in the past.

War in any form is not an option because it would take from the very premise of the changes needed to improve society.

So, to you dear reader, how can we make this country, a country we can be proud of once again?

The Morning After

The world looked a little brighter this morning. My apartment was clean. My kids were bathing. I even woke up at 6 am without the alarm! Shocking!

Yesterday was a great day. I disabled Facebook and joined the WordPress censorship blackout. I spent the day listening to TED talks and joining various debates and conversations. I took a test for a job that I have applied for and I have no idea if I did a good job or not, but working the math muscles that I haven’t used since I was 12 was fun! (I took the hard math classes in school. Simple fractions and word problems I haven’t done since 1992!)

What was so great about yesterday? 18 Senators revoked their support for the “Stop Online Piracy Act” and the “Protect IP Act” – this is amazing. Not only that but somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.5 million people signed petitions to let their voice be heard.

I watched the speech of Clay Shirky at TED yesterday as he explained the dangers of SOPA. Here it is for you to watch.

I watched the Mikko Hypponen speech on the three tyes of online attacks. Stay informed…watch this…

I also watched the video of Larry Lessig from 2007 that covers the topic “Laws that choke creativity”

As well as another speech from Clay Shirky from 2005. Facebook wasn’t even out to the masses yet, it was still a MySpace world. The differences between collaboration and institutions.

These were amazing speeches that covered pretty much this topic.

                “The world is changing, as it changes so must we. We are connected now more than ever before and as time passes we will continue to grow closer together. We must adjust our way of doing things and learn new methods. We must share our research and information and not hoard it. There was a time with idea sharing was difficult, but that is not now.”

Also I watched the UH Professor Brene Brown’s speech on Wholeheartedness. That’s a speech that would make you feel alive…or at least recharge your batteries. Her original research was on human connection. The internal workings that make us human. What is it about us that makes us different from every other species on the planet? We experience vulnerability. It is as we recognize our vulnerability that we are able to take the next step into wholehearted.

Anyone who knows me personally knows that wholehearted is how I live. Heck if you have been reading this blog long enough you know that. I encourage you to look within yourselves and find that place at which you can live with your entire heart.

Yesterday was a great day by all accounts and today is the morning after. I have courageously decided to hand in notice this afternoon…I’m without livable apartment or permanent childcare at the moment and life has reached the tipping point. Either realize my potential or stay here and stagnate and watch the courage to live disappear. Today is going to be a great day. Enjoy it!

Boredom, it needs to end

Twenty minutes until lunch and I decide it’s time to write something. Figures!

I haven’t even been able to concentrate this week work has been so slow. So let me tell you a little about what I have been doing as I putter through the days at my nondescript occupation.

I start out the day much like anyone else. I wake up 20 minutes late, race through the morning routine…clothes? Last pair of clean slacks. Clean shirt, doesn’t really match, but no one will see them anyway. Throw clothes on the kids, brush teeth all around, and race out the door only to arrive at work 15 minutes late. It has pretty much been like this for two weeks now. Every night I resolve to wake up on time and get out the door on time, but SOMETHING always comes up.

Monday – I stood beating on the sitters door for 15 minutes.

Tuesday – Missed my exit…I was trying to go fast and ended up passing it right by…utter stupidity.

Wednesday (Today) – I actually only got here 5 minutes late and that was because the sitter was telling me all about her plans for next weeks photos with Santa and I wasn’t looking at the clock. (I’m a moron sometimes.)

Anyway, once at work I fill up my monstrous coffee mug add the yummy bits to make it drinkable and walk around the corner to my office. I sit down, exchange some pleasantries with my boss and stare at the black computer screen. I sigh as I click it on and wait for it to boot up.

More like wake up…I only lock it at night.

Like most of the working public I open email first and wait for it to load. I seek to provide whatever information is requested as soon as I am able. Alas…for most of the 7 months I have been at this position, there is nothing pressing. Today I had a Holiday greetings from the Pres., Two commencement notifications, and a payroll thing that I am always copied into even though it has nothing to do with me.

So…I sigh again. Already my ass hurts as I know it will be another day of nothingness.

So, I open the internet. The killer of time. The manipulator of masses. I open my personal email. Delete everything just about everything that is new. Open my Daily Thought from Real Simple magazine.

Today’s quote:

“Constant effort and frequent mistakes are the stepping stones of genius.”

Elbert Hubbard

I ponder the inexactitudes of life’s many mistakes. I think about how I got to the point of sitting in this chair for 11 hours a day four a week. Oh – the mistakes MUST be making me a genius about deciding what I really DON’T want out of life.

I read a story from Fast Company about how you shouldn’t dwell in nostalgia and should let the past stay in the past. Here is the link.

http://www.fastcompany.com/1800662/comedian-actor-patton-oswalt?partner=homepage_newsletter

I again am contemplating the life choices made and that I sometimes do think about the past too much and remind myself that I shouldn’t. I chose the road of the rebel…now to make something of the life left to live. I have lived. I have had a lot of fun. I regret little and can’t stand that I think I was happy when I was dotting every I and crossing every T of what SOMEONE ELSE thought I should do.

Then I open Facebook. I click “LIKE” a lot. I comment on some status’. I realize that I said something idiotic but too late to delete that thought…so moving right along. I look at funny pictures. I post a status about how bored I am and I check out my two groups, one is the We Blog group and the other is my girls at Girls Talk. We grew up together (sort of) but we all have similar tastes and senses of humor and find that talking about things with each other makes life easier for all. My support group of sorts. I tend to post more than the rest, but that’s because I post all the things I would like to post on my page, on our group wall, because some things my grandmother just won’t find funny, and I have received a reprimand by “The Grown-Ups” for something I have posted on FB before, so it’s just easier for me.

That brings me to a friend who was talking about the books she was reading so I Googled Tucker Max. Let’s just say that I have some friends a lot like Tucker and I saw his movie “I Hope They Serve Beer In HELL.” I remember laughing a lot, and this is the book my friend is reading. So, I browse the page and start reading about his “Roadtrip to Austin.” If you haven’t read anything of Tucker’s I will warn you…bad words, sexual content, extreme situations, jail, drinking in excess, it’s all there…but it is so funny you keep reading. Here is the link to the roadtrip story.

http://www.tuckermax.com/stories/the-austin-road-trip/

This is my morning. I am living in a virtual world while the actual world is out there screaming at me to come join it, but a girls got to make a paycheck some how.

Oh – I have an interview Friday…so HOPEFULLY I will be living a less virtual life very soon.

Living Social…right…

Life was easier in 2005. Our friends were the special folks in our life that we saw all the time. We’d email them and they’d respond and we’d kept a sort of daily banter, but we saw eachother live and in person.

Fast forward 6 years and a gazillion bits of memory later and we have…facebook, google+, twitter, gowalla, foursquare, and so many more…it’s ridiculous.

Who needs that many ways to keep in touch with the same group of people!

The people you liked and saw, you kept up with them, their lives, their problems, and you offered a hand or a shoulder to cry on. Your distance to travel was probably short, but your stamina for these people was great.

Today. Now. We are all about now. We are all about living social. We are all about the instant gratification of letting people know exactly what we are doing. Well…I am not, but lots of people are. Lots of celebrities are now interactive!

Wow @AndersonCooper you can read my twitter status by simply adding your name with an @ symbol. How freaking ridiculous!

They don’t care!

WE don’t care!

We love you and think you are special but we honestly don’t care if you are eating dinner with George Patton at The Russian Tea Room.

Facebook has also lead to some drama.

Wow – ever want to feel like you’re in high school?! Post a blib about who you are seeing. Post a comment about who went to rehab. Post a note about what you think about your former best friend who is now your aunt. (Okay – so I haven’t done any of those things and none of my best friends are my aunts…unless they became my Aunt before they were my friend.)

But you get the point right?

Life was also easier on the dating front. You never had to ask yourself if you are in fact, “Facebook official.” What the heck does that mean anyway?!

Why does life have to be so complicated?!

It doesn’t, really. You don’t have to participate in the drama. You don’t have to post about anything of real signifigance. You don’t even have to post at all; and you CAN block your wall from everyone except yourself.

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Gowalla your experience with these tools is what you make it. You can pretend your still a 15 year old gossip or you can grow up.

Those that care about who and what we post about on facebook are the same people that care about who and what you are in real life.

These are the people that through it all will be there with a shoulder to cry on, a tissue to wipe your nose, and a bottle of Jack to numb the pain.

These are also the people who hold your hand a pray with you. They pray for the bumps in life to be small and the rewards to be great.

After all the facebook drama don’t you want to go out and enjoy people in person?

I do. See you around at my favorite places. Cheers!

Communication

It’s simple. We speak. We react. We hold back. We yell. We drive each other mad with words. We hear words that aren’t even spoken.

The give and take of words. Communication.

That is really what our interactions boil down to with (for most of us) 99% of the population. These are the things we base all thought, emotion, and belief.

I just want to take a second to examine relationships for a moment and notice that everything, both good and bad comes down to ones ability to communicate.

Can the husband tell the wife what he wants? Can the wife accept it and not over react? Can the daughter tell the mother she is different and the mother understand the words she is saying?

Here is where I think education plays an important role in relationships. The more words you know the more you can pin point the thought. The emotion. The feeling.

We live in a world of constant contact. Constant interaction. Constant rhetoric and reading. I know for a fact 3/4 of my conversations take place in a texted format, whether that is IM, email, facebook, or texting on my cell.

I’m think one thing and the other person has a different reaction; and in the end your more confused than if you had picked up the phone to begin with and spoken to them.

The modern worlds instant gratification of being able to text (in whichever format) seemingly constantly dilutes the words and importance of actually sitting with someone and speaking to them. We no longer meet for coffee to just catch up. We buy the coffee in the drive thru lane and text our status to facebook.

I am thrilled when I meet up with friends and just talk to them. No tiny buttons. No miscommunication. No room for misinterpretation.

We forget how important body language is and how much that says with out saying anything at all. How do you text someone grabbing you for a hug?

 )))Hugs((( just doesn’t count.

I suppose it is up to each of us really; how we continue to communicate.

Relationships, love, friendship, divorce, kids, school, and I’m sure weddings all exist in text somewhere. Have all been performed in text somewhere.

Here is to hoping that for the next stages of life we can get off our handheld devices and look eachother in the eye and communicate.

The How and Why of the Forbidden Button

I think how you handle people who want nothing more than to see you squashed like a bee has a lot to say about who you are. For example, do you lash out at everyone or do you accept it with a deep sigh and move on?

Inevitably there will be people in your life that just don’t like you. There is no rhyme or reason other than your existence pisses them off.

I wish I could answer why for you, but that is between them and God.

I just don’t know.

I am going to admit this not before God and everybody…there are sometimes things about people who I just don’t like, don’t understand, and although I want to put out the effort to be nice and agreeable I just don’t care.

It’s like the  Pythagorean theorem you had to memorize in high school geometry, but don’t remotely remember now. You just don’t really care!

So, I guess sometimes that makes me the hater. Oh well.

Sometimes you got to stand on your own two feet and say, “I don’t like you very much and you’re not a very nice person.”

Now back to the subject of handling your own haters…people who just don’t care. I think there are several ways to handle them.

You walk away.

You smile and nod and when you can you escape.

You find a way to admit to yourself and to them that you want to click the “un-friend” or God forbid the “un-like” buttons on Facebook and IT’S OKAY!

You don’t reply to the extreme email.

You don’t immediately call them back when the phone rings. Or – Gasp! – You hit the ignore button on your phone!

I am not saying this to be mean. I am not saying this to be pointed or tacky.

People just need to learn when to leave and when to cleave. You need to let go of people you just don’t like anymore. You need to learn that no matter how tight a family may try to be most of the time, in many families, those relationships are not what they appear to be.

As for Facebook…look at your friends list. Who do you just really not care to hear from ever again? Click the un-friend/un-like button…come on! It’s Liberating!!!

Love and prayers to you all! Happy Thursday – cause tomorrow’s FRIDAY!!!