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The Bill of Responsibility

September 1, 2019

In America, we have the joy of freedom codified in the Constitution. The Bill of Rights refers to the first 10 of 27 amendments. What is left to our own morality is what I refer to as the Bill of Responsibility, for without them, the Rights are heartless.  Here they are.

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Don’t let them be pie in the sky.

Amendment 1: Right to religion, speech, and the press.
Corresponding Responsibility: Show grace in your religion. Be kind and thoughtful in your speech, and always verify before going to press.

Amendment 2: Right to bear arms.
Corresponding Responsibility: Don’t shoot people you shouldn’t! Don’t let anyone access your firearms who might! Lock ’em tight and use ’em sober! These are just common sense, people!

Amendment 3: The Housing of Soldier only by Consent.
Corresponding Responsibility: Be hospitable; it’s your house, be nice about it.

Amendment 4: Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures.
Corresponding Responsibility: Don’t have unreasonable things in your car, house, or possession.

Amendment 5: Protection of Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property.
Corresponding Responsibility: Make your life worth it; don’t deprive others of it (including gestating life), take care of it; be kind in your liberty and generous with your property.

Amendment 6: Rights of Accused Person in Criminal Cases.
Corresponding Responsibility: Wait for conviction before condemning someone; don’t be a gossip.

Amendment 7: Rights in Civil Cases.
Corresponding Responsibility: Make litigation a last resort; if necessary, be honest, fair, and humble.

Amendment 8: Excessive Bail, Fines and Punishments Forbidden.
Corresponding Responsibility: Take this to heart in daily interaction. Be quick to forgive, slow to anger, and don’t make decisions while angry.

Amendment 9: Other Rights Kept to the People.
Corresponding Responsibility: Don’t use your rights as a weapon. Your rights stop where other’s begin.

Amendment 10: Undelegated Powers Kept by the State and the People/
Corresponding Responsibility: Recognize that we as a people have an awesome responsibility to wield our rights with wisdom, grace, and kindness. That without these things, our society is heartless, unfair, hostile, and unworthy of the rights given by our creator.

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Colorado Dreamin’

July 29, 2019

Best. Vacation. Ever!

My wife and kids and I met Lynette’s parents and my sister and brother-in-law in Colorado Spring, Colorado for a whirlwind week of experiencing Colorado Springs, then driving to Durango, and then to Grand Junction, and off to Cripple Creek for a couple of days each. Lyn drove, I flew out, we all met up and it was amazing.

Joe, my sister’s husband, is a fantastic planner. We went to Garden of the Gods, Mesa Verde, Cave of the Winds, and were blown away by every place we went. More amazing was the drive to each city.

Colorado

What’s a little drop-off between friends?

Colorado mountain roads have no guardrails. You’re 10,000 feet up with a sheer drop just feet away on twisty roads. Vertigo, thy name is Colorado! Heart in my mouth, mind-blowing views… absolutely incredible. We had three cars. Nothing scary happened in ours, but not so for the others. A deer narrowly escaped with its life (as did the motorcyclist who zipped around the braking cars almost to eat deer), and crazy drivers with the other group.

We chose those cities because we thought we might want to move there. Each was a surprise. CS was far more spread out than we thought with stunning natural features. Durango was like three or five different towns together, each better than the last. Grand Junction was desert-y, and the town closes up at 5 o’clock (!). Nice feel, but too flat and brown.

Temperatures were between 95 to 104 degrees. Not uncomfortable (to me) since the humidity was single-digit. Amazing how there, you sweat and it evaporates before your shirt gets wet. In Florida, you drown.

The amazing thing (for me) was the ride from Grand Junction to Cripple Creek. Booking CC was a mistake. I had thought Stephen Morgan lived there, but he was actually in Colorado Springs (and actually on the East Coast while we were there, getting back just before we left so we did get to see him). Back to I-70… It was supposed to be a short drive, but the TOWNS on I-70!

We decided (me reluctantly since I’m too goal-focused instead of journey-focused) to stop at Glenwood Springs for lunch (I wasn’t hungry, so that added to my reluctance). GS won me over big-time. It’s built along 1-70 and down two rivers. There is an amusement park on a mountain! We took the gondolas way-way up and walked around a cool park with crazy rides. Many extended out over the drop-off. Great place. There are three natural hot springs, one has hot mineral caverns (think sauna in a cave). Lots of arts, lots of beauty. Doc Holiday and Kid Curry are buried in their cemetery. This is where I want to live in a few years!

We also stopped in Frisco, which inspired my next novel 😊, drove past Vail, which is still impressive without snow.

Finally, as the sun was going down, we made it to the Cripple Creek KOA, which isn’t really near Cripple Creek, but whatever. This was the only rough night. When we got up bright and early, the top of the car was slicked with ice (!). We were not dressed for cold and securing the car-top carrier was painful, even with socks on my hands.

We met up with Stephen before Alyx and I flew home. He is a  former-Florida boy who is as excited about Colorado as I am.

Every time I get into awe-inspiring nature, I remember how important it is to one’s spirit. God wrote Colorado in bold, thick lines. BIG doesn’t begin to describe it.

Any vacation requires the right mix of people. My sister and Joe, my in-laws, my wife, and kids… perfect people for a wonderful time. I’m blessed.

So, area for prayer. I want to move to Glenwood Springs, Lynette is more into Colorado Springs. Three years to figure it out…

Can’t wait to go back!

Accusations aren’t Actionable

July 9, 2019

I haven’t seen Leaving Neverland, the smear-movie about Michael Jackson after his death, when he couldn’t combat it. Two men claim Michael Jackson abused them when they were kids.

As a result of this documentary, some radio stations are pulling Jackson’s music from the playlist.

I’m sure you can think of several other people who’s lives were altered due to baseless accusations. It seems to be happening a lot these days in the political realm and entertainment fields.

“Wait,” you say, “Jackson paid these men settlements to keep it out of court. That’s an admission of guilt!”  Except it isn’t. Court costs are mountainous. Was he worried about money? Was he afraid of a verdict?  We don’t know. Either could be true. The fact is, the families accepted the settlement. Because they were money-grubbers? Because they didn’t want to drag these guys through the court process? Either could be true.

The problem is, no trial, no conviction, so we know nothing. Did he abuse them? Macaulay Culkin says no, it didn’t happen.

Talk to the Glove

Understand, a conviction doesn’t really mean he did it, just that a jury believed he did. Yet that’s our certainty. Ideally, it’s based on evidence, not just a gut feel of the jurors. Innocent men are convicted far too often, but at least it’s more certain than an accusation.

Bill Cosby is a bad dude. Michael Jackson?

His daughter, who I didn’t know even existed before I saw her Tweet on this. I can’t speak to anything about her except the wisdom of her Tweet. [Paraphrased] “My father was screwed up, who wouldn’t be with his background? As for the accusations against him? Ignore them, I do.”

OK, that was beyond paraphrasing, but it had to do with her ignoring the negative voices. Bless her, that’s wisdom.

Michael Jackson had a crazy upbringing. He was a psychological mess, who also happened to be the most talented, skilled, and amazing artist who has existed in this or the last century.

Please be careful what you believe about people. Accusations are paper. Convictions may not be stone or steal, but they’re what we’ve got. Hater’s gotta hate? In the words of the Prince of Pop, “Beat it!”

Freedom is Messy

July 3, 2019

You’ll hear from people that a lot of countries are “free” but are they really? Do they have a constitutional right to free speech? Can they insult the leaders of their government and not be punished by said government… not because the laws aren’t enforced, but because such a law would be illegal? Only in America, baby!

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Freedom Jell-O Shots!

What that freedom means is that people are going to say things you don’t like. Perhaps a football player will take a knee during the Anthem (an action I applaud, even if I don’t agree with the sentiment. It’s brilliant: Peaceful, guaranteed to get people talking and even some people thinking!). That doesn’t mean freedom from your employer’s or society’s consequences, just that the government can’t throw you into jail or beat you with a club (legally, anyway). And those stupid tweets from the executive branch don’t count because he has free speech, too. One could wish for restraint or thought behind such tweets, but… that’s freedom.

It also means people get to do what they want as long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else’s rights. And, let’s face it, that’s the tough one. We all have things that set us off. We have things that we believe will wreck society, or make us look bad in front of the world.

Yep, but that’s freedom. If you want order, you’re looking for a fascist country (and no matter what the left says, this is not a fascist country).

Franklin and Jefferson and Adams each concluded that the only way for a free society to flourish is if it is also a moral society. Yet freedom has no such safeguards. It’s odd to me, though, that we only have a tug-of-war between the left and the right. It should be left, right, center, off-center, up, down… it should be a melee. The fact that it’s not suggests that the Two-Party System isn’t a freedom thing unless it means freedom from thought. That a country of millions upon millions only has two candidates to choose from for President is nuts. Personally, I’d like to see two candidates from the current parties and throw in a few more from independent parties. The electoral count to win would have to change, but that’s a small thing. Yet even then, the winner wouldn’t truly represent everyone. Because, freedom.

I would love it if every American were moral, and my definition of moral, but it would have to be their choice, and I don’t see that happening. At one time, societal mores kept people more-or-less in shape (except not really, there was a strong underground for anything; secrets were the rule of that day. No shame is the rule of ours.)

Which takes us to weird place. The longer a free people exist, the weirder the country will get. Yet freedom is an unalienable right. Can we pitch those and legislate extremism? If so, who’s extremism? Do we trust a government to make that decision?

Maybe someday we’ll get to a point of no return, but I’m praying for revival, and until then, I will fly the colors of imperfect freedom, the red, white, and blue.

Who’s with me?

The 2020 Giveaways Begin!

June 21, 2019

As the presidential season kicks off, we’ll be seeing a lot of pandering. This is what got the Republican party in trouble as the less-government party became another big-government party, but the Dems are still the champions. We’ll be hearing free-this and free-that.

Free college (and loan forgiveness) is being trotted out by the Dem hopefuls. First, there is no free. “How will you pay for that?”  Tax the rich! Warren includes 2-year, 4-year, and technical colleges. Cast your mind back on high school. You had some good students, a lot of bad students, partiers, stoners, and worse… Now high school is extended up to 4 more years in college. Quality will drop, no one will fail because that would dry up that government funding (I mean, that’s even easier than government loans and financial aid. Just tell the government the number of students and get your green!)

One of the appealing things about college was the ability to put real life off for a while. I admit it. It was great. So was getting away from all the high school deadweights (not the way I feel about them now, but at the time…). Now they’ll come with you! Worse, the peer pressure you caved to in high school and got away from in college will just follow you there. The second chance you used to get evaporates.

Free college and loan forgiveness – there’s a lock on the young people’s vote, who may quickly change their mind if it happens.

Free Healthcare: I’m actually ok with some of that. Free catastrophic, yes, free everything? No. We have to have skin in the game. Rolling HSA with contributions from employers and the citizen, so routine medicine is paid out of pocket. HAS can build up pretty quickly.

All this Free-Free-Free stuff removes sweat-equity, which is vital to success.

One candidate wants to pay for votes by promising $1000 a month to every American, paid through taxes. So, they’ll give money to take money away. The idea came from the Fair Tax without the actual Tax change that makes tax transparent. All that would really do is raise the cost of living an additional $1000 a month.

Republicans don’t generally offer money, they appeal to personality, anger, and fear (anger and fear are both party’s tools, but Reps are better at it).

So, what do we do?  Consider the consequences. I’m not fond of the Wall idea, but the consequences are reduced human trafficking, fewer dangerous illegal aliens (sorry, I can’t call the Undocumented Workers because not all of them are workers), reduced loss of unpaid services. The question is, how much will it cost? Are there alternatives?

What I would love to see in the debates is the candidates clearly answering policy issues. How would you solve xxxxxx? Then follow up on all sides of the answer. Cost, impact, results, and buzzers for when they stray off topic.

Grab your noisy popcorn and let’s go, 2020!

Star Trek Discovery – My Take

May 1, 2019

I love Star Trek, and the concept of Star Trek. Star Trek Discovery is an oddly mixed bag.

SPOILERS AHEAD! Be warned! Warp away if you haven’t seen it and plan to.

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Does this make anyone else’s eye hurt?

Let me be up front: I hate the ship’s exterior, love the interior. My initial assessment was this is great! It isn’t Star Trek, but it’s great!

We have spore drive, weird Klingons, unseen alien races, and Spock has a sister? What? The technology is so much more advanced than we see on the prime universe’s Enterprise (the Original Series, and of course it is, we’re far more advanced than they were in the 60’s) but I’m talking about unheard of technology, non-Trek technology.

Be that as it may, great stuff, just not Star Trek. The Orville has more in common with Star Trek than Discovery.

Great writing, though, except when it stank. Great new characters, except when they weren’t.

Michael Burnham: Fascinating character, a little too earnest for me, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Great Captains: The first season captain, and the second season Pike (Best. Pike. Ever.)

Cadet/Ensign Tilly: Today’s sensitive new Burbank champions inclusivity with the plump Tilly, but more power to them for creating a great character. She’d be a Mary Sue if she wasn’t in the first episode. Stand-out character.

Saru: Eh.

Spock: OK, I thought Vulcans couldn’t grow facial hair (except for the Mirror Universe species). Very clever, they showed us a flashback of the first episode of the original Star Trek, where Spock was emotional, which helps explains this Spock’s intensity. He’s a far better Spock than Quinto in the movies.

Sarek: Um, conflicted much? Sweet and tender to his adopted daughter, estranged still from Spock? This is not the Sarek of TOS. No amount of handwaving fixes that.

Other than the assaults on canon, and over-dwelling on Michael’s angst-ridden face, I enjoyed Discovery (not so much the Klingons), before screaming at the TV and throwing metaphorical popcorn at the screen in the final season 2 episode.

The talking heads killed me and probably a lot of other people in the show (see here).

Then the hand-waving made me go, “huh?”

The jump into the future is intriguing, but the gag-order on the remaining few and Enterprise crew? Spock never being able to talk about his sister, the suppression of spore drive and holography (I missed the reason for this, anyone know?)… I’m supposed to believe Starfleet can put a genie back in a bottle? That a conspiracy of this size is possible? That forbidden tech doesn’t ever pop up again? These are too far nuts to believe.

But I’ll happily tune into season 3.

I Got Sole!

March 29, 2019

Imagine, if you will, a thick spike that is on fire, glowing red-white with a dull tip driving through your heel with a rubber mallet.

That’s a toned-down description of Planter Fasciitis, the tearing of a tendon that connects your heel to somewhere in the front of your foot, but who cares because it HURTS.

I blame myself. I’m one of those people who hates spending money on shoes; a sale at WalMart? I’m all over it! That and I’m 6’2”, 200lbs, with tiny feet. My tendon didn’t have a chance.See the source image

So, there I am, hobbling like an old man (older man), and considering surgery (not really; I don’t like the idea of people slicing into me). Then somewhere, someone suggested Crocs.

You know Crocs, those ugly sandals with the space-age sole? A quick peek at the website and you discover they should be made of gold they’re so expensive. You’ll also discover they aren’t only ugly sandals, they’re also loafers and sneakers made with cheap uppers material… but still expensive.

So I haunted their website until a deep sale appeared, which is daily if you’re wondering. Due to poor wording on their site, a half-way decent looking shoe was technically on sale along with the ugly one they tried to pass off as the only one on sale. Still after 20 minutes of chat haggling, they gave me a low price on the grey sneakers. Little did I know it was a gateway shoe.

A couple weeks later, they arrived, in the mail, in a bag not a box. Yep, cheap uppers, but I’ve worn worse.

Let me just say: These are miracle shoes. Sweet relief! The pain isn’t gone, but it is tolerable. Then the emails started arriving. 20% off, 40% off, 50% off… tan loafers, easy to put on, were delivered. Joy!

Yet weekends would wreck my foot because mowing the lawn was torture.

More emails, not-so-ugly, just-a-little-ugly sandals showed up in the mail.  You know that sandals don’t actually work for mowing lawns, you’ll wreck your socks (yes, I wear socks with sandals). So Publix bags to the rescue! I put my foot into a Publix bag, then into the sandal. Yes, it makes a weird wish-wish sound when I walk, but who cares? I wear headphones and can’t hear it. That may explain why the neighbors look at me weird. And maybe it doesn’t.

Got bad feet? Crocs. Really.