Archive for the ‘Personal Relationships’ Category

We were witnessing a particularly humorous event on the news this evening. John Boehner was excoriating the Senate Democrats, imploring them to “get off their asses” and vote for the homeland security funding bill. What’s humorous is: six months ago the Senate Republicans were a part of the “party of `no’”. Extreme partisans can vilify John by saying what he is doing is “evil”. Six months ago Harry Reid would be declared spot on for saying the same thing about Senate Republicans.

Of course the tables are turned. The R’s “control” both House and Senate. (Putting control in quotations is understanding that this “control” is limited, because the other side has certain procedural controls in the game.

So, let’s take a sport – I like baseball, but this could be applied to just about any team sport. The offensive team has one main member, the batter. His job is to hit the ball, that is hurled at the strike zone by the pitcher, and get on base or run the bases. Let’s compare the curve ball to the political “lie”. Oh my, that pitcher “lied” to the batter by pitching a curve ball. He lied to the batter! The ball was supposed to go high, but it went low. Do we say the pitcher was evil for “lying” to the batter by throwing a curve? There are many more strategies used in baseball by the defense to overcome strategies by the offense.

At this point I have to interject the inadvisability of lying with impunity. The liar is not trusted when his lies are detected. The latest scandal of Brian Wilson, the NBC reporter who was released by NBC news for his lying about an event in the middle east. Will Brian ever be trusted again? There is a certain moral code regarding journalists that injects a credibility into the reporting of the news. But, if we simply limit the comparison between politics and sports, we can come to accept deception as a necessary element in doing the job. Once we understand that some people make things up (lie) we can coexist by not trusting what they say. We either accept or not their lying. We shun or socialize with them. Socializing with them removes the stigma in the interest of trying not to achieve teaching them a lesson (which won’t work with the pathological liar). If we shun them we close off any chance of reaching them and avoiding the tendency of evil to fester in the soul of the liar, and result in some catastrophic evil. But, this social commentary is digressing from the subject of politics as a sport. How do we know the politician is lying? No, not when his lips are moving. Try Factcheck.org. While I think the staff sometimes nitpicks, it is a good source to determine the validity of politician’s utterances.

Of course there is the element of cheating. Some people believe that cheating is only bad if the cheater either gets caught or doesn’t, you pick – one is the cynical approach and the other is the realistic. It is pretty much in the court of public opinion whether the cheater is punished, even though there is a system to detect and punish the cheater.

What I Want to Say…

Posted: September 2, 2012 in Personal Relationships
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… to my daughter:

It seems you don’t want to talk with me these days. I can only guess the reason(s). Maybe you are in a state of deeper depression than in the past. That state is shown to me by your decision to resume smoking, disregarding the smoker’s cough you had told us was the reason you quit some months ago because a doctor had told you it was the first stage of pleurisy. So, why else would you turn down a path of self destruction? What is the source of your depression?

As you sit there waiting for a friend to pick you up I agonize over your general well being. As you sit and ponder, what are you thinking? Are you concentrating on today’s anticipated events? “Anxious takes on two meanings. Are you merely anxious to get going? I can imagine there is an underlying anxiety.

Beneath it all, if you would listen beyond hearing, I would tell you how much I love you.

An article by Patrick Condon of the Associated Press printed on page 9A of today’s print edition of the Kitsap Sun entitled “Strategist is central figure against gay marriage” gets my creative juices flowing… big time!
I will take the points I observe in order.
First, “…he jokingly calls `the forces of evil’” I would say, this is not a joke, and is not funny. It is tragic that a political shill enjoys credibility on the issues because of his success in persuasion. His strategy is employing academic arguments that sound good. These arguments only succeed if the person persuaded closes his/her mind and refuses to listen more reasoning. The other factor that leads to his success is the dearth of reasonable arguments with persuasive clout. This winning strategy does not make his argument right. It is a classic error of “might makes right”. I can only hope this writing can be a good weapon against the evil extant.
Being part Carl Rove is another factor that makes his quest a decent into hell. Carl Rove successfully got George W. Bush elected and reelected by appealing to the worst instincts of people. One of his strategies that typifies his wrongful way was the whisper campaign in the state that eliminated John McCain from the Republican primary in 2000. The campaign pushed a lie that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child because of the child McCain and his wife adopted who happened to have dark skin. That will live in infamy in the history of politics. This kind of strategy is successful in furthering all manner of evil. The Pat Robertson part of his persona just confirms how religion can be misused to further evil.
“Five thousand years have shown that marriage between a man and a woman serves us well” is a really poor argument because it eliminates the possibility that including gay marriage could have served us just as well. Using a successful institution to argue against another is just wrong. It proves nothing to use the color red to argue that the color green is wrong.
What I find most amusing is the rest of that statement … it (heterosexual marriage) is “fundamental to our nature as people.” The alternative, he said, is a culture based on personal desires. Really? So, let’s adopt arranged marriages because most marriages are based on personal desires. And to enforce that let’s bring societal force to parents to do their duty in arranging marriages for their children.
“Gay rights organizers begrudgingly admire Schubert’s ability as much as they detest what he’s doing” is like arguing that allies admire Hitler’s ability to bring his country together ignoring the evils he spawned in the process. Don’t forget the German word for “great” is “gross”. Gross has become an expression of bad to the extreme. In that sense Hitler was gross. So is this Frank Schubert.
Schubert’s convoluted reasoning rises to the front in his feelings for his sister who is raising children with her lesbian partner. “I love my sister very much, and I want her to know that my working on this issue was not a reflection of me seeing her as a less valuable person” is at the center of the heartless campaign to eliminate a rightful joy from gay and lesbian couples and relegating them to a less valuable existance.
Schubert’s twice winning the MVP award bestowed by the bipartisan American Association of Political Consultants reduces the battle to that of two competing sports teams with no regard of whether one or the other is right. In fact neither sports team is more right than the other unless competing elements like money vs. love of sport is taken into consideration. In non-commercial sports neither team is more right than the other.
My attitude on his other effort to make divorce more difficult has definitely matured from the days when my first marriage fell apart. I would have agreed with him wholeheartedly then. But in retrospect I see all kinds of evils surfacing in a marriage forced to endure because of artificial strictures that only prolong the misery and inevitability of the break up. Viewing the movie “War of the Roses” can illuminate the tragedy of a marriage breaking up without a speedy enough resolution.
Schubert’s attending an all male Jesuit high school could very well have caused him to adopt a warped attitude towards homosexuality having probably witnessed it first hand in an era when it was considered evil and the prevailing doctrine was that it was sinful. He failed to mature past that failed policy.
Finally, I hope the trend towards tolerance continues against these efforts to enshrine outmoded doctrine based on emotion rather than reason.

So, I’m watching the NewsHour on PBS; and every segment is full of fascinating detail about the subject covered. As the report is shown, my mind is constantly looking for what my conservative friends might determine is bias. In this particular report there are two people being questioned about the conditions in Syria. One of those is Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. When I google that organization I find that it is supposedly an organization “whose central aim is to push an Israel-centric Middle East agenda”. Is that injecting an element of bias here? Near the end of the segment he states, “This hurricane is gathering on the Eastern Mediterranean. And I really don’t know what we can do to stop it. We can deal with the effects of it, but the most important thing is that — is for the United States to achieve President Obama’s policy objective of getting President Assad to step aside.” It is clear to me that he backs something the President is doing. Is he biased? How about the other panelist? Is she giving us an alternative view that might be featured prominently on Fox News? She is Mona Yacoubian; and she was an analyst for the state department, now with the Stimson Center, a Washington research organization according to the NewsHour. If we google her name, however, we find that even though she is with the Stimson Center, she has connections to the Washington Institute of Peace. If we look at that organization’s background… and the search goes on. It’s how those who read articles from FactCheck.org do research until they find something to challenge the veracity of its results from research that the person uses to support his/her opinion be it liberal or conservative.

I notice the interviewer didn’t use the much overused terms: “liberal” or “conservative”. In the past the terms were used to pigeon hole the organization.

My little piece here is the tip of the iceberg, as you can see. One could spend all his/her time ignoring what is being said for who is saying it. I can now see why The Jehovah’s Witness magazine doesn’t include the name of the author of its articles – besides the stated reason: that they want to keep from giving anyone too much recognition or something like that. I have used the argument against an article I didn’t like by saying it was written by somebody who didn’t attach his/her name, thus retaining anonyminity. My argument was effective only because the person who I was arguing with didn’t think to use a counter argument.

This is another time when I remember the comic strip about the mother putting her little boy to bed. His name is Pasquel and the comic strip is “Rose is Rose”. So, Rose is tucking Pasquel in and he, like my older daughter, is having a problem putting his mind to sleep. He says to her, “I can’t decide what I want to do when I grow up”. She responds, “The simplest way to make decisions is to trust your instincts.” She leaves, and her answer seems to calm Pasquel’s mind because he rolls over and goes to sleep. But, his sleep is interrupted by two little figures showing up with “Greetings Pasquel. We are your instincts, Do and Don’t.” Pasquel asks, “Which of you is Do and which is Don’t?” They answer, “We take turns”. Pasquel has a follow-up question, “How do I tell which of you is right and which is wrong?” They answer, “We take turns on that, too… sometimes.” With that, Pasquel rolls over and says, “Instincts apparently can be confusing. Maybe it would be simpler to follow logical reasons.” Immediately about 50 little figures show up with “Greetings Pasquel!” Trying to use reason to argue can get as complicated as using instinct in a good debate. Both participants have their own perspective. The more informed each is, the more challenging the debate.

I have pondered over the apparent contradiction between my wife and my tendency to berate each other over trivialities, and remain silent when we see shortcomings in each other when bringing them up (in a diplomatic – Dale Carnegie – way) when that could lead to improvements.

The short answer is, “our passions inhibit rational thought”. This is usually the case, especially when lack of sleep combines with being distracted by our everyday activities.

… Please

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I am all wrapped up in thought about politics as I read today’s edition of The Kitsap Sun. My thoughts turn to a truly momentous occasion that happened earlier this morning; as my wife read a letter to the editor published on the opinion page. A couple of years ago I doubt if she would have even stopped to read anything on the opinion page because she was just put off by politics. But, I believe she was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the political fray by her sister who engages her in an argument about politics every time they talk on the phone.

Now, I have to include some observations about my wife’s sister, who I have had lustful thoughts about over the years after we moved to places some 1000+ miles apart. If I had had these thoughts when we lived near each other our lives might have been different. But, politically, I think my sister-in-law is a putz (look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls). She is a proud ditto-head and her thinking is influenced by Rush Limbaugh. But, as is always the case “…when one discusses issues with someone with a different perspective, we grow”. And my wife has certainly grown in her approach to politics… big time! The last time I overheard her respond to something her sister said over the phone she asked “And which of those (Republican candidates for President) losers are you for?” Her sister responded, according to my wife, with “Never mind, you’ve already made up your mind.”

Even though my sister-in-law is usually drunk (to be fair she is probably still trying to get over her husband and son dying close to the same time) that response was articulate to the point of exposing her reticence to divulge her choice; if she has one. Even though, when my wife lets lose on a subject we entirely agree with, she recites ideas I’ve held for quite some time. I don’t try to either refute or agree with her… too much. I either grunt in agreement or I might say something short like “that’s for sure.” Actually I don’t remember saying those exact words; so I probably should the next time she utters a relatively profound politicism.

Now if I could just get her to read an entire column…

Thank you for your expression of support for my view(s). I would like to offer another perspective. I don’t perceive a personal vendetta in these “attacks”. It seems to me a matter of different positions on an issue of whether it is ethical to do what this candidate has done, or not. I would listen to anyone who addresses this issue directly. Calling it mud slinging or personal attack, seems to me, to be acting from conjecture. I haven’t read all the texts, but if somebody can find a citation from any of them that points to unfair attack I would like to see it… not that I don’t believe there is any. It’s just that I haven’t taken the time to read it all to ascertain if there is.

Now, comes the part of why I have changed my mind from supporting what I agree is a very strong candidate to one who might be considered having all the requisites that the former one has: I believe it is incumbent on lawmakers to listen and respond to constituents’ concerns and suggestions. Most of the lawmakers I’ve contacted do so; but a couple of them seem to be too busy to respond with substantive comments. I believe a candidate who has established his/her presence at meetings and shown a good record of engaging us with meaningful dialog is way ahead of the rest in credibility for candidacy. This goes way beyond personal friendship. I do not vote or support a candidate out of personal friendship. If you google my name you probably will find a citation to a letter I had printed in the Kitsap Sun the last election cycle that expresses my view about supporting a candidate for his/her actual abilities and experience over someone who may have done you a favor. That doesn’t exactly fit into this discussion; but I feel personal contact and ability to engage in a meaningful dialog is an extremely important factor when deciding whether to support him/her.

This is why I’ve decided at this point to support the candidacy of Rob Gelder! Unless I receive some extremely convincing information to change my mind this is how I will vote tomorrow evening.

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is the short story that led to the discussion about fantasies in your class Interpretation of Prose.

The most memorable event that occurred when I was in your interpretation of poetry class was John F. Kennedy’s campaign speech in the gym there at G. U. He ended it with “…the words of the poet: `I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep…’”. You had us memorize the Robert Frost poem “Stopping by a Wood on a Snowy Evening”. Of course I had forgotten it over the years; but I relearned it a year or so ago and have performed it in front of groups, large and small, several times. I always precede my recitation with the remembrance of J. F. K.’s speech, words from the poem, and your assignment for us in your class.

Years ago I found what I think is a great movie: “My Dinner With Andre”. It’s about two guys who meet at a restaurant in New York and converse over dinner. Now, it can either be a relief from insomnia or, after a good night’s rest and a cup of coffee, a jog for one’s mind because the conversation is, for me, quite profound. I lent it to a high school friend to view. He sent it back with the note saying that he and his wife tried to view it twice and couldn’t quite get into it. This is the same friend that I accused of being the scholar. He unloaded on me that he couldn’t even get through one semester at “little old Carol College” in Montana. He joined the Navy after I visited him in Grangeville on boot-camp leave. He got into the nuclear power program and went l. d. o. (limited duty officer). I think he was a lieutenant when he retired. I thought he was a much better student than me in high school; but maybe I was a sleeper in my academic potential. Believe me my g. p. a. when I graduated from h. s. was so low I graduated 26th out of 33 in my class.

“My Dinner With Andre” was written by Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn who also are the only main actors (all others were just people in the restaurant including the waiter and the bar tender). Why I like it so much is how two people can carry on a dialog of substance. I think I’ve become much more gregarious as a result of watching it. I had to actually purchase the VHS version of it several years ago. I have to say that when I went into the video store to order it the price was about 50% more than what was asked for most movies on tape at the time. I wanted it so much that I ordered it anyway; and the store didn’t even ask for a deposit. When it came the price was the same as the standard price. So that was a pleasant surprise.

I decided I wasn’t the only one in the world who had viewed it (it has become a cult classic) when I saw an article in a national news magazine entitled “My Dinner With Madeline” (that was Madeline Albright, the then Secretary of State under Bill Clinton). The writers in the news media are always making their headlines entertaining by paraphrasing titles of various literary sources (i. e. books, movies, songs, etc.)

So, what kind(s) of music do you enjoy? I’ll guess classical with all its subgenres. But, how about jazz? If so (considering jazz has a lot of subgenres, as well) are there any of those that appeal to you at all, or more than others?

Oh, I have to tell you about the events concurrent with my decision to quit college and join the Navy. I had finished 2 ½ years at G. U. and had sustained a concussion (that’s at least my excuse for being placed on the list for barely surviving as a result of my below C g. p. a.) and had decided I had to quit. The dean (of men?) at the time was the Very Reverend John P. Leary. He had invited me to join the honors program when I first enrolled at G. U. I declined (being the rather stupid entering undergraduate at the time and not knowing what it entailed – it just sounded way too grand of a group for me. Maybe I was a little like the comedian who said “I would never join an organization that would accept me as a member”) I also ran into him just after I had made my decision to quit and go into the Navy. He made the comment that I would probably never go back to Gonzaga. That was quite prescient, as a matter of fact.

Fr. Toner, the then principle of Gonzaga Prep – as I recall, and my dad’s cousin – called me on the phone at the rooming house up on Nora Ave and told me that he had been contacted by an anonymous donor who volunteered to pay my tuition at Gonzaga if I were to reconsider my leaving. At this point I have to tell you that I had told everybody that my decision was financial, which was only part of the reason. My mother guessed it was my uncle Ray who owned a couple of dry-cleaners in Spokane and didn’t have any children. I tolled Fr. Toner to thank whoever it was, but I had already committed to the Navy. That was a white lie (re: “Remember the Chameleon”) because I had only made a verbal commitment and hadn’t signed a contract. While it may have been partly true it didn’t reflect the realities of the day. I even started writing a story about what might have happened had I accepted the offer.

A great line from “On the Waterfront” was uttered by the main character, Terry Malloy (played by Marlon Brando), “I coulda’ been a contender”. It comes to mind when I think of the alternate universe of my continuing as a student. My receiving my draft notice in boot camp would have probably been an element in what might have happened.

Your expanding on my metaphor of setting the world on fire reminds me of a short true story I wrote that was published in the local political party newsletter. It is entitled “Forest Fires and Nine-eleven”. It is on this blog in the archives October 15, 2007.

I have given the idea that flirting with a married person, man or woman, can have a corrosive effect on his/her relationship with his/her spouse. I believe it can cause problems if the flirtee takes the flirter’s intentions all too seriously. But a little flirting is attention without intention can suppress the tendency to feel you are suddenly too good for your significant other. It can actually have the opposite effect. I have just had a wonderful experience when a former (female) class member gave the third chapter of my book a positive rating. I was drawn into another discussion of finances with my wife and it brought to the surface still another moment of stress. But I was able to put that aside and give her a big kiss on the lips before she went out to shop for food for the table.

I recollect that other women’s attentions have had the same effect on me over the years. Does that make me a saint? Uh… no! I won’t go into the grist for the devil’s advocate if I were ever nominated for saint-hood; just suffice it to say that my attitude towards my wife is solely influenced by our relative ability to handle the stresses that assault our union. If I find myself angry and overreacting when I have to field what I believe are unwarranted attacks, I have to be very careful and reflect if my reaction is influenced by an emotional tryst with another woman.

The End of Sex

Posted: May 3, 2010 in Personal Relationships

I have no problem with those who chose to limit the end of sexual intercourse to making babies; but it would be great if those who do so would be tolerant of others who can’t or won’t have (more) babies and adopt a wider purpose for sex: that of the joining of two souls to create a unifying spirit.

It is unusual, I think, for couples who are students of continual improvements in the sexual experience to experience failure in their relationships. I suppose there is a case for a stoic approach to marital relations limited to procreation and denying them for any other purpose. People who do so are as prone to sexual deviancy from the frustrations of denying their natural inclinations as those who make sexual gratification their only consideration as they satisfy their lusts. Neither, in my view, are those who practice celibacy any weaker in battling their demons.

This broadens the theme of this dissertation to include the subject of Priests who molest young people. The corrosive nature of denying sexual gratification (celibacy) is often the issue entered into the argument against the culture of celibacy. The very small proportion of Priests who do practice this totally abhorrent form of deviancy help make the argument that celibacy can promote the practice. Without a lot of candid pronouncements from deviates or non-deviates it is impossible to determine just how corrosive the practice of celibacy is for the weak.

Another factor in not promoting healthy sexual attitudes is inhibitions. This is probably one of the most stultifying psychological weaknesses that limits couples’ quest to reach higher levels of physical and spiritual existence. I don’t know if inhibitions are a cause or effect of limited self esteem. Once a person recognizes your inhibitions you can shed the barriers with enough effort and determination. The person who is successful in creating a mood in his/her own psyche is probably going to enable his/her partner as well. Trained sexologists are a much better source of improvements than I. I can only offer my perspective from my personal experiences. I have chronicled them in essays so I won’t repeat them here. Reading these pieces would only leave you wondering if I were writing about me or someone I knew. Believing that they were my personal experiences is only possible if you trust my honesty. Your not knowing, of course, is both a plus and a minus for me. The bottom line is: it doesn’t make any difference. It is only important to know that the experiences are real and not a figment of imagination.

The stories I created, however, are mostly fiction. There is only a small bit of reality that serves as a point of departure for an experience that might have been. I have made that point clear a number of times.