Embracing Laughter & Tears

Does anyone want to worship an angry god?

 

Like that kind in the Old Testament of the Bible.

 

New Testament Jesus was called the “Prince of Peace.”

 

Yet, he displayed violent anger when confronted

 

by the greedy money lenders in the temple.

 

I’d rather follow a prophet or god

 

that was known for a sense of humor.

 

The New Testament doesn’t mention

 

Jesus laughing, giggling or even smiling.

 

I’d say the creator must have a sense of humor.

 

After all, he created the duck-billed platypus,

 

the panda ant, the red-lipped batfish and the seahorse.

 

Or maybe he ran out of ideas and mixed a few species.

 

He created falling leafs, snow and growing grass.

 

These are things that keep humans busy year round.

 

So I’d say he didn’t want us to have

 

a lot of free time to worship him.

 

An hour on a Saturday or Sunday

 

on your knees or in the case of Catholics,

 

bow, genuflect, sit, kneel, stand repeat

 

seems to satisfy worship time for most religions.

 

Socrates tried to establish an ethical system

 

not based on theological doctrine

 

but rather on human reasoning.

 

While Jesus never laughed it’s said

 

that Socrates never once cried.

 

Which makes me think Socrates understood

 

the world around his fellow man

 

but nothing about the world within man.

 

As babies we are born crying.

 

That is before the world tries

 

to drown us in unending sorrows.

 

I believe that the ability to laugh or cry

 

makes us the strongest species on Earth.

 

Laughter and tears are gifts we were given

 

by the creator and are meant to be used.

 

As for me I’d rather laugh than cry

 

but I’ve learned both can be renewing.

 

And now enjoy a song on the same topic from singer, Nancy Wilson: “The Laughter and the Tears” 

 

“Laughs are exactly as honorable as tears. Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion, to the futility of thinking and striving anymore. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

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Sharing Foxholes

Local Lordstown, Ohio GM workers had joined other GM plants for the strike that just ended. These local workers manned five picket gates at their plant. They did that even though their factory was slated as one of the plants GM has closed. A local group of non-violent peace activists including members of Occupy Youngstown and the Youngstown Workers Solidarity Club spent a few hours a week on the line with them. GM workers were happy to see folks from the community joining them in solidarity. It was also nice to see so many area restaurants bringing the striking workers food. It was informative to talk to the strikers and interesting to hear their individual stories. Stories about families being in disarray because so many workers had to relocate to other GM plants across the country. Then there were the stories of workers who didn’t have enough time to retire or transfer.

These stories weren’t at the heart of what national newspapers and other media wanted to hear. The national media wanted to know why some of these workers had voted for Trump. They wanted to know how these workers felt now that Trump had not been able to save their plant. These are the same “big city” media that arrived in Trumbull County after the 2016 presidential election. They wanted to know why Trumbull County had voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton. After all, this was a county that could be counted on to always back the Democrat candidate for president. Now, the national news media was at the Lordstown GM gates asking strikers about Trump once again.

The Boston Globe is one of these “big city” newspapers that came to talk to striking Lordstown workers. They hit their pay dirt when they talked to disabled GM retiree, Bob Meyer who is loyal to Trump. Bob told the Globe that, “Trump is a welcome antidote to the political correctness he loathes.” He continued, “So many people are getting offended by anything and everything. It wasn’t a bunch of wusses that made this country great.” A good follow up might have been asking Bob why working-class voters like him are buying into a culture war, instead of problems of economic inequity and the need for an affordable healthcare system for our citizens? Surely, a disabled retiree like Meyer should care about healthcare. As far as a wussie, I’d ask Bob, “Why would you consider any president who verbally mocked people like; a reporter with arthrogryposis, (a condition which limits the movement of joints), POW John McCain and a Gold Star soldier’s family anything but a  lowly wussie coward?”

The Boston Globe talked to Lisa Himes, a former GM worker, and her brother, Bill Brown, 61, who is retired from the plant.  Both of them voted for Trump in 2016. They said their votes for Trump were not just about the economy. They stated, “Gun rights, you’ve got these guys that want to be girls, girls that want to be guys,” Brown said, ticking off the reasons for Trump’s cultural appeal. “He’s trying to make the US a better place; he’s trying to build that wall.” Himes added, “She and her brother were Americans, “born and raised here.” The NRA has been saying that the Democrats are coming for your guns for decades now. I’d say if that is true the Democrats have been doing a really slow and bad job of it. Bill and Lisa have also bought into the culture war. They might be Americans now but I guess they forgot that their relatives emigrated here from some other country at one point. They both talk of their privileges. I guess they forgot that GM is the one closing factories and taking away jobs not illegal immigrants. Banks are “too big to fail” and immigrants are coming here willing to work hard so they don’t fail. As far as bashing gays, some of the community activists that joined striking workers on the picket line are gay. You never know where your help might come from. It’s sad to see the Lisas and Bobs of the world be so easily divided like the powers that be want them to be.

Brown made better sense when he stated he voted for Trump because Trump opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. It was Bill Clinton who helped pass this bill that was wanted by GOP politicians for years. Workers opposed to NAFTA as strong as Brown weren’t about to vote for Hillary Clinton who supported it and other such trade bills. Perhaps, he should have voted for Bernie Sanders who opposed such trade deals. That wouldn’t be the case for workers like, Tim Schwanger. “I don’t think things have gotten better here under Trump,” said Tim Schwanger, a former employee of the plant who voted for him 2016, and said he was open to doing so again. “I cannot vote for a socialist government,” he said.

Tim needs to also know that a good many of the community protestors who came to support strikers would consider themselves socialists. These socialists would point out that it was the capitalist CEO’s at GM that closed the Lordstown plant. They might also point out that it was a socialist bailout by taxpayers that saved GM to begin with. I wish that we could have extended that socialism into giving the auto plants to the workers. Better them than the CEO’s that drove the companies into bankruptcy to begin with. I believe workers would think about long-term ideas and not be focused on short-term profits.

How do we get there from here?  We need to remember that only 30% of GM workers at Lordstown voted for Trump. That seems to be the only percent of workers that “big city” newspapers want to come here and talk with. The answer to getting that 30% to want something better than Trump was provided by the Boston Globe.  It was in something they noticed in Meyer when they interviewed him.  The Boston Globe stated, “Meyer talks economics like Warren or Sanders, his loyalties are now firmly ensconced with Trump.”

We need to get workers like Meyer to see their very own words. That is when they will understand that candidates like Sanders and Warren are the ones aligned with their thinking, not Trump. They also need to remember that Trump said he was going to save their jobs at the Lordstown plant. Instead of pointing fingers at immigrants, gays, minorities etc. workers need to be like the military. By that I mean we need to realize that we are on the same side in this economic war. We need to put our differences aside and realize we are all in the same foxhole.  That’s the kind of solidarity that wins not just battles but wars.

The Nightwatchman: “Union Song”

Mike Stout: “Time to Build a New World”

The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings. Albert Schweitzer

 

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Another Day of Wonder. 

Part 1: Yesterday

The Q in Q-tips stands for quality.

They were originally called Baby Gays.

Kool-Aid was originally marketed as “Fruit Smack.”

Chesty, Tubby, Burpy, Deafy, Hickey, Wheezy, and Awful

were also names considered for Disney’s Seven Dwarfs.

Lighters were invented before matches.

The sum of all the numbers on a roulette wheel is 666.

Vending machines kill 4 times as many people as sharks.

Hydrox cookies are an not an Oreo knock-off,

they were invented in 1908, four years before the Oreo.

The string on boxes of animal crackers was

so the container could be hung from a Christmas tree.

In the early stage version of The Wizard of Oz,

Dorothy’s dog Toto was replaced by a cow named Imogene.

The truth is that cats do not have nine lives,

but the turritopsis nutricula a species of jellyfish

has been deemed to be “immortal” by scientists.

I know politicians all talk out of their ass

but I did not know turtles breathe out of their butts.

These are all things I was able to learn yesterday.

 

Another Day of Wonder

Part 2: Today

Yesterday is history.

Today, I woke up to another day on the planet.

Which means I was given another gift

and a chance to live and discover.

Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” was penned by

beloved children’s author Shel Silverstein.

Editor Bennett Cerf challenged Dr. Seuss to write a book using

no more than 50 different words.

The result is “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Ben & Jerry learned how to make ice cream by taking

a $5 correspondence course offered by Penn State.

Dr. Ruth was trained as a sniper by the Israeli military.

Roger Ebert and Oprah Winfrey went on a couple dates in the mid-1980s.

It was Roger who convinced her to syndicate her talk show.

In 1939, Hitler’s nephew wrote an article called “Why I Hate My Uncle.”

He came to the U.S., served in the Navy, and settled on Long Island.

Charlie Chaplin came in third in a contest

for “Charlie Chaplin look-alikes.”

Fredric Baur invented the Pringles can.

When he died in 2008, his ashes were buried in one.

Researchers have found that sitting looking forward

makes it easier to recall negative memories,

while sitting upright and looking upward

makes it easier to recall positive, empowering memories.

I say we should sit upright and look upward

and also look forward to learning something new

on as many of the fresh gifts of tomorrows

as we are lucky enough to be given.

 

Song: “Knowledge is Power”

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”― Henry Ford

 

 

 

 

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Wacky Weed or Planet in Need

Our government just released a long hid video.

At 4 minutes and 20 seconds into the filming

a UFO zooms into the view of Navy jet pilots.

Is four minutes and twenty seconds. a coincidence?

I think it means Navy pilots are smoking weed.

This raises more questions than answers.

Why are such videos finally being shown to the public?

Are the alien watchers trying to keeping Earth in check?

Have aliens heard about Trump

and had to see him for themselves?

Can they rid us of our corrupt governments?

Can these aliens save us from ourselves?

Trump said that he doesn’t believe in aliens,

but he does believes that the British had airports in 1775

and he thinks Fredrick Douglas is still alive today.

Trump’s statement could have been a lot worse.

He could have said, “I’m not a fan of outer space aliens.

They are very bad people, murderers, rapers and gang members.”

If aliens are visiting our country and don’t look like us,

speak our language or aren’t God fearing Christians

will we separate their offspring and cage them?

Will Trump build a wall or dome in space to keep aliens out?

Will he say that the aliens will pay for the wall or dome?

His campaign is busy printing up hats and bumper stickers

saying, “The dome is gonna be huge – Trump 2020.”

Perhaps, he will he ask the space aliens to collude

and get dirt on his presidential opponents

and help him fix his next re-election?

Aliens can’t come for our natural resources

as we are busy destroying those resources.

We are trying to reach other planets to steal their resources.

That is why Trump is so intent on having a space force.

Some people say we need more women running our government.

I’m wondering if we shouldn’t let space aliens run it for awhile.

I’m betting they believe in universal healthcare.

I’m hoping I can soon meet a space alien.

I’d ask, “Can I catch a ride back with you for a little while?”

CCR: “It Came Out of the Sky” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuPtOtGF4TY&list=PLsUPHQSWJR7PikWJGPjplqIwFv2-IJq_w

“I believe alien life is quite common in the universe, although intelligent life is less so. Some say it has yet to appear on planet Earth.” ~ Stephen Hawking

 

 

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Far too Tolerant

Genocide of Native Americans, slavery,

and child laborers all poor souls who died

to make rich men’s dreams come true.

Then there’s the Great Depression,

racism, 2 million people imprisoned,

poverty, economic inequity,

failed trickle down economics,

bank bailouts for banks too big to fail,

rising productivity yet stagnant wages,

tiered wage systems and loss of pensions,

right to work laws destroying unions,

women paid less on jobs than men,

inadequate expensive healthcare,

deregulation, melting ice caps,

Love Canal chemical dumpsite,

Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown,

Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill,

hazardous Flint water, climate change,

corporate owned and controlled media,

corporate Imperialism and never ending wars

for natural resources fueled by corporate cartels.

The late Senator John McCain,

the maverick man of the people

didn’t know how many homes he owned.

Mitt Romney became wealthy by buying companies

with borrowed money then running up their debt.

He left banks and taxpayers paying all the bills,

while his workers lost jobs and pensions.

He ran for president with the centerpiece of his campaign

being his skills at being able to end our nation’s debt.

Hewlett Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina tripled her salary,

bought a million dollar yacht and five corporate jets.

This while she fired 30,000 employees

and asked many of those she let go

to train their outsourced replacements.

She retired with a $42 million severance package.

Carly the poster girl for corporate greed

ran for president bragging about her CEO skills.

Now we have wealthy actors bribing college educators

to enroll their kids that don’t qualify for enrollment.

The wealthy love their corporate socialism

and tell us capitalism is best for the rest of us.

They love that poor schmuck taxpayers

will bail them out when their businesses and banks fail.

The poor and middle-class are much too tolerant,

complacent and have turned a blind eye

to how the wealthy own our politicians

who write the laws to serve the wealthy.

Given this the rich rub our faces in their wealth.

They do this on reality TV shows daily.

One would think that just an hour watching

The Kardashians, Real Housewives,

Million Dollar Listings

and Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous

is all it should take for our citizens

to become hardcore Marxists.

Stay complacent and poor my fiends

while the wealthy laugh at us.

 

Lew Dite: “Complacency Blues”

“Can’t You Hear Me Crowing”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”~ MLK

 

 

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A Top Down Vacation

We decided to visit my wife’s brother,

to surprise him for his 65th birthday.

Since he lives in Hertford, North Carolina

and our cars have high miles on them,

we thought it best to rent a car from Avis.

When we came to pick up the rental car,

they said the Kia sedan needed washing.

Instead, we would have to settle for a smaller car.

It was a new red Mustang convertible

that was available for the same price.

I replied, “I guess that will be alright.”

Once we drove off of the rental lot,

my wife and I burst out laughing

and quickly put down the top.

We got stuck in traffic in the DC outer belt.

Drivers didn’t use their turn signals at all

as they entered the road and crossed three lanes.

In Virginia, we noted an unusual hardware sign

it said get fresh veggies and your pool water tested here.

We saw another one stop shopping store.

They sell guitars and guns.

You could get either one that strikes your chord.

Or, pick up both some amps and ammo.

Virginia is for lovers and fresh peanuts.

They even sell those terrible boiled ones.

A sign declared North Carolina is the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola.

Oddly enough, every diner served fountain Coke not Pepsi.

You can get ice tea as long as it’s sweetened

with enough sugar in it to bake a cake.

Tobacco is the North Carolina state vegetable.

There are tons of different kinds of churches everywhere.

I was puzzled by a sign declaring that Catholic Church masses

would be held at the nearby First Methodist church.

I have no idea if the pope knows about this.

In the south families are very tight.

It’s easy to visit your great-grandparents,

grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles.

That’s because they reside 100 ft from your house

nested all together in the family cemetery.

In the south no one asks if you have crazy people in your family.

They just ask which side of the family they are on.

We noted that Southerners back into parking spots.

They seem to be very directionally challenged

as they back up several times before completing their task

We traveled many miles on remote back roads,

getting lost as there was no cell phone connections

for our Mustang’s built in GPS to pick up.

Like up north we saw hundreds of Dollar Stores.

I noted that none were called, “Confederate Dollar Stores.”

Actually, we had to wait until Ohio

before we saw a Confederate flag.

I never saw a Trump sign or bumper sticker,

until we arrived back in Pennsylvania.

That doesn’t mean that Southern states

aren’t struggling with their history of slavery.

Fredericksburg, Virginia is facing such an issue.

The city council is considering removing

a former sandstone slave auction block.

It’s a heavy fixed structure that historic preservationists

say could be damaged if it were moved elsewhere.

Some residents want it removed as it’s a painful reminder

of  the ugly history of the town and the South.

Other citizens want it to remain as a tangible reminder

for the public to be able to reflect

on the city’s painful history.

I am glad to see some in the South

wrestling with the sins of the past,

in an effort to make a better future.

All in all a great summer trip.

Returning that convertible was the

low point of the whole vacation.

The Gun Club:  “Mother Earth” 

“Anger Blues” 

“With age, comes wisdom. With travel, comes understanding.” – Sandra Lake 

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Food for Thought

Some Facts on Immigration and a poem.

7.6% of immigrants are self-employed compared to 5.6% of native-born Americans and they founded more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies.

Immigrant-owned businesses with employees have an average of 11 employees. These businesses account for up to 5.2 million jobs.

Immigrants actually only account for 13.5% of the total U.S. population, which is in line with historical norms.

Undocumented immigrants pay an average of $11.64 billion in state and local taxes a year. In 2010, undocumented individuals paid $13 billion into retirement accounts and only received $1 billion in return. Over the years, immigrants have contributed $300 billion to the Social Security Trust Fund. Without the contributions of immigrants going into the system, it is estimated that full benefits would not be able to be paid out beyond the year 2037.

Undocumented immigrants do not qualify for welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and most other public benefits. Most of these programs require proof of legal immigration status and under the 1996 welfare law; even legal immigrants cannot receive these benefits until they have been in the United States for more than five years.

Under current immigration laws, there are very few options for legal immigration, the costs are increasingly prohibitive and the wait for any kind of status can be long and frustrating.

I wrote this poem several years ago and it seems even more fitting today:

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Forrest Gump said,
“Life’s like a bowl of chocolates.”
I can tell you life
isn’t always a bowl of cherries
or peaches and cream milk & honey
or as dandy as candy
or as fine as wine
nor filled with sugar & spice.

Too often we get in
a pickle or a jam
and feel twisted up inside
like a pretzel
and get a chip on our shoulder
and express sour grapes
in the wrong direction.

Well it’s time to spill the beans,
there’s more to life than
bread and butter
and meat and potatoes.
To get the gravy in life,
America must celebrate
its melting pot
by using all its ingredients
we can make a delicious gumbo
not be content with hot dogs and apple pie.

The most nutritious thing we can do
is get the spices out of the cupboard
roll up our sleeves,
quit using our fingers
to point blame at
others who don’t look like us
and use those fingers
instead to start cooking
up a bottomless pot
of the broth of diversity
for variety is the spice of life.
Too many cooks cannot spoil this recipe,
only enhance it.
The kitchen will never smell sweeter
I guarantee ya…

Chris Rea: “Immigration Blues”

The Founding Fathers Favored a Liberal Immigration System.

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