The Death Penalty

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VA Doctors Claim Immunity from Malpractice

Paid Student Loans

Shop is responsible for damage from botched oil change - Car Talk

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May I ask you a rather personal question?

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Criticism is welcome to me. Criticism is the honing stone upon which I am sharpened.

In reading the gospels we are reading something that somebody said to yet somebody else a very long time ago. As quoted in the bible, when Jesus spoke, logically and semantically, he was speaking to the person(s) standing immediately before him. But, if we take it personally, if we take it to heart, he is speaking directly to us (the readers), so that, when he said:

“…Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

(Matt. 5:48 KJV)

He was in fact speaking directly to us or, especially, to me – today.

In order to comprehend this, one must first accept certain premises:

1) One definition of father is as the originator, e.g., “George Washington was the father of our country.”

2) God is the Father/Creator of the whole universe, and you, as part of that creation, are thus, his child.

3) You accept Christ as your lord and you become subject to him, (i.e., as one knight accepts another as his overlord), his words become his will and thus a commandment directly to you.

Under these premises, when I read “ye” in the above quotation he is speaking directly to me.

On the other hand, whenever you read “ye” he is speaking directly to you.

Humanity seeks perfection but does it the hard way, pointing critical, accusing fingers at each other, instead of putting forth the effort of perfecting themselves. He did not say: “Make them perfect.” But, rather: “Be ye therefore perfect.”

I’ve given up on trying to make others perfect. It’s just not working. And this begs the question:

Is it even possible for someone to be perfect? And in what way?

I can’t straighten my crooked leg. There is no corrective measure for my lifelong amblyopia. Diet and exercise are hopeless against the ravages of old age. What can I perfect? What about me is perfectible?

Nothing, really, but I hit upon the idea that he meant logic and reason and the taming of the tongue – what pours forth from your mouth must be closely monitored; perfect in all cases. And what of the mind, purged of all sin, all hatred, and selfish motivation? Morally, as the Law is written, I stand condemned; and yet I still continue to strive for perfection. Why? Because God is my judge, and He being perfect, the closer I come to perfection the closer I come to Him. I gain assurance against that condemnation.

I invite you, as a friend, to criticize me:

criticize my spelling, my grammar, and my punctuation; but especially, my reasoning, that I make no error in the eyes of The Almighty.

In this life, on this plain of existence, perfection and it’s attendant assurance of God’s Love is the closest thing to happiness a man can find. So help me in my quest for my own perfection.

Your criticism is more than welcome here.

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A Second Opinion

While awaiting Evaluation for PTSD I was, for a long time, ensconced on a mixed ward at the local VA hospital. The other patients had a wide variety of ailments. Smoking was still allowed in the Patient’s lounge. We spent countless hours just sitting and talking and watching endless reruns of MASH on the TV. They were on as a minimum four times a day. I guess they just wanted to convince us veterans that war was fun.

One day a new patient arrived and was immediately placed in a private room just down the hall. We never met him or even saw him, but, much to our annoyance he kept calling for the nurse. He didn’t ring for the nurse (there was no such thing); but kept calling out loudly for the nurse. By the end of the first day it was getting on my nerves as his calls increased in frequency to such an extent it had become a kind of sing-song through chronic repetition:

At first, “Nurse!”———–“Nurse!”———–“Nurse!”———–“Nurse!”———–“Nurse!”

Then, “Nurse!” “Nurse!” “Nurse!” “Nurse!” “Nurse!” “Nurse!” “Nurse!”

By the end of the second day, not only was he calling relentlessly “Nurse!” “Nurse!” “Nurse!” “Nurse!” “Nurse!” “Nurse!” “Nurse!” for the nurse; he began calling for a doctor: “Bring me a doctor!” “Bring me a doctor!

When the nurse came around to do all of our “vitals” of pulse and blood pressure, I asked her quietly: “Isn’t there something you can do for that man?”

She answered “No. There’s nothing to be done.” She went on to explain to me that he had terminal lung cancer. She said he’d already had one lung removed and the remaining one was half cancerous, and the good half was slowly filling with fluid. She said he wasn’t in any pain but was slowly drowning in his own bodily fluids.

By the morning of the third day he’d given up calling for the nurse, or even a doctor. They last I heard of his voice he was desperately calling out: “Bring me two doctors!” “Bring me two doctors!”

As a student of history I’ve read the biographies of many mighty monarchs lying on their death beds, sometimes in great agony, surrounded bedside by their useless physicians.

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Just Because You Can Do A Thing Doesn’t Mean You Should

Perhaps it’s just me and my near-death experience in war; knowing full well and carnally the fatal outcome of this life; but I see this mighty medical struggle for survival as absurd. Spare me the magic beans and tonic patent elixirs. I know many people who’ve had various types of medical procedures regarding the heart.

The heart is but a fleshy pump, and stents and bypasses and even a total replacement only serves to prolong the agony that is the decrepitude of life.

While such heroic procedures often strengthens the heart it does little or nothing for the rest of the body; just buying you a little more time. While the heart is mechanically unclogged the rest of the body is still slowly damaged by the same plaque clogging the veins, arteries and microscopic capillaries meant to circulate the blood with its attendant oxygen and nutrients. While the heart beats strong the aging patient goes through a series of gradual systems failures.

While cardiovascular procedures may save the heart, it may as well be kept in a jar for all the good they do for the rest of the body, and especially the brain. While the heart serves the brain, saving the heart does not save the brain.

The heart beats strong while everything else gradually fails: the muscles and joints; the kidneys, liver, and spleen; the eyes and ears; the neural circuits decline for a loss of coordination and balance. And, piecemeal, the brain slowly dies.

While cardiovascular procedures don’t always preceed hip or knee replacement surgeries, they generally do; but is it really worth all the pain and suffering when the end is so clearly known?

Is a heart attack or stroke a better way to die than a slow growth cancer? Is a shitty life better than no life? After you’ve had a cardiovascular procedure, you’ve got a lot to look forward to; and not much of it good.

By my count, my father had three heart attacks and four strokes before he finally passed. For the last year of his life he was blind due to all the sclerotic capillaries bursting in his eyes and flooding them with blood. The capillaries of the eyes are not distinct from the capillaries of the brain, and deteriorate at the same pace more or less; so that various sections of the brain die off piecemeal, here and there. I believe my father suffered greatly from senior dementia as many so often do; gradually losing his memory and his humanity.

Modern medicine can repair or even replace the human heart. But nothing lasts forever; and ultimately, it is a losing battle; and just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean you should.

Are you sure you want to have a baby?

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I said something very ADULT this morning.

Brother: “You want to change that thing (callus remover patch) on [the bottom of] my foot?”

Me: “I’d be happy to, you know that.”

Adultery – they could have explained it a lot better and in much greater detail in our catechism. It goes far beyond perfidy (sexual infidelity) against your spouse. Adultery is subtlety beyond the ken of children. It’s not just sarcasm or irony or inflection (inflexion) or a host of other types of linguistic subterfuge. Adultery goes beyond the barkeep watering his whisky or the butcher adding sawdust to his sausage and weighing his thumb along with it. Adultery is saying and doing things with an ulterior motive. While children are literalists and can readily grasp the denotations of words, the more subtle connotations fly right over their heads. We are, too often, adulterous in our everyday speech.

We could have also used some help in understanding covetousness, too. To covet something goes beyond envy or simply yearning to have something someone else has; but to plot and plan how to extract it from their possession. It is the intent formed before the theft.

Bearing in mind that most copies of The Biblical Ten Commandments are in fact, abridged and originally pertained specifically to the god of the Jews and his people; Moses said: “Honor thy father and thy mother.” But what if your daddy’s a junkie and jailbird and your momma’s a whore? Then what? At some point in the process of growing up we must all make an honest assessment of our own parents. In so doing, we must uphold and honor the ideals rather than trashing parenting as an institution.

Arguably there are only NINE COMMANDMENTS if parsed by topic, viz.:

                                     Exodus 20: vv1-17

And God spake all these words, saying,
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
The FIRST Commandment) (vv 3-6)
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
The SECOND Commandment) (v 7)
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
The THIRD Commandment) (vv 8-11)
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
The FOURTH Commandment) (v 12)
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
The FIFTH Commandment) (v 13)
Thou shalt not kill.
The SIXTH Commandment) (v 14)
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
The SEVENTH Commandment) (v 15)
Thou shalt not steal.
The EIGHTH Commandment) (v 16)
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
The NINTH Commandment) (v 17)
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

In any attempt to elucidate these commandments one finds a great overlapping of themes to the point where they all point to the same basic crime: First to covet; then to commit verbal adultery; even bear false witness; and steal thereby; and perhaps these sins ultimately result in the actual death of your neighbor. What happens to the other players (in reality) when you WIN at MONOPOLY?

My college English instructor refused to even discuss the Holy Bible despite my position that the so-called Holy Bible was just another book. It is a poorly written, selectively censored, and badly organized anthology spanning some 5,500 years. It’s been poorly transcribed, translated, edited, interpreted, reinterpreted, argued over, fought over and killed over. Most, if not the whole of it, was written before punctuation was even invented; and Chapter and Verse came even later.

It’s only natural (instinctive) that you fear death. It’s also only natural that you eventually have an epiphany and come to the realization that Death pertains to you personally; and the only one, the ONLY ONE, who can spare you is God.

So we approach God with great fear and trembling, but need we take the same approach to the words written by the hand of man about God? I think not.

To some, perhaps far too many, The American Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States are held as sacrosanct Holy Writ; and any questions or doubts about them are considered blasphemy, or even treason.

As for the SECOND Commandment (Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain) Moses appears to have been skating on very thin ice, dependant upon your interpretation of it. After all, what does it truly mean? Speaking as God or speaking on God’s behalf? Clearly, it’s neither cursing nor swearing.

It was very late in his life that Moses finally realized that he’d never see the so-called Promised Land. The very concept is illogical and contrary to reality. Even if Moses had arrived at what he thought was the Promised Land; we are but sojourners here; and God got Moses by the scruff of the neck and removed him; thus breaking the Promise. Who was it, then, that made this literary faux pas? To whom then, was the Promise made? By whom was the Promise made? Some anonymous Hebrew scribe?

Moses realized he’d never see the Promised Land; but Martin Luthor King Jr. claims to have seen it from his mountaintop view, yet doubted he’d get there himself.

Historically, the ancient Judean and Israelite tribes never actually occupied the full extent of the Promised Land as described in their own bible. The Promise broken. And in modern times, the Jews take up arms (because their god is too weak to keep his promises and they are too impatient to wait on him) to establish; in a fit of self-fulfilling prophecy; the modern state of Israel (1948); proclaiming to all the world:

“This land is mine. God gave this land to me.”

Reality cannot be changed. It can only be relabeled so as to render it a bit more palatable.

In the perusal of the KJV Bible (read cover-to-cover) the author discovered there is no mention of himeslf. That is, I’m not mentioned in it; not even once. Because of this I work on the assumption that this book is about someone else’s god and not my own. There is no mention of me in it. Point of fact: There is no mention of me, my family, or my progenitors at all. There is no mention of the United States of America; nor is there any mention of America, North or South; the Western Hemisphere, China; and most of the rest of the world. The Hebrew Bible is really quite parochial. It is about a local, tribal god who seems to live on a specific mountaintop; caring as he does, about a specific group of people.

U.S. coins and currency are emblazoned with the motto:

“In God We Trust.”

Whose god does it refer to? Yours, mine, or ours?

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The Mix Tape

Throughout history mankind has repeated the same silly drama over and over again. History does not repeat itself, unless it’s republished; but passion and ignorance plays itself out again and again, generation after generation. It is a failure of culture. Billions of people, both male and female, wallowing in their own emotional ignorance, and getting no help.

The relationship between a man and a woman is dynamic, and cannot be otherwise, but the hope is to establish a static state of happiness; to freezeframe life, or, at very least, hold back the hands of time. It simply can’t be done.

Among the literary cognoscenti, romance is defined as unfulfilled (sexual) passion; or unrequited love. And romance segues into courtship, which forces the issue. Much of courtship involves the giving of gifts or love tokens. These tokens might be flowers, chocolates, jewelry and so on; but with the advent of recorded music and the ability to easily rerecord on cassette tapes, the mixtape or compilation tape became a familiar love token, or, at least, an expression of the otherwise inexpressible. But, even then, as Paul McCartney and the Beatles put it [I] “Can’t Buy Me Love”.

While serving in Việt Nam my brother sent me a compilation tape of both music he recorded directly off broadcast radio and some vinyl LP albums along with audio messages from my relatives.

As a birthday present, I once made a compilation cassette tape of songs pertaining to my niece’s sixteenth birthday in celebration of that Golden Age – heavy on the Neil Sedaka.

But the mixtape early on, was a love token and a particular use of the medium. If one cannot write poetry – recite poetry. If one cannot play music – send music. The mixtape does both. In the mixtape of courtship as a love token, content is everything. The lyrics and music are chosen with exquisite care in order to, again, express the otherwise inexpressible.

At the age of twelve (or fourteen), I concluded that there wasn’t nearly enough love in the world, and if there was ever going to be, it was I who would have to provide it. Now the world swarms with young men and women engaged in an endless Snipe Hunt; seeking after something, they know not what. Love is not sex, and Sex is not Love; yet they persist; seeking after some vague, static ideal; that perfect someone who will fulfill all their equally vague and dynamic dreams.

As an anachronistic answer song, even though they’re reversed and out of chronological order, Bob Dylan said it best.

I Need a Hero (Holding Out for a Hero) 1984
by Bonnie Tyler

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the streetwise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn
And I dream of what I need

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero till the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero till the morning light
He’s gotta be sure, and it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life
Larger than life

Somewhere after midnight
In my wildest fantasy
Somewhere just beyond my reach
There’s someone reaching back for me
Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat
It’s gonna take a Superman to sweep me off my feet

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero till the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero till the morning light
He’s gotta be sure, and it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero till the end of the night

Up where the mountains meet the heavens above
Out where the lightning splits the sea
I could swear there is someone somewhere watching me

Through the wind and the chill and the rain
And the storm and the flood
I can feel his approach like a fire in my blood

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero till the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero till the morning light
He’s gotta be sure, and it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero till the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero till the morning light
He’s gotta be sure, and it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero till the end of the night

It Ain’t Me Babe (1964)
by Bob Dylan

Go away from my window
Leave at your own chosen speed
I’m not the one you want, babe
I’m not the one you need

You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who’s never weak, but always strong
To protect you and defend you
Whether you are right or wrong

Someone to open each and every door
But it ain’t me, babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

Go lightly from the ledge, babe
Go lightly on the ground
I’m not the one you want, babe
I’ll only let you down

You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who’ll promise never to part
Someone to close his eyes for you
Someone to close his heart

Someone who will die for you and more
But it ain’t me, babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

Go melt back in the night
Everything inside is made of stone
There’s nothing in here moving
And anyway, I’m not alone

You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who’ll pick you up each time you fall
To gather flowers constantly
And to come each time you call

A lover for your life and nothing more
But it ain’t me, babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

But it ain’t me, babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

Note to Feminists:

How can you expect a man to be your Knight in Shining Armor after you stole his horse?

Posted in Expository Writing, For Feminists, Love, Music | Leave a comment

How Much Ink in a Ballpoint Pen?

How many miles of ink are in a Ballpoint Pen?

Upon separation from the U.S. Army in November of 1971 I would estimate that I filled out about 2000 Job Applications to no avail under the onus of Affirmative Action. I cannot say how many ballpoint pens I went through over the years, but I do clearly recall the vexation of running out of ink mid application – twice.

And no, I never did find gainful employment.

Gainful Employment: When you still have money left at the end of the month.

Wage Slavery: When you still have some month left at the end of your money.

[More than 6336 linear feet of ink]

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April 15, 1970

Biên Hòa International

I feel pressed to write something today, April 15, 2020. It was 50 years ago to this very day that I left Việt Nam on my own personal Freedom Bird. It was personal because one of the oft pointed out peculiarities of the Việt Nam War was that most of the men assigned there traveled singly to and from Việt Nam rather than as a unit.

By Presidential Proclamation, the commemoration is ongoing over a span of thirteen years – the approximate length of the war, dependant on who you ask.

Looking back 50 years I can recall very little of my journey back to the United States except for a few things. For what ever reason, (and this is something most won’t even remember) in processing out I was issued a Golden Orange scarf (technically: INSIGNIA, BOS, SCARF, BIB-TYPE) that I wore with my jungle fatigues as I boarded the plane. Somewhere over the South China Sea I took it off and gave it to a stewardess as a souvenir, who asked me what it “meant.” I told her I didn’t know.

I had a little brass burr puzzle in my pocket I used to pass the time. I’d done the same on my way TO Việt Nam as well. I’d picked it up somewhere, Japan perhaps; but I couldn’t solve it on the way there. Now, I don’t know if it has any cosmic significance, but I did manage to solve it on the flight home. That still puzzles me.

“The Ultimate Puzzle”
50th Anniversary VIETNAM WAR Commemoration Flag
Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration Certificate
State of Wisconsin DVA Certificate of Recognition Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration

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Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

I can only hope y’all aren’t too superstitious about it but I confess I just cut down the Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). Originally imported as a decorative shade tree it is now a highly invasive weed. One started growing in our basement window well (basement window wells are a bad idea to begin with as they are catch-alls for leaves, trash, water and weeds.) When we were kids we used to pluck off a leaf, strip it of leaflets and use the leaf stem as a sword or whip against our companions. It was only a few years ago I actually learned the name of it. According to Penn State I’ve only just joined the battle to eliminate it. I don’t need a big tree growing in the basement window well and doing damage. Superstitious, God-fearin’ folk are a might touchy about stuff like this. So, if my cutting down the Tree-of-Heaven hurt your sensibilities in any way, I’m sorry – but it’s gotta go.

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